Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Redd Kross - Hot Issue

I picked this up at the Redd Kross show a couple of weeks ago at the Bunkhouse along with their two latest releases. Initially self-released, this one is a compilation of rare and unreleased tracks, most of which I had never heard, ranging from the early 80's to the new millennium. In fact, more than half of the cuts hadn't seen light of day before - at least not these particular versions, some of which are remixes/ remasters and others are completely new.

Most of the tracks sound like outtakes from the latest records, although why they were left off is anyone's guess, as they are easily as strong as the other takes. The opening "Insatiable Kind" is a perfect example of their own brand of 70's power-pop'n'roll, somewhat reminiscent of their terrific "Bubblegum Factory" from Third Eye. Steve takes lead vocals for this version of Kim Fowley's "Motorboat", Jeff sings "Pop Show" (originally done with Astrid McDonald), "Take It Home" has odd hints of reggae rhythms and bits of electronic drums, an early version of "That Girl" is an energetic rocker that easily would have fit on the likes of Neurotica, and side one closes with "It's a Scream", a keyboard-led, kinda-new-wavey, kinda movie-soundtrack-y bit of Redd Kross-ness.

"Switchblade Sister" is a fave of mine that originally appeared on Sympathy For the Record Industry's fantastic RK 10", 2500 Redd Kross Fans Can't Be Wrong, their early punky/trashy take on the NY Dolls' "Puss'n'Boots" had previously been released on the Hell Comes to Your House comp, which makes it by far the earliest cut here, which then fast-forwards to one of the newest tracks, a different take on "Don't Take Your Baby Downtown", then the Beatles-esque "Moon Sun" and "Starlust" (nice astrological combination there) before the grand finale, a piano ballad (also somewhat later Beatles-y) "Born To Love You".

Really superior comp - everything here is top-notch - nothing sounds like after thoughts or throwaways. Well worth picking up for any RK fan!

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Jw's Freelance Curmudgeon - Saturday Dec 7, 2019 at the Dive Bar

(Jw's take on the Dive Bar show with Agent Orange, the Sheiks of Neptune, the Psyatics and the Jagoffs)

Fun show at The DiveBar tonight.

The Psyatics rock with the energy of dudes half their age (even if the guitarists keep bumping into Robert Bell... he’s learning to adapt to Rich Coffee’s shenanigans.)

The Sheiks Of Neptune are always fun, and always hard to describe. (They played a show in the desert at The Goldwell Museum, & my friend remarked that they actually had lyrics; she thought it was just Dickie yelling about his broken foot.)

Then, Agent Orange! They were the second show I saw as a kid (they played the Redlands Bowl with The Psychadelic Furs and that band that had Gwen Stefani in it before she was GWEN STEFANI.)
Agent Orange hasn’t missed a step; still banging out SoCal surf punk jams. Their drummer is a fucking machine! And I’ll admit that my eyes got a little misty when they played “Bloodstains.” (Yes, I bought the hoodie that has the chorus printed on the back.)

General stupid punk pit mayhem ensued.
(BTW, fuck Pennywise and Sublime for welcoming the fucking jocks into our scene...)

All in all, good times were had by most!

Agent Orange, Sheiks of Neptune, the Psyatics, the Jagoffs at the Dive Bar, Saturday Dec 7, 2019

Thank to Pulsar Presents for bringing old school OC punks Agent Orange to the Dive Bar and for having a diverse group of local bands open the night!

First up was the Jagoffs, who were obviously influenced by the 80's OC/Hard Core movement but with some updates to it all such as some more modern metal growls mixed in with the singing. Plenty of Misfits-styled "oh-oh" backing vocals (their song "Class War" seemed particularly Misfit-y) and the singer started a slam pit while still doing his vocals! Their super short set was even less than the 30 minutes allotted to them (special kudos for starting exactly at their given set time) so they gave us a couple extras - my fave of the set "Live and Die" (not sure if this was an original or cover) and a take on Fear's "I Love Living in the City". Powerful opening for the night!

The Psyatics were up next and we had a super fun time running through songs from their 4 CD's as well as a handful of new tunes, including our version of the Scientists "When Fate Deals Its Mortal Blow". I wasn't sure how AO's fans would take to us but we won over a number of folks and had a great time doing so (even if my wireless cut out on the last song when I went behind the bar - lesson learned!). Thanks for including us, Pulsar!

(Psyatics pix by Nikki Ruffling)

The Sheiks of Neptune continue to astound with their complex, Zappa-esque take on punk rock'n'roll, with wacky imagery, a highly animated lead singer (who is still recovering from a broken foot during a previous show) and terrific musicianship. Always a sweat-drenched good time!

Truthfully, Agent Orange was a little late in the punk rock scene for me - while I always appreciated a wide variety of sounds, I had personally moved on to the new garage scene by the early 80's - but their mix of traditional surf (they were from an OC beach community) and hardcore won them multitudes of fans who obviously are still fanatics, as the Dive Bar was packed the entire night for these cats. Their set combined trad surf numbers ("Pipeline", "Surfer Stomp") with new originals, some of their standards and their best known anthem, "Bloodstains". With original members joined by a new powerhouse drummer, they smoked through their set and kept everyone in the pit for the entire night.

Thanks again to the Dive Bar, John Kirby for the fine sound, Pulsar for presenting the night and to everyone who came out! A terrific final show of the decade for the Psyatics - see you in January!

Friday, December 06, 2019

Redd Kross - Researching the Blues

I'm kinda going backwards here - this record was the prequel to Beyond the Door , released in 2012 with the McDonald brothers backed by longtime collaborators drum-master Roy McDonald (no relation) and lead guitar whiz Robert Hecker. Considering that this was the line up on some of their best known pop records, it's not surprising that this release emulates some of that greatness.

The opening title cut particularly sounds like it could easily have come off of, say, Neurotica, with fantastic lead work by Hecker, wild drums and incredible catchy melodies. These wondrous sounds continue in "Stay Away From Downtown", with pitch perfect genetic harmonies and sing-along chorus, as well as "Uglier" and the horror movie influenced (lyrically, not musically) "Dracula's Daughters" (once again, dig those harmonies!) and the rockin' "Meet Frankenstein".

Roy's classic drum lick opens up another power-pop masterpiece, the mid-tempo "One of the Good Ones", Hecker's guitar drives "The Nu Temptations", where Jeff's voice is top notch and the layered  harmonies are impressive as hell, ringing guitars galore highlight "Choose to Play", their Beatles influences come to the forefront in "Winter Blues" with it's John Lennon melodies and George Harrison slide guitar work, and the closer, "Hazel Eyes", has a little electronic noodling, but otherwise continues in their quest for the ultimate pop precision.

Once again, anyone who is a fan of RK or just of power pop in general will go gaga over these latest records. Highly recommended and, of course, go see them live for the ultimate experience!

Redd Kross - Beyond the Door

I first encountered Redd Kross (probably then still Red Cross, until the company sued them for using the name) around 1979/1980, while they were still a teenaged punk rock combo engrossed with 70's rock'n'roll (especially KISS), glam, and 60's garage (among other things). They were wild and sloppy, but had some great songs and before long they tightened up their act, added some wild'n'wacky thrift store clothes and became more of a fantastic power pop group, while still maintaining punk rock energy and wildness. Fronted by the McDonald brothers - Jeff on guitar and vocals and Steve on bass and vocals - they have gone through innumerable line up changes, but have always maintained a cohesive Redd Kross sound. I picked up this latest release when I caught them out here last month and they continue in their quest for creating perfect power pop party anthems!

The riff-laden, harmony drenched opening number, "The Party", sets the theme for the record - crazy catchy and vocals that the Sweet would be proud of. They don't lose any melodies or harmonies but beef up the energy for "Fighting", they get a bit more overly 70's in the title cut,  and "There's No One Like You" (sounds like Steve singing this one) starts as almost a ballady love song but builds up in heavy intensity while never losing the sweetness.

Their 60's influences come to the forefront in the psychedelic "Ice Cream (Strange and Pleasing)", with hints of tunes from the era while throwing in some powerful 70's riffage and "Fantastico Roberto" kinda continues in this vein - kinda everything that they have learned up to this point thrown in the mix to create the current RK sound. Steve's "The Party Underground" is their ode to the dive bars they have inhabited for the last several decades, with a Partridge Family poppiness over the top of their lick-laden guitars (lead man Justin Shapiro - ex-Celebrity Skin - particularly stands out here). Their mastery of melodies is overly abundant in "What's a Boy To Do?", "Punk II" is particularly un-punky, but is a bit off-kilter and wacky, "Jone Hoople" has some hip starts'n'stops among their 70's sounds and the closer. "When Do I Get To Sing 'My Way'" is more energetically lovely Redd Kross coolness.

The Melvins' Dale Crover drives the drums on this one, Jason's lead breaks are all spot-on, with equal parts melody and flash, Steve has always been an exceptional bassist and the vocals here are probably the best that they've ever done (and yes, they do occasionally have some help, but still...). After more than 40 years of non-stop rockin', the brothers are still as strong as ever. This stands up to any of the work in the 80's and 90's - fine stuff!

Thursday, December 05, 2019

recommended gigs

Thursday Dec 5 - Sissy Brown and Whiskey Breath at the Double Down

Friday Dec 6 - Trevor and the Swingin' Johnsons at the Golden Tiki
Friday Dec 6 - Thee Swank Bastards at Tiki di Amore

Saturday Dec 7 - Agent Orange with The Psyatics , the Sheiks of Neptune and the Jagoffs at the Dive Bar

Sunday Dec 8 - Thee Hypnotiques at the Golden Tiki
Sunday Dec 8 - the Rhyolite Sound at Vinyl
Sunday Dec 8 - Island's one year anniversary party with Gob Patrol, Dead Dolls, Lambs to Lions, Sector 7G

Monday Dec 9 - Thee Swank Bastards at the Golden Tiki

Tuesday Dec 10 - the Rhyolite Sound with the Sin Eaters at Hogs and Heifers
Tuesday Dec 10 - Atomic Surf at the Golden Tiki

Wednesday Dec 11 - Johnny Zig at the Force at the Double Down
Wednesday Dec 11 - Charlie Overbey, Darci Carlson, Rattle Can at the Dive Bar

Thursday Dec 12 - TV Party Tonight at the Double Down showing the movie What We Do Is Secret with live music by Gob Patrol

Friday Dec 13 - Black Sabbitch, Dinner Music for the Gods, Mad Rabbits at Count Vamp'd
Friday Dec 13 - The Unwieldies and the All Togethers at the Goldmine Tavern
Friday Dec 13 - TSOL, Lean 13, Fuckface, Across the Street at the Dive Bar
Friday Dec 13 - Punk Rock Xmas Toy Drive at Starboard Tack with the Sheiks of Neptune, the Pluralses, Jerk!, Wicked Bears and Cadaver Pudding

Saturday Dec 14 - The Swamp Gospel with the All Togethers at the Huntridge

Monday Dec 16 - Thee Swank Bastards at the Golden Tiki

Tuesday Dec 17 - the Double Whammys at the Golden Tiki

Friday Dec 20 - Thee Swank Bastards at Tiki di Amore
Friday Dec 20 - Shanda and the Howlers with Cherry Rat at the Sand Dollar

Monday Dec 23 - Thee Swank Bastards at the Golden Tiki

Wednesday Dec 25 - Thee Swank Bastards at the Double Down

Friday Dec 27 - Teenage Goo Goi Muck at the Dive Bsr

Saturday Dec 28 - Thee Hypnotiques at Tiki di Amore

Monday Dec 30 - Thee Swank Bastards at the Golden Tiki

Thursday Jan 2 - Tommy and the Commies, the Cavemen, Thee Saturday Knights and the Van der Rohe at the Bunkhouse

Friday Jan 3 - the New Waves at the Golden Tiki
Friday Jan 3 - the Unwieldies at Hardway 8

Saturday Jan 18 - the Swamp Gospel and the Psyatics and the Holy Smokes at the Double Down

Saturday Mar 14 - Thor at Evel Pie

What have I forgotten? Lemme know

Sunday, December 01, 2019

The Heiz, Dirk Vermin and the Hostile Talent, Jerk! and Franks and Deans at the Double Down, Saturday Nov 30. 2019

For the culmination of the Double Down's 27th anniversary weekend on Saturday, the bar hosted the return of The Heiz along with local celebs Jerk!, Dirk Vermin and Franks and Deans for a star-studded send-off to the weekend.

Jerk! started the night off, this time appearing as a three piece with lead singer Josh on bass (he played guitar when they were a quartet) and guitarist Matt backed by a monster sit-in drummer who might have missed a couple of cues but made up for it by being a powerhouse drivin' force. Their Ramones-esque pop-punk was a fine start to the night with an already jam-packed house.

Dirk Vermin has been a DD regular for nearly as long as the club has existed so it is fitting that he appeared both on Friday (with his latest combo, the Dead Dolls) and this night, with the Hostile Talent. Kind of a fitting name for these reprobates and they are a super-solid group with slammin' drummer Turbo keepin' the back beat bouncin' with tight rhythms and stingin' lead guitar work. Lots of obnoxious originals (kind of Dirk's trademark) as well as covers like the Standells' "Riot on Sunset Strip" and Girlschool's "Emergency".

After over a week in Vegas playing damn near every dive in town, the Heiz showed no sign of winding down as they stormed through a set of their unique brand of American rock'n'roll - from Chuck Berry to the Ramones - as seen through Japanese eyes. Opening with their new anthem "Back In Vegas", they ran through plenty of numbers from their excellent albums, such as the singalong odes to pizza and rock'n'roll, and the likes of "Taco Mambo" and "SOS Rock'n'Roll" mixed with high energy covers of tunes like "Hound Dog", "Keep A-Knockin'" and the closer "My Way" which got the entire crowd joining in. After chants of "one more song" (which appears on one of their albums, which I assume was recorded at a DD gig), they brought up drummer Pip from Franks'n'Deans and Kim got up from behind the kit to lead everyone in the Ramones "Rock'n'Roll Radio".

Non-stop wildness once again from this trio and a perfect band for the DD's anniversary! Unfortunately, the week caught up with us and we weren't able to stick around for our pals Franks'n'Deans, but we know that they had to continue the party well into the night!

Thank you Moss and all the hard-workin' folks at the DD for 27 years of sleazy rock'n'roll!