Archive for the ‘1980s’ Category


Tuesday, November 17th, 2020

The Jumbo Sound of Mudhead 7″
Self-Released, 1988

The Jumbo Sound of MudheadSpinning the recently released Captured Tracks compilation of mid-80s proto-indie rock, Strum & Thrum, The American Jangle Underground 1983-1987, I was pleasantly surprised to see the Kansas City area represented with a track from The Bangtails which made me feel the need to call out the long lost haunted postpunk of The Bangtails-related band Mudhead. Anchored by the driving drumbeat of The Bangtail’s Archer Prewitt (The Sea & Cake, The Cocktails) and the off-the-rails wailing of fellow Kansas City Art Institute student and Nebraska punk luminary Mott-ly in a dense swirl of dual guitars and hypnotic basslines, this droning 33rpm single comes off as the unpredictable midwestern cousin of NYC no-wave pioneers Live Skull amped up with the unnerving intensity of a band like Of Cabbages and Kings, lit with a goth-tinged hue of Burning Image-style death rock. Tinnitus-tainted readers may appreciate this deeper peek into the festering KC underground that also produced the much more accessible Bangtails. If the single catches your ear, be sure to check out a live version of “Eleutheromania” taken from the 1988 Live in Lawrence compilation where Mott-ly “knocked satellites out of orbit… screaming like Elmer Fudd being raped by a werewolf on a bad acid trip” as an astute alt weekly writer once wrote.


Mudhead – Eleuthermomania
Mudhead – Charlie’s Golden Ticket

Mudhead – Eleuthermomania (Live)


Tuesday, September 5th, 2017

Prong - ForceFedForce Fed LP (Spigot, 1988)

Seeing Decibel magazine give Prong’s Beg to Differ album the Hall of Fame treatment made me want to revisit their first two albums, as they have always been underrated and overlooked slabs of relentless and bleak thrash. While Beg to Differ is a fairly solid cruncher of an LP (not to mention that it features Pushead artwork and a live cover of Chrome’s “Third from the Sun”) I’ve found that their debut Primitive Origins and sophomore followup Force Fed really deliver the goods. Prong may have made a slight blip on the underground radar when Force Fed was first released but it was definitely eclipsed commercially by Beg to Differ, which was delivered with a slick polish on a major label and nearly instant acclaim for it’s dynamic songwriting and musical prowess. And while those qualities are all well and good, they don’t deliver the same visceral punch of a focused trio slaying it with monstrous riffs played at double speed. I used to think that all the guitar solos on Beg to Differ were what weakened it, but with fresh ears I’ve realized that Force Fed is packed with them too, although here they function to spiral the songs out of control instead of fancy finger flourishes. If your opinion of Prong is based on their later records, you might want to give this and Primitive Origins a spin.

Force Fed on Apple Music

Don’t Mean Maybe

Monday, July 28th, 2014

Don't Mean MaybeBig Day for Blimps 7″ EP
Self Released, 1989

A handful of bands get referenced to a degree that it almost becomes a insult when they’re used to describe a lesser-known band. The work of Fugazi, Slint, Black Flag and others get name dropped so much that you can’t help but dismiss a band described as such, assuming that they try too hard to follow in the footsteps of a greater band. That hazard shouldn’t really stand when those bands’ collective output is in fact so noteworthy that any band that earns such a nod should at the very least be worth checkin’ out once. Don’t Mean Maybe definitely fall in that camp with a sound that admittedly cribs more than a few notes from The Minutemen — shit, the cover of this debut 7″ is even an homage to their 1984 landmark double LP Double Nickels on the Dime — but this San Diego trio’s slightly more forceful twist to their songs that makes this 7″ a compelling listen. If you love The Minutemen, you’ll find it hard to resist this one or their Doctor Dream Records releases.


Don’t Mean Maybe – Big Day for Blimps EP (13.8mb Zip file)

Don’t Mean Maybe albums on iTunes


Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

School’s Out 7″
SST, 1987

A few weeks ago, the Southern Lord label released an album of long lost Bl’ast! recordings, Blood!, remastered by Dave Grohl. It’s breathed new life into my love for this band with a collection of tracks from their prime It’s In My Blood era, the creative peak of these Santa Cruz heavies. At the time this 7″ came out, featuring a cover of the classic Alice Cooper song on the A-side and the Germs “The Slave” on the B-side, Bl’ast was often pegged as a Black Flag rip-off. Sure, guitarist Mike Neider killed it Ginn-style on a clear acyrlic guitar, and their SST discography definitely links them to that sound. Yet they need credit for bringing something new to the table with massive riffs that stretch time signatures like taffy and Cliff Dinsmore’s distinctively hoarse bark that gave their version of heavy hardcore a mighty guttural punch. Wisely, the new release (which is basically It’s In My Blood resequenced with a few alternate tracks) includes the song “Your Eyes” from this otherwise novel 45. “Your Eyes” sounds better than ever on Blood! with an additional guitar and a crisp mix that pushes this late ’80s material into a powerful roar that levels anything out there today. Here’s the original version of the track, which still delivers a hella heavy punch and stands as a great example of why this band shouldn’t be overlooked.

Bl’ast – “Your Eyes” (2.3mb)

Buy Blood! at Southern Lord Records
Bl’ast on Facebook
Video clip about remastering Blood!

Tales of Terror

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

Tales of Terror LP
CD, 1984

***Long overdue reissue alert*** The finest track on The Melvins’ Everyone Loves Sausages LP has to be the song “Romance” from the criminally underrated Sacto punk heavies Tales of Terror. After hearing the Melvins’ version, the song stuck with me for days and made me appreciate them even more than I already did. Why their solitary 1984 LP hasn’t seen some sort of reissue or at least shown some respect outside a few clued-in blog posts is a mystery to me. They had a few compilation tracks on classic records like Rat Music for Rat People Vol. 2 and Boner Records’ Them Boners Be Poppin’, not to mention a killer instrumental track on the second volume of Thrasher magazine’s Skate Rock compilations. In fact the footage of the band from Thrasher’s first Skate Rock video was what made me a believer, with roaring versions of “Ozzy,” “Possessed” and “Deathryders.” Check out a couple tracks from the album, the instro track from Skate Rock Vol. 2 and the Thrasher video below.


Tales of Terror – “Romance”
Tales of Terror – “Deathryder”
Tales of Terror – “Gods from Outer Space” (from Thrasher‘s Skate Rock Vol. 2)


Tales of Terror on Last Day of Man on Earth
Tales of Terror from Thrasher’s Skate Rock video


Friday, June 29th, 2012

Madhouse EP, 1985
Fountain of Youth Records

Picked up this gem solely based on the label and was pleasantly surprised to find a Siouxsie & The Banshees-influenced take on early Revolution Summer-style DC postpunk. While the cover art looks totally aggro and the Fountain of Youth label was best known for releasing a slew of Government Issue records, this anomaly takes a chilly, almost gothic path into female-male harmonizing, sounding like X if they were from suburban DC instead of LA. Lead singer Monica Richards was a staple of the early DC hardcore scene as a member of Hate from Ignorance and was part of the first wave of HC kids disenfranchised by the codification of hardcore, spurring the Revolution Summer of 1985. Madhouse could be considered part of this Revolution, ushering in the bouncing, melodic mid-tempo sound popularized by groups like Soulside, Ignition, Rites of Spring and Embrace. Check out this solid EP (and their sole 7″) they released before fading into obscurity.


Madhouse – Madhouse EP (31.5mb ZIP file)


Madhouse’s Mecca 7″ on Discogs

The Prefab Messiahs

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Peace Love and Alienation LP
Fixed Identity, 2012

It never ceases to amaze just how many buried gems are still out there. For example, check out this Worcester, MA postpunk psych romp from the early ’80s, reissued on Gary War and Taylor Richardson‘s Fixed Identity label. It’s a perfect infusion of Nuggets-style garage psych into the scrappy sound of early postpunk alá Swell Maps, The Urinals, The Homosexuals, etc. With small traces of ’80s collegiate guitar chime, The Prefabs assembled a timeless, killer sound that’s on par with the best sounds from any era. Why they haven’t been name-dropped incessantly over the last 30 years is a mystery.

Buy LP at Fixed Identity
The Prefab Messiahs on Bandcamp
The Prefab Messiahs WFMU interview



Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Deprogrammer LP
Mystic Records, 1982

Here’s a classic example of a totally underrated record that’s quietly slipped into the abyss of dollar bins and cheap-ass used vinyl stacks without nearly enough respect. True, it’s hard to get excited about mid-paced hard rock-style punk — there’s nothing particularly outstanding or novel about it — but goddamn, you will not find many records that can soulfully stomp along as solidly as this one does. I nabbed it for a dime at a college radio vinyl selloff (thank you KRUI) on account of it being a Mystic Records release, expecting some inept Z-grade hardcore bashing, ala labelmates RKL, Dr. Know, Ill Repute, etc., but this record is a million miles from Nardcore or the mega compilations put out on the label. Initially I was disappointed by it’s relatively mellow demeanor, but after years of sporadic spins it’s slowly worked its way into my tinnitus-wrecked skull. Style-wise it fits somewhere between the Dead Boys and Joy Division. It’s moody without being too gloomy and has enough snarl to elevate it above the typical hard rock drivel.


Deprogrammer – Deprogrammer LP (37.3mb ZIP file)


Download Deprogrammer’s s/t 7′ at KBD Records
Deprogrammer post at Punk Business Manager blog
Deprogrammer post at Glorify the Turd blog

Tiltawhirl (Arcwelder)

Monday, February 28th, 2011

This LP
Big Money Inc., 1989

At the end of February, before winter finally loosens its icy grip and dreary grey days stack up so high that you can’t remember what the warmth of the sun feels like, the debut from this Minneapolis trio starts to sound pretty fuckin’ good. It sounds great any time of year, but the roughneck minor chord guitar and punchy rhythm section acknowledges that feeling of winter dread while also offering a glimmer of determined hope through sheer tough will. That and they’re from a city where subzero temperatures are obscenely common, so the association with coldness and winter is somewhat fitting. This record from Tiltawhirl (which became Arcwelder after the amusement park company that created the Tiltawhirl ride slapped the band with a cease and desist order) shows the band in a less rigid and polished form, full of mopey collegiate guitar rock that’s just noisy enough to distinguish itself from the legions of bands covering similar territory in that era. Just check out the gloomy bumout of “Blue” and the Killing Joke-esque punch of “It Won’t Change” as examples.


Tiltawhirl (Arcwelder) – “Blue”
Tiltawhirl (Arcwelder) – “Arcwelder”
Tiltawhirl (Arcwelder) – “It Won’t Change”


The Arcwelder Home Page
Arcwelder on MySpace

13th Chime

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

Complete Discography CD
Sacred Bones Records, 2010

One of the amazing things about music fandom is that no matter how far you explore a music genre there’s always a hidden gem that comes out of nowhere and instantly gives you a fresh perspective on a scene that you thought you knew so well. Granted, you always pay your dues snatching up lesser records that don’t quite have the magic of albums that pull you into a scene, satisfied to just find something that approaches the greatness of landmark records in your collection. But every once and a while a band will come along and make you wonder how the fuck you’d never heard of ’em. Such is the case of UK postpunk band 13th Chime who apparently had a bit of success during the early 1980s, touring with groups like The Addicts, The Meteors, Spear of Destiny, and The Enid, getting some airplay from John Peel, and releasing a few solid 7-inches and recording an unreleased LP. The quality level of 13th Chime’s recorded output exceeds many of their peers, with a gnashing style of darkwave postpunk that exists somewhere between the pounding throb of Killing Joke and the stark histrionics of Christian Death, tempered with the synthetic whine of Siouxsie, Tubeway Army, and Bauhaus. Yet those are just reference points, as 13th Chime had a harrowing sound that was distinctly their own. Huge props to Sacred Bones for bringing their unreleased LP to light decades later and packaging it up with their solid singles collection, demanding that this unheard band get its due.


Buy 13th Chime at Sacred Bones Records
13th Chime on MySpace