Archive for the ‘1990s’ Category

Red Monkey (Reissue)

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

How We Learned to Live Like A Bomb LP
Our Voltage, 2014

Scan through the reviews section of any recent issue of MRR and you’re likely to see gallons of ink touting a substantial percentage of vinyl being pressed of 10+ year-old punk. Many of these reissues pimp bands that continue to sell to an established fanbase, while others give light to some bands unknown and underrated during their day. This reissue from the German label Our Voltage is a record you’ll want to take note of as it gathers some of the most essential tracks from one of the late ’90s most underrated bands. If you haven’t familiarized yourself with Red Monkey yet, check out this previous post about their first 7″, then find yourself a copy of this vital collection before it disappears as quickly as the original pressings of these killer slabs of angular post-punk. 18 remastered tracks (16 on red vinyl, plus an additional 2 with album download) collecting all their 7″ releases and compilation tracks, plus a 20-page zine style booklet featuring anecdotes and art from the band members make this an essential release for those new to the razor-sharp sounds of Red Monkey as well as longtime fans.

Listen to the first track “Trespass” on Soundcloud


Get How We Learned to Live Like A Bomb from Our Voltage


Friday, December 27th, 2013

Part of Me 7″
Sub-Pop, 1995

By the time I found Plexi, around the time their excellent Cheer Up record came out, they’d mutated into a glossier glam-pop version of themselves with sharp, punchy guitar hooks and a hard rock swagger. I’ve loved that album for years now. Digging back into their discography with their 7″ debut, I was stoked to find a more aggro version of the band with two tracks that are just a little more tense and in-your-face than their LP tracks. The sleeve design is pretty sweet too, with embossed letterpress art and the 2 songs jammed onto the A-side of this 1-sided 45. I picked up a used copy, but it looks like it’s still available at the Sub Pop website too.

Buy “Part of Me” at



Monday, August 26th, 2013

Thin As Clouds/Pink Deluxe 7″
Amphetamine Reptile, 1995

You gotta love anomalies. While the rest of the world was consumed with Seattle, grunge, and whatever 3rd rate stinkbombs “alternative” radio could fart out 24 hours a day, this group from Hawaii was steadily churning out a slow burn racket that’s aged pretty well over the last 20 years. If you’ve dug into any CD crates lately, you may have thumbed the treasure of their excellent AmRep albums buried in heaps of Silverchair and Candlebox turds. Motionless and Anything Near Water are keepers, as well as releases on other labels all the way through their 2011 Falls Best EP. Here’s a B-side from a tour-only 7″ that captures their thoughtfully constructed and uniquely delivered slow-mo blues grit. Troy Von Balthazar’s near-yodeling vocal style was/is such a welcome departure from the deep throat clenched jaw clichés of grunge singers of the era. Although the band eventually moved to LA, it’s still hard to imagine that the sunny shores of Honolulu — a touristy land of extreme sport and resort reggae — birthed such a unique and refined take on downer guitar rock.

Chokebore – “Pink Deluxe” (4.8mb)

Official Chokebore website
Chokebore on iTunes
Video for “Coat” on YouTube

Red Monkey

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

Do What You Feel (Feel What You Do) 7″
Slampt, 1997

Back in 1997 there weren’t a ton of groups doing angular, Gang of Four-style postpunk, so you gotta give Red Monkey credit for not only being ahead of the curve, but for doing it really really well. Along with their classic releases on NJ’s Troubleman label, this debut 7″ EP on their Slampt label has remained one of the better examples of tightly-wound, tension-filled punk with a sharp political edge. With male/female vocals sparing back and forth ala The Ex and a stripped down, herky-jerk rhythm section, songs like “Not Only” and “18+” absolutely grab you by the throat and demand your attention. Ain’t that what punk’s all about?


Red Monkey – “18+”
Red Monkey – “Not Only”


Red Monkey on iTunes

Caffiend / Filter

Friday, November 30th, 2012

Split 7″
Station Eight, 1994

As much as one can explore the music underground, there will always be treasures buried in time and obscurity. Entire scenes that barely blip on the most thorough subterranean radar may only yield utterly forgettable dreck, but every now and then a snapshot appears that gives depth to a scene that warrants more inspection. Here’s a an example of one such snapshot, this rare split between two Lincoln, Nebraska hardcore bands that captures two overlooked bands doing some interesting stuff at a time you wouldn’t expect this type of noise to be rumbling in a midwestern college town. Judging from the all-lowercase cover art and inside action shot of clean cut kids in band tees, you’d expect Caffiend to be some sort of straight-edge or proto-Emo band akin to Boys Life, Braid, or the Saddle Creek scene that’d soon follow. Instead, their track “Runaway” is an pent up burst of rambling noise skronk accented with intense blurts from a horn section and samples. The flipside by Filter (most definitely not the “Hey Man Nice Shot” Filter) offers more sample-driven chuggage with an even darker, metal sound that Neurosis was perfecting at the time. Both tracks make you wonder what else was going on around these bands and where to hear some more…


Posting at


Caffiend – “Runaway”
Filter – “Skinned Knees”

Three Legged Dog

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Loaded LP
Bomp!, 1990

Like other small college towns across the midwest, Columbia, Missouri has had its history of raging bands that flame out and disappear before fully putting their town on the map. This trio knocked me over at an Outhouse show in Lawrence before this LP came out and it was years before I finally managed to pick it up. I couldn’t recall what they sounded like and even now it’s hard to pin ’em down. There’s the loose Black Lips garagey tracks that fit along with the Bomp! Records imprint, but there’s also crazed dirges that come out of left field like “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”, sounding like Tales of Terror on a bender. Throw in some thrashy riffs that could hang with the best of the emerging crossover metal bands of the era and you’ve got a noteworthy slab of vinyl that defies easy classification or dismissal.


Three Legged Dog – “Fast Bent”
Three Legged Dog – “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”
Three Legged Dog – “Triplets”


Saturday, December 24th, 2011

43 10″
ActionBoy 300, 1995

A number of great bands in the ’90s were unfairly dismissed as Fugazi clones, and this suburban Chicago group might be the best example of just how great some of these groups could be. Gauge was a young band, which may have kept them from getting the respect they deserve, but they toured hard and put out a body of work that’s well worth a listen, especially this 6-song EP, their final release. Gauge definitely took some inspiration from Fugazi and the dynamic punch of early emo/post-hardcore, but their sound was distinct with throaty vocals and an earnest, utilitarian method of achieving a dramatic punch. At times they’re tense and gnarled, while other times hushed and subdued, offering a slightly math-rock inspired take on what Boys Life and Christie Front Drive were doing around the same time. If you dig this, you’ll also want to check out some of the bands that sprung from Gauge, like Traluma, Haymarket Riot and Euphone.


Stream “43” on Bandcamp


Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

Hollywood Blood Capsules CD
Choke, 1995

Two bands in the mid-90s were often described as “The Jesus Lizard with female vocals” and strangely enough:

  1. Both had the word “jack” in their moniker
  2. Both came from college towns
  3. Both featured female vocalists with the last name of a U.S. President.

Despite these intriguing similarities, neither really got the attention they deserved outside of their respective hometowns. Considering the novelty and force of each band, it’s puzzling to imagine a time where the output of these groups could be so utterly overlooked and unnoticed. Read more about Athens’ Jack O Nuts here. Like Jack O Nuts,  Ann Arbor’s Jaks employed snaky, propulsive bass and tensely clashing minor key guitar shards — but to a slightly more gnarled degree. And while Jack O Nuts’ Laura Carter had the David Yow-ish howl of a crazy person, the Jaks’ Katrina Ford (who would later go on to Love Life and Celebration) forces the sketchy thrill of a carnival sideshow through a blown-out transistor mic, half rambling, part singing and part screaming. It’s a rambunctiously noisy and fun album with a slight gothic tint. You can find it and their earlier singles collected on the Here Lies the Body of Jaks collection released on Three One G.


Jaks – “Dumb Waiter”
Jaks – “Spider”


Jaks on MySpace
Buy Jaks “Here Lies the Body of Jaks” discography CD at Three One G


Saturday, August 27th, 2011

(Germo) Phobic LP
Headhunter Records, 1997

Friends and family rarely understand what drives a person to spend countless hours sifting through cubic acres of vinyl in dingy record stores, cataloging and obsessing over music that most people find more worthless than the series of descending pricetags stuck on its jackets. And we’re not talking about collecting. That people can sorta understand. There’s a point to finding something rare and worth a lot of money. For me, however, it’s been hard to explain the thrill of finding something I wasn’t really even looking for, something I stumble across randomly that totally hits the spot — something makes all the searching worthwhile. Whether it’s rare and valuable or worth next to nothing, I could care less. As long as I continue to find music that kicks ass buried in those dingy record stores, you’ll find me happily flipping through the stacks in search of my next fix. This somewhat hard-to-find sophomore album from Tanner is a perfect example. Their debut LP Ill-Gotten Gains found a coveted place in my collection alongside other San Diego greats like Hot Snakes and The Night Marchers (both featuring Tanner’s Gar Wood) and I’ve picked up some of their singles when I’ve come across them. I didn’t even know they had another album, so when I came across this I knew it’d be worth checking out. I was right. This one picks up where their debut left off with tight, punchy riffs solidly played over earnest vocals and hooky songwriting, maybe even better than they did on their first LP. It’s a smoker that will keep me searchin’ for the next batch of quality tuneage.


Tanner – “AKA Meltdown”
Tanner – “Booty”
Tanner – “2 Parts Gas”


Official Tanner site

Candy Machine

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

A Modest Proposal CD
Atlantic Records, 1994

During Candy Machine’s 7-year lifespan, the easily overlooked Baltimore quartet managed to put out a few singles and three albums of quality tension rock while never connecting to a substantial fanbase or getting out of the cutout bin ghetto. It’s a shame too, because this album in particular showcases their peculiar version of rigid, art-damaged postpunk that was unlike the multitude of bands plodding similar territory at the time. Sandwiched between Candy Machine’s debut on Skene! Records and their final album split released on ultimate indie labels DeSoto and Dischord Records, A Modest Proposal was released by a major label and promptly neglected. With a deadpan vocals, severe angular guitar, and bouncing bass lines pulling everything together with a precision-steady beat Candy Machine’s big label flop is a relatively unheard treasure.


Candy Machine – A Modest Proposal (59.9mb Zip file)