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The unknown obscuro glam, punk and new wave mystery bands of 1980s… FLORIDA?
05.08.2015
06:04 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
punk rock
Florida


Gregory McLaughlin, Randy Rush - The Front

A pair of eye-opening, no-budget documentaries on the (surprisingly great) glam, punk, and new wave music history of Florida have surfaced. These documentaries, primarily focused on the 1980s hyper-obscuro bands of the Miami scene, are a window into a musical history that, probably because of its geographical distance from the rest of the country, has been virtually ignored.

Punk rock historian, and author of the excellent Crate Digger: An Obsession With Punk Records, Bob Suren, who is constantly alerting me to new old bands I’ve never heard, sent me a link to Greg McLaughlin’s You Tube channel—a veritable treasure trove of Florida new wave and punk history. And get this—most of it’s actually really great.

McLaughlin led The Front, an early ‘80s punky, new-wave-ish quintet from Miami, with a sound reminiscent of San Francisco’s The Mutants or John Foxx era Ultravox. These guys were legitimate outsider weirdos who could have been huge if they had been from New York or LA or, hell, even Athens, GA. McLaughlin’s You Tube channel is chock full of clips of The Front as well as other Florida bands that no one north of Tallahassee’s ever heard of. Most of these bands may have released one or two singles if they were lucky. The Front had two.
 

 
McLaughlin has collected a lot of this footage, as well as interviews, into two documentaries: Invisible Bands and The Front -The Band That Time Forgot. The former chronicles Florida’s DIY music history from ‘60s garage punk bands through ‘80s new wave, power pop, and punk. The latter deals more specifically with McLaughlin’s own band, The Front, but also delves into the ‘80s Florida music scene, with bands such as The Eat, Cichlids, Screamin’ Sneakers, and Charlie Pickett and the Eggs.

Both documentaries are charmingly “no budget,”—fun in spite of their utter lack of any production value. Both could use a lot of fat-trimming, and would benefit greatly from about 30 minutes worth of cuts each. I think this is a problem film makers often face when they are too close to their subject matter.  The Front documentary loses focus about half way through and just starts including footage from loads of ‘80s contemporary local bands. Thankfully, all of the music (from a slew of unknown bands—“Killed By Death” greats, The Eat, are the most famous band featured, if that gives you any frame of reference)  is fantastic, even if the document itself is overlong and disjointed. Some of the footage repeats between the two documentaries, and if you’re not a patient person you may find yourself wanting to skim around a bit, but the music is totally worth it. There are some major gems to be unearthed here.

More after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
This is the best punk band in the United States
05.07.2015
06:05 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
punk rock
Downtown Boys


 
Sure, this will be a controversial superlative, but fuck it, I’m going out on a limb and declaring right now: Downtown Boys are currently the best active punk band in the United States.

I don’t make such statements carelessly. 

Providence, Rhode Island’s Downtown Boys may not be a household name, even in most punk houses, but they should be. The six-piece utilizes highly danceable manic punk blasts as a soapbox for their confrontational but heartfelt radical political screeds. The self-billed “bilingual political sax dance punk party” draws many influences together to create something that sounds familiar enough to pull you onto its frantic wavelength, but refreshing enough to keep you there. One might detect hints of The Fall, Bikini Kill, The Contortions, and The Ex, as much as the obvious comparison, X Ray Spex, who Downtown Boys share more in common with sonically than simply a saxophone and female singer.
 

 
In an excellent interview on wonderingsound.com, guitarist Joey L DeFrancesco touches on what sets Downtown Boys apart from most “political punk” acts:

We like to dance, and so do most of our friends. It’s something that brings people together. That’s just a good baseline. We aren’t trying to create a distraction from the awful world, but rather help create a new world inside the show space, and hopefully inspire folks to go out and do it in the outside world, too. There’s a power and joy in that, and that goes beyond just going to a club (which is still awesome and valid). Love and rage together are greater than the sum of their parts. Political music is often cheesy or boring, so no one listens to it. It’s ineffective propaganda.

Insert appropriate Emma Goldman misquote here.
 

 
Singer Victoria Ruiz paints a picture of the vibe at a Downtown Boys show—a vibe I can personally vouch for, as I was lucky enough to see them live last year. While most of the crowd waited outside for the by-the-numbers, headlining, cool-guy-hardcore-band, a smaller contingent of folks who had never heard of opening act, Downtown Boys, were at first stunned, and soon bouncing off walls, as the band utterly transformed the room. Ruiz conveyed a depth and realness that is so lacking in most of what passes for “punk” in 2015, and the audience picked up on that bigtime.

Every time we play, I think that we are going pretty deep down into the darkest and brightest places of ourselves, pulling out emotions from our subconscious and conscious desires, dreams and future. We are trying to relate to people. A lot of us in the band have worked in relational organizing, where you build relationships with people in order to create demand for change. It is the same thing with people at shows. We hope to meet people where they are at. It is crazy to look to the audience and be like, ‘Wow — there is a person here singing the lyrics louder than I am, there is a person here slowly unfolding their arms and slowly moving their head, there is a person here who looks likes I did when I was 16 — nerdy, brown and dirtying the cultural hegemonic brainwash.’ [At our shows] I want people to be with us and feel completely relevant and important.

OK. I made a rather bold statement up-top, and so it comes time to provide some musical evidence to back it up….

After the jump, listen to the best punk band in America today…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
John Hinckley Jr. is starting a band! These are the top 5 Hinckley-inspired songs!
04.25.2015
08:18 am

Topics:
Kooks
Music

Tags:
punk rock
John Hinckley Jr.


 
NBC Washington reported on Friday that failed Reagan-assassin, John Hinkley Jr., is interested in starting a band:

A psychiatrist treating the man who shot President Ronald Reagan in 1981 says he wants to start a band and should be allowed to publish his music anonymously.

Dr. Giorgi-Guarnieri testified Friday during court hearings that will ultimately determine whether and under which conditions John Hinckley Jr. will be allowed to live full time outside a mental hospital.

Giorgi-Guarnieri says Hinckley should be allowed to start the band, but not perform publicly.

Hinckley’s lawyer and treatment team say he’s ready to live full time at his 89-year-old mother’s home in Virginia under certain conditions.

Hinckley has been allowed freedom in stages. He spends 17 days a month at his mother’s Williamsburg home. One of his interests is music, and he sings and plays the guitar. He also participates in music therapy.

John Hinckley, Jr., best known as the man who tried to kill President Ronald Reagan in 1981, in a J.D. Salinger and Travis Bickle-inspired attempt to win the affections of a teen-aged Jodie Foster, was found “not guilty by reason of insanity” and has since remained under the care of psychiatrists at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital.
 

Hinckley, who never got that big hit he was looking for, now has a chance to put a band together and give it another shot.
 
The attempt on Reagan’s life was a boon for punk bands looking for song topics in the ‘80s. If Hinckley’s band plans on doing any covers, he might consider looking for some inspiration from those he, himself, inspired.

After the jump, the top five John Hinckley-inspired punk songs…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Gary Quazar: Unknown 1979 sci-fi prog-punk insanity finally demands an audience
03.19.2015
06:53 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
punk rock
Gary Quazar


 
I’m about to describe a very specific First-World-Problem that will sound completely stupid to anyone other than record collectors who have reached a certain level of accumulation -  but they will totally understand this. You know how you sometimes buy records faster than you can play them and you end up with those piles that might end up there for years before you ever get around to re-discovering shit you acquired who-knows-how-long-ago? Yes, it’s a thing that actually happens and it recently happened to me—I was going through a stack of 45s that had been waiting to be played for - who knows? - five years? One of the records I pulled out caught my eye because the cover was so weird. I couldn’t remember where or when I had actually purchased it, but I was damn sure why—this thing looked downright bizarre. It was a three song EP from 1979 by a fella named Gary Quazar, who according to the back cover was responsible for vocals, guitar, base (sic), and synthesizer. As soon as I put the thing on the turntable I was in love, and proceeded to keep flipping sides, playing it over and over all night long. “Base” may not have actually been a misspelling. There may indeed have been some baseing going on in the production of this EP. It’s completely nuts.
 

 
The music of Gary Quazar isn’t easily pigeon-holeable. It’s simultaneously punk, new wave, prog, and metal. You can hear King Crimson and Von LMO and Hawkwind and Middle Class, with vocals that sound like the unholy offspring of DEVO’s “Booji Boy” and the girl from Suburban Lawns. It’s just straight up weird and fast and incredibly out-there, and I’m willing to bet ol’ Gary didn’t really fit in with many “scenes” back in 1979. What do you call this? Sci-fi prog-core? Whatever it is, it’s fucking awesome.

So this record became sort of an instant-obsession, and I went straight to the Internet to find the scoop on Gary. That journey left more questions than answers, as Gary Quazar seems to be a bit of a mystery artist. A search for the specific record only revealed it being on some want-lists and auction results of it having sold a couple of times. Further digging into an alternate spelling of “Gary Quasar” revealed an old myspace page that has some of Gary’s other music recorded under the name “Panty Raid.” I recommend checking those tunes out, even though I don’t think they are quite as wild as the songs on the EP.
 

 
Following the “Gary Quasar” and “Panty Raid” breadcrumbs, I stumbled upon this crazy story about Gary which seems to indicate he was a bit of a, uh, wild-man.

The Gary Quazar saga continues after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Punk rock, now more than ever: The gospel according to Henry Rollins and various old punks
01.21.2013
02:05 pm

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Henry Rollins
punk rock


 
I’m no Henry Rollins fan but when he’s good he can be very good, as he is in this short piece on punk rock, Is Punk Back From The Dead?, that was broadcast on British TV recently.

The clip also includes some thoughts on punk from John Holmstrom, Tony James (Generation X), Mark Perry (Sniffin’ Glue) and Toyah Wilcox. The consensus: punk now more than ever!
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
80s punks remind us that sometimes punks were petulant little idiots
12.03.2012
05:34 am

Topics:
Punk

Tags:
1980s
punk rock

Pat Smear
Cherubic Pat Smear of the Germs, and later Nirvana… he hit girls
 
I am as guilty as any young punk of romanticizing the youthful energy of scenes and eras that I was never a part of, so it’s nice to be smacked in the face with reality once in a while. Of course it’s important to cut these kids a lot of slack as they navigated particularly ugly aspects of adolescence, many times through a lot of adversity. However, dear sweet baby Jesus, I hope I was never that much of a sulky, self-righteous, little ass (I know, I know—I probably was) as the youngsters on display in first installment of Penelope Spheeris’ legendary LA punk/metal trilogy The Decline of Western Civilization.

Through thick, grating, under-bitten LA accents, we hear classics such as “I’m a total rebel—I rebel against everything,” and “Everyone shouldn’t be afraid to be as different as they wanna’ be,” followed almost immediately by the same girl saying, “Everyone’s hair should be blue.” And of course, there are the racial epithets, gratuitous use of “poseur,” and various affected attempts at portraying cynicism and apathy.

Regardless, the angst and alienation these kids felt is palpably legitimate; you can’t help but wish you could pinch their bratty little cheeks and tell them that someday they’ll escape, and that it isn’t always going to be this bad. Mainly, however, I’m just happy no one recorded me at sixteen years old, and that I’ll never have to be sixteen years old again.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
No sell out: Bizarre ‘Punk’ CD commercial
05.05.2012
04:47 am

Topics:
Amusing

Tags:
punk rock
Adverts
LOL


 
Oh Punk Rock, what the hell happened?

Erasure? Huey Lewis and The News? The Fixx?! You really let yourself go, man.
 


 
Thanks to Ben Wilson!
 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
A girl’s best friend is her guitar: ‘Horseheads’ by Divorce


Divorce poster design by Croatoan Design
 
Divorce is a femme-thrash four piece from Glasgow, Scotland, quickly picking up a reputation for being one of the best live acts in the UK. I have posted about Divorce on Dangerous Minds before—a fitting tribute, I felt, to the newly-wed future King of England and his blushing bride—and now the band are back with a new 7” release on Milk Records called “Horseheads,” with a strange accompanying video.

Fans of both spiky, angular post-punk and the heavier end of hardcore will find a lot to like here. Drummer Andy Brown describes their influences as “loud, ugly and offensive. Anything that luxuriates in the joys of noise.” He adds that “genres and middle-class whiteboy whining can get fucked.” I second that emotion.

The video for “Horseheads” features a humanoid-chicken pecking at a pentagram-emblazoned snare drum (a nod perhaps to the infamous ‘Chicken Lady’ character from Kids In The Hall?) but as Brown states:

“The fact that there’s no-one dressed as a horse in the video has not gone unnoticed. The song’s not about horses anyway, it was named after the town that our vocalist Jennie comes from in America - only she really knows what it’s all about!”

There is, indeed, a village in upstate New York called Horseheads that describes itself as the “gateway to the Finger Lakes”. Visitors will be glad to know that, as of the 30th of January 2012, the drinking water from well number five is safe and does NOT require a “boil water advisory”. I don’t know what they’re putitng in the water in Horseheads, but I sure am glad it somehow turned out like this:

Divorce “Horseheads”
 

 

For more info on DIvorce (including upcoming tour dates and current releases) visit the Divorce the Band blog.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Screw the Royal wedding - listen to Divorce instead

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
A girl’s best friend is her guitar: L7 on Letterman


 
One of the best bands of the whole “grunge” era, here’s L7 rocking the fuck out of Letterman (and his band) in 1992 with their stone cold classic “Pretend We’re Dead”. For no other reason than it’s very cool and they look like they’re having a blast:
 

 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Pee-wee Herman, punk rocker
05.26.2011
12:52 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Punk
Television

Tags:
punk rock
Pee-wee's Playhouse


 
Our new partner in art crimes, Nicole Panter, was involved in the formative years of the Pee-wee Herman Show and that got me thinking about Pee-wee’s punk connections. Here’s a clip from Pee-wee’s Playhouse circa 1986 of Pee-wee pogoing with his pal Larry Fishburne (Cowboy Curtis). Music by Mark Mothersbaugh.

I know 1986 ain’t exactly the year punk broke, but, keep in mind, Paul Reubens started working on his Pee-wee character in L.A. in 1978 in the midst of a very vital punk scene and that anarchic spirit suffused his program.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Punk rock hysteria on TV show ‘Quincy’
10.15.2010
02:39 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Punk
Television

Tags:
punk rock
Mayhem
Quincy

image
 
Punk hysteria on TV. Faux punkers Mayhem play ‘Choke’ on Quincy episode Next Stop, Nowhere.

This Quincy episode aired on December 1, 1982. Some actual albums that were released in 1982: Black Flag - ‘Damaged’  Bad Brains - ‘Bad Brains’ Flipper - ‘Generic’ Exploited - ‘Troops Of Tomorrow’ Fear - ‘The Record’ Husker Du - ‘Everything Falls Apart’ Crass - ‘Christ: The Album’ Minor Threat - ‘Minor Threat’ Replacements - ‘Stink’ Descendents - ‘Milo Goes To College’ Meat Puppets - Bad Religion - ‘How Could Hell Be Any Worse’ Social Distortion - ‘Mommy’s Little Monster’.”  Reverend Dan

“I saw a blind man the other day / took his pencils and ran away”
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment