Monday, June 8, 2015
RETRO ME, RETRO YOU: DEFINING THE 90s
Sometimes people think I repeat the past and its pulverizing mistakes, but that need for fast burning pleasure always supersedes the slow burn of stumbling and wincing through a stagnant culture of “as is”. I enjoy long walks on the beach and romantic sunsets but preferably with benzos and cigarettes so I don’t get bored. I remember when I was eighteen thinking that people were strange and society sucked, I realize two decades later it still holds true. Somewhat a product of the 80s and total product of “Totally 90s”, I present to you my top five of garage/punk rock tunes from the beautifully decadent and very confusing decade of the 1990s. Condemning yourself to too much self-awareness and endless contempt isn’t always such a bad thing.
5. The Problematics – Punk Girl
This track from their debut LP “The Kids All Suck” on Rip Off Records delivers a mesmerizing melody with bone saw guitar chords cranked into the red. Distorted beyond belief and flawless in its execution, this track embodied a roaring spirit, a troublesome one at that. I remember receiving a dubbed cassette copy of this and wailing on bong hits and Ten High whiskey while popping Vivarin to make sure I stayed awake longer than my friends at an apartment party on a Saturday night long ago. Staying awake has its privileges when you have a female partner in crime that digs this song too. This played through the night and I didn’t go to sleep until 11 a.m. the following morning.
4. Furious George – I Gotta Gun
From their debut 7” single on Maximum Rock n Roll Records, I picked this one up at the record store because I liked the zine and figured if they put a record out, it would probably kick serious ass since they had such a reputation for shredding up and coming “punk” bands in their reviews. The shit talking always made for a good read and kept drama high in every punk scene of the country. MRR columnist George Tabb was the leader of this Dee Dee Ramone inspired outfit. After hearing this, I wrote a song with my band called “I Don’t Get Girls” which had very few lyrics thanks to this inspirational blast of crash and burn madness. I thought a double meaning would give me Shakespeare status, it didn’t… Short and minimalistic, “I Gotta Gun” would influence quite a few bands to drop the filler and just deliver the goods in a minute and a half.
3. The Humpers – Plastique Valentine
This legendary 90s outfit still plays to this day and I’ve always considered this to be the band at their prime. Off their second album for Epitaph Records and probably the best thing Epitaph released during that time. This thing shakes and grooves like the bastard child of Little Richard and the Angry Samoans. True grit on display here to deafen your ears like you never had them. I remember the band scene changing at that time. Everyone was changing their choice of substances from beer and weed to more elegant stimulants, clean and white, Rick James style. An implosion was sure to happen but no one cared. The groove was addictive, the girls were prettier, the guys uglier, and an unforgettable hazy shade of summer consumed the garages. Small dreams came true and bigger nightmares came to life.
2. Nashville Pussy – All Fucked Up
I think the album cover art and song title say it all on this one. Their live performance in the beginning was a force to be reckoned with. In the middle of the punk/garage chaos, these guys and gals kept the tangled party of deceit going. Sounding like a southern fried version of the Saints on trucker speed, they helped propel the 90s “girls kissing girls, just because” movement. This was their best track in my opinion. Teeth grinding dirt and a cesspool of heavy rock, it marked the beginning of garage rock turning into hard rock, with no apologies.
1. Fur – X-Offender
This NYC trio led by Holly Ramos provided some of the sexiest and punkiest sounds of that time. Criminally underrated in my book, her vocals purr and the guitars scream. Fast and loose in its delivery, the loose swing blends perfectly with the hyper distorto guitar. A bittersweet wall of sound that crashes through with intoxicated sincerity. Their self-titled debut album is contagious and I recommend finding it if you can. Fur is cool, smoking cigarettes is cool, and leopard print never goes out of style. I used to wake up wrecked, drink two pots of coffee while listening to this album, and then go off to my boring office job. If I did that nowadays, I would probably have five anxiety attacks in a row, but maybe more out of sadness then nervousness. Holly’s melodies always had a way with me.
In closing, this is an abbreviated list of songs that defined an era for me and there are way more bands I would like to include in future updates when the mood hits me. Inspiration comes and goes but meaningful music that hits you in the gut has a way of attaching itself to you for a lifetime. Know what I mean...
FEAR AND LOATHING IN LONG BEACH