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Prompt: Songs About Partying

Bandages, “Lick the Bag”

Bandages were a short-lived Raleigh band from a few years ago. During a live set at Nice Price Books, guitarist Scott Williams (ex-Days Of..., Double Negative) called out Brain Flannel, whose Empty Set album featured an array of empty cocaine bags on the back of a guitar body. To paraphrase Scott’s intro, “The bags had residue in them. Any coke fiend knows you lick the bag. So, this next one is called ‘Lick the Bag’ and goes out to those posers.”

Unfortunately, I discovered in my research for this piece that “Lick the Bag” wasn’t an actual song – it was just trash talk. Instead, here’s a reminder to pick up the SSR singles series featuring Bandages.

This next one is for Jef Leppard.

Despite Chapel Hill, NC garnering tons of accolades in the 1990s for its independent music scene, there was one outlying Carrboro band that has since faded into obscurity. Hellbender’s vastly underrated, literary-minded pop-punk warranted lots of Jawbreaker comparisons, and for good reason: they wrote intelligent, smartly crafted songs that weren’t annoyingly catchy. This example is not one of them. Live, the song was prefaced with an anecdote of being approached by some UNC frat bro after a show, who told them, “You need to write more songs about girls.” And thus, they responded with this.

Hellbender, “Song About Some Girls”

Obviously, that can’t be your introduction to Hellbender, so here’s another jam to cleanse the palate. In Hellbender’s wake, Al Burian went on to start Milemarker, Challenger, and wrote his renowned zine, Burn Collector. Wells Tower is also an accomplished writer, including a very good compilation of short stories, and Harrison Haynes now plays for Les Savy Fav.

Hellbender, “I Thermostat / Unsolicited Anthem for the Portland Hipsters”

The Oblivians w/ Mr. Quintron, “Live the Life”

“If you’re going to Blackout this year, pour a beer on your head for me when The Oblivians play ‘Live the Life.’” — Tom Hopkins

Live the Life” is an old, much covered gospel tune, boasting spiritual greatness in day-to-day activities. It’s not so much as promoting God’s holiness, but using God’s greatness to springboard one’s individual life to its fullest. So, yeah, this song is about partying.

I can't go to church and shout all day Sunday / go out and get drunk and raise sand on a Monday.

See? Anyways… The Oblivians reunited for the Horizontal Action Blackout in 2006, and brought along Mr. Quintron. It was a time.

Promises kept, Mr. Hopkins, Esq.

N.Y.H.C. Documentary

“The Bronx is phat. You know, I got a weed spot down there, a weed spot down there, a weed spot right there. I’m closed in by the weed spots, bro!” — Cesar Ramirez, District 9

When you and your listless buds are bumming around Friday night, sitting on a porch to avoid the bars, I give the N.Y.H.C. documentary the highest suggestion. Filmed by Frank Pavich (who later directed Jodorowsky’s Dune), it covers the undertow that followed NYHC’s late 80s heyday. Covering pillars of the then-contemporary mid-90s NYHC scene: Madball, 25 ta Life, Vision of Disorder, Crown of Thornz, District 9, No Redeeming Social Value, and 108, the film fulfills its role as a document of the era, and that’s about it.

The music, arguably, isn’t the pinnacle of New York hardcore. There’s no insight to the scene’s contribution to the broader culture. The show footage suffers from low budget tech and lots of “Hell no I’m not bringing my gear into that enormous pit, so I’m just going to stand in the back” wide shots.

However, N.Y.H.C. is my personal second favorite quotable movie, next to Super Troopers. When you get a crew of knuckleheads together and ask them the meaning of everything, you’re gonna get some memorable answers. Couple that with the constant jovial busting of each other’s balls, and you’ve got yuks galore.

Anyways, it’s a perfect film for a low key night of baked goods and beer and pals when y'all were probably going to watch Valley Girl for the sixteenth time.

Gil Mantera’s Party Dream, "Elmo's Wish"

Conceived when a blizzard torpedoed a show in Youngstown, Ohio, Gil Mantera and The Ultimate Donny filled time with Party Talk, a synthpop act whose live show eventually utilized trampolines and flaming pubes. The pageantry involved ironic thrift store costumes that found their way to the stage and crowd in a gradual striptease -- a male revue that seemed choreographed with a mix of half-assed ballet, aerobics, and what looks like someone would do when dancing to Natalie Merchant. It was a gratuitous live show that indulged shamelessness, and I’ve seen them turn the most reticent crowds into all out dance parties (the most glaring example: a sports bar in the Chicago suburbs filled with Bill Swerski’s Super Fans types).

Sonically, Gil Mantera’s synth and vocoder plays foil to the Ultimate Donny’s “white dude tries to do MJB” croon, with an occasional guitar making its way into the composition. In the later years, they added virtuoso Tony Paterra (Zombi) on drums.

Joy Division diehards are a precious bunch, so here’s a “Love Will Tear Us Apart” cover that will surely piss you off.

Turbonegro, “I Got Erection”

In the early aughts, I worked at a bar called Club Foot, in Chicago’s Ukrainian Village neighborhood. Chicago punks of that era certainly remember it: its walls were adorned with rock, punk, and new wave memorabilia from decades past – owners Chuck and Lauree were steeped in the Chicago scene when punk broke. They had an incredible line-up of DJs, and the drinks were cheap in a neighborhood that, nowadays, is more known for its $15 craft cocktails than its dive bars.

Friday nights were my beat. And, every Friday night, three dudes would walk in, sporting greaser cuts, leather biker jackets, and Chuck Taylors, as if they were on hand for The Riverdales photo shoot in case Dan Vapid’s car broke down. Some time between last call and when the house lights would go up, one of those three gentlemen would start singing the refrain from Turbonegro’s “I Got Erection.” It would start in the back: “WOAAAAAAHHOOOOHHOHHHHHH I GOT ERECTION!” and keep going until most of the bar was a singing this jolly boner carol. My job as the surly door person was to be annoyed at such drunken tomfoolery, but I never got tired of this.

Amusing side anecdote: Turbonegro played The Metro a few years later. As the sold out crowd was waiting for our homoerotic Norwegian party rock to take the stage, I heard a familiar chant over the crowd noise. Towards the upper balcony, in the middle, I see one of our heroes, trying to get the crowd going. It wasn’t as successful as our intimate Club Foot settings, but I raised my beer in his general direction.

Now, for something I've been listening to lately...

Trash Knife at The Bunker, November 8, 2017

Philadelphia’s Trash Knife are doing everything superficially right: DGAF ‘tude? Check. Rune logo? Check. One band member with dreads? Check. But it’s the driving punk with songs about partying that will elevate them to crossover appeal. Mute the sound on that Tony Hawk game and jam this instead.


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