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Staff Picks: July 2, 2020

Staff Picks: Daniel

Caravan: In the Land of Grey and Pink LP (1971)

Most of my free listening time this week has been devoted to the new Cool Greenhouse LP, but I’ve also found time to throw this album on a few times over the past week. A while back I was catching up on my YouTube watch list, and one thing I watched was this video giving a primer on Canterbury Prog. That’s a term I’ve seen bandied about a lot over the years, and given how much I’ve listened to Gong and Steve Hillage in 2020, I thought it was time I boned up a little. I listened to all the albums mentioned in the video, but In the Land of Grey and Pink is the one that grabbed my ear, which is surprising because I don’t like a lot of music that has this kind of pastoral vibe. However, the meandering guitar lines and bright melodies are just irresistible.

Staff Picks: Dominic

Records and Footie.
 
Greetings all, I hope you are doing well? It’s been a funny ol’ time for me this past week. The proverbial emotional rollercoaster. My Mum had to have heart related surgery back in England and on the very same day, Liverpool FC won the English Premier League. Talk about mixed emotions. Mum made it through fine and is home recovering. As for Liverpool? What can I say? I’ve been a supporter all my life and am old enough to know the good times and the bad ones. We’ve had to wait thirty years for this particular title win and it came in the year that will be remembered for many other things other than football. When the pandemic hit and stopped the season it was possible that they wouldn’t resume and the season would be voided (among other possible scenarios) but thankfully the league restarted last week and games are being played in fan-less stadiums. Teams have been paying respect to those effected by the pandemic and also taking a knee at the beginning of each game to show support for BLM. In fact, every player had Black Lives Matter written on the back of their shirts instead of their name. Great to see the league showing a unified support for the movement. Great to see games being played again even if the fans can’t actually be there to cheer the teams on.

I mention football and particularly Liverpool because it has been something that over the years has influenced me, informed me, educated me and introduced me to so many people from all over the world. The same thing that music has done. Records have educated and entertained. There are many ways to take in knowledge but for me records and the music have been my great teacher. Growing up in the 70s and 80s music opened up the world to me. I was exposed to different cultures, races, nationalities and religions and soon learnt that we are all one on this planet, bleed red, have similar hopes and dreams and just want the best for ourselves and our loved ones. Each new record contained more signposts to other artists and music and taught me a little bit more about the world. Some music was more political than others, some was just fun but it came from humans and nothing else (for the most part) has the power to move people and bring them together other than the aforementioned football and other sports.

In the pre-internet era hearing music was not quite as easy as it is now. You had to put some effort in and a little foot work to get the best sounds. Radio ruled and the local record shop was the place to be. Listening to the radio in the UK was a mixed bag, it wasn’t all good. There was a good reason why pirate radio existed. However, at certain times of day there would be a show and a DJ that would make it worthwhile tuning in. For me that DJ was the great John Peel. He was simply the best and had the most eclectic show on radio. Plus, he was a Liverpool fan (The circle completes). Listening to his show you would be constantly making notes of new records to hunt for and you would hear so many different styles of music played back to back. Peel was like an IPod on shuffle play long before they had been invented.

This past week or so I have been listening to a lot of old John Peel Shows that are up on YouTube and it has been a lot of fun in addition to being a bit of time travelling. So, for this week, these are my “picks” for you to go investigate and enjoy. As well as John Peel Shows, I have also been playing another great old radio show that you can find on YouTube. This time from here in the US and New York City and originally airing in the early 90s. I’m referring to The Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito show that aired on WKCR out of Columbia University. It was a hip-hop show that aired late at night/early morning and featured mostly new and upcoming artists in an uncensored environment. The late hours meant that FCC rules were a little looser at that point so guest MCs could truly freestyle when they came on. Later the show moved to Hot 97 and an earlier time slot and the freedom wasn’t quite the same. I highly recommend anyone who likes hip-hop and who hasn’t heard some of these shows to check them out. You’ll hear artists like Nas, Biggie, The Fugees and Jay Z making some of their first radio appearances among many others. When I moved to America to work on cruise ships, I used to have tapes of these shows (along with copies of The Source magazine) mailed to me. They were one of the best educations I could get and it brings me back to my main point of this writing, that of the power of music to introduce you to other people and cultures and to bring people together with love and respect.

Here are a couple of examples of each show for you to check out and some rabbit holes to fall down into.

Staff Picks: Usman

When I saw this re-issue was happening, I wasn't sure what it was. But when I looked at the track list and discovered it featured Bannlyst, then ALSO read "Members of bands on this release went on to form bands like Svart Framtid, Kafka Prosess, Stengte Dører and So Much Hate," I lost my mind. It was a must have! Svart Framtid was the first Norwegian band I ever heard. I bought their EP on whim back when I lived in Indy. At first, I thought it was a Framtid (from Japan) record but my friend behind the counter was like, "nah it's not Framtid but it's an '80s re-issue and its rips." It was expensive cos it was an import (look at me now…). I soon discovered the music alone was worth every dollar, not to mention the beautiful double-sided fold-out sleeve. The vocalist of Svart Framtid ran the label X-Port Plater, a small label based in Oslo, Norway who released records from 1984 to 1989. Almost all the Norwegian bands I know were released on X-Port Plater. Funny enough, all these bands share members too. I made a diagram to show the connections, rather than just trying to explain it in a confusing fashion.

Anyway, "Molde Punx Go Marching Out" is a compilation that was originally released on cassette format in very small quantities. Little did I know that Molde is a coastal town in Norway, and it's really not that close to Oslo… so I’m going to have to look into the "punk" connection between these two cities! I listened to the LP a shit ton of times when I got it, and the bandcamp link (maybe even more) while awaiting its arrival. I didn't know most of the bands beside Bannlyst. I wasn't really sure what bands specifically were affiliated with the bands I already knew and loved. And later, once I got the booklet in my hands I was surprised at times to see who was in each band. The booklet is absolutely beautiful. It's the size of the album cover. The pages are full of information, cool photos, flyers, etc. The back of the booklet has a photo of all the actual cassettes they ripped to make this release happening. It is truly amazing to see these tapes turned into something so well done. There are very few signs that this LP was made from old tapes because the quality is overall so damn good. Only in a few places can you hear the degradation of the original tape. There are a lot of bands on this compilation, and I don’t have the space to talk about each one. So I will make note of my listening highlights and share useful information from this release. I am taking the time to share this information cos unfortunately this shit is sold out. BPDT distro copies disappeared and before I could get any for SSR, the label had sold them all. Hoping for a repress!

Nevrose (Neurosis) starts off the compilation with two tracks and I enjoyed the fuck out of these songs… they are not HC, more like fast punk with really, really good chorus parts. The drummer reminds me of Riistetyt with the hi-hat goin’ tststststststststs almost nonstop. The band doesn’t sound really anything like Riistetyt, but a bit like Nolla Nolla Nolla! The vocalist was later in Bannlyst. Their voice grew up fast, haha. Recorded in October ’82.

Paranoia finishes off the A side with 3 tracks and they are fucking sick! The first song reminds me of UK82 with the gang vocal choruses and especially with where they decide to sing. The other two songs sound like an entirely different band. The drummer comes in with goddamn Discharge beat(!), the structure of the riffs is noticeably different, and vocals sound much more “Norwegian.” The riffs on the last two songs I can imagine a ‘90s crust band playing (in a good way though, like Crocodileskink or Macrofarge). Or maybe it just sounds like Agoni and I’m over thinking this cos I’m high as fuck. These are high-lights right? Note: this band has the same drummer and bassist as Nevrose, the first band on this compilation. Recorded in March ’83. (It’s obvious they were diving deeper into HC when you hear the progression here, so sick.)

Stygge Føt (Ugly Feet) open up the B side and are pretty cool. There are some things I am not super fond of (I think mainly the vocals), but that doesn’t mean I can’t grow to like them! The guitar parts are what made me curious about who was in this band cos some like “change-ups” reminded me of So Much Hate. The guitarist/vocalist of this band did later play bass in Bannlyst and So Much Hate though! Recorded in ’82.

Forbudt Ungdom (Banned Youth) is my favorite band on the B side! Fucking rips!! I think the only member it shares is the drummer was later in So Much Hate and had the vocal duties in Bannlyst too. Recorded in March ’83.

Skabb (Scabies) starts off the C side, and while unfortunately I do not enjoy listening to the tracks, I wanted to note that the guitarist was in Bannlyst and So Much Hate. Recorded October ’82.

Psykisk Terror (Psychological Terror) has my favorite tracks on the C side! It kind of reminds me of Chaotic Dischord when they play fast, and then Hard Skin when they play slower. Recorded March ’83.

Anfall (Seizure) kick off the D side with a riff that sounds just like the song “Anti-Cimex” off Anakist Attack to me, haha. Although this shit was recorded 10 months before the Anarkist Attack EP was. This sounds really nothing like Anti-Cimex, except for maybe it sounding a little “tame” like Anarkist Attak did. It seems Anfall started pretty early compared to the rest of the bands in this scene. Another early notable Norwegian band who absolutely rules is Betong Hysteria (Concrete Hysteria), check em out. Recorded in February ’81.

(Note: When I said Anarkist Attack EP sounded “tame” I just mean in comparison to Raped Ass and later material. But in reality those mofos were tearin’ it up in the early line-up and were not tame at all! The real note here: when the band was recording Anarkist Attack the engineers made them “calm down” the songs in the studio.)

And finally, like I said above when I saw Bannlyst on this comp, I knew I was down. When I first heard the tracks (cos you already know I skipped straight to them on bandcamp page) I was a little surprised. It wasn't as raging as I hoped. Don’t get me wrong, it's really good shit to hear, but it just isn’t as pummeling as their proper releases. After looking into it I realized Bannlyst had a different drummer on these early tracks! I recognized a few of these songs appear again with the new drummer on later releases. Man, that drummer they had for all their proper releases truly made the band shine above and beyond. I don’t mean any disrespect to the drummer from the demo, Geir Sverre Danielsen. This person contributed SO MUCH to this compilation including many photos to the booklet and many of the recordings of my favorite bands tracks on this compilation, including Paranoia, Forbudt Ungdom, and Psykisk Terror. Record in March ’81.

Skitzo - I've never heard anyone talk about this band. (I’ll keep this one short since I feel like I just wrote a bible.) This release, like other releases on Fight Records, was recorded in the ‘80s but was not released until the ‘90s. I wonder why this was the case with multiple releases on this label... like if they were just broke at the time? Or maybe they thought no one gave a shit about the material until later? Who knows, maybe these releases were originally some rare tapes that I just don't know about. Anyway, I heard this band on the "Finnish Spunk / Hard Beat" compilation, Tampere SS is credited with (Skitzo) next to their tracks, which naturally made me so curious. Eventually I came across a Skitzo EP and bought it right away. It’s definitely different from Tampere SS! Really cool though, some parts are ripping and some parts are more like chill “Finnish” sounding parts. Track 5 is straight up a Tampere SS song but a different version. These songs were recorded in 1984 in JJ-Studio, which is the same studio where Tampere SS, Bastards, Vaurio, Kaaos, plus more bands recorded! Make from Skitzo was also the drummer of Tampere SS. And they also shared the guitarist, Mika. Masa, the bassist of Skitzo, was the vocalist of Antikeho and the drummer of Bastards. Nappi, who has a guest appearance on track 4, was the bassist in Kaaos for a short time. Definitely a cool side-project of some really cool bands, grab the EP while you can!!

If you are still reading my words, cheers! I spend a great deal of hours “researching” and writing this stuff out. I wanna give a shout out to my homie Curt McGurt from Illinois (what up chickenhead!) He wrote me after my first staff pick “asking” me if Appendix was really even trallpunk? I think he might be right, I wasn’t really thinking about how trallpunk is a Swedish thing, not a Finnish thing... who knows, who writes the rules… These are our American perspectives anyways. Please anyone feel free to write me about any shit I say on here (or a trade list). Always trying to learn new shit or talk shit, my email is in.decay@yahoo.com


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