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John Scott's SSR Pick: June 23, 2022

What’s up Sorry State Readers? This is my first write up in about three weeks as I was visiting a friend out in Madrid, so I wanted to write about what I was listening to while I was over there, which happened to be a lot of the Rolling Stones, naturally, as we had tickets to go see their show in Amsterdam. I love the Stones but if I had to pick a favorite album of theirs, I’d have to go with Tattoo You. This is another one of the many albums I can thank my brother for really putting me onto. I remember one time he said, “You know what the best part of Tops is? Heaven comes on after it.” He’s right though, the B side of this record is one of my favorite sides of any record. It starts off with Worried About You, which is a good song, but nothing too amazing for me. It’s really the last four songs on this album that make the whole thing worth it to me, which would be Tops>Heaven>No Use In Crying>Waiting On a Friend. Basically, any time I listen to one of them, I end up listening to all four. They’re all so great. My favorite of the bunch is constantly changing. Tops has one of my favorite choruses to belt out and do my best Mick impression. Heaven is one of the weirder songs in their catalog and sounds different from any of their other stuff, and I love it. No Use in Crying feels like a song only they could pull off and make it sound so good and Waiting on a Friend is the perfect end to the album. Anyways, Madrid is a city that thrives at night, so there were a lot of late-night listening sessions. We hung out there for about a week (I think I drank more Aperol Spritzes than water during that time) and flew to Amsterdam a couple days before the show, so we had some time to hang out there. It’s probably the coolest and weirdest place I’ve ever been to in the best way possible. Everything felt topsy turvy, but that also could have been the result of the many different things they’ve got to offer there. We walked about fifteen miles each day we were there just exploring the city and finding all these little spots. I loved just sitting out by the canals and watching the ducks and boats go by and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect coming from Madrid where it was getting up to 100 every day. The day of the show arrived, and we were just taking it easy and went to the Rijksmuseum and laid out on the lawn outside of it afterwards. We stocked up on goods before the show and headed back to the Airbnb to get ready. About an hour later we went to order the Uber to head to the venue, and I was double checking it on google to make sure we were heading to the right place when I saw the fateful headline “Mick Jagger Tests Positive for Covid: Amsterdam Show Postponed.” What a bummer. Oh well, there are lot worse places to have a free night in after a cancelled show so I wasn’t complaining. We headed back out and made the most of our night. We had one more day in Amsterdam and then went back to Madrid for a few days before I flew back home. All in all, it was an amazing trip, and although it would’ve been great to see the Stones live, it was a testament to how much fun we were having that we didn’t even let the cancellation bring our spirits down. We sat in silence for a moment after we had read the headline when my friend said, “Did we steal the sun yesterday and now we’re being punished?” before we both started cracking up. We very well may have, cause I had never had such a fun time. Some things are just out of your control and like Mick said, “You can’t always get whatchu want.”

Angela's SSR Pick: June 23, 2022

Hi Sorry State readers! Hope everyone is having a good week! In Sorry State land we’ve just been busy prepping for our Scarecrow comrades (i.e. half of Sorry State!) to go on their European tour very soon. How cool is that?

Anyway, my pick this week is the newly released No Knuckle S/T. The album was actually made last spring and is finally seeing the light of day. The band recorded these songs on 1/2 inch tape on an 8 track-tape machine, mixed down to 1/4 inch tape on a two channel reel-to-reel deck. The result of that laborious effort is something really fucking cool and different.

Where to begin? This album is a conundrum of garage rock, punk rock, noise rock, rock-rock, all the rocks. I guess you could just say post-punk, but with elements of everything but the kitchen sink. There’s a lot going on here, and that’s what I grew to love about the record. The opening track, The Ladder, is pretty standard late 70s post-punk but with some unexpected elements of late 60s/70s style rock. I wasn’t sold on this track at first, to be honest. Call me crazy, but there were moments when I felt like I was about to board The Crystal Ship, and that’s just not my journey. But then a standout melodic punk style bass line comes out of nowhere and reignites my curiosity. It feels like you’re being pulled in at least two to three different musical directions, and that’s just during the first song.

The second track, Advertisement, is what made me stick around. Easily my favorite track on the album. It’s fast and urgent, it’s tightly wound, and the vocals become more unhinged. Not to mention that I love a song that doesn’t just crap out at the end or fade into nothingness, and this song doesn’t do that. So don’t sleep on the last 15 seconds of Advertisement. It follows all the way through and it’s a good primer for the next track. No Knuckle keeps up that same energy on Sanitation. Fast and tight drum beats, razor sharp guitar, and melodic bass all serve as the perfect backdrop for the vocalist to continue to go off the rails.

Halo is a really interesting track worth mentioning because I didn’t like it much at first, and now it’s my second favorite of the bunch. Things start off a little strange with some Jim Morrison-esque vocals. I still had no interest in taking a ride on The Crystal Ship or lighting anyone’s fire. But, when the vocals shift back to the more erratic punk style, I decided that the vocal changes were actually pretty great and only added more depth and intrigue to the song. And that diverse vocal style is always perfectly paced with whatever’s going on around him.

The second side is a bit more streamlined and the contrasts between sub-genres of rock aren’t as sharp. Taken together, the whole album is a rollercoaster ride that doesn’t give you time to catch your breath. Non-stop, unyielding energy and guts. It actually gave me a little bit of anxiety! Nevertheless, It’s obvious that No Knuckle gave everything they had on this record, and their technical skill does not go unnoticed. A really ambitious effort that paid off, in my opinion.

Stand out tracks for me are Advertisement, Halo, and Sanitation. Take a listen below.

See ya next time!

Angela

https://noknuckle.bandcamp.com/album/no-knuckle-2

Usman's SSR Pick: June 23, 2022

Hello readers and friends alike, thank you for reading! I am writing to you this Thursday morning with more energy than usual. As of late, I am beat by this point in the week and struggling to get my thoughts into writing. I guess there is somewhat of a struggle that still exists today cos I’m not really writing about a record, but a handful of bands I just saw live over the weekend. To get us going, I wanted to mention that we now have the DELCO MF’s 7” I wrote about last week in stock NOW! This band fucking rules, seriously. Their live performance is so damn good. Non-stop hardcore action. I saw them live a few weeks ago, which is why I wrote about them. I caught them again at the fest this past weekend, and they were even better. They played at like 2 in the morning too, and still completely annihilated. I would be so tired and trashed by 2AM, there is no way I could’ve held it down like that. I can’t wait to see them again and hear what they release next.

Going along with this theme, I thought I’d write about the bands that really stood out to me at the fest. All the bands that played ‘Something To Talk About’ were legit good, and each day was fully stacked. Unfortunately, I did miss a few killer bands like ICD 10 and MUJERES PODRIDAS. I was beyond excited to have played the same bill as HORRENDOUS 3D. This band was unbelievably good. I have never seen a band play like this before in real life. They are so fast, in the crashing not blasting fashion. The guitar tone is harsh as fuck, ahhhhh... I heard they will be touring down the East Coast later this year with FUCKIN LOVERS!!! I really hope I can catch them or even bring them to N.C. Now I’ve seen FUCKIN LOVERS a fair amount of times, but they played a top-notch set at the Friday after show. It was the best I’ve ever seen them, easily. The tone was perfect, the drums were loud AND fast. It sounded like a GAI flexi or something. I really could not get enough.

Backing up a bit, the first night YDI played. I am not a big YDI fan. I think I have that reissue 12," but I was still excited to witness these Philly legends. I think only the vocalist is OG? Nonetheless, the band was excellent. Even the newer songs were pretty cool. I was worried they would completely suck, haha. Before they played, some friends and I were hanging in a back corner and noticed this guy with a huge Freddy Krueger glove on sitting all alone.. I wondered who let this mofo into the club with that thing on? Turns out it was the vocalist of YDI, Jackal. He also wore a plastic mask/helmet that had mohawk spikes on it. Pretty ridiculous haha. This same night, SCALPLE tore the fucking club up. Jesus. I had never seen them before, so I had no idea what to expect. They were certainly one of the best performances of the entire fest. I can’t wait to see them again. Right before they played was RAT-NIP. We had their EP before in the shop but foolishly I had never heard their stuff before, so I really had no idea what to expect. I quickly noticed RAT-NIP had the same drummer of BLOOD PRESSURE, so I got excited to see them after the realization. Their songs and performance were excellent. The band reminded me of POISON IDEA. They stood out a ton at the fest to me, and I would certainly drive up to 6 hours just to watch them again.

Moving onto Friday, the bill was overflowing with excellent bands. My boys RECKONING FORCE opened up the evening. It’s always good to gig it up with the homies, and these mofos are never a let-down live. Looks like they’re on like the fourth fucking pressing of their LP? If you’ve been sleeping, better grab one before it goes out of print! YAMBAG from Cleveland played a few slots after. This is a name I kept hearing around, and after I saw them, I understood why. This band ripped, totally full of raw energy. Seriously great band to see. Before SAVAGEHEADS took the night away, it was QUARANTINE. If you read my Staff Picks at all, you probably know I am a QUARANTINE fanatic. If you missed it, here’s a link to the fanzine I did when their LP came out. I’ve seen them three times now I think? And they punished the crowd at the show. Certainly the best I’ve seen them. Totally locked-in, and they played a new song! Hell yes. Word is they will do an LP sometime again, and I cannot wait. Does SAVAGEHEADS even need a write-up? Insanely good band. In every way. They also played an encore that consisted of a song played previously in set being played yet again, haha. The crowd still loved it. I wonder how many people even realized. It’s a shame about their LP pressing being totally fucked. The world is gunna eat that shit up once it’s finally out.

AMMO played the same after show as DELCO MFs on Friday night. I briefly checked out their debut 12" after Daniel dubbed it ‘Record of the Week’ a few weeks ago. While the recording didn’t really stick with me, their live set 100% did. It was 100% fucking hardcore. Non-stop, just like DELCO MF’s. We heavily stocked this record when it was released, but it has since sold out. However, I will still leave you with a link to grab one, cos we have a nice stack of restocks on the way. If you missed out and don’t wanna keep religiously checking the page, you can always enter your e-mail address on the link I just dropped and you will get an e-mail automatically when it is back in stock! Fun fact: AMMO and DELCO MF’s both had the same style encore as SAVAGEHEADS, haha hell yeah.

To finish off, I guess I will talk a bit about my band SCARECROW. If you didn’t know and care, Daniel and Jeff from Sorry State are also in this band. I was really happy to have played Jim’s fest in Philly. Jim is solid as fuck and I can’t thank him (and Amy!!!) enough for everything they have done for us. I love you guys. Soon SCARECROW will travel up north again to play the fest in NYC, and very soon after that we will embark on our month-long European tour. We have a new EP that will be released in the next week on my label with Jeff, and you can check out some of it here if you’d like. Alright, that is all for this week. Thanks for reading, and thanks to everyone for the support! Peace!

Dominic's SSR Pick: June 23, 2022

Greetings friends. Thanks for checking in with us here at Sorry State Towers. Hopefully your summer is going well. We had a brief reprieve from the oven like temperatures over the weekend here in Raleigh but are back in the 90s again this week. Each year I say this will be the summer I get to the beach or take a vacation, but that hasn’t been the case for several years sadly. My last trip abroad was eight years ago when I returned home for my father’s funeral. For various reasons I have not been able to get back since then, but this year I am going to make it happen. It seems like everyone I am close to is over in Europe this year or has been or will be. Not least, of course, are our own fellow Sorry State heroes who have either just and/or will be blowing minds from European stages. Hopefully some of you over there will get a chance to see them play. Anyway, I am both happy and anxious about my visit and can’t wait to see my family and the ol’ homestead.

As I write this, I am literally surrounded by boxes of records from collections that we have recently bought and are processing. There is so much good music that I could close my eyes and randomly pull any record, and it would be worth checking out. There’s something here for everyone. New, old, rare, common, you name it. As much as I get excited about seeing rare and expensive records, I get just as much pleasure from the cheap and common stuff too. Perhaps more so. Often, it’s in the bargain bins that I find records that give me the most pleasure. Either because they are proven winners or because they introduced me to something new. It’s easier to take chances on the unknown when it only costs a few bucks. We do our best here at Sorry State to put good records in our bargain bins and folks aways come away rewarded from taking a dig. When you work in a record store, the perks are to get access and first dibs on stuff that comes in. That is obviously very cool, but can be expensive. I have chosen between eating well and having a record many a time I can assure you. There is also a part of me that doesn’t want to be taking too many good records even if I could afford to. We sure as hell snag a lot of cool shit here, but we are not the kind of store where the cool stuff never hits the bins. If you follow our social media and see the Friday New Used Arrival drops or come in and shop, I think you can attest to the fact that there are indeed good records to come in and see, touch, smell, listen to and take home.

As I have been collecting records for several decades now, I have plenty to pick from for these staff picks or to post on social media. I tend not to want to brag about things that I have found or own. I don’t like to show off or to make someone else feel bad because they don’t have it. I’m also embarrassed by the percentage of my income that goes towards these records and feel that I should keep that to myself. I can’t help it though. I’ll always be digging and will be probably cueing up a record the day I keel over. That or I’ll be buried under a falling shelf of records. Hopefully not. All I know is that I have loved music and records all my life, and they are a huge part of my existence. The biggest joy is being able to share my passion with fellow music lovers. Whether that’s amongst friends spinning tunes at home, out at an event DJing or here at the store. You can’t beat selling records right off the turntable.

Last Saturday was Record Store Day 2 for this season and although a smaller drop, we still had a good crowd of folks come through. The day began sweetly for me as one of the first customers was a little girl making her first vinyl purchase. She bought the Paul McCartney single. Coincidently, it was Sir Paul’s birthday, and I had a copy of Ram playing on the turntable. I thought it was an adorable moment. I loved that another generation of music fans were still being touched by Paul’s magic and getting into buying a record at the local store. There is hope for the future. Regardless of what she bought, she was beginning her relationship with records, and that was a beautiful thing. It was a bright moment in a world that can often seem quite rotten and made me feel that I was doing a job worthwhile.

Talking of jobs, I need to get on with that. My staff “pick” this week is just to encourage all of you to continue your love for music and records and, whenever possible, to share that love with those around you. Personally, this week I have been having fun in the soundtrack section. I pulled a couple of children’s records that I will quickly mention. The first one is the soundtrack to the Disney film The Rescuers released on their Disneyland Records label in 1977. This one is quite dear to me. My sister and I had this record back when it first came out and we played it over and over. Listening to it was like being in a time machine. I was instantly transported back over forty years to our family home where up in our converted attic bedroom we used to play the album on our old record player. It was a weird feeling, but a good one. I remembered almost every word. In fact, I sent a photo to my sister, and she answered back quoting parts of the adventure. She hadn’t forgotten either. As Disney cartoons go, it’s not a bad one to be honest and a lot of fun. The characters were voiced by Bob Newhart, Eva Gabor and Geraldine Page, among others, and there are songs sung by Shelby Flint. It was great having a copy of this back in my collection after all these years. I treasure it as much as anything else I own that is cooler, rarer, and way more expensive. It’s the memories that are attached to it that could never be activated or feel the same from a digital download or internet stream. God bless records.

The other nifty thing I pulled and have been having fun with is one called Space Songs by Tom Glazer and Dottie Evans. The record was part of a series called Singing Science Records released on the Motivational Records label in 1959. It’s great. The songs were taken from Ballads For The Age Of Science by Hy Zaret and Lou Singer and are about the stars, planets and moon and the future of mankind in space. Striking a balance of entertaining and educating is not easy and hard not to sound condescending. Kids might be kids, but they are not suckers and can still tell a good record from a bad one. This is a good one. There’s music and clever songs with the scientific information. Back in the late 1950s it was the Space Age, and we were rightfully thinking about what was beyond our planet earth and knowledge of science was cool. Despite the recent step backwards in accepting science here in this country and asshat millionaires building rocket ships, science is still the future for mankind. Hopefully soon our teachers can get back to teaching kids and kids can get back to learning stuff like science instead of how best to avoid being shot or having some angry parent screaming at them for wanting to learn history or for having two dads. But that’s a rant for another occasion and place. On the back of the album jacket, they show other records in the series, and I shall be keeping an eye out for them. They all seem interesting and worth picking up.

Okay, I have blathered on enough and barely said anything. Thank you for your indulgence if you read this far. Enjoy your week ahead and listening to your records. Whatever they may be, if they make you feel something, then they are special to you and worth having.

Cheers - Dom

Daniel's SSR Pick: June 23, 2022

Scarecrow spent last weekend at the inaugural Something to Talk About Fest in Philly and I had a great time! Everyone loves to complain about fests, but I like them. You get to see a lot of great bands you wouldn’t see otherwise (especially if you live in North Carolina), you get to see loads of friends you don’t see enough, and often you’re in the same space with said friends for much longer than you would be if they were just passing through on tour. Sure, fests can be overwhelming and exhausting, but for me the good far, far outweighs the bad. Even as fests go, STTA was something special. Jim and Amy, who organized the fest (with a lot of help from the other Philly punks), have a habit of surrounding themselves with great people, which made for a great vibe. And the lineup was phenomenal. I watched every single band that played at STTA (including the aftershows!), and I didn’t see a bad band the entire time! There wasn’t a band I wasn’t interested in, which made making time for things like eating, using the bathroom, and getting adequate amounts of rest very difficult. But hey, I made it! Like I said, I didn’t see a bad set all weekend, but for me the standouts included Rat Nip, Scalple, Mujeres Podridas, Fuckin’ Lovers, Savageheads, Quarantine, Horrendous 3D, Delco MF’s, and Ammo.

While we were in Philly, the hardcore record collecting contingent of the Scarecrew hit up Sit & Spin Records. I’ve only been to Sit & Spin a few times, but I feel confident saying it’s one of the best punk-oriented record shops in the United States. They have everything you could want in a record store… a top-notch selection of new stock, cool new and used band merch, and a wild selection of used items that ranges from bargain bin rippers to mega-rarities. I could kill a day and several thousand dollars there, but most of my attention (and my dollars) went to the rarities section, where one item got me very stoked.

This score brings together a couple of threads I’ve referenced in previous staff picks. I’ve mentioned numerous times that I am always down for a beater copy of a rare record… particularly if the vinyl is in decent shape but the sleeve has radio station call letters or other kinds of damage. I just don’t get those collectors who want pristine copies of everything… I like my records to feel like they have a little history, not like they’ve been sealed in a time capsule for decades. When I saw this copy of Iron Cross’s Skinhead Glory 7” on the wall at Sit & Spin, I could see right away that someone had used scissors to cut the band’s name out of the top of the record’s sleeve. Why would they do that? Maybe they booked the band and needed the logo for a flyer… maybe they needed it for a zine layout, or maybe they thought the name sucked and didn’t want to be reminded of it? Who knows, but when it allows me to get a rare record like this at way, way below the going rate, it’s easy for me to look past it. Plus, Skinhead Glory isn’t a record that I’d want to pay the going rate for. It’s not that I hate it or anything, but when you compare it to the other Dischord whole and half releases from the same period, it’s the runt of the litter.

Since I just filled this major gap in my Dischord collection, I think it’s time for a new family photo that brings me up to Dischord 8 1/2.

Now that I have Skinhead Glory, it seems very important that I acquire copies of Still Screaming and Boycott Stabb, which to be fair I should have done long before now… I’ve had plenty of opportunities. That’ll bring my Dischord collection up to about #15, though carrying it much beyond that will involve buying more and more records that I don’t care too much about.

Tallulah's SSR Pick: June 16, 2022

Hello Sorry State, It’s Tallulah from Shows!

I would first like to introduce myself before I get into my pick of the week! I will be working the counter so ya’ll will be seeing me quite often :). I grew up in Asheville but have been living in Chapel Hill for the past couple of years for college where I work at the Nightlight and All Day. I’ve been collecting records all my life, but it was really through doing college radio and working at a record shop that I gained a deep love and appreciation for records and the people who buy ‘em. I absolutely adore the music scene in the triangle and have found the greatest sense of community and acceptance in our DIY scene. I’m thrilled to be working here and have been having tons of fun (minus the time last week when I lost my truck in a parking deck downtown and spent three hours looking for it but a huge shoutout to Daniel for helping me find it).

Okay, time for my staff pick. For my pick of the week, I chose Robbie Basho’s 1967 album Basho Sings. I’m a huge nerd when it comes to fingerstyle guitar, and Basho is by far my favorite musician and guitarist. I could talk about this guy for ages, but I will try to keep it somewhat short. He grew up in Maryland and it was at school there that he evolved his style with fellow classmates and solo guitar legends John Fahey (founder of Takoma records) and Max Ochs. They would later all relocate to the bay area, where they created a new school of solo fingerstyle guitar that they coined American Primitive. The genre really takes its roots in American Blues music, and I would be remiss to not mention that the real pioneer of the genre is folk and blues musician Elizabeth Cotten. Cotten actually grew up in Carrboro, where she was born in 1893 in a musical family, although she did not start recording or releasing music until the 50s. Her style was highly inventive and pushed the boundaries of what a guitar could be as a solo instrument.

Ok back to Basho.

Basho, along with many other musicians at the time, was highly influenced by Eastern and Indian music and adopted many open tunings and melodic frameworks from these styles into his playing. He tended to have a deep love for the Raga, a melodic framework in Indian classical music for improvisation that hangs on musical motifs. He played on a 12-string, which allowed him to get a much deeper and wider sound. He ended up studying under Ali Akbar Khan, a master of the Sarod, which became deeply influential in his playing. His life was filled with many different musical personas as he explored different spiritual movements and cultures. He for sure was at times very culturally voyeuristic, with many of his album covers being quite culturally appropriative. During his lifetime, he was often shaken off by others as just another oddball white dude into Meher Baba, and it wasn’t until after his death that his music gained a cult following and his style of playing world-renowned in the guitar world.

Basho Sings was the third studio album by the guitarist and was the first album of his to also put a focus on his vocals. He sings in a somewhat operatic style, many either love or hate it. I personally love it. This is probably one of my favorite records of his, and I nearly fainted when I found it in the back of the shop, as you don’t come across Basho releases or really any Takoma releases quite often. His stuff is worth a listen. It is extremely difficult to try to put into words his style of playing but it is quite transcendental.

Basho died a bizarre and untimely death at age 45 when during a routine chiropractor visit he was given “experimental whiplash”, which ended up bursting an artery in his neck. If you are into Basho, I would highly recommend watching the documentary on him called Voice of the Eagle, which is absolutely fantastic.

That’s all I got for now,

Best,

Tallulah

Angela's SSR Pick: June 16, 2022

Hi Sorry State fam! How are you? I’m doing OK. It’s hot and humid as fuck here in Raleigh, NC. Raleigh happens to be one of the most humid places in the country and it’s not just because we’re in the southeast. It’s also because of our geographic placement between the beach and mountains. So we are sort of trapped by the humidity. OK let’s get to it.

My staff pick is the new No-Heads release, Concrete & Steel. I had never heard the band’s music before so I randomly gave this a shot, and I’m glad I did. It’s only two songs and both are worthy of being played on repeat. It has a pretty straightforward melodic punk sound with catchy hooks, standout bass lines, and big anthem style choruses that remind me of some of the 90s skate punk style bands. That said, there is a more substantive political tone to their music, which I’m drawn to. It’s not super in your face, but it’s there.

Concrete and Steel starts out with a short but sick melodic bass line and immediately breaks into the vocals. The vocals are assertive and passionate but not aggressive, which is a good match for their instrumentation. If I had to guess, Concrete & Steel is referencing the struggles of the blue collar and working class society. The New Normal is the standout for me. Immediately upon hearing it, Rancid comes to mind. The song structure is very similar to the style of And Out Come the Wolves. And you’d be a liar if you said that album isn’t an absolute banger.

Anyway I’m gonna keep this short and sweet and end things here. Take a listen and hear the new No-Heads for yourself! It’s got all the right ingredients.

https://no-heads.bandcamp.com/album/concrete-steel

Until next time….

-Angela

Usman's SSR Pick: June 16, 2022

Hello readers and friends alike, thank you for reading. I’ve been busy as hell the past what seems like forever. Last week was ABSOLUT / DESTRUCT tour, which I “managed” and drove ABSOLUT. This weekend is the Philly fest, Something To Talk About, and SCARECROW will be playing. I just got done printing some makeshift covers for our new EP for the gig. The EP should be properly released by the beginning of July. Anyway, when I was in Philly on tour last week, I had the privilege of witnessing DELCO MOTHERFUCKERS perform live at Fotoclub. God damn. I had seen some quick vids online, so I had somewhat of an idea of what I was in for, but nothing will compare to catching them in real life. This recording is insane, it is fucked up, and it is fast. The recording session is just the vocalist, Jim (what up MF), playing every instrument. I’m not sure if Jim can actually “play” the drums? But he holds it down and rips it the fuck up. Honestly, if you played me this recording with no context, I would guess it was some old ‘80s USHC band, and I really like that about it. When SCARECROW returns to Philly this weekend, we will pick up a fat stack of the EPs for Sorry State, so check it out in the meantime and be sure to grab a copy once we got ‘em in stock if you like what you hear! Alright thanks for reading, peace!

Dominic's SSR Pick: June 16, 2022

What’s up everyone? I trust you are doing well out there. Summer is here officially, although we’ve had some three-digit temperature days already this year here in North Carolina. Hopefully you are keeping cool. Of course, if you are reading this in the southern hemisphere then this probably won’t apply to you. In which case, I hope you are keeping warm. Lol. Enough about the world’s weather patterns and let’s get on with this.

Some weeks I feel like I could write about anything and everything and other weeks I struggle to pick just one. That’s just down to me and my moods and how the ol’ noggin is feeling. Generally, I prefer to go with whatever I am feeling at the time, although I sometimes have things in mind for a future staff pick. This week it’s a combination of the two. I have wanted to mention my regard for this band here in these pages for a while and today whilst looking through a box of records we bought over the weekend for something to play in-store I found one of their records in it. As the record played, it seemed like now was the time.

The group in question is SRC from Michigan, USA who were active for about five years during the late 1960s through to the early 1970s. They were a part of a very flourishing scene in southeast Michigan. The teen bands of the area were influenced by the British Invasion but the tougher end of the spectrum and of course the sounds of Detroit and Motown. The members of SRC served their apprenticeships in various local bands, notably The Fugitives and The Chosen Few. The former being the house band at premier teen hangout The Hideout. There is an LP of bands that played the Hideout and some notable names such as Bob Seger and The Last Heard, The Pleasure Seekers (with a young Suzi Quatro) to name two groups put out early singles on the Hideout label. The other notable label at the time releasing new band sounds was A-Square run by local impresario Jeep Holland and it was he that put the members of The Fugitives together with Scott Richardson, lead singer from The Chosen Few. The band’s name at first was The Scott Richard Case, formed by shortening the singer’s name and adding the last of the guitarist. Jeep Holland taught the band a lot about stage presence and being in a band, and was instrumental in exposing the group to some of the hot new sounds coming from across the Atlantic. He had the band record a cover of Cream’s I’m So Glad before it hit in the US and as a result The Scott Richard Case scored a sizable local hit with their cover.

The group were popular with the local audiences as they covered the best of the new rock ‘n roll from the US and UK acts as well as their own material. They also had the flash Carnaby Street stage threads to go with it, famously making special trips to New York City to buy clothes. Eventually, though, the groups’ ambitions to play their own music clashed with the ideas of Jeep Holland and they parted ways. Through their new manager and producer, they were introduced to Capitol Records and scored a multiple album deal. The name was shortened to simply SRC and their debut album was released in the autumn of 1968.

That self-titled album contained all original compositions and combined the band’s interest in Eastern music, poetry and philosophy with good Detroit style rock. The album was a local hit and entered the Billboard charts for a few weeks and the lead single called Black Sheep was a definite highlight. Ex-manager Holland was a little peeved at losing the band, understandably as he had seen Bob Seger and The Rationals go to Capitol also. As a response, he released an earlier SRC cover version of The Pretty Things’ Get The Picture credited to The Old Exciting Scott Richard Case. I like their version of the tune and you should check it out. If you see the compilation on A-Square whilst digging in your local store, I highly recommend you pick it up. You’ll get these early SRC sides along with a ton of other cool stuff from the likes of The Rationals and MC5.

With the success of the first album came a decent advance from Capitol to record the follow up. With this cash and money earned from gigging, the band invested in building their own studio at their band house and were thus able to spend more time practicing and recording than if they had to rely on outside studio time, etc. The resulting album was titled Milestones, and came out in the spring of 1969. The record did well, better than the first, and gained the band fans abroad as well. Radio DJ John Peel was a big fan. His support helped the band get exposure in the UK to the point where EMI considered their records worthy enough to be released in their European markets. I like this record. There’s pop, psych and rock songs in equal measure. All originals apart from a medley of In The Hall Of The Mountain King with Beck’s Bolero, a feature of their live shows. I have always enjoyed Jeff Beck and Beck’s Bolero is a great tune. SRC cover it well. Highlight of the record, though, for me, is the song Up All Night, a total ripper. A true Detroit rock gem. The tune was released as a single but got buried in the aftermath of a backlash against songs with supposed drug references. Shame, it’s such a banger. Finding a copy of the 45 took me a while, but I’m so glad to own one. I love it. If you only bought Milestones for this song, it would be money well spent.

As far as finding their records, it has never been too easy, though. The first one is considered their “best” and most psychedelic and contains the hit Black Sheep, and thus is the most in demand. Copies do turn up but expect to pay a little for a nice one. The second, Milestones, sold well and strangely is not so in demand and thus can be picked up at a cheaper cost. We have one priced quite low in the store currently for a canny local. The third, Traveler’s Tale, released in 1970 was not well received and the lack of sales make it harder to find now and so prices are a little higher on this one. It’s not a terrible record and does have a couple of good tunes but key to its failure must come down to the fact that original guitarist Gary Quackenbush (his real name, his brother Glenn played piano in the group) left and was replaced by Ray Goodman. Goodman wasn’t a bad player, but Quackenbrush’s guitar sound was a major part of the SRC sound. He came back to the band after the failure of Traveler’s Tale and plays on the sessions for the group’s unreleased fourth album. They were dropped by Capitol and spent most of 1971 fulfilling touring dates and trying to find another deal. They released a one-off single on their own Casino label and briefly changed their name to Blue Scepter and released a single on the Rare Earth label. However, they reverted to SRC for gigs they had during 1972. Throughout this latter period, they were managerless, without a label, and broke. By early 1973, they played their last gig and disbanded.

Interest in the group stayed dormant for many years, but as the 60s psych and garage revival gathered steam in the 1980s and 1990s people began talking about them again and looking for their records. My first exposure was from a 1986 Bam Caruso compilation that I picked up in the 90s and from other sets that included some of their songs. It was the tune Up All Night though that cemented my love for this band. It really is up there with the best of them. If they had only cut that one 45, they would still be legends. I do own this record but spent half the night trying to find my copy. At the time of writing, I still haven’t located it. I have a less than perfect filing system at home. Lol. But it’s there, somewhere. Whilst digging though I did find my Bob Seger System 45 of 2+2+?, another classic, also on the Capitol label, and highly recommended. That and a reissue of The Pleasure Seekers single What A Way To Die, which features a young Suzi Quatro with her sisters. So not a waste of time and you should take a listen to those records if you don’t know them. The video link to the Pleasure Seekers tune is worth watching.

Okay, that’s enough from me. Blah, blah, blah. Thanks for reading and hopefully one or two of you out there share my love for this type of stuff. Have a great week and summer and we’ll see you around here next time.

Cheers - Dom

Jeff's SSR Pick: June 16, 2022

All I can think about as I’m getting ready to write this is that this might be my last “staff pick” that I’ll be writing for quite a while. This weekend, Scarecrow is playing the stacked lineup at SHOMO FEST 2022 in Philly! Then from there, the rest of Public Acid is picking me up in Philly, and then we’ll drive to New York and fly out on Monday to meet up with Warthog in Amsterdam. Warthog and Public Acid have a gig in Amsterdam, a couple dates in Germany and then we make our way to K-Town Hardcore Fest… So yeah, I’m losing my mind a little bit. But I’m diving into this trip with a positive attitude. I’m sure it will be a blast.

Anyway, enough about me. Let’s talk about records. Recently, I was obsessing over Sick Pleasure once again. Such a vicious and gnarly 7” that bridged the gap between early nihilistic punk and the blazing fast 80s hardcore to come. But Sick Pleasure isn’t what I wanna talk about. Listening to my copy of this 7” the other day had me looking back at other titles on the Subterranean Records catalog. While of course I love the San Francisco scene hardcore offerings like Sick Pleasure or Code Of Honor, there were also a lot of fringe and strange records released on this label. By weird coincidence, Sorry State recently purchased a collection from this dude that had a lot of old California punk and hardcore. While I was pricing this guy’s records, one of the titles that I stumbled on in one of these boxes was Music From Hell by Nervous Gender. I was relatively unfamiliar with this record, but it just happens to be on Subterranean Records. I was chatting with Daniel about it and he said, “Nervous Gender?? Oh, it’s great. I already have that record.” The record is predominantly a dark, synth-heavy and borderline-experimental record. Michael Fox from Sick Pleasure and Code Of Honor is credited as a producer, and also Don Bolles from the Germs seems to be involved with the production as well. I found myself intrigued. Now, upon first listen, I did find the record a bit challenging. It’s definitely a strange record. The layers of looping drum machine and synths patterns make me feel uncomfortable, but I also kinda feel drawn to it. It’s not unlike the Screamers or something, but the songs have even less traditional song structures, and the vibe is much stranger and avant-garde. Even a track like “Nothing To Hide” that has real drums and a more traditional, driving backbeat feels more like a stream of consciousness style rant than an actual song. I’ll be honest, I think I’m still grappling with whether or not I even like this record. I feel like I want to like it. It feels abrasive and confrontational in a way that tickles my interest. Like, maybe it’s supposed to freak you out? I could see how this record could be influential. And looking at the going rate for an original copy, it’s clearly a record that’s desirable and in-demand.

I’ll have to grapple with whether I need to take record this home. Maybe I’ll hide it before the synth/noise nerds have a chance to drool all over it at the store. I feel like I need a chance to throw this record on at home and listen to it super loud in the dark. Have a real weird time by myself. Maybe I’m enjoying a teeth-gritting, uncomfortable listen while I grapple with stress in preparation of international travel. I guess it’ll be a while before I have a chance to enjoy my records at home.

Anyway, if you wanna get have a real weird time this week, go ahead and give Nervous Gender a listen for me. That’s all I’ve got. As always, thanks for reading.

‘Til next week (or probably not),

-Jeff

Daniel's SSR Pick: June 16, 2022

Visage: Fade to Grey: The Singles Collection 12” (original Polydor 1983, reissue Rubellan Remasters, 2022)

If you flip through my record collection, you’ll see long runs of multiple records by the same artist. The biggest run is the Fall, whose 12”s take up at least half an expedit cube, but you’ll also see other favorites like Wire, the Kinks, Miles Davis, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and many others that have several inches of shelf space devoted to them. When I hear a record or even a song I like, my first impulse is to get everything the artist released, to pull that thread and see if there’s even more. Sometimes there’s something even better than what first drew me in. Often there are duds, but usually I can appreciate those within the context of an artist’s larger body of work.

The first time I heard Visage’s song “Fade to Grey,” I was smitten. I love a track with a big hook and a strong beat, and “Fade to Grey” fits the bill. Originally released in 1980, “Fade to Grey” is darkwave before there was darkwave, its tough drum machine rhythms presaging 90s industrial music while the lyrics and vocals add a dash of glamor. Their sound is gritty and colorful at the same, like someone dressed to the nines making their way through a seedy section of town on their way to the club. Which is appropriate, since Visage was born under precisely those circumstances.

Visage’s original goal was to create music for DJ Rusty Egan to play at his London club nights, where dancers favored the cold and futuristic sounds of 70s Bowie and Kraftwerk. Egan teamed up with Midge Ure, his bandmate in the Rich Kids (Glen Matlock’s post-Sex Pistols band) and cut a demo as a proof of concept. From there, they put together Visage, enlisting Ultravox keyboardist Billy Currie and scenester Steve Strange (who had also performed in a few under the radar punk bands) as frontperson and face of the band. The lineup expanded again to incorporate three-fifths of Magazine: guitarist John McGeotch, keyboardist Dave Formula, and bassist Barry Adamson. Magazine is one of my favorite bands (another who has a few inches of space on my LP and singles shelves), and if you’re a fan of that band’s top-notch musicianship, Visage’s first album is an essential listen.

Fade to Grey collects six Visage singles released between 1980 and 1984. “Fade to Grey,” of course, is the biggest hit and their best song, but I like every track on the collection. Visage’s first album is essential (and you can find it pretty easily and usually for not much money), but Fade to Grey is most useful for collecting the best tracks from Visage’s later years. Visage’s second album, The Anvil, isn’t as strong as Fade to Grey, but singles “The Anvil,” “Night Train,” and “Damned Don’t Cry” are all bangers. Visage’s much-maligned third album (made after all the folks from Magazine left), Beat Boy, is represented by “Beat Boy” and “Love Glove,” and while I rarely pull Beat Boy off the shelf, those tracks stand up next to the earlier material despite their glossier sound.

I’d been looking for a copy of Fade to Grey for years, but they don’t turn up often in the US. When I saw this reissue pop up on one of our distributor lists, I jumped on getting copies for the store because I knew I’d make at least one sale to myself. The record looks and sounds great and even contains the Beat Boy-era tracks I mentioned above, which aren’t on the original 1983 edition. And the “blue smoke” vinyl looks pretty cool too. Maybe you’re a darkwave DJ who can blow minds by dropping one of these tracks into the retro portion of your set, but if you’re like me, Visage’s insistent dance rhythms are the perfect soundtrack for sweeping, washing dishes, and getting things done.

Pick up Fade to Grey at Sorry State here!

Angela's SSR Pick: June 9, 2022

Hi Sorry State readers! Hope all is well. Things are good here. Busy… but busy is good, so thank you for your continued support of the store!

The Hazmats is my pick this week. They’re a brand new indie power pop project released on Static Shock Records, and comprised of members of Chubby and the Gang, Big Cheese, and Game. But it sounds nothing like any of these bands. It packs a totally different kind of punch, and very much worth checking out.

This new UK-based band has been compared to Teenage Fanclub, and that’s not wrong. But I hear more Jesus and Mary Chain, and that’s great for me because I love JAMC. You’ll hear their influence right away in the super catchy hook that introduces the first song, Empty Rooms. You might wonder, “what does this remind me of?” I will save you the time. It reminds you of Head On by Jesus and Mary Chain. It “makes you want to feel, makes you want to try, makes you want to blow the stars from the sky.” Be warned, the song is five minutes long. In punk time, that’s called an EP. But despite their roots, they aren’t on punk time. If you do think the song drones on a little bit, there’s a sick melodic bass line and drum beat in the last 10 seconds of the song that mitigates that issue perfectly.

Today is the second song, and it’s my favorite of the two. Clocking in at just under three minutes, Today is faster, less shoegazey, less fuzzy wuzzy, and more crisp and jangly than Empty Rooms. It’s catchy as hell and I’ve played it many times. You can’t ignore the Brit-pop vibe to both songs really, but I feel like that’s kind of unavoidable when making this kind of music.

Anyway, I’m digging The Hazmats. I think it’s really cool and brave that these guys came together to bring us something different. A lo-fi, melodic, hazy shoegazey, power pop gem.

If you’re into other Static Shock bands like I am (e.g. Boss, Neutrals, Powerplant), or the big aforementioned icons like Jesus and Mary Chain and Teenage Fanclub, or you just want to try something new and support punk dudes not doing punk songs, you should pick up The Hazmats. It’s limited to 300 copies, so hop on it.

Take a listen!

https://staticshockrecords.bandcamp.com/track/today