Razorcake Podcast #13: With Russ Van Cleave

Jun 06, 2008

Razorcake Podcast #13: With Russ Van Cleave
This is Russ’ second podcast with for Razorcake. His combination of past/present/punk/unpunk/not-technically-punk is always a refreshing, delight of a listen. Click here to check out his first podcast with us.


1) Grabass Charlestons - "I Like Cats" from The Ergs / Grabass Charlestons split 7" (No Idea)
2) Big Amos Patton - "Going To Vietnam" from V/A: Hi Records: River Town Blues + The R'n'B Sessions + The Soul Years (Hi)
3) Bruce Springsteen - "Where The Bands Are" from 18 Tracks (Columbia)
4) Monikers - "Mirror Images" from Eat Your Young (Kiss Of Death)
5) Ted Leo + The Pharmacists - "Bleeding Powers" from Shake The Sheets (Lookout!)
6) Red C - "Pressure's On" from V/A: Flex Your Head (Dischord)
7) Hot Water Music - "Drunken Third" from Fuel For the Hate Game (No Idea)
8) Wipers - "Youth of America" from Youth of America (Zeno)
9) Charlie Feathers - "Honky Tonk Kind" from 1956 Sun Demo (Norton)
10) Onion Flavored Rings - "I Kill Butterflies" from Used To It (Onion Flavored Records)
11) Mission Of Burma - "Academy Fight Song" from Signals, Calls, and Marches (Rykodisc)
12) The Replacements - "Bad Worker" from Hootenanny (re-issue) (Rhino)

GRABASS CHARLESTONS: I'm of the belief that the Grabass Charlestons are one of the best bands around right now and I think this song really supports my opinion.  I probably did a poor job of convincing anyone of that here what with my awesome nervous talking and everything, but if I had to convince anyone who'd never heard them, the first song I'd sit down and make 'em really pay attention to would be "I Like Cats".  Grabass can be pretty catchy to the casual listener on their own, but I find them most rewarding when I really sit down and get into the lyrics.

BIG AMOS PATTON: I'm not too knowledgeable about the comings and goings of Big Amos Patton, but I'm into this song.  Honestly, this entire two-disc Hi Records comp is great if you're into soul and blues.  Other great tracks from O.V. Wright, Al Green, Otis Clay, Willie Mitchell, etc.

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN: The finest example of the meaning of life summed up in a three-minute rocker if there ever was one.

MONIKERS: I still don't have my facts straight on this band, but I do know they are from Orlando and that I like the Eat Your Young EP they put out a while back.  They also have a few 7"s available through Kiss Of Death, Art Of The Underground, and Salinas, I think.

TED LEO + THE PHARMACISTS: I tried for the longest time to hate this band just to ruin everyone else's good time, but I couldn't do it.  Everything I've heard by them has been really good.  Ted Leo is a great songwriter.

RED C: One of the many incredible early DC hardcore recordings from the Flex Your Head compilation.  This song is also on the 20 Years Of Dischord box set which is also worth picking up.  I played the one the box set because Travis still has my copy of Flex Your Head.

HOT WATER MUSIC: I've been back on Fuel For the Hate Game for some unknown reason lately (old man’s nostalgia?) and this song has always been one of my favorites from that record.

WIPERS: I think this is one of the longest songs the Wipers ever recorded (especially when you consider that the average Wipers song doesn't get much past the two minute mark), but I also think it's one of the best.  Brilliant, brilliant!

CHARLIE FEATHERS: This song is from a Norton Records 7" of two demos that Charlie Feathers recorded for Sun.

ONION FLAVORED RINGS: There's a lot more to OFR than I could really relay here.  These guys have been around as OFR for a long time and have been playing music in other bands for an even longer time.  Paul even played with Crimpshrine for awhile.  Aside from the Used To It LP, they've released 7" records and full-lengths through No Idea and have most recently released a 7" on Thrillhouse Records and also have a split out with Future Virgins.  A great band that is definitely worth looking into if you've never heard them before.

MISSION OF BURMA: I thought it would be coy to play this song right prior to the Replacements song since Paul was apparently way into the first MOB 7”.  Instead, it just turned into a really stupid reason to play a really great song.  “Nerd!”

THE REPLACEMENTS: The Replacements are on a short list of music I mention when people ask me what my favorite bands/artists are.  I just picked up the Rhino re-issues of Hootenanny (my favorite Mats record) and Stink (the cheapest Mats record) and was blown away by this acoustic demo for a song that Paul Westerberg wrote that was included as one of the extra tracks on Hootenanny.  The song never made it as an official Replacements song apparently, but I think it really illustrates two things that went a long way towards making them great band they were: one, how far reaching lots of their influences were, even early on and two, their honest approach to songwriting.  What I mean is that while it obviously sounds like a blues song, it is also unconventional because Paul, having not grown up poor and black in the south (where the blues came from), had to bring his own point-of-view.  Otherwise it would have sounded like any other cliche third-generation "blues catalog" singer who’d made a career or ripping off people like Son House and Fred McDowell.  I made the half-hearted dedication to all the folks from the LA area that myself and the young lady just got to visit recently, so I'll make the full-hearted one here.  It was great seein' you fellas (Todds, Jimmy, Matt, Suzie).  Here's to hopin' I'll see you all again before FEST!