Razorcake Podcast #162: With Todd Taylor

Jun 03, 2011

Razorcake Podcast #162: With Todd Taylor

I’ve been writing a lot lately, spending time feet away from my record collection, sitting at a computer. Sometimes, when I’m thinking obscure (even for me) things through—like an Executive Order that William H. Taft signed or about scanning tunneling microscopes with sub-angstrom resolution—I’ll flip through old records. It’s sorta like calling up on old friends. 7”s are the shorter conversations.

Some are as awesome as I remember them to be.
Many didn’t age well at all.
Some I couldn’t remember, played them, and still had a hard time remembering them after I played them.

I picked four older songs for this podcast. One just so you could see the cover. One because I have a soft spot for anti-disco songs. One, the first one, Billy Childish, because it flat-out rips. One didn’t make it because there was a hot pop all the way through that drove me nuts when Daryl and I tried to digitize it.

Songs. Friends: old, new, forgotten, door-kickers, and some worth mocking.


Thee Headcoats, “I Wanna Get Fucked” (Amphetamine Reptile)
Overnight Lows, “Slit Wrist Rock’n’roll” (Goner)
The Assassinators, “Inet Bliver Som Det Var I Gär” (Halo Of Flies) [“Nothing Is and Will Ever Be Like It Is”]
Worthwhile Way, “Lyon” (Eager Beaver)
Ramma Lamma, “Good Tyme Johnny” (Certified PR)
Young Governor, “Firing Squad” (Plastic Idol)
The Extruders, “She’s So Plastic” (Force)
Shang-a-Lang, “Crystal Balls and Tarot Cards” (Dirt Cult / Snuffy Smiles)
Rise Up Howling’ Werewolf, “365 Days of Celebration in the Church of the Psychedelic Goat” (Black Owl Radio)
Jehovas Fitness, “Welcome Back” I Think We Should Stay Away from Each Other Comp LP (Lauren)
Pretty Boy Thorson And The Falling Angels, “Fault Line” (Eager Beaver)
Love Me Nots, “Demons” (Project Infinity)
Accelerators, “Bloody Disco” (Wide Open)
Chemicals, “30 mg” (Jonny Cat)
Pangea, “CIA” I Think We Should Stay Away from Each Other Comp LP (Lauren)
Homostupids, “Beneath the Blackman” (Fashionable Idiots)

OVERNIGHT LOWS: “Slit Wrist Rock’n’roll” b/w “I’ll Be Everything”: 7”
There’ll always be a place in music for stripped-down, sneering rock’n’roll that somehow—and thankfully—veers away from the depressing dungeon of bar rock and the artificial lip-pouting trappings of a band too obviously sucking up to the garage rock ring like a fussy child to its binky. I’m having a hard time explaining it further. Where so many other bands sound stupid or retreaded doing this style of music, The Overnight Lows are like the first day you discovered firecrackers; how they could blow your fingers off, but with just a little care, they snap, explode, sparkle, and make otherwise-dull nights pretty damn fun. Recommended. –Todd (Goner)

ASSASSINATORS, THE: I Disse Mørke Tider…: 7” EP
My inkling is The Assassinators are too poppy for the black patches, white ink crusty crowd and too overtly political (and not singing in English) for the pop punk crowd. This is too bad, because I think both camps are missing out on one of the strongest currently-running bands in Denmark. Musically, they share the catchy tightness of bands like Funeral Oration, Harum Scarum, Signal Lost, Knugen Faller, and Gorilla Angreb. Politically—with not only English lyrical translation from Danish, but song-to-song explanations and essays that shed light on subjects like the current right-wing-ification of traditionally immigrant-asylum-cool Denmark—the record reveals a band concerned with deep, long thought, just not cast-off, sing-along slogans or vaguely “political” statements to keep the pit going and fists pumping. Highly recommended. –Todd (Halo Of Flies, halooffliesrecords.com, [email protected])

RAMMA LAMMA: Self-titled: 7” EP
Ding dong! Moo-pow-pow! As fun as Otis Day made the toga party in Animal House, Ramma Lamma takes ‘70s teen arena fun pop, unzips the listeners’ skull, scoops brains out like ice cream with sugary, sprinkles crunchy candy bits on top, and dances around like kids let of out of school for the summer. Think David Cassidymania dreaminess, prior to that London concert where a fourteen-year-old girl got stampeded to death at the gate; an event that haunted David until his death. No haunting here, just repeated listens! –Todd (Certified PR)

YOUNG GOVERNOR: “Firing Squad” b/w “25 with a Bullet”: 7”
A mix of the Bay City Rollers and King Khan And BBQ? Does that sound too stupid? There’s a crisp eagerness and knowledgeable veteranship in Young Guv, matched to an infectious ear for music, and he’s not afraid to slow down, get electro-weird, go acoustic, or get lush. These two tracks show another dimension to the cut crystal of Ben Cook’s talent. Wholly enjoyable, worth tracking down, and I predict that his 7”s will become harder-than-hell to find the longer you sleep on it. –Todd (Plastic Idol, plasticidolrecords.com)

Shang-a-Lang: You know what the ultimate prize should be? The ability to keep making music that not only keeps you alive, but encourages to keep your friends living, especially after the “punk death” age many hit in their late twenties. Shang-a-Lang’s on my permanent roster in the kickball game of life. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more resourceful, money-where-mouth-is, magic-on-a-budget DIY punk band that flat-out keeps on getting sexier as time goes on. (Mud baths? Oh, la, la.) Broken Mountain: I’ve heard demos and live recordings of The Saints, prior to the horns, rougher and dirtier than the first couple of untouchable records. Should it be strange that a Japanese band not singing in their native tongue has the same clipped delivery as Australia’s Chris Bailey? No matter, because any band that reminds me of the swagger, chug, and freight train delivery of The Saints’ll get their fair share of rotations on my record player. –Todd (Dirt Cult / Snuffy Smiles)

The name of the band doesn’t quite match up for me—I was expecting unspent gasoline and greasy fingers, hunkered over engines of songs revved high, pegged in the red. But I’m not disappointed that it’s almost the opposite: beguiling, catchy, almost new wavy (Adam Ant) because of the keyboards, the sunshine, the dream-like quality, what could either be a drum machine or a single snare drum. Initially thinkin’ I’d be getting something akin to the Quadrajets, but gettin’ something that’d buddy up nicely and get laid back with Underground Railroad To Candyland and Lenguas Largas. Nice. –Todd (Black Owl Radio)

VARIOUS ARTISTS: I Think We Should Stay Away from Each Other: LP
In this era—where the label sampler disguised as a compilation has gone online or marketed as a free giveaway at shows with paid security—released-on-vinyl, fan-based compilations are like collages to specific music scenes or tastes. It’s a trend I encourage. Well, the good ones, like this one, I do. And, it’s perhaps because a really nice, enthusiastic local guy, Aaron Kovacs, put this compilation together and I’m enjoying watching Summer Vacation, the band he’s in (and who is also on the comp) develop, that I’m more susceptible to its charms. I dunno. Perhaps it’s that Aaron’s around nineteen or twenty, putting him at nine or ten when Razorcake started, that there is some hope, you know? Here’s a new generation, not only choosing what to collect as a batch of songs, but organizing it, and earning the money for the printing and pressing. This comp has the feel of the best of Plan-It-X: DIY punk with folk and acoustic leanings, open to jumping around in wild abandon. It’s got the feel of a well-paced mix tape, mixing well-known bands like Underground Railroad To Candyland, Andrew Jackson Jihad, and Japanther with lesser-known excellence like Jehovas Fitness, Pangea, and many more. Recommended. –Todd (Lauren, laurenrecords.bandcamp.com)

Pretty Boy and Worthwhile Way add to the fine tradition of coupling a rough, ragged, honest American DIY punk band that looks like it needs a hug, a razor, some alcohol counseling, and some second chances to a charming, way-proficient, earnest, probably very tidy, and talented Japanese DIY punk band. Scatter in seeds of old country and a love ballad apiece (Jesse’s is a song to a loved one; Worthwhile Way’s is a love song to life). It’s a tie for the best line on this one: “The mind is healed with my favorite tune and warm café au lait,” vs. “I got termites in the framework, so do you.” Excellent split. –Todd (Eager Beaver)

LOVE ME NOTS, THE: The Demon and the Devotee: LP
Classy, seductive, style-conscious, Detroit-inspired garage rock from Phoenix, AZ with respectful-to-their-vision Jim Diamond production. So, if you’re thinking, “Huh, you could almost be explaining the Detroit Cobras,” yeah, you got me. The organ’s more churchy and slithery than, say, on-fire Bomboras. The vocals are more plaintive than the chanteuseyness of the Detroit Cobras or as shouty as the Gore Gore Girls. Often, when the tempos slow, there’s less of a classic rhythm and blues or soul feel, instead a late ‘80s-early ‘90s college rock backdrop; along the lines of The Church or The Breeders. In fact—and this will probably help out ten people—a more garage-conscious, restrained interpretation of The Wiretaps. (Who are well worth seeking out.) That all said; it’s a very enjoyable record. It’s got nice stomp, swagger, and celebrates with impeccable musicianship and distinctive song writing. –Todd (Project Infinity, [email protected])

CHEMICALS: Chemical Livin’: LP
Featuring a veritable who’s who of Oregon punk rockers in a revolving cast (ten members are listed and this ain’t a ska band), including dudes from the Diskords, Defect Defect, and Red Dons. The music’s fantastic. I can’t help but think of a way-fuckin’-aggro, contemporary interpretation of Rockin’ at Ground Zero Gears by way of Fuhrers of the New Wave Smogtown. Tight, anxious, leg sweepers and arm raisers of songs. At the helm is Jonny Cat—it’s his label, and I’m assuming that it’s him singing and putting the lyrics together. I’m fine with concepts and themes and the Chemicals, conceptually, aren’t tough to figure out: the love of drugs. I’m cool with that. We all have our obsessions. But I think that so much attention on one topic restrains the band a bit. It’s a fine starting point and reference point, but—like its doppelganger, straightedge—if a band doesn’t go onto other topics occasionally, my mind begins to wander. Perhaps it’s all in the dosage. A bump or hit here and there, the Chemicals are pretty amazing. Four pencil-thick, pencil-long lines may be a wee too much. But I’m no doctor and your results may vary. –Todd (Jonny Cat)

HOMOSTUPIDS: Strawberry Orange Peach Banana: LP
On earlier Homostupids vinyl, I was suspecting a “maturation” along the lines of the Spits. Cretins that, instead of huffing furniture weatherproofing spray, were cultivating a certain type of mold to inhale that’d make the band both stupider and smarter. I was pretty far off. What I wasn’t expecting was art, like “I don’t quite know what to make of it, so I’m gonna shut up—wow, that person’s doing a lot of explaining—and see if there are free drinks around here somewhere” art. But, christ, when they kick all the instruments in the same direction, damn if they don’t harness a hearse running into a power line chaotic electricity of This Moment In Black History or Sun God. Then it goes into what sounds like practice tapes, various water sounds, banjo (or is it cello?) recitals, noise-as-noise, and sounds of kids saying stuff and art, sometimes within the confines of the same song. This record’s corrosive, like battery acid. It’s not like I’m bored or I’ve got something pressing to do right now, so I’m going to soak in this LP a bit longer, see if any vistas open up. I totally understand if you’ve got stuff to do and think it’s sorta annoying or unfocused. –Todd (Fashionable Idiots)