Razorcake Podcast #187: With Todd Taylor

Nov 25, 2011

Razorcake Podcast #187: With Todd Taylor

After reading, one of the best skills I picked up in school was typing. I’m a fast typist.
Every Friday of in my typing class in junior high, we were given instructions to make some art. Twenty-five spaces. Three dashes. Return carriage. Twenty-four spaces. Period. Four spaces. Period. Return carriage.
If you did it right, kept the lines in order, found those characters you rarely used on the keys, and didn’t get trigger happy with the return carriage, you’d get a cool design.


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In the past two months, I listened to some kickass records that were new to me. I’m also having an on-going love affair with Rocket From The Crypt, so they kick it off with their now out of print Scream, Dracula, Scream, which is much better than Scream, Blackula, Scream. The best thing about that movie is the title.

Keep listening to great music, otherwise the people with dumb haircuts win.


Rocket From The Crypt, “Born in ‘69” (Interscope)
Red Dons, “A Forced Turning Point” (Taken By Surprise)
Night Birds, “Paranoid Times” (Grave Mistake)
Turkish Techno, “Peanuts” (Wolf Dog / Muy Autentico / Dirt Cult)
Brain F≠, “V-2” (Sorry State / Grave Mistake)
Defect Defect, “Napalmed Babies and New Palm Trees” (Dirt Cult)
Surrender, “Crucified” (Stonehenge)
Daylight Robbery, “Patience Loser” (Dirt Cult)
Sokea Piste, “Kollektiiven Paniikki” (Peterwalkee)
The Pegs, “Ricky Don’t Surf” (Rapid Pulse / No Front Teeth)
Shit Creek, “Shanghai River (Part Two)” (ADD)
Summer Vacation, “Team Captain” (On The Real)
Steve Adamyk, “Unglued” (Taken By Surprise)
Cheeto Champ, “Radio Radio” (Lauren / Bite The Cactus)
John Wesley Coleman III, “I’m Fucked Up and I’m Cool” (Way Out There)
Followed By Static, “Cop Gloves” (Way Out There)
Bertos, “So Afraid” (That’s a guess. There’s no track listing.) (Self-released)

RED DONS: “Forced Turning Point” b/w “Se Foi”: 7”
There is a small hand of punk bands that are unmistakably down that, I’m sure, would have a very wide appeal among people who “used to like punk” or “outgrew punk,” as well as, “Oooh, what’s this punk stuff about?” people. I’m not talking about the Rancid/Green Day axis of mainstream appeal. I’m talking the potential Fugazi levels of sustainability—large level, international underground level. Because the Red Dons are instantly catchy, smart-as-all-hell, musically interesting, and so big and realized in sound, that I’m hard-pressed to think of a band with a largesse of morals that equals the excitement of the music they’re currently making. For those who like: punk and/or punk and celebrating under that huge fuckin’ umbrella. Untouchable and worth hunting down? Absolutely. –Todd (Taken By Surprise)

NIGHT BIRDS: The Other Side of Darkness: LP
Hardcore that really resonates with me has been made by outcasts. And I don’t mean one-dimensional, “They don’t understand my crew,” looking-for-sponsorship outcasts. I’m talking about people who truly don’t look or fit the part making fast, hard, palpitating music. I’m talking about misfits within misfits, even at the band level, yet they’re all on the same page at the same time, if even just for the length of a record, the duration of a set. They’re all in the same chemistry lab, comic book store, record store, and thrift store for that twenty or so minutes. They draw from obscurity and edges and fringes. Look at old Dead Kennedys, Zero Boys, and Void photos. Look at Out Cold. Regular haircuts. Regular T-shirts. Regular-looking. Not funny-looking. Then listen. It’s what’s trapped inside that’s worth listening to for the long haul. They saved all the weirdness and anger and head ventilation for the music. Night Birds run deep—obvious over—and undercurrents are the surf guitar, the breakneck speed, and the smart lyrics. Inside is melody and Woody Allen references, origami-like guitar leads (fancy cuts, intricate patterns), and a drum that jounces and hollers instead of getting locked like a monkey inside the 4/4 cage. They’re looking at hardcore punk laterally—approaching it from the side—and that sounds so much better than a band you can hear flooring it in a straight line through a suburban cul-de-sac with nowhere else to go. Excellent. –Todd (Grave Mistake)

I don’t want to sound racist… totally fucking with you. Ever notice that when people say that, the next fuckin’ thing out of their mouths is racist? Turkish Techno finally release a full-length LP. The secret decoder ring to Turkish Techno is realizing that they’re coming from the earliest reaches of the Lookout! catalog and they celebrate almost all of it ‘til right around to The Oranges Band and when the Donnas had a tens-of-thousands-of-dollars-per-video budget. (Dude, I thought Andy was kidding me that Tilt didn’t start out with Cinder singing every song. That first 7” is a trip.) Turkish Techno is itchy and spazzy with pop punk as the infrastructure, but it’s Riverside’d up. It’s an unfinished offramp to an abandoned suburb style of punk. It’s desperation as palpable as the smog that gets backed up at the foothills of the San Bernardinos. They’ve made a house of music worth squatting in. It’s a bit abrasive, a bit Today’s Empires, Tomorrow’s Ashes Propagandhi with a whole bunch of “fuck yous” and “stupids” thrown in. It’s like waking up in a hotel room with the middle cushion of the couch totally missing, the sticky half of an Oreo stuck on the wall, and… wait for it… someone having tracked in human shit over the carpet, barefoot. And no clues as to how any of that happened. Bad ideas, yeah, Turkish Techno’s got ‘em. And they wear ‘em like official-looking badges. And you gotta laugh along, because, if you don’t, you’ll start crying. –Todd (Wolf Dog / Muy Autentico / Dirt Cult)

BRAIN F≠: Sleep Rough: LP
You can say that I’m totally high and I’m listening to a completely different band than what’s actually playing on this record. I’m fine with that. Brain F≠ (pronounced “Brain Flannel” (no idea how the “not equal to” sign becomes “lannel”)) come across as a bunch of hardcore folks who channel the following: Sweet JAP, The Saints, The Detroit Cobras, and Taschen. They embrace the stomp and go, barking and wailing, “If you fall off the back, it’s your own damn problem” pacing of Sweet JAP. They bury the sweet and mysterious hookiness of the Saints (albeit completely aggravated and breathless, like the most frenetic tinfoil-in-caves-vertigo moments of (I’m) Stranded). The lady from the Detroit Cobras has a fuckin’ awesome voice, but she’s adamant that the Detroit Cobras are definitely not a punk band. Elise Anderson has an awesome voice and this is unabashedly a punk band. To tie it all up, there’s art at work here that I don’t fully understand, but I don’t think they’re mocking their audience and the graphics look nice, so that’s cool. I rarely make comments about mastering and levels and whatnot because I don’t know dick about that stuff—but this record’s amazing in the fact that the two vocalists are nice and clear in the mix among the buzzing ricochets of blasting instruments. I’m sure they’re murder on live PAs. Exciting. –Todd (Grave Mistake, gravemistakerecords.com / Sorry State, [email protected])

It’s a three-band show that’d totally rule. Three contemporary punk bands on three different channels, but all on the same wavelength, if that makes any sense. Defect Defect: Colin couldn’t be clearer. He’s calling out all punks who got “too old” and have “given in.” I can almost see his crooked glasses slipping off his face as he sings this. Black Flag? Absolutely. Damaged, not TheProcess of Weeding Out. Lines drawn. Tough love. Napalmed babies. I’m down. Daylight Robbery: Sounds like their records come with a spool of police tape that raps around your stereo as it plays. It cordons off a crime scene, sets the place in noir-ish blacks and whites, expands to ten times its original volume, and carefully inspects and detects. Think X, Los Angeles, not Hey Zeus! Foreign Objects: I blame professional wrestling. When I did a podcast with Bill Pinkel and he played the Foreign Objects, I was like, “Oh, there was an LA band called that.” No, no there wasn’t. It was Legal Weapon. The professional wrestling opposite of a Foreign Object. Although the guitar plays “Just Another Damn Song” by Bad Brains, this is totally Legal Weapon-y, Death of Innocence, not Squeeze Me like an Anaconda. Summation: Oh, hell yeah, I hear echoes of bands before. But it’s the best echoes, not the questionable ones (that loved the Grateful Dead and hair metal). Run that correct shit up a pole. Great stuff. –Todd (Dirt Cult)

SURRENDER / 1981: Split: 7”EP
Two bands channeling their inner-Crass: the unmistakable, unapologetic, spelled-out politics. The skree-and-garroting guitars. The crows on white snow and red blood feel of a corpse-strewn battlefield. The talk-singing, the strangulated small animal vocals, military-style chants. La Cañada’s Surrender belt out the epic “Crucified” and a pretty rough-sounding, low-vocal, live-in-Seattle track, “Praise to Capital.” And since Crass was such a collective and its nine members oscillated in their communal duties, one could make the argument that Finland’s 1981 is the other side of coin of Surrender. Musically, they could be the same band and they deliver two strong tracks, including the “Emma Goldman could definitely dance to this” track, “Silence.” Good split. –Todd (Stonehenge, €5 postpaid, stonehengerecords.com)

Modern Finnish hardcore. By that, I mean they know their punk roots and they’ve updated to the black ice, ice-pick, hard-scraping, atmospheric, moody/melodic hardcore ushered in by From Ashes Rise (Alkaen Tuhka Nousta) and His Hero Is Gone, yet has a distinctly European feel, along the lines of El Banda. Paranoid neutrality. Mistrust. I think that language and history are sometimes important in understanding music, so here goes. The land area that now makes up Finland was settled immediately after the Ice Age, but it wasn’t until 120 years ago, in 1892, that Finland adopted its own national language. Before 1892, Fins mostly spoke Swedish. (Russia was trying to woo Finland away from Sweden and figured if the Fins had their own national identity, they’d be easier isolate and conquer.) That backfired. During the Second World War, Finland fought twice against the Soviet Union, and lost both times. Finland remained an independent democracy but was forced to stay neutral through the Cold War, until 1991. Finnish has always sounded and looked impenetrable to me as a language. The band’s name is “Blind Spot.” The 7”’s title is “Symptom.” Scandinavia doesn’t get much sun in the winter. And it makes sense now that Sokea Piste’s punk band legacy is Lama (“depression”), Riistetyt (“exploited”), Rattus (I’m assuming a play on “rats”), and the out-of-place-name-wise Terveet Kädet (“healthy hands”). A cold blast of ice-filled air from the north. Sounds like snow plows scraping near-empty parking lots sheeted with ice. Recommended. –Todd (Peterwalkee, peterwalkeerocords.com)

PEGS, THE: Nobody’s Listening Anyway: 7”EP
“Bad life decisions” punk. No matter where music tastes take me, I need my monthly dosage of intravenous, fucked-tooth, pants-uncomfortably-tight, no-thinking, probably-bleeding-somewhere—maybe internally, Orange County degenerate punk to cleanse the palate and watch the bad tattoos spread across my skin like happy magic. If you’ve heard the Stitches mixed with the Crowd, you’ve heard the Pegs. If you like Hostage Records, you’ve heard the Pegs. And that’s not a bad thing and this is a good 7”. I mean, for fuck’s sake, when you go to a restaurant, go for the shit you’ll most likely like, right? Not some fucked-up fusion with capers and fennel and indie pop sticking out the side like a flaccid dong about to poke you in the eye. Don’t tell me I’m alone on this. –Todd (Rapid Pulse / No Front Teeth, nofrontteeth.net)

SHIT CREEK: Scene Cred Is Our Name: 7”EP
SHIT CREEK: Lust for Brains: 7”EP
Ben Snakepit’s singing voice sounds like a long, disorganized beard with food bits in it. And that’s not a dig. Brandon Dude Jams—I can’t be the first to say this—is really channeling his inner Ryan Young of Off With Their Heads both in with “We’re all fucked! You’re fucked! I’m the most fucked! Fucked! Whoah oh! Sing with me!” lyrics and the sounds his mouth makes when he sings. On the uptick, for sure, is the song “Guitarded,” which chronicles the Brazilian mahogany from the forest to the factory to Ben’s incapable hands playing it, to the awkward position it puts him in. If you don’t read the lyrics and just discount the music as “Bearded dudes with hygiene issues music,” you could make the argument that it sounds like bears wrestling... but you’d still be a douche. Shit Creek also call out hobopunx because, when you strip it down, they’re just base consumers, too. Knowing Ben and having met Brandon, Shit Creek is also a vessel that confronts “midlife” punk. I wouldn’t say “crisis” quite yet, but since punk is often hard on the body, the early thirties is when your “body rental” starts becoming “body ownership” and it’s time for some reevaluation. Shit Creek do that in song. To wrap it all up, what’s that word I’m thinking of? It’s a young shoot or twig of a plant, especially one cut for grafting or rooting? Or a descendant of a notable family? Shit Creek are really mad at that word. And, as a favor to me, please name your first LP, Up. –Todd (Cred: Dirt Cult / Lust: ADD)

VARIOUS ARTISTS: 12th and G, Chino, CA: LP
One yardstick to hold up a comp of a super-down DIY place (1919 Hemphill, 924 Gilman) is looking at the listing on both sides. (This doesn’t work as well digitally. I’m looking at you, interwebs.) But don’t treat them as sides of a record. Treat them as two shows. Would I go to side A’s show? Side B’s? And even if you don’t know all the bands, are you in good hands? Do places make friends? No—12th and G was just a leaky warehouse with a skate ramp, a fridge, and a PA—but the people inside those places can. Friendly, honest, fun-loving, down-for-the-cause people. Not hypothetical circumstances, not a fantasy football version of punk rock or a corporation rock version of punk. This is rent-to-pay-is-not-an-excuse-to-be-a-douche-to-bands punk rock. And the comp. reflects the guiding principles of 12th and G. well. It’s unmistakably DIY punk at its core, but it’s unafraid to lend high fives to bands who also dip into metal, hip hop, and the mellower fare. The strongest testament to this comp is that it’s a direct, honest reflection of music that’s being made in America today; of music that came through their doors, to music that they helped nurture by providing a genuinely great place to play. Due to cops on the interwebs (again, fucked by digital) being bummed that the city of Chino wasn’t getting their graft and kickbacks—and under the guise of “protecting the children”—the warehouse was shut down in April, 2011. This comp is a love letter. I intentionally didn’t mention one single band in this review because it’s bigger than just one band. It’s a matter of trust, like when Donna Ramone or Horror Tim or Marty Ploy or Christina Zamora say, “Dude, just listen to this band.” You put time aside in your busy schedule and just listen to some really good shit. –Todd (On The Real, ontherealrecords.tumblr.com)

STEVE ADAMYK: Desecrate: 7”EP
Powerpop. The equation’s ass-simple. Be catchy as hell. Get every instrument bouncing and punchy. After the first listen, hum that shit in the shower. Hum that shit when eating your morning bowl of cereal. Hum that shit when your boss lashes your back. Hum that shit to the cashier at the supermarket. Go home, take your shoes off, and slide across your floor in your underpants humming that shit. It’s much easier to do poorly than pull off correctly. Think Tranzmitors. Think candy knife fights. Think style, but not slavery… to that style. Think Go! Ottawa! Go! Steve Adamyk! Nice. –Todd (Taken By Surprise)

CHEETO CHAMP: Gets the Giggles: 7-song CD
One of my hot buttons in music is preciousness. I have no patience for “watching people make a sweater made out of musical notes instead of yarn” music. And although Cheeto Champ play their music with an undeniable sweetness and vulnerability, they more than balance it out by some furious pedaling, plenty of crunch, and well-placed “i!i!i!”s. Sweet is balanced with the sour. The sour balanced with salty and spicy. Cheeto Champ is the Takis Fuego of punk. Or cactus punk: able to thrive in harsh and barren environments, outward spines against intruders, solemn beauty. Adrian is one of the singers of God Equals Genocide. In Cheeto Champ, she pulls a vast majority of the lead vocal duties, and with that longer exposure, she really sounds like Iceland’s Björk Guðmundsdóttir of the Sugarcubes, circa Life’s too Good. Only took me five or six years to realize that.Comes inside an impressive letter press cover and stamped CD artwork. I like this a lot. –Todd (Lauren, Lauren-records.com / Bite The Cactus, [email protected])

An Italian release that acts like 7”EPs on a split LP. John Wesley Coleman III’s EP Personality Pancake: It’s melodic and it’s freaking out. Around the corners and in its heartbeat, I hear Hasil Adkins and Bob Log III. A full-band one-man-band? Appreciated outsiders with insuppressible “yips” and “yops!” all laid down on a shaky bed of howling, hollow bodies, throbbing embers, and a roiling ocean of reverb. Somehow relaxing and high pressured at the same time. Followed By Static’s Bacon Bear: Sitting on its haunches, ready to strike with cobra strikes of reverb and skronking trumpet. They do a nice job of sounding both languid and paranoid. It’s a funny coincidence that one guy in this band’s first name is Jeffery and another guy’s is Pierce, because the band sounds like the ghosts of Jeffrey Lee Pierce’s Gun Club hangs in their closet next to their collared shirts. They sweat that same sorta sweat. Both bands. Nice. –Todd (Way Out There, [email protected], wayouththererecords.blogspot.com)

Don’t quote me on the title. Mike from The Bertos handed this to me at AwesomeFest 5. The cover’s written in sharpie on burrito paper. There’s a lot to like about the Bertos; the fact that lead singer Mike’s almost bashful when they’re not playing just adds to it. They play songs about manual labor jobs and quickly and haphazardly moving out of an apartment. Real stuff that may sound small—“…and we dust and we mop…(ba bah bah) and we fold everything…(whoah oh oh)”—but, to me, just sound real and honest. They also have a subtle way of twisting things with a flick of the wrist—“…and the night falls… (ba bah bah) we’re out drinking (whoah oh oh) … and we are so afraid…” Think along the lines of J.Church, (another power trio) Hüsker Dü, and deconstructed and reassembled Tiltwheel guitar riffs. What that boils down to me is plenty of space to breathe inside of the songs. It’s like watching a set of lungs expand and contract over and over again. Seeing the blood pulsate. The esophagus swell, breath expel. The Bertos are a well-kept San Diego secret. Give ‘em a chance. I have the feeling they’ll surprise you. This gets better and bigger with each spin. –Todd (Self-released, no address)