Razorcake Podcast #193: With Todd Taylor

Jan 06, 2012

Razorcake Podcast #193: With Todd Taylor

I’m so not living in a commercial for lifestyle beverages, expensive consumer electronics, or casual, quirky hipness. Several weeks back, I wanted to get some exercise before finishing up an issue of Razorcake, to clear my mind a bit before jumping into a layout. So I shoveled some mulch that’s sitting in the driveway. My back went completely out. It was the first time that’d ever happened. I took a shower, sat down, worked. By noon, I couldn’t stand up straight. I choked on my burrito. By night time, I laid down and couldn’t stand back up. It took me ten minutes to get to the bathroom. I’m looking at a month of physical therapy.

How is this relevant?

I have nothing to gain from sharing this music—all DIY, mostly punk—besides the fact that I think it’s great and I hope more people get tuned into it. And when thoughts of, “Fuck, man, I just really want to not piss on myself right now” come to the front, stuff like a band’s popularity or what other people think about the minutiae just goes right out the window.

What do you listen to when there’s no one else around?


Slow Death, “Ticks of the Clock” (Kiss Of Death)
Tenement, “Taking Everything” (Toxic Pop)
Nightmare Boyzzz, “Backyard Coffins” (Arkam)
Too Many Daves, “When Getting Awesome Goes Wrong” (ADD)
Heavy Times, “FutureCity” (HoZac)
Amoebas, “Shake Me” (Modern Action / Gimme Gimme)
Mean Jeans, “(Let’s Go B4 I Blow My) Brains Out” (Big Neck)
Young Governor, “Where It’s Quiet” (12XU)
Ghost Knife, “The Lightning Test” (End Sounds)
Pine Hill Haints, “Moon Shadow” (K)
The Arrivals, “Finding My Station” (All In Vinyl)
Total Control, “Retiree” (Iron Lung)
Spits, “Last Man on Earth” (In The Red)
Maxines, “Queer Mods” (La-Ti-Da)
Weird Lovemakers, “I’m Not Alright” (Self-released)
The Weasels, “Beat Her with a Rake” (Siamese)
Wreck Of The Zephyr, “Rhythm in My Bones” (Pass The Fist)
Waxahatchee, “Be Good” (Don Giovanni)

SLOW DEATH, THE: Born Ugly Got Worse: LP
Premature death’s a funny thing, especially if it’s exaggerated. So, Pretty Boy Thorson And The Falling Angels didn’t actually die. A couple of them went off into relationship cocoons that transformed into butterflies that flew back to Minneapolis. But in that pupal stage of becoming pretty in other states, Jesse Thorson was busy gettin’ himself a little lady, took up a deep interest in ducks and tractors, and formed a new band. “So, Todd ‘you still make that little zine?’ Taylor, what you’re saying is that Jesse Thorson is now in two bands?” No. He’s in four. “Well, what’s the difference?” Does it really matter? Actually. A bit. Flip the cards over one after another: Jesse dances in this band since he isn’t tethered by a guitar. Saw him throw up twice in one day—two sets five or six hours apart. Meat. Potatoes. Homemade pizza. Your drugs are mine. Midwest. Bad decisions as rusted crowns. Large bellies as fulcrum points to not passing out. Happy misery. Miserable happiness. Now, debuting ‘lil happiness. Long drives on questionable tires. Mikey Erg. Harpoons of self-doubt. Paddy Costello. Johnny Cellphone. DaveStrait. Super. Group. Of dudes. Cock Sparrer as American, country-fringed, and snow-tough. Or Johnny Cougar playing Defiance songs. And really great enunciation. This isn’t a diss: this record’s like an invisible electric dog fence. I’ve been hearing Jesse sing these songs for years—you can see the well-worn tracks in the lawn—but it’s always a pleasure to watch him catch those frisbees, bring them back, then pee on your leg for your time. Guess what? Excellent record. PS: I’m offering ten dollars for anyone to send me a copy of Jesse’s emo zine that he’s Stalined. –Todd (Kiss Of Death)

TENEMENT: “Taking Everything” b/w “Daylight World”: 7”EP
Tenement know how to make songs and they know how to get weird. It’s this balance between catchy-noise-pop power and “What the fuck? I like this” that’s rising Tenement’s balloon up through the layers of “eh, shrug, clinical pop punk,” up through “you just discovered that effects pedal app on your computer garage rock,” up to heights of well-known bands that get referenced easily and readily. But if the stained, threadbare, inside out Hüsker Dü T-shirt fits—and the band sounds like an airplane crashing in one song and casually walking away from the wreckage the next—I’m all ears. As of this record, any and all Tenement is worth your time. –Todd (Toxic Pop, toxicpoprecords.com)

NIGHTMARE BOYZZZ: “Say What You Mean” b/w “Backyard Coffins”: 7”
What is it with the DIY South lately? True Stereo has me self-doubting that I actually have missed out on some good ‘70s stoner rock and Nightmare Boyzzz have me appreciating a band that appreciates The Beach Boys. There’s definitely a lot more mixed in; this 7” is both sunshine and the little bits of dust that look like gold as they flit from shadow to light. Or the curling smoke of a stubbed-out cigarette in an ashtray made from a flipped-over, old piston. In no hurry, almost casual. Repurposed and serving a new purpose.  A very listenable two songer. –Todd (Arkam)

AMOEBAS: Self-titled: 12”EP
One of the supreme difficulties of being a record reviewer is having seen these waves roll in before in sets. It’s far from the first time you’ve surveyed these waves, seen the gales, know how it’ll break, where the kooks’ll cluster. You’re not as in a hurry to suit up and run into the ocean when the yellow flag with the black dot in the middle is flappin’. So, in attempts to not become Ye Olde Jaded Fucke, I took my New Beach Alliance time with Amoebas. I took my paperback out, sat on the sand, took naps, got an unexpected sunburn with crisp lines as the Amoebas played over the public announcement speaker. All this metaphor is to say that there’s a definite line in the sand between bands worth listening to and bands that are just, “Blah, whatever.” The Amoebas are a Michigan band that enjoys the Stitches and the Carbonas in equal measure. It took a few spins to figure, “Yep. They know how to structure a song and how to ride a wave, instead of sneer and expect people to clap at their limited abilities and obscure vinyl collection.” Good stuff. –Todd (Modern Action / Gimme)

Mean Jeans: Continually remind me of kids at school who did everything to look like they didn’t give a fuck, didn’t pay attention, clowned all the time, but, in reality, were some of the smartest people in the room. Although they’d never admit it when anybody else was around. So if they’re painted by others with the Keystone Kops, Bug Bunny, Ramones tri-colored brush, that’s fine, but that’s just the brightly lit side of the portrait. Another great song because being this dumb and this catchy is much harder than it looks, even if you’re sitting in the front row. Hollywood: Perhaps “I Prefer Drugs” isn’t the best introduction to them. It could go either way. It could go in a Midnight Evils direction with balls so big that their scrotes have calluses on ‘em. It could go in a, “Wow, that schtick became a noose” direction of Nashville Pussy. Too small of a dose to make a prognosis. Cover features the weird-lookin’ dude from The Room. –Todd (Big Neck)

YOUNG GOVERNOR: Where It’s Quiet: 10” EP
I’m glad fifteen-year-old me isn’t listening to this me because, the fifteen-year-old me was a punk fascist. Since it’s Young Governor (cover of Razorcake #63), I’m going to let this record settle long after this review is written. Here’s why. Havana 3 AM. The Brigade. Any music video put out by a one-time punk band that featured people who looked like they were extras in Beyond Thunderdome, but were heavy on the fluorescents and feathers. The hair metal, Joe Wood TSOL. There is a time in almost every band and musicians’ arc where you, as a fan, have to seriously decide stuff like: “Am I willing to follow them… to this? Am I ready for post-________ (fill in the blank) adult if I keep listening? I hate electric-sounding-clicky-tambourine-y things and synthesizers.” Some bands proved absolutely worthless beyond lawsuits, copyright infringement, and fan confusion. (The TSOL debacle.) It’s partially prickly because what we ask and expect of musicians can often be contradictory: “Don’t change too much. That’s scary. Don’t release the same record again and again. That’s boring.” So, as the fifteen-year-old me has already snapped this record over his knee and is attempting to light the now-toothy vinyl on fire, the thirty-nine-year-old me is just hoping that the electro poppy “Dancing with a Friend” is not Ben’s final direction. Because we all know that the first several Clash records are the monuments and Big Audio Dynamite is the shadow. Harsh. And some times you gotta get other stuff out of your system. Really like the three other songs, for sure. –Todd  (12XU, 12xu.net)

PINE HILL HAINTS, THE: Welcome to the Midnight Opry: LP
The future and past are filled with ghosts. Ghosts of memory. Ghosts of potential. The Pine Hill Haints somehow interconnect and harvest those two ghosts like sheets made out of smoke. To call them “old timey” music is a disservice because, although they play traditional music amplified, there’s no fuzzy mittens of nostalgia in their music, no regression to a time that exists as mere fable. One of the largest issues I have with new music is the motherfucking robots—with their bloodless computer brains, microchips, software, social programming digitized—making it. The Haints have the ability to continually remind me that all music’s worth listening to is based on the human heart. The valves. The pumping. The thrum in your ears. The pulse at the wrist. The thud, thud, thud, that it you listen to it closely, that if you listen to it for long periods of time, you can swear that you see a simple beat twining above you into this thing called a soul. In my book, music that does that is rare. Welcome to the Midnight Opry is a full-length of new songs. The Evening Star is a collection of previously released songs and it’s nice to have them all in the same basket. –Todd (Opry, K, krecs.com / Evening Star, Black Owl Radio)

SPITS: THE: Self-titled – but I’m calling it Five: CD
Well, I think it’s time to say it. The Spits are—whatever generation this is—Ramones. They simultaneously make the same record over and over again. But that’s a fuckin’ lie. Because there’s always some new mutation radioactively lurking from under the bed or zip-zap lightning bolting from an airborne creature’s eye with each self-titled record. They’ve taken back the alleys. They’re now in the water supply and spray painting dongs on the top of Mt.Shasta. Like mold culture spreading, changing colors, and sprouting hair on the forgotten last slice of pizza rattling around in the box, the Spits have harnessed the power of readymades-made-dangerous. All you—as the listener—have to do is decide to chomp on down instead of throwing The Spits away like an empty box. Pupils dilate. Motor skills slacken. Craving for glue increases. Durable punk for these weird-ass times. Who knew The Spits would have such legs, be so prolific, be some of the last men on earth? Great radiation-mutant rock. –Todd (In The Red, intheredrecords.com)

MAXINES, THE: Self-titled: 7”EP
Remember the first time you huffed glue with paint? That fuzzy oval of silver around your mouth and nose from the bag? Before the severe brain damage? Yeah. Good times in the garage. That’s where the Maxines come in with their hollow-body-sounding, ragged-crunchy, fuzzed-out, Cramped-up-funfest. Billy Childish and Hasil Adkins nod and twitch and milkshake and Hunch in approval. Gritty Patsy Cline twists out a cigarette with the heel of her shoe and dudes are biting their palms. Two piece. Featuring Matt Murillo of the Jewws (Razorcake #11) and a lady who graduated college and didn’t get all loadie on aerosols. Put out by the folks who were at the tip of the Tranzmitors rocket. Top that. Nice. –Todd (La-Ti-Da, [email protected], latidarecords.com)

WAXAHATCHEE: American Weekend: CD
The roadie was super-nice to a lady bug and a bumble bee. It was the day before Halloween, so we were some of the few dressed up. He showed us which cords went where in the back of the amps that Replay Dave had so generously donated for the show. I’d never met Katie Cruchfield before, so I made a point to say hello before the show. Say thank you. We quickly peeled back the layers of blankets that can be between two active DIY punks in America. Lauren Measure had made the initial connection and suggestion Katie play. “That’s right! I love that Bad Banana 7”… Do you know Bradley, Beef Cat from ‘Bama?... Mitch Clem was loco about PS Eliot.” Katie played first as the sun shone brightly through the pane glass windows behind her and sheeted off the beer-stained wooden floors. Just a striking voice, a guitar, and words. The bar was filled and pretty much silent. Rapt, not slack-jawed. And as a grown man dressed as a lady bumble bee who had just secured fluorescent yellow zip ties to his glasses so his antennae would stop slipping down, she floored me. The simple, bare ache. The unadorned, obvious talent. The sadness. The resolve. The durability of a style of music that’s been so molested by hacks over the years can still be directed straight to the middle, straight to the heart. This is a stark, melancholic, beautiful record, one I felt privileged to hear live. Right after the set, a fan knocked his beer all over their merchandise table while thanking them. –Todd (Don Giovanni)