Razorcake Podcast #93: With Todd Taylor

Razorcake Podcast #93: With Todd Taylor

New things scare me plenty. When I first heard of the word “podcast,” I filed it in with “blogosphere,” “weblog,” “digital jerkoff,” “Friendster,” and “global community.” Basically, shit I never wanted to understand or pay attention to. But when I figured out that music podcasts are little more than digital mix tapes that you can share with friends, it made more sense… and was less scary.

I also find vinyl comforting. When I was a kid, I mostly used bought used tapes. They’re almost all gone. Broken, warped, missing. When CDs hit, I was apprehensive—and they were expensive—so I went back to buying primarily vinyl, using CDs mostly in transit or as duplicates. I try not to be all National Socialist about my love for vinyl; I understand that not everyone takes music so seriously. But, you have to think: no format since vinyl—reel to reel, 8-track, CD, cassette—lasts as long, nor has weathered so many format storms with so much dignity and fidelity. Vinyl records are just harder to squeeze into the interweb.

Mark it, dude. MP3s will be the 8-tracks of the early 2000s. Something else is bound to come along. So instead of chasing that carrot, I’ve been collecting these little petroleum-based disks that are bad for the environment, yet fuckin’-a-great for my peace of mind.

In that spirit, enjoy this podcast. All from vinyl, brought to you by “the future” in bleeps and bloops, ones and zeros.

“Future,” I really want my flying car and self-cleaning underpants, please.

Below the track listing are reviews I wrote about many of these releases.

-Todd

Tracklisting:
Marked Men, “Too Pretty to Fuck” (No Idea)

Daylight Robbery, “Circles” (Residue)
Statues, “Young Enough” (P.Trash / House Party)
Arrivals, “Audacity of Hope” (Johann’s Face)
Re-Volts, “Piles” (Pirate’s Press)

This Is My Fist, “All That Is Wrong” (No Idea)
Shang-A-Lang, “Nasty Weather” (Fast Crowd)
The Measure [SA], “Dullards and Dreadful Prose” (No Idea)
Nervous Dogs, “Which Is True” (Bakery Outlet)

Masshysteri, “Hatkärlek” (Feral Ward)
Sleepwall, “Tennessee Sin” (Toxic Pop)
Shark Pants, “Kung Fool” (Dirt Cult)
M.O.T.O., “Kissing All the Wrong Asses” (Johann’s Face)
Pine Hill Haints, “I See Red, Kill Kill Kill” (Arkam)

Otis Redding, “Shout Bamamlama” (Stax)
Hidden Spots, “Identity” (Mauled By Tigers)

MARKED MEN / THIS IS MY FIST: Split: 7”EP
Marked Men: C’mon, really? If you haven’t at least checked out the Marked Men, just put this zine down and go find some recordings. Shit, dude or lady, if you’re standing in a record store, don’t buy this zine if there’s some Marked Men vinyl to be had in the vicinity and you can’t afford to buy both. What else do you need as an endorsement? How many publications will entirely supplicate to a band, encouraging you to just go and listen to the music? As always, the Marked Men are pitch perfect, no-genre-can-pigeon-hole them music that’s accurate and reasonable to call punk, but it’s so much more. This Is My Fist: Putting this in the “mental health versus making great punk songs” algorithm, part of me wishes that Annie of TIMF finds solace and happiness because, man, she’s been mistreated time and time again if we’re to take her lyrics literally. The other part of me—perhaps the selfish, dick part—keeps being impressed by her output and how much gas is left in TIMF’s tank, especially after all the personnel changes. Perhaps sadness is her ghost, her fire, her muse. –Todd (No Idea)

DAYLIGHT ROBBERY: Red Tape: 7”EP
“Oh, you lazy fucker,” part of my brain is saying. “You can’t do better than that? Just because there are men and women vocals, and it’s punk, you’re going to bring up X? That’s all you got for comparison? A band that hasn’t written any new material since 1993?” But it’s more than just the coed vocals. It’s the mid-pacing of the songs, the reverb and slightly surf, slightly rootsy undertones, the fore fronting of the vocalists—like you’ll be rewarded for understanding what they’re singing—and that each instrument has its own little ecosystem that’s bigger when they’re all blended together. Like the slower, more melodic Libyans tracks, especially “Welcome to the Neighborhood.” So what if the fingerprints are from the Dangerhouse era? The music sounds crisp and fresh-from-the-plastic, newly peeled out of the sleeve. Highly recommended. –Todd (Residue, residue-records.com)

STATUES: “We’re Disparate” b/w “To the Top” and “Young Enough”: 7”EP
Equal parts Dilbert, The Jam, and Allan Sillitoe’s Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. You could say that it’s geeky (check), you could say that they’re bouncy and non-ass power pop with sharp punk teeth in their chainsaw (check), and you could say they’re working class without the nutty boots, birds, braces, dual, fat-fingered patriotism (check). Rural Canadian spectacle rock is a go. Haven’t heard one bad song from this trio yet. –Todd (House Party / P.Trash)

SHANG-A-LANG: Sad Magic: LP
What a perfect title; this record’s both that adjective and that noun in equal measure. Shang-a-Lang’s first foray into full-length territory reveals what I’ve guessed all along: the more songs they write, the better they get, the more I like them. It’s knot-in-throat music. I understand that “being real” is a cliché and means as much as “street cred,” but S-A-L aren’t afraid of looking at the ugly in themselves and their situations. (Perhaps I’m reading too much into it, knowing that lead singer Chris has a tough job in the social services, yet he helps turn that anxiety into an all-ages space in Las Cruces while running Dirt Cult Records.) But it’s these doses of self-doubt and self-depreciation funneling themselves into songs that act as mysterious, inspirational catalysts. (Instead of being total life crushers.) My guess is if the world didn’t have so many shit bits flinging up and cracking S-A-L’s windshield, there’d be less of a constant catalyst to create music. It’s because they just can’t stop doing it—it’s their antidote, their inoculation and booster shots—which is such a different place to make music from than making it because you don’t have anything better to do. (And let’s laugh at making music for fame, sex, or money in this review.) For anyone interested in an unadulterated archetype of what DIY punk’s up to in the late ‘00s, drop the needle on Sad Magic. –Todd (Fast Crowd)

ERGS!, THE / THE MEASURE [SA]: Split: 7”
The Ergs!: Nope, not back from the grave; not pulling a Nirvana, Sublime, or Tupac, where dead people keep on releasing “new” music. It’s just that in this imperfect world of punk vinyl, shit recorded gets out of sequence of shit being released. I know there’s more Ergs! vinyl coming out (Thrash Compactor’s on the way, I believe, along with a split with Teenage Bottlerocket) that was recorded prior to That’s It… Bye! It’s all bittersweet math, though, since we’re on the final pages of a book I don’t want to end. The Ergs! decimated many of the concrete walls of pop punk like Hulk smashing puny jello cups in massive fists, cheerfully squirting that goo which choked out so, so many lesser bands. Measure [SA]: it’s the small stuff that makes ‘em so great, like young, funny Chevy Chase on the cover, how they can make the political “Dullards and Dreadful Prose” sound like the bad relationship it is; a relationship of the far right and their courting of America’s soul and not just stuff like “Limbaugh suck dog tit.” Yup. Big fan of both. –Todd (No Idea)

NERVOUS DOGS: Great Doors: 7”EP
Depression, defiance, fires, and formlessness. Raspy-voiced. Smoke-filled lungs—from both wildfires and enclosed spaces. It’s Florida punk with much to owe to Spoke, Fay Wray, and Clairmel, the lesser-known structures which Hot Water Music would one day build its foundations on. The Nervous Dogs are confessional but not anthemic. They hide their melodies like a well-concealed flask and play bodies of songs heavily scarred, but with the slightest of smiles on the lips. They aren’t a band that is likely to blow you away immediately, but if you like them on first spin, chances heavily weigh toward that fondness will continue to grow. –Todd (Bakery Outlet)

SLEEPWALL: Is That Factual?: 7”
It’s unfair to impose Zen Arcade on a two-song 7”. Two different states of vinyl mass. But much as with Tenement’s recent Ice Pick 7”, it’s hard not to make Hüsker Dü-ian references to another band that is looking far beyond its constraints from the Land Speed Record gate. This shit’s expansive, layered, tension-filled, and is suited for a double LP to have it wash, glaze, and wander around your ears for awhile. I’ll go ahead and mention that some Dinosaur jr. is in the mix. Bug wouldn’t be a bad comparison. Funny thing is that Sleepwall’s first 7” was much more Deep Wound meets Superchunk; working well as a 7” capsule. I’m super interested how all the pieces are going to come together for a full length. –Todd (Toxic Pop)

SHARK PANTS: Automatic Pinner: 7”EP
Well, this one’s easy. Shark Pants released this one several years back on Underground Government in Japan in support of a tour there, only as a CDEP. And since I’m becoming sort of a jackass in this digital era where I don’t consider music one hundred percent real until it’s released on vinyl (there hasn’t been one instance reported of a record player downloading a virus and you never have to worry if your record player just erased your entire collection in one digital belch), I can now fully rejoice that this four-song capsule that’s a great distillation of Shark Pants. It’s a wonderful introduction to these three Tucsonian wizards. Strip Hendrix of any hippie tendencies, feed him a steady diet of norteños, Underdog, and file under complex, not busy. A band that other bands absolutely adore and are mystified by. –Todd (Dirt Cult)

HIDDEN SPOTS: Self-titled: LP
Being a small town punk in his late ‘30s, I’m going to take some stabs here, and it’s based on a talk I had with my friend, Matt’s Incredible. In the mid-to-late ‘80s, punk rock as we know it was in pretty bad shape. The first and second waves had come and gone, yet it was still slowly infiltrating the lower population centers in America: the high desert, the Midwest, the South. So, it wouldn’t be completely out of the question to find a Suicidal Tendencies or JFA record then picking something from an active, pushed band on college radio that was more ruffle-cuffed, overly melodic, and largely English. Cure. OMD. Depeche Mode. The Bolshoi. Icicle Works. Love And Rockets. Flesh For Lulu. Simple Minds. For fuck’s sake, there was no interweb, barely no instant anything when it came to underground music. “New” could be a decade. So when the gruff-voiced Eric Nelson launches into covers of two of the aforementioned bands, a couple of the pins drop in the lock to the safe to further understanding the riches of the Hidden Spots. 1.) Fuck pretense. Blame the world and society, but don’t blame people over thirty for knowing and liking this stuff, word-for-word, unironically. 2.) There are valuable lessons to be learned from “Duckie Rock” (Pretty in Pink) by many bands, especially in the hooks and melodies departments. 3.) Reclamation, Chattanooga Cultural Division, has made one of the most exciting, powerful, and positive full length records in all of 2009. It spits fire at organized religion, the concept of national pride, and hugs its friends closely with as much ferocity. I’m agog on how great this is and I was already on “Mike Pack Shit-stained High Five” bandwagon a couple years back. –Todd (Mauled By Tigers)