ROMANS: You Only Live Once: CD

One of the nice things about being a punker in Los Angeles is that there has never been a shortage of cool local bands, and any sort of auditory anarchy can be found within the county’s borders. Been that way as long as I can remember and some wicked cool bands have called L.A. home. Take the Romans: a supergroup of sorts, featuring personnel culled from the finest of Pasadena’s art punk bands, including Human Hands, Monitor, Bpeople, and others, who cranked out a nice chunk of punk and psychedelia-tinged surf music during the short window they were active in the early ‘80s. They managed to release a couple of albums and a few comp tracks before the band broke up and some of the members moved on to more celebrated bands like Green on Red and Mazzy Star. The bulk of the stuff here fits nicely in the “surf instrumental” pigeonhole, although there’s enough edge to it that the average punker should find most of the proceedings quite satisfying, especially when they get to the bonus tracks, some of which are straight-up art punk gems, and one of which would easily pass for a Monitor outtake. Although the fact that the band has long been overlooked is criminal, it is indeed wonderful that this sliver of L.A. punk’s history is again available. Some truly great stuff here.

 –jimmy (Warning Label)