SCREAMERS: Demo, Hollywood 1977: 12” EP

Sep 16, 2021

The Screamers’ legacy has been covered ad-absurdum, but the importance of this slab comes with lore, so I’ll hit the high points. If you’ve never heard them and just want to grab this record, I’d recommend that. It would be akin to an opportunity to watch your favorite movie again for the first time. The Screamers were seminal in the early L.A. punk scene. They eschewed the typical guitar/bass/drums setup for punk drumming, a highly overdriven keyboard, and a keyboard generating melodies from a space-age mélange of bleeps and farts. Raspy vocals emerge from this din creating an unpredictable urgency. When the band raged, they raged. When rocking at mid-tempo, their songs create sense of dread. They were really a unique band, criminally under documented at the time. It’s one of rock’s great shames the band never got record an album, but their decisions surpassed punk ethos. They were looking into the future: a future where video was part of the art. The legendary Target Video crew filmed the band’s most cohesive document without an audience in a studio. Several reasonable bootlegs exist from rough demos, but this recent mix of five songs from an early demo taken from original reel-to-reel tapes gives a patent idea of what it would have been like had they recorded al album. “Magazine Love” opens the EP with a fast-paced song forged with full-on punk drumming and a descending keyboard riff framing the chorus. “Punish Or Be Damned” is comprised of a droney and contemplative keyboard riff with a catchy new wave chorus emanating from the din. Many of the sounds comprising the melodies on the album could have been directly from a John Carpenter soundtrack. The Screamers created more than just a new sound to scream through. This remix is clear and concise, and although all we want is more, this EP is essential as hell. –Billups Allen (Superior Viaduct)