I first heard the Descendents when I bought a tape entitled Enjoy! at Spec’s Music in Boca Raton’s Town Center mall. When I got it home and played it, I was baffled. Some of the songs didn’t even resemble music, hardcore or otherwise, and the ones that did were mostly sugary pop songs rather than the fine-tuned ferocious punk rock I expected from Black Flag’s label mates. I kind of hated it, but eventually it grew on me and became an important album in my life. Nostalgia aside, the songs (like “Get the Time”) and the playing are right on the money.
In his book We Can Be the New Wind, author Alexandros Anesiadis looks at a massive number of punk bands whose musical experimentation led them into more melodic “pop influenced independent rock” territory. While the resulting recordings are not generally considered classics, Anesiadis does a fantastic job at identifying and dissecting a seemingly infinite cache of overlooked gems from these bands’ post-punk catalogs.
We Can Be the New Wind is a monster of a book. The back cover blurb claims over 1,000 bands are covered within its 800-plus pages, and I believe it. Some highlights include: 7 Seconds, CH3, Agent Orange, The Plimsouls, The Dickies, X, Dinosaur Jr, Gray Matter, Supertouch, Mission Of Burma, Hüsker Dü, The Big Boys, H.D.Q., The New Christs, and on and on. It’s a safe bet that a lot of these bands were labeled sellouts when they morphed their sound. This is likely accurate in some cases, but the same could be assumed about bands that went metal. In fact, Anesiadis has an entire book covering that side of the coin as well.
The volume of information here is pretty astounding. The amount of work put into researching and documenting the massive number of relatively obscure recordings included in We Can Be the New Wind is impressive on its own. The bands are categorized by region: USA: West Coast, USA: East Coast, Central U.S. and the rest of U.S., Canada, U.K., and World. There’s also a series of chapters at the end of the book covering each region’s bands that didn’t get their own chapter.
There is a touch of choppiness to the writing at times. Nothing major, but I had to re-read a sentence here and there to get the gist of it. My guess is that it is a translation issue of sorts—maybe English isn’t the author’s native language. That said, the writing is what makes We Can Be the NewWind so special. It reads like a fantastic old school fanzine from before everyone got jaded. The author is not just documenting the music, he is championing it with an honest and contagious enthusiasm that makes you think about life and music and makes you want to crank Teen Babes from Monsanto on ten and fuck all. Cover art by Brian Walsby. –Buddha (Jawbone Press, jawbonepress.com)