Archive for 'Consumer Report'

Discogs Bargain Gems

Sorry, no interview this month – it just didn’t come together. Perhaps that’s because I’ve spent much of my free time combing the listings over at Discogs.com, particularly as the value of the Euro continues to drop and the complete Hessle Audio and Pan discographies grow closer within my reach. Please instead enjoy this third installment of cheap Discogs finds, all records that are currently available for purchase at $5 or less on the site. In my opinion, these records are far superior to most new ones coming out today at exponentially higher retail prices. Future-bonzers, I may dream, if musical and aesthetic quality have anything to do with it. Dig in!

Coleman Coleman 7″ (Heliotrope, 1994)
’90s emo-core gets a lot of flack these days, with images of young men in baggy pants and bead necklaces, their bellies full with Taco Bell (the only vegan fast food option at the time) as they weep on stage. So many of these bands are ripe for mockery, but there were also some bands whose intensity, violence and emotion have rarely been matched before or after, like Coleman. Their singer would bash her own face in with the microphone (proto-Hoax?), the band would crumple to the floor and the ugliness of their music somehow matched the visual experience – here is a band that wasn’t talking about the suffering of earthworms so much as exuding actual pain. This 7″ is a fantastic, hand-assembled example of how nasty emo-core could be, some sort of amateurish Antioch Arrow / Harry Pussy hybrid with Metal Zone distortion. Great audio samples between tracks too, as was commonplace for their time and scene, which really tie the whole thing together.

Boy Toy Touch My Body 12″ (Kaos Dance, 1989)
Seems like every week there’s a new high-priced reissue of some synth/wave/dance obscurity (now considered seminal by the label reissuing it, of course), and while many of those are nice, you’d need a second job to keep up. Thank God you can buy this Boy Toy 12″ for $2.62 and obtain its menacing Belgian nu-beat sound without any fuss, in that case! This track (the 12″, 7″ and “maxi CD” versions feature both vocal and instrumental versions) has enough sleaze to satisfy a Lords Of Acid acolyte and a relentless squelching loop that would make Helena Hauff blush. Plus, the singer’s name is listed as “Jade 4U”, which predates spam-bot email names by at least a few years. All yours for the cost of coffee and a donut!

Deathrage / The Burnt Split 6″ (Headache, 1993)
The Headache label has released dozens of classic street-punk records through its tenure, but none are quite as twisted, stupid and genius as this one. Deathrage (who I don’t believe have released any other music before or after) are like the logical heirs to Cyanamid’s throne, offering a chilling first-person account of, as the song says, murdering the Brady Bunch. It’s the best song Drunks With Guns never wrote, and would be my first choice were there ever to be a proper “Obscure ’90s Noise Punk” compilation. You can just tell someone is shoving a screwdriver into a crusty old Fender as each family member is murdered, and while each death is creative, the bowling-ball-related one is particularly great (I won’t spoil it for you). The Burnt, on the other hand, quickly shoot through a punked-up cover of The Flintstones‘ theme song. All this on a red vinyl 6″ (yes, 6″) record. Perfection.

Schlammpeitziger Augenwischwaldmoppgeflöte LP (A-Musik, 1999)
I initially stumbled upon this record at a second-hand record shop, liked the looks of those giant song titles (and the fact that it was super cheap), and took it home with me, hopes not particularly high. Well, I still have no real idea what the story behind Schlammpeitziger is, except that one of the Mouse On Mars guys helped mix it, and that it’s basically the perfect mixture of fuzzy electronica, DIY synth experimentation and rigid Kraftwerkian electro-motorik. It’s the sort of sound that could only really come from the late ’90s – you can tell Schlammpeitziger were listening to plenty of Aphex Twin and Oval, but filtered that through the Kompakt empire and the looming shadow of Michael Rother. It’s a fantastic album for dinner preparation, magazine reading or just staring out the window on a long car ride, and if you enjoy it, nine other Schlammpeitziger albums can be obtained for just as cheaply.

Active Minds Capitalism Is A Disease, And Money An Addictive Drug… 7″ (Loony Tunes, 1991)
I’m just gonna come out and say it – this might be the most fucked-up “punk” 7″ I’ve ever heard. Active Minds are a fairly boring political crust-punk band, their name littered across so many compilations and patch-covered jackets, but this 7″… words can barely describe. It really comes down to the first track, “Take A Straight Look At A Crooked World”, which is equal parts Legend Of Zelda castle-music and drum-machine d-beat (which sounds like synthetic guitar and a popcorn popper). There’s a video for the track on the accompanying Discogs page, so just go listen. I’ve spent hours air-guitaring and dancing to this song with friends, and my life is significantly richer for having heard it. Oh, and it’s nearly six minutes long, and there are still two other tracks on the a-side, and six other tracks on the b-side! Ironically, the cover art has a big “Pay No More than ¬£1.20” scrawled on it, and as multiple copies are for sale at a dollar (both online and in used record shops the world over), it might be the least-necessary price restriction ever to appear on a punk record.

I got some nice feedback on the first Consumer Report post last June, wherein I listed some underappreciated punk/hardcore singles that were available for purchase on Discogs for under five dollars a piece. It’s January now, and we’re all living fat on our holiday bonuses (or unemployed and nihilistic, so same difference really), so here are some more fantastic records available on Discogs for under the five-dollar mark (at least at the time of publication). Who needs new albums for $18.99 and up when there are so many great old records ripe for the picking?

Boy In Love The Peehole Sessions 7″ (Wheelchair Full Of Old Men, 1995)
Everyone loves Sockeye, that much is true, but it can be difficult to navigate their dozens of side-projects, related joke bands and demo-only friends’ bands (although there is certainly no harm in trying). This Boy In Love single is a personal favorite from the Wheelchair Full Of Old Men discography, and if you are familiar with Pissed Jeans, I can tell you that the Boy In Love track “My Bible Is A Boy” (featured here) was more influential than any Birthday Party or Jesus Lizard tune (perhaps one day we’ll get around to covering it). I know Boy In Love have also released a CD or a tape or two, filled with dozens of songs, and I have never checked them out, mainly out of fear that it won’t be as fantastic as this. Boy In Love hit that perfect level of intentional-stupidity on The Peehole Sessions, rocking hard and mocking everyone in the process. Isn’t that what punk is all about, anyway?

Huren Tinseltown 12″ (Zhark, 1999)
Evil industrial techno sure is hot these days, but did you know that people have been making it for years? I’ll admit, I first heard Huren maybe a year or two ago, and I was shocked at how fresh and intense his Tinseltown still is – it’s scorching, monotonous, feverish techno that will make your nose bleed if you stand in one place for too long while listening. All of the Huren I’ve heard is great, but the fact that he looks like a Sin City comic character on the center sticker (that’s Huren, right?) makes this one special, as does the title track’s monstrous groove. With the cost of international shipping, you might as well just snatch up all of Huren’s EPs (they’re all pretty cheap) and utterly destroy your next DJ gig.

Girls At Our Best Politics! / It’s Fashion 7″ (Record / Rough Trade, 1980)
For all the twee, poppy post-punk that has been celebrated in recent years, I’m surprised that Girls At Our Best haven’t gotten more of their due – their cover art is some of the best that early ’80s post-punk singles had to offer, and their songs are short, catchy and sharp… it’s like they were just as frustrated and bitter as Kleenex and The Slits, but they opted for a smooth bubblegum flavor to mask their spite. All their singles are fantastic (although my favorite, Getting Nowhere Fast / Warm Girls seems to be the priciest), their album is solid (if a little harder to track down), and Girls At Our Best are really just one Slumberland retrospective collection away from being the hot new old band of the month with the record nerd cognoscenti. And there are copies of Politics! for a paltry two dollars on Discogs, right now!

Them, Themselves Or They Ribbons & Bows….Angel Dust & Magick Wands 7″ (Malt Duck, 2008)
Here’s a fairly recent single that seemed to fly under most peoples’ radar, and it’s a shame, because it’s one of the weirdest, most uniquely great singles to come out of the previous decade! From their weird name to the obnoxious title, it’s clear this isn’t an ordinary group, and their music is even more bizarre – imagine classic stoner riffs played on a clean-channel bass guitar, modest backing drums, random space-ship gurgle and whimpering vocals… it’s as if the best aspects of Wooden Shjips and Titmachine were combined into something entirely new. I could listen to these songs all day long and never tire, as they’re the perfect combination of DIY punk fuckery and smooth stoner bliss, and the whole thing reeks of true artistic insanity, not a calculated approach to being cool (as the many copies of Ribbons & Bows….Angel Dust & Magick Wands on Discogs for under two dollars may attest). Pick it up now, or get ready to hunt it like a fiend thirty years from now, once the rest of the world catches up…

97a Better Off Dead 7″ (Teamwork, 1996)
It’s funny how the history of hardcore re-writes itself over time… there was a point where this 97a EP was considered one of the most blazing, intense EPs (and coveted by collectors for its multitude of limited versions) by the general hardcore populace. And now, there are enough cheap copies on Discogs that you can buy a bag’s worth for like $25 and use them in place of Halloween candy. To this day, 97a’s debut EP still sounds vibrant and raging – they bridged the gap between the second-wave youth-crew and power-violence scenes, blasting and screaming but still allowing plenty of space for toe-touch jumps and stage dives. Many of these songs are oddly structured, where a fast intro will quickly fade and never be replayed, or a breakdown will pop up in the wrong spot, or never materialize when it’s needed most, and it’s that sort of musical uniqueness that really sets them apart. 97a kinda veered into self-parody toward the end of their existence, but this one is a ripper through and through. Plus, there are more hilarious 97a stories than any other hardcore band out of the late ’90s – I was there when the singer slapped the promoter of their last show for talking during his pre-show speech!