Archive for 'Consumer Report'

It’s time again for another blast of Discogs cheapness! If I’m not careful, Yellow Green Red could devolve entirely into a “cheap Discogs deals” fan-site, so I’m gonna keep doing this once a year (or less). If you’re a new reader, let me explain: I like to share a few older records currently available on Discogs for five dollars or less, in hopes that you check them out, or maybe really go for it and buy them! It’s not a get-rich-quick scam – none of these records are sold by me personally – trust that I am keeping my personal copies of these underappreciated gems. I know, I really want to pick up the new Joshua Abrams Natural Information Society album too, but you can get all these records combined for significantly less than what that one will run you, so keep that in mind! Alright, let’s dig in…

Billy Bao Fuck Separation 10″ (S-S, 2007)
Billy Bao is probably the most contemporary Discogs Cheapo entry thus far – this record comes from 2007, and although the Billy Bao alias seems to be retired at this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if some new triple-LP gatefold came out next week. As far as I’m concerned, this plain-looking 10″ on the S-S label is Mr. Bao’s musical peak – two absolutely shredding cuts of bloodstained noise-punk. I feel like the contemporary hardcore-punk scene has fully released how great The Leather Nun’s “No Rule” is at this point, and I’d say these two tracks are about as close as a modern group has come to emulating that same sense of combustible, no-brakes menace, like Motörhead riding a bridge to hell in search of revenge. As with all Billy Bao records, I am sure there is some philosophical concept to this one (each side features a single track of exactly ten minutes length), but as far as my ears can tell, the only concept at play here is to demolish every other monotonously-chugging punk band in their wake.

Defektors The Bottom Of The City LP (Nominal / Grotesque Modern, 2010)
There must be a million bands that sound like this – trust me, I get at least three or four albums like it a month! I’m talking about hard-driving post-punk groups that stabilize their musical focus between The Hot Snakes and The Wipers, trying to be tough but mature, psychotic yet wise, all while violently strumming their guitars downward in speedy unison. And yet, I feel comfortable in saying that Defektors are the absolute best at it, truly the best, and The Bottom Of The City, their sole full-length, is their flawless pinnacle. They have that rare magic where every song sounds exactly the same yet each track comes equipped with distinct hooks; it’s that special form of Ramones superpowers that is almost impossible to locate, particularly in a style done so frequently. It’s like you’re either born with this ability or you’re not, and the short-lived Defektors truly excelled. If only they were also ex-Drive Like Jehu, they’d be headlining arenas right now, but they were three nobodies from Canada somewhere, so they’re relegated to the arena in my heart.

The Dramatics $50,000 LP (Menlo Park, 1997)
How ironic, seeing as The Dramatics’ $50,000 is currently the cheapest of the bunch, yours for a whopping $2.99! The Dramatics were a Baltimore based junk-rock duo, clearly harnessing the spirit of no-wave years before the no-wave resurgence, and doing so in their own particular fashion. Which is to say, lots of tuneless percussion, wild fumbling, squelched guitars and exactly the sort of musical tomfoolery that hooks me in. Kind of a Load Records style, but prior to all the Load Records bands who embodied similar styles came to be. Seems like Derek Bailey and The Boredoms were probably on The Dramatics’ mind as well, but who can really say? Baltimore avant-garde fixture Jason Willett was one of the members, who currently plays with Half Japanese, and had a group in the early ’00s called Leprechaun Catering who had sort of a more electronic take on The Dramatics’ sound (and whose sophomore album I proudly released!), but it almost feels like $50,000 is where it all first snapped together for Willett, this insane freedom to layer six thrift-store guitar tracks with shaken cans of beans, children’s electronic toys and some high-pitched babbling. Truly a fine freakout, which could also be said for much of Menlo Park’s exquisite discography, much of which is of similar high quality and budget price.

Excelsior Land Of Enchantment 12″ (Belladonna, 2000)
Around the turn of the century, crude rock n’ roll wasn’t exactly at a surplus, and Philadelphia was no exception to that drought. And yet Excelsior, a rag-tag group of frenemies who would rather drink cheap beer and crack jokes on their stoop than put together any sort of meaningful touring regimen thrived in this time, perhaps because pretty much no one gave a damn about them. While their other two albums are quite good (one of which sadly never made it to vinyl), Land Of Enchantment displays Excelsior at the height of their powers, somehow merging the bitter indie-punk of The Monorchid with the swampy guitars of Lynyrd Skynyrd and some punishing yet precise drumming. The vocals are snarling with snot, the riffs are danker than anything Man’s Ruin was releasing at the time, and I’m telling you, the drumming is absolutely magnificent – I wonder whatever happened to that guy? Basically every member of this band was too good to be in a band that is heisting a rental van to go play a show in Allentown to a crowd of fifteen people, but that’s exactly what Excelsior did, and I will forever love them for it.

The Kill-A-Watts Kill Kill Kill Kill 7″ (Rip Off, 2000)
With few exceptions, it seems that mostly any garage-rock / garage-punk 7″s released between 1999 and three months prior to the moment you are reading this are relegated to the dollar-bin. It’s easily affordable if you’re a fan of the stuff, but there’s a lot of mediocrity to wade through. Unlike the 2000 debut single by Wisconsin’s Kill-A-Watts, that is, which features two of the most misanthropic and catchy garage-punk rippers of the ensuing decade, both on the same side of the 7″ (as was the Rip Off Records style of the era). “Mutant Brain” is the initial killer, railing against someone severely lacking intelligence, and “Treat Me Like A Jerk” spits venom all over someone foolish enough to disrespect one of the ‘Watts. They look great in the photo on the cover, in their horizontal stripes and angry faces, like they’re going to stick their gum in your hair if you even think about getting in their way. The rest of the group’s output was good (if not always great), but this single is the stuff that Y2K Killed By Death dreams are made of, if anyone were to conjure such a dangerous dream.

Media Children But They Still Ignore… 7″ (Mass Media, 1991)
Musically, Media Children’s sole 7″ EP is probably the weakest of the records listed here. Okay, I’m absolutely positive it is. But as far as charm goes, this one is tops, right up there with the most tuneless offerings found within Kugelberg’s DIY 100 or any Bullshit Detector comp. It’s political crust done with all passion and no technique, complete with the vocals of a singer named “Shant” who maintains the same off-key high-pitch tone for all of her shouted vocals, much to my delight and the agitation of my neighbors. Amazingly, there are multiple YouTubes attached to the record’s Discogs entry (including demo and unreleased tracks?), not to mention full scans of the cover and inserts, so I’m clearly not the only person infatuated with this slice of early ’90s DIY crust-punk. I’d recommend you check out “H-Bomb” first for a dose of clunky d-beat destruction, but the entire EP is spirited, raging and gloriously painful to listen to.

Think I’m going to try to make this a yearly at-random feature, although I missed 2017 (and, umm, 2016), sadly. I spend far too much of my free time avoiding friends and family in favor of staring at Discogs.com, steadily increasing my useless knowledge, so I figured it’s only right to share. If you’re not familiar with previous installments, click on the “Consumer Report” link on the right side of this website to review previous editions, wherein I discuss killer and obscure records that can be had for five dollars (or usually less) over at the site, many of which are still available now, years later! It must be some weird and random lack of spotlight or scarcity that’s relegated these fantastic records to the floor-level dollar bin instead of a three-figure price tag on the wall, but that’s good news for you, the savvy vinyl consumer. I’ve got five more records I strongly recommend, and not including shipping, can all be yours for like twenty bucks combined.

Big Two Hundred Your Personal Filth 2xLP (D.C. Recordings, 2002)
Here’s a record that, back in 2002, I thought would’ve been a surefire hit. The Rapture and !!! and that wave of Brooklyn indie dance-punk was taking the world by storm, and while Big Two Hundred were from somewhere in the UK (very little information exists online so I can’t say exactly where), they certainly had “it”. Huge and spacious live drums, funky basslines that nod to ESG and Can in equal measure, and various studio effects and intriguing percussive elements, from Space Echo-ed keys to occasional vocal murmuring and other unidentified instrumentation. They were mostly an instrumental group, but these songs had legs, besting (and predating) the motorik mutant-disco funk of Tussle, who I also loved at the time (and suppose I still do). Maybe it’s because Big Two Hundred didn’t wear skinny jeans, or were from the wrong side of the pond, where jungle and rave were still the predominant form of underground dance expression? Their records all came care of D.C. Recordings, mostly known as a breakbeat / trip-hop label, after all. Whatever the case, if you check the primitive no-wave strut of “Replaceable Head” and realize you need it in your life, it won’t cost you very much.

Lenny Dee Fuckin Hostile 12″ (Industrial Strength, 1993)
Allow me but one “desert island” gabber record and I’m reaching for Lenny Dee’s spectacular Fuckin Hostile. It’s pure, untainted hardcore gabber techno direct from the source, Industrial Strength Records, storming in at 185 BPM and completely unrepentant. Everything sounds like it was baked with a thin crust of distortion, right down to the staph-infected hi-hats, but it’s the short vocal clip (Phil Anselmo off Pantera’s “Fucking Hostile”, naturally) that elevates this cut to anthem status. Much in the way that Merzbow explained his noise philosophy as attempting to elongate the peak ecstatic moment of a Jimi Hendrix solo or Robert Plant wail, Lenny Dee grabs perhaps the best two words Phil Anselmo has ever screamed and churns it out at a level of pure hardcore aggression previously inexperienced, upping the ante for all parties involved. It’s a real headbanger, and comes with a couple remixes. You’ll want to enjoy all three.

Dykehouse Midrange LP (Ghostly International, 2004)
Ghostly is one of the most successful American electronic labels, and rightfully so, but I was always surprised that Dykehouse never really went anywhere. Maybe it’s the name? It’s kind of aggressive and rude, and it betrays the synthesized, heart-achey, shoegazing bliss that lies within. The hit is “Chain Smoking”, which was also released on 7″ (and I think sells for literal pennies on Discogs, as opposed to the $4.16 an LP will cost you), but as a whole Midrange is a stunning collection of guarded pop, filled with chiming melodies, artificial drums and breathy vocals. Imagine Slowdive’s American cyborg cousin, full of dark wit and cynicism but never at the expense of a soaring chorus or uplifting hook. Right around when this came out, I heard from a friend that Dykehouse’s live show was more insult comedy than music, like a John Maus with a tiny number of fans and Todd Barry’s nihilist streak, and I’m so sad I never got to experience it myself. I wonder what he’s up to today? Maybe we are about to enter a Dykehouse renaissance.

Flowerpot Men Jo’s So Mean 12″ (Compost, 1984)
You probably didn’t even have to look at the date to guess that a group called “Flowerpot Men” were from the ’80s, but this is prime ’80s material, the sort of thing you’d fantasize about creating if you could go back in time to 1983 and meet some other freaks in sleeveless leather vests and eyeliner. I’m pretty sure “Jo’s So Mean To Josephine” has been comped here or there, and rightfully so – it’s the perfect amalgam of Suicide and goth-industrial with a very Nick Cave vocal delivery and a menacing synth that Trent Reznor wish he knew about back in 1984. If you DJ any remotely goth dance party and don’t have one of these in your crate, what’s taking so long? Or if you’re a shut-in home listener like me, it sounds just as good in solitary confinement. Elegantly brutal and highly effective! I have yet to fully immerse myself in Flowerpot Men’s discography, but I need to know if they’ve got anything else like this lingering out there. (Their cover of “Walk On Gilded Splinters” is great and also quite cheap.) I forget what the other two tracks on here are like, so I quickly revisited “UG”, which sounds like a hurried experiment of Severed Heads or Cabaret Voltaire gone awry, which of course is a wonderful thing.

M.C. Monkey & Ape With Attitude Human Zoo Pts 1 + 2 7″ (Kryptonite, 2004)
Here’s the only remotely “punk” record of this installment, but it’s so damn punk it makes up for all the electronic stuff listed above. I’m not entirely sure of the origins of this duo – one guy was in Last Sons of Krypton, the other who knows, but they really located that elusive spark of punk rock magic here. If it came out in 1978, you’d be bidding deep into the hundreds for a copy, but it’s from 2004 and probably was never really purchased when it first came out, so it’s still semi-available for pocket change. Think Freestone or The Dogs (the Rot N’ Roll one) at their most unhinged, both members flopping around like Iggys out of water but instead of being surrounded by razor blades and groupies, they’re in a basement with their old Fisher Price toys and a guitar amp you can easily carry in one hand. The track spans both sides and trails off into incomprehensability right around the start of “Part 2”, but it’s all gloriously idiotic punk rock, made for the purpose of no one’s enjoyment but their own. Joke’s on them, because I love the hell out of Human Zoo, and urge you to snag one before the punk collector cognoscenti realize what they’ve been foolishly ignoring for too long.