THE CONTINENTAL CO-ETS are one of dozens upon dozens of lost American garage treasures who surfaced during a brief British Invasion- and "Psychotic Reaction"-fueled rage of loud guitars, short songs, and bouncy choruses. But get this – they were girls. There’s that whole forgotten underbelly of all-girl or girl-led bands from 1964-67, celebrated on the GIRLS IN THE GARAGE compilations and perhaps best known and represented by the single track, “What A Way To Die”, by Leather Tuscadero’s PLEASURE SEEKERS. A few years ago I got wind of a couple of fantastic lost 45s by this Minnesota band, one of which had thankfully been repressed by Get Hip records. The other tracks are scattered among various hard-to-find compilation LPs and CDs. The Co-Ets have a really great, brooding, minor-key chug to their songs, with terrific young-girl vocals and choruses that it’s hard to excavate from your head once they get lodged in there. My favorite 2 of their 4 are the ones I’m posting for you here.
Like what we posted for you last week? Here’s a single from THE DESPERATE BICYCLES that I’m tempted to call one of the twenty greatest of the quote-unquote punk era, “The Medium Was Tedium” b/w “Don’t Back The Front”. It came out near the end of 1977, and was their second 45. It was certainly meant to be a D.I.Y. call to arms, and it’s hard to argue with the sentiment or its raw translation into action. I think I’m most taken with the squeaky keyboards and the strident, hectoring vocals that still sound smooth and comforting. You’d follow these guys into the trenches, wouldn’t you? Many did, and left a pretty impressive legacy in & around the UK around this era.
I hadn’t yet heard the DESPERATE BICYCLES when I published a fanzine in 1998 that contained a long piece on the “Forty-Five 45s That Moved Heaven and Earth”. Number one for me was (and remains) PERE UBU’s “Heart of Darkness / Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo”; number two was (and remains) the ELECTRIC EELS’ “Cyclotron / Agitated”; after that I forget. Having only heard of the Desperate Bicycles in passing within the pages of Forced Exposure magazine, all I knew was that they were punk-era progenitors of the “D.I.Y.” aesthetic, that they were excellent, and that their singles were impossibly rare. Certainly their first two 45s, now that I know & love them, would have bumped a couple of ringers off the list if I were to do it again today.
“Smokescreen / Handlebars” came out in 1977, with both songs on one side. I have a very clued-in pal who told me he’d never heard the band before, and that made me realize that I might have an opportunity to blow at least one mind by putting them up on Detailed Twang. I don’t really have a ton to add about the band that hasn’t been already written about here, here and here, but let me add my voice to chorus calling these masterpieces among the most invigorating & exciting rock and roll records of all time. The second 45 is even better, and that’s also coming to a computer screen near you soon.
If that’s translated poorly, don’t blame me, blame Babelfish. My parents raised an English speaker. As alluded to in an earlier post, 2007 is the year that I discovered THE BRISTOLS and their new-solo vocalist, FABIENNE DEL SOL. I’m hooked. Fabienne herself has a new solo record out now, her second, called “BETWEEN YOU AND ME”. This French-native English lass skirts the brassy 60s pop of her homeland, and marries it to raw surfbeat, stomping garage rock of a decidedly “Mersey” bent, and full-blown sugartown pop music. This latest record is better than her very solid solo debut, “NO TIME FOR SORROWS”, and is probably as good as her BRISTOLS material (which is fantastic – all of it – start with the new greatest-hits collection). I don’t know, I’ll have to get back to ya. I’m crossing my digits for a US tour to see if what goes on in the studio will translate to a live stage, but after seeing Bristols clips on You Tube, I’m fairly certain that it will. Let me know what you think!
Once THE NIGHTS AND DAYS had broken up in the late 80s, word started filtering out of Seattle that Rob Vasquez had quickly put together a new, like-minded band called THE NIGHT KINGS, dedicated to raw, mono-fied, transistor-burst garage punk. When evidence finally surfaced in 1990 that confirmed said rumors, there was dancing in the hovels and houses of dozens record dorks countrywide, mine included. Salvo #1 was a sole track on a four-song compilation EP on Estrus Records called “TALES FROM ESTRUS”. The comp actually led off with THE NIGHT KINGS’ “Dirty Work”, and it was a glorious thing. Ninety seconds of crunch that brings forth Link Wray’s pencil-poked amps as played through by a ham-handed SONICS. And that voice – man, what a howler. Vasquez was back.
Salvo #2, maybe half a year later, was a split single with a short-lived (mercifully) Seattle band called YUMMY. The Night Kings’ side was called “Bugweed”, and it practically blew the grooves off the vinyl. Loud, overloaded, garage scorch with no precedent and no antecedent – something pure & unique and totally wild. I’m posting both tracks for you today. Soon the Night Kings would release an In The Red 45, a Sub Pop 45, some comp stuff and a full-blown LP. Here’s what they started blowing minds.
VENOM P. STINGER were an overpowering late 80s/early 90s Australian group who morphed out of one scorched-earth, rawer-than-raw hardcore noise band called THE SICK THINGS, and later again morphed into another thing completely: the lovely, edgy instrumental trio THE DIRTY THREE. In between were several LPs, a 45 and one 4-song CD-EP that it is essential that you hear. Nowhere have I heard a band so desperately trapped in their own skin. Their militaristic, brutally loud and often atonal punk rock was an ugly cousin to a lot of the American bands of the day, the ones that came out on labels like Amphetamine Reptile, Treehouse, Noiseville, Circuit and Adult Contemporary. Their singer, Dugald McKenzie, had the rawest mouth-rasp vocals imaginable, and not only was it difficult to imagine him singing without his neck veins popping halfway to China, it was difficult to hear his deep-accented wails and think him anything but Australian. Drummer Jim White usually sounded like he was stuck somewhere between drumming for the Daughters of the American Revolution parade and for later-period John Coltrane. Even when the songs didn’t fall together all that well – and their albums do have some filler – they never wavered from a mood that was dark, angry and ballistic. Even on the (rare) slow ones.
(Read Part One here). I don’t know what it is about SIN 34, and why I come back to their recordings every few years. They were perhaps the first speed/thrash/burn punk band that ever connected with me during my teenage late-night listening sessions with “Maximum Rock and Roll Radio”, even before Black Flag or Minor Threat. Generic-by-the-numbers early 80s LA hardcore, with the added curveball of female singer “Julie”, SIN 34 at times had this ability to leapfrog the genre & throw in some burning, stop-start hooks that got testosterone-fueled limbs flailing and bodies flying. I know that their name made it to Pee-Chees and Army surplus jackets even at my Northern California high school – but then again, so did “China White”, “TSOL” and “The Adicts”. In SoCal, they had a much higher profile, due to band member Dave Markey’s involvement with WE GOT POWER fanzine and friendly connections with RED CROSS and Smoke Seven records. Only one 7”EP and one (quite lame, save for 3-4 tracks) LP made it out, but I’ve cherry-picked the band’s winners for you. Read a whole lot more about SIN 34 here and here.
This 2005, 5-song ear-pillager from San Francisco’s semi-active CURSE OF THE BIRTHMARK was the electro-zap my ass needed to get the foam coming out of the mouth again when I first heard it a little over a year ago. “Welcome To The Hard Times….You’re Late” is the sort of dark, aggressive “industrial rock” I used to envision in the early/mid 80s whenever I’d read about TEST DEPT. or EINSTURZENDE NEUBAUTEN or whatever, whom invariably let me down. C.O.T.B. did not let me down; on the contrary, this EP is full of frothing, electronics-filled no wave guitar, some absolutely thumping drumming, and enough bleeding ear tones to keep you in the isolation chamber for hours afterward. There’s a rabid, mysterious churner at the end of Side 1 called “Too Many Ministers” that I have not been able to stop playing for a year. They put out one other 45 that’s also quite good, and I think they’ve maybe played one live show in the past 365 days. I couldn’t go – I think I had to wash my hair or something. See if you’re up to the challenge by clicking on the links below.
So it looks like the most popular post in the short history of this blog was the first BANGS single that I put up about a month ago, which warms the cockles of my dark heart. Perhaps we can best that with a related, and even more rare, love offering – an excellent demo version of “Getting Out of Hand”, one recorded before their 1980 single, and a bonus photo of the band in miniskirts, stolen right off of the internet from this site. At some point in the near future I’ll get the 5-song IRS EP up for you as well. Enjoy.
I guess I sort of took a layoff from paying close attention to new bands, lasting roughly four years, from about 1998-2001. When I came roaring back, one of the first bands to catch my attention were a just-springing-out San Francisco band called NUMBERS. Their robotic, off-tempo, patterns; angry, stabbing guitar, and overall metronomic sound was totally intoxicating, and those first few live shows I saw of theirs – usually about 15 minutes each – were totally friggin’ great. As I understand it, they are still a band, but I have not “scene” nor heard them in about three years, disappointed as I was by their second CD, “In My Mind All The Time”. For a short period, though their first record “NUMBERS LIFE” was, in fact, my life. It holds up to this day, and then some. See if you agree by downloading the tracks below.
1984 in England. I get flashbacks to The Jesus & Mary Chain, The Smiths, The Cocteau Twins and even “Red Lorry Yellow Lorry” and “Half Man Half Biscuit”. What about you? Under the indie radar and pretty much unknown in the US were a British act called THE SID PRESLEY EXPERIENCE, named after three dead rock music icons. They were a loud-ass, short-lived British group who, on their first of only two singles, produced a hot, panic-filled "Batman"-like TV theme instrumental A-side called “Public Enemy Number One”, matched with an angry, sneering original on the flip called “Hup Two Three Four”. It was produced & engineered to be bleeding way, way, way into the red, and if memory serves me, it was released both as a 45 and as a 12”. (I have the former; I’ll bet the latter is even more damaged-sounding). On their next 45 they took on John Lennon’s “Cold Turkey” and totally nailed it, to the point where that’s the version I hear in my head during the rare times it pops to mind.
“Public Enemy Number One” was the intro music to a formative 1984-89 radio show on KCSB-FM Santa Barbara during my late teens called “Strictly Disco”, hosted by Eric Stone. Stone has the greatest record collection of punk, garage & indie 45s I’d ever seen to date, and I still possess a C-90 cassette I got to make of some of his singles that I heard for the first time either at his house or on his show: The Electric Eels’ “Agitated”; The Misfits’ “Bullet”; the Naked Raygun “Basement Screams” EP – and this one. Hopefully it’ll show up on some of your cassettes in the near future, now that you own it – or will when you click the links below.