Wednesday, August 10, 2005

BULLETPROOF NOTHING:The 00's in Review

I ALSO wrote this for Panic Action. Twas penned in early January, 2005

"The Zero's In Review"

Hey hey, waste-buckets, it's time once again for some rock and a' reeling, lying and stealin', ramblin and a' ranting fun with yer good old buddy Clint. What can I say, what can I say? It's fucking 2005 now and we're all still alive. God damn, when did time ever get so fucking advanced? The future is now and I'll be god damned if it ain't a pretty good time to be alive. What has this modern age of wonders brought us? How have things changed? How is this decade(so far) different? Why are we NOW not like we were THEN?

Whelp, to start with, hardly any one gives half a fuck about Rip Off Records anymore, that's a big difference from the way things used to be. It's sad state of affairs, but what can ya do? Twas once a label that defined a genre, an aesthetic, a scene. Rip Off had a sound, a look and mostly certainly an attitude. What happened to all of it? Why did it all go downhill? Well, for one, they stopped making the cool seven inches; so there goes the "look". Also, Rip Off head honcho Greg Lowery started spouting off on message boards like a 'tard(which is usually a good thing, but not the way he did it), which totally ruined the "attitude". Most importantly, they fucked up the "sound" by slowing down their release schedule, only putting out only three or four records a YEAR, some of which were quite fucking questionable(I'm obviously talking about the Atomsmashers here). I really, really hate to say it, but Rip Off was a 90's label(well, late 90'/early 00's) and it just can't adapt to these modern times. Much like SST was a mega-huge label in the 80's, but then was pretty much forgotten in the 90's; some record companies really define the time in which they existed, they are by far and large the major pressence in that era, they EMBODY that time, and once those days are over; so are they, SO ARE THEY.

One need not fret though, new labels have more than stepped up to the mound. In The Red Records is the current industry standard what with their Reigning Sounds and Deadly Snakes, Lost Sounds, Ponys and Dirtbombs. Big Neck Records has also become a major player as well with their great seven inches and full lengths by the likes of: The Radio Beats; Sweet JAP; Baseball Furies and a host of others. Dirtnap Records is also a pretty well renouned, big player nowadays. When the Marked Men jumped ship from Rip Off, Dirtnap is where they landed. Dirtnap also put out the single greatest Mod-Revival LP since 1984 when they released "Guitar Romantic" by the late, great Exploding Hearts. Other consistantly great labels around currently include: Goner Records; Criminal IQ; Shit Sandwich; Trick Knee Productions; Contaminated; Alien Snatch; Goodbye Boozy; P. Trash; Nasty Product; Bancroft Records; SS Records; Solid Sex Lovie Doll; Deadbeat; Die Slaughterhous; Dropkick Records; Yakisakana, Kryptonite Records and a couple others I'm sure I'm forgetting right now.

This past year also brought the launch of the great new Terminal Boredom website which has picked up where the old Blank Generation.com left off and upped the ante a considerable degree. They essentially took the essense of Blank Gen and stripped off the superflous crap, the stuff that would look embarrasing nowadays. You aren't gonna find any positive reviews of the Strokes or the Yeah Yeah Yeahs in Terminal Boredom. Fuck the "neoteric", that's what TB says. They've also weeded out the long, boring, rambling columnists of Blank Gen who often times didn't even talk about music; godbye Shawn Abnoxious, goodbye Clint Parson(hey, wait a minute). TB, along with the Horizontal Action print-zine dominate the "zine scene" nowadays with their coverage of well, whatever it is that you wanna call this music that we listen to(Punk rock? Garage? Garage Punk? whatever...).

So what else? What else has come and/or gone in these last five years? Well, as mentioned above, we had the whole "neoteric" thing in early 00's, which has thankfully died out by this point. "Neoteric" for those unaware was basically just a big new wave of uhhh, keyboardy semi new wave/post punk bands. They were an arty, dancy, noisy, "fucked up sounding" bunch. There was a lot of hot pink and purple on their record covers, and they had really unimaginative, generic band names. A few years ago they were everywhere, and maybe they still ARE for all I know, but nobody really listens to 'em anymore, I mean, no one cool, anyways. The whole thing KINDA morphed into the electroclash scene as time wore on but all that crap was never worth paying attention to anyways. The only bands to survive the whole "neoteric punk/wave" were the best of genre. The Lost Sounds are still around and riding strong on the Black Wave, The Piranhas are also still banging about, even though people don' like them so much no more. The Spits are still as great as ever, of course, but they were always more "Killed By Synth" than straight "neoteric".

Speaking of the whole "Killed By.." genre, there was ANOTHER sound that really came big and LEFT big. Old, obscure punk rock from the '77 to '82 era, it started really catching on in the late 90's thanks to an endless deluge of reissue comps, most notably so the Killed By Death and Bloodstains series. Sooner than you knew it, every cock-goblin and his sister were starting a "KBD influenced" band. The whole thing was cool for about five seconds there. Pretty fucking quickly it went from "code for good band" to just another marketing term used by untalented douche-holes who were trying to trick you into buying their shitty records. Liking KBD stuff became akin to digging the Misfits, Ramones or Black Flag; i.e.SURE, they're still great bands and you really love them, but by this point they are burned into your very DNA(AKA:old news) and so many dipshits now dig them, it just annoys you. What can you say? The bloom is off the rose, time to move on. Still though, the shitty "KBD influenced" bands are still better than the awful Screeching Weasel rip off pop punk bands from the 90's. So that's some progress, I guess.

Another surprising trend in "the scene" as of late is the fact that for maybe the first time since 1984(or '85 in Europe) there are actually good, NEW hardcore bands. It's astonishing, no genre died deader than hardcore did after all those straight edge kids realized their "emotions were nothing but politics, politics". From '84 on outwards, a dual assault of metal and emo redendered ALL new hardcore bands wimpering, simpering, impotent, chugga-chugga-ing little fuckholes. A wonderous thing happened though, what with all the KBD hoopla, people also started listening to more old hardcore as well. In the reissue furor that had been started, tons and tons of pre-'84 hardcore records were easily available once again. Also, websites such as the great Kill From The Heart and the Dementlieu Punk Archive started up to provide people an exhausting amount of info on these type of bands. Thanks to all of this, there were now people who wouldn't even go NEAR post-'84 stuff, if they listened to hardcore, it was all exclusively the early crap. It was great, bands like Amdi Peterson's Arme, Career Suicide, Fucked Up, Holy Shit, No Hope For the Kids and a good handful of others all arrived on the scene and reminded us all what a good circle pit was all about(they go counter-clockwise).

Of course, one can't really write a review of "the 00's so far" without mentioning THE major force on the block right now. Wanna REALLY know why things have changed so much? What is the most pronounced, defining feature of the Now Times? It's fucking SOULSEEK(slsk), baby. This lil' p2p file sharing dealie has revolutionized the way EVERY SINGLE ONE of us listens to music. Napster was good, but there was a lot you couldn't find on there, Audio Galaxy was better, but it took a lot of time and effort to download stuff that often times was not of very good quality. By the time soulseek reared it's head, though, people generally had high speed internet access and that combined with the browser's easy to operate design really changed it all. Within a few short years, it became possible to literally find any record you wanted on there, no matter how obscure. A person could download over 500 songs in ONE SINGLE day, without all that much effort. So much music, and all of it free. To label it a "music fan's wet dream" is an understatement, soulseek is like Jesus coming down to earth and over the course of a few weeks continually giving you the best blow jobs man could NEVER imagine. It is pretty damn close to the full realization of all human potential. So much fucking music, and thank god it's still small enough that none of it's users have gotten sued yet. The full ramifications of slsk have still yet to be realized, within the coming years, no one, ANYwhere, EVER will have an excuse for being in a shitty band or listening to shitty music. So much great music, so easily available. With soulseek, it will be harder to NOT suck than TO suck(don't quote me on that one, though).

Lastly, and certainly not LEAST-ly, when it comes to "the scene" in the zero's, the most important thing in all of this is obviously, the BANDS, the fucking bands. This is an amazing time to be alive, there are at least a hundred some bands around nowadays that are all more than worth any amount of time you'd wanna put into 'em. To name but a few of these bands: Catholic Boys, Marked Men, Lost Sounds, Reigning Sound, Deadly Snakes, The Fatals, The Real Losers, Black Time, The Krunchies, The Functional Blackouts, The Tyrades, The Baseball Furies, The Dirges, Hot Machines, Headache City, The Black Lips, The Lids, BBQ, Feelers, Blank Its, Gris Gris, Kajun SS, Final Solutions, A-Frames, MOTO, Sweet JAP, Radio Beats, Human Eye, The Hunches, Henry Fiat's Open Sore, Hue Blanc's Joyless Ones, Mystery Girls, Young Ones, Zymotics, Clorox Girls. The list just goes on and on and on.

Say what you will about 2005, because there sure are a fuckload of problems, but honestly, this has GOT TO be the best time EVER to be a music fan. Fuck '77, fuck '82, fuck pre-WWII, and '66 and all the rest of them. The best time is NOW. So much amazing music all around us, so many great live acts, and so, so many records.

Don't miss out, fucker...