Monday, April 13, 2009

The Liberty Caps

For a guy who hates ska-punk as much as I do, I sure as hell bought a lot of it back in the day. But hey, I was young. I made a lot of questionable decisions: blue hair, LSD, and super baggy jeans to name a few.

Which brings us back to Huntsville and the skatalogical sounds of The Liberty Caps. The 'Caps were around a good while before I came onto the scene. They were among the first local bands I heard mentioned often in conjunction with Huntsville's long-time rock dive institution The Tip Top Cafe -- which is where I probably saw them each time they played (except for Huntsville's annual music festival, The Big Spring Jam).

I don't know much else about them, except to say they were a reasonably popular band in Huntsville, they were around from 1993 to 1998 (and again from 2006 - 2008), and that they played some unintentionally sloppy straightforward 3rd wave ska fused with other roots-based genres.

Java Christ


I noticed lately, especially with all the Huntsville posts, the Nashville scene has gone a little neglected. This is slightly ironic, I guess, since I now live in Nashville, but actually not so much considering Nashville and Huntsville didn't cross paths much back in the day. Aside from the Teen Idols and Fun Girls from Mt. Pilot, Music City bands didn't frequent Rocket City so much.

Another exception to this is Java Christ. I distinctly remember seeing them on up to three occasions, most especially at Huntsville High School's "Grapefruit Ball" [a public school sanctioned event where I got my first taste of many many classic bands]. The title of this record, Songs to Confuse Slam Dancers, I'm guessing is in reference to the band's tendency to switch it up between ska and hardcore punk -- which of course, isn't at all uncommon in the slightest, I'll try and refrain from slipping yet again into a tangent regarding just how low a threshold I have for ska-punk fusion and focus a little more on this band, even though I know absolutely nothing about them. Fortunately, they have a Myspace that sheds a little more light on their history:

In the Spring of 1995 geoff and nate were in a full-on ska band(w/horns and everything) called Inspector 12.they needed a new drummer so they asked dave to join but there never was a complete practice with all band members geoff,nate and dave decided to just get together and see what would happen as a punk trio.things started to come together and nate recruited ex-bandmate josh (from KY & the Jellies) to sing and so there they were bustin' their chops in a hot-ass garage for a couple of months.the first show was held in the same afformentioned garage along with bands Brazen Youth and Lojaque & the Flaming Nahdbits in dave's backyard at the somewhat legendary(to some anyways) Rosebank residence. As August rolled around there was a series of shows booked at Lucy's Record Shop,The warehouse in Clarksville,The 'Boro,and Haye's House.from there things seemed to take off for about three and a half years the band played shows pretty consistently until 1998.

And that's a hell of a lot more than I could have told you. I will say this title as well as the ska/punk brand isn't all that accurate. The first track, "Gasoline" is actually the only one featuring that special, soulless ska-flavoring bastardized in the way that only suburban white boys can do it. But it's also the catchiest tune on here and one of my faves -- and also the first and last time (thankfully) I've heard the phrase "Gettin' some stinky on my hang-down". The rest of these tracks come straight out of the school of Rancid, with rumbly, musclebound riffs, gang vocals, but sweetened with a little more melody and a dash of humor.

The band has a few more tunes on their Myspace if you'd care to check it out.

Attack of the Huntsville Comps pt. II: Fuck the East Bay

Various Artists - Fuck The East Bay, This is ¡NOK! CD [¡Nation of Kids! 1997]

The Huntsville compilation series continues now with the only other one I own (there were several other cassette-only releases I'm still trying to find). Curated by Joey Tampon, this CD release was originally intended as a split betwixt The Toxic Shocks and North Carolina's Pink Collar Jobs. But Joey was never one to waste perfectly good space on any medium, so he filled the rest of the disc as best he could with odds, ends, knick-knacks and previously released material from a whole bunch of other bands as well.

Most everyone was still doing cassettes and vinyl at the time, so that this was on CD was kind of novel. However, given the questionable choice by Joey to dedicate only one track to each band -- streaming each song continuously, back-to-back -- negates most of the convenience of this format. But it may make for a more interesting iPod experience when the Toxic Shocks' 11 song selection comes up in shuffle mode at your next party.

Some of the bands represented here have already been discussed at length, so if you want more info on The Jawas or The Slackers, look at my older entries.

The 565 Burnouts were a short-lived outfit featuring Neil Delbaccio (The Burning Radios, Toxic Shocks), Jason Burke (Shitboy from Outerspace, Xpia), and Neil's wife Penny. They seemed to be modeled after East Bay faves Blatz, released a demo cassette I never picked up, and played out through the Summer of 1995 before breaking up.

Random Conflict I think it's safe to say Random Conflict have been at it for at least 20 years, save for a short hiatus in the '90s. Coming punk the thrashy skate punk scene of the late '80s, even today, these dudes haven't been changed by the times whatsoever.

The Peeps No scene was complete in the mid-90's without a ska band. While both punk and ska remain enjoyable to me to this day, I've grown to loathe the punk/ska hybrid more than Bill O'Reilly, child abuse, and the Holocaust combined. That being said, I can't help but maintain a special place in my heart of hearts for The Peeps. Subject of a recent, somewhat interesting documentary, this 4 to 8 man ensemble contained members from half the bands in town.

Shitboy from Outerspace This is actually Shitboy 2.0. The first version of the band included J. Tampon, and this short-lived, ressurected edition saw him replaced with Jimmy from Property and The Peeps, Scott Cox from Jabberjaw, and probably someone else I'm forgetting. Also, Elijah Horgan of The Peeps and 5 Star Generals played drums. The band was fronted by Jason Burke, later of The Pins, Paperbox, and now Xpia.

Anyhow. This concludes the Huntsville comp series for now. Hope you've enjoyed,.

Attack of the Huntsville Comps pt. I: Incest is Best

Various Artists - Incest is Best [¡Nation of Kids! 1995]

When in the business of excavating the remains of an extinct punk scene, some of your best nuggets come in the form of the old compilation disc. Typically, these are the work of several bands pooling their hard-earned cash together to put out a singular record, or perhaps a label with more groups on its roster than funds in its account. I'm guessing ¡Nation of Kids¡' Incest is Best comp was a little of both.

¡Nation of Kids¡ was a record label, zine, and music collective run by no one in particular in the early to late '90s. In fact, from what I can tell, Huntsville's The Crypt Kickers were still using the imprint in the early 2000's. What we have here is a healthy sampling that represents mid-90's Huntsville fairly well. The tracklisting is as follows:

Shitboy from Outerspace - "Dead World"
The Jawas - "Pointless"
Themack - "Fight Song"
Property - "Zone"
Puddle - "Astro Chicken"
The Peeps - "Punk Rock God"

The title, Incest is Best references, I assume, either or both the fact we all lived in Alabama and/or the fact that almost all these bands share at least one member. Contrary to popular belief, incest isn't as widespread in the South as one is taught to believe. However, incest among bands in a tightly knit music community is still pretty commonplace.

Bands like Shitboy (old school influenced punk fronted by Jason "Shithead" Burke -- later of The Pins, Paperbox, and now Xpia) and Puddle (another Joey Tampon surf ensemble), had more or less stopped playing by the time this comp made it out. The Peeps* -- HSV's compulsory ska/punk band -- were by far the most popular epresented here with Themack by far the least popular. As misfits within a larger circle of alleged misfits, Themack's glorious lack of conventional cool made the Fonzie hipsters recoil in horror (I mean, really, who the fuck had a computer in 1995, anyway? ) Property may have been Huntsville's longest running outfit (with the exception of Random Conflict) counteracting with pluck and spirit what they lacked in the way of technical proficiency.

So here you have it. Those of you who were there will surely experience at least a small flood of nostalgia. Those who weren't may at least enjoy the long lost spirit of DIY and find a good jam in the process.

* The Peeps track cuts off a little early. As the last track on the B-Side, it runs a little longer than any amount of 7" vinyl will allow.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The 3D's

Photo 593d

The 3D's - Girls Bikinis Guitars and Blood! [1998, Pequeno Records]

The 3D's - Your Heart is Black EP [1997, Arkham Records]

It’s been a long time, friends. But this blog is back in business -- for at least the time being -- with a few more selections of rare Southern punk rock vinyl.

Despite having every intention of being a traditional garagey surf band, The 3D’s stand out in my head as one of the more coincidentally interesting acts in this very narrow niche I’ve targeted -- and believe it or not, it has nothing to do with the fact I was one of the founding members. Rambunctious, barely-tuned guitars banging out basic mod punk riffs that reverberate wildly in and out of sync with a frenetic, virtuoso hippie drummer sounds on paper like it could really either suck or rule, but definitely doesn’t sound anything like the purist rock n roll outfit Joey Tampon intended. For all intents and purposes, it was his band (lots more about Joey in the posts below). He put the group together and it was his vision we circled underneath and inadvertently deconstructed in the process. As much as he wanted to recreate the purist motives of minimalist pioneers like Link Wray, The Sonics, and Nuggets-era Mod psychedelics, he had to rely on a rag-tag personnel of locals with dissimilar interests to see his vision through, steering it slightly off its course of intention. The result is an exercise in immediacy, efficiency, and just not giving a fuck; a reckless, revisionist romp through ‘60s subculture, filtered through modern punk aesthetics and old-fashioned, small-town Alabama angst.

These recordings are rife with mistakes, fuck-ups, and bad choices. The guitars rarely agree on a tuning. Bad chords, sour notes and the like are shrugged off in every song. The band rarely locks together tight with the songs sometimes teetering on the edge of collapse -- but never do. Somehow it all works. Everyone gets from point A to point B, and it’s all delivered with such urgency and certitude that that actually pointing out the shortcomings would just come off pretentious.

Flowery language aside, The 3D's started as an instrumental surf band and shortly moved into more psychedelic/garage territory but were at our very core still a punk band. We had 3 singers (two represented on recordings) total, 2 bassists (a different on each recording presented here), and eventually 2 guitarists when I left the band and was replaced by Robert Daniel (The Peeps, The Slackers, Counter Clockwise). We toured a bit, released some records, and all in all, it was a good time for everyone.

The first recording here is a long out-of-print 7” called Your Heart is Black. Each of the four songs also appeared on our self-released full length Action-Packed. While Joey sings on all of it, we had a new singer by the time this was released, Kevin Wyle. Kevin was replaced months later by Matt Bakula (The Peeps, The Jawas, Counter Clockwise) who sang on the other selection here, Girls, Bikinis, Guitars, and Blood! -- a 16-song, vinyl-only LP which actually features half the songs from Action-Packed rerecorded (we had a new bassist by this point as well). I still haven’t found my copy of Action-Packed, and the band released another 7” (a split with The Runarounds) after I left the band and which I do not own. So these will have to do for now.