Showing posts with label punk. Show all posts
Showing posts with label punk. Show all posts

Jun 24, 2022

No Future: A non-punker’s review of Pistol on FX*

By Kevin Broughton


Spoilers ahead, okay? 


London, 1975. That’s where and when the punk rock movement really got its groove on, at least in the minds of the suits at FX. (*asterisk: It’s an FX production, but available only on HULU… which is a bit of a rip-off in principle, since I had to re-up my Hulu subscription to watch this pretty good docudrama.) It’s a decent, if (probably) apocryphal account of the shooting-star history of the Sex Pistols, whom many people with shitty taste consider an “important” band. 


Let’s do a couple of disclosures: 1. I’m not a punk rock guy. It took very little talent – indeed, less than marginal talent – to have a “good” punk band, especially 45 years ago. That was my impression going into this limited series, and it was only confirmed therein. The band – and their fans – acknowledged that they sucked as musicians. 2. I only care about punk rock to the degree it influenced 30 years’ worth of alt country bands. Johnny Ramone knew about five chords, which is two more than Sex Pistols “guitarist” Steve Jones ever knew. And nobody in the Ramones, or Sex Pistols – or even the Clash, which had actual talent – was as good a musician as anyone in Uncle Tupelo, Whiskeytown, Lucero, or Blue Mountain. 


The general story of Pistol is based on Jones’s memoir, which kinda makes everything suspect; he’s portrayed as illiterate in the series. So, his memoir is probably more of an oral history. It doesn’t make a ton of sense, otherwise. 


Jones can’t read, but he can steal. And in trying to boost some exotic clothes from an exotic store, he runs afoul of an ex-pat American chick. Her name’s Chrissie*, and she’s from Ohio. (She’ll go *back* there one day and be *amazed* that the *farms* have *been replaced by shopping malls*.) Y’all can figure this spoiler out, right? 



The store’s owner is a bon vivant named Malcom McLaren. He’s a faux-Marxist revolutionary – he doesn’t mind turning a profit on pervy clothing – who wants a band to spread his hypocritical version of chaos. 


And he doesn’t give a shit that Jones can’t sing – that was Steve’s original vision: being the next David Bowie (LOL.) He gives him a nice, white Les Paul that allegedly belonged to a member of the New York Dolls, while simultaneously recruiting a similarly untalented freak as a “vocalist,” Johnny Rotten.


Objective viewers might be shocked that everybody, throughout this story, acknowledges that the band has very little talent. Seriously, the consensus is that they suck ass. There’s a strong suggestion that McLaren just wanted to orchestrate something in keeping with his Marxist/anarchist ideal…then pulled the plug when they became too “rock ‘n’ roll.” The best musician, bassist [his name doesn’t matter, does it?] was run off at Rotten’s and McLaren’s insistence and replaced by Sid Vicious who (wait for it) didn’t know how to play the bass. 


Predictable results ensued. [OH, WAIT, Y’ALL, BIG SPOILERS AHEAD.] 


A few months later, Sid said goodbye to his handpicked version of Yoko Ono by stabbing her in the guts multiple times until she bled out, then O.D.’d when out on bail. And there went the Sex Pistols. What a cool “punk rock” ending, huh?  


Here’s the thing:


They were a shit band who couldn’t play worth a damn. They lasted all of two years and change. And yet, they’re some kind of iconic “band?” Whatever. 


Truth: Rotten wrote a couple of decent songs. But they were essentially an overrated joke. They made one album. Best part of the series: Seeing a hot version of Chrissie *Hynde in some decent sex scenes. And, in truth, it’s a decent portrayal of a short period in rock ‘n’ roll history. 


It was interesting to me in the same way a book on the “Know Nothing” Party of the 1840’s U.S. is to me: Mildly compelling in that particular moment, with several instances of “Dang, I didn’t realize that.” But, far less relevant than conventional wisdom, in terms of the history of rock music.


It really is worth the watch, if you have the time. 


But the Sex Pistols were and are a shit band. 


Good talk. 


May 22, 2018

New Blood: Johnwayneisdead

by Robert Dean

If you’re craving lo-fi punk that’s screaming with early 90’s garage overtones with splashes of rockabilly grooves, Johnwayneisdead’s new record, This Is A Record will satisfy thirst like a 36 oz. PBR. 

Based out of Houston, Johnwayneisdead is a punk duo that’s churning out rebellious, chaotic tunes that aren’t lacking in the fun department. While a lot of the time it’s easy to wax poetic on the meaning and lyrical content or pause, wondering what’s it all mean, Johnwayneisdead’s This Is A Record gives the finger to all of that. True punk rock isn’t rocket science; it’s two guys hammering out songs for beer money and a bag of good kush – that’s it, plain and simple. 

Lately, it feels like music has to be soaked with triple meanings and with backstories, stuffed details that need a field guide to understand the context, This Is A Record doesn’t - it’s fast, catchy and to the point. There’s no wack interludes or songs that come off as confusing or like they needed to be left off the record, but instead, everything cruises with the same frantic pace. 


“Joey Lawrence”, “Buddy Holly”, and “Vampire Breath”, all of these songs ooze with a sentiment of the old school punk we used to pull out of distro boxes at shows or local record shops. Despite the music slapping, I feel bad for Johnwayeisdead because of the era they exist within. Yeah, they can reach the world with a click thanks to the Interwebz, but had these guys been in the game twenty-five years back, we’d be talking about them with the same reverence as bands like The Queers, The Bollweevils, The Descendants, 88 Fingers Louie, and even Naked Raygun. The DNA is there and if “Joey Lawrence” isn’t a bonafide, beer-spilling, sing-along, meet me out by the dumpsters. 

The riffs, the slapstick, fuck you attitude is honest, and it’s not a dollar store copy. These dudes live and die by the show and the world that comes with being a punk rocker in the south, and at a time when kids today think computers are instruments. 

Grab a vinyl of This Is A Record and support these dudes, because if you’re into punk that brings back the good ole days, Johnwayneisdead delivers in spades.


Feb 19, 2018

Album Review / The Kreutzer Sonata / The Gutters of Paradise


by Jahshie P

About 17 years ago, I joined a band called Failed Resistance. We were a hardcore/punk band out of Chicago, completely out of place with the other local punk bands, who mainly played pop punk music. Yet we managed to get our own crowd locally and had a respectable draw throughout the country. I bring this up because I have always had an obsession with street punk/hardcore music, and frankly, in the past decade, I have only found a handful of new bands performing this type of music. And, none of them were from Chicago.

With the release of The Gutters of Paradise, The Kreutzer Sonata totally gave me new faith in local music. This album is a no-nonsense, relentless, brutal attack from beginning to end. Opening with the catchy “Ten Yard Stare”, a song that really sets the tone for the entire record, this album just doesn’t let up. “Nobody” follows nicely with some great guitar work and painfully great vocals. A lot of people don’t get it with the screaming vocals, but, it is truly an art that takes years to perfect. Adam of The Kreutzer Sonata has found his niche and that really makes the vocals the forefront of the entire album. And, that is not taking away from the rest of the band at all. They are a very tight and experienced group. Without a great band, great vocals do no good. 

The fourth track “Pulse” almost tricks you into thinking it may be a little more poppy with it’s opening riff, but, as the vocals come in, the aggression quickly returns and this makes for one of the finer tracks on the album. Almost every song includes gang vocals that make the songs all that more memorable and easy to scream along with when you see them live. It’s not easy making hardcore songs with hooks, but, these guys do it with ease. 

On what is perhaps the best track on the album, “Old Glory,” the band digs a bit deeper in political views. Complete with a bass breakdown and a shredding guitar solo, plus the gang vocals repeating “World Coming Down,” this one will get stuck in your head for days. 

The Gutters of Paradise features fifteen tracks in all, and it never slows down or becomes stale and repetitive. With so many cliche punk bands out there these days, TKS really know how to separate themselves from their peers.  Even though the band has been around for a few years now, I believe that this album finally gives the band a proper recording, capturing all the elements they have to offer and giving people something to connect with. The future is bright for this group of youngsters, and with proper booking and touring, I believe that TKS will begin to start making major waves, not just in Chicago, but around the world. 

The Gutters of Paradise is streaming now at https://thekreutzersonata.bandcamp.com and will be released in the near future on vinyl through Don’t Panic Records and Distro out of Chicago. Do yourself a favor and get your hands on this stellar record. 


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