Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Dick Taters

When the Baby Bush Administration starting pulling its wanna-be Ronald Reagan cowboy bullshit, punk bands began to crawl out of the woodwork- either by staging anti-war activities in various parts of the globe or by having reunion gigs. Some of this has been called into question, particularly those bands who re-formed in the '90s. When does punk rock just become mindless token tantrums with no meaning attached to the actions of those doing the posturing? When does it just become more money-making garbage and opportunism cleverly clad in politically correct sheeps' clothing? With the rise in popularity of the hardcore punk movement moving into the mainstream, these hard questions can easily go unasked of those who have been solidified into the perceived mold of the institution known as punk rock.

Say what you will about this phenomenon, it's hard to say no to a reunion of this caliber. In 2005, The Dicks put on a reunion gig consisting of the original Austin members in the band, sans Glen (rest his soul). Old punks and new, school teachers and lawyers, members of other bands, anyone who was influenced by this seminal outfit was present at Room 710 in Austin, Texas.

Touting themselves as "gay Communists from Texas," the Dicks made a name for themselves in the Austin music scene in the 1980s through their obnoxious music and suggestive stage antics. Lyrical content ranged from topics of anonymous sex in a gay bookstore to violent decapitations during acts of revolution to anti-war statements to odes to Marilyn Buck. One night, Gary Floyd, the singer of the band, came out on stage wearing a huge diaper, reached into it, pulled out chocolate pudding and smeared it into the faces of those closest to the stage. He would also flirt with the cowboys in the audience by stating "I wanna suck your dick after the show, motherfucker."

This was a band on the edge of every periphery known to society. A close friend of theirs, who later went on to teach law at a university in the northwest, recalled a visit to the band members during the late '80s. It was a constant struggle finding food to eat and finding places to crash. The second incarnation of band members that evolved after Gary moved from Austin to San Francisco never had a steady place to live and were always in a state of flux when it came to finding crash pads. "By the end of the trip, I was so glad just to come home but I couldn't forget that they were all still struggling to survive after I left."

The recording included here was a self-released CD that the band put together of their very first gig in Austin at the Armadillo World Headquarters- home of the cosmic cowboy genre that had become resident to Austin during the 1970s. The musical world of Austin was not ready for what the Dicks had in store for them. Although the band was put together in a disheveled fashion after fake fliers had been posted all over town, the concept caught on and the act became a real band with real message included as part of the package. Until the reunion show in 2005, this entire set was never released as an official recording. The CD also includes the demo recordings of the first 7-inch record that the Dicks were going to release before the Hate The Police record was released.

Live at AWHQ

Ultra-rare fanzine handed out at the reunion gig by a friend of the band

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Return of Japan Nite

Admittedly, the more recent musical excursions found at Japan Nite during SXSW have lost a lot when it comes to the raw sound that had once been unfurled on an unsuspecting populace of music convention attendees. For example, you will note more polish and cleaner recording techniques on this most recent collection of tunes by bands hailing from the warrior nation. There are even songs that appear to be musical reruns of tracks released by other bands on the previous compilations issued in celebration of this annual event. However, this collection isn't without its gems.

The high point on this compilation is the material put together by The Emeralds. The singer's voice, coupled with a rapid staccato singing style that reminds one of the sound of machine gun fire, is something to behold. You'll hear a lot of the same musical influences on this album as those in the past- funk, ska, jazz, Japanese classical music and, of course, balls out alt-rock.

Japan Nite Sound Sampler 2007