September 26th, 2013 by MRR
This month our Record of the Week feature focuses on seven new releases from the amazing Tian An Men 89 Records label. For decades now, Luk Haas has traveled the most unreachable corners of the globe seeking out punk and underground rock scenes, and releasing music on Tian An Men 89 that the rest of the world would never otherwise get a chance to hear. The man is a true hero!
BEIRUT SCUM SOCIETY/DETOX split EP
Punk from Lebanon! The first track on the BEIRUT SCUM SOCIETY side sounds like a slowed down FLAG OF DEMOCRACY’s “Madhouse.” The second song is more of a rock ‘n’ roll oldies/rockabilly, complete with harmonica, then the third continues in this vein with a more punk vibe to it, à la VIBRATORS with snotty vocals. DETOX reminds me of early 45 GRAVE with some RIK AGNEW-related moments, complete with keyboard. Then there is a hardcore jam that moshes into a punk breakdown mess in “Play a Fucking Instrument”—there is a lot going on here, but it’s cohesive and good. This definitely diverges from a path at times, but it’s firmly rooted in early ’80s punk, yet more aggressive than melodic—creative, weird and carnival-esque very early punk mixed with art punk shit, using irony and humor to address serious issues. I love the DETOX tracks on here, but the whole record is good and seriously solid if you wanna get weird…which I do.
Wow, writing about a Syrian punk band while shit is hitting the fan over there seems rather surreal. Tian An Men 89 has done it again, yet again delivering the goods! The first track has a street-punk beat that blends with a guitar solo that could only have been produced in the East: rich and intoxicating like pipe smoke or potent herbs. The second self-titled track sticks to a similar style, with some funky drumming and some cow-bell, while on the flip “Bakaloria” goes in a more rock ‘n’ roll direction, with choppy guitars and a dancey melody. The final track (“Sai’een”) is performed live and starts out with a ska-sounding guitar which turns into sad solo, accompanied by lyrics which I can tell are filled with pain, anger and sincerity. Who needs to speak a common language when you have music like this? A real gem that will be appreciated by anyone who understands what punk actually means, as opposed to (only) what it may sound like.