Shotwell Shotwell LP

Shotwell Street runs through the heart of the Mission District. The infamous Jenn Cobb, one of the original members of the Gilman collective and former MRR shitworker, lived there, as did Tommy Strange of STRAWMAN and a slew of other people crucial to the formative years of the DIY Bay Area sound. The appropriately named SHOTWELL, formed by Jimmy Broutis, Paul Curran, and Aaron Cometbus, started playing renegade shows there back in 1994. Jimmy remains the constant member with a notable rotating crew backing him up over the last 25 years, committed to playing smaller, untraditional DIY venues.  Steve Moriarty of the GITS, who took over for Cometbus on drums back in 1995, returns in this incarnation as a producer and arranger. The eponymous release burns through 21 urgently melodic and politically conscious songs in under 45 minutes. Its scrappy and brutally authentic sound with rough, hazy guitars, steady drums, and lyrics shouted through raw vocal chords is reminiscent of SEXY and RADON. It can be difficult for an album to be both cautionary and optimistic at the same time, but I think that mindset is the impetus for punk creativity—the feeling that shit is fucked up but possibly could be different. At best, we can be the nidus for that change, and at least, we can lean a shoulder against the tide and kick rocks at the castle. This album and Broutis’s unfaltering vision serve simultaneously as both a history lesson and a modern-day survival guide.

Shotwell Dead Bats CD

I challenge you to find a San Francisco DIY institution more honest, more real, than SHOTWELL. Jimmy Shotwell has been a fixture and a presence for what feels like forever, and in SHOTWELL’s 25-year existence they have gone through countless iterations and incarnations while he somehow makes me feel like it’s 1996 every time I run into him. Musically, this is perhaps the strongest SHOTWELL release since the MIAMI split (which is—gulp—almost 20 years old). The ska parts are aggressive, the hooks are scraped off the streets, and the lyrical bite is as on-point as it’s ever been, weaving social, personal and political into one suffocating blanket. “Mystery Trip” is the choice cut, a painfully dark number that will be the most lighthearted number on the disc if you don’t look deeper. Rhythm section (currently Steve/GITS on drums and Fucko/STRYCHNINE, NAKED AGGRESSION on bass) is perfect, laying the foundation for a sonic journey through the sometimes filthy streets and often uncomfortable history of San Francisco.