Reviews

Girlsville

Coachwhips Night Train LP

This is a reissue of the first COACHWHIPS tape with a bunch of demos and out-of-print extras from their entire history of a band—an odds ’n’ ends greatest collapses or something. COACHWHIPS were one of the bands that everyone was talking about when I moved to SF in the early ’00s. I’d seen John Dwyer’s earlier, more experimental group PINK AND BROWN and was obviously intrigued by witnessing that destruction force in the context of garage music. Obviously Dwyer repaved SF music in a significant way with THEE OHSEES before moving to LA when tech attacked, but for me at least COACHWHIPS is just more what I want out of this sound and scene. Uncontained destruction force sound where rock is a myth that must be destroyed! This is a cool overview of a specific era, investigate?

Coachwhips Devil Uptown cassette

Girlsville really digging deep with the COACHWHIPS nuggets over the last few years, and I thank them for it. Four cuts here—a synth-drenched swamp dirge outtake from 2002’s Hands on the Controls and three rough and tumble demo tracks (“Get Yer Body Next Ta Mine” and two others). Fidelity out the window, these early COACHWHIPS excursions are confident and raunchy garage punk protein; vocals demented beyond words and music stripped down to the roots all bluesy and full of not a care in the world. And loud—it needs to be loud.

DeStructos Blast! The Remixes cassette

This release comprises the DESTRUCTOS demo and some fun remixes in a new package. The band mixes classic rock’n’roll with no wave danger and dancefloor action. Imagine the B-52’S fronted by Lydia Lunch, and you have the sound of the first few songs. “The Sight” has the line, “We got your baby / We ain’t giving it back!” It’s catchy and a little scary. The last two songs before the remixes begin are a little more mellow—the intro to “She’s Got the Master Plan” sounds like a BEDHEAD/SLEATER-KINNEY mashup before garage rock 1-2-1-2 drums back the call-and-response vocals and strummed indie rock progressions. It’s all good, but I prefer the dynamics of these later songs. The remixes are fun reworkings that emphasize the hip-shaking catchiness of the originals. The “Gabber Mix” of “The Sight” goes full-bore ALEC EMPIRE digital hardcore with relentless 808 bass drum mayhem. The “Mr. Policeman Mix” of “Neutron” could have been released on Grand Royal in the ’90s; all crackling vinyl, dubby bass and vocals, and big beat choruses. “She’s Got the Master Plan (Flanafi Mix)” bubbles with rattling techno drums and a hyper-pop approach to the vocals. It accentuates the beauty of the original while becoming something entirely new sounding. Punk remixes are pretty rare, but this tape is a perfectly realized great idea. Rockers on the A-side, party mix on the B-side. Why not?

Germ House Spoiled Legacy +7 cassette

GERM HOUSE is a jangly, poppy indie rock band out of Rhode Island. This is a US edition of their cassette with the addition of seven compilation tracks. The vocal style is laid-back yet defiant. The keyboard pops in at just the right moment. “Nothing is Like They Wanted” is my favorite track. It’s a GO-BETWEENS-style rocker with politically aware lyrics. It’s a sing-along anthem.

Joy Joy cassette

Launching with forceful, haunting vocals amid minimal post-punk drumming, super-fuzzed-out bass, and atonal but brutally intentional guitar flourishes, this tape is exciting from the first moment. The next tracks venture more toward a danceable post-punk sound, folding in synth drums and vocals that duel rhythmically with the driving, syncopated instruments. JOY nods to the legacy of anarcho-punk bands like LOST CHERREES and CRASS’ Penis Envy, while also echoing the post-punk sensibilities of bands like DELTA 5 and ESG. They apply an expansive sense of imagination, breaking genre rules and creating songs that embody duality: enraged yet disciplined, sweetly harmonized yet unnerving, viscerally human yet mediated with electronics. Definitely not to be missed.

The Maxines Burn It Down cassette

Posthumous release from this former K Records fuzzed-out garage-pop duo. On this release, the MAXINES deliver twelve songs of simple, wonderfully catchy mid-tempo garage rock. I have really been enjoying all the stuff on the Girlsville label that I’ve been sent lately and hope they continue to crank out such releases.

The Prissteens The Hound LP

The PRISSTEENS were a poppy, mostly female NYC garage rock band that got swept up and subsequently overlooked in the ’90s major label signing frenzy. They released one album Scandal, Controversy and Romance in 1998. Most of the songs on this album were meant for their second album which was never completed. Also included here are some tracks that were released as 7″s. With the hindsight of twenty-plus years, it is hard to believe the band didn’t have more of an impact. It was just bad luck. Their sound is a tougher version of the ’60s girl group aesthetic. Catchy songs with rocking guitars and harmonizing vocals. The cutesy, PG-13 rated version of the UNDERTONES’ “Teenage Kicks”, called “Teenage Dicks” (B-side of a 1998 single) is OK for one listen, but I think I’ll skip that one during future plays. Otherwise, this is a really fun garage rock record. Girlsville has also put out two collections of the PRISSTEENS’ unreleased material that are worth checking out, too.

V/A Our Voltage CD

This is a cool comp of modern garage rock bands. The bands are lo-fi, fuzzy, surfy, laidback, etc. Includes THE PRISTEENS, MR. AIRPLANE MAN, FREAK GENES, UK GOLD, DAMAGED BUG and more. The title is appropriate: Our Voltage is whatever feels right in the moment, and every band hits it perfectly. Even the covers of SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES’ “Christine” (the MYRMIDONS) and BO DIDDLEY’s “Who Do You Love?” (ATOMIC SUPLEX) manage to sound fresh. Nice.

V/A My Head is Like a Radio Set: A Girlsville Compilation cassette

This is essentially a sampler cassette featuring a number of artists who have releases on Girlsville Records, based in Portland, OR. As per the label “…all new, novel, unreleased & unearthed tunes from our favorite bands.” Stylistically the tape ranges from bubblegum-pop to garage rock to synth-pop—it’s all over the map but the bands all work together really well. This is super cool and fun as a way to expose oneself to a ton of new bands all at once and see what a label is all about. I love when labels do this kinda thing. The tape features a ton of bands: the MARDI KINGS, the PRISSTEENS, FREAK GENES, GERM HOUSE, SEABLITE, the DARLING BUDS, UK GOLD, COLLATE, DIE GROUP, UV-TV, BECKY & THE POLITICIANS, SPLIT FRICTION, COACHWHIPS, THEE THEE’S, and OUIJA BOYS. If any of these bands are on your radar, or you just feel like scoping out a bunch of new bands, give this tape a shot.

V/A Be Gay, Do Crime!: A Girlsville Benefit Compilation for Prism Health cassette

Girlsville hits it out of the park with this one. A benefit for Prism Health, which is such an important cause. A little about them from their website (find out more at prismhealth.org): “Prism Health offers a safe, affirming, and non-judgmental space where all members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community can obtain the compassionate and culturally effective health care they need and deserve.” A+. Now onto the music. This comp is absolutely killer and features such heavy hitters as GEN POP, STIFF LOVE, and even a new track by OSEES (the newly renamed/revived OH SEES), as well as sixteen more tracks. It’s impossible to pick a favorite track off of this as it hits a lot of different bases. I was most surprised by how driving and gritty the OSEES song on here is, though; haven’t heard that band sounding this nasty in a while and I absolutely love it. Listen to this comp, make a donation to Prism Health if you can, and perhaps most importantly do what the label says: be gay, do crime!

V/A Paper Doll: The Very Best of Sister Tiffany Lee Linnes cassette

This is a great collection. It is an assortment of songs from Linnes’ bands the STUCK UPS, ROYAL PAINS, the BUFFETS, the PAPER DOLLS, and the KILLER-DILLERS. Each one is a rollicking, garage rocking fun time. Linnes’ vocals are full of life, high-pitched and powerful. She’s my favorite kind of singer. You just want to sing along. Humorously, the STUCK UPS’ “Suicide” from their debut LP suggests drinking bleach. Hello 2020 from 2001!

V/A Paid By Rock cassette

This one is all over the place, and I’m all over it. Pulsating ’80s hard industrial dance, ’90s grunge punk dirges, stripped-down art-punk, a stunning PRIMITIVES cover, outsider electro-pop, bombastic nasty garage punk…this comp just fukkn grabs you and then slams from start to finish. Highlights include the MAXINES, FREAK GENES, THREX, ADULKT LIFE, and GERM HOUSE, but it’s the whole damn thing that deserves your attention.

Virvon Varvon Mind Cancer cassette

Brand new release on the Portland, OR based Girlsville Records label. VIRVON VARVON is the new project featuring members of the English trashy garage rock powerhouse BLACK TIME. This band is a bit hard to peg down, but has hooks galore! The songs are all over the place but don’t stray too far from the overarching garage punk umbrella. Catchy, driving, nasty, lo-fi garage punk/rock’n’roll garbage. Those adjectives do anything for you? If so this is very much worth a listen.