Thursday, April 29, 2010

G&P Review: Hayaino Daisuki

Hayaino Daisuki
Invincible Gate Mind of the Infernal Fire Hell… Or Did You Mean Hawaii Daisuki

Hydra Head
In an era of vaporizing record sales (oh, you naughty downloaders, you know who you are) and general economic malaise, the idea of packaging a four song, 12 minute EP in a DVD case is downright baroque in its conspicuous consumption. Never mind Hydra Head plunking down the cash for a 20 page zine-style liner package that includes a multi-page cartoon, doll making instructions (wait, what?) and a quickie interview with Cephalochromoscope’s own Davydd Grimm. Hell, the ink just to print that mouthful of a title would probably blow most bands’ art budgets. But Hayaino Daisuki’s whole shtick is a celebration of exuberant excess. For starters, this little fucker is mastered exceptionally loud, and Matsubara’s songwriting M.O. seems to be geared toward the kind of ADD people who wish Slayer would trim the verse and chorus fat from the epically overlong Reign in Blood and get straight to the shredding.
What’s most surprising from a band fronted by Jon friggen Chang is how the vocals are the single most improved element of the package. The familiar tonsil (testicle?) twisting scream still dominates, but Chang et al have introduced more variety to complement the EP’s shifting moods. “Kirei” has a startlingly feminine touch that adds an unexpected dimension to its thrash assault while “Shibito” has a throaty, alleyway pervent come-on that sounds outright villainous.

Hayaino Daisuki – “Shibito”

For all the goofball trappings, Hayaino Daisuki are deadly serious about their craft and the game has been upped again. This just slays every teenaged wannabe retro thrash band surfing eBay for retro white high tops.
When last we heard from Hayaino Daisuki they were playing John the Baptist to the advent of grindcore messiahs Gridlink. Will the same revelatory process take place in 2010 with the impending Orphan?

Monday, April 26, 2010

And Now a Word from Julie Andrews

Consider yourselves lucky because I was about this close to embedding a video of Julie Andrews belting out "A Few of My Favorite Things," but I vomited up my lower intestine in the process. While I always like to see how far I can push all of you before you come running with pitchforks and torches, that was a bit much, even for me.
But there really is a reason for this treacley trip into pure falseness, I swear. See, I’ve been pondering the notion of favorites lately. While on a recent Dostoevsky binge I pretty much cemented what I’ve always kinda subconsciously known: dude’s probably my favorite writer and The Brothers Karamazov is probably my favorite book. Probably. For right now.
I’ve never been the kind of person who has a favorite band or favorite song. In fact, sitting here typing this right now I couldn’t tell you what my favorite band is. Napalm Death? I own more albums by them than anyone else in my collection. Discordance Axis? Certainly one of my most played. Dead Kennedys? Probably been consistently listening to them longer than anyone else.
But I can’t seem to pin it down because my mood will shift and I'll go endlessly listen to something else instead. I recently destroyed Who's My Saviour for about three weeks straight. That seems to be the key. I have a lot of favorite bands and a ton of favorite songs. It just depends on what mood you catch me in. So dragging together 20 or so of my favorite songs into a bizarre musical biography for shits and giggles, I was struck by what those moods say about me. First, I realize just how much of a sucker I am for songs with high, piercing, ringing guitar tones in them. (Note to bands who ask for reviews: I’m a sucker for high, piercing, ringing guitars tones; include those in your song and I’ll probably drool over myself writing a review.)
That wasn’t much of a surprise, but the emotional content of those songs. I consider myself a fairly phlegmatic person; not much ever really bothers me. So why do so many of my favorite songs deal with anxiety, unease, confusion and dislocation. Based on this playlist, it’s like I’m some moody Twilight emo boy. Pink Floyd’s tempus fugit anthem “Time,” Jesu’s anxiety-riddled “Tired of Me” and the Weakerthan’s charmingly awkward “This is a Fire Door Never Leave Open” don’t do much to bolster my self-image. Even Bad Religion’s fuck the world fireball “Do What You Want” smacks of overcompensating bravado now. Then there’s the moments of transcendent beauty: close your eyes when Anneke van Giersbergen sings “deprive of sleep/we jump into the deep” on “Great Ocean Road.” If the note she hits on the word “deep” doesn’t send shivers through your soul, then you’re probably not breathing. In fact, that should be the standard gom jabbar to separate humanity from plankton and idiots who wear Tapout shirts. And though they may be a doddering joke now, the Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” never fails to get to me.
And just to keep you from pulling my tr00 card, Sepultura’s “Mass Hypnosis” from the greatest thrash album ever: Beneath the Remains.
So now I’m curious: what is your favorite band or song and why? How can you narrow it down to just one , and what do you think your choice says about you?

Meanwhile, feel free to psychoanalyze my choices here.

Discordance Axis – “Castration Rite”
Rolling Stones – “Gimme Shelter”
His Hero is Gone – “Like Weeds”
The Gathering – “Great Ocean Road”
Pink Floyd – “Time”
Jesu – “Tired of Me”
Sepultura – “Mass Hypnosis”
Helmet – “Sinatra”
Botch – “C. Thomas Howell as the ‘Soul Man’”
Weakerthans – “This is a Fire Door Never Leave Open”
Clash – “Spanish Bombs”
Dicks – “Shit on Me”
Napalm Death – “Siege of Power”
Bad Brains – “I”
Neurosis – “Stones from the Sky”
Anodyne – “Philosophy of Failure”
Bad Religion – “Do What You Want”
Nasum – “The Final Sleep”
Who’s My Saviour – “Save Your Breath”

Friday, April 23, 2010

Suck It, Jay-Z: Defeatist's Empire State of Grind

With a population density of 26,403 people per square mile – 66,940 people per square mile in Manhattan alone – that’s a lot of potentially homicidal motherfuckers stacked on top of each other in New York City. New Yorkers walk fast, they talk fast and they really don’t have time for your bullshit. Combine all that with near legendary (though in my experience, highly exaggerated) animosity for everyone else around them and Hells Kitchen up to Harlem should just be exploding with blastbeat freaks with no regard for humanity. Though the city’s macho strut has brought the world NYDM and NYHC there seems be a palpable lack of NYGC (and yes, Zmaj has already poked some holes in this hypothesis). The city’s leading lights, Disassociate and ASRA are both moribund. In fact, the region’s best grindcore has come from a bunch of bridge and tunnel types from Jersey. Fucking Jersey!
So I put the question to Aaron Nichols, grizzled vet of upstaters Kalibas and now fronting last men standing Defeatist: What’s up with New York grind?
“NYC is pretty fucked up and splintered, the cliques get split up amongst boroughs, styles or just bands,” Nichols said. “There are little pockets that erupt here and there but it's usually based on being in a scene as opposed to being into the music. More than a few times I've been at a show and not recognized any of the people attending and will probably never see them again. I'm actually surprised any scenes survive at all because it's so hard to even keep a band together here. Every hardship any band I've been in before is multiplied significantly just by living here, from expenses to scheduling to transportation. Most bands here seem to be more interested in partying and spreading their herpes than anything, which is probably the opposite reaction we would inspire. As a transplant to NY there was definitely an adjustment period living in such an oppressive environment and it had an impact on me but I think
that has come out through lyrics more than the music.”
But as some syphilitic German loudmouth once put it: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Which is a pretty epigrammatic summation of Defeatist’s full length debut The Sixth Extinction. Building on paleontologists Jack Sepkoski and David M. Raup’s research in the cyclical nature of extinction events approximately every 26 million years. Given the last extinction event in their cycle was the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event about 65 million years ago, we’re a tad overdue. But Nichols is banking on humanity’s endless ingenuity for self destruction to right the scales.
“I would go further than that and define humanity as the extinction itself,” Nichols said. “Niles Eldredge breaks down the phases of the Sixth Extinction into two phases, the dispersion of humans across the planet and the development of human agriculture. It is the human-centric view that the next extinction is something that will happen to us as opposed to something we have caused. None of this is any sort of condemnation, just fulfilling human nature. The idea of accepting fault is more appealing to me than the actual event I guess because that's just inevitable, at least I hope it is.”
That sense of inevitability is what I’d call the defining feature of Defeatist’s music. Each album has been stamped by Nichol’s distinctive iconography of gritty black and white visions of death. Skulls and skeletons abound. Life does not seep in through any crack in Defeatist’s bleak world view.
“I'm just starting to realize that there is an aesthetic theme emerging in the artwork,” he said. “Really it's nothing any deeper than my love for fucked up punk aesthetics but I do think the Momento Mori suggestion has some validity. I will almost always go for a shitty cut and paste layout over a high production full color painting. Growing up, I always preferred black and white comics over four color mainstream books too. It's completely subjective though because I'm heavy into work from Hipgnosis or Roger Dean too. I guess influences in this world would be Winston Smith, Pushead, Sakevi, Gee Vaucher, and the record covers that always stand out to me are the first Killing Joke record and Napalm Death Scum.”
While he has developed a distinct aesthetic for the band, Nichols said he still tries to keep the art anchored in Defeatist’s lyrical conceits. Luckily the words are just as bleak and the layouts.
“Conceptually, it's different each time but I usually only have a vague idea of where to start but somewhere in the process something will emerge that I wouldn't have thought of. Sometimes the art is a starting point, I had the front cover for this new LP for a while but the rest of the layout was a struggle. To me the whole point of the lyrics is to conjure visuals so I hope the layout will support that.”
Given the 2008 econo-pocalypse made a mockery of whatever hilarious fever dream I ever had of one day retiring and Defeatist are convinced we’re inevitably going to wipe ourselves out anyway, I asked Nichols whether I should bother building up that 401k again or just empty it out and carpe that diem.
“Do apocalypse kooks have retirement plans?” he said.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

G&P Review: Defeatist

Sixth Extinction

With an album title that references paleontologists Sepkoski and Raup’s five major extinction events, New York’s Defeatist seem intent on hurrying along the evolutionary process with their proper full length debut, Sixth Extinction. It’s an album of grindcore blistering and noise rock corner sniping that relentlessly pummels its victim, probing for any chink in your survival skills. The piano wire garrote of “Heresy Delusion” fluidly transitions into the soft tissue trauma of “Fall in Line” like a Tyrannosaurus Rex-themed kata. The chumming thrum of “Death Holds Her Brood” sees its doomed thread spooled back in two songs later on “Ways of Weakness” and the spontaneous, shapeless noise whiteout of “Man’s Inhumanity to Man” will be immediately, comfortingly familiar to anyone who ever worshipped at the altar of Anodyne, where Defeatist’s rhythm section previously coalesced. Joel Stalling has turned in so many tooth chippingly awesome drum performances to date I almost forget just how much of a world eating badass he really is, particularly lock in with long time bass consort Joshua Scott and ex-Kalibas guitarist Aaron Nichols.
The twisty, askew stumble of “Without Will” is a wrenched amalgam of noise rock angularity and grindcore acceleration that succinctly encapsulates the Defeatist milieu, ram-rodding square peg elements of their prior efforts into grindcore’s humble round hole.

Defeatist – “Without Will”

I have only two complaints and they’re relatively mild. First, the production on Sixth Extinction is feels the slightest bit duller than some of the tracks on Sharp Blade Sinks Deep into Dull Minds. While it’s particularly noticeable when you listen to them back to back, it’s far from a deal breaker. The second is one I’ve raised before: I keep waiting for Nichols to widen his vocal vista. Far too many of the songs feel trapped in a Rarr, rarr, rarr, rarr; Rarr, rarr, rarr, rarr trap that saps the dynamism of the music itself. But that’s so hard to focus on when a hungry horde of musical velociraptors are questioning your very fitness to survive.

[Full disclosure: Willotip provided me with a review copy.]

Friday, April 16, 2010

G&P Review: Infanticide

From Our Cold, Dead Hands
Sweden’s Infanticide make me want to run through the ObGyn unit of my local hospital with a razor honed Wustof gutting pregnant chicks. Or maybe just ordering a really nice veal parmesan. Either way some fetal blob of barely developed mammal protein will have a bad day with From Our Cold, Dead Hands providing the perfect soundtrack. As your grindcore sommelier, I’d recommend pairing Infanticide with a nice selection from Deathbound because like those ferocious Finns, the Swedes crust their grindcore with a seasoned panko rind of guttural death metal heft, more strategically deploying the blastbeats than their contemporaries.
You take those death metal elements to the grill almost immediately as “Domestic Warfare” scales back the throttle for 75 seconds of Swede death loom before the two beat eruptions place things squarely back in the realm of grind. It’s those kinds of moments – like the way The Fourth Crusade gets a 21st Century panzer sheen on the stunning “Shock and Awe” – that provide tension and dynamism against From Our Cold, Dead Hands’ suitably clanking production.

Infanticide – “Shock and Awe”

But fear not, for all the downbeat chug, those are just the crusted protrusions in Infanticide’s grind freakery. “Militant Resentment” brings all the charm of a rusted dental drill cracking open an abscessed tooth, “A Worse Today” brings the punk banging by way of Entombed and “Crisis Point” is pure cluster bomb annihilation. There's not a damn thing here that hasn't been a few dozen times before, but for what it's worth, Infanticide hit all the comfortable pressure points. You can pry this one … wait for it … from my cold, dead hands.
[Ed’s note: I’m so very, very sorry.]

[Full disclosure: Willotip provided me with a review copy.]

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Media Blitz! Media Blitz!

Just a quick word about the media player situation.
First, thanks to everyone who pointed out it's not working. I don't know why it stopped. Bad media player. It's a shame because I actually liked this one.
So yes, I'm actively trying to get it resolved. However, there's just one problem. I seem to have ... umm... lost it. You see, I tacked the Java script for it on to a random post as a trial and I can't seem to find it anymore. I'm still going through the code for old posts looking for it. If you happen to see a media player script running around here, please let me know. It's about *this* tall with brown fur and wagging tail. It really is a nice media player and I wish it would come home.

Meanwhile, I'm open to suggestions from those of you who care. While I'm generally protective of my little sandbox here, I do want to the experience to be enjoyable and functional from your end as well. In the meantime, I will still try to make one song per album available as a download. Not the most efficient method for a lot of you, but that's the best I can do for the time being. I've tried and rejected things like the Google media player because I'm lazy and really, really hate dicking with HTML every time I want to post. But if you have a system that works for you (keeping in mind I'll always go with the path of least resistance), pass it along and I'll give it a shot.

In the meantime, thanks for participating and thanks for your patience.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

G&P Review: Wormrot 2: Electric Boogaloo


Earache (reissue)

In a totally unexpected and extremely gracious move, Digby Pearson recently contacted me (even after I vented my spleen) and offered me one of the first copies of the reissue of Wormrot’s Abuse to thank me for the minor role I played in bringing the band to Earache’s attention.
So how does the two disc reissue of an album that was bruited and hailed by pretty much every one of us as one the single most essential albums of 2009 (Flesh Monolith, tenth? Seriously? What the fuck, man?) fare in the hands of a historic metal powerhouse that has, let's say, gotten a more mixed reaction from fans of late?
Not much has changed at first blush. While the packaging is largely intact – the colors and contrast have been punched up a tad – there is a hilariously bad Photoshop job in the thank you list where “Aziz from Scrotum Jus” has been swapped out for “Digby and Earache Records” in a glaringly different font.
Packaging chicanery aside, Earache wisely didn’t tinker with the album itself. Abuse still sounds like proctology with a block of Semtex. Name your favorite grind album of the last five years and Abuse shits down its throat and make its like it.
The real selling point for this version will be the chance to see just how stupid these Singaporeans were born because Earache has collected the bulk of the band’s demo, splits and EPs and, fittingly, an Insect Warfare Cover (“Evolved into Obliteration”) on the second disc. Now I know most of you have probably already downloaded every single one of these, but the disc also collects a handful of previously unreleased tracks, which just didn’t make the Abuse cut. “Rapid Abortions of Ridiculous proportions” filters the band’s now-established sound through Converge’s “The Saddest Day” and Alice in Chains’ Dirt, offering another datum that the band’s Yeah Yeah Yeahs cover was not some cheap toss away bit of hipster irony.

Wormrot – “Rapid Abortions of Ridiculous Proportions” [Due to a sequencing error, the song will be mislabeled when you d/l]

Having all this material in one convenient package makes for a fascinating historical document. The songs are not as explosive in their larval stages, but they also show Wormot were on to something profound from their first demo in 2007. “Condemnation,” in particular, is a scorcher and paragon of compact songwriting.
Even when the older tracks don’t reach the Abuse pinnacle, that same flailing and uncontrollable sense of abandon energizes every single note. Abuse was no accident. Wormrot are the real shit.
Go buy this shit. Again.

[Full disclosure: I'm special and Earache likes me more than you. Neener, neener.]

Faces of Death

The fact that Abuse kicked more ass than an army of Six Million Dollar Men cloned from Bruce Lee took Wormrot 75 percent of the way to establishing their debut album as an instantaneous modern classic of the grindcore persuasion. That other quarter slice of genius comes courtesy of the retina-mugging cover. And as grind history has proved time and time again, a rotting skull is never a bad artistic choice. Behold six choice selections from the pedigree.

Napalm Death

Grim and grisly set the tone for one of the earliest grind touchstones. Here used to jab home a political point, a skull-faced Reaper looms over his good buddies, a handful of corporate plutocrats sent straight from central casting. This Jeff Walker benchmark is so iconic it’s been endlessly aped, including a recent loving homage from Rotten Sound.


The grim granddaddy of all moldering mugs, Repulsion’s cartoonishly festering skull art perfectly encapsulated the band’s grade-Z horror film fetish and aesthetic. Though I’m sure the Michigan monster squad intended for it to be … umm … horrifying, by today’s standards its dated cheesiness is part of its endearing and enduring charm.

Rad Jackson

Maggot-eyed shambling corpse too off putting for the Wal-Mart crowd? Ohio hooligans Hemdale solved this conundrum by making sure their three-quarters profile zombified mascot was snorgling a cute kitten on compilation album Rad Jackson. Now everyone say, “Awwwwwwwwwwwww.” The juxtaposition of zombie + saccharine sweetness perfectly telegraphs the band’s mixture of absurd and horrific in one eye popping package.On a side note, are zombies really qualified to care for a domestic animal? Probably named him Squishy, too.

El Dia Despues al Fin de la Humanidad

If Robert Kirkman, for some unforeseeable reason, should boot longtime collaborator Charlie Adlard from zombie comic The Walking Dead, Nashgul bassist Luis could easily step into the breach. The four-stringer is responsible for El Dia Despues al Fin de la Humanidad’s cover piece, which is at once intricately detailed, horrifically evocative and more than a touch fun. That static image provided more chills and laughs than about the last four George Romero films combined.

Squash Bowels
Grind Virus

By 2009 just putting any old shriveled coconut on your album cover was sooooooo passé. So Poland’s Squash Bowels (such an evocative name!) upped the artistic ante with a severed head vomiting up its own innards (from where, since it’s, ya know, severed?) while crying out why I’m going to say is some sort of cerebrospinal fluid. And don’t think I didn’t notice that delightful Frankenstein’s monster coiffure either. It’s the little touches that make Grind Virus stand out.

Hail Fastcore

Lest you be fooled into thinking this is strictly a gore grind phenomenon, XBrainiax got into the death face race last year with their compilation Hail Fastcore. Twisting tradition 90 degrees, the band chose an exploded profile shot to make their fast punk point rather than the more staid head on shot. I’m sure plastination artist Gunthen von Hagens would approve.

Friday, April 9, 2010

In With the Old; Out With the New: Nashgul Go Rummaging Through Grindcore’s Graveyard

Like a zombie punching out a shark, Spanish grinders Nashgul know some things just never go out of style. Zombies have been the little black dress of grindcore ever since Repulsion first horrified a generation with gore-flecked tales of maggot-filled coffins, innocents being slaughtered and fear that lurks.
Knowing a good thing when they hear it, Nashgul have resolutely defied the last 20 years of cultural evolution, pillaging the festering cinematic leftovers of 1970s and ’80s for musical inspiration. These are guys who’ve written songs called “Mad Max” (which was renewed for a second season), “Snake Plisskin” and “El Vengador Toxico,” after all.
“I think 70/80s horror movies had a fucking great atmosphere of disturbing realism,” vocalist Santi said. “Special effects were fucking great before all this CGI shit and also being in our mid/late 20s these are the movies we grow up with. Old school grindcore and old school horror movies with some beer and weed. Anything better in life?” [Editor’s note: Only to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.]
So it should surprise only those of you who haven’t been paying attention that Nashgul’s proper debut album, El Dia Despues al Fin de la Humanidad (The Day After the End of Humanity for those who no habla), comes off like a classic Fulci fright fest right down the awesomely festering artwork, courtesy of bassist Luis.
“He did all our artwork except the one for the split with World Downfall which was made by Emma Rios, a friend from our city who is now working for Marvel Comics!” Santi said. “Luis is professional drawer, he has a daily job drawing and designing. He improved a fucking lot during the last years, and I’m proud to say that is one of the best drawers you can meet in the music scene. He did lot of work for other bands.”
Not only do Nashgul think cinema peaked nearly 30 years ago, don’t look to them to blaze new grindcore trails either. As far as the band is concerned, grind also reached a state of transcendent perfection two decades previously and they just see themselves as acolytes of their predecessors.
“We don’t pretend to be original or innovate in any form,” Santi said. “With our music we just want to pay tribute to the bands we are obsessed with since many years ago. Of course our main influences are the classic grindcore bands like Repulsion, Carcass, early Napalm Death, Terrorizer, Defecation etc., but we are very open minded people, we love punk as much as we love metal. So there’s a lot of influences in our heads when we are making new songs, so maybe that make our stuff more interesting, because we don’t follow any formula or trend. We just make what our guts and heart tell us to do.”
Given Nashgul’s obvious mastery of the zombie oeuvre, I turned to Santi to settle a schism that has ended marriages, destroyed families, sundered friendships and driven nations to the brink of war: Fast zombies versus slow?
“Slow zombies, of course,” Santi said, forestalling the need for me to eviscerate him and declare his falsity to the grindcore masses. “There’s nothing more disgusting than knowing that a lifeless piece of meat filled with maggots is coming after you, and no matter how fast you can run, no matter how intelligent you think you are, they have all the time in the world and they will end up surrounding you, approaching to you very slowly and eating you alive without any hurry. Return of the Living Dead fast zombies are the exception. That movie rules so much, it’s a fucking great classic parody!”

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

G&P Review: Fuck the Facts

Fuck the Facts
Unnamed EP

Self Released

Listening to Fuck the Facts’ self-released Unnamed EP is like hunting for inside joke Easter eggs in your favorite nerd cult film. The adventurous Canadian band nicks from and nods to a slew of metal moments past and present over the course of six short songs. “Time is a Dictator” plays the dreamy, contemplative guitar over brooding, whispered vocal card that was pretty much established and perfected by Celtic Frost 20 years ago while “.” rocks vaulting, athletic guitar runs over Bolt Thrower/Landmine Marathon riffs on fast forward. Brutalizer “La Tete hors de L’eau” is a rusted amalgam of brute force destruction and bent string agony that could have been penned by Luddite Clone or Kill the Slave Master.
While that’s fun, it’s also the EP’s most noticeable – but not fatal – Achilles’ heel. I’m so busy playing free association with their riffs I kind of forget to appreciate them on their own merits. However, when Fuck the Facts do retreat to their signature experimentation, you know the band has it in them.
The unsettling “Wake” is pierced by the faint, almost subliminal radio hum that unnerves the Martian atmosphere of the phased-out, trebly guitar bluffs.

Fuck the Facts – “Wake”

I’ve struggled with this one for a few weeks now because on the balance the songs are solidly written and get stuck in your craw like an impacted molar. But I keep expecting something more; there's some quintessence I just keep expecting to leap through my headphones. Fuck the Facts is one of those bands like Antigama I keep expecting to truly floor me, but I’m just not there yet. But leaving your audience hungry for more is never a bad career move. Fuck the Facts? Fuck me? Fuck it, I’ll play it again and maybe this time it will be there.

[Full disclosure: Fuck the Facts kindly provided me with a download.]

Friday, April 2, 2010

Punk as Fuck: Operation: Cliff Clavin

Operation: Cliff Clavin
Freedom of Choice


You know that guy you met freshman year of college who had just discovered Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn (RIP) and suddenly felt qualified/compelled to weigh in on every aspect of America’s geopolitics? Hell, a few of us probably were that guy (hopefully most of us got better, Zinnions being the Randroids of the left, and all). But Operation: Cliff Clavin is what happens when that guy makes a record.

Operation: Cliff Clavin - "Stupid Stories"

Freedom of Choice is the kind of punk record you ended buying plenty of back in the 1990s when you were a bored teen who randomly ordered shit advertised in the back of Punk Planet, seduced by the hand-drawn art, obvious DIY ethic and the promise of two minute diatribes of toe-tapping lefty teen angst. While few of those records survived my various moves through the years, Operation: Cliff Clavin has managed to stick it out, even when I go years between spins.
Op:CC aspired to be Indiana’s answer to Propagandhi but ended up with a hilariously entertaining mash of earnest sloganeering and truly atrocious back up vocals that succeeds because of – rather than despite – it’s painfully DIY flaws. From the goofball art, personally answered letters (I know because I remember writing them about one of their albums in an era before email) and Xeroxed liner notes, this is the kind of self-produced record that’s pure anachronism in an age when all you need is a laptop to get your band out there.

Operation: Cliff Clavin - "C3PO Can Suck My Ass"

Smart ass punks that they were, the band close their album with a quartet of goofball covers, including probably the best rendition of Poison’s “Every Rose Has its Thorn” you’ll only be slightly less ashamed to admit loving. And you just know Op:CC didn’t bother to clear the rights on that one, which means Bret Michaels never got his royalty check, directly leading to Rock of Love. True Story.

Operation: Cliff Clavin - "Every Rose Has its Thorn"

A couple years later Op:CC would be back with second album - Paradise Lost - a new rhythm section, more sloganeering and even worse backing vocals.