Wednesday, October 19, 2005

X/Y (MN:5)

(Sorry about the blank post, folks- technical difficulties.)

X- Beyond And Back

And pray, what would my last week of reviews be without one more b-sides/rarities compliation? Hell, just for fun, we’ll make sure it’s a double disc by a band that was arguably one of the most crucial in the development of Los Angeles punk rock. All right! Talk about a no-win situation!

So check it out: much as I would love to have a more extensive list, a grand total of two songs that I play relate directly to the day on which I play them. Every year since probably 1989 I have played “Halloween” by the Dead Kennedys on October 31st (usually accompanied by an email to Terry G.), and on Independence Day I play (yep) “Fourth Of July” by X (though the Elliott Smith songs would be a good twofer. And I have to start playing ‘Bastille Day’, too. Geddy will be stoked). For years I was playing the album version of ‘Fourth’, which I had on a tape. I wasn’t very keen on X as anything more than a concept for a long time because of my initial experience with them - they were a band that got namechecked an awful lot, I saw, one of those acts that was highly regarded as both influential and pioneering. Most importantly, though, their music was available to me as a teenager in New Hampshire.

Of course, by the time that X recorded ‘See How We Are’, they were pretty well done being punk and were on their way to being a country band. Not what I was looking for, but I dug ‘Fourth Of July’ anyway. (And, in retrospect, X’s conversion from rockabilly-tinged urban realism to alt.country would have made them fucking HUGE if the timing had been a little bit better, but they wound up being sadly ahead of the pack and didn’t make a bunch of monety off of the later albums/the Knitters like they coulda. Ah well.)

Anyway, what does the Fourth of July have to do with the rest of this review? Very little, as it turns out- me and the gang had this amazing holiday weekend that started in June and extended through August, if that counts for anything. And I still plan on playing “Halloween” in a few weeks. If nothing else, I would like this review to convey that X was an amazing band, and that if you’re looking to a b-sides album as a good place to begun yr. education on the act, you’re likely to find something as slapdash and messy as this review, and lord knows you wouldn’t want that. Get yourself “Los Angeles” or “Wild Gift”.

Yaphet Kotto- We Bury Our Dead Alive

It probably comes as no surprise that I buy records without hearing them- sometimes I’m saturated enough by references to a band that I feel compelled to go and check ‘em out. Such was the case with Yaphet Kotto- they’ve been kickin’ around for years, and always get props in HeartattaCk (Lemme just toot the horn here for a sec and mention that I have a little piece in the newest issue of HaC, the work issue, on sale now at finer record stores and crusty anarchist squats everywhere).

I walked around with ‘We Bury Our Dead Alive’ in the discman for a solid week, listening to it going to and from work as I trudged through thigh-high snow left by the season’s umpteenth blizzard. Not too bad. The players have written songs with disparate parts, sure, but they understand how to connect the pretty bits with the heavier, punk sections- the shifts in tone and tempo are done in such a way that I feel like they’re written into the structure of the song. It sounds silly to say that, but there’s plenty of bands who make such shifts for seemingly no reason at all. The vocals, mostly hoarse and shouted, are largely intelligible, a nice touch- so many bands that try and play complex, emotive post-core shoot themselves in the foot by being so screechy vocally as to reduce any lyrical message to a series of choking noises.

It’d be a pleasure to see these guys play some local basement, dive bar, or record store.

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