Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Punk Single of the Week: We Can't Help It If We're From Florida

Well, I guess the Second Great Depression is officially on. My ol' buddy Bob is closing the doors on his record store. Thus, the links below to Burrito Records may be dead soon. But this seems like an appropriate time to post this reckid. The last episode of Sound Idea Net Radio is up (actually, it's the last 4 episodes, and it's about 2 hours long), go grab it before it's gone. You might want to copy the liner notes, too, in case they disapear before you figure out what the fuck you're listening to. And remember, I still have Bob's infamous hardcore primer, the "Wyatt Tape," posted.

The whole thing (.rar file), artwork included.

A very important record for Florida hardcore, and actually one of the first punk records I ever bought (I think I got Kick Out the Jams the same day). 13 songs by five Florida bands crammed onto a 7".

First up is Hated Youth. This is the type of hardcore that was immensely popular, and that I hated: DRI, MDC, Ill Repute, The Clit Boys, all these bands that played really fast but had no songs, no style, nothing going for them but speed. Hated Youth are usually compared to DRI, but if you can tell the difference between the DRI sound and the MDC sound, you're doing better than me. But OK, having said all that, I have to admit that "Hardcore Rules" is a bit of a guilty pleasure. The bizarre intro ("My name. Is. God...FUCK YOU!"), the speed, the anthemic chorus:

Hardcore rules
No more cool
We need more

POETRY! The lyric sheet doesn't have any words for the verses, and I suspect he's just yelling "Watermelon cantelope, watermelon cantelope, watermelon cantelope, WATERMELON CANTELOPE!" This session actually produced 13 songs, which were finally released on a 7" by Burrito Records in 2000. Burrito also released a split LP of some later Hated Youth material with a live Roach Motel set on the flipside.

I remember that, when I wrote an article on local punk for the school newspaper, I included the factoid that Sector 4 were named one of the "up and coming trios" by Maximum Rock n Roll. I can't remember where I even got that from, but even in that weirdly specific category, I can't imagine how anyone thought there was anything special about "White House," a typical anti-Reagan hardcore song which was comped on Killed by Florida. "Plaid Spaceship" is about 5 seconds long. Every hardcore band had a song like that, and they all thought they were the cleverest motherfuckers on earth for doing it. The following year, Sector 4 released the Disc-lexia 7", so maybe there's some better stuff on that.

I kinda like Morbid Opera. They play a weird mixture of hardcore and garage rock with high-pitched female vocals and tinny production that somehow works for their particular sound. "Eat the Rich" has a nice, catchy riff, and "Polyester Pig" takes the squealing vocals to the limit (note the non-lyrics on the lyric sheet), but for some reason "White Flag" is the song that was comped on Killed by Florida. They put out another, much better single the following year called Jesus Loves You So Give Us Your Money, which has more of a garage rock sound.

Roach Motel were one of the biggest bands on the scene, and in fact were the ones that organized this single. They were a rowdy, hard drinkin' band, and their music was aggressive and funny at the same time. The three songs here are good, although their later records (especially Roach and Roll) were a bit better. "My Dog is into Anarchy" is the obvious standout, but I also love "Florida Reptile Land," a great tribute to those low-rent tourist traps that you see in the boondocks of inland Florida, that you're always afraid to go to because it might be some kind of Texas Chainsaw Massacre situation.

And the best is saved for last. Rat Cafeteria were sort of legendary because of how scarce the record of them was. These two songs are the only things they ever recorded (or at least the only stuff that was ever pressed), and every time they were supposed to play live, they'd either pass out drunk or get arrested before it was time for them to go on. While Roach Motel have a reputation as good-ol-boy juvenile delinquent types, Rat Caf's reputation (and rep is all I really have to go on) were as genuine menaces to society. Some of this might be The Power of Myth, but the songs sure do bear it out--two of the best pieces of ultra-agressive hardcore I've ever heard. The lyrics are scary. If Travis Bickle had a punk band, "Kill" is the song he would write. And "Tax Revolt sounds like it was written by Randy Weaver.

Bonus Track:

The Vulgar Boatmen - Monkey Jungle Breakdown

Just because I think it goes well with "Florida Reptile World," a tribute to Monkey Jungle from the Florida compilation The Land That Time Forgot. More info on the Florida scene can be found here, here and here.


Anonymous Gervais said...

For my part one and all ought to look at it.
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4/18/2012 9:17 AM  

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