Category: garage punk

Gas Huffer “Janitors of Tomorrow” 1991. Empty Records. Grungy, garagey punk blues via Seattle, Janitors of Tomorrow is Gas Huffer’s debut album. It punches hard with a mix of crazed psychobilly (like “Nisqually,” “Dangerous Drifter” and “Lizard Hunt”), 60′s/70′s era power pop (“Going to Las Vegas,” “Robert”) and head-banging garage punk (“Shoe Factory,” “All That Guff” and “Love Comes Creeping”). 

For each of Gas Huffer’s albums (seven full-lengths; the band broke up in 2006), they included a comic book illustrating the lyrics but also fun stuff like mazes and cut-out masks of the band members. The comic books were drawn and written by the band: Matt Wright on vocals, Tom Price on guitar, Don Blackstone on bass and Joe Newton on drums who went on to become an art director for Rolling Stone magazine. 

The White Stripes “There’s No Home For You Here” 2004. Third Man Records/XL Records. Today, December 10th, is Meg White’s 45th birthday (b. 1974). “There’s No Home For You Here” was the fourth single (released in the UK, where we picked up this 7″) from Elephant and is a big, dense crashing stomper upon which Meg thrashes the shit out of her drums. The single didn’t chart and according to Wiki, Jack White says about the song: “Our idea was to see how far we could go with an eight track recorder, and I think how far we went is too far.” The b-side has two tracks re-recorded live at Electric Lady Studios, the swampy punk blues “I Fought Piranhas” from The White Stripes and “Let’s Build a Home” from De Stijl, this live version even more raucous than the original (the Electric Lady Studio versions are blocked on the internet ☹️).

Ty Segall & Mikal Cronin “Reverse Shark Attack” In the Red Records (reissued in 2012, originally pressed by Kill Shaman Records, 2009). Heavily fuzzed, psychedelic noisy garage punk and it’s so so good. Side A is jam-packed with seven fairly short, punchy and loud tracks; my favorites are “Wear Black,” “Drop Dead Baby,” “Doctor Doctor” and “Bikini Babes” (that last one so excellently 60′s psych-garage inspired) – all are totally danceable. Also great is Segall and Cronin’s cover of Pink Floyd’s 1967 “Take Up Thy Stethescope and Walk” – it’s completely insane. Side B has just one very long song, the title track “Reverse Shark Attack” which is just as nuts: distorted vocals, 60′s pop melodies, loping to crashing rhythms, abrupt tempo changes and general psychedelic freak-outs. Segall and Cronin grew up together in Laguna Beach, California (Cronin was born in ‘85 and Segall in ‘87) and while Segall is now probably the better known of the pair, Cronin’s resume is pretty impressive: he’s been in Segall’s backing band (working on SlaughterhouseEmotional Mugger, Ty Segall and Freedom’s Goblin), Thee Oh Sees (on Drop), Okie Dokie and others besides issuing four of his own solo albums. 

The Go “Whatcha Doin’” 1999/2019. 20th anniversary reissue on orange vinyl (“summer sun variant),” Third Man Records. Originally released on Sub Pop Records (I’m pretty sure we have the original CD from ‘99 around here somewhere), The Go’s first album featured the then not-famous Jack White on guitar (he left the band after the album’s release). I LOVED this album when it originally came out, a fabulous mix of Detroit grungy garage punk in the spirit of MC5 mixed with glammy psychedelic elements (T. Rex, especially). Jack White remixed the reissue from the original reel-to-reel tapes and issued it as part of the Third Man Vault Package series (#41). The package also comes with another LP, Ferdinand Attic Demos and a 7″ single (studio outtakes of “Keep on Trash” and “Time for Moon”) plus a 30+ photo book of the band at various bars and recording studios around Michigan. My favorite tracks from Whatcha Doin’ have always been the gritty glam-psych “Summer Sun Blues” and “Keep on Trash” (both of which I put on mixtapes back in the day) but also great are the title track “Whatcha Doin,’” the 60′s garage-goes-pop flavored “But You Don’t Know” and “Suzy Don’t Leave,” the T.Rex dead-ringer “You Can Get High” and the grungy ass-shaker “Time For Moon.” I’m not sure why it’s been so long since I’ve listened to this record in its entirety but it’s definitely going back into more regular rotation. 

Electric Frankenstein “Action High” 1998. One Louder Records. It’s Electric Frankenstein season! We’re heading to our first Halloween event of the year tonight so I’m spinning one of the best garage punk records of the 90′s, Electric Frankenstein’s fourth full-length LP Action High (released in the UK; in the US they released the same record as Sick Songs in ‘97 – the UK version has one extra track, “Frustration,” a cover originally by Crime in 1977). The opening title track “Action High” is one of my favorite songs of the 90′s garage punk era, but the rest of the album has so many high points: “I’ll Be Standing On My Own,” “Not With U,” “Learn to Burn,” “Back at You,” “Clockwise” and the cover of “Out There” originally by F-Word in 1978. Really just the whole damn album: relentless high energy, crashing guitars with speed-metal solos, chest-rattling bass and growling vocals. Perfect for Halloween. 

The Demon’s Claws “The Defrosting of…” 2010. In The Red Records. Dark and psychedelic garage punk with some chunks of country-blues via Montreal, The Defrosting of… was The Demon’s Claws’ fifth full-length release, their second on In The Red, and I’m pretty sure the first I bought after hearing the record’s opening track “Fed From Her Hand” which is creepy, sparse and really great. I also like the spaghetti-western tinged “Mona’s Lunch,” the hard and fast rocking “Laser Beams,” the crisp and punchy “At the Disco,” and the Rolling Stones-ish (Sticky Fingers-era) “Anny Lou” (though they take that country-blues trashed twang too far on the tracks “Fucked on Ketamine” and “Weird Ways” which I really don’t like). Though overall I like the sparse, lo-fi trashy sound of The Demon’s Claws, I have to admit that it does get kinda stale with an entire listen-through, like every song feels that it is a rehash of the one that went before it or they’re all in the same key – that’s not actually the case but somewhere in there a palette-cleanser of a track is needed. 

The Coathangers “The Devil You Know” 2019. Suicide Squeeze Records. Limited edition colored vinyl “Bittersweet” variant. Punchy, modern feminist garage-punk, The Devil You Know is The Coathangers’ sixth full-length LP and it’s soooo good. My favorite track is the menacing “Crimson Telephone” but I also really like the more upbeat, almost bubbly tracks like “Bimbo,” “Hey Buddy” and “Memories.”  I should note that they are upbeat and bubbly musically; the messages of The Coathangers’ lyrics decry misogyny, gay/queer bashing and gun nuts (“Fuck the NRA” is fantastic!) – The Coathangers’ world is definitely not OK. 

The Mono Men “Kick Out the Jams” and Girl Trouble “You Got What It Takes” 1996. Gearhead Records. This split 7″ came with an issue of Gearhead Magazine, back in the 90′s when they still did that (other issues included splits by bands like Gas Huffer, Red Aunts and Man or Astroman?). The Mono Men’s cover of MC5′s “Kick Out the Jams” is punked up, less funked-up and a bit more scuzzy than the original. I also prefer it to Girl Trouble’s “You Got What It Takes,” a cover of Dinah Washington’s “Baby (You’ve Got What It Takes)” that doesn’t translate well to the Pacific Northwest garage punk style of Girl Trouble.  

The Sunset Bombers “Sunset Bombers” 1978. Ariola Records. Hard-rocking and high-energy with a glammy garage punk sound that predates that revival rage of the 90′s and early 2000′s by a good 20 years. Sunset Bombers was a one-off album project propelled by Doug Fieger, bassist and vocalist for The Sunset Bombers and soon-to-be member of the The Knack of “My Sharona” fame (1979). Fieger is from the Detroit area and the music of The Sunset Bombers has the same rough edge as fellow Detroit rockers MC5 and The Stooges but with a nod to good-time partying à la The New York Dolls. On The Sunset Bombers is a blistering bass-heavy cover of “Gimme Some Lovin’” as well as covering The Trogg’s “I Can’t Control Myself.” Also particularly good is “Let’s Drive Tonight” (such an infectious bass/guitar hook on this one!), “Gutter’s Paradise” and “Drag Queen.”  

Honeymoon Killers “Turn Me On” 1987. Buy Our Records. Noise-rock via New York/New Jersey, Turn Me On is the band’s fourth studio LP, this one particularly notable for Cristina Martinez on guitar (and some vocals). She must have been only around 16 years old at the time; a couple of years she later joined Jon Spencer to form Boss Hog (their EP Drinkin’ Lechin’ & Lyin’  from ‘89 also features Honeymoon Killers’ founder, guitarist and frontman Jerry Teel). As noise rock, Turn Me On is definitely noisy, full of distortion and growling, but it also has a dark psychobilly/campy horror movie vibe, especially on tracks like “Dolly w/a Dick,” “You Thrill Me,” “Fingerlickin’ Spring Chicken” and “Octopussy,” making the album far more melodic – catchy at times even! – than a lot of other noise rock albums. “Choppin’ Mall” is particularly great, with a Bo Diddley-esque rhythm and a harmonica solo that portends the punk blues sound of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (Mr. Judah Bauer!). Punk blues with a lot of crazed feedback and distortion is also present on “Dazed ‘n’ Hazey” (a great track!). I’m not as fond of the less melodic noise rock track “Flophausen” but other than that I’m super-psyched to have this record in our collection (it’s a recent acquisition, found on Record Store Day when our local record shops bring out the really cool stuff).