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 Mono Men “Wrecker!” 1992. Estrus Records (founded by Mono Men’s Dave Crider). Grungy garage punk, Wrecker! was The Mono Men’s second release. The tracks are a mix of amped up 60′s style surfy garage rock and the reigning sound of the Pacific Northwest in the early 90′s, grunge (The Mono Men are from Washington state). My top picks lean in the garage direction: “Watch Outside,” “Last Straw,” “He’s Waiting,” and “Just a Girl” (love the Farfisa organ on that one) which are all an ass-shaking good time. The grungy tracks are pretty good too although, except for the surf guitar sounds (especially prominent on the instrumental “Tomahawk”), I could be listening to Mudhoney (which isn’t a bad thing). “Your Eyes” (which recalls late 70′s heavy metal in the spirit of Van Halen with a dash of punk attitude), “One Shot,” the appropriately titled “Swampland,” “See My Soul” (a grunge power-ballad with a twinge of country), “Don’t Know Yet” and the cover of The Outsiders’ “Remind Me” are all heavy, super-sludgy. A few tracks are almost straight-up punk like the loud-n-fast “Testify” and “I’m Hangin.’” Allmusic says about Wrecker! that it “rocks hard without the taint of nostalgia, and it’s good and greasy fun from front to back.”