Let’s roll out of 2016 in blazing style, aboard S&M Airlines. I won’t get into the plethora of ways 2016 was one of the worst years of my existence, I’ll only hold one, desperate match in the attempts at keeping the flame of hope alive. 2016, you are dead, and I couldn’t be happier. 2017, I look at you with hesitant optimism. Don’t let us down. Happy New Year, kids.
It’s always a good day when a new Refused record is released. Servants of Death was, in fact, the first record I grabbed last Friday (RSD Black Friday). The only record from that day’s haul that came with a download card (thank you Epitaph), this six track EP contains the “single” Servants of Death from last year’s Freedom release, as well as a new, never before released-on-vinyl track Stolen Voices, as well as four live tracks from the band’s 2015 tour. Overall a fantastic little accompaniment to an already stellar discography.
As clear as an unmuddied lake, this 2016 reissue (from The Netherlands region) recently popped up in the US Epitaph online store, and was swiftly nabbed by staff here at The Prudent Groove. We now own Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent a total of five times, and the way Epitaph is kicking out short runs of color variants, that number is likely to increase very soon. Although not as prolific as their opus, 1998’s The Shape of Punk to Come, this 1996 precursor couples perfectly to create the uncompromising, one-two, hardcore punk-punch. Epitaph still has copies at the posting of this blurb, so jump on in.
NOFX’s fourth chronological album was actually the third album in the autobiographical sense. Not that this matters in any capacity, but upon discovering White Trash, Two Heebs and a Bean, I’d found that the band’s rhetoric sounded much more polished and mature than, what I THOUGHT was their previous offering (and my first introduction to the band), 1994’s Punk in Drublic. Well, I was wrong… clearly. To this day I still stutter-step when mentally placing this band’s large output in any discernible order, and every time, White Trash trips me up. This nonsensical rant certainly does nothing to undercut the severity of this amazing album, and should (probably) be forgotten as soon as humanly possible (preferably sooner). Happy Friday!
Arguably the soundtrack to my 1994 summer, NOFX’s fifth studio album Punk in Drublic saw a slight cover variation between the compact disc and the vinyl release. For unknown reasons, the CD had a pink sky behind the floating rodeo queens and the pervie kid below, while the vinyl version (as you can plainly see here) has a light brown sky.
Serving (more or less) as the band’s greatest hits album (though, as previously stated, is a proper studio album), Punk in Drublic features the following personal favs: Scavenger Type, Lori Meyers, The Brews, Linoleum, Don’t Call Me White, and Punk Guy. A dubbed cassette version of this album (the B-side being Pennywise’s 1995 classic, About Time) lived inside my truck for a solid three years, and was constantly turned down (or off) by frequent riders as being “not universally enjoyable.” Oh, what I wouldn’t give to experience this album fresh for the first time again.
This 2015 Hot Topic exclusive has gotten me a little more excited than I probably should be. For one, The Shape of Punk to Come is by far one of the best albums ever to invade my ears. It’s heavy, melodic, technically insane (the percussion), and it killed the band (2015’s forthcoming Freedom aside). I owned the original since its 1998 release, and have since acquired a double blue, double red, double clear, and now single disc translucent purple version. What I think gets me riled up more than (almost) any of my other versions (clear vinyl will always be the treasured version of any version of any album) is that at first glance, this puppy looks like a straight black record. For a split second upon emerging this gem, I thought it was a mistake and panicked, but after closer inspection, the darkness, as it turns out, is eclipsed by a deep, moody, purple cloud. I love records that look like nothing but are secretly hiding their inner beauty, which, if you think about it, mirrors the album perfectly. Yeah, a little over excited for this one.
2000’s Pump Up the Valuum was just about the time I started to “respectfully” lose interest in NOFX. As one who is prominent in giving respect where (crass) respect is due, I’ll always hold the NOFX hand close to the chest, but at a certain point, abandonment seems a worthy option.
I doubt I’ve heard this album in over 15 years… that, is my cross to “badger.”
No, you’re not still dreaming, and yes, as it seems, Refused are not fucking dead. Pitchfork has the brand new track, Elektra, streaming right now, and you can pre-order Refused’s first album in 18 years directly from the Epitaph store. With an expected release date of 6.30.15, it’s without question that this summer is going to be imperative.
Bad Religion, and their 1990 follow-up to 1989’s epic No Control, brought to the mainstream another lasting SoCal mainstay with Against the Grain. Here, reissued on 660 pressings in lush, purple vinyl from back in 2010 (a nice even number), was a Hot Topic exclusive release. I believe I acquired this number from the Ventura, CA Pacific View Mall Hot Topic, which, I must certainly add, had absolutely no view of the Pacific. Whatever, I knew what I was looking for, and here she is, safely resting with her adopted siblings.
Last year, and 17 years after the initial release of Jersey brats, The Bouncing Souls’ self-titled, and 3rd album, Epitaph released this gorgeous gold vinyl reissue exclusive to their online store. Limited to only 500 copies, I’m a bit surprised to report that this little gem is still available directly from Epitaph. (Here is a link if you’re interested.)
The Bouncing Souls is a very contagiously energetic album, falling in line with their debut The Good, The Bad & The Argyle, and their sophomore effort, Maniacal Laughter. Their 4th offering, 1999’s Hopeless Romantic is brilliant in its own right, but sees the band maturing a bit, or as much as a pop punk band from the east coast can mature over two years. All in all, the first four efforts by this disorderly group are unmistakably essential, and a little color never hurt the cause, either.
So Long and Thanks for All the Shoes was NOFX’s 1997 neapolitan follow-up to the marginally successful 1996 album, Heavy Petting Zoo (in and of itself, a follow-up to the heavily successful Punk in Drublic). This version, pressed on tan vinyl, was an exclusive to 500 copies, and was offered directly from the Epitaph Record website. Also released on black (original), brown, clear pink, green, solid pink, and solid brown, So Long and Thanks for All the Shoes can be enjoyed in a variety of flavorful, and deliciously vibrant colors. Sugary-sweet pop punk for your ear’s sweet-tooth.
If you haven’t noticed, we’ve been swimming in the urine-infested pool of pop punk lately, and even though our fingers are beginning to prune, we’re not ready to towel off just yet. Released in 1994 by Epitaph Records, this first of (so far) 10 comps in the Punk-O-Rama series features early 90s classics by NOFX, Pennywise, The Offspring, Rancid, Bad Religion, and SNFU, among others. As the only version release on vinyl (then again in 2014 on limited green), Punk-O-Rama (vol. 1) stands alone, kicking the dirt with its boots, desperately waiting for his brothers, volumes 2 – 10 to come out to play. Punk-O-Rama is a pure, pop punk classic.
Songs that fan anything, are worth a healthy listen. Song fanning the flames of discontent… well, that’s a horse of a different color. White, in this case, and a European RSD (Record Store Day) exclusive, Refused’s 3rd full-length offering, Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent saw both a red vinyl 2010 reissue, as well as a 2012 white vinyl reissue after the initial bomb-dropping 1996 release.
Owning a hard copy of an album more than twice is usually an indication of some pretty stellar grooves, but my (excuse) rationale behind owning three copies of Pennywise’s 1995 effort, About Time, is purely for nostalgic purposes. Dubbed to tape more than a few times, About Time was one of the 8 or so cassettes sliding around the pickup (a 1989 Ford Ranger) for much of my Junior year of high school. I distinctly remember driving to and from work, and to the occasional bonfire, blasting Perfect People while hollering along to the lyrics (usually at full roar, and much to the dismay of my frequent, punk-deaf passengers).
Southern California pop-punk at its finest, About Time recently (as of a few months ago, I believe) saw a limited run (500 copies) on smoke colored vinyl. Seeing frisky releases such as this that incorporate the album cover into the vinyl color get me excited for upcoming reissues that will undoubtedly acquire my money (the smoke colored record ties in nicely to the timebomb on the cover, don’t you think?). For nostalgia’s sake, owning an album more than twice makes perfect sense to me.
I don’t have much to offer tonight except for this half-assedly composed (that’s the industry term) action photo of my all-time favorite flavor-shade (read: color) of polyvinyl chloride. One would think that the absence of normality (in this case, white), would tickly my ear’s fancy, but I rather find myself a gullible sucker for the opacity of clear records. My exhaustion has taken its toll, and the Groove is taking the blow.
In June of 1999, Fat Wreck Chords released the optimistically ambitious Short Music for Short People, a novelty album featuring 101 bands spanning the punk rock spectrum in 30 second bursts. With grandfathers like Black Flag, Descendents, Circle Jerks, Misfits and Youth Brigade, to Fat mainstays Lagwagon, NOFX, Wizo and Strung Out, to fellow Epitaph Records mates Bad Religion, Pennywise, The Offspring and The Bouncing Souls, Short Music for Short People, as enjoyable as it is (and it really is), becomes exceptionally laborious when attempting to search for 1/101 of this record’s contents for just a 30 second reward. Lucky for me, I had a brief moment of clarity as a 19-year-old twit and picked up the compact disc version as well. That’s all gone as we wake up each day amongst the digital rays from our digital sun and pull up our digital socks and drive our digital stick-shift vehicles to our digital jobs to earn our digital wages and continue to get looked over for those digital promotions, but that’s neither here nor there.
As hilarious as it is catchy, and as arduous as it is enduring, Short Music for Short People is an aggressive achievement worthy of any open-minded listener. Also, you can learn how to make a bomb out of household objects on track 45, courtesy of The Offspring. Don’t try this at home, kids.