101 Bands Playing 30 Second Songs

FatIn 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.

Fat BackAs 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.

Survival of the Fattest

FatCertain albums carry unintentional weight heavy enough to destroy the basic foundation of a listener’s musical experience.  Survival of the Fattest, the 2nd of the Fat Wreck Chords comps serves as one (of maybe a handful) of these crucial albums. Timing is everything… be it love, a career, no lines at your local record shop on Record Store Day, and what is deemed important say, in 1996 (when this album was released), wouldn’t necessarily wear the same badge of importance as it does in 2013.

Fat BackYou see, I was a budding teen when I acquired this album (of the compact disc persuasion at the 1996 Vans Warped Tour in Milwaukee), and its function as a concrete door-opening battering ram unleashed a lifetime of new and exciting music both directly and indirectly involving the 14 bands contained within it. My love affair with NOFX, albeit cooled to a slight simmer these days, was solidified with this album. The same goes for Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Lagwagon, Propagandhi, Good Riddance and a personal favorite, Strung out… essentially the soundtrack to my late teen years. From there, I would go on to collect any and everything NOFX-related (I’m still searching for 1994’s Don’t Call Me White 7”, although I’m not sure I’d really listen to it much these days), every Lagwagon album and 7″, and any colored vinyl reissue of early, classic Fat albums (mainly Propagandhi, Lagwagon and Good Riddance). I can either blame Survival of the Fattest, for this neverending quest of obtaining the “perfect” collection, or I can thank it for opening my eyes. I haven’t necessarily made up my mind yet.

(A few side notes: 1) This album holds so much adolescent importance that I bought a second, sealed copy just in case my first copy scratches or up and walks away. 2) This was also the album my buddy and I were listening to when we totaled his father’s 1988 Monte Carlo SS. Oh, how impressionable young minds can be.)

Let’s Talk About Maturity

LTAFSave for the compilation, Let’s Talk About Leftovers, 1998’s Let’s Talk About Feelings was the last studio album by the Goleta, CA pop-punk rockers… the illustrious Lagwagon… that demanded my immediate, consistent, dumbfounded, and adolescent attention. I believe, shortly after the release of this album, the wings of my music evolution stretched into the dark, disheveled world of industrial music, so needless to say, Let’s Talk About Feelings left a lasting impression.

To fly over the specifics of this album, allow me to ramble off a few key (irrelevant) facts. Let’s Talk About Feelings was released, as I stated, in 1998 by Fat Wreck Chords. It was offered on compact disc and via wax by means of a 10”. Lagwagon released a box set of their major albums back in 2011, and Let’s Talk About Feelings was finally given a proper 12” format. Ok… back to the lamenting.

LTAF 10Let’s Talk About Feelings was one of those albums that never left the car. You know those albums, those discs of the compact nature. This particular disc postulated my attention for what seemed like SEVERAL years (I was 19 then, so a day felt like a week, and a week felt like, well, two weeks). Let’s Talk About Feelings, or LTAF, marked something of an uncomfortable maturity from the band that, at the time, I was both not prepared for, and unwilling to accept. Again, I was 19… daft, irrelevant, thick, and extremely pissed off.

LTAF PinkWith only 25 minutes dispersed throughout 12 emotionally weighing tracks, LTAF feeds that driving need for fast-paced, melodically moving, and hook-tastic pop-punk, that, for me, acted as a perfect half-hour soundtrack to the inevitable, adolescent-abandoning struggles of my late teen years. Let’s Talk About Feelings is a difficult album… not by what it presents, but by the nostalgia it unearths. My experience with this album is certainly only isolated to me, my actions, and the immediate concerns of a 19 year old pizza delivery driver facing the woes of the budding responsibility that erupts from the inevitable mountain of mastered maturity.

Let’s Talk About Feelings… I just did.

Editor’s note: This post was by request, and marks the first of (hopefully only a few more… just kidding) many friendly, reader-based requests to come. Do you have a specific request? Email me or drop me a line in the comments. I can’t promise you’ll enjoy what you read, but your requests certainly will not go overlooked.

On Legal Speed (The American Way)

Lag FrontCoffee is a wonderful drug. Its stimulating warmth delivers that little bit of pep so often missing in the early morning hours… whatever you consider those “early morning hours” to be. If noon is early for you, good on ya’. I won’t judge. But I will ask that you save me a cup.

Lagwagon’s 1992 debut, Duh, is a metal-influenced-punk-long-player, featuring a Creedence cover, a melodic romp about the deceptive eyewear resulting from drinking too much beer, an aggressive interpretation of the Inspector Gadget theme, and most importantly, Duh fosters a vicious ode to the mastered art of straining hot water through ground up roasted coffea seeds.

Lag BackLagwagon’s Mr. Coffee provides the audio equivalent of orally consuming a hot cup of joe. With its rapid approach and short-lived tenure, it leaves the consumer wanting another two-minute and fifteen-second fix. Mr. Coffee has been an early morning favorite for me since discovering Lagwagon nearly 20-years ago (yes, I’m old).

There really should be more songs about the essential joys of coffee. Its importance cannot be understated.