SINGLES AGAIN / Chuck Eddy

Chuck Eddy dusts off his old vinyl and scratches his head. We all win.

 

Greetings, BLURT readers. This column’s theme is fairly simple:
Basically, I sort alphabetically through my shelves for dusty old 7-inch vinyl
indie singles from acts that aren’t household names, and try to figure out why
I wound up keeping them in the first place. The first two installments appeared
at Idolator.com; this month, I pick up in BLURT where I had left off.

 

***

 

BROKLYN BEAST “March of The Oil Barons”/”The Vampire Strikes Back” (Broklyn Beats, 2002):
Clearly there’s a concept of historical importance here, not to mention a craft
project: The label – featuring a photo of George W. Bush with fangs drawn on
his face — is not actually on the disc, but rather on a sticker inside the
sleeve, ready for the listener to cut out and apply. “Since United Records
wouldn’t print our label you get to do it yourself!,” exclaims a Brooklyn-addressed
press release, which I also tucked into the sleeve. That same one-sheet explains
that the record is “a one-off experimental breaks project with production by
label heads doily and Criterion,” and calls the music “hard dub and chug fun
for the summertime,” which overstates matters somewhat: I hear skipping vinyl
noises, cartoon-like sound effects, distorted scratch sounds, all switching
gears and shaped and repeated into a clanging facsimile of a rhythm. Sort of reminds
me of the early works of U.K.
industrial band Test Dept. The flipside is equally repetitive, but faster, and
even more disruptive, with abrasive horn-sample additives. An intriguing curio
that tries to answer the question: “How far from what people think of as music
as you can go and still maintain a recognizable beat?” Not quite this far, but
maybe close. (www.broklynbeats.net )

 

 

 

THE BUNNY BRAINS/DESIGNER American Swiss/Cheese Single (LHG,
1996) I saw clamor-crazed Middle Atlantic combo the Bunny Brains play live a
couple times (rabbit outfits were involved once), and I should disclose that
one of their principal participants, Dan Seward, is the brother of my very good
friend Scott Seward, the funniest metal critic on Martha’s Vineyard. Also, I
should note that Scott once helped name one of their songs (on their 1995 Beach Bunny Bingo 10-inch EP) “Bring Me the
Head of Trent
Reznor (Chuck Eddy Mix),” and in
2000 they put out an anthology entitled Sin
Gulls: Goring St. Eddy
. Other than that, though, I honestly have no
connection with them at all, and I’ve never been able to keep straight their
apparent feud with some phony group of alleged Bunny Brains alumni who also
claim to be the Bunny Brains. Or used to. Or something. Anyway, they split this
four-song 7-inch with a Swiss band, and I only realized just this second that
both sides weren’t by the Bunny Brains! The two Designer songs on the “Swiss
Cheese” side are “My Favorite Toy” and “Beach Bum”; the former has a silly
falsetto vocal lightening the horrendous heaviness of some slowly accelerating
Flipper-style guitar sludge, while “Beach Bum” actually brandishes some
semblance of surf guitars beneath its strangulated Gibby Hayes (of the Butthole
Surfers)-style vocal. The “American” (as in Bunny) side soars 80 miles high in
“1000 Years Ago” and digs appropriately into some Amon Düül sci-fi fuzz before
getting cut short in “Space Noise Symphony  3 (1st Movement).” Strangely, the Swiss side does not have
more holes in it. (www.myspace.com/thebunnybrains )

 

 

CHEETAH CHROME &
MIKE HUDSON
“Downtown Beirut”/”Nothin’” (Or, 1995) I knew Cheetah Chrome
was the Dead Boys (and, before that, Rocket From The Tombs) guy, of course, but
I might not have remembered that Mike Hudson was the Pagans guy if I hadn’t
received a frequently entertaining 159-page memoir by him called Diary Of A Punk: Life And Death In the
Pagans
last month. Still, these are clearly Clevelanders aging in New York, and they made
a way better single in 1995 – almost two decades past their primes – than most
would have predicted. “Downtown Beirut” has the sort of hard and lowdown
post-Stooges guitar scritch that I would have called “grunge” before that word
got codified into a clearly defined genre, and it seems to be about survival in
a war zone – love in the middle of a firefight, Vietnamese babies on their
mind, that kind of thing. “Nothin’” chronicles a war zone of its own: “just
another junkie out of Avenue C,” watching his back for brothers who’ve been
hunting for him. “You used to get what you asked for/But not anymore/And I’m
just trying to score,” vamping down to a spoken-word section about quitting,
giving up. “Baby, I got nothin’/You got nothin’, too.” In 1995, Avenue C was
still a good place for the people in this song. Not anymore, though. (www.cheetahchrome.net )

 

COCOCOMA “6 ¼ –
125”/Take My Time” (Goner, c. 2006) Recorded December 2005 in their hometown Chicago, so my
release-year guess can’t be too far off. Either way, this speedy, muffled
nugget is the sort of revisionist garage punk that genre addicts pretend rocks harder
than it does simply because it’s so inept and incoherent, and it’s got a Mad-type drawing on its sleeve to match
(quaintly old-timey handlebar-mustached soldier handing a bomb to a baby in a
stroller). You know the routine: sounds like a first take, and isn’t
necessarily better for it. The A-side’s title is pronounced “six and a quarter,
one twenty five,” and what saves it are gang-shout harmonies trying to sound
inebriated, and the fact that it’s over before you can get too annoyed; some
apparent sax blat doesn’t hurt. “Take My Time” is even less of a tune, with
audible but incomprehensible vocals. Over a whole album, the shtick would get
oppressive (and when I heard this band’s CD, it did just that), but at single’s
length the slop makes for a halfway diverting novelty. (www.myspace.com/cococoma)

 

 

NIKKI CORVETTE ”Love
Me”/”What’s On My Mind” (Rapid Pulse, 2003) In Detroit, Nikki is something of a
new wave legend, and these are the same sort of hard-popping, glam-riffing,
sugar-sweet bubblepunk crush trifles she’s made on and off since the late ‘70s,
when her three-girl Corvettes served as a missing link between the Runaways and
Go-Gos. “Bonkers boogie from the new wave Betty Boop,” a Detroit News critic raved in 1979. “If Marie
Osmond were a juvenile delinquent.” Bomp reissued 16 early Nikki and the
Corvettes toons on CD in 2000, and a nifty comeback disc called Back From Detroit came out on Dollar
Record Records in 2006. This single, Detroiters will be ashamed to hear, was
recorded in Minneapolis and released in Connecticut. But both
songs are still innocent come-ons, equipped with super duper hooks just like
always — Nothing more, nothing less. And judging from the three photos
included, Nikki still looks adorable. (www.myspace.com/nikkiandthecorvettes )

 

Chuck Eddy is the
former music editor of the
Village Voice and the author of several books, including the greatest book on heavy
metal ever written,
Stairway To Hell.
He won’t admit it, but he knows more about rock ‘n’ roll than the entire
accumulated BLURT brain trust.

 

[Pictured: Bunnybrains, Nikki Corvette]

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply