Thursday, December 17, 2015


The Descendents invented pop punk. Overstatement? Perhaps, but spend ten minutes scanning FM or the idiot box and you’re bound to witness a ditty or video that tips its hat to a musical genre that was refined to a high art (if not created outright) by the ‘Dents. Formed in 1978 against the fertile musical backdrop of Los Angeles South Bay scene (see: Black Flag, Minutemen, SST Records, etc.), the caffeine-addled crew released their first 7” single Ride The Wild as a trio in 1979. Not long after, the boys recruited one Milo Aukerman (microbiology Ph.D. in waiting and poster boy for adolescent ne’er-do-well alienation) for vocal duties.

Milo’s fervent mic delivery coupled with his knack for hitting the lyrical nail on its heartrending head plunged him headfirst into the band’s fold, and together they released the Fat EP in 1981. 1982 saw the release of the stellar Milo Goes To College, a penultimate fusion of hooks and heartache which inspired the LA Times to write, “perfect for the little guy who was ever called a nerd and never got the girl, (its) earthy humor conveys what is often an inarticulate rage”. And Milo really did go to college, leaving the practice room for the hallowed halls of higher education. Drummer Bill Stevenson went on to beat the skins for Black Flag while the guys temporarily hung up the Descendents moniker, only to reunite with Aukerman for 1985’s I Don’t Want To Grow Up and 1986’s Enjoy!

The two releases comprise the perfect case study in the dualistic, yin/yang nature of the band’s output. While the former is a veritable user’s manual for post-pubescent angst, sizing up the themes of life, love, and uncertainty with infectious wit and dizzying energy, the latter is perhaps most notable for its testaments to the, umm’ follies of flatulence. Their cover of the Beach Boy’sWendy’ on Enjoy! is at once familiar and revelatory, the perfect amalgam of pop sensibilities and punk execution that would earn them fans the world over.

With the introduction of new members Karl Alvarez and Stephen Egerton on bass and guitar respectively, the release of 1987’s ALL full-length saw a band that had truly come into its own. While the tongue in cheek delivery remained intact, the music had become at once visceral and from the gut, a complex balance of straightforward delivery (‘Clean Sheets’, ‘Coolidge’) and fringe-y, free jam inflections (‘Schizophrenia’, ‘Uranus’). The band toured incessantly throughout the mid and late ‘80s; all that time on the road paid off in spades in the form of two live albums, Liveage! and Hallraker. And then Milo went back to college. The extant members went on to form the band ALL with ex-Dag Nasty vocalist Dave Smalley, continuing their prodigious musical output while maintaining a hectic tour schedule. It was not until 1996 that we'd see another Descendents release with Everything Sucks, a perfect return to the pop punk form that the band had become known for.

Fast forward to 2003, and lo and behold, the Descendents are back in the saddle with two new efforts slated for the release in 2004: a four song EP entitled Merican, and a bona fide full-length LP's worth of new material that goes by the name Cool To Be You. Seeing as how punk is now a household name, and the ubiquitous “girl song” milieu infests the airwaves, will the Descendents reclaim their title as Kings of the Lovelorn Anthem? Only time will tell, but this much is certain: If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the Descendents must go to sleep with flushed cheeks every night of the week.

Descendents Discography

Friday, September 11, 2015

Circle Jerks

Formed in 1979 by Black Flag vocalist Keith Morris and Redd Kross guitarist Greg Hetsonthe Circle Jerks combined the rebelliousness of the Sex Pistols and Ramones with the aggressive athletic elements of the surfer/skateboarder crowd from Hermosa Beach. This coastal city just south of Los Angeles ignited the initial explosion of hardcore bands. Including bassist Roger Rogerson and drummer Lucky Lehrer, the band recorded their debut album, Group Sex, in 1980 on Frontier Records. Containing 14 tracks, the songs ranged in length from 1:35 to 27 seconds, taking the hyper blast of punk to the next extreme. With the release of the album, an appearance in the documentary film about L.A. punk The Decline of Western Civilization, and their incendiary live performances, the group's stature was assured in the budding hardcore community.
Wild in the Streets
Their second LP, 1982's Wild in the Streets, continued the intensity while injecting a humorous slant into the music by covering '60s pop hits "Just Like Me"/"Put a Little Love in Your Heart," applied with their slamdancing aggression. The joke was expanded on Golden Shower of Hits, their third album, released in 1983. The second time around they tackled "Along Comes Mary," "Afternoon Delight," "Having My Baby," and "Love Will Keep Us Together." Golden Shower also marked the incorporation of a few longer songs that hovered around the three-minute mark, including "Under the Gun," "High Price on Our Heads," and "Rats of Reality." At this point the band took a two-year break, which found Hetson joining the newly formed Bad Religion, taking on guitar duties for both bands well into the next decade.
In 1985 the Circle Jerks returned with two new bandmembers, Keith Clark on drums and bassist Zander Schloss, releasing the metal-tinged Wonderful album on the Combat label. The group's new approach received mixed reviews, as their hard and fast thrash was slowed down and replaced by an explicit hard rock thump, which carried over to their next Combat release in 1987, VI. The band kept a low profile into the '90s, with the only Circle Jerks record being the 1992 anthology of concert performances titled Gig. By 1995, the band released its first new studio album in eight years, Oddities, Abnormalities and Curiosities, their major-label debut on Mercury. A highlight among the 12 tracks was a cover version of the Soft Boys' "I Wanna Destroy You," featuring a truly odd vocal appearance by Circle Jerks' fan Debbie Gibson, who would sporadically show up at gigs and perform the song with the band!
Rise Above: 24 Black Flag Songs to Benefit the West Memphis Three
By 1996 the years of rough touring caught up with the bandmembers and once again they went on hiatus. Morrisin particular had been plagued by serious health problems, including a back injury that forced him to wear a brace, colon and stomach problems including appendicitis, and a 1999 diagnosis of adult onset diabetes. Since Morris had no health insurance, benefits were held to curtail his enormous medical bills, allowing the now dreadlocked lead singer to begin recuperating. In 2003 Morris was well enough to play live gigs with his spoken word jazz-punk ensemble Midget Handjob, and also tour with the Circle Jerks and the Rollins Band. An appearance on the Henry Rollins' orchestrated benefit album Rise Above: 24 Black Flag Songs to Benefit the West Memphis Three would bring Morris full circle with a performance of "Nervous Breakdown," a track he initially recorded in 1978 with the first incarnation of Black Flag.

Biography by Al Campbell

Circle Jerks Discography

Thursday, September 10, 2015


Kaaos was a hardcore punk band from Tampere, Finland. Formed in March 1980, they were one of the first hardcore punk bands in Finland to release a record (the first being Rattus, at a time an ordinary -77 style punk band), and though their lineup has changed frequently through the years, the band is somewhat active thorugh the years. Only the band's guitarist Jakke (who later became the vocalist) remained as the original member and grew to become the center figure of Kaaos.
Jakke died on 29 November 2007. He apparently died of alcohol-related causes at the age of 42.
Kaaos has been described as having "the trademark Finnish 80s sound, fast buzzsaw thrash riffs, reverby vocals, all over the place drumming, and plodding bass."Their music defined what HC punk means for Finns and their EP "Totaalinen Kaaos" released on Propaganda Records became one of the bestselling Finnish EP records ever. Two years later the band released the LP "Ristiinnaulittu Kaaos" on Barabbas Records that was also quite successful.
While their early songs became known to be focused on the local authorities (the police) they always criticized not only the government, but also how different beliefs and religions are used to justify war and the suffering war causes. They also sang about day to day violence they had to meet on the street as punks in their day and many other personal topics, yet keeping true to the anarcho punk view.'
Jakke started out as a guitar player in a band called Porttikielto according to his own words back in 1978. They played a gig or two at the early Tampere punk club called "Safety pins", which was the place where more better known and legendary Tampere punk
bands like Eppu Normaali,  Sensuuri and Karanteeni started from. According to him "we would laugh at the hippies who tried to `get with it` and we would keep the teddy boys away just by our numbers. No problem"
Later on "older" punks from the band Nivelreuma asked him to join a new band called Amiraali Nelson, named after Admiral Nelson and the brand of beer named after him which was popular at the time. This band went on to record one song on a compilation album called Kolme vuotta myöhemmin ("Three years later") in 1980.
In early 1980 Jakke "threw out some of the older people" and renamed the band Kaaos ("Chaos"). The shift was to make sure that no new wave type of influences or people in the band would be allowed. Although Crass was already an influence, hardcore as such was not so at that point. However, the band started to play faster and more chaotic and adopted the studded leather jacket, spikey haired and mohawked image many would emulate later on quite quickly. At this time, this was unheard of even in the Finnish punk scene which was in the midst of evolving from "punk" into new wave into corporate "Finnish rock". This harsher sound and look was just not something anybody expected or wanted.
In the fall of 1981 the group recorded a split ep with Cadgers (who later evolved into Riistetyt. Their side of the ep, though re-presses might omit the name, is called "Kytät on natsisikoja" ("Cops are nazi pigs") featuring song of the same name, which has been a Finnish hardcore classic and a definitive song of the genre ever since. However, Jakke who is considered the legendary vocalist of the band does not sing on the song or on the recording. He will, hower, play the guitar.
After many line up changes, which were to follow the band until the end, Kaaos released "Totaalinen Kaaos"-ep which is, by many considered to be their finest release and which is in Finnish punk culture one of the most definitive records of the "82-hardcore" style of Finnish hardcore, named after the year this and some other classical Finnish hardcore punk records came out, all released by local independent labels. At this point, Kaaos also became to be known outside Finland mostly because of tape trading and for the fact that their releases were sold and traded abroad. However this did not help them back home. Gigs were scarce and their next release Valtio tuhoaa, ei rakenna ("Government destroys, not builds") was not released until the nineties.
In 1984 the band released their only real full-length album, Ristiinnaulittu Kaaos ("The crucified Chaos.") and a split lp with Terveet Kädet, although Terveet Kädet later made a point about never wanting to play in Tampere because bands like Kaaos rejected their too "humorous" lyrics, preferring to sing more about topics related to anarchism. Since Terveet Kädet has played in Tampere later on, this feud might have been settled.
They also recorded their "last" ep, Nukke. ("The Doll") Which was released eight years later. At this point the sound of the band had perhaps evolved to a point that Jakke and the bass player Nappi formed the band Kuolleet Kukat which had a style more in the vein of Amebix and post punk. They released one ep and recorded one ep more, before also disbanding. Then re-surfacing in the nineties to record new material, then dispanding again. In the late nineties and early 2000 Jakke and Nappi also had a band called Positive/Negative which played more straight forward, crust influenced anarcho punk.
In November 1999, Kaaos played a show in Lepakko, the former squat in Helsinki where they and many other legendary early hardcore had shared the stage in the early eighties. The gig was the very last gig before the building was demolished to make wave for an office building for Nokia. Even though the band shared the stage with such contemporaries as RiistetytAppendix and Terveet Kädet, the "original line up" did not manage to play well and was considered a "novelty act" at best and a "disgrace" by those who saw them. Despite all this, the gig was a starting point of a revival of many old school Finnish hardcore bands, even to many who did not play there that night.
Kaaos came up with a new line up that after doing a split ep with Svart Agression and some compilation tracks, put out the mini-lp Ismit ("isms"), which was a very mature release, delivering the Kaaos sound but not trying to update much to the "crustie" style they missed out on themselves but also helped to influence.
After playing and touring, this incarnation of Kaaos also deteriorated. The last gig Kaaos ever had was at the release party of the book "Parasta lapsille" in October 2007 in Tavastia. This was again with the "original line up" that was not allowed to rehearse, so what was heard was mostly embarrassing. In the end of the show, Jakke also gave a long speech nobody could hear since he did not seem to realize the microphone was cut off. He died in his sleep a little over a month later.
Source: Wikipedia