Sunday 27 November 2022

Dead Kennedys

Does this band really need an introduction? They're one of the most renowned punk bands of all time, with a legacy of reverence, infamy, and unfortunately, relevance. Am I going to do one anyways, since this has been a post I've wanted to do since this blog began? Yes. Did I accidentally delete the final version of this and have to rewrite an inferior version? Also yes.

The Dead Kennedys were from San Francisco, California and initially formed in 1978. The original line-up included vocalist Jello Biafra, guitarist East Bay Ray, rhythm guitarist 6025, bassist Klaus Fluoride, and drummer Ted. All members adopted stage names. Following the recording of their first demos, 6025 left the band, though he is credited as a songwriter on a few of their early songs. Biafra and East Bay Ray then formed the label Alternative Tentacles, which put out their debut 7" in 1979. "California Über Alles" acts as the perfect introduction to the band's provocative and satirical style of sociopolitical commentary. It's a targeted attack on then-Californian Governor Jerry Brown, told from his perspective as he oversees a fascist nation with explicit references to 1984 and Nazi Germany. Instrumentally, it's a surf-rock inspired track that would set them apart for a lot of their other punk cohorts. Their musicianship made the perfect dynamic backdrop to Biafra's bizarre yet charismatic vocals and pointed lyrics. It's arguably become the anthem of the band, as it's one of their best known songs.

In 1979, Biafra also ran for mayor of San Francisco, which is a fun and poignant anecdote, as he would continue to platform his political views through the band itself. The follow-up to "California Über Alles" came out in 1980, with a 7" featuring "Holiday In Cambodia" and "Police Truck". The former contains a rumbling bass line with sharp cuts of guitar that builds into a massive chorus. Its lyrics satirize the cultural and intellectual posturing of privileged Westerners in relation to the Cambodian genocide. The latter is a driving, fast-paced track that again takes influence from surf rock. Lyrically, it's told from the first-person perspective of a police officer committing multiple acts of brutality. With just a few singles under their belt, they had become well-established in the punk scene, and garnered a considerable amount of controversy over their name and lyrical content. They were also invited to play at the Bay Area Music Awards that same year, where they were asked to play "California Über Alles". They begin the song before Biafra cuts them off, they revealing dollar sign shirts (pictured below). They start into a new song titled "Pull My Strings", which is a biting yet hilarious indictment of the corporate music industry. They never played that song again, though it was thankfully recorded.

Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables was their debut full-length, released in September 1980. It contained re-recorded versions of "Holiday In Cambodia" and "California Über Alles" along with a number of now-classic tracks. They continued their darkly funny take on a series of political issues, including bioterrorism ("Chemical Warfare"), the pharmaceutical industry ("Drug Me"), mental illness ("Ill In The Head"), housing conditions ("Let's Lynch The Landlord"), child serial killers ("I Kill Children") and economic growth via lower tax bracket genocide ("Kill The Poor"). The album as whole is now revered as a classic of the genre, and an essential to punk rock. Though a lot of the band's most iconic songs do appear on this, there is another album that I personally prefer, but we'll get into that later.

The band released "Too Drunk To Fuck" in 1981, continuing their track record of controversial singles. It was banned from the radio and multiple record stores over its title and vivid imagery of a drunken, debauched night. Having said that, this is probably one of the band's best songs, with a fantastic garage rock riff that matches the nasty hedonism of the song's lyrics perfectly. This would be the last material released with drummer Ted, as he left the band in early 1981 to focus on his career. He was replaced by none other than D.H. Peligro, who was an absolute beast behind the kit and drove the band into faster, tighter territory. As you may know, he unfortunately passed away very recently, but left behind a legacy as one of the finest drummers in punk history. RIP.

With the addition of Peligro and the band's fascination with the rising sounds of hardcore punk, they released an EP in December 1981 titled In God We Trust, Inc. The songs on this were played at breakneck speeds, mostly coming in around a minute in length. It also includes one of their most iconic tracks, "Nazi Punks Fuck Off", a clear and direct statement regarding white supremacy in the punk scene. "We've Got A Bigger Problem Now" takes a major detour from the hardcore influence found on the rest of the EP. Its a reworking of "California Über Alles" styled as a jazz lounge band, with new lyrics directed at the recently elected president Ronald Reagan. This level of advanced musicianship would come back full-force on their second full-length which was released the following year.

Plastic Surgery Disasters is, in my opinion, their magnum opus and of the finest punk records of the decade. It's a noticeably evolved sound from their early material, which was fairly whimsical and straightforward. This is darker, noisier, and more rhythmically varied than its predecessor, while still being able to kick out a melodic chorus and retain a sense of humour. The jazzy bass lines of Klaus Fluoride are often what drive each song, with Peligro's fast-paced and intensive drumming keeping each track as tight as possible. East Bay Ray's guitar sound is absolutely massive, with his leads cutting in and out of like lasers, coated in delay, reverb and tremolo. Biafra's vocals are as charismatic, distinct and satirical as ever, often taking the perspective of the topic he's parodying. This album touches on topics such as pollution ("Moon Over Marin"), decadence ("Forest Fire"), conformity ("Halloween"), state sanctioned torture ("Bleed For Me"), and mass surveillance ("I Am The Owl"), just to name a few. Though their debut is often cited as the quintessential DK album thanks to its singles, this is the album where the band crafted something truly unique, with stellar performances and standout songs across the board. No slander to Fresh Fruit which I still think is fantastic, this is just the album I've continued to revisit for years and grown to love more and more over time. 

Following two years of touring, they reconvened in the studio for 1985's Frankenchrist. It's a major experimental departure from their previous hardcore sound, with slower tempos, longer songs, twangier guitars, usage of synths and trumpets, and the Spaghetti Western influence really coming to the forefront. Some of the band's best and most notable songs are found on this album, such as "MTV Get Off The Air", "Soup Is Good Food" and "Jock-O-Rama", along with Biafra's lyrical and political opus found on "Stars And Stripes Of Corruption". I personally really enjoy this album, and appreciate the growth and aversion to rehashing the past, while still producing a project that is distinctly them. 

The release of this album was surrounded by an insane amount of controversy, and that's relative to a band already established to be controversial. The original record sleeve contained a copy of an H.R. Giger painting titled "Penis Landscape", which is a series of penises penetrating vaginas. The real thing is about as graphic as an anatomy textbook, but I digress. It caused an uproar amongst the Parents Music Resource Center, and the mother of a teenage girl who purchased the record. A formal complaint was filed and charges were laid detailing distribution of harmful material to minors. This resulted in a court case against Alternative Tentacles (which Biafra was now the sole owner of) and others involved in pressing/distributing the record. Most of the charges were dismissed early on due to lack of evidence, with the exception of the ones against Biafra and then-label manager Michael Bonanno. They presented their case in court, and the obscenity trial regarding "Penis Landscape" ironically resulted in a hung jury. The public attention made Biafra a voice in the rising debate regarding censorship in music. He even made an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show years later alongside Tipper Gore, founder of the PMRC. You can watch it here if you're interested, he goes into more detail regarding the events surrounding this debacle.

Whilst the trial was occurring, the band began feeling alienated from the hardcore scene, with increasingly violent shows and macho attitudes. This was a far cry from the open-minded, expressive, weirdo driven punk that they helped create just a few years earlier. The sentiment is similar to what was going on in DC at the time with "Revolution Summer", something I've talked to death about on here. Anyway, the band called it a day in early 1986, but decided to record one final album that same year. Bedtime For Democracy saw them return to the hardcore blitzes not heard since In God We Trust, Inc. Most of its 21 songs clock in around the one to two minute mark, with the exception of some key tracks, such as the psychedelic "Cesspools In Eden", "Chickenshit Conformist", and their swan song "Lie Detector". It's a solid effort, with some standout songs including "Take This Job And Shove It" and "Anarchy For Sale", but it doesn't quite hit the same overall highs as their previous material. This is with the major exception of the aforementioned "Chickenshit Conformist", which is one of the band's most dynamic and subversive songs. It details their disillusionment with the state of the punk scene that they helped create and packs in a sense of finality. It was evident that they had reached the end of the line, and were ready to cement a legacy that would spark interest in punk, hardcore, and sociopolitical awareness for generations to come.

Post-DK, the members of the band remained active in multiple projects and solo ventures. Biafra began doing spoken word and continued to operate Alternative Tentacles. A year after they broke up, the compilation Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death was released. This contained all their non-album material that spanned the course of their career, including the single versions of "California Über Alles" and "Holiday In Cambodia", "Police Truck", "Too Drunk To Fuck", their sole performance of "Pull My Strings", the b-sides of the "Kill The Poor", "Bleed For Me", and "Halloween" singles, compilation songs, and more. It's not often a band releases a compilation that as essential as an album, yet alone one that is arguably their most popular release. This is an exception, and with it we wrap up their primary discography. Here's my ranking of their releases, just for shits and gigs (from first to last): Plastic Surgery Disasters, Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables, Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death, In God We Trust, Inc., Frankenchrist and Bedtime For Democracy. Feel free to let me know yours.

They remained inactive for approximately 15 years. In the late 90's, East Bay Ray, Klaus Fluoride, and D.H. Peligro discovered that they hadn't been paid proper royalties by Alternative Tentacles, aka Jello Biafra. It was chalked up to an error in accounting, but Ray, Fluoride, and Peligro alleged that Biafra did not notify them of this error, and withheld paying them their proper dues. The issue ended up in court, and I won't go into it too much as I don't know enough, but it did result in Alternative Tentacles losing the rights to the Dead Kennedys back catalogue. All members were also awarded songwriting credits on their entire discography, whereas only one or two members were previously credited on individual songs. This meant that the three instrumental members could begin performing and releasing material under the DK moniker again. Since 2001 they've been playing live shows, with three different singers in Biafra's place. They've also released two live albums and a few compilations, though all the material on them dates back to their initial tenure. Biafra has been critical of this iteration of the band, with multiple accusations of them "selling out" due to their licensing of DK's music to corporate entities. Regardless of that, they still left behind an incredible run of forward-thinking and outspoken art that made them one of the most important bands in the history of the genre. Perhaps not always wanted, but undoubtedly needed. Pol Pot.

1. Kepone Kids
2. Forward To Death
3. California Über Alles
4. Your Emotions
5. Kill The Poor
6. Holiday In Cambodia
7. Kidnap
8. Man With The Dogs
9. I Kill Children
10. Dreadlocks Of The Suburbs
11. Rawhide
12. Mutations Of Today
13. Cold Fish
14. Forward To Death
15. Viva Las Vegas
16. Untitled
17. Saturday Night Holocaust

1. Kill The Poor
2. Forward To Death
3. When Ya Get Drafted
4. Let's Lynch The Landlord
5. Drug Me
6. Your Emotions
7. Chemical Warfare
8. California Über Alles
9. I Kill Children
10. Stealing People's Mail
11. Funland At The Beach
12. Ill In The Head
13. Holiday In Cambodia
14. Viva Las Vegas

1. Nazi Punk Fucks Off
2. Moral Majority

1. Religious Vomit
2. Moral Majority
3. Hyperactive Child
4. Kepone Factory
5. Dog Bite
6. Nazi Punks Fuck Off
7. We've Got A Bigger Problem Now
8. Rawhide

1. Advice From Christmas Past
2. Government Flu
3. Terminal Preppie
4. Trust Your Mechanic
5. Well Paid Scientist
6. Buzzbomb
7. Forest Fire
8. Halloween
9. Winnebago Warrior
10. Riot
11. Bleed For Me
12. I Am The Owl
13. Dead End
14. Moon Over Marin

1. Holiday In Cambodia
2. Let's Lynch The Landlord
3. Chemical Warfare
4. Nazi Punks Fuck Off
5. We've Got A Bigger Problem Now
6. Too Drunk To Fuck
7. Kill The Poor
8. Man With The Dog
9. Forward To Death
10. Kepone Factory
11. Life Sentence
12. Trust Your Mechanic
13. Moral Majority
14. Forest Fire
15. Winnebago Warrior
16. Police Truck
17. Bleed For Me

Note: Semi-official bootleg, recorded live on Sep 13, 1982

The Virgin Demos (1983)
1. Government Flu
2. Terminal Preppie
3. Trust Your Mechanic
4. Buzzbomb
5. Halloween
6. Winnebago Warrior
7. Bleed For Me
8. I Am The Owl
9. Saturday Night Holocaust
10. Well Paid Scientist
11. Forest Fire
12. Riot
13. Life Sentence
14. Dead End
15. Moon Over Marin
16. Kepone Factory
17. The Prey

Note: Demos recorded in 1982, never officially released

1. Soup Is Good Food
2. Hellnation
3. This Could Be Anywhere (This Could Be Everywhere)
4. A Growing Boy Needs His Lunch
5. Chicken Farm
6. Jock-O-Rama
7. Goons Of Hazzard
8. M.T.V. Get Off The Air
9. At My Job
10. Stars And Stripes Of Corruption

1. Take This Job And Shove It
2. Hop With The Jet Set
3. Dear Abby
4. Rambozo The Clown
5. Fleshdunce
6. The Great Wall
7. Shrink
8. Triumph Of The Swill
9. Macho Insecurity
10. I Spy
11. Cesspools In Eden
12. One-Way Ticket To Pluto
13. Do The Slag
14. A Commercial
15. Gone With My Wind
16. Anarchy For Sale
17. Chickenshit Conformist
18. Where Do Ya Draw The Line
19. Potshot Heard 'Round The World
20. D.M.S.O.
21. Lie Detector

1. Police Truck
2. Too Drunk To Fuck
3. California Über Alles
4. The Man With The Dogs
5. Insight
6. Life Sentence
7. A Child And His Lawnmower
8. Holiday In Cambodia
9. I Fought The Law
10. Saturday Night Holocaust
11. Pull My Strings
12. Short Songs
13. Straight A's
14. Kinky Sex Makes The World Go Round
15. The Prey
16. Night Of The Living Rednecks
17. Buzzbomb From Pasadena


1. Introduction
2. Police Truck
3. Kill The Poor
4. Holiday In Cambodia
5. Moon Over Marin
6. California Über Alles
7. MTV - Get Off The Air
8. Too Drunk To Fuck
9. Goons Of Hazzard
10. This Could Be Anywhere (This Could Be Everywhere)
11. Forward To Death
12. I Am The Owl
13. Hellnation
14. Riot

1. Introduction By Johnnie Walker
2. Kill The Poor (Disco Version)
3. Back In Rhodesia
4. The Man With The Dogs
5. Gaslight
6. California Über Alles
7. Ill In The Head
8. Straight A's
9. Short Songs
10. Holiday In Cambodia
11. Police Truck
12. Forward To Death
13. Have I The Right?
14. Back In The USSR
15. Viva Las Vegas

1. California Über Alles
2. Police Truck
3. Kill The Poor
4. Holiday In Cambodia
5. Nazi Punks Fuck Off
6. Too Drunk To Fuck
7. Viva Las Vegas
8. Moon Over Marin
9. Halloween
10. MTV Get Off The Air
11. Soup Is Good Food (Live)
12. Jock-O-Rama (Live)

1. California Über Alles
2. Man With The Dogs
3. Holiday In Cambodia
4. Police Truck
5. Kill The Poor
6. Insight
7. Nazi Punks Fuck Off!
8. Moral Majority
9. Too Drunk To Fuck
10. The Prey
11. Bleed For Me
12. Life Sentence
13. Halloween
14. Saturday Night Holocaust

Disc 1: Live at Paradiso, Amsterdam, Netherlands, December 5, 1982
1. Moral Majority
2. I Am The Owl
3. Life Sentence
4. Police Truck
5. Riot
6. Bleed For Me
7. Holiday In Cambodia
8. Let's Lynch The Landlord
9. Chemical Warfare
10. Nazi Punks Fuck Off
11. Kill The Poor
12. We've Got a Bigger Problem Now
13. Too Drunk To Fuck

Disc 2: Live at Alabama Halle, Munich, Germany, December 13th, 1982
1. Skateboard Talk + Intro
2. Man With The Dogs
3. Forward To Death
4. Kepone Factory
5. Life Sentence
6. Trust Your Mechanic
7. Moral Majority
8. Forest Fire
9. Winnebago Warrior
10. Police Truck
11. Bleed For Me
12. Holiday In Cambodia
13. Let's Lynch The Landlord
14. Chemical Warfare
15.Nazi Punks Fuck Off
16. We've Got A Bigger Problem Now
17. Too Drunk To Fuck
18. Kill The Poor

Disc 3: Live at The Farm, San Fransico, California, May 24th, 1985
1. DH Peligro's Mom
2. Goons Of Hazzard
3. Hell Nation
4. This Could Be Anywhere
5. Soup Is Good Food
6. Chemical Warfare
7. Macho Insecurity
8. A Growing Boy Needs His Lunch
9. Forest Fire
10. Moon Over Marin
11. Jock-O-Rama
12. Encore
13. Stars And Stripes Of Corrupiton
14. Second Encore
15. MTV Get Off The Air
16. Holiday In Cambodia

Friday 25 November 2022


Worriers are a four-piece punk band from Brooklyn, New York that formed in 2011. They were formed by singer/guitarist Lauren Denitzio following the breakup of their former band The Measure. They are the primary member and songwriter of Worriers, with a number of others coming in and out to round up the line-up, including Mikey Erg. They've put out three full-lengths and a handful of EP's thus far, primarily through Don Giovanni Records and 6131. I'm ashamed to admit that I have been sleeping on this band for years, as the name came up a lot but I never bothered to properly check them out, and I have been sorely missing out. They've got a great energy to them, penning catchy songs with personal lyrics. Really recommended for fans of Against Me!, RVIVR, Iron Chic and the like, this is absolutely a band I'll be revisiting a lot in the future and do not recommend missing out on them like I've been. Enjoy.

1. Past Lives
2. Promise Me (You'll Never Say That In Front Of My Friends)
3. Deconstruction Site
4. Made To Mend

1. Cruel Optimist
2. Precarity Rules
3. Passion
4. Best Case Scenario
5. Never Were
6. The Only Claude That Matters
7. Killjoy
8. Why We Try

1. Sinead O'Rebellion
2. Get Bored
3. Happy Here

1. Jinx
2. Plans
3. Glutton For Distance
4. Parts
5. Unwritten
6. Life During Peacetime
7. Good Luck
8. Yes All Cops
9. They / Them / Theirs
10. Advance Notice
11. Most Space
12. Chasing

1. My 85th Rodeo
2. Not Your Type
3. The Possibility
4. Gaslighter
5. What We're Up Against
6. Future Me
7. Self Esteemed
8. No Thanks
9. Glutton (Reprise)
10. WTF Is Sleep?
11. Best Fear / Worst Fantasy
12. Open Heart
13. Future Me

3. No More Bad News

1. End Of The World
3. Big Feelings
4. Terrible Boyfriend
5. Chicago Style Pizza Is Terrible
6. Curious
7. What Comes Next?
8. Enough
9. Relentless Noise
10. Grand Closing

1. Rollercoaster (Bleachers cover)
2. Letter From An Occupant (The New Pornographers cover)
3. Keeping Me Alive (Tom Petty cover)
4. Old Friend (Rancid cover)
5. That's How I Escaped My Certain Fate (Mission of Burma cover)

1. Doom Scrolling
2. Prepared To Forget
3. Warm Blanket
4. Power Pop Mixtape
5. Creep
6. Pollen In The Air
7. Murder Ballad
8. Never Quite Kicks In
9. Provisional Hope
10. You Don't Need Me

1. Hold My Breath
2. Trust Your Gut
3. I'm Not Mad
4. Waste Of Space
5. Back Yard Garden
6. Cloudy And 55
7. Anything Else
8. Losing The Thread
9. Charming
10. Math
11. Top 5
12. Friends Or Something

Wednesday 23 November 2022

Little Big League

Little Big League were a four-piece emo/indie band from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that were around from 2011 to 2014, with two reunion shows in 2016. They released an EP, a split, and two full-lengths, the latter of which was released by Run For Cover. Admittedly, it is borderline criminal that it took this long to get this band on here, as they were one of the revival's finest, with some incredible songwriting and a great balance of melancholy and energy. The pulsating rhythm section was the backdrop to some clean, noodly arpeggiated leads and rhythm guitar chord washes, with breathy, expressive vocals. Fans of bands such as Football, etc., State Lines, Everyone Everywhere or Dowsing absolutely need to familiarize themselves with this band if you haven't done so already. And of course it has to be said, but the band's lead singer/guitarist was none other than Michelle Zauner, who is widely known now for a project that actually started as solo outing during her time in Little Big League. I'm of course referring to Japanese Breakfast, who have blown up in the indie stratosphere with wide popularity and much-deserved critical acclaim. Before all that though, her incredible talents lent themselves to this little band, which I highly recommend. Enjoy.

1. Tokyo Drift
2. St. John's

1. Lindsey
2. My Very Own You
3. Dark Matter
4. Summer Wounds
5. Brackish Water
6. Sportswriting
7. Settlers
8. Tokyo Drift
9. Never Have I Ever Walked Away When The Time Was Right

1. Little Big League - Year Of The Sunhouse
2. Little Big League - Pure Bliss Choices
3. Ovlov - The Great Crocodile

1. Tropical Jinx
2. Sucker
3. Deer Head
4. Dixie Gun
5. Property Line
6. Miss AC
7. Old Time Fun
8. Take It To A Weird Sad Place
9. Boyish
10. In Air