Pirate Cat Radio


Junkload and The Swillerz at Kimos April 1, 2006

The Swillerz were the first band to take the stage. Jim, the lead singer belted out the vocals as any punker, but on a couple of songs he surprised me with the range of a Mike Ness or Mark Lanegan type vox, before digging back into his bass and the band blasting their next punk rock chorus.

They were the first band on the bill at Kimo’s on April 1, 2006. At one point in the set, Jim, the lead singer ripped his guitar off his shoulder, during a song that sounded like the Pogues on speed, and ran right into the crowd starting a pit, then jumped back onstage and continued where he left off. It was brilliant.

I said hi to him after the show and he gave me a vacant ‘I’m too drunk to drive home and I might throw up on you’ stare.

Swill they will.

The next band was some moody, woe is me and aren’t we cute with our same haircuts crapola. They were from Atlanta I think and they seemed pretty young, so maybe they were just singing about puberty and their problems soaking their sheets with wet dreams or something. But, hey, they were sandwiched in between two rocking bands and I probably would’ve loved them if they played with Kenny G. I won’t mention their name because I’m being way too hard on them and I hate bitchy rock critics. So, moving on….

Junkload took the stage, and when I say took the stage, they commanded everyone’s attention. Their heavy sound reminds me of Helmet, Cows and an influence of just about every band that ever recorded for Amphetamine Reptile records in the early 90’s. They hit it hard and heavy. Picture going to see Helmet, but with a lead singer who actually knows how to perform. Get this, they don’t have a bass player. It’s just a guitarist and drummer. Some similarities to 400 Blows, I think these guys are going to continue to build an audience fast, so go see them while you can at the small clubs. They’re based in Los Angeles and play San Francisco once in a while.

The Swillerz: myspace.com/theswillers

Junkload: myspace.com/junkload

Swillerz photo taken by Jahmai Castillo

Junkload photo taken by Andrea Markle

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X – Make the Music Go Bang

X exploded out of Los Angeles’ legendary club The Masque in the late ’70s, the epicenter of the city’s thriving punk underground. X also ultimately proved to be one of the most influential American rock bands of their time. Fronted by Exene Cervenka and John Doe-who co-wrote their material-and anchored by Billy Zoom and D.J. Bonebrake, X reinvented punk with their literate and volatile sound. The band’s inspired individuality, however, obeyed no genre boundaries and fused rockabilly, country, metal, roots rock, and more into the mix. Their landmark 1980 debut, Los Angeles, kicked off an extraordinary career that’s spotlighted in this essential retrospective.

Casual fans and folks who want to get introduced to X should first get ‘Make The Music Go Bang’. That compilation serves up a 2-CD slice of some of their biggest songs and serves as a proper Greatest Hits package.

‘Beyond & Back’ is served better as a complimentary collection to ‘Make The Music Go Bang’ by delving further into the X catalog with rarities, outtakes, B-Sides, and alternate takes on some of their greatest songs.

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Wire – 154

Completing the transformation from abstract punks to art-rockers, 154 is Wire’s most impressive album. The virulance still remains, but with more depth and style than elsewhere. Ever-changing writing partnerships create a new level of tension, pulling the release in often-disparate directions. On the surface this creates a rather disjointed album, but the sheer quality of writing and performance soon banishes such thoughts for good.

Experimentation is still evident—most notably in the harrowing The Other Window that tells the story of a man travelling on a foreign train. From his window, he notices a dying horse fataly trapped in a barbed wire fence. The stressed instrumentation of the backing and out-of-time metronome drumbeat enhance the atmosphere building to the simple finale: ‘He turned away/What could he do/The other window had a nicer view’.

Wire’s keen sense of observation also appears within the amusing On Returning, emphasising the way British people sometimes travel overseas with a level of nonchalance and arrogance: ‘You’ll be sorry when the sun has roasted you to lobster red’; ‘On arriving with the third language tucked into your briefcase next to your toothbrush’.

The musical high-point arrives halfway through the album in the shape of A Mutual Friend. The arrangement is rather less contemporary than any of the other tracks, combining various guitars with cor anglais passage and evolving drum beats that range from delicate cymbal play to rampaging tom rolls.

The reissue also adds a four track EP with one piece from each member of Wire, and the cutting B-side Go Ahead, which probably says more about the situation with the band’s record label at the time than any other piece of prose. If you like Wire then you’ll adore 154 and although this is sometimes one of the most painfully disjointed albums you’re ever likely to hear it’s also one of the best.

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