Saturday, December 7, 2013
Rejoice! Rejoice! A Misfits Christmas album has finally arrived! And I know that was at the top of all of our Christmas wish lists, right?
With everything from coffee mugs to earrings to skate decks to mouse pads to tote bags to watches bearing the crimson ghost, it was only a matter of time before they milked this cash cow of limited edition Christmas vinyl.
The problem is that most Misfits fans don't actually care about Christmas music (or the present day Misfits, for that matter). So maybe this falls short of exciting news, especially when you find out that the three songs are split between two 7 inches with identical A-sides, and will run you ten dollars a piece plus shipping.
Still, as a collector of punk rock Christmas music, I must buy, and therefore the Misfits win. Sorry son, no gift for you this year. I spent my last few dollars on overpriced Misfits vinyl (and ornaments).
Until now their version of the Elvis classic "Blue Christmas" has only survived as a painfully rough, live bootleg recorded in 1978 at Max's Kansas City. This "long anticipated" version, as the Misfits website refers to it, is the first time the song has been given a polished studio recording and comes packaged with a cover of the Grinch's "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" as well as a Misfits original entitled "Island of Misfit Toys".
Jerry Only provides the vocals with some support from Big Money Hustlas director and Osaka Popstar vocalist John Cafiero. If you're not aware, Osaka Popstar is a band that features Only as well as Dez Cadena and Marky Ramone singing punk songs about anime characters. You heard me correctly, aging punk men singing about Sailor Moon, fronted by the man partially responsible for the Insane Clown Posse film.
New Jersey sidewalk surfers the Night Birds have unleashed a holiday video for their anti-Christmas track "Less the Merrier", pointing out the pre-LED dangers of Christmas tree fires. The song, which may have slipped under your holiday radar as it initially did mine, can be found near the end of their killer 2013 LP titled Born to Die in Suburbia (released by Grave Mistake in the US and Taken By Surprise in Germany).
Like Fear and the Vandals before them, the Night Birds "fuck Christmas" attitude is nothing new. For decades, punk rock bands have been griping to us about how they hate the holidays and Santas and figgy pudding (whatever that actually is) by doing the most un-holiday spirited thing they can imagine...by writing Christmas songs, of course!
But do they truly hate Christmas?
Because going out of your way to say "I hate Christmas" is a rather Grinchy and Scrooge-ish thing to do, and it certainly seems more "punk" than, oh let's say turning your website into an advent calendar. But maybe the tiny hearts of the Night Birds just need a little Cindy Lou Who to warm their souls before they eventually come around to the joy of Christmastime.
Still, I get what you're saying, Night Birds, and I really feel for you. Christmas can be a depressing time of year, and Santas can be fat and smelly, and figgy pudding is just plain gross. Plus skateboarding sucks when it's cold outside.
All that aside, had Born to Die in Suburbia been written in 1981 you'd probably see it on those painfully arbitrary lists of the most essential hardcore records of the decade. I'm not saying this is a modern day Damaged or [insert your favorite hardcore record here], but it certainly gets high marks, maybe even a few kudos, and proves that not every ripping punk record these days comes from Portland, Oregon.
Listen for yourselves and pick up a copy of the record.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Here are eight different picture sleeves of the always wacky Slade and their all-time best selling single "Merry Xmas Everybody" from 1973. And take a look at guitarist Dave Hill's no-bangs hairdo in this first one.
Here's Noddy Holder and the gang on the UK sleeve sporting red noses. Red noses, get it? They're drunk men. What? Oh yeah, you're right, I mean reindeers.
Here's Noddy Holder looking absolutely fabulous in his little white gloves on the 1985 re-issue.
Again with the negative bangs? I think he's actually shaving them back. This is the Dutch issue.
This one is from Belgium. It's not very funny when you can't really see the band.
And here they are wrapped inside a gift. Surprise! We got you us!
Am I crazy or have they chopped off a portion of Dave Hill's body in this German pressing?
There is no shortage of Christmas punk rock in the year 2013, and nowhere is this more plainly noticeable than at Black Hole Records. In addition to the label's yearly Cashing in on Christmas compilation (in it's impressive fifth year), Black Hole brings us this first official full length from Philadelphia's Missile Toads.
Now I don't know exactly how many bands it takes to start a genre, but with Victoria BC's Angry Snowmans representing the West Coast and now the Missile Toads entering the game, it seems official that Santa-Core is for real. (Sorry to break it to you, Dan Ozzi.)
Cynics aside, Christmas punk must be finding it's audience somewhere otherwise this stuff wouldn't be getting churned out faster than cheap stocking stuffers from a Chinese factory.
Much like their Canadian counterparts, the Missile Toads offer up some revamped classics by Black Flag ("Christmas Party Tonight"), Sham 69 ("Hurry Up, Santa"), and Blitz ("Reindeers in the Night") and even venture into '90s pop-punk with a Christmastime take on Screeching Weasel's "Cindy's On Methadone".
But unlike the Snowmans, the Missile Toads do provide one original in the mix, a track called "Christmas Ham". Funny, I actually like it better than the parodies. When I first heard it I thought it must be a take on a Poison Idea song (same psychopath vocals) though I didn't recognize which. I looked through the PI discography trying to find some similarly titled track (Vicious Scam? Viscous Jam?) And then it occurred to me. Maybe they actually wrote it (gasp).
But Missile Toads?! How could you?! Parodies are what Santa-Core is all about! By writing an original song, well now you're just a...a...punk band. Sell outs (*muttered under breath*).
Download the album free at: http://blackholerecs.bandcamp.com/album/missile-toads
Monday, November 25, 2013
I get it, not everybody is into the whole Celtic punk thing. But if the title track is a little too barooming for your tastes, just flip the record over and give a listen to the bare bones punk snarl of "AK47 (All I Want For Christmas Is An)".
In addition to the limited 7 inch (3000 copies, 1000 in each color vinyl), both songs are available on the deluxe edition of Signed and Sealed in Blood, the band's 2012 full length, available through Kings Road Merch.
Time to get to some 2012 releases that slipped by me last year.
NOFX's Xmas Has Been X'ed 7 inch missed the mark last year with a January release date, arriving too late for the holidays. However what would normally kill a Christmas release doesn't seem to effect a band with such a large and devoted audience as these tenured silly punks have. They could have penned a few songs about Ash Wednesday or Bastille Day or Run Up The Flagpole and See If Anybody Salutes Day (January 2nd, if you didn't already know) and still sold nearly every copy, in several colors of vinyl to boot.
Maybe it helped that one of the songs, the B-side, was a New Year's song, something that often gets overlooked in the punk Christmas frenzy, and thusly was still relevant in the post-holiday season. More likely, however, people just like NOFX more than novelty Christmas records.
Either way, both songs are well inspired, bite-sized offerings that will surely make you reminisce about the days you listened to Fat Wreck Chords bands while BMXing and hanging out in parking lots. The official video for the title track, which you can see below, is also worth watching for some great scenes of NOFX running amok at the San Francisco Santa Con. Enjoy!
As an itinerant guitarist for such ominous, albeit iconic bands like the Cramps, the Gun Club and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Kid Congo Powers has spent a career backing sinister and brooding frontmen. Dracula Boots, released by In The Red Records in 2009, proves that Powers is no slouch of a sinister frontman himself, a sort of Chicano Vincent Price, if Price wrote spooky garage rock voodoo songs in his haunted dungeon.
Though more suited for Halloween than Christmas, this album does offer two tracks that make my list despite their lack of typical Christmas fanfare. "Black Santa", a four minute instrumental, sounds like the soundtrack to a groovy torture chamber. "Kris Kringle Ju Ju" might seem to be more of the same at first, but Powers does share a few holiday insights towards the end of the track. Neither one inspires images of jolly fat men in sleighs, but then again maybe this Santa is up to something a bit more wicked.
Don't let the spooky imagery fool you into assuming Dracula Boots is some sort of pyschobilly novelty record. Christmas songs aside, this is one of my favorite records of the past 10 years, mainly for it's mix of Link Wray swagger and 1960's junkyard psychedelia, not to mention Power's wry sense of humor on songs like "I Found a Peanut", about eating a legume off the dirty ground and getting sick, or the limerick lament of the albums single, "you're rare as a yeti (not quite as pretty)". With it's eerie warbles and reverb-splattered walls, Dracula Boots calls to mind descending UFOs and the inevitable awkward chase through the fog. The best thing you can do is stop running and climb aboard.
Saturday, November 23, 2013
It doesn't look like they'll be flogging this reindeer much longer so get your Descendents Christmas sweater while you can. This year's design is printed on a grey crewneck and features Milo-Claus flanked by candy canes and the usual faux needlework. If you miss your chance again, you'll be stuck settling for one of these horrible imitators.
Order online at the Descendents Official Store.
Fire up the yule log and spike the eggnog, the Angry Snowmans are the kings of punk Christmas and they're back in 2013 with yet another full length of twisted tunes.
By now you should be well aware of what the Snowmans are up to: take classic punk songs and intravenously inject festive holiday lyrics; Kids of the Black Hole becomes Elves of the North Pole, and so forth. Over the past 4 years they've given their holiday treatment to just about every punk band you could imagine, from the Adolescents to the Zero Boys. You could say these naughty kids are tampering with the gifts, but then again, these are some blistering punk rock anthems. Need I remind you what happens when you leave the Christmas carols to the old farts?
This year, Old St. Dick and the gang stomp through songs by TSOL, the Clash, Black Flag, the Misfits, the Circle Jerks, Social Distortion, the Ramones, Bad Religion, and the Buzzcocks ("Toblerone Addict" is certainly one of the best so far!), leaving a mess of snowy bootprints all over your precious record collection.
The album, Black Coal For Rotten Children (on Stiff Hombre Records) is available as a digital download from their website as well as CD (for mail-order inquiries contact firstname.lastname@example.org). They have a handful of shows scheduled throughout the Northwest so visit them on Facebook for more details about those.
Also, the Angry Snowmans will be featured on this year's Cashing in on Christmas Vol. 5, a double LP and CD compilation of punk rock Christmas tunes from Black Hole Records, as well as a forthcoming split with Poison Idea on TKO Records and yet another 7 inch single on Jukebox Records. Busy little elves!
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
You don't have to tell me what it looks like, if it has festive yarn fringe, or boreal Santa beard-fur, or maybe it has pop-pom ornaments dangling from a macrame tree. Either way, I'm sure it's perfectly ugly. If she's still alive I'll bet the granny who made it is as proud as you are for discovering it, though the sticker price was quite a shock and you'll likely subtract $10 when people ask what you spent. (If only you had bought in the Summer or Fall when market prices were still low.)
Finally, your party has arrived and you walk in wearing that ugly sweater, anticipating all the admiring and envious remarks you'll surely hear from your friends and that hipster asshole Ewan, who nearly beat you last year with that deep V holiday half-shirt sweater thing with a built in stocking that he filled with single sized bottles of cinnamon whiskey (Fuck you, Ewan, that's cheating).
When a party goer greets you at the door you realize your silly second hand sweater doesn't stand a chance as you're confronted with a festively knit black Santa Claus rollin' deep in snowflakes and gold chainz. You didn't get this years memo, that the once ironic ugly Christmas sweater has been redefined in the year 2013 as the now totally badass Christmas sweater.
Do yourself a favor: kick that second-grade teacher look to the curb and check out Shredders Apparel. These finely crafted holiday sweaters are produced in limited runs so don't wait around hoping to find one under your tree. Designs for the 2013 season include a church burning snowman, Sasquatch, Aliens, Satan, Krampus (coal isn't the worst thing that happens to the naughty listed), as well as the above mentioned Black Santa and everybody's favorite boner-inducing, leg shaped lamp.
For more info head here: http://shreddersapparel.com/