Singles by We Coast Records

A few months back I learned of a new record shop located in Burien, just a bit south of Seattle, called Time Tunnel Records.  I eventually figured out a reason to get over there, and it’s a pretty cool little shop that’s almost exclusively used material.  But they did have a few new selections, most notably six different 7″ singles released in the last year or so by a small Seattle-area label focused on soul, funk, and electro called We Coast Records.  I’m always telling people to support local, so I put my money where my mouth is and bought all six, supporting both the local store and the local label.

I wanted to write about all of these in one post, and I finally found the time (and patience, because I hate dealing with 7″ records…) to sit down and spin them all.  So here’s a little somethin’-somethin’ about each.

F2D – “Boogaloo” b/w “So Much More” and “Come On” b/w “Funky 45th St.”

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F2D stands for “Funky 2 Death,” and this seven-piece is as advertised – funk-hay.  “Boogaloo” b/w “So Much More” is the first We Coast release (WC001) and opens strong with a straight-up funky groove number called “Boogaloo,” while the flip side is pure soul with vocals by the lovely Melissa Montalto.  The funk track is a party number, while the soul music is for lounging around with that special someone…

The second F2D record (WC006) opens with a great soul/funk blend which reminds me A LOT of Hungarian artist Sarolta Zalatnay, who was making music like this in the 70s and 80s.  The flip side, “Funky 45th St.,” is another funktastic instrumental with emphasis on the horns and keyboards.  If F2Ds live performances are anything at all like what’s on these two singles, my guess is they’re a hell of a party band.

Victortrey Funklove – “Blue Pill (Summer Pool)” b/w “Blue Pill (Summer Pool) – Instrumental”

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We Coast appears to sometimes use WC and sometimes WCR as prefixes for their catalog numbers, as this Victortrey Funklove single is numbered WCR002.  Not that it really matters, especially when the funk is this funky.  Funklove produces some nicely danceable pop-funk with elements of James Brown, Prince, and Morris Day and The Time, with a little hip-hoppish scat thrown in for good measure.  Including an instrumental version as the B side is a nice touch that will certainly appeal to the DJs out there who would like to sample some of Funklove’s funky beats.

Marmalade – “Gotta Get Up (To Get Down)” b/w “Funky Place”

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“Gotta Get Up (To Get Down)” (WC003) is probably my favorite We Coast release.  I’m not sure how many people are in Marmalade – I’m not even sure they know.  They probably just count heads right before the show starts, because their Bandcamp page indicates 12+ members.  “Gotta Get Up (To Get Down)” is some great dance-funk, keepin’ it funky with the horns but groovin’ with a deep rhythm section featuring some killer bass.  “Funky Place” is just that, a seriously funky place, with more emphasis on the horns in a more classic funk style.  I challenge you to stay in your seat while listening to Marmalade.  Personally I don’t think it’s possible.

Tiffany Wilson & The Bricklayers – “Your Love” b/w “Apocalypse Party”

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Tiffany Wilson definitely has an Aretha Franklin vibe on her A side “Your Love,” (WC005) but it’s on the B side that she truly shines.  “Apocalypse Party” is sultry.  It’s sexy.  It showcases her vocal range and includes some impressive backing vocals to boot.  The guitar and bass is funky, and the horns are like exclamation points placing emphasis on different points of the song.  Tiffany Wilson is the female Marvin Gaye on “Apocalypse Party.”

 

Richie Aldente – “Droptop” b/w “Take My Party Serious”

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It wasn’t until the last (WCR008) of these We Coast releases that we got to something with a more modern vibe.  “Droptop” is sort of electro-funk, reminiscent of a less over-the-top version of Daft Punk.  We’ve got vocal modulation here and some electronic music over the more traditional funk beat, and it’s pretty fantastic.  The flip side is more of the same, though a little less funk and a little more disco.

 

You can listen to every single one of these songs online for free.  Just go to the We Coast website HERE and you can link off to the different band Bandcamp pages to check them out for yourself, as well as order both physical and digital copies.  I’ll definitely be checking back to look for more We Coast releases.

Johnny Thunders & The Chesterfield Kings – “Critic’s Choice” 7″

I tell the truth,
Even when I’m lyin’…
— “Critic’s Choice”

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Johnny Thunders was arguably one of the more inconsistent musicians ever, and certainly a poster boy for not doing heroin.  A one-time member of classic bands like the New York Dolls and the Heartbreakers, his live performances ranged from brilliant to drunken drug-addled disasters.

The “Critic’s Choice” 7″ was released in Japan in 1992, the year after Thunders’ questionably caused death the prior year, one attributed to either an overdose or homicide.  The three-song record sees Johnny performing with garage rockers The Chesterfield Kings, material that seems to have a sort of country rock vibe to it.  The B side includes two live tracks, “I’d Much Rather Be With the Boys” and “London Boys,” the latter of which is the most punk song on the collection.  The quality is OK; the live tracks are certainly a bit muddy, but hey, they’re live, right?

You probably have to be a big Johnny Thunders fan to get much enjoyment out of this.  “Critic’s Choice” is decent, but there isn’t a lot here terribly exciting for the casual fan.

The Plasmatics – “New Hope for the Wretched”

The Plasmatics are probably most well remembered today, when they are remembered at all, for destroying cars on stage during their shows and lead singer Wendy O. Williams covering her nipples (while leaving her breasts exposed) with electrical tape.  And both of these elements are front-and-center on the band’s 1980 debut and punk rock masterpiece New Hope for the Wretched.

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There were a lot of bands that I heard for the first time over at my buddy John’s house, because his older brother Dave had deep and eclectic musical tastes.  The Butthole Surfers, Tad, and Motörhead were all things I discovered on those long and loud weekend evenings and summer afternoons.  I remember seeing this album there too, though I have no recollection of listening to it.  But I’m sure we did, because stuff was constantly moving on and off of the turntable.  The cover stuck with me though, because how could it not?

There were two things that struck me about New Hope for the Wretched.  First, musically this band plays some pretty tight punk rock.  Sure, they try to sound sloppy, including the instrumental portion of “Dreamlover” (a cover of Bobby Darin’s “Dream Lover”) that is just a bunch of random playing with no one even trying to play the same thing.  But when you listen to the driving power of songs like “Tight Black Pants” and “Monkey Suit” it’s obvious the band knows what they’re doing.  The other element that sticks out is Williams’ vocal delivery, which sounds like it comes from using her diaphragm to forcibly expel air out of her lungs as she sings, making the vocals come out in deep, low bursts that remind me of the sound a person makes when they initially get the breath knocked out of them.  I’ve never heard anything like it, and when you combine that with her low voice it creates quite the effect.

The Wendy O. Williams story is a sad one in so many ways.  She had multiple run-ins with the law before and during her time with the Plasmatics, though in her later years she seems to have found callings related to animal welfare and natural foods.  But she was still troubled, and after surviving two suicide attempts in the 1990s eventually took her own life in 1998 at the age of 48.  It’s a sad and sobering story.

New Hope for the Wretched was a pleasant surprise – much better than I expected it to be.  It might be a tiny bit dated, but Williams’ style still gives it a unique sound all its own, and it still delivers.

Metallica – “Kill ‘Em All”

There’s no reason for me to write about Kill ‘Em All.  It’s not like anyone reading this has never heard of Metallica, and I certainly don’t have any secrets or amazing insights about the album to share with you.  But last Friday I took a day off of work to drive down to Tacoma and hit up the 10th anniversary sale at Hi-Voltage Records, and with everything in the store marked down 20% I picked up all kinds of stuff, including this vinyl re-release of Kill ‘Em All.  Somewhere along the way I lost or got rid of my CD copy without ever having ripped it, so I haven’t heard the album in forever.

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I wish I could tell you how insightful I was, and how I was way into Metallica when this record came out in 1983.  But that would be a lie – I didn’t discover Metallica until sometime right after Master of Puppets.  In 1983 I was buying copies of Shout at the Devil and Metal Health, plus the tape copy of Duran Duran’s Seven and the Ragged Tiger that I felt compelled to hide so none of my metal loving fans would know that I secretly liked “The Reflex.”  Being young and trying to live up to some kind of image is hard.

But I suspect that somewhere along the way I probably at least flipped past Kill ‘Em All at the mall record store, nestled between Madness and Mötley Crüe (or, as I once wrote it inside my three-ring binder (remember those?), “Motley Crew,” which ensured I was roundly mocked by my friends).  Did I see the cover, with its sledgehammer and pool of blood?  Did it freak me out?  Maybe, but not enough for me to remember.

You also don’t need me to tell you what an insanely bad-ass song “Seek & Destroy” is, because you’ve almost certainly heard it yourself in all of it’s perfectly formed awesomeness.  It’s like a road map to how to make a metal song.  Metallica later got faster and harder (then less fast and less hard…), but “Seek & Destroy” begs you to throw up the horns and sing the chorus along with James Hetfield.

I’m not one of those people who think Metallica “sold out.”  Sure, I prefer some of their earlier stuff – my favorite albums are Master of Puppets and …And Justice for All.  After all, don’t music fans often find themselves particularly fond of the band’s sound from when the person first “discovered” them?  I know that’s true for me.  But I also really, really like Death Magnetic and even think there are some gems on St. Anger (mostly “St. Anger” and “Shoot Me Again”), a comment bound to get me some strange looks and have at least a few people threaten to take my computer keyboard away so I can’t embarrass myself further with my complete lack of musical taste.  No, I don’t think Metallica sold out.  Instead I prefer to think that the rest of the music world “bought in.”  The mainstream moved toward Metallica just as much, if not more, than Metallica moved toward it.  If they’d just kept rehashing Kill ‘Em All they’d be little more than a musical footnote.  Instead it was the long fuse that brought metal a wider audience.

So good work, Metallica.  Kill ’em all.

“Discpan Hands: A Philadelphia Compilation”

I found this at Amoeba Music down in Los Angeles recently, a new sealed copy marked down to $1.99.  How can you now want a 1987 punk comp for two bucks?  Needless to say, I wanted it.  And since I had two bucks (plus tax), it was mine.

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There are 12 bands on Discpan Hands, with a total of 14 songs.  Supposedly it was limited to 1,000 copies, but it isn’t numbered and I can’t find any reference to that on the jacket.  So maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.  Who knows.  Who cares.  What I do know, though, is that my copy has a nasty ding right at the end of Legitimate Reason’s “He Steals,” which is sucky and unfortunate.

I’ve seen Discpan Hands described as punk/hardcore.  There’s definitely punk here… but I’m not feeling the hardcore part.  I’d say punk/thrash, because there some metal sounding songs on here like She Males’ “Love Crawl” and the instrumental “F.Y.I.P.” by Pagan Babies, a song that just begs to have words put to it because the music is so cool.  Tons of Nuns also have a great hard rocker here with “What’s It Gonna Be.”   The punk stylings are more old school, though Homo Picnic’s “Two Eyes” reminds me of some Rollins era Black Flag.  Das Yahoos also give us an interesting cover of the 1970 #1 hit by the Jackson 5, “I’ll Be There.”

Overall a cool punk comp – some quality stuff here.  I found a few copies offered for sale online in the $10-20 range, and frankly I think it’s worth it even in that range.