I’ve been doing a ton of travel for work lately, most of it to the Los Angeles area. Unfortunately from a record store standpoint (though kind of fortunately from a traffic standpoint) I’m spending that time away from downtown and Hollywood and most of the good shops, and most nights after grinding out an 11 or 12 hour day I don’t feel like going anywhere that doesn’t serve drinks. However, the other day a co-worker and I carpooled to the airport in Burbank, and since her flight was earlier than mine I had an hour or so to kill before I needed to drop off the rental car, so I headed down the road to Atomic Records.
Holly and I had been to Atomic once before and my recollection was that their selection leaned heavily towards rock. And that was partially right – they have a very healthy jazz selection too, but not much in areas like electronic, reggae, metal, etc. Still, I had time, so I perused all the “assorted” parts of the rock section and found a few nuggets, including a super-clean copy of Red Scare’s only full-length album, 1984s Then There Were None, which is only available on vinyl. (♠) Score.
Then There Were None is an intriguing album. There are elements of both hardcore and darkwave, but guitar flourishes that are very metal and some parts that are pure pop. When I re-read that sentence I find myself thinking, “this music probably doesn’t come together very well,” but in fact that would be 100% incorrect, because the pieces all seem to fit. It’s maybe a bit like X-meets-Black-Flag’s-My-War. Sometimes fast, sometimes heavy, with deep female vocals.
Red Scare come at you pretty hard right out of the gate with the quick paced “Last Request,” a song fast enough to be early hardcore and with Bobbi Brat’s vocals coming at you full force. “Mind Inertia” is another hardcore-like track. Oh, you prefer a more metal sound? That’s cool, because Red Scare have “Red Rum” on here just for you. If you like the heavier, sludgier style check out “Don’t Look in the Basement” or “Looking for the Why” (though the latter breaks hardcore during the second half of the song). Darkwave? “Then There Were None.” And kids, that’s all on side A.
Red Scare singer Bobbi Brat left us in 1988 at the all-too-young age of 26. She wasn’t a casualty of the LA punk scene the way so many others were – it wasn’t drugs or self destructive behavior that killed her, but cancer, that scourge that doesn’t care how young you are or how bright your future is; it just takes. Red Scare was an excellent band, but Brat’s vocals are so good and so perfect for the era that her individual success seems like it would have been a sure thing. But fate had different plans, and we lost another great talent too soon. Her sister has a website devoted to Bobbi’s memory (HERE), and I recommend that you check it out. Not only is her story interesting, but you can also listen to Red Scare tracks there as well as some by Brat’s other projects.
I feel quite fortunate to have stumbled across Then There Were None – it’s undeniably one of the best new-to-me albums I’ve heard in 2016. Go give it a listen on the website linked above, and if you find a copy of it out there, snatch it up
(♠) The entire album was re-released in 1995, packaged along with demos and live tracks on a CD called As Promised (1982-1988).