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I live in the Seattle area and love searching out new and interesting music.

Ixtoc-1 – “Gut Ist Was Modern Ist” (1982)

It may be a bit odd to name your band after an environmental disaster, but it isn’t without precedence. I wonder, though, if perhaps West Germany’s (seems hard to believe there were two Germanys there for a while, doesn’t it?) Ixtoc-1 was the first, naming themselves after a 1979 undersea oil drilling accident in Bay of Campeche that dumped somewhere in the neighborhood of 130,000,000 gallons of liquified dinosaur bones into the Gulf of Mexico. Trying to come to grips with that number is, frankly, difficult. But since a million gallons fits into cube that is about 51.1 feet on each side, some back-of-the-envelope math tells me that 130 millions would be required to fill a pool that is roughly 2/3 of a mile long, 100 feet wide, and 50 feet deep. Which, let’s be honest, doesn’t really help that much either. Let’s just say it’s a ridiculous amount and call it that.

As for the German band Ixtoc-1, as near as I can tell they formed in 1979 and lasted until around 1985, with the half dozen song Gut Ist Was Modern Ist (“Good Is What Is Modern”) being their only contemporary release, though they had songs appear on a handful of comps (and many more since they disbanded). Punk in attitude, there are definite elements of early, experimental new wave here on songs such as the title track, replete with laser-like synth blasts and breaks that bounce from style to style. At it’s more Clash-like we get elements of reggae and dub infused into the jams as we find on the A side’s second track, which the jacket reverse lists as “Fremde Schreie” but the label indicates is “Leben”.

Definitely enjoyable, Gut Ist Was Modern Ist is also fairly reasonably priced for what was likely a fairly small print run from the period – there’s a US seller with a VG copy for ten bucks on Discogs at the time of this writing, and some folks in Europe have it at around €15. Very much money well spent.

Kliktrax – “Kliktrax With Foofi” (1984)

If you can’t figure out why I bought this record, scroll to the bottom of the post and check out the cover. It’s OK, I’ll wait.

See? This flat-out SCREAMS early 1980s. I picked this up a few weeks back when Mrs. Life in the Vinyl Lane and I staged a COVID jailbreak of sorts, heading over to the Olympic Peninsula and spending a couple of nights at a little vacation rental. Just getting out of the house after 15 weeks of work-from-home felt luxurious. And of course I checked our route on the off chance there were any record shops worth checking out, and lucky for me there was one – Quimper Sound Records in Port Townsend. When we walked in I looked around and assumed it would be mostly mainstream rock, and while there was plenty of that the selection of early 80s new wave and pop was strong as well, so I walked out with a bag full of stuff including Kliktrax With Foofi.

I found very little about this online other than a small ad placed in the December 22, 1984 issue of Billboard. That seems like such an odd thing to do today, but, you know, 36 years ago that was basically the only way to potentially get info about your band out there into the world if you weren’t on a major label. I also found a few more recent articles about Kilktrax member Danny “Colfax” Mallon (who is credited on the album as “Danny Mallon, aka Flex Tempo”, which is tremendous), but that’s pretty much it.

So how about the jams? The opener “I’m Not That Kind Of Girl” is the high point, its blend of simple synths and basic electronic drum beats anchoring it to the time period and giving Foofi (Marion Harriss Mallon) the chance to show off her voice a bit. It’s the spaciest song on the record, after which things settle into a bit more of a typical synth-based pop-rock album. The cover of Petula Clark’s “Downtown” is an odd choice there than that Foofi sounds a bit like Clark, and “Mannequin” does the best job in showing off Foofi’s range. I feel like pretty much any of these songs would have fit well into a John Hughes movie as part of some kind of supercut featuring a high schoolers going to class, or at the mall, or doing the other things they used to do before cell phones and the internet.

Clearly Kliktrax With Foofi is only going to appeal to fans of a certain style of 80s music, but if that’s you, then know that this is better than a lot of the major label stuff that came out around the same time, so don’t hesitate to pick up a copy.

Max Lynx – “Take One” (1983)

I picked this album out of the Miscellaneous M section at Quimper Sounds Records because of the cover, which is both simple and cool while screaming 80s metal. I wasn’t able to find out much about these guys online, both due to their obscurity and, oddly enough, because apparently there’s a Canadian lynx named Max Lynx that has an online presence, and this actual lynx has a much larger profile than this 1980s era band out of California. I found a couple of mentions indicating that members of Max Lynx later joined Attak and Subliminal Criminal, but that’s about it.

Max Lynx’s sound is more on the hard rock side of metal – it doesn’t feel like what was emerging as the sleaze and hair scene and it’s way to slow to align with thrash. There might be elements of NWOBHM here, but what I’m really feeling is like a harder and faster version of Deep Purple and Ted Nugent (especially the guitars on “Running With The Wild”). Vocalist Jerry Lee Cross certainly throws out the metal high notes from time to time, but mostly it’s rock ‘n’ roll with the occasional guitar flourish. The standard lyrical themes are here as well – the power of rock (“Metal Never Dies”), war (“War of the Morning”), and how cool it is to be a musician (“Glory Seekers”), plus we also get an element of fantasy in “Dragons and Warriors”, though in this case the dragon is a metaphor for rocking (It starts with guitar in hand / And in back is a thunder man / Dragon’s a metal warrior). There’s also a tribute to guitarist Randy Rhoads, who died in 1982, called “Rainbow Rider”.

Overall Take One is a decent record, though my ears didn’t pick up on any standout tracks. “War of the Morning” is probably Max Lynx at their hardest, and it’s a pretty solid jam.

Controlled Bleeding – “Songs From The Grinding Wall” (1989)

Never a band to stick with one style, the four-song Songs From The Grinding Wall was Controlled Bleeding’s move away from experimental and medieval-like music and towards industrial. The metallic beats sound like something right out of a factory, the vocals grinding along at a workbench off to the side and throwing up sparks. “Crack The Body” feels like it’s supposed to be played at a speed somewhere between 33 1/3 and 45 rpm, while “The Groan” hits you like some twisted dystopian Gregorian chant overlaid with screeching synths and relentless pressing-plant pounding. “Buried Blessing” takes those earlier medieval influences and adds to their gloominess with darkwave synths and clanging, making it the most approachable number on Songs From The Grinding Wall.

Executive Slacks – “You Can’t Hum When You’re Dead” (1984)

This early release from Executive Slacks is actually a compilation of sorts, combining the four tracks from their self-titled 1983 EP, three more from a 1984 12″, a dub version of “Our Lady”, and what appears to be one new track, “Sexual Witchcraft”. It seems odd that a band with only two releases would put out a third that is basically the first two combined, but here it is. And it’s tremendous.

The Slacks are one of those bands that gets a lot of cred from other musicians within their genre for being influential while remaining widely known outside the fanatics. In this case the genres are industrial and EBM. The frenetic pacing of songs like “Cinema” seems like a bit of a stretch to call dance, though there’s a steady underlying beat so you can certainly move to it even with the metallic-sounding percussion. Then there’s “Sexual Witchcraft” with its tribal beats and manic, distant vocalizations cutting through like the speech from some deranged shaman, the pounding beating against your chest as the words put your min into a trance-like suggestive state until the sudden, jarring conclusion.