The Milkshakes – “Talking ‘Bout… Milkshakes!” (1981 / 2016)

I wasn’t familiar with The Milkshakes (sometimes written as Thee Milkshakes) until I ran across a couple of re-represses the other day.  The band was quite prolific in the 1980s, putting out something like 14 records between 1981 and 1987 plus a few singles and one last album in the early 1990s.  How had I not heard of these guys?

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Their debut was Talking ‘Bout… Milkshakes!, originally released in 1981 and re-released by Damaged Goods in 2016 (Damaged Goods re-pressed a handful of Milkshakes titles in the  2000s).  I saw the band described in another blog as sounding like the Kinks when they were at their edgiest and rawest, and that seems pretty apt.  The base style is 1960s rock/pop/surf, with an unpracticed feel to it, garage rock that sounds like it’s literally in someone’s garage.  Songs like “Bull’s Nose” are surfy psych without being overly either, not an homage as much as a next logical step in the progression of sound.  The anguished “Don’t Love Another” is like a sugary pop song that had a knife stuck into it and twisted to make sure the wound doesn’t easily heal.  The Milkshakes take the source genres, get into a fist fight with them, and record the bloody nose and sore ribs that result.

Often I find garage rock records to be repetitive, like the band only knows one way to play their songs.  But that’s not how I feel about The Milkshakes.  Yes, they have an underlying foundational “sound”, but they take it in a wide range of directions, all of them pretty rad.  I also picked up the Damaged Goods pressing of their 1984 record Nothing Can Stop These Men, and it’s every bit as good.  I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled for The Milkshakes during future digs.

X__X – “X Sticky Fingers X” (2014)

The Cleveland art-punk/no wave band X__X only existed for a handful of months in 1978.  The brainchild of John Morton, they filled the gap between the demise of Electric Eels and Morton’s move from Cleveland to New York City.  During that brief period they recorded a couple of unusual singles before going dormant for the next three decades, re-emerging in 2014 with a compilation called X Sticky Fingers X.

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I’d never heard of X__X until recently when I ran across a reference to the group in Henry Rollins’ new book Hey Fanatic!!! Vol. 1.  They seemed interesting enough so I tracked down a copy of the comp on Discogs.  Morton described X__X as anti-music and they were known for “playing” things like lawnmowers and power drills (and you can hear a drill on X Sticky Fingers X), with their few live shows often devolving into physical violence.

To contemporary ears the songs are hardly anti-music or even no wave.  Sure, they have some grating qualities, especially the oft-used repetitive guitar notes that quickly become like fingernails on a chalkboard (and that pesky power drill…), but for the most part the songs have structure, even if at times they are eccentric.  Most of the tracks were culled from live recordings, and while that’s evident the sound quality is decent overall, especially given the era.  It’s hard to pick a “favorite” track, but if I had to I’d go with “The Social Whirlpool”.  Your mileage may vary.

The cover is a bit, well, sexual, so I opted to post the back cover with the post.  If you want to see the front in all of its glory, you can see it on Discogs HERE.

Sluglords – “Trails of Slime” (1984)

sluglordssfI don’t know much about this 1980s hardcore band from San Francisco.  I actually bought the record thinking it was a completely different band.  While there was some initial disappointment when I realized my mistake, that quickly disappeared as soon as the beginning of “FxTxWx” kicked in, because this is a killer record.  I’m not normally into hardcore, but Trails of Slime has some thrash elements to it as well, reminding me a bit of Wehrmacht and maybe just a hint of DRI.  My only complaint here is that the runout groove runs all the way under the label – so you need to bring up that tonearm before the stylus hits the paper!

“Tales From the Pit, Vol. 3” Compilation (2013)

talesfromthepit3My buddy Travis liberated this record while vinyl digging at an antique mall.  It’s been a while since I’ve done that, but my recollections are groups of crappy records with asking prices about 5-10 times their actual value, with most of the records being very common or very obscure.  Travis has better luck in those places than I do, and when he came across this copy of Tales From the Pit, Vol. 3 he recognized immediately that, well, it didn’t belong there.  This is simply not the kind of record that does or should end up in an antique mall.  Plus there’s a local connection because the record was compiled by Whidbey Island Pyrate Punx and Whidbey Island is just a 20 or so minute ferry ride from Seattle.  And he knew just who would want such a record…  Thanks Travis!

I actually hung around on Whidbey Island a bit back in high school.  My friend’s grandfather had a small, rustic cabin on the water and sometimes we’d all pile into my Mustang and head out there on the ferry for an overnight.  When the tide was out a long sand spit would become exposed that was a very short rowboat ride from the beach.  Needless to say, there were some bonfires had on that spit.  And some beers may have been drunk as well.  I can neither confirm nor deny that last part (confirmed).  So I’ve always had fond memories of Whidbey.

As for Tales From the Pit, it’s crammed with 21 different bands.  Most of ’em are from the greater Seattle area, including four from Whidbey itself.  There are also a handful from Boise and one each from Portland, New Hampshire (?), and Bejing (???!!!).  Stylistically it’s a lot of punk, but there’s some thrash here (Coven’s “Mow ‘Em Down” is pretty rad) and even some high-octane rockabilly.  The recording quality varies a bit, but overall it sounds decent.  High points include the previously mentioned Coven as well as The Jerkwadz’s “Already Owned”, which is catchy as hell.

I don’t know much about the record itself, other than that my copy is on marbled orange vinyl, as is the one shown on Discogs.  No clue about the print run size or any of that.  So if you find it, and the price is right, grab it.  It’s worth the listen.

Tuð – “Þegiðu!” (2015)

tudThis is the last of the records we brought back from Iceland Airwaves this year.  It kind of got buried behind some other stuff in the “To Listen To” pile and I lost track of it until now.

I don’t know much (let’s be honest, anything) about Tuð.  They were doing a crowdfunding campaign for Þegiðu!, and it looks like they succeed.  My buddy Gestur over at Lucky Records put this aside for me as something that I might like, and as is true with about 95% of his recommendations, he was on point.  Þegiðu! is some in-your-face punk rock.

The lyrics are in Icelandic, but I know from a Reddit post that at least one of the tracks is a protest song about government taxation.  Musically there’s an old-school vibe, overlaid with vocals that are bit more aggro – not quite hardcore, but more growled than spat.  I’m particularly fond of the A side closer “Atvinnufrjáls”.  Tuð translates to “nagging” or “rambling”, while the album’s title means, quite simply, “shut up”.  So it definitely has that punk attitude.

You can listen to the album on Bandcamp HERE, as well as buy a digital copy.  Unfortunately there’s no info there about the vinyl, so I can’t give you any tips as to how to get a copy.  Maybe email the band directly.  My guess is the pressing was very, very small, so I wish you luck!