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Punk Pt I - Protopunk

Punk – Protopunk

You have to go out there and do it for yourself, because no one’s going to give it to you.

–Joe Strummer

The Beard – Ep. 3 – Punk Pt. I by Beard Radio on Mixcloud

To whom it may concern,

Hello. During the closing moments of last week’s Beard show on Elvis Presley, it may have sounded as if I were endorsing the lifestyle choices of certain pop stars who focus their attention on their younger fans, which while possibly overlooked in the time and place of that era, remains morally outrageous, and potentially illegal today. In the heat of the moment, clouded from reason by my undying ardor for the mutton-chopped, hip-shaking hunk of burning Elvis of my dreams, I may have inadvertently projected my own childhood obsession and in doing so, ok’d the King’s—and by default all pop culture icons who think they can get away with it—transgression. In doing so I insulted the posterior region of my co-host’s dear mother, the karma of which I will never be able to outrun. I apologize for this. And although I do not apologize for Elvis, who despite tales of his innocent courtship (stuffed animals and pajama parties), was still in the wrong, I’m still all shook up.

Woody Guthrie - This Machine Kills Fascists

Woody Guthrie – This Machine Kills Fascists

Woody Guthrie wrote this “This Land Is Your Land” in 1940, and it was originally called “God Blessed America For Me.” The song is a great tribute to the working class, and an editorial on the distribution of wealth and power in the America. It’s the epitome of the protest song, claiming this land belongs to us, and no one can take that away.

1) Play Woody Guthrie- This Land Is Your Land

What is Punk?

Is it a spiked mohawk? A guitar riff? A persona?

At its heart punk is protest. Looked at in this way, it is almost a natural evolution in the grand tradition of protest music: blues, jazz, reggae and rock and roll. Almost. Today our show will be focusing on the punk bands that served as a catalyst for the movement as a whole spreading all across the globe following its inception.

So…What makes “punk”, punk? How did multiple bands from all different genres come to fame in totally different places throughout the 1970s. The punk movement can be divided into several different sub-genres, so what is it that exactly defines punk?

Punk – Protopunk

Take, The Talking Heads, who are seen as more New Wave than typically “punk” yet were playing CBGB and touring with other punk bands at the time– are they any less valuable simply because they did not follow the typical protocol of the punk archetype? What determines a particular band’s value to the punk movement?

2) Play The Kinks – You Really Got Me
3) Play MC5 – Kick Out The Jams

Bands like the Kinks & MC5 may not be what you might call your typical punk bands, or punk whatsoever, but it’s undeniable that when “You Really Got Me” first played on the air, it spawned thousands of bands. Like Wayne Kramer of Detroit’s MC5, kickin arse n taking names surnames, to be proper. These bands began what was later termed Protopunk.

Iggy Pop & The Stooges - Raw Power

Iggy Pop & The Stooges – Raw Power

When Johnny Rotten says that “We don’t give a fuck what you think of us…” he is being somewhat disingenuous, because he does care. Why else would you change your name from Lydon to Rotten? John Mellor to Joe Strummer. James Newell Osterberg, Jr to Iggy Pop. Jello Biafra. All of the Ramones. There does exist some extremes of artifice and persona. Iggy may exemplify this best of all.

4) Play Iggy Pop & The Stooges – Gimme Danger
5) Play The Velvet Underground- Rock and Roll (INTRO) (Lou Reed)

So how does the Velvet Underground fit into the protopunk scene? Much like the Pixies, they are credited with having influenced every band that came after them, while not selling many records. They certainly had the stagecraft down, playing shows all over NYC and partying at Studio 54 with Andy Warhol and his drug-addled Pop Art entourage. Their image, if not so much their music, is very big punk middle finger to the established mores of the time.

Around the same time, The New York Dolls, one of my personal favorites, was an American protopunk band whose claim to fame was short lived, only surviving from 1971-1975. The New York Dolls not only liberated the musical movement for bands following them, but also had dashing good looks, skintight pants and amazing fashion sense.

6)Play The New York Dolls- Personality Crisis
7)Play The New York Dolls- Trash

For many pioneers of the punk movement it was a way of life. Growing up listening to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan led many to the well of music, but having missed Woodstock, what was left? Angst, fueled by poverty, privation, and misunderstanding, and coupled with second-hand guitars gave many the only chance out of the ghetto of the 70s. The Clash, a band we will be devoting an entire episode to in the future, went on to become one of the biggest bands, not only of the punk movement, but of all time. They spanned the entire century with nods to Americana, reggae, rockabilly, soul, and straight forward rock, all the while sneering, and making you dance.

8) The Clash – White Riot
9) The Clash – White Man in Hammersmith Palais

The infamous New York City punk clubs CBGB and Max’s played a paramount role in the punk movement. A lot of these bands really rose from the underground simultaneously, taking the world and its youth by storm. In correlation with the New York Dolls is The Ramones, which is for myself the be all end all of punk rock entirely…and my unexplainable crush on Joey Ramone only had a small bit to do with it. My long lived love affair with the ugliest lead singer ever definitely helped spawn my slight obsession with tall skinny white guys that tend to look slightly malnourished…oh and playing a musical instrument, even poorly, was key.

Here’s The Ramones- “Teenage Lobotomy” off of Rocket to Russia 1977. I chose it because I really identified with the song during my adolescence and stayed up at nights waiting for someone to perform the surgical procedure on me…or for my mother ship to come and take me home.

10) Play The Ramones- Teenage Lobotomy
11) Play The Misfits- Hybrid Moments

The Ramones had a quick, hard hitting style with a 4-chord rhythm, essentially only changing the words to each song making from a long last career from 1974-1996. However, I feel as though with the shuffling of members and the changing of the times, The Ramones kind of fell off the map and strayed away from their true punk roots around 1984 with the release of their album Too Tough to Die… its my opinion that perhaps, they should have let a good thing die rather than running it dry.

Can I ask you a question. Are the Misfits really Punk Rock?

Why do you ask sir?

Dead Kennedys - Fresh fruit for Rotting Vegetables

Dead Kennedys – Fresh fruit for Rotting Vegetables

What about Brian Eno, Roxy Music, Modern Lovers (Jonathan Richman), Television (Richard Hell), DEVO, Patti Smith, Talking Heads (David Byrne), The Heartbreakers (Richard Hell), Pere Ubu, Throbbing Gristle, Gang of Four. What about Garage, Glam & Hardcore Punk? Nazi, Noise, Riot Grrrl & Skate? East coast vs. West Coast? Washington D.C.? Chicago? Toronto? We will focus on the different scenes next week in the second part of our Punk trilogy.

12) Play The Dead Kennedys- California Uber Alles
13) Play The Dead Kennedys- Holiday in Cambodia

What can you say about The Dead Kennedys? Well for one, they are aweeesoome (high pitched)! Also, despite the fact that the hail from San Francisco, rising with the west coast movement, they spawned a punk subgroup known as American-Hardcore…also, they were the first American punk band to have a HUGE impact in the United Kingdom.

Active from 1978-1986, The Dead Kennedys often had to play under pseudonyms because their provocative name tended to stir up quit a bit of controversy. San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen wrote in November 1978, “Just when you think tastelessness has reached its nadir, along comes a punk rock group called The Dead Kennedys.” Caen was referring the controversy surrounding the band’s infamous name, often misconstrued as a jab at the Kennedy Family. However, despite popular belief, the name was not meant to insult the Kennedy family, but according to lead singer Jello Biafra, “to bring attention to the end of the American Dream”.

“California Uber Alles” was a single on their first album, Fresh fruit for Rotting Vegetables (1980).

14) Sex Pistols – “Anarchy in the UK”

Holiday in Cambodia” was the second single by the DK. The record was released in May 1980 on Alternative Tentacles with “Police Truck” as the b-side. The title track was re-recorded for the band’s first album, fresh fruit..,. The cover picture of the single is taken from a massacre in Thailand, and depicts a member of the rightist crowd beating the corpse of a student protester with a metal chair. The song attacks both Eastern totalitarianism and Western materialistic complacency. The song’s lyrics offer a satirical view of young, self-righteous Americans and contrast such a lifestyle with a brutal depiction of the infamous Pol Pot.

15) Play Woody Guthrie- Goin’ Down The Road

Labeled by their elders of another generation of lazy hippie ne’er-do-‘wells pissed them off. Written off as impotent adolescents, they were increasingly incensed by the continued imperialist agenda of their homelands abroad—Vietnam, Guatemala, Chile. Spurred on by the new style of no-holds-barred media coverage, kids in the U.S. and the U.K. rebelled openly. Their anger palpable, many went for the only form of expression allowed them: music. But rather than the saccharine stereogum replayed ad nauseam on the radio and tv, they opted for the rawness of unfiltered guitar, machine-gun drums and patchy basslines.

Tmymtur - Yusei 湧声

TMYMTUR – Yusei 湧声 – 5000 Gushing Voices

The microscopic particles were developed by myriads of voices. They make you feel the vitality as if lives are flowing over, and after a while, you will realize you are being covered by them, as if sinking into the deep psyche. Then, as if they correlate with the millions of flowing lives and nature in this world, reflecting and blending, we will eventually be touching the shared particles which connect all of us.


TMYMTUR – Yusei 湧声 – 5000 Gushing Voices

NOTE:This sample was recorded at 44.1kHz, and therefore is not capable of expressing certain distinctive elements (over 20kHz frequencies) of the work.

Yusei explores creating music in the tradition of a John Cage and Brian Eno android lovechild, digitally enabled to search for the objective “truth” in the depth of ultrasonic sound. But even God knows we need to listen to something in order to hear. Enter Tmymtur (pronunciation: as difficult as the work) and his method of using imperceptible, ultrasonic waves contained within the voice (as well as 4999 accompanying, melded voice tracks) to create a shared musical journey of the imperceptible symphonic whisper.

Released in late 2012, “湧声” was created by using microphones to record over 5000 voices, including inaudible, ultrasonic waves that human ears are incapable of catching evoking sounds of a mostly nonexistent pastoral nature–the flow of the river, wind blowing through trees–effectively relocating the brain to an artificial environment. Earlier this month he constructing a sound system at Asahi Art Square in Osaka that transmitted frequencies over 20kHz (above the audible bandwidth). His hope was to demonstrate a sound-art performance there, to create a “sound space” where people subconsciously felt something, such as everything being connected and shared by the sound creation “湧声” (Read: HESO as in connection). We were able to talk with Tomoya Matsuura of the Osaka-Based ENSL AMDC label representing Tmymtur.

Tmymtur - Yusei 湧声

HESO: How does Tmymtur produce the high-frequency sounds?

Tomoya Matsuura: Tmymtur’s voice contains an ultra-high frequency (super sonic waves) components which has over 20kHz. ※It is analyzed at the Japan acoustic lab.

HESO: Are any musical instruments used at all?

Tomoya: This work is created by Tmymtur’s voice only. Instruments are not used at all.

HESO: Is this analog or digital or both? What recording devices are used?

Tomoya: Digital recorded with ProTools, Live Microphone: MKH8040

HESO: How are the sounds processed?

Tomoya: This work is created to record one voice and one voice and overlap more than 5,000 layers of the voices. Also, to output ingredients of super high frequency contained in the voices, microphones and recorders that can record super high frequency beyond audible range (more than 20kHz) are used to produce at sampling frequency 96kHz/24bit. Effect processing is not daringly employed this time.

HESO: What does 湧声 (yusei) mean?

Tomoya: Yusei is coined from Japanese word, “湧く(gush)” and “声(voice)”. There is a Japanese word “湧水 (Yuu-Sui: Spring water)”. The water from a spring in the mountain makes us relax and might be a sacred space for Japanese people.

Almost inaudible until the four minute mark, the entire 21 minute recording gently ebbed and flowed like a calm sea beneath a new moon. Though at around the ten minute mark, when the track suddenly grows in volume in a very conspicuous manner, my 8 week old daughter started to shuffle and cry in a way very peculiar to her. The 12 year old beagle stretched out next to her on the sofa, however, did not stir from her snoring slumber. There may be something to Tmymtur’s Yusei, and although I can’t hear it, I’m still listening.

HESO Best Music of 2012

HESO Best Music of 2012

HESO Best Music of 2012

The Divine Fits – Britt Daniel, Sam Brown, Dan Boeckner,

There are several things I love about music in 2012. Forced to listen to it for hours at a time, House has finally begun to make some kind of sense to me, though it alternatively plops its repetitive self into the absurd column just as easily. Which parallels my feelings about Jack White’s Blunderbuss. Maybe it was him making a guitar out of his front porch in It Might Get Loud, but I feel like I get White now. A little. Also, some of my favorite musicians put out great music: Leonard Cohen can still get any girl he wants. Bob Dylan is destructive and dirty. Brian Eno is curing sleeping disorders. And Fiona Apple. And Jason Pierce. And Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Holy Fake-End-of-The-World basement tapes clearing house. But moreover is that these albums are good. Miss Apple would rather impale her pale self on something the guy from Saw envisioned than to put out music that wasn’t heart-wrenching and exhaustive and gorgeous. And J. Spaceman’s Sweet Heart Sweet Light is actually listenable as a cohesive album rather than a few skin-flayingly beautiful tracks surrounded by too much mouth harp.

But then there are recent developments as well. The Divine Fits want you to think of them as just another good band, who only care about making great music, as opposed to just another “lame supergroup.” But what about the grand tradition of the Traveling Wilburys and the Highwaymen? Are the Divine Fits the Miami Heat and L.A. Lakers of the modern Indie Rock world? With Spoon bassist Britt Daniel of Spoon sharing mic time with (the now defunct) Wolf Parade’s / Handsome Furs guitarist Dan Boeckner, and drummer Sam Brown of New Bomb Turks plus Alex Fischel on keyboards / guitar, there is no chance of this being just another band. Spoon, while consistently reinventing itself as king of minimal alterna-punk-blues, is anything but inconspicuous, especially to the mainstream rom-com throng. And every Canadian indie-girl’s wetdream has been to get into one of the Wolf Parade teen idol’s skinny jeans. But the proof is not in their pants. It’s in their debut album, A Thing Called Divine Fits.

Laurel Halo - Quarantine wins best album cover of 2012

Laurel Halo – Quarantine wins best album cover of 2012

Fiona Apple: The Idler Wheel
Godspeed You! Black Emperor: ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!’
Japandroids: Celebration Rock
Spiritualized: Sweet Heart Sweet Light
Frank Ocean: channel ORANGE
Brian Eno: Lux
Divine Fits: A Thing Called Divine Fits
Regina Spektor: What We Saw From The Cheap Seats
Cat Power: Sun
Hot Chip: In Our Heads
Dirty Projectors: Swing Lo Magellan
Deerhoof: Breakup Song
Death Grips: The Money Store
Kendrick Lamar: good kid, M.A.A.D. City
Beach House: Bloom
Grizzly Bear: Shields
Four Tet: Pink
Grimes: Visions
Tame Impala: Lonerism
Jens Lekman: I Know What Love Isn’t
Shugo Tokumaru: In Focus?
Metz: Metz
Swans: The Seer

HESO Best Music of 2012 Frank Ocean’s channel Orange is honest and hits hard in so many ways I find myself liking. Like Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, M.A.A.D. City there is a lurking vulnerability behind the braggadocio. But that’s part of the artfulneess that makes for careers and not just shitty dollar-bin rejects (or iTunes $.89 sales). Much as Grizzly Bear’s past predilection for overly comprehensive composey-ness, the Dirty Projectors Swing Lo Magellan is stripped down yet still complex enough to be consistently engaging and thought-provoking, while rocking. Speaking of bringing the rock, Japandroids’ Celebration Rock does this better than most in recent memory. Must mention Deerhoof‘s Breakup Song, a pop-punk infused 30-minute rollercoaster of fun, propelled in the front by Satomi Matsuzaki’s lyrical bop, backed by Saunier’s thick beat track, and the rambling guitars of Ed Rodriguez and John Dieterich. Speaking of speaking Japanese, Shugo Tokumaru’s fifth album, In Focus?, wanders through the candyland-soundscape of multi-instrumental prodigy-hood, with the young wunderkind playing every one of the instruments and creating all other sounds with just the power of his mind and a microphone.

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