The Dead Milkmen – Big Lizard in My Backyard

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Part 46 of a series that will run throughout 2013 as I discuss records that have affected me throughout the years – Flashback Fridays

I received my driver’s license in the great state of Pennsylvania just shy of my 17th birthday (spring of 1994). This opened up a world of possibilities for me, from a geek’s perspective. Suddenly I could let my parents know that I was doing all sorts of activities locally (not true) while driving to Allentown, PA with a like-minded cohort. Our goal (as always) was to meet up with some girls we had met at some gathering or party (the same, I guess). In the world of a 17-year-old, all of this made total sense (the girl we both liked didn’t end up with either of us anyway) – but it was the trips to Play It Again Records in Allentown that stick with me almost 20 years later. On one such fateful journey my buddy picked up what he had heard was a punk rock classic from our home city of Philly. Over and over we played the ridiculously catchy pop-punk during our 45 minute drive home. Of course, I still wasn’t wearing my prescription glasses because they revealed me to be a geek, so our soundtrack as I drove into a median on the way home was Big Lizard In My Backyard by The Dead Milkmen. I’ve worn my contacts or glasses ever since by the way.

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The Dead Boys – Sonic Reducer

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Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

The landscape of the punk era from the late 70’s is populated by hundreds – if not thousands – of bands that have gone unheralded by even the hippest of the hipsters. Some of these bands are discovered 30 years later and immediately embraced – some of them stay in obscurity (and will probably stay there). There are quite a number of bands that are on the fringe though – you’ve maybe heard their name or would even recognize a tune or two. The Dead Boys fall into this third class. They formed from the ashes of Rocket from the Tomb (who would later reform) and were championed by Joey Ramone. Following in The Ramones footsteps, the band  gained a reputation for over the top live performances – many of them coming at the legendary CBGB’s. Debut album Young, Loud and Snotty sometimes gets overlooked when discussing great punk records but it deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the Sex Pistols, The Ramones, and The Clash. Single “Sonic Reducer” is one of the greatest singles released, in any genre of music. It opens with a classic rock type intro before a memorable bass line enters the mix. The full band joins the onslaught and lead singer Stiv Bators sings full of true punk angst. The chorus is explosive and will remain lodged in your mind long after the 3 minute song is over. Think it sounds familiar but can’t quite place it? The bass line was sampled and used as the main melody of the Beastie Boys song “Open Letter to New York City”  in 2004 – proving not only the infinite coolness of the Beastie Boys, but the timelessness of this song. Key lyrics:

I’ll be your bearer soon, love on some cotton doom
Things will be different then, the sun will rise from here
Then I’ll be ten feet tall, then you’ll be nothing at all
I got my time machine, got my electronic dream
Sonic reducer, ain’t no loser

Green Day – ¡Tré!

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The Violent Femmes once introduced a verse in the song “Prove My Love” singing “Third verse / same as the first”. Larry and Andy Wachowski also created two sequels to the movie The Matrix that severely diluted the impact of the original (in my humble opinion). Green Day have done something that most mainstream musical acts have never attempted – release 3 albums within a span of just a few months. I was very skeptical of this plan, but found myself pleasantly surprised with the 1st two installments – ¡Uno! and ¡Dos! (truth be told, I liked the 2nd installment a bit better). The release of the third (and last) record of the trilogy, ¡Tré! was bumped up by a month due to lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong’s ongoing rehabilitation treatments. How does this record stack up to the previous two? Going back to the Violent Femmes lyric, it has some winning moments but also has moments that sound like more generic versions of songs found on the 1st two installments.

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Green Day – ¡Dos!

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We last heard from Green Day in September of this year with the release of the 1st part of their trilogy of records, ¡Uno!. Gone were the political posturing of the last two records – instead listeners were treated to party songs, 50’s inspired pop-punk songs, and a liberal use of the colorful metaphor “fuck”. Some people thought it was a nice return to the band’s roots, some thought it was a complete sell out – personally, I thought it was a fun record that got better with each listen. Here we are just a short time later with the 2nd installment of the trilogy, ¡Dos!. Consider me pleasantly surprised that this record is even better than its predecessor.

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NOFX – Punk in Drublic

Part 15 of a series that will run every Friday throughout 2012 as I discuss records that have affected me throughout the years – Flashback Fridays

I grew up in a very small house in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA. The house I lived in was part of a federal government project built in 1942 to house employees of the Johnsville Center. The houses themselves are very quaint, row home style (something I don’t see a lot of in the Seattle, WA area). Each house has a front and back yard (sometimes they blend into each other) and has something that most modern neighborhoods lack – a sense of community. My parents both worked hard to provide, and I lived in this house with my brother and sister. In such close confines, it was inevitable that some of my brother’s musical tastes would rub off on me (he is 3 years younger than me).

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