Thursday, February 24, 2011

Oldest Punk Discovered!

In March of 2003, a two thousand year old body was found in County Meath, Ireland. This man, who has been named Clonycavan Man, was sporting a Mohawk hairdo with an imported styling product at the time of his murder. Since being punk has more to do with attitude than anything else, this man was expressing himself in a certain style that is associated with the punk scene. It is pretty safe to say that Clonycavan Man is the oldest punk we know about on earth. It goes without saying that he can shed a lot of light on the study of the punk scene that we believe started in the 1970's. Little do we know this group that symbolizes rebellion and resistance could have been a part of the upper class.

Clonycavan Man was found with styling gel in his hair that was from either south-western France or Spain. The other body found close to Cloncavan Man, Old Croghan Man, showed a diet high in protein and finely manicured nails. The sign of little physical labor on these two men is enough to convince anyone that they were not a part of the working class. But the evidence showing their expensive dining lifestyles and ability to purchase imported hairstyling products definitely proves that these men were upper middle class or higher.

Now we are faced with a realization. Were the original Punks upper class? Did being a punk two thousand years ago have a totally different meaning than it does today? Would I have chosen the punk lifestyle two thousand years ago?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Can a band be comical and still be taken seriously?

In the genres of parody music and comedy music, it is really tough to name an act in which you can easily listen to their album and laugh while still taking them seriously. Weird Al Yankovic is probably the easiest to name and the most popular act in the genre, and it goes without saying that most people do not take his music seriously. This is where I feel the punk band Personal and the Pizzas has changed the way things are done; they have successfully created a parody group that cannot be thought about without a snicker on your face, but at the same time the band delivers some intense rock tunes that have to be taken seriously.

It's probably the thuggish New Jersey persona that makes them easier to take seriously, but you can't help but laugh at songs like "Nobody Makes My Girl Cry But Me" and "I Can Reed". With a few slower love songs like "I Ain't Takin' You Out" and "I Don't Feel So Happy Now No More", their Album Raw Pie has more diversity than most parody albums have to offer. Every song on the album has a hint of their pizza fetish and New Jersey toughness which make it funny, but this album is seriously a great listen all the way through. It is not difficult to take them seriously and sing their funny lyrics while feeling confident in yourself.

Personal and the Pizzas interview.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Can punk music be used to measure freedom?

Can a country’s level of freedom be measured by how their government censors punk rock music? Because punk rock music is very political in nature, certain governments have chosen to censor the music by over-policing live shows and monitoring musicians and fans. They label these bands as government extremists. Although we don’t always hear about these occurances, there have been recent situations with punk supporters who are in fear of being prosecuted for participating in the scene.

Alexia Nokonov, lead singer of Russian punk band PTVP, has been dragged offstage and arrested for singing songs with anti-government themes. The band has come to expect vehicle surveillance and government monitoring of their internet activity. This is a successful attempt by the Russian government to censor the independent music scene without making an official ban.
Although we have a lot of freedoms in the United States,

I would not be surprised if censorship started occurring in our local music scene. Americans today are more willing to give up their rights for securities. I could see our news channels airing stories about these small but dangerous punk show that promote violence and anarchy. All that stuff ended with GG Allin though.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Elastica: Sounds just like.......

For some reason, people do not mind when a band like Elastica steals music from punk rock bands. They just continue to listen to the music as if Elastica was the band that created it. What has made people who listen to pop music feel like it is acceptable for a band to blatantly copy music from older bands and sell it as their own? This happened in 1995 when Elastica released their first, self-titled album. The first single on this album, "Connection", is a deliberate rip-off of Wire's "Three Girl Rhumba". And to make things worse, another song on the album, "Waking Up", has an unmistakably similar sound to the punk band The Stranglers' song "No More Heroes".

Additionally, Elastica credits Wire and The Stranglers as major influences on their sound. I remember when Elastica's album came out, and I was not happy with their thieving sound. But to my surprise, the people I went to school with did not care that this band was a bunch of crooks. Possibly this was because it was a few punk bands that they ripped-off and nobody from that generation had really heard of the older 70's bands anyway. I still do not feel that is a valid reason for condoning Elastica's album.

I don't understand why every sale of the album Elastica was not accompanied with Wire's Pink Flags and The Stranglers' No More Heroes albums. I have a feeling it's because the general public does not feel like punk rock bands are very important since they do not make up a substantial portion of the major music that is distributed. But I think this history lesson shows them otherwise since they enjoyed the music that a popular band put out even though it sounds exactly like the unpopular punk music. This is just a case of the media telling us who is important and who is not.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Why Steal Punk?

Do punk rock bands care if people download their music without paying for it? Are punk bands really affected by the illegal downloading of their albums? For the most part, many punk bands are on small record labels that cannot afford to press over a couple thousand copies of a record. Any person who listens to punk will tell you their ideal format for their music is the vinyl record. Not only is the sound quality superior to CD's, they are just much more fun to have. The seven inch 45's are always a great way to preview a band. This is something we do not get anymore with CD's.

Punk enthusiasts are always looking for the vinyl version of an album instead of settling for a CD. Since some albums are notoriously difficult to get a hold of, the only way to obtain a copy is from peer-to-peer file sharing online. I agree this is not the most honest thing to do, but when you see the band in concert you have a really good chance of purchasing the album you previewed ahead of time. And sometimes it is still difficult to find the exact album you want when seeing them live. Here is an article about bands that have free downloads online, like a lot of punk bands offer.

I don't really understand how a band could be angry at you for downloading their album when in certain cases that is the only way to listen to their music. Given the choice, punks would much rather purchase the album on vinyl, which is much more rewarding the an mp3 download. I agree that downloading music without paying for it is wrong, but what is a fan supposed to do when they have the money to buy an album and is not available for download through iTunes or available for purchase from the record label? I think most bands are less concerned with money and more concerned with being true to their music and their message.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Political Punk Rock

Is it possible to find punk rock music that does not focus on politics? That would be very difficult. Punk music has been around for a very long time and has always contained political themes in its music. Crass was formed in the mid seventies and they definitely paved the way for bands who make comments about the government and the current state of society.

Although punk music has produced some very talented musicians, it is not really known for having the most complicated song structures. Punk songs are usually very short and easy to play. It seems like musicians who start punk bands are huge activists with a message they want to spread, and punk music seems to be the vehicle to make that happen. Punk music is a community where people are not worried about pissing people off. It has a long history of allowing people to speak their minds and it makes sure everyone does not conform to what the majority enforces.

Jello Biafra is a major name in the punk music scene and he has been involved in politics for over thirty years. As the singer of the Dead Kennedys, he wrote all of their music which is full of political themes on every album. In 1979 he ran for mayor of San Francisco and as part of the Green Party he ran for their presidential nomination in 2000. He currently records spoken word albums and tours the United States speaking about current issues.

While Jello is probably the most active punk rock political figure, there are many punk rock bands who give back to the community with more than just their music. The record label Sub City Records is a punk label that has donated millions of dollars to nonprofit organizations. I feel confident saying you cannot have punk rock without politics. Here is a list of political punk bands.