Reviews

Midnight

Deja Voodoo Too Cool to Live, Too Smart to Die LP

I have to admit that I wasn’t all that impressed with this Montreal duo’s first record, but this new one really floored me. It’s a low-budget mixture of the CRAMPS and SUICIDE. They only use guitars and drums to get an eerie, psychotic sound that makes all their songs sound like old trashy covers. Self-described as “sludgeabilly.”

Frosted Flaykes Waste Your Time / Rockin’ Rhythms 7″

A heavy dose of YARDBIRDS-style R’n’B fun almost works on “Waste Your Time,” which lacks in melody what it offers in rockin’ power. On the other hand, the flip is a down-and-dirty instrumental that recalls the “rave-up” spirit admirably. Not earthshaking, but altogether decent.

Mod Fun 90 Wardour Street LP

MOD FUN had an earlier single that had a sharp, snappy sense of fun. Therefore, I was really looking forward to this. The band seems more contrived now; the press release describes them as a cross between the CREATION and the JAM, but I hear more of the SMALL FACES and 3 O’CLOCK. Some good hooks, but all pretty bland.

Plan 9 Dealing With the Dead 12″

While PLAN 9 are much better than the bulk of today’s lightweight ’60s revival groups, they don’t touch certain other outfits in terms of snotty vocals (the OUTTA PLACE, the CHESTERFIELD KINGS) or raw guitar power (the NOMADS). I find the latter inexplicable, since they have five guitars! In any case, they write some strong songs and have an atmospheric organ, but everything is just too professional sounding to evoke real teenage angst.

Plasticland Flower Scene / In My Black and White 7″

The A-side is just so-so folk rock, nothing too memorable. And while the flip isn’t awesome, it’s got more interesting structure and more punchy instrumentation, especially with the raw, jangly guitar. Better.

The Cheepskates Run Better Run LP

Although people I know found this album disappointing, I really like it. The CHEEPSKATES may have that poppier, organ-based sound that some of us ’60s punk fanatics don’t approve of, but they’ve retained a loud guitar assault and the ability to build up to a wall of sound when necessary. They also happen to write great tunes that stick in your head, so I don’t see any problem at all here. Recommended.

The Cheepskates Second and Last LP

A softer but more imaginative LYRES? Maybe that’s not really fair, ’cause there’s a lot more slow L.A.-type ’60’s pop-psych here, only occasionally getting to third gear. But they do have that bar band/grade B exploitation movie feel.

The Fuzztones Bad News Travels Fast / Brand New Man 7″

The FUZZTONES dig their claws into some mean neo-’60s punk with this single. “Bad News Travels Fast” delivers its good with nasty guitar riffs and Rudi Protrudi’s “lead snarl,” though the screaming lead break on the B-side turns out to be the musical high-point of the record. Primitive, raw, and raunchy.

The Fuzztones Leave Your Mind at Home 12″

One thing that bugs me about a lot of today’s neo-’60s bands is that they’re so concerned about projecting the “correct” image and musical format that they actually do a disservice to the creative spirit of the mid-’60s, and the FUZZTONES sort of epitomize that tendency. I know it’s unfair to single them out, because they do produce appealingly raunchy blasts with belligerent singing, fuzz guitars, and cheesy organ swells, but they are among the most calculated of the bunch. Still, this batch of cover songs rocks out, so who cares?

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins / The Fuzztones Live 12″

This guy was old back in the ’60s during his second coming, so you know he’s ancient now. No matter, this sicko of the R’n B world can still wail, doing a credible version of his classic “I Put a Spell on You” and three others. While nothing to rise out of the grave for, fans of both he and the FUZZTONES will want to have this musical memoir.

The Morlocks Emerge LP

Although I am not a big fan of the ’80s garage rehash scene, I must give credit to this band for capturing a very hard-edged, raw sound much like the classic ’60s punk sound. The screams and distortion put a lot of the pop garage bands to shame, but then again, this was recorded over a year ago; the band has gone through changes and has currently lost much of that rawness. The low point here is the neglect of giving credit on cover songs.

The Only Alternative As Fate Would Have It LP

Hailing from Alaska yet released on an English label, this band sounds more like it comes from Ireland circa ’77. The music is pop-punk in the Good Vibrations label tradition, with a tinge more of a ’50s rock’n’roll influence. I guess the singer is what bugs me, as he really tries to sing instead of shout it out. Best song: “The Punks Are Divided, Jimmy.”

The Outta Place We’re Outta Place 12″

Yeah! New York’s “cave teens” return with another raw ’60s punk attack. What makes them stand out isn’t the material per se—most of it consists of cover versions of old chestnuts—but their growling, screaming, trebly sound. And, they’ve got enough snottiness to carry this primitive stuff off in the ’80s, unlike so many of today’s “revival” bands. “Things Are Different Now” and their “theme song” are killers.

The Outta Place Outta Too! LP

Their “unreleased” second LP, this, like the debut, is more of a mini-LP with seven tracks. And like the original there’s a definite STANDELLS influence – guitar, organ, clean – production, proto-punk. Several covers from this defunct band, whose singer is now in the RAUNCH HANDS.

The Suburban Nightmare A Hard Day’s Nightmare 12″

There’s a fair amount of goofing off here, but when these guys get serious they turn out some great Texas-style ’60s punk like “You Need Love,” “Every Night,” and “Mad” with a great psych feel. Their cover of “Brand New Cadillac” shreds, too.

The Tryfles (Had Enough Of) Your Lies / When I See That Guy 7″

Two girls and two guys playing poppy punk. The A-side is lighter but with good psych atmosphere, while the B is punkier with a KINGSMEN/Northwest sound, raunchy and rockin’.

The Twisted Sheez Wycked / The Thing 7″

The TWISTED have a raw ’60s sound with psychotic vocals, a trebly, organ-based orientation, and twangy psychedelicized guitar work. “Sheez Wycked” is more demented; the flip is a spooky instrumental with human screams. Midnight does it again.

The Undertakers The Greatest Stories Ever Told LP

From Sweden, this combo plays pretty competent ’60s punk (an eerie aspect of said genre) and a bit of rockabilly. There are traces of CRAMPS and NOMADS in here, but little in the way of originality or special verve. OK.

V/A A Midnight Christmas Mess LP

Other than a few too-pop or rockabilly clunkers on side one, we are left with an excellent ’60s-punk-type compilation of various contemporary groups. There’s killer stuff from YARD TRAUMA, NADROJ & THE WOLRATS (doing the SONICS’ “She’s Waiting” with new lyrics), CHEEPSKATES, among others. There’s even Midnight owner, JD, doing his tribute, à la Phil Spector’s Xmas LP, to the season.

V/A Hanging Out at Midnight LP

Various pop-punk and folk rock bands with neo-’60s flair. The bulk are 50/50, but there are at least three real standouts, coming from the MIGHTY MOFOS (formerly the HYPSTERS), the WIND, and the CAVEMEN.

V/A Oh! No! Not Another… Midnight Christmas Mess Again!! LP

Yet another Xmas comp of neo-‘60s bands, and this one is pretty decent. Tracks by the SLICKEE BOYS, VIPERS, PSYCHO DAISIES, IGUANAS, CHEEPSKATES, and more.

Vipers Never Alone / Left Your Hold on Me 7″

Neo-’60s psychedelia has a good outing with this release from New York’s VIPERS. “Never Alone” rates as a winning amalgam of cheesy organ, mildly snot-nosed vocals, and distinctive songwriting that should leave you singing the melody, whereas the flip seems somewhat less catchy. Still, a respectable and entertaining record.

Woofing Cookies Horse Gum Tortilla Shoes LP

An interesting mix of ’60’s pop, late-’70’s Boston rock’n’roll, country, MINUTEMEN, and REPLACEMENTS. All the recent Midnight releases seem to be less raw and aimed at a “broader audience.” This might be the one to attain that.