Reviews

Screamers Demo Hollywood 1977 12″

“You don’t love me / You love magazines!” Indeed, Mr. du Plenty, but all I’ve got is this cold digital space to let our readers know that SCREAMERS finally have an official vinyl document and it’s a sight to hold and to hear. I’ve spent a fair amount of cash on the SCREAMERS over the years, snagging whatever bootlegs trickled out featuring this legendary band’s multi-pronged electro-punk assault. Not to mention practicing my dance moves to SCREAMERS’ Target Video workout tape, which is highly recommended to those who care about their personal appearance or have a lurid interest in mime shock therapy (if both, HMU). In the ensuing years, SCREAMERS’ refusal to record a proper release seemed to be the ultimate self-defeating gesture, but from this vantage point, it comes off like the most brilliant long-game strategy in the punk rock playbook. Take Gary Panter’s iconic rendering of Tomata’s screaming head, season with breathless accounts of the group’s live performances, dollop with rare, smudged recorded glimpses of the band in lo-fi attack mode and serve to an audience eager to consume underground art in its most uncompromising state. Let it cool on the counter for forty-plus years and you’ve got an irresistible dish that can be gobbled down in just sixteen minutes. Though brief, the EP surveys self-flagellation (“Punish or Be Damned”), Hitchcockian psychodrama (“Mater Dolores”) and social anxiety (“Peer Pressure”) in a musically innovative configuration. Oh yeah, I forgot a crucial byte of info—SCREAMERS cut the guitars out of their rock, bringing the heat via electric piano and early portable synthesizers. In addition, they were hilarious and smart and they dressed really fucking cool. It’s an unstoppable combination of factors and results in one of the touchstones of punk’s original big bang, never to be tarnished by a misguided reunion cash-in. One of the many delicious ironies of the SCREAMERS is that a punk band that wanted to strike at the heart of the Los Angeles movie industry ended up finally making a mark in that field—drummer (now set designer) KK Barrett was nominated for an Oscar in 2013. Yet, as satisfying as it is to have this slab on the table, there’s plenty more SCREAMERS material, so it’s high time to let the dogs out, warts and fleas and all.