Thursday, January 29, 2015

L-Seven-Insanity 7" (US, 1982)

What a fucking day! And what a fucking day to listen to some quintessential US punk, if you'd like to call it that. Many of you punks may already know this, maybe you don't, maybe you've simply forgotten but I jammed this for a good part of my work day, because it was a particularly frustrating work day and this helped. This record is a one-off from a group fronted by the late Larissa Stolarchuk, later Larissa Strickland, who you may know from her notable stint in the Laughing Hyenas. But, before all that, there was this, and on Touch And Go, no less. Well, a one-off off-shoot of Touch And Go that only released this single called Touch And Go Special Forces. 

Either way, a stellar record all around, all the songs are great and right in my sweet spot for US punk of the time. There is lots of info out there about Larissa herself, not a lot of it focusing on this particular band but a lot of nice tributes. You can listen to all the songs over at Killed By Death HERE if you like what you hear below. Secrets is particularly good.

On another note, the only YouTube video I found of this was posted by a delightfully specific blog called Michigan Graveyard and worth a check out for other underground music from the Michigan in the 80s and 90s. Okay, that's all the time I have. Which really wasn't much at all but what are you gonna do? Hope you enjoy this as much as I do.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Grýlurnar-Mávastellið LP (Iceland, 1983)

So, this is going to brief because for one, I'm at work, and for two, I broke my wrist and it's really difficult to type. Due to continuing issues in my personal life, I haven't checked in here for a little bit so I thought I would reward you with something else new to the Internet. Well, sort of new. Grýlurnar seem to have a ton of live performances all over YouTube but only one studio track (and a cover no less) anywhere to be found. I got these records for my birthday from my friend, lovely photo taker and all-around nice guy, David. And aside from loving the aesthetic of this Icelandic all-girl group, the songs are weird and quirky in a totally Icelandic way. And, honestly, aside from Tappi Tíkarrass and Q4U, this band is my other big stand-out from an exceptionally tiny scene 80's punk scene. This write-up from Icelandic Music explains all the live footage:

When singer Ragnhildur Gísladóttir left popular band Brimkló in 1981 to form her own girl band everybody thought she was making a big mistake. But Ragnhildur had faith in herself  and began auditioning some girls who wanted to play in her band.

On April’s Fool’s Day in 1981, four girls got together in a small flat and started playing music. Grýlurnar (The Witches) were determined to go places. They practiced very hard for the next few months and performed in a variety of venues. Before long they signed a record deal and went to a studio to record four of their songs for an EP which was released in December 1981. Grýlurnar’s debut release was successful and soon the band was offered to make a thirty minute television show for Iceland´s national television.

Their reputation preceded them: Swedish television invited them to Sweden to appear on the show Mandagsbörsen on March 1st 1982 and consequently they were invited to appear on Danish television on March 9th. This trip introduced Grýlurnar, or Häxorna as they called themselves on their travels, to a lot of new fans in Scandinavia, because the broadcasts from Denmark and Sweden could also be seen in Norway and Finland. They also performed in a few clubs in Sweden and were praised by the Swedish press.

Singer Ragnhildur Gísladóttir was voted the best female vocalist in Iceland in 1981 and 1982. In the spring and summer of 1982 Grýlurnar traveled around the country with the band Stuðmenn and a camera crew. They were filming the first Icelandic musical movie Með allt á hreinu, which has been a great favourite of Icelanders ever since. The movie’s premiere was in December of 1982 and at about the same time the soundtrack of the movie was released. In the beginning of 1983, British recording artist Louis Austin came to Iceland to produce Grýlurnar’s first album. In the next few months, things started to happen. Grýlurnar were offered to play in Scandinavia and Europe but instead they opted for the United States were they played in clubs in Los Angeles to ecstatic audiences. The Witches, like they called themselves overseas, seemed destined for stardom but some of the band members didn’t want to seek fame abroad. At this point in time the team spirit of the band was cracking up. Bass player Herdís thought the strain of touring was too much for her and decided to leave the band due to health concerns. Meanwhile drummer Linda Björk had to have an operation on her knee which made it difficult for her to play the drums. They tried to find a replacement for Herdís but female bass players were hard to find. Late in 1984 it became obvious that the days of Grýlurnar were numbered and the short but eventful history of the first Icelandic all-women rock band came to an end.  

Anyway, here are a couple of my favorite tracks from their 1983 LP, Mávastellið. The first one is awesome and pretty much sounds like it's on fast-forward, but it's not! Okay, back to work.