underground since'89

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Friday, October 29, 2010

Back to the Year 2010...Son Skull Birth Scene/Rewind EP

So you might not know it by my recent posts, but The Jigsaw Underground is vehemently anti-nostalgia. Documenting history is cool, but that is different than creating a sentimental picture of the past to wallow in. The purpose of history is to help us actively create the future. But while we are so caught up in the future and the past, sometimes we forget about the present. Jigsaw Fanzine Headquarters is overflowing with records and tapes and zines that are just waiting to be reviewed. So here's one I've been meaning to get to for awhile now....

Son Skull Birth Scene/Rewind EP
(Perreninial P.O. Box 2084 Olympia, WA 98507)

Son Skull are a pretty straight forward hardcore punk band from Olympia. I've seen them transform a male-dominated punk house show into an inclusive pit of ecstatic rage. Going to see them has been pretty consistently rewarding over the past few years. For awhile they were my favorite local band, the only group that had the ability to transmit punk energy straight into my bloodstream. I'd go see other groups and it didn't hit me. Maybe I'd appreciate a guitar tone, a drum beat or a friend's new take on the 60's or the 90's… but I wasn't getting the fuel I need. But when I walk into a room and Son Skull is playing--depleted from the work week, socially awkward, beaten down by the sexist creeps in the room-- the sheer sound of Mary's voice and Hayes' epic guitar playing never fails to renew me.

Their self-released Birth Scene/Rewind EP captures some of that energy and allows the listener to establish a deeper, more contemplative connection with the songs. A fury of guitar feedback/punk noise, rad female punk vocals, flailing yet focused beats & good solid rhythms/melody provided by the bass…it's cool to be able to hear the words. Contemplative lyrics about alienation, depression, economics, personal/political power dynamics, family and friendship.

A few stick out:

The chorus of Cement Mixer sounds cool surrounded by grinding/repetitive bass and drums creating the sound of a machine about to come unhinged. Then the lyrics: Cement Mixer/ In My Chest/ Cement Mixer/ In My Chest…the robotic detachment of suppressed emotion with no outlet physically threatening to break free…the song expresses a familiar modern state of being: Sinking sick pit feeling/looking for something/to hold on to/or hit you with. A vivid articulation of the alienated individual in society…. a child at school, a worker at her job, or someone in a messed up family situation...the struggle for self-control in a dead end, hopeless situation.

I also like the feminist hoes-before-bros motif of Boston Girls with the awesome line What's better than your girlfriends/true love that calls you out. My favorite might be the class war anthem Housing, which nicely uses a personal example of a family who gets kicked out of their home by their landlord to illustrate the injustice of private property: It starts off with This is my fucking house/I had my baby in this living room and ends with You say you need if for your family/Well fuck you/Because that used to mean me. You can also view the landlord as a father figure in this story, making it a nice critique of patriarchy but maybe that's a stretch.

Perennial Death explores the nature of existence itself. This theme might sound murky and dirge-like when examined by a different group. Son Skull are determined to plow through in the face of stark truths. The song itself sounds like breathing after you've been running for a few miles, the exhilaration of serotonin or whatever that chemical feeling is called, the sensation of your body being able to go further than seemed possible a few minutes earlier, the pounding of blood inside your brain…an evolutionary mechanism that kicks in when we don't think we can go on…the chorus sounds like a cry of resistance, a pained plea. Perennial! Perennial Death! We are always dying. But we are still alive. This is the kind of thing I need to hear on a regular basis.

Son Skull are still one of the only bands that will get me to leave my apartment full of books and records and walk across town to go to a house party, because their music still feels more real to me than most of the other groups around right now. I don't mean any disrespect by saying that. It's just that nothing else really hits me this hard and most of the time I'd rather be reading books or going to a movie with my boyfriend than hanging out in a drunk punk environment. Son Skull are the kind of stark, vibrant punk band that make everything else sound like easy listening music. I hope they stick around for awhile.

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