For this review, I decided to do something different. Let me explain. For those of you who don’t know, Hozac is a label based out of Chicago, Illinois. Known for garage, punk, weird, and everything in between. I have been following it for many years and over that time it has been consistent with releasing not-the-norm punk and garage records. There is a little something for everyone here, and now there is even an archival series, which potentially puts in your hands previously unreleased records and demos. Just the stuff that you had no idea existed and, if you did know, there is no way you could get your hands on it. It’s something to look forward to every few months with the showcasing of new artists, as well as its old school stuff. If you don’t believe me, make sure you Google it. Go to the website to take a look for yourself. You’ll be a follower by the end of this exercise. Just hang tight and let me guide your brain. We will start with one of the new releases for this pack.
Chicos de Nazca- Fire Ride
These dudes are new to me. They are from Chile and I’m really into what’s going on here. It’s not a typical Hozac release. By that I mean it’s really well produced. Some might say, even a bit overdone. I don’t deem it to be the case here. It holds a flame all its own, as in its album title, Fire Ride. It’s a kind of psychedelic ride I wasn’t expecting, but, once you slap this one on the turntable, it will stick like glue. It’s kind of like a little sloppier and darker Paisley Underground record, leaning more towards The Rain Parade than The Three O’Clock. It’s not a long record with only 7 songs. But, does it really need to be longer? It’s doing just enough in a considerable amount of time without going overboard on the yes we are a psych band thing. Be prepared to hear the G and F chords a lot, its a theme here. It does have moments of Badlands-era Jesus and the Mary Chain thrown in there, so listen for that too. All in all, it’s a pretty good LP. Not a bad place to start.
MAMA -Speed Trap EP
These Chicago locals are one of my favorite new bands in the US punk scene. I should note here that they are super underrated and should be playing the bigger shows (that’s right Austin, why weren’t they invited to good vibrations?). This 7″ displays a little more diverse aspect of the band on both sides. The first track, “Three Tricks,” shows 1977 edge with that little something extra on the songwriting and composition front. The choruses on this record will have you singing along because, as a plus, they’re power pop-esque hooks, designed to keep you hanging on to every riff. But, also there is a slight glam element too. It’s doing so much with so little. They save the best for last with “Bad Reputation.” It’s the best track on this record hands down. I must have listened to it 20 or 30 times. The slow intro and break will leave you waiting for the fast part to come in, which is so badass. I hope they have an LP planned for 2016. It will be in my Top 5, no doubt.
Grosse Point -Bad Seed EP
nother new band for me, but damn I was super surprised here. The LAMF kind of riffs had me all in right away, and again, more sick leads. The slightly out-of-tune bass on “Hitch a Ride” rules. I love the vocals here too. It’s a snotty punk attack reminiscent of other bands I’ve heard on Hozac before. Maybe it is a less reverb-friendly Woven Bones? I’m all about that shit. What happened to that band anyway? “Time to Waste” shows their Teenage Shutdown side. This is just a really good garage rock record. Such finds are few and far between these days. Like all genres do when they blow up, they become kind of cookie cutter and you can’t tell one from the other; however, this one stands out on its own nice and bright.
The Subtractions- It’s Exposed (1980 Hozac Archival)
Now here is the first archival series for this pack, and it’s been a long awaited one. Long lost but now found, it highlights the early Cali-punk scene in the smaller cities. These guys were apparently the first punk band in Fresno. They lasted about a year and these recordings are just now seeing the light of day. How does this happen? I would imagine 20 years from now we will be doing the same thing, discovering and rediscovering. How “Still Sixteen” didn’t become a punk anthem is beyond me. This record is a classic that never got its credit. That’s how it goes sometimes. Some of the best bands to ever come into existence only have short windows of time to shine. I have a feeling in the future there will be some 16-year olds in a punk band covering that song. Or, at least, I hope anyway. There is so much angst I can feel it coming from the speakers. The guitars are all down strokes and nothing else. Is Fresno still dead?
David Peel & Death- King of Punk
Ok, now this review will be a history lesson for you. It was for me, and I have researched this kind of stuff for years. In spite of my efforts, even this one slipped through the cracks. Now, I was aware of the GG Allin and Wayne Kramer connection, but not their relationship to David Peel.
David Peel is a mystery of the punk scene. He is part Zappa, part Beatles, part-pre punk and part something else. I’m still trying to put my finger on it. For now, let’s just call it “Street Rock.” We will try to make some sense of this mystery by thinking of The Dictators on a lot of drugs. Peel was apparently a right-hand man and fellow weirdo of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and he was on Apple Records. I previously mentioned GG and Wayne Kramer (that’s right he recorded The Jabbers stuff) and their relationship to the man in question. David Peel collaborated with both of them. In the title track “King of Punk.” he is calling out every band that was popular at the time and gives them the fuck you (even Milk and Cookies). Basically, saying that punk isn’t punk that it’s just a bullshit culture statement. Well, this dude might as well have been a fortuneteller; I guess he couldn’t have been more right.
He had his own band in the 1970’s called The Lower East Side, and to be clear, The MC5 weren’t the first band to say motherfucker on a record. This dude had them beat months ahead. Also, he had a rap sheet to the extreme that he had been arrested for inciting riots and the FBI had to keep tabs on him– a 40-page biography to be exact. So, I think we have our synopsis here. This dude was basically the most punk person ever. Punk before punk had a name, before it had a fashion sense and before we even knew what to call it. Back then it was just rock and roll and he evidently didn’t give two shits about anyone else. John and Yoko were seemingly the exception, which is where it gets a bit weird. He signed with Apple Records and recorded an LP in 1972 called The Pope Smokes Dope. It was such a controversial release that resistance from record stores to stock the record in the first place kept it from seeing much of any exposure. So Hozac brings to us the 1978 archival release “King of Punk,” and it covers all sorts of lovely subjects, like how every other band sucks, weed, burgers, Brian Jones, you know, the important things to punks and street dudes alike. Let’s not forget the hatred of cops, which there was also plenty. He concludes that the CIA is the master race and, most importantly the wisest words a man ever spoke, a mother, mother fuck. Thank you and fuck you, David Peel. Your influence will never be forgotten and will influence generations to come.
By Justin Crumpton