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Various Artists – Cheese Borger’s Pie and Ears Volume 2

August 1, 2011 Leave a comment

Smog Veil Records, 2002

With one of the more revolting covers I’ve seen in awhile, there is no chance I would pass on picking up a compilation of Cleveland punk rock.  I, ah, recognize the name of Cheese Borger from a previous review regarding his cadre of Pink Holes, so for twenty-three tracks for much less than twenty-three dollars this was a surefire grab.  To think there was a previous volume of Cleveland punk released is hard to believe, but I guess when the Browns and Indians aren’t doing much of anything people are driven to high volumes.  Better than reading I say!

So what does one expect from a punk compilation that is nearly a decade old?  Well actually, this compilation was put together in 2002 but consists of mostly punk tunes from back in the eighties.   Therefore, consider this collection as a group of musicians who were recently influenced by the big punk movement from the seventies.  Given that the state of music today mostly consists of interchangeable dance pop tunes and irony-maxed indie rock, a compilation with some raw, lightly produced garage rock from back in the day can actually be refreshing.  Who knows, one may even find a highly unheralded band to dig into more deeply.

After a few muddled compositions by Kneecappers and Disciples of Death (band name props), things really get revved up with Idiot Humans’ “Toppling Stairs”.  The main riff thoroughly reminds me of the Wipers’ “D.7” with its foreboding sense of doom, yet the song doesn’t bother with any of the slow stuff and consists of pure acceleration.  The cover of the Pagans’ “Eyes of Satan” by Styrenes doesn’t have much for lyrics aside from the title track.  Is it punk to essentially skip verses?  Still a fun blitz of a tune, though.

Those songs aside, apart from a few stand outs there are many tracks that sound like what one might expect from a local punk band compilation.  There’s a lot of low production, speed, inattention to lyrical clarity, short song lengths, and guitars, guitars, guitars.  Many songs tend to blend together for the most part, but there are a few nice exceptions.  New Salem Witch Hunters’ “Plain to See” sounds like a great bar room pop song with its sixties style and fine keyboard inclusion.  The Clocks sound very fresh with their garage rock  during their detailing of a literal “Family Feud” while the Pink Holes throw in a solid, fuzzy surf track.  I can’t get enough of the surf stuff.

Since a bunch of these guys were out before MySpace came along, perhaps you will find something interesting to buy or listen to at Smog Veil Records’ website.

Overall, it’s an enjoyable compilation of punk tracks of varying quality.  I didn’t find any that were just too awful to sit through a few minutes with, which either reflects the time period’s style or the general talent of the musicians.  Or perhaps I was too busy stroking my leather jacket to notice, who knows.  Truth is, compilations are hard to utterly pan given that there always tends to be enough variety to make anyone appreciate the disc in spurts.  All I know is that if I ever find myself in Cleveland I’ll be seeking out this Cheese Borger guy to tell me which shows to catch.

Les Black’s Amazing Pink Holes – Breakfast With the Holes

August 11, 2010 3 comments

Smog Veil Records, 2001

Look at that fine breakfast that kid is having.  Sugar-based circular tasties coated by something a nuclear plant created is what is going in that happy kid’s mouth.  Sure, orange juice, milk and toast are fine additions to his morning intake.  But with those punk characters adorning the cereal box, (and the certain anarchic message for the kid to read on the back of the box,) you know he’s going to cause some kinda disturbance during recess that day at school.  Needless to say, when a band takes the effort to make their album art this much fun to look at, it’s worth a grab.

Straight outta Cleveland from the eighties, the punk rockin’ Amazing Pink Holes are led by Les Black and a few other colorful characters.  Namely, some guy named Cheese Borger was on bass and a former drummer named Dick Hertz got kicked out of the band for dabbling a little too much with illegal stuff.  No matter what the music sounds like, at least you can tell these guys never had the issue of taking themselves too seriously.

This disc turns out to be a collection of the Pink Holes’ tunes from the eighties when they were still romping around bars and the like in Cleveland.  The album starts off with a loose cover of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”, which has never been a favorite of mine but at least one can envision these guys having a great time of it onstage.  With a few sloppy and loose attempts after the cover, “My Mother” finally delivers a pretty good punk tune about mutual love of mommy.  “Baseball Park Fun” has Black yelping out baseball terms as if he is being concurrently sodomized, which may be some kind of anti-sports commentary or, er, some other commentary.

The band amps it up excellently with “Frustration Factor” with a killer heavy riff that compliments Black’s rather high-pitched voice.  Another fine tune is “Crazy Slut”, which has minimal lyrical comprehension but I suppose one doesn’t really need to have the song’s theme spelled out.  When the band wasn’t in the mood for sloppiness or half-baked song creations, they could really slap together an invigorating punk tune.

Since this record comes across as an accumulation of most of the Pink Holes’ work, you get pretty much anything they had available.  This includes some of the less interesting tunes, like the live ‘country’ tune of “Put the Bone In” and the criminally muffled and short “Phil Collins Panties”.  The uncharacteristic thudding and screechiness of “Mr. Serious” should not have been ventured by these guys whenever they recorded it, but apparently Black was feeling angst-ridden and emotional.  Needless to say, this record has practically an equal share of quality punk tunes and quality junk tunes.

Get a taste of their sound with this vid:

Whether or not one thinks these guys had any talent or were just another band making a lot of exaggeration and noise, the Pink Holes had to be a good time to see live.  They never managed to go much further beyond this collection of tunes, nor did they emerge much further from their Cleveland scene.  Looking around it appears that some concoction of the group still makes the rounds once in awhile for a show, so if you’re into some no frills, old school punk maybe it’s worth a trip to Cleveland sometime.