13 RAD MOMENTS...UNUSUAL SUSPECTS EDITION
Hell, We've listened to it a million times. It's kinda always this way on a Hostage Records release, by the time the record comes out, it's been burned permanently into the recesses of our brains. When you hear it enough, you start to find intricacies, nuances and parts within the tracks that make your ear hairs stand on end. Upon a million listens, here's 13 rad moments; mere seconds of songs that deserve a millionth and one listen.
1-THE CROWD....that beat part.
For every decade since the 70's, Dennis Walsh has been behind the kit for the Crowd. Walsh's retirement and subsequent move to Arizona found the band on the hunt for a new pounder. The Crowd's mantra has always been aim high, hell they are the best at what they do. Enter Mr. John Knight, the legendary drummer from the best years of DI, Crash Kills 4 and Rule 62. I could go on and on about John and his skills, he's made this great band even better. All it takes is about 4 seconds, the first 4 seconds of the compilation for John to assert his dominance. His epic intro, a very DK's-esque rhythm sets the tone for what's to come, a new sound for this legendary band. Rad.
2-THE BERZERKERS...in high gear.
In the years before So-Cal punk exploded, I spent my early teens shooting late 70's drag racing at OCIR (now the Irvine Spectrum). There is a certain sound of ground pounding, nitro-guzzling funny cars standing on the loud pedal and ripping down the quarter mile that has to be heard to be believed. It shakes you to the core. The Berzerkers do the same. Bat Shit Crazy is one of the few new tracks on UNUSUAL SUSPECTS that was an already in the set song. It was a staple of the band's live show, so to hear it in the studio is pretty damn cool. After the crunching guitar intro and stop, the band just cranks it up at the 27 second mark and unleashes 3 guitars right down the two-lane black top. I swear it sounds like a top fuel dragster going thru the gears on a perfect pass. Rad.
3-CHANNEL 3...a plaintive wail.
It's no secret, we are and have always been huge fans of CH3. With the Gardener/Magrann musical and lyrical attack, this band has always been our west coast answer to Strummer/Jones. CH3 has cut its teeth on all forms of punk; hardcore, anthemic, cow and rock. The band can crank them out. Better Than This is by our count, the 4th CH3 song written for or debuting on a compilation. Now as connoisseurs of all things CH3 we've heard many things, but our favorite has always been when Magrann gets after it on his vocals. Listen, the kid can sing, there is no question, but we've always favored those tracks when Mike leaves the rails and really gets after it...One More For All My True Friends, I've Got A Gun, You Lie, listen well and you'll see what we mean. After playing nice for about 2 minutes on BTT, you can hear him do it, that amazing Magrann thing. At 2:02 it appears. "Be a Better Man, Jesus Christ we're better than this", the gloves are off and the knuckles are bare as Magrann cuts loose and delivers a plaintive wail from his soul. A Rad Moment.
Decry cut it's teeth as a the consummate 80's So-Cal suburban hardcore band. By '83, Decry was the shit, the band was the king of what they did so well. Here at Hostage, we always kinda dug their stray pop stuff, songs like Sorority Girls and Last Sin, based in pop with a catchy kind of hook. Booze Cruisin' is a huge departure for Decry, you can clearly hear its them but its amazing to hear them do unexpected things. Somewhere at the 1:20 mark on BC, the songs goes into this killer breakdown, with some great guitar noodling that throws back to an almost country twang 50's guitar lick. It's nothing like we've heard from them before and it's a rad moment.
5-16 Again....Shane sings.
We've known Shane Strange for years, he's played on several Hostage tracks and been in 2 of our most popular bands, the Pushers and The Vulturas. We've seen him play, we've seen him practice, we've always admired the way he could sling that bass lower than the rest in this town and blast away with impeccable style. What we never knew and we're not sure anybody else did either is that the kid can sing, I mean he can really fucking get after it. There literally millions of punk covers, bands that deconstruct old standards and trot them out as new. Very few are as good as the original, and even fewer, if any are better than the original. You go listen to the Police do Next to You, then listen to the 16 Again version and you tell me. Shane smokes Sting, there's no two ways about it. And its rad.
6-The Pegs...the train rolls again.
The Pegs have been around so long now that they've had the chance to lay down tracks at many studios; Adamos, Pot Of Gold and several others. This time the band went back to Adamos studio with a new plan; drums up, cymbals down. The traditional downfall to the drums up mix is that the cymbals and all that crash and splash start bleeding into the vocals and destroys the sound. This time the Pegs turned the drums up to 11 without all the cymbal crash, the results are spectacular, See This Sweat chugs aways with this pounding beat that makes the song so damn catchy it would score a 100 on American Bandstand's are this record..."It's got a beat, you could dance to it", I could hear Dick Clark now. Johnny Cash's backing band was once described as sounding like a locomotive thundering down the tracks, chugging away on the beat. This is the punk version of that, and it's rad.
7-The Vulturas...sonic explosion
When we first got this track for Unusual Suspects, it blew us away. With it's searing guitar intro, Unglued evoked that "stand your hair on end" unconditional autonomic nerve system response, the same kind of reaction that the guitar intro on Nervous Breakdown still gives us. It's rare and unheard of for a band to give it's very best song ever recorded to a compilation (think Wild In The Streets on ROTR 1) for debut, but that's what the Vulturas did. But let's cut to the chase, after LP3 cut out his heart and put it on the table with the line, "There was a time when I was something, most of the time, they watched me fail", Shane Strange's bass kicks in at 22 seconds into the song and the whole thing explodes. It may be the raddest 2 seconds on the whole record.
8-The Plagues...the debut
One of the first parts of Hostage Records comps are the debuts, hell look at the bands that have debut on some of them; The Broken Bottles (Gothic Chicks, CUTS V1), The Drips (Coastline, Tower 13), The Negatives (Out In the Cold, Hostage Situation). Add to the list the Plagues, the San Diego based band that has been described as "the Germs meet the Surf Beach attack" When legendary punk Rodney on the Rock got ahold of Shoot The Curl, he immediately put it into rotation on his show calling it a Beach Boys gone punk hit.The bass and drum intro is hot as hell and the song is as hedonistic as they come, but it's finest moment and raddest one comes at the end when lead vocalist Chris Bevier lays is all to rest with the lines, "might as well grab a corn dog at the snack bar, pick up a chick, lie in the sand and die in my car". Epic.
9-Love Canal...organs and other parts
The very last thing recorded for the comp was not the Shattered Faith song from Halloween of 2020, but the Eric Von Arab/Jerry Falwell-esque intro to start the song. Added the day of the mastering , the bit evokes the punk throwback of the Bad Religion's "How Could Hell Be Any Worse". The organ parts were originally not part of this recording, but were added as a way to give the song a new sound. It worked. Originally the Greg Kuehn (TSOL) organ started with the song, not as an intro. We liked it so much that we had Jerry Adamo loop it and used a double loop of it to segway into the song. Again the results are spectacular, it is a standout song on the comp. With that said, our favorite few seconds of the song, are the guitar slide and guitar bend by Arab at the songs end, originally those parts were fully buried and unheard in the mix. During final mix Jerry cranked them up to 10 and made this cool little blast out of them. The pick slide blasts in at 3:17 and the bending guitar wango hits at 3:25, its subtle, it's easy to miss, but its rad nonetheless.
10-Loose Trucks...hanging on the telephone
After the Trucks debuted their epic Hostage 7 inch, Outta My Way, the band's fanbase demanded more. We gotta admit, just 3 songs is the tip of their iceberg of greatness. Out The Door was from the same session as the debut 7 but just didn't fit the time length for the 45, we loved it anyway. Originally, Unusual Suspects was to be a 14 band comp, with no Hostage bands with recent recordings to be included. The idea was to give a vehicle for release to all those bands that had their plans cancelled or postponed by COVID 19. That's why Mesa Lanes, The Divided and Outsiders did not appear on the comp, they had recent Hostage releases. Mad Parade and The Detours were slotted to be the other 2 bands, Mad Parade could not get a recording together, nor could the Detours. In fact the Detours were in and committed up until the last months of August, but it never materialized. The Loose Trucks had a ready smash hit recorded and off we went with it. We were stoked to give this song a proper home. Out The Door is classic punk, a rumbler with no guitar solos or noodling, but there is that part in the song when it sounds like a phone conversation not going so well. Its kinda fun to make it out, but we never did find out the mystery of it all. I'm sure Donnie Spada has thew answer to this rad part of the song.
11-Shattered Faith...the happy part and those guitars
Yes indeed, this was the very last song recorded for the Unusual Suspects compilation. Shattered Faith certainly did deliver the goods with it's musical synopsis of 2020 in song. The catch with a song that is so time specific is it's easy to be yesterday's news really fast. What Shattered Faith so smartly did was "the happy part". Detailing all of the pitfalls of 2020 the song still holds hope for the future, for future generations and will remain great in perpetuity, thanks to the happy part. The happy part you ask? It kicks in at 2:47 with no more tensions, no more hate. It's that classic SF sound, spurned on by all those guitars. Ah yes, Kerry Martinez is here, Denny McGahey is here and Branden Bartsch is here, you can hear and identify them all. They all have solos and feature parts each with their own style, its what makes Shattered Faith, besides the signature vocals, a uniquely identifiable band.
12-Infamous Stiffs...and we like it.
This was the debut band we pursued the hardest, we really really dig their sound. We knew we didn't have much time here, the Stiffs were making a big splash and getting lots of attention from many labels. Ultimately they ended up on Die Laughing records and they clearly deserve all the praise and craze they garner. But we got them first, and as the saying goes, all the best bands debut on Hostage. The Stiffs certainly earned our respect, halfway through the Unusual Suspects process, they signed with Die Laughing. They not only kept their word to give us a song, but gave us one of their finest tracks, Get It Straight. When the comp came out, the Stiff promoted it like crazy. These are solid dudes, we wish them well, like we said they've earned it. The song? Get It Straight is the perfect exit to the comp, it makes you want to hear more from them and from us, which is why we placed at at the anchor spot (last track on a side). This is rock and roll and we like it, our favorite part? At the 2:04 spot when Scotty yells go!, then Mark blasts into the most rockingly ferocious 10 second guitar solo this label has ever released.
We figured we'd leave this this pearl, the Crowd's ripper is a long one, it plays like 2 songs in one. When we sent this to Rodney Bingenheimer for his ROTR show, the song was deemed too long to play. His limit, just over 3 minutes, Wrong From Right; 4:26!!! . After he heard it, he played it, most likely the longest song to ever appear on this new show. TMGS, too much good stuff. There is alot of greatness going on here, Jeff Milucky who has penned many late model Crowd hits (I'm Not Happy Here), returns to greatness. Jim Kaa, the original punk guitar hero, lays down 2 epic solos here. Decker is smooth a silk, as cool as ever delivering the goods and without question, Corey Stretz highlights the song with bass playing UP in the mix as it should be. In fact that may ultimately be the raddest part of this whole song, and it's not a 5 or 10 second thing, it't the whole damn song. It's 4:26 of that bass sound those great power pop/new wave bands like Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson and the Jam. Just listen to it with the bass turned up and you'll know you've found the raddest part of the whole damn LP.