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Friday, August 6, 2010

Angry Samoans: Inside My Brain


1) Right Side Of My Mind; 2) Gimme Sopor; 3) Hot Cars; 4) Inside My Brain; 5) You Stupid Asshole; 6) Get Off The Air; 7*) My Old Man's A Fatso; 8*) Carson Girls (demo); 9*) I'm A Pig (demo); 10*) Too Animalistic (live); 11*) Right Side Of My Mind (live).

Hardcore punk, when done properly, is a delight for the thinking man — in fact, much of hard­core punk came from the hands and brains of thinking men. Dig into the individual biographies of the Angry Samoans and you will find out that founding father # 1, Mike Saunders, used to write for Rolling Stone (he is often credited as the inventor of the term «heavy metal», no less, which earned him the nickname of «Metal Mike»), while founding father # 2, Gregg Turner, used to write for Creem and is now a distinguished math professor (!).

It is quite transparent, then, that only men endowed with vast intellectual powers, able to come up with revolutionary musical ideas synthesized through intense brain activity rather than picked up from God on a purely intuitive and irrational basis, could have materialized the sound of the Ang­ry Samoans. The band's debut EP, Inside My Brain, burns with hardcore passion, but each and every second of that fiery burning is achieved through very cold fusion. The basic aesthetics, the way it seems most obvious to pick it out, is as follows:

A) Brevity is the sister of wit, and these guys go as far as to place the two in an incestuous re­la­ti­on­ship. The whole thing is over in less than ten minutes (although future re-releases with bonus tracks double the running length), and individual songs usually make their points in less than two ('Hot Cars' says it all in thirty seconds). Lesson taken from the likes of Wire, but in terms of over­all conciseness, they flat out bust their teachers.

B) Verses and choruses are for sissies who wank to old-fashioned shit like the Ramones. Truly clever, truly rebellious punk rock does not pander to commercial formula.

C) Offense is golden. To explain why you are offending someone is way beyond the dignity of the artist — in fact, it insults the intelligence of your audience, the only thing worthy of respect. Say «fuck you» first, ask questions later, or, in fact, don't ask questions at all. Patronizing DJs get it first ('Get Off The Air', directed against influential music biz guy Rodney Bingenheimer, an ex­tremely important Kulturträger of the day whom the band, perhaps correctly, accused of dictato­rial aspirations), but neither queers, nor girls, nor, in fact, anyone else escape the swing of the blades when the shit hits the fan.

D) Above all, the necessity of the illusion that all of this is just a semi-articulate stream of con­scious. Ragged shreds of angst, anger, and violence — blurts on insanity and murder that are sup­posed to carve out the proper image of the vicious young man with no hopes of ever finding the right direction (even such a delight as pussy no longer means anything, as is clearly seen in 'You Stupid Asshole': "You took your clothes off / I started to laugh / That's when I knew it was thro­ugh / I guess I'll go take a bath").

Oh, and what about the music? Well, these guys can certainly play; even though by 1980 we had already heard the absolute majority of these riffs, for a bunch of rock critics, they raise plenty of hell. It is not thoroughly uniform; the expanded reissue at least shows that Saunders and Turner had a good ear for pop (check out the introductory riff to 'Carson Girls'), and, instead of hiding beneath bunches of sloppy power chords, they instead take their cues from classic heroes — the Who are clearly echoed on at least a couple of the tracks, and Link Wray on at least a couple of others ('Hot Cars', eh?).

The overall result is not exactly «hilarious», but it achieves its ultimate goal — making the Ra­mo­nes' debut sound like Quadrophenia in comparison. Of course, all of this ongoing struggle against the stale conventions of the pop formula also ensure that Inside My Brain, along with the rest of the Samoans' catalog, will never be as gut-enjoyable as earlier, «conventional» punk classics, but it is fun all the same to witness these guys' interpretation of the quintessential rock aesthetics, even if it's all just a bit of modernistic theater. Thumbs up.


  1. I really must say, this is actually pretty groovy. I didn't really expect you to review any hardcore punk apart from some of "hardcore-transcending" bands like Hüsker Dü and The Replacements, and even if you did I didn't really expect to enjoy it very much beyond possibly the brain level, but heck, this kicks ass. Oh okay, I've listened to it thrice in a row (the original songs anyway) and I still can't memorise anything, but while it's on, it really gives some simple pleasure, and coupled with the definite theoretical interest, results in a major, and somewaht surprised thumbs up from me.
    Heck, my major beef with Wire (which I still definitely like and respect) was that for a punk band, they just never really knew how to get that kick ass sound. These guys just pick it right up and never drops it (never here meaning for 10 minutes, which as far as hardcore goes, is practially the same thing I guess).

  2. Are you listened Agnostic Front (it's for "A" letter) or Black Flag (it's for "B")?