#320: Los Angeles, X
X is from L.A. and want you to know it.
L.A. punk has a different flavor than N.Y.C. punk. It’s almost like L.A. punks want to paint their city in the worst light possible, while N.Y.C. punks are all still pretending New York is just the most bohemian place ever. X wrote one of the nastiest songs about L.A. ever, “Los Angeles” which was apparently about one of Exene’s racist friends. It’s so hard not to sing along when they start shrieking Get out/GET OUT/Get out/GET OUT. I guess try not to in public.
It’s so nice to hear a punk album. Punk albums are always only half an hour long. And they’re always made up of people with very funny stage names: John Doe, Exene Cervenka, Billy Zoom, and D.J. Bonebrake.
Vocalists John Doe and Exene were married at the time of this record’s release. (They met in a POETRY WORKSHOP. Of course they did.) Doe and Cervenka were only married for five years, but Lord of the Rings fans will be thrilled to learn that she was also briefly married to Aragorn.
They may not have been together forever, but they do have awesome duet energy on songs like the cynical “Johny Hit and Run Paulene” about sexual assault, and the farcical “Sex and Dying in High Society.” They sing so convincingly about people they clearly hate that people were kind of fooled into thinking that X supported rich folk and rapists.
Exene was my favorite, obviously — there’s something about a shrieking, snarling female singer that makes me happy. Her standouts were Doors’ cover “Soul Kitchen” and “The World’s a Mess, It’s in My Kiss,” where she takes a melodic harmony and pins it above John Doe’s drone. She always sounds like she’s seconds away from just starting to scream at the top of her lungs. Me, too.
Underneath Doe and Exene flipping out are two extremely competent musicians. Mr. Zoom’s most badass solo is on “Sugarlight,” but you can honestly take your pick of songs and find him having a moment on each one.
I, too, am guilty of getting caught up in N.Y.C. rock, but the more people I meet from N.Y.C., the more I remember that they have absolutely no sense of humor about themselves. (Though maybe that’s just a grad school thing.) L.A. punks do.
Least Favorite Song: “The Unheard Music” has an unbearably pitchy chorus.