Riff Raff

I s it just me, or did it suddenly become uncool to ride bikes in this city? When I was in Toronto over the summer, everyone, and I mean EVERYONE seemed to have pulled out their two wheelers and put pedal to metal to get from A to B, and that was even in one of the worst heat waves that city has felt in years. Yet even on the brief, albeit scorching days that Vancouver had (of course I’m using past tense because those days are now gone, sad but true as rain begins
to pound the pavement once again), I’ve seen more transport of the four-wheeled variety than two. Now don’t get me wrong, I dig skateboarding as much as the next guy or girl, but when you see every, and I mean EVERY second person walking the streets clutching a new piece of hardwood you’ve got to wonder, what makes bikes a thing of the (recent) past?

Thankfully, The Buff Medways are keeping the dreams of cycling alive by writing about them on their recent single, “Medway Wheelers”. The three piece from London, featuring of course, the dapper one, Billy Childish, sing and play of their love for a bicycle group Billy’s mom was active in
in the 50s (That’s his mom on the cover, too.) Also featuring former Prisoner Graham Day on bass and Wolf Howard on drums, Billy leaves his trademark sneer aside for a lighthearted romp through the streets and alleys with memories of brisk autumn days and unchartered destinations to channel his musical muse. On the flipside, “A Quick One”, both figuratively and literally as they charge through The Who’s mod pop masterpiece, falsetto vocals in check and pounding drums setting the backbeat. (Damaged Goods, P.O. Box 45854 London E111YX, or go to www.damagedgoods.co.uk).

English sisters of the Medway sound, The A-Lines, also have a relatively new seven-inch out, released by the Phil Spector of the new millennia (minus the gun-toting and shocking hair hazard), Long Gone John. He knows good all-girl garage when he hears it, so the ladies knock out two
Kleenex-meets-The Kinks goodies in “One Day” and “Heidi’s Head”. Singer Kyra (ex-Headcoatee)
plays both the tease and taunt cards well in her vocal delivery, while other ex-Headcoatee Bongo Debbie plays like her namesake, crash-boombanging
her way through the trebly din of Julie’s pawnshop guitar and Delia’s hold-it-steady bass end. Definitely a group who realize that skills don’t always pay the bills, but still have a damn good time trying to pay the rent. (Sympathy For The Record Industry, www.sympathyrecords.com).

Time to bid a fond farewell now, to one of the current darlings of Portland’s always profi lic punk rock scene, The Observers, as they
announced their break up after a recent string of dates along the West Coast that saw them play Vancouver twice in the span of five months. If you didn’t see them play then you’re a doofus, ‘cuz these guys ripped it live, and played some of the smartest punk rock around. Two new songs mark a posthumous end to their all-too-short career, wrapped in a nice hand-drawn, complete with comic book-style lyric sheets sleeve. “Where I Stay” uses singer Doug’s penchant for storytelling to great effect while providing a early
SNFU-influenced backdrop, and “Manipulator” waxes political on the state of affairs on their home turf, bringing to mind Bad Religion or T.S.O.L. in their prime. Folks needn’t have to wait too long
before members start other projects, as The Rose City is known for its large pool of talent, so keep a watchful eye out, but keep the needle always 1166 Chaster Road Gibsons, BC V0N 1V4 or go to www.derangedrecords.com).

Finally we leave on an acid trip with San Francisco septet The Warlocks as navigators, steering through your skull to a tune called “Come
Save Us” (the first single off their latest album Surgery) that steadily builds on layers upon layers of guitar and mid-tempo
Velvet Underground-style drumming, while “Suicide Note” takes the van and crashes into Spacemen 3’s practice space for kicks, leaving a pile of dust and distortion behind. Displaying a mellower, if not trance-inducing state of mind different from past releases, this still puts them near the top of the Jesus and Mary Jonestown Motorcycle Club heap and will have you reaching for the stereo instead of the medicine cabinet when Advil just won’t do. (Mute/Birdman Records,www.birdmanrecords.com or www.mute.com for details.)

Next month, more vinyl madness!