On the playlist, or exploring missed youth

I got rid of most of my cassette tapes in 2002, when I moved into a smaller apartment for a year and a half. One cassette I kept was a compilation titled No Place to Play, which featured ’80s punk bands from Hawaiʻi. I considered digitizing that cassette so I could listen to it on the computer, but I was curious to see whether someone beat me to it.

And someone has.

Dave Carr, a guy who was heavily involved with scene, curates the Hawaii 70s-80s Punk Museum, which features artwork, photos and — most importantly — audio files from bands of that era. It’s the first time I’ve heard more from these bands than what’s on No Place to Play, which is included on the site.

Funny thing: I didn’t like most of what I heard on No Place to Play when it was first released. The sound quality is mostly terrible, and at the time, the extent of my post-punk knowledge was Midnight Oil and U2. Today, I have a better grasp of what influenced these bands and can hear snatches of the Smiths, Jesus and Mary Chain, Bauhaus and Joy Division in the music. And the bands weren’t too bad themselves.

The latest additions to the playlist also include a whole bunch of stuff I grabbed from eMusic. I realized my monthly quota would expire in two days, and I wasn’t really in the mood to grab much of anything. So I’m not sure how any of my picks will work out. I did make some surprising discoveries though.

  • Arnold Schoenberg, Verklarte Nacht/Chamber Symphony/Accompaniment to a Cinematographic Scene (Ulster Orchestra, Takuo Yuasa) I’ve been listening to 20th Century classical music for a good 20 years now, and in that time, I have not acquired a single recording of Arnold Schoenberg — until now.
  • Frederic Rzewski, The People United Will Not Be Defeated (Ralph van Raat) Other recordings of this piece are broken up into bits, but this Naxos release stashes the entire thing on one 62-minute track. No, I haven’t tackled it yet.
  • Hat Makes the Man, Searching the Fertile Fields I’ve always liked the name Hat Makes the Man, but I never listened to the music. I can hear shades of the future Oriental Love Ring and Spiny Norman in it.
  • Matthew Robert Cooper, Miniatures Not sure why he didn’t release this album as Eluvium. Perhaps because it’s not released on Temporary Residence?
  • Mystery Crash, Mystery Crash I could sense there was something behind Mystery Crash’s hiss-marred contribution to No Place to Play, and the clearer sound quality on this self-titled release bears that out.
  • Samamidon, All Is Well Samamidon is the voice behind "The Only One" on Nico Muhly’s Mothertongue. His own music is not too distant from that piece — just without the fractured phrasing.
  • The Waitresses, Wasn’t Tomorrow Wonderful? I took matters into my own hands last year and digitized this album myself. Now, ZE Records has reissued the Waitresses’ smart and bratty debut as a digital album.
  • The Squids, The Squids "Head in the Sand" is one of my favorite tracks from No Place to Play, and the rest of the band’s material is up to par.
  • The Wrong, Ethel Merman Jism Spoon My only wish for this album was better use of the stereo field.
  • Tommy Keene, Crashing the Ether He’s been featured in the Advocate a few times, so I figured … why not?
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Serenade No. 10, K. 361, Gran Partita/Divertimento in D Major, K. 205 (German Wind Soloists, Capella Istropolitana, Richard Edlinger) Another exploration of works from the Amadeus soundtrack.

In addition to the Waitresses, I found another somewhat obscure ’80s band on eMusic — In Tua Nua. Their albums have been available on iTunes for more than a year, but now you can get them on eMusic as well. I did a podcast about In Tua Nua last year. Huh. Podcast. That’s another thing I’ve let fall through the cracks.