The World’s A Mess

Punk, in it’s 1976- 1980 form, was expressing some very universal attitudes through the lyrics, the sound and the presentation- boredom, dissatisfaction, rejection of authority, two fingers to the world. But the different scenes and places it took hold seem very local. Sex Pistols and their entourage were London. Buzzcocks could only be Manchester. The CBGB punks could only have come from a particular part of New York (wherever they all migrated from originally). The world was less globalised and less connected. Word of mouth spread more slowly. Local scenes had their own character based on the views and outlook of the participants. The punk scene as it developed in California and specifically in Los Angeles looks so much the product of late 70s LA that the bands could only have been spawned by that city at that time. According to those who were there and accounts of it, the new LA punk scene was suburban and from the sprawl, negative, against everything, especially the ‘older’ bands from the Hollywood part of town, who were more glam, more fashion conscious. These southern Californian suburban punk bands became faster, narrower, more hardcore. The animosity between the two punk camps and then the violent actions of the LAPD made California punk a genuinely dangerous scene to be a part of.

X formed in 1977, founded by singer- bassist John Doe and guitarist Billy Zoom. Doe’s girlfriend Exene Cervenka joined on vocals and drummer D.J. Bonebrake arrived (who also played with Germs). X would go on to outlive the early LA punk scene and make records through the 1980s with re- unions in the 90s and 2000s. X could play loud and fast and their debut and it’s follow up are full of loud, fast, short songs. What sets them apart from the hardcore bands is the country and rockabilly tinges to their music- you can feel it in Bonebrake’s motorised drumming, Zoom’s guitars and Doe’s voice. Exene added urgency and a wail, her poetry and lyrics stand out, and the off kilter twin vocals give them another layer. The presence of producer Ray Manzarek and his Doors organ sound on their albums adds an unexpected swampy murk to their electric LA punk. Mostly though they just sound alive.

Two songs, one from 1980’s Los Angeles album…

The World’s A Mess, It’s In My Kiss

And one from 1981’s Wild Gift…

When Our Love Passed Out On The Couch