Album Review

Watt, Mike + The Secondmen/ Chronics [coll] – [Asian Man Records]

Naysayer   6/16/2014   7-inch, A Library

This is one of those “the sum may be more interesting than the whole” kind of stories. The split with Mike Watt + The Secondmen and Chronics are two enjoyable, straight ahead several minute numbers of punkish surf and power pop psych goodness that put a smile on my face. Mike Watt’s “Surfin’ With the Shah” is a fun, driving surfingish instrumental that keeps you dancing. The Chronics, hailing from Italy, cover of “She Don’t Know Why I’m Here” continues in their playing of power pop with a no nonsense go at it attitude. It’s good clean fun.

But wait….. what’s happening here? There’s a lot more meat when you know the background.
Released on Asian Man Records, the label run by Mike Park (of Skankin’ Pickle and Chinkees fame). Since 1996, Park has been releasing second, third and more wave punk, ska music from his garage distribution. It’s an impressive collection of releases.
This is his first release from Mike Watt.

Now, Mike Watt is the ever plaid shirt wearing, San Pedro heavy hitter bassist of godhead bands Minutemen and Firehose, besides numerous other projects. Mike Watt + The Secondmen, usually a trio, is one of his current projects where he is lead singer besides bassist. Yet this is an instrumental. And not just any instrumental but a cover of the first 45 released by seminal L.A. punk trio The Urinals. Why would he pick this song to cover? Well, on Youtube there is clip of the Urinals performing “Surfin’…” at Hollywood’s Anti-Club back in the early punk days, and who jumps up on stage to dance and shout to the number but the Minutemen’s own D. Boon, best friend and bandmate of Mike Watt. Connection? Maybe.

And then the Chronics. They choose to cover “She Don’t Know Why I’m Here”, L.A. power pop granddaddies The Last’s first 45 release from 1977. The Last’s version definitely is a forerunner and guide to the Paisley Underground that came later in Los Angeles. The Chronics are definitely influenced by that sound and they honor it well.

Both songs are mixed and mastered by Jim Diamond at Ghetto Records from Detroit. Which must be how these two singles came together for Mike Park. Or is it that Mike Watt has connections to Italy with another project of his with two, Italian musicians, and that’s how he knows about the Chronics? Or is it…… ???
How about you just play it and enjoy.

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