“Bobbing For Pavement” Compilation (1992)

My “To Listen To” shelf is getting ridiculous. It currently has records from my last visit to Daybreak Records, at least one of my RSD pick-ups, stuff from our recent trip to South Korea and Japan, and this weekend I added a handful of comps I picked up while we were in Denver to see Devil Makes Three live at Red Rocks Amphitheater. It’s an embarrassment of vinyl riches, and frankly it stresses me out a bit to see so many things I haven’t gotten to yet. Because I’m neurotic that way.

I spun Bobbing For Pavement the other day and initially didn’t plan on writing about it. Not because I didn’t like it, but it’s another Seattle grunge comp, and it’s not like I haven’t written about a bunch of those in the past. But hearing those great tracks by The Gits got me thinking about Mia Zapata, which lead to a downward internet spiral of interconnected searches and links, and now I feel a bit compelled to share.

I felt like I knew all the late 1980s/early 90s Seattle comps, most of which came out on labels like Sub Pop and C/Z and Glitterhouse and Amphetamine Reptile. But I saw Bobbing For Pavement at Denver’s Twist & Shout Records, and I never heard of it nor the label, Rathouse Records. A little digging revealed that The Rathouse was the Capitol Hill (♠) residence of members of D.C. Beggars and The Gits and anyone else in their music circle who may have needed a place to crash. The location itself, 1900 E. Denny Way, is in many ways the poster-child of the gentrification and insane real estate prices afflicting Seattle. Back in 1992 this was a fairly rough neighborhood, at least by Seattle standards, and I was able to confirm that this is indeed the right place thanks to a period photo of members of the Beggars on the house’s front porch, which match the general appearance of the house as it appears online today. The earliest sale info I could find have the house selling for $216,500 back in 1997. Estimated value if today per Zillow? Just over $1.2 million. My, how times (and neighborhoods) change.

Was Mia Zapata of The Gits headed back to The Rathouse the night she was brutally raped and murdered in 1993? We’ll never know. I’m sure it’s a walk she did many times by herself – she knew the area and it wasn’t that far. She had a powerful personality and her loss affected many in the local scene deeply. I feel like I was vaguely aware of the murder at the time, but honestly I can’t be sure. I’d just graduated college and was trying to find my way in the regular world on the other side of Lake Washington from Seattle, fairly sheltered in my very middle class apartment in a safe neighborhood. I certainly can’t make a claim to having been part of the scene that was happening just a 20 minute drive away, other than through my collection of records and CDs.

The Rathouse crew are all over this comp, which includes multiple tracks by The Gits and D.C. Beggars as well as a pair by Big Brown House, a band that also included Beggars’ bassist Adrian Garver. There are some other recognizable Seattle-scene names here as well like Gas Huffer and Hammerbox. One of the things I love about Bobbing For Pavement is the number of women singers on it – three of the bands (The Gits, D.C. Beggars, and Hammerbox) were fronted by women and I enjoy the attitude they bring. Riot Grrrl was bubbling up at this point, bringing with it a much-needed (and unfortunately short-lived) wave of female empowerment, and that’s reflected in the punk-ish sound of these artists.

Bobbing For Pavement is one of the great Seattle comps, one that captures the feel without relying on any of the big names. It’s definitely worth a spot on your shelf and frequent spins on your turntable.

(♠) I’ve also seen it referred to as being in the Central District. It’s more or less on the border between the two Seattle neighborhoods, but given that it’s north of Madison I think that puts it more in Capitol Hill. Long-time Seattle residents may disagree, but whatever.

毛皮のマリーズ (Kegawa no Maries) – “Faust E.P.” 10″ (2008 / 2018)

I snagged this 10″ over at Osaka’s Flake Records a few weeks back. Little did I know at the time, but on our last trip to Japan I actually bought a greatest hits comp CD for this same band called Maries Mania. As near as I can tell from the translation on the band’s Japanese-language Wikipedia page their name translates to either “Kegawa no Maries” or something like “Marquis of Kegawa”, and their fans are referred to as either “Mary’s” or “Maries”. They formed sometime around 2003 and eventually imploded at the end of 2011. This clear 10″ just came out last month, but it looks to be a slightly re-named re-release of their 2008 mini-album Faust CD, comprised of the same six songs that appeared on the original.

There’s a dirty lo-fi-ness to Faust E.P. The opening track “おはようミカ” (“Good Morning Mika” is defined by Rolling Stones-like riffs and vocals reminiscent of Jet’s Nic Cester, though 毛皮のマリーズ manages to avoid falling into definitive categories. “ハートブレイクマン” is all 1960s dream-psych-pop, while “非・生産的人間” is a like a crust punk assault. There’s an overall sense of cultivated sleaze that feels like an oxymoronic attempt at planned spontaneity, despite which I still find myself drawn to each and every song and feeling like I need to go back and get that Maries Mania into rotation on my iPod.

Eva Ryu – “Iam Fuck Dog” (2018)

Released just a month ago, Eva Ryu’s Iam Fuck Dog was one of the recommendations we got during our visit to Osaka’s Compufunk Records earlier in May. And man is it a winner – five acid house jams with a bit of hip hop sprinkled over the top, all pulsing beats and samples. You can listen to the title track on Soundcloud HERE if you’re intrigued, and you should be because Eva Ryu knows how to put a track together.

“No Wave” Compilation (1979)

I bought this over at Osaka’s Time Bomb Records thinking it was something released only in the Japanese market, but later that evening I realized it was actually put out in a number of different countries. “Oh well,” I thought. “At least it’s got the cool OBI and Japanese-language insert”. Turns out, though, that there are two Japanese versions of No Wave, both from 1979, and fortunately for me I ended up with the rarer of the two. My version has 16 songs while the other Japanese pressing has only 12, but what’s really weird is that there are songs on the 12 song version that don’t appear on the one with 16 songs. I feel like there’s a story here that I’m not going to get to the bottom of. What’s even weirder is all the other versions pressed in other countries also have 16 tracks… so not sure what’s up with the shorter version.

Anyway, let’s get something out of the way right up front – none of these bands qualify as being “No Wave”. Sure, the comp came out only a year after the seminal and genre-defining No New York, but let’s be real – these artists are more new wave, or simply rock, than no wave. The Police? No wave? C’mon. No wave was an anti-movement, one that pretty much ceased to exist as soon as the first copy of No New York sold. The moment someone tried to define and sell something the entire spirit of it imploded leaving behind nothing more than a few copycats that record execs tried to package as some kind of hip outsider movement.

But back to No Wave. There are some decent tunes here and a number of bands/artists I haven’t heard before – Klark Kent (who was actually Stewart Copeland of The Police), David Kubinec, Bobby Henry… and all of it is quite good. Squeeze brings us a pair of solid tracks, most notably the synth-driven “Take Me I’m Yours,” my favorite song on the comp. In fact all three of their contributions to No Wave are killer – I may need to keep my eyes peeled for Squeeze records from now on.

There’s plenty of good stuff on No Wave, though I’d probably suggest you just stick with one of the much less expensive UK versions if you’re just in it for the music.

So-Cho Pistons – “Piston Bop Nite!!” (2014)

Dumb Records is a cool little record store / curry restaurant / bar located in Hiroshima, Japan. The music selection is relatively small, taking up maybe half of one wall. You can go through the whole thing in just a couple of minutes, and it’s all punk rock. I almost left without buying anything until the guy working there pointed me toward Piston Bop Nite!! and told me he as a member of the So-Cho Pistons (he’s the drummer and goes by the name Nass). That’s a pretty solid local connection so I figured, why not? And I’m glad I did because this is a fun record.

Piston Bop Nite!! is 14 tracks of blistering-fast, straight-ahead punk rock, a Ramones-esque sprint that probably doesn’t last much more than 25 minutes or so. Get in, rock, get out, repeat. I believe all he lyrics are in Japanese, though the lyric sheet insert has them all in English. I couldn’t find the album versions of any of these songs online, but YouTube has a handful of videos of their live performances, so go give ’em a listen if you like you some punk rock.