Lower East Side Stitches – “Staja 98 L.E.S.” (1998)

New York City’s own Lower East Side Stitches formed in the late 1980s, keeping the punk flag raised high in the face of the grunge onslaught. This was yet another pickup from the New Arrivals bin at Easy Street Records in Seattle, and since I’m a sucker for a punk record on colored vinyl (stupid, I know… I think it dates back to my days of buying Sub Pop 45 rpm singles and always being on the lookout for the colored vinyl limited edition releases) it looked like it was worth a shot.

Staja 98 L.E.S. is the band’s second full-length LP, released in 1999, and it has some of the old school punk feel, but with some good production (the bass is a bit heavy on my system… but I can’t say how much of that is the recording, and how much is my stereo). Not fast enough to be hardcore, it still has a good nice quick pace. Supposedly Joey Ramone was a fan, and you can see why with the band’s pacing and sound… though this is a lot harder than The Ramones.

You can almost hear Mick Brown’s punk sneer in the vocals.

In classic punk fashion, the album’s 14 songs are pretty short – only one clocks in at more than 3:06 (“Rustic City” is a very un-punk 4:32). I think the best track on Side A is “Parasite”, which is probably the fastest song on the side. “Frustration” on Side B is some classic fast punk, and probably my favorite from that side.

The lyric sheet insert is, as always, a help on these records. I thought maybe I’d find something funny here, but for the most part the message is somewhat dark, about a life that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere and is filled with angst. And drinking. And traveling to shows. At least it sounds honest.

Overall some really good punk. I’m impressed by my first listen to this band, and I suspect this one will get some more spins on the turntable and possibly even burned to mp3 (a necessary step until I put a turntable in my office). If you’re a classic punk fan, this one is worth checking out.