Greetings good peoples, and welcome to the latest edition of Classic Rock’s Tracks Of The Week. So much music, so little time but we’ve combed through as much as humanly possible and reckon we’ve got a pretty appetising list to tempt you with. But first let’s look at last week’s top three, in reverse order:
Congratulations to Redd Kross, comeback kings and now TOTW winners! And well played to Novatines and Dinosaur Pile-Up for highly respectable second and third places. You’ve all done marvellously. Now let’s see who emerges victorious from this new stable of noble rock steeds, right after a victory spin of Redd Kross’s champion track. Dig in y’all…
Last year, I spent a whole bunch of time (and money!) buying up back issues of Metal Maniacs: a music magazine that was around, in various formats, from 1989 to 2009, although it’s not around at all anymore. It was never published online, or preserved on microfiche, or collected in book form, or formally archived anywhere. This is a fucking travesty, because Metal Maniacs was a groundbreaking publication, especially over the first six years of its existence, when its founding editor, the late Katherine Ludwig, was running the show. Ludwig’s vision of metal was radically inclusive, expansive, and thoughtful. Read through every issue of Maniacs from 1990 up to ’95 or ’96 and you see an entire galaxy that barely resembles “metal” as it appears today. I mean, you can’t actually do that, of course — not without a lot of effort anyway — but you should. Or, at least, I did. And when I got to the August 1994 issue, I read features on Sepultura, Soundgarden, Black Sabbath, Entombed, and Redd Kross. The writer of that Redd Kross piece was Marina Zogbi, and it opened with this:
There aren’t too many bonafide rock legends around these days that are still young and cool enough to matter. And certainly none that have recently released the best album of their lives. If you have even a passing interest in how the youngest (genuine) punk band in the US grew up into great, non-conforming musicians, beating odds and banging heads along the way, here’s the Redd Kross story. (If you don’t, you’ll probably write us whining that this space should have been devoted to Deicide. Yeah, yeah, yeah.)
That was 25 years ago. TWENTY FIVE. In 1994, Redd Kross were “bonafide rock legends.” They were! The band was formed in 1978 by brothers Jeff and Steven McDonald, who were then 13 and 9, respectively. Here’s a line from their current bio:
Jeff and Steven started making music together in Southern California as Red Cross during the first wave of Los Angeles punk rock, famously cutting their teeth opening for Black Flag at a middle school graduation party.
This is one tiny piece of the Redd Kross story. Ancillary to that is the anecdote behind the origin of the name “Red Cross” — as well as the anecdote behind why “Red Cross” was changed to “Redd Kross.” That’s a whole story right there! The Redd Kross story is SO MUCH huger than that, though.
For instance, there are the early years, when the McDonald brothers were arty punk-rock teenagers who released two EPs (Red Cross in 1980 and Teen Babes In Monsanto in 1984) and two LPs (Born Innocent in 1982 and Neurotica in 1987). Each of those releases is loaded with wild, unbelievable factoids, coincidences, and references, any one of which could fill an entire blog post. Not THIS blog post though. Moving on…
Next, you’ve got Redd Kross’ major-label debut, 1990’s Third Eye, which aesthetically positioned the band somewhere between ostensible pre-grunge oddball contemporaries Enuff Z’nuff and Jellyfish, but it sounded like pure Cheap Trick worship with Beatles harmonies and hooks. Couple fun facts about that album: (1) There is a song on Third Eye called “Shonen Knife” — a tribute to the Japanese band Shonen Knife. The following year, the Seattle band Nirvana took the Japanese band Shonen Knife on a tour of the UK, prior to the release of the former group’s own major-label debut, Nevermind. (2) On the cover of Third Eye, there is a photograph in which sits a naked woman wearing a creepy-ass plastic mask. That woman was later revealed to be Sofia Coppola, who must have been 19 years old at the time. I could keep going! But I can’t. We gotta move on!
Moving on: In 1993 — when “alternative rock” was a goldmine — Redd Kross released Phaseshifter. That was the one Metal Maniacs described as “the best album of their lives.” Real quick here: Phaseshifter is fucking awesome. So too is the album that followed it, 1997’s Show World. These are stone classics, front to back. Naturally, NEITHER ONE is available on Spotify, which is a truly horrifying indictment of Spotify and a glaring example of the insane voids that exist within music-streaming services. What is the point of a “universal library” that doesn’t have fucking “Jimmy’s Fantasy”? Why do we bother with music at all? No time for that now, just sayin’.
Then? After Show World? Redd Kross broke up.
Then? Fast forward 15 years: Redd Kross released their first new album since Show World: 2012’s Researching The Blues. That was SEVEN YEARS ago. Crazy!
Then? Fast forward to right now: Redd Kross have dropped the first single/title track from their seventh LP — their seventh LP since forming in 1978! — Beyond The Door. Here’s another line from the current bio:
On the surface, the album title is a playful reference to an Italian horror film the McDonald brothers watched as children, a loose rip-off of both The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby that stars Juliet Mills of ’70s television program Nanny And The Professor. But like all things Redd Kross, it would be a sad injustice to stop digging there. No one knows what lies Beyond The Door … but we’re all in front of it.
And here we are, at the proverbial door! If you know Redd Kross, you know what this sounds like: pure Cheap Trick worship with Beatles harmonies and hooks. That doesn’t change, because that is timeless music, and timeless is the music at which Redd Kross excel. It’s right here. Let’s go:
The deets of the album’s release are as follows: Beyond The Door is out 8/23 via Merge. Pre-order it here. They’re touring with the motherfucking Melvins, too, and I’ve got those dates for ya below. But before we get to that, I gotta share some other stuff that applies to this post and probably won’t pop up elsewhere without some digging on your part.
First, Phaseshifter single “Jimmy’s Fantasy”: a perfect song.
Second, Show World single “Mess Around”: a perfect song.
Third, BECAUSE I CARE: scans of Marina Zogbi’s Redd Kross feature for Metal Maniacs from ’94, which is way more in-depth than what I could manage in a blog post:
Last and probably most important of all, yr tour dates: Redd Kross x Melvins:
09/03 – San Diego, CA @ Casbah
09/04 – Santa Ana, CA @ Observatory
09/05 – Los Angeles, CA @ Troubadour
09/07 – Sacramento, CA @ Holy Diver
09/08 – Berkeley, CA @ Cornerstone
09/10 – Eugene, OR @ Wow Hall
09/11 – Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge
09/13 – Seattle, WA @ Neumo’s
09/14 – Seattle, WA @ Neumo’s
09/15 – Spokane, WA @ The Big Dipper
09/16 – Missoula, MT @ Top Hat Lounge
09/17 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge
09/19 – Ft. Collins, CO @ Aggie Theatre
09/20 – Englewood, CO @ Gothic Theatre
09/22 – Kansas City, MO @ The Record Bar
09/23 – Omaha, NE @ The Waiting Room
09/24 – Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
09/25 – Madison, WI @ High Noon Saloon
09/26 – Chicago, IL @ Metro
09/27 – St. Louis, MO @ The Ready Room
09/28 – Louisville, KY @ Louder Than Life Festival
09/30 – Indianapolis, IN @ The Vogue
10/01 – Grand Rapids, MI @ Pyramid Scheme
10/02 – Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop
10/03 – Detroit, MI @ El Club
10/04 – Columbus, OH @ A&R Music Bar
10/05 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Red Theatre
10/07 – Syracuse, NY @ Wescott Theatre
10/08 – Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club
10/09 – Hamden, CT @ Space Ballroom
10/10 – Brooklyn, NY @ Warsaw
10/11 – Asbury Park, NJ @ Stone Pony
10/12 – Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts
10/13 – Baltimore, MD @ Otto Bar
10/15 – Richmond, VA @ The Broadberry
10/16 – Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle
10/17 – Charlotte, NC @ Visulite Theatre
10/18 – Athens, GA @ 40 Watt Club
10/19 – Birmingham, AL @ Saturn
10/21 – Orlando, FL @ The Social
10/22 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL @ Culture Rom
10/23 – Tampa, FL @ The Orpheum
10/25 – Pensacola, FL @ Vinyl Music Hall
10/26 – New Orleans, LA @ One Eyed Jacks
10/27 – Baton Rouge, LA @ Spanish Moon
10/28 – Houston, TX @ Warehouse Live Studio
10/29 – San Antonio, TX @ Paper Tiger
10/30 – Austin, TX @ Mohawk
10/31 – Dallas, TX @ Trees
11/03 – Tucson, AZ @ Club Congress
11/04 – Phoenix, AZ @ Crescent Ballroom
11/05 – Las Vegas, NV @ The Bunkhouse Saloon
In The Red is over the moon to announce the release of this new split single by REDD KROSS and The SIDE EYES. REDD KROSS should need no introduction so we’ll just say that they are the finest purveyors of punk-glam-pop-metal in the world and one of the best band’s to come out of Los Angeles ever. Fronted by brothers Jeff and Steve McDonald, the band started out in the late 70’s LA punk scene when they were 12 and 15 years old! They’ve continued to record the entire time releasing one amazing record after another.
The Side Eyes are a brand new Los Angeles punk band fronted by Astrid McDonald, daughter of Jeff from Redd Kross and Charlotte Caffey (Go-Go’s). The Side Eyes are a ferocious young punk band whose sound recalls early punk bands like The Bags and Avengers and they play with a heaviness that would make Mudhoney or Fuzz proud. Their live shows are frantic, aggressive and incredible.
One this single both bands have recorded renditions of songs written by Charlotte “Chargo” Caffey back in her early punk rock days. The Side Eyes do “Don’t Talk To Me” originally recorded by Charlotte’s band The Eyes. Redd Kross tackle “Screaming” a very early Go-Go’s song. Both are incredible! You need this!
Today, Incase premieres the third and final installment of Room 205 with psych-pop icons Redd Kross and guest vocalist Astrid McDonald performing “Pop Show.”
Special thanks to director Tim Manning, set designer Tamarra Younis, sound engineer J. Clark, cinematographer Ryan Baker and producer Arlie Carstens. Most of all, thanks again to the immortal Redd Kross. Working with such a monumentally talented and legendary group has brought a real touch of class, sass and showmanship to Room 205.
About Redd Kross
Redd Kross have always been too good, too perfect, too true, to believe. Mythic. Did they really open for Black Flag? Could Jeff and Steven McDonald really have been born and raised in the Beach Boys’ hometown of Hawthorne, California, and did Jeff really see the Beatles live in 1966? Is that really their hair? Could Researching the Blues, their first studio album in 15 years, be the best start-to-finish Redd Kross record ever? Somehow, the answer to all the above is improbably, wonderfully YES. Here’s to their beautiful reunion! Redd Kross Forever!
Founded in 1997, Incase creates products to protect and enhance the technology that is essential to our lives. Designed to meet the needs of individuals across all interests, professions and passions, Incase products promote design simplicity while offering intuitive functionality and increased mobility for an enhanced user experience.
About Room 205
Working in collaboration with visiting musicians and a revolving cast of filmmakers, set designers, audio engineers and friends, Room 205 exists to share our collective passion for art and music and showcase the people that inspire us.
Room 205 is an Official Honoree of the 17th Annual Webby Awards in the Music category.
For the first time since 1997, Redd Kross will embark on its first full-blast run of shows along the east coast and in the Great Lakes area. The same is true for San Diego and the Mojave Desert! The band will also join Dinosaur Jr. on several dates in Australia.
Redd Kross founding member and bassist Steve McDonald says of the tour: “We’re very excited about this run as it will also be the first chance we’ve had to spread the gospel of Researching the Blues on US soil beyond the west coast since its release back in August.”
The band has always garnered raves for its electrifying live shows. Of a recent performance, the Los Angeles Times wrote: “Redd Kross greeted 2013 with long hair flying and the kind of big, distorted chords, singalong choruses and head-banging ditties that made them one of Los Angeles’ greatest punk bands when they rose from Hawthorne in 1980 alongside kindred spirits Black Flag and Circle Jerks.”
For these upcoming dates, Redd Kross will work with Burger Records (the label that put out Researching the Blues on limited-edition cassette) to find “Burger-approved” local support in each town. Steve tells us that Lee from Burger will also be driving the guys around in the Burger Van, selling merch and maybe even guest DJing on special nights. Also, longtime Redd Kross fans will be excited to know that the band plans to dig deep into its 30-plus-year career-spanning catalog, playing such underground rock classics as “Annie’s Gone,” “Linda Blair,” and “Annette’s Got the Hits” in addition to songs from the recent album.
Researching the Blues features 10 new songs clocking in at just under 32 minutes. With songs written by co-founder Jeff McDonald and produced and mixed by Steve, the album is by far the band’s favorite record.
NPR’s Stephen Thompson provided this glowing review of the record: “Power-pop signposts abound throughout the album, from Cheap Trick to Teenage Fanclub—the latter could’ve fit ‘Dracula’s Daughters’ onto Bandwagonesque and no one would have minded—but Researching the Blues never delves into nostalgia. Who has time, when you’re having this much fun blowing kids half your age out of the water?”