Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Best fifteen minutes out there?

So it's Christmas Eve and I can't sleep. It must be something. Probably because I haven't been to bed before midnight since Christmas, er Winter (PC), Break began. So it's 11:53 PM and I'm looking through the albums on my computer and I notice something: Group Sex by Circle Jerks is only fifteen minutes long. I've listened to the album before and I knew it had fourteen tracks on it, but I did not have a clue that it was only fifteen minutes long. This has to be genius or something, doesn't it? Let's take a look…

Group Sex was the debut album of Circle Jerks, released in 1980. Circle Jerks were an American hardcore band from southern California.

Now into the album. Group Sex is 933 seconds long. That amounts to fifteen minutes and thirty-three seconds. That is just over one-quarter of an hour.

The longest song on the album is 1:34. The average length of each song on the album is 1:06. The shortest track is twenty-four seconds long.

(Clock reads 12:00 AM. Merry Christmas! Church in twelve hours.)

Now, those of you not familiar with American hardcore must be thinking, "These guys are total slackers, this isn't music." But to me, and hopefully many others out there, this stuff is pure genius. The music is characterized by continuously pounding bass lines and very fast ride cymbal. The lyrics often resemble shouting while the guitar part is just a few power chords put together in a riff and repeated with the occasional solo.

The points of the songs are clear, such as "I Just Want Some Skank" and "Don't Care." Others like "World Up My Ass" are just creative.

In my opinion, the American hardcore and punk scenes from the early 1980's are vastly underrated. When punk is brought up, people usually immediately think of Johnny Rotten and the British punk from the 1970's or Blink-182 and today's "punk." (Sorry to break this to you. It's not punk. None of it is. Punk is dead. If punk was still alive, these guys would be in the back of their vans making album inserts and packaging their albums. But they aren't. They have people to do that for them. People will always have people to do that for them. No more punks, in the music sense of the word. End rant. Sorry about that.) Revolutionary bands such as Black Flag, Bad Brains, and Minor Threat aren't thought of. In reality, these are the unruly youths who cleared the way for Green Day, Blink-182, Fall Out Boy, and all the other crap out there. Little rant there, but ok.

And now, a review.

Track Listing
1. "Deny Everything" (0:24)
2. "I Just Want Some Skank" (1:09)
3. "Beverly Hills" (1:03)
4. "Operation" (1:29)
5. "Back Against the Wall" (1:34)
6. "Wasted" (0:42)
7. "Behind the Door" (1:25)
8. "World Up My Ass" (1:16)
9. "Paid Vacation" (1:28)
10. "Don't Care" (0:34)
11. "Live Fast Die Young" (1:33)
12. "What's Your Problem" (0:56)
13. "Group Sex" (1:03)
14. "Red Tape" (0:56)

Group Sex fits the American hardcore band stereotype perfectly. Short, fast, to the point cuts that come and go quickly. The album starts out with "Deny Everything," which focuses on being framed and the right of being innocent until proven guilty. The song's twenty-four seconds long. Not that much they can cram in there. "I Just Want Some Skank" is about the speaker of the song who, coincidentally, wants some skank. Can't go wrong there.

"Beverly Hills" focuses on the upper class residents that punks hated so much. The song refers to the residents of Beverly Hills as being "lame" while taking shots at the upper class. The song "Operation" is a little weird. I don't really want to get into it, it's just weird. Really weird, actually. "Back Against the Wall" describes the situation every punk felt they were in. They each felt they were being persecuted for their ideas and lack of conformity. Their backs were against the wall, in essence, and they felt the need to fight back.

"Wasted" is a short little ditty about, you guessed it, being wasted. "Behind the Door" is a bit harder to decipher, but hey, no one really wants to know what goes on behind closed doors. "World Up My Ass" is another song similar to "Back Against the Wall" about punks being told how to act and how they are sick of it. The theme of the album seems to be quite repetitive, but "World Up My Ass" has a cool guitar solo not found anywhere else on the album.

I've never really paid that much attention to "Paid Vacation." I can't find the point to the song. Cool riff and beat to it though. "Don't Care" is pretty simple to figure out however. Can you guess what it's about? "Live Fast Die Young" is not the advice you want to give to young people it seems, but it is the exact mindset of punks in the 1980's. The opening line reads "I don't want to live till I'm 34 / I don't want to die in a nuclear war." The lyrics sing of hopelessness in the era and the seeming doom of the Reagan era.

"What's Your Problem" sings mockingly, "Tell me what's your problem / What you gonna do." Mocks everyone. Ah, the title track, "Group Sex." What's this song about? I think you can guess. The appealing part of this song is the female voices of the chorus shouting "Group sex!" with a spoken word song overtop of it. Probably the best song of the album. "Red Tape" is about red tape and being kept out of certain areas by red tape. The goal of the song seems to be to break down the red tape separating the different social classes.

Well it's late and someone wants to get up and open some presents, so I hope you enjoyed this quick review of a quick album.

Merry Christmas and give it a listen.

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