Good, Bad, Pretty
Castle Face Records, 2016
Review by Kent Manthie
Another quite fascinating album from Castle Face Records, which, over the last couple months, I’ve reviewed a number of shockingly great work. This one is not only a great album, but, if you scan the roster of Castle Face, you’ll see that they don’t have a stable full of bands that all sound the same or even necessarily come from the same place, musically and stylistically speaking.
This latest one is the debut from San Francisco’s Deep Throats, called Good, Bad, Pretty. One of the first things I noticed was the raw, stripped-down, knife-edge mix of punk, rockabilly and maybe a bit of surf-rock thrown in, for good measure.
On the opening song, which is also the title track, one thing that grabbed me was that loud, raw, gritty guitar which is not unlike Greg Ginn’s atonal slowed-down stuff from the good ol’ days of Black Flag. But it isn’t that way for the whole album. By the time we get to “Way I Move”, “2 Hot 2 Handle” or “Last Request”, there seems to be more than one guitar going, but I think it’s probably either an overdub or else I’m just dreaming(??).
Anyway, the lineup here features drummer Sugar Fixx, singer and guitarist, Tracy Lourdes (who is a guy, and, of course, if you paid attention to the spelling, NOT the formerly underage porn star, Tracy LORDS), as well as a guy who goes by the nom de guerre, Ron Draino, but known to his parents as Chris Johanson, who is a key figure in the “Mission School Art Movement” (hey, it’s a San Francisco thing- you wouldn’t understand [well, maybe]), which also includes Barry McGee and Margaret Kilgallen, who, incidentally, plays bass and sings on Good, Bad, Pretty.
Well, Deep Throats has had an interesting time, coming up through this whole Mission District-Area music scene: having been “excommunicated” from one of the big scene hangouts, etc., the Epicenter, after having, supposedly, “intimidated” people, “vandalism” and other petty or maybe even trumped up charges, with which the SFPD used to “forcibly remove” the members of Deep Throats from the Epicenter and banned from there, by the cops and, I’m sure the proprietors of said place had no problem with that. Their reply? “So, we were banned, by cops, from our scene and so we made our own scene!”
It was label head and leader of Thee Oh Sees, John Dwyer, who saw Deep Throats playing a gig in Clarion Alley, one of these many little dead end, half-block-long “roads” – or, well, alleys, around The City. It was the fascinating “press release” that accompanied the Clarion Alley gig which Dwyer found interesting: it read, to the effect: “Drugs, Violence/General Snottiness/Elastic Paranoid Guitar/SRO drum kit/Coke-bottle-specs-sharp bass sounds…” which, when Dwyer read it, saw that there seemed to be potential there for some tinderbox-igniting chaos which had the veneer of excitement to it. That kind of premeditated mayhem is what’s archived on Good, Bad,Pretty.
So, for those of you familiar with the ever-exciting music that keeps coming out on Castle Face’s label: nothing that you could stick in a box and label “ABC” or “XYZ”, but rather a wide range of great stuff that has at least one thing in common: they’re all indie greats, they have a lot of anachronistic things about their music, i.e. that it doesn’t seem to be from 2016 (or even from 2010), so much of what I’ve heard that’s come from Castle Face has had delightful sounds but ones that could’ve just as easily come out in the late 60s or early-mid 70s and with this one here, Good, Bad, Pretty, it would’ve fit in just fine with the late 70s/early 80s Southern California hardcore/punk scene. In some places I can hear a bit of a hybrid of (SST Records honcho and Black Flag founder) Greg Ginn and Exene Cervenka (of X, for those of you who don’t know that name). In other places it’s harder to pin the music down to something as easy as a band you could compare it to, as far as what they sound like. I’ll tell you what they sound like: they sound like the future isn’t necessarily going to be bleak. Not everything (or everybody) is wearing the same corporate label tags, so to speak. There really is a LOT of exciting things happening in the whole indie scene – and when I say “indie”, I am not referring to a specific type of music, I’m talking more about a way of life – a nonconformist, noncorporate way of living, working, thinking and doing it.
To really drink it all in, you really have to hear this album to believe what I’m talking about – or at least to see what I mean! In fact, there is so much worth checking out from this label, you should really just visit there website and just browse around. To get to CF’s Deep Throats page, go straight to http://www.castlefacerecords.com/products/deep-throats-good-bad-pretty and you can read all about them, as well as purchase the album there. If you’d like to get a broader vista of the label itself and all they have to offer, just go to www.castlefacerecords.com – from there, you can see a variety of different acts and to read about them, it’s just a click away. Hope you enjoy it!! –KM.