Joey Ramone would have been 60 years old on May 19. This week, in celebration of the birthday of the Queens-born gone-too-soon punk legend, Sound of the City will run a series of features on his life and his legacy.
The Ramones may have shouted their last four-count 15 years ago, but whether you see the band as idiot savants spitting out rudimentary songs at machine-gun pace as best they could or as avant-pop deconstructionists of Phil Spector and The Beach Boys, there’s no denying the stain they left on generations of punks to come in their wake. Here’s a guide to a few bands that are chewin’ out the three-chord rhythm on their bubblegum.
(Above: “I Am A Girlfriend”)
Nobunny has been hopping his way between Chicago, Tucson, and the Bay Area over the better part of the last decade. After years doing time with unsung underground greats like the Okmoniks and Sneaky Pinks (more on them when we get to Black Randy & The Metro Squad week!), audiences across the globe have finally started to catch on to the mysterious masked musician. The bunny mask ain’t no gimmick, though… this guy can write some serious hooks! And he wears his influences on his sleeve, er, bunny mask. Just check out the cover of his first record.
Sounds Like: The Easter Bunny fronting The Mummies.
Essential Release(s): Love Visions (Bubbledumb/1-2-3-4 GO!); First Blood (Goner).
Hunx & His Punx
(above: “Hey Rocky”)
Hunx & His Punx is the alter ego of erstwhile Gravy Train!!! singer Seth Bogart, who went solo in 2008 with the gayest record the Ramones never made. With the help of Champlin and a backing band that reads like a virtual who’s who of Bay Area Budget Rockers, Hunx & His Punx (now the all-female Punkettes) have been on a tear with a half-dozen singles and a full length LP under their belt… or leopard-print banana hammock. Hunx also owns the combination hair salon/vintage store Down At Lulu’s in Oakland with sometime Punkette and former Bobbyteen Tina Lucchesi.
Sounds Like: Cruising on the corner of 53rd & 3rd for a little too long.
Essential Release(s): The Gay Singles LP collects all Hunx’s early 7-inches (insert your own pun here); a new full-length, Too Young to Be In Love, is out now on Hardly Art.
(above: “Let Us Play Your Party”)
The Spits have been bashing out their brand of violent skater-centric punk rock since the early ’90s. All whirring keyboards and nothing but downstrokes, the Seattle-via-Kalamazoo Wood brothers have elevated three-chord dumbpunk to an art form. “Classic street punk sans politics meets early-’80s arcade-game psychedelia” is how the Slovenly Records website describes their first self-titled album–the first of four, all of which are brilliant in their ineptitude.
Sounds Like: The Dee Dee songs.
Essential Release(s): The self-titled album. Any of them. There are four.
Personal and The Pizzas
(above: “Brass Knuckles”)
Personal and The Pizzas might look like they just stepped off the set of Grease, but these Garage Fonzies are more 1977 than ’55. Claiming to hail from the Garden State, the band heaps a Benny Tudino’s-sized slice of ham onto songs about chains, brass knuckles, and, most importantly, pizza–the cornerstone of any punk’s diet. Sounds like they took a lesson from no less than Riff Randell herself: “All [Joey] eats is pizza. I just love the way he, he just holds the pizza dripping above his mouth. He just slithers and slides it into his mouth and it’s so sexy.”
Sounds Like: Cheese!
Essential Release: Raw Pizza (Burger Records).