Saturday, July 23, 2011

Teriyaki Asthma

Having focused aplenty on Washington DC, let's move now across the country to Washington state, where we find Seattle's C/Z Records, a small label founded in 1985. C/Z may be overshadowed by its city's other indie label, Sub Pop, but it can in fact lay claim to some serious milestones in the development of indie rock in the Pacific Northwest. According to the label's website, C/Z released the first recordings by such heavy-hitters as Soundgarden, the Melvins, and Built to Spill - not bad. Perhaps more historically, they were the first label to put out a song by Nirvana - namely the track "Mexican Seafood," which appeared as the first song on the first volume of the label's singles series, Teriyaki Asthma, in 1989.

That's a pretty momentous way to start out a singles series, and over the next four years the label did well to keep up, including songs by Babes in Toyland, L7, Helios Creed, and others, as you will soon see. The majority of the Teriyaki Asthma tracks fit squarely within the grunge aesthetic of late-80s/early-90s Seattle, but there are some pleasant surprises, and overall I have to say there is a very high level of sonic quality here. I am not fortunate enough to own all the whole series (the first volume goes for over $100 these days), but I have amassed four of them, which I am presenting here. These and the rest of the singles, including the never-released Teriyaki Asthma X, have been released on CD by the label and seem to still be available here - as always I encourage you to go get those clean and pristine digital versions. In the meantime, have a gander at volumes five through eight below.

I may already have to eat my words about these records featuring mostly PNW bands, as Teriyaki Asthma V opens with a rager by Jonestown who were, from what I can tell, actually from Philadelphia. There's not much information out there about them other than that they featured Tom Greenwood, who went on to co-found Jackie-O Motherfucker in Portland. Gas Huffer actually was from Seattle, as was Daddy Hate Box, which was a side group formed by the singer from Coffin Break and the drummer from Tad. (Their band name is a play on Mother Love Bone, get it?) Porn Orchard hail from Athens, GA and for this single turn in a similarly raucous track, making this single a fine introduction to what Teriyaki Asthma has to offer.

Teriyaki Asthma V, 1991
C/Z, no. 25

A1. Jonestown, "Fuck Your High and Get You Up" (2:24)
A2. Gas Huffer, "Hijacked" (2:11)
B1. Porn Orchard, "What Kills" (3:57)
B2. Daddy Hate Box, "Look Like Hell" (1:56)

Things get interesting on Teriyaki Asthma VI. The first track is by The Thrown Ups, a band by this point in decline thanks to two of its three members devoting themselves to their more well-known act, Mudhoney. They turn in what is apparently a typically manic performance here, on what must have been one of their last recordings. Olivelawn is a bit more obscure, but came from San Diego and, as their song title suggests, clearly have some aggression to work out. Pain Teens are described on Wikipedia as "an experimental noise rock band from Houston, Texas" which I suppose sums up their song here, which sound great - but not as great as the single's last track. That one comes to us by none other than Unrest, who here turn in an instrumental noise groove that foreshadows some of their Imperial ffrr tracks. I'm always excited to post a rare Unrest track!

Teriyaki Asthma VI, 1991
C/Z, no. 36

A1. The Thrown Ups, "Walrus Head" (3:48)
A2. Olivelawn, "You're a Dick & I'm Gonna Kill You" (1:24)
B1. Pain Teens, "Come Up & See Me Sometime" (3:14)
B2. Unrest, "Caitlin Bums" (3:13)

Teriyaki Asthma VII continues with some of my fave indie heavy-hitters, including, on side B, Superchunk and Tsunami, who have been posted here numerous times already. Both these bands' tracks have been anthologized on their own singles comps. Side A features Poster Children, an Illinois trio (sometimes quartet) that has a surprisingly complete website covering every detail of their long history, so I don't feel much need to go on at length here, and C/Z standard-bearer Hammerbox. All these bands, I'm happy to report, prominently feature female members, making this record a nice antidote to the all-guy indie/grunge trend.

Teriyaki Asthma VII, 1992
C/Z, no. 41

A1. Poster Children, "It's True" (2:50)
A2. Hammerbox, "Promise to Never" (1:51)
B1. Superchunk, "Sister" (2:45)
B2. Tsunami, "Punk Means Cuddle" (2:28)

Our last entry from the Teriyaki Asthma series features another great selection. Starting us off is Treepeople, the band that spawned Doug Martsch of Built to Spill - though I am not sure he was playing with them this late in their career. I can't find any information whatsoever about Dose (anyone have any clues?) though MX-80 seems to be better documented, though largely in their later incarnation as MX-80 Sound. But wait, I skipped the most important track - Ween! What the fuck are they doing here? Making a holy racket and sounding like they don't give a shit and/or are as high as kites, surprise. Anyway, this is classic Ween circa Pure Guava and I believe not otherwise compiled. Good stuff!

Teriyaki Asthma VIII, 1992
C/Z, no. 49

A1. Treepeople, "Drawing Lessons" (1:37)
A2. Dose, "Eyesore" (3:30)
B1. Ween, "Long Legged Sally Was a No Necked Whore" (2:47)
B2. MX-80, "Surfin' Pope-X" (2:06)

Phew - get all four singles here. Enjoy!

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