Monday, March 8, 2010

Chin Chin - We Don't Want to be Prisoners on Mississippi Records

Mississippi really needs to have a subscription club or something...I'd even be happy with just direct mailorder for god's sake. They're the perfect example reminding us for whatever one band is insanely over hyped in any given time period, there are a hundred bands that have more interesting things going on, and that because of politics, labels, and just plain personal issues they just undeservedly fell by the wayside.
There should be more Mississippi Records curated labels out there doing this great work. The best part is how eclectic their releases are, something like this 80's punk, kettle drum street performers, Jay Abner, it's all on equal playing field. If a record store has a special section for the Mississippi, that's the sign of a record store I'll be going out of my way for. Maybe they're doing physical mom and pop places an incredible service by not existing're forced to track them down literally down the street...(this one was at Permanent Records in greenpoint), or scour every online distro.

The first track, 'We don't want to be Prisoners', is sonically what you're expecting from the early 80's..everything is heavily separated, the thin kick drum, off beat clean guitars...minimal vocal energy. I wonder what they were modeling this sound after...what audience they were going for. It should have been a lot more raw, it's trying to compete with Blondie or X-Ray Specs. I already want a demo version of these tracks. Still it has to be very few takes, lots of little accidents, everyone singing every verse on top of each other with a sincere Swedish accent that just has to be honest, no one would do that on purpose. Take a look at that cover, they aren't punk, it's catchy new wave pop with a bad ass edge. The best is a really weird xylophone sounding guitar part that comes in. I'm not entirely sure it isn't a xylophone, but then it could have just been recorded completely a good way.
Usually the thing with these reissues is they're still such a part of a particular sound that whatever tiny contribution they've made to some direction or another it's lost in so much nostalgia that it's impossible to step away from and still take seriously somehow...but this really delivers on this moment in the early eighties with a rare band that transcends the typical traps of punk...I think it's all the great harmonies like on the B-Side with 'Desires only' it gets even more pop, singing background ahh harmonies a little more, the main vocal in super high register. It is getting a little cute, I can hear the Go-Go's kind of reference they're talking about but maybe that's just because I'm hearing it after Pocahaunted and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. It was a different world, just existing in this scene was revolutionary. It's just inspiring to think there were probably bands like this at one point starting in garages all over the world, and a lone 7" caught it on Farmer Records.

I loved the Animals and Men and The Rats reissues I picked up at the store in Portland, and this is another great's really amazing what they come up with for lazy historians like myself. They're like the folkways records...the library of congress archives...for genius.

Midheaven and Forced Exposure still have it, it's out at goner, scratch and werido records...probably the last few left.

From Biel Switzerland, comes this little known group. One of the few all-girl bands (along with Kleenex/Lilliput) to come out of the early 80's Swiss punk scene. Chin Chin definitely considered themselves a punk band. Although their catchy pop vocals and harmonies strongly aligned them with the burgeoning C86 scene. They shared bills with The Shop Assistants, Television Personalities, The Pogues and New Model Army, before the band drifted into obscurity. This 7" was originally released in 1984 on the band's own, Farmer Records. It contains 3 self-penned songs and marks their first and punkest release. Keep your eyes peeled for their full length LP out soon as a split between the Mississippi and Slumberland labels.

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