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santa cruz sucks!
Illustration by Matt Fitzsimmons

No Whimpy Chimp: "Santa Cruz Sucks!"--a new independent compilation CD put out by "Monkey Magnet" zine--features the innovative works of 22 local bands.

Local punk underground sees the light with new 'Santa Cruz Sucks!' indie CD

By Mary Spicuzza

EVER HEAR A TRULY OUTSTANDING local band and wonder when they'll ever get discovered by a promoter? Well, wait no longer. Monkey Magnet, the main punk zine in town, has recently expanded its horizons into the recording world with a new compilation CD, Santa Cruz Sucks!

The comp features 22 local bands--ranging from the hardcore punk sounds of Diversion and Fury 66 to the bitter-sweet ska of Soda Pop Fuck You--and covers just about every punk and hard rock style in between.

For all of the slack that Santa Cruz gets about its allegedly non-eventful scene, Santa Cruz Sucks! features some hot work being produced by underground, unsigned bands around town. The What Nots' unmistakable talent shows in "Afraid," with electrifying drumming and bass, and infatuation-inspired lyrics transformed into poetry by the two vocalists. The Muggs' "Sharks" is a perfect balance of vocals and non-stop guitar-drum rush.

"Love trip/another miss/Slip of the tongue/makes for a desperate kiss" and other lines of "Mind Trip" by the all-woman trio X-Girl 13 wins the best-lyrics-on-the-CD prize. The Gorehounds' "Bagels Everyday," an ode to life in the service sector, is an unpretentious winner.

Anyone who sees punk as a bunch of noise and screaming obviously hasn't listened to the deep messages of L.I.F.E. (who recently disbanded), with their anarchist-inspired vision of President's Day. Does "Drop your media-brainwashed stereotyped image of another" sound like meaningless yelling to you? Junk Sick Dawn's "Headache" contributes some relentless, migraine-inspired punk reflective of the trio's experimental edge.

I'm still not exactly sure what the singer of "Donkey" by Vessel is saying, but it sounds damn good. Riff Raff and Fat Goddess's Friday (the band formerly known as Drain) also make an impressive showing.

On the ska side, fans of the Jamaican-inspired punk will be brought to nirvana's steps by the highly danceable selections on Santa Cruz Sucks! Soda Pop Fuck You's "Fuck You, " a kiss- off to all the clueless guys out there, is guaranteed to get you moving and could redefine women's music as we know it. While "Trapped Like Rats in Myer's Flat" probably won't be adopted by that city's tourism board, the tight sound of Slow Gherkin's contribution shows why this talented nine-piecer has become the most loved skankers in town.

Santa Cruz Sucks! also includes cuts from Locus, Exploding Crustaceans, Lost Cause, Reliance, Herbert, It and Black Label. Many worthy bands didn't make it on the album, but hopefully, it will inspire more compilations.

One of the unique things about this album is the diversity of contributors--a diversity of styles, male and female musicians, polished scene veterans like Witchhook Sky and Vincent's Ear, and bands as young as barely teen Diversion. As the Word from the Monkey House explains, "This is about unity."

The comp also has created a new forum for bands to listen to each other's stuff and network amongt themselves, which hasn't been done since Hectic Times was put out a couple of years ago.

The compilation is also about helping the community--40 percent of the proceeds will go to local youth organizations like Above the Line, a mission devoted to the vision of providing homeless teens with services like shelter, job possibilities and drug treatment. Kimberly Carter, director of Above the Line, describes the efforts of Monkey Magnet as a perfect example of "youth helping youth" by knowing what's really going on in the community.

This innovative indie album should continue getting the recognition it deserves. Santa Cruz Sucks! is the most frequently played CD on KZSC right now and is available in music stores across North America, from Canada to San Diego.

The cover illustration features a skater punk monkey being accosted by a hovering officer of the law, with chain stores looming in the background. But if the success of Santa Cruz Sucks! continues, the wave of the future may not be $50 CDs, but more indie compilations of local musicians.

This bad monkey and its parent zine are available at independent record stores (and bookstores) near you. Word on the street is that a CD release party is being planned for Nov. 23.

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From the October 17-23, 1996 issue of Metro Santa Cruz

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