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SquidHat Records compilation
SquidHat Records compilation

SquidHat Records, of Las Vegas, has helped me rediscover an important part of my youth. Specifically, the punk rock part.

The label, sporting the slogan “Because Music Doesn’t Have to Suck,” represents a dozen or so bands that might have otherwise never gotten their tracks on a CD. Mostly, it’s pure punk. Old school, hardcore, nasty and unapologetic, the way punk is supposed to be.

So it was with great pleasure that I landed a copy of the new compilation Desert Rats with Baseball Bats, featuring 21 of Sin City’s best punk bands. Many cleave to the old Black Flag/Suicidal Tendencies/Circle Jerks axis of Southern California, early-1980s hardcore sounds, with the requisite political sloganeering, natch: “Red, White, Fuck You” by Surrounded by Thieves, “Bored” by SFT, “Justice” by the Gashers.

Some of the songs are just hilarious. This song title + band name alone slays me: “The Killers,” by Battle Born. Or the slightly gothic and totally ridiculous “Zombie Dick” by Geezus Cryst and Free Beer.

“Die Tonight” is a slower tempo number by the Tinglerz, who have been around for a few years, but which I insist is one of the best bands this town has ever excreted. The Tinglerz have a pedigree stretching back to the late, lamented Pervz, but channel early-era Replacements or late-era Johnny Thunders in a powerful, three-piece rock-and-roll hand grenade.

There are other surprises on the disc, including two girl bands. I love the Dirty Panties, no jokes please, and the Seriouslys, with “Wrong Tree,” which I also lurved. They cite the Runaways, and I get that, but I also catch a hint of Poly Styrene, of X-Ray Spex. Anyway, the trio’s live show is supposed to be boss, too.

So, all told, it’s 21 songs, loud, raw and crude, that say punk’s not dead. It’s just hanging out at dive bars in Las Vegas.

Speaking of the Double Down, the Bloodcocks UK, another SquidHat product of our fabulous town, features folks that look oddly familiar. Geez, the guy with the beard looks a lot like Rob Ruckus, the star of TV’s Bad Ink, badass guitar picker and occasional Double Down bartender.

And the other guy? With the glasses? He looks a little like P Moss, the famous novelist, owner of the Double Down and Frankie’s Tiki Room, and all around long-haired bon vivant. The picture on the back of the new disc, Planet Bloodcock, is clearly Frankie’s.

This disc may be as close as most of us will ever get to Bloodcocks UK, since Moss, er, “Bloody Bloodcock,” has sworn never to play in the United States. (You can find his performances from their Japanese tour online.)

That may not be a totally bad thing. Although the disc is worth getting just to hear the many jokes about blood, and cocks, most of the songs sort of drone into each other. There are a couple of exceptional songs that make this disc worthwhile, though: “Agent Double-O Bloodcock,” a down-tempo sendup of every secret agent and their easily seduced paramours, is a must-hear, and “Jailhouse Debutante” channels the Mothers of Invention while perfectly capturing the essence that makes this band so incredibly wrong on so many levels. As the band says, “Buy a plane ticket or buy a record. Bloodcocks UK are not to be missed.”

If you can’t afford a trip to Japan this fall, buy the disc.