Consumers

All My Friends Are Dead

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The Consumers may or may not have been the first real-deal punk rock band in Phoenix, Arizona, but they were close enough to suffer the fate of the hearty trailblazers that they were -- angry incomprehension from those around them and violent retaliation from cowboys, rednecks, and outdated hippies with no use for the fast/loud/furious musical assault unleashed at their few hometown gigs. All My Friends Are Dead features 11 songs the Consumers recorded in a single evening in early 1978, shortly before they gave up on Phoenix and moved to Los Angeles in hopes of finding more sympathetic ears. (They did find an audience there, but that didn't stop the band from splintering by the end of the year.) While it would take the L.A. punk scene a few years to reach full hardcore intensity with bands like Black Flag and Middle Class, by 1977 the Consumers already possessed a rage and velocity that would match anything the later beach punk kids would have to offer, and it's not hard to imagine that a few of the heavy hitters of L.A. hardcore could have picked up pointers from the Consumers' brief sojourn in California. Vocalist and lyricist David Wiley seems to have soaked up some influences from Johnny Rotten that reveal themselves here and there, but he also shows off a righteous rage and malevolent sense of humor that was his alone, and not many bands of the period could make the willfully silly "Teen Love Song" and the anti-authoritarian screed "Punk Church" work equally well. And while early punk often reveled in sloppiness, the Consumers were astonishingly precise, sounding incredibly tight on these songs (which roar by in less than 19 minutes), and guitarist Paul Cutler was already a string strangler to be reckoned with. More than three decades after this stuff was recorded, All My Friends Are Dead still sounds genuinely dangerous, which speaks volumes 'bout how far ahead of their time the Consumers really were.

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