Rock & roll's fixation with youth and the teenage spirit is interwoven into the fabric of almost every chapter of its lengthy history. While some backward-looking underground acts reference the teenage years in a romanticized, nostalgic way, Songs from the Valley of the Bored Teenager (1981-84), the title of the archival collection of almost all available recordings from L.A. proto-synth punk band Earth Dies Burning. If anything, the "teenager" label is somewhat premature, as the bandmembers ranged in age from just ten to the practically ancient age of 14 when the group started up in 1981. With songs not so much satirical as outright absurd, the bored teenagers of EDB embraced topics ranging from food ("Pork Yogurt," "Fish Sticks") to Reagan-era nuclear paranoia ("Duck and Cover") but mostly presented a snotty, tongue-in-cheek stream of sophomoric punk brattiness, singing what they knew of the pains of youth. This meant purging some pent-up energy by screaming through songs less than a minute long about not eating vegetables, cartoonish homicidal fantasies, and ridiculous, exaggerated social commentary. For a band of children, EDB were surprising musical and unexpectedly astute. Choosing to create more with cheap synthesizers than guitars, they worked in the same anti-rock vein as synth punk upstarts like Nervous Gender and the Screamers. While decidedly dissonant and squelching, the performances aren't as rusty as every other thing about the band would suggest. Inclusion of a bassoon player set EDB apart from many of their peers, and their pieced-together drum kits and schizo-jazz tunes like "60 Minutes" and "Mystery Bedroom Song" predict the same flawless willing amateurism of Half Japanese or some of the earliest experiments in noise rock. The live material that rounds out the disc points to some possible influential points, with confusing disco covers of the Velvet Underground and Men Without Hats, though their version of PiL's "Flowers of Romance" is especially faithful to the original. Guitarist Brad Laner would go on to form countless bands, including the much-loved '90s guitar-heavy indie act Medicine. The young, loud, and snotty voices of Laner and his teenage friends in Earth Dies Burning don't sound much like the seeds for future greatness being planted, but the songs here do capture an incredibly vivid picture of precocious and musically adroit youth in the midst of a formative time not for just their own lives, but for punk as well.
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AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas