Flush It Friday: Off My Chest
Last Saturday night, I received the following text from a friend: “Dan, in case you were wondering, I believe the greatest hardcore album of all time is A Life Less Plagued by Carry On and I may have just bedroom moshed a lil bit.” I had, just the night before, engaged in a little apartment moshing myself to American Nightmare‘s Background Music and Suicide File‘s Twilight, so I was keen not to debate which of these albums does or might or even could shoulder the aegis of Greatest Hardcore Album of All Time but rather to delight in all this indoor moshing to records from the early 00s that was happening in Atlanta on this particular weekend. What I will say, as far as ranking and rating things go, is that the early 00s is the second greatest moment in hardcore history, following only ever so closely behind the late ’80s. That the early 00s were so indebted to returning to that earlier moment is of course no coincidence.
More excitingly, my friend, with whom I used to play in hardcore bands in high school and who now petals his wares in a different register these days, made me think about my relationship to Carry On, a band not necessarily in my pantheon but one that was and still is, very much part of the larger hardcore pantheon. Over the last few years, I’d throw on “Off My Chest” to get juiced or jazzed or angry or thrilled or stoked or just whenever it floated into my head, but I’d never just listen to the album. It was simply just always “Off My Chest.” Whenever I put it on, I needed it. “That’s how you want it? You fucking got it. At least it’s fuckin’—off my fuckin’ chest.” Something in the deeply unpoetic doubling (tripling!) of that “fucking” in a few short lines encapsulates just how close to the edge vocalist Ryan George is for the entire record. But, ultimately, I didn’t ever need to hear more or run through the other classics.
Fortunately, I’ve spent the last week listening to A Life Less Plagued multiple times every day, thinking about all the time I’ve missed out on hearing “Roll with the Punches” or “Is This All There Is?” or “A Life Less Plagued” as many times as I’ve listened to “Off My Chest.” It made me think about this kid from high school who had the classic blue “Roll with the Punches” shirt that I wish I owned and with whom I used to listen to Clikatat Ikatowi and 1000 Travels Of Jawaharlal in his car on the way home from high school and how cheap it was to pay for the gas for those rides and how we had this big falling out because I called him a “Try Hard” for reasons that I think were maybe not incorrect but were also definitely unkind and unnecessary and how I regret it. It made me think of Ryan George’s infamous selling out between the recording of A Life Less Plagued and the release of the album and the shockwaves it sent through the scene. It made me think of my own selling out and what it means to professionally sell out at this age. It made me think of all the success Ryan later found with Youth Code. It made me marvel at all the bands that members of Carry On would later form or join: Donnybrook! Piece By Piece! Internal Affairs! Snake Eyes! Go It Alone! (God damn it, Go It Alone. Go listen to “Rapture” right now.) Oh, and Todd Jones, before Terror and Nails. It made me think how short a time all of that really was, even though it looms so large in my imagination.
I don’t think my friend is wrong to place A Life Less Plagued at the top. There is a level of nakedness and fearlessness and propulsion and fury and emotional distress and bravado that very well might be unmatched. I’d still take Background Music or Twilight or Ill Blood or everything by Mental from that time. (Start Today from Gorilla Biscuits is the actual correct answer, by the way. Or Break Down the Walls. Or Bringin’ It Down. And there’s just so much more from the 90s and then the 90s revival and the early 80s and Ceremony and Blacklisted and Modern Life is War and everyone else who might have a claim for the Top Spot and to say nothing of the Richmond/DC scenes.) But it’s impossible to ignore, even 23 years later, that Carry On, in their brief career, made a record that stands alongside every other certified classic. I was just simply not paying enough attention. Thankfully, if you’re as lucky as I am, you might have a friend to remind you, on a random Saturday night, of an essential piece of hardcore history, a reminder that gives a new, unexpected shape to your week and returns to you so many memories. What a gift!
But, Christ! Enough about that. (Never enough about that.) We got some Flushin’ to do.
BGK isn’t a Grossmann, he’s a Gross, man(n):
Joe ‘n Jordan are it again! (I did actually mean to listen to this week’s episode, and maybe I still will!)
365 premiered some papayan sludge rock from Vancouver’s Brugada. Sounds pretty sweet:
Eenzy interviewed fellow Atlantans Apostle and everyone had a really grand time.
Whoa, now! That’s a good Flush. Track premieres, album premieres, conspiracy theories, interviews! What more do you want from us, you greedy little piggies? Share your Goodies Baddies and Uglies down below. I’ll be moshing on my patio.