some velvet sidewalk
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an old article from an old zine

Some Velvet Sidewalk

   Is the kid-rock, trash aesthetic the second coming of sincerity in music? The do-it-yourself approach to guitar pricing? Being creative with leftovers is the lost-and-found art in a land where Form is King. What do we call it? The Pacific Northwest Rebellion? The International Pop Underground? Gravity's Grassroots Groundswell? Whatever. Some Velvet Sidewalk come from the mecca of the movement. The movement toward simplicity, unpretention and stuff liek that. But it's not folk art. It's not folk music. There's nothing naive abouit it. It's the asymptote of cynicism. The height of bitterness, with a beat. Getting damn close to the point of "why bother?"

   But Some Velvet Sidewalk bother alot. They even publish a Some Velvet Sidewalk update to keep this pathetic world informed of their activities; what new records they've purchased, Al's and Robert's personal top ten lists, S.V.S. in the studio, and other crap. Some Velvet Sidewalk is proof that restless youth is running out of places to turn. Are you looking for un-blackbooted hardcore punk? Look for Al. He describes Some Velvet Sidewalk as "the Plasmatics of Nice". "Hardcore with a Heart of Gold". Al says simply: "Some Velvet Sidewalk are pink rock." Not that they are a punk rock BAND. They are PUNK ROCK. FUCKING HARDCORE!!! You may not know precisely what he means by the term "punk rock" unless you are an actual punk. Bonafide. Like Al. Do you speak for his generation? Are you one of the disenchanted? Do you still care about the, er, world? Al, the mild-mannered rebel, says: "If punk rock is about doing it yourself simply and economically and if punk is about life and emotions and such, rather than rhetoric and Conan the Barbarian stuff, and if ir's about finding your own way and making your own rules, then we're it." He never mentions getting fucked up, or putting up with fucked up people, when he's referring to punk. I've even known him to ponder how cassettes might effect world peace. (Don't we all?)

Some Velvet Sidewalk is basically the sound of a guitar player and drummer letting it rip. Their cassette, From Playground 'til Now, comes complete with Al's description of why it sounds the way it does. "It's not because I'm dumb. I would prefer you to think it's because rooms, recording tape and tape machines are not invisible." This is paradoxical, like benign rage. This is the backbone of the trash aesthetic. It wears a moth-eaten sweater. It is recognizable but unidentifiable. It is lonely, having spent a life-time making the hasty exit from the crowd after the in-crowd. Some Velvet Sidewalk turns on everything including itself. Existential pumpkin carving on New Year's Eve. Rockin' the house down with their heavy-monster bash-a-minute sound. Al indeed has a contempt for limitations and rules. He does seem to limit himself to doing actual "songs", though, while others like Rich Jensen have left that tired old convention in the dust. Defiance comes through loud and clear on "Playground". One golden moment on the tape is "Alright", an impromptu super-jam. One word shy of being a trash instrumental: ("Alright! ! ! ...Alright!!!. . .Alright! ! ! . . .") This is where the rock song hits a brick wall of absurdity. It's cynical, like a vaccination. Another solid gold hit is the tiresome, deceptively long, poorly-edited "Worried Man's backdrop Rock". Bug music. Undanceable. Unhummable. Unwhistlable. Unlikeable. Sincere and loveable. Some Velvet Sidewalk press the issue. The product is for sale. It is a "consumer item", fer crying out loud! The perfect stocking stuffer. Some Velvet Sidewalk have their first single coming out on "K" this fall, produced by Calvin "Theory of Subtraction" Johnson. Al shares Calvin's jumbo-sized Rage for Chaos (as pertains to Form, not Sentiment).

It's been twelve or so years since our foreftahers bergan the self-examination of rock. The road to ruin has been a long one but, sonny boy, this is it. This is the ultimate chaos. The final dismantling of rock-n-roll. And according to Some Velvet Sidewalk it's heart is still golden. Purpose seems to be all that is left. Good intentions prevail while copycats get faster and faster and faster. Content can't be far behind. Fucking hardcore, at last. Raging full-on, pal.

- Shawn Wolfe, Chemical Imbalance #8 (1988).