You wouldn’t believe the volume of email I get around here. Seriously, there’s over 300 new emails waiting to be looked at much less answered. Most of them are from publicity companies hawking whatever new thing they’re working this week, some are from individual bands seeking an outlet for their stuff to be heard and some are from readers. Yes, I read them all. Honestly, though, it’s less than one in 25 that contain something to be really excited about. Knowing this, it sometimes takes me a while to weed through everything. All of which is to say I should have talked about this next record a couple of months ago when it came out but only just dug it up.
When the people over at Smooch Records were compiling the wildly out-of-print singles that were originally released by Denver’s Local Anesthetic label for a CD release they ran across 20 tracks of stuff recorded by Bum Kon in 1983 (while the band was recording the five-track Drunken Sex Sucks single) which had been heretofore unreleased and unheard. No, you’ve probably never heard of Bum Kon. Nor, really, should you have. But you should listen to this now.
In addition to the music here (which is as great an example of 1980’s American hardcore as you’ll ever find) is the fact that there’s no overarching aesthetic to the whole thing. There’s hardly a hint of trendiness even though, at the time, 9 out of every 10 hardcore bands were some easily recognizable derivative of some other, bigger band. Which is, of course, not at all any different from today.
The major difference between, say, 1983 and 2008, though, is that local scenes seem much less local now. You wanna know what’s going on in Denver? Just Google it or do a search on MySpace.
While a lot has been gained via easily accessible worldwide information a lot of local flavor has been lost simply because when the condition is such that you can always be in contact with the rest of the world then the rest of the world begins to influence what you’re doing. This happens so easily and quietly that you don’t even notice it’s happening.
Yeah, it was hard for punks in outposts (not that Denver was an ‘outpost’, so to speak, but it certainly wasn’t a cultural center) to make their own scene. But to their eternal credit and benefit they were able to define what punk meant to them and how to best go about things.
One of the best stories I ever heard was about when The Sex Pistols came to Atlanta and people showed up wearing garbage bags, purple satin pants, cowboy boots and safety pins through their cheeks. They had heard the records and knew that this music excited something in them but had no idea how “punks” dressed. They made it up. And local scenes should always be doing this. Forget about New York, Baltimore, Los Angeles, hell, forget about Atlanta, even. Forget what Athens used to be. Continuously create yourself. (Stream the aforementioned Local Anesthetic Compilation here.)
I get a lot of joy out of compilations and re-issues that focus on a particular area of the country. At first it’s a reaction something like, “Oh, man, those kids were into this, too!” and then it shifts to, “Wow, this is how they did it.”.
This is how Bum Kon did it. Thankfully, it’s been resurrected. Buy Here.
(P.S.: If anyone has more information about this band please leave it in the comments section or drop me a line. I’d love to know more.)