At the heart of my Slept-On series is the acknowledgment of a label’s legacy. The subject of my latest has, arguably, no real legacy at all. That being said, despite Oakland’s Adeline Records 2-decade run, their shuttering came and went as quietly as they began.
It was launched in 1997 by Screw 32’s Doug Sangalang, pro skateboarder Jim Thiebaud, Pinhead Gunpowder/future touring guitarist of Green Day Jason White, and some dude named Billie Joe Armstrong. It’s safe to say there was a probably a good bit of Dookie money to help the Warner Brothers Records subsidiary build a ground floor, but the Green Day frontman has long invested back into the fertile scene that launched him.
Aside from bailing out the long running and ever anxious Help 924 Gilman project time and again, the label acted as a springboard for a number of rad acts. Most notably, the label was the birthplace of One Man Army and the landing spot for some killer AFI material. Yet, due to their relative absence on streaming sites, this affair is B.Y.O.R. (bring your own records).
Much like my last go-round with BYO Records, these require a true deep dive if you want the pearls. Then again, anything worth a shit is worth the trip. Take my hand, y’all, we’re taking a journey to the end of the East Bay.
One Time Angels, Sound of a Restless City (2001)
As is often the case, there’s a great deal of crossover between roster and ownership with regards to the label’s discography. Certain entries to the Adeline release catalog don’t merit the mention, but this record sure as shit does. Members of both Fury 66 and Screw 32 split the difference between their near hardcore skate punk backgrounds and polished the proceedings a bit here.
Named after a song by the aforementioned Screw crew, they left their requisite snot on the cutting room floor. With a noted emphasis on melody and restraint, Candy Apple Grey-era Hüsker Dü and the unfairly once-maligned Dear You are valid signposts. At times it approaches the grit of the Small Brown Bike/Hot Water Music world but it’s tempered with a songcraft that can only be described with the dreaded “mature” tag.
At its core, it’s just a great rock and roll album. Fans of Samiam and Seaweed would likely find minerals worth mining on this one. One Time Angels are largely forgotten but still holy in my memory.
The Influents, Check, Please (2000)
Again, a noted nepotism can’t strike the inclusion of Adeline’s catchiest of forgotten gems. Musically incestuous, this band sports Jason White and another Pinhead Gunpowder member alongside folks from garage punks The Receivers. Neither of their collective output could’ve predicted the lane change of Check, Please. This is a goldmine sparkling and jangly power pop perfection.
There are moments that pepper in a dash of alt country weary enough for the Lucero fans. With little of the angst of their day jobs, this is a relentlessly sunny business across nearly every track. For good measure, it’s buried classic status comes when they dip into Paul Westerberg’s self deprecating bag of lyrical bummers. This album rules. Stop bidding on Discogs. It’s on Bandcamp. You’re welcome.
The Criminals, Burning Flesh and Broken Fingers (1998) and The Frisk, Rank Restraint (2001)
I’m double dipping here. Both fronted by the snotty and sneering Jesse Luscious of Blatz, these are absolute rippers. The former is the sophomore album and definitive statement from Berkeley’s back street dwellers. While incredibly tight, it still manages to be manic. Townley’s tongue is placed firmly in cheek on this one, as it deconstructs the problems with a city he so clearly loves and served for years.
It’s loud, angry, fuck-off punk rock that’s deceptively rudimentary with perfect recording/production provided by, you guessed it, Billie Joe Armstrong. Intentionally antagonistic, it mines early punk’s shit-stirring sensibility as well as the Recess Records catalog, with whom they also fittingly worked. This is a completely forgotten record that’s an absolute must for fans of fast punk. Kinda like The Nerve Agents meets FYP.
From the ashes of The Criminals came The Frisk, which also featured one Luscious behind the mic. Rounding out the roster were members of AFI and the aforementioned Nerve Agents. Not surprisingly, the middle of that Venn diagram is almost precisely the sound you get. It’s a bass-heavy affair that pairs the “I’m against it” vibes of early punk and hardcore with a darker haze on lend from the Days of the White Owl DNA.
To this day, “Leech” is such a singularly weird and impossibly catchy rager. Spotify has you covered here. All hail Jesse Townley. Go listen and proceed to “Fuk Shit Up.”
The Thumbs, Last Match (2001)
It’s a fool’s errand to attempt to divorce my love for this record with my hometown discount for Baltimore’s The Thumbs. Outside of endless props from Razorcake zine, the band’s lone cheerleader of note happens to sing in one of the world’s biggest rock institutions. After catching the ear of Billie Joe, the band made the leap to the Oakland label and proceeded to cut two inarguably perfect punk records.
Last Match was ultimately their swan song before they pivoted to the equally essential Sick Sick Birds. Forever emblazoned in my memory is the criminally thin Ottobar crowd for their final show. Though before and certainly since, Baltimore has had its fair share of genre defining bands. I don’t love any of ‘em like this. Undoubtedly one of my top five favorite records of all time, I’ve been relentlessly spinning the vinyl for twenty years and running.
The band expertly melds melodic hardcore, the ramshackle gruff of Leatherface, Bay area pop punk, Naked Raygun, and legions of Gainesville bands into their own towering sound. Lyrically fiery, they managed to sidestep the sloganeering and generic polemics of lesser bands and instead brought a hyper literate sensibility to roughshod punk.
The Thumbs always seemed steeped and invested in local political history. I can still recall nearly exploding with hometown pride seeing their sticker on Billie Joe’s guitar in a Warning-era music video. Much like that very sticker, though, the band was right in front of everyone’s nose and never caught on. Perhaps they were destined to toil in obscurity and live on only in the memory of aging Marylanders like myself.
Regardless, though, Last Match is a can’t miss for folks that dig The Wipers and their ilk. Even if this happened to be the band’s final fight, it ended with a fucking knockout.
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