Thursday February 22nd 2018

Ellen and the Degenerates – “Ellen and the Degenerates”


Ellen and the Degenerates – “Ellen and the Degenerates”


Ellen and the Degenerates are a band I stumbled upon, probably walking home drunk, late at night, passed out in an alley, awakening to find a cassette in my hand.

They’re from Brooklyn, New York- seems to be a mix of girls and guys and describe themselves with tags like, “Punk Babe Punk Brat Rock.”

But to me they have a lot of riot grrl mixed with traditional punk which happens to be my recipe for musical ectasy, you see. As I believe, riot grrl is the closet music to capture the sound and spirit of the original punk- even more so than Oi!

But these degenerates have songs that start out melodic punk only to meet up with some doom-sy headbangin’ parts in a dark alley, probably the one I woke up in, but this is all for the good as these are two neighborhoods TNB live with and cohabitate together successfully.

I did notice a very, lo-fi sound to the recording, that was before I read the liner notes explaining that is was recorded straight to a cassette recorder! Hey, back in my day, lo-fi wasn’t a style, it just signified a lack of loot handy and poor quality of punk recordings was almost a given.

But that didn’t detract one bit from the great songs then as it doesn’t detract here- let’s degenerate and check them out!

(Three chords)- We made it. (Three chords)- Full frontal. (Three Chords)- Darth Vader. (Three chords)- Marijuana. So starts “Netflix + Kill,” a chaotic, fuzzy, sloppy melodically sung ecstatic number with a shouted group vocal chorus. The verse goes-“Now won’t you come inside, I’m tired of being polite, I think I’ve got red wine, come in, relax, unwind.” Though the atmosphere might reek of danger and weed, (“Text me when you’re home”) the wildness and fun invites and entices and makes you want to step inside, this insanely great tune. Do it!

“GONNAFINDYA,” starts out with an energetic, punk beat that is buoyant and gleeful only to run head on into an almost metal, dissonant part with disturbing lyrics. “I have made the choice to live degenerately, to live a life where no one looks at me, ‘cuz I am awful to the point of no return, and I don’t want to have to look at anyone.” What follows is a doom-y metal coda. Take it as The Ramones doing a riot grrl song with Danzig making a guest appearance.

“Big Bones,” is a catchy, fun song moving along in a bouncy, punk beat, strong, melodic vocals and buzzsaw guitars. This song is about being a little chunky. “My BMI tells me I’m no good, that I really gotta weigh a lot less than I do, and I’m trying really hard but have no success, I care too much, and it doesn’t make sense.” Great songs like this make me salivate and hunger for more.

“Job” starts with a slow, metal-ish part then explodes into a frantic, frenetic plea- “Gimme a job, gimme a life, someone help me, give me money.” It reverts to the slow part for the verse and then speeds up for the chorus. This song is no work and all play. Another song that wins out above all other applicants.

“Face Me,” is about the aftermath of a break-up. “Face me now, I’ve turned myself around, track me down, will you look at me now?” The steady rockin’ groove slows down to a more headbangin’ one in the verse, as I believe it starts with the chorus- but, I guess, it’s like the chicken and the egg. Either way, when the first part starts up again, it’s like a jet airliner taking off to the heavens only before descending once again below to bitter skies. But that doesn’t detract from this great track.

“My House” rocks out with riot grrl vocals and venom dripping from it, like blood from a wound. “This is my house, even though it used to be ours.” And she’s “set the alarm, I’ve changed the locks on you…go away little boy.” This lady means business and this band does, too, laying down the law while it lays down another perfect rockin’, punkin’ number. “I’m always here, I never leave, these four walls are part of me. I threw everything away that’s yours, you don’t know it but it’s all gone.” But a song this great still remains.

Ellen and the Degenerates derive their name from the comedian/show host Ellen Degeneres. Some conservative, male, assholes mocked her for being gay- they changed her last name to “Degenerate.” (Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell.)

Degenerate means, “having lost the physical, mental or moral qualities considered normal and desirable.”

If we look to our current conservative, male assholes in Washington D.C. and what they deem to be “normal and desirable.” I want no part of it.

Homophobia, misogyny, racism, xenophobia- these are the true sins of the world and these assholes, who embrace it, are not followers of Christ but actually, proponents of all they attribute to “Satan.”

But if you want some true, pure punk with a lot of riot grrl in the lyrics and sound with just a dash of metal- you can find it in abundance right here. These songs are honest, well-written and exciting.

And why wouldn’t you want to enjoy something so wonderful?

(Unless your an old, white, conservative male asshole like-)


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