I remember reading a column in Maximum Rock N Roll awhile back in which the author visited a local punk vinyl swap only to come across a copy of Bad Brains’ Pay To Cum 7” for sale at the hefty price of $40; I forget the rest of the article but that one particular detail just stood out to me at the time. A few months later I went to the local SF comic book extravaganza, WonderCon, and randomly ended up at the vinyl dealer’s booth. As I rummaged through the unmarked and wildly unorganized boxes full of records, a moment of clairvoyant discovery struck me as I laid my eyes upon a near-mint original press of the Dead Kennedy’s Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables (a classic record not just by the standards of Bay Area punk rock, but punk rock on the whole). My moment of euphoria was quickly put to a screeching halt however once I veered upward to find a $55 dollar sticker placed in the right-hand corner. I could feel myself channeling the same frustration of the columnist, his words echoing in my head with a haunting chuckle in their passing. When these bands originally put out these records I knew there was no way they could of predicted them to be grossly overpriced on a secondary market and put on display as some sort pinnacle in collectability.
After surfing online I came across some like-minded individuals who felt the same way, and by using the accessibility and popularity of blogging have managed to create a community dedicated to freely sharing their love of music and undermining the prestige of pretentious record collectors and dealers alike. Similar to any blogging community, there are countless amounts of blogs about punk. The ones I’d like to share are few I felt post not only quality selections of music, but do so on a fairly consistent basis.
One of my personal favorites and a great starting point is Punk Not Profit, they post a good mix of hardcore, international, power-pop, and ’77-sound punk. I’ve gotten everything from the nearly impossible-to-find Egg Hunt record (Ian MacKaye and Jeff Nelson’s short-lived side project) to The Cramps discography, to a David Bowie/Iggy Pop 1977 live album I had never even knew existed. I Have A Brain In My Ass is another pretty solid blog, a collection of obscure and hard-to-find releases from predominately American punk bands; if you like them I would also recommend Last Days of Man on Earth, where you’ll probably find some more albums you’re bound to enjoy. Always Searching For Music has a good assortment of 7” and 12” EP vinyls definitely worth checking out as well. Finally, Punks on Postcards is a newer blog that’s had some choice picks as of late, and looks to be heading in a good direction.
If you’re more into hardcore there’s also a HUGE community for that as well. A blog I’ve found that usually chooses some good stuff is Out of Print Punk, which posts some great hardcore (and occasional metal) by some classic and lesser known 80’s and early 90’s bands. Some of my favorite downloads from there have been Jawbreaker’s Busy 7” and The Dwarves’ She’s Dead single b/w Fuckhead. System//Sabotage//Chaos is another really great hardcore blog that has some of the most obscure bands you’ve never heard of, but nonetheless spotlights some first-rate records. You should also check out Blogged & Quartered, where you can find some super-rare live recordings and compilations by groups like Gorilla Biscuits, Negative Trend, and Damage, in addition to tons of other unknown regional bands.
It was refreshing to come across some blogs that focused on power-pop, new-wave, and UK groups too. Some of the bands you’ll find on Power-Pop Criminals range from Captain Sensible to The Flamin’ Grooves to The Plimsouls. In addition, Shotgun Solution features a genuinely diverse catalog of records on their webpage, even posting a few garage and proto-punk bands every once in a while. Of course I have to mention Short Sharp Kick in the Teeth, a haven for any pop-punk or new-wave group who put out 7” between ’77-’84. And lastly, The Post Punk Progressive Pop Party, which does a good job of loosely encompassing the sounds and styles of the above sites on their own blog.
In addition to all the subgenres and types of music I’ve listed, there is also a number of blogs that cater to certain niches within the world of punk fandom. Not surprisingly, there is a vast community of international punk blogs available. One of my favorites is Crucified For Your Sins, and despite being completely in Spanish, they post not only some excellent Latin American punk but Euro and even some US too. Cosmic Hearse usually falls in more in line with German, Swedish, and UK punk groups that have a slight metal-tinge to their work, and I believe the guy who runs it is from the Bay Area. Moving back to more specialty blogs, The Blasting Concept is devoted only to releases put out on the legendary SST records, the label created by Black Flag founder Greg Ginn, and you’ll undoubtedly find something new there. Finally, there’s Symphony of Ghosts, which is a great place to find live bootlegs, demos, and peel session albums, and as of late has been doing discography spotlights on bands like At The Drive-In and Die Kreuzen.
In my opinion the internet is the ultimate forum for punk music. While shows, record shops, and distros are unquestionably the foundation of the punk scene, they do have their limitations. Furthermore, what about all the great bands that have come out in the past that are destined to be forgotten once their original fanbase has moved on? That’s where blogs and sites like these come into play. These digital communities aren’t here to replace the traditional means of spreading music, but rather to act as supplements to it, giving that little nod or bit of recognition to bands that have fallen by the wayside or simply out of the current consciousness. This is how punk music was always meant to be shared—-with passion, dedication, and most importantly, without a price tag.