by Robert Bell
This week, courtesy of the fine folks over at Thick Syrup Records, you can get your mitts on a copy of David Markey & Heavy Friends' "Volume Infinite."
It's a collection of tunes recorded over the span of many years by Markey and his heavy friends, including such unquestionably heavy personnel as Dez Cadena of Black Flag, Pat Smear of The Germs, Steven McDonald of Redd Kross, Mike Watt of Minutemen and Firehose, Eric Erlandson of Hole and Thurston Moore of The Lucky Sperms and Ciccone Youth (as well as those bands' somewhat less famous offshoot, Sonic Youth).
Markey himself has had a fascinating career as a writer, musician and filmmaker. With his co-conspirator Jordan Schwartz, Markey published the seminal L.A. hardcore 'zine We Got Power (recently collected into what looks like a gorgeous book). He played drums in Painted Willie. He directed the 8mm cult classic "Desperate Teenage Lovedolls" and "Reality 86'd," which documented the 1986 Black Flag/Gone/Painted Willie tour and is really a crazy story in and of itself. The film was unreleased for many years, but now you can watch the whole thing here, which you really should do if you have even a passing interest in punk, the '80s American underground, beautifully fractured psychedelic film-making, or awesome things in general. Seriously, it's so good.
Markey also made the much more widely seen tour doc "1991: The Year Punk Broke," which followed Sonic Youth and Nirvana's tour high jinks around Europe in the weeks before "Nevermind" was released and the whole nation got all totally grunge-ified. He's worked with Dinosaur Jr., Shonen Knife, Mudhoney, The Meat Puppets and many more great bands on videos and documentaries.
Getting back to the album, it's 20 tracks featuring Sin 34, Painted Willie, Society's Ills (the hardcore band formed by Markey, Watt, Moore and Cadena), Chop and several more. Stylistically, it's a wide-ranging sonic feast with blistering punk, noise rock, meandering spoken word bits, sound collages and all manner of wigged-out jam sessions. One of the funniest has to be "Dear Flipside" by Thurston and The Tube Tops, in which the band vamps while Thurston Moore reads a hilariously self-serious letter to the editor published in 1995 in the L.A. punk bible Flipside, in which a DIY promoter from Joplin, Mo. complains about a booking gone wrong (side note: I'm about 98.7 percent positive I remember reading that letter when it was originally published). It's kinda like a '90s punk update on "The Gift" by The Velvet Underground.
Anyway, "Volume Infinite" is not only an enjoyable listen, it's an informative glimpse into the mind and sounds of a restless creative spirit and his coterie of talented, heavy friends. Order it here on CD or stream and purchase a download here. After the jump, check out the awesomely Sonic Youth-y "She's as Beautiful as a Foot" by Chop.