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Subhumans

Death Was Too Kind

(Alternative Tentacles; US: 11 Nov 2008; UK: 30 Sep 2008)

It may come as a shock to those whose impression of Canada is largely shaped by SCTV, Due South, and the NHL, but Vancouver actually has a long history of well-respected punk. NoMeansNo and D.O.A. often immediately spring to the historical forefront, with the Subhumans left struggling under the word spread by rare vinyl pressings coveted by Ebay snipers with no friends. They originally saw release in limited runs and few survive intact today. Word of mouth just got a shot in the arm thanks to Jello Biafra’s Alternative Tentacles.


Death Was Too Kind picks ten of their most hardcore relics from 1978 to 1982, including their first single “Death To The Sickoids” (a scathing rebuke of the cultural meme wars years before Adbusters hit the stands), their Bob Rock produced self-titled EP (recorded years before Bob fell in with Metallica), and “Pissed Off… With Good Reason”, one of two cuts only previously available on a local 1996 compilation. Brutal honesty is the order of the day for b-side “Oh Canaduh”—a song that begins with a couple bars of the national anthem before rubbing the corporate welfare state in the faces of typical Canuck complacency—and “Slave To My Dick”, which is not so much cock worship but an expose of straight male sexual lunacy. It’s ten short jabs that follow through and deliver the absolute best punk music ever made at the time it was most relevant. If you don’t think so, like the song says, “We don’t care what you say / Fuck you!”

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Author of blurbs, curator of playlists, and booker of shows, Alan Ranta has been plugging away at that music writing and programming thing since 2004. His brutally honest critical opinion has appeared in such publications as Exclaim!, CBC Music, PopMatters and Tiny Mix Tapes, and has been enlisted to help judge the Polaris Music Prize, Pazz & Jop, and Juno Awards. Based in East Van, he graduated with a BFA in music from Simon Fraser University in 2012. He's also a social media plague, cat whisperer, socio-political haranguer, Canucks fan, and one of the last remaining cowboys, with a butt that won't quit.


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