This weekend marks five years of one Milwaukee finest labels kicking out the hometown and national jams in raucous style — local bands such as the Goodnight Loving, Tuff Bananas, Plexi-3, Sticks ‘n’ Stones and nationals like the Black Lips, Thomas Function, Strange Boy and Greg Cartwright of the Reigning Sound have all graced the wax the label has delivered. Ever the champion of the scuzzed-up and pretty sounds of garage rock to power pop in various shades, Dusty Medical Records has put out more solid 7″s and albums than many smaller labels can lay claim to. Kevin Meyer, head of Dusty Medical, points out his five favorite tracks off of his favorite release, one for each year of Dusty Medical Records.
Goodnight Loving “Dead Fish On The Banks” from Cemetery Trails LP (2006)
When I asked the band to do their first album, I had only seen a few drunken basement shows and had been obsessing over their scratchy bedroom 4-track recordings – I certainly had no idea they were capable of the soaring pop perfection they displayed so well on the record. I remember being in the studio when they were recording this song, thinking to myself “Who ARE these guys and where did this sound come from??” I just couldn’t believe the big sound they had been hiding all along. The first song on their first album and they couldn’t have picked a better way to introduce themselves to the world.
I saw the band play a couple shows in basements in Riverwest and was blown away. When I asked them to do a record, they had only released 2 7″s but were playing a lot of the songs that would end up on their debut album Celebration. They didn’t know me from a hole in the ground but had a Milwaukee connection and knew lots of people here, and they knew I’d already put out some records by friends of theirs here, so I guess that may be why they decided to take a chance with Dusty Medical. Anyway, they sent me a cd with 7 songs, all of which would end up on that album, and told me to pick which ones I wanted! I couldn’t believe I had gotten first crack at all these great songs. I picked “Relentless Machines” even though I thought it was maybe a little unconventional and not an obvious choice for an A-side, but thought it was just a really powerful, great song. A lot of people seemed to agree, as it ended up on a lot of year end lists for records of the year.
I first saw LiveFastDie when they played the last ever Catholic Boys show at the old Riverwest Commons (RIP) back in 2006, and had been friends with their drummer Billiams, so upon meeting Camero Werewolf, the main man behind LFD, we became fast friends and talked about doing a record together. Originally we had vague discussions about doing a 7″, and then a little while before they were due back in Milwaukee later that year, he called me up to ask if we could record the live set they were going to be doing at Circle A. Then when they showed up to the gig, he pulled me aside and said “Hey man, I got this crazy idea, instead of a single, let’s do an LP, except just have the first side live and the other side will be acoustic LiveFastDie songs – it’ll be just like GN’R LIES!!!” Of course it was just crazy enough for me to be into the idea, and eventually the “acoustic” LFD songs became “country” LFD songs and the rest is history. The “country” side of this album is perhaps my favorite side of any record I’ve released – it is just perfect. Applying the production values of their other “punk” recordings to a set of classic country originals – what demented genius would think of doing that?! LiveFastDie may come off as just another punk band to lazy ears, but Camero has some serious songwriting chops and these country songs prove it. This one in particular celebrates life on the road, spending hours and hours doing nothing but talking shit with your bandmates.
What a fantastic show this was – Sunday afternoon at the best place to see a band in Milwaukee, standing room only and a $3 cover. Greg played for an hour and a half! Totally unreal. Greg taking requests, asking for help remembering lines to songs he hadn’t played in years, and audience participation! On this song the crowd helps out with impromptu handclaps and backup vocals and the results are exhilarating. Almost feels like cheating that we got it on tape.
In my dreams this band plays stadiums with The Who and Thin Lizzy.
The Dusty Medical two-day anniversary show takes place at Club Garibaldi’s (2501 S. Superior) this Friday, June 25th and Saturday, June 26th. See flier above for details. Kevin from Dusty Medical will be stopping by Andy’s Zero Hour on WMSE today. Tune in between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. to catch more news on the anniversary weekend. Missed out? Check out the WMSE archives.