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Sharpen Your Sticks

Our first full length release after a 13 year hiatus! Sharpen Your Sticks contains 15 songs recorded by Carl Plaster at Mad Oak Studios in Allston.

Track listing: Bucket of Blood / Believer / Babbling Cadaver  / Here Come the Creeps / Want It All / Cavemen Rejoice / The Footprint / Thank You / Ivan The Terrible / Unbelievably Cool / Me Dumb / Ass Kicker / Gargoyle / Unlock the Cage / Anemone

Read all about it – here.

“Cavemen Rejoice” – from Sharpen Your Sticks – is featured in the hit PlayStation 2 video game Guitar Hero.

You can buy Sharpen Your Sticks online – either at Stanton Park , or CD Baby . Or buy it on iTunes.

The Boston Phoenix says:
“Along with Bullet LaVolta, the Bags are the band most often credited (or blamed, in some circles) for introducing punk metal to Boston. Which means that they don’t have to worry too much about their sound having gone out of style since they last rocked. In fact, to a large extent, the new CD picks up where 1991’s Night of the Corn People left off. There is a key difference, though: the CD of Corn People had 13 songs and ran 69 minutes. (Granted, one of those songs was “Waiting for Maloney,” the first and only lengthy rock opera about commuting from Allston to rehearse.) The new disc serves up 15 songs in 36 minutes: the sound is still metallic, but the songs are all punchy and punky. Meanwhile, the lyrics from Wood and Hardy amount to a puncturing of metal’s ponderous tendencies. Imagine the post-therapy self-loathing of Metallica’s St. Anger played for laughs and you’d have the Bags’ “Believer” or “Ass Kicker” (“You’re gonna kick my ass, that I do know — Kung Foe”). So forget about this being just a respectable comeback and call it the Bags’ best album. Period.” -Brett Milano

Night of the Corn People reissue

Track listing: Amsterdamned / The Mole / September / A Pile of Money / Covered Up / Who’s Laughing Now / Naked Lady / I Smell A Rat / Movin’ To The Country / Barb Jones / L. Frank Baum / Matter of Time / Hey Maloney / The Shower / Refrigerator Song / In My Headphones / Meanwhile / Maloney’s Trip / The Grand Mythooza
Bonus Tracks: Dr. Lb. / Frilly Underwear

You can buy Night of the Corn People at CD Baby or Stanton Park . Or buy it on iTunes.

“The Mole” – from Night of the Corn People – is featured in the film Air Guitar Nation (2007), and “I Smell A Rat” is covered by Sebadoh on the album Harmacy (1996).

Originally released by Stanton Park Records just prior to the band’s extended 12 year vacation, Night of the Corn People was described at the time as “a feast of a set which contains enough hardcore guitar overkill to satisfy most heavy guitar rock fans, enough strange poetic weirdness and odd signatures to have children of the psychedelic revolution revolving in their jelly baths, and just enough rock-operatic genius to satisfy the self-seeking progressive lovers of ‘serious’ rock & roll” (Phil McMullen, Ptolemaic Terrascope, April 1992).

This reissue includes bonus tracks and a 12-page booklet featuring old and new cover art, liner notes, lyrics and photos.

More press from 1992:

“No-one worships the god-like riff like Boston’s Bags. Theirs, as in “Amsterdamned,” is the neo 70’s riff that conclusively proves that Jimmy Page is dead…They are so tight they shit diamonds” (Gecko, Hartbeat #14).

“It’s simply a fun, fun, fun record. It’s got oodles of grungy guitar, some ripping solos, rollicking drum beats and dizzying tempo changes, cool lyrics, and even a mini-opera entitled “Waiting for Maloney,” which sounds like The Dead Milkmen doing “A Quick One” on the fourth side of the “White Album” (Michael Jordan, The Noise #115).

“Like all of their other stuff it’s fast, loud and a shitload of fun. Punk, pop, garunge and even a bit of metal are all tossed together with some biting lyrics to create that unique sound of The Bags. Once you’ve heard them, it’s hard not to recognize this band upon the next listen” (What Wave #21).

“It’s prime Bags at their very most powerful, and when they’re in that kind of mood, with the vocals bashing out rasps that sound like terrapins in a miked-up muesli grinder and the guitars switching between early Blue Cheer sonic thuds and way overblown laser-beam solos, there ain’t a band still around to touch them” (Phil McMullen, Ptolemaic Terrasope V3#2).

“The Bags have called it quits, but not without leaving us almost a double album’s worth of their grungy, hard-rocking best. Night of the Corn People is a perfect swan song because it fuses the best elements of The Bags sound – from the metallic punk of 1987’s Rock Starve to the power-trio jamming of 1990’s The Bags, with a stop along the way (after winning the 1989 Rumble) to indulge their experimental alter egos on Swamp Oaf (all available on Stanton Park Records, except for Rock Starve on Restless). Their lack of commercial success is probably due in part to the musical experiments and the sometimes morbid, sometimes bizarre sense of humor that make this final disc so entertaining.

“The Bags have always had the feel of a true garage band in the very best sense of the word: they sound as if they’d grown up together, listening to the same records and one another for so many hours on end that every move becomes instinctive. The sources might be elemental – the Stooges, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, The Sex Pistols – but you can’t be taught to play together the way The Bags did, fusing hard rock, heavy metal, and punk into music that leans toward the dark, sometimes paranoid sensibility of the Stooges (“Naked Lady” could be Iggy circa Lust for Life) and Motorhead (“I Smell a Rat”). For the most part the Bags stake out their own territory with songs like “The Mole” (a Kafka-esque tale of a man turning into a mole) and five tunes that deal directly with the subject of death, including “Covered Up,” which puts an unusual spin on the subject with an infectiously hooky vocal harmony by bassist Jon Hardy and guitarist Crispin Wood.

“Hardy and drummer Jim Janota have developed into an intuitive and powerful rhythm section, which gives guitarist Crispin Wood a solid and tension-filled foundation for rhythm/lead playing. Wood’s trademarks are his wah-wah-drenched frantic speed runs and over-bent string solos that punctuate his churning rhythm playing and are particularly effective here on the bitter “Who’s Laughing Now.” He also pulls off a great distortion-laden, meandering, Neil Young-style solo on “Movin’ to the Country.”

“It isn’t until the end of the disc that the Bags indulge their mastery in the art of self-conscious imitation and parody. “L. Frank Baum” (previously released as a single) is the cleverest swipe at Tolkien-esque narrative heavy metal since Spinal Tap’s “Stonehenge.” The Bags actually one-up Spinal Tap by playing this metallic version of The Wizard of Oz with impressively precise technical proficiency, including thunderous double kick drums, a well executed Van Halen guitar lead, and some truly beautiful screaming falsetto vocals. It almost makes you think these guys could make a living as a cheesy heavy-metal band, though they would need new haircuts.

“The 22-minute “rock opera” “Waiting for Maloney” goes even further into the land of parody, bringing back a more focused taste of what the Bags were up to in their Swamp Oaf incarnation. This seven-part song cycle is the story of a band waiting for their leader Maloney (who might be related to Billy Shears of Beatles fame) to show up for a jam session. When you consider the title, it starts to look like a hybrid of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and Malone Dies.” (Matt Ashare, Boston Phoenix, 1/10/92).

THE BAGS CD single: “2 SONGS LIVE”

This disc features Ivan the Terrible and Hide and Seek, recorded live during the “comeback” show at the Middle East Downstairs in February 2004. Ivan the Terrible was a brand new song at the time, and later appeared on Sharpen Your Sticks. Hide and Seek is a chestnut from 1989, previously available only on rare 7″ vinyl (Stanton Park). This single was the first release on The Bags’ label, Oaf Records!

CDs can be ordered from Stanton Park Records.

THE BAGS ’89

THE BAGS ’89 is a collection of performances never before released in digital form. Here’s the track listing.
From The Bags LP: Bagpipe / Evil / Beauty of the Bud / Atomic Coconuts / Dropout / Rip You Down / Dummy / 1000 / Acre Woods / Superpower / Take It Or Leave It / Closer Then / Swog
Unreleased Tracks from 1989:
Volume Freak / China Doll
From the 1989 Stanton Park 45:
Hide and Seek / I Know

Order it now at Stanton Park, or at cdbaby! Or, you can download it at iTunes.

The Bags '89 Cover

Some original press:

“With the grade-A snarl and swagger of their self-titled second album, the Boston raunchers the Bags are shoo-ins for Kings of Garageland 1990. At their best, the Bags rip it up like the Meat Puppets-meet-Motorhead, a marriage surely made in bar-band heaven.” – David Fricke, Rolling Stone

“Bagpipe, Evil, and Dummy all storm from the speakers in a surge of hardcore energy, but there is an extra weight to the rhythm section, a wilder mania to the guitar, that wasn’t present on Rock Starve.
While trading off vocals from song to song, both Wood and Hardy now display a fearsome mastery of the lower, louder regions of the voice box. Powered by this vocal prowess, Beauty of the Bud is a crushing rock stomp, not an ode to Anheuser-Busch but a song written from the point of view of a non-believer in the benefits of smokable drugs. Atomic Coconuts is a ridiculously catchy jumble of funk and nonsense that Janota claims is about sex or drugs or, most likely, nothing. Huge and ominous, Thousand Acre Woods, Closer Then, and Rip You Down (on which Wood expresses a preference for Hell as an address) tread the fine line between introspective hard rock and nightmare.
But it’s not until the record’s final track that the Oaf completely rears its head. Swog proudly devours five minutes of vinyl in a conglomeration of psychotic vocals and instrumental grunge. This is the Bags at their most glorious.” – Polly Campbell, Boston Phoenix
_____________________

If there is one Bags album that you need to hear, it is their sophomore effort, 1990’s eponymous full-length. Sure, their 1988 Restless debut, Rock Starve, was great. It was chock full of classic originals like “Pioneer,” “Try It,” “Tailbone,” and “Love Sick Dianne”, which made official the mark The Bags were making on the Boston rock map, and earning them well-deserved critical acclaim, both locally and nationally. Problem was, you had to see The Bags live (or listen really, really carefully) to know that, for all of Rock Starve’s worth, the production — solid enough, but ultimately too murky on the low end and too splashy on the high — obscured the real, unfuckwithable power of this formidable trio.

It wasn’t until The Bags cut their ties with Restless, enlisted budding sound engineer Carl Plaster (if there ever was a “fourth Bag,” it was/is Carl), and took their arsenal to local garage label Stanton Park that Bags records actually started SOUNDING like the mind-crunching powerhouse the band had always been. First came the “Hide And Seek”/”I Know” single, a two-headed monster of heavy sludge clobber and hooky, dynamic punk pop craftsmanship that teased at the shape of things to come. Then they gave us the record: The Bags. It didn’t need a title. This, make no mistake, was The Bags. (I’ll get to where Swamp Oaf fit in to the whole picture when my pitch to the 33 1/3 book series gets approved…)

When bass player Jon Hardy asked me to “write a little blurb for the CD Baby page,” I obliged immediately, not realizing what a daunting task I’d face. But when I asked him what he was looking for, he came back with a killer: “Just five or six sentences.” It was then that I knew, crystal clear, the sadism Carl Plaster referred to when the band enlisted him to write the original liner notes for the album nearly 20 years ago. Six sentences? Are you SHITTING ME?!? I could Lester Bangs this album into the parenthetical stratosphere! This is the Holy Grail of the Bags catalogue. This is the gateway drug to the band. I have made countless Bags brainwash tapes for friends over the years — shit, I wore out a couple of copies of the original, vinyl-only pressing, with the first verses of “Bagpipe” mired by irreparable scratch-induced skips on the first dozen-odd tapes. This record in its blessed entirety is the crucial “how-to-GET-The-Bags” cornerstone.

I’ve been racking my brain for a way to avoid that necessary-evil thing that music critics (myself included) feel compelled to do: the laundry list of comparisons. Every time I start concocting something like, say, “If Jimi Hendrix lived to see The Ramones (or, better – LaPeste)…” I stop, because it ultimately misses the mark. Basically, the point is that these guys were punk rockers who grew up on the heavier rock of the 60s and 70s, and their music reflected both worlds. The Bags weren’t the only band that was blurring those lines and stretching the bounds of genre at the time — thankfully, that approach to rock-making continues to this day with “stoner rock”. But they were among the first to not only try it but get it so damn right. This record captures the core essence of this remarkable band.

And now, after how many years out of print? 16? 17? It’s available, finally, again.

Tim Kelly, WMBR’s Late Risers’ Club

The Bags are on the Unnatural Axe Tribute Album!

We were asked to record a song for the Unnatural Axe tribute album Ruling The World From The Back Seat. We were psyched! We did the song Summertime.

Summertime

It’s a two record vinyl only set, limited to 500 numbered copies on colored vinyl. Also has a two-sided color insert with tons of great photos. If you do not have a turntable; do not fret, it does come with a download card which will enable you to download the whole album once.

To order a copy please send a check or money order to :

Eric Law
PO Box 689
Hingham, MA 02043-0689

$25 ppd for the United States
$35 ppd for the rest of the World

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