Greasy Kid Stuff (Smooth Lips Records)
Truants? Cute Catholic High School kids in leather jackets? Social deviants? Future business leaders of America? All of the above? Yes and no. But mostly yes. Pin Kai's small reign of terror was one marked by incredible creativity and a lack of intentional direction. That's a formula for fun if ever I've seen one. Begun somewhere between 1994 and 1995, Pin Kai was an abrasive explosion of pizza consumption and Ramones influence gone awry.
The band's short tenure on the South Florida punk rock landscape was marked by incessant gigging, being mistaken for kids half their age, and making a serious mark on the sorely missed Cheers and the ever-stalwart Churchill's.
And yes, while they were certainly influenced by the Ramones, there was something about them that was purely Miami.
At this time, the South Florida scene had already been saturated by the Far Out Records crew (Against All Authority, The Crumbs) and the Stiff Pole Records (Pink Lincolns, Gotohells) bands out of Tampa.
The Crumbs would actually prove to be Pin Kai's biggest influence, and like any band setting out to do right by their influences, Pin Kai walked a thin line of fan boy adoration and musical naïveté. It actually ended up being an even more charming solution to the band's technical shortcomings. Silly high school numbers are compounded by what was obviously the burgeoning guitar-work of Jose Flores, the muted but on-point bass of Jorge Calienes, and the spazz-o-matic drumming of Robbie Guerra.
Certain things were guaranteed when this trio took the stage. One was awkwardness; another was electrocution -- Jose was usually shocked via his braces thanks to non-grounded microphones. The last was jovial between-song banter.
Still, the band's sound, unpolished as it might have been, actually displayed a bit of sophistication within the realm of its chosen subgenre. The guys worked well together and a lot of sheer energy and fun came through, both on this recording and in live performances.
This eight-song, seven-inch record was put out by Mike Borras' Smooth Lips Records. How the band members ever managed to convince their Belen Jesuit teacher to pose getting beaten up on the cover photograph is a lost fact.
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Or even more importantly, what drove them to commit eight tracks into a 33 1/3 RPM format? It would have made more sense to put four tracks out and work on a full-length, but I guess they knew their time was coming short with collegiate endeavors looming in their collective conscience.
Opener "Lil' Goon" sets the mood with tongue-in-cheek lash at douchebaggery, followed by "What, Me Dead?" (which you can download below). "VCR" is a Screeching Weasel-like ode to now-outdated technology, which is followed by "The Ballad of Sylvester P. Smythe" to round out the A side on this blue-colored slab.
Side B opens with the monkey styles of "Jizz Burger" which contains, in my opinion, the absolute worst drum pattern attempting to delve into an echo that I've ever heard. It's actually justified by Robbie's pseudo-rap.... Who knows what the hell they were trying to accomplish to begin with, but shit, "jizz burger," that's cute in a crude kind of way.
"Tupperware Girl" and the pop-culture-referencing "Silver Spoons" fill the middle before the final song, a favorite of Electric Bunnies, "Shotgun Fungus." Let your imagination run on that one for a while.
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It is no secret that Jose Flores currently fronts the Getback, and listening to this record provides an absolutely pleasurable way to look back on his awkward beginnings and realize what fun those days of wanton excess actually were.
On the personal tip, many years before we'd befriend each other, the story goes that I, completely stunk out of my gourd, approached a young Mr. Flores after a gig at Cheers demanding a cassette tape demo I vehemently believed they had announced during their set would be available post-show. Well, apparently, the night prior, Mr. Flores and company were harassed by a large, gay black man for the same reasons and in the fray of performing, confused me for hi.
Many years later, while eating shit during the in-between class lull in college, Mr. Flores would reveal the events of those two days and apologize for his apprehension towards giving me the demo tape. Live, learn, forgive, have fun. That's the lesson here.
Download: Pin Kai - "What, Me Dead?"