Northwest Underground rock 1980 'til the End of Time


Oct. 2018: Wenis

It is the end of October and we now get out Oct/Nov album of the month up – Ladies and Gentlemen – IT’S WENIS TIME! We are both proud and excited to feature the debut release of Wenis, Donut House, Seattle 1980. This album was recorded in 1980 by teenagers who are hardly that anymore, a band that existed less than a year. Why even release it? Simple – it’s great stuff and we at GMR love it: nine little slices of teenage wonder. There won’t be a record release party anywhere or a reunion tour. No in-store appearances at Cellophane Square. All you can do is listen and watch a couple of little videos and just be happy you got to experience Wenis. And that, my friends, is simply enough.
So what’s the Wenis story? Wenis was formed by Al Bloch (after his first band The Cheaters exploded and died onstage) to play the songs of Al Bloch, sung by Al Bloch. Al is half of the infamous Bloch brothers of Sandpoint Way in Seattle (the other being Fastback/Young Fresh Fellow Kurt) and was 18. Al was not mature beyond his years, he was just 18, plain and simple. That was that. Al went on to play in a bunch of Seattle bands, like The Deans and Bombardiers, went national with Concrete Blonde and Wool. He released his most recent music as My Favorite Martian, but today this is all about Wenis. As you know, here at GMR, we put a check mark in the "Al-fan-boy box." The first song on the first release by Green Monkey in 1983 was Al Bloch – "Hangin’ Around" on GM001 Local Product. We have promoted releases by his Al-ness sporadically ever since and will continue to do so. Wenis was formed with Cheaters drummer David Shumate and ex-Cheater Randall Fehr on Farfisa Organ.  Like Al Bloch, the band Wenis was a bundle of contradictions; striving to become more proficient, while not afraid of brutal simplicity and repetition.  Their first gig at UCT Hall was a beautiful shambles.  Al lost his voice during the first song and was reduced to croaking through the rest of the set, culminating in a fever pitched version of “Light My Fire.” Track 8 from Donut House, “It’s Misunderstood” was recorded at that very show. Throughout the rest of 1980, Wenis went on to play many clubs (and one record store) with many fine Seattle bands.  They recorded very few songs; first as a three piece and later as a quartet adding Bruce Carlson on bass guitar.  Then, as quick as the band came together, they disbanded at the end of 1980.  Why?  Who knows. The songs on The Donut House, Seattle 1980 were written by an ambitious 18-year-old and played by young guys trying to make engaging, lasting music that people would enjoy.  Cut to 38 years later.  Johnny Vinyl of AAIIEE finds the Wenis master tapes while baking some Cheaters tapes. He bakes them up and sends them to me. Then, “the keen ear of Tom Dyer from Green Monkey Records heard what few had heard before, the honesty and vulnerability in Wenis’ music.” (Who writes this stuff?)  Tom loves Wenis.  Are these songs good?  Are they memorable? Is the playing competent?  To these ears, the answer is an unequivocal “hell, yes” (Al says maybe), though you would be wise to listen and judge for yourself. Oh yeah, we have some Wenis videos. Three! And we have Wenis T-shirts. Wow! In other Monkey news, we are lurching along toward this year's Xmas album which will no doubt be the best one ever of all time amen, even though I am not sure who will be on it as of this minute. I don’t have a name for it yet so, if you have a great name send it my way. Our pals at Sugarbush in England have released The Green Pajamas – Strung Behind the Sun on limited edition 2 LP set with beautiful gatefold cover. Or the download. It is a great album and we have some available. They will be doing All Clues Lead to Megan’s Bed next so that will be pretty fun. I expect to remaster it shortly. I just put a new floor in my studio, built a new Pro Tools computer and god knows what else so we ain’t running out of GMR stuff to do. Still, we will have 6 new releases total this year, so that’s about the usual. And so it goes.

td October-ber 2018

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