Record Review - 3 January 23 2002

You think you know punk and post- punk rock? Chuck Warner knows more. Period. And he's committed to sharing his knowledge via the 30-plus (so far) CD-R compilations he's issued on Hyped to Death, the micro-indie label he runs out of his home. Burned directly from vinyl records by obscure to completely forgotten late-'70s and early-'80s bands, the Homework, Teen Line and Messthetics series document an alternate universe where Half Japanese and the Swell Maps supplant the Sex Pistols and the Clash as top dogs. And Warner's doing it all encyclopedically: Each volume is devoted to a different letter.

The new Messthetics No. 6 is a partial exception, since four of its 23 cuts are spillover from the A's on No. 5. But given the unpolished DIY post-punk tracks gathered here, it fits that No. 6's best track is the Avant Gardeners' "Where Are My Hormones?" This cool, Fall-like rave finds singer Russell Murch sounding as confused as his lyrics: "Where is my hair dye and where are my hormones?"

When the bands aren't dismantling the pop song post-new-wave style (as on B/Film's clanging, ominous "Night Running"), they're making basic, joyful noise. Big in Japan's self-titled 1977 single features surf guitars and screamed girl/boy call-and-response vocals. Honey Bane comes off like Le Tigre as an honest rock band on "Girl on the Run." The Beevers' muted, bass-y "Office Practice" sounds like the sonic blueprint for two decades of New Zealand pop. And Belfast's Big Sleep pays expert homage to the Feelies' tense jangle.

Think you've heard it all before? Guess again. (www.hyped2death.com)??