Alex Levine’s recommendation: “Some bands you don’t simply listen to. There are bands that upon hearing, seep deep down into the depths of your sweat glands, melting into your pores where they penetrate your soul and infiltrate your mind. These are the artists that become woven into the very fabric that is you. You don’t just get into them for a brief period of time and forget about them, you wear them.
Operation Ivy did exactly this for me. They jumped right into my confusion of growing up and commanded awareness. They did a two step, cutting in, wearing Superman uniforms and howling at my soul about what the world should look like. They said, “to resist despair in this world is what it is to be free.” It was a self aware, new attitude towards liberation. They weren’t hippies or punks , they had a new perspective on it all. By reinventing their worlds, they showed you how to inhabit your own.
Operation Ivy fall into the rare category of bands whose music is to be taken as a lesson plan. Each song a different class called Antibullshit 101. Led by the lyrical force of Jesse Michaels with the driving Rock n Roll rocksteady of Lint, along with Matt Freedman and Dave Mello who were a living, breathing human rhythm machine. These guys had what it takes.
They took me, a nervous, out of place and frustrated kid who couldn’t concentrate on anything at school and was forever worried about the future…and they taught me everything I needed to know. There you were, insecure, confused and dissatisfied with the status quo, and there Op Ivy was, so clear, and so perfect. Jesse’s lyrics were instructions on how to deal with the way things were and anthems on what they could be. They spoke my language. Each song was instilled with righteous morals to live by, anti-racism, anti-sexism, pro-movement, pro-energy and always reminded us to question authority. The songs pulsed and pushed you to look for something more.
They were a band that had the energy to move your mind, body and soul. You could sit down and read along to the lyrics and write scholarly essay on each line, or you could stand up and shout, “All I know is that I don’t know nothing!, All I know is that I don’t know nothing!” You can shout their choruses over and over, dancing, sweating, panting, blood soaked and exploding from your gut to the skin of your fists. Any time they jump onto the sound system now, I still get that same feeling. Yes, you wear them.”
Not familiar with The Operation Ivy? Alex suggests you start here: “Energy, which is their only full length release as a band is the record to get. The 19 track record was released the night they broke up and from what I’ve heard, it was quite the legendary show. They were just kids at the time of the breakup/release, hanging at their local all ages venue, Gilman Street. I had a copy of Energy on vinyl that was recently destroyed during Hurricane Sandy. At first I was upset by the damaged record, but after further rumination on the subject I think it seems entirely appropriate.
Considering the groups’ influence and the extremely short career (1987 – 89), Energy is the perfect title for their only album for me to have acquired and lost. They flamed out with tremendous energy like super novas, inspiring millions, and were gone in flash, but you can still hear, see and smell the burn. They disappeared quick, but stayed forever. That’s the way it is for bands you don’t simply hear…these bands are the ones you wear.”
(Their complete discography was compiled a few years after they broke up.)
About our guest author, Alex Levine: Alex is the ball of energy that fronts the Brooklyn based So So Glos, a group that is truly carrying the torch of every one of your favorite punk bands, pick an era. The band put out their first album in 2007, but it was the Green Owl backed EP, Tourism/Terrorism that made tastemaker Robert Christgau bless the band with a A- rating. A “Best Punk Album” nod from Independent Music Awards followed. The EP bursts with passion, anger and guitar hooks that will remind you of The Clash and leave you knowing that Punk truly is alive and well. The band also walks the walk of authenticity outside the studio by organizing and embracing all ages shows, reminiscent to the gigs that the band saw when they were growing up. In 2009, they opened Shea Stadium, a combination recording studio and performance space that welcomes the young and records/archives each show on its site. The band has a new album called Blowout that arrives on April 23. After viewing the video for Diss Town (below) 500 times, we can enthusiastically claim that we simply can’t fucking wait! Check here for the band’s 2013 tour dates.