2016 is a great year for reissues and it continues to get better, finding more and more pocket scenes and overlooked gems coming to light. The music on Can’t Stand The Midwest brings to light severely overlooked band Dow Jones and the Industrials’ catalog, one that should fit right in with a wealth of celebrated nervy punk – from Pere Ubu to The Germs and The Embarrassment to The Units. Family Vineyard is finally documenting this band’s impact, which largely spread in and around the area of Northwestern Indiana that they occupied. Having grown up not too awful far from West Laffayette, Indiana (about 3 hrs north) I get the feeling of aimlessness, the revulsion of complacency and the airtight stranglehold that that particular area of the Midwest can have on a person. The band taps into the ferocity of many of their punk peers but as with other Midwestern twitchers like Ubu or unnerved West Coasters like The Screamers or The Weirdos they seem to have found a weirder vein that embraces tension, focusing on a battles with technology and conformity that seemed prescient for their time period.
The band issued few physical artifacts but it adds up, a rare split with fellow Midwesterners The Gizmos on the excellent Gulcher Records, an eponymous 7″, and an appearance on Gulcher’s Red Snerts compilation that would also see member Brad Garton appear solo as Mr. Science. The label has issued the Mr. Science material as a separate bonus with the album. The output is frantic and anxious, with a distinct disdain and sneer for several comforts of their late ’70s early ’80s surroundings. They come on like the delinquents at the back of the bus, but more likely were kind of kids that know how to cause a well-timed explosion in Chemistry class.
Armed with guitars they had the means to sneer at social norms, eviscerating their coeds interested in school pride or those locked into the “birth, school, work, death” mentality of raising families and marrying off. They puncture Nationalism at a time when their home in the Midwest was rife with the kind of American Dream that probably seemed overwhelming in the face of Cold War rallying. These anti-conformity themes seem to be the most prevalent pop-ups in the band’s lyrical ourvre aside from their tech war rants, railing against the Midwest’s button down, work-a-day life. The band broke up in the early ’80s and member Greg Horn went on to form the bands Tone Set and Pointless as well as produce some music for Nickelodeon programming. Here they shine as the coulda-beens that should be filling out your punk playlists. If nothing else, this excellent collection should hit the turntable and park there ’til the leaves crinkle.
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