Depending on who you've been talking to - and despite what they taught you in school - you might be aware that there is, in fact, more than one Ronald Reagan.
According to your high school history teacher, Ronald Reagan was the 40th president of the United States. He's the guy who pushed trickle-down economics, told Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down that wall," and starred in a movie about training a chimpanzee to score touchdowns for a guy dying of strep throat (that last part I grabbed from Wikipedia).
Ronald Reagan was also a mechanical, Commie-smashing, stars-and-stripes-shitting superhero who, according to some right wingers and folks whose fontanelles never hardened, was the best thing to happen to the U.S. of A. since George Washington used his wooden teeth to beat the piss out of the Nazis at Waterloo (thanks again, Wikipedia).
Then there's ronaldraygun, an occasionally spacey grunge-punk act from Buffalo who just dropped a pretty bitchin' record last week.
And, finally, there's ROnAld RAy GUn, a basement-rat hardcore trio from Cuba, NY - a band so punk they use Myspace - who have spent seven years coming up with eight songs and to make one punch to the throat of comfortable, white suburban dudes who like to use the word "sheeple."
Two of the above are going to save this country from a slide into moral decrepitude brought about by freedom-hating, devil-worshiping, baby-stomping socialists. The other two made the cut for our Album of the Week.
Backed by a dirty, distorted bass, seriously crunchy guitars, solid drumming, and oh shit, a theremin(!), ronaldraygun's frontwoman, Ashely Kyle, sounds like a sorta-sweet, seriously sleazy mix of Tilt's Cinder Block and Belly/Throwing Muses' Tanya Donnelly.
ronaldraygun aren't so far off the map that they qualify as strictly indie, and they're not cranky enough to be purerly punk rock. However, you'll find just enough angst and weird moments on cd two that the music could easily fall in both camps. I guess if this were still the '90s, I'd call ronaldraygun "alternative." It's beefy, dirty rock and roll with a weird edge. These cats could have opened for 10,000 Maniacs 30 years ago, or they could hold their own on about three different bills. You could put them in any punk rock basement, gallery show, or set 'em loose on stage at Nietzsche's. Be be careful though, they just might goad you into another shot of Jack, regardless of the fact that you're on your last Spirit and the Pink already kicked you out for booting in a urinal.
"Versatile" is one way to describe raygun's sound. I like "inkblot" better: whether you hear punk, indie, or just a good record, it really doesn't matter. I'd call it dirty spacepunk with a grown-up whiskey burn, as opposed to the dumb, 40-ounce clunk of straight oi.
And that's where ROnAld RAy GUn, the CamelCapped hardcore three-piece from the hills of the Southern Tier, come in.
If anybody remembers Rochester's The End, RAy GUn sound a hell of a lot like that - pissed off, chaotic, and punk as fuck. If not, try a sloppier, d-beat-ier Born Against and some Reagan Youth (go figure) thrown in for good measure. It's hardcore, pure and simple.
My copy of American Space Nazi came with a CrimethInc. anarchist propaganda booklet and a laser-printed album liner that declares - unabashedly - "7 years 8 songs!" and "fat, old still punk" (sic). Between the self-aware humor and the earnest, anti-capitalist literature, I'm not sure whether I'm part of the joke or fighting the good fight when I start picking up change and windmilling to these tracks. Either way, my fist is bruised, the lamp is broken, and I've managed to piss off the old lady next door. Shit.
I'm sure the Ronalds - raygun and RAy GUn - could rock the same show, though I don't know that you'd want them to. Aside from the divide-by-zero, universe-fucking cataclysm that would result from having two bands on the same bill with essentially the same name, there's the fact that one is apples and one is oranges. One is drinking Jim Beam in a Googie rocket ship, the other is blasting punx in the face with empty Mickey's grenades. Both share a common ancestor in Punkus Rawkus, though at this point, the two are on completely different branches of the family tree. If you're not feeling one, give the other a whirl. I'm digging both.
In true punk rock form, RAy GUn haven't uploaded American Space Nazi anywhere online, nor is any label or distro currently carrying the CD. So I've done them (and you) the favor of uploading the album here. Go forth and listen to some goddamned decent hardcore.
Check out ronaldraygun's cd two here.