For a while now, I’ve wanted to write about Angst — the oft forgotten SST post-punk band from Boulder, Colorado. 1986’s Mending Wall is my favorite album from them. It contains “(Some Things) I Can’t Get Used To” which was covered by Frank Black, who cited Angst as a major influence. It’s got some other great songs — “I’d Rather Sleep,” “127 Years,” “One by One.”
That seems to be the cliched music-crit culmination where a band becomes comfortable in their own skin for the first time. They find their sound. But isn’t it okay to really enjoy the records before a band finds its comfort zone? Hence, the debut 12 inch.
Angst’s core (brothers Joseph Pope and Jon E. Risk) had no punk scene in 1979 Colorado so they moved to England. With no success there, they moved to California, formed Angst, and started to get noticed. Urinals/100 Flowers bassist John Talley Jones offered to record them and put out their record on his DIY Happy Squid label. The debut would be re-released 3 years later in 1986 by SST.
“Neil Armstrong” is the bonafide classic from the debut. “Nancy,” about Nancy Reagan and oral copulation, is close behind. “Die Fighting,” “Pig,” and “We Only Rot” tackled typical punk tropes — anti-war, cops, death.
The record was released alongside Black Flag and the rest of the earliest traditional-hardcore SST catalog. While Angst’s lyrics and song lengths might have been similar, the sonic approach of the band really couldn’t be further away from the type of music found on those more-traditional early SST hardcore records. Instead, garage and psych influences are fairly transparent. These influences would be further drawn out in their later work, like Mending Wall, but I think it’s worth appreciating how they sounded before they fully realized what they wanted to be. The results are an improbably near-perfect drugged out country hardcore record with catchy hooks, hazy choruses, and clean chunky guitar tones.