Wednesday, November 19, 2008
The Doubt "Contrast Disorder" ep (Solo 1980 / Northern Ireland)
It's been a few days i realize since i posted anything, but i've been working non stop and around the clock between 3 jobs as of late so i've been a bit stretched for time to write anything. Though i've been getting some pretty killer records here and there recently, i decided to dig up an older one from my collection that's been getting a lot of play on my turntable on and off for the past few weeks. I can't say i know too much about The Doubt, but i certainly know that this record is probably one of my favorite to come out of the tiny Northern Ireland punk scene in the early days. Sure, if you're talking Northern Ireland most people will know Stiff Little Fingers and maybe if you're a big enough nerd you'll be able to list off all the early releases on the beloved Good Vibrations label, but it seems like somewhere along the line (like most unknown, one off releases) The Doubt slipped through the cracks for most folks.
I've always been a sucker for the more melodic side of punk. Not quite pop punk (spare a few great bands) but more punk that had a pop side to it in a way that you had melody, but it still sounded raunchy as hell. I don't think that anywhere in the world had such a concentration of this particular sound as Northern Ireland did, particularly Belfast. I didn't quite get that at first, but after hearing a few bands from there that were all AMAZING (Protex, Moondogs, Tearjerkers to name a few) i figured that there must be something in the water. An old roommate of mine had recently downloaded quite possibly EVERY bloodstains comp and after uploading them all to my ipod, i went straight for the Northern Ireland one to accompany me on a flight i was taking that day. I couldn't believe it, but track after track, it was nothing but totally great, melodic, heartbreaking, upbeat, distorted as shit punk rock! Like i would expect anything else from a bloodstains comp, but i certainly was loving it. But as much as it was all great, i kept skipping back to hear that great snare drum intro to 'contrast disorder' again and again and again. This was quite possibly the best song i had discovered in many months. That great guitar solo that sounds like it's going to fall apart at any second but just slams into some chords before it does. Most importantly the "la la la's" that just knock me out every time. The song certainly ended up getting more play than anything else during my travels for a long time i assure you. But, i still knew nothing at all about these gents other than this one great masterpiece of a song.
I found out that they had released one 45 on a label called Solo that not only had 3 other unheard songs, but also my new favorite jam. I hadn't heard the other songs, but simply put, i didn't give a shit if they were garbage. If this record had my song then it was going to be mine one way or another. Oddly enough, my search was rather short as i found a shop almost right away in Dublin that had some stock copies that they were selling (in their original white dust sleeves since the record was never actually issued with a picture sleeve) for a fair price. I quickly sent off the money and a couple weeks later, got a package in the mail postmarked from Dublin. After scanning the labels for what little info they contained i put it on my turntable and dropped the needle to hear that same familiar trashy snare drum intro that had tattoo'd itself on my brain. Out of the 3 songs that followed, i wasn't quite taken by the last two right away, but a couple spins later changed all that. Sometimes my ears have a funny way of tricking me.
It really is strange to me that a place like Belfast could produce such (for lack of a better word) "happy" sounding bands and songs than anywhere else. While on tour with CS this summer, we got to play and visit Belfast, so it was nice to see first hand where all these bands came from. While it seemed nice in parts, it certainly seemed very run down and depressing in a way that i haven't seen anywhere else that i've visited. Understandably, but for some of these bands to play the kind of music they did for that time and place, it seems odd to me. Maybe they were just trying to keep their spirits up, who knows.
Apparently there's a reissue lp available for The Doubt that features some additional unreleased tracks (possibly from the same session as the record) which i have yet to hear. Whether or not there's any additional band info to go along with it is another question, but i still can't seem to find much on these guys even poking around on the internet. This is a case where i'm glad someone decided to document these songs on a record since without it, many people probably wouldn't even have ever known that The Doubt existed.