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The Avengers - Died For Your Sins (Cover Artwork)

The Avengers

The Avengers: Died For Your SinsDied For Your Sins (1999)
Lookout Records

Reviewer Rating: 5


Contributed by: joegjoeg
(others by this writer | submit your own)

When there's talk about the seminal bands that ignited this whole punk rock thing, we get the usual suspects: the Ramones, Sex Pistols, Clash, Black Flag, Minor Threat. But I rarely hear the Avengers being mentioned in the same sentence. To me at least, it seems like throughout the years, they've be.
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When there's talk about the seminal bands that ignited this whole punk rock thing, we get the usual suspects: the Ramones, Sex Pistols, Clash, Black Flag, Minor Threat. But I rarely hear the Avengers being mentioned in the same sentence. To me at least, it seems like throughout the years, they've been overlooked. Was it because they were being overshadowed by the New York and British scenes? Did the Dead Kennedys take over the mantle as THE San Francisco punk band (even though the Avengers were around a full year before them)? Was it because it was fronted by a girl? Was it because they only lasted two years? Whatever the reason, what is known for certain is that in 1977, the Avengers were helping to kick start the west coast punk scene along with bands like Crime, the Nuns and the Dils. They were headlining shows over bands like DOA (heavily overlooked in their own right) and X and opening for Blondie, Talking Heads, and the Sex Pistols in their legendary last show. They were a great band and Died For Your Sins looks to cement that fact.

It's too bad the Avengers were never able to properly record a full-length album. The only witness to the Avengers are a couple EPs, taped rehearsals and live performances. But bring that collection together in Died For Your Sins and you have a rock‚??n'roll punk masterpiece that earns that distinction despite the gritty and muddy recordings. If you're looking for cleanly produced studio tracks, look somewhere else (and good luck with that). It's actually fitting that the only way you can hear the Avengers is capturing them as they were: stripped down and in a live setting. That and you get to hear fiery vocalist Penelope Houston telling some lame audience members "fuck you! get up! move your fucking asses!"

The addictive energy of "Teenage Rebel" is a great introduction to the band: the razor sharp guitar...breakneck drumming...driving basslines...it's all there. You can tell they weren't just your average punk band because both the songwriting and musicianship are rock solid. As one of the original punk rock women, Penelope's fierce delivery and defiant attitude gives the band that extra edge, that extra intangible. When she sings "Everybody's trying to tell me how to live my life! / If I hear it one more time from you baby / gonna slit your gut with a knife!" on the aforementioned track, you know you did not want to fuck with this girl back then.

Lyrically, the Avengers take on every day life and how society in general is one of discontent and disgust. Some songs also have a definite political slant. But while the songs are angry, they're also equally as empowering. In the anthemic "Friends Of Mine," Penelope sings "don't give it away! / the power to make a change / don't throw it away! / the power to make a change! / the time is now!" With the conviction in her voice, you start to believe her. While the band played mostly straight forward, up-tempo, melodic punk numbers, they also show some diversity. They go from the uncharacteristically, un-punk 5-minute rocker, "The Good, The Bad, And The Kowalskis" to the blistering, almost hardcore-like "American In Me" to even a surf punk-tinged instrumental in "Joker's Wild." This compilation closes with one of their live tracks, a vicious balls-out rocker "We Are The One." It sums up the Avengers perfectly: raw, alive, and pissed off.

This record will not win any points for style and polish. On the live tracks, it's definitely hard to hear out the band as cleanly as you would like. But this is more than just song production. This is a document of the undeniable power and influence of one of punk's first and best. Every band fronted by a girl in the last 20 years from Hole to Sleater-Kinney to the Distillers owes something to the Avengers. Check that; many punk bands period owe something to the Avengers. At the start of a newly emerging subculture in California, the Avengers were making a name for themselves with their live shows. I gladly give them their due. If you haven't heard of this band, go pick this up and do the same.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
Dead Kennedys - Fresh Fruit For Rotting VegetablesRamones - RamonesDescendents - SomeryDescendents - 'MericanDescendents - Cool To Be YouThe Stooges - Live In Detroit DVDThe Methadones - Not Economically ViableSex Pistols - Never Mind the Bollocks, Here‚??s the Sex PistolsThe Replacements - TimBlack Flag - Loose Nut

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
totalstranga (July 26, 2006)

good, but I wouldve liked to had a really well produced album on Slash records or something like I'm sure everyone else wouldve liked. In a related note a friend of mine had a mixtape with this Crime song San Franciscos Doomed or something like that. Goddamn I would love it if someone put out a cd like this Avengers one but of all the crime singles/rarities. That song kicked my fucking ass!

lushj (February 14, 2005)

"the plus ones as in Asian Man plus ones?"

Yes.

BrandonSideleau (February 14, 2005)

Great, GREAT band....SF really used to harbor the best of the best. Shit man, FLIPPER, NEGATIVE TREND, THE AVENGERS, THE SCREAMERS, DEAD KENNEDYS That's a lineup you can't touch.

Anonymous (February 12, 2005)

Ugh... The Amalgalm series sucked... "Lobo the Duck"? Yuck...

Marvel V/S DC was a rip off, too, but at least INTERESTING.

-BSD

Jet (February 12, 2005)

Remember when the Avengers and the Justice League characters merged in some horrific Marvel/DC Meltdown and our favourite characters from each books became singular entities! No? Well it sucked.

Anonymous (February 12, 2005)

the plus ones as in Asian Man plus ones?

lushj (February 12, 2005)

Yeah, I think you're right about the Steve Jones thing... I don't know much about that though. The Avengers went to London for one of those moldy oldie punk fests with Sham 69, Damned, etc., and apparently had a blast. It's the Greg and Penelope with the rhythm section of the Plus Ones- Joel and Luis.

Re: the CD Presents release- no worries about it, I mentioned it because it was the only reason the rest of us even knew any of their songs. That White Noise 12" is a collector scum record from hell, has been almost since it came out it seems... sigh...

That's on my list of "if I could have any punk record in the world no matter what the cost", along with the Canadian Subhumans 12" with "Fuck You" on it.

Anonymous (February 12, 2005)

i might be wrong, but if emusic still exists (i am that inattentive to notice these days), I used a free trial to get screamers discs.

Or I got them elsewhere, i really cant remember, but its worth a shot.

wyzo

joeg (February 11, 2005)

"Your comment about there being no full-length is wrong in that they had a couple of posthumous 12"s/LPs that came out within a couple years of their breakup"

My bad. When I was researching them, nothing was ever mentioned about that except they only released a few EPs and then they apparently tried to hook up with Steve Jones? I'm just glad Lookout decided to release this though. And yes, also do look for "American in Me" that was released last year which as some extra unreleased tracks. I know the Avengers still tour once in awhile which is awesome but not for me since I don't live in California.

lushj (February 11, 2005)

Your comment about there being no full-length is wrong in that they had a couple of posthumous 12"s/LPs that came out within a couple years of their breakup.

The most common, the pink LP on CD Presents, was their standard record until this one came out 15 years later. We all had that pink LP OR cassette dubs of it, so their songs lived on pretty hardcore around here. That record was pieced together from a 12" (on White Noise Records?) and demo, single, and live tracks. According to Penelope Houston's MRR interview in the early 1990s, the band had no say over the record and received little to no money for the thousands and thousands of copies of the pink record that was sold. That was standard for CD Presents, apparently.

I agree though, they were a great band that may have had the depth of song writing of X or other contemporary bands if they had the label support to encourage them to stick together. The once-every-6-years reunion shows are pretty awesome, check out the 3rd (and newest) addition to the Avengers discography, "The American In Me."

Both this cd on Lookout and "The American In Me" are the only 2 band-endorsed full-lengths out there.

P.S.- The unreleased song that they re-recorded from live tapes here is SO good!!!

TheOneTrueBill (February 11, 2005)

Well, I don't have the DVD. I've seen clips from it and heard the audio from it, and it looks amazing. It's on my list of things to get.

And for the 2CD, don't get discouraged. It took me over two years of looking to find In A Better World. I tried interpunk, amazon, ebay, all the internet places with no luck. I tried all my local record stores until one day, a place had it for $12. So just keep trying.

gladimnotemo (February 11, 2005)

"All the Screamers have is that 2CD bootleg and the Target Video DVD."

Is the Screamers DVD worth getting? The only review I've seen was on Ska, Punk, and Other Junk, and that guy was just a jackass about it...I need a real opinion. Or where I could find the CD...anything, really.

Cos (February 11, 2005)

Yeah, it seems as if the early San Francisco, pre-DK punk bands (Avengers, Crime, the Nuns) never got their shit together to record full lengths.

California didn't have the major label attention that New York and the UK had; LA managed to create their own label industry--Dangerhouse, Bomp, Posh Boy and others recorded lots of bands, even before SST--but SF never really got off the ground. I wonder if those bands had been based in LA, they would have recorded those full-length albums that we treasure so much.

All that said, "We Are the One" is one kick-ass punk single.
--Cos

Anonymous (February 11, 2005)

avengers...what a great band..i discovered them last year...theres also a LP-discography release from the mini label cd-presents (huh?)-...it is also great

TheOneTrueBill (February 11, 2005)

All the Screamers have is that 2CD bootleg and the Target Video DVD.

joeg (February 11, 2005)

You have to make records to get remembered... Their output simply wasn't enough.

-BSD

ah point taken. it really is a shame though there weren't any labels at the time that would pick them up. and they just missed out on the flood of indie labels that would pop up a few years later. from everything i've heard and read about them, they were an incredible band. Jello Biafra said one of the reasons he started alternative tentacles was because the avengers were one of his favorite bands and he wanted to do something to help out all these bands that could never get any label support.

Anonymous (February 11, 2005)

"When there‚??s talk about the seminal bands that ignited this whole punk rock thing, we get the usual suspects: the Ramones, Sex Pistols, Clash, Black Flag, Minor Threat. But I rarely hear the Avengers being mentioned in the same sentence. To me at least, it seems like throughout the years, they‚??ve been overlooked. Was it because they were being overshadowed by the New York and British scenes? Did the Dead Kennedys take over the mantle as THE San Francisco punk band (even though the Avengers were around a full year before them)? Was it because it was fronted by a girl? Was it because they only lasted two years?"

You have to make records to get remembered... Their output simply wasn't enough.

-BSD

Archangel (February 11, 2005)

Score is for any singer who commands the audience to dance or mosh or move.

Anonymous (February 11, 2005)

Great review, although I always preferred X-Ray Spexs.

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