Cheifs - 'Holly-West' Crisis [vinyl reissue] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


'Holly-West' Crisis [vinyl reissue] (2010)

Dr. Strange

Apparently the Cheifs were a Los Angeles punk band from the early ‘80s who played alongside bands like the Circle Jerks, Black Flag and X. I can't vouch for them because I wasn't around (well, maybe I was an idea), but judging from the raw, granular recordings and primitive punk disposition, I'd say that sounds about right.

From the style and melodies, the Cheifs actually sound closer to late ‘70s L.A. punk bands like the Germs or Fear or Angry Samoans. They packed in too much melody to really be called hardcore and lacked the austerity of stalwarts like Black Flag and Uniform Choice.

In place of the raw aggression and minimalism is developed musicianship and sugary multi-vocal melodies that put them closer in style to their neighbors to the south in Carlsbad, the Dils. Songs like "Eddie's Revenge" and the title track, "Holly-West Crisis", demonstrate a songwriting that seems more rooted in traditional pop than the unorthodox structures employed by early hardcore bands.

Lyrically, the Cheifs reflect a lot of what was going on in Southern California punk from the ‘70s to mid-‘80s with songs like the album's best track, "Riot Squad", and "Holly-West Crisis" ("Hollywood poverty / Living on imaginary charity / Holly-West Crisis / Everything's another crisis.")

The tracks are all generally fairly listenable and even enjoyable despite the rough production one would expect in a rescued punk album from the early ‘80s archives. The six-minute "Drowning" is a couple minutes too long, but otherwise it's hard to find much not to like about "Holly-West" Crisis. For those interested in an overlooked band of punk's formative years, the Cheifs are certainly a nice find.