Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Avail / Dixie / 4AM Friday / Over The James / Rating: 7.8 / 8.3 / 7.7

If you look to the top left of the page you will see our PO Box is located in Richmond, Va. This doesn’t make me an instant Avail expert by any means but it does place me in their home town and its damn near impossible to live here and not know just how much they mean, have meant for more than decade to this city. Richmond (all confederate jokes aside) takes this band very seriously and as outsider, a late comer to this community, I can finally understand just how big of a voice they gave this small underground music scene and with the act of touring, how well they spread word of what life is like in this city and among these people. Hell... I have Avail ( singer Tim B more specifically) to thank for preparing me (the Yankee) for what life would be like living here when I seriously knew only what their records preached and that my friend Adam from Born Against moved to town and liked the place alright.

Growing up in NJ and NYC (late 80s – most of the 90s) I saw Avail at least 5 times and while I strayed from most hardcore shows by the time I reached my mid 20s, Avail offered one of the few girl friendly shows back then so I tried to catch them every time they played. I hate to correct Pitchfork here but Avail shows have always been a safe positive / environment for a girl to be a part of and in turn tend to have more girls at their shows (especially back in the day) than any band from the surrounding scene. (CBGBs Sunday matinees for instance in the early 90’s rarely had a women in the first 30 rows of people.)

It’s a shame Lookout lost these titles but in the wake of this reissue series comes as Pitchfork nails it, their three best records… cleaned up no less with great liner notes, pictures, and rare bonus material. It’s useless to try and argue which one is the best because they are all great and depending on which one you heard first, that one in particular, best or not, will hold the greatest sentiment. Personally speaking the Dixie reissue with the addition of the Attempt to Regress 7” (which I still love to DJ out) and the super-rare Live at the Kingshead Inn 10” may not get as much love as my original lp versions did but they will remain my all time favorites from Avail.

And sure these records even newly re-mastered may sound dated but in the timeline for working class hardcore bands, groups like Hot Water Music and Lucero owe their souls Avail for paving the way first.

Just about everybody I know in RVA has an Avail story or 10 but not all of them happen to be staying at my house when the PFM Avail review posted. Thank you Miss Anantomy for earning your keep by writing a little a something for us and while I know you aren’t a writer, you did just fine lady.


“You were 16, saw Avail, knew all the words to the CD before you bought the CD-- they were that catchy-- and they got you hooked on murder rates in Richmond, Virginia, and not fighting at shows, back when all you cared about was songs about girls. (Though there, of course, weren't any at Avail shows.)"

I sometimes wonder why so many guys thought there were never any girls at shows. I know that there wasn't a lot of us but every Avail show I or my friends went too-I remember there was always a plethora of women. I actually saw more girls jumping off those stages than any other show I can recall.

The fact that they let you know in every record they made what was going on in their city impressed me. It made me want to be in Richmond more than any other city on the east coast. It made me really proud to call this place my home. I think they wanted to make sure it was a city that was not forgotten including the people that lived here.

PFM says: "1990s rec-room hardcore"

This quote actually made me take a step back. I never at any time, or any of my friends that I know of, would have called there music rec-room hardcore. That seems to me like your calling it kiddy music. Yeah there were a lot of kids at the shows but so were all the guys up on stage playing that music. We were all kids and we were all learning how to cope with growing up. That I believe is in part why these records will always hold true to me and perhaps will sound timeless to the next generation of kids. Avail let all those pent up feelings of youth roll out in their southern no collar punk rock anthems.

PFM says: "Call these three snapshots: disposable, uncomplicated, a ton of fun when you were there."

How could they be disposable? How are they not uncomplicated? Yes, they were fun, but they were also real and reflected their/our lives. None of these albums were story book fiction. Tim Barry always had the truth to speak about his city and the people he knew here so to say they are disposable is really pushing it in relation to those of us who grew up here.

I guess I am biased; I lived in that city for 11 years. I can speak from a personal love/hate for that city and understand what exactly what they were talking about. These records are snapshots to a certain degree, but they are also reminders that you should always be aware of the city you are in. Even now, 12 years later.


PS: The picture is the Avail logo scratched into the cement in front of a the dance building on the VCU campus. I pass over this every day on my walk to get coffee. Speaking of coffee…