Veteran Portland garage-pop duo the Bugs includes S.D. native and Grossmont High School grad Michael Coumatos. On the band's new vinyl LP, Paul Haines and Coumatos alternate singer-guitarist and drummer duties on 18 stripped-down tunes that ask existentialist questions and/or pose political predicaments: "You say that you wanna kill the president.../ But you can't afford the dynamite and still pay the rent..."
Coumatos sings in four languages, including a Greek song he learned from relatives when visiting the old country. Erstwhile S.D. songbird Lana Rebel, also now based in Oregon, joins in for some countrified guest vox.
But what's getting the record extra play are liner notes by rock-criticism forefather Richard Meltzer, 61, also of Portland. (North County resident Paul Williams is believed to have given Meltzer his first writing work in 1967, for his Crawdaddy! magazine.)
Meltzer's notes: "First things first. Unless there's a pressing need, like say you're genuinely psychotic, or less likely, in the thrall of an actual inspiration or idea (other than 'glory'...other than 'scoring'), nobody should be wasting his/her sacred/profane oo-poo-pa-doo playing Rock-A-Roll anymore -- NOBODY, y'hear?... Before you start a band, or join a band, it is better by far that you pump gas; change the deep fat at Wendy's; fish pennies out of urinals at NASCAR hoedowns; return to school and get a degree in Pus Farming.... All that said, I, the none too shabby R*i*c*h*a*r*d M*e*l*t*z*e*r, formerly R. Meltzer, Rockwriter Emeritus, originator of the whole sorry, loathsome rockwrite shuck, herewith endorse this dandy longplayer by the LONE EXCEPTION to any and all of the above...Bugs!!! Dig it, people: the Bugs are the flying fucking shit."
"He's been familiar with us for years...and seems to genuinely think we are not horrible," explains Haines. "When we started scheming about turning our 'masterpiece' CD-R into vinyl, we decided to ask him to do the liner notes. We figured we'd known him for years without hitting him up for a favor or acting like slavering fanboys, so why not ask. If he'd said no, we would've understood and it wouldn't have been a big deal; but he said yes, and we were stoked! I brought him a sack of vegetables (mostly potatoes) from one of the farmers' markets that I work at, in trade."
The Bugs play the Tower Bar this Friday, April 20.