Die Monster Die

by X-tal

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The second X-tal album, originally released on the Alias label in 1991. DIE MONSTER DIE combines a more punk sound and attitude than their debut with added folk, reggae, and African influences. Bassist extraordinaire Allison Moseley makes her debut with the band.

CMJ REVIEW: It’s a wiser and angrier X-tal that graces our stereo this year, these San Francisco-reared citizens matching a carnival of instruments with a torrent of well-enumerated opinions on everything from ganja to old, paunchy rock stars. Extinct is the sad-toned reflective X-tal of Reason Is 6/7 Of Treason, their arrangements and imaginations fired up by philosophical coffee-house brawls and an influx of Gaelic, African and Appalachian migrant musics, all brandished with a college student’s indignant gleam. Matching up snarl and swing, the band fits the Young Fresh Fellows’ whiny wit with a Mekons-tinged, violin-fortified ease of rhythm. Their pan-cultural instrumental smorgasbord stays fast and punchy, lest the verbal sentiments get too weighty and predictable, interchanging ska beats, Irish jigs and suburban twitch with tales of oppressor and oppressed. Oppression, ignorance and complacency are where X-tal’s lyrical lance is aimed, and with an equally provocative dancefloor bounce, Die Monster Die is first-class world punk music. Top Cuts: “Zion (Just A Cloud),” “An Old Colonial’s Hard Luck Story” and “Goldfish Bowl.” – CMJ New Music Report Issue: 229 – Mar 29, 1991


released April 1, 1991

Produced by Greg Freeman and X-tal
Recorded at Olde West and Soma Sync Studios, 1990
All songs © 1991 Undulant Rhetoric (BMI)

J NEO MARVIN: Vocals, guitars, keyboards, melodica
MICK FREEMAN: Vocals, drums, guitar
JIMMY BROUSTIS: Vocals, guitar, bass
ALLISON MOSELEY: Bass, vocals, piano

Guests: Mitzi Waltz: Bass (Old Colonial, Pablo)
Annelise Zamula: Tenor saxes (Old Colonial)
Patrick Smoot: Trumpets (Old Colonial)
Melanie Clarin: Accordion (O.C.), harmony vocals (Pablo)
Kim Osterwalder: Barely audible cello (Domino’s)
Carrie Bradley: Violin (AJR, White Rat)
Jeremy O’Doughaill: Mandolin (White Rat)
Slice-O-Life Pro-Choice Karaoke Ensemble: Vocals (Domino’s)



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X-tal San Francisco, California

Here, for the first time, the entire recorded output of X-tal in one place.

X-tal (1983-1996) were a San Francisco post-punk band fronted by J Neo Marvin. Greil Marcus of the Village Voice described them as a “small-time San Francisco combo that wears their defeated leftist politics on their sleeves and can open for the Mekons without letting you forget them when the headliners come on.” ... more

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Track Name: Zion (Just A Cloud)
Did the sun bleach the brown from your eyes?
Air-conditioned the ozone, now we fry
Through the smoke and tar I opened my eyes
Ignoring the cancer that we buy
When the dust cleared I opened my eyes
And I felt the heat as it comes around
In this industrial bayshore zone
We do what we do, man, we're killing me off

It's just a cloud, a cloud
That can't be heard or seen
Have I touched it, have I smelled or felt it,
Have I tasted the experience yet?
It's just a cloud, a cloud
But it's toting the hottest early summer's rain
I never saw or felt or touched or tasted
Anything but the bitter taste of hopelessness
And I'm getting pissed!

It's just a stream, a stream
A discharge my eyes can't see
While I was swimming in the water fatal
Oh fuck, I ate the fish
It's just a stream, a stream
It won't flow away, go to Zion and see
How the flowers that grow beside the towers
Would run if their roots weren't shackled in cement

And the press simply dictates who can be trusted
With the ridiculous responsibility of nuclear stuff
Teaching United States trust
Building reactors on fault lines
Pumping discharge into Lake Michigan
They give us Cobalt 60, Cesium 137 for food...
Track Name: Here To Go
This city is a bloated leech
Sucking our short lives away
If you want a stimulating existence
All you gotta do is pay and pay and pay.

Sign your paycheck over to the landlord
Keep a stray eye open for traffic cops
Spit at trendies and hide from the gangsters
Ask yourself if it’s time this bullshit stops

It’s all gone wrong for far too long
And there’s only one thing I know
If you ask why I’m still around
Well, these days I’m here to go.

Invest your life in a flaky vision
Of kindred souls in a low rent community
Stake a claim in the town you love
Watch politicians and businessmen destroy it systematically
Let it sink in the fucking sea.

And if the pressure gets to be too much
You can always go score yourself some dope
Bask in brief, never-cheap relief
Wake up hanging at the end of a thinner rope

It’s all gone wrong for far too long
All it’s too bad, it’s just too bad
This used to be my city
It used to be so groovy
Now there’s no there there
And I really don’t care
I’m here to go.
Track Name: Stepford Rockers
They hit the racks and shook the indie playpen
With a great big trashy noise
Then they vanished mysteriously
And came back twenty pound lighter
Stepford Rockers!

A brave new role model for women
Tailor-made to please the boys
Just got back from a recent tour
Of Apollonia 6’s garage sale
Stepford Rockers!

One day you’ll change your tune
Before you know what’s happened to you
Don’t scoff, my friend
You’re next on the conversion list
It takes a certain length of time
But one day you wake up
And you’re not there anymore.

Now they’re springing up everywhere
Boy and girl pods in second hand poses
Bulldoze the ruins of the underground
To gentrify the neighborhood of your mind
Stepford Rockers!

Beware my friend
It could happen to you one day
Beware my friend
You’ll be playing “Free Bird” one day
It’ll be a joke the first time
But it’ll be a tribute before you’re through.

They’re all so wonderful
Young hot to trot super-creatures
Slender slices of prime cut long pig
Wrapped in leather and topped with mousse
They never have any problems
Give or take an OD or two
They’ll never have bad sex
And they’ll never test positive
Stepford Rockers!

Beware my friend
It could happen to you one day
Beware my friend
It could happen to you one day.
Track Name: An Old Colonial's Hard Luck Story
Another old colonial comes with a hard luck story:

“We had a big plantation
We had servants
A smashing view of the jungle
These things belonged to us
But we had to leave
The beautiful country that we owned
It’s so disgraceful
An affront to our dignity!

“The natives weren’t so bad
Sometimes you had to beat them a bit
Sometimes they’d get lazy
Sometimes they got ideas
But we had a boy in the kitchen
By God, I swear he was almost like
A member of the family
Those were the days…”

You might see them on the streetcar
You might meet them in the store
They might stumble on a piece of jewelry
Or hear Miriam Makeba on the radio
Then their eyes get misty and they reminisce.

“I wouldn’t go there now
Look at the way they run themselves
I say it goes to show
We were right all along
These are such hard times
And I miss my life of privelege
We had servants…”

Oh you poor suffering creature
Don’t bend my ear again
You spend your old age whining
‘Cause you did not get the warning
Don’t complain to me
You’re lucky to be alive
You’re goddamn lucky you got your ignorant white ass out in time!

Revolution is not pretty
Sometimes it’s not even beautiful
It’s not even always just
When it’s just too late.
Track Name: A.J.R.
Teeming with mud and water and silt
We pulled into the town at dusk
Caught in the crossfire of anger, exhaustion and lust
The sky and my heart were on fire
Paradise here is reality found
The machinery is the same as up north
Ah, but the trees, Alejandro, the ground

The rain cools down a lot of things
It destroys and builds together
Four decades old, four kids for good
The woman's hands are tethered

The lighted house spells out the way
I hope the sailor listens
The lighted house is here to stay
But then so are politicians.

Back to reality at 7 AM
The sun streaming through like a godsend
The boats are unloading their night of hard work
The streets and the storefronts are still filled with dirt
And yes, my heart still feels the fire.

For seven days and seven nights
That town was ours forever
We talked it out in wrong and rights
Like storms which changed the weather.

The lighted house spells out the way
I hope the sailor listens
The lighted house is here to stay
But then, so's goddamn religion.

Everything seems so changed to me now
The days don't go on forever
Approaching the 90s...it's frustrating and tough
And man, some people think they're so clever.
Track Name: White Rat (1979-1989)
Another day, another night
I won’t pretend for a moment that everything’s all right
Humans crave fulfillment, well, I have not found that yet
Life’s an endless struggle, Junior, I’ll take what I can get.

All the local parasites are breaking down your door
They’re not gonna leave till you let them crash out on your floor
Tell me why do you let them hang around?
Do you really think that you owe something to this town?

In heaven everything is fine
In heaven the trains never run on time
I’m just a white rat
I live on chump change
I know the price of soul
I can’t afford to sell it.

I go out skanking nights with all the natty dreads
Top ranking dubwise sound is mashing up our heads
I get shivers up and down when Winston Rodney sings
But I don’t need to smoke ganja and I don’t believe in kings

In heaven everything is fine
In heaven the trains never run on time
I’m just a white rat
I live in a small cage
I got no exercise wheel
You don’t know just how we feel.
Track Name: Domino's Theory
If you own a company
You too can dictate policy
If you own a company
You can legislate morality
A fortune made on cardboard crust
Is a gun pointed at our subversive lust
And a midwest multimillionaire
Can finance right wing guerilla warfare anywhere
Domino’s theory.

Ghetto kids in their red white and blue suits
Hustling for that minimum wage
The familiar face of the franchise
Sound of the men workin’ on the chain gang
“Let us exploit you and we’ll keep you off crack”
A cheap labor pool to support the multi-pronged attack
Domino’s theory.

Paramedics for the patriarchy
On a rescue operation
Tomorrow’s vassals must be kept in their vessels
By stout lion-hearted Christian men
Compare yourselves to Martin Luther King
Don’t make me laugh, you pathetic fascist rats
Fighting what you don’t understand
A holy war funded by the pizza man.
Domino’s theory.

You might find it all absurd and funny
I tell you, it’s pretty goddamn serious
Picture your pregnant sister, daughter or mother
With some smug jock screaming murder in her face
Pushing bloody propaganda pictures
Shoving teenage girls around
They wouldn’t stop to help the women in their own ranks
If they were to fall on the ground
You might be wondering where they get off
They think they’re getting off in Heaven
Yeah, they believe that’s where their train stops
All aboard, we’re bound for glory
To a custom-made paradise for schoolyard bullies and self-appointed cops.

If you own a company
People will slave away to make you money
You can keep on taking, there’s always someone to give
‘Cause everybody’s gotta work to live
You own the wealth that they produce
And you can spend it any way you choose
Destroy what you don’t understand
A holy war funded by the pizza man.

And every slice is another cell
In the hand that forms the fist
And every slice is another penny
For the fascists’ Christmas list.
Choke on it.
Track Name: Pablo
One of me is welling up deep inside
Another me is throwing rocks
Another stops them in mid-flight
Meanwhile on the surface I'm wearing only smiles
Waiting until I have had enough of this lifestyle

Pablo, that's the way, the way it goes
The world it spins on painfully so
I twist and I turn, I burn
And that fire grows
As we watch fascism grow.

I and I are breaking free of the stereotypes
Twenty-five years of brainwash
Goddamn, open my eyes!
Divisive sheets of insulting paper
Thirty feet in the sky
Lie, buy, sell, and define us at the same time

The evening glows at 3 AM alone
I am the fog, I paint as I go
Patrick and Gannon outdoor
Paper twists and turns
And when it burns, it ain't slow.

I know self-enlightened feelings
Hungry all the time
Hop on a jet plane
Could it ever, would it ever
Could it ever change my life?

Or would it bum me out all the more
To find these people all the same:
Decompassioned and debrained
Everywhere, every place, everywhere, every place I go

White men rule the globe, Pablo
This much, this much I know
The world is spinning on painfully slow
I twist and I turn, I burn
And that fire glows
And I'm going straight, I'm going straight
I'm going straight for your soul.
Track Name: Captain Plus Four
This one is for the beatings
The smoke you blew in my face
The fence you built around you
The dogs you thought would keep your dreams alive.

The one is for the bottles
You crawling into my bed
To talk to me at midnight
About the boy you stabbed when you were young.

This one is for the big talk
How to become a real man
All the girls you fucked in wartime
Rubbers spread across the German countryside.

This one is for the family
That cherished institution
This is the crucial issue
Of who controls the children
Who has the right to beat them
Even kill them if he wants to
Beat, rape and kill his wife too
If he feels he has the need to
Who’s chosen by a just god
To be his overseer
The life that’s under him
Must bow down and trust his wisdom.

Captain Plus Four is knocking on your door
Captain Plus Four is squeezing you for more
Captain Plus Four is calling you to war.

My eyes are on the ground
I’m watching every move you make
My will is broken
Now I’m waiting for your back to break.

All atrocities forgiven
When authority is given
You might not like it now son
But when you get older
You know you’re gonna be the same
Perpetuate the self-same sick old game.
Track Name: Goldfish Bowl
(Mick Freeman)
© 1991 Undulant Rhetoric (BMI)
Track Name: Feckless
It was such a wonderful party and it lasted such a long time
I thought I was Paul Gauguin or Akasha in the night
Wine bottles in the hallway and beer cans in the garbage
Tell a tale of fruitful nodding and days so fine and fine
Drawings deck the hallways and the friends we’ve made are precious
Sleep is another rotting joke, we sell our memories in the street

Caitlin went to methadone and Sluggo takes showers by the hour
Isabel cries sleepless in the night, playing Orbison, running scared
Leather Sleeve stumbles off to work only to break dishes
Mick and Demetrius buy microphones to support Bruce’s deadly habit
It’s such a vicious circle that’s too easy to get trapped in
I struggle to make ends meet and I’m walking home with nothing.

I thought I was Frida Kahlo or Lord Byron out for a swim
I thought I was Belle Starr shooting yuppies in their cars
But all good parties have to end, for every up there is a down
These are all such good friends of mine, I hope we all live through it.

Rise up pagans, you will not burn
Souls intact, you’ll get your turn
Glory, health waits you
Like the songs you haven’t sung yet
Money earned is better spent
On food and paper, fuck the rent.