Reason Is 6​/​7 Of Treason

by X-tal

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X-tal's debut album, originally released on the Alias label in 1990. Recorded on 8 tracks at Lowdown and Olde West studios. Scrappy SF post-punk with lyrics that capture the Zeitgeist of its place and time.

CMJ REVIEW: X-tal have been around the Bay Area for an incredibly long time (not as long as the Dinosaurs or Eddie And The Tide, but close) with astonishingly little concrete output to show for either their years or their overall fabulousness in tackling, in a wholly undumb manner, music that shows resin of the boho/jangle/paisley-folk grain. This debut scoops up the morning-dew innocence of the least embarrassing Haight-Ashbury petal-babies of the `60s with the world-bleary wisdom of all those SF/LA punk-worn people who turned their matured underground gaze upon gentler, more introspective directions (Penelope Houston, Yo, the Catheads, the roster of Heyday Records). And wah la, X-tal is neither too precious, too glib nor so laidback as to be dismissable, and they don’t take themselves too seriously either. X-tal makes music that one can empathize with even if you don’t own a pair of china slippers, joining (or rather, justifying their membership with) the electric bard elite of a tricky, strangely touching nature peculiar to the California-located. Cuts of choice are “Your Fragile Mind,” “Encore,” “Amateur Alchemist” and “Dogma Suit.” – : CMJ New Music Report Issue: 192 – Mar 30, 1990


released March 1, 1990

Produced by Greg Freeman & X-tal
Recorded at Lowdown Studios, 1989, and Olde West Studios, 1990
Cover art: Maati Stojanovich, Andrea Rice Freeman, and Pete Friedrix
Cover photography: Steve Connell

J Neo Marvin: Vocals, guitars, keyboards, melodica, tin whistle
Mick Freeman: Vocals, drums, percussion
Jimmy Broustis: Vocals, guitars
Mitzi Waltz: Bass, vocals, clapping sticks

Angel Corpus-Christi: Accordion
 (Song Of The Six Pack)
Jerod Poore: Didgeridoo (Dogma Suit)
Kathleen Foy: Melodica (Cheap Holiday)

All songs © 1990 Undulant Rhetoric (BMI)



all rights reserved


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: Amateur Alchemist
A lot of people play amateur alchemist
Some do it to relieve their pain
Some to quell the endless hate inside
Some to try and stimulate their brains

Some people join the God Of The Month Club
They think there’s more to life than flesh and bone
Some paint, write or sing their nightmares
To show others that they’re not alone

Something happened to me yesterday
And you can’t tell me that it was just drugs
Sometimes I lie down and I close my eyes
And then I’m drowning in a sea of love

There’s a catch
You gotta open them up again
There’s a catch
You’ve got to wake up again.
Track Name: Ragamuffin Girl
Raggedy figure moving down the street
Dodging all of the creeps she meets
Cigarette papers and a bottle of wine
A clove of garlic and a jug of juice
In and out of the store before closing time

She won’t stop for a Muslim bean pie
She won’t stop for an X-rated burger
She won’t stop for a war game video
She won’t stop for the voices on the street
She just wants to get on home and rest her tired feet

I’m in love with a ragamuffin girl
She’s been running all over the world
But now she’s here with me

She might linger in the shade for a while
To check out the preachers and the gospel choirs
Looking for a bargain at the sidewalk sale

Looking for trouble in the corner of her eye
Then she’ll climb upstairs and start up a pot of tea
Throw her stuff on the floor and say hello to me

I wanna bury my face in your hair
The telephone’s ringing, but I don’t care
Why should we have to go anywhere today?
Can’t we just tell them all to go away?
I mean, they can always call back again some other time…

All the 21st century cutting edge brats
Would have you believe they know where it’s at
All the fashion plates can engage in debates
About which style is the happening thing this year
They don’t mean a thing at all to you or me, my dear

I’m in love with a ragamuffin girl
We light the candles and we toss and twirl
And talk of where we’d rather be

Ferry boat jetting across the bay
Drink in my hand and a smile on my face
Watching the lights of the landlords and lawyers
Of Belvedere and Tiburon
As the sun sinks over the ancient forest and the ocean beyond
Yeah it all looks real pretty from here

No particular place to go
No particular place to go

We’re spinning in circles on a fragile pool
Just like a couple of romantic fools
Talking about Palenque and Paleokhora
And other places I’ve never been before
(Meanwhile, back in the jungle…)

All you steroid swilling macho bloods
Who think you be such tough and scary studs
You see her walking alone in the dark
And you think you’ve found yourself an easy mark
Well, surprise surprise
A well-placed kick in your eggshell balls
Might open up your eyes.

Self-defense is a hard-won skill
For a self-respecting ragamuffin girl.
Track Name: The Gerbil Cage
In the English boarding school
The new headmaster sits in his cube
He’s busy with his new position paper:
How to cut off your arm to spite your finger

Too much trouble with beer and disco
Too many rules not being observed
He was sent by a foreign power
To ask the questions and mark the hours

Now he sits in his converted closet
Watching the drones through the secret peepholes
The eyes of the velvet painting of Bruce
Will follow you wherever you go.

In Chernobyl we believe the Czar is wise and good
When he does wrong we blame it on bad counsel
He means well but he can’t be everywhere
The gerbils whisper daily news in his ear.
Track Name: Encore
Well, you killed off your dad and you burned down the school
And you blew up the jail and tore up all the rules
Well, that’s cool. Yeah, that’s cool.

You were a teenage rebel with a lot to say
You took the propaganda and you threw it away
Well hooray…yeah, that’s OK.

What you gonna do for an encore
Now that you’re not so young anymore?

Well you spent your life looking for an alternative
What you really need now is some way to live.
Yeah, you broke away and you set yourself free
You’re only starting to learn now just how hard life can be
And you have all my sympathy.

What you gonna do for an encore
Now that you’re not so young anymore?
Track Name: Happy Americans
Sixty needles and sixty pins
Look at all the Happy Americans
They never question, never doubt
What is this country they talk about?

Every day they’re on my TV
Being all that they can be
They’re in the army, they’re in the bar
They drive around in their manly cars
They’re all so perfect, they’re all so young
They never worry, they’re always having fun.

Sixty needles and sixty pins
Look at all those Happy Americans.

They belong to the city, they shine in the light
To the beat of the street in the heat of the night
Their hearts are on fire and they reach for the sky
The magical fantasy, the wonderful lie.

Put a smiley sticker on the problem
A band-aid on the festering wound
A nosejob won’t stop the cancer
This society is rotting from the inside
But our leaders wave the flag
More frantic as the days get shorter
While the acid rain blows in their faces
They smile and holler, “Pass the fried chicken!”

They shoot off their mouths ’cause they’re so concerned
They love explosions ’cause they never get burned
Where have you been, my blue-eyed son?
Killing Khadafy with my water gun!

User-friendly, born to win
Rows and rows of Happy Americans.

And the newspaper owner is America’s voice
This shiny product is America’s choice
It’s waiting there for you on every shelf
How could you ever want anything else?

Are you now or have you ever been
A somewhat less than Happy American?

This is the Asshole Decade
So join the Asshole Generation
Everybody’s in the rat race now
We’re working harder than we ever have before
And when we bring home the bacon
We bring home nothing but frustration!
Track Name: Song Of The Six Pack (Ecstasy Waltz)
Woke up this morning with nails in my head
Snails on the floor and rocks in the bed
In a derelict shoebox at 7 AM
The neighbors still screaming, well bully for them!

Rolling and thrashing and trying to sleep
Nightmares to count, I can’t bother with sheep
The sun shine so bright when I finally pass out
But I wanna wake up on the weekend for once.

Oh, hand me the phone, I gotta call someone
To find out what happened and if I had fun
Oh, please don’t hold me to whatever I said
I really didn’t mean it, or maybe I did.

We laugh and we sing through the dark hours of night
It’s a quarter past midnight, we’ve started to fight.
12 roads to nowhere, 13 roads to Hell
I hope there’s a detour, I don’t feel so well.
Track Name: Lenny Bruce
Stars around and Big Dipper shines
I fear you only sometimes
Gonna strike then gonna hide
Searing, burning, deep inside
Stars burn out, they die
People who shine, institutionalized
Ask a question, wonder why
Tell me how did Abbie die?

Breaking free of police bullshit
Illegal search, wiretap, and this...
Laughing, a smug smile
Your jokes piss me in my time
Life itself, the power struggle thing
Molded into happy happy
Molded from harsh real screams
Molding, ripping apart my vital seams

There's a cage within this town
No sunshine days, no stars at night. Drift.
Horizontal lines to hold our tongues in silence
From Springfield to Oakland, CA. Drift away.
And there's a rotund man who don't eat so well
penal annoyance on our minds
He's got the badge and the cherrywood stick
Big guns, little guns, and bullets that fit, oh yeah.

And I can envision now how it would be done
Hordes of thieving pilgrims to the pawn shop run
Now you pack a gun, be calm,
Fill the circle and spin the lead
This line up, part the hair of that pig oh yeah
Right between the eyes, right through his head
See the fear and feel the oppression drift

And these feelings grew, these feelings DO.
Can't you feel it, make it drift away?

Stars above and Big Dipper shines
I fear you only sometimes
Gonna strike then gonna hide
Oh yeah, Abbie did suicide.
Track Name: The Cold Civil War
I see battle lines drawn everywhere
Read the papers, count the lies
Read the letters from respected citizens
With murder in their eyes
Soldiers in disguise
So don’t you criticize

Great men lead the charge against the foe
Nobly boasting of all their crimes
The feeble opposition strains to not offend
And loses every time.

Pundits crow about prosperity
From their comfortable estates
Rub their last decade of glory ion your face
Yeah, everything’s just great
So just accept your fate
“Cause it’s already too late.

We’re already in a civil war
Pretending nobody gets killed
You might read about some vague event somewhere
But it’s just too unreal
Nothing you can feel
We did not turn that wheel, so we believe.

We’re all safe here in America
But the battle rages on
Lives hang on the images ad men create
For a sedated throng
An audience of pawns
Sell you for a song.

Details, details, facts are stupid things
Can’t you see, we don’t want to know?
We want a candy box of sentiment and fear
And wrap it in a bow
Make it a pretty bow!
Come on, go man go!

There are those who sense there’s something wrong
You can find them all around
But their words are too upsetting for our ears
It’s such a foreign sound
They’d better keep their voices down
We’ll send someone to knock them down.

So tell me how secure you feel today
Stirred and soothed by official words
You might find you can’t always get what you need
You get what you deserve!
In the Cold Civil War.
Track Name: Cheap Holiday
(Mick Freeman)
© 1990 Undulant Rhetoric (BMI)
Track Name: Dogma Suit
All the views you held in your past
They were never built to last
Once you shouted and waved your sign
Then you went and changed your mind
You harangued with your beliefs
But they never ran too deep
And you say, what dogma suit shall I put on today?

So intolerantly pure
Opinionated and secure
If you could see yourself today
You’d probably blow yourself away
Now you rise up from your bed
And look for thoughts to fill your empty head
And you say, what dogma suit shall I put on today?

It’s no good…Another contradiction
No good…I could have made the prediction
You flip like an egg in a pan
And you flop, but your yolk just ran
Seek out another mental trend
Preach on, but all you do is pretend
So what dogma suit will you put on today?
What dogma suit will you put on today?
Track Name: Your Fragile Mind
When things get bad
And life is nothing but pain
And you decide
You’re better off blowing your brain

The voice inside tells you
That you can be free
Cloud up your eyes, turn inward
Step into your dream
Your fragile mind will take a walk

You’re on the ground
The crowd is staring at you
No one believes it
They’re asking, “Just what did you do?”
Don’t try to run, don’t try to talk
Your fragile mind will take a walk.