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Album 9 of 500: Mika Miko – We Be Xuxa

March 30, 2010

BAND: MIKA MIKO
ALBUM: WE BE XUXA
LABEL: PPM Records
RELEASE DATE:  May 5th 2009

A stunning and self-assured statement of purpose that will remind you of why you ever loved punk rock, We Be Xuxa recalls the idyllic period of punk rock in Los Angeles in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s after “Forming” and before Black Flag and Circle Jerks turning the scene macho and violent.  In light of the unfortunate but inevitable co-option of punk rock, Mika Miko wisely ditch the hoky, dark imagery that hampered C.Y.S.L.A.B.F. in realization that punk rock is no longer an effective as a delivery device for anything that could be considered threatening.  Instead their aim seems to be to stage a coup for the dance floor against the purveyors of mash-up, bit pop and other fellow travelers, (charlatans, all).

The skeleton key to a proper understanding of We Be Xuxa is Mika Miko’s brilliant cover of Urinals’ “Sex.”  Out of all the LA punk rock groups, the closest antecedent for Mika Miko and has to be Urinals, with their joyful and unabashed amateurism coupled with lyrics characterized by nonsense words and anthropomorphization (“Totion” and “Turkey Sandwich” sound like they could be long lost Urinals songs). Their tribute to their underappreciated comrades in arms is a sign of their newfound aesthetic maturity, and much more appropriate from a regional standpoint than their disastrous cover of The Misfits’ played-out, “Attitude,” an unwelcome additional to the otherwise mostly stellar compilation 666.

Like any other classic album, it’s difficult to pick a standout track.  That honor, however, must belong to “Turkey Sandwich.”  If you’re anything like me (and I hope for your sake that you aren’t), the first time you hear it you will think it’s a fatuous throwaway track.  The second time you hear it you will think it’s kind of funny.  The third time you hear it you will think it’s the best punk rock song you’ve heard in years.  A song about a popcorn machine in a movie theater that comes to life and asserts its free will by requesting the titular turkey sandwich.  The chorus is sung in a call and response fashion that upon first listen seems entirely unnecessary, but like the song’s inexplicable lyrics, upon repeated listens  creates an irresistable logic of its own.

One aspect of We Be Xuxa that sets it apart from similar releases is the prominent space in the mix given to Jessica Clavin nimble and tasteful bass playing (see especially “On the Rise” and “I Got a Lot (New New New)”.)  That the bass is so prominent featured and deftly executed adds to the fun atmosphere and danceability of an album, something so sorely lacking in so much modern guitar-based music.

We Be Xuxa is a classic album in a genre that I didn’t think had any classics left in it.  This is punk rock that speaks to modern times.  Green Day has a show on Broadway.  Punk rock isn’t about rebellion anymore.  What should it be about?  I say, “a turkey sandwich.”

PAT AGUIAR © 2010 500 Rad Records

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