The Thursday Throwback Track - Episode 184: Agent Orange & "In Your Dreams Tonight"


Welcome to WEEK 184 of 4T! (Video Episode #10) Agent Orange – This is the Voice (1986)

Ya Gotta Understand https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/This_Is_the_Voice

When you’re in high school, you’re looking for two wildly divergent things. First, you’re looking to belong. That’s different for everyone – and as the practically-a-documentary The Breakfast Club taught us, where you belong can be entirely up to you. The point is finding like-minded people one way or another, so you’re not a total outcast or adrift on a sea of isolation. Second, you’re looking for your identity. You want to know who you really are, and how deeply that’s driven is based on so many factors, not the least of which is how comfortable you are with the truth. I DO NOT have a deep nostalgia for any of my school years. So many great things happened, and I’m grateful for the people who still mean something to me, but I have no desire to revisit any year prior to college. What I DO have a nostalgia for is the music, and how & why I was into it.

Agent Orange was one of SEVERAL artists my great friend Mike Smith (not his real name … actually it’s totally his real name) got me into, along with U2, Violent Femmes, Husker Du, even Bowie. Mike and the music we listened to served BOTH of the above purposes: he & they gave me a sense of belonging, of not being alone in my quirky & edgy & soft & eclectic tastes; and they also helped me to define all those individualistic qualities for myself. I was an academic star & music/theater performer on the surface, but deep down I was a rage-filled, confused, anti-social, sex-crazed teen, trying so hard to both acknowledge and suppress all that all at once. It sucked – thus why I don’t care to revisit the era. But as with SO MANY eras, the music that comforted and defined and saved me will always be precious.

Oh yeah, so the actual music. They were one of the first surf punk bands, straight out of Southern Cal. Their name shows how early they formed (1979), as the Viet Nam War was still a HUGE presence at the time. Surf punk is still a vibrant thing in 2020 (Wavves anyone?), and a whole bunch of non-punk bands have incorporated it into their shite as well. To be able to combine the bright ebullience of surf rock with the dark power of punk is a great thing, and again up my alley because of the chiaroscuro-ness of it. I’ve done a good handful of songs like this, but the OBVIOUS CHOICE for this week’s Nick/REC song is an ACTUAL AGENT ORANGE COVER. From this here album, the breakout hit “In Your Dreams Tonight”. I took it in a shoegaze downbeat emo direction, cuz ain’t no reason to recreate an absolute classic:

“In Your Dreams Tonight” - https://recarea.bandcamp.com/track/in-your-dreams-tonight

Other than that track and “It’s In Your Head”, I can’t begin to pick favorites. The whole album works for me.

Do you have any experience with surf punk or earlier surf rock or Cali music or punk of any kind? Or what was the music that helped get you through high school or some other tough time in your life? Discuss dammit!

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© 2018 by Nick DeMatteo

New York, NY