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ATA’s Music and Humor Writer, Emily Starinieri’s Desert Island Album: Blatz and Filth, The **** Split

California spawned countless punk rock bands throughout the years since punk’s conception, but few are as underappreciated as Blatz and Filth and their one-hit wonder, “The Shit Split.” Emerging from the late 80s/early 90s East Bay punk rock scene, gathering their following from their performances at the legendary venue “The Gilman,” they treat listeners to a two for one special with both of their albums on this one release. Played through, this album can come off bipolar because of Blatz’s manic and obnoxiously high-energy tunes, while Filth’s side can be perceived as depressive, though not depressive in the way that Morrissey is, more like in a “You Are Shit” angry depressive way.

The genius in this album lies in its historical importance as a contribution to the evolution of punk. Filth’s music, lyrics, sound and subject matter all reflect the beginning stages of what is now know as crust punk. With lyrical content including loathing society, life and the state of the punk scene, they set the stage for bands like Dystopia to form later in 1991. Their work on this album also contributed to the birth of East Bay Hardcore, influencing other EBHC bands including AFI who covered their track “Today’s Lesson.”

For me, Blatz and Filth are like a symbol for a secret society or a speakeasy password. I get really sick of poser punks trying to look the part by dressing in flash, sporting plaid, spikes, and random MIsfits merchandise, but cannot recognize a single Misfits song (or any other punk song for that matter). They want to look cool, get attention or some other bullshit. That’s not what punk is. Punk doesn’t give a shit if you don’t dress punk. Punk gives a shit about telling society, government and all authorities to fuck off, and anyone who challenges or threatens respect and unity within its community can fuck off too. Punk is for life, not for sale. As Filth says, “Teenage rebellion is just fine as long as you stop once you turn eighteen. Thousands of punks turned to society’s tools. There is something in their eyes. You can tell they sold out. Remember punk is more than teenage rebellion.” As someone who loves the punk scene, what it stands for and what it does for all the societal rejects out there, the future of punk matters to me. I don’t want it to be comprised of people who’ve hopped on a bandwagon to chase down the latest trend by grabbing overpriced shit at Hot Topic just to hop on the next trend train that fits their fancy. That’s the anthesis of punk. That’s an embarrassment. So when I see someone wearing a Filth shirt, having a Blatz sticker on their car, bringing up the bands in conversation, or any other acknowledgment, it’s like they’ve said a codeword. I know they get it and they’re one of us.

With that said, I also get pumped when I get the opportunity to show the album to a person newly discovering punk rock and they fall in love with it as I did, especially because Blatz is an acquired taste. I know Filth fans who own “The Shit Split” and avoid the Blatz side. I am not one of them. Blatz is one of my all-time favorite bands because, beneath all the screams and screeches, I find them damn relatable. I once proclaimed “Cockroach Cafe” to be my song because every word of the song sounded like how I felt: “If only I could lose ten pounds, the man humming wouldn’t make me mad and I wouldn’t need to cry because everyone would listen.” Every woman feels their problems would be solved if they could just lose ten pounds. And I can make that sexist remark because I’m a woman.

Blatz covers a couple classics on this album and does them righteous justice by making them their own. Their rendition of “Nausea” originally by X is more raw and messy, perfect if you find beauty in chaos. Fear’s “I Don’t Care About You” is turned into a catchy tune that one can’t help but sing along with during the blunt “I don’t care about you, fuck you!” chorus.

“The Shit Split” exemplifies the important punk rock principle of unity as references to one another’s songs are made, sometimes even borrowing lines and echoing subject matter while still maintaining individuality. With some of the best punk fundamentals blasted in original East Bay style, Blatz and Filth truly are the shit, split.

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California spawned countless punk rock bands throughout the years since punk's conception, but few are as under appreciated as Blatz and Filth

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