Friday Five: Local Obscurities with Wild Boys, Brat Axis, Möl Triffid, Monster Bait, The Iodine Raincoats


Cover art for the albums and singles featured in the Friday Five.

Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

This edition features some vintage odds and sods that I've wanted to write about in some form or fashion, including psychedelic jams by Wild Boys (1973), soulful rock by Brat Axis (1975), sludgy grunge by Möl Triffid (1990), art punk by Monster Bait (1991), and stadium new wave by The Iodine Raincoats (1988).


Wild Boys, "Madness Reigns" b/w "Outskirts of '73"
Ann Arbor's Wild Boys seemed to run feral in 1972 and '73, playing at the People's Ballroom and opening for various local acts before growing up and becoming lost boys. There's not much info about the band or its lone 7-inch single, which the group self-financed and self-released in 1973. Here's a Friday Five-esque blurb from the June 5, 1973, issue of the Ann Arbor Sun:

Local boys make good . . . Ann Arbor’s all-time, down-to-earth, nitty gritty rock and roll band, THE WILD BOYS, released their first recording last month. The 45 rpm single, recorded last December by the Boys at Morgan Sound Studio, was pressed in a limited edition on their own, mysteriously nameless label and is being sold at select record stores in Lansing and by the CHILDREN’S COMMUNITY CENTER (along with the fabulous CCC Super Balls) at Rainbow Trucking tables and wherever else the CCC sells its stuff (for the CCC kid’s lunch money) in Ann Arbor. The A side of the Wild Boys single is their big one, “Madness Reigns,” which points out, Boys fans will remember, that “All the strings that tie the universe together have been broken.” Uh-huh . . . .

The Sun mentions the songs being recorded in Ypsi's Morgan Sound, but Discogs pegs it being made at Detroit's Pioneer Recording Studio, which might explain why the label has PRSD on it.

The only other write-up I found was from an August 17, 2012, entry on the PurePop blog:

Here’s a biggie. An incredibly obscure outing from a virtually unknown band from Ann Arbor. Madness Reigns is a treasured moment of pure folly. At the cusp of Bonehead, but mixing in a slight Kinks/Leopards delivery in the vocals, it features some blistering killer guitar and also has a heavy Psych/Freakbeat appeal. The title sums it up –Pure Insania! The other side reminds me of Mogan Davis & His Winos in Ragtime mode and is fun albeit less crucial.

I couldn't find the single's B-side, "Outskirts of '73," and the audio links on PurePop are broken, but the write-up mentions the incorrectly named Mogan David & His Winos doing ragtime—so, I guess freakbeat dudes doing a novelty jam? The A-side, however, is solid psych-rock jam featuring some unhinged screams.

Finally, housing in Ann Arbor was a pain even 50 years ago; from the September 22, 1972, issue of the Ann Arbor Sun:

The Wild Boys desperately need a house big enough for them all to live together and some practice space. Got any leads on a house call the Tribal Network and leave a message for Steve Raymond.

An ad for Wild Boys' 7-inch in the Ann Arbor Sun.

An ad for Wild Boys' 7-inch record in the October 15, 1973, Ann Arbor Sun. Image via AADL's Old News.


Brat Axis, "Long Hard Road" b/w "Queen Floozie"
Ann Arbor's Brat Axis, or Brataxis—or even Bratakis as one edition of the band's first single labeled the group—grew out of The Up, Uprising, Brat, and the band Detroit. The only track that's online at the moment is the 1975 single's A-side, "Long Hard Road," which has a boogie-blues groove, hand-claps, slide guitar, and soulful vocals from Leon Mills. The group seemed to go through numerous lineup changes, many of which are detailed in the comments of this A2 Music History post on Facebook.

There's only follow-up single from 1976 that's not streaming anywhere, which includes a cover of the Leonard Caston and Kathy Wakefield tune popularized by the Jackson Five, a B-side called "Real Good Deal."


Möl Triffid, "I Wanna See Pretty People Doing Ugly Things" b/w "Deen Neebs Metal Effort"
In 1990, grunge was on the rise but it was still a year way from exploding into the mainstream with Nirvana's Nevermind. Ann Arbor's Möl Triffid was a proto-grunge/metal/punk band that released a demo tape in 1989 that was partly recorded live at Club Heidelberg, which was hosting a lot of heavy independent bands in that era thanks to promoter Roland Diaz-Pérez. The first song on that cassette, "I Wanna See Pretty People Doing Ugly Things," was also the A-side of Möl Triffid's debut single from 1990, backed by "Deen Neebs Metal Effort," a song that isn't online at the moment.

Agenda ran an interview with Möl Triffid in its May 1991 issue to highlight the single, and the piece mentions the band was planning a move to Berkeley, California. I don't know where Möl Triffid ended up, but the band continued to release music through 1994, including recordings made in Cali studios, but that's where sonic trail ends.

A rerecorded version of "I Wanna See Pretty People Doing Ugly Things" appeared on the band's sole album, 1991's Touch the Monkey, and both versions are below, beginning with the 7-inch edition.


Monster Bait, demo
Ann Arbor's Monster Bait walked the line between arty punk and deathrock, and it cut this demo in 1991. There are six songs on the tape, but only three are online right now. At this time, The Ramones' Dee Dee was living in A2 and ended up playing in Monster Bait for a minute, though he doesn't appear on this demo and it's unclear when he joined the band or for how long. (The group's last concert dates are in 1993.) The song "Mother's Milk" is also from the demo, though the music video says the clip is from 1993, which feels like a long gap between recording the tune and making the promo.


The Iodine Raincoats, I Wonder EP
Between late 1986 and mid-1990, Ann Arbor's The Iodine Raincoats played frequently at The Blind Pig and Rick's American Cafe—which might be hard to believe if you didn't live in Ann Arbor during the '80s or '90s, but that frat-oriented club often featured up-and-coming national acts, from The Pixies and Gov’t Mule to Sugar Ray and Korn. (I believe the Happy Mondays were even booked there and nobody showed up, so the band refused to play.)

The Iodine Raincoats only released one EP, and as the Willfully Obscure blog wrote in 2012, "I/R actually skewed firmly between the left and center of the dial, and would have slotted in well amidst the 'edgier' contingent of the AOR neighborhood. I Wonder isn't far removed from the work of their hometown contemporaries The Rhythm Corps." Not only is this accurate, but calling out another now-obscure act, Rhythm Corps, who were big in Southeast Michigan at this time is a chef's kiss.

You can hear more of The Iodine Raincoats' stadium-new-wave sound in the 10-song performance captured at Rick's in 1988, which includes a cover The Temptations' "Ball of Confusion," which Love & Rockets had a hit with the year before, and Bauhaus' "Bela Lugosi's Dead."

Christopher Porter is a library technician and the editor of Pulp.


This further cements my praise for this perfect library that we have here in Ann Arbor...