Foundations: Fist City

Southern Alberta quartet explore their influences...

Fist City are a force of nature.

A quartet informed by punk's outsider status, the Alberta group quietly released debut album 'It’s 1983,Grow Up!' on Los Angeles imprint Black Tent Press in 2012.

Then a curious thing happened. Word spread, the band's live show pushed them to new levels and Transgressive stepped in to re-issue their feral, abrasive and inspiring LP.

Heading back into the studio, Fist City are ready to return. New album 'Everything Is A Mess' is out this week, and it's an enthralling, inspiring return.

Duly invigorated, Clash invited Fist City to name their foundational LPs – here's what they came up with.

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Sonic Youth – 'Daydream Nation' [Picked by the whole band]

This is the record that can be put on in the van and everybody will just shut up and listen. When we were forming Fist City, this was the first record that we all referenced as being influential in our youth, as we all came across 'Daydream Nation' at young, impressionable, ages and it has stuck with all of us to this day. It was just a couple weeks ago that we were driving through the UK with this blaring out the stereo, a common occurrence on tour. It's the only record we could quickly narrow down to being truly important and transformative for all of us as a collective.

We each picked our own record for the rest of this list, ha.

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X-Ray Spex – 'Germfree Adolescents' [Picked by Kier]

When I think of formative records, I instantly scan the tracks burned onto scratched up CD-Rs that, in my teen years, I labeled with glittery fuchsia nail polish and smudgy black marker; labels like 'RRRRad RRRRiot GRRRLL MiXXX 2'. For a good long stretch, X-Ray Spex always made the cut when meticulously crafting these dazzling discs of queer, feminist punk essentials.

'Germfree Adolescents' (1978) is a great punk record, and a foundational record in the Riot Grrrl lineage. Plus, I can't deny that the first time seeing Poly Styrene, a woman of color, unapologetically critical and weird, shouting "Oh Bongage! Up Yours!" in a helmet and jacket shoulder-padded for the ghwaads, didn't grab my guts a little. She delivered brutal observations about the world around her – they still feel real and relevant.

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Country Teasers – 'Empire Strikes Back' [Picked by Evan]

This record, this band, Ben Wallers, The Rebel – all things that were foundational for me. This is fearless, dark satire. I acknowledge that when it comes to issues of race and bigotry – two wrongs certainly don't make a right. This doesn't mean I can't get off on fantasizing about a world where the individuals responsible for prejudice and bigotry, the bullies, are the ones who are outnumbered and shamed to their core every time they look in a mirror. For me, this music is that mirror.

It's as if BR Wallers is inside the heads of these scabs – singing from their perspective – sloppily ripping every inch of them apart from the inside. It's just refreshing, you know? In a world where every note you hear is designed to appease your comfort zone – it's nice to hear something that fucks with it.

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TLC – 'CrazySexyCool' [Picked by Brit]

This was the first album I listened to that really got me into music. It came out when I was seven years old and I remember listening to it every day after school, laying in front of my mom's stereo and staring at the album cover and dreaming of being a singer when I grew up. A lot of the songs were perhaps a bit mature for a young impressionable seven-year-old but the overall impact was a positive one. They sung explicitly about sex on several of the tracks, and about not taking any shit from anybody, and taking what you want, when you want it.

Even before feminism was fashionable in pop music TLC were asserting themselves through songs and smashing the stereotypes of the demure, submissive woman. Even more than twenty years later this album still holds up and maintains its position in my frequently played playlist.

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The Velvet Underground & Nico – 'The Velvet Underground & Nico' [Picked by Ryan]

This is the first album that popped in to my head as being formative early on. Up until I spun this for the first time at the age of 13 or 14, my musical discoveries had really only been the radio, Much Music, and a few records and CDs from my mom's collection. Hearing a song like 'Heroin' for the first time shook me, as it was the antithesis to anything I had previously been exposed to. Ugh, 'Heroin.' I fucking hated that song the first time I heard it. As a drummer, that lone, pulsating, tom drum with its meandering tempo drove me bonkers.

Then all of a sudden I was spinning it again and again. 'The Velvet Underground & Nico' taught me that Rock and roll is messy. It didn't need to be virtuoso solos, or shimmery production, or have this air of machismo. I could create it with friends in the basement and it could be anything we wanted it to be, even if it was a little rough.

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Fist City's new album 'Everything Is A Mess' is out now.

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