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NAiVE



One of Russia's oldest and most notorious punk bands, NAiVE is an archetype of punk ethics, politics, and glorious excess. And it all started in the army (how many punk bands can make that claim?). Singer Sasha Ivanov and bassist Max Kotchetkov were recruits in the waning days of the U.S.S.R. -- back when words like "Gorby" and "glasnost" were still part of the American vocabulary -- when they decided to trade in their guns for guitars and start a punk band (if only every army recruit would follow their lead). With their country breaking up around them, NAiVE started recording music. Perhaps their most infamous moment came during the 1991 coup, when they performed before the Russian parliament building and began chanting "Boris is an asshole!" from the stage. The crowd rushed them, forcing the members of NAiVE to run for their lives.

Since then NAiVE has encountered a number of different misadventures, ranging from members' struggles with drugs and alcohol to difficulties obtaining exit visas to being declared "most disgusting band of the year" -- not to mention the trials and tribulations of living in a country in such social, cultural, and economic turmoil. Somehow their music seems like a wholly appropriate and almost wholesome response to the chaos that surrounds them. Their last album, Post Alcoholic Anxieties, available to us in America on Faith No More bassist Billy Gould's Kool Arrow label, is a remarkable punk epic in the tradition of The Ramones, the The Heartbreakers, and The Sex Pistols. Of course it's almost all in Russian, so you probably won?t be able to understand much of it (except the highly endearing "Straight Edge," whose chorus consists of the words "I am not a straight-edge now"). But the feelings expressed on Post Alcoholic Anxieties go way past language. The record is a magnificent document of the absurdity and the pain and the pathos of living in a place like post-Cold War Russia, where the inflation rate is a hundred percent and there's nothing to keep you warm through the long cold winters except vodka and punk rock.

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