Reviewed by Greg Beets, Fri., Aug. 15, 2003
The MotardsStardom (Mortville) No band epitomized the raging, fuck-all ethos of mid-Nineties Austin garage punk better than the Motards. They aimed low, but struck hard, liberating pent-up mammalian impulses from Texas to Tokyo. Stardom is an odds-'n'-sods collection of 22 singles, comp tracks, B-sides, and other rarities from the local quintet's surprisingly prolific recording career. The disc opens with the Motards' 1993 debut 45, a train wreck of a recording that made the Estrus catalog sound meticulous by comparison. "I'm a Criminal" and "My Love Is Bad" land precariously close to the frothing, contrarian essence of punk, splashing all comers with a sloppy cocktail of beer and bile. The primitive 1994 recording of "Why Am I Even Here?" approximates the sensation of passing out under Suzie Bishop's snare drum, while supremely combative vocalist John Motard kicks out the song's rhythm on your shins. "Unhappy" is a hard-core shiv delivered in a yapping, Dee Dee Ramone-style vocal, while "Nothing Ever Changes" exhibits a murky blues pedigree recalling Poison 13. Paying homage to the Dwarves with a dive-bomb cover of "Drug Store" makes perfect sense, and the instrumental "Theme (From the Film Vampires with Rabies)" succeeds with an addictive, ghoulish riff that's equally obvious. What ultimately delineated the Motards from all those contemporaneously mining the same vein was their ability to amplify the obvious into a cathartic series of collective petits morts. While Stardom can't be expected to best the band's legendary live prowess, it goes a long way toward explaining what the fuss was all about.