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Record Reviews From Issue #46

By Staff
Thursday, October 30 2008

Arty school synthesizer pop. On clear vinyl. This is the record you put on at 2:00 AM to clear everyone out of the house and then the drugs come out because they want to stay and hear it again. And again. And again. Feels like: Binary spin cycle Japanese game show creamsicle smoothie. Think: Time is so little, time belongs to us. Never mind the nonsense, they’re just John Scronge Berry And The Roger’s Beats. –Jim Ruland (Replicator)

SLOPPY SECONDS: Endless Bummer: LP
It’s been ten long years waiting for a new Sloppy Seconds record. Ten years! Junk rock withdrawal is tough, but I got through it. I thought I’d put my past behind me but here I am a decade later with a slab of snot green vinyl in my hands. Looks like I’m hooked again! Anyone who knows the band will know what to expect. Ramones-influenced punk rock with topics such as booze, girls, horror movies, the Ramones, more girls, drugs… Yep not much has changed, and that’s the way it should be. I’ve always maintained that the thing that sets Sloppy Seconds apart from the others in their genre is the lyrics. Not so much the subjects (anyone can sing about tits and beer), but the timing and rhyme patterns that lock together in ways I’d never think of. Sheer brilliance! A note to the band: now that I’m fully addicted again, don’t you dare think of leaving me strung out for another ten years! –Ty Stranglehold (Kid Tested, www.kidtestedrecords.net)

SMARTBOMB: Chaosand Lawlessness: 7”
A year ago, one of the first reviews I submitted to the good ol’ Razorcake was Smartbomb’s split with Prevail Within. I pretty much insulted them and compared their lyrics to the Casualties. I’m not sure what they did, but after this release I’m singing a different tune; specifically track five, “Standard Issue.” –Bryan Static (Mightier Than Sword/Slab-O-Wax/Think Fast)

SNAKE FLOWER 2: Talk About It: 7”
One man, self-produced, psychedelic, shit-stomping garage rock from Oakland by way of Memphis. Massive amounts of reverb balance out the melodic riffs. Loaded with talent, Matthew Melton takes a forgiving genre and takes it to a whole other level. –Jim Ruland (Tic Tac Totally)

The best thing about this is not the Iron Maiden cover, or any of the originals, but the writing on the inside of the sleeve. Someone wrote, “Chicken soup is for sissies,” and if that’s the best thing, that’s not so good. –Megan (Stomping Ground, no address given)

SOMETHING’S WRONG: “Spring Again” b/w “Ghostbike” and “Mama Said”: 7”EP
Have you ever had a panic attack? Like you just can’t quite catch up to what’s happening, heart racing, and short of breath. Compared to the split Something’s Wrong did with The Shorebirds, the song on the A-side sounds like a panic attack. I’m not quite sure if I like it or not. It makes me very anxious for some reason. The two songs on the B-side sound more settled, breathing into a paper bag to stop the racing, and on top of their own music. If you’re a fan of gritty DIY punk with dual female/male vocals along a roughed-up Fifth Hour Hero, a gruffer God Equals Genocide, or a less hardcore Harum Scarum, Something Wrong should be on your “to find” list. Solid stuff. Can’t wait to hear more. –Todd (Other, fluis001@gmail.com)

SONIC NEGROES: Honky Bastard Blues: CD
This isn’t really my thing for the most part, but it appears to be a perfect example of a common mistake bands make on their debut albums; they wear their influences on their sleeves and have trouble harnessing the originality that could potentially be shown. Sonic Negroes’ sound would best be compared to the Dictators with a Southern twang and pianos added in, mixed with a dash of Supersuckers and Stooges. The songs presented on this album all sound pretty much the same to me, so I’m not given much to write about here, but I’m sure anyone really into the aforementioned bands and stuff like the New York Dolls will enjoy this record to at least some extent. As far as I can tell, it’s just a rehashing. –Dave Dillon (Zodiac Killer)

SOTATILA: Eepee: 7” EP
I swear, the universe must bestow the consistently finest hardcore bands upon places like Sweden and Finland as some sorta payback for all that snow. This is yet another release destined to be deemed a classic in the fjordcore hall of fame that’s already stuffed to the rafters with simply amazing bands. This one falls squarely between more recent fare by region-mates like Rajoitus and older stuff by bands like Kaaos and, oddly, Brazil’s Olho Seco. I don’t care if you gotta trade an appendage or sell your soul to Soupy Sales, trust me when I say this needs to be up towards the top of your “must have” list. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.punkinfinland.net/kamanen)

SOUTHPAW: Stand for Something: CD
Speaking of “standing for something,” here’s some insightful banter from Roger Miret of Agnostic Front gleaned from various live LPs: 1. “I love...I grew up on hardcore, punk and oi music and I fuckin’ love it. To me, that’s what this whole scene’s about; hardcore, punk and everybody out there united. This is a song I wrote about how much I hate another scene that’s invaded our scene. This goes out to everybody who I do not like, people that listen to rap and hip-hop. That shit is crap. That music is not for us, it has nothing to do with us. They do not like you, so don’t buy their records; because you know what? They won’t buy yours...Rap is nothing but fucking bullshit" (crowd cheers)2. “This is not a racist song, it’s the goddamn truth,” Ol’ Rog says before going into a song about how minorities (yes, he says “minorities”) should get off welfare and clean the sewers. 3. “We should all sing this song in unisonce.” 4. “Since we are an American band, I want everybody to say the Pledge of Allegiance with us.” Good Ol’ Agnostic Front, street warriors, brain warriors...Oh yeah, Southpaw! Southpaw is pretty much for fans of Agnostic Front and the like. And if you happen to be one of those fans; the reason why quote number three is funny is because unisonce isn’t a word. –Craven Rock (Motherbox, www.myspace.com/motherboxrecords)

STATIC RADIO NJ: An Evening of Bad Decisions: CD
This falls into what I want to call Loved-Ones-core. The music is enjoyable enough while it’s playing, but there’s a sameness to the album that renders it unmemorable, much like the Loved One’s Keep Your Heart. The music itself is somewhere between the Loved Ones and the Explosion. As it is, this is a band I would be excited to see as an opener for some other bands I’m into but would be indifferent to if they were the headliner. If there are some more adventurous production or musical chances on their next album, I feel like Static Radio could really put out a record to be reckoned with. As a minor aside, this has some of the most boring cover art I can recall. It brings to mind an oversaturated photocopy of a piece of burlap. –Adrian (Black Numbers)

STATUES: Terminal Bedroom: CD
A collection of four previously released 7”s (on three different labels) in a handy CD package. The underground world is getting sick with power pop (it goes through cycles. Yesteryear’s surf and garage is today’s power pop), and the measuring stick is simple: how’s the songwriting? These Canadians, curiously but effectively take the Dilbert, casual Friday office-dweller approach. The bleakness of office bureaucracy is boarded up against Elvis Costello’s early work (I can’t stomach the Burt Baccarat collaboration stuff, personally), and holds up to the standard bearers of the early ‘00s, The Exploding Hearts. The pacing, the drive, and the bouncy, fleshy bits are all in place. Even though I have half of the 7”s already, I found myself popping this on quite often to listen to the stuff I didn’t have. Catchy, intelligent. –Todd (Deranged, derangedrecords.com)

STEADY STATE: Self-titled: CD
When I do reviews, I usually disregard any one sheets until I’ve actually listened to it. I don’t want them to taint the experience, which is usually all they’re good for. So at first blush on this record I’m getting a fair amount of Chuck Ragan / HWM and Against Me! love. For the most part, it isn’t too overbearing or embarrassing; however, “You’ve Been Superseded” sounds a whole lot like AM!’s “How Low.” Other than that, I don’t really see any other dead rips on here. It’s half decent Florida-at-times-acoustic punk with a really decent recording. Revelations on the one sheet: the actual liner notes include that Heather Gabel did the art for this, they’re from St. Pete/Naples, and it was recorded at Crescendo. All of which explains a lot of what I’m hearing here. Anyway, it’s definitely decent but nothing I’m going around screaming about. Very nice work on the packaging though. –Stevo (FDO)

STEINWAYS, THE: Gorilla Marketing: CD
The Steinways are funny, for two reasons. The first is literally. Every time I see them, I’m usually cracking up by the end of their set. The other is when their first full-length came out a while back, it had some really great pop punk songs on it, in between a bunch of songs that were basically three chords, one quick lyric, and done in about five seconds. Since then, it felt like a bunch of people gave them shit, saying, “Yer songs are good! Keep writing songs longer than like, five seconds!” and so this time around, the quick songs are gone (they’re all at least a minute now), and it feels much more consistent. Musically speaking, it’s not too different, as they remain a band who’s clearly heavily influenced by all the classic Lookout!, Mutant Pop, and so forth trademark pop punk, but without just being another (insert-another-band-here)-core rip off. It helps that there’s a very Off With Their Heads-esque “I’m broke/hate my life right now” theme to a bunch of the songs, as well as the fact that they don’t take anything too seriously (including taking what would normally be some bands throwaway/“jokey” song like “Sweatpants,” and making it a legitimately fucking great song). In hindsight, it’s getting to the point where reading this will take longer than listening to the a-side, so I’ll just end with this: The “I’ve got a five dollar bill and a coupon for two/let’s go to Boston Market so I can show you how much I love you” line fucking kills me every time. Awesome. –Joe Evans III (Cold Feet)

STELLAR CORPSES: Respect the Dead: CD
Why did I get such a huge pile of psychobilly (direct from the distributor, not Todd’s fault)? I can’t think of one instance where I have ever reviewed it favorably. Stellar Corpses are probably the prime example of everything I hate about psychobilly, so maybe according to psychobilly, they’re the best damn band out there. Huge posturing in the photos, terrible rhyme schemes and simple lyrics (which lead me to believe there’s not too much going on upstairs), and the typical horror theme (because they’re so fucking original). I did raise my expectations when I saw a song named “Cemetery Man” (a fantastic Italian horror movie from the mid-‘90s staring Rupert Everett). Come for the reference; leave for the music. –Megan (Hairball8, www.hairball8.com)

STRANDED: Broken Bottles and the Way We Live: 7”EP
I hope these dudes don’t take this the wrong way. It’s not a slag. Stranded sound like they would totally fit on the late ‘90s Fat roster. Skate-friendly, crisply and expertly produced, melodic punk rock that falls somewhere between early Strung Out and early Pennywise. There’s a little bit more in the brains department, and it’s played tight as all hell, but—and to no fault of Stranded—it’s just not hitting me. I think I got more than my fill of this style of music several years, even back before it got Warped and CD-cutout-binned to death. –Todd (ADD)

TEAM ROCKET: Rocket Science: CD
Why is it that every band that’s big in Europe sucks in America? It’s like the fabled girlfriend from Niagara Falls. Fictitious. Sounds like Lenny Kravitz . If the bands asks, I listened to the whole record and never ejected it before the fourth song ended. –Dave Disorder (Fire Tone)

TEAM STRAY: Gender Studies: CD
I’d heard this band mentioned amongst some friends of mine, and could’ve sworn what I heard was straight forward pop punk, heavy on the whooooa’s, so that’s what I figured this would be like. Instead, it’s a hair-faster than mid-tempo power pop, kind of in the vein of The Plus Ones or Weezer (especially in the vocals at times) that’s a bit rougher around the edges. It’s not bad, and I’d probably pull it out on a cloudy day. –Joe Evans III (Cold Feet)

TEMPLARS, THE: Out of the Darkness: 7”
After listening to the A side which features the track “Out of the Darkness,” I wasn’t really looking forward to the other song. “Out of the Darkness” seemed to drag on and was making me doubt if telling people I was a Templars fan was really worth the strange looks, but I found the strength inside to flip the record and was once again reassured that Carl and Phil are the two most talented, poignant people making this brand of skinhead rock today. It’s been seven years since these guys’ last release, and through line-up changes and everything else, these guys still know what they’re doing. –Daryl (TKO)

TEMPLARS, THE: Out of the Darkness: 7”
Out of the darkness indeed. Didn’t know these guys were still recording. –Jim Ruland (Templecombe)

TEXTBOOK:Boxing Day Massacre: CD
Chicago’s Textbook play affable punk pop. At their best, the warm vocals and melancholy guitar crunch make them sound like major label-era Lemonheads (without the championship-caliber crack consumption, I hope). The songs aren’t always strong enough to hold up to the slow speed of the music, and this CD starts to sound toothless after a couple cuts. Still, I could see most of these songs on the soundtrack to a mid-‘90s rom-com, playing while we see the young male protagonist walking around on a sunny Saturday afternoon, being young and living in the city and about to meet the love of his life. And that’s a good thing, right? Who didn’t like So I Married an Axe Murderer? –CT Terry (www.listentotextbook.com)

As stupid as I feel saying the phrase, (and I can only take solace in the fact that their one-sheet used it first and I merely found I had to agree) these guys mete out some very “epic” hardcore here. The tunes are often quite long considering the genre in which they’re claiming a stake, but they somehow keep the tunes interesting, managing to tap the metal vein without all the crap seeping into the songs and putting enough catchiness and creativity into the mix to keep your attention most of the way through. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.myspace.com/theyandthechildren)

How the world changes around us. When This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb started years back, who’d’ve thunk that an entire subgenre would have sprouted from their seeds by the time this record rolled around? Having seen them quite a few times over the years, and not only owning, but actively listening to, much of their previous work, Convertible is—for better and for worse—what their fans will dig, and what they’ll expect. (The first time I saw them, they opened up for The Causey Way, and if I remember correctly, they were touring in a cab.) Lyrically, TBIAPB is much darker than most may realize. The first four songs are about deaths and elegies, spanning from Willie Junior (a local vagrant whose death remains a mystery) and Andreena Kitt (a neighbor, shot repeatedly and killed by police), to Joe Hill (Wobblie organizer) and Fatty Arbuckle (an entertainer who was blackballed and smeared for life on the unsubstantiated claim that he raped a woman with a bottle). Convertible is like an audio scrapbook: of home, of friends, of shared history, of complicated love, of mental illness and physical sickness. Convertible covers a broad range deftly, from wanderlust so deep that the narrator imagines faking his own death to start up a new, anonymous life. And there is still a deep fire inside this trio; they don’t roll over when gentrification takes out a community church, and sing: “When those saints come marching in, I hope they’re carrying guns.” All of that is great, and genuine, and honest, and I do enjoy this record. But here’s the string in the back of my throat on this record: there’s no outright flashpoint on it—some song on the first several listens that’s careened from the grooves and raised my awareness and appreciation of the entire record. In Front Seat Solidarity, it was the firecracker of a song, “Body Count,” that I couldn’t shake loose. In Three Way Tie for a Fifth, it was the epic, expansive “The Ballad of Sonny Liston” that I couldn’t wait to hear at the end so I could flip the record over and listen to it again. Reviews like this are the most troubling for me. I’ve only listened to this record ten or fifteen times; and there may be that sleeper song in Convertible that watersheds it all together, that snaps the puzzle into place. I have faith that there is… and will continue listening for it. –Todd (Plan-It-X South, planitxsouth.com)

THIS RUNS ON BLOOD: Youngre, Strangre: 7”
No idea what’s up with that title. Certainly no typo. And the band name is ridiculous as hell. I will say this; the packaging for this is excellent. Four color screen printed covers, sewn pocket to hold the split red/white vinyl that looks like melted candy, great hand lettered booklet which is sewn together as well, not to mention the screen-printed obi strip that holds it all together. Musically, these guys crank out herky jerky, supremely spastic art damaged something or other. Not necessarily my cup o’ tea, but I know there’s legions of people who dig this sort of stuff (An Albatross, Locust, etc). 500 were pressed up, if you’re inclined. –M.Avrg (This Runs On Blood)

I’ve heard both of these groups couched in terms like post-metal—and mentioned in the same lists as Red Sparrowes and Pelican. Not having enough familiarity with either of those groups and thinking a term like “post-metal” is kind of dumb, or at least hard as hell for a dolt like me to grasp, I’ll say instead that they’re messing around in that same dark and haunted candy store as Amanda Woodward and their closely related brethren Aussitot Mort. Tides hits us with two instrumentals and Giant delivers “Horned and Blind,” an epic (is that where the metal reference comes in?) thirteen minute-long jam that features five lines of lyrics throughout. Both bands are staunch believers in allowing the tension to simmer through repetition and a melody that finally erupts into a near-chaos wall of noise that manages to avoid total meltdown through the fact that both bands know exactly what they’re doing. It’s all intentional, and it’s precise and pointed enough to read your license plate from space. I’ve been finding myself drawn to this kind of stuff more and more and I’m sure this one’ll get some occasional plays; but even at twenty-six, twenty-seven minutes, three songs total just feels a bit like I’m playing a cassingle or something. –Keith Rosson (Level Plane)

TILTWHEEL: Hair Brained Scheme Addicts: CD
It seems that with every batch of stuff that RC sends me, there’s some release from a band that’s been around forever and I never really listened to them. Tiltwheel is that band this time around—this was my first listen. I liked it, but I have absolutely no frame of reference in regard to their previous work. The record had a certain operatic feel to it, as if each song is the separate movement in a symphony. Good stuff overall. If you want an honest and detailed review though, check out the reviews of others in previous issues. I’m simply riding their coattails on this one. –The Lord Kveldulfr (ADD)

TITANARUM: Spastis Progressivus Aggressiorum: 7” EP
Two assumptions I gotta make about this band while listening to this 45: 1) They must spend oodles of money on espresso; 2) They just hafta be living on a steady diet of jazz. These two assumptions are the only way my noggin can comprehend the audacious aural onslaught they set forth over the course of the six tracks here. Dude screams his lungs out, his buddies flail on their instruments, and all of it is done at warp speed. Okay, you say, I get the caffeine connection, but jazz? Well, they lay all that clamoring and wailing on a solid bedrock of tempo, rhythm, and timing changes that fly all over the place in each song, giving an extra added spastic, ADD sheen to the proceedings. Shit, if you listen closely, you can even hear a bit of Slayer in their prime in there, which is quite a feat considering there’s precious little in the way of metal to be found. I know we’re only at the midpoint of the year, but I’m gonna go out on a limb and say this will handily make it into the top three hardcore releases this year. –Jimmy Alvarado (Titanarum)

When a Saddle Creek band is at its strongest, it can take the idea of indie pop or rock and turn it inside out, substituting any preconceptions of blandly delivered histrionics for something that is a powerful and necessary listen. Unfortunately, this Tokyo Police Club disc doesn’t have the urgent crush of the Desaparecidos or Cursive’s impassioned confessionals to take it into superior territory. Instead, it’s a bland and bloodless affair that accomplishes nothing extraordinary with its sparse sound and maybe Morrissey vocals. It doesn’t have to be something loud and fast, but this brand of tepid, hesitant delivery never helped anyone get the feeling of their music across. Hell, even The Smiths had some flair to the most dour of their ballads. –Reyan Ali (Saddle Creek)

TOTAL CHAOS: Avoid All Sides: CD
I avoided all contact with Total Chaos when they came out because at the time I was moving away from Great Big Haircut type punk (Vincent and Cochrane were throttling me at the time, and early Lennon/McCartney had me in a noogie headlock). I also feared that Total Chaos would seem like a total joke to me with the punk uniform and all. So, after many years, I finally get a taste. And the gastronomical conclusions: sure, it’s a bit clichéd at times (an early expectation of mine and one that kept me away), but it rocks often enough that I can doff my battered cap to them. Fast and angry. This is that wholesome meal that you keep going back to after trying some exotic crap at a new-fangled fusion restaurant. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Punk Core)

TROPIEZO: El Manual de La Perfecta Cabrona: CD
Absolutely essential, fast-as-hell hardcore from Puerto Rico. Sixteen tracks clearing in sixteen minutes! This is the fucking shit! From what I can make out of the packaging, the lyrics seem to be of a political nature and their packing is kind of cool, if awkward. It’s a wide booklet with goofy cartoons in it. But whatever, who fucking cares about their packaging? This is seriously some of the best hardcore I’ve heard in a long time. Everybody I’ve played this for has been all, “Dude! What the hell is this?!” So, I’m far from being alone in being stoked. I don’t care if you don’t listen to hardcore anymore and just listen to (insert more listenable punk subgenre here) these days. Hell, that wouldn’t be too far from my own situation. Just sayin’, if you don’t get into this, you don’t like punk rock. Yeah, it’s like that. –Craven Rock (Self-released)

Now this is the kind of band that makes one excited about music. Garage rock done right. Raw, rocking attitude, and all with a swinging rhythm. The organ that runs throughout is great. Not overbearing, but essential. Giving this an air of cool that can not be faked. The whole time I listened to this record—and repeated listens at that—all I could say to myself, wide-eyed, is, “Fuck, this is great!!” And great this record truly is. You get your rippers, some in between, and some slow stuff (“Tired Luxury”). Great album the whole way through. You really have to hear “Time/Min” and “Forget Loyalty.” Great songs! –M.Avrg (Alien Snatch!)

Hardcore, but not consistently straight up. Sometimes it sounded more neo-metal, sometimes more like crust punk. Some of these songs I loved; some kinda bored me. I’m mixed on this mixed bag and I freely admit that this mixed review is entirely subjective in its mixed-up nature. This record’s hitting or missing at various points is only a matter of my quirky tastes and not any sort of qualitative judgment. However, let me make a modicum of effort. The hardcore-sounding songs tend to be real scorchers, and they get the proverbial thumbs-up with goofy grin in tow. The crusty songs were okay, but Under Anchor sounds a lot better doing a more classic hardcore sound. The metally tunes can be left off the record, in my opinion. Bad comparison number two for this issue: imagine Nausea meets Ann Beretta. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Veritas et Aequitas, myspace.com/veritasetaequitasrecords)

Anytime I hear a URTC song, I smile. Whether it’s live, on CD, on youtube… it doesn’t matter. And this album is no exception. Recess has officially gone global with this re-release of Bird Roughs. This version is also accompanied by a DVD that has clips of traveling and playing music in Japan. As if the album needed anything else other than the music to entice you to buy this sucker. But I’m not complaining; this DVD is a pretty nice addition to the collector’s edition first-ever Recess Japan release! –Mr. Z (Recess Japan)

Skewed, smartass Northwestern punk that sounds like the era before punk, indie pop, and grunge all shot out in different directions. I’m hearing some Half Japanese or maybe the Crucifucks at their blurtiest. If I had a band, I’d like it to sound like this. Or The Pharcyde. –CT Terry (Dirty Knobby)

US POLICESTATE: Release the Chemicals: CD-R
By the numbers hardcore, with nary a variation in the beat from one song to the next. While that may sound like an insult, and it’s true that they ain’t exactly breaking new ground here, they are proficient enough at the style to keep the attention span from waning over the course of the nine songs here. –Jimmy Alvarado (Age Of Risk)

UV RAYS: Are Sick of Humans: 7” EP
Five tracks of street punk rock and roll from upstate New York that comes in somewhere between the U.S. Bombs and the Unseen—especially on the last track “Party Rat.” Loud and obnoxious. Sign me up for the full-length. –Jim Ruland (Feral Kid)

VBS, who hail from Elgin, Illinois, has hints of Screeching Weasel and Green Day, which totally makes it sound like it could be some ‘90s-era Lookout! stuff that fell through the cracks. Everything tells me that I should be all about this. But I’m not. Parts of it aren’t that bad, but those parts aren’t making me think that I’d put this on again. The songs are just too long—or at least they seem that way—and they seem too orchestrated, too produced. –Vincent (Cassette Deck)

VARIOUS ARTISTS: America’s Unknown: LP
Dunno quite how to approach reviewing this. On one hand, you’ve got a great compilation of now-obscure U.S. punk from Ash Tradition, Identity Crysis, Stukas Over Bedrock, PTL Klub, Horror Planet, Stevie Stiletto and the Switchblades, Chronic Disorder, Entropy, and Maggot Sandwich. On the other, you’ve got the twenty-year anniversary issue of Artcore Fanzine, with interviews and features on Career Suicide, State, Smalltown, Direct Control, Bad Posture, Bemisbrain Records, Frontier Records, and the irrepressible George Hurchalla (whose book Going Underground is a must-own). Both are packaged together in an LP format, and both are definitely worth the hunt. Better hurry, though, ’cause this is no doubt a limited edition release. –Jimmy Alvarado (http://www.damagedrecords.co.uk)

Given the 7” record-type packaging, I was a little apprehensive when I picked this out of the pile. With a name like “Dancehall Troops,” I had visions of a single filled with piss-poor ska-punk drivel from a band that probably never heard of Desmond Dekker. Well, it ain’t any such thing. What it is, is a CD compilation featuring some of the finest punk in a number of permutations currently making the rounds. Of the thirty-three tracks collected here—courtesy of Red Invasion, the Cute Lepers, The Handgrenade Hearts, Suicide Dogs, Sick Fits, The Steaknives, Soda Pop Kids, Fishnet Stalkers, The Main, Black Beauties, and more, much of which is either heretofore unreleased or available only on vinyl—nary a one dips lower than “pretty danged good,” and makes for quite an impressive mix tape for those who don’t wanna work to hard at making one of their own. Given the bad shape of the compilation in recent history, it’s nice to hear one so consistently strong. Best of all, there ain’t a ska punk tune in sight. Someone put some quality work into compiling this, it shows, and that makes all the difference. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.nofrontteeth.net)

VARIOUS ARTISTS: Emergency Room Vol. 1: LP and Book
Here’s a comp worth picking up. The music is quality and the packaging superb with a 12” x 12” photobook of some of the bands on this record, and some who aren’t. The whole shebang is a document of one year at the Emergency Room, an all-ages performance space in Vancouver. The bands tend to lean towards the punk end of the spectrum, with various flavors added and subtracted. Defektors remind me of early L.A. punk, similar to Dangerhouse fare. Petroleum By-products are the sort of punk Olympia, WA bands wish they were. Vapid remind me a bit of Bikini Kill, only tougher and nastier. Whitelung have jumpy rhythms that’s danceable, but not disco. Mutators churn out neo no wave in a mix of minimal and noise. Twin Crystals are art damaged with a menacing undercurrent. Nu Sensae are raw and fast. The vocals are venomous. Gotta hear ‘em! Sick Buildings emit noise to either contemplate or run out of the room. You pick. Either way, get this record. Only 924 copies have been pressed up. –M.Avrg (Nominal)

VARIOUS ARTISTS: Hours and Hours: A Tribute to Seaweed: CD
Seaweed was one of the Sub Pop bands that toured heavily, reaching their peak when they opened for Bad Religion (along with a pre-major label Green Day) on the Recipe for Hate tour in 1993. Seaweed sucked, so why shouldn’t a tribute to Seaweed suck as well? In that regard, I suppose this is an appropriate tribute. The original songs were depressingly dull and these covers capture that bland mentality perfectly. I did enjoy Kane Hodder’s cover of “Stagger,” but this is a fairly tortured release. Fans, if there are any left, will appreciate the included Quicktime video of Seaweed performing “Sit in Glass” in TX in 1992. The rest of us will remember why we wouldn’t have been caught dead at a Seaweed show in 1992. –Art Ettinger (Engineer)

VARIOUS ARTISTS: I Thrash, Therefore I am: LP
Finally, a vinyl reissue of this classic tape that was originally released on Bad Compilation Tapes. This is where I was first introduced to bands like Mob 47, Anti Cimex, Moderat Likvidation, and Enola Gay back in the ‘80s. Don’t really know where the actual tape is; probably mixed in with my brother’s collection. There are some bands missing on this release, like Raw Power that was on the original tape. It probably was due to limitation of time for a LP and probably because the sound quality issues of the more obscure bands. But, overall, this is not lacking in any sense. I didn’t even notice it until I looked up the original tape to see who was originally on it. Schizophrenic Records didn’t hold back on the packaging. The records are multi-colored vinyl for you collector nerds and an even more special mailorder edition is available. Even though this a great history lesson, this record is full of straight-up blazing, raw tracks of classic international punk. –Donofthedead (Schizophrenic)

VARIOUS ARTISTS: Killer Workout Mix: CD
One of my favorite sets of compilations were the Dry Lungs series put out in the ‘80s by Placebo, the label that brought you fine music by Feederz, Conflict (Tucson), Mighty Sphincter, and the always faboo Jodie Foster’s Army. Those compilations featured none of the punkier bands like the aforementioned as the more industrial wing of the underground (and when I say “industrial,” I’m talking about sandbelts on sheet metal, not Nine Inch Nails) and some seriously odd shit. They were really cool listens when you wanted something a little different to clear out a party in eight seconds flat. While light on clanging pipes with wood mallets, this comp is no slouch when it comes to odd noises. One moment you’re listening to some weird dirgy electronica song, next some punky quasi-jazz combo is screeching in your ear, and then suddenly there’s two minutes of what sounds like someone trying to create dance beats with sounds from assorted video games. Bands like La Mere Vipere, Tickley Feather, Wigger Mom, Leper Colony, and Mountain Husband keep things blissfully out of whack, offering the listener stuff they’re not likely gonna hear anywhere else anytime soon. Easily one of the better comps I’ve heard lately and also sure to clear out a party in eight minutes flat. –Jimmy Alvarado (CNP)

VARIOUS ARTISTS: Rhode Island Rejects: CD
If you were looking for another reason to be happy you’re not from Rhode Island, I’ve got fifteen of them right here. –Megan (Reject, no address given)

VARIOUS ARTISTS: We Do What We Want: Olympia Punk Comp Vol. 1: 7”
I listened to this record and somehow I got “DIY” tattooed on the inside of my lip. Maybe it was the hand-screened/hand-stamped covers or the sixteen page photocopied booklet filled with notes, lyrics, and collages, or maybe I didn’t actually receive the tattoo and all this stuff just made me want to. Whatever actually happened, the bottom line is there are some sweet, DIY punk bands in Olympia, WA playing some tight music. Very heavy EastBay influences, but nonetheless, a group of bands and people that are well worth checking out. –Daryl (Rumbletowne)

VERSE: Aggression: CD
Dudes are definitely onto something here. “Modern” hardcore that toes the line between the flattened, howling fury of Killing The Dream and the fuck it all finality of Modern Life Is War, Verse came out of left field and surprised the hell out of me. Smart-as-nails lyrics, musicianship that manages to convey both melody and a threadbare sense of desperation being juuust held at bay without losing any of its power or relentlessness. Hard to describe, which is generally the case with bands that are doing things right. I mean, the apple isn’t falling too far from the tree here—it’s still hardcore, right?—but all of the things that make it so easy to make fun of this genre (frenzied odes to being stabbed in the back, silly breakdowns, etc.) are absent here. And they’ve been replaced with challenging music, resounding intelligence, and, what the hell is this? A suggested reading list that includes William Blum, Pratap Chatterjee, and George Orwell? This shit’s good; don’t know how likely it is that the “average” Razorcake reader would dig it, but I’ve found myself playing it pretty frequently. Nice attack. –Keith Rosson (Bridge Nine)

VETERANS, THE: Self-titled: CD
There are a lot of albums my four-year-old daughter and I share as favorites. There are also tons of albums where one of us can’t believe the other actually listens to such things. I know for a fact she doesn’t dig Rudimentary Peni, and I can tell you that I can’t stand her forty-track Dora the Explorer CD. One band we can usually agree on, however, is The Queers. We can’t get enough of those sing-along hooks. Now, if the two of us were to sit down one day and work to create a mix CD of all of our favorite Queers songs, the resulting sounds, harmonies, emotions, and jubilee would be of equal value to the self-titled album from Italy’s The Veterans. Good stuff, yo. –Mr. Z (It’s Alive)

If you’re anything like me, you sometimes lie awake at night quietly sobbing into your pillow while cursing the heavens that the Vindictives and Apocalypse Hoboken have stopped making albums. Thee Vibrafingers may not replace either of these bands in our hearts, but their rock is reminiscent of my favorite bands of yore. Mixing the vocal styles of these two bands with the power pop sensibilities of bands like The Briefs create an enjoyable amalgamation of good old times. Just what the doctor ordered. –Bryan Static (Turborock)

VIOLENT SOCIETY: The Complete Punk Collection: CD
Decent enough anthology of stuff from these spiky-headed punkers. Normally, my appreciation for bands that easily fall into the “parrot punk” category is about as positive as it is for lutefisk (quite possibly the worst fucking thing on the planet to pass itself off as food), but these guys seem to get it a bit more than others in the Krazy Colored, leather-clad set. They manage to cover Eater and MDC with enough conviction to come of as sincere, and from what I can make out of the lyrics, are a step above the other punters in that regard as well. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.pukenvomitrecords.com)

VIVA HATE: Hateful and Hollow: CD
This sounds like mid-‘90s Epitaph/Hellcat music. They have hair like the Nekromantix. I don’t even know if I spelled that right. –Mr. Z (Self-released)

I don’t know if they wanted us to catch this, but if you happen to glance at the spine of the CD, you’ll notice it says Seattle Straight Edge. Pretty sneaky guys! More melodic than a lot of straight edge I’ve heard. Well produced, with a guitar that grates like a steel wool rag notched in your nether regions. This will scare the neighbors. –Sean Koepenick (Think Fast)

If someone were to claim that Trial’s Are These Our Lives? LP was the greatest hardcore record of all time, I don’t know that I could argue with them. Whichever forces aligned after Trial’s first two EPs that led to the creation of that record have yet to reunite in the seemingly bottomless abyss of camo shorts and hilarious clichés that makes up most of the present-day hardcore scene. When I heard that Trial guitarist Timm McIntosh (whose post-Trial outfit Champion I felt paled greatly in comparison to his prior undertaking) was again teaming up with one of the best drummers in the genre, Alexei Rodriguez (of Trial, Catharsis, 3 Inches of Blood, etc.), I thought perhaps something incredible was in the works. Now, I know that this is a different band, and that Seasons isn’t the new Trial record, but it’s difficult not to compare the two. Musically, Seasons could be the successor to Are These Our Lives? but with McIntosh handling lyrical/vocal duties, the intellectual, seething rage that Trial frontman Greg Bennick once brought to the table has been replaced with a more typical hardcore delivery of less compelling content. Don’t get me wrong, this is still head and shoulders above most recent hardcore bands’ output, but I guess I was just hoping for a masterpiece and this came in a touch below expectations. –Dave Williams (Think Fast!)

WAR OF DESTRUCTION: Normalisering: 7” EP
Wow, two Danish releases in one review cycle. I feel quite blessed. While not exactly delivering something out-and-out crucial, this is nonetheless not bad, falling somewhere between snotty punk and rudimentary hardcore. More succinctly, it didn’t set the house ablaze, but didn’t have me scrambling for the “off” button, either. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.hjernespind.com)

WAR TRASH: Distort Disaster: Cassette
Lo-fi, filthy crust out of San Francisco. They stick like glue to the genre and make no attempts to venture out, yet this is still a pretty good listen. I love that creaky bass sound and the tinny guitar. No kidding. If you like bands like Asbestos, Neurose Urbana, Anti-Cimex, etc., you would and should dig this. Worthy of being on vinyl. –M.Avrg (War Trash)

WATCHING THE MOON: Perception Is Bent: CD
These guys do a nice job of recalling the alt-rock hype circa 1993. Unfortunately for them, this is 2008, which means they’re fifteen years too late for the initial wave and five years too early for the revival. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.universalwarningrecords.com)

I get a lot of folk punk from Razorcake, and The Weight’s album cover made me think I was in for more of the same. The Weight, however, are another beast altogether. They’re essentially just a country band, pedal steel and all. There’s a blend of Southern rock, Americana, and the gentlest of indie rock influences at work here, sort of like if members of The Old 97s, Fleet Foxes, and the E Street Band all formed a Skynyrd cover band. –Sarah (The Colonel, no address)

WHISKEY TRENCH: The Good Son: 7”
Dillinger Four-style of hooky pop punk bands like New Bruises and Witches With Dicks play. Whiskey Trench supplies some of the same ingredients—the vocal trade offs that produce catchy choruses and breakdowns where the music breathes without a wanking solo to accompany it. The vocals sound like Mike and Bobby from the Thumbs, and the production of the recording lends a gravely undertone that you hear when you throw on an old Crimpshrine record. Lyrically, it’s a little too mundane and self introspective for me, but, musically, the foundation is built tight. Overall, a solid record. –Dave Disorder (Dead Broke)

Punks, some of you punks are ridiculous with the stupid tattoo art record covers. No more tattoo art covers. You send em’, I’m trashin’ em. Boobie girls and broken bottles? C’mon dauchy. Okay, this isn’t that bad on the music end. Not great, not bad either, sans artwork. White Barons: catchy female-fronted melodic punk song. DeadCity Rockers supply a Clash/Cocksparrer type song that was typical but solid. –Dave Disorder (Champagne & Cocaine)

Split records like this should happen a lot more often: two bands that sound absolutely nothing like each other, and both rocking hard and well in their own distinctive fashion. White Clouds And Gunfire have kind of a fuzzy Kinks groove combined with new wave dance sensibilities on the first song. More of a commercial (read: nice, and likeable by everyone) sound on the second, and kind of a mellow late ‘80s-esque rock‘n’roll feel on the third tune. Ne’r have I heard so much in so little tunage by one band. And then comes Destructors 666—flat-out rockin’ my socks off with kind of a swamp-rocky undercurrent to a lot of it. Wowzers. So, the final tally: two extremely different bands, both of whom I liked for entirely different reasons, on the same record. Kind of like when I discovered that smoked turkey and tomato go really well on a blueberry bagel—you wouldn’t expect the mixed flavors to work all that well together, but it sure is tasty. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Rowdy Farrago / www.destructors666.com)

WILD WEEKEND: Cosmetic Couple: 7”
You might remember Wild Weekend as the Zeros cover band from San Diego that played at the Masque’s thirtieth anniversary show. Although they’ve been writing their own material, this release features a couple of covers from their hometown heroes, “Cosmetic Couple,” one of my favorites, and “Black and White.” Sticky sweet on top and distorted on the bottom. Sounds like a wild weekend to me! –Jim Ruland (Munster, www.munster-records.com)

WOMEN: Self-titled: 7”EP
“Strangler” is tightly wound punk that proceeds to spin out of control, only to come to an abrupt halt. These guys remind me a bit of Career Suicide with their “what you hear is what you get” approach and sound—punk pure and unpolished. The second side with “Get Fucked Up,” “Shark Week,” and the strong closer, “Radiation” is the best of the record. –M.Avrg (FDH)

YAHZENBURG, DER: Demo: Cassette
A cacophony of guitar parts and drum tracks possibly being played by men caught in traps originally designed for bears. If it’s a joke, it’s a brilliant satire worthy of being listened to by all bands recording their first demo as an example of what to avoid. If it’s serious, what the fuck? –Bryan Static (Baby Carrot, myspace.com/itlsvnwo)

With a cover that looks like it would be more at home on a Smiths single, these guys blast through four thrash tunes with all the modern trappings—herky-jerky rhythm changes, stops, lyrics about how pissed off the singer is. The lack of overt metal influences, the brevity of the tunes, and the fact they can make one mean ruckus earns ’em beaucoup points. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.myspace.com/youngfavorites)

YOUNG OFFENDERS: “Big Man, Small House” b/w “Saints”: 7”
There was this thin feather of time—around two years—and that’s what many people tend to forget. Gang of Four’s Entertainment! and Wire’s Pink Flag are the signposts where the Young Offenders have set up their kicking team to score some extra points on a game that was abandoned well over two decades ago, before the game was over. (Gang Of Four went on to do some disco stuff. Wire disbanded, solo’d, and later reformed. Both are worth further exploration than the two records mentioned above.) If you’re in the mood for contemporary music that’s simultaneously skeletal, pristine, a little abrasive, and sick with hooks, the Young Offenders are in league with The Estranged. This is how I imagined “post-punk” would have evolved years ago, instead of turning into architectural sound sculptures that give math majors boners… Funny how that happens. Great stuff across the board. Fantastic two songs. –Todd (Deranged)

YOUTH OF TOGAY: The Dongs We Bury: 7”
I was never too much a fan of Pansy Division but I definitely had a ball with the homocore scene. Yeah, I know it’s called queer core but that joke wouldn’t have worked if I called it that. Youth of Togay is light hearted “eat fuck” hilarious and awesome. I have to ask myself that if they weren’t singing about “sucking more dicks than Mandy Moore” or “if it makes me gay to suck a dick” would this hardcore music have the same appeal? You know what, dick, probably not. But that is only because everyone knows hardcore sucks. But it’s fun and it’s not boring music. Two things missing from the hardcore scene. So let your girlfriend stick her finger in your ass and listen to this record at the same time. Both are bad-ass. No poon intended. I just wish instead of orange vinyl, the 7” was on rainbow. Up the cocks. –Gabe Rock (FNS, no address)

While still firmly rooted in the bluegrass and country/western they explored in prior releases, this one seems a bit more slick and “modern,” for lack of a better word. The problem is that whatever scrappiness they may have had prior is kinda lost here, resulting in something that sounds like a release by one of those bands you see playing the “western” part of an amusement park that sounds pretty good in that context, but sounds like the musical equivalent of Cheez-Whiz anywhere else. And trust me, the lyrics only reinforce that impression. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.voodoorhythm.com)

ZIP GUNS, THE: Dirty Pictures: 7”
A zip gun is an improvised firearm. One of the dangerous things about zip guns is they can blow up in your face, which is kinda what happens when you drop the needle on Dirty Pictures. It’s got the energy and raucousness of garage punk but the sound is a helluva lot slicker. Three original songs and a nice cover of the Lurkers “I’m on Heat” all on a limited edition pink splatter vinyl. Nice. –Jim Ruland (Meaty Beaty)

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