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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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BRAIN VACATION:
Head Cases: LP
The first song on this record, “Pre-Apathetic” starts off with the academy fight chant of, “Eat, sleep, fight, eat, sleep, fight… fuck and die.” It’s a dirge of an introduction to an otherwise punk rock record exploring themes of death and everyday life. These guys have a straight forward, power chord, punk rock sound with some pissed-off vocals that remind me of the singer from Fucked Up.  –Ryan Nichols (Wall Of Youth, eric@wallofyouth.com)


BRUISER QUEEN / THE GIRLS!:
Split: 7”
Sometimes I throw on an old punk record, like the Sex Pistols or Joan Jett, and go, “Damn, this is slow!” Bruiser Queen is working with that same level of restraint, and it gives their garage rock an excellent, pounding heaviness. Their second song is a Lost Sounds cover with on-the-nose vocals. The Girls! skip along smoothly with hook-filled songs that have been fuzzed out in the garage. Their canny, punked-up take on ‘60s pop reminds me of a dive bar version of The Go-Go’s. Like peanut butter and bacon, Bruiser Queen and The Girls! are two great tastes that go shockingly well together. Oh, and, both bands are fronted by women. Take that, dicks.  –Chris Terry (thegirlsbang.com)


BULEMICS, THE:
Something Wicked This Way Comes: LP
The Bulemics have been around for nearly twenty fuckin’ years now and like a good brisket, these Texans have smoked for so long that every morsel is tasty, tender, and ready to tear you apart. In fact, they’ve seemed to reach that optimal stage in a band’s existence where they still have the bile, bite, and balls of youth, but gained the chops and writing skills of experience. I mean, let’s face it, the Dwarves/Zeke brand of four-on-the-floor, sleazy punk rock’n’roll has its limits. This is a very small box to work within. With Something Wicked, The Bulemics are busting that box at its seams. This record is faster, dirtier, and heavier than anything they’ve done, but played and recorded so clearly that all the tasty little nuggets of riffery and vocal nastiness are on full display.  –Chad Williams (Slope, sloperecords.com)


BUMMER’S EVE:
Self-titled: LP
I was initially turned off by the band’s name (a pun on a douche, if you didn’t know) and the remedial watercolor painting that occupies the front and back cover (as well as the lyric insert); but, being the good reviewer that I am, I reserved (most) judgment until I actually heard what Bummer’s Eve had going. I was pleasantly surprised when the record started off with a dark, driving bass line. Then the guitars and vocals kicked in, and I realized that the intro was a major misdirect. What we have here is some lo-fi punk with a pop bite and heavy effect on the vocals. Overall, they’ve got a good sound, but I don’t think they wield their power too well. Unfortunately, the album lost my interest and seemed to drag on. The songs, while somewhat distinct from one another, all seem to blend together. Furthermore, the songs are way too long. Songs like these should rarely pass the two and one-half minute mark. Yet, not one of these songs is under that duration. Some of them cruise along to the four-minute mark, and one passes the five-minute mark. A bit of editing would have gone a long way here.  –Vincent Battilana (Almost Ready)


BUMMERS EVE:
Self-titled: CD
Very potent mix of echoey, surf-styled guitars and distorto vocals from this Cincinnati, Ohio based trio. Production is almost the fourth member here as the band uses the aforementioned effects to great use without (thankfully) overdoing it. There is a anthemic quality to most of the songs that cannot be ignored, most apparent on the delicious “I Want Your Drugs,” which reminds of me Joy Division’s “Walked in Line” crossed with Devo’s “Gates of Steel” as hammered out by a U2 Boy-era Edge playing guitar. Here’s to hoping they make it out West on their upcoming tour.  –Garrett Barnwell (Almost Ready, almostreadyrecords.com)


CÂLISSE:
Farewell Blacksheep: CD-R
This ain’t punk. Which is fine, if you’re into that sort of thing. Sounds, at times, like early 2000s garage pop in the vein of the Von Bondies or the later, plugged-in Bright Eyes records, replete with folk and psych accents. It’s listenable, but also something you could someday encounter playing at a Starbucks. The rare spaced-out moments, with reverb and theremin, are my favorite parts, but it would have to be freakier over all to remain in rotation for me.  –Lyle (Almabrain)


CANCEROUS GROWTH:
Hmmlmmlum: LP
I have to imagine that when an album gets reissued it’s because someone feels that it deserves a closer look, or maybe even a first look due to its initial obscurity. Boston’s Cancerous Growth’s sophomore album Hmmlmmlum, originally recorded, in 1987 is a mixed bag of spastic hardcore, quirky new wave, goofy horror movie sound effects, and one poorly recorded live track. I was hoping to have been floored by an unheard classic but instead I was left asking myself questions. Like why would anyone want to hear an inferior cover of Devo’s “Mongoloid”? Or what kind of drugs was the band on when they decided to waste perfectly good grooves on a record with their asinine grunting, groaning, and sped-up chipmunk voices on “Diabolical FX”? I suppose these were the late ‘80s and hardcore bands were trying desperately to create something innovative. A long time ago Fat Mike was asked in an interview about hardcore punk’s decline toward the end of the ‘80s and he replied to the extent of “there was a time when the bands were getting faster but not any better.” Holy shit: he must have been talking about this clunker.  –Juan Espinosa (Ax/ction, Beer City, beercity.com)


CASUAL:
Self-titled: LP
Casual has a lot of things going for them. The record is full of two-minute angst bursts flavored by sing song vocals of varieties resembling—at various points in the record—RVIVR, Dear Landlord, and Shang-a-Lang. One could argue that maybe the record plays it a bit too safe, but I see it more as cozy. There’s something warm and comfortable about the record, even though I’ve never been here before—a familiar emotional resonance of shouting and power chords. Home away from home.  –Bryan Static (Dead Broke, deadbrokerecords.com / Square Of Opposition, squareofopposition.com)


CHAD FREY:
Open. Play. Rebel: CD
For every quality this record has an aptitude for, there’s another quality it severely lacks. Dynamics and song flow are apparent, but an ear for choruses and adequate vocal lines is missing. That’s not even getting on the record’s odd variety of genres. I can enjoy some metal tinge every now and then, but a radio nü metal song in the middle of a punk record kind of ruins the whole thing. Then there’s the issue of the record’s pretty atrocious lyrics. I can’t tell if the songs are supposed to be satirical, but a cursory glance suggests they are not. “I want sex so bad” is never, ever a line I want to hear in a song. I can’t in good conscious recommend this to anyone. To the creator of the record, I recommend reconsidering placing all of your genre songs on the same album. The number of people interested in the record greatly diminishes with every other genre you add.  –Bryan Static (Frey Nation)


CHAOS UK:
Shit Man Fucker: 7” EP
One would figure, given the pattern of diminishing returns with regards to new releases by “old” bands being what it is, that a band this long in the tooth would be cranking out steaming mountains of crap by now. Not only is that not the case here, they’ve turned in one fucker of a scorcher here—manic tempos driving one propulsive track into the next, with virulence just dripping off the wax. Fuck yeah, this definitely hits the spot.  –Jimmy Alvarado (540, chaosintejas.bigcartel.com)


CHESTNUT ROAD:
LP II: LP
Staring at the Rubik’s Cube painting on the front cover, I was just hoping for a post-punk record that would have some distinguishing characteristics. On the record sleeve, Tim PopKid had scrawled “Bivouac Jawbreaker and Minx Leatherface” with a question mark. What my earholes were more happy to welcome in was what I imagine three kids from the Mission District from ‘86-’88 with too much time on their hands and not enough cigarettes or oz. of malt liquor would bang out in their practice space, but with a fresh enough 2016-spin to not get bogged down in nostalgia. Mix the grit and shadow of a warehouse district with the sincerity of handwritten correspondence, throw in a dash of the Allied Records catalog and the bizarro future of have tiny smartphones constantly at our fingertips, and you’re left with a new album almost instantly familiar. And covering Cringer well is an almost instant coup.  –Matt Seward (Pop Kid, popkid.com)


CHOKE CHAINS:
Self-titled: LP
Garage punk that’s melodic in the guitar lines, but blown-out fuzz in the vocals. Hell, the vocals get to noise rock proportion levels of distortion. They remind me of the Germs more than any other band. There’s a certain apathetic casualness to their approach to music that’s reminiscent of the early punk scene. Unlike the early punk scene, there’s a build and release to the tension of their songs—a care to the album as a whole rather than just releases of thought; an album that revels in the intensity of ages past without dwelling in the short game. Worth it, if you like your fuzz-to-melody ratio at about a 75/25 split.  –Bryan Static (Black Gladiator / Slovenly, slovenly.com)


COMBOMATIX:
Chinese Songs for Bad Boys: LP
So, the band is from France and the lyrics are in English, but the songs are allegedly Chinese and for bad boys… Probably best not to overthink that one. Anyhow, Combomatix is a two-person, three-instrument (four, including vocals) combo… sorry. Regardless, these two folks use guitar, drums, and a keyboard (and vocals) to create some pretty good but straightforward garage punk. No blowing down barriers or genre redefining here, but that’s quite all right. They packed ten tracks, which includes a bizarre intro that doesn’t let on what follows it, onto two sides of a 12” that spins at 45 RPM. If you’re looking for a new garage punk record to whet your whistle, maybe this will suffice.  –Vincent Battilana (howlingbananarecords.com / retardrecords.bandcamp.com)


CONNIES, THE:
The Way: LP
So, you might be tricked by their name. There are no Connies in this band. The Connies are punk trio that dish up a heavy dose of punk’n’roll with some ‘90s pop punk, and a wee bit surf. Gruff vocals remind me of Screeching Weasel but, melodically, the songs are more in tune with The Queers. The bass line is all over the fucking place. Their rock’n’roll riffs are tight, adding intensity to their sound. If you’re into solid rock, you’ll probably dig this.  –Camylle Reynolds (Relentless Greed, theconniesband.bandcamp.com)


CRETINS:
Meat: 7” EP
One of those raged-out “infecteds” from the movie 28 Days Later howl-vomits wholly unintelligible lyrics over an unrelenting, redlining engine, all glowing pistons and on the verge of blowing up. Put another way: Negative Approach on a heavy steroid bender. One of those rare instances when having your ear repeatedly bludgeoned is a good thing.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Deranged)


CRUNKY KIDS, THE:
In the Face of Death of Death: 7”EP
So I looked up the word crunky on the interwebs and, apparently, The Crunky Kids might be named after a crunchy Japanese chocolate treat. Or perhaps crunky means “good smelling pot,” as suggested awkwardly by a pal on social media. Or, better yet, a dictionary’s short description of a monkfish. I might never know! As for their music? The vocals ruin this. It sounds like a slow scraping of nails on a chalkboard to the churn of metallic hardcore. Tough on the ears and also the psyche.  –Camylle Reynolds (My Mind’s Eye / Hibachi-022 / Distort Everything)


CRUSTIES, THE:
Crustunes: LP
I remember looking through MRR back awhile ago and seeing something about the Crusties in a Wisconsin scene report. It had me on the hunt for this album for decades. Learning that this was originally a cassette-only release explains why I never saw this in any used bins or in the MRR collection. So, here it is, first time on vinyl. Well worth the wait and hunt, for sure. The Crusties played intense, wound-up hardcore punk, but like any good band from that era, they mixed in some other musical influences, like metal, jazz, and some touches of funk—(not in that cheesy Red Hot Chili Peppers that way, though—more as though they’re taking cues from Beefeater) that kept them from blending in. Plus, they may be the only hardcore punk band ever to use a trumpet in their songs (though very sparingly). It’s actually pretty cool how it’s utilized in the song “Sloppy Seconds.” The songs move at a quick pace, but never go full-on thrash. Instead, everything is kept at a watched boil to keep the urgency constant. Check out “Horton Hears a Who” with its fast-paced tempo—that drum break without losing any power. Then they tear into the instrumental “Your Own Words.” The guitar at the start of “Ratz” reminds me of Die Kreuzen. Then there’s the lurking-to-racing tempo of “K-9 Cadaver / Final Regret” that pulls you further in. Worth picking up, for real! It’s a limited deal, so get it!  –Matt Average (Beer City, beercity.com)


DALE J. GORDON:
Folk Art Law: CD
Gordon’s a Nashville indie artist who seems to be going the DIY route here. If you like listening to songs about trailer parks, weirdo relatives, and cheap beer, this may be the record for you. Dale plays instruments like the “front porch slide” and the “stomp box” on this one. He also dedicates this release to Lee Harvey Oswald. Okay, then.  –Sean Koepenick (Self-released, Gordon.dalej@gmail.com)


DALI’S LLAMA:
Dying in the Sun: CD
It’s a funny thing when you do reviews for a while and get multiple albums from the same band. This is at least the third album I have reviewed from this desert riff rock band and they continue to crank out fantastic heavy music. They don’t try to be “scary” or to be “tough,” they just blast out cool, heavy riffs with excellent vocals. The song “Claustrophobic Blues” has one of the best riffs I have heard in years and vocals that bring to mind David Thomas on the more recent Rocket From The Tombs stuff. Anyone who is even a casual fan of Kyuss, Desert Sessions, Fu Manchu, or Monster Magnet will absolutely love this band.  –Mike Frame (Dali’s Llama, dalisllamarecords.com)


DARK BLUE:
Vicious Romance: 7”
Excellent, straightforward songwriting and dirty production pair perfectly together in this ace 7” by Philly rockers Dark Blue. Anthemic, catchy, and cool as hell, Vicious Romance should be nominated to be dubbed The Summer of 2016’s Official Soundtrack. Taking cues from Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Interpol, Dark Blue’s execution of the grimy-chic has hit the pinnacle of perfection in this EP. Suffice it to say, Dark Blue’s future shines bright.  –Simone Carter (12XU, info@12xu.net, 12xu.net)


DARK THOUGHTS:
Self-titled: LP
Super fun, buoyant, snotty punk that reminds me of going to shows at EJ’s and Satyricon, bands in skinny ties and sunglasses in a dark bar, guitarists with wide-legged stances, downstrokes so fast their hands are blurs. The singer’s a pretty dead ringer for Joel Jett of the Flip-Tops and the Minds, and the whole thing is infused with a wonderful sense of joyousness and urgency. This is a cool record.  –Keith Rosson (Stupid Bag)


DAYGLO ABORTIONS:
Armageddon Survival Guide: LP
Feel like I have to provide a caveat here: Outside of one atrocious album I heard in the mid-’90s, I haven’t heard a damned thing by these cats since 1985 or so. That said, the last time they made any impact on my eardrums, they were an ultra-obnoxious to the point of being amusing punk band with the type of lyrical content that would have most parents quietly giggling to themselves whilst beating the shit outta you for listening to such “filth.” Their Feed Us a Fetusalbum garnered a lot of airplay in my “teenage angst” years, and my copy still gets an airing whenever I wanna see people wince and get uncomfortable. This Dayglo Abortions is a different beast, and rightly so, considering some thirty years has passed since last we danced together. Musically, this is pretty good—zippier tempos, considerably more metal in the guitars—but you can hear the natural progression. Lyrically, they’ve traded in wanton obnoxiousness for a bit more paranoia, anger, and quasi-political ire, largely airing out grievances and things that piss Cretin off—social media, Obama, the Left purportedly taking our rights away, lies, bullshit, and so on. Fans will no doubt dig it, which I’m guessing is all they pretty much care about in the end, anyway. More power to ‘em.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Unrest, unrestrecords.com)


DEAD GHOSTS:
Love and Death and All the Rest: CD
Nostalgic for an era my parents were barely alive for, Dead Ghosts channel the spirit and energy of rock’n’roll from that time period where it was basically country music. Be prepared for swing beats and desert guitar twang. The song writing is good but uneventful. At its best it sounds like a Black Lips record. At its worse, eh, I’ve still heard worse. There’s nothing to really fault Dead Ghosts with, but it’s not as if they’re reinventing the wheel either. If you have any desire to listen to sloppy cowboy rock, this is a pretty good record. If you don’t, then it isn’t. Simple as that.  –Bryan Static (Burger, burgerrecords.org)


DEFECT DEFECT:
Deefography: CS
Deefography is a kind of discography for Portland-based punk quartet Defect Defect put out by Japanese label Snuffy Smiles. I’m pretty sure this band disbanded, it’s hard to tell for sure though. Their cassette is ambiguous and they have little to no internet presence, with the exception of a few record nerd blogs, German label Taken By Surprise’s Bandcamp, and a Facebook event from 2013 that promised a good time and a BBQ. Some serious off the grid shit. If you like Black Flag and a big chunk downstrokey pop punk from the ‘90s and ‘00s, you’ll probably love this cassette. Its really bass heavy, which I love since some of the bass chords and runs made some predictable tracks way more exciting. Though it goes through the motions like lots of punk does, this cassette is upbeat and melodic, with a taste of dark guitar work in that I-listened-to-Darker-My-Love-for-a-year-straight kind of way. If that’s your thing, find it if you can.  –Candace Hansen (Snuffy Smiles)


DEPOSIT MAN:
EP: CD
Deposit Man are from Olulu, Finland and play a cross between pop and street punk that is reminiscent of ‘90s bands like Reducers SF and The Bodies, or other bands from 1999’s TKO Records Punchdrunk compilation. Songs are fast and catchy and have a thin vein of international political commentary running through them. You can find an impressive DIY video for their song, “Tyranny,” online.  –Jamie L. Rotante (Self-released)


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