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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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WILDHONEY:
Seventeen Forever: 7”
Loud and heavy in a dreamy, summery way. These three pop songs are driven by pedal-heavy guitar that ebbs and swells in slow, shoegazey washes. But it’s the melodies that keep this from fading into the faceless background fuzz that unadulterated shoegaze can turn into (at least for those of us who don’t live and die by rare My Bloody Valentine singles). Frontwoman Lauren’s breathy vocals are mixed just right—buried too deep to be fully intelligible, but somehow still soaring over the instrumentals. Everything about this release is elegant, from the clean production to the minimalist labels. I could see this on a soundtrack for an indie movie with a lot of lens flares. –Indiana Laub (Photobooth, photoboothrecordz@gmail.com, photoboothrecords.com)


WRECKED LEXUS:
Demo: Cassette
Six tracks of straightforward power-chord punk rock from what sounds like a pretty new trio. These guys aren’t lacking in energy, but the flat vocals take some air out of what might have been catchy melodies. Even the gang vocals sound like everyone’s sitting down and kind of tired. But the instruments are tight, the production quality is solid, and it is a demo tape, after all.  –Indiana Laub (Self-released)


XETAS:
"The Silence” b/w “The Knife": 7”
Two-song 7” about suicide. Side A, “The Silence,” is a melodic post-punk jam with hardcore group vocals. Side B, “The Knife,” has even more melody and group singalongs. Standard “punk” sound, but they’ve got good energy. I liked this a lot more than I thought I would.  –Alanna Why (12xu, info@12xu.net, 12xu.net)


X-RAYS!:
Jameson Shot: 7”
Fast, unremarkable pop punk. Each song follows the formula of indecipherable lyrics about drinking followed by a metal-tinged solo. There’s a member of this band named “G-Man.” Of course there is. –Alanna Why (Big Neck, bart@bigneckrecords.com, bigneckrecords.com)


YOUR PEST BAND:
Smash Hits!!: 2008-2011: LP
Given that this is a collection, we’re granted a glimpse of Japan’s Your Pest Band’s evolution across four years, a handful of records, and twenty-six songs. Side A collects much of their early releases which are short, fast, and on the verge of total collapse, featuring slurred vocals that wouldn’t be out of place at a drunken night of karaoke. These early endeavors feel like Tokyo’s answer to Hickey. This begs the question: How does Your Pest Band persevere to the end of a song when they sound so close to ruin? I want to believe that it was as much of a struggle as it sounds. Side B is more my cup of tea as they transition comfortably from thrashy melodic punk towards Teengenerate-style pop mania. The guitars begin to intermingle power chords with swirling rock’n’roll leads while never softening Fumito’s harsh, animalistic vocals. It’s as if Your Pest Band are parodying pop standards yet simultaneously crafting music that is distorted and electrified. Recommended.  –Sean Arenas (Dead Broke, deadbrokerec@gmail.com / Snuffy Smiles)


YOUR PEST BAND:
Ya Ya Ya: Cassette
Standard rock run through the American blues and Ripoff Records ringer via Japan. YPB is fun, if not ultimately forgettable. When the most memorable tunes are a cover of “Communication Breakdown” or when the harmonica comes out for a few brief moments, one might be more grateful the cassette is ten tracks less than the Smash Hits LP. “You Hate My Sound”… I don’t, I just don’t remember it.  –Matt Seward (Dead Broke, deadbrokerecords.com)


ZENTRALHEIZUNG OF DEATH:
Would You Rather…?: LP
Known more informally as “ZHOD,” or less informally as “ZentralHeizung of Death (des Todes)” ((any way you slice it, it winds up meaning “Central Heating of Death,” so clearly we’ve done business with some of the same landlords)), these nutty Erfurters come off as sounding like a much less precious version of latter-day punk-pop-psych-garage vendors like the Bare Wires ((“Artificial Clouds” in particular)), but doled out in a much more stompy and gaily festooned package ((although I guess one can’t get much more gaily festooned than the Seeking Love album cover, so I quickly retract that allegation)). The longer songs have a nice, Mo Tucker-esque, pounding chug to them; the faster songs come off almost like a less-hyper version of Sweet Baby. I don’t know what kind of drugs they’ve been putting in my girlie drink, but I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords. BEST SONG: “Jodie’s Car.” BEST SONG TITLE: “Pressure Leak.” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Record spine reads down-to-up and I hate that.  –norb (Alien Snatch, aliensnatch.com)


ZERO BOYS, THE:
Monkey: CD
First full length from this band in decades shows that they haven’t lost a step. I was lucky enough to finally get to see them live—and they deliver the goods. Longtime members Paul Z and Mark Cutsinger are joined by Scott Kellogg and Dave Lawson. There are fifteen songs inside, so you will need to find your own anthem here. There’s plenty to choose from on Monkey. My only gripe is that the songs from last year’s Pro-Dirt EP are also included here for some reason. But who cares since the Boys are back in town! –koepenick (Z-Disk, zeroboys.com)


ZIELONE ŻABKI:
Zgorzelec 1988: LP
The documenting of a scene’s history and the bands involved is an incredibly important one to me. Although they existed for a little more than a year, Zielone Żabki is a band credited with hugely influencing the Polish punk scene. With any physical copies of the band’s original recordings lost to the decay of time, this live recording from 1988 marks the first time Zielone Żabki’s music has appeared in print in over twenty-five years. The recording quality is a bit uneven, with the vocals slightly overwhelming the rest of the band. Overall though, the recording is clear enough to give the listener a taste of Zielone Żabki’s sound. It’s a sound which draws on ‘70s and early ‘80s punk, but not quite hardcore punk influences. It’s good, but is more important for influencing future generations of Polish punks than for being particularly ground-breaking sonically. The historic element of the band is intriguing to me, even if their music didn’t bowl me over. I think anyone with an interest in punk history in Europe will want to check this out. –Paul J. Comeau (Pasazer, pasazer@pasazer.pl)


ZIG ZAGS:
Self-titled: CD
Dirty punk rock’n’roll with the occasional Black Sabbath style riff popping up here and there to add to the miscreant sound. The songs are catchy and simultaneously aggressive (and at times sinister-sounding). At times they remind me of Turbonegro, only rawer and less self-conscious. I like the scratchy distortion on the guitar here, reminding me of the early Black Flag recordings; where if you’re not careful, the guitar would administer a jagged cut and give you tetanus. Some of the songs on here could have been left off, like “Psychomania,” and “I Am the Weekend.” Especially when on the same album as songs like “Magic,” “Randy,” “No Blade of Grass,” the opener “Braindead Warrior,” or the perfect “Soul Sound,” bring to mind early Alice Cooper (musically and vocally). I imagine this stuff sounds even better live. –Matt Average (In The Red, intheredrecords.com)


ZIPLOCK:
Self-titled: LP
Dreadful run-of-the-mill streetpunk from the arse end of nowhere England. Crap three chord riffs, dumb lyrics, and sounding like it was recorded in a bucket. There’s so much great music out there, this has no place in the world.  –Tim Brooks (Suburban White Trash, suburbanwhitetrash.com)


ZOLTARS, THE:
Walking through the Dark: Cassette
Eerie pianos and slackertastic hooks have me hearing some Sebadoh and some Zombies in The Zoltars’ melancholy, lo-fi psyche rock. If you’re looking for this on the cassette rack at your local record store (which I suggest you do), keep in mind that the title is misspelled on the j-card’s spine. The album’s not really called “Walking Trough the Dark.”  –Chris Terry (Burger)


A-BONES:
Ears Wide Shut: CD
Norton Records’ house band (the label’s two owners are members) are bit rougher sonic-wise than I remember their earlier work sounding—no doubt due to the fact that it was recorded in their rehearsal room—but they nonetheless turn in another fine slab of mostly garage rock’n’roll covers. Honking sax, rolling keyboard lines, and sludgy fuzz aplenty, they keep the rock rolling in ways that’ll please discerning trash rock fans. Been a helluva long time since I heard anything by ‘em, and it’s nice to find they haven’t lost any of their gumption or charm.  –jimmy (Norton)


ACHTUNGS:
“Full of Hate” b/w “I Don’t Wanna Talk About It”: 7”
New release on the new, hip label Total Punk. Big hole, skint paper sleeve a la Rip Off records, and two bangers that are over so quickly I barely had time to sit down. Originality is overrated. These Finns took a gamble putting just two tracks on the record, but luckily it worked out as both tracks are bangers. This shit could have been on Rip Off records, sounding like the Registrators or the Motards (two faves of mine) or, hell, this could be some long lost KBD banger, if you can find it. Get this.  –Tim Brooks (Total Punk)


ALLVARET:
Tänk På Döden: LP
In Scandinavia right now, as well as certain parts of the rest of the world, a subgenre of punk has been developing for a few years. No one dares name it for fear of tarnishing this special movement. Part of me wants to say fuck that, give a name to the genre, but I’ll be content with just explaining some of the recurring elements. Bands heavily utilize female vocals, write with post-punk influences in mind, but undeniably work in the tradition of the first wave of punk. Other bands that you know of in this genre would be Gorilla Angreb, Masshysteri, and Arctic Flowers. Allvaret sits comfortably within these sounds, while still producing an intimidating record in their own right. Perhaps sounding something like a sped-up X, if you took out all of John Doe’s vocals. Without even understanding the lyrics, the music has a tone of panic and anger. The songs have such a natural flow, I feel as if I’m cheating the record if I only put it on for a few songs. Great record, great band. Grade: A-.  –Bryan Static (Dirt Cult)


APOCALYPSE MEOW:
Baseball and Alcohol: 7” EP
“I just want to be the goddamn MVP for the Minneapolis Protest Punk Baseball League”—now come on, that’s got to be one of the best lines in any song, punk rock or otherwise. Apocalypse Meow remind me a hell of a lot of Sicko, playing pop punk that is loose yet just within the boundaries of being under control to stop it from becoming too sloppy and chaotic. Just like Sicko, Apocalypse Meow manages to crank out a hatful of perkiness and do so with much aplomb. The band consists of a pair of Sundowners and a member of Off With Their Heads, for anyone who is interested in the pedigree of the band’s personnel.  –Rich Cocksedge (Dirt Cult)


ARCTIC FLOWERS:
Weaver: LP
Portland’s Arctic Flowers unveil their second full length of that unmistakable northwest punk style also heralded by compatriots Criminal Code and Red Dons. A potent concoction of the Observers’ sharpest edges and the post-punk flag waving of Flesh World mixes in nicely with some fiercer numbers such as the rager “Anamnesis.” Something tells me that Arctic Flowers’ songwriting prowess has yet to reach its zenith and that the well of talent that they’ve tapped won’t be running dry anytime soon. Absolutely mandatory.  –Juan Espinosa (Deranged)


ARNOCORPS:
The Greatest Band of All Time: CD
I was at a Jello Biafra And The Guantanamo School Of Medicine show recently and an older gentleman standing next to me was lamenting how Alternative Tentacles hadn’t kept up with the times. I politely chided himfor not keeping up with Alternative Tentacles. As good as joke records get, these songs are all named after Arnold Schwarzenegger movies and prominently feature quotes and plot descriptions of the films, twisted into hilarity, in the lyrics. Musically hard, with an almost oi tinge, this might be the best Alternative Tentacles album since the 2004 release of Leftover Crack’s Fuck World Trade. Want to touch Arnold’s gams? That’s one of the many pressing issues discussed on this instant classic.  –Art Ettinger (Alternative Tentacles)


ATTENDANTS, THE:
Metropol Agencies: LP
Sometimes, when you listen to a given style of music for an exceedingly long period of time, things start to get jumbled and you lose track of the subtle shifts in style and delivery, until something comes along at a key moment that makes you say, “Wait-wait-wait the fuck up. At what point down the line did punk start sounding like really bad, boring adult-rock fodder?” This, my friends, is that moment.  –jimmy (Can I Say?)


AUTISTIC BEHAVIOR:
Shattered Cattle: LP
I remember these cats being one of the bands on the old Philly comp, Get Off My Back, but in truth it’s been so damned long since I’ve actually heard that record that I had forgotten what they sounded like. This was a nice refresher course—in addition to the requisite thrash/hardcore tuneage that ruled the roost back then, you get some surprising diversity in approach, with some songs delving deep into post-punk territory, which would’ve been a rare excursion by a hardcore band during that time. A lot of creativity is in evidence here from a band that wasn’t afraid to stretch out of the staid dominant punk pigeonhole, something that is all too rare these days. The sticker on cover says this is an unreleased LP from 1982 put out for Record Store Day 2014, which means it has some bonus tracks, comes on splatter-color vinyl, and I’m assuming quantities are limited, so happy hunting.  –jimmy (SRA)


BAD DADDIES:
Head on a Rail: 7”
This band has a raw freshness to them, though I’m sure they’ve been together for quite a while. They seem to sincerely lack any inhibitions when it comes to trying new things and how they should sound. Vocalist Camylle has totally challenged what I expect to hear from a front woman. The closest comparison that comes to mind is Poly Styrene with her extremely feminine shrieks about being boxed in by society. Bad Daddies’ jam “That Ain’t Right” just builds and builds the entire time, climaxing at the precise point that I feel a panic attack coming on. There’s so much anger, desperation, and a general feeling of being fed up in her voice that invokes anxiety in me until the song bursts and slowly comes back for a quieter refrain. Only bad thing I can say about this record is at the beginning of “I Don’t” there’s a bit of goofing around, prepping to play the song that I don’t feel is relevant to the feeling of the whole record. It lasts for fifteen seconds, just long enough to notice, but short enough that it’s not a deal breaker. This band rocks and is highly recommended.  –Kayla Greet (Negative Fun)


BAÑOS Y BAÑOS:
Singles Going Broke: LP
Kinda sounds like what the late great Brainiac would have sounded like if they were more into old Fang records than Dungeons & Dragons, although sometimes it just sounds like the chords to “Gimme That Girl” by the Devil Dogs and I wonder if I’m just assigning intent where none exists. If I try to aim my analysis in the other direction, I get an art school version of the Pagans ((okay, that’s a stretch, but not wholly invalid)). Mildly weird and darkly artily abrasive throughout, but with a solid enough punk rock type backbone that I never really got the feeling I was listening to random horseshit. Contains the line “three tongues are better than one,” so you know these guys are a lot of fun at parties. BEST SONG: “Dividends.” BEST SONG TITLE: “Swastika Bones” or “Stereonucleosis.” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: This album purports to be compiled from the Blitz Yonder Broughnut, Boil Yr Bong, and Dividends7-inches, the Steve Hawkwind +1 12”, and the Better Yobbo Bureau 10”. These five records are depicted and discussed in some depth on the back cover; they almost certainly do not exist.  –norb (Kunstwaffe)


BASTARDS OF FATE, THE:
Vampires Are Real and Palpable: LP
This is a pretty trippy record. The songs switch from a pop sound to nursery music to a campy goth thing. The cover has a picture of a model-sized Swiss-looking mansion through psychedelic eyes. It’s a perfect image for their music. I should also mention there’s a great cat family album photograph on the back. This is the type of music that I imagine Beetlejuice listens to presently. BAF fall somewhere between Sparks and Mindless Self Indulgence. If you want to listen to the soundtrack of a bad trip without the effects of actual drugs, put this record on.  –Ryan Nichols (This Will Be Our Summer)


BEASTMAN:
Self-titled: Cassette
I love everything about Beastman. First of all, they took the time to design full-fledged cassette inserts, which is absurdly lacking in the new tape craze movement. Also, they play fast, sleazy Dwarves-inspired punk, but with smart, elevated lyrics. The song “Reasonable Suspicion” especially surprised me with its expertly crafted words, taking the standard theme of resistance to the criminal justice system to a new level. Hopefully they’ll move from cassette to vinyl soon, but ‘til then, this beast shall remain contained in its tape shell.  –Art Ettinger (Jelly Music)


BENNY THE JET RODRIGUEZ:
Home. Run.: LP
As a kid, I had the VHS tape of The Sandlot on heavy rotation for one reason and one reason only—and it sure as shit wasn’t for the baseball. Benny the Jet ran away with my adolescent heart as quickly as he ran from the Beast while trying to retrieve a Babe Ruth autographed baseball. So, I find it fitting to have my heart stolen yet again by Benny The Jet Rodriguez. A hip swaying, head bobbing, shoulder shimmy-inducing lo-fi, pop punk extravaganza that has found a steady spot on my summer jams list. There may not be any crying in baseball but there sure is a lot of rocking.  –Ashley (Recess)


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