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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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BIG EYES / POST TEENS:
Split: 7”
Big Eyes kick off Side A of this 7” with “Asking You to Stay,” building up with lollygagging, songs-to-sway-your-hips-to riffs, that katamaries itself into hard-hitting chords, faster speeds, and eventually more “aggressive” vocals. The built up energy brought on tumbleweeds its way into the second, and final, Big Eyes song off of this split, “It’s Not Fair”: a sugar coated, upbeat take on obvious frustrations (as Big Eyes tends to do), topped with air guitar worthy riffs. Post Teens follow this up with a quick, steady, and slightly manic, “Mexican Painkillers,” that tie this record together perfectly. Side B eventually slows itself out with pacing, and steadies into, “Friendly Start.” With such fuzzy chord progression, poppy beats, and perfectly timed pauses that leave you on edge, how can you possibly not fall head-over-heels in love with this? –Genevieve Armstrong (No Idea)


B-LINES:
Self-titled: Cassette
The self-titled tape from Vancouver’s B-Lines is a re-release of the much-liked LP put out by Nominal and Deranged. On it, B-Lines play a nervy mash of hardcore and pop punk: nine tracks in eleven minutes, all threatening to shake apart from jittery rhythms and shout-yelped delivery of lines about wearing “Sunglasses when I’m all alone / Sunglasses when I’m on the phone.” Songs like “Hastings Strut” and “PsychedelicHigh School” are wild and hooked and would fit on any mix. Tonally, you’d think B-Lines rented the Angry Samoans equipment with the promise that they’d only write songs spikier and stranger than those of 1978. But now it’s 2014. It’s time to save on tapes. Order one for your uncle who likes “proto-punk,” one for your step-pep who whistles Red Kross, another for your grand-pep, a car copy the whole family! Or maybe just one for you and your dog.  –Jim Joyce (Shake!)


BLOCKHEAD:
Guts: Cassette
This tape contains four cuts of crossover-era-style angry hardcore the way I like it. “Guts” is a five-minute HC epic with weird marching interludes thrown in. The other three songs are one-two minute blasts against the things you wanna be against, like cops and waiting to blitz. Plus if you mail back the logo on the tape, they’ll send you more music. So play this tape as part of a healthy breakfast. If you know anyone who is balding but still has a Mohawk, this is for them. –Billups Allen (Smash!)


BLOOD PRESSURE:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Wow, these cats don’t fuck around in the least. They go right for the throat with some tasty full-bore thrash reminiscent of early Gang Green with maybe just a bit more musical sophistication, and don’t let up until you’re good ‘n’ bruised up. Thumbs definitely way up for this bad boy. –jimmy (Beach Impediment)


BORIS:
Noise: CD
Possibly the most polarizing release yet from these longtime audio terrorists. Polarizing in that longtime fans might be surprised at the “new” sound and direction the band are taking on this album, but once the shock fades it becomes apparent that this is really just the perfect distillation of the band’s work to date. This CD is at once maybe the heaviest, most poppy, beautiful release I have heard this year. My only complaint is that the album was pretty short by today’s standards. It left me wanting more—much more—but, then again, I guess that is one of the marks of a great album, isn’t it?  –Garrett Barnwell (Sargent House)


BOYS ORDER:
Playback EP: Cassette
One of the cutest things I’ve heard in cassette form in a very long time. Boy’s Order is a four-piece, sugary, female-fronted rock band from Japan and they’ve got some fantastic melodies. Songs are uptempo and these five tracks are over fairly quickly, which means you can totally listen to them twice in one sitting! Their singer and bass player, Chihiro, is so high pitched that she almost reaches chipmunk octaves, but never to the point of annoyance. She makes you want to bob your head and smile while singing along to adorable lyrics, albeit slightly lost in translation, like, “Do you want to date with me? / Let me go / It’s broken my heart.” Dancey songs about love and loss that keep you grinning play after play after play.  –Kayla Greet (Love Panic)


BUMMER:
Kings on the Run: 7”
Montreal’s an odd place. Probably more music per capita than anywhere else in the region, yet breaking out is tough for just that reason, it seems. Popular bands play for massive crowds in sold-out clubs, while the younger bands have to work a little harder to cut their teeth. Point being, while I’ve heard of Bummer—living a couple of hours away—I haven’t had a chance to check them out. And then this beautifully packaged and well-presented single comes in the mail, which makes you feel like a fool for not knowing it existed before. The Quebec three-piece play ‘90s-style, aggressive (yet emotive) post-punk. Still grungy enough to make you want more—far from anything too slick. The vocals are sang in an almost gang-style, yelling tone, while still being on key. A number of bands from Montreal are doing this sort of thing at the moment, but Bummer seem to stick out. There’s another 7” out in the wild as well, so I’d also recommend tracking that down, too, if this genre gets you going.  –Steve Adamyk (Housebreaker / Lost Cat / Sex Cave)


CATS, THE:
Relax on Everyone: Cassette
Pretty competent indie pop punk with really high-pitched vocals, but I don’t know how much I need sixteen songs’ worth of it. At times, the Cats veer into GBV-esque territory, touching on the lo-fi living room wonder jam, yet the majority of the time they wade in the saccharine sadness of Plan-It-X.  –Vincent Battilana (Manondor)


CHROME:
Feel It like a Scientist: CD
I fuggin’ love Chrome. Their best known and most lauded period—the “Edge/Creed” era that produced the five albums, from Alien Soundtracks to 3rd from the Sun—is the kind of good that’ll leave those inclined to listen to ‘em slack-jawed in awe (for a quick, cost effective overview of this period, I recommend the one-disc Anthology 1979-1983 CD and decide if you wanna venture deeper down the rabbit hole). Theirs is a sound that manages to be all over the map influence-wise—equal parts punk, rock, metal, industrial, drone, psychedelia, space rock, soundscapes, and so on—and at the same time result in something that is both singular and cohesive, an almost perfect amalgamation of all of its parts that is heavy, playful, hypnotic, oddly funky in places, and just downright weird. Things got a bit dicey after primary progenitors Helios Creed and Damon Edge parted ways and each fronted separate subsequent incarnations of the band, and the two never managed a planned reunion before Edge died in 1995. Between this and last year’s release, a stunner of a collection of unreleased tracks recorded during the band’s most artistically prolific period entitled Half Machine from the Sun: The Lost Tracks from ‘79-’80, Creed has brought the band full circle. Feel It like a Scientist is prime Chrome—odd and oddly catchy, rife with experimentation and seasoned noise mongering, uncompromising and yet still engaging, and true to the initial lineup’s ability to play music that continues to be several decades ahead of its time. As we hit the mid-point of 2014, I’m gonna safely bet this’ll make it onto several “best of” lists come the end of the year, including any such list culled by this writer. Highly recommended.  –jimmy (Chrome)


COOLIES:
Punk Is Bread: 7” EP
It took me a few listens to realize there are only two kind of regular songs with vocals on this six-song EP. There are also two brief, fuzzy atmospheric instrumentals and two songs with what sounds like a six-year-old singing? In my mind, this puts the record structurally in the same league as Brian Eno’s Another Green World, except Coolies are noise pop kids in their own universe instead of one cool egghead who’s friends with Phil Collins and Robert Fripp. “God Take Me” and “Mothers in Mantis”—the two, I guess, reg jams—are mixtape worthy, or classic, without trying to be. They disintegrate completely or hang out until they’re ready to split and both approaches are correct. This is one of those 7”s you hold close for a long time. –Matt Werts (Epic Sweep)


CRETINS:
Self-titled: 7”
Not a Ramones-core band. This is fast, pummeling hardcore from Richmond, Virginia. A tried and true formula that includes Discharge, guttural vocals, and a dash of Motörhead. Though I tend to prefer vocalists I can clearly understand, exceptions are certainly made: Tragedy, Celtic Frost, the fucking Germs! Problem is, when I can’t even follow along with a lyric sheet, it’s kinda tough to get into. The music is solid though, and I could see these guys evolving into something much more compelling.  –Chad Williams (Vinyl Conflict)


CRIPPLED OLD FARTS:
Free Drinks in Hell: LP
If you’re a fan of We Must Burn-era Poison Idea, and early ‘90s thick-necked hardcore in general (and are willing to overlook what may be one of the worst band names in recorded history) this might be worth checking out. I personally think it was a pretty dismal time for a lot of genres, hardcore included, and I found this record to be pretty uneventful. It suffered a lot from the deadly All The Songs Sound Exactly The Same Syndrome. Still, Crippled Old Farts are enthusiastic and committed and a lot of care was taken here: the recording’s solid, the packaging includes a separate, full-color booklet of photos and lyrics, and it’s been released on some of the heaviest gray vinyl I’ve ever seen. (And the guy who did the liner notes has such amazing handwriting that I totally thought it was a font at first. Good job, guy!) A split release between a bunch of French and German labels, so while Free Drinks in Hell was not remotely my bag, it was also clearly a labor of love for all involved.  –keith (Slow Death)


CROP CIRCLE:
Citizens of Fear: Cassette
If you’re going to do hardcore, it’s got to be loud. Crop Circle understands the basic theories that provide the world not with the hardcore it wants, but the hardcore it deserves. The vocals are harsh, strained to the verge of snapping. The music is tight and connected, a bed on which the vocals can rage itself into your ears. As a result, the recording has a sense of urgency, as if the tempo must be fast to get the message out in time. They play with the resolve of a band who are all about to die if they don’t play their music right this very second. Grade: B+.  –Bryan Static (Sell Your Soul)


CUTTERS:
We Are the Quarry: Cassette
This reflective fraggle rock from a quartet out of NYC pools together something old and something new. Hanging onto tracks from their earlier EP, Trying Not to Die, “X-Cutioner’s Song,” “Excitable Liefeld,” and “Young Gods” epitomize end-of-the-rope, somebody-please-help-me type vocals, much like Black Sparrow Press shot through with gang vox on the chorus and cock rock guitar solos. The new tracks look out from a Red House Painters autobiographical POV, juxtaposing frank, depressing lyrics with unconventional instrumentations like a sprinkling of magical triangle in “Batman 666.” At the end of it all, I wanna hand this guy a tissue and ask if he’s seeing a good therapist. Disparaging, barely hanging on—keep the sharps away from these guys.  –Kristen K. (Lost State)


DAMAGED HEAD:
Self-titled: 12” EP
Potent Swedish hardcore that owes more to an American thrash influence than the usual Discharge base one historically hears from bands outta that region. They keep things tight, fast, and short to the point that one can’t help but wonder why they chose this format instead of a 7”. Nonetheless, it’s definitely worth a look-see.  –jimmy (Man In Decline)


DAN MELCHIOR:
Live at the Philly Record Exchange: Cassette
When I first saw this tape pop up, I was kinda hoping that Dan Melchior was performing some of the musique concrète and experimental work that he’s being doing lately. Regardless, I can barely say that I was anything close to disappointed with this excellent live documentation of Mr. Melchior and co. They blast through seven psychedelic garage jams, including a take on Fairport Convention’s “Matty Grove” (titled “Matty” here). The guitar work is, of course, big, stunning, and explosive. Totally encapsulating. While the live set ends with a slow, doomy jam, the backside of the cassette is rounded out with a studio recording of Melchior’s “Swamp!” from 2009. Great stuff!  –Vincent Battilana (Stale Heat)


DAVIDIANS:
Self-titled: 7”
Davidians’ channel Greg Ginn’s lean atonality (pre-What The... embarrassment) blended with the wall-of-fuzz assault of Pissed Jeans (including their penchant for goofy song titles: “Bummer Tent” and “Bauhaus Beach-Haus”). Vocalist Cameron Craig sounds demonically possessed while the rhythm section holds down the slippery changes. Across all four songs, Davidians are noisy, spastic, relentless, and utterly satisfying. Recommended. –Sean Arenas (Deranged)


DEKODER:
Flowers to Blossom: LP
Exceedingly chuffed to see these Canadian gloom-merchants have released another full-length. Following along the same lines as their last,Between the Waking and the Dying, this latest effort maybe tempers the aggressiveness of its predecessor by just a hair, but the band still knows how to lock into a groove and wield those loping post-punk bass and guitar lines with deadly precision. Normally, this sort of fare features heavily in my late-autumn listening, but this has managed to worm its way into a featured position into many a summer’s session. This comes highly recommended, with the suggestion that you start scrambling ‘cause it appears only a little over 330 copies exist.  –jimmy (Chaos Rurale)


DELAY:
Circle Change: LP
I nearly dismissed this record. Delay’s 2009 LP, Plain Language, features a slew of plucky pop punk gems that are all personal favorites alongside The Max Levine Ensemble’s OK Smartypants. But I was taken aback by Circle Change’s gut-wrenching, mid-tempo tonal shift. The opener, “Explanation,” contemplates personal insecurities (“I need to trust my own guts again instead of getting fucking high”) with some of the heaviest guitar tones the band has ever committed to vinyl. Each subsequent song is methodical, plodding, and painfully honest (“I want to fuck without feeling gutted”) with ‘90s indie and emo influences intermingled. (I’m hearing some definite Superchunk and Silkworm vibes.) Although I initially felt disconnected, I listened again—and again. I decided to re-listen to an early LP, Don’t Laugh, which is scrappy, chorus-driven punk, then Rushing Ceremony for the very first time: That’s when it finally clicked. Like an estranged friend, I foolishly assumed that Delay would be identical to how I remembered them back in 2009. After some catching up, they are both the band I missed as well as a moodier, more introspective group that is equally as memorable, if not superior to their previous sound. They have peeled back the pop punk artifices, leaving something raw and vulnerable. Delay is a friend who has grown up with or without you. Highly recommended. –Sean Arenas (Salinas)


DIE KREUZEN:
Cows and Beer: 7” EP
I can’t understand why thishasto be reissued, seeing as it should be mandatory that every household on the planet have a copy readily available, right next to those Eydie Gormé albums andSaturday Night Feversoundtracks your grandparents keep around. Nonetheless, the Nobel Prize folks or someone of similar stature should be showering BeerCity with all kinds of awards for being merciful enough to make this once again available. This, my fine furry heathens, is one of the greatest EPs, punk or otherwise,everunleashed on an unsuspecting public—brief, zippy thrash that not only rages with the best of ‘em, but is rife with unique musical angles that are delivered with a precision that still boggles the mind and sets them apart from the pack three decades later. Seriously, all you’d need are copies of their first two albums (and their contributions to the firstMaster Tapecomp) to go with this and your punk collection is pretty much complete no matter what else you have in your racks. Don’t believe me? Buy a copy. You’ll be thanking me later.  –jimmy (Beer City)


DISARRAY:
1982-1986: LP
Complete discography from this obscure Japanese hardcore band who were around from ‘82 to ‘86. Two cassettes, single, and a flexi, all of which are here. For me, the flexi is the most crucial with its Discharge stylings and d-beat attack. The single slows things down and has some phaser guitar and shit and almost Burning Spirits-type yelped vocals. The cassettes are a little rough, as expected, but see the band head into faster, noisier territory—less Discharge and more Gauze. I love the A Side of this record but the B Side is for hardcore fans only.  –Tim Brooks (Black Water)


DISGUSTI:
Demo: 7” EP
Blown-out, noisy hardcore punk that is all the rage this minute. Disgusti bring nothing new to the table, but I know more than a few people who will suck this stuff right up without question. Just because. But the truth is, you, dear reader, deserve better than this. Punk, overall, deserves better than this. Vocals recorded in an echo chamber, saying nothing much about nothing at all, the guitar sounds flat, the bass limp, and drums are like paper. They slaughter their cover of Void’s “Who Are You.” At least they make that their own as a result. Some bands can pull this style off with ease and add a little extra something. Disgusti is not one of them.  –Matt Average (High Fashion Industries)


DRIPS, THE:
Destroy the Chemistry: 7”
Two heretofore unreleased tracks from the recording session that resulted in their contribution to the legendary Tower 13 comp finally see the light of day, and man, it’s a crime it took this long. Both are primo thud-punk ragers that bore a hole into your noggin, pour the pop hooks directly into your brain, then grab your ears and shake vigorously. A couple more hits to add to this summer’s soundtrack.  –jimmy (Hostage)


DUTCH MASTERS:
All of the Wires: LP
You might remember the Dutch Masters from their 2004 Goner Records-released “Radio Active” single, and if you don’t, then you’re doing it wrong because that record was fucking killer. Comprised of four dudes who have been in some of the best garage punk rock’n’roll bands around in the last twenty years (Oblivians, The New Memphis Legs, Bad Times, The Royal Pendletons, The Cool Jerks), this record takes the three songs from that single, nine additional songs recorded at the same session, and two live tracks to comprise a full album’s worth of skuzzy yet really fucking catchy garage rock’n’roll. The songs are remarkably hooky while retaining a raw and sloppy quality—the perfect combination in my book. This is totally right up my alley and absolutely recommended for fans of sloppy, unpretentious garage rock.  –Mark Twistworthy (Spacecase)


DWARVES:
Trailer Trash: 7”
I really don’t need to say much when it comes to the Dwarves. You either love them or hate them. I am definitely in the former camp. This single’s title track comes from the upcoming new full-length The Dwarves Invented Rock’n’Roll and it is classic Dwarves. I will drunkenly spout this off to anyone within earshot when the Dwarves are on the stereo. Blag Dahlia is a songwriting genius. There are very few vocalists out there who can turn a phrase quite like Blag and make it look so effortless. Catchy, rocking, filthy… It’s the goddamn Dwarves! Recognize!  –ty (Recess)


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