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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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COLOUR ME WEDNESDAY:
Anyone and Everyone: 7"
U.K. indie popsters Colour Me Wednesday’s first release in two years finds it in fine form, with four tracks featuring two fizzy bangers bookended by a pair of slower songs. Although I do like a bit of melancholy, it’s the middle tracks which stick with me more. They really have some great hooks and harmonies, despite lyrical content that sits at odds with the breezy delivery. In fact, it would be easy to pigeonhole the band as superficially poppy but nothing could be further from the truth. Over the past few years band members have displayed strong feminist, anti-capitalist, and DIY stances which are built into what they do and how they operate. I doubt they are to be taken lightly. In a perfect world, this is the group my daughters would grow up listening to—enjoying the music and absorbing the same positive mentality, leading to them feeling empowered and not allowing themselves to be held back by people or accepted convention. A very important band for many reasons.  –Rich Cocksedge (Krod, krodrecords.com, krodrecords@gmail.com / Dovetown, colourmewednesday.bandcamp.com, colourmewednesday@gmail.com / Wiener, wienerrecords.org, wienerrecords@gmail.com)


COME ‘N’ GO, THE:
Tumbling Heights: CD
Another oddity from Voodoo Rhythm here. This time it’s a band that has the requisite garage sound drawing deeper and more arty, esoteric fare, like the fringes of the Velvet Underground’s oeuvre and even early industrial music, for influence than the usual “I own the Kinks’ greatest hits” type stuff. Their cover of Bad Brains’ “Attitude” is more of a downright deconstruction than a cover. The kids who think Lords Of Altamont are the bee’s knees will probably hate this, which earns this a thumbs-up.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Voodoo Rhythm)


COUNTRY DARK:
Hypnic Jerk: CD
It really makes me realize just how original and innovative the Cramps were when I hear a band try and fail to sound like them.  –Mike Frame (Humu, humurecords.com))


CRAVATS, THE:
Jingo Bells: 7"
First new recording in thirty-one years by these Crass pals. The title track is an alternately dark, dissonant, and oddly catchy ode to the hyper-patriotism that currently appears to be infecting the larger nation-states. The flip, “Better House,” is a swingin’ ditty, maybe a bit more subdued than the feral fury of The Birthday Party but nonetheless blessed with some sharp teeth, lyrically and musically, of its own. A spot-on single all around and a fine welcome return to the fray. Limited to five hundred copies.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Overground, overgroundrecords.co.uk)


CRYBABY:
Drag Me Under: LP
Crybaby, a trio from Philadelphia, plays stark emo with clear, confident vocals, hair-trigger guitar, and a dynamic rhythm section. I didn’t think I would like this record (because there’s been a glut of self-indulgent emo revival bands lately), but Crybaby’s songwriting is heartfelt without being saccharine, dark without wallowing in gloom; there’s a delicate balance here. The hooks are never repetitious and there aren’t any eye-rolling one-liners that will be emblazoned on T-shirts or tattooed onto some dude’s calf. Ultimately, Drag Me Under is a mature emo record that does more with less. Get it while you can because Square Of Opposition only pressed three hundred copies.  –Sean Arenas (Square Of Opposition, squareofopposition.com)


DAN SARTAIN:
Century Plaza: CD
Picked this outta the pile purely because of the label it’s on, which is run by a former member of Flux Of Pink Indians and has a history of releases quite varied in sounds. Dark, minimal synth is what you get here. It’s at its best when things are kept slow—rumbling deep and almost cinematic—with things getting progressively grayer and less effective the further it strays from that formula.  –Jimmy Alvarado (One Little Indian)


DANGER SIGNS:
Reset: CD
People should be thankful for labels like Big Neck. These guys deserve a round of applause for digging up brand-spanking new bands—seemingly a lot of first releases. For a moment, it appeared the label was wrapping up shop, so it’s nice to know that isn’t the case. Getting on to the record at hand, if it wasn’t already obvious, Danger Signs are great. The vocals are some solid, fuzzy, Reatard-esque worship (nothing wrong with that), while the music’s quite slick and tight, with no shortage of well-coordinated guitar parts. Comparisons could be a more-serious Mean Jeans, with definite nods to sounds from the nineties (like Scared Of Chaka, for example). Big Neck led me to discover Baseball Furies and tons of other great bands over the last decade and a half, and it’s great to see them still alive and kickin’.  –Steve Adamyk (Big Neck, bigneckrecords.com)


DAVID ARVEDON:
The Best of David Arvedon: LP
The falsetto juggernaut behind the Psychotics’ 1967 non-smash “Till the Stroke of Dawn” (the second-best vampire song of all time, trailing only “A Bat Bit My Ass on the Way to the Drugstore”), the long-running David Arvedon must have surely sired Daniel Johnston, Jad Fair, D.J. Lebowitz, and John Trubee, presumably in a single night of wanton frolic with one or all of the Wiggin sisters, Polaroids of which would almost certainly break the internet and cause eBay to fatally rupture. What can I say about this legend that hasn’t been uttered previously? Well, gazing at the album cover, I guess, “He sure looks blue” might suffice. Lyric of the album: “My bodyguards have shotguns / my lawyers all are hot ones.” Look, he even invented rap! BEST SONG: “Till the Stroke of Dawn” BEST SONG TITLE: “When Your Name is Jalapos Pakedos.” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: The catalog number of the original pressing of the “Till the Stroke of Dawn” single is 201,438.  –Rev. Norb (Mighty Mouth)


DAVID PEEL & DEATH:
King of Punk: LP
David Peel is a veritable institution of the ‘60s music underground who sang odes to marijuana and the usual countercultural topics, as well as penning the anti-cop anthem, “Up Against the Wall,” which included “motherfucker” months before the MC5’s use of that word caused all hell to break loose. This is Peel’s 1978 album, wherein he crowns himself sovereign of a scene he influenced. Here, in addition to the requisite songs extolling the virtues of the weed, you get sloppy, repetitive piss takes about murder, asshole cops, asshole punk stars, and an eleven-minute musing on the death of Rolling Stones founder and guitarist Brian Jones. Surprisingly, things turn out well more often than not, thanks in no small part to Peel’s wicked sense of humor, which occasionally recalls Black Randy’s finer moments. Will it wow the “Johnny Thunders is god” set? Probably not, but that’s likely the very people he set out to piss off in the first place, which alone makes it more than worth the effort. An idol setting out to kill his prodigy: it rarely gets more punk than that.  –Jimmy Alvarado (HoZac, hozacrecords.com)


DEAD WORDS:
Hey Rockers!: CS
This is skate shoe, tattoo, teenage blues punk rock. The song structure, lyrical content, and attitude is nothing new to punk music or culture. Some people like their punk predictable. Others want to push the boundaries. Choose for yourself.  –Jon Mule (Goof Troop)


DECENT CRIMINAL:
Self-titled: CD
Sweet surfer Rosa, from Santa Rosa, California that is! Just like a decent criminal, this band is very hard to pin down at first. The drums are so simple and yet complex. They utilize the one, two, one, two tap pattern on the snare that I just love. The bass is rumbly and driving. The guitars are bright and jovial. Oh yeah! The vocal harmonies from these dudes make me think they’ve never in their lives had to shout over the waves crashing on the shore. Maybe they’re more of a body board band, just getting their feet sandy before they jump into the crests with the real sharks. That’s not meant to be a slight in any way; I actually really love the melodies and cadence of this band, possibly more so than a straight-up party surf band. They’ve got just enough grit in them to show their roots lay somewhere else. There are just enough Joyce Manor-isms to place them somewhere else musically. I almost hear a bit of Toys That Kill here too, especially in “Sore.” Though it’s not quite up that pop punk alley, it may be on the next street over. This record has a handful of acoustic tracks that help round out a softer tone, much like a piece of newly formed beach glass. Remember punk in the mid-’80s when bands actually tried to sing? The Descendents and Bad Brains come to mind. Well, groups like this are shifting the tide to the next level of actually giving a shit about the vocals. Prepare to piss off sound men and women across the world.  –Kayla Greet (Endless Bummer, endlessbummerrecords.com / Dump Truck)


DEVIOUS ONES:
I’m Allergic to You: 7"
Two slick and sugary, vaguely power poppy punk songs from a newer Detroit band. The songs are well-crafted and tongue-in-cheek with a bit of a Killed By Death­ vibe, but they’re easily pegged as a modern band due to the guitar tone and vocal melodies. For the crowd that still likes their punk to have a dose of melody and a lack of anything serious, this is a good addition to your record collection. FFO: Dangerloves, Inversions, Dirt Cult Records.  –Ian Wise (East Grand)


DIRTY LIMBS:
Blood Operator: CS
Dirty Limbs’ vocals almost take on a Fred Schneider-ian (B-52’s) atonal and off-kilter tone. I didn’t notice this in their latest split EP, which has me thinking that their sound is evolving. Blood Operator is an amalgamation of Thee Oh Sees and R.E.M. with ripping bass lines. Both guitar and vocals, which are repetitive at times, keep melodies simplistic and adds to their quirk.  –Camylle Reynolds (Kerchow!, kerchowrecords.bandcamp.com)


DISGUSTI:
A Thousand Prickly Needles: 7"
High-speed noise with lots of yelling and artsy guitar squeals that get old really fast. These guys probably burst so many blood vessels making these four songs. It’s a shame they couldn’t have made them not all sound the same.  –MP Johnson (High Fashion Industries)


DJÄVULEN MÖBLERAR OM:
Self-titled: CD
For being from Stockholm, these guys have a very Huntington Beach sound. I wouldn’t be surprised if this CD came out on TKO Records or Hostage. The songs are mid-paced with a rock’n’roll edge to them. Just put Smogtown, The Drips, and Smut Peddlers in to a blender, top with off with Dutch vocals, make every song two minutes long, and you’ll have a taste of where these guys are coming from.  –Ryan Nichols (Beluga, info@belugarecords.com)


DOMESTICS, THE:
Brutal Regimes: 7" EP
Another monster of a release from these cats. Mid-tempo, zippy, and terminally pissed off, they cover all bases and will peel the paint off the walls if you accidentally aim the speakers at the wall. If you’re still listening to those old, worn out Discharge records and lamenting having missed some mythical era thirty-odd years back, believe me when I say you’re seriously missing the fuck out.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Kangaroo, kangaroorecords.blogspot.com)


DYKE DRAMA:
Tender Resignation: 12" EP
Are you a tender babe who spent hot summer afternoons stretched across the back seat of your mom’s station wagon singing along to The Gin Blossoms years before cutting your teeth on bootleg Discharge CDs? If so, holy fuck, Tender Resignation was made for you. This is the first Dyke Drama release, totally written and performed by Sadie Switchblade, better known for her work as lead chanteuse of Olympia hardcore staple G.L.O.S.S. Tender Resignation has heavy bedroom-diary-come-to-life vibes. It shines in moments of glaring intimacy like the low-fi guitar and vocals anthem “Crying in a Bathroom Stall,” which sounds like it was probably recorded in the middle of the night in her home bathroom. “Hardest Years,” is a reflection on fucked-up adolescence driven by tambourine hits and hearty organ layers. Listening to this, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Kathleen Hannah’s 1997 Julie Ruin process. Switchblade’s songs bridge pop punk and outlaw country aesthetics while keeping underlying feels of both candid reflection and rebellion. Especially recommend this for femme and queer punks processing the trappings of your twenties. The layout of this EP is damn cool, featuring photos of Switchblade that summon ‘60s pop country femme power and punk grit simultaneously. This record gets inside of you and doesn’t let go. – –Candace Hansen (Salinas, salinasrecords.com)


EARL GREY:
Passing Time: CD
Earl Grey hail from Mönchengladbach, Germany, have eight slick tracks of melodic hardcore here—almost metal guitars and some emotive power-boy singing of the Victory Records variety. In particular, “Passing Time” and “Haven” are pitch-perfect songs about restless-hearted dudes just trying to figure it out—ya heard?—as the years slip by: “I’ve got my head in the clouds and my feet on the ground,” shouts the singer. And well, I mean, yeah, same here, I guess. Same for my dog, too; she’s just a pup but says that shit all the time. There’s something about Passing Time’s immediate quality—perfect palm muting, shiny guitars with stop-on-the-dime-synchronization to (kind of distractingly) triggered drums—it couldn’t be sharper. Maybe you like Early Grey, and polished, discernible hardcore is your jam; then you’ll love Passing Time, but here’s my problem. All that glossiness—kind of like the adjective “beautiful” itself—gave off the flash and the appearance of urgency without ever inviting me inside. Might I compare thee to 2009’s Avatar? The EP costs 1,000 euros on Bandcamp, an interesting joke, and the CD I got from the band is not recognized by my CD player. Fool me once, Earl Grey!  –Jim Joyce (KROD, krodrecords@gmail.com)


EGRETS ON ERGOT:
Serve Us Tender: LP
Egrets On Ergot are one of a more recent crop of local (Los Angeles) bands taking the back roads of the city’s underground, where shit is often grimy and a bit off. Their trip is a dark one, filled with comparatively loose song structures, tribal rhythms, muttered or barked vocals, and non-traditional guitar lines awash in reverb. It’s a great entry by a band smart enough to know not to take all that post-punk dejection and drama too seriously or to strip it of all the rough, gristly bits.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Records Ad Naseum)


EJECTOR SEATS, THE:
High Hopes, Low Expectations…: LP
This is the third Ejector Seats LP that I’ve reviewed for Razorcake, and I’m loving it. They play a semi-novel mix of pop and garage, with a hint of early ‘80s hardcore thrown in for good measure. The packaging is glorious, including a gatefold sleeve. The Ejector Seats vocals got angrier over time, although there are moments of the calmer, gentler stylings from their early work. I had high hopes and high expectations for High Hopes, Low Expectations. The record didn’t disappoint. Both fans of Ejector Seats and newcomers will love the grabby, energetic talent on display.  –Art Ettinger (Collison Course)


ELECTRO INSIDES:
Self-titled: 7"
Four tracks of tense, surprisingly heavy punk rock—tribal drumming, bleak vocals/lyrics, blown-out guitar. To quote the late, great Bruce Roehrs, “Fuck yes!” Reminds me a little of Kim Phuc, which is really a compliment, trust me.  –Garrett Barnwell (Artificial Limbs)


EPIDEMIC:
Losing Control: EP
Wasn’t sure why decade-old recordings were finally seeing the light of day, but it seems that after the death of their guitarist Matt Frado the remaining members agreed to remix a few of the songs they had shelved. Killer UK82 vibes from Boston brings to mind Icons Of Filth or some of the more aggressive U.K. punk bands of that era. I would give a nod to Punkcore stuff, but this is way looser and more aggressive than most of the U.S. spiky punk. I’m not usually a fan of unearthing shit by bands not long gone, but this one is well worth your coins. Nice layout and cover, too.  –Tim Brooks (Loud Punk)


ERA DEL VACIO:
Self-titled: LP
Death rock outta Mexico, courtesy of Dave Rata and his merry band of cohorts responsible for bands like Ratas del Vaticano, Muerte, and so on. Flanged guitars and heavy reverb are the order of the day, naturally, with the songs themselves leaning more towards the punky spunkiness of early Christian Death, Part 1, and Burning Image than the cleaner goth sound that later became the standard. A glorious din, indeed.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Cintas Pepe, via SPHC, sphc.bigcartel.com)


EUREKA CALIFORNIA:
Versus: LP
Jake Ward and Marie A. Uhler are Eureka California. For a two-piece, Ward’s fuzz guitar and Uhler’s frenetic drumming fill up the space in my ears. Their sound time warps me to the ‘90s, to self-referential post-grunge pop rock. The snarky lyrics (“The American Dream can finally die with me / And my Liberal Arts diploma”) evoke Harvey Danger and the clenched-fist choruses are lifted right out of High/Low-era Nada Surf. College-educated and disenchanted, Versusis at once familiar, fresh, and relatable.  –Sean Arenas (HHBTM, hhbtm.com)


EVACUATE:
Blood Money: : LP
Vocalist from The Virus and Cheap Sex with a newer band, now on their third full-length. Solid, hardcore punk rock from the school of The Exploited, but modern and with lyrics tackling very current issues like illegal war, police abuse, health care, and privacy. Come to think of it, Wattie and company tackled these exact same issues thirty years ago. How sad that so little has changed. Solid message and killer execution. Ends with a perfect, amped-up cover of Chelsea’s “Evacuate.”  –Chad Williams (Evacuate, evacuaterecords.com)


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