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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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BEYOND PINK:
Pride and Prejudice: LP
The band is from Berlin. It is made up of females. They are feminists. The band plays hardcore punk. These are facts. They are on the Beyond Pink Bandcamp page. This is the review. The Beyond Pink logo looks like a Profane Existence band or black metal logo. It is placed above a large photo of a fluffy, snowy white cat on the album cover. The band members wear studs, leopard print, and knee socks. Half the songs are in English and half in German. There are some explanations of songs under the lyrics and I typically enjoy that from politically minded punk. The music is metal-tinged Euro punk, as if Kittie discovered In Defence. B+ for ideals, but I just can’t back an ultimately mediocre musical effort.  –Matt Seward (Emancy Punx)


BATH PARTY:
Ep. IV: Cassette
I’m really on the fence about this one. At the risk of misidentifying their intended genre, I’ll say that Bath Party play psychedelic-tinged garage rock with shovelfuls of East Indian sounds and sensibilities helping to steer the ship. So, it’s like a more slick and spacey take on sixties garage tunes such as the Sonics and that ilk gone a bit Bollywood, but the incessant finger cymbals (or whatever it is on the record making that sound) drive me up the wall, and there are a couple of tunes that sound like the guys in the band are just drunk and fucking off. (I know they’re not, but the initial impression...) However, the singer sounds like the dude from the Dogmatics, which is a real plus for me. I want to like this—it’s an interesting concept for this style of rock’n’roll, but I have to work too hard to enjoy it.  –The Lord Kveldulfr (Resurrection)


BAD DOCTORS, THE:
Burning City: LP
At its most promising, this synth-punk three-piece sounds like third album Devo playing Weirdos covers. At the other end of the spectrum, they sound like the kind of music I used to punch my friends who stopped listening to punk in 1981 in the head for listening to, sort of like a more aggressive basement version of Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, but less orange. They come from wherever “photograph” is pronounced “photoGROFF.” Which, apparently, is Philadelphia. I like getting a record like this every so often; it makes the neighbors wonder what I’m up to. BEST SONG: “In Time of Plague.” BEST SONG TITLE: “Metamorphoses: Phaeton,” but only for comic relief purposes. FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: If you stare at the record jacket long enough, you’ll swear you see coat hangers.  –norb (FDH)


AUTONOMY / NO SIR, I WON’T:
Split: LP
Autonomy: This is the third release I’ve come across in less than a year and I’m diggin’ this latest batch of five tunes just as much as the others. A mix of anarcho punk and post-punk are the order of the day here, alternating between rhythmic, almost tribal stompers and bleak Joy Divisionesque gloom. No Sir, I Won’t: Wow, some prime-grade anarcho punk owing much to Crass and, especially, Conflict from a Boston-based band featuring members of Brain Killers and Awful Men. They come with a potent mix of outrage, anger, and dissonance built upon an almost post-punk base that melds martial rhythms with the occasional thrash-out. All told, this is one helluva split.  –jimmy (Dead Broke / Dirt Cult)


AUTISTIC YOUTH:
Graves: 7” EP
A “European tour” EP with three quick blasts of the type of catchy punk rock that keeps labels like Dirtnap in existence, delivered with a bit more structural sophistication than is evident at first blush. The tunes hit that sweet spot between punk and pop, sink their hooks in you, and refuse to let you go. If you picked up their recent full-length, this makes for a nice supplement.  –jimmy (Taken By Surprise)


ASK THE DEAD:
The Leans: 7”
Bullshit Foo Fighters worship. The music is anthemic and nauseating in its positivity. It’s too bright, too clean, too uplifting. The guitar work takes a lot from sludge and grunge, but its riffs are all uninteresting chord progressions. I can’t realistically knock these guys down a few points for being bad musicians, as they can clearly play, but just nothing I would ever want to listen to. Grade: D+.  –Bryan Static (Riotous Outburst)


APOCALYPSE MEOW:
Baseball and Alcohol: 7” EP
Midwest pop punk wedged comfortably between Hickey and Shang-A-Lang. As a baseball enthusiast, I threw this on with high hopes of being swooned by the baseball theme rampant in the artwork (baseball card cover) and song titles (“MVP,” “Baseball and Alcohol”) but ended up being only mildly impressed. Sounds like these guys kill it live, though.  –Juan Espinosa (Dirt Cult)


ALL THINGS END:
Self-titled: 7”
This starts off like a more gravel-voiced version of Face To Face. These guys have a very ‘90s pop punk sound that you still come across in dive bars. There is a working class sound to their songs while the lyrics are pretty straightforward. As far as pop punk goes, these guys have it down—albeit they’re not doing anything I haven’t heard before. But, hey, if they’re having fun playing, that’s all that matters. My only criticism is the artwork; it wouldn’t encourage me to pick it up.  –Ryan Nichols (Self-released)


ALRIGHT:
Sleep Study: Cassette
A five-song EP from this woman-fronted Late Bloomer side project, who simplify their other band’s melancholy alt-rock, morphing it into slowish punk.  –Chris Terry (selfawarerecords.com)


ZATOPEKS:
About Bloody Time: CD
Zatopeks has always been one of those bands that have been on the fringes of my knowledge of pop punk. I wouldn’t say that they’re bland, but their songs never sounded like anything I couldn’t find on other records. So, I don’t know if I’m just in a less angry place or if Zatopeks have changed their strategy, but About Bloody Time might be their defining statement as a band. The songwriting is clever and incredibly catchy, the vocals ride that line of being clear and blending in with the fuzz, and the songs have a range that doesn’t make me feel like I’ve heard all of them eight times before the record ends. They still play in the same vein of Copyrights without the continual feeling that the entire song is just one long chorus. Over a decade in and three albums down, Zatopeks have released a damn good record. I guess what I’m saying is, about bloody time! No? Yeah, I’ll just hide myself over here until you leave, then. Grade: B+.  –Bryan Static (Monster Zero / It’s Alive)


ZAKON ZEBRZACYCH:
A.L.F.: LP
Tough listen. I can tell that this late ‘80s Polish punk band had some decent music, and the translated lyric sheet bears out a good message. But the recordings on this retrospective LP are nearly unlistenable. I’m all for documenting a scene or band of the past, but when even semi-decent recordings aren’t available, perhaps the internet is the best place for whatever does exist to be archived. That said, this is a nice package, with liner notes from the band. I suppose if you know the band and are already familiar with their songs, this could be of interest. –Chad Williams (Pasazer)


YOLKS, THE:
“$2 out the Door” b/w “Pretty Thing”: 7”
Not sure quite what to make of this one. The Yolks are a three-piece who put forth “$2” on the front of the record, which is a reductionist take on old bubblegum rock, which kills. Then on the flip, the bassist swaps out strings for a harmonica, and they lay down a shambolic, stripped-down rootsy cover of a Willie Dixon song. The front is quite fantastic, but “Pretty Thing” is quite understandably buried on the back. Not sure if it’s because of my lack of interest and general annoyance with most music that is overtly bluesy or what, but I ain’t feelin’ it. I could totally get behind this if it were a one-sided number with just the original, or originals in lieu of the cover. Can’t win ‘em all. –Vincent Battilana (Randy)


WOOLWORM / GROWN-UPS:
Split: 7”
One thing that really gets to me is when there is no information about the bands, songs, or label included with a record. I really get into listening to a record while reading lyrics or about the band. Getting a feel for what they are all about. This record has nothing but band names, song titles, and the name of the label. Ah well, let’s focus on the music. Woolworm is very dreamy indie pop that brought back memories of bands like Eric’s Trip. I like it. Grown-Ups are more upbeat and definitely have more of a “Razorcake-y” thing going on. This is the band that really grabs me on this record. I guess I’m going to have to go online and search more stuff out by them. This is a solid release… Wait, I’m back after looking the bands up. Apparently these bands are both from my part of the globe. Woolworm are from Vancouver and Grown-Ups were (sadly now defunct) from Calgary. Yay Canada! –ty (Debt Offensive)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Welcome to 2013: LP
A lot of hardcore comps are failures from the get-go. It seems like all reviews of compilation records mention how the format lends itself to being a dumping ground of throwaway tracks and unfocused additions to get a band or label’s name out there. Compilations succeed when they are focused around a singular idea and, typically, those that focus on a time and a place are the ones that are the most interesting and stable. This compilation focuses on a time—right now. The place, however, is a little tricky. The bands are from all over the U.S. and parts of Europe, but while their geography may make them distant in a literal sense, their goals and affinity for one another keep them close. These are DIY hardcore bands. Their sounds vary and their ideas are different, but their expression of those ideas within their community is what makes them important because that’s what draws them together. Not Normal is a label that has been putting out and distributing some of the most eager and confrontational punk records over the course of the last five years, and this record is less a culmination of their focus than it is a step in their move towards being one of the most important current hardcore labels. They are a not a hype fest, and the bands presented on this record show the label’s insouciance towards the status quo. Yes, well-known punks like Tenement make an appearance on this comp, but they follow the relatively unknown Inservibles. Cülo are followed by a very young, very un-hip band from the Pacific Northwest called Adjustment To Society, and Broken Prayer are sandwiched between Bored Straight and Thee Nodes. This album is not an attempt to move you to buy a record; this album is an attempt to move you to think for your god damn self. –Ian Wise (Not Normal)


WONK UNIT:
Nervous Racehorse: CD
The too-cliché-to-be-relevant adage of “never judge a book by its cover” applies here. I get this CD in the mail: four Brits too old to be wearing their hats sideways and too European to be throwing up “Westside,” even if it is meant to be ironic. I reluctantly put this in the player and waited impatiently through the first song, an acoustic one that used the word “titties.” Sigh. What came after was a pleasant surprise. Think Descendents when you put on tracks like “Nan” and “Go Easy.” Fucking great, right? Short songs. Fast songs. There are some things I don’t get here. Some tracks seem to drift off course. Maybe I’m too far “across the pond” to get it, but the tracks that do work, work well. –John Mule (TNS)


WINONA FOREVER:
Wake up Slow: CD-R
When you get a CD-R with no song information and cover art that apparently was intended for a cassette, you kind of set your expectations low. With this approach I was not disappointed. Ten or so tracks of lo-fi grindcore stuff intertwined with some cabaret-ish piano numbers. –Garrett Barnwell (Self-released)


WARTHOG:
Exterminate Me: 7”
This record has grown on me a lot since I first listened to it. It’s got a very modern hardcore vibe and this band very well could have been from Florida four years ago instead of New York now. I kind of feel like despite all the influences they claim, the band is more informed by recent hardcore than they are whatever obscure Japanese bands they point to themselves. There’s nothing wrong with that and this record is good, but there seems to be a little more focus on form over function with this band—if you know what I mean—and I think that the way the label and some internet nerds describe this record should just let it be what it is without a lot of needless references to the demo tapes they downloaded from whatever blog is getting all the hype at the moment. –Ian Wise (Katorga Works)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Punks, Skins & Psychos: CD
Twenty-nine tracks of previously released, high quality psychobilly, street punk and power pop. The only name I recognize is The Dwarves. Not my usual pint o’ piss, but it’s doing me well over a couple drinks this Sunday afternoon. –Chris Terry (Zodiac Killer)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Poncho Records Compilation Vol. 1: Cassette
I certainly wasn’t alive when Nuggets caused such a stir. Hell, I wasn’t even a fetus when Kurt Cobain died. Still, I think it’s safe to say that this is the modern-day Canadian equivalent of that pioneering compilation. This cassette features nineteen bands, with twelve songs by Halifax groups leading the neo-psych revival, including heavyweights like Walrus and the insanely phenomenal Monomyth. Seventy minutes of non-stop jams, with each track seamlessly flowing into the next. First run of aqua tapes is limited to thirty (!), but luckily enough for you there are “more to follow.” Highly recommended. –Alanna Why (Poncho)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Not So Quiet on the Western Front: 2 x LP
Reissue of a pretty decent document of punk in California (and Nevada to a much lesser extent) in the early ‘80s. Good assortment of fast, menacing, personal, political, and so forth, but you probably aren’t gonna find much on here that will blow your mind about three decades after the fact. That’s not to say that this comp is void of excellent tracks—it does have 7 Seconds’ “Fuck Your Amerika,” which is perhaps the band’s best song period, as well as killer cuts from Flipper, Fang, and other name bands. I don’t feel the need to move the needle around when I’m listening to this. However, a lot of the songs lack distinct personalities (just like a lot of punks, har har har) and don’t do much more than satisfy the desire to kill the dead air in your living space with generic, old U.S. hardcore punk. A couple songs, like “Turmoil” from the Frigidettes, were unique and enjoyable enough to make me grab the cover and figure out what the hell was blasting, yet it was much too much like listening to a decent station radio for me: a bunch of mediocre whathaveyou punctuated with some all right stuff, but not good enough to keep me from playing DJ myself. –Vincent Battilana (Alternative Tentacles / MRR)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Philadelphia Cock ‘N’ Roll Showcase: LP
My copy of this record is rainbow sherbet colored (exactly half-magenta, half-orange) and the edge of it has a little piece knocked out of it, like the record is a round chipped tooth, and the cover is a photocopied picture pasted to a blank white sleeve, and it’s on a label called Piss Drink. I was ready to love this. Then I put the record on. The bands don’t do anything technically wrong; they cover the garage spectrum as it is now. I respect Gories worship and soul power and chiming ‘60s pop that connects to folk. It’s just that everything feels like a faithful reproduction. Nothing’s really invented and nothing’s really perfected. They’re all capable. I’d see them live while visiting friends, but my heart and mind and peen aren’t exploding, at least not yet. –Matt Werts (Piss Drink)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Live Evil IV – A 2013 Music Sampler: CD
The latest installment of 1332’s label sampler. Not much has changed from the earlier samplers. You get a shitload of Boise, ID-based bands, most being on the metallic side of the road. Worthwhile in that it seems to document the local Boise scene and that’s a good thing indeed. –Garrett Barnwell (1332)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Dubois / Miijas / Rye: Cassette
Dubois: Sort-of melodic punk in the vein of Jawbreaker and other early- to mid-’90s fare, but with some twangy bits that make things more interesting than much of that ilk. As far as recent stuff, they kinda remind me of Highway Cross or a stripped-down version of Off With Their Heads, but I will stand by neither of those comparisons since both include a wide margin of error. Miijas: The first song sounds a lot like the weirdly enthralling Polish punk/new wave band that the Rhythm Chicken recorded for our chaotic, thunderingly drunken trip to Kansas City ten years ago. For all I know it might be the same band, but these tunes are sung in English, not Polish. The second song seems right out of the Agent Orange playbook. The third song kind of blends the previous two. Rye: Sounds like what I imagine Mazzy Star would sound like sans that wonderfully hypnotic organ and smoky female vocals. –The Lord Kveldulfr (No address listed)


UNFIXED:
Battleside: CD
Intense three-piece hardcore band from London comes out with smoking bullets (or at least very pointy ones as featured on the back cover) and guns a-blazin’. Things start to get interesting in the middle with “Maggie,” and “Maybe Tomorrow” bookends that will singe your eardrums nicely. You can tell there is conviction here, so check them out; it just may resonate with you. –koepenick (Nikt Nic Nie Wie)


TURN IT OFFS, THE / BRUISER QUEEN:
Split: 7”
The Turn It Offs do some Elvis / Danzig-inspired punk rock’n’roll. Competent but unimaginative. Bruiser Queen does garage rock with excellent female lead vocals, hitting that ‘50s vibe just right. –Chad Williams (Miss Molly Music)


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