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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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NATO COLES AND THE BLUE DIAMOND BAND:
Promises to Deliver: CD
I like this record, but I never know how to describe bands like this. They’re punk (sort of), but not really. So maybe they’re rock, but not in a meathead way, but that’s not quite right either. And then slivers of country and rockabilly thread into some of the songs, and my efforts at pigeonholing them fall flat once again. Then I come up with a wonderfully banal description for bands like this: “twenty-first century alt-rock,” which I immediately recognize as completely hackneyed. In the end, Nato Coles And The Blue Diamond Band play a brand of punk-derived rock’n’roll that is muscular yet nuanced, sincere, and emotive; kind of like when the hulking bad-ass lurking the shadows is into Keats and Shelley.  –The Lord Kveldulfr (Rum Bar)


NEGATIVE SPACE:
Self-titled: CS
Sick post-punk from Folkestone, England. A straight-up Protomartyr take on Mission Of Burma, with anxious-as-fuck, staccato Cold Circuit post-punk guitar. Vocals run from lax-spoken to screamy shouts with tempo change from song to song, keeping things fresh. Just let this one keep on flipping.  –Camylle Reynolds (Grave Imprint, graveimprint.bandcamp.com)


NO USE FOR A NAME:
All the Best Songs: LP
Here are twenty-eight songs on four sides of vinyl to cover No Use For A Name’s twenty-five year career. You’ve heard these songs before. You know what to do.  –Jon Mule (Fat Wreck Chords, fatwreck.com)


NOTHING OF MERIT:
Monolith: 7"
Man, I am on the fence on this one. On one hand, this is totally raging skate punk with slightly unhinged vocals that veers into paddle-thrash territory at times, which is usually a wormhole to my heart. The problem is the record feels kind of half-baked and skeletal. This would be due to the lack of anything other than guitars, drums, and vocals in the mix (read: bass guitar). This just feels like a demo, or two dudes woodshedding. For me, that’s a little hard to get past. Given all the gear companies thanked in the credits, I would have assumed that sourcing a bass and a spare recording track would have been elementary.  –Garrett Barnwell (Reason For Resistance)


NVs, THE:
A Perfect Vision: CD
The NVs are off-kilter punk rock from Washington D.C. Trashy and raw, yet catchy and fun. I could imagine them on a bill with the likes of The Stitches, Big Eyes, or Piss Test. Damn, that is a show I would travel for. This might be one of those Razorcake reviewer moments where a band I have never heard of becomes one of my favorites very quickly. It happened with Neighborhood Brats and Rations. I could see it happening with The NVs. This is a hell of a disc.  –Ty Stranglehold (The NVs, tnvdc.com)


ONE FOR APOCALYPSE:
Umbra: LP
The beauty of instrumental music is that—in the absence of any lyrical content—I use it as a soundtrack to many different situations in my life, improving dreary chores or frequently travelled journeys by using the music to score such events in many different ways. The ebb and flow of the quiet/loud approach featured here allows me to create my own personal narrative to everyday life, one which changes on each listen even if the situations remain the same. Although there are only seven tracks, this album provides around forty minutes of hypnotic accompaniment which doesn’t wear thin. Think part Envy, part Baroness, and then a smidge of Crazy Arm. Another fine release from this excellent Spanish label.  –Rich Cocksedge (La Agonia De Vivir, laagoniadevivir.com, uptothesky5@hotmail.com)


ONE SCYTH FITS ALL:
Original Short Film Soundtrack: 7" EP
Spooky, weird horror film mood tunes. Greg Wilkinson of Earhammer Studios— known to record the crustiest/metal/hardcore/doom punk—has come up with this subtle, quirky delight. Turn down the lights, get lit (or not), and get weird.  –Camylle Reynolds (Earhammer)


OUTTA SORTS, THE:
Self-titled: 7"
The first two songs on side one are power pop-influenced garage rock that would please the Dirtnap Records crowd. With the first song on the second side, “I’m Feeling Very Difficult Today,” they throw in an organ for a spooky, surfy tone without falling too far into psychobilly kitsch. Don’t get me wrong—they’re kitschy but in the way garage rock should be, not the guitar-is-shaped-like-a-bat sort of way. The last song shows the same amount of restraint with a more rockabilly number. It’s a fun, unpretentious rock and roll record.  –Craven Rock (Outta Sorts, theouttasorts@gmail.com)


PARTY FLAG:
You Can’t Handle the Truth: CS
A distinctly Floridian theme permeates Fort Lauderdale punks Party Flag’s image. From their logo—a fiery subversion of Disney’s iconic castle—to the plump stripper pole dancing on one of their stickers, to the naked granny who graces the front of their You Can’t Handle the Truth EP—I can’t tell if she’s a nudist or it’s a porn still—the only thing missing is a gator and some NASCAR. Despite the band’s apparently strong regional identity, these five tracks would seem at home in any place and any era. Their lyrics are funny in a harrowing way, teeming with the signature punk puerility, crassness, and nihilism that perfectly accompany the music’s straightforward aggression and pervasive catchiness. Highlights include vocalist Justine Iukine menacingly slurring, “I don’t care who stands beside me / You’re the one I wanna fuck,” on “Fermentation” and guitarist Jared Earl’s joyously haphazard riffing on “Blue Skies, Black.” Both of which will be stuck in my head for the next week.  –Kelley O’Death (No Work, noworkrecords@gmail.com, noworkrecords.com)


PEDAL STRIKE:
Self-titled: CD-R
Eleven songs of classic-sounding Los Angeles punk (much like the Dils) by way of north East L.A. These guys have been banging away all over town lately and, by the sound of it, are brimming with ideas and enthusiasm. Far from perfect but I see them only becoming sharper after hammering out the dents. Apparently, they’re fun to see live so I’m making it my business to catch them sooner than later.  –Juan Espinosa (Self-released, soundcloud.com/pedal-strike)


PERVERTS AGAIN:
Our Big Party: LP
A couple months ago, I wrote a glowing review for the band Cruelster, comparing it to all our favorite ‘80s hardcore bands. Perverts Again advertises itself as being “From the kids who brought you Cruelster.” I cannot figure out exactly what that means, but Our Big Party is another connection to the ‘80s punk scene, even if this one feels more like the Cramps or Violent Femmes than those previously mentioned. The songs are humorous and better for a night of driving down Hollywood Blvd.than getting your head kicked in by a horny football player in the pit. Extra points to the artist who created the perverted Milo-esque (as in the Descendents) logo for the album cover art.  –Jon Mule (Noncommercial)


PETAL HEAD:
Raspberry Cough: CS
Shoegaze is the new stoner rock, in that it’s the new thing that punks start to play when they’re getting older and want to branch out. Petal Head must be older punx, because they play lo-fi shoegaze that veers into stoner-y drone territory. It would be crushing with a harder rhythm section. The guitars are forefronted and most songs are as static-y, ambient, and underwater as My Bloody Valentine’s most diffuse moments. When the songs pick up, the sighed vocals give the music an early Dinosaur Jr. feel.  –Chris Terry (Dead Broke, deadbrokerecords.com)


PHYLUMS:
“Decisions” b/w “Vexed”: 7"
Reviewing records is a treat, but trust me when I say we have to wade through a ton of shit to find the golden nuggets. When it happens, it’s always worth the effort. This record is exactly what a 7” should be: two songs, big hole, cool art. Everything about this record is great. The songs are well recorded, well crafted, and make you keep flipping the fucker over. I can’t decide which side is best, and you know what? I ain’t gonna. I guess these cats have been in a bunch of other bands and that time and experience in the craft shows. These songs have been worked on, loved, created, and packaged into something more than landfill. This is a record I’ll grab from the shelf over and over, a piece of art that is worth having in my house. It’s cool punk rock with an almost rockabilly feel, hollow bodied guitars, stand-up drummer style, and the odd flourish on the keys. Bare bones. Shit doesn’t have to be complex to work. Getting the recipe right is the key. I’m hearing Thee Mighty Caesars or the Headcoatees filtered though the Cramps and—the hell?—even the Meteors. It’s current but reeks of history. I’d be hard pushed to pick a decade. Yesterday or thirty years ago? Who gives a fuck? This record is the reason for finding new shit to listen to. I’ll be right back. Gotta just flip this over again.  –Tim Brooks (Dusty Medical)


PRETTY HURTS:
Expectations: 7" EP
Intriguing mix of borderline hardcore and aggressive post-punk here. Sound is taut, direct, and drenched in reverb, which makes things all the more clangorous.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Grave Imprint)


PRIVATE ROOM:
Life Com: 7" EP
Picking up where Walls left off, Seattle’s Private Room give us a two-song teaser before a full length drops later this year. “Life Com” is a steady stream of blunt force trauma to your ear canals delivered in similar fashion to Walls but with a sharper focus on the effectiveness of brevity. “Gourmet Pez” is the B side and is a brutal cover of the almighty Man Is The Bastard. Speaking of brutality, Private Room’s rendition gives the original a run for its money—or rather a disdain for the selfishness monetary wealth breeds. “All your money, will it buy you love? I say fuck your money! Give us gourmet pez!” This record is a one-time pressing of seven hundred copies, so act fast or you lose.  –Juan Espinosa (Iron Lung)


PURPLE 7:
Garden Eyes: LP
When you distill the laid-back Dinosaur Jr vibes of Landlord, the singalongs of Defiance, OH, the spontaneity of Hot New Mexicans, and the soulful bravado of Reigning Sound, what remains is Purple 7. Opener “Company” sets the tone: a head-bobbing beat, a striking bass line, infectious vocals, a warm Midwestern pop sensibility. Every subsequent song perfects the formula without repeating itself. “Hope So” blitzes like the Buzzcocks and “Mother to Be” trades distorted power chords for open acoustic guitar chords without sounding hackneyed. Closer “Have to Go” is a rollicking rock’n’roll gem with spiraling guitars and a big chorus with backing harmonies. From front to back, Purple 7’s balance of swagger and vulnerability makes Garden Eyes punk popperfection.  –Sean Arenas (Salinas, salinasrecords.com)


QUITMAN:
Demo 2: CS
Quitman is two guys in NOLA who I guess knew each other from New York and have played in hardcore and pop punk bands. I don’t really have a frame of reference for what exactly this sounds like and I sort of get the impression that these guys don’t either. The whole thing sounds like each person wrote a couple songs and let the other one come in and mess around while they recorded them. It’s got acoustic guitars, electric guitars, bass that always seems out of tune, super distorted vocals, and what sounds like maybe just a snare and a tom in the background. There’s also a cool bass intro on one song with what sounds like tape manipulation but may just be a clever use of computer. I guess you could call this “outsider singer-songwriter” and it’s definitely the sort of thing that isn’t really punk but only exists because the people making it are punk.  –Ian Wise (Subject, subject1.bandcamp.com)


RADIATION RISKS:
Self-titled: CS
This is my third or fourth go at writing a review for a More Power Tapes product and they get me smiling every fucking time! More Power is a righteous and much-welcomed epidemic! The band in question, Radiation Risks, write and play fast, fun, funky, punky jams complete with other-worldly noise-chaos and a horn section. I love it when a cassette makes me want to see the band live, like I feel the high-octane energy coming from the studio and through my headphones. This cassette will be in my player for a little while longer. Keep ‘em coming, MPT!  –Jon Mule (More Power Tapes, morepowertapes.bandcamp.com)


HOSPITAL JOB:
Never Get Cold: LP
In “Rainspell,” Erica Freas of RVIVR sings about the dirt inside our heads. It’s a metaphor for memory and the emotions that take root in that soil. Here in the foundation of Hospital Job, earworms are wriggling around and flourishing. It’s like they built a farm directly under the band. These songs are super catchy. They glint around your ears—flirting, and threatening to take hold of the granulars, inject their saccharine syrup, and make mud pies out of all that dirt. It’s posi-dance punk with enchanting melodies. The drums are clinky in a way that sounds like they come from a machine, but it helps to the raw sounds of this band. Lots of fuzz and distortion fill the musical crevices like a nourishing water. Vocally, there are two singers who weave together like vines on trellises and really exist well in a shared space. I’ve been meaning to check this band out for a while and am happy to cross it off my list. Real good stuff here.  –Kayla Greet (Rad Girlfriend, radgirlfriendrecords.storenvy.com / It’s Alive, itsaliverecords.com)


RADIO HEARTS:
Tell You: 7" EP
Four tracks of puissant punk/power pop with a dash of rock’n’roll swagger thrown in for a bit of swing. “So Low” is the definite pick to click here, with hooks so sweet your teeth’ll ache. Another genre that takes a bit of finessing these days to get something memorable past tomorrow, and this handles itself quite nicely.  –Jimmy Alvarado (No Front Teeth, nofrontteeth.co.uk)


RAW BLOW:
Slow Choke: 7"
How many records in the Jade Tree back catalog do you own? I bet these guys have more than you and probably in every variant. Would it surprise you to learn that this is slick and tight emo that veers into hardcore and punk on occasion? They are pretty good at it, for what it’s worth.  –Mike Frame (Tor Johnson)


RED MASS:
EP Rouge N.2: 12" EP
This is the fourth release I’ve heard from ‘em—previously reviewed three 7” records—and each one has retained its own unique qualities from the others. This time ‘round ye get a one-sided 12”, complete with a nifty etching on the flip. The music is largely a mix of arty punk with some psych influences, with the infusion levels of either vacillating back and forth, usually with enough drive in the delivery to keep things punchy amidst the weirdness. Wasn’t sure about ‘em early on, but I gotta admit, I really fuggin’ dig ‘em.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Slovenly, slovenly.com)


RENTIERS, THE:
Black Metal Yoga: 7"
I can’t remember the last time I went from “What is this bullshit?” to “Holy fuck, I’m in love,” so quickly. I looked at this record, read the title, and assumed it was going to be a joke. It isn’t. I mean, there’s humor here, for sure, but it’s also a super chill, catchy tune that just makes me feel really positive about everything. The lyrics tie together the stories of several people finding black metal yoga and it saving them from whatever bullshit they happened to be entrenched in, with a chorus of, “Whatever gets you out of this terrible place, just grab it and let it lift you right into space.” I think I’m going to do that with this record right now.  –MP Johnson (Baldy Longhair)


ROOSTER JAKE:
Meta Metta: CS
An “arsenal” of synths makes for slightly more driving Pure Moods-style artist’s ode to basketball. Moog-y vibes and an almost coherent storyline via samples of NBA player Metta World Peace, I can’t help but think about watching bike/skate videos, as Rooster Jake’s art sound more like hip action soundtrack than Jock Jams.  –Matt Seward (Basketball, burningthecassette@gmail.com)


ROVSVETT:
Russian Kommer: EP
This classic Swedish hardcore band has been around for thirty years! Crazy. They’re still mining the straight-ahead Discharge sound the Swedes are known for. It’s fine, but doesn’t break any boundaries. Most notable is the horrendous, pixilated cover which looks like it took ten minutes to throw together. The cover makes me think this is a throwaway release. If anyone gave a fuck, they would spend some time making something people want to own.  –Tim Brooks (Just 4 Fun)


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