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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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STRIKE TO SURVIVE:
Yesterday’s News: 12”
Yesterday’s News is a big sound. Here are some great songs with big beats, big riffs, and a singer with a searing scream. I would call this album hardcore but with a greater production value than most hardcore albums. Some might consider that a bad thing, but it doesn’t have to be. Others might say this is screamo, a word I have never cared for because, well, who gives a fuck? In short, Strike To Survive is releasing music here that I could imagine driving all night to, red-eyed and in a revenge-soaked haze, waiting for the sun to come up and the album to repeat play.  –John Mule (Don’t Look Down)


STOP BREATHING:
Santa Cruz: 7”
It makes me happy that some people out there still play “hardcore” that somewhat resembles what it originally sounded like. Sure, Stop Breathing is really tight musically, and the production is pretty slick, but these songs are rippers and none of it sounds like bullshit basketball jersey-wearing metal-rap. Does it bring anything new to the table? Probably not, but it’s a fun listen and that is what it’s all about.  –ty (Rotten To The Core)


STOMPER 98 / BRASSKNUCKLE BOYS:
Split: 7”
I admit to having a little soft spot for Stomper 98. These German skins have been putting out records for a few years and are always solid stein-hoisting jams. Having Phil Templar on drums adds to their kudos for sure. They throw in a sax, which is usually audio suicide in my book, but they make it work. Top draw skin jams. Brassknuckle Boys have been pushing the American street rock for years now, alongside bands like the Hudson Falcons and GC5. I dig it good enough, but it’s a little flat next to Stomper 98. Decent disc for sure.  –Tim Brooks (Oi The Boat, oitheboat.com)


STOLEN KIDNEYS:
Our Heritage: 7” EP
A mix of post-punk and post-hardcore, I guess. Grinding guitars, tribal rhythms, some dude howling about possession and such, with a bleak, almost mechanical air permeating every note. Surprisingly, it works much better than one would expect.  –jimmy (Stolen Kidneys, stolenkidneysband@gmail.com)


STITCHES, THE / GAGGERS, THE:
Split: 7”
Never got what was supposed to be so godawful amazing about the Stitches fifteen years ago and still don’t. The less-celebrated Gaggers fare better with pharyngeal anthem “Gag on This,” which, despite my best attempts to not like it, won its way to my tonsils with a calculatedly retarded synthesis of pretty much everything off of the first four Killed by Death albums. Like “Bend and Flush” by the Pork Dukes, this monomaniacal neo-filth seems the stuff of world-smiting legend if you’re like fourteen years old. And who isn’t? BEST SONG: Gaggers, “Gag on This.” BEST SONG TITLE: I feel like i’m gonna lose like thirty IQ points for even saying this, but it’s “Gag on This” by the Gaggers. FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: The Stitches song was recorded at Earle Mankey’s in 2001, which is, I believe, where the Detonators album was recorded in 1984.  –norb (Rapid Pulse, undergroundmedicine.com)


STITCHES, THE:
Unzip My Baby…All 7 Inches: LP
Collection of singles from these cats, who crank out slab after slab of primo ‘70s-style punk rawk, heavy on the snarl and swagger. They’ve been around for something like twenty years, so if you’re a fan you might already know some of these. If not, well, you know what they say in reviews like this. Hand-numbered press of five hundred on cool-looking mango-colored vinyl.  –Michael T. Fournier (Wanda)


SOMALI PIRATES:
The Gold Collection: 7”
Mid-paced, rockin’ hardcore from Oxnard with at least one former member of In Control. The lyrics are obviously tongue in cheek and do manage to mildly offend, although you have to take it with a grain of salt especially when you realize that they’re also somewhat dated what with the references to the Bush administration. Still, the guitar hooks are really infectious and heavy, there are vocals snarled out in punk’n’roll fashion, and the drum beats are steady without overpowering the mixture, so I can say that this record does intrigue me. I hope the next record, if there is one, has better cover artwork. This one looks like it was drawn by a middle school student who was asked to replicate the first S.O.D. record album art without having ever seen it, but even that is sort of insulting to middle school kids who I’d like to believe have far greater imaginations.  –Juan Espinosa (Indecision, indecisionrecords.com)


SNEEZE ATTACK!:
Self-titled: 7”
Right off the bat, I want to listen to this band because I have no idea what in the hell to expect from a band called Sneeze Attack. Side A is a slower song that runs along the same bass line. It works, though. While the basic core of the song doesn’t change at all, it stays interesting: the bass chunks along and the guitars have some slow melodies over top of it. I’m a sucker for anything bass-driven. The flip side is a lot faster and a lot more traditional pop punk like super early Ramones. I feel like these guys could play a show with The Sonics and fit right in. The recording is raw and really gives the whole record a throwback feeling because of the simple melodies and grainy recording. Everyone seems to be a little off time with each other, but it sounds all right and definitely gives it a sort of character that just makes it fun. I really enjoyed this 45. It’s good to hear people just playing some fucking punk and having fun.  –James Meier (Pleasant Screams, pleasantscreams.com)


SMITH STREET BAND:
No One Gets Lost Anymore: CD
I enjoy the Weakerthans and Cheap Girls. I don’t really listen to much other contemporary music that would be comparable to either those bands. I’ve just found myself becoming less and less interested in most music that might, for lack of better descriptors, have passed for emo or pop punk over the last ten years or so. And those two bands in particular, in my opinion, have stood head and shoulders above many of their contemporaries. Smith Street Band seems to fall somewhere in between Weakerthans and Cheap Girls and I can’t help but think that this just makes me want to listen to the two that I already have and already like.  –Jeff Proctor (Poison City)


SIXTH CHAMBER, THE:
Crippled Souls: CD
Considering the Christian Death connection (remember the baby doing all that disturbing howling on the Ashes album? That was Gitane and Valor’s son, Sevan, who’s all growed up and playing geetar here), it’s not too surprising that this handily falls within the death rock pigeonhole. More Voodoo Church push than Christian Death theatricality, there’s a nice bit of drive in the drums to keep the tempos from getting lethargic and the songs, while not yet at the “mind-blowing” level, are nonetheless strong enough to keep ‘em from sinking into a quagmire of total facelessness.  –jimmy (Novokkane, no address listed)


SIRS, THE:
Miserable: 7” EP
A rock-solid slab of mid-tempo punk with a rock undertow that adds some punch without overwhelming the proceedings. Their singer makes a point of singing rather than yelling, managing to keep his delivery energetic and passionate.  –jimmy (Psychic Volt)


SICK/TIRED:
Manufractured: 7”
Talk about fucking whiplash. This 7” lurches between thrashy blast beats and slow grooves dripping with black sludge, throwing in a couple seconds of mid-tempo metallic hardcore every so often for good measure. No use trying to pick out any lyrics. Sick/Tired sticks to the traditional grindcore vocal pairing of screeching banshee and growling guy who sounds like he’s drowning in the blood of his own evisceration. Sometimes I wonder if the guys in these bands just record five minutes of impenetrable screaming sounds and then slap some angry words on for the lyrics sheet. Frankly, it doesn’t matter what exactly they’re saying because every second of this record oozes pure fucking vitriol. The bleak cover art lets you know what you’re getting into when you throw this on—and god help you if you go in unprepared. On that note, I accidentally started the record at 33 1/3 RPM the first time around and it made the most brutal and horrifying sound I’ve ever heard. Would not recommend for naptime.  –Indiana Laub (Profane Existence)


SHANGRI-BLAHS, THE:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Catchy Finnish pop punk that avoids the “we really love the Ramones” trappings and instead rely on solid hooks and the occasional sax solo. Good stuff.  –jimmy (The Shangri-Blahs, facebook.com/theshangriblahs)


SENSIBLES, THE:
A Bunch of Animals: CD
As much as I dig the cover art with its ode to Where the Wild Things Are, this record only got me halfway there. It’s well played and the songwriting chops are present, but this kind of reminded me of The Unlovables. When I saw them at Insubordination Fest, I decided that would be a good time to grab a Natty Bo and wait until The Ergs! came on. Not saying I would definitely do the same here, but you get my drift. This may be up your alley, so sample and make an informed decision. That’s why I live in America!  –koepenick (Rijapov)


SECRET POLICEMAN’S BALL, A:
Teenage Crimewave: CD
If it were 2005, A Secret Policeman’s Ball would be huge. I mean, I’m sure they’re doing just fine, but, to me, they really emulate a lot of bands from that era. More specifically, an over-produced Pretty Girls Make Graves, Test Icicles, or Thunderbirds Are Now! I would almost cross Austra with Botch for an accurate pairing, if you get me. Insanely well executed, recorded, and performed, but it’s a little much for me personally. Someone’s going to eat this up, though. If they’re not already on a major label by now, they will be soon, I imagine.  –Steve Adamyk (MVD Audio, mvdaudio.com)


SCUM OF THE EARTH:
The Ville Has Eyes: LP
One would imagine crusty hardcore right? Wrong. This is conscious hip-hop from Gainesville, Florida. Not the usual fare for this rag, but I can dig it. It always made sense to me that a genre relying almost entirely on words should have its share of conscious thinkers and revolutionaries. Unfortunately, like much music out there, that’s seldom the case, apart from the likes of Immortal Technique, Paris, Blacastan etc. Scum Of The Earth drop some smarts on top of beats that sound decidedly West Coast mid-’90s. These dudes have an Alkaholiks vibe, or hell, even a Tribe Called Quest. Beats are tight; flow is good, just not heavy enough for me. I like my hip-hop either dirty and dumb or hard as fuck. Conscious thinkers and lefties should definitely take a look take a look.  –Tim Brooks (Destroy All Hipsters, destroyallhipsters.bigcartel.com)


SANDAL STOMP:
No Fun Intended: Cassette
I think this thing was wedged inside a nook at Razorcake HQ for about twenty-nine years and finally freed and sent to me. That is no complaint as this is perhaps the most potent batch of DIY hardcore circa 1984 that I have heard in many a moon. These dudes aren’t aping anyone. They just play scrappy, fast hardcore that sounds like it was recorded on a boombox. Again, not a complaint; I actually find that this just adds to the charm that the crappy cover art and hand-scrawled writing on the cassette already gives it. Lyrically, there is nothing too deep going on here: songs about cops, fighting, and boots. Did I mention songs about fighting? I am a total sucker for stuff like this.  –Garrett Barnwell (Self-released)


SAFEWORDS:
Self-titled: LP
Take a chilly death rock foundation, add on some additional bleakness, some trebly guitars with a penchant for high string/high neck chord-leads, insistent tempos, bubbling bass, and a singer infatuated with Ian Curtis and you’ve the fixin’s for some fine listenin’. Sure, you may know the drill within the first few seconds, but they do it quite well and deliver songs that sound tributary without reeking of tribute.  –jimmy (Deranged)


ROMAN GABRIEL TODD:
Darkness upon the Face of the What the: 7”
Get ready to get weird. Programmed drums and buzzing bass lines stutter along behind grunted vocals. Said grunter spits and howls with a flair for the perverse, wielding Catholic and satanic imagery like a filthy weapon encrusted in bodily fluids. With song titles like “Uncircumcised Stranger in the Sanctuary” and “Thrusting in the Shadow of Death,” we’re clearly going for an unsettling Zappa-esque vibe here. You have succeeded in weirding me out, Roman Gabriel Todd. Mission accomplished, I guess. I am not sure why this exists.  –Indiana Laub (Local Hot Unction, no address listed)


RICKY C QUARTET, THE:
Sweet Revenge: 7”
“Sweet Revenge” is a dark bit if minor chord punk with a chorus that’ll bore into yer noggin, if yer not careful. The flip, “Sometimes,” sends the band careening back into swaggering, bluesy ‘70s punk terra. Good single.  –jimmy (Wanda, wandarecords.se)


RED DONS:
Notes on the Underground: 7”EP
I just want to put this on record. The Red Dons are one of the best punk bands on the planet. Why anyone who loves real-time punk (and world-class punk, since the birth of punk) is sleeping on them is a mystery. (Or they’re comfortable with their self-delusions/illusions.) I said the same about the Marked Men a decade ago, and although I’m pleased that the Marked Men are getting the recognition they so richly deserve, wouldn’t it be nice that another active band that doesn’t play any stupid corporate games and doesn’t fence walk with morality gets widespread support in real time? Is that too much to ask? This one’s at your feet, DIY punkers. Pick it up. Red Dons are punk giant nostalgia killers. For fuck’s sake, “Cold Hearted” is has a 4:50 run time, is lush, sweeping, epic, and defies expectation. All three songs on this 7” are stunners.  –todd (Grave Mistake)


QUAALUDES:
Self-titled: Cassette
So you know that feeling you get when you go to a show, have zero expectations ‘cause you don’t know who’s opening, and end up getting slapped and spanked by the sheer awesomeness that you didn’t even know you had coming your way by a band you didn’t know existed? That’s what happened to me when I happened upon Quaaludes. It’s all XX, garage rock-luvin’, riot grrrl-gettin’, punk-as-shit goodness. Riot grrrl mixed with Good Throb? Yes and yes. Get it, bitch!  –Camylle Reynolds (Dirty Rabbit, dirtyrabbitrecords@gmail.com)


PULLMEN, THE:
Pine Ridge: CDEP
All four men in this country-influenced punk band have facial hair—two with moustaches. Does that help give you an idea of what you’re getting with these four songs? If not, I can say it reminds me of Murder By Death’s Red of Tooth and Claw and their other more country-influenced material. While The Pullmen describe themselves as folk punk and western thrash, they are definitely more country and rockabilly influenced. With the album being only eleven minutes, it’s hard to judge. But the songs are tight and played well and the band sounds like they’re having fun. I can imagine they put on a live show with a lot of energy. I’m not sure it translates so well on the album, but if you’re into this sort of sound, this might be worth your time.  –kurt (thepullmen.com)


POOL PARTY:
Born Too Loose: 7”
Ramones-esque, juvenile humor-driven pop punk. Not the cleverest lyrics in the world. All the similar partying vibes from bands like Mean Jeans and New Swears populate the record, but the party feels stiffer in Pool Party’s Hands as if the DJ put on a record that made everybody uncomfortable. Grade: C+  –Bryan Static (It’s Alive)


PLEXIS:
Vohul To: CD
Pretty standard fair street punk, by way of the Czech Republic. Nothing particularly remarkable one way or another about this. Not bad by any means, but imagine in your head some folks from the patches and pins set, some Les Pauls and Marshalls, sing-a-long “anthems” with appropriate stops and starts in order to include the requisite number of finger-points, then you’ve got these guys.  –Jeff Proctor (PHR)


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