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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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PAGERIPPER:
Troika Tape: Cassette
Some rough and ragged melodic punk on this three-song tape from this Portland, Oregon band. Overall vibe is a lot like the early Strike Anywhere stuff before that band went and got glossed up. Also a lot of similarities to some of the bands on labels like Dead Broke or Salinas Records. Pretty solid and short tape for fans of melodic punk with some rough edges still left to it.  –frame (Added Warmth, addedwarmthrecordings.blogspot.com)


OWL IN DAYLIGHT, THE:
Trial by Fire: CDEP
The Owl In Daylight, besides being an unfinished book by Philip K. Dick, is also a generic, four-piece L.A.-based punk band. The band claims they are “a breath of fresh air for the stale California punk scene,” and then follows that up by saying they draw comparisons to Jawbreaker, Alkaline Trio, and Hot Water Music. I can hear a little bit of those bands on this EP, but I don’t see how you can be a breath of fresh air if you’re being compared to punk bands from the 1990s. I remember those bands and these six songs are a poor attempt to recreate the sound and feelings those bands created. The vocals are often very deadpan; there is little emotion displayed. My hope would be that the music would make up for this lack of emotion in the vocals, but, instead, it’s very safe and uninteresting. The band seems competent and capable of crafting songs, but with so much other good music out there, why settle for a band that leaves me feeling, “meh”?  –kurt (theowlindaylight.net)


ORTODOX:
Masz Praw: CD
Ortodox hail from Poland and play mid-paced punk that sounds a little like Anti-Flag. I think they even do an Anti-Flag cover? I probably agree with these guys politically (I don’t like war either!), but musically this does nothing for me. The songs are just endless, unspectacular riffs, somehow pummeling and boring. So much piccolo snare. The one bright spot is track four (“Chcesz to Gin!”), which features war zone sound effects straight out of a Michael Bay movie through the whole song. I don’t know if it was supposed to be hysterical, but I laughed really hard. RIYL: democracy, unity, laughs.  –Matt Werts (Pasazer)


OLD WIVES / BLENDOURS:
Here We Go Again: CD
These two bands play equally sterile pop punk. As I reach the end of the album, I’m trying to recall a single song I just heard, and I can’t. Just a bunch of chirping with too-clean production. The songwriting is strictly by-the-book. Sometimes bands just get lost in their attempt to achieve perfection.  –mp (Eccentric Pop, eccentricpop.com)


OFFSETS, THE:
Los Angeles E.P.: CD-R
Three songs in seven minutes. Not necessarily a world’s record in shortest releases, but pretty darn short nonetheless. It’s a good thing my CD player has a repeat function or I might have missed how awesome these guys are. In fact, maybe a year ago, there was a lot of conversation here in Los Angeles concerning what the city’s official song should be. Where was The Offset’s “Los Angeles” in this dialog? Friends, I am here to right the wrong. Fuck Randy Newman, give us The Offsets! For the record, the other two tracks on this CD-R are just as tasty, all in a snotty, garage-y, pop punk kinda way.  –Garrett Barnwell (self-released, theoffsetsla@gmail.com)


OFFICER GOTCHA:
Towards Cuckooland: CD
Some pop for your punk. U.K. band Officer Gotcha lists the Buzzocks, Ramones, Mr. T Experience, and Jawbreaker as influences—just to name a few—and this couldn’t be more clear as day. Think Propagandhi with brattier, nasally Brit vocals. Thirteen songs are packed onto this self-released CD. Look, it’s not exactly cutting edge stuff, but if straight-up pop punk songs with rock’n’roll guitar is your tip, you’ll probably dig Officer Gotcha.  –Camylle Reynolds (Self-released)


OBLITERATION:
War Is Our Destiny: EP
Final release from these Boston monsters; blistering hardcore that has as much in common with Anti Cimex as it does with Poison Idea or Kuro. In amongst the furious barrage there are some wild solos that sound like label mates the Impalers. This label is on fucking fire right now with this band’s swansong along with records by Impalers and Vaaska. Boss.  –Tim Brooks (Beach Impediment)


NOTS:
Self-titled: 7”
You know what I like about this record, other than the songs themselves? The fact that there are four songs on here, and on 45 RPM at that! Gah, I hate two-song 7”s... This record makes me feel good on two levels! That said, the songs are rockin’ punk, low-fi but still powerful and punchy. Nots is a Memphis band, featuring members of other Memphis bands (Ex Cult, Manateees, Moving Finger) but I find myself liking Nots more than their siblings.  –Sal Lucci (Goner)


NOMATRIX / FIRST TIME RIOT:
Split: 7”
An Irish band and an English band playing pretty pedestrian streetpunk. Neither band is terrible, but neither band does anything here that is remotely interesting.  –Chad Williams (Dead Lamb, john@deadlambrecords.com, deadlambrecords.com)


NO!SE:
Pushing On: LP
I just read an interesting book called Sway, about the science of irrational behavior. Lots of lessons for life in that book. Often we are swayed by our perceptions, judging books by their covers, without actually thinking and listening. This band No!se have been around for years and are firmly pigeonholed in the skin/streetpunk scene. The singer is a soldier in Afghanistan; the covers often have tattoo art, no brainer right? You like it or you don’t. One second… wait… close your eyes and listen. They don’t sound like a skinhead band. Sure there are some gang choruses, but there’s much more to it. I can hear some Street Dogs in there, but I can also hear Leatherface. Hell, I’m even hearing some old U.K. stuff like Terminus or the Blood. This is a compilation of their singles and comp tracks. It sounds like a cohesive listen, for sure. As always top notch packaging from our friends at Longshot.  –Tim Brooks (Longshot)


NINETY SIX GHOSTS:
New Dustbowl: CD
I don’t want to be that guy, but fuck it, I am that guy so why try to hide it? If you are putting time and effort into writing and recording songs, make at least some effort with the packaging. Bullshit single card sheet with pixelated back is a minor step up from a demo in my eyes. Weak. Musically this is okay; I’m feeling some later American Steel or Bad Religion but with lame guitar melodies and over emotional vocals. Meh.  –Tim Brooks (Old Bitter)


NIKKI LOUDER:
Golden Men: CD
Golden Men is the third full-length release from these Slovenian noise merchants who serve up nine tracks of anxious, tense post-punk. This stuff is perhaps a little too arty for my liking, but if grating, noisy, arty post-punk is what rocks your boat, you could certainly do worse.  –Garrett Barnwell (MoonLee)


NEW WEATHER:
Self-titled: CD/LP
New Weather is a three-piece instrumental, synth-driven act, reminiscent of Crime In Choir, Boards Of Canada, or Kraftwerk. The 1970s and early ‘80s vibe is especially strong throughout the five songs that clock in at thirty minutes. For example, the closing track, “Everything,” had a synth line that I kept expecting to break into Joe Jackson’s 1982 single, “Steppin’ Out.” While I can’t say these songs blew me away, the album’s unique sound—in comparison with most of the guitar-driven music I review—as well as its superb recording quality made it stand out amongst this latest stack of albums I received to review. I wouldn’t mind hearing a full-length album, as this serves well as music to play softly in the background. I can always stand to have more instrumental stuff to play while I write, read, or just drown out the world around me and New Weather’s self-titled EP does that as well as standing on its own as competent electronic music.  –kurt (butterscotchrecords.net)


NAH:
Die Bad / Tape Fuck: Cassette
Well, I don’t know what to do with this. Two sides of stripped-down, industrial-sounding hip hop beats over atmospheric loops and samples. Occasionally there are weird noises, including something that sounds like a siren made out of a slide whistle and that sound submarines make at the bottom of the ocean. I can’t even begin to write about this as if I know what I’m talking about, so I’m just telling it like I hear it. Apparently this is the guy from 1994!, but don’t let that color your expectations too much. The cover is a glitchy-looking xerox photo of a scary eyeball. Spooky.  –Indiana Laub (Ranch, ranchjams.blogspot.com, ranchjams@gmail.com)


MOTÖRHEAD:
Aftershock: CD/ 2 x LP
Motörhead are an institution. Together since 1975, Aftershockis their twenty-first full-length album. Even more amazing, they’ve had the same lineup since 1992. Some might argue that the lack of fresh blood has caused the band to stagnate, with every album generally sounding the same. Others would argue that it’s what allows them to be so tight and proficient in their well-known style. Sure, the band has had their share of lackluster albums in their career, but find me a band who has been playing for over thirty-five years that hits the mark every time. What’s more surprising is the times that the three-piece gets things right. Aftershockis such an example. Sure, it sounds at first listen like most other Motörhead albums: galloping beats, nice guitar solos, and Lemmy’s gravely vocals. But there’s a catchy vibe to these songs. Motörhead have often been called a metal band, but metal bands don’t write hooks like this. It’s further proof of Lemmy’s interest in punk music, 1950s and early ‘60s rock music, and his understanding of what made many of those acts great. There are big riffs and a definite “heavy” sound, but these songs also get stuck in your head. And when that happens with a band like Motörhead, it’s nothing but fucking awesome. Sure, there are a few nitpicky things here (Lemmy’s vocals don’t sound quite as strong as they used to, the bass seems a little buried in the mix), but there are so many other great things on here (for example, the two slower numbers “Lost Woman Blues” and “Dust and Glass” provide a nice respite but also show the range of Motörhead’s influence) that Aftershockcan’t be seen as anything but a winner.  –kurt (UDR)


MONSTERS, THE:
The Hunch: CD
It’s always sort of fascinating to see how the symbols of classic American culture are adopted and repackaged overseas. In no setting is this phenomenon more apparent than the great international echo chamber of psychobilly. The Monsters hail from Switzerland, and this CD is a reissue of the original 1992 release. The Hunch opens with a creepy serial killer quote—the first of a serious excess of samples—and goes on to be exactly what anybody would expect after one look at the pulp magazine cover art. In “The Creature from the Black Lagoon,” the growling frontman purports to be, aside from the title character, “a teenage zombie,” “a werewolf,” and “a B-picture movie star.” Other lyrical topics include murder, infernal romance, and unhealthy sexual activities. The guitars are surfy; the bass is upright; the vocals are guttural and rife with haunted house groans. I can’t say The Monsters brought anything new or particularly exciting to psychobilly’s campy table, but if the Meteors and the Guana Batz are your jam, then by all means have at it.  –Indiana Laub (Voodoo Rhythm)


MONSTERS, THE:
Masks: CD
Bit of a different sound for these guys. By my presently-don’t-have-their-other-releases-immediately-handy recollection, they’ve more or less ruled the roost of the psychotic wing of the garage/trash end of things. There is a smidge of that here, but for the lion’s share of the tuneage, it appears they’re making a move to spike their spurs into the psychobilly side of the pool as well. They do so handily, with Beatman’s vocals still evincing that crazed, overtoned rumble that would make your average Tuvan throat singer envious, and the rest of his cohorts a-slappin and a-boppin’ away.  –jimmy (Voodoo Rhythm)


MÖBIUS STRIP:
Step Down: 7”
Möbius Strip has a thick, chunky bass sound that I really enjoyed. The DC-based trio recorded Step Down at Inner Ear Studios with the legendary Don Zientara, and the echoes of DC bands past can be heard in their sound. They’re not more than echoes though, as Möbius Strip demonstrates a command of songwriting that stretches a wide gamut. The title track, “Step Down,” is a slow, but relentlessly chugging song, which stretches across the first side of the 7”, and shows Möbius Strip at their heaviest. “O’Dark:30”on the B-side, isn’t as heavy, but plays with a bit higher intensity. This added intensity carries on to the closing track “Interpretation,” whose wailing one-word chorus really kicks.  –Paul J. Comeau (Left Out, leftoutrecords.com, band@mobiusstripdc.com)


MISERY JACKALS:
No Place for Children: CD
Hill country bluegrass band, filled with accordion, banjo, piano and all the other fixin’s. Two vocalists take turns singing lead, one with a big, booming Charlie Daniels voice and another sounding a fair amount like John Reis, with the trademark combination of nasal sneer and scratchy, sandpaper grit. But this is more than a paint-by-numbers approach to bluegrass, as this also dips its toe into Celtic, klezmer, ranchera and Tejano pools. Definitely more adventurous than many others doing this sort of thing, though, as a personal point of taste, I do feel like this can became a little grating after a while (so much banjo and some lyrics that are a little too Dr. Demento) and is probably best experienced as some flavor to spice up a mix.  –Jeff Proctor (Misery Jackals)


MISCONDUCT:
Blood on Our Hands: CD
Ugh. Just ugh. Some trite-as-hell, over produced alternative punk rock. It’s something you’d expect to be playing in the background of some consumer capitalist-driven teenage-angst crap store in a suburban mall. Okay, that’s a low blow, and, yeah, Misconduct is a Swedish band, but so fucking what? It’s the same shit they’ve been dishing out here in the States that you can breeze through in your local Best Buy music aisle with the likes of Papa Roach, Korn, and Pennywise. Painful.  –Camylle Reynolds (Strength, no address listed)


METALLEG:
Hit of the Week: LP
Metalleg occupies the bit of the Venn diagram where pop punk and power pop intersect. You know: sometimes there’s the chug of a Ramones song in the band’s guitars, and other times there’s catchy melody that might’ve come straight outta the Cheap Trick playbook.  –Michael T. Fournier (Trend Is Dead!)


MASS MILICJA:
Collective Punk: LP
Nicely packaged album from this Polish anarcho punk band that is very much in a Profane Existence type of vein. Really quality insert included lyrics in both Polish and English. This is not really my style at all, but this band is as good as any and better than a lot of stuff I have heard.  –frame (Pasazer)


MANDATES, THE:
Self-titled: Cassette
Here’s to leather jackets and shaggy bangs! The Mandates’ influences start at the Ramones and reach back through ‘70s power pop, with special credit due to the New York Dolls and Elvis Costello’s more upbeat moments. Eleven buoyant tracks of mid-tempo pop complete with walking basslines and squealing guitar flourishes. These guys dial the rock’n’roll nostalgia a couple notches higher even than like-minded contemporaries such as Future Virgins and the Marked Men. Twenty-first century Ramonescore is so susceptible to stagnancy, but the Mandates hit just the right balance of bubblegum and swagger. This band could easily have filled out any late ‘70s pop punk bill, but I’m glad they’re around now so I get a chance to catch them.  –Indiana Laub (Shake!, records@experienceshake.com, experienceshake.com)


MANBIKI CHOCOLATE:
Super Dimensional Hardcore: LP
This discography contains the Japanese hardcore stalwarts’ entire ‘90s output, including songs from an obscure cassette and a handful of previously unreleased tracks. This is fairly straightforward metallic hardcore of the blisteringly fast and violently angry variety. The vocals are a mix of guttural croaks and snotty streetpunk screams. Manbiki Chocolate is not the tightest or most technical of bands, but each song is a blast of manic energy—topped off with some thrashy shredding more often than not. Strangely enough, there’s also a sense of humor and lightheartedness that I don’t usually associate with crusty Japanese hardcore. This impression may have something to do with the hilarious band history included in the accompanying booklet (which also includes some punk-as-fuck live photos and liner notes in English, along with the Japanese lyrics). Gundam references abound... who would have thought?  –Indiana Laub (Not Very Nice, chaosnonmusica@gmail.com, notverynice.storenvy.com / General Speech, generalspeech@gmail.com)


MADTOWN MULLIGAN:
Bombs Away!: 7”
Oi, oi, it’s another street punk band. Madtown Mulligan sound pretty good. Catchy, mid-tempo oi stuff with good vocals and—as a refreshing break—an anti-war, anti-corporate stance. These guys put humanity before blind nationalism and I really like it. I hoist my drink to these guys!  –ty (Spirit Of The Streets)


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·MURDER BY GUITAR
·MODERAT LIKVIDATION
·OKMONIKS
·KRUNCHIES, THE
·DRI
·D-RAIL
·Razorcake Staff's Top 5s for Issue #33
·BAD BLOOD REVIVAL
·Featured Reviews from Issue #68


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