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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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FRUSTRATION:
Disintegrate: 7” EP
Portland crust punks Frustration contribute to a 7” single series on the long-running label of all things crust: Profane Existence. Somewhat of a departure from their last record on Inimical; this time incorporating a butt-load more melody into the mix à la Severed Head Of State. I’m not complaining though; the songs fucking rip. You don’t need to own a dog that you take to shows or sport dreadlocks to be into this record, but I do suggest picking this up ASAP as it has been pressed in limited quantities.  –Juan Espinosa (Profane Existence)


FRENCH EXIT:
Guts & Black Stuff: LP/CD
A slightly different take on the rough pop punk formula that’s definitely interesting enough to keep me listening past track one. An upbeat-but-melancholy vibe similar to For Science’s later output, but with a mid-paced, somewhat heavier approach that reminds me of OWTH a bit, but less moody. Even kinda Weezer/Nada Surf-y at times. A cool, refreshing record that folks who’ve moved on from cookie-cutter pop punk might seriously appreciate.  –Dave Williams (It’s Alive)


FALTER:
Self-titled: Cassette
I recently got my hand on a Falter demo, and, shit, was I impressed. Ripping straight out of Milwaukee, WI, Falter is a heavy sound that needs to grace your ears. If I had to throw in a genre, I would say it’s hardcore with a mix of crust in the vein of Dystopia. There are some Disclose-sounding riffs and you can easily hear all the instruments. Their sounds all match up really well. The recording isn’t the best, but it sounds raw, and doesn’t really take anything away from the music. Vocals are a little on the higher end and remind me a bit of earlier Martyrdod, but it definitely works for what they’re doing. The demo is damn good, and the artwork is sick too; what more could you ask for? They have a 7” coming out soon that I’m looking forward to checking out.  –James Meier (Reality Is A Cult, realityisacult@gmail.com)


EUREKA CALIFORNIA / GOOD GRIEF:
Split: 7”
EurekaCalifornia play strummy, melancholy indie pop. Good Grief sound like a mix of psychedelic garage rock and ‘90s emo rock. No, really. Both bands are catchy and punky and have fuzzed-out recordings that forefront their garage rock tendencies. They’re different enough to be distinctive, but enough in common to make sense back-to-back. Adding to the big picture, the packaging is nice, and sorta looks like a 1970s PE uniform.  –Chris Terry (roklokrecords.com)


EDHOCHULI:
Self-titled: LP
According to my research, the name is derived from Ed Hochuli, an attorney and longtime NFL official. Thankfully, the band avoids both legal mumbo jumbo and meathead hoorah. Instead, these Pittsburgh punks grant us six dizzying tunes full of Black Sabbath solos, finger bass noodles, harsh vocals, and genuine eardrum abuse. Although they exhibit technical hardcore and sludge influences, pure rock bombast—sans the machismo, misogyny, and ill-fitting pants—bleeds through every note. (There’s even a song that features an extensive acoustic guitar intro that deviates into a tasty tapping riff.) The tunes are impressively composed with tempo changes, thick licks, and long, playful titles (“Dude, Here Comes the Sweet Part”). Edhochuli is the type of band that warrants watching while dumbfounded and agape as they shred without a hint of smugness and modestly gyrate their hips.  –Sean Arenas (Ethospine, ethospine.com, ethospine@gmail.com)


EDHOCHULI / WASTE AGE:
Split: 10”
Edhochuli’s single contribution opens with a frenetic mishmash of interwoven riffs and pulsing percussions. The extensive instrumental layering is mind boggling. I imagine that some flow charts must have been involved. With a hard right turn, the screams rip through the guitar-laden veneer, transforming the song into a death waltz. Eventually, what follows is a frantic interlude and a tormented, atonal climax. This is expansive, heady stuff. Almost hardcore geometry. Definitely one of the band’s most memorable outings. Waste Age’s two songs don’t slack off either. Both begin with pleasant guitar interplay and silky crooning evocative of ‘90s emo like Sunny Day Real Estate. When the vocalist strains, he sounds eerily similar to Guy Picciotto of Fugazi. Also, the integration of keys is a plus. Overall, this is a varied split from two sets of very distinct musical maestros.  –Sean Arenas (Ethospine, ethospine.com, ethospine@gmail.com)


DOWNTOWN STRUTS:
Victory: 7”
Following an EP, single, and album, the A-side track, “Victory,” is easily the best song these guys have done. Most of their previous output was too soft for my taste; decent songs but not enough balls, not enough punch. “Victory” has the catchy melodies these guys obviously have the skill to write, but sounds much more urgent in its delivery. The obvious reference point here is Smalltown, another good band that gets too soft at times. The B-side isn’t quite as good, but still captures that same raw, urgent quality. A solid pickup.  –Chad Williams (Pirates Press, piratespressrecords.com)


DOWN BY LAW:
Revolution Time: CDEP
Fresh off the heels of last year’s Champions at Heart, the band returns with this innovative blast of seven songs. The influences are here, some damn good ones too. From Stiff Little Fingers to Thin Lizzy to Motörhead, it’s a hearty mix. But there are some mellow passages too. “Radio Silence” slows the tempo to great effect with some intricate acoustics. “Midnight Fighters” ratchets up the racket to bring this too short record to a close. Down By Law knows this is new age, but they are still able to keep up and fly the flag high for punk rock and the true believers. That’s admirable beyond belief these days. Join the cause!  –koepenick (Self-released, downbylaw.com)


DOBERMANN CULT:
Lions Share of the Dog Years: CD
Swedish dudes doing the NYHC thing. While I was kind of looking forward to trashing this—this is easily my least favorite genre of punk—Dobermann Cult made that pretty difficult to do. Sure, the template never strays very far from the one laid down long ago by oldie-moldies like H2O and Sick Of It All, but what sets this band apart is their absolutely refreshing lack of meatheadedness. The lyrics contain reasonably articulate and meaningful calls for unity, tolerance, and compassion that span the gamut of racial, sexual, and economic differences, something that really endeared me to this band. Still not really a fan of the music—though admittedly they’re good at it—but I’d wholeheartedly suggest fans of the genre check these dudes out well before listening to yet another beefed-up ignoramus yell about how he’s been stabbed in the back.  –keith (Gaphals, gaphals.se)


DIVINE RIGHT:
Self-titled: LP
Noisy hardcore with lots of feedback and fuzz pumped into the sound. Musically they run along the Tear it Up/Double Negative side of the street, alternating between thrashing and menacing boil.  –jimmy (Deranged)


DIRTY KID DISCOUNT:
Sharpen Your Knives as Evil Threatens the Land: 7”
Well, gypsy punk and crust punk have officially joined forces to become one ridiculous genre. Dirty Kid Discount sound way more “gypsy” than “crusty” if you’re just listening to them, and if it weren’t for the aesthetics of the record sleeve combined with the fact that this is on Profane Existence, I am doubtful that a connection to the crust scene would exist. The lyrical content ties this back to the punk scene with anti-religious and environmentally conscious topics, which, as we all know, are commonplace for many punk bands (or at least the good ones). I can’t imagine the run-of-the-mill crusty punk being into this, as it lacks the heaviness and aggression synonymous with the genre. This record reminds me of a line from Repo Man which sums up my thoughts of this scene exactly: “Goddamn dipshit… gypsy dildo punks!”  –Mark Twistworthy (Profane Existence)


DIÄT:
Every Day: 7”
Tribal-beat post-punk, with thick, thudding bass, chanty vocals, and some out-of-the-box guitar twanging. Both tracks here are alternately engaging and detached, inviting you to move while still managing to feel cold and gray. Here’s hoping a full-length ain’t too far away.  –jimmy (Iron Lung)


DEAD ON, THE:
Self-titled: CD
The Dead On are a better band than my honest review would give them credit for. The more I listened, the more I realized that this band would one day make their mark, or money, by selling a song to MTV to be used on the credits of a reality show about a small town _______________ moving to the big city of _______________to make it as a __________________. The show’s finale ends as the music begins softly and, in tears forced for the camera, _______________ and his/her ___________________ decide to part ways. The song plays.  –John Mule (Boss Tuneage)


DEAD MECHANICAL:
OK Night: LP
Dead Mechanical’s visual trajectory over three albums is making me consider OK Nightas the third part of a trilogy, although it may just be a cluster with more to come. Their first album, Medium Noisefeatures man without two-thirds of a face on the front and a photo of a weathered thrift store window filled with shoes and a framed picture of Baltimore Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas. Invisibility. Location. Found objects. Reaction. Their second album, Rhythm Addicts is pure font—tracking, kerning, leading, proportion—letters manipulated in graphic design. Control. Detail. Manipulation of basic building blocks for reevaluation and reinterpretation. OK Night’s artwork is all hand-rendered and handwritten; pastelly mountain with triangles and shapes implying buildings. Softer. Personal without explicit personal narrative. The more frequent use of “You” vs. the use of “Them.” Wobbly. Fanciful. Anecdotal. For anthems, I reach for Addict Rhythms. For short stories, I reach for Medium Noise. Curiously, OK Night fits in the middle. It’s less instantly hooky, but it has that hypnotic, crunchy shimmer and sway of bands like Seaweed and Superchunk. It’s more one-on-one. More artful, but not in a shitty way that serves as a divorce from their earlier, more explicit material. Totally worth soaking in. Dismiss as pop punk at the risk of overlooking an excellent band.  –todd (Toxicpoprecords.com)


DARK COUNTRY:
Self-titled: LP
I’d be willing to bet that the vocalist of this band loves Black Sabbath. The Sabbath worship is something that is immediately evident once the vocals kick in on this eight-song LP. Sometimes, at their most exciting moments, this reminds me of a metal-tinged skate punk band, not unlike S.T.R.E.E.T.S. or RKL. Other times, this band has more of a classic rock/metal vibe going on, bringing to mind contemporary stoner/rock bands like The Sword if they decided to go into the studio after a weekend long speed bender.  –Mark Twistworthy (Dark Country, darkcountry.bandcamp.com)


DANCER:
Self-titled: 7”
Three songs of sloppy, lo-fi power pop with clean guitars, a glam stomp to the drums, and a sullen, loose-jawed vocalist. “My Car Drives Fast” pulls out all the stops, with back-up singers, a guitar solo, and a couple extra parts. The two songs on the flip are hooky, but breeze by faster. I’d love to see these guys open for the Del Fuegos.  –Chris Terry (guitarsandbongos.com)


DALAPLAN:
Redan Död: 7”
Sixties-meet-eighties pop on the title track, with a catchy chorus and a bouncy lilt. The flip, “Siste Kvar,” is considerably darker, slower, and more brooding. Broader range showcased here than on previous singles, but no less interesting.  –jimmy (Gaphals, gaphals.se)


CY BARKLEY AND THE WAY OUTSIDERS:
Mutability: LP
This record was a pleasant surprise this month. The bright, cubist cover made me feel like there was going to be some fun tracks on this record. Right off the bat, this is a party record. The opening track, “Violation,” has an angular post-punk feel to it; think Jay Reatard meets Pylon. The rest of the record doesn’t let up and gets really spazzy and nervous-sounding. These guys have a sound that I bet sounds even better live and, judging by the photo inside, this is a band you want to drink beers with. So let’s recap: You’re going to have a party, you’re going to play Mutability, and everyone is going to dance their ass off.  –Ryan Nichols (Southpaw, southpaw-records.com)


CUT UP, THE:
The Gateway Drug: CDEP
Five songs in seventeen minutes and the whole time I kept thinking, “This sounds like Q And Not U’s first album, No Kill No Beep Beep,with only one singer.” The more I listened to it, the more I thought about how it also sounded like Moving Units and an obscure early 2000s Wisconsin band, Proudentall. If you like any of those acts, or if you feel as though indie rock peaked in 2001, then this is the band for you. It’s not bad, but I’ve got plenty of other music in my collection that sounds similar and I don’t really need any more.  –kurt (thecutup.bandcamp.com)


CRUSADES:
Perhaps You Deliver This Judgment with Greater Fear Than I Receive It: LP
The shorthand for Crusades is deceptive because it runs the risk of sounding hokey: melodic occult punk. It could be such a cheese factory, a Lord of the Ringsmeets Strange Brew mess. It’s the opposite—it’s both musically and textually powerful. First the music. Crusades are a chainmail fist. The power comes from a tense grip of four musicians playing as a single-focus one. As a casting-off point, think Today’s Empires Tomorrow’s Ashes-era Propagandhi (Pro-pagan-dhi). Tinges of sharp metal at the edges. Quick punk thrusts. That’s sonically laid atop ‘90s hardcore like a semi-permeable loam that seeps in and adds textural smoke. There are guitar flourishes and drum fills, but they’re filigrees and accents, not the spotlight. Side one begins with a single-voiced recitation and ends with a piano solo. Lyrically, instead of international or scene politics, Ottawa’s Crusades explore and exalt the inner logic of “light” and “delights” turned inside out and crosses turned upside down. Invited blindness. Sweet grief. Giving into to a higher power to spin the wheel of fate. Eyes adjusted to darkness. Wings spreading. Living flames. Life without fear of being hunted. Inviting terrestrial death. “Unholy craft.” Christianity as a fable. After being burned at the stake, unrepentant, what happens to the ash? It flits into the sky, becomes weather, rains down, seeps into the soil, and germinates once again. Perhaps… reads and sounds like an epic dis-illuminated manuscript. I’ve been listening to this record compulsively. Highest recommendation.  –todd (No Idea #333 by accident? Methinks not.)


CREEPING IVIES:
Stay Wild: LP
This two-piece from Scotland is doing the “wild rock’n’roll thing.” I hate to say it, but it seems like they’re just trying too hard. I have this prejudice about big beat because I worry people learn the beat, get some leopard print and talk about seedy-sounding things, and feel they’ve got it. This record just never takes off for me. The whole thing rides one pace and never screams. The opening song, “Black Cat,” is the best song and it’s a downhill snooze from there. I bet they’re better live.  –Billups Allen (Dead Beat)


CRAZY SQUEEZE, THE:
“Younger Girls” b/w “Terminal Love”: 7”
Not so much a bee-zerk version of Difford and Tilbrook as a Hollywood version of the Hollywood Brats, the Crazy Squeeze emit an A-side that sounds like a track off the third Boys album, and a B-side that actually IS a track off the third Boys album ((featuring Boy Honest John Plain on guitar, no less)). I initially thought “Terminal Love” sounded so indiscernible from the original as to not be worth bothering with, but then I noticed they updated the list of pseudo-solemnly intoned dead punker names in the break, which justifies this record’s existence entirely. Buy this and a cute hat!BEST SONG: “Terminal Love” BEST SONG TITLE: “Terminal Love”. FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: I have just now decided that no male is sexy who poses with a bottle of Stella Artois.  –Reyan Ali (Rapid Pulse / No Front Teeth)


COOL PISS:
Cool As Piss: Cassette
Cool Piss is a great new-ish band from Houston that includes ex-members of The Cutters and White Crime, among others. Musically, imagine a more straightforward version of the Spits if the Spits paid more attention to tuneful hooks in their songs. It’s fucking great! There are seven songs, and comes with a digital download if that’s your preference. Can’t wait to hear more from these guys.  –Mark Twistworthy (Bummer Tapes, bummertapes.bandcamp.com)


CONTROL:
Self-titled: CD
Control play dark wave with croony vocals. They’re from the Quad Cities, on the border of Iowa and Illinois. I picture them as the guys in town who always have a party after hipster dance night. Some of their songs are slow and draggy, but at their best, like on “Hardwired,” they sound like “Personal Jesus” by Depeche Mode and make me want to wear a leather cowboy hat and trenchcoat on the dancefloor.  –Chris Terry (controlxoxo.com)


CONCRETE CROSS:
Self-titled: LP
Concrete Cross is ripping hardcore punk played by a crew of dudes who have been doing it for years. I was first introduced to vocalist Artie Philie’s distinctive growl through his stint in Indecision, and I was stoked to hear him on this. The band also features Anthony Corallo, currently of Sheer Terror, on drums, and guitarist Tom Clavin. Concrete Cross’s songs are short, but packed with intensity. With tight, churning riffs and ripping leads, there’s a lot going on in terms of technicality and musicianship in each song, keeping them interesting after repeated listens. Easily one of the best LPs I’ve heard this year.  –Paul J. Comeau (Man In Decline)


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