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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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SA90:
Johnny on the Phone: LP
A marked improvement sound-wise here from its predecessor, Psychopathic Little Girl. They’re still mining a mix of bar punk and early ‘80s West Coast influences. They keep things melodic and never quite moving over into full-tilt hardcore territory, but they still attack the arrangements with a sort of meat and potatoes directness that feels more blue collar than, say, a buncha MIT grads slumming in the punk gutter. Nice updating the cover art on the Rodney on the Roq Volume 2 comp.  –Jimmy Alvarado (SA90, sa90punk.com)


SCRAPER:
Misery: CD
Awesome, primitive, caveman punk rock from the school of The Spits. How embarrassing to discover that this great band is from my own city, San Francisco, and it took a Reno, Nevada record label sending a CD to a Los Angeles zine for me to discover them. Darker and more desperate than The Spits, which makes total sense given the dark times that we rock and rollers are going through just trying to “scrape” by in the most expensive city in the country. (Sidebar: Bring it on, San Andreas. Scare these fucking khaki shorts and flip-flop-wearing rich tech bros away!).Misery is a wonderful record from front to back, and a refreshing new entry into the great canon of San Francisco punk rock. Gonna have to check The List and see when these local biblical heroes (two of them are named Noah and Moses, after all) are playing next.  –Chad Williams (Slovenly, slovenly.com)


SEGER LIBERATION ARMY:
Innervenus Eyes: LP
The members of this band have logged some serious time in some of the best garage rock bands of the last twenty years, including The New Bomb Turks, The Dirtbombs, Bantam Rooster, and endless others. Therefore, it came as no surprise that this sounds like a record straight out of the late ‘90s garage rock scene. Not knowing anything about the band beforehand, the real surprise with this release came when I realized this group of primarily Detroit based musicians are in a band called Seger Liberation Army together, named as such because they only play early era Bob Seger covers. This vinyl only release collects all of the tracks that were on their previously released CD and the tracks from their two 7” singles of a couple years ago, plus six recently recorded tunes. While I’m not super familiar with early Bob Seger apart from “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man” and “0+2=?” (both of which are among the fourteen songs represented here), I was still able to dig this quite a bit.  –Mark Twistworthy (Big Neck, bigneckrecords.com)


SERIOUS SAM BARRETT:
Sometimes You’ve Got to Lose: LP
Serious Sam Barrett is your friend. A musician you can rely on. Write, record, tour. He does it with such regularity, as if his actions are dictated by the gravitational pull of the moon. Time after time he shows his dedication to DIY, punk, and making honest, heart-felt music. The music is acoustic, it’s olde timey, and it’s traditional country/folk music. It encapsulates simplicity while being technical and ambitious. And though I may never find myself listening to his records in the middle of the day, this music is made for early mornings and late nights. It can be both energizing and tranquil. It’s reliable like that.  –Daryl Gussin (YaDig?)


SINK ALASKA:
Battle Lines from Better Times: CDEP
It’s a crying shame that this Scottish quartet doesn’t hail from Perth, as it slightly diminishes the alliterative impact of my summation of this release: well-produced, powerful, perky pop punk from Glasgow. Sink Alaska comes bearing gifts in the form of four anthemic tunes which put me in mind of The Wildhearts and are as effective as downing a full Bonus Cup in order to get a big buzz before starting out for work. Top notch stuff with great cover art, too.  –Rich Cocksedge (Make-That-A-Take, makethatatakerecords.com, info@makethatatakerecords.com)


SKIZZWHORES:
Insomnia Mania: CD
Grungy political punk/hardcore, kinda reminiscent of what was coming out of the Bay Area and points north in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s—a potpourri of stylistic influences mix ‘n’ matched, angry, with not a lot of “pop” sensibilities hardwired into its DNA. The cleanliness of modern recording technology kinda zaps its effectiveness and edge a bit, but they sound sincere, which is often a rare commodity.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Skizzwhores, facebook.com/getskizzd)


SLEEPASAURUS:
It’s All Written Down and I Still Don’t Feel Any Better: LP
Imagine be-sweatered punks, sugar sweet hearts on sleeves but warrior’s armor of EastBay bass coupled with machine gun snare and enough romantically charged angst to level their Long Island practice space and occasionally a basement full of their friends. Songs about girls peppered with Jughead-styled leads, Radon-intoned vocals, and enough hooks to fill a tackle box; it’s a shame this platter is over ten years old and Sleepasaurus is long gone. It’s fantastic Mike Dumps at Dead Broke rescued a batch of these from the trash and is spreading the gospel via their distro for a measly five bucks. Cheers to pop punk archeology! –Matt Seward (Creep, creeprecords.com)


SLINGSHOT DAKOTA:
Their Dreams Are Dead, but Ours Is the Golden Ghost: LP
I picked up an earlier pressing of this record years ago because of the awesome screen-printed ghosts on the cover. I listened to it, dug it, and then pretty much forgot about it for some reason. (Slingshot Dakota seemed to do okay without me, judging by the fanfare their brand new album is receiving.) This is a reissue of that sophomore effort from this keyboard/drum duo. It’s sweet and bright in the spirit of the last generation of keyboard-driven pop punk and emo bands, namely The Anniversary and The Get Up Kids. Of course, the difference here is that Slingshot Dakota really is just keys and drums, a combination that only works so well because Carly and Tom are so impeccably tight together. The sounds expand to fill the space they need to behind Carly’s belting vocals—sometimes fuzzy and snarling, sometimes mellow and soft. The revamped artwork for this is as clean and elegant as the last pressing, which is a hell of an accomplishment in itself.  –Indiana Laub (Square of Opposition, square_of_opposition@hotmail.com, squareofopposition.com)


SLOTHS, THE:
Back from the Grave: CD
Fifty years after releasing an obscure 45, The Sloths decided to dust off their instruments and give it another go. While this disk is obviously indebted to the classic garage rock’n’roll scene that birthed the band, it doesn’t reek of retro throwback bullshit. There’s nothing dull or arthritic about it. It’s still limber and energized, even cutting and angry at times. “Gotta Get Fired” is the sort of tune that really carries the most weight when played by dudes who have lived full lives of bullshit jobs. This disk kicks ass.  –MP Johnson (Lolipop / Burger)


SNITCH A SNATCH:
Speed Birth: 7" EP
Spazzed-out German thrash with a heavy stateside influence. Tunes are quick, angry, and bounce all over the place tempo-wise. Good, good stuff.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Huge Major Label)


SNOWING:
Time I Sat in a Pile of Chocolate: A Retrospective: LP
As much space as emo bands take up in my life and record collection (a whole lot), Snowing never connected for me. Maybe it’s John Galm’s love-’em-or-hate-’em yelping vocals, I don’t know. But I never liked American Football either, so you can take my opinion or leave it. Anyway, regardless of my dumb opinion, they were certainly one of the most beloved bands of the last near-decade of “emo revival,” a phrase reviewers are contractually obliged to use in any paragraph that mentions Snowing. This is a cool little collection of all the non-LP tracks that they left behind with their much-lamented 2011 breakup. It’s so convenient and nicely packaged that it actually makes me want to try again with this band. I gotta hand it to them; they really did have some of the catchiest melodies and bounciest energy of their many peers and imitators. The guitars are as twinkly as the vocals are strained and desperate. I have to assume that this record kind of has a built-in audience that doesn’t need me to tell them this is a must-have for fans: there are song backstories in the liner notes, multiple recording versions for your comparing and contrasting pleasure, and some closing words from the band. It’ll give you closure, if that’s what you’re looking for.  –Indiana Laub (Square Of Opposition, square_of_opposition@hotmail.com, squareofopposition.com)


SOVIETTES, THE:
[Rarities]: LP
As they state in their bio on the Fat Wreck website, The Soviettes are a four-piece comprised by three ladies and a member who “has a wang doodle.” [Rarities] provides a glimpse of The Soviettes before they became one of the most proficient and gleeful melody machines in punk alongside Marked Men and Toys That Kill. The record is a collection of early EPs, splits, and unreleased demos for LP III. Even on their first EP, the guitars crack like a whip, the doo-wop harmonies induce a sugar high, and the urgent tempos are pogo accelerants. Although part of [Rarities]is odds and ends, such as an instrumental and the alternative acoustic intro for LP III, a collection of rare Soviettes songs is undeniably a good thing.  –Sean Arenas (Dead Broke, deadbrokerekerds.com / Rad Girlfriend, radgirlfriendrecords.com)


SPACE RAFT:
“Paper Airplanes” b/w “Iron Eagle”: 7"
I’ve dumpstered and freeboxed lots and lots of sixties and seventies rock and pop over the years. I kept the good stuff, but most of it’s gone right back out the door because it’s too clean, overproduced, soulless, and shitty. Layers of dust and scratches can’t dirty up their corporate rock sheen. I’m not sure what these guys are going for but they sound exactly like those rejects. So if youactually kept all those records and spend a lot of time spinning Supertramp, ELO, and REO Speedwagon, well, this is probably right up your alley. In the words of Sam The Eagle, “You are all weirdos!”  –Craven Rock (Dusty Medical, SpaceRaftMKE@gmail.com)


SPEEDLIGHTS, THE:
Self-titled: CD
Woo hoo! Freshman release from these dudes, but clearly someone here knows their way around the block, as the level of songwriting and confidence demonstrated in the performance just screams “veteran.” Long story short, this is six tracks of damn near perfect pop which hints at many sub-flavors while still retaining a unique musical identity. Every song is so chock full of hooks I cannot recall a batch of songs this side of the Exploding Hearts that are more potent in this regard. I should also mention that fellow Dentonites (that’s Denton, Texas) Jeff Burke and Mark Ryan recorded and mixed this, if that is of interest to you.  –Garrett Barnwell (Self-released, thespeedlights.bandcamp.com)


STRUTTER:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Crazed hardcore from the streets of Austin, TX delivered in classic Midwest outsider fashion (United Mutation) but with an underlying Scandinavian vibe and unabashed use of an icy guitar tone. Four songs: short and sweet. Aside from their name there is basically nothing else to indicate that Strutter owe anything to KISS. Highly recommended for fans of the current St. Louis hardcore punk scene and anyone who misses Formaldehyde Junkies and Acid Reflux.  –Juan Espinosa (Beach Impediment, beachimpedimentrecords.blogspot.com)


SYNDROME 81:
Desert Urbain: 7"
Some pretty sold mid-tempo hardcore with street punk overtones is what you get from this French band. It also sounds like good, fast hardcore with high-pitched vocals when played at 45, which I did for most of the first song. If you like rough and tumble gruff punk, you will wanna be all over this.  –Mike Frame (Foreign Legion, foreignlegionrecords.tumblr.com)


TAPED FIST:
Grounded: CD
Thoughtful and introspective this isn’t… What it is, though, is twelve tracks of raging punk rock, Georgia-style. Comparisons to AntiSeen, Murder Junkies, or maybe even very early Nashville Pussy might be valid. With song titles like “Stink Finger” and “Bite My Dick Disco Boy” I think you probably know what you are getting here.  –Garrett Barnwell (Mystery School, mysteryschoolrecords.bigcartel.com)


TENEMENT:
Bruised Music: Singles 2006-2009: CS
I wish I knew Tenement’s secret. They write enough stellar music for two or three bands. (Their latest, Predatory Headlights, is a twenty-five song double album that took three years to complete!) Bruised Music is a collection of Tenement’s earliest demos, and they sound so damn confident right out of the gate. There’s isn’t a single dull hook across these ten tunes. In fact, “Best and Worst of Times,” “Sitcom Moms,” and “Spaghetti Midwestern” still stand out as some of their best. Although the production is cleaner than Napalm Death and Predatory Headlights as the drums are upfront and the vocals are crisp, singer/guitarist Amos Pitsch blankets the songs with his distinct feedback and audacious fuzz solos for the right amount of grit. It’s incredible that Tenement can arrange an excellent full length from early recordings. That’s a testament to their raw talent and proof that their albums will withstand the test of time.  –Sean Arenas (Dead Broke, deadbrokerekerds.com)


THINGZ, THE:
Troubles Begin: LP
Poppy, surf-inspired rock’n’roll. The Thingz hit on some of those classic rock tropes of the ‘60s. There are some dark, dingy guitar leads sprinkled throughout. Gang vocals (both male and female), when present, create an awesome party vibe. The drumming is almost giddy with how snappy it is, but it also comes right back down in some of the darker melodies and breakdowns. The bass is gruff and brooding, yet never overpowering. Songs are about serpent’s teeth, trouble, shadows, and other nefarious topics—all the while keeping that garage sound. This is definitely the kind of band that would appear diegetically in a cult classic like Blood Beach, but, you know, before the troubles began.  –Kayla Greet (Coffee Addict)


THIS LIFE:
Stories of the Year: CD
I was intrigued to learn that melodic hardcore four piece This Life are from Toulouse, France, as French is a melodious language and hardcore vocals are… well, hardcore vocals. Boo-urns for me, because the lyrics on the Stories of the Year EP are in English, sung in an approximation of a non-regional dialect that lacks the enunciation required to fully comprehend each individual word. While the liner notes reveal the band’s laudable philosophical and socially conscious messages, much is literallylost in translation. The vocals responsible for conveying the unfortunately minced words employ a serviceable hardcore delivery, though there’s a hint of vocal strain that strips some power from their raw aggression. The third track, “New Anthem,” pulls ahead of the pack with the addition of a catchy harmony, but the brief appearance of this dynamic element only makes its absence elsewhere on the record more conspicuous. Sonically, the EP falls easily in line with This Life’s hardcore role models in Comeback Kid, Verse, and Defeater, and each of its six tracks is composed and performed competently enough to engage diehard fans of the genre, if not memorable enough to court pickier listeners.  –Kelley O’Death (Delete Your Favorite Records, deleteyfr@gmail.com, deleteyourfavoriterecords.bandcamp.com / Never Trust An Asshole, nevertrustanASSO@gmail.com, nevertrustanasshole.jimdo.com / KROD, krodrecords@gmail.com, krodrecords.com / Fingers Out, fingersoutrecords.bigcartel.com)


THUNDERKROTCH:
All Systems: LP
This is seriously offbeat rock music. When you don’t know a band, you can’t help but listen and be reminded of other bands, which gives you context. With this band, I’m not even reminded of a particular subgenre of rock, much less other bands. I’m sure they exist, just not in my world. Let’s start with the fact that they’re a two-piece. And if you were to guess at which of the three essential rock’n’roll instruments is absent, you’d be wrong. Just bass, drums, and vocals. Oddly compelling for someone (me) who generally appreciates traditional song structures, written with original twists and/or executed exceptionally well, over the, well, weird stuff. While I was certain I’d tire of this before side one was over, I was wrong. This is the good kind of weird, the kind that fools you into thinking that you’ve finally figured them out, then pulls a 180. Like in “Fuktitutionalized,” just when you think you know where they’re taking you, they launch into a straight, four-on-the-floor rock section, which, in any other band, is the most predictable part of the song, but not here. In any case, let’s say you like early Turbonegro, bass guitar, Fugazi, b-movies set in space, Eagles of Death Metal, and Roxy Music record covers; you’ll want to check this out. I think. Probably.  –Chad Williams (Thunderkrotch)


TV SLIME:
Self-titled: 7" EP
The opener “Flying Fuck” is a quick bit of thrash ‘n’ bash. “TV” slows things down a bit, with two chords and an oddly catchy chorus chant… before thrashing shit up for the last twenty seconds. “Severed” is another mid-tempo, thumping brooder, which sees the band pumping in prodigious amounts of noise to the proceedings.  –Jimmy Alvarado (TV Slime, facebook.com/tvslime)


ULTRA:
Bay Area Babylon: CS
Ultra is that underpriced tin of Aldi coffee; so good you need to know—were the beans handsome? How long has the bean tree been spillin’ these goods? Is this a Pepsi? But no info appears on the can because Aldi doesn’t care. It’s Aldi. Get your cheap yum yums and your full body pillow on sale and get outta here. That’s Ultra, too. All I know is they hail from Oakland, and track number three on the Bay Area Babylon cassette, “Perpetual Violence,” starts with thrashy clatter and gives way to a rousing one-time chorus—”Architects in a game / puppeteers they got names”—that rinses away tough grime and yields catchy punk gold that Raygun would travel back in time to steal. What else to say? They’ve got a song about boozing in ancient Sumer, a song with a goofball hallelujah, too—”Take me to church / make it hurt.” The singer sounds like an angry Pee Wee Herman in the best way. Tasty bass lines thwump around under all-business guitar. Too slurmy to be pop, too catchy to be hardcore. Who are you Ultra, my rock’n’roll mystery baby? I wanna get to know you. There are only a hundred of these cassette pups out there. Goin’ get.  –Jim Joyce (Self-released, livelifeultra@gmail.com, livelifeultra.bandcamp.com)


URBAN SAVAGE:
Self-titled: 7" EP
Urban Savage is Swedish, but their punk is early, straightforward U.S. hardcore punk with gruff, tough guy gang vocals, overloaded with adrenaline and testosterone. Still though—from their band name to their song titles, cover art, and label—they are Scandinavian punks through and through. Not my shtick, but if it’s Scandinavian punk you seek, heads up.  –Camylle Reynolds (Foreign Legion, urbansavage.bandcamp)


VACATION:
Back to the Land: 7"
Vacation’s Non-Personis one of my favorite albums of 2015. On their latest 7”, they provide one song done two ways. The A side version of “Back to the Land” is shrill and about as lo-fi as a song can get before it sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard. The B side version is more rollicking but with the same staticky production. I’m not sure that I prefer either version over the other; they’re both non-essential for any Vacation fan.  –Sean Arenas (Dead Broke, deadbrokerekerds.com)


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·MANIC DONKEES, THE
·PEAR OF THE WEST
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·MASKED INTRUDER
·BABY WOODROSE
·BAD FATE


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