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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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DULAC:
The First of the Last Chords: LP
This one’s the stunner. Apparently the Frankfurt, Germany’s scene is ready to grab up the U.S. and box us on the ears, yet you would never guess it from the band name or album art. It looks like a more modern Sub Pop release a shopper might pick up, thinking of Metz or Pissed Jeans. Instead Dulac comes from all over the post-punk map, first with a mid-era No Idea / Lemuria sound and ending the A-side with a Naked Raygun-inspired “Golem.” Side-B is no less blistering, beginning with later Damned keyboard flourishes on “Take It” and then slamming home four more tracks that can’t help but be held in the same regard as the genius of The Observers. The First of the Last Chords has gotten better with every subsequent listen. Recommended…highly.  –Matt Seward (Twintoe, twintoe.blogspot.com / Taken by Surprise, takenbysurprise.net / Crapoulet, crapoulet.fr)


DROPDEAD / SYSTEMATIC DEATH:
Split: EP
Hands down one of the best Dropdead outings yet. They’ve slowed it down just a smidge and it has worked wonders. Some folks out there might be upset that it’s not the relentless Siege-style assault they’ve been cranking out for the past couple decades, but I think this new direction is pretty good, and look forward to hearing more. It’s high time for another LP. They’re showing more depth in the songs, and the vocals have more bite too. Plus, these songs stick in your head after one listen. “Foundation” kicks the side off, and immediately worms its way into your brain. “Rise! Rise! The future is yours...”. Then there’s “The Final Chapter” that comes crashing down immediately after. Systematic Death kept it up with their fast and take–no-prisoners style of hardcore punk. There is a reason why they are legendary, and if you don’t have any of their previous records, this is a great record to show you why they are held in the light they are. The songs rise with abandon, though they are not a white blur of noise. Instead, they have this intensity with tempo changes here and there, repetitive choruses (check out “Dashing”), and the interplay between the main vocals and the chorus. All together, it sounds like they are on the verge of collapsing into a huge mess.  –Matt Average (Armageddon, armageddonshop.com)


DROPDEAD / RUIDOSA INMUNDICA:
Split: 7”
Nearly a quarter century and Dropdead is still quite the ferocious beast and a hardcore punk force to be reckoned with. For the unacquainted, Dropdead play super-charged, early ‘80s Finn / Swede-inspired hardcore with just about the same deafening impact of buildings being leveled by tanks falling from the sky. Speaking of which, the lone time I saw Dropdead was on the third story of a building in Los Angeles which shook so hard each time they played a song I seriously feared the floor would collapse beneath the feet of a hundred or so blissful punks. Ruidosa Inmundica follow along nicely and may even have a lesson to offer in insanity for their American split-mates. Three songs of new-arsehole-ripping hardcore with nods to Spanish kings E-150 and Los Angeles’s criminally underrated / unknown Tragatelo. Dropdead have historically always teamed up with legendary acts for splits (Crossed Out, Totalitär, Unholy Grave, Converge, etc.) and this disc further solidifies that legacy.  –Juan Espinosa (Armageddon Label, distributed by Deathwish, armageddonshop.com)


DOT DASH:
Winter Garden Light: CD
A hard one to nail down; imagine Bob Mould with what’s-his-name from the Cure on vocals? This is one of those rock’n’roll records that I keep in rotation as an antidote / change of pace to the frenzy that is my collection otherwise. In general, Dot Dash play a more subdued and tuneful form of rock that is potentially radio friendly, but ultimately isn’t because it’s just a wee bit weird in ways that the general public can’t quite figure out. Twenty-five or thirty years ago, this would be thrown into rotation on “college rock” playlists. I like it.  –The Lord Kveldulfr (Dot Dash / The Beautiful Music)


DINO’S BOYS:
Last Ones: LP
This debut LP from Atlanta’s Dino’s Boys is seemingly inspired more by The Spits and The Briefs than the bands that inspired those two popular bands. Dino’s Boys couldn’t be catchier, with each track exploding with energy and style. The sort of record that spreads like wildfire in the underground, Last Ones will probably already be one of the most talked about 2014 releases by the time this issue hits stands in June. Hopefully the songs on Last Ones won’t be the last ones from this incredible new band. I’m totally hooked!  –Art Ettinger (Oops Baby, oopsbabyrecords.com)


DEZERTER:
Mam kly mam pazury: LP
Dezerter are probably one of the best-known Polish hardcore bands to U.S. audiences because of the debut album that Maximum Rock’n’roll released in 1987. That album is long considered to be a classic and very important in the history of Polish underground music. This LP (of which the title translates to “I Have Fangs, I Have Claws”) is a re-issue of their eighth album and the first time to ever be pressed on vinyl. Musically, Dezerter’s sound embraces the raw and uncompromising metal-tinged hardcore aesthetic, with songs tackling environmental and vegetarian topics, all sung in Polish.  –Mark Twistworthy (Pasazer)


DEZERTER:
Decydujące Starcie: LP
Available for the first time on vinyl, this album was the tenth full length from the popular Polish band Dezerter. Full of obnoxious digital effects, distorted vocals, and tributes to industrial music of the 1980s and 1990s, this record is fairly original, but kind of hard to take. Their influence, particularly in Europe, is undeniable, but this era of Dezerter is best saved for their diehard fans. Like being in a teenager’s car who is blasting Ministry, I was ready to get out at the first red light.  –Art Ettinger (Pasazer)


DESTRUCTORS, THE:
New York New York: CD
This is the long-running U.K. band’s love letter to 1970s NYC. With their spot-on, no frills, driving punk’n’roll, they provide a musical tour of the ChelseaHotel, Warhol’s Factory, CBGB’s and more. This is easily one of the coolest punk concept albums I’ve ever heard. It’s also an interesting contrast to the music that came out of NYC at that time. There’s no attempt to mimic the musical style of the New York Dolls or their ilk, although those old NYC bands are clear influences for The Destructors. Also, this is definitely the music of an outsider looking in, perhaps glamorizing a time and a place that has been much glamorized, as opposed to the more streetwise tales that originally came out of the scene. Some of the tragedy is lost in favor of celebration, but that’s the point. This is as much a tribute to all of the music and movies and stories that NYC produced in the ‘70s and the impact they had on The Destructors as it is a tribute to the city itself.  –mp (Rowdy Farrago, destructors666.com)


DECRANEO:
Self-titled: LP
This Mallorca-based outfit keeps their punk en Español at a mid-tempo clip, aiming for more thud than velocity. The song lengths rarely break the minute-and-a-half mark, and while the repetitive tempos get a bit numbing after a while, they deliver with sincerity and some effective hooks that come across more successfully when digested in smaller bites.  –jimmy (Crapoulet, crapoulet.fr)


DE KIFT:
De Dag: 7”
De Kift is punk-flavored to be sure, but would probably be more properly described as experimental, or non-standard or, dare I say it, punk-progressive. The tunes on this record were originally recorded in 1988, which makes sense now that I look at the liner notes, because De Kift remind me of the somewhat experimental punk sound that arose in the mid- to late-’80s with bands like Th’ Inbred and such in response to the snooze-fest that hardcore was becoming at that time.  –The Lord Kveldulfr (Antena Krzyku)


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. 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, southpawdistro@yahoo.com)


CONQUEST FOR DEATH:
Many Nations, One Underground: LP
Thrashcore! Bay Area hardcore veterans on their second album, continuing where What Happens Next? left off and with a similar membership, including the “core” of Devon Morf, Robert Collins, and Craigums aka Hot Lixx Hulahan! Between WHN? and Conquest For Death, this must be one of the most well-traveled DIY hardcore groups in history, regularly embarking on tours to less visited regions of the world, bringing their positive brand of thrash/punk to kids starved for it in Africa, South America, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, Western Asia, and even the Middle East. None of that would matter in a record review if the actual music didn’t back it up, but it absolutely fucking does. These dudes may be in their forties, but they’re writing and recording some of the fiercest and most energetic music of their extensive discographies. All of this is summed up in the heavy and anthemic title track: “Foreign cultures, different tongues, but we play it loud, and are all one / the biggest cities, the smallest towns, dig and you’ll find, the underground.”  –Chad Williams (Tankcrimes, tankcrimes.com)


C.O.M.A.:
Clinik Organik Muzik Anatomik: LP
Dunno a helluva lot about the group or the album, but this is what the interwebs was able to learn me about both: C.O.M.A. was an early Frenchpunk band comprised of members that went on form Charles De Goal and the French contribution to the long list of bands that have used the name Danse Macabre. This is an official reissue of their sole album, originally released in 1979 on Flamingo Records, with the current pressing numbering a thousand. What you’re getting here is some seriously good synth-heavy punk with songs alternating between more aggressive—not unlike the Screamers or Nervous Gender—and more introspective and expansive fare along the lines of what’s now being called “cold wave” these days. Fans of either of the aforementioned bands/genres as well as anyone who remembers the weirdo heyday of labels like Subterranean would do well to snatch this up as quickly as ye can.  –jimmy (Danger, dangerrecords.bandcamp.com)


CLEAN GIRLS:
American Mothers: 12” EP
Like dormant spores from early Swans, Clean Girls have nurtured their strain of dark, dank basement noise to pair it with Metz’s anachronistic chord structure. Blend at 45 RPM and you have their second EP: four new tracks of noise screamo flailing and lurching from wall of noise to melodic feedback like Frankenstein’s monster. Meandering at times, tracks crescendo in unintelligible epithets and dive beneath waves of grungy guitar. Half the tracks come apart like an old sweater in the wash. “The Body You Want” has my vote for most thrash danceability built on the aforementioned feedback whine while tight, automatic gunfire drums in “Old Crow” focus the whole thing into a seething two and a half minutes of fuck you. Recommended.  –Kristen K. (Self-released)


CHEMICALS / P.R.O.B.L.E.M.S.:
Split: 7”
What we’ve got here is a cool new single from two Portland, OR bands that have been around for a while with members from lotsa other good bands. Chemicals are the brainchild of Jonny Cat of The Triggers and Jonny Cat Records. They turn in two tunes of spazzy, snotty garage-y punk, like they’ve been doing for many years. P.R.O.B.L.E.M.S. have two tunes of very aggressive punk with just a hint of up-tempo late ‘90s garage punk, much like singer Bradley’s combo The Weaklings were kicking out back then. The band also features Kelly from Pierced Arrows on bass.  –frame (Taken By Surprise)


CHAOSCHANNEL:
(Magic Bullet), That Works to Feed the Pig!!: 7”
Two tracks of noisy, unsettling punk from Japan. Slapped on top of distorted guitars and rapid-fire drums, the front man’s nasal ranting is monotonous, almost robotic. The lyrics are in English, but something is clearly getting lost in translation. On the other hand, the absurdity of phrases like, “Gonna buy bullshit that are all is bomb,” and, “You’re slaves of big shit,” only adds to the disorienting weirdness of this record. The insert reads like a demented manifesto and folds out into a surreal collage poster. I think this is hardcore punk made by aliens. –Indiana Laub  –Guest Contributor (SPHC, whydotheylive@yahoo.com, sphc.bigcartel.com)


CAVE STATE:
Self-titled: 7”
CaveState are powerviolence as fuck, man. You got machinegun drums, loud guitars, plenty of breaks, and song titles like “Prisoner Mentality” and “Self Extinct.” The singer sounds like he’s fighting somebody when he’s singing; either that or he sounds like someone is trying to strangle him with a bed sheet. I don’t mean any of that to sound like an insult. I just mean that he sounds genuinely pissed. The photographs on this record will not make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  –Ryan Nichols (To Live A Lie, info@tolivealie.com)


CASTET:
Live in Lewacka Nora: LP
This 12” is a live document by Polish hardcore punks Castet, which was appropriately recorded in the punkest of all places: a squat in their native Poland. Live recordings are typically not my fair—especially as an introduction to an otherwise unfamiliar band—but the soundboard quality has definitely me sold on this one. Castet’s straight forward hardcore punk attack owes quite a bit to Boston’s Out Cold and Sweden’s Totalitär, but considering that both acts are considered legendary I’m sure Castet would consider this comparison a compliment. This record happens to play inside out, so don’t drop the needle on the outer edge or else you’ll miss the non-stop hardcore onslaught and be stuck in locked groove purgatory for all eternity… or until the belt drive on your turntable gives way.  –Juan Espinosa (Pasazer, pasazer.pl)


BURNT SKULL:
Sewer Birth: LP
Burnt Skull, an Austin band containing members of Total Abuse, Cruddy, and Best Fwends, perfectly fuse the unadulterated noise rock of bands like the Brainbombs and, dare I say, ‘80s industrial metal-tinged stuff like Godflesh. Most of the songs are mid-paced and drudge through the ugliest of riffs, all with an underlying—sometimes wayunderlying—sense of melody which in turn makes this record very listenable and, at most moments, really great. The effects on the vocals give them a sound akin to the blackest of black metal records, but, despite the heaviness and darkness surrounding it all, those underlying hooks reel me in every time.  –Mark Twistworthy (12XU, 12xu.net)


BURNERS:
Feast: 7”
From the moment the title song blasts off, this record tears through styles and time signatures so fast that I could hardly keep up for the first couple listens. Each song seems to span at least three or four tempos (most of which clock in between “thrashing” and “blistering”), technically overwhelming in the best way. Here I am thinking I’m in for a mathy take on melodic hardcore, maybe tinged with that yowling brand of nerdy early-2000s emo, when suddenly the group vocals kick in and it’s a raspy-voiced pop punk anthem, and then the guitar goes sailing off into a metallic tapping frenzy and it’s all over (but not before channeling Kid Dynamite for exactly four seconds, out of nowhere). All this to say that Burners nearly defies comparison, though the chaotic stop-start arrangements remind me of Fig 4.0 more than anything else. This is something special, some of the most technically proficient and interesting DIY punk I’ve heard in a long time. Apparently this is a three-piece, so the rest of us might as well pack it up and quit music. Just wish this came with a lyric sheet. –Indiana Laub  –Guest Contributor (No Breaks, order@nobreaksrecords.com, nobreaksrecords.com)


BUCK BILOXI AND THE FUCKS:
Self-titled: LP
It’s hard not to go overboard describing how good this album is. Titles include “Shut the Fuck Up,” “Shut the Hell Up,” “Hit You with a Brick,” and “Who Gives a Fuck.” The lyrics could have been compiled from graffiti on a bathroom wall. It’s snotty. It’s repetitive. It’s catchy. It’s insulting. It’s overdriven. It’s short. It doesn’t quit. It will sink your ship.  –Billups Allen (Red Lounge, redloungerecords.com)


BRATS, THE:
Be a Man: 7”
HoZac dusts off another oldie and gives it a proper second spin, in this case a 1974 single by a band formed by guitarist Ricky Rivets after leaving the band which soon after became the New York Dolls. His association with that band is in full evidence via the up-tempo title track, which drips with the same swagger and attitude the Dolls utilized with devastating effect, and was also put to good use later by Rip Off Records house band The Infections on their Kill album. The flip, “Quaalude Queen,” is a bit slower, but still has its tail feathers wagging. Definitely worth picking up.  –jimmy (HoZac, hozacrecords.com)


BRAIN F≠:
Empty Set: LP
I love this. It feels like the golden half hour of a party, when all my friends are there and I’m laughing loud but not yet sloppy or sleepy. Brain F≠ is from Charlotte. They play scrappy four-chord punk with motormouth lyrics delivered by a woman with a matter-of-fact voice. Say it, “Brain Flannel.”  –Chris Terry (Grave Mistake / Sorry State)


BORDER BASTARD:
XVII: CDEP
A three-piece from Italy that, apparently, has been shredding since 2010. The sound here veers between full-frontal punk that recalls The Damned, while other tracks lean on stoner rock standards. It’s still more Motörhead then straight-up sludge in most cases. “Satan’s Priest” lives up to its name. Burning flames and taking names! Solid work.  –koepenick (Kornalcielo, kornalcielo.wordpress.com)


BOMB, THE:
Indecision: 2 x LP
The Bomb are Chicago punk vets, and this is a rerelease of their album from 2005. Sound-wise, they hew close to the Hüsker Dü sound of frontman Jeff Pezzati’s legendary band, Naked Raygun. Unfortunately, The Bomb’s songs feel slow and overlong, lacking the urgency that makes his older band so compelling. This new edition features awesome cover art by the awesome Nate Powell, and an extra LP with bonus tracks and a radio set.  –Chris Terry (No Idea)


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