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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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SVALBARD:
Gone Tomorrow: 10”
Here is a U.K. band with a Swedish name and a sound that, to my ears, has both American (Kylesa) and Japanese (Envy) influences, providing a truly international experience and one done extremely well. Svalbard cover the light and shade area of music, being able to combine a thunderous and thick—yet far from impenetrable—sound with moments that seem almost fragile in comparison. I’ve been playing this over and over and “Pick Up the Pieces” is a firm favorite with its galloping pace, nicely interspersed with moments of glorious chiming guitars. –Rich Cocksedge (Self-released)


SUSHI BOY:
Why Not?: 7”
Pretty average NOFX type stuff here. Not really doing it for me. –ty (Gunner)


SURROGATES, THE:
Trainwreck: CD
Putting in The Surrogates’ DIY CD was like getting into a time machine, in a good way. Their sound reminds me of the pop punk band Lagwagon who I was never a huge fan of, but certainly played a role in the ear of anyone who listened to punk or went to high school in the 1990s. These are emotional songs about love and longing, sung over muted guitars, jangly bass riffs, a drummer who plays like his ass is on fire, and harmonized vocals. –John Mule (Self-released)


SUPERCRUISER:
Catnip Demos: CD-R
This band from North Dakota is kind of pop punk, kind of garage-y, and kind of indie rock all mixed into one. The vocals, because of the vocalist’s particular pitch, remind me at times of John Kastner from the old Canadian band Doughboys. There are five songs on here, and the two most aggressive of the bunch are great. Unfortunately, the others are not. –Mark Twistworthy (supercruiser.bandcamp.com)


SUNDIALS:
When I Couldn’t Breathe: LP
On their second full-length, Richmond’s Sundials have substituted early Weezer for Archers Of Loaf, and most of the songs are about relationships. It’s cohesive, with a broader appeal, but I miss the hodge-podge of voices and thoughts that made their first LP touch on so many facets of young punk life. –CT Terry (Asian Man)


SUBURBS, THE:
Si Sauvage: CD
I’m not real sophisticated, so I don’t know what the title means. But who gives a rat’s ass when the music is this good! First new record from this Minneapolis band in quite some time. “Turn The Radio On” is the single if that still means anything today. But dig deeper here my friends. Can you go wrong with titles like “Dumb Ass Kids” and “Reset the Party”? The answer is no! A welcome return and hopefully some touring will occur as well. –koepenick (Self-released, thesuburbsband.com)


STRAWBERRY RUNNERS:
Self-titled: CD
Pleasant indie rock with cool rhythmic interplay between the vocals and various instruments. Female bandleader. I’m surprised I didn’t see them with Jejune and Rainer Maria in 2000 or so. Reminds me of the sweet spot of my early twenties, when I could drink coffee until two am, everyone was my best friend, and I wasn’t sick of having six roommates. –CT Terry (wildbabyrecords.com)


STOIC VIOLENCE:
Self-titled: LP
This album features eight tracks of raw hardcore which has its roots firmly in the 1980s from a band seemingly intent on trampling all in its path with fists and boots flailing wildly. On the whole, it’s quite a rudimentary affair but is highly effective in its execution, as guitars and drums rage away with some nasty—and occasionally whacked out—sounding vocals up front and center. For all the fury dished out in a shade over nine minutes, I actually find this album quite catchy. It’s clearly not for the timid. –Rich Cocksedge (Video Disease, videodisease77@gmail.com, videodiseaserecords.com / Katorga Works, katorgaworks@gmail.com, katorgaworks.com)


STAGNANT YOUTH:
Demo: Cassette
I don’t give a fuck what you say; Texas is a shithole. I’ve been stuck on the never-ending circle of fly-overs and freeways. That place fucking sucks. So why am I always there? Shitty, harsh environments make for the best music. Fact. Take a look at the music that’s come out of Texas. Raw shit. Crazy shit. Houston is the end of the fucking earth. So, of course, it makes sense that this bunch make some unholy noise. Hard to pinpoint, but I’m hearing fellow Texans Spazm 151 filtered through the down-tuned mayhem of His Hero Is Gone. Not sure their sound is fully realized but this is a cassette demo, so I’m guessing the next release will be a barnburner. –Tim Brooks (stagnantyouth.bandcamp.com)


SOCIALS, THE:
The Beast Bites: 7”EP
Pretty cool debut release by female-fronted The Socials. Recorded and released by Andy Slob, who was affiliated with a lot of Junk Records bands I used to listen to growing up (Slobs, Dipshits, Candy Snatchers). So, obvious points scored for that. Ever-so-slightly new wave tinged ‘80s punk, not far removed from something similar to The Slits or Untamed Youth. Well, with a bit more fuzz, for sure. “Hot Tips” being the stand out on here, for sure. Decent first record, from a cool, new band. –Steve Adamyk (Centless Productions, centlessprod.com)


SKULL DRUG:
Self-titled: CD
These guys throw down some powerful punk with a metal edge—sounding at times like DRI on vocals and Nashville Pussy on instruments—that gives the songs an extra kick and works really well together. The punk part keeps things a little sloppy and angry. The singer goes from having gruff vocals to a higher octave, sometimes dropping into deep-shouted vocals that all seem to fit perfectly on this release. You get two instrumentals, “Phantom Operas” and “Defected,” that showcase the talent and skill that the band possesses when they’re not going full out, like on “The Stunots,” which is one fast and wicked thrash song. These guys really did a great job on this release—thick bass playing, slick leads that go all over the fret board (but not in a crazy Malmsteen wankfest), and terrific drumming that is just brutally pounding away and making your head shake along to the beat. –Rick Ecker (B.H.J., bhjrecords.webs.com)


SILLY SALLY:
Minor Fights and Major Fears: CD
Just another drop in the overflowing bucket of melodic punk/hardcore bands that grew up listening to Gorilla Biscuits and Bad Religion yet somehow ended up sounding more like Rise Against. I expected more from the Spanish, who blessed us with the offerings of HHH, Torreros After Ole, Eskorbuto, and E150 to the hardcore world. Silly Sally sound like soft rock in comparison. –Juan Espinosa (Wild Punk, wildpunk.com)


SHOCK WAVES:
Night of Music: CD
Spanish poppy street punk. It’s pretty catchy stuff and I appreciate the translations of the lyrics. Sure enough, the usual street punk stuff is covered here. Working class pride, drinking with friends, wearing boots, hating the rich… Nothing really new. –ty (Spirit Of The Streets, spiritofthestreets.de)


SHIT THE COW:
Salt of the Earth: CD
My favorite song, “More Apologies,” is some Stooges-esque punk rock. The other three tracks are more hard rock, a little bit like Golden Earring with a dirty edge. The band really has a tight sound with hooks. This is the kind of stuff that grows on you the more that you play it, with the short songs, the tough edge to the singing, and the feeling that you should have heard these songs before. I’ve played these four songs a ton of times and can’t get enough. –Rick Ecker (Self-released, shitthecow@gmail.com)


SHAVED CHRIST:
Bad Mind: 7” EP
A nice slab of ‘80s-influenced hardcore here. Odd structures and careening tempo changes not only keep things from getting stagnant, it shows they’re putting much thought and creativity into things instead of merely playing to a template. –jimmy (Bakery Outlet, bakeryoutletrecords.com)


SEX CRIME:
Self-titled: 7”
New wave/power pop that reminds me most of the Polysics. Wonky and jagged, but catchy and simple in spots. Grade: B. –Bryan Static (Danger, no address listed)


SEASONAL MENS WEAR:
“Ice Climbers / The House That We Built”: CD-R
“Ice Climbers” is a great track. A soaring Naked Raygun Chi-town chant-along chorus with a silly noodle lead that wouldn’t sound out of place on an Atom And His Package song. “The House That We Built” is a definite departure from the first formula. Another sounds-like-the-guitarist-is-learning-their-instrument lead wrapped up in an almost oi boot boy ‘77 bar chant. Other than the leads, it’s hard for me to see these songs coming from the same source. Investigation led to SMW’s history being a one man recording act and previous releases being acoustic hi-jinx. Stick with the few 2013 releases with full instrumentation. Keep tracks like “Ice Climbers” coming and I’ll keep listening. –Matt Seward (seasonal menswear.bandcamp.com)


SCARLET HARLOT AND HER HANDSOME DEVILS:
Just Prey: CDEP
Fast-paced, straight up SoCal punk that’s actually from California. Soulful and gruff, operatic female vocals. Not far from the voice that Davey Havoc is infamous for. Hell, this band sounds like they’re really into that mid-period AFI stuff, when they got heavier and into the Misfits, but long before they signed to a major. Well performed and executed, but not normally the genre I’d be into. –Steve Adamyk (No Exit, noexitrecords.com)


SABALA BACALA, THE:
W Koncul!: CD
"Pozytywny Przekaz," the third track on this album, opens with a kazoo solo. Kazoo.  –John Mule (Self-released)


RUTABEGA, THE:
Brother the Lights Don’t Work: CD/LP
First things first: I released a split CD with The Rutabega and Owen many moons ago, so obviously I like the Rutabega. However, I’d lost touch with him (The Rutabega was, up until recently, one man, Josh Hensley) and hadn’t listened to much of his music for a number of years. I was surfing the internet recently and came across his latest release, Brother the Lights Don’t Work, and was really impressed with the eight-song, forty-minute album. I’m not really sure to whom I could compare The Rutabega. I’ve heard people say everything from Elliott Smith to the Pixies, but most of the time the sound seems unique unto itself. Hensley, who plays guitar and sings, is now joined by Garth Mason on drums and keys. (However, this album has a lot more going on, including occasional strings, backing female vocals, and melodica.) His drumming is what really makes this album shine. He’s powerful when he needs to be and gentle when it’s called for. It brings a new dimension to the sound and fills it out. Brother the Lights Don’t Work is bookended by a couple of minute-long tracks, while the rest of the album consists of two good singles (“Come Back Big Brother” and “The Shaman”) clocking in at three minutes each and then four tracks at over five minutes each (including the twelve-and-a-half minute jam, “Turn on the Summer,” which is my favorite track on the album). None of the longer tracks drag, though, and that shows a talent for keeping the listener engaged. Many of the songs build and break, always a key ingredient in an emotionally touching song. The payoffs are huge and so is the album. My only complaint is that I wish there was more here. Eight tracks just don’t seem enough. More please. –kurt (Self-released, theseknottylines.blogspot.com)


RIVERBOAT GAMBLERS:
Self-titled: LP
I am a passionate collector of things. A completest, really. One thing I really obsess about is collecting all of my favorite bands’ albums on vinyl. With some it’s easy, and some a little more problematic. The worst is when there are some that were only released on CD. It drives me insane. Sure, I buy the CDs and love the band all the same, but something burns deep down inside when I am unable to have a complete set of wax to flip through and listen to. It’s no secret that I love the Riverboat Gamblers. I have been into them since their second album and a rabid fan since their third. It has always gnawed at me that their self-titled debut was not available on vinyl. Until now, that is. The fine folks at Recorded Messages (the same label who thankfully did the same thing for the Gamblers’ Backsides rarities compilation last year) seem to have the same completist attitude that I have. Finally, I can put the needle down on the Gamblers’ first balls-out punk rock’n’roll blast. The songs still kick ass and sound as good as they did back when they came out. The band has evolved an awful lot since then, but the constant is that they are always good. The packaging has improved tenfold, with amazingly creepy cover art and crystalline clear vinyl. When I slid this into my collection, an empty space in my heart was filled. G.F.F.G. –ty (Recorded Messages, recorded-messages.com)


REPLACEMENTS:
Songs for Slim: LP
“Half-Assed, Will Travel” is what any new Replacements project should be called. And I say that about our heroes lovingly. These guys aren’t fresh from the basement. They’re more than competent song crafters and musicians who love nothing more than to shoot themselves in their collective foot (feet?). The Songs for Slim project was conceived as a fundraiser for former band mate Slim Dunlap, who suffered a crippling stroke in early 2012. Die-hard Replacements fans are the types who will buy anything the band shits out (don’t tell a soul, but I paid full price for the 2008 reissue of Don’t Tell a Soul) but this here record is for a good cause. So how does one judge the actual songs on this release? All are covers (so we don’t get any “real” new Replacements songs) and two of Dunlap’s originals. Frankly, they’re middle-of-the-road. It seems like Westerberg isn’t even trying to sing during the campy version of “Everything’s Coming up Roses” (or is that part of the joke? Cheeky, boys). The best song is “Radio Hook Word Hit.” All instruments are played by former Replacements drummer Chris Mars (who doesn’t play with the band on any of their occasional forays into the studio, usually just contributing backing vocals). This is the tightest song in the bunch, which I’d like to say again, is played by a retired musician. Mars also contributes cover art, which is interesting and all, but the pic doesn’t fit the project (giving it an early-’90s look). I don’t know what the future has in store for The Replacements. They played a few live shows in the summer of 2013 and reportedly recorded some more songs. –Sal Lucci (New West, exclusive distro through Sony)


REDBUSH:
Milk Maid: LP
Wyoming’s Redbush certainly have a sense of humor, which they ought to, given how fucking goofy they are. I like the slickness of the recording, and they’re definitely trying to do something different. The vocals kind of grate on me and have an almost whiny tone at times. The aggressive, rock-heavy guitar lines are likewise a bit difficult to connect with, but it all comes together into something not fully obnoxious. The cover art of a hairy male chest squirting milk is probably the best thing about this release. At least Milk Maid is housed in a great record sleeve. –Art Ettinger (Whoa! Boat, whoaboatrecords.com)


RAYDIOS, THE:
Do You Wanna Walk with Me: 7”
The title track is a bit of a stomper up to its eyeballs in classic Gary Glitter, especially around the chorus. The flip is a grittier bit of potent stun punk. Good single. –jimmy (Target Earth, target@earth.email.ne.jp)


RAT STORM / CHAOTIC NEUTRAL:
Split: 7” EP
Rat Storm: The sad thing about hardcore’s silly-fast subgenres is that too often its purveyors blend into a vast moosh of facelessness where one band is pretty much the same as the next. This is no exception. Chaotic Neutral: A bit lower than their record-mates, allowing the band to lock into a groove and thrash away all angry and pained-like. –jimmy (Reality Is A Cult)


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