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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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CITY SAINTS:
Spitting Blood: 7"
This is straightforward rock’n’roll played street style by these bootboys from Gothenburg, Sweden. The record has plenty of references, lyrically and visually, to all of those characteristics. Featuring ex-members of Perkele and Chillihounds, there is an outright skinhead vibe going on with these dudes. They look like the sort of lot you want to be welcomed to drink beer with as opposed to getting one cracked over the head by. The first side is the title track to the 7”. It’s by-the-numbers street rock complete with harmonicas and backing vocals. The second side opens with “Flame of Fire,” starting with some very loud and proud lyrics. Common oi subjects from boots and braces, to kicking ass for the working class. It’s by far my favorite song on the record. The last song left me a little bit let down, but, overall, this a great record. –Adam Mullett (Spirit Of The Streets, citysaints@live.com)


SNEEZE:
I’m Going to Kill Myself: LP

Power chords rarely sound this powerful. The opening track will induce a full-body implosion that melts your brain into your lungs. You’ll find yourself coughing viscously while tapping your toes and nodding your empty head. Aurally, it’s at once derivative of grunge and garage, but simultaneously exciting and well-executed. Somehow, Sneeze is able to retread and deviate in equal measures. The lyrics are undeniably bleak (no surprise given the title), but it’s all so damn catchy that you’ll find yourself singing, “I head straight for the liquor cabinet so don’t blink. I’m not afraid to shoot.” Definitely the soundtrack to a bad day. Sure, it won’t cheer you up, but it’ll be comforting to know that some people are worse off—and, hell, you won’t have much a brain left to care with anyway.

–Sean Arenas (Close To Home, closetohome@live.co.uk, closetohomerecords.com / Midnight Werewolf, midnightwerewolfrecords@gmail.com, midnightwerewolf.wordpress.com)


CHALLENGED, THE:
Basically: CD
The soul of Squirtgun and Digger style pop punk persists on these nine tracks. Tight guitar and drum work with bass playing of the cleverly understated Mike Dirnt variety lifts the group above the waterline for sure. The Challenged might get tired of being compared to the pop punk classics of the ‘90s, but they flourish within that sound, writing songs that I’d like to hear five tracks at a time, while driving across town by night with streetlamps brushing overhead—thinking about integrity, romance, and ambition, all that stuff. But I don’t have a car. And I’m sitting at a sticky wooden table surrounded by quizzes and paperclips. In sum, Basically is a definite success in the pop punk form: tracks like “Go Fuck Yourself” carry the torch. But I’d like to hear the Challenged reach out and bring their distinct view of the world to the genre, too, like they do on “The Director” where the lyrics are a storyboard to a movie about the song. Which is inventive and cool. More of that, please. –Jim Joyce (Self-released, no address listed )


SMART BOYS:
“RSVP” b/w “Cutting through Life”: 7” single

I love the mod bands: The Who, The Jam, The Buzzcocks. If you do too, you should check into Smart Boys. This single took me back to some of those bands and their sound: big drums, power chords, and vocals with a shark’s bite. “RSVP” is a great tune, but I really liked the b-side, “Cutting through Life.”

–Guest Contributor (Deranged, derangedrecords.com, derangedyouth@hotmail.com)


CHAIN LETTERS, THE:
“Bad Reflection” b/w “Boulevard Girls: 7"
Solid pop punk rock driven by female vocals. The two songs showcased here are in the vein of the early Fiendz records. Simple, catchy tunes with memorable choruses. The screams at the end of “Bad Reflection” are very reminiscent of the quick cadence from the singer of Sado Nation made famous by the early Mystic Records compilations. I can’t deny the obvious Ramones influence from the guitars, but that is to be expected from this style of release. For some reason that I cannot explain, I keep imagining these songs slapped into the soundtrack to Valley Girl and fitting perfectly. –Brent Nimz (Pogo Time, pogotime@live)


SLOW WARM DEATH:
Self-titled: LP

Slow Warm Death singer John Galm has a shaky voice that seems to have something to say. These guys play loud, fuzzed-out, garage, static-rock. There’s just enough clarity to make it listenable on more than one occasion. And just when I think these guys are lo-fi, they bust out a track like, “Blood 2” which has very honest lyrics and a ‘90s indie rock sound reminiscent of Sebadoh. Considering I had never heard these guys before (they’re from Lehigh Valley, PA and I’m from California), I can honestly say I’m impressed. Hopefully they’re committed enough to tour because these songs sound like they would be even better live. If you like fuzzy, indie rock—border lining on rock’n’roll music—these guys will fulfill your needs. Plan on at least checking out this record at your local record store, if not to buy it then to look at the artwork. The cover has a photograph of a Jesus and Mary Magdalene statue that is propped up by a crushed beer can. It makes it look as though Mary is dipping Jesus, like in classical dancing.

–Ryan Nichols (Square Of Opposition)


SLENDER LORIS:
World Tour: Cassette

Let me start by saying how refreshing it is to receive new material on cassette. Back in the day, trading tapes was a great way to hear your next favorite band. That being said, my cassette player broke years ago so I had to visit the Slender Loris site for this review. I paraded through their new seventeen-song effort multiple times before I felt comfortable enough to write this review because I wanted to make sure I heard all the different nuances and crunchy riffs these guys had to offer. I heard everything from hardcore to sludge to noisy garage rock. The back and forth vocals between the guitar and bass player are neatly placed on top of the bass-heavy instrumentation. If you’re looking for bubble gum pop punk complete with sing-along choruses, this release is not for you. These guys put out a lot of power for a three piece outfit. Dare I describe these Canada-based punks as a dirty, sloppy sounding Nomeansno? Go get this record and decide for yourself.

–Brent Nimz (Self-released, slenderlorismusic@gmail.com)


CATHOLIC SPIT:
I’m Your God Now: 7” single
So damn good! Imagine Christian Death, and Dance with Me-era TSOL with Honey Bane on vocals. You get the sort of breathy, high-pitched, squeaky vocals with that liquidy, spooky guitar sound that you know and love. The long intro to the title track is perfect. I would like to hear them do some instrumentals, to be honest. I can only imagine it would be as good as this song. “Die Alone” reminds me a lot of TSOL, with the flanged-out guitar and driving drum beat, not to mention the way cool and confident way the vocals are delivered. You can hear the synth right behind the vocals and guitar. It’s a nice touch, as it gives this song a more haunting sound. I know they just released an LP recently, and I need to quit slouching and get it. If you like death rock or goth, I’m pretty sure you will want this. Or if you just like good music in general, then you may want to pick this up. –Matt Average (Bad Touch, badtouchrecords@gmail.com)


CARNIVORES:
Second Impulse: CD
Carnivores play a dark style of new wave-influenced music. The guitars and female vocals are drenched in echo. There’s a nice keyboard sound that drives the melody and adds a bit of edge. It’s not quite primal enough for me, but it’s done well. If you’re into stuff like Echo And The Bunnymen, you should check this out. –Billups Allen (Carnivores, carnivores.bandcamp.com)


CAPTAIN SPARKY:
Self-titled: CD-R
Someone making fun of Gordon Gano on the mic. The same guitar pattern on each song. Muffled sound. A band named after a fourteen-year-old hippy’s bong. If this is folk, then I’m gentry. –Chris Terry (captainsparky.bandcamp.com)


BURNING LADY:
Until the Walls Fall: CD/LP
To be honest, as soon as I heard the vocals on this I was sold. What’s not to like about a female French accent almost crooning over some up-tempo streetpunk that also has the melodic punch of some of the better Epitaph / Fat Wreck bands? This sounds good from start to finish, and that ending is an excellent acoustic version of a previous single, “Wasted Time.” Listening to this album makes me feel as if I’m wandering along the boulevards of Paris with a certain je ne sais quoi about my stride. –Rich Cocksedge (Concrete Jungle, contact@concretejunglerecords.com, concretejunglerecords.com)


BUNNY SKULLS:
Your Life: 7" EP
Tons of short (don’t think many of the songs break the twenty-second mark) über-thrash songs crammed onto one side of a seven-incher. Loud, fast, and well in control. –jimmy (Knot)


SICK/TIRED:
Lowlife: Cassette

Members of MK-Ultra and Weekend Nachos making sick and heavy grind. I don’t really know what else to even say about this tape. This is top-notch grind with obligatory dual vocals and tight songs that meld into a face-melting landscape of fucking evil and despair. This tape consists of re-recordings of older songs from previous releases but the recording is excellent and the way the songs flow together make this its own release instead of just a collection of old songs. Get this right now.

–Ian Wise (Six Weeks, sixweeksrecords@comcast.com)


BRUISER QUEEN:
“In Your Room” b/w “Ms. Everything”: 7"
There’s a uniqueness to the female vocals of this male-backed power pop band. They’re kind of crazy and wavering but melodic and pretty at the same time. It has a nice nineties indie pop feel to it, bringing to mind The Muffs and The Breeders. Not bad. –Craven Rock (Certified PR, certifiedprrecords.com)


SHOCKED MINDS:
Self-titled: CD

Another winner from HoZac here. Former members of the Carbonas, Gentleman Jesse & His Men, Beat Beat Beat, and Games get together to deliver a full-length bounty of neo/retro-punk tunes along the same lines as Sonic Avenues, Rough Kids, Busy Signals, and so on. Tunes have a bevy of hooks and a dark undertow to the lion’s share of the proceedings. This ain’t gonna make it through the week before it gets worn down to the nubs.

–jimmy (HoZac, hozacrecords.com)


SHARK TOYS:
Self-titled: LP

Repetitive, clean guitar riffs telegraph a Wire quality in this record. There is a lot of fast riffage over primal drumming with dry, blasé vocals in the best way. “Pot Holes” could be a post-punk classic. “Who Cares?” expresses well the reckless abandon of youth. It’s instantly catchy. The whole thing’s like that. If you’re into that sort of thing, it’s a home run. Nice one.

–Billups Allen (Dead Beat)


SETE STAR SEPT:
Visceral Tavern: LP

2013 has been quite a busy year for Japanese noise/grind duo Sete Star Sept with Visceral Tavern being one of over a dozen releases spread over several different labels and formats. Although I only have one other record of theirs (the 10” split with Noise) to go by, it sounds like these songs are much more structured—as opposed to whirlwinds of noise—though still ripe with wild bursts of noise and vocalist Kae’s patented grunting/screaming one-two punch. I’m going to stand by my assessment of an early Anal Cunt influence but follow it up with the hypothesis that they’re also quite fond of fellow countryman the Gerogerigegege’s work. For the unsuspecting, that means this shit is devoid of melody, groove, or any sort of tempo of which you can keep something as constricting as a time signature. To really drive the point across, side two is one long track of free-form blast beats and deep-fryer immersed bass guitar burl with Kae laughing all the while. The cover art depicting a macabre scene of numerous zombies feasting on an entrails-and-limbs buffet of dead young women is further warning: you’d do best to stay away from this record if you expect to see or hear anything pleasant.

–Juan Espinosa (SPHC, 7s7.org)


SEMPER EADEM:
Demo: Cassette

New band from the frontman of 86 Mentality, and what you get here are four songs that sound like what that band would be doing if they had stayed together. It’s a tad more melodic than his previous efforts, but still fucking tough and aggressive—super catchy riffs and lyrics about being a pissed-off adult holding onto the last shreds of youth. I’m told this is just a “project band” for right now, but that may change. I hope so, because this band could do something really great.

–Ian Wise (Nobody Cult, nobodycult.bigcartel.com)


SEASONAL MEN’S WEAR / WILLIAM WESLEY & THE TINY SOCKETS:
Split: CD

Wow, this is a strange release. How did these bands get together? Seasonal Men’s Wear play vaguely comedic pop punk that sometimes ventures into a kind of light youth crew hardcore. I guess this is Propagandhi-esque? Maybe low-stakes Propagandhi. The music is fine, or serviceable. The problem is the lyrics are just piles of bad jokes. Just confusing in-jokes and flat attempts at satire, if you can call it that. It was a struggle making it past the “pizza pants” song (I think it’s track three), or figuring out what “pizza pants” means, or understanding what they’re getting at in any of their songs, really. I look forward to these guys growing out of this phase. But then there’s William Wesley & The Tiny Sockets. William Wesley is a guy named Wess Hess doing oddball lo-fi bedroom pop with a broken Tascam and a microcassette recorder, a 4-string guitar, and a Casio and other things. His best songs are the ones that maybe barely qualify as songs, the ones that feel spliced together, that kind of drone on and seem like field recordings. I’m thinking of “We Lead a Miserable Life,” which starts with a chopped and screwed loop of someone saying “we lead a miserable life” over a basic beat and a wash of guitar noise, then fades to guitar strumming, like fake Jim Croce, the whole thing lasting just over a minute. Or “Party Line Jamming in the 21st Century #37,” a collection of actual phone line recordings (?) and bleeps and tones and noises. It’s almost like Gray, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s band. Though he has what could loosely be considered traditional songs, there’s also an anti-music quality, a willingness to construct and deconstruct at any moment. Hess has a perspective that seems distinctly his. His voice is not the greatest, there’s a deep gremlin-ish feel to it, but I’m not going to correct him. Whatever he wants to do is fine with me.

–Matt Werts (Brown Bear)


SARABANTE:
Epmaia Ton Kaidon: 7” single

Heavy on the Tragedy /From Ashes Rise influences here, so much so that there’s no room left for the band to allow their own personalities to come through. Granted, they do the style well, like the opening to “Under the Shadows,” with the exploding drum beat and everything coming in right behind. But, I’ve heard Tragedy and From Ashes Rise do these very same things for years now. Those two bands do it well and just about everyone else who plays this style just seems to follow along and not offer much else. I’ve grown way tired of hearing this stuff the past few years.

–Matt Average (Man In Decline, manindeclinerecords.com)


BROWN SUGAR:
Luvly: 7" EP
A wee bit different from their Deportation EP of some moons back, but no less interesting. Here they rein in the thrashing a bit at first to highlight a bit more of the “garage punk” side of their sound before speeding things up, and then end the proceedings with some doo wop. A fun, catchy listen. –jimmy (Cowabunga)


RULETA RUSA:
Aqui No Es: LP

The cover depicts a cartoon image of a steam train hurtling along, surrounded by bats and a Misfits-like skeleton, looking very much like the Grim Reaper. The train is especially apt to Ruleta Rusa’s music, as it rips along at a fair pace most of the time with apparent disregard for all and sundry. It’s a great mix of punk, hardcore, garage, and rock’n’roll with former Peligro Social vocalist Jose Decay turning in a fine performance. With the lyrics being in Spanish, I’m at a loss at to their content, but this doesn’t diminish my enjoyment. The title track provides a slight variation in delivery, coming across like a cross between Rough Kids—another Sorry State band—and Anhrefn, an old Welsh (and predominantly Welsh language) punk band. The record closes in fine fashion with “Curriqui de Barrio” containing some outstanding guitar work which elevates the song to the top of the pile.

–Rich Cocksedge (SorryState, daniel@sorrystaterecords.com, sorrystaterecords.com)


BROONIES:
How I Feel: CD
I put this CD in and it made me smile. How I Feel rips from beginning to end. Straight-up ‘60s-inspired garage punk rock with occasional moments of surf rock. It’s amateurish and unapologetically fast and furious punk. Lo-fi recording gives Broonies even more charm; you know they’ve got to sound even better live. –Camylle Reynolds (Self-released, aronfrief@gmail.com)


RONIN:
The Sun Also Sets: 7”

Very snotty and dark, this nifty three-song record features a vocalist that is eerily similar to Jesse Rich, the singer of Broken Bottles that passed away in 2010. It’s a solid 7” for sure, with each of the three songs sounding like highlight tracks from full length releases. “The Sun Also Sets” is the best of the songs, with its dark twist title capturing the unhappy tone nicely. Hopefully the sun won’t set on this band any time soon!

–Art Ettinger (Robotnicka, robotnickarecords@hotmail.com)


RIVERBOAT GAMBLERS:
Self-titled: LP
Here it is for the first time on vinyl, a little over a decade after the Gamblers’ first CD was released. Nope, rocker, Something to Crow About was not their debut. Fleshies are AC/DC for the weird. Arrivals are the Grand Funk Railroad of punk. (How great would an Arrivals double LP gatefold be, am I right?) The Gamblers are harder to pin down. They’re in this hard rock / punk rock paradox, both a dark matter wormhole and an exploding cosmos of high kicks and spider monkey sweat. If you don’t listen to a single word, don’t digest a single sentiment—just have “rookie sensation” Mike Wiebe’s voice become an adult Peanuts’ wah-wah-wa-wah sound—the high-kneed stomp and gang hand claps conjure up Angus Young, etch S-T-R-U-T right into your brain. The music’s in league with Lee Harvey Oswald Band’s Blastronaut andTurbonegro’s Apocalypse Dudes. Sweating diamonds. Knifey, greasy, let’s have sex music. But the thing is—sue me—I’m a reader. Books and shit. Words mean something to me. And for all the “presto, underpants gone” sound of the Gamblers, there’s this dark undercurrent to the lyrics. Self-effacement, self-doubt, anxiety, and insecurity run rampant through the Gamblers as they shoot confetti to the rafters and burn this stupid place to the ground. And it’s this paradox, that steam piston of rock’n’roll abandon and “I’m fucked. Nobody likes me, myself mostly” Charlie Brownism that keeps me an unabashed Gamblers fan to this day, five albums and the Backsides collection down the road. The Gamblers: Rock’n’roll made in a garage, built for future stadiums. Produced by Tim Kerr. Includes a Ramones cover. Let’s go! –todd (Recorded Messages, recorded-messages.com)


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