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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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MNMNTS:
The Choir Belongs to You: 12” EP
Melodic medio-core (patent pending, fuckers!) falling in line with pretty much everything that passes for hardcore these days: Touché Amoré, Title Fight, or any of the bands on a free sampler handed out at Sound and Fury fest. A pity such awesome artwork (die cut cover, silk screened B-side) was wasted on such a basic-sounding band’s record. –Juan Espinosa (Adagio 830, facebook.com/mnmntspunk)


MAXIMUM RNR:
Rough Side of the Dial: CD
Another slab of punked-out hard rock from these Canadians. They’re about as derivative and creative as their name implies, but they do what they do well. –jimmy (maximumrnr.com)


MAY DAY ORCHESTRA:
Betrayal of Hasan: 7”
Two-song single from a St. Louis band who seem to be rather fond of Jay Farrar and Nick Cave. The A side has a real alt country vibe to it while the flip is a little noisier but retains that alt country undercurrent. –frame (RankOutsider, contact@rankoutsiderrecords.com)


MAN & THE SMELLS / 2HITWODIE:
Keep Up the Good Jerk / ReddyTooDie: Cassette
To this day, I’m not sure why cassettes aren’t just something we can all agree to peacefully let die. I mean come on, they had a good run! Let ‘em shuffle off to Obsolete Format Heaven in peace! That said, i do kind of miss the early ‘80s, when people would just tape whatever racket they felt like making that day, dub a few copies on a boombox, scrawl a name on the side of the cassette housing, and call it a “demo.” That appears to be pretty much the case with this doozy—Man & The Smells are a funky, sax-augmented unit who sound like a cross between James Brown and the Jerky Boys, whilst 2HiTwoDie just make a buncha noise ((we used to call that “industrial” music back before the goths and the guys in the black vinyl lederhosen stole it)) and sound like Metal Machine Music with mosh parts. Curiously, i enjoyed the whole thing. Today cassettes, tomorrow shellac-based 78s! BEST SONG: I refuse to go online to look up song titles. BEST SONG TITLE: op. cit. FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: “All 2HiTwoDie songs are randomly generated because ordered hierarchy is bullshit.” –norb (Tapes, yawntapes.bandcamp.com)


MALADROITS, THE:
Debut Album: CD
Catchy, fun German punk rock that’s over way too quick—ten songs in twenty-one minutes (including a Nancy Sinatra cover, “Bang Bang”). Most of this is sung in English, but with a German accent that makes it stick out from a lot of the generic punk I hear. Nothing to write home about, but certainly better than average. –kurt (P.Trash, ptrashrecords.com)


MAKE-OVERS:
What Did I Just Axe You?: 7”
Noisy, bratty indie rock/post-punk from a band that appears to be from South Africa. Fans of the latter half of the ‘90s Kill Rock Stars back catalog will find a lot to like with Make-Overs. –frame (KRNGY, krngy-news.blogspot.com)


LIVIDS:
Your House or the Courthouse: 7” EP
Cats hailing from New Bomb Turks, Zodiac Killers, and others unleash a monster of a three-track EP that bum rushes the door and whoops ass in little more than five minutes. The KO blow is delivered on the kisser via a cover of Iggy’s “New Values” to make sure you remember just who cleaned yer clock. –jimmy (Slovenly)


LITTLE RICHARDS, THE:
Down the NHT: Cassette
Ramones-fueled, low-fi party punk owing so, so much to Mean Jeans, as is evident with similarly and deliberately misspelled song titles such as “Party No Mo’,” “Ooze Crooze,” and “Keep it in Your Jeans.” If the Mean Jeans hadn’t already perfected this style, I’d say that The Little Richards have something good going on here. Sadly, the Mean Jeans do it better. Just kidding. It’s not sad. –Juan Espinosa (John Wilkes Booth, johnwilkesboothrecords.com)


LIFES:
MMXIII: Cassette
Lifes are a grindcore/powerviolence band from Wisconsin featuring members of Get Rad. They’re just a two-piece bass/drums/vocals-styled band and turn out eight über-pissed songs, including a Swing Kids cover and a Deathreat cover. It’s fast and muddy and done really well. Killer. –Juan Espinosa (lifesband.com)


LEMURIA:
The Distance Is So Big: LP
Power pop is pretty well documented and familiar enough (quick guitar jangles, The Knack, etc…), but what about “powerful pop”? What if the Brill Building were actually a punk squat? You probably know if you are a Lemuria fan by now, but I feel sad for you if you’re not. Songs and lyrics that can make you bounce or move you to tears, all while wearing their punk rock hearts squarely on their sleeves. The J. Robbins treatment makes the magic happen and takes The Distance Is So Big to another level. The instruments and vocals have all the breathing room they need while maintaining the figurative orchestral power of everything you would imagine “powerful pop” to be. Hell… they made a chorus out of “Oahu, Hawaii”…who does that and wins? Lemuria. –Matt Seward (Bridge Nine, bridge9.com)


LATEX LOVERS, THE:
Self-titled: LP
Brash, quick, lo-fi punk that draws from the same playbook that The Briefs used. While fun in places, the record lacks an essential buzz, a pop, a quality, what have you. There is no excitement in the rhythms, no drive in the intensity. These songs have been seen in places you’ve frequented before: tongue-in-cheek chanting songs, steady-rhythm Ramones rockers, sci-fi tropes turned into song titles. For all I say against it, the album works more than it doesn’t, but a half-good album is still only half-good. (What can I say? I’m a glass half empty kind of guy.) Half recommended. Grade: B. –Bryan Static (P. Trash, ptrashrecords.com)


LAND OF BLOOD AND SUNSHINE:
Servants of the Light: LP
What a weird but really enjoyable record. Imagine if Fleetwood Mac took a ton of acid and decided to make an indie rock record as a result of being really inspired by Can and other German psyche/krautrock bands. This sounds like what I imagine that record would sound like. Musically, this could easily cross over and ultimately appeal to both the folk/indie rock and psyche/garage/pop scenes. The layered vocal style on this record definitely stands out, as sometimes it sounds like a multi-gendered quartet of gypsies provided the vocals. It’s odd, but somehow it works well, much like this entire record. This is different sounding in a good way. –Mark Twistworthy (Whoa! Boat, whoaboatrecords.com)


LADY BANANAS / THE SKEPTICS:
Split: 7”
Killer split! I was going to make a joke about Banana Splits, but… never mind. Lady Bananas from Sweden offer two songs of lo-fi garage punk mayhem, including a Velvet Underground cover. The Skeptics present two reverb-drenched, fuzzed-out songs themselves, including a cover of my all-time favorite Link Wray song. While I tend to like the Lady Banana side a little more because of its trashy quality, The Skeptics are no slouch either. Recommended. –Mark Twistworthy (Frantic City, franticcity.free.fr)


KRAMER:
Here We Go: 7”
A fantastic set of six songs mixing together the best parts of garage, punk, and surf into a pot and stirring it up to create a dish served hot! This band turns up the heat and brings to mind summer with their excellent cover of “Pipeline” by The Chantays and the other smoking songs on here. Every song just seems to pull you in deeper and gets better as you listen. This one was a great surprise from a band that I had never heard of before, but I’m sure I will be listening to a lot in the future. –Rick Ecker (Self-released, kramerjams@hotmail.com)


KNEW, THE:
“What’s Hip (Long Walk)” b/w “World War Ay Ay Ay (Alright)”: 7”
Old school powerpop that doesn’t stray too far from similar acts like The Steve Adamyk Band. Sometimes singles scratch an itch pretty well, and other times they just leave you wanting just a bit more. You know, just a smidge? I would have been happier with three songs, but hey, two good ones works well. Another, please! Grade: B+. –Bryan Static (Snappy Little Numbers, snappylittlenumbers.blogspot.com)


KINGS DESTROY:
A Time of Hunting: CD
There’s no energy at all in these songs. Sounds like everyone is bored and going through the motions. Hard rock that is not hard, or heavy. Just blehhhh... –Matt Average (War Crime, warcrimerecordings.com)


JOHNNY UNICORN:
Sadness and Companionship: CD

So, this is a workout album. Mr. Unicorn had a dilemma. He likes to workout to music with a constant steady beat but techno is too redundant and long songs in other genres like progressive rock will suddenly have a sax solo or something that breaks his stride. He wanted music with a steady rhythm that also changed things up throughout to keep it interesting, so he did it himself. I was hardly working out the first time I put it on—in fact I think I was drinking a beer—but I had a great deal of appreciation for it. It was corny, fun, and cheesy with its triumphant synths and goofy, robotic vocals singing dorky, out-place, maudlin indie lyrics. It definitely reminded me of going to the YMCA as a kid and the aerobics music I’d hear as I made my way to the pool. So there’s that. It also brought to mind Andrew W.K in the way that it’s a joke, but at the same time it’s serious. W.K really wanted people to get down and get excited about life and partying as a metaphor, but he knew full well that his music was cheesy. Mr. Unicorn knows full well that his idea is absurd, but he also truly wants us to FEEL THE BURN!... as it were. I felt I got the joke, but I also realized I couldn’t honestly make a call on the album unless used it for its intended purpose. GODAMNIT! So I got up early one morning and took off running while listening. It was like dropping acid and listening to Pink Floyd. I thought, “Oh, I really get it now!” I realize that a punk fanzine reader might not be the audience for this CD. My guess is your average Razorcake reader will appreciate it as much as they do, well, working out. It gets my blessing, though.

–Craven Rock (johnnyunicorn.com)


JAZZ THE CHILDREN:
Demo: CD-R
When you choose to submit for critique a self-made demo CD-R housed in a cardboard sleeve with some very poor, uninspired artwork, well, sir, your recorded output better be goddamn good. From what I can piece together, Jazz The Children only know two ways to record a demo: shitty and shittier. The first four songs are annoyingly bad with ultra-repetitive riffs of awful indie rock and just “okay” garage rock replete with some of the worst digital mastering, most likely attributed to the use of cheap CD-Rs. There was a small glimmer of hope in the fifth song, “I Don’t Know,” but it quickly dissolves on the final track, which sounds like it was recorded with a boom box strategically placed right next to the floor tom. This is the kind of band/project that makes me count my blessings that I’m not friends with anyone involved. It makes my job of telling you that your demo is terrible at best all that much easier. –Juan Espinosa (Lion Leg, lionlegrecords.bandcamp.com)


JASON ANDERSON:
Omaha: LP
Noisy guitar pop from a singer/songwriter who seems to be obsessed with Bob Mould circa Black Sheets of Rain. The bio on the website is absurd with comparisons to Springsteen and ‘70s Van Morrison. Why the hell do people do that to themselves or let their labels do it? Guaranteed let down when someone tries to work that angle. This individual has also apparently released several records on K Records as Wolf Colonel. Not sure how this compares, but I figured some folks might be interested. Fans of the solo Bob Mould stuff will find a whole lot to like here, as will fans of the Doughboys and Big Drill Car. –frame (Salinas)


ISAAC ROTHER & THE PHANTOMS:
“I’ve Got a Feeling” b/w “Hitman”: 7”
1950s revival rock. My thoughts while listening to this record: “Oh, hey, this is like a boring King Kahn. I guess a revival band succeeds when their work sounds indistinguishable from the stuff that inspires it? This sounds like music they would have played in Back to the Future. Maybe the B-side will be… zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.” And what a wonderful nap it was. Grade: C. –Bryan Static (Resurrection, getresurrected.com / Eliminator, no address listed)


INTO THE VALLEY SUN:
Sun Valley Gun Club: CD
If you like Weezer and think that the lead singer should be the guy from They Might Be Giants, then this is the album for you. The songs range from being fast (“Engine Gave Out”) to slow and moody (“Cars”), and they also mix in some straight-up rock with their indie sound. None of the songs delve into emo, which is always a good thing, and they play with a lot of feeling and talent. This usually wouldn’t be what I normally listen to, but it was way above par for this sort of retro ‘90s sounds. If this would have come out back then, these guys would have been huge and you would hate them, but now you can actually enjoy them for being different. –Rick Ecker (Self-released, sunvalleygunclub.bandcamp.com)


INK & SWEAT / CASERACER:
Self-titled: 7”
Caseracer play gruff-vocal, beard punk. I’m sure they really care about what they play, but it fails to interest. Ink & Sweat have a similar sound but with a male/female tradeoff over Hot Water Music riffs. They too fail to move me. –Craven Rock (Self-released, no address listed)


Industrial Park:
“Echoes” b/w “May”: 7”
Mid-paced, shoegaze-y, and mostly repetitive post-punk from Portland carried by very little guitar riff, drum beat, or vocal variation. I’d say this would appeal to indie-rock types, but it’s ultimately not very catchy or memorable. In the post-punk realm it’s got some Joy Division-esque qualities but not enough to catch the attention of most punks, therefore I can’t say I know anyone I’d recommend this to. –Juan Espinosa (Toxic Pop, toxicpoprecords.com)


IAN DURY:
New Boots and Panties: LP
Ian Dury’s one of those cats who managed to transcend the pub rock thang that was all the rage in a pre-punk U.K. and have a career that really blossomed after Messrs. Rotten and Vicious became the toast of the children of the bourgeoisie. In a spirit true to the time, the music here is well crafted, varies from funk to punk and all stops in between the two, and is coupled with smart-dumb lyrics filled with sly puns and rhymes that are often racier than apparent at first blush. Its status as one of the more respected, if not outright beloved, albums of the early U.K. punk/new wave era is well deserved and it’s great to see it again available in the format for which it was intended. For those more interested in its collectability than the actual music it contains, this press is limited to five hundred. –jimmy (Drastic Plastic)


HUMAN EYE:
4 – Into the Unknown: LP
Kind of a mixed bag here for me. On the one hand, their mix of noise rock and early psych influences makes for some mind-bending and aggressive fun. The trouble, however, lies with the vocals. While the barking attack on songs with a more direct approach, like “Juicy Jaw,” works quite effectively, they come off as jarringly flat elsewhere. In the end, this is more a solid double than a grand slam or strike out. –jimmy (Goner)


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