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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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DURBAN POISON / HEADONS:
Split: 7”
Both songs on the Durban Poison side punk rock pretty hard. “Don’t Trust It” is the highlight with a jumpy drumbeat and stern, Bratmobile-sounding vocals. Creative rock’n’roll style riffage thrown in by the guitarist keep it from sounding too D.C. and serious. It’s catchy and classic sounding. The song even has a key change. The Headons have a sort of sing-songy, Social Distortion style that doesn’t appeal to me as much, but they do it well. –Billups Allen (Shake)


DUMB EASIES, THE:
Love Love Love: CD
I don’t know why they would have chosen the same title as the iconic Queers song—confusion and some disappointment are bound to spring up over this. Regardless, The Dumb Easies bear little resemblance to the aforementioned New England reprobates. The band has a rockin’ sound, but that sound is much more akin to the rock’n’roll of the mid-1960s than the buzzsaw expectations that may result from the title. It’s a good record, but I think to appreciate it truly one would need to have an affinity for the non-Beatles-influenced combos of forty years ago. I was guilty of punkier expectations going into this, so my early listens weren’t all that positive. As I got over my own unjustified expectations, however, I liked this more and more—it’s a classic sound done spot-on by contemporaries. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Cytoblast)


DUBOIS:
Hanging Out: 7”
There’s a ridiculous amount of Gainesville-worship going on with this records. These guys have a lot of spirit but lack musical ideas. Also, lyrics like, “everyone is searching for something/I’ll take mine/I’ll find the sunshine,” really need to be reeled in a bit, not just for Dubois, but in punk in general. Yeah, the struggle, I get it. But worse things have been said by better writers. Sometimes I think bands like Hot Water Music have caused irreparable damage to punk by putting far too emphasis on one’s own struggle and strengths. You’re doing what you want and you’re broke, I get that, too, but it’s starting to reek of self-obsessed individualism (or maybe it always has and I was just too young to notice it). –Craven Rock (Self-released, no address listed)


DOGJAW / AGATHA:
Split: LP
Both bands are part of Olympia’s sprawling punk scene that also includes RVIVR, Sharkpact, and Prank War. Dogjaw shouldn’t be confused with their more pop punk peers, as their songs are sludgy with grunge-esque riffs and delightfully raw production. Dogjaw’s half begins with “Dragon,” which features a brooding guitar melody and an ambling drumbeat. The dual female vocals softly chime in and steadily become more powerful until erupting into a faster beat. The lyrics are open to interpretation with lines like, “With every move the wave reaches out” and “Inside myself I see the tide.” The second track, “Cast Beyond,” is marred by the fact that its vocal melody is almost identical to the first track. That’s the overall issue with Dogjaw’s contribution—the music is varied but the vocals can become gratingly repetitive. The third track, “Tides,” is an overly long instrumental. Agatha’s songs rock. If I skated, I would blast these jams in my earbuds. The vocals are biting and maintain a level of intensity that is a punch to the gut while the pace remains blistering throughout. The lyrics are more overtly political with memorable lines like, “Kissing doesn’t kill and silence equals death. I’ll say it again because us queers forget.” The songs sometimes verge on “fuck the system” lyrical simplicity, but never go off the deep end into becoming cliché. Luckily, Agatha makes up for any setbacks by raging across all four tracks. –Sean Arenas (Rumbletowne, punks@rumbletown.com)


DIVER DRESS:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Heavy reverb trip-garage rock with the guitars nicely fuzzed and spacey. The songs themselves are more modern garage than, say, the Chocolate Watchband, but they do the trick just nicely. –jimmy (The Minneapolis Record Collective, minneapolisrecordco@hotmail.com)


DISSIPATED FACE WITH DANIEL CARTER:
Live at CBGB 1986: 7”
Four songs from back when punks were still doing some experimenting in their music, mostly trying to add jazz to the mix. It all comes off like subpar Black Flag with a whiny vocalist and adding the most boring of no wave. As a relic it’s interesting. As something to play more than once? Nope. –Rick Ecker (Roaratorio, roaratorio.com)


DIRTY FENCES:
Too High to Kross: CD
Poppy hard rock type stuff in the vein of bands like The Hellacopters, some early Strokes, mixed in with a little bit of Radio Birdman. The songs move at a mid-tempo pace and don’t give a care about anything else but the quest for a good time. The mood is light, as it should be when it comes to this sort of stuff. They don’t get bogged down in being technical or soloing into oblivion. Instead, they keep it to the point and focus more on moving the listener. The kind of music you would play down at the river getting lit with a bunch of friends in the summer. –Matt Average (Volcom, volcoment.com)


DIRECT HIT / BRAVER:
Split: 7”
I’ve listened to this record half a dozen times and still find I have nothing to say about it. Pop punk, pure and true, yet I yearn for something more. Elements from music I love distilled into ten minutes of bland. Generic punk product, 7” variety. –Bryan Static (Let’s Pretend, letspretendrecords.com / Lost Cat, lostcatrecords.org)


DIE EULE IM BART DES JUDAS:
Self-titled: 7”
Die Eule Im Bart Des Judas plays heavy hardcore punk with a couple decent mosh parts. I really dug how chunky the bass sounded at points on this recording. The tone of the guitars, however, didn’t really do much for me. At least one of the guitars was crazy with effects, sounding more like someone trying to play hardcore riffs on a xylophone while playing Space Invaders. There was also at least one intro riff that sounded way too much like it was trying to be a punk rock version of Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger.” This had a little too much of a gimmicky joke band feel to it, but I wasn’t laughing. –Paul J. Comeau (Spastic Fantastic)


DHDFD’S:
French Fries: CD
“Mongo Van” is my favorite song on this record. It’s so good. It starts out as a garage rock song, turns into a ska song, becomes a hardcore song, then the chorus goes straight-up noise rock. This song perfectly illustrates the appeal and fun of this record. I have no idea what the dude is saying, but I want to scream “ITCHY NOMI” at the top of my lungs all the time. When they’re doing more straightforward stuff, they kind of remind me of Eddy Current Suppression Ring, but maybe that’s just the New Zealand accent leaking through the lyrics. Come to think of it, the dude sounds a little bit like the guy from Steriogram as well. Yeah, it must be the Kiwi accent. Recommended if you like to hear guitars go crazy. Grade: B+. –Bryan Static (Hell Is Now Love, hellisnowlove.tumblr.com / Bomb Shop, bombshop.org, no address)


DHARMA DOGS / INVISIBLE MANSION:
Split: Cassette
Each of the three songs on the Dharma Dogs side is a wall of fuzzy, aggressive, cerebral sound coming for you. Part garage, part art school, their 6:30-long song “Black Mayonnaise” was my favorite. Invisible Mansion’s side was more laid back; it sort of reminded me of the kind of atmospheric jams I’d hear at a FMLY show. This cassette is good to play in the car when you’re heading out at like four am to go camping. (Start with the Invisible Mansion side.) –Bianca (Kitschy Manitou, kitschymanitou.blogspot.com, kitchsymanitou@gmail.com / PVC H.Ex pvchex.com, contact@pvchex.com) )


DEMONI:
Surf City of the Dead: CD
This horror surf is well played but not particularly horrific. I think if I were to listen to this strictly as surf music, I’d be more excited about it, but that’s not possible, because they really brand themselves as a horror surf band and set the expectation that the horror genre really feeds into what they do. However, aside from naming songs after horror movies, they really fall short on the scary side. For example, the first song is entitled “Session 9,” presumably after the dark, relatively subtle modern horror flick. The song is all rollicking and bright and I don’t see the connection at all. To be fair, I’m more of a horror fan than a surf fan, and I wouldn’t be surprised if those whose taste is tipped in the other direction loved this. –mp (1332)


DEADVERSE:
Carpet Burns: 12” EP
Ian MacKaye vocals, Hot Snakes drive, At The Drive-In’s wide-eyed freakishness. A lot more punchy and alive than their last record, but it still sounds like a smorgasbord of bands people were jocking twelve years ago. –Chris Terry (takeitbackrec.bigcartel.com)


DEAD DOG:
Precious Child: LP
Dead Dog sounds legit… if legitimacy sounds like the dirtiest dive bar bathroom or a band playing ankle deep in beer cans in a punk house kitchen. No new ground is broken in the ever-expanding pop punk universe and I usually prefer a bit throatier female vocal performance, but Dead Dog have a sense of just cranking it out and carrying the fun along. If you caught them live in that dive bar or playing that punk house, you’d probably have some new best friends for a night. The next morning you’d wake up bleary eyed and alone, your new best friends already crammed in a van speeding towards the next town. –Matt Seward (Dead Broke, deadbrokerecords.com)


DAIKON:
Complaining Songs: LP
I like Daikon, I really do. I like how their lyrics sound like open letters to friends. Friends they lost to suicide and friends whose negativity pushes them away are addressed with poignant sincerity. Yeah, they’re a good band and far better than a lot of the bands with a similar “indie” sound—for instance, all of the Young Adult Contemporary stuff coming out on Sub Pop—but sincerity and integrity isn’t everything and doesn’t always a great album make. With Daikon, the problem is there’s just not enough here. It’s sparse, clean, and spare to the point of being folky, but the instrumentation is way too light and airy to even fall into that group. Indie-sounding rock isn’t a void I need filled and these guys don’t have a solid enough sound to compete with other stuff I’m more likely to put on. I like it, I even like listening to it, but I wouldn’t ever think to put it on. The band Life At These Speeds comes to mind. They have a similar sound, but they’re much more musically interesting, and even those guys put out a dull album due to the trappings of their style. So while I appreciate the personal, almost perzine-like approach to lyricism, I’m pretty sure I’m going to sell this when I’m broke or need space with hopes they improve on their sound. –Craven Rock (Fullyintercoastal, no address listed)


CRIMINAL RISK, A:
The Art of Dropping Names: CD
From what I can gather, these guys have been kicking around the tri-state area for a while now and the band may have undergone a lineup change since this CD was recorded. That said, it was hard for me to find much to get excited about on this release. There is certainly nothing wrong with the material presented here—eight tracks of mid-tempo melodic pop punk—there just isn’t enough here to distance themselves from the countless other bands who are going for the same sound. If only Fat Mike got a nickel for every band that worked this sound, he would be a very, very wealthy man. –Garrett Barnwell (Self-released, acriminalrisk@yahoo.com)


CRAZY & THE BRAINS:
Let Me Go: CD
Dangerously catchy, Crazy & The Brains are reminiscent of Groovie Ghoulies, with the addition of xylophones, glockenspiel, and possibly hard drugs. A pleasant reminder that poppy punk didn’t die with the underground turning its back on pop punk; only a total snob wouldn’t get off on this joyful celebration of all things fun. Who thought that xylophones could work as a constant on an album? Apparently these guys did. Super silly and wacky, it’s hard not to let go while listening to Let Me Go. –Art Ettinger (Baldy Longhair)


CRAPPY DRACULA:
Tooo Muuuch: LP
As you know, Crappy Dracula is a three hundred-year-old vampire. He spends a lot of time in the dark and has gone kind of batty. I don’t think he’s using any of these instruments right and I swear I saw him try to suck some old lady’s blood using his earlobes. He keeps threatening that the ghost from Three Men and a Baby is coming to get me. I’m not scared, not with all his jangling and rattling. –mp (Eeefin)


COOL MUTANTS:
Buzzhog: 7”
I’m pretty sure this band has already broken up. For the sake of this review I’m going to pretend that they’re still around and we’re all having happy, fun times together. OH SNAP, GUYS. This is a really good single! Chanty stoner punk that reminds me of the slower Diarrhea Planets songs. I like to call it drug punk, but I’m pretty sure that’s redundant. What a great LP this will make someday! Sigh… I can’t keep up this ruse. Who releases a 7” this good and then breaks up? If you need more proof why there is no god, or there is and he’s a vindictive asshole, Cool Mutants have made exhibit A. Grade: A-. –Bryan Static (Do What?, no address)


CLOTH:
Demo: Cassette
Noisy, blues-tinged hardcore with the occasional metal guitar. Not unlike the slower Jesus Lizard material. The songs can meander, but I’d say these Philly guys are off to a good start. –Chris Terry (thecloth666.tumblr.com)


CIRCUIT DES YEUX:
CDY3: 10”
The first track basically sounds like it could be pulled off of a Nico album, both vocally and in its approach to ambient sound. The second continues with the spaciness, but throws in some sludgy guitar for some reason. The vocals are so overbearing, however, that it somehow still feels like you’re hearing the same song. The A side is rounded out by some distorted dirge, which is only cool if Sonic Youth is playing it. The B side is a continuation of this obnoxious noise which builds into a song not worth all the static you just had to hear. Maybe this is the kind of music you call experimental, but it’s not really an experiment. This sounds like “experimental” music in the way that “progressive rock” sounds progressive without ever progressing. –Rene Navarro (Magnetic South, magneticsouthrecordings.org)


CHESTNUT ROAD:
LP: LP
Climb the Bob Mould family tree of sad, melodic punk until you hit the early ‘90s branch. Here you will find Chestnut Road, taking Leatherface’s surprise anthems and Jawbreaker’s ink-black mood. No surprises in store, but these guys have succeeded in splitting the difference between Mush and Bivouac, two of the greatest punk records in the history of the universe. Check it out, even if you think you’re sick of this type of stuff. –Chris Terry (brassneckrecords.bigcartel.com)


BRAXTON HICKS:
Never Kill Yourself: CD
This band has already broken up, but they left behind a few EPs. This is their first one and it’s a pretty good collection of mid-paced punk that isn’t going to set the world on fire, but it still has enough energy and fun going on to keep your interest. The four songs go by fairly quickly and are bouncy enough to get you moving in your chair. They showed a lot of potential in their playing and lyrics. It’s a shame that they didn’t stick around to progress. –Rick Ecker (Secrets Of Sounds, link2wales.co.uk)


BLOOD BUDDIES:
Tree & Bird: 7”
Melodic punk with a nature-y theme and the right fuzz on the guitar, clatter in the drums, and longing in the vocals. They sound wary, but like they got their second wind on a late night drive. Two songs, two band members. When it ended, I flipped it over and started again. –Chris Terry (ghostbotrecords.com)


BLACK WINE / BRICK MOWER:
Split: 7”
This is how you make a split 7”. Choose a band that you’re friends with—whose sound complements but varies from yours—swap members for a song, put an inside joke on the front, record a weird cover that geeks will shout for at your shows. Black Wine play grungy, melodic punk and cover Devo. Brick Mower play gritty, mid-’90s pop punk and cover Gaunt. Take notes. –Chris Terry (vikingoncampusrecords.bigcartel.com)


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