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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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JARED LEIBOWICH:
Welcome Late Bloomers: LP
From what I can gather, Leibowich appears to have played all the instruments himself. This is a little more laid back, front porch-sounding than his other project, the Zoltars. It has that “I’m staying in, drinking coffee, and listening to records all day” feel. The recording is really clean-sounding. It initially reminded me of Cass McCombs, but slightly more sparse. The percussion is really minimal and all the instruments complement the casualness of the lyrics and vocals. –Ryan Nichols (Sundae, no address listed)


JIM TABLOWSKI EXPERIENCE, THE:
Should We Make It Xxxtra Creamy?: CS
Wow. This crazy German band reminds me of The Bananas in every way, which is, of course, not a bad thing. Sloppy, poppy, fast, and catchy, there’s a ton of energy oozing from this cassette. The glittery packaging is slick, too. Fans of silly, frantic, melodic punk will go positively ape shit over this release. I’m an instant fan already in search of the other items in their recorded output. The Jim Tablowski Experience is an experience, indeed. –Art Ettinger (Self-released, tablowski.com)


JIM THREAT AND THE VULTURES:
Afraid of the Dark: 7"
Fairly tuneful, ‘80s anthemic punk is what you get with this release and it is very well done. Appears to be a new project from a member of U.K. punk band The Threats, though I like this much better than I remember liking that band. –Mike Frame (Dr. Strange)


JIMBO EASTER:
Self-titled: 7"
I’m all about oddball, bedroom recordings, people fucking off making stuff just for the hell of it, and kooks who really don’t give a damn whether you listen or not. Y’all can send it this way. I like to think of my stereo as safe harbor for outsider music that the squares can’t appreciate. I’m charmed by Easter’s absurdist sense of humor. For instance, his bread advice: “Make bread / slide bread beneath the bed / fold it / grow it / throw it.” You’ll get lots of this sort of nonsense over sharp and squiggly sax bursts, organ noodling, tweaked, cartoonish backup vocals, and 4-track fuzz. My only criticism is you can’t really be that far out there when you’re aping Captain Beefheart this hard. Nonetheless, Mr. Easter is clearly having fun and that’s why it’s been on rotation on my turntable. –Craven Rock (jimboeaster.weebly.com)


JUNIOR VARSITY ARSON:
Self-titled: CDEP
Indie rock from Providence with spoken, nasal vocals that bring the Silver Jews, The Fall, and Cake to mind. Snide lyrics abound, like on “Her Parents Love Me” (“I’m such a big improvement over the white supremacist”). It’s basically five songs of your friend’s roommate who never talks until he’s wasted, then you realize he’s been taking notes on everyone for a long time. –Chris Terry (75orlessrecords.com)


KLAZO:
Self-titled: CS
Klazo is a fuzzed out, trashed out, two-piece garage rock band from London, Ontario. Noisy distorted guitars, snotty vocals (the screaming portions remind me, strangely enough, of early Die Kreuzen), and an excellent taste in covers all prevail here, including Freestone’s KBD classic, “Bummer Bitch”. This is a fun, eight scuzzy song demo cassette with songs titles like “Fuck Me”, “Get The Fuck Out” and “I Gotta Rock’n’Roll”, all clocking in under the magic two minute mark. This is the kind of straight from-the-garage noise I miss from the ‘90s and I look forward to hearing whatever else these guys bash out. –Mark Twistworthy (klazo.bandcamp.com)


KOBANES:
Lethal Injection: CD
I love me a good, heavily Ramones-influenced band and Kobanes continue to bring the goods. There isn’t really any point in describing the sound to you. You already know. They know what they love and they do it well. I almost shed a tear listening to their song about all of the Ramones being dead. Good stuff. –Ty Stranglehold (Kobanes, kobanes.com)


LAND OF WOLVES:
Self-titled: EP
This four piece call Seattle home and aggression their muse. Just shy of a year old, they’ve pieced themselves together with the bits of other broken bands to form a group of clenched-fisted angst. Land Of Wolves is the type of band that may be too punk for hardcore fans, and vice versa. Instead of starting lawnmowers, they’re starting pits. They’re picking up change to buy the next round with. Singer Brian Fernandes charges through screeching guitars, jack-hammer drumming, and earth-shaking bass with an unbridled intensity that waxes and wanes with the rest of the band flawlessly. The tunes are super charged and are closely akin to the likes of Lower Class Brats, The Boils, and Pressure Point, but do so while leaning away from oi. Don’t get me wrong. Their anger takes root in the working class; they’ve just got a bit more hair on their heads. Song themes repeatedly circle around selling your life for a measly paycheck and getting beat down by the daily grind. Their lyric sheet leaves you with a guiding principle: “Life can be shit, but struggle through and stay alive.” And with this record, at least you can abide by those words all whilst screaming your own. Play it loud. –Kayla Greet (Abomination Nation)


MACHO BOYS:
Toughest Band in Hardcore: CS
Oh bless these Northwest punks with their cassette cover looking like a three-year-old drew it. The same girl who drew the cover may be singing for the band, too. Tinpot drums, buzzsaw guitars, and the aforementioned bratty three-year-old on vocals. This is what suburban teenage punk should sound like. U.S. hardcore mixed with Vice Squad. I love it! Turns out some of these cats are in their thirties! Keeping it real! –Tim Brooks (Self-released)


MADCAPS, THE:
Hot Sauce: LP
Sassy, smart, and full of piss and vinegar. That is what you get when you toss this platter on the turntable. More garage rock than punk, but that suits me just fine. The Fleshtones, The Chesterfield Kings, maybe even The Standells seemed to have seeped into the well water in Rennes, France. Hopefully, these wacky fellows will play the States one day soon. Until then, I can look at the cover of this record, which is fantastic. –Sean Koepenick (madcaps.fr, themadcaps.band@gmail.com)


MIDRAKE:
Self-titled: CD
From the first song, I could detect a hint of an accent in the singer, and sure enough, these guys are Swiss! It pains me to do this as I know that the Swiss and Swedes are endlessly different and have several countries between them, but I hear quite a bit of Millencolin in this band. I just hate boiling a band down to the closest pings on the pop punk radar, both geographically and musically. But, on the other hand, they fall in line tightly with the likes of Teenage Bottlerocket, The Lillingtons, and The Methadones. The vocals on “The Swallows of Colmar” totally borrow from Dan Adriano, and that’s a big win for me: super melodic pop punk jams with gang harmonies. There’s some interestingly bright and biting guitar work on the track “Hoverboards and Guitars.” I gravitate to that song most because it operates outside the standard, sugary singalong tropes of pop punk. They’ve got a bit more gravitas than your run of the mill band from that subgenre that helps set them apart. Though Midrake is not exempt, it really helps a lot that they’re not grasping at the coattails of songs about girls and drinking. I could imagine this making an appearance on many backyard barbeques and road trip mixes this summer. –Kayla Greet (Monster Zero, monsterzerorecords.com)


MISCHIEF BREW:
Bacchanal ‘N’ Philadelphia: CD
By now you probably already know if you like the political folk punk stylings of Mischief Brew. Also available on vinyl from Square Of Opposition Records, this CD collects two of Mischief Brew’s 2003 releases in one handy reissue. With the tragic recent news that Plan-It-X Records folded, it’s clear that this subgenre of punk is not presently thriving. The two recordings contained on this collection are some of the best that this form has to offer. –Art Ettinger (Fistolo)


MOUTH:
Self-titled: CS
Deftones riffs and anguished vocals, except the last track, which is more of a smooth ballad—a reminder that there’s hair metal in metal-core’s DNA. I’ll leave it to the people at Alternative Press to go deep with this one. All I’m getting is an ambient “Hellfest ca. 2001” feeling. Not what I’m looking for at this stage in my life. –Matt Werts (Dead Broke, deadbrokerecords.com)


MURRAY, GREG:
33/34: CS
Upbeat indie rock in the vein of Gordon Gano’s Army channeling Teenage Fanclub and the Pixies. The vocals aren’t particularly good, the songs are a tad too long, and although I grew up in the ‘90s I’ll admit I completely missed the indie rock boat so my appreciation for these songs may be limited to politely nodding along before I ultimately forget them. –Juan Espinosa (Self-released, gregmurraypgh.bandcamp.com)


NAMELESS FRAMES:
Self-titled: LP
One of my current favorite Austin, Texas bands. Nameless Frames play a strain of punk that’s catchy and will get you moving, but not in a melodic or pop kind of way. I’m at a loss for a descriptor that does them justice. See them live (anywhere you can, but vibes are best at a record store or a house party) and you’ll be jumping up and down like their bassist, who may be the sweatiest musician outside of the drummer from Flesh Lights (also of Austin). Guitars and bass sound pretty distorted and red-lined, but not blown-out in a garage trash kind of way. Guitar is most fierce in “Garbage Can” and “Exploitation”; bass most bad ass in “Cut Out” and “Control.” All the songs are good, but if I were to put Nameless Frames on a mix, I’d choose “Garbage Can” or “I Don’t Know.” –Sal Lucci (Super Secret, supersecretrecords.com)


NASTY RUMOURS:
All Alone: 7"
These Swiss punks are drawing from first wave influences, keeping things mid-tempo, straightforward, and with no reluctance to put a little pop in the mix. The two songs here don’t quite do my eardrums right, coming off more like album fillers than prime single material, but they do hint at goodness either preceding this or some yet to come. In short: not quite hitting the mark, but promising nonetheless. –Jimmy Alvarado (No Front Teeth, nofrontteeth.co.uk)


NERVVRAK:
Don’t Need This Shit: CS
Mike Muir-style vocals over darker D.R.I. ‘80s fastcore with weird ‘90s Metallica breakdowns. Recorded with thin bass. Grit your teeth. This is punk on speed. –Camylle Reynolds (Distort The World, nervvrak.bandcamp)


NEW BERLIN:
Self-titled: CS
There are no markings at all on this cassette or cover. A tiny piece of paper tells me that this is seven songs on side 1 and a mix of other artists on side 2. The sound kind of splits the difference between garage punk and post punk. –Mike Frame (Rare Plant, facebook.com/rareplantrecords, newberlin.bandcamp.com)


NIGHT LIVES:
Divider:: CD
The cover of Divider depicts a sea at once relatively calm but yet suggesting some dark foreboding. In other words, a perfect cover for this four-song CD from Finland’s Night Lives. These guys specialize in a slightly-detuned, crusty-flavored, brooding punk that totally brings Tragedy to mind, minus the epic breakdowns. –Garrett Barnwell (Self-released, nightlivesband.bandcamp.com)


OLDFASHIONED IDEAS:
Another Side to Every Story: CD
Oldfashioned Ideas (OI – get it?) are a pretty standard fare oi/street punk band. It’s not that they’re bad or anything, there just isn’t much here that is memorable to me. When it comes down to it, the most striking thing is their strange band name. I guess when I think of old fashioned ideas, I automatically think of ideas that are outdated or not with the times… I dunno. Weird. –Ty Stranglehold (Contra)


PATSY:
Eat It: 7"
Two tunes, both of ‘em atonal, abrasive, and aggressive in execution. Works well in the 7” format, but I gotta say I’m sorta curious how they’d hold up on a full-length. –Jimmy Alvarado (Total Punk, floridasdying.com)


PERSONAL BEST:
Loaf of Bread Rising: CS
Sloppy, poker-faced indie punk with clean, mathy guitars. Pavement meets Slint, perhaps. From L.A., possibly broken up, definitely recorded in a metal pail. –Chris Terry (squidrecords.com)


PEZBAND:
Women & Politics: 12” EP
Four songs of skinny tie rock from these long-running power pop underdogs. Pezband started in the Chicago ‘burbs in the 1970s, eventually touring arenas opening for a few big rock acts of the day. “Women & Politics” was recorded in ‘82, when the band found themselves mired in label drama as their popularity flagged. This is the first time this recording is seeing the light of day, and it’s a shame it took so dang long. A couple songs have sharp, clean guitars and fit in more with The Knack or The Vapors, while the others do the “bombastic Beatles” thing that Cheap Trick perfected. I’m not well-versed in this rock’n’roll subgenre, so I can’t draw more esoteric comparisons, but if you’re into new wave and power pop, I highly suggest tracking this down. All four songs are good. –Chris Terry (frodisrecords.storenvy.com)


PROUD PARENTS:
Sharon Is Karen: CS
Self described as “jangle-chunk”, Proud Parents hail from Madison, WI and contain members of The Hussy. The band creates songs of multi-gendered, multi-layered vocal harmonies over jangly guitars and bouncy melodies. Sometimes this reminds me of The Bananas, while other times it reminds me of a less refined Goodnight Loving. This seems perfect for a small basement show filled with friends, beers, and dancing around to Proud Parents hooky garage pop. –Mark Twistworthy (proudparentsband.bandcamp.com)


PUDGE:
Bad Land: CD-R
Falling somewhere between Fucked Up and the Minutemen, song to song there is a good variety on this CD. The vocals are spazzy. The style of the songs—as well the tempo changes throughout them—keep things interesting. –Ryan Nichols (Self-released, no address listed)


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·MASKED INTRUDER / TURKLETONS, THE
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