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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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WHITE ORANGE:
Onawa: CD
Dunno whether to classify this as a full-length or EP—three tunes, but the whole ride clocks in at a smidge over twenty-five minutes, total. What it all boils down to is modern space rock fodder, hence the limited number of tunes with looooooong run-times, that sometimes sound just as influenced by Loveless-era My Bloody Valentine as anything Hawkwind ever released. Tunes are hypnotic with a catchiness that manages keep the listener engaged throughout. This kinda stuff is generally hit-or-miss, but they manage to pull it off quite well. –jimmy (White Orange, whiteorange.bandcamp.com)


WHITE NIGHT:
Prophets of Templum CDXX: LP
Driving an hour or three for a show is unfortunately reality in the South. It also prevents a lazy person from catching some great performances. So I was determined to not miss Pedro kings White Night tour through Alabama. The show was a blast in Huntsville and I got to walk away with the new LP. Live, the band still pushes the scrappy punk sound of the first LP and 10”, but Prophets of Templum CDXX veers closer to Burger ‘60s psyche territory, especially with the keyboard pushed as high as the guitars in the mix. Not always my cup’o’magic mushroom tea, but there’s still enough feistiness and fun in these tunes to warrant many a spin on sweaty summer days, dreaming about toobin’ your local spot. –Matt Seward (Recess, recessrecords.com / 45 R.P.M., calimucho.net)


WELCH BOYS, THE:
Bring Back the Fight: CD
This new record from these Boston barnburners is lean and mean. There are songs about drinkin’, songs about hockey, and songs about gettin’ in trouble. It’s all delivered with a fast and furious precision that may cause you to spill your beer. There are two covers sandwiched in here as well. But all you need to know is if you like fast punk that gets your blood pumping, then you need this one on your shelf. Also, there’s only one dude smiling in the band photo. The rest of the guys may have to give you a talking to if you don’t get on board. –koepenick (Sailor’s Grave, info@sailorsgraverecords.com)


WE HAVE HEAVEN:
Feel the Power: LP+CD
Their label describes We Have Heaven as “psych drone thrashers.” The band is composed of David Kresge and Eric de Jesus on looped guitars and effects, and Kyle Page on drums. There are guest appearances by Rachel Lambdin on violin on one track, and Renee Uzardi on tabla (an Indian hand drum similar to bongos) on another. There’s not much thrashing to speak of on this. What there is, is looped guitar riffs run through a bunch of effects pedals with drums that set a beat and keep things from getting stale. If you’re looking for something low key to mellow out to We Have Heaven are divine, but if you’re looking for something that gets the fist pumping, or the head banging, you’re best to look elsewhere. –Paul J. Comeau (Easy Subculture)


WE ARE HEX:
Lewd Nudie Animals: 7”
Haven’t heard much from ‘em in a good spell, but it sounds like they’re still in touch with their Birthday Party records, along with a steady diet of post-punk, death rock, goth, and tribal punk fare, which is never a bad thing. Dug their Hail the Goer CD some time back, and I’m definitely diggin’ this as well. –jimmy (Latest Flame)


WARM TOY MACHINE:
Not Tired to Blow: LP
Warm Toy Machine plays bizarre garage rock. A once French, now Belgian band, they are heavily influenced by gritty peers in the Euro rock underground, as well as by grubby U.S. bands like Spider Babies. Simultaneously off-putting and engaging, bands like this are a dime a dozen. Is that a bad thing, though? Familiarly sleazy, Warm Toy Machine is aural comfort food for the perpetually uncomfortable. –Art Ettinger (P. Trash)


WARM NEEDLES / COSTANZA:
Split: 7”
Two bands playing different styles of punk, pop punk, and more straight-ahead punk and both come out as winners. Warm Needles play peppy, bouncy pop punk that gets your toes tapping and Costanza get a little rougher around the edges and serve up two hard-hitting punk tracks. Both bands are catchy, play with energy, and these tunes don’t come off as throwaway songs. –Rick Ecker (Tour Van, tourvanrecords.bandcamp.com)


VIOLENT BULLSHIT:
Age of Quarrel 2 by Amon Duul 3: 7” EP
When all’s said and done, Violent Bullshit is a hardcore band and all the tropes associated with that genre are in full evidence. They are, however, bright enough to temper all the throat-shredding vocals, howling angry lyrics, and the high-velocity tempos with off-the-beaten-path rhythms and odd time signatures so things don’t become one big, boring blur. Not sure if or how they’d manage to pull it off over the course of an LP, but they more than handily do so here. –jimmy (25 Diamonds, info@25diamonds.com)


VEHEMENT SERENADE:
The Things That Tear You Apart: CD
The world needs another Karl Buechner-fronted (Earth Crisis, Path Of Resistance) hardcore band like I need a kick to the head, which is what I would’ve likely gotten for writing such a thing if this was the early-to-mid 1990s. Multiple listens to Vehement Serenade, however, harkens me back to E-Town Concrete, a rapcore group from New Jersey that was around in the ‘90s and early 2000s. Not because the two groups sound anything alike (although I would pay money to hear Buechner rap), but in the similar response they both gave me. At first, I thought E-Town Concrete were silly, but upon repeated listens I heard grooves and some catchiness in their rap-rock stylings. But then after a while I realized, “No, this is dumb.” While Vehement Serenade may not be rap-rock, they are deceptive in that same way. Is this silly? Yes. Wait, it’s got some good grooves and decent riffs. No, wait, it’s dumb. Why? Because there are too many bands playing this same thing. While it’s nice to hear a bit of divergence (is that an attempt at singing I hear?), this just seems too similar to a million other metal-core bands I’ve heard before, even if Buechner is behind the mic. –kurt (Fast Break, fastbreakent.com)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Twitch and Gloam: CD
The subheading for this release is “Dark sounds from the Pacific Northwest,” and that’s more than apt a description for what you get for your buck here. Twelve bands—Vice Device, //zoo, Baby Guns, Perpetual Ritual, Grave Babies, and others—hailing from Portland and points north bust out their synths, geetars, and other devices and lay down some infectious dark pop, gloomy new wave, morose skronk, and sundry related noise. These types of comps (as are most comps these days, come to think of it) are notoriously spotty, but this one maintains a high level of quality and consistency that will no doubt please both fans of the genre and those looking for something different from the noise to which they usually subject themselves. –jimmy (Flat Field, flatfieldrecords.com)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Radio Ready - Texas: Volume One: LP
Rare Texas power pop tunes from 1978-’83, assembled lovingly by Cheap Rewards records. They put out the fine Reactions reissue a short while back and maintain a stellar blog with tunes ranging from Killed by Death (Cheap Rewards also put out the Legionnaires Disease re-ish) to power pop to obscure mungo. The packaging is aces (gatefold sleeve, liner notes about each band, and I got the hook up from an Austin buddy who was able to get me the neon green vinyl!). Fidelity is pretty high and the mastering is loud enough that the two songs recorded in mono keep up with the rest. I can’t pick just one favorite song. Maybe Jemmy Leggs’ “Fireworks” or The Fad’s “Think.” Or The Haskells “Pop Art.” I’m sure promised future volumes will only make my choice that much harder! –Sal Lucci (Cheap Rewards, cheaprewards.net)


UV RACE:
“Gypsy King” b/w “Charlie Sheen”: 7”
UV Race continue to take the States by storm. Australians on a mission. For the benighted, this group is hard to categorize. Sort of LiLiput, sort of early Fall. “Gypsy King” has a Memphis horns feel to it. Slow and lazy....While it’s dangerous to make generalizations, here I go: Australians love American culture. We sell more Bondo-lined Yank tanks to Australia than just about any other country. When I was in New Zealand in 2011, Kiwis told me how awesome Charlie Sheen was and that he had to be making America proud. (Australia is right above New Zealand for the geographically challenged; the two countries share a friendly rivalry and close trade relations.) Marcus (UV Race vocalist) wrote a song about Charlie Sheen. There you go. Like all UV Race albums, he included liner notes to this 7”, describing his fascination with Sheen—the porn stars, fast cars, and millions of dollars. It’s a funny song. And thirty years from now—when America is totally impotent and exhausted, the logical conclusion to Reaganomics—I imagine it’ll be a source of pride that another industrialized country produced a generation that cared enough about American pop culture to write a song about it. Should you get this record? No doubt. I bought this from the band about a month before Razorcake sent it to me. –ryan (HoZac, hozacrecords.com)


TURN ME ON DEADMAN:
We Are the Star People: LP
The Alternative Tentacles website presents this band as an innovative, heavy psych act. They remind me of generic ‘90s radio rock. They have a song called “Dreamchild.” Even Paul Stanley would pull quality control on that title. They have nice guitar tones, but that’s about as far as I got with it. It probably sounds better live –Billups Allen (Alternative Tentacles)


TRASHIES:
Teenage Rattlesnakes: LP
Garage punk that feels like it has more in common with Devo than New Bomb Turks. Interesting in that I don’t think I’ve heard a modern band ever sound quite like this. The rhythms and tempos are erratic and peculiar, a quality which I’ve come to appreciate. Not as dirty as the name might imply. You’d think for a band called the Trashies this would be dripping in fuzz, but such was not meant to be. Grade: B. –Bryan Static (1234 Go!, 1234gorecords.com)


TOYS THAT KILL / FUTURE VIRGINS:
Split: 7”
The newest Toys That Kill track, “Maybe This Cult Is Way Off” is glorious. Once again, TTK give the hypnotic surf melodies and run-in-your-head-for-days vocal hooks of the sound they created. In this song something about the band’s mantra lyrics (the song title is repeated at least twenty times) joins with the buzzy jump of distorted bass and activates my blood like a drug. Listening to it makes me want to practice full-court shots, or throw a brick through the mayor’s window: anything to express with my body the excellence of this track. Speaking to the other half of the EP, now is somehow my first time hearing Future Virgins. I missed their well-reviewed album Western Problems, but these two EP tracks “Passing Curse” and “Counting Sheep (Show Me)” are great. They’ve kept me re-listening for echoes of The Jam’s ‘70s clangy guitar and throaty Hüsker Dü singing. The group has a smart rock-influenced punk sound, playing with more than the standard punk power chord and three-part song structure. Taken together, TTK and Future Virgins complement each other on this release. It’s worth picking up for either band. –Jim Joyce (Drunken Sailor, drunkensailorrecs@gmail.com)


TOYOTAS, THE:
Toyotas for Sale: 10”
The pride of Wuppertal, these tuneful-yet-efficient Germans carry on their proud national tradition of high-minded philanthropy by helpfully and selflessly compiling the songs from their three P.Trash singles on one extremely handy 10”. The addition of three bonus covers ((Reducers! Fuck yes! “Tainted Love!” Fuck no!)) ups the ante to fourteen songs in ten inches, with nothing clocking in over 2:25. Like any efficiently-tuned four-cylinder engine, these Toyotas sound something like ‘90s West Coast moddists like The Gain or Odd Numbers crossed with the work of bygone pop punk countrymen like the Cheeks and un-bygone garage punk continentmen like whatever Martin Savage is up to these days. A ten-inch record with fourteen songs this good is almost like having dessert for supper, so pass the Haribo® Gold-Bears and let’s get this party started! BEST SONG: “Kicks & Screams,” unless you count the Reducers cover, which is excellent. BEST SONG TITLE: “Radio Off” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: “Tainted Love” was originally recorded by Gloria Jones in 1964. –norb (P.Trash, ptrashrecords.com)


TIMMY VULGAR:
Center of Saturn: Cassette
Timmy Vulgar: he makes awesome Mexican food, puts out records with Human Eye, and doesn’t need responsibility, man. This cassette tape is for fans only. They’ll love it. Casual Timmy fans (if they exist) won’t. This tape is lo-fi. The fact that halfway through listening to it I figured out that the gnarly hiss coming from the speakers was attributable to my cassette player acting up—and not due to Timmy’s rudimentary recording equipment—speaks volumes for how lo-fi Center of Saturn is. There are some gems on here. The instrumental stuff is nothing short of amazing. There are some free-association tracks as well. If you still have a cassette player and like Timmy Vulgar (come on, people, the latter’s a no-fucking-brainer), pick this one up. –ryan (Flesh Wave, fleshwave.bandcamp.com)


TIKDOFF:
Zero Trux: LP
To be brutally honest, I was expecting a heap o’ generic thrash-o-rama from this, but no, these Australian malcontents manage to make a racket that, while clearly falling within hardcore’s parameters and reeking of U.S. influence, doesn’t follow a rather large herd. Things are mostly kept short, dissonant, and mid-tempo, but they throw themselves fully into the fray, juggling equal parts quirk and antagonism with deft heft. Those looking for something that easily fits into their predetermined pigeonhole criteria will likely be nonplussed by this, but, to again be brutally honest, they fuckin’ deserve to be. –jimmy (Tikdoff, tikdoffband@hotmail.com)


TENEMENT:
“Freak Cast in Iron” b/w “Books on Hell and “Sermons on TV”: 7”EP
I have a fear of becoming homeless. Gone are the creature comforts of predictable electricity and indoor plumbing. Tenement foregoes the pleasantries of “professional” punk and lives off the land. In the dirt. Blasted by passing exhaust. Overexposed. Cracking. There’s something undeniably desperate, renegade, and wild-eyed about Tenement, even when they play slow and include what sounds like a xylophone. Rebellion without a marketing plan or a retirement fund. Part of the Cowabunga Sick Club. Recommended. –todd (Cowabunga)


SUNDIALS / TATLINS TOWER:
Split: 7”
Sundials: Two tracks of catchy indie pop just hittin’ the sweet spot—not too geeky, not too cerebral, not too polished, and not too trashy. Me likey. Tatlin’s Tower: Along the same lines, but maybe a wee bit darker than Sundials. Was initially a bit put off by ‘em for some reason, but as the guitars built up and began to burn ‘n’ churn, they won me over. –jimmy (Kiss Of Death)


SUCCESS:
We are the Elitist Generation: CD
I’ve said it before in these very pages and I will say it again: Releases like this one reaffirm my faith in the ol’ punk rock. After wading through what seems like an endless parade of bland, radio-friendly pop punk, the reward at the end of the trail is a release like this. Success occupies that rare zone where earnest performance and good songwriting intersect without a trace of irony or the sense that the band wants to be the next big thing. There is maybe one clunker on the whole disc which is otherwise filled with songs that don’t try too hard—instead allowing the material to breathe and go where it will. Whereas in the hands of others, stuff like this might seem contrived or forced, Success pulls it off with aplomb. It seems like these guys are in it for the right reasons and if I haven’t made it clear, this CD is well worth seeking out. –Garrett Barnwell (La Escalera, laescalerarecords.com)


STRAIGHT ARROWS:
“Never Enough” b/w “Can’t Stand It”: 7”
Unsurprisingly, Straight Arrows deliver another awesome 7”. “Never Enough” is a little slower and heavier than most the songs found on the band’s debut full-length It’s Happening. The B side’s “Can’t Stand It” is a fast-tempo burner. It should go without saying that the production on this 7” is raw, so if you’re looking for the clarity of Eno’s Ambient records—and they do indeed rule—you’re coming to the wrong place. Anyone interested in fucked up music—Red Krayola, Swell Maps, etc.—will benefit greatly from picking this 7” up. The cover art rules, too. Impress your friends at parties with this 45. And if the Straight Arrows ever come through your town, catch them. They’re from Australia and that’s a long plane ride. (Just be careful of drummer Adam. Word on the street is the dude parties harder than Keith Moon.) –ryan (HoZac, hozacrecords.com)


STEVE ADAMYK BAND:
Monterrey: 7”EP
Genres are musical stereotypes. Failure, from a band standpoint, comes from merely photocopying, sticking the “genre” face down on the platen, hitting the button, and making the mistake of being ignorant of the fact there are people with long memories looking over your shoulder, ready to call you out. (Power pop and pop punk bands are particularly egregious.) Genre failure, from a music critic standpoint, is an incipient laziness to interact with the music that’s actually being played. Case in point: Steve Adamyk Band, yeah, they’re poppy, they’re powerful, but there’s oh so much more at play than “skinny ties of the mind.” Because Steve Adamyk makes songs that may sound like glass—they sound so effortless, so easy, so transparent, falsely appearing to be brittle when punched—until you (if you’re a music reviewer or a deep listener) hear the wreckage from so many other bands still trying to pull this style of music off and shitting not only their pants, but into your ears. The Steve Adamyk Band plays diamond rock—it’s all cut, carats, and clarity. It’s the thing that does the smashing, not the smashed thing. That’s a world of difference. If John Peel were still alive, he may have thought twice about putting an Undertones song title on his headstone. (If punks can’t blaspheme, who can?) –todd (Hosehead)


SPOKENEST:
We M●ve: 12”
The don’t-give-a-fuck attitude represented in Spokenest’s lyrics is nothing if not a wonderful antithesis to the supertight, “funk as punk” crafting of their music. Daryl plays jangly riffs circa 1990s Washington D.C., and Adrian is easily my new favorite drummer, all over the fucking place with a chaos and grace reminiscent of Keith Moon. I was turned on to their previous project, God Equals Genocide, just as they were downsizing by thirty-three percent and reforming as Spokenest. I remember putting on their Rattled Minds LP and thinking, “Shit! I wish I could form a band and open for these kids.” Sadly, I missed that window. I am just grateful that Spokenest is around, carrying it on and carrying it as well as they are. –John Mule (Self-released, spokenest.bandcamp.com)


SOUTH CAREY:
Pure Vanity: Cassette
The first thing that can be said about South Carey is that they really love their city and their scene. This is apparent both from their name (a major street in Baltimore), and from their lyrics. In addition to reflecting Baltimore pride, South Carey’s lyrics tackle perennial punk themes, with a bit of self-deprecating humor thrown in the mix. To my ears there are a variety of influences colliding together to form South Carey’s sound. Every song is catchy, with strong hooks, and a polished but still DIY sound. After repeated listens I can’t help but feeling a very strong ‘90s vibe from this. I imagine South Carey would have fit right in on a Punk-O-Rama, or other ‘90s-era compilation, had they been around at the time. I mean this as a high form of praise, as compilations were what first introduced me to punk. Pure Vanity features great cover art by Matt Taylor (Old Lines vocalist) which fits the vibe perfectly. I can sum up South Carey in their own words, from the Pure Vanity. “Make art for art’s sake.” Word to that. –Paul J. Comeau (Burn Fast Burn Bright)


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