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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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FACE TO FACE:
Three Chords and a Half Truth: CD
So the card trick after the first reunion record (or hiatus or whatever you want to call the five-year break), is to keep the momentum rolling. Some bands can do this—like Mission Of Burma, for example. Other bands just are not up to the challenge. I’m happy to report that this is not the case with this record. We get a lot of varied sounds and different styles here, along with the Face To Face anthems of the future. It’s obvious a lot of effort was put out on this one. “Skyscrapers and Smokestacks” “and “Jinx Proof” were some of the standouts. But it’s clear that this band can still make a solid album from end to end. Now it is all up to you. –koepenick (Rise, riserecords.com)


EX NUNS:
Dead of Zero: 7”

Kinda hard to get a bean on this one. Inside an almost AmRep clanging ‘n’ banging is an industrial vibe as interpreted by early Sonic Youth, with droning single string leads dueling against each other while someone moans a melody and sings unintelligible lyrics. The flip, “Crash Meditation,” is more of the same, with a bit more lyrical clarity while not letting the boot off yer neck. Definitely a band to keep an eye on.

–jimmy (25 Diamonds, info@25diamonds.com)


ELWAY:
Leavetaking: CD
Ten years ago, I could see this band being really popular. It’s melodic, heart-felt (emo?) punk rock. Additionally, there’s the one obligatory acoustic tune and a quote inside the album by Sylvia Plath. Nowadays? I can still see it being big, but I can also see more people being jaded by this catchy, Alkaline Trio-sounding pop punk. Then again, there are still lots of teenagers nowadays, so who can say? –kurt (Red Scare)


ELEPHANTS:
Self-titled: CD
Fiery mix of Dinosaur Jr. meets My Bloody Valentine-style guitars with a sprinkle of vintage Letters To Cleo on top. Some of the lead guitar noodling gets a little repetitive and the vocalist kind of relies upon the same phrasings, but, fortunately, the energetic delivery and good songs more than make up for any of those relatively minor quibbles. I expect to see good things in the future from these folks, for sure. –Garrett Barnwell (Self-released, elephants.the.band@gmail.com)


DRUGLORDS OF THE AVENUES:
New Drugs: CD
The second recorded installment by this long-running side project of Swingin’ Utters frontman Johnny Peebucks. While I have never particularly been a fan of the Utters, I have to say that this outfit suits me just fine. Fifteen tracks of scrappy, beer-swillin’ goodness. Well, fourteen as there is one half-hearted reggae-tinged song that probably should have been scrapped. All this plus a pretty awesome holiday track! Holiday songs can be a mixed bag, but the Druglords manage to deliver one of the better examples of the form. –Garrett Barnwell (Red Scare, redscare.net)


DRAGON TURTLE AND ERIC DE JESUS:
“The Second Summer of Love” b/w “The Leaves on the Trees Were Green with Youth": 7”
This 7” is one of the more interesting releases I’ve come across in the last year. Dragon Turtle is a collaboration between musicians Brian Lightbody and Tom Asselin, playing synth-y, ambient shoegaze. Dragon Turtle provided backing music for some of spoken word artist Eric de Jesus’s live readings, and this record presents studio recorded versions of two of those live collaborations. The music Dragon Turtle creates serves as a great backdrop for de Jesus’s spoken word musings, particularly on “The Leaves on the Trees Were Green with Youth,” which has great lines such as “The air was dusty, it felt like humidity and unemployment.” My only complaint with this is that I wish de Jesus’ voice was a bit more prominent in the mix, and not quite as muddy and hidden in the middle of the music. That said, if you’re looking for something with a different vibe from the usual, do yourself a favor and check this out. –Paul J. Comeau (La Société Expéditionnaire, la-soc.com)


DOPAMINES, THE:
Vices: CD
I’ve seen their name a billion times in the It’s Alive ads, but somehow have never actually knowingly heard these cats until now. It’s a shame, really, as these guys are top notch. What sticks out to me is the multidimensional nature of the band. Casual listening reveals a band very comfortable within the parameters they give themselves to work with—a poppy blend of Midwestern-styled, mid-tempo punk rock, but the subject matter takes a strong turn toward the deeply personal entries of a long-lost diary. Depression, alcohol, and broken love are all hauntingly touched upon in some of the happiest-sounding sad songs I have come across in recent memory. –Garrett Barnwell (It’s Alive, itsaliverecords.com)


DÖDSVARG:
Om Det Där Med Omänskliga Relationer: CDEP
Not really what I was expecting. The name and black-on-black layout had me convinced I was getting a straight-up Skitsystem/Martyrdöd “stadium crust” clone. Those comparisons might actually be apt as far as vocals and guitar tones go, but the big picture is more a crusty-industrial-sludge-metal that’s both quite unique and rather good. Definitely maintains the bleak atmosphere of the aforementioned Scandi-crust, but injected with a metallic, mechanic, cold, plodding vibe. Very cool. –Dave Williams (Suicide)


DISSEKERAD:
Self-titled: LP
Prime-grade Swedish hardcore. These kids shake things up by mixing the usual Discharge influence with maybe a bit of crust to give it some apocalyptic heft. Add some laryngitic vocals and you has yerself fun for the whole family guaranteed to get lotsa spins at yer next bridge party. –jimmy (Skrammel, skrammelrecords.se)


DISABILITY:
Rockandrolltigers: Cassette
Sludgy slowcore with annoying, shouting vocals, reminding me of a sexually repressed Henry Rollins. The first song has these weird time changes into noodley Joan Of Arc-type riffs before the sludgy riffs drop in again. That’s the most interesting it gets. From there it’s just dragging riffs with little feedback or distortion to fill out the sound. Too much testosterone, too few ideas. –Craven Rock (Common Thread)


DIRT BIKE ANNIE:
Hit the Rock!: LP
Holy smokes, Mutant Pop CDs from 1999 are getting re-released on vinyl! What next, Oreo® pancakes? I loved Dirt Bike Annie back in the day! They had a light man, doing stuff with the lights! And synchronized dance steps! And a hot bass player! People didn’t seem to know if they were a pop punk or a power pop band, but i don’t know that they were actually either one… they were more like a cool rock band with pop and punk elements, like the Muffs, or the second Generation X album, or a punked-out version of Pilot or something. The straight-ahead rockers here like “Grape Crush” “Rat Fink” and “Come On! Come On!” still hold up, fourteen years later; the more expressive numbers like “Are You Ready to Dance?” make me long for synchronized leg kicks. I tried improvising my own dance routine in the living room but i hurt my foot on the VCR. The Dirt Bike is willing but the foot is geek. BEST SONG: “Rat Fink” BEST SONG TITLE: “Grape Crush” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: I once ranked Dirt Bike Jeanie as #41 in my Top 50 Hottest Rock Chicks of All Time list, and you’d be surprised how slowly a thing like that erodes from pubic memory in some sectors. –norb (Whoh Oh, whoaohrecords.com)


DEVO:
Hardcore Volume 1: LP
It’s funny to me when a CD becomes a valuable collector’s item. Anyone searching for these ludicrously out of print volumes of Devo’s early output on Rykodisc over the past ten plus years likely found them priced for around eighty dollars. Devo finally let loose the reigns, making their early four tack demos available. Gems include unreleased early output like the emotionless robot anthem “Mechanical Man” along with slowed down versions of motorized masterpieces such as “Jocko Homo” and “Mongoloid.” Devo’s distinct sound arose from their ability to manipulate analog creaks and groans created on homemade equipment. The band’s personality is cemented in these early examples of Devolution. While it’s easy to consider this a fan-only release, the creativity of Devo’s early songwriting is essential and worth studying for any music fan. Both volumes of Hardcore present the ultimate lesson in proto punk. –Billups Allen (Superior Viaduct)


DAYLIGHT ROBBERY:
“Distant Shores,” “Annexed” b/w “Disruption”: 7”
I celebrate Daylight Robbery’s entire catalog and they continually grow. I feel that their sound is like noir cinematography, but unmistakably punk. They create with shadow almost more than with light. They give the shape to their songs almost like a crime-in-progress. There’s tension, drama, plot. They make haunting music, not spooky music. But the morning sunlight breaking through thin drapes, a new version of Daylight Robbery shows itself on this 7”. I hope it doesn’t sound corny, but I kept coming back to these two words with this batch of songs: jubilant and galloping. Tasteful splashes of color fill their typically wintery musical world. Blood pumps under skin, a sweat breaks, and it sounds great. Recommended. –todd (Poison City)


DAVE SMALLEY:
Punk Rock Days: CD
Occasionally it takes some time before you are willing to peel back the onion and see what’s under the skin, versus just going in for a big, juicy bite. Thankfully some artists are not afraid to go for broke. And that’s exactly what we have with this record by Dave Smalley—songs that discerning music fans have played over and over again to continued enjoyment. This time stripped back to an acoustic setting. The fire and skill in the songwriting shines through here. Dag Nasty and Down By Law favorites are featured. Guest players include Brian Baker and Sam Williams III. The other half of the record features new Smalley efforts and a traditional Irish ballad. My favorite of the new songs is “Beau Geste.” This is an incredible record and the talent is evident from start to finish. A must-have! –koepenick (Self-released, punkrockdays@gmail.com)


DARK RIDES:
Walk the Floors: LP
“What’s real is the voice when somebody talks, not the hum of circuits in a box.” If you’re not a robot, a sycophant, or merely a capitalist in convenient punk clothing, there’s a time when you either walk away from punk (it was just a phase, or if not a lot of people are into it, neither are you), or you dig deeper. Paradoxically, the journey goes far beyond the music, to its nourishing roots—to who you consider family, to food choices, to friend choices, actively, daily fighting for a life you want to live. We’re talking beyond the first phase of a punk’s life to when its initially bright colors have wilted and its loud tastes begin to sound muted. “Well here’s to those who didn’t stop at the guitar. You’re the reason we stand apart. You change it all, with an open heart.” But punk without music is not something I’m interested in. Those are high expectations for a band and it’s a question of ingestion. What will you spend time to seek out to nourish you when all the lights go out? For me, it’s not about musical convenience and fast food of the mind, but bands that give and take, that buy in much more to their music and its meaning than they worry about how their record’s selling. Dark Rides is from Chattanooga and is part of that amazing Future Virgins, ADD/C, Hidden Spots, Black Rainbow, Tulsa universe. It’s emotionally intelligent, generous, and hidden in plain sight. “So don’t you worry about the hereafter. The angry gods up in the rafters. Listen to the river’s gentle laughter. We are one with all matter.” An amazing debut LP. –todd (Do Ya Hear We)


CURMUDGEON:
Amygdala: LP
Blistering early ‘90s SoCal-style power violence in the vein of later No Comment, Despise You, or Lack Of Interest. I love this band because on the modern powerviolence playing field that stresses excessive speed or sludge, Curmudgeon are okay with having good riffs that are mid-tempo and even, at times, hit straight hooks. The music is dark and brooding, but the lack of concern with sounding “like” a powerviolence band adds a whole different sonic level. The lyrics are printed on one side of the insert with explanations on the other. I used to hate it when bands did that because I felt it excused writing vague lyrics, and…well, I kind of still feel this way, but I’ve also learned that you can’t really judge someone because of how they choose to express ideas, so if they feel they need explanations to address the issues they need to address, that’s fine. The design of the sleeve and insert felt really cumbersome at first, but the more time I spend with the record, the more I appreciate the label going out of their way to make the packing engrossing and interesting while the record spins and you read through the lyrics. –Ian Wise (Not Normal, notnormaltapes@gmail.com)


CULO:
My Life Sucks and I Could Care Less: LP
Culo again lays the smackdown on an unsuspecting public. As on previous releases, they spend a good portion of the time assaulting the listener with their patented full-bore, full-speed thrash attack, but just when you’re on the ropes praying to be counted out, they clothesline from the top of the cage, slowing things down and even throwing in some keyboards when you least expect it. Whole thing comes on heavy and is over before you have a chance to get your mind around what just happened and, being the masochists you inevitably are, you’ll flip the wax over and begin the pummeling all over again. –jimmy (Deranged)


COMMON GOAL, A:
Blessings and Battles: CD
Man, I am really bothered by a band with an agenda, especially one as overt as this one. The band makes no bones about it—they are straight-up Christian punk. The message of working hard and doing good might not be such a bad thing, but when cloaked in these trappings, it just comes off as judgmental preaching. To be fair, I would feel the same about a band with any obvious agenda. That said, the music cannot seem to escape the dogma, kind of half-heartedly chugging along, content to tow the Christian line. I don’t know, man. I grew up on punk that inspired me to challenge ideas and notions of religion and politics and stuff like this just seems anathema to my core beliefs. Sorry dudes, I just can’t objectively recommend this release to anyone. –Garrett Barnwell (Thumper Punk, thumperpunkrecords.com)


COLIN’S GODSON:
Greatest Hits: CD
Twee Glaswegians who have brought back either the 3” CD format or the Chu-Bop® ((I’m not sure which, but it wasn’t very flavorful nor chewy. Which, come to think of it, probably means it’s a Chu-Bop®)) and sound like either the Kung Fu Monkeys doing Flop covers, Jazz Butcher doing Toy Dolls covers, or Snuff doing songs off those weird Kung Fu Monkeys records about the peppermints. Undistorted guitars! Things that sound like harpsichords! Probably some merry-go-rounds, a powdered wig, and a half-pipe in there, too. Pass the Opal Fruits®! BEST SONG: “Garry Bushell’s Ostentatious Beard” BEST SONG TITLE: “Brian May’s Intergalactic Tax Dodge Tactic” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Comes appended to an issue of the Colin’s Godson meet the Spook School comic book and looks like a Queen record. –norb (Puzzled Aardvark, colinsgodson.com)


COLD COMFORT:
Sometimes It’s Nothing: Cassette
Five songs of late ‘80s D.C.-style stuff for fans of Ignition, Fugazi, and Lungfish. Fans of Killing Joke or Joy Division-style dark post-punk would probably like this as well. –frame (Subject, subjectrecords.bigcartel.com)


COLD CIRCUITS:
Self-titled: 7”
Cold Circuits appear to be a brother band to Synthetic ID, but their sound is just about as different as it is similar. The icy, anxiety-ridden post-punk is replaced by agitated, salivating thud punk. Less twitching, more pogoing; but still ravaged by the mounting dissolution and paranoia. A rhythm section bound for glory, but still bound by the white hot darkness. Cold and bleak, but bouncing in defiance, with sporadic tinges of fear. –Daryl Gussin (Satellite Visions, cruciavibez@gmail.com / Erste Theke Tonträger, vaukajott@gmx.de)


COELACANTH:
Self-titled: CDEP
Whoa! Very cool blackened thrash ala early Bathory/Celtic Frost/Hellhammer, but with a tougher, almost Danny Lilker-band type attitude. Awesome raw, heavy, but totally audible production with the requisite ‘verbed-out vocals and gang shouts. Kinda like Toxic Holocaust—pre-Relapse budget—but y’know, tougher. Bummed that there are only four tracks! Killer. –Dave Williams (Self-released)


CJ RAMONE:
Reconquista: CD/DVD
CJ returns with the first record under his own name (if you missed Bad Chopper then you need to correct that error pronto) and enlists some excellent players to assist with the album. Steve Soto (Adolescents) and Jose Medeles (The Breeders) are the core band. Guests galore drop in: Billy Zoom (X), Dan Root (One Hit Wonder), Frank Agnew (Adolescents, Social Distortion), Marcus Hollar (Street Dogs), and Jay Bentley (Bad Religion), to name a few. The DVD is a sweet primer for the record. The highlights include some of the guitarists shreddin’ through their guitar solos in the studio. “Three Angels” is a heartfelt tune about his bandmates that are now gone from this earth. “You’re the Only One” has almost a “Needles and Pins” feel. For the head on rockers—“King Kobra” and “Low on Ammo” are the coolest and will keep the kids rocking this summer. Useless trivia fact—CJ’s cover of “Waitin’ for the Man” came up as “Waitin’ for My Mom” on my computer. Ritchie Ramone better have his chops up if he wants to top this later this year. –koepenick (Pirates Press, piratespress.com)


CHEAP ART:
Desocialized: 7”

Fourteen tracks of dual vocal female/male fast hardcore punk from Atlanta. Blurring riffs, snapping snare, and vocal cacophony that stampedes into momentary, pummeling breakdowns. It’s always impressive when bands can write this many songs—that are this short—and make them still stand on their own, rather than just coming off as a ten minute aural assault for the sake of being a ten minute aural assault. Topics explored: minds depraved, the scene, senseless bullshit, queering the mosh pits, shitty parties, and more!

–Daryl Gussin (Hygiene, hygienerecords@gmail.com / Reality Is A Cult)


CELEBRITY INTERNMENT CAMP:
Self-titled: CD
There is no other way to say it—this CD is a total head scratcher. What you have here is thirty-six tracks of instrumental trip-hop peppered with vignettes that loosely narrate a war in America which results in all of our celebrities being rounded up in an internment camp. Curiously, I found the concept to be larger than what this CD could deliver. I could totally see this being adapted into a movie or graphic novel, which seems to be the direction that the creators were moving towards with this release, as it includes a nicely illustrated, full-color, fold-out comic that fleshes out the story a bit more than the vignettes and their titles. For some reason, the whole enchilada reminds me of what Richard Kelly was working towards with his criminally overlooked Southland Tales graphic novels and feature film from 2006 (well worth checking out if you are into dystopian near-futures), even though there are few thematic similarities. 86’d Records should be commended for taking a risk for putting out something like this. –Garrett Barnwell (86’d, 86drec.com)


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