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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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REAL TEARS, THE:
Self-titled: CDEP
The Real Tears are like pulling a scab with a rake. Comparisons to AntiSeen and Sugar Shack are appropriate. Great music for drinking way too much bourbon and breaking shit. Completely lacking in sophistication in the best way possible. Not nice, and sometimes that’s just what we need. –The Lord Kveldulfr (No address listed)


REST IN PISS:
Baptised in Beer: 7"
These Helsinki speed demons bust out five songs in nine minutes with passion and precision. Finnish hardcore at its finest. The hand-drawn cover art is also spot-on. KIPPISS, dudes! –Jackie Rusted (Self-released, aleksi1111@hotmail.com, restinpiss666.bandcamp.com)


ROUGHIES, THE:
Don’t Hate the Cops: CD
This funny, edgy, political band from Oakland was originally an acoustic act, but they’re fully electric now. Edgy song titles include “Uncle Obama’s White Cabin,” “(I Only Like Girls with) Eating Disorders,” and the title track. Their brand of sarcasm was prevalent in classic hardcore a la Dead Kennedys or MDC, but is somewhat surprising in a This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb-inspired group of today. Probably a blast to see live, The Roughies are simultaneously hilarious and seriously fun to listen to. –Art Ettinger (Self-released, theroughiesmusic.com)


SCANNER:
Splat: CD
A Pennsylvania band that’s apparently been in existence since punk’s initial waves. Not quite sure where this falls within their oeuvre—are they old recordings or of more recent vintage?—but the overall sound is more akin to bar rock than scruffier fare like Electric Love Muffin or Flag Of Democracy. Included are covers ranging from Cock Sparrer to Hank Williams, Sr. –Jimmy Alvarado (Scanner)


SCANNERS:
Demo: CS
D.C.-based alt rock. This is a demo, released on cassette. (I listened online. This cassette resurgence needs to stop.) Having recorded music is always helpful when getting a band rolling, to get shows and to make people aware that you exist. I get that. However, if this was my band, and if the singing was as off-key as this is, I wouldn’t distribute that demo. There’s plenty of existing recorded music in the world. Make it great before you put yours out there on a petroleum-based format. –Chad Williams (Self-released, scannersdc.bandcamp.com)


SCRAPER:
Misery: LP
I can see these guys going over well with Thrasher. They have a heavy skate rock sound that would play well next to any skatepark. Misery is heavy, loud, and fuzzy. Fans of the Spits and Fang should check this band out. –Ryan Nichols (Slovenly)


SHAPERS, THE:
Reckless Youth: CD
Interesting mix of ingredients on this six-song EP from this Toulouse, France trio. Mix three parts standard-issue pop punk, two parts gruff, mid-tempo punk, sprinkle in some studio electronics, and you have Reckless Youth. By no means bad, just a little too produced for my personal taste. –Garrett Barnwell (Self-released, theshapers.bandcamp.com)


SPECTACULAR FANTASTIC, THE:
Circling the Sun: CD
This is some hooky power pop played by a duo out of Cincinnati. Given their locale, it shouldn’t be surprising that I immediately heard some Guided By Voices influence, as they’re both from the same neck of the woods. There’s also certainly an influence from the Elephant 6 collective bands. The Spectacular Fantastic has evidently been around for a while, so it makes sense they have their shit together. And by that I mean it sounds good, both in the way it’s recorded and how well the two members sound playing together. It doesn’t hurt that the tunes are catchy and pretty fun. –Kurt Morris (75orlessrecords.com)


THUNDERING ASTEROIDS!:
“Polybius” b/w “Hi-Keeba!”: CS
I am writing this on the day the band plays its final show approximately 4,900 miles from where I sit. My entertainment should come in the form of this two-track cassette, released to commemorate the end of the road for these self-proclaimed nerd punks. Unfortunately, neither of the tracks have the same charm that I’ve heard from the band before. Both songs sound a bit ragged whilst Minn’s voice seems to have lost its smoothness, coming across as more gravelly. I really have struggled to get into this, so I sought, and found, solace in The Nerd Punk Guide to the Galaxy, the band’s only album and a much better example of what it can do. I will miss the internet searches to try and understand the myriad references rammed into each and every song though. R.I.P. –Rich Cocksedge (Self-released)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
TLAL-Vault: DVD-R
This is the label’s first hundred releases—from the Godstomper/Magrudergrind split through the To Live A Lie Vol. 2 Sampler—collected all on one DVD-R to save ye lazy bastards the trouble of getting up to switch from one release to the next. EPs, LPs, splits, and comps feature such easy listening faves as ACxDC, Hummingbird Of Death, XBRAINIAX, Conga Fury, Assholeparade, Disciples Of Christ, Unholy Grave, and tons more to fill up yer hours with ear-shattering, speed-limit-breaking noise. –Jimmy Alvarado (To Live A Lie)


VERSION 5:
Self-titled: CDEP
This three-song EP sounds like Nine Inch Nails trying to be commercially viable. I was never a fan of NIN and I’m not a fan of bands trying to be commercially viable, either.  –Kurt Morris (Version5music.com)


ZX ELECTRIC:
Memory Palace: CD
This is an incredibly lengthy album for a sound I’m not very much interested in. There are twenty-two songs clocking in at fifty-two minutes and all I needed to hear was about two of them to realize this wasn’t my thing. Think a mix of Tallest Man On Earth, Joe Pug, Bob Dylan, and Bruce Springsteen with soft, computerized synth and jangly electric guitar. Except it’s not even anywhere close as good as any of those artists. I’ll pass. –Kurt Morris (satorirecrdings@live.com)


69 ENFERMOS:
Beyond Borders: CD
Dateline: mid-‘90s. Punk rock has reared its slightly less ugly head. The sound is different now. Bands are getting signed by record labels worldwide. Harmonies, galloping drums, and soaring guitars rule the day. Bands like No Use For A Name, NOFX, and Lagwagon are some of the leading names in this new style of rebellion. Flash forward twenty years. The aforementioned bands are still among the top names in this subgenre. The thing is; it is hard to play this style and not sound like those bands. 69 Enfermos are very capable at this. Hell, if someone put this on and told me it was the new Strung Out record, I would have absolutely no reason to think they were lying. Not bad, but not terribly stimulating.  –Ty Stranglehold (Morning Wood)


A.S.D.:
Another Social Disease: EP
Straight-up NYC ‘80s thrashcore with a mean dose of metal. Vocals are almost robotic—mechanical—that add to its hard edge. Tough as nails. Best stand back or get sucked into the pit.  –Camylle Reynolds (Social Disease)


ACTIVE MINDS / THISCLOSE:
Split: 7”
The Active Minds side of this single is pretty raging hardcore with melodic vocals. This band has been around forever, with their first single released in 1987. Pretty solid stuff for a band this far along; rages pretty good. The Thisclose side of the single is mining similar terrain, but is a little thrashier, and they do a Discharge cover.  –Mike Frame (SPHC, sphcrecords.bandcamp.com)


ADACTA:
TMA: LP
Dark, melodic, fevered crust stuff somewhere between Protestant and the awesome-but-unfortunately-named Chicken’s Call. And I love the urgent, morose cello in “Katastrofy.” It brings to mind Saké or Submission Hold. And I don’t understand Czech, but there’s no denying that as a physical artifact, TMA is pretty much a textbook example of beauty and care: chipboard gatefold, glossy black-on-black artwork, foldout poster, patch, and download code. Fans of the dark and menacing should eat this stuff up like—I don’t know—the souls of the unrepentant or something. Not my preferred genre, but holy smokes these guys are good at it.  –Keith Rosson (Adactive)


ADVERSARY:
Self-titled: CD
Great stuff from the vaults at Boss Tuneage. I wasn’t terribly familiar with this Stoke-on-Trent band from the early ‘90s prior to acquiring this collection, but it’s way up the alley of the crux of the Razorcake brain trust, that’s for sure. Poppy – yet sloppy—melodic punk in the vein of Leatherface meets Goober Patrol (and that’s not just due to U.K. origins).  –Steve Adamyk (Boss Tuneage, bosstuneage.com)


AGADOR SPARTACUS:
Agadawesome: CD
Time and time again, I’m easily impressed by elaborate packaging. Agadawesomehas certainly earned praise for its layout. These Hamburg-area musicians refer to themselves as post-hardcore, but it’s much more straight forward and catchier than that. It’s well recorded and tight as fuck.  –Steve Adamyk (Self-released)


ALBERT SQUARE, THE:
I (Assume I) Know What I’m Doing: LP
With The Weakerthans as the compass, The Albert Square explores narrative lyricism over sharp, distorted guitar chords and a driving rhythm section. Sim Castro’s voice is reserved and achingly melodic, emphasizing the lyrics: “When these houses are no longer homes now / and it feels like there’s nobody on your team.” Each song is poetic, situated in a particular time and place. Every few minutes you’re transported to a different American city and a relatable state of mind. Although the melodies are soft-spoken, the fuzz bass and Spencer Taplin’s vibrant beats keep the tunes from slipping between the cracks. The Albert Square has crafted a thoughtful record at a time when most human experiences are reduced to a 140 letter character limit. With poignant lyrics (“It’s hard being a black girl here in Missouri / when immaculate births are at the bottom of the list of your worries”) and catching hooks, I (Assume I) Know What I’m Doing should be shelved beside Fallow.  –Sean Arenas (Phat ’n’ Phunky, phatnphunky.com)


ALL TORN UP:
Drone Life: 7”
Powerful, political New York hardcore is what you’ll find on this 7”. Six short but stellar, pummeling blasts of socially conscious hardcore punk with lyrics covering topics including immigrants’ rights and drone warfare. Sonically, you’ll find crunching guitars, an incredibly tight and heavy rhythm section, and a throaty rasp from frontman Joey Steel. Comes on a lovely translucent blue swirl of vinyl and includes a collage zine containing the lyrics to the tunes.  –Jeff Proctor (Self-released, alltornup.bandcamp.com)


ANARCHUS / DISROTTED:
Split: 7” EP
Anarchus have been around for longer than some people reading this review have been alive, and that’s no exaggeration. I was a little surprised to see they were still around, but I don’t follow grind as closely as I used to. Maybe if there were more grind bands of the same caliber as Anarchus I would. On this release they do a great cover of Lords Of The New Church “Open Your Eyes,” definitely making it sound like one of their own songs. It has the perfect amount of heaviness, the guitars sound thick and dark, and the vocalist sounds evil. Disrotted is a stark contrast to Anarchus style-wise. Here you get some slow doom sludge that I’d love to experience live. From the opening hum and everything crashing in slow motion, this is capital-H heavy. Throaty vocals, impenetrable guitar, and plodding—though hard-hitting—percussion. Despite the slow crawl of “Oblivion Lull,” there is a groove that hooks you in. I think I need to work towards attaining their entire discography if this song is any indication.  –Matt Average (Rigid, rigidrecords.bigcartel.com)


ANOTHER SOCIAL DISEASE:
Self-titled: 7”
Metallic hardcore that sounds heavily influenced by later period U.K. acts like Broken Bones. They keep the songs catchy, the tempos gallopy, and the guitars mostly wank-free. I can totally see cats who whine that shit ain’t been cool since the initial crossover wave going apeshit over this.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Another Social Disease, socialdiseaserecords.bigcartel.com)


ANTIBODIES:
Happy New Year Zero: CD-R
Mid-tempo U.K. punk of the early ‘80s variety. Songs are simple, catchy, and play well to the subgenre they’re aiming for.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Antibodies, pete_antibodies@hotmail.com)


ANTICHRIST DEMONCORE:
Self-titled: Postcard flexi: EP
Postcard flexi that plays! These three songs slam with metallic hardcore. Think No Statik and Condition, with low hung bass. Screamy, possessed vocals tear through each song.  –Camylle Reynolds (To Live a Lie, tolivealie.com)


ANTLERED AUNT LORD:
Ostensibly Formerly Stunted (and On Fire): LP
The pale cheap shots taken at Robert Pollard, R. Stevie Moore, and R.E.M. in the press release accompanying this record are a turn off but whatever, I get it. You’re trying to sell a record, and in particular you’re trying to sell an undiscovered, underground pop genius in a country already littered with them. I suppose you have to puff your chest out a little. There isn’t a single moment on this record that rivals “Jar of Cardinals” or anything off Phonography, and that’s the cold truth. And the more obvious connection to be made—given Jesse Stinnard’s home base of Athens, Ga.—is to the ‘60s psych inflection and often overly pronounced aesthetic of the Elephant 6 scene. Stinnard is gifted—tracks like “Sigil to Noise” and “Throwback Bikes” are worth hearing more than once—but he’s not surpassing the greats; he’s repeating them. And there’s the attendant queasy feeling that, like those Elephant predecessors, his music sits on a kind of sliding scale and could, intentionally or not, drift into something like the pop bloat of Arcade Fire.  –Matt Werts (HHBTM, hhbtm.com)


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