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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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SPOKENEST:
We M●ve: 12”
I love bands that sound like they have to play because they have something to say or just have something inside that has to get out. A person who picks up a guitar while visiting your apartment and bashes out a song (not a solo/noodling or cover) fully formed that they just thought up at that moment and you started clapping or striking furniture to provide the beat… it’s all heart and spirit. Not contrived acoustic or folk punk, but raw electric tunes that jump off the record and squeeze your heart and dig into your brain. Soul music for punks over forty and lighter fluid for the youngsters. I love GEG. I feel like I’m a member of Spokenest. “This record is for the 20 people in every town” indeed. –Matt Seward (Self-released)


SOVIET VALVES:
Death Trumps Romance: 12” EP
Melodic, garagey rock that is a combination of sophisticated and rough. “A diamond in the rough,” if you will. The songs are tuneful with bashing rhythms, where the guitars create a layer of distortion and jangly, pop-frantic note picking. “Throne” is a particularly driving number, where the riff pushes everything forward with a sort of gruffness, only to be cooled by the third verse that switches tempo, and lets everyone breathe. This is a more introspective kind of listening record, instead of one that bashes you over the skull with a mallet. You know, it is possible to rock out and have a brain. Scientific fact. –Matt Average (Vertex, vertexaudio@gmail.com)


SOUNDS OF SWAMI:
Self-titled: CD
At first, I wrote this CD off as generic Fat Wreck Chords music. Energetic, if mild punk rock with good musicianship. Something like Smoke Or Fire or The Sainte Catherines. I can’t say that this isn’t that per se, but there were moments where the songwriting made me stop and reconsider. Sounds Of Swami pull out enough tricks that the music didn’t all fade into a giant barrage of monotony like so many bands manage. –Bryan Static (TNS, tnsrecords.co.uk)


SMOOTH BRAIN:
Fleas: 7”
There are a few moments where Smooth Brain sound like they’re covering a Cleveland Bound Death Sentence song—that same kind of grit and scrappiness, though Smooth Brain are slower and don’t crackle with nearly the same kind of exuberance and energy. Not really my cup, as it were. –keith (Lost Cat)


SLEAZE, THE:
Tecktonik Girlz and Other Hits: LP
Total Punk seems to be one of those labels you can trust. At least from my limited experience, anytime my old and feeble hands have held a TP record, it gave me a sense that this was something I could take home, spend some time with, and nothing weird would happen—like waking up in the morning with a pounding headache, sore jaw, and your pants around your ankles. Just as the name of the band hints at, the sound on here is sleazy, with a raw and buzzing guitar that cuts through the air with the intent of piercing your eardrums. The vocals are on the same level, with a snotty, nasally persona. When the guitars and vocals meet in the middle at times, the sound gets abrasive. The rhythms are bouncy (in a good way—not that “mall punk, mehhh” dreck sort way) and tough all at the same time. Songs like “Too Close Home,” “Live Wire” (kind of like a pumped up/punked up Warsaw),” and “Conor Start” will have you believing that there is still more mileage left on this whole punk rock thing yet. If these guys were not from Minnesota, I would have sworn they were some obscure gem from Australia. I call that high praise. Only five hundred pressed up. Get one or two. –Matt Average (Total Punk, floridaisdying.com)


SLAVES:
Sugar Coated Bitter Truth: CD
Noisy post-punk from this U.K. band with absolutely no information about anything in the artwork. Gauging by the amount of this stuff that comes in for review, it is starting to feel a lot like the Fat Wreck clone glut in the mid to late ‘90s. Perhaps it only feels that way because they are both styles that I don’t care for and have a hard time coming up with something to say. This is post-punk type stuff with shouted vocals. It is kind of dancey and angular and stuff. –frame (Boss Tuneage)


SHELL SHAG / APOGEE SOUND CLUB:
Lifestyle Obsession: Split 7” EP
Shell Shag: Things start off on a dissonant note with “Why the Fuck You Looking at Me,” then get a bit more conventional indie-punk, though more minimalist in structure and execution than most others, on the remaining two tracks. Pretty sure this is a two-person lineup, but you don’t really notice, which says volumes about the effectiveness of their delivery. Apogee Sound Club: Opens up with what sounds like a full band banging out a dissonant instrumental, followed by a wiry, angular tune named “Hungover Again,” then closes out with another short instrumental comprised of someone playing a kalimba over some synth noises. Nice split here. –jimmy (Thrillhouse)


SICKOIDS:
No Home: 12”EP
Sickoids play charred, straight-forward USHC punk. Gloomy, blackened, and burnt, but direct nonetheless. No Home makes Government Warnings’ No Moderation sound like youthful indulgence. Horridly anguished music for those who can’t not be at war with society ‘cause the battleground starts before you even open your front door. –Daryl Gussin (Grave Mistake / Sorry State)


SHIRKS:
Self-titled: LP
What’s great about labels like Grave Mistake or Deranged is that they blur the lines between punk, garage, hardcore and everything in between, so all the kids (unbeknownst to them) can’t get themselves pigeonholed. If this band were on a label like Big Neck or Rip Off, they would be languishing in bars frequented by dudes whose favorite band is Johnny Thunders. Along with bands like the Shitty Limits or Henry Fiats Open Sore, the Shirks bring hardcore into their garage punk. For sure, they remind me of bands like the Problematics or the Stipjes from the early days of Rip Off Records, but these D.C boys have clearly spent some time with the Teen Idles and S.O.A. This is fucking killer. –Tim Brooks (Grave Mistake, gravemistakerecords.com )


SHELLSHAG:
Forever: LP
It’s difficult to write love letters to the one you love. It’s even more difficult to write love letters to everyone you love in your life (some of whom you may not have met yet) and not have it come off as cornball shit, but as a personal, collective expression. Shellshag’s components are two great folks: Shell and Shag. Ancient black and white symbols, peanut butter cups, dots and dashes—they all become whole from slightly disparate, complementary components; they grow in meaning from context. Shellshag are also brilliant—in the bright, shining, colorful sense. Too much of one ingredient and, it’d be schmaltz or over-saturating blindness. Bells strapped to other legs could be a problem— inauthentic, gimmicky. But what you get on Forever are two independent musicians playing beautiful music to one another, and by extension, anyone else who’s willing to listen. When people say “indie rock,” this is what I wish they were talking about. Shellshag. Adventurous art without pretence, welcoming, oozing with fun, played with candor, grit, and amplification. –todd (Don Giovanni)


SHAKES, THE:
Full House: 7”
Kinda goofy, kinda rocking garage punk with elements of soul and doo wop in the backing vocals. Fans of Burger Records or Shannon And The Clams would probably find a whole lot to like from this Philadelphia band. –frame (Self -released, facebook.com/theshakesrule)


SED NON SATIDTA:
Self-titled: LP
Loud, heavy, and emotional. Some might call it screamo. It’s excellently crafted, with its peaks and troughs riding on wonderfully plotted graph of intensity. The light moments feel anxious, waiting for their moment to pounce just when the tension builds to a crescendo. Trying to make heads or tails out of the packaging is a bit of a puzzler though. Where the music makes a logical statement, the artwork is full of blurry, run together, monochromatic visuals. Even the band’s name is hard to read. For a visual representation of the music, these images visualize a chaotic, but controlled mess. All in all, it’s a metaphor I can endorse and music I can headbang to. –Bryan Static (Echo Canyon/ Adagio830/ Protagonist)


SECTOR ZERO:
“Guitar Attack” b/w “Hiding in My Car”: 7”
One of the many offshoots of Jay Reatard and Eric Oblivian (together and in their respective bodies of work). Rumor has it they played only like two shows. I don’t know if they have any other songs in the can. Memphis has the kind of town/scene/what-have-you band mix, match, and swap that simultaneously inspires me and bums me out. It’s inspiring because any group of friends should be able to get together to make some music; I’m bummed because I have so much trouble doing it within my own town. The record sounds like a Reatard/Oblivian/Goner record, which means it’s good. Guitar attack, indeed! –Sal Lucci (Goner)


SCIENCE POLICE:
You Are Under Arrest in the Future: 7” EP
Sounds like a somewhat less-glossy version of the Yum Yums trying to sound like a somewhat less-glossy version of Manplanet or a somewhat more-glossy version of the Kung Fu Monkeys. BUT FROM THE FUTURE. On my planet, this is considered an endorsement, but bear in mind we also use pudding as currency there, so adjust accordingly. BEST SONG: “The Boat Dreams from the Front Desk.” BEST SONG TITLE: “She Blinded Me with Immunobiology.” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: “Everyone in the Science Police is a real police officer and a real scientist. We would like to thank all of you for your efforts. Everything will probably be ok.” –norb (Bloated Kat)


RUST BELT DEMONS:
Never Mind the Singles, Here’s the Flexi Babies: Flexidisc
This is some great mid-tempo punk rock in the vein of The Beltones or The Randumbs. Rough around the edges in all the right ways. I like it! What I’m generally not a fan of is flexidiscs, but since the tunes are good and they made a nice, slick 7” sleeve for it, I’ll let it slide… This time. –ty (Sexy Baby)


RUNS, THE:
Pretty Girls: 7”
Four cuts of Ramones-influenced rock. The music is fast and the singer gets into Joey territory occasionally. No one song stands out, but it holds my interest for the length of the record. It’s catchy more often than not. –Billups Allen (Reach Around)


ROSE PHANTOM, THE:
Abandon: CD
Gloomy Gus rock music with synths and other instruments used in all sorts of heinous and horrifying ways. –jimmy (The Rose Phantom, therosephantom.com)


RHUBARBS:
If We Build It, You Will Come: LP
Bar punk with no edge. Zeke on downers. Nine Pound Hammer sans testicles. –Juan Espinosa (Wasted Wax, rhubarbs780@gmail.com)


REGRET, THE INFORMER:
Less than Three: 7” EP
Arty, self-absorbed, emo-indie stuff with lyrics like, “She listened to the Smiths and said I looked like Kurt Cobain/Dressed up in your celebrity skin/You would be my Courtney/Love was a drug pulling us apart.” Snoozeville. –jimmy (Stink Cat, facebook.com/StinkCatRecords)


RECORDETTES, THE:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Kitschy kung-fu pop, heavy on the candy-colored polka dots and all-day suckers. “Candy Store” is the obvious signature tune here; probably not delightful enough to surpass “Candygirl” by Candygirl as the world’s foremost Candy Anthem, but more than delicious enough to make you forget if you ever knew what flavor the clear-colored Haribo® Gummi Bears are ((i’ll give you a hint: Rhymes with “pineapple”)). “Shower Request” is a kooky instrumental, and “John Waters, Can You Please Be My Father” probably kinda sounds just like you think it does. On to the malt shop! No simple carbohydrates are safe! BEST SONG: “Candy Store.” BEST SONG TITLE: “John Waters, Can You Please Be My Father?” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Comes in a paper sleeve version with multicolored dots on a black background, and a plastic sleeve version, with bright blue dots on a clear background! No peanut, however. –norb (No Front Teeth, therecordettes.bandcamp.com)


RAD:
Loud & Fast: LP
A friend and I always have this conversation about how some fast and thrashy hardcore bands have that certain something that other bands of the genre lack. What do these bands have that the others don’t? I’m listening to Rad, and sitting here trying to figure that out right now. A lot of bands play it fast, some are pretty good, a few are great, and good majority should just stay in the practice room. I would place Rad squarely on the “great” podium. How is it that a jaded and bitter guy such as I can be blown away by this record? I’ve heard a million (okay I’m exaggerating, but you get the point) bands like this. I have a wall of records of this stuff located right behind me, and this record will be added to that collection at some point when I feel like it’s time to file it away for a while. Whatever the case, this record rips. I hear hints of early DC hardcore like Minor Threat (guitar) and Void (the urgency of the vocals) in here, but, at the same time, these guys are not a clone and the influences are not wholesale rip offs. Maybe that’s the secret? Play your music with conviction and that will come through. They tear into one song after the other, and each song is able to differentiate itself from the other in order to not sound like one long blur (another key ingredient to being at the top of the heap). Songs like “Creep-out Crew,” “Corporate Drugs,” “This Is Not Final War,” “I’m an Adult,” and “You’re Next” (about D&D) are the stand outs amongst a very solid record. –Matt Average (Sacramento, sacramaniacs.com)


PROJECT EKAN:
Self-titled: LP
By-the-numbers Swedish modern streetpunk. Doesn’t really add or detract anything from the genre. –jimmy (Switchlight)


PRETTY BOY THORSON AND LIL HAPPINESS:
I Ain’t Gonna Beg: 7”
The world wants me to listen to Thin Lizzy. Listening to Thin Lizzy is my destiny. I am not going to resist anymore. There’s no point, because Thin Lizzy is there everywhere I turn. It’s on the T-shirt of the guy at the record store. It’s playing when I walk into the ice cream shop. My friend has even worked several Thin Lizzy-related jokes into her comedy routine. And now it’s on the B-side of this record, a cover of “Running Back,” channeled through Pretty Boy Thorson And Lil Happiness, forcing me to play it over and over again. Fine! I’m into Thin Lizzy now, okay! And I kind of like the Pretty Boy Thorson gang too. –mp (A.D.D.)


PLOW UNITED:
“Act Like It” b/w “Little Bit of Hatred”: 7”
Let me say this: on the strength of hearing these two songs (less than four minutes of combined music) I was driven to seek out and purchase much of Plow United’s back catalog. That’s some songwriting, okay? That’s how good they are. And a testament to how lucky us reviewers are sometimes. The A-side’s a cut from their new album, Marching Band, with the flip exclusive to this record. Both songs are stupidly catchy and skull-deep in a soaring, dark, and anthemic quality that manages to become redemptive by their sheer awesomeness; the fact that they do it twice, and do it so effortlessly, and do it when their last record came out fifteen years ago, well, I’m impressed. You know those singing Christmas cards? You open em up and they play a little tune? I wish this issue of Razorcake was like that: “Little Bit of Hatred” would start playing whenever you opened up the pages. If you can’t guess, this one’s recommended. –keith (Kiss Of Death)


PLEASURE LEFTISTS:
Self-titled: 7”
Spot-on post-punk here, with a pitch-perfect mix of brooding bass lines, clean channel guitars, and howling vocals. I could probably gripe about the mono mix of the tracks—that bass is screamin’ out for stereo, dammit!—but, to be honest, I’m so busy playing this bad boy over and over that ultimately it really doesn’t matter either way. Here’s hoping a full-length is on the way. –jimmy (Katorga Works)


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