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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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FROZEN TEENS:
"Oakland" b/w "Footsteps": 7"
Expectations are venom stored in a jar and held up for clear display. Punk scenes have a way of ossifying, dinosauring themselves, against the best of intentions. It’s a brave thing to hear a band that is obviously pulling from contemporary, dark melodic punk but being more than a mirror or an echo to that music. While it’s not surprising that there is much music to mine from the past; what’s important is the deftness of translation, that the spark of creativity isn’t merely an illusion of the past becoming present. So when I say Joy Division, don’t think palsied, pantomimed, or dour-face put-on. Think sine/co-sine tension, carefully mapped sonic hills and valleys, patience, grey as an adaptable hue in the palette. This will help about five people, but fuck the metrics. Think Cat Party, Static Thoughts-era Estranged, and Synthetic ID put through the filter of “if the guys in the Ergs! pored over the Factory catalog instead of the SST catalog.” A keeper. –todd (Starcleaner)


FOOD:
Four Pieces from Candyland: LP
Ed fROMOHIO returns with a new EP’s worth of boss tunes accompanied by Gumball’s Eric Vermillion and the Cynics’ Mike Quinlan. There are enough of the inevitable hints of fIREHOSE in the songwriting to satisfy fans of that bygone band, but the stuff here stands handily on its own, um, six feet. Four tunes of twangy indie-rock, smart yet catchy, strong yet imbued with sensitivity. Been a while since I’ve heard anything from Mr. fROMOHIO, and it was nice to hear he and his bandmates putting in some quality work here –jimmy (Phratry)


FLAT WHEELER:
Planning My Escape: 7"
A very well done acoustic set of songs with intelligent lyrics, heartfelt singing, and excellent guitar playing. It’s reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen’s mellow songs, but with more biting lyrics. A really great single that shows a great performer giving his all. –Rick Ecker –Guest Contributor (La Escalera, laescalerarecords.com)


FERAL BABIES / CHEMICAL ACHE:
Split: 7"
Feral Babies: Their mix of (totally non-obnoxious) rock and hardcore influences makes for some spirited pun rockin’ sans both all the wankery bullshit and macho chest pounding. There’s nods to punkers past buried in there, but none so obvious that yer goin’, “Oh, that’s who they’re aping.” Chemical Ache: More of the same, with maybe a bit more early ‘80s Southern California beach punk in the DNA. Nice work all ‘round. –jimmy (Kiss Of Death)


FEAR :
The Fear Record: CD
I approached this one with a lot of morbid curiosity. While not a huge fan, I had seen them in 2009 and was impressed. The first record is a classic (even Slash thinks so) and it is a shame that the other records are out of print. Maybe that’s the reason Lee Ving decided to send this one through the recycle bin. I understand that record deals are sometimes a raw deal. We’ve seen this with T.S.O.L. and Suicidal Tendencies, to name a few. Is it well played? Yes. All the players backing Ving up are faithful to the originals. Is this really necessary? Only if you are looking in Ving’s wallet. I do commend him for giving the proper songwriting credits to the original band members. So maybe a few greenbacks will get to their families if this sells a bit. But will this replace the original? No, and this is something Lee Ving learned when he did a guest spot on Three’s a Crowd—sometimes you just can’t go home again. –koepenick (The End, marketing@theendrecords.com, theendrecords.com)


FAMILY CURSE:
Twilight Language: LP
It’s ironic that DC, the most uptight, bureaucratic city in the country, produces punk that is so conversant with dance music. DC bands are known for chewing up reggae, new wave, and go-go, and spitting them out with chips of tooth. Brooklyn’s Family Curse take that sound and crank up the dental problems until it’s all saw-sharp grooves, snarls, and disco ball shards. File alongside Monorchid, Q And Not U, and Shellac. It’s like they hear the party from outside, and it just makes them angrier. –CT Terry (Doormat)


EYES & EARS / SNAKE MOUNTAIN:
Split: 7"
Eyes & Ears definitely play the subgenre of garage I enjoy most, which is to say Murder City Devils and Rocket From The Crypt-sounding stuff. It’s not breaking barriers, but I just had a beer from the 99 cent store and it sounds rad to me. One song, though? I kind of feel like a one song split just isn’t enough of anything. SnakeMountain play straight-up cookie cutter garage rock. Playing this genre, and still having the nerve to constantly tell me to “come on” while calling me “baby” is kind of funny. I don’t know why. –Rene Navarro (Snappy Little Numbers, snappylittlenumbers@gmail.com)


EX-CULT:
Self-titled: LP
Hot new Goner Records band! Not wholly garage or punk, with driving rhythm and touches of discordance in the guitars. A Ty Segall production, but it doesn’t necessarily have what I identify as the “sound” of a Ty Segall production (see the following bands: any Ty Segall project; Heavy Cream. I’ve been saying it for a while, dude needs to make and patent a “Ty Segall Pedal.” A little birdie tells me that a New York music shop did just that!) Ex-Cult is an intense live band, and this record has an anxious, intense feel but the mix seems a little murky. I’d like to hear some more low end (this recording is less tinny than their debut Goner 7” but I think I could actually hear the bass more on that record) as I feel it would give the record some more oomph. –Sal Lucci (Goner)


EVERYONE ASKED ABOUT YOU:
Let's Be Friends: LP
Two above-average folksy punk bands that would fit in well with at a show with fans of Zydepunks/Gogol Bordello/etc. Both bands are from the same town in Finland and while The Escapist have more of a “punk” vibe to their sound and claim Zounds and Arctic Flowers as influences, and Slack Bird are a project band by the drummer of more crusty/hardcore bands doing a very stripped-down bass and mandolin folk stuff, the focus is close enough that the bands sound at home doing a split with each other. The production is far above average and the songs are actually pretty catchy. –Matt Average (25 Diamonds, 25diamonds.com)


ESCAPIST, THE / SLACK BIRD:
Split: 7"
Two above-average folksy punk bands that would fit in well with at a show with fans of Zydepunks/Gogol Bordello/etc. Both bands are from the same town in Finland and while The Escapist have more of a “punk” vibe to their sound and claim Zounds and Arctic Flowers as influences, and Slack Bird are a project band by the drummer of more crusty/hardcore bands doing a very stripped-down bass and mandolin folk stuff, the focus is close enough that the bands sound at home doing a split with each other. The production is far above average and the songs are actually pretty catchy. –Ian Wise (Parta, booking@partarecords.com))


EMPTY ROOM:
Self-titled: Cassette
This very solid hardcore demo from Buffalo has a ton of panache. Mainly mid-tempo, straight ahead, and old school, these five songs are all toe tappers. The band is comprised of past members of White Whale, Everything Falls Apart, and Brown Sugar. With cool silkscreened packaging, this tape isn’t just a slapdash attempt to follow the current cassette craze. If they’re playing to empty rooms, something is even more wrong with this world than previously thought. –Art Ettinger (Feral Kid)


EL FOSSIL:
Escape from Crabhorse Island: Cassette
This is one of them demos that has thrash metal with surf overtones, yet another thing I remember hearing a good amount of when getting demos way back when. The playing is strong, the sound is lo-fi, and there are no vocals. The instrumental quality of this makes it much more appealing, as vocals would likely ruin it. Pretty good stuff if you are looking for some speed metal with a surf edge, or some surf with a speed metal edge. Fans of Man… or Astroman? would probably dig this, I would imagine. –frame (Muckman, muckmanrecords.bandcamp.com)


DISSENTION:
The Crude Wars: 7"
In 1984, Orwell rightly predicted a condition of continual global conflict, result of the classic definition of fascism: collusion between big government and big corporations. Dissention’s topically on the button with these two oil-based songs: the proxy war currently raging in Syria and peak oil, the fact that the world’s oil consumption is past its tipping point and hard times are ahead for the planet if true alternatives aren’t discovered and implemented on a wide scale. Musically, they have the trappings of multi-generational OC punk: Discontent in the gnarly/sing-a-long heft, Smogtown in the buzz, China White in the rotted pier, beach bummer, tattoo-wipeout department. Smart, mean, and heavy songs. Good return-to-form stuff from a band that first made their mark in the mid- to late-‘80s. –todd (Bad Idea, badideamusic.com)


DISHONORABLE DISCHARGE / PEACEBASTARD:
Split: EP
Heart First seems to be the “home of the hits” lately. So many great records from that label! This one keeps the quality high. Dishonorable Discharge, from Norway, are heavy on the d-beat end, with a lot of low end, to-the-point lyrics, and choruses that repeat. (Not to mention the screaming, short guitar solo.) Peace Bastard, from Germany, crank out fast and manic hardcore punk with some d-beat elements and a vocalist who has a very abrasive, blown-out style. She sounds like her voice is destroyed beyond repair. Their song “Page By Page” is heavy on the urgency and speed. I want to hear more! –Matt Average (Heart First, heartfirst.net)


DISCIPLES, THE:
Redemption: CD
Remember when I tore the new Fang album a new one a couple of issues ago? Well, I pretty much brutalized it (and I stand by that review), but I really wasn’t expecting to think much about it again. I put this disc in and started listening without looking at the cover. I was treated to some solid, hard-driving punk with some of the rock’n’roll flavor of the Hostage Records stable of bands. I like that a lot. Upon checking out the cover, I learned that the singer is Sammytown of Fang. Whereas I couldn’t stand the new Fang disc, this is really great. I have this theory that sometimes people involved with somewhat famous (or notorious) bands sometimes get stifled within the persona of the band itself. Once they step outside and start a new band with no predispositions, they are free to do something great… Or maybe I am really overthinking this. The bottom line is that Sammytown needs to continue with this band. –ty (Malt Soda)


DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN, THE:
One of Us Is the Killer: CD/LP
After fifteen years of being a band, one has to wonder if there is much of anywhere left for The Dillinger Escape Plan to go. Actually, I wondered about that a few years ago because it seemed like after Ire Works and Option Paralysis they had used up all their tricks: crazy free jazz-influenced metal, a few tracks of slightly Nine Inch Nails-influenced music, and/or slow songs where vocalist Greg Puciato actually sings. Sure, they were good, but by the time the band got to their second album it seemed they had done the equivalent of hit ten on the volume knob and had nowhere else to go. One of Us Is the Killer follows the script of the last few albums, showing the band treading their unique body of water (granted, that water probably has sharks in it) over the course of eleven songs in forty minutes. The band is still immensely talented and tight, but nothing jumps out at me and says they have reinvented themselves or have any intention to do so. The Dillinger Escape Plan are still masters of the sound that they helped develop, but that scene seems to not have proven itself to be of much importance without the ability to evolve. –kurt (Sumerian, sumerianrecords.com)


DEAD TREND:
False Positive: CD
Dunno a thing about ‘em, but if the information I’ve managed to find is correct, this is the debut release from old New England hardcore band who have apparently decided to record twenty-four years of back songs in a marathon seven-hour session. Twenty-one tracks of sloppy, rudimentary hardcore is the result, with ranting about Iran-Contra, cops, skateboarding, the invasion of Grenada, and working for minimum wage, among other things. Whether it’s sincere or a piss-take a la Anarchy 6 I’ll leave for others to decide, but, either way, they’re pretty much on the bean. –jimmy (The Cabildo)


DEAD GHOSTS:
Self-titled: 7" EP
Lo-fi bluesy garagey kind of music. Two songs total. The A side, “I Sleep Alone” is a slow number with some bluesy slide guitar that reminds me of Santo & Johnny. The B side, “Spot a Trend” is more upbeat and has a guitar tone similar to Thee Headcoats. On the whole, this doesn’t do a whole lot for me. I kind of feel it’s one of those records that sounds better with the more alcohol you consume. My drinking days are pretty much behind me, but maybe you’re in a different place with all that. –Matt Average (Randy, randyrecords.blogspot.com)


DEAD GHOSTS:
Can't Get No: Cassette
Dead Ghosts reflect a spectrum of Nuggets-influenced punkness. Melodic bass lines and solid organ playing add ‘60s rock riffage to an album that sounds good in every gear. Slower fare like “You Don’t Belong” finds the band handling the sincerity, while “That Old Feeling” and “On Your Own” are jumpy songs that keep the album moving. “Tea Stomp Rumble” is a surf instrumental in the style of Link Wray that captures an eerie, late night quality that sometimes sneaks into slow, ‘60s instrumentals. It’s one of those unintentional things that probably happened just because the band is into it. These guys hit all the rungs on the ladder without being contrived. It’s a good one. –Billups Allen (Burger)


DEAD DOG:
Precious Child: LP
Unapologetically pop punk, although not in the downstroke way. More in like, I dunno, The Hayden Sisters way (which I’ll take over the former any day). Very ‘90s-inspired melodies and a heavy production that’s actually not too far off from Jack Joseph Puig’s Pinkerton job. Sweet and catchy as all hell without being a cartoon. It’s nice to have a record like this that I can totally get behind. Great stuff. –Dave Williams (Dead Broke)


DEAD BODY MEN, THE:
Discography: CD
I know fuck all about ‘em, but if the title is accurate, this would appear to be comprised of their D.O.A. and The Art of Resistance albums, plus some live and demo tracks tacked onto the end. The overall production sounds like most of the stuff was recorded on a 4-track demo, which is in no way intended as an insult, with a crispy treble to it. The tunes are mostly mid-tempo punk/hardcore with deviations into different styles thrown in to keep things moving, with samples interspersed throughout. The bonus stuff is a bit rawer in sound, natch. All told, this seriously reminds me of various demo tapes from now-obscure bands (Sewer Trout comes to mind at points) that used to get traded around nearly two decades before the band under review existed. –jimmy (Positive Youth Productions)


DAHLING:
Demo: Cassette
Kind of chaotic pop punk with yell-y vocals from Austin. These guys are probably really into the old Lookout Records catalog and newer No Idea stuff (it took me a minute to put my finger on who the vocalist reminds me of, and it’s definitely Atom And His Package). This probably translates really well live, but this tape doesn’t really do anything for me. –Ian Wise (Help From Friends)


CRUSADES:
Parables: 7"
In case you haven’t been paying attention, we love this band. Their driving intensity and commitment to blasphemy are rarely matched. And if this brief two song EP is but a preview for what their forthcoming full-length is going to offer, we’re all in for one wild ride. Sometimes genres sell bands short, and that’s definitely the situation with pop punk and Crusades. They’re unique, they’re inventive, and their melodisisms are just one aspect of their overall sound. Can’t wait to see what they come up with next. –Daryl Gussin (It's Alive)


CRUDDLER:
Self-titled demo: Cassette
The demo tape is back, with all of the good and bad that comes along with it. This is a lo-fi recording with elements of punk and indie, like a lot of demos I heard when the demo tape was the main format for a new band. Most of this sounds like just the kind of rough and ragged melodic punk that many Razorcake readers would be inclined to pay attention to. –frame (Ranch)


CRIMSON SCARLET:
The Window: 7"
Nice bit o’ death rock here. Manages to keep all the stereotypes in check—dancey beats without slipping into morose disco territory; big, effects-saturated guitars without slipping into bad metal territory; and vocals delivered right over the plate instead of overblown operatic howl or that hackneyed post-Sisters growl—to deliver the goods. Kudos to ‘em. –jimmy (Rust And Machine)


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