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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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BLASTED:
Exposed/Time to Die: 7" EP
My first impression was that there was a lot of Midwestern hardcore influence here. After repeated listens, though, I’m leaning a bit more towards a mid-’80s Southern California foundation with a bit of that Midwestern brute force brought in through the windows. Gruff vocals, gallop tempos, muscley delivery, this’ll definitely rattle your cage –jimmy (Dry Heave, dryheaverecords.limitedrun.com)


BLACKBIRD RAUM:
False Weavers: LP
Before even throwing this platter on the turntable, I’m struck by the intricate pen drawings that span its cover. A giant wolf and Cthulhu tree people lay a city to waste as methane and smoke plume from crumbled buildings; a military troop struggle for ground. Like the musical accompaniment to a fantasy novel, a fold-out map duplicates the cover’s preternatural bent with a crisp, detailed topography. The map loosely corresponds to tracks listing an actual HakimBay and Kropotkingrad, as well as The River of Filth and Fukushima Hulk, depicting a depressing crater. Raum amplifies the theme of rebellious hobbits taking part in anarchic revolution with liner notes quoting pieces on the French Anarchist Revolution to Michael Moorcock. Like anything off Arkam records, this five-piece employs a menagerie of folk punk instrumentations with washtub bass, pump organ, washboard and saw, plus novelties like a pump action shot gun and bouzouki. Vacillating between male and female vocals, “False Weavers” pulls in Fleetwood Mac’s “Gold Dust Woman” with mandolin and female vocals in the spotlight, while “The Greymare parts 1, 2 & 3” are melodic, rapid-fire spoken word anthems, like a Henry Rollins record set on 45 RPM. Recommended. –Kristen K (Silver Sprocket Bicycle Club)


BILL BONDSMEN:
“Dead” / “Peasant under Glass”: 7"
Not to make this too Detroit-regional, but take the belt-whipping of Negative Approach (buckle at the biting end), expose your back under the dim, disorienting fluorescent light of Cleveland’s Homostupids, then feel the sting and the blood trickle down the back of your legs onto the plastic sheet. Bruised, pained music the color of dead fields, the sky before an earthquake, and wounds that never heal back to their original shape. Intense, splintering, exact, splattery, and penetrating. It’s hardcore. It’s progressive. Silk-screened cover. Released by the band. It’s highly recommended. –todd (Self-released, billbondsmen.blogspot.com)


BAZOOKA:
Self-titled: CD
Like labelmates Acid Baby Jesus, Bazooka takes the garage punk thang and dunks it into a deep vat of LSD, combining the usual trappings—loud guitars, stomping drums—with a thick coating of reverb and a healthy reverence for early Pink Floyd. Diehards clutching their Supercharger 45s and lamenting the days before the Mummies “sold out” by releasing a CD might pooh-pooh ‘em, but the more rational will find Bazooka can make a fine racket with the best of ‘em. –jimmy (Slovenly)


BAM! BAM!:
Golden Haze 2: 7" EP
The title track is anchored on a simple dark riff, from which they speed up the tempo then slow it back down for the chorus. Nice bit of work there. The remaining tracks more or less fall within the sorta lo-fi pop confines that modern college radio stations seem to find so swell. This isn’t a necessarily bad thing, it’s just the others don’t quite live up to the infectiousness of that opening salvo. –jimmy (HHBTM)


BADLANDS:
So Little: Cassette
I didn’t know what to expect from this set of songs; whether it would be acoustic or punk. Adrian Tenney is capable of both screaming the house down while she tears it apart with her drumsticks and soothing it to sleep while she croons over her ukulele. The sounds that came out of my headphones when I pressed play made such trivial concerns just float away. This tape is the most I’ve enjoyed an album in a good while. I really like the way it’s recorded—all these wild instruments I can’t even pronounce sound really great both through an ‘80s boombox and a fancy work computer. The music is really interesting and her lyrics, as usual, are so simple yet thought provoking. –Rene Navarro (Ghostbot, ghostbotrecords.com)


BAD DADDIES:
Bad Year: 7"
Abrasive blasts of budget hardcore punk! Screeching guitar dissonance and maniacal vocals backed by fist-pumping, circle pit tempos. Self-released, and limited to 137 copies. No hype, just enthusiasm and love for pissed-off, anti-social music. –Daryl Gussin (Central District)


ASILE:
Self-titled: 7"
Ah, bless the French Canadians, always wearing black and sounding like Motörhead. Oh please, I jest, relax mon ami. Asile are from Ottawa, have done at least an LP, and mine the same dirt as Born Dead Icons and even Complications. These dudes actually sing in French and have that galloping d-beat sound of Totalitär or even early Doom (without the gruff vocals). There’s a definite Motörhead vibe to the riffs, you know that punk/metal sound?, which reminds me of the first Inepsy LP. This is fucking boss; so good I just went and bought the LP. How’s that for a sale? –Tim Brooks (Chaos Rurale, chaosrurale.com)


ARDILLAS, LAS:
Linda Niña: 7"
Nice bit of swaggering Boricua punk from this Davila 666-related (though they apparently predate their popular relatives by many years) band. Though there are some commonalities between the two bands, including members, Las Ardillas leans more towards a ‘70s sensibility than a decade earlier, which makes for a cleaner, beefier sound and a bit more wiggle in the hips. The Killed by Death-friendly contingent will find much to dig here. –Adrian Chi (Slovenly)


APPLESEED CAST, THE:
Illumination Ritual: CD/LP
Over the more than fifteen year career of The Appleseed Cast, the lineup has turned over more than a few times, but singer and guitarist Christopher Crisci has remained. His voice and an atmospheric, indie rock guitar sound is what has made The Appleseed Cast’s sound consistent in spite of the changes. Illumination Ritual, the band’s eighth full-length album, is ten songs that come in at forty-four minutes. It’s certainly different than their last full-length, Sagarmatha, and the one preceding it, Peregrine. In some ways, it is more reminiscent of the band’s second LP, Mare Vitalis, especially as it relates to the drum work. The style of Nathan Wilder is reminiscent of Josh Baruth (the drummer on Mare Vitalis) in its complexity and rhythmic structure. It really gives Illumination Ritual some life and energy for a style that might otherwise be moodier. That’s not to say that there’s not some good emotion on here, but it’s more reserved, not like the band was on their earliest albums. Still, there are some great moments, such as the way the guitar and vocals combine on “Cathedral Rings” and the vocals and drums work together on “30 Degrees 3am.” I can’t say this is the band’s best work, as the majority of the songs don’t stand out like the two just mentioned. However, Illumination Ritual certainly isn’t the band’s worst. It’s got a pleasant feel and brings back reminders of what might be the band’s finest work, Mare Vitalis. It’s safe to say this is an album for fans, but not necessarily the best place for someone to begin to get into the band. –Bryan Static (Graveface)


ALTERED BOYS:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Deranged is fast becoming another one o’ them labels where you’re not quite sure what yer gonna get, but it’s usually good no matter what it ends up being. Wasn’t quite able to gauge this one based on the Mansonesque cover, but what came howling along was some zippy, pissed-as-hell Canadian hardcore, burning fast, heavy, and is out the door before you know what hit ye. –jimmy (Deranged)


AGENT ORANGE:
Living in Darkness: LP
Yeah, the downside to this whole vinyl “renaissance” is the ridiculous price tags. Yeah, I know, 180-gram vinyl, faithful reproduction, blahdeeblah, but it doesn’t change the fact that it both limits the ability of the average schlubs to pick up a copy of a record to which they should have total access, and acts as a prime example of the fetishizing of ephemera by monied hipsters and record collector schmucks who weren’t around to collect it the first time around from subcultures they view as moribund and don’t really care to understand. That said, it is also admittedly very fuggin’ cool to see records like this on the format for which they were intended. Originally released on Posh Boy, Living in Darkness was Agent Orange’s opening, and some would argue finest, punk salvo—four tracks per side of proto-hardcore up to its eyeballs in the sun and surf pop thuggery that, along with other crucial releases by both peers and former members, became the template upon which the much-ballyhooed “SoCal Punk Sound” was built. From the siren-staccato guitar intro of “Too Young to Die” to the punked-up surf covers peppered here and there to the four-minute epic title track, this is the perfect soundtrack for folks who prefer their pop edgy and “like things that bite.” Whether or not it’s worth the twenty to twenty-five dollars I’ve seen it going for is a matter of personal choice, but it’s most assuredly worth the repeated listens that’ll inevitably occur. Limited to five hundred. –jimmy (Drastic Plastic)


ADOLESCENTS, THE :
American Dogs in Europe: CDEP
Probably this platter slipped under the radar for a lot of fans, considering it came out hot on the heels of Fastest Kid Alive. That’s a crying shame since this is a solid mini disc. Soto and Reflex are keeping the ship afloat here, but there are no leaks in sight. All the Agnews are gone, but the songwriting is still top notch. “Destination Nowhere” is the last song here. That’s where you will be if you don’t have this on your shelf. –koepenick (Concrete Jungle, contact@concretejungle.com,concretejunglerecords.com))


ADICTS, THE:
All the Young Droogs: CD
Brand new studio release from these veteran U.K. punkers. Having only recently discovered the awesomeness of the band’s live show (I know, shame on me), I was pleasantly surprised to find out they can still produce in the studio. Fans of early Clash and Cock Sparrer will find lots to love here. But The Adicts absolutely have their own distinctive sound. Luckily “Give It to Me Baby” is not an Offspring cover. Monkey croons in one song—”stop the world I wanna get off.” But I want to hang on for the ride. Viva! –koepenick (DC Jam,theadicts27@hotmail.com,dcjamrecords.com)


ACxDC / MAGNUM FORCE / SEX PRISONER:
Split: 10"
Wow, a one-sided three-way split of powerviolence on a 10”. Interesting. First up is ACxDC who picked just about the most terrible name and I’ll tell you why: a few years ago I was at Headline records here in L.A. flipping through the record racks when I overheard Jean-Luc talking to a kid about punk music. The girl told him she was into “AC/DC,” much to Jean’s surprise. He excitedly explained to her how AC/DC essentially aped Rose Tattoo, a band she had clearly not heard of prior. You can imagine the face she made when Jean played a Rose Tattoo CD for her as well as his subsequent head scratching: I’m all for silly and or clever band names but not when they confuse the shit out of people like this. Musically, however, they ain’t too bad if you like pterodactyl screams and endless blast beats. Kids here locally seem to go apeshit for them but they’ve yet to convince me to buy any of their records or ball point pens. Magnum Force come through with more of a death/grindcore approach much like Insect Warfare and Hatred Surge; works for me. Sex Prisoner appropriately close out this split upping the ante on just exactly why the words “power” and “violence” should be reserved only for a band of this caliber. They just completely fucking destroy! Crossed Out smoking sherm with Mellow Harsher in a Tucson alleyway. Check out the cool etching on the flip side as you’re getting your ass handed to you. –Juan Espinosa (To Live A Lie)


100 FLOWERS:
Self-titled: LP
Seminal punk minimalists The Urinals’ sound matured slightly after their third seven inch. Around this time, the band changed their name to 100 Flowers. While The Urinals contribution to punk history has been solidified in recent years, the 100 Flowers era has languished in obscurity. This recent reissue of their only full-length is very welcome. The fifteen songs on this album are happy blasts of undistorted guitar and high energy drumming. The songs are slightly more involved than typical Urinals’ fare, but maintain the intelligent lyrics and dry sound. The material has also been sort of hard to come by in recent years. The CD compilation 100 Years of Pulchritude contains their entire output but has been out of print for a long time. I’m gonna do that record store thing and tell you that their harder to locate appearances on classic comps such as Keats Rides a Harley and Hell Comes to Your House contain punker offerings and are essential listening, so you should seek them out. But this album contains some essential California punk that should not be missed. If “Ride the Wild” is one of your favorite Descendents songs, then this album is for you. Now do the right thing and look up the word “pulchritude.” If you’re not careful, you might learn something. –Billups Allen (Superior Viaduct)


RATAS DEL VATICANO:
Rafagueados: 2 x 7” EP
At its core, this band from Monterrey, Mexico band metes out rudimentary hardcore of varying tempos and hues very much in line with the sounds coming out of different parts of that country during its ‘80s hardcore heyday. The production, however, give the whole thing a lo-fi garage sheen, which adds a whole different dimension to the proceedings. They probably won’t win any awards, but they are quite adept at what they do and the sounds here hint that they may be quite formidable in a live setting. Limited to 500 copies. –jimmy (Batshit, badshit@live.com)


WILD CHILD:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Dirty and fast hardcore punk somewhere betwixt the School Jerks and Cülo. The drumming sounds like hell, the guitar lacks solid distortion, and the vocalist sounds like he’s slobbering all over himself. Fuggin’ spastic! “Stay Bent” is the best of the bunch, because it’s the final song on here and I know it’s over. Kidding. Relax... The real reason is it embodies all the best elements of the other four songs and pushes all those elements further into the red. It sounds like everything is on the verge of falling into chaos. The weird grunting in “Viral Load” has its charm, as well as the urgent delivery of “Brown Nose.” –Matt Average (Deranged, derangedrecords.com)


WAY TO GO GENIUS:
WAY TO GO GENIUS: LP
L.A.’s Way to Go Genius deliver a hearty, raw garage punk LP, with a nice seedy quality to it. All eight of the songs included are terrific, with variants in tempo spanning from fairly slow to fairly quick, as opposed to lingering in the mid range throughout. The fact that the recording is so meticulous helps propel the already well conceived music. The packaging is likewise a labor of love and comes complete with crayons and old fashioned handwriting paper. –Art Ettinger (Self-released, waytogogenius.bandcamp.com)


WARHEAD:
Never Give Up: LP
This LP collects Warhead’s out-of-print singles (Cry of the Truth, Drive It in Your Head and the Disorder split) and compilation appearances on one handy full length. I’m going to guess that if you are aware of who this band is and are familiar with their records that you are already putting this zine down to track this sucker down on the internet, but in case you are unaffiliated, here is the deal. Warhead started kicking around Japan around 1991 and over the following twenty some-odd years released some of the most disturbing and intense hardcore that ever came from the island. The recordings are cleaner than the bands that predated them, giving the listener the full scope of the chaos instead of burying it under noise and, despite their connections (in later incarnations) to Framtid and Gloom, the band remained their own entity and cast their own crazy curses on themselves. Their live shows have been sparse in the U.S., but those of us who have been lucky enough to witness them (saw them on the famous Forward/Tragedy tour a few years back where they (sorry guys!) blew Tragedy off the stage) have walked away just a little bit more jaded. Highest recommendations! –Ian Wise (Insane Society, insanesociety.net)


WAREHOU$E VALUE:
Fucked up on Lo-Fi: 7”
This 7” contains a load of pissed-sounding hardcore. The liner notes explain that the band only played five shows. The first side is a demo from 2001 and the other side is unreleased material. I couldn’t find any more information. Kudos if this is someone actually going through with that dream of “maybe we’ll put out our old demo on a 7” one day.” These songs deserve the vinyl treatment in my opinion. Lo-fi, speedy, and angry. More old school without too much heavy nonsense. I lean towards DRI-paced HC. This is something I would listen to. Good record. –Billups Allen (Mike Fitzgerald, xmikefitzgeraldx@gmail.com))


VIOLENT BULLSHIT:
Adult Problems: LP
Speedy hardcore with a crunchy edge. Everything about their sound is thick, from the vocals that sound like the singer is about to choke to death, to the impenetrable wall of guitar and hard-hitting percussion. For some reason, I’m reminded of Celebrity Murders, but this band consists of folks from Black Army Jacket, Half Mast, Orchid, Les Savy Fav, and others. Their style is definitely in the present, mixed with the better elements of NYHC, and a forceful delivery that keeps the tension high. “Theatre Sports” is a weird blend of Bad Brains “Attitude” with their own song that gets wonky and weird. “Hip Replacement” is the definite standout of the bunch. The song is fast, direct, and verging on going over the edge. It blazes by in a fast minute, though it feels shorter. These guys definitely know how to construct hard-hitting songs and keep it interesting. Plus, going from the lyrics, they don’t seem to be dour or convinced they have the answers. Pretty good. –Matt Average (Violent Responsibility, violentbullshit@violentbullshit.com, violentbullshit.com)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Mix It Up, Vol. III: Cassette
Another volume of the regional, Portland-only comp that benefits pc-pdx.com, a well-loved and oft-used online resource guide to shows in the area. Like most regional comps, it’s crafted out of love and is a mixed bag. Genres abound here, but it becomes quickly clear there are tons of great, active bands in this town. My personal standouts are Shitty Weekend, Drunk Dad, Pageripper, Raw Nerves, and Freedom Club. Twenty-eight bands. –keith (Useless State)


UPSIDE DOWN:
Aperitif: CD
Five-piece punk band that has been slugging away since 1992. That is really the only thing I can tell you about this band since Google “translate” does not seem to want to cooperate with me today. So I’m at a loss to find out even the most basic information about this band. This applies to their website, Facebook page, whatever. I can tell you the music sounds like fast melodic punk from the mid-’90s. Think Strung Out or Good Riddance but with Fat Mike on vocals. Oh yeah, and if Fat Mike had grown up in Warsaw instead of California. Now you’ve got it. –koepenick (Pasazer)


UPPGANG OCH FALL:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Swedish band playin’ clean channel, minor-chord punk with dual male/female vocals. –jimmy (Uppgång Och Fall)


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