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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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TWO MAN ADVANTAGE:
Dynasty: LP
Wow, my old band played with these black-clad hockey goons in the ‘90s; that was two NHL strikes ago! Perhaps not surprisingly, time has neither mellowed nor dried out this Empire State squad on this, their fourth album ((thus, by inference, their Road to Ruin)), who arise with all appropriate ferocity to ascend to their rightful place as either the Mentors of hockey punk, the Nine Pound Hammer of the rink, the Zeke of the ice, the Hanson Brothers minus the Ramones-based levity, or the Dropkick Murphys if hockey was the new Irish and that Slap Shot band didn’t fuck everything up for everyone in the first place. If you were looking for a record containing the line “goal scoring whiskey drinking motherfucker” this month, you’ve clearly come to the right community ice center. BEST SONG: “Rookie Season.” BEST SONG TITLE: “Hosers Sing the Blues.” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Conveniently included in the package is both a CD version of the album AND a drink coaster… now both you AND a friend will have a place to set their beers! –norb (Drug Front)


TONY JONES & THE CRETIN THREE:
Midnight Mass: CDEP-R

Although these dudes live up the road from me, I have yet to see them live. In the meantime, this EP does the trick. Gritty punk with guts is represented here. Five songs that veer between T.S.O.L. and The Ramones but also show a true creative spark. It’s spooky, but a good spooky.

–koepenick (Cretin, tonyjonesinri@gmail.com)


THANKS:
Demos: CD
Tracks from three demos of poppy punk stripped down to its barest essentials—gruff singing, strum-strum guitar, and the thud-thud-thud of a drum bubbling somewhere in the back. –jimmy (Lost Cat)


TEST OF TIME:
Inclusion: CD

Test Of Time is a bit of a hardcore supergroup. Its members have been in more bands than I have space to list in this review. They more than know how to play their instruments and they have keen instincts for songwriting. They play melodic youth crew hardcore, but with more going on in terms of songwriting and riffing than three chords and verse, chorus, verse, breakdown song structures. Performing vocal duties is renowned punk photographer Todd Pollock. Pollock has put down his camera and picked up a microphone for the first time ever, and his vocal performance is powerful and engaging. He channels the best of hardcore heroes of the ‘80s. It’s catchy, passionate, and will live up to its name.

–Paul J. Comeau (xtestoftime@gmail.com, testoftime.bandcamp.com)


TENDRIL:
Smear: Cassette
Quality slow and heavy AmRep-influenced hardcore with sexually-repressed dude vocals ripping it up over noisy and plodding riffs. The lyrics are poetic struggles out of pits of depression and existential despair. Not really my thing. I prefer my noisecore with a bit of gallows humor, like Killdozer or Deadguy, but they’re pretty damn good at what they do. –Craven (Tension Head, tensionheadrecords@gmail.com)


STÖJ SNAK:
Songs about Beliefs: 7”
Singer-songwriter Niels Höjgaard Sörensen is the main creative force behind Stöj Snak. His music is acoustic folk with a strong punk ethic. There are few folk/punk hybrid bands or performers who I can say I enjoy, but I’d definitely add Stöj Snak to that list. Sörensen is a great songwriter. Each track on this 7” is loaded with catchy acoustic guitar riffs. An assorted cast of supporting musicians, and Sörensen himself on some additional instruments, add a great deal to each track. There’s much more going on musically than just a guy and his guitar, which I appreciated. His lyrics are sharp and witty, but also show a good deal of polishing, and he demonstrates a great range of vocal power. Moving fluidly between singing and sing-screaming, often within the same track, his forceful delivery makes already good tunes that much better. The opening track, “Collateral Damage,” got me paying attention, especially with the chorus vocal of, “I’m going in for the kill,” and by the end of the second track, “State of Mind,” I was a fan. The three tracks on Side B were just as strong as either track on Side A, making this a ripper from start to finish. –Paul J. Comeau (tnsrecords.co.uk, bev@tnsrecords.co.uk)


STATIC EYES:
“Trouble” b/w “Waves”: 7”
Two wild, overblown garage rock stompers. “Waves” is the pick to click here, with a more unhinged delivery and an infectious pound-pound-pound on the drums. –jimmy (Windian)


SPASTIC HEARTS, THE:
Self-titled: CD
Power punk from Ohio that gave me pleasant dreams. There was an edge here that I was not expecting. Tight arrangements, harmonies, and quick songs made this enjoyable. Nice packaging too. No, I’m not talking about the skin-tight jeans featured on the cover. “Colorado” and “Rocket Ship” blasted out of the gate here, but there were a lot of strong contenders represented. Looking forward to hearing more from this outfit. –koepenick (Self-released, thespastichearts.bandcamp.com)


SPACE WOLVES:
Self-titled: Cassette
The Wolves step up to the plate with thirteen pop nuggets that hint at a wicked sense of humor sprinkled with some good old self deprecation for good measure. I think the band has invented its own genre of music which I will call “parenthetical rock,” as almost every song has at least one set of parenthesis in its title. There is probably a joke there that I am not getting. As far as the actual music, it didn’t really do much for me. It really comes across as pretty ordinary retro-pop with vocals reminiscent of Morrissey, which is rather off-putting to these jaded ears. If I want to hear a crooner a la Morrissey, I (would rather just) get it (from the source). –Garrett Barnwell (UT)


SOIL:
To Wither: Cassette
Soil are an Olympia band who play epic, crusty hardcore with lyrics that use gardening as a metaphor for autonomous living. The music, “Gardencore,” stands on its own, but the theme makes it inspiring. I hope they include seeds in the packaging of their next record, so people can grow some string beans while they punk out. If you live in a collective house that smells like dumpstered vegetables and wet Carhartts, you are required to keep this tape by the kitchen boombox. Don’t make me call a house meeting on your ass! –CT Terry (gardencore.bandcamp.com)


SECULAR PLAGUE:
Death for Sale: CD
Belgium’s answer to Rudimentary Peni. The singer doesn’t bother trying to emulate Blinko’s screech/howl, but a Death Church-era Peni influence is all over this release, from song structures, to the production values, to the guitar tone, to the three-piece lineup. They’re damned good at it, and Peni’s a great band from which to draw influence, but I’d be interested to hear where they go from here—will they end up essentially an enamored tribute band merely content with imitating their heroes or will they grab that influence and twist it into wild, singular directions? Here’ to rootin’ for the latter. –jimmy (Secular Plague)


ROXOR:
Obraz Doby: LP
Wow, this is noisy. Roxor are a totally brutal d-beat crust punk hardcore band from Slovakia. If they were from the United States, this would most likely be hugely popular. The packaging here is really great looking, as the record includes a great multipage professionally printed booklet and an 11” x 24” size poster. Aesthetically, it’s dark and “punk” like only hardcore records like this one can pull off. Musically, this is seemingly influenced by the noisier d-beat bands and sounds like it could be from Japan. There are nine songs here, including a Disfear cover (I think). If noisy d-beat crust is your thing, then seek this out—you will not be disappointed. –Mark Twistworthy (Insane Society, barvak@insanesociety.net, insanesociety.net)


RESONARS, THE:
Crummy Desert Sound: LP
The Resonars play ‘60s-inspired pop songs that seamlessly edge into power pop era catchiness. With over a decade of releases on labels such as Get Hip and Trouble In Mind, this band continues to somehow remain a well-kept secret. Crummy Desert Sound follows in the footsteps of their debut Burger release That Evil Drone. The band’s upbeat brand of pop-psychedelia continues to be innovative no matter how much garage overload comes out. –Billups Allen (Burger)


REPELLERS:
The Coming Storm: Cassette
Four-song debut from this Philly crust-punk-by-way-of-Tragedy-esque hardcore trio. Big horned salutes for the heaviest riffs this side of Megadeth’s Rust in Peace and Carcass’s Heartwork gives this the kind of appeal that will turn the heads of both crusty alley drinkers and goat-worshipping thrash-holes alike. I’m not so sure it’s a good idea to submit your first recordings to Mammoth Sound for mastering, as I’m sure Dan Randall could only do so much to smoothen out the rough patches, such as the weak drum intro to the song “The Ghost.” Nonetheless, Repellers have the chops to mature into quite the behemoth and give the bands on Southern Lord a run for their open air festival money. –Juan Espinosa (Self-released, repellers.bandcamp.com)


RED JACKET MINE:
Someone Else’s Cake: CD
It’s funny how things kinda roll back around and end up plopped in places you’d least expect. Thirty-five, forty years ago, this would’ve been considered fairly “mainstream” pop/rock fodder, kinda falling somewhere between mellow Elvis Costello (c.f. “Allison”) when they’re at their edgiest, and your average adult-rock band on the other. Now, it apparently falls within the “alternative” ghetto. Go figure. The songs are well crafted and executed tunesmithing with a groovy sound that’d be aces on FM radio circa-1975. –jimmy (Fin)


PURITY CONTROL:
Self-titled: 7”

Raw, noisy, and abrasive-as-battery acid hardcore/grind. Shit gets wrecked in a hurry when the breakdowns suddenly stop and a sound wave of atonal guitar riffs, blast beats, and inhuman shrieks erupts from out of thin air. Strictly for freaks who appreciate Quattro Stagioni, Combatwoundedveteran, and who have a reckless disregard for tinnitus.

–Juan Espinosa (High Anxiety, no address, distributed by No Idea)


PRANK WAR /PARASOL:
Split: Cassette
Parasol: The guitars of the Adolescents and the vocal warble of Sleater-Kinney executed exquisitely. Their melodies and songwriting show promise for what I assume is a young band. I await a solo release eagerly. Prank War: Vicious and angry in that way where you can hear the band breaking their instruments as they’re playing. In my book, that’s a good thing. If you’re going to be angry, be angry about it. Recommended. –Bryan Static (Trashy Tapes, no address)


POOR LUCKIES, THE:
EP#1: 7”
This is fairly standard punk in the vein of Fang (but not quite as toothy) from this San Francisco three-piece. The three tunes, which are about murder and drinking for the most part, aren’t overly original in their sound, but they’re not bad. I liked it, but I wasn’t blown away. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Self-released, reverbnation.com/poorluckies)


PILE:
Dripping: CD
College rock, alt-rock, skronk and post-hardcore melded together in one noisy package. I prefer their noisier, disjointed moments, like “Grunt Like a Pig,” over their more structured, musical moments, but I imagine this’ll get no shortage of plays by people cramming for a Chem 203 exam. –jimmy (Exploding in Sound, dan@explodinginsound.com)


PIG//CONTROL:
Self-titled: EP
This record is fuggin’ awesome! It’s fast and crushing hardcore punk with some noisy elements permeating the overall sound. Guitars churn and crank over thundering percussion, while the vocals have a dry, raspy style that spits the words out with contempt for religion, the elite, and more. The songs race by at a quick clip, but it never blurs into grind. Think of early Die Kreuzen, mixed with some Scandinavian sound, and coming out of Germany. I like the feedback lock groove on side one. Nice touch! On side two is the long and punishing “Trauma.” Cold feedback sets the dark and bleak tone. It builds tension as it goes a few measures before everyone else comes in to blow the whole thing apart. And when they do start playing, the results are excellent. The song has a crushing and yet catchy riff that rocks like hell. Then they hit whirlwind speed, go for some chaos, and end with lumbering drums. Great record! The more I listen to this, the more I find myself starting to obsess over these guys. More records soon! –Matt Average (Heartfirst, info@heartfirst.net, heartfirst.net)


PEACEBASTARD:
Global Crisis: EP
Blistering guitars that rip and tear, leaving jagged necrotic slashes, and percussion that kicks and punches with intensity. Then you have a dual vocal attack—one sounds like complete hell, with her loud and throaty bellows that sound like her last vocal chord has been shredded to oblivion, backed by low, somewhat deep, from-the-gut male vocals that work more as a signifier. The intensity of this record is awesome. They play like this could be the last day on earth. So f’n awesome! –Matt Average (Heartfirst, info@heartfirst.net, heartfirst.net)


PARASOL:
Scoot Over: 7”
Parasol is a female-fronted three-piece from Boston. There’s a sort of nervous delivery about these songs that makes them endearing. With their unsteady vocals and simple pop punk sound, the band almost comes off as a less boring version of Rainer Maria. –Dan Ozzi (Nervous Nelly)


ONSIND:
Anaesthesiology: CD
ONSIND is one of my favorite bands currently. I mean, err, “favourite.” They’re from this very real place called Pity Me, where I pity nothing because these two are too talented for that entire British Isle. This album is just as beautiful, heartfelt, emotional, smart, and driven as their previous efforts. Only moreso, since the songs are “loosely connected” but not like some pretentious concept record. And also the first track has “Pokemon” in the title, and I fucking love Pokemon. Fuck you, don’t judge me. –Donna Ramone (Discount Horse, nathanisacynic@gmail.com, onsind.bandcamp.com)


OLD LINES:
Self-titled: 12” EP
You know the feeling you get when you see a great band live? The hair stands up on the back of your neck, and it feels like the music isn’t just vibrating in your ears, but right down to your DNA. That’s the feeling I’ve gotten both times I’ve seen Old Lines play, and their debut 12” captures that experience in vinyl form. The record features seven tracks, delivering Old Lines’ crushing riffs direct to you. I was a big fan of the band’s sharp political lyrics, which tackle a variety of topics, but especially on the track “Cages,” for its anti-vivisection theme. Vocalist Matt’s potent roar and the rest of the band’s thundering music is so intense on record, you’ll swear you’re in a dirty basement somewhere experiencing them live. –Paul J. Comeau (oldlines bandcamp.com, oldlines666@gmail.com)


NO TURNING BACK:
No Regrets: NO TURNING BACK: No Regrets: CD
Oh man, this is some seriously angry “chugga-chugga” hardcore. It’s really not my thing. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine and good to get your anger out in your music. Catharsis is a good thing. Being angry all the time, however, just doesn’t sound like much fun to me. –ty (Fast Break, fastbreakent.com)


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