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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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NATURAL CHILD:
Hard in Heaven: LP
This is either Natural Child’s third or fourth album, depending if the Bodyswitchers CD-R I have counts as an album. I got this in early 2013 but I believe it was supposed to be released in 2012, and was supposed to be the second of three LPs the band was hoping to release in 2012. Anyway, Natural Child is the current king of Southern boogie garage rock, which is the only way I can think to describe them (they’re not garage per se and not straight-up rock, but they are Southern). The opening two tracks are a bit more straight-forward punk-y chuggers, not unlike their first 7”. On my first few listens, I had trouble hearing the bass, which on all other Natural Child recordings is the real lead instrument (not to slag the other guys, but as a bass player myself, I’ve got a soft spot for bassists who take the lead). Late one night I was listening to Hard in Heaven at a low volume on account of not wanting to wake my girlfriend up and then I really heard the bass. So maybe this record is meant to be played at a low-to-moderate volume? Only song I don’t like is the excessively long title track that closes out the first side. –Sal Lucci (Burger)


NATO COLES AND THE BLUE DIAMOND BAND / KING FRIDAY:
Split: 7”
Two tracks each from these bands from Minnesota and Florida, respectively. I’m liking King Friday more and more with everything that I hear from them. They straddle that post-hardcore pre-emo fence that a lot of bands did as punk evolved in the mid- to late-’80s, but King Friday don’t sound retro in any way. This was the first time that I’ve heard Nato Coles, and I wasn’t disappointed in the least. They have a cleaner, poppier sound than I would have expected with this pairing, and the sound strikes me as so definitely Midwestern—as if John Mellencamp were to be in a pop punk band. Satisfying. Grayish purple vinyl! –The Lord Kveldulfr (ADD)


NAILS:
Abandon All Life: CD/LP
The follow-up to Unsilent Death finds Nails once again playing blistering metal in concise fashion (ten songs in seventeen minutes). As I get older I find I still love heavy, fast music, but I also find the inclusion of short bursts that comprise songs to be more of a novelty and not so much anything I’m interested in listening to repeatedly. Some acts can pull this off successfully (Pig Destroyer), but most don’t seem to have anything substantive to add to the genre by utilizing these sorts of tunes. Nails are obviously skillful musicians and know how to bring intensity and passion to their craft. ­­Their ability to find a groove and strength in the longer tracks makes them pretty formidable. However, there are only two of those songs on Abandon All Life and while both are quite good, it leads me to wonder what an entire album of such material might sound like. My guess is that it would be pretty awesome. –kurt (Southern Lord)


MUDHONEY:
Vanishing Point: LP
I can admit it. I latched onto the whole grunge thing in the early ‘90s. I was seventeen years old in a small town. I had given up punk rock and skateboarding a few years earlier because I was sick of getting in fights with rednecks and metalheads. I was already on my way back to where I belonged by listening to Pixies and Sonic Youth, but then Nirvana happened and suddenly there was this whole thing and bands were everywhere. Of all those Seattle bands, Mudhoney was always my favorite, probably because they were less metal and more garage/trash punk… And they covered The Dicks. I find it amusing that these long couple of decades later that Mudhoney is one of the only bands from that era still standing. Kind of like that guy who shows up at your high school reunion. He always drank more, did more drugs, and generally did all the stupid shit that everyone else had at least one shred of common sense not to do. Yet he’s there. Looking and sounding a bit rougher around the edges, but that smirk and glint of crazy in the eye are still firmly in place. That is Mudhoney in 2013. Vanishing Point has everything a good Mudhoney record should have: searing, effects-laden guitar, a definite groove behind the noise, and that sarcastic caterwaul that can only be Mark Arm. This record makes me happy. It shows that the underdogs who didn’t get swept up into the “twice an hour” rock radio purgatory can still put out quality music a lifetime after the hair farming “superstars” of the era have long dried up and blown away. –ty (Sub Pop)


MUDDY RAILS:
Self-titled: CD
Muddy Rails’ debut album is nine songs in just over twenty minutes of Hot Water Music-influenced punk from Iowa. Yes, Iowa. It seems fun and energetic and perhaps something that a number of Razorcake listeners might enjoy. There’s something infectious about the sound that I can’t deny, but, at the same time, is too formulaic of something that might have been put out on Fat or Epitaph back in the day that makes me not want to like it. I’m split, but if you’re looking for a new indie punk band to get into, you might want to give Muddy Rails a try. –kurt (Brolester)


MISERIA DE TU ROSTRO, LA:
Jauría: LP
This kinda dances between metallic crust punk and something a bit more influenced by mid-period Slayer. All the usual genre makers are in evidence, though, and while the results aren’t exactly groundbreaking, they are quite adept at what they’re dishin’ out. –jimmy (Depraved & Devilish, punkdeluxe.net)


MINDLESS ATTACK:
Self-titled: EP
Okay punk rock/hardcore from this trio. They sort of remind me of The Pist, with their straight-ahead, no-frills approach in both the music and lyrics. At times, it sounds like the drummer is struggling to keep the tension and speed up the tempo. That’s kind of a plus, and gives this a rawness. However, on the whole, these songs never really take off and go for broke, or have much “zing” to warrant more listens. Should have been a demo that the band could have picked apart and maybe recorded something better later? –Matt Average (Mindless Attack, mindlessattack.blogspot.com)


MEAT WAVE:
Self-titled: Cassette
Surprisingly complex and seamless for a debut, these guys show no evidence of clunky change ups and left of target performances that plague new bands. Rife with hooks and brawny bass lines, “Keep Smoking” takes off like a horse at the bell with a throbbing guitar hook hit with a Lone Ranger space rock chord. “No Definition” plays up Chris Sutter’s scratchy, accessible Kurt Cobain vox that will have fans of grunge descend like flies upon this trio out of Chicago. A slower, lilting Dead Kennedy’s tempo sets up “15 Years” while “Lurie Garden Chopping” hurtles you back into a taught earwormy guitar rhythm. Well executed, these visceral nine tracks surge with beefy sustenance. –Kristen K (Let’s Pretend)


MANATEES:
Out for Booze: 7” EP
Fairly straightforward, dark punk rock with lo-fi production values that both lend some edge and steals some oomph from the overall delivery. Not bad, not stunning. –jimmy (Pelican Pow Wow)


MACGYVER:
Panthalassa: LP
I swear, PHR is becoming synonymous with stuff like this: sturdy, growling European punk with a fervent nod to eighties hardcore and post-punk. The label seems as consistent in their particular vision as, say, Fat Wreck or In The Red is in theirs; the bands aren’t derivative of each other, but there’s a definite similarity at work. Macgyver doesn’t really stray far from the handful of other bands I’ve heard from this label, but they don’t drop the ball either. Granted, I can’t understand a word, but there’s a nice sparking gallop in songs like “Osud” and “Slunovrat.” Structurally (and a bit vocally) the band’s akin to Noir Desir, but with a stronger punk backbone and flashes of bright guitar lines. Solid effort. –keith (PHR)


MAGIC SHADOWS:
“Sunburned Mind” b/w “Under the Stairs”: 7"
So I just get Canadian stuff because I’m English and you Yanks think we’re the same. Whatever dudes, I’m the winner this month. Sometimes just a couple of short songs tell a lot about the people who made them. It’s clear these guys are audiophiles, not so much in the sound they make but what has gone into the sound they make. There’s something from every decade—’60s pop, ‘70s psych, ‘80s shoegaze—and some of the more recent fuzzed-out bands like the Oh Sees or Ty Segall. It sounds like these fellas have spent the snowing winters up there hunched over dusty 45s for the past few years. There’s just a couple of drums which give it a tribal drive, and combined with the shimmer and fuzz, the music has a dreamy feel. Don’t get me wrong, this has plenty of bite and can fit snugly in your punk collection. It’s thought out, well crafted, and has plenty of hooks. For a sweeping statement, this is something I could see a label like Trouble In Mind getting involved in. –Tim Brooks (Magic Shadows, magicshadows@mail.com)


LINE, THE:
Self-titled: 7”
The Line is an antifa hardcore punk band from Warsaw, Poland. Side A of this 7” was three studio tracks, and Side B was three live recordings. It’s rare when you hear bands whose songs each have a different sound/style, but it’s the case with The Line. Their anthem song, “Hey Ho, The Line,” has a very speedy punk’n’roll vibe calling to mind the earliest punk sound. “Lewiatan” and “Problem,” also on the studio side of the album, have more of a thrashy hardcore punk sound. There’s enough similarity between the styles that listening to the 7” never feels disjointed, like listening to a compilation instead of the same band, but the thrashier more aggressive songs stand out more for me. There was a less derivative feel to them than “Hey Ho, The Line,” whose riff sounded to my ears only slightly off from “Blitzkrieg Bop.” The recording quality of the live tracks is a bit uneven, a bit grainy, but not entirely unlistenable. It includes two new songs, “2010” and “Polska” and a live rendition of “Hey Ho, The Line.” The two new tracks are in the vein of the band’s thrashier stuff, and I was into it. I’d have been more pumped though if their weakest song didn’t appear twice on the same 7”. –Paul J. Comeau (nobread, nobread@mail.ru, nobreadlabel.blogspot.com)


LEIDKULTUR:
For a Better World: EP
Mid-tempo punk from Germany here. There’s a heaviness to their sound, but not in the typical crust or metal way. A good bit of low end helps these songs move with force. I like the slightly distorted sound of the bass, as it gives their sound some teeth, with the guitars right underneath. Lyrically, they present interesting view points that ask real questions and steer clear of black and white statements. It could be a result of growing older, as they mention in the description to “Hoffnung.” But they question social values, conspiracy theorists, and society’s overall lack of seeing things as they really are. –Matt Average (Spastic Fantastic, spasticfantastic.de)


LATE BLOOMER:
Self-titled: Cassette
Late Bloomer play melodic punk that has potential, but I don’t think that this tape quite makes it. It’s okay and everything, but the harmonies drone a little too much for my tastes and the melodies don’t quite pop for me. There’s nothing inherently flawed in what Late Bloomer does, but this just doesn’t wow me. (Granted, it could just be the mix.) I guess, in the end, what always separates the great bands from the rest is that the great ones have at least one thing that makes them distinctive no matter how much they may sound like other bands out there. I couldn’t find that one thing here. Sorry, dudes. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Self Aware, selfawarerecords.com)


JOWLS:
Cursed: 10”
Jowls trade in the syncopated, groove-oriented emo-core pioneered by Shotmaker in the mid ‘90s. This style got old fast, but Jowls give it life with passionate playing and dynamic songs that build, twist, and crescendo. Vital enough to avoid being caught in the past, but true enough to the form to make me feel like I’m at a Clinton-era hardcore fest, playing foursquare with a bunch of Spock-rockers. Six songs, green marble vinyl. –CT Terry (tinyengines.limitedrun.com)


JERRY SPIDER GANG:
Back to Life: 7”
French garage rock on the upper end of the genre. Fellow Frenchman the Distortions or (more appropriately) TV Killers are a good comparison, as this is more about riffs and vocals than it is noise and feedback. All three songs feature minimalist solos, catchy hooks, slightly distorted vocals, and appropriate use of wah-wah. This came out on a French label but should be relatively easy to track down in the states. –Ian Wise (Frantic City, franticcity.free.fr)


JEREMY PORTER & THE TUCOS:
Partner in Crime: CD
I haven’t heard much, if any, music from bar bands that play underwhelming “original” music since I moved out of Indiana many years ago. It’s good to hear I’m still not missing anything. –kurt (New Fortune, newfortunerecords.com)


JENNIFERS, THE:
Well-Intentioned World: CD
The Jennifers play bright, up-tempo rock’n’roll that sounds like it could have regular rotation on your average college radio station. The sound has all the hallmarks of a “radio friendly” band, but there’s a quirkiness and edge to the tuneage that would prevent them (presumably) from ever being taken seriously by major media. Granted, a couple of the songs border on the lame for me, but all in all this record was a satisfying experience. I like and need bands like this, because such a sound is a fundamental change of pace for me. If most of my music is either Guinness (thick and meaty) or Blatz (crisper and biting with a touch o’ bitter), then sometimes I need the shandy that the Jennifers might represent. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Beechfields, thebeechfields.com)


INFLATABLE BEST FRIEND:
DMT Bike Ride: LP
Quirky garage/punk band with a penchant for childish tendencies in both songwriting and aesthetic. The music is asinine and overtly repetitive. Interesting ideas are few and far between, from the opening track that greets us with the out-of-tune crooning of the lead singer to some production problems when it comes to making the band sound full. My favorite part of the record was the cover, which is lovingly rendered in crayon and/or colored pencil. I’ve never seen a record that adequately represented the album’s audio on its cover. –Bryan Static (Obvious, no address listed)


HILLY EYE:
Reasons to Live: CD
Hilly Eye is a tricky band for me. I like the idea behind the act: one member on drums, the other on guitar, and both on vocals. Amy Klein’s (formerly of Titus Andronicus) vocals take the lead and are quite strong. But I can’t pin them down. Are they riot grrrl, atmospheric pop, or might they fit in more with a 1990s D.C. scene? After fumbling around with comparisons, the last of those is the best one I can think of. It’s not hard to imagine Hilly Eye—should they find themselves in the ‘90s—touring with Shudder to Think or Tsunami. Hilly Eye can rotate between loud and soft and their lyrics are appropriately vague. The ten songs that come in at forty-two minutes go by quickly and effortlessly. Unfortunately, this isn’t an album that ever comes out and grabs me. It’s not played incompetently, it just doesn’t have anything that’s impressive or hooky. It’s safe to say Hilly Eye has me intrigued, though, and I’d be interested in hearing what they do next. –kurt (Don Giovanni)


HASSLER:
Amorality: 7” EP
Self-described “meat and potatoes Toronto hardcore,” and I ain’t a-gonna argue with ‘em. They go the straight-ahead route instead of pissin’ in the gene pool with outside influences, resulting in a thrash-bang fest that recalls the best moments of Negative Approach and Capitol Punishment. –jimmy (Beach Impediment)


HARD GIRLS:
Isn’t It Worse/Gainful Clumps: Cassette
Puddle jumpin’ indie punk with noodly guitars. I was really getting into this tape, and apparently my boombox was too… because it ate it after two songs. Bah. This tape compiles their first album and EP and I’m gonna seek out those songs on a less expendable format. –CT Terry (lauren-records.com)


HAPPY FAMILY:
Appetizer: CD
This packet arrived specifically addressed to me, and was from France. So I set out to review what I assumed would be three-chord buzzsaw punk, since they noticed I use the name “Ramone.” Except, they sound like the sludgy ‘90s indie rock stuff I didn’t like then, and I still don’t like now. Someone else might enjoy this more, but I’ll be honest here, I don’t think you will. –Donna Ramone (Ganache, stephanenicemarseille@hotmail.fr, facebook.com/happyfamily13000)


GUILTY PARENTS:
Noro: Cassette
Sounds like Bl’ast’s Power of Expression played by art school dropouts instead of beach kids. You don’t need to eat shrooms to appreciate the remix song tagged at the end of this tape, but if you’re into that sort of thing, I’m sure that it will only enhance the experience. –Juan Espinosa (Self-released, no address)


GREMLINS UK:
Self-titled: 7”
The cover is a picture of an evil Gremlin bursting out of the record drinking Grem Juice and looking all punked out. Great start. Five poppy punk songs that sound a lot like the Dickies and have a bit of a ‘70s British punk rock sound. Lots of energy, fun lyrics that brought a smile to my face, and sloppy-but-inspired playing made this a pleasure to listen to. Matter of fact, I think that I’m going to listen to it again. “You Live in a Park” and “Hey Mongo” were the highlights for me. –Rick Ecker

 

–Guest Contributor (Meth Mouth, methmouthrecords.com)


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