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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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FEDERATION X:
The Only Fool Is You: 7”
This totally kick ass single is a great introduction to Federation X. I checked out some of Federation X’s other releases as a result and it’s unquestionably an overlooked band. Federation X originated in the Pacific Northwest, but has more in common musically with minimalist 1990s Chicago punk like Shellac. The two tracks featured here are both incredible. Can I join the federation? –Art Ettinger (Recess)


BORING, THE:
Craving for Change: LP+CD
Strasbourg, France’s The Boring play melodic hardcore with some nods to crusty and emocore. The lead singer shouts his overtly political, struggle-oriented lyrics with the rest of the band kicking in some backup vocals here and there. It’s not perfect by any means—for instance far too many of the songs are similar in sound—but the sincerity and passion are definitely there. I could see these guys kicking ass live. –Craven (Blood And Doner, captain.ahab@gmail.com)


FATHER FIGURES, THE:
All about Everything: CD
They say never to count someone out based on how long in the tooth they are, and these cats are a beaming example of how that can be quite true. A trio comprised of old Arizona punker royalty, The Father Figures adhere to one of punk’s finer tenets that too often seems to have been lost over the years, namely strive for your own sound, and come up with another album’s-worth of choice tuneage fueled by hardcore’s fire but throws in a shit-ton of outside influences that results in music that is by turns angular, rhythmic, angry, nuanced, and catchy as hell. In short, I’m fuggin’ loving this. –jimmy (AZPX, azpx.com)


BLOODSHOT AND DILATED / BLOOD STAINED REALITY:
Split: 7”
Puke on Yer Balls is a concept record of sorts. It seeks to answer the complex mystery of who puked on someone’s balls with songs like, “Puke on Yer Balls” and “Who Puked on My Balls!?!” Both bands’ lyrics describe a morning haze of trying to piece together this great mystery. Lyrics like, “I’m looking at the pictures and I’m making some phone calls / Trying to figure out who the fuck puked on my balls.” Brilliant. It’s like a Raymond Chandler mystery novel. Or at least a sequel to The Hangover. Well, spoiler alert: The guy puked on his own balls. –Dan Ozzi (Suburban Whitetrash)


EX FRIENDS:
Twisted Around: 7”
Screeching Weasel meets… street punk?! Four songs of catchy, brick-punching punk with snotty vocals and smart/snide lyrics (See: “Punk Rock Wedding Punk Rock Divorce”). It works. –CT Terry (Yo-Yo)


EVENS, THE:
The Odds: CD/LP
The Evens latest album is their first in six years. It once again consists of Ian MacKaye on baritone guitar and Amy Farina on drums with both trading off vocal duties. The Odds is comprised of thirteen songs clocking in at forty minutes, and while there are perhaps a couple of tunes that might be fit to cut it’s not a major complaint. There is a good mix of vocals with MacKaye capable of being gentle in his delivery and Farina singing harsh and passionately. Their range in emotion and expression compliments each song. While nothing is as aggressive as Fugazi’s material, MacKaye’s guitar work at times seems reminiscent, although with baritone sound. There are some good grooves on the songs and they can be quite catchy, too. The biggest surprise with The Odds is the strength of Farina’s vocals and how nice it is to hear her singing lead on so many of the tunes. While not negating their past two albums, The Odds is easily The Evens’ best album. –kurt (Dischord)


BI-MARKS:
Self-titled: 7”
Nice ‘n’ beefy dual-guitar hardcore. You can hear the rock influence underneath, but here it’s used to add a bit of heft to the song structures rather than as an excuse to add ten-minute bass solos. Nice job. –jimmy (Black Water)


EVENS, THE:
The Odds: CD
The third Evens record, after a gap of more than a couple years, finds the duo of guitarist/vocalist Ian MacKaye and drummer/vocalist Amy Farina continuing to explore the sound they developed on their first two records The Evens (2005), and Get Even (2006). For all the simplicity of their formula, only two instruments and their voices, there is a great deal of power in every Evens song. The two share vocal duties, moving back and forth between trading off vocal parts and frequently harmonizing. These harmonized parts are great because they achieve a depth of sound neither vocalist achieves alone. The scream-singing MacKaye developed over the years with Fugazi are here, but he also shows a more melodic range. Farina’s voice is as smooth as her drumming, and the Evens songs flow without pauses or disjointed transitions. Both musicians have been honing their songwriting craft for decades, and as a duo, their craft is at its peak on The Odds. Each song is tightly constructed, both musically and lyrically. Even on slow and meandering tracks like “I Do Myself,” there is not a single moment that made me lose interest or want to skip to the next track. While I appreciated the first two Evens records, this one is definitely my favorite so far. –Paul J. Comeau (Dischord)


EROTIC DEVICES:
Self-titled: LP
The members of Berlin’s Erotic Devices worship the Ramones. There are way worse things on this planet than trying to look and sound like the Ramones, though. Inspired and energetic, this debut album is especially amusing due to the singer’s thick accent. Some entire riffs are taken verbatim from classic Ramones hits, with other tropes definitively borrowed from Screeching Weasel. Songs like “My Neighbor is a Nazi” well capture the spirit of what made those prior bands so worthy of copying. No erotic devices are needed to get off on this super cool LP. –Art Ettinger (Incognito, incognitorecords.de)


BILLY RAYGUN:
Self-titled: LP
Competent enough pop punk, but I found the singer’s lackadaisical voice lacking in emotion and the lyrics couldn’t get any more uninteresting. Pop punk fans might get something out of it, but more discerning ones will be left feeling kind of flat, as I was. Maybe, they won’t have to google it to know, for sure—that it’s not a solo album by an ex-member of Naked Raygun. Not that I did or anything. –Craven (thepeopleofthehills@gmail.com)


EJECTOR SEATS, THE:
Say Sorry: CD
Yer pretty much getting meat ‘n’ potatoes thud-punk here, with some danged near robotic soundin’ drumming right up front nice ‘n’ loud. Just when you start to figure things are starting to get stuck in a rut, they come across with the poppy “The Weathergirl,” or they drop into second gear, like “On the Wagon.” Can’t say this is a life-changer, but they nonetheless drop an on-the-money entry here. –jimmy (Collision Course)


BENT LEFT:
Fabergé: CD
Wholly unremarkable pop punk. –jimmy (Encapsulated, encapsulatedrecords.com)


EAGULLS:
Self-titled: 12”EP
Post-punk or indie-punk, either way it better have some tie to punk. This record definitely does. It’s got an airy guitarness to it, but still driving and catchy. Don’t trade in your Wire of Mission Of Burma records just yet, but I’m sure Eagulls would feel right at home sandwiched between the two on a mixtape. Five songs is all you get on this record, but if it’s true what they say about quality over quantity, the proof is right here on this slab a vinyl. –Daryl Gussin (Deranged)


DRY BONNET:
“Hey You” b/w “Do It Clean”: 7”
Two new tracks are dropped on wax from this four piece out of Kansas. Taking a turn from their debut EP in mid 2012, the boys pull away from melodic hardcore structures and draw from ‘80s post-punk. Joy Division’s singular rhythm guitar can be eked out in “Hey You” which morphs from jagged to a Hendrix wave of fuzz. Staying consistent with the theme, Bonnet covers Echo & The Bunnymen’s “Do It Clean,” a single off Echo’s biggest album, Songs to Learn and Sing. Here they cull from the ‘60s-era Stooges, turning up the garage jangle and post-punk bass thrum on this fluffy sing along track. Like a burlesque dancer, these guys keep revealing their goods and it just gets better and better. Recommended. –Kristen K (Replay)


BELT OF VAPOR:
The Recluse: LP
Alt-metal that’s three parts Jesus Lizard, one part Today Is The Day. There are some good riffs, but repetitive songs and a depressing lack of energy leave this record lagging behind the herd. –CT Terry (whoaboatrecords.com)


DOUBLE NEGATIVE:
Hardcore Confusion 3 & 4: 2 x 7” EP
SorryState rounds things out on this band’s multi-part series with the final two installments gatefolded in a two-for-one package. Things are maybe a little less experimental than on the previous two installments, but even at its most conventional, Double Negative’s brand of hardcore is still pretty friggin’ offbeat, and flat-out jaw-droppin’, compared to the rest of the pack—rhythm and tempo changes all over the place with odd bits of noise phasing in and out to add to the overall chaos. With this latest salvo they cement themselves as one of the more worthwhile bands making the rounds in the realm of hardcore, and this is another must-have release for a still-early 2013. –jimmy (Sorry State)


BANQUE ALLEMANDE:
Willst du Chinese Sein Musst du die Ekligen Sachen Essen: CD/LP
German band, Banque Allemand’s second album (I’m not even going to try to write it out) is six songs in forty-two minutes. The vocals are entirely in German and don’t proclaim any passion. I just kept thinking of that skit with Hanz and Franz from Saturday Night Live. The music has its moments, though. Sometimes it seems to skirt an industrial sound and other times it’s more post-punk. I like the music but the blandness of the vocals just kill it for me (not in a good way). If they had a different vocalist that matched the herky-jerky motion of the music, I’d be much more interested –kurt (S.S.)


DIME RUNNER:
Race to Nowhere: CD
A newer Fullerton band here who sound well versed in the South Bay/OC punk sound, both old and new. They come across here like a mix between the older beach thug pop of bands like Social Task and Der Stab and the swagger of newer bands like the Stitches and the Numbers. Sincere and reverent without being a museum piece… and a beefed-up cover of Joy Division’s “Warsaw” to boot. –jimmy (Uh-Oh, uhohrecordsdamion@gmail.com)


DESTRUCTION UNIT:
Void: 12”
The nucleus in the atom of Destruction Unit is Ryan Wong/Ryan Rousseau. Electrons have decayed, destabilizing what was initially an Alicja Trout/Jay Reatard/Ryan all-seeing pyramid eye. Lessened are the jittery glitches of robots in fits of rebellion against their masters. Increased is the languid, stretched, delayed optical pickup/transfer, fluid-starved dryness of lysergy. The rocket has crashed in a place that looks a fuck lot like a Yuma Circle K parking lot. All overlaid: The close-up webbed veins in their eyes, the broken webs of patched-and-melting asphalt, the stretchy, almost-hidden-traverse web of songs with venomous underbellies. Dust. Heat. The sun is so big and sparkling, the head of a hammer poised to strike, pelting in its slow traverse across the featureless sky. This is music that’s made under oppression and sounds like a sticky, encrusted escape from bondage. It’s music that’s as much atmosphere as movement. It’ll heat up the back sides of your eyes, slowly blinking, waiting for the clicking rejuvenation of paranoia. An excellent record. It captures. –todd (Jolly Dream, jollydreamrecords.blogspot.com)


BAD DOCTORS:
“Twilight of the Idols” b/w “Spit It Out”: 7”
Two tracks of guitar pop steeped in ‘80s synth futurism to give it an extra dose of quirk. –jimmy (Eaglebauer Enterprises)


DEKODER:
Between the Waking and the Dying: LP
Really diggin’ the whole death rock resurgence and this is a prime example why. Taking sonic cues from bands like early Death In June and VoodooChurch, things veer away from the now almost obligatory post-Sisters rock/metal and bass vocal trappings of goth and instead bathe in a female-fronted tribal gloom that recalls the best of L.A.’s dark, dank glory days. Broken Bottles once sang about a time “when gothic chicks were cool,” and Between the Waking and the Dying would’ve easily earned this band a prime spot on their playlist. –jimmy (Chaos Rurale, chaosrurale.com)


AVON LADIES:
Self-titled: 7” EP
These kids are supposedly influenced by hardcore’s more virulent purveyors of yore, and you can definitely hear it when things get slow ‘n’ brooding. Four tracks of bad-mood-mongering done with just the right amount of grouchiness. –jimmy (Fashionable Idiots, fashionableidiotsrecords@gmail.com)


DEFENDERS:
“Animal Eyes” b/w “Time to Say Goodbye”: 7”
The pedigree’s legit. L.A. band that started in 1980. Songs recorded in 1982. Took thirty years to release. It’s a family affair. Defenders’ vocalist Paul Maurer is Justin Maurer’s (Clorox Girls, LA Drugz) father. I don’t want to sound like a jerk, but it sounds like a band that really loves the Doors and Hendrix, but realized that punk was really happening. (Shit, The Alley Cats were that way—great musicians who were on the hard rock/punk rock fence and “Nothing Means Nothing Anymore” smokes.) Although I appreciate this 7” for what it is—archival, nice fidelity—there are a couple of things that are preventing me from going bananas. The music’s a hair too slow. It’s a hair too “actor”y and “musician”y. Again, I’m fine with theatrics (see TSOL, Dead Kennedys), but with all these elements in play, it’s a definitely a cool artifact (nobody likes to be forgotten), but nothing like stumbling upon something truly startling that rarely gets mention, like the Cheifs’ Holly-West Crisis. –todd (17 Television)


AUDACITY:
Mellow Cruisers: CD
Sleeveless jean jacket punk basking in classic OrangeCounty pastimes such as cars, girls, and smoking weed for a living. Redd Kross (not Red Cross) worshippers will be stoked. –Juan Espinosa (Burger / Recess)


DEATH CAMP:
Teenage Nightmare: 7” EP
Four tracks of metallic hardcore of the mid-’80s stripe that would’ve enjoyed weekly spins sandwiched between Attitude Adjustment and Poison Idea on Adam Bomb’s Final Countdown show on KXLU back in those much-revered days of yore –jimmy (Black Rebel)


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