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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Respect Your Roots Worldwide: CD
A couple of years ago, Roger Miret from Agnostic Front put out a pretty solid compilation of mostly hardcore bands covering old English punk. This time around, he opened it up to “influential songs.” As with most comps, it’s a mixed bag… but with Miret’s pull there’s some top-flight bands on here covering everyone from the Jam, the Damned, to Negative Approach and Social Distortion. For the most part, it’s hardcore bands like Terror, Madball, and Agnostic Front or skinhead bands like Street Dogs, Hudson Falcons, etc. Most of these bands have been round the block, so know how to knock out a tune and the results are definitely more good than bad. Old Firm Casuals’ Madball cover is fire, Ringworm crush Discharge, Beowulf’s GBH is great, and Rancid’s Blitz cover is aces. I’m pretty ambivalent about covers records to be honest, but this one is as good as any I’ve heard. –Tim Brooks (Strength, strength-records.com)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Oi Ain’t Dead: CD
When I was a nipper, this was skinhead music… then it became “streetpunk” and now it’s skinhead music again, which suits me just fine. For me, there’s a very fine line between overweight boneheads playing plodding oi and tough-as-fuck skin music. Old Firm Casuals are pretty much the best at the game. Lars knows how to write a tune and they take the best elements of tough NY hardcore but with a terrace anthem backbone. As always, their tunes are pure class and carry the comp, and while I like Lars’s vocals, the songs Casey (Never Healed) sings are my faves. “I Remain” is a fucking JAM. Razorblade from Holland have a rougher, thuggier sound, and one of their tracks is an anthem for MMA fighter Alistair Overeem, which is pretty hilarious! I’m a sucker for Australian bands like Razar, the Saints, and Rose Tattoo, and the Corps from Oz sound like an oi Rose Tattoo, which works just fine for me. Booze & Glory are the least interesting of the bunch with meat n’ potatoes English oi complete with the vaguely Nationalist song “England Will Never Change.” Too right mate, it’ll always be a shithole! All in all, a really solid comp with some of the better baldie bands. –Tim Brooks (Rebellion, rebellionrecords.nl)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Live Evil – A 2010 Music Sampler: CD
This disc, a compilation from Boise, Idaho’s 1332 Records, must have gotten lost in the mail for the past couple of years. No matter, as you get twenty-four tracks by twenty-four bands that I assume are based in the same area as the label. The label seems to have all the bases covered as far as variety goes, including some metal, straight-ahead thrash, ska, and at least one Flogging Molly-type outfit. The comp was perhaps a little too varied for me to enjoy at one sitting but serves nicely as an introduction to the label. They seem to be very active in the Boise scene and I, for one, find releases and labels like this to be a great reminder of just how important a regional label can be to a burgeoning scene. –Garrett Barnwell (1332)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Bloodstains across Philadelphia: LP
I was super stoked on this compilation of Philly-area bands for new tracks from The Bad Doctors and No Lessons Learned, and neither disappointed. There were also some great moments from Lighten Up, Population Zero, and a handful of other bands that I was happy to discover for the first time. Each band has one track on the compilation, and there are twenty-four tracks in all. Apart from the great bands I’ve previously mentioned, I was a bit underwhelmed by some of the rest of the compilation, either due to the recording quality of some of the bands’ tracks, or just a general disinterest in the sound of a few of the bands themselves. As a portrait of a particular scene at a particular time, I think this is a great release, capturing all the excitement of what’s going on in Philly at the moment, and I totally loved the tracks that I was into. I just wish a few more of these bands did something for me. –Paul J. Comeau (Eaglebauer Enterprises, mpurchla@yahoo.com)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
4 Way Split Dead Moon Tribute: 7”
This is exactly as advertised: Four bands doing covers of their favorite Dead Moon songs. The bands Nervosas, Landlord, and Dead Dog, all offer a song each that are quite true to the originals, while the band Al Scorch offer a different, more unique-sounding take. You don’t have to be a Dead Moon fan to enjoy this record, but if you are, you will most definitely dig it even more. Dead Moon fans that aren’t familiar with the bands on this record will most likely enjoy it as well. Pretty cool. –Mark Twistworthy (Let’s Pretend, crucialchos@yahoo.com, letspretendrecords.com)


VALIENTES, LOS:
Maravilloso Estupor Sin Sentido: 7” EP
Argentinean skate punk. –jimmy (Rastrillo)


U.K. SUBS:
XXIV: LP
It’s no secret that I am a big U.K. Subs fan. Another Kind of Blues was the first British punk album I heard after getting Never Mind the Bollocks… Here’s the Sex Pistols around the age of twelve. That album spoke to me to the point that when it came time to name my radio show decades later I ended up going with Stranglehold (obviously a name that continues to follow me around). Well, here we are in 2013 and Charlie Harper and the boys are still at it. With XXIV they are within two albums of completing their mission of releasing a record beginning with each letter of the alphabet. Sure, it’s going to take almost forty years, but Harper is a stubborn punk. I have no doubt he will get it done. This record sounds amazing, almost to the point where it doesn’t sound like the Subs at times. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of songs that exude that bluesy punk swagger, but, overall, this is a harder sounding, slickly produced Subs. The more I listen to it, the more I like it, so you have to give it a chance. Overall, it just makes me happy that U.K. Subs are still a band and Charlie Harper is not only playing and writing music, but out there kicking ass at it. It gives me hope that many of us will still be able to be punks when we are in our seventies. Cheers to you Charlie! –ty (Captain Oi!)


CHRON TURBINE:
Skull Necklace for You: LP
Consistently mid-paced hard rock that flirts with metal but doesn’t quite want to go all the way just yet. The rhythm section seems to lead the charge and the guitars provide plenty of hooks, but there’s an edginess missing that could potentially make the songs really come alive. Some heavier riffs and guitar solos never hurt anyone that knew how to use them. –Juan Espinosa (Peterwalkee, peterwalkeerecoreds.com)


CHILL DAWGS, THE:
Oh Okay: 7” EP
Keep the following in mind when reading this review: 1.) I’m lukewarm at best on Bruce Springsteen. 2.) I really, really want to paint a dogs playing poker mural in my bathroom. 3.) Remember that part in Better off Dead where the claymation hamburger plays the guitar to a Van Halen song? Chill Dawgs make me think of way-stupid shit, much in the way of Too Many Daves. Chill Dawgs validate stupid ideas into being reality. So, if I even cared about Bruce Springsteen, best case scenario would be Chill Dawgs: true road dog music for the fucked-over under classes. Instead of actors and millionaires in arenas, it’s Jason Stuhlmann drumming in a sweaty St. Louis house, where the kiddie pool’s water is murky, shirts are for work, pizzas get delivered by specially trained dogs, fireworks get set off mostly outside, and the band runs six members deep (including tenor sax). It’s lovingly stupid, it’s honest. I back it. For some reason, I keep thinking about Miami Vice episodes. “Hey is my beer mic’d? Can you hear me open the can?” “Yeah.” “Hey dawg, does your Casio have dog barks.” “Rwoof, rwoof.” –todd (Do What? dawgschillthe.bandcamp.com)


CC RIDERS:
Self-titled: LP
Recorded in 2001 and previously only available on CD-R, an LP version is finally seeing the light of day. Featuring some of Memphis’s and, well, the world’s, garage rock’n’roll royalty (Jeffrey Evans, Jay Reatard, Alicja Trout, James Arthur.) Three guitars/no bass is the plan of attack; however, fans of Reatard and Arthur won’t find any of their typical skronk highlighted. Not unlike Evans’ most noted combo, ‘68 Comeback. A mix of covers and originals, with the covers sounding enough like Jeffrey Evans songs to fool the uninitiated. To wit: it wasn’t until like the third or fourth listen that I realized “I Gotta Right” is the Stooges song. I never did get to see ‘68 Comeback and hope to see a proper rockin’ Jeff Evans show some day. Technically, I’ve seen him twice. Once, solo outdoors where his amp distortion didn’t take well to the elements, and one time doing some Memphis heel shtick with Ross Johnson, starting a song, then cutting it off and just taunting the crowd. –Sal Lucci (Spacecase, spacecaserecords.com)


CARTOONS, THE:
She’s a Rock and Roller: 7”
This reissue of a long-lost New York band drops two tracks of the kind of sassy, snotty, rock’n’roll that gets the monied punk collector types scrambling. Dunno a danged thing about the band, but the tunes are top shelf bits o’ swagger that so many modern bands strive for and usually fall flat on their faces. –jimmy (Last Laugh)


CACAW:
Self-titled: LP
Cacaw play a variety of percussive noise rock that I’m not really well versed in. This is young people’s music, but I like the heaviness and angry female vocals. There are droney interludes and energetic, overdriven riffs I appreciate. This is probably a bad comparison, but I like Monotonix and I can enjoy this on some level. If you’re into that sort of thing, I would think it would be a winner. –Billups Allen (Permanent)


BURIAL:
Renegade”: 12”
Oh fuck yes. New material from my favorite crust band on the planet: Burning Spirits worship (think Death Side, Crude, etc.) with a distinctly German delivery that’s raw, pummeling, speedy, and venomous. For someone who finds it nearly impossible to find anything interesting in the incredibly oversaturated and often derivative crust world, this is a highly anticipated release from folks who do it better than almost anyone. Psyched as hell to see Burial on their North American tour soon. Radical. –Dave Williams (Hardware)


BROKEN PRAYER:
Self-titled: LP
Like their label mates Double Negative, these cats are not above kicking out some grade-A Poison Idea/Negative Approach-inspired thrashin’. Things get much more interesting when they slow it down and throw a wrench or two in the gears, though. Here, that means songs no less intense, but heavier on dark pop, brooding dissonance and, in the case of “Proud,” a buzz of pissed-off synths. Another winner here from SorryState. –jimmy (Sorry State)


BREMEN:
Self-titled: 2 x LP
Lanchy, from Totalitär, Krig I Hudik, and Brainbombs makes up half of this very interesting duo. Mentioning his past efforts, you might expect some hardcore or misanthropic Flipper-esque kind of music. Not the case here. I point this out because it’s refreshing to see a musician not rest on their laurels and take the safe route. Bremen are a mix of drone, psych, spacerock (“Moon of Led” brings to mind Hawkwind), and krautrock. Four of my favorite musical forms in mixed into one project? Please! Not to mention it has someone who has played in bands I have immense respect for? Can it get any better? Yes! This record has me locked in, giving myself over to the drone or the sweeping feedback that screams and yet has this hypnotic quality about it. “Bastogne” is a somber piano piece closing out the first side. Keys are hit, sound fills the room and fades away with guitar lurking in the background, never really making its presence known too much until the end. It’s the songs like the aforementioned “Bastgone,” “Don’t Bring Me Home Yet,” “Debris in Orbit,” and “Nitrate Blossom” that really pull me in to this record. To the point where I don’t want it to end. This is the kind of music that shuts the world out, all without resorting to being loud. The power is in the quiet and dark and the mood they create. Excellent, excellent album. –M.Avrg –Guest Contributor (Skrammel, order@skrammelrecords.se, skrammelrecords.se)


BRAIN VACATION:
The Musicians: LP
Experimental punk, if you will, from a group hailing outta Chicago. There’s no shortage of noisemongering here, but just when you think you’ve got ‘em pegged, they pitch up a slider and yer again scrambling to get a bean on ‘em. Elements of noise, (dis)harmony, punk, and such melded into a changing mess o’ controlled chaos. –jimmy (Wall Of Youth)


BORN LOOSE:
Self-titled: LP
Ethanol and sweaty hair and yelling and the sound of things breaking and the broken things puncturing other things! This is what Larry May means to me! Sounds ((rather unsurprisingly)) like the Candy Snatchers, except for the parts where it doesn’t, in which case it sounds like the Humpers or Tuff Darts or somebody! The sax on “Step Up to the Plate (Be a Runaway)” and “Bobo Blues” is an exquisite touch, but i think i could’ve lived a very satisfactory life without ever knowing the lyrics to “Sugar Pussy.” Thank you sir, may i have another? BEST SONG: “Step Up to the Plate (Be a Runaway).” BEST SONG TITLE: “Step Up to the Plate (Be a Runaway)” again, suggesting that it is clearly Born Loose’s “No Time to Waste.” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: The bass player and i went to the same college! –norb (Drug Front)


BOBBY JOE EBOLA AND THE CHILDREN MACNUGGITS:
Trainwreck to Narnia: LP
I don’t like it. I feel as though this would have been right up my alley in the past. (Hell, I probably would have loved this record when I was twelve.) It’s not that the musical style, a strange folk/show tunes/rock combination, is too out of bounds for me, or the humor is too dirty for my taste, but I didn’t find it funny. Do I have a sense of humor? Evidence suggests that if one is there, it is minimal at best. The jokes just didn’t land for me, but I’m not a comedy reviewer, I’m a music reviewer. As such, based almost purely on the music, I don’t like it. The songs by themselves aren’t good enough to carry the humor of the lyrics. If these were just good songs, I don’t think I would ever care that being humorous is its first priority, but as it stands… well, I feel I’ve made my feelings pretty clear. –Bryan Static (Dirt Cult, dirtcultrecords.com)


BOBBY JOE EBOLA AND THE CHILDREN MACNUGGITS:
BOBBY Trainwreck to Narnia: CD
By now you probably know if you like the comedy punk antics of Bobby Joe Ebola. As was the problem with much of Ebola’s prior work, the lyrics are hysterical, but the songs vary in catchiness. The Dead Milkmen and Hard Skin are examples of comedy punk that works both musically and on a comedic level. A lot of the time, Bobby Joe Ebola succeeds on both planes, too. Some of these songs are so laugh-out-loud funny that it’s hard to fault the corny back up music. “Cop Kisser,” a goofy take on the Body Count classic “Cop Killer,” is probably the best track. Lighten up and give this goofy shit a chance. –Art Ettinger (Rooftop Comedy, rooftopcomedy.com)


BLANK PAGES:
Self-titled: LP
Blank Pages is the new-ish band from Andreas Robbes, vocalist from my favorite (now-defunct) gang of German rascals, Idle Hands. Andi’s vocal style and melodic sense is rather unique, so parallels between Blank Pages and Idle Hands are inevitable. However, musically, there are plenty of differences to set them apart. Blank Pages takes a cleaner approach tone-wise, but there’s also an overarching darkness that wasn’t always present in IH. The musicianship is tight and vicious (members also spend/spent time in Modern Pets, Dramamine, and Lies Feed The Machine), and the hooks are instantly memorable. A great record from terrific guys and released on the always-terrific Hardware Records. Solid. –Dave Williams (Hardware)


BIG EYES:
Demo 2010: 7”
Rescued from cassette obscurity by their current label (I don’t care what anyone says, that format is dead as a doornail), this demo gets tossed out to the masses. It kind of sounds like Joan Jett meets The Queers for a jam session. I’m not complaining about the results. This is the third release that I felt has some kind of theme going. This one seems to be the fear of being “alone.” I wouldn’t worry about that once they are out on tour and rocking songs like these to the party faithful. –koepenick (Grave Mistake)


BIG EYES:
Almost Famous (West Coast Tour Edition): LP
I feel incredibly lucky that I happened to get the chance to see Big Eyes on their current West Coast tour and score myself an early copy of their new LP. Almost Famous is the follow up to their amazing Hard Life record and I am happy to report that the band is continuing on their trajectory of awesomeness. It takes a special band to be able to convey multiple, often opposing, emotions at the same time. Big Eyes’ songs are undeniably upbeat. It’s hard not to bounce up and down and sing along. It’s when you’re singing that you realize that there is often anger and sadness dwelling there. You feel it all at the same time and it just feels right. I think that this would be an amazing post-breakup record. The kind that lets you vent your frustrations, but at the same time shows you that it’s time to put on that self-satisfied smile and proceed to get out there and have fun. This is going to in rotation for a long time. –ty (Grave Mistake)


BIG EYES:
MEAN JEANS: 7” EP
A mini-“Sister Series” dealie here, with one original and one cover of each other’s tunes. Both bands are up to their neck in catchy pop punk tuneage, with Big Eyes barely eking out the higher ground for me here based solely on their sharing a name with a kickass Cheap Trick tune. Now if you’ll excuse me, I gotta flip it over and play it again. –jimmy (Dirtnap)


BIG DICK:
Self-titled: LP
When I picked this out of the piles, Daryl mentioned they were influenced by Nomeansno, which is definitely not a bad place to start here, though they seem a bit more dissonant and there are some other influences bubbling underneath as well. Normally not a big fan of duo punk-oriented bands, but they manage to make their racket with such precision and finesse that the hole normally left by the lack of a guitar is all but obliterated. Recommended. –jimmy (Dirt Cult)


BIG BOYS:
Where’s My Towel / Industry Standard: LP
Anyone who knows me also knows my affinity for Austin, Texas’s Big Boys. I first learned about them in Thrasher magazine and heard them on the Skate Rock compilations. It wasn’t until much later that I would realize how much this band meant to me. Big Boys take what many would consider the cornerstones of punk rock (be yourself, do it for yourself, create, and have fun) and distill it to its purest form. There is no set uniform or posture. Anything goes and anyone can do it. Light In The Attic has lovingly reissued the Big Boys’ debut album and has done an amazing job. It has a beautiful gatefold cover with all the original artwork, as well as an unreleased photo of the band and a classic sticker. It looks great and sounds even better. Musically, the band is untouchable. Their sound is simplistic yet intricate. It’s incredibly hard to put into words the feelings that this music invokes in me. It’s like tiny fireworks going off in the back of my head that simultaneously make me shake my ass, jump up and down and sing at the top of my lungs… or something like that. All I can say is that if you don’t have Big Boys in your life, you are sorely missing out and you best do something about that. I’d like to send a huge thanks to Light In The Attic for giving this amazing record the reissue love that it deserves. Now pick it up and go write your own review. –ty (Light In The Attic)


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