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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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BETWEEN THE EARTH AND SKY:
Of Roots and Walls: CD/EP
So this band is a supergroup of nineties hardcore luminaries from band such as Trial, Catharsis, and By A Thread. It sounds a lot like some of those bands—with its long builds with poetic spoken lyrics—which all come crashing down into a bunch of screaming and pounding drums. The only difference is that it’s a bit emotionally flat in comparison The packaging for this CD is another throwback to nineties hardcore with its list of Humble Suggestions, things to “read,” “see,” “listen to,” and “search for” in one of the last pages of the insert. A lot of the stuff is what you would expect: radical literature, stuff on straight edge, but it gets weirdly subjective, for instance, when they recommend Google-searching for Ronnie James Dio and “greatest hockey fights” or that you read Stop Walking On Eggshells, a book about how to deal with people with Borderline Personality Disorder. Huh? Besides their own lyrics, they print a lot of pull quotes from books about mortality and the way humans are always in resistance to their own demise. This is the album’s concept, humanity’s desperation for immortality and battle with the inevitability of death. After the songs are over comes the “Band Interview” track where the members sit around and interview each other about how it took them ten years to make this EP of six songs and they talk for forty-five minutes! They go on and on about every metaphor and symbol on the album, explaining each in great detail. They ramble on about how they’re trying to make something both “timeless and immediate.” But it took them ten years to make this album, so I would say that the latter of two is pretty much shot to hell. The album certainly makes its point, but maybe not in the way that the band intends. Their (and humanity’s) struggle is ironically apparent in the interview where we get to hear these old dudes who once made crucial and important hardcore ramble on and on. They seem confused and bewildered at their places in life after once being so essential to a long-faded style of hardcore and trying to cling to some of its fire. Hearing them, desperate for relevance and rambling about their belated album is, ironically, a much better metaphor than the okay ones they make in their songs. Add it all up and what you get is one of the most genuinely depressing, existential crisis-triggering pieces of art I’ve heard in a long time. –Craven (Refuse, refuserecords.prv.pi, refuserecords@gmail.com)


BETTER DAYS:
Good Luck Tonight: 7”
This record had me cross-referencing to find out what members of Good Riddance were involved. Turns out, there were none. Doesn’t sound that way. –mp (Encapsulated)


BERNAYS PROPAGANDA:
A Forbidden Planet: CD
Two things quickly become apparent while listening to Bernays Propaganda’s disc. One: many of the songs are sung in their native Macedonian but there are also some in English. Translations are provided for both. I appreciate this because I otherwise would have never been able to figure out the title of the album. Two: they sure do love themselves some Fugazi (if only for the intricacies) and the Gossip, though they tend to lean more towards the Gossip due to the female vocals and the danceability of most of the tracks. The song writing is quite repetitive, particularly with the bass lines, but also with what I can only describe as “disco” cymbal/kick drum tomfoolery, which I’m sure has a name but I’m too lazy to find out what it’s actually called. It can get quite grating very quickly. On the surface, this appears to be dime a dozen indie rock, but there’s an underlying political message in most of the lyrics and artwork if you care to dig in a bit deeper. I can definitely appreciate the politics a lot more than I can the hipster musical qualities strewn about. Unfortunately, one obviously outweighs the other by far and not even the Crass-style photo of thumb prints superimposed over the band members’ faces can do much more to win me over. –Juan Espinosa (Moonlee, moonleerecords.com)


BECOME:
Self-titled: Cassette
Big things can sometimes come in small packages, which is the case with this cassette. What you get are five tracks of brooding post-hardcore from Santa Barbara, CA. I am prone to comparisons and my ears hear some late-’80s DC a la Rites Of Spring meets late ‘90s Hot Water Music. Not a bad combination of influences, if you ask me. Cassette also comes with a download code. –Garrett Barnwell (Take It Back, takeitbackrecords@gmail.com)


BEAUMONTS, THE:
Where Do You Want It?: CD
If you have ever had a nightmare where Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top was suddenly fronting The Good Old Boys (the country band from The Blues Brothers flick) then I have some bad news for you. They do exist. They are called The Beaumonts. –koepenick (Saustex)


BAMBOO KIDS, THE:
Safe City Blues: 2 x LP
Not too long ago, I reviewed an EP from the ‘Kids in these very pages, and was pleasantly surprised that such a great rock’n’roll band like this exists these days. This double full-length, which includes the songs from that EP, further prove that NYC is far from finished when it comes to laying down the goods in the studio, as well as producing some of the better live acts that you and your more discriminating, music-craving pals can catch these days. Those keen on the vinyl will also be happy to know that the 150 gram vinyl version of this set is limited to 250 copies and also includes a download card that scores you nine extra tracks (thirty songs total!). Safe City Blues is a healthy dollop of getting your riffed-filled rocks off, and there’s no correct side of the genre dividing line you have to stand on to appreciate these rekkids. Simply put, if you like good music (as Sam Cooke one time asked), chances are you’ll have a helluva good time spinning this vinyl. The Bamboo Kids’ soundscape mixes and matches with some of the better influences of our time: Dead Boys/Stiv’s post-Dead Boys solo work, the non-wanking era of The Stones, that all-too-brief 1973 to 1974 window of the New York Dolls, a healthy dusting of Bowie’s glitter era, the catchiness of Mott The Hoople, and those awesomely solid hooks that Dramarama still bring to the table to this day, and this is just what I hear the first couple of times around. Fans of Prima Donna should find the ‘Kids right up their dirty little alley, as well. These three guys have been at it for ten years now, and not only does it keep getting more and more solid, but they deliver just as much as most four or five piece bands do. Yeah, think about that while you dig on this. –Designated Dale –dale (Drug Front, drugfrontrecords.com)


BAMBOO KIDS, THE:
Safe City Blues: 2 x LP
If the Exploding Hearts would have matured along the same trajectory as the Figgs for the last ten years, and somehow bumped into the first Boomtown Rats and Jim Carroll Band albums along the way, when they weren’t sounding like a slightly more housebroken Barreracudas, then saw fit to replicate occasional glimpses of those faux-ass-shaker bands of about ten years ago like the Sick Fits or the Richmond Sluts for levity, garnishing the whole bit with small doses of New York network TV soul a la Springsteen or DeVille, then made a double batch of big vinyl cookies with the results because no single platter could contain all the awesome thus produced, i’m guessing it’d sound a lot like this double album. Wouldn’t you? Look to thy laurels, London Calling! Make way, Zen Arcade! Don’t buy any green bananas, Registrators thing with the big long title! THE BAMBOO KIDS HAVE DONE SOMETHING OF NOTE!!! None can ask fairer than that. BEST SONG: “Batshit Crazy.” BEST SONG TITLE: Curiously, it’s also “Batshit Crazy.” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: This double album comes with a download code that includes all the songs plus nine bonus tracks! Look to thy laurels, “Dozen Beats Eleven!” –norb (Drug Front)


BAD TASTE:
BRAIN CAR: 7”
I remember the first time I ever heard a bootleg of Songs We Taught the Cramps and feeling uncomfortable in the way all the songs sounded so dated and strange, more punk than punk. There were thousands of these little 45s out there, which I found later through more bootleg comps and tape trading. Some were great in that they were just weird rock’n’roll tracks by frat dudes who never fit into their crowd (“Hammerlock”), others were bouncy carnival tracks that were so much more evil than any metal (Anton LaVey), but the point was that there was no cohesive style or aesthetic to tie them all together; they were all just genuinely weird. These bands both fit that style. There’s no real modern point of reference for their sound. Bad Taste are like a Rick Nelson LP that’s been left out in the sun and then dusted off and played at the wrong speed, the needle bouncing all over the place as you stack pennies on the tone arm to keep it all in check. Brain Car fit more into that frat rock style, adhering to a sound that’s popular at the high school dancehalls while jeering at those who just want to dance some to an angry punk rendition of the Grease soundtrack. –Ian Wise (Reel Time)


BAD INDIANS:
Are on the Other Side: LP
This five-piece band from Michigan does the jangly lo-fi garage psych-rock thing that seems to be the garage rock style du jour these days. Remember when garage rock was raw and dangerous? Yeah, neither does anyone in this band, apparently. Musically, this is basically college rock that is so “safe” and uninspired that both the fan of current garage and that one hippie girl you know could get into it equally. It takes more than having a ‘60s-sounding organ on a fake mono vintage-style recording to make a legit psychedelic garage rock record. –Mark Twistworthy (CQ, cqrecords.com)


BAD DOCTORS:
”Twilight of the Idols” b/w “Spit It Out”: 7”
One of my favorite new bands, those masters of malpractice The Bad Doctors return with another two songs of the catchiest synth-y no-wave you’re liable to hear in this or any other decade. The group has a strong Devo influence, as apparent on this double A side single as on their previous recording, the Distractions 12” EP, but they bring a manic energy that’s all their own. I thought the Docs were great before this, but this record is even better than their last EP. It’s full of sweet hooks and awesome riffs sure to lead to a musical addiction for which the only prescription is flipping for repeated listens. I fully expect this band to blow up in a big way, so get in on them now before this record is gone. –Paul J. Comeau (Eaglebauer Enterprises, mpurchla@yahoo.com, thebaddoctors@gmail.com)


BAD DOCTORS, THE:
“Twilight of the Idols” b/w “Spit It Out": 7”
There’s something about the new wave sound that will always be associated with the ‘80s. While the Bad Doctors’ version of new wave synth has a bit of a post-punk edge to it, they’re still obnoxiously connected to a period of music that we should go ahead and forget about as soon as possible. If you like your ‘80s synth pop modernized for 2013, by all means, indulge yourself with this record. But if you want to let the sound of the past lie where it belongs (in the bargain bin at your local record store), avoid this record. –Dan Ozzi (Eaglebauer Enterprises, mpurchla@yahoo.com)


BABY GHOSTS:
Ghost in a Vacuum: 7”
Baby Ghosts is a female-fronted pop garage band that has a sound that reminds me of Go Sailor or Tiger Trap (but maybe throw in a little more garage rock influence but with more distortion and better musicianship.) I like this quite a bit. –Mark Twistworthy (Drunken Sailor, drunkensailorrecs@gmail.com, drunkensailorrecords.co.uk)


ASTRID LINDGREN:
Polsluchaj Jak Mam Dzis Malo Do Powiedzenia: LP
Well-played modern emo that takes a lot from hardcore song structures. There’s a lot of late ‘90s in their sound (the singer reminds me a lot of the singer from Insted and all the bands who ripped him off), but they really do hold their own. Think that, with a more angular version of Champion or Lifetime as the background. Maybe I just don’t know enough the style to do a review that doesn’t just compare them to a bunch of hardcore bands. Good release in all, but unfortunately relatively hard to track down in the states. –Ian Wise (Pasazer, pasazer.pl)


ASTA KASK:
Med Is I Magen: LP
Vital reissue by Prank of one of the most important Scandinavian punk records. Originally released in 1985, the first full-length by this Swedish band was a big hit and become something of a collector’s item in later years. I’m pretty sure this is the only reissue of this record and it’s about time (thanks Ken). Taking cues from early Swede bands like Ebba Grön or Problems but speeding things up some, they actually remind me of the Toxic Reasons or Germany’s Upright Citizens, but all Swedish. As with all Prank records, the vinyl is thick as a brick and sounds tremendous (I bet it sounds better than the original). A real slice of history. Mandatory. –Tim Brooks (Prank, prankrecords.com))


APA STATE MENTAL:
Apa Valley: CD
Hints of both garage rock and Wire influences here, which translates into taking a riff, adding some haiku-length lyrics, and riding the wave for anywhere from thirty seconds to two minutes. Catchy, groovy stuff with enough diversity in the sounds they pilfer to keep it from getting boring. –jimmy (Apa State Mental, apastatemental@gmail.com)


ANCIENT SHORES:
CYNARAE: LP
Sweet baby boy. Alright, I’ll start by saying that AncientShores are super cool. Great, heavy hardcore reminiscent of Cursed (Colohan even does vox on a track here) that I’m sure gets the room moving for both young kids and old heshers alike. Great stuff that’s a huge step up from their earlier work. Now, onto Cynarae. Fuuuck me. This band completely destroys me. Their self-titled 12” was one of my favorites of last year, and somehow this is even better. Expanding on the Bremen worship of the 12” and thus defining a more uniquely Cynarae sound, these songs are heavy and melodic, chaotic and calculated, and absolutely furious. It’s nothing new that A389’s got the best stable of heavy bands around, and Cynarae might be right at the top of that heap. Good grief. –Dave Williams (A389)


A PAGE OF PUNK:
WEREWOLVES ON MOTORCYCLES: 7”
A Page Of Punk blast through twelve (?) songs on their respective side in a such a violent and poppy manor it’s pleasantly baffling. Non-stop “fuck you”s morph into covers of well known songs and then there are possibly songs that aren’t even listed on the back cover. And when it’s over, you have to come to terms with the fact that they just fit a full-length record onto one side of a 7”. File under referential-punk, subcategory genius. Werewolves On Motorcycles’ brand of shouty, bar punk’n’roll might have a different impact when it’s on its own, but compared to APOP’s high-speed conciseness, the songs feel a little long. But who knows, maybe A Page Of Punk just put the final bullet in my attention span. –Daryl Gussin (Drunken Sailor / Speedowax / Carnage Club / Pie n’ Mosh / Yeah)


87’S, THE:
Self-titled: CD-R
I can’t front: When I first dropped this into my CD player the first thing that came to my mind was “WTF?” but in a good way. First of all, I was blown away by the sheer power Mary commands in her vocal delivery. I would imagine that in a live setting she wouldn’t even need a PA. Further, she uses her voice like an instrument in places, which is rather cool. The music itself is a pretty bitchin’ blend of garage, surf, and pop. The disc hasn’t left my CD player, which is generally a sign that this is some pretty tasty stuff. I eagerly await a full-length release and look forward to catching the band live as well. I am hedging my bets that playing live is where the band truly shines. –Garrett Barnwell (Self-released)


42 FORD PREFECT:
Self-titled: LP
Wow, by my reckoning, this is the first time I’ve run into glow-in-the-dark vinyl. The band member trading cards were also a nice touch. Musically, this bounces between Northern California vats punk and Midwestern hardcore with, as Donny Osmond would say, “a little bit rock’n’roll” veined through thrashy beats, brittle guitars, and raw production. They seem to be enjoying themselves and it comes across on wax. –jimmy (Volume Bomb, volumebombrecords.wordpress.com)


YOUTHBITCH:
Don’t Fuck This Up!: LP
Poppy, punky stuff that has bit of early NYC punk and some power pop. Sort of sugary, to the point where too much might make you sick. It’s okay, but this isn’t something I’ll go back to and listen to later. But I’m pretty certain there are hordes of folks out there who would lose their shit over this stuff. It’s all a matter of taste. –Matt Average (Jonny Cat, facebook.com/pages/JonnyCat-Records)


THOSE CROSSTOWN RIVALS:
Kentucky Gentlemen: LP
They call themselves a buncha rednecks making punk rock and that sums it up pretty well. They’re far from being a band like Nine Pound Hammer or Hammerlock and are as good as those bands are at the style. –frame (Self-released, thosecrosstownrivals.bandcamp.com/album/kentucky-gentlemen)


SLUGZ:
Empty Space: 7" EP
Something about the cover—a fuzzy pic of someone’s face, the title, and the band’s name—said “I sound like early 1980s punk,” and I guess there’s a bit of that in there, but it ain’t exactly a moldy throwback. Things are kept at an even mid-tempo with chord changes a bit more complex than the usual box pattern variants, the lyrics are shouted from beginning to end, and the band attacks full force. Not quite was I was expecting, but what they’re serving up is nonetheless quite tasty. –jimmy (Cowabunga)


SLENDER LORIS:
Live at Doors Pub: CD
Quirky, screamy, mathy emo (in that early ‘90s sense of the word) that certainly brings to mind the Ebullition classics and has me wondering where I lost my 400 Years LP. Slender Loris certainly plays with the passion and intensity of their forebears, coupled with an early At the Drive-In and/or later Fugazi delivery at times. Pretty cool stuff that is likely easy to fall in love with in a live setting, which I’m sure the Slender Loris folks are well aware of (hence the live releases). –Dave Williams (Self-released, slenderloris.bandcamp.com)


ROB THE BANK:
Spoken Codes: LP
Rob The Bank are grown folks playing punky rock’n’roll with four-on-the-floor glam drums, crooned female vocals, and no shortage of catchiness. The back story is that they were a popular Dayton band in the late ‘90s who put out an LP then went on hiatus for a decade while its members played in Guided By Voices and The Breeders. It sounds like they haven’t missed a stride. These fifteen songs are sweet and fiery like cayenne chocolate, and I’d happily go see them played in a shitty dive. –CT Terry (radgirlfriendrecords.com)


REDBUSH:
Wonder Nugget: 7"
I dunno. Well-played, well-recorded rock songs that don’t really move me at all. There are ‘90s elements but they aren’t overwhelming. I watched some Youtube videos and it seems like they’re a little more rockin’ live. There are occasional Nomeansno elements and I like that at least. –Ryan Horky (One Legged Pup, no address listed)


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