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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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CUSTODY:
Self-titled: 7”
Three most excellent songs are on this EP. They’ve somehow captured the raw intensity of Superchunk, but with more polish and less grit. The vocals are clear, poignant, and damn near pitch perfect. It’s just delicious on the ears if you’re into ‘90s alt pop punk.  –Camylle Reynolds (Brassneck / Waterslide)


D.O.A.:
Hard Rain Falling: CD
Sticking with the program and keeping it real, D.O.A. has been at it since 1978 and Hard Rain Falling shows no sign of these dudes slowing down. I don’t know what else to say about this record—if you love D.O.A., you will not be disappointed. If you’ve never heard of D.O.A. I have one word for you... poseur!  –Jackie Rusted (Sudden Death, suddensuddendeath.comdeath.com)


DARKBUSTER:
No Revolution: CD
After surprising everyone with some reunion shows last summer, this album pops out into the world. Apparently, the basic tracks for this one were done awhile back but left up on the shelf. Flash forward to 2013 and Lenny Lashley enlists members of Street Dogs and Mung to help polish up the rough edges. Whatever they did, it works. It doesn’t sound disjointed with various lineups from song to song. “Jimmy Needs” and “Lil’ Junkie” are my favorites here, but grab this and it will quickly slip into heavy rotation.  –Sean Koepenick (Pirates Press, piratespress.com)


DAYLIGHT ROBBERY:
Accumulated Error: LP
Accumulated Error is a third album in the way that Rocket to Russia, Dookie, or Raising Hell are third albums. Not that Daylight Robbery sound a thing like Ramones, Green Day, or Run DMC, but they’re at a similar stage in their creativity. They’ve honed their sound, invested in a powerful recording, and come forth with their strongest set of songs yet—songs that should define them as a band. Daylight Robbery are a Chicago three-piece fronted by bassist Christine Wolf and guitarist David Wolf, a married couple whose dark croons have earned their band countless X comparisons. Throughout this album, they both nail notes they’ve only hinted at in the past, especially on “New Threat,” “Rememoration,” and “Shadows in the Snow,” which hit like a two piece with biscuit in the middle of the album. Over the years, Christine’s driving bass and the compact clatter of Jeff Rice’s drums have spread far from David’s reverby guitar, resulting in music that’s developed from garage to sharp post-punk. Accumulated Error’s big recording forefronts the band’s musical progress, with new guitar tones pushing David into surf and ‘80s alternative territory and Christine moving further toward New Order bass lead status. Jeff even plays the organ on a rootsy song later in the album. Maybe these new sounds hint at what’s to come next for the band. At this point, it’s hard to believe that Daylight Robbery could get any better at what they’re doing, but they’ve proven that they’re not a band to ever stop evolving.  –Chris Terry (Deranged)


DEFECT DEFECT:
My Life Is like Death: 7”
Three punk rock heat blasts from a band that I thought was no more. Defect Defect play spit-in-your-eye punk rock with no pretense. I keep spinning this back to back to back and I can’t get enough. There is so much loathing, both inward and out. There is a lot to be pissed about in the world, and Defect Defect definitely taps into it. I sure hope they haven’t called it a day. I would love to see them play again.  –Ty Stranglehold (Dirt Cult)


DEFORESTERS:
Bones: 7”
Toronto’s Deforesters pack the energy of a large class of five-year-old children fed on nothing but sugar for a week into four songs of solid pop punk goodness. As the vinyl spins it’s not difficult to imagine grabbing a beer, holding onto a friend, and jumping around like a set of drunk conjoined twin kangaroos as the band lets it rip on some sweat-drenched stage in a small basement. The gang vocals in the songs are perfect for that situation, too, and I’d love to think that somewhere out there people are getting that live experience on a regular basis. I admit to a touch of jealousy, but will hold out for a U.K. tour sometime soon… please!  –Rich Cocksedge (Get Party, getparty.limitedrun.com)


DELETER:
Oblique Seasons: LP
This record reminded me a lot of the Red Dons when it initially started, but by the second song it went into a Television Marquee Moon feel. Deleter put a new spin on a lot of earlier ‘70s, CBGB punk rock bands. The songs aren’t totally thin and minimal-sounding like some of those earlier bands, instead Deleter bring in this chorus-heavy, spacey, psychedelic sound but never really land on one planet. The packaging, aside from the vinyl (which is a rad splattered green color), is all homemade, from the single stroke of paint on the cover to the comic style insert.  –Ryan Nichols (25 Diamonds)


DES ARK:
Everything Dies: LP
I was in high school when I started going to DesArk shows. I’d sit in crowds seated concentrically around Aimée Argote’s feet while she whisper-sang songs over her weirdly-tuned guitar and introduced the grim content of her lyrics with measured sincerity and the occasional beleaguered joke. Des Ark’s last two full-lengths (Everything Dies and Don’t Rock the Boat, Sink the Fucker) document these soft, bare melodies’ growth into lush instrumental tracks a world away from guitar-driven records like Loose Lips Sink Ships. If you miss loud DesArk,Everything Dies might enjoin you to grow up. There are strings, pianos, dobros, and choral vocals layered over Argote’s finger picking, as her vocals and lyricism still bespeak the deep rage and sorrow that have kept me crying alone at DesArk shows for the last ten years. If you like the Live on WXDU self-releases, Everything Dies is worth hearing, if only to catch a glimpse of Argote’s process of spinning tinkly melodies of heartbreak, violence, and healing into full, robust arrangements—some the prettiest songs about dying I’ve heard lately.  –Lyle (Graveface, graveface.com)


DESGRACIADOS:
Humanidad en la Obscuridad: EP
Loud and out-of-control hardcore punk from these miserable wretches. Fast and bordering on blowing apart is how they deliver this sonic maelstrom. They only slow it down for just a moment on the intro to the song “Enemigos Callejeros,” and that song builds in intensity from there. Other than that, these songs are delivered with an intense and desperate urgency. Check out the song “Desgraciados,” that aims to batter the listener senseless. The drumming at the beginning of the song recalls 1980s peace punk, but the intent here is more sonically destructive and ratchets the energy up into the red levels. “Caos” is exactly what the name details: blazing insanity that doesn’t stop to the very end. I bet this record will be on a lot of “best of” lists at the end of the year.  –Matt Average (Deranged)


DÉSIR DECIR:
Even the Earnest Learn: CDEP
This EP is six songs and seventeen minutes of folk-inspired punk rock. I hear a foundation of Bruce Springsteen but there’s also the energy of the Ramones and the Clash. It’s certainly more pop-influenced than punk-influenced, though. Vocally, there’s a semblance to the band’s New Jersey peers Gaslight Anthem, but with less harmonies and not quite as much of a mainstream sound (which is fine by me). Based on the bands I just listed, I would’ve figured I’d be into this more than I am, but after a dozen listens it’s not done a lot for me. Nothing really comes out and makes me want to return to it. There aren’t any songs stuck in my head, either good or bad, which keeps me from formulating an opinion on it. And as a music reviewer, that’s not a good thing.  –Kurt Morris (Désir Decir)


DEZERTER:
Kolaboracja: LP
It took me a second to recognize this as a new pressing of Dezerter’s classic 1987 LP. Dezerter were an influential early Polish punk band (anyone who has ever traded records with a label in Poland knows this because they are referenced over and over again). Think of a Black Flag or Crass for Poland. I’d been hearing about this record for years, but had never actually heard it. I was excited but not sure what to expect. I’ve found that that there seem to be a handful of standard bands that influenced a large part of the punk bands from outside the U.K./U.S., and most sounds from the ‘80s are easily traced back to Black Flag or Discharge in some way. But Dezerter seem like they’re from a totally different world. I guess the driest way to describe their sound is like the Minutemen with some hints of the Red Wave bands (Kino, et cetera) that probably had recordings make their way into Poland. I was floored by how mature the band sounded, and how little “mainstream” rock had impacted their sound. The record comes with a booklet with a lot of historical information (in both Polish and English) explaining the context of the record’s release when it was censored by the government. It gives you an idea of how difficult it was just to be a “deviant” in Polish society in the ‘80s, let alone publically criticize the government. But outside of its context, the truth is the record is good enough to hold up on its own and if these songs had been penned by Californians or Manchester punks then we wouldn’t need to discover this in 2016. This is an absolutely critical punk record from a legitimately tumultuous time. –Ian Wise (Pasazer, pasazer.pl)


DEZERTER:
Wszyscy Przeciwko Wszystkim: LP
Dezerter are a band from Poland that has a very long and storied history. Founded in 1981, they’ve released thirteen records over the years and no two sound exactly the same. This is a re-issue of their third full-length from 1990, which was seemingly a time of change for the band, as this record abandons their previous ‘80s punk sound for a new, updated ‘90s take on punk, infused with more melody. While I think their earlier Underground out of Poland LP to be a great hardcore punk record, this record shows a band that is keeping with the sounds of the times, and in turn created a very good, listenable record.  –Mark Twistworthy (Pasazer, pasazer.pl)


DIÄT:
Positive Energy: LP
This is one of the absolute best records I have ever heard. A bold statement, and I would not make it if weren’t true. I have been listening to, and involved in, punk and post-punk for well over thirty years, so I can be a bit jaded on what is and isn’t good. This album is great—something so great that nothing else is allowed to get in the way. Put the record on, get out the lyric booklet, and just listen. Post-punk akin to bands like Joy Division, early Section 25, The Mob, Crisis, and others. They cover the Cannanes (“Blue Skies over the Ocean”), so use that as part of your guide. Minimalist, yet so much is going on with texture and atmosphere. “Toonie,” which has now become one of my all-time favorite songs, will pummel you with its raucous beat and urgent delivery. “Nausea” will just blow you away. The aforementioned Cannanes cover will have you believing that life is wonderful (despite the darkness that seeps out of this music and somewhat droll vocal delivery). The way the ender “Sinkhole” comes in is perfect. It has a different texture than the dark, train engine beat of “Hurricane.” It really stands out with its fuller sound and tempo that builds and builds. Had this come out thirty-five years ago, it would have been on a label like 4AD, Factory, or Rough Trade. So many are attempting this sound these days, and there are some really good bands, but Diät are the leaders and the high standard that the rest should take notes from.  –Matt Average (Iron Lung, lifeironlungdeath.blogspot.com, ironlungrecords@hotmail.com)


DIRTY NIL, THE:
Higher Power: LP/CD
I really don’t know if the three members of The Dirty Nil are aware of the word “subtle.” From the off, it seems as if the band is on a mission to throw down a bunch of riffs that are powerful enough to feel like one has taken a hit in the head from Thor’s Hammer. However, there are moments when proceedings become more restrained, with the vocals losing the sense of someone being tortured in front of the microphone as the guitar adds more intricate work, weaving a bit of texture into the album. The more abrasive material reminds me a lot of another Canadian band Single Mothers, as well as occasionally making me think of Nirvana, primarily due to similarities to Kurt Cobain. Higher Power is a strong debut album and builds on the promise of their recent single on Fat Wreck.  –Rich Cocksedge (Dine Alone, dinealonerecords.com)


DOGS IN THE FIGHT:
Beware the Dog: CD
Four songs that had me feeling that this is what it might sound like if Dayglo Abortions were a street punk band. Not lyrically or anything, just the fact that the guy just has a rough voice like Cretin. Not bad stuff, but it isn’t really jumping out at me.  –Ty Stranglehold (Dogs In The Fight, reverbnation.com/dogsinthefight)


DOGS, THE:
Swamp Gospel Promises: LP
I don’t know what a Swamp Gospel Promise is, nor do I truly understand Norwegians’ command of cocky hooks and glam (Turbonegro, natch), but I do know I’m very thankful this wasn’t another surf band. To be fair, matching suits and weird/bad album art or photos can get me judging faster than I can read the book. The consistent touch of distortion on the vocals seems heavy-handed when A.) it appears that he can actually hold a note and B.) garage rock credentials are firmly cemented in the Farfisa and harmonica/tambourine action. An excellent surprise, touching my inner Apocalypse Dude, and an incredibly worthy soundtrack to an evening of getting some dirty dazzle on.  –Matt Seward (Astma)


DUTCH RUDDERS, THE:
On Verra: CD
Does everyone know what a Dutch Rudder is? Based on The Dutch Rudders name and its meaning, I was expecting some immature, juvenile punk rock like the Queers or something. Luckily for me, this is a little better than the name led me to believe. Songs offer a tuneful, dual-guitar attack with gruff, strained vocals in the kind of way that kids at Fest would love, while other songs sound more traditionally pop punk, often ending up sounding kind of like The Dopamines. It’s certainly derivative, although I can certainly relate to the tormented, bummer side of where this is coming from lyrically.  –Mark Twistworthy (Monster Zero, monsterzero.nl)


EASY PREY:
Closer: CS
I like Easy Prey a lot—they often remind me of a heavy, raw version of Young Widows. Closer, their debut two-song release, immediately attacks the listener with a song that sounds like if you mixed the ferocity and vocals of Swiz with the interesting and atmospheric guitars of the Young Widows. It’s really good. The second song is not as fast, and as a result the vocals never reach the same level of franticness, but the song’s repetitive heaviness sounds like what you’d end up with if you took the Young Widows, made them heavier, and basically gave them more… soul. I hope that makes sense, because I absolutely mean it as a compliment. I’m looking forward to hearing what’s next from this band.  –Mark Twistworthy (Cosmic Western, cosmicwestern.com)


ELECTRO INSIDES:
Self-titled: 7”
Some perfectly solid punk with bouncing guitar lines that is completely ruined by the vocals, which kick in after about thirty seconds. The music is pretty solid but I can’t get behind those vocals.  –Mike Frame (electroinsides.bandcamp.com)


ESE:
All In: CD
Ese are straight-up trashy, punk rock’n’roll madness. Are they Texas’s answer to Zeke? They very well might be. All I know for sure is that breakneck speeds and blistering guitars are definitely on the menu and I am looking for seconds. Truth be told, they really remind me of a great local (Victoria, BC) band that has been going since the late ‘90s called The Sweathogz. All big guitars and getting wasted. Good stuff.  –Ty Stranglehold (Sudden Death)


ETHER HAWK:
Self-titled: CS
If I say Ether Hawk features Al Burian and guys from Planes Mistaken For Stars and Pelican, you already know if you want this or not, right? Okay then, five songs from this now-defunct band. It’s a little brooding and fractured. There’s a little Motörhead swagger (“False Unicorn”), some odd stoner riffage/near falsetto work (“Born to Suffer”), and it’s all over pretty quick. You’ve got a decent outing that may be a liiiiittle unmemorable. That aside, it’s obviously damn solid for a demo, and the extravagant cassette gatefold packaging certainly helps.  –Keith Rosson (Protagonist)


EXPLOITED:
Death before Dishonour: LP
A recent Czech pressing of the Exploited’s first foray into a more metal direction. The release is well put together, with a very good reproduction of the original sleeve (and inner sleeve). It’s one of those “so much ink and glue that you get a little high off the fumes when you cut open the seal” affairs, but I’ll let them have it. The vinyl is on some strange rotten orange color and has that distinct look and feel to it that all records coming out of the CZ have nowadays; a little thicker than most but somehow feeling inauthentic, like those CD-Rs somebody made to look like vinyl. The main problem I have with records coming out of that factory is that their cuts sound thin (with exceptions from very proactive labels), and this record certainly falls victim to weak mastering. Any punch this record has upon its original release is lost (but to be fair, 1987 wasn’t a great year for engineering on punk records). Now to review the actual record… well, you probably already know what you’re getting. The Exploited were a little past their heyday on this release and the jump to more of a crossover sound was probably an attempt to keep a new audience entertained. There are some cool ideas being played around with, but Wattie’s voice sounds blown-out and tired while most of the riffs suffer in their repetition. The funny thing is that while some bands were incorporating metal into punk to try to incorporate the aggressive elements of it, the Exploited sound more toned-down. This is certainly one best left to die-hards.  –Ian Wise (PHR, phr.cz)


FACILITY MEN:
Demo/Futility Men: CS
It is a rare and beautiful thing to come across a punk guitar player who does not rely solely on two-finger “chunk-chunk” power chords, but uses the entirety of the scale and guitar neck to create a wide variety of sounds. Along with an intensely focused rhythm section and pointed vocals, the guitar here squeals, screams, and screeches. Facility Men bring something fresh on these songs. Dig it.  –John Mule (Black Dots, blackdotsbuffalo.bandcamp.com)


FATE VS FREE WILLY:
New Dead End: LP
Potentially the greatest band name ever. In the grooves you’ll find black and white (matching all record graphics) static and echo. Carol Anne’s voice—Big Muff attached and riding shotgun—speaks through the Poltergeist television. Fate Vs Free Willy make excellent driving noise. Pounding rhythms propel them forward as sound whips through the tunnel of an open window, and the constant white noise of gravel strikes the undercarriage. AmRep meets Nots. Yes, please.  –Matt Seward (If Society, ifsociety.com)


FEMME KRAWALL:
Self-titled: LP
One-side’s worth of straightforward Deutscher Girl-fronted punk with mild garage and pop leanings that rip nicely, but I wish Germans would sing more songs about potatoes, as “how many potatoes do you have” is the only German sentence I know in the FatherTongue. All the same, it’s tough to completely dismiss a record that includes the lyrical phrase “Penisvergleish Narzist.” BEST SONG: “Intrusion.” BEST SONG TITLE: “Krokodile.” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Band members include a “Dr. Goo.”  –Rev. Norb (Spastic Fantastic)


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