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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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FEJLFIX:
Ensom Blandt Mennesker: 7"
Eight tracks of ripping Danish hardcore. They keep ‘em coming at ye short, fast, and unrelenting. –Jimmy Alvarado –jimmy (Spaghetti Cassetti, spaghetticassetti.dk)


FABULOUS ST. KNICHOLAS CAGE, THE:
Shit Surf: Cassette
Super nice packaging—full color J-card, download code, and spray painted vinyl patch— for what turns out to be a messy five-song cassette of reverb-heavy surf songs. Songs titles like “Bloody Beach Blanket” and “SurfinKillCity” fail to convince. Sorry, guys. –Keith Rosson –keith (Viking On Campus, vikingoncampusrecords.bigcartel.com)


TYVEK:
On Triple Beams: CD
An infectious mix of sloppy garage punk (though it could very well be I’m being fooled into this assumption by guitars that sound distorted by volume levels rather than stomp-boxes), alt-rock, and more arty fare. Like many of their In The Red peers, they can kick up a mighty thick cloud of loud, but on songs like “Wayne County Roads,” the cacophony is tempered by some catchy choruses that’ll have you singing along before you realize what yer doin’. –jimmy (In The Red)


EX-CULT:
Self-titled: LP
Ex-Cult offers a fuzzy and dark post-punk influenced album any fan of Wire or Mission Of Burma would be glad to have. The guitars switch gears from driving, jangly riffs to staccato bursts. Solid beats drive the record onward. Good back up vocals as well. They get a good old Bauhaus-style jam going at the end. That’s the sort of thing that can go wrong for me, but they bring it back and do it well. Great record. –Billups Allen –Billups Allen (Goner)


TUTU & THE PIRATES / HOTLIPS MESSIAH:
Get Weird: 7” EP
Holy toilet seats! First new music from Tutu since the Bronze Age! Amazing! Okay, I’ll calm down and get to the meat and potatoes here. Two songs from each band. Tutu: I dig both songs, but “American Taliban” wins by a nose. Hotlips: never heard of these dudes, but they sure do bring it. Short and sweet with plenty of hooks. Served up with a creepy cover for your viewing pleasure. Get your ass to the record store and Get Weird! Or order online to save gas. Do what you have to do to get this into your heavy rotation. –koepenick (Sexy Baby)


DOPESTROKE:
Self-titled: 7"EP
Mid-gear thrash with happy-go-lucky titles like “Social Loathing,” “Wet Brain,” “Negative, Angry, and Depressed,” and so on. You know the drill. –Jimmy Alvarado –jimmy (Badmaster, badmasterrecords.com)


TREASURE FLEET:
Future Ways: LP
Conventional wisdom is that drugs make people less reliable. The response to someone saying “I just took a ton of acid” is never, “Man, you’re gonna be the next President of the United States.” (And mean it.) So, explain to me how Isaac Thotz is able to traipse through psychedelia, early Kinks, the Zombies, The Animals, The Monks, and a bunch of sunshiney, Anglophile-weird-and-fluctuant stuff and come out the end sounding smarter, expansive-as-shit, and on top of his game? I’ve seen and heard far more than my fair share of all-flash, no-cash, electrocuted-Tribble-haircutted, ass-sticking-out “revival” bands attempting this and failing miserably. The Makers, for instance. So, here you have a humble, soft-spoken, ultra-nice guy who happens to be in another one of the best current bands on the planet, The Arrivals, and he nails psych pop perfection like it’s the most natural, effortless thing in the world. All the time posers spent cramming their feet into skinny shoes, getting their man-nails done and their pubes tweezed, and sniffing lines arrowed towards major label support, Isaac listened to and played his way onto records that are solid ‘60s gold. They’ve already gone platinum. At least at Razorcake; at least in my mind. I love this stuff. A true piper at the gates of Blue Island. –todd (Recess)


DIRTY PANTIES, THE:
I Am a Robot: CD
This all-female band has energy to spare on this album, which has a cover of the Berry Gordy hit “Money (That’s What I Want)” played fairly straightforward by the band, but lead singer Melanie Ash does her own spin on the vocals, with her strong singing and added swearing bringing some extra zest to the song. The title song has vocals that reminded me of Laurie Anderson doing her spoken word: new wave style mixed with punk. Some of the songs did veer into the Girlschool style with the gang vocals, but they still stayed on the punk side. This is a very cool, poppy punk album with the clear, strong vocals, crunchy guitar work, and the drummer’s solid beat keeping mixed with the bassist. This has a lot of fantastically catchy songs on it. –Rick E. –Staff (Squidhat, squidhatrecords.com)


TOTAL TRASH:
Self-titled: 7” EP
If you like your punk/hardcore sloppy and primal, look no further. This is that in spades, with grunted, unintelligible vocals to boot. –jimmy (Deranged)


TODD CONG’S TIME TO BE A PUSSY:
Self-titled: 7"
Following the trajectory of the previous People in the Sand 7” and Clown Sounds + Clown Frowns LP, this is Todd C. (Recess/TTK/URTC/FYP) herding a small box of songs like newborn kittens. They’re rambunctious, playful, and fuzzy. They won’t hurt anyone. So, if you’re someone who’s horrified by Toys That Kill (if there are such people) or think that FYP is way too feral—a type of band where fans show appreciation by pooping in urinals at their shows—this is ukulele- and banjo-infused (guessing this part), tapped-not-bashed drum stuff that’s totally enjoyable. It’s also wobbly, and if this was the ‘60s, my guess is that more people would be digging it. If your musical tastes aren’t guided by principals like fashion, website hits, and lifestyle cocaine usage, it’s a green light. Recorded at Todd’s Clown Sound studios. Finally, a record that says “Play loud or quiet.” –todd (Lauren)


DASH RIP ROCK:
Black Liquor: CD
Loud and heavy southern rock/alt country is what this band peddles and they have been at it for quite some time. This is the type of thing that is generally right up my alley, but I have never been able to get into this band too much for some reason. This new record does nothing to change my mind. Though it is not bad, it’s just a little lacking, kinda like the Smoke record by Drivin ‘n Cryin. –Mike Frame –frame (Alternative Tentacles)


DANCER:
Self-titled: EP
Decent power pop/‘70s proto punk type stuff. It’s catchy but not saccharine. There’s a little bit of dirt in the sound, but not gritty. The opener, “On the Run,” and “You Got It Man” are the best of the three. Slightly hyper; sounding like lost tracks from Dave Edmunds or Nick Lowe. –M.Avrg –Matt Average (Daggerman, daggermanrecords.com)


THIS MOMENT IN BLACK HISTORY:
Higher ≥ Deffer: LP
Less heavy than Public Square, Higher ≥ Deffer is possibly as straight forward as TMIBH can get. Ohio rock’n’roll on a steady diet of hallucinogens and battery acid. How does a band expand in every direction and maintain? Punk beats meet spaced-out head-bang destruction. Synth chaos and bass dominance. I have the feeling that this band is capable of making some of the best soulful rock’n’roll and some of the most droning, harsh noise one can hope to listen to. The compromise is a musical catalog full of innovation and discovery. Blowing your own fucking mind and bringing the listeners with you. It’s always worth the ride. –Daryl Gussin (Smog Veil / Snax)


DALAPLAN:
Ta Mig När Jag Faller: 7"
This is a really cool two-song single with a generic picture of a parking garage on the cover. It’s punky new wave with awesome female background vocals. They put energy galore into their playing. I have no idea what the lyrics are, but I still wanted to sing along with them. This single reminded me of bands like the Revillos back in 1980 that took elements of punk, added pop, and created a 1960s-sounding mélange that just clicked. This has to be one of the coolest releases that I have heard in a long time. I need to hear more from this band. –Rick E. –Staff (Gaphals, gaphals.se)


THINGZ, THE:
Step Right Up: LP
Long time locals, The Thingz, have run the Long Beach/Orange County club circuit. Chances are if you saw a punk show in that area in the past seven years, you probably caught one of their comedic, garage punk performances. Their latest full length boasts gorgeous, cartoony Venture Bros.-style sketches by Paul Sharar. “Introduction” cements their circus sideshow theme by instructing listeners to step up and give your entry admission to witness the spectacle of Kim, Mike, and Jason. Pulling from ‘60s and ‘50s harmonies, they echo male and female vocals as in “Mammalcentric,” over a thrumming bass line, while gang vocals are used in “Bacon Slap,” a bouncy homage to barbeque. “Secret Chamber” bears a distinct likeness to early B-52’s camp, a band they’ve been liberally and rightfully compared to. Clever production and a good intro for those who aren’t familiar with these cats. Recommended. –Kristen K (Self-released, thethingz.bandcamp.com)


DAGGER EYES, THE:
Self-titled: LP
It was Lisa Czech’s artwork on the front and back covers that made me pick this up, then seeing this is on P. Trash made it all the more appealing. The Dagger Eyes crank out driving punk rock with science fiction and horror-themed lyrics. Don’t go thinking these guys are the Misfits. Instead, they’re their own beast, with a sound that is both fun and in-your-face. The songs are catchy—such as “Runover”—and the rhythm section works well together to give the songs their urgent attack. I’m finding myself listening to the second side the most. “Sick” is the definite standout—with its driving and catchy rhythm, as well as the insolent vocal delivery. It’s followed up by the manic “Seaside Holiday,” then the ender, “Drifting,” which reminds me of the early Circle Jerks, with some Big Boys-esque sounds thrown in to keep it discordant. Pretty good record that deserves repeated listens. –M.Avrg –Matt Average (P. Trash, ptrashrecords.com)


THEM MARTYRS:
Wretched: EP
A technical, tight, metallic hardcore album without a lyric sheet. What’s that all about? I was super stoked halfway through the first track, then they got “melodic.” Not “they,” just the vocals, and just for some random parts. But still… on every song. Seriously, if it wasn’t for that, this would be super rad and hold its own with outfits such as Ruiner or The Bled. Wait, I take that back, I have no idea what the fuck this guy is even saying. That still matters, right? –Rene Navarro (Champion Edition, championeditiontapes@gmail.com)


DACAST:
Dédale: CD
This is a horrible idea: one track, thirty-five minutes. The music is hardcore similar to Dillinger Escape Plan mixed with some free jazz influence. I’m sure this could be really good, but seriously—one track? I don’t always have time to sit down for thirty-five minutes all at once. Fix this. –Kurt Morris –kurt (dacastband@gmail.com)


SYNTHETIC ID:
Apertures: 12” EP
Interior designers have well over two hundred names for white. Within this tiny spectrum of light where all color unifies is a complex, nuanced band. Navajo. Eggshell. Cream. Off white. Synthetic Id sounds like snow blindness and fever. They sound like white walls—white on white, separated by the gloss of the enamel. They also sound crazy, but contained in this hygienic-by-design container of a 12”. It’s satisfying as all hell, conjuring images of the Minutemen’s knack of unlatching a barrage of songs that are distinct to themselves, but continuations on a sealed theme. They also share DNA with Giant Haystacks and The Fall, where they sound like they’re going in twelve directions at once, but still never neglect the song’s intention of being rocket propellant. Excellent. –todd (1-2-3-4 Go!, 1234Gorecords.com)


CURMUDGEON:
Self-titled: EP
Musically, Curmudgeon are standard powerviolence. However, what sets them apart is the lyrical content and the fact the band is fronted by a woman. As far as I know, and can remember from the first time around, Curmudgeon is the only band of this genre to have that status. The current state of powerviolence bands, when not ripping off the Max Ward catalog of ideas, is centered on songs about self-hate, and the desire to “whoop ass” on the world and anyone who crosses their path. The six songs on here take a critical look at sexism in religion, as well as punk. Then there’s eating disorders and alienation. Not light listening material, and maybe “too heavy” for your high, but definitely a million more times relevant than any song about smoking weed or kung-fu movies could ever be. –M.Avrg –Matt Average (To Live A Lie, tolivealie.com)


SWITCHBLADE KID, THE:
Self-titled: LP
Garage scene figure Harry K from The Angel Sluts and Turn-It-Offs delivers a wholly unbearable, jumbled mess of an album only for his preexisting fans. Not much rubs me the wrong way musically, but this record epitomizes the holier-than-thou, egotistical mentality that critics of the Memphis garage scene typically overstate. There’s no overstating how trying this LP is, though. Destined to languish in the bottom of garage punk collector bins for all eternity, someone entered the studio either too soon or with an overabundance of false confidence when these tracks were laid down. Yuck. –Art Ettinger (Miss Molly, missmollymusic.storenvy.com)


CROWD, THE:
Landmark: CDEP
How is it that the best of the first wave of OrangeCounty punk bands is not only so criminally overlooked, but are still together and killing it out there today? The Crowd are here with a six-song instructional manual on how to do it. They may be five hundred in punk years, but they still sound like they’re young and hungry. Old school, new school, or no school, all you need to know is that The Crowd is the teaching faculty and you better take notes and do your fuckin’ homework! –Ty Stranglehold –ty (Crowd Control, facebook.com/pages/The-Crowd/128774479756)


SWITCHBLADE KID, THE:
Self-titled: CD
In all honesty, with a named appropriated from ‘50s teen-angst film staple Sal Mineo and a cover pic with leather jacket, striped shirt, and sunglasses I kinda expected something more along the standard “punk’n’roll” treadmill. What instead came outta the speakers was some choice noise-pop with a clear lineage directly to the Jesus And Mary Chain, as well as the Velvet Underground and the noisier, more rambunctious wing of the whole “shoegaze” thing. While things sound a bit muffled overall, the songs are consistently strong and downright hummable. It’s been an interesting review cycle full of lots of interesting stuff, and this one in particular is entrenching itself into the noggin more and more with each successive listen. –jimmy (Miss Molly)


COP CITY CHILL PILLARS:
Hosed: LP
Seems that reverb-drenched post-punk is all the rage these days, with labels like Hozac peddling hook-less Marychain-inspired rot to the masses. Some kids have taken the obscure U.K. post-punk to new levels of weirdness like these cats from Florida. I’ve never been to the place, but there’s some weird shit in the water, make no mistake. This shit sounds like any number of no-mark nobodies from the U.K. circa ‘78 who banged on pots and pans and recorded it into a dusty tape recorder. There’s some surf vibes hidden in there; off kilter sax and drums that sound like cardboard boxes. It sounded like the record was warped, but it seems the digital versions sound the same. You know if you need this. I don’t get it. –Tim Brooks –Tim Brooks (Florida’s Dying)


SWEET TALK:
Pickup Lines: LP
This record is fucking great. Let me first mention that this band has members of The Mind Spiders, Wiccans, and the Uptown Bums, but even without knowing the lineage involved this record can truly stand on its own. Take the undeniably catchy riffs from your favorite Cheap Trick records and layer the accompanying vocals with a heavy Brit-pop influence (especially with regard to vocal melodies and overall delivery). Then, add a light sprinkling of modern garage rock and you might have something close to Sweet Talk. Now, you might be thinking, “Fuck, that sounds horrible!” but, trust me—it works in ways that many bands these days aspire to achieve. The Nielsen/Zander guitar work influence shines the strongest on songs like “No Vacancies,” where the dual guitar leads shimmer both together and alone at the same time, all while avoiding being wanky. While this is just one example, the ‘70s power pop influence is evident throughout all eleven of these songs. The subtle British-sounding lilt of the vocalist brings to mind some of the most essential Brit-pop records of the ‘90s funneled through a garage punk filter. I cannot get enough of these tunes, and even though it’s still currently early in the year, I fully expect this will be on my top 10 list when 2013 comes to a close. –Mark Twistworthy (12XU, 12XU.net, info@12XU.net)


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