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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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CLIMAX:
No Time for Heroes: 7"
Hardcore spikes and leather punk from the CzechRepublic. Driving beat with lots of gang vocal choruses and breakdowns. I still stand by my statement that this type of punk sounds that much better when sung in languages other than English. Climax goes the extra mile, and provides an English translation of their lyrics on the inner sleeve for those of us who don’t speak the language. I appreciate that. Good record. –Ty Stranglehold –ty (Voltage, voltage-shop.com, info@voltage-shop.com)


SUNDOWNERS:
Self-titled: 7” EP
A potent dose of indie pop punk with jangling guitars and that shout/sung vocal style that seems all the rage lately. Ain’t my cup of monkey dung, but I can totally see how it would be popular. –jimmy (Dirt Cult)


CINDY SISTERS:
She’s Burning Inside: 7"
A whole new generation must’ve found the Jesus And Mary Chain or somethin’, ‘cause their sound is popping up more and more. The production’s a bit cleaner-sounding here, but you still get sludgy, druggy pop stuff with tons of noisy guitars and the like to give it that Reid Brothers feel. –Jimmy Alvarado –jimmy (HoZac, hozacrecords.com)


SUMMER OF ‘92:
Long Kesh: CD
If there’s anything I don’t typically love, it’s “Celtic” or “folk” punk. It all reeks of tradition, patriotism, machismo, and organized sports: things that I think should maintain at least some distance from punk rock. Sure, there are exceptions—The Pogues being a prime example—but for the most part, this just isn’t my thing, and on first listen, Long Kesh was a record I dreaded reviewing. It opens with a track that conjures clinking beer-steins and Maritime-accented chanting. Delving a little more deeply though, I came to fully appreciate the darker undertones of the record, the melancholia of the lyrics, and the more-than-a-few Stubbs-y nods. So yes, there are certainly “folky” elements to this record, but it’s not so easily pigeonholed. It’s not corny, it’s by no means funny, and it’s furious and fist-pumping in that great American Steel way (as opposed to that Dropkick Murphys or Flogging Molly way). Really quite impressed. –Dave Williams (Self-released, summerof92.bandcamp.com)


STREET EATERS:
Self-titled: 12” EP
Released in time for their European tour, this record is six tracks (including a Go-Go’s and Mission Of Burma cover) of that soul-pumping, mind-twisting, hard-hitting-pin-point-precision-drumming, minimalism-by-way-of-using-two-amps-for-one-bass style they’ve become known for. Challenging the sonic and lifestyle preconceptions of punk, Street Eaters are the glimmer of hope when your faith is being tested. These are songs of beauty and power, taking life’s struggles head on, and not apologizing for who you are. The only fault on this record is that six songs aren’t nearly enough. –Daryl Gussin (Cut The Cord That…, ctct-records.tumblr.com)


CHEMICALS:
For Real, For Life, Forever, or Whatever…: LP
What sets Portland’s Chemicals apart from other garage punk bands is their heavy use of keyboards. This album features twelve intentionally rough-around-the-edges tracks of in-your-face, fuzzy, dirtball, punk for the Goner Records kids in your town (if there are any Goner Records peeps left in your region). There’s plenty to dig here, from the silly lyrics on down. The band’s logo, of test tubes spelling out their name via “KMKLZ,” is one of the best band insignias in ages. Can you judge a band by its logo? Of course not. But can you judge a band for its logo? That’s the deeper question. –Art Ettinger –Art Ettinger (Jonny Cat, greennoiserecords.com)


STAY CLEAN JOLENE:
“Green” b/w “Old Songs” and “Record”: 7”
The hardest reviews to write are the mediocre ones. The bands and records that don’t hit, nor do they deserve any sort of derision. They elicit no strong feelings. But I feel obligated to write something, log it in, basically say that I received and listened to the record that was sent in the mail and had a nice handwritten note attached. It’s part of the social contract to which we’ve tacitly agreed. I wish I liked Stay Clean Jolene, a British band, more than I do. They’ve got the earmarks of what I’d potentially like: All (in the bass) and Leatherface (in the guitar fills). I gave them a full five days of listens, but it’s just not sinking in. Reminds me of a band like Nothington, who I’ve seen several times opening for bands I was excited to see, found them okay, but don’t remember a single song and would never seek out their music. Sorry. Excellent, honest labels are backing these guys. –todd (Eager Beaver / JSNTGM / Drunken Sailor / Rad Girlfriend)


CAREERS IN SCIENCE:
Foreverwolf: LP
Dear Pete Repellent: I love you buddy, but I know I say that to everybody when I’m drunk so it’s okay if you don’t believe me. Anyway, I got this record in from Razorcake and I think you would dig it. Imagine a Mutant Pop band with someone that occasionally plays supercharged Thin Lizzy riffs. It’s more bar rock than Banner Pilot and more punk than the Wanderers, but fuck it all if isn’t really good. This is the punk record your stupid friends put out that makes you go, “Oh shit, maybe these guys aren’t total idiots,” but then they put it in a sleeve that’s a picture of a wolf wearing glasses, wielding a sword, and riding on a griffin, and you say, “Oh shit, yeah they are.” Also I’m moving out to live with my girlfriend and I’m sorry but I still love you, okay? –Ian Wise –Ian Wise (Self-released, careersinscienceband@gmail.com)


SPOOKY, THE:
Gravest Hits and Lost Haunts Vol. 1 & 2: 2 x CD
Back in 2000 or so, my bandmate Dustin turned me on to a bunch of amazing bands from OrangeCounty coming out on labels like Hostage and Disaster. Before I knew it, I was living on a steady diet of Smogtown, Smut Peddlers, Stitches, and The Crowd. When he laid the Hostage Situation compilation on me, I was blown away by The Spooky. I love me some horror rock, but it has to be quality. The Spooky delivered what I needed in two amazing songs. Then I spent years trying to track down more from them to no avail. It was like they went back to the grave that they crawled out of. Well, it turns out that Hostage Records has come to my rescue again with the release of two CDs chock full of The Spooky. Although the two discs are sold individually, I chose to review them as a set because they really are two companion pieces. All of their earliest demos and compilation tracks are here and their horrific history is followed right up until their amazing Halloween Night 7” that came out last year. The thing that makes The Spooky stand out is their melodic sound. They’re not trying to be scary; they just write great songs with macabre topics. Mike Monster’s voice reminds me of O. from Fluf or Davey Tiltwheel. Sweet yet strong. Everything works with this band, and I am so happy to finally have more than a couple of songs to jam with. The cool cut and paste packaging on the discs is pretty great too. Thanks Spooky and thanks to Hostage for unearthing these bones! –ty (Hostage, hstgerecords@aol.com, hostagerecords.com)


BUNNYGRUNT / WINCHESTER, THE:
The Worst of Both Worlds: Split: 7”
Bunnygrunt’s “Led It Out” is a straight-ahead pop song that makes you dance. The singalong chorus is sung by male and female vocals. The song ends with an unaccompanied accordion solo. Very cool. The Winchester plays two songs on Side B. Both have a full and active sound, made up by dual guitars, hard-hitting drums, and a bass that does a fair share of walking around. Each song is sung by a different dude. “Minus One Plus” is a faster punk rock song with tougher-sounding vocals than on “30 Seconds to Bars,” which is a more driving song. The first song also features just the right amount of guitar leads. Good variation between the two sides. The cover art is a screen printed image of a jackalope. This record is a definite buy. –Nighthawk –Nighthawk (Pancake Productions / Throwing Things)


SPIDER FEVER:
Self-titled: LP
A full-length this time ‘round from this potent punk powerhouse. Eschewing stereotypical trappings, they instead tread a path that demonstrates the influence both of bands like the Dictators and earlier garage rockers, yet keeping their feet firmly planted in the here and now. –jimmy (Windian)


SPEED KILLS:
Self-titled: 7” EP
The sound of a crowd of people fleeing down a hill in utter panic as a pissed-off dude screaming in Portuguese pushes a very large rock behind them. Translation? Brilliant Brazilian hardcore in all its loud, Discharge-influenced glory. Blink and you have to flip the vinyl. Blink again and you’ve missed the whole fucking party. –jimmy (Nada Nada, info@nadanadadiscos.com)


BUG CHASER:
Billy Saw a Pear: 7"
I’m amazed at how many members a band can squeeze into one photo. Out of St. Louis, this octet jams psychedelic, humor core with gang vocals and a sparse sprinkling of synths. Of the two new songs, the title track comes off like the inappropriate celebration of a simpleton’s discovery—maybe I’m missing something? “She’s Ninety” is more nonsensical ramblings over effects pedals. Sometimes less is more. –Kristen K. –Kristen K (Self-released, bugchaser.bandcamp.com)


SPACE WOLVES:
II: Cassette
Twelve songs of lo-fi garage reminiscent of the sadly departed Thee Makeout Party while also basking in some apparent C86 worship and Morrissey vocal influence. There’s plenty of humor to spare here and you’re definitely going to need a sense of humor in order to appreciate a power pop version of 7 Seconds’ “Fight Your Own Fight.” If the singer had an English accent, I’d swear that these were some unreleased Television Personalities songs. “Records Alone” is my new anthem! Charming, fun, and irresistibly catchy. –Juan Espinosa (UT, space-wolves.bandcamp.com)


BLOODY HELLS, THE:
Why Hasn’t Anyone Killed You?: CD
Cretin from Dayglo Abortions had a band called The Bloody Hells back around 2000. This isn’t it, but I get the feeling that there is some Dayglo’s influence in the mix here. The title of the disc is an open question to famed Canadian murder couple Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka, and it’s a good question. The Bloody Hells take that ‘80s hardcore influence and mix it in with some ‘90s southern California sounds (NOFX or Guttermouth perhaps) with good results. I would definitely go and see these guys play. Come out to BC! –Ty Stranglehold –ty (Bloody Hells, facebook.com/thebloodyhells)


SONNY VINCENT AND THE BAD REACTIONS:
“Replica” b/w “Stare Down, Jokers and Clowns”: 7”
Sonny Vincent, formerly of the late ‘70s New York City power pop/punk band The Testors, is back with a new outfit, featuring members of the Carbonas and Beat Beat Beat as his backup band. There is no evidence of The Testors power pop sound here, but instead snarling punk’n’roll, just as you would come to expect coming from ex-Carbonas members. Part Dead Boys-ish ‘70s punk grit and part Oblivians primeval garage rock blasts, this record surely will not disappoint anyone who likes their rock’n’roll noisy, raw, and dirty. –Mark Twistworthy (Trend Is Dead, trendisdeadrecords.blogspot.com)


AV CLUB, THE:
Believe: CD
Although it did not take quite as long as Chinese Democracy, it has been awhile between full lengths for this band. That’s a shitty analogy anyway, since that record was a steaming turd, and this record is super-amazing. Incredible songwriting, engaging playing, and top notch production are just the tip of the iceberg with Believe. I also use The Replacements and The Pursuit Of Happiness as reference points for this band. I know with the last band only me and a few people in Quebec actually remember that band, but oh well. But the band blazes their own trail here, with fantastic results. I would tell you my favorites, but that would just be the entire track listing, and that would look pretty silly. Trust me and check this out. –Sean Koepenick –koepenick (Self-released, facebook.com/pages/The-AV-Club)


SONIC AVENUES:
Self-titled: CD
Poppy punk / power pop type stuff. Think of a really polished Buzzcocks or Undertones crossed with the Hives, but really sugary and so cleaned up they have no edge at all. The songs are catchy, but, at the same time, they’re so light they won’t stick in your mind or have you wanting to listen to this again. They don’t challenge the preconceived notions of the genre. Instead, they play it safe and cling tightly to the formula. It’s just too sterile. –Matt Average (SP, sp-records.com)


ASTRO FANG:
“Flesh Hand” b/w “I.C.U”: 7"
Ah, at long last; the Gravity/Three One G band that never was. Don’t mistake that for sarcasm, folks. Astro Fang could have easily given Get Hustle, Wrangler Brutes, or even The Locust a run for their white pants money if they had recorded and released this platter ten years prior. Later period Blood Brothers without those dreadful screamo vocals. Works for me. –Juan Espinosa –Juan Espinosa (Rad Girlfriend, radgirlfriendrecords.com)


SO COW / SQUAREHEAD:
Out of Season: Split 12”
Two contemporary Irish bands. So Cow: Prejudices. I have them. I like my pop to be ragged or at least crafted by people who don’t sound rich. (It’s called a prejudice because it doesn’t bear scrutiny. Yup. Fuck you, Richie Rich.) Pristine, bourgeois pop is like flipping through an Ikea catalog: plastic veneer on pulp in a world that never needs dusting; a world where “the help will take care of the mess.” My first impulse is to kick and smash right through the particleboard. So Cow are pop as all hell, but they treat their songs like nice pieces of real wood. They carefully cut like craftsman, showing both great finesse and are interested in displaying the unique character of the sourced material. I have a feeling that fans of XTC, Go Metric, and the Clean would find a lot to like in their five songs. Squarehead: We’re dealing with two sides of the same coin with these two bands. Tons of natural sunshine and shimmer. They bring to mind a section of Memphis’s Alicja Trout’s oeuvre to mind: Mouserocket and Alicja Pop, in particular. Appealing, bubbling-up pop that’s got just the right amounts of tang, sour, and non-chemical sweetness to balance it all out. All-around enjoyable. –todd (Inflated)


SNUFF:
5-4-3-2-1 Perhaps?: LP
You probably already know Snuff, so we’ll skip the intros. This is first new record from them since 2005’s greatest hits/rarities thing Six of One, Half Dozen of Another. I wasn’t expecting this to ever happen, but I’m rejoicing! Snuff is back! Scream it from the rooftops! The formula is the same as it has been since the mid ‘90s: melodic, fun punk with keyboards and horns and riffs as catchy as a super flu. As always, there are some hardcore thrash outs, some pub-style sluralongs and everything you would ever come to love and expect from Duncan Redmonds and company. Now if only they would tour in this direction… In the meantime, you should have this in your collection. –ty (Fat, mailbag@fatwreck.com, fatwreck.com)


SMOOTH BRAIN:
Fleas: 7”
Raw punk rock goodness. Five songs on a 7” means you’re getting right to the point. A lot of bands come to mind, but don’t actually fit in a direct comparison. The vocals are kind of like The Shitty Limits and it has a tiny bit of pop to its step, like early to mid-era Queers. I don’t know. I do know that I like it and will keep an ear out for more from them. –ty (Lost Cat, lostcatrecords@gmail.com, lostcatrecords.org)


SKIMASK:
Cute Mutant: LP
A solid black cover with eye/mouth holes hand-cut out of it masks what turns out to be a three-eyed Spongebob inner sleeve. If you actually play the record, it’s loony, indecipherable art-garageyness that might be this generation’s post-modernist answer to Hollywood Autopsy. I am not high enough to appreciate this product at present. BEST SONG: “Tempurpedic Mattress.” BEST SONG TITLE: Blow Up: Bubblegum.” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: If you look at the record label as it spins around and then you look at my small portable fan shaped like a fighter plane, the camouflage blobs on the fighter plane really look like they’re moving. HEY, i didn’t say i wasn’t TRYING to get high enough to appreciate the product! –norb (Infinity Cat / Sophomore Lounge / 100 Percent Breakfast, infinitycat.com/wordpress)


SHRILLS, THE:
Meltdown: LP
For those of you who thought punk from OrangeCounty resembled No Doubt rip-offs, you’re in for a treat. From behind the Orange Curtain creeps The Shrills, a surf rock, psycho punk five-piece. Following some press for “Morgana,” released on Pink Hotel in 2010, and a few stage antics resulting in stitches, their first full length is here on vinyl the hue of moldy key lime pie. Past references to The Cramps notwithstanding, The Shrills shriek, woop, and drunk stagger through the eleven tracks as evidenced in the epic “Broadzilla,” while “Teen Wolf” bears a disorienting narcotic lilt. For those of you who missed Pink Hotel, “Morgana” is included on this release that raises the bar on garage. You need to pick this up. Even better—go see ‘em live. Recommended. –Kristen K (Resurrection, ResurrectionRecords666@yahoo.com, getresurrected.com)


SHOES:
Black Vinyl Shoes: LP
A solid reissue from a band I’ve heard about but never heard more than a song or two. Power pop the way it should be, emphasis on the power. It only makes sense! I mean, some of the blahs I’ve had to sit through that have been hailed as power pop gems (The Flame? Gah!) Listening to Black Vinyl Shoes gives me the same good feeling inside as when I first heard that RadioCity reissue from a few years back (another band that got the “power” part of the equation right.). “It Really Hurts” is really the best song on this slab. Bass takes the lead, fuzzed but still solid, lyrics heartfelt but not mope-y, and a searing, psych-tinged lead midway through that ties it all together. The packaging is aces. Heavy stock cardboard cover, 150 gram vinyl, a T-shirt iron on (yes) and a wax paper-esque thingy glued to the cover (with some praise from Ira Robbins of Trouser Press fame, and a back-handed compliment from Robert Christgau. Seriously, that guy’s a dick.) I peeled off this wax paper-esque thingy and removed the glue from the cover but I’m keeping it in the sleeve ‘cuz it looks cool. –Sal Lucci (Numero Group)


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