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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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SHANNON AND THE CLAMS:
Ozma: 7” single
Throwback to the late ‘50s/early ‘60s rock’n’roll sound. Retro sounds for today’s nostalgic-minded youth. “Ozma” is the better of the two here. It’s a song about a dog who has passed away. (I heard that the first song Pearl Jam had a hit with was about a dog as well.) “Apples and oranges here,” I can hear you shout. The flipside, a cover the “Muppet Babies” theme song, is a total throwaway. –Matt Average (1-2-3-4-Go!, 1234gorecords.com)


SHAME, THE:
The World Is Ours: 7”
An oi record as the first entry in the Profane Existence singles series? Has the world gone topsy turvy? Worse yet, has the world run out of crust bands? What does PE know about oi? A lot, apparently. This is legitimate, smash-a-can-of-Guinness-on-your-forehead, football-actually-means-soccer oi—angry and awesome. It’s a great way to kick off the series. –mp (Profane Existence)


SERIOUS SAM BARRETT:
Self-titled: LP
Leeds’s Sam Barrett plays rootsy, bluegrassy, country music with an authenticity that makes it appeal to fans of the genre and people who might not ever think to put on a folk record. Smokin’ fingerpicking and catchy choruses; how can you go wrong? The recording is amazingly crisp with an undoubtedly live quality to it. You can feel it in the room. A perfect addition to the Arkam catalog. On a side note, a fellow named David Broad is the only other musician who plays on this record. In a garage in Sylmar, I once saw him play in a band, and they performed the most ripping version of “La Bamba” I’ve ever seen. It’s forever burnt into my psyche. –Daryl Gussin (Arkam)


SAM RUSSO:
Storm: CD
One of the biggest trends in punk these days is the leveraging of a position as the front person of a seminal band to a solo career as a folk musician. We’ve seen it from Chuck Ragan. We’ve seen it from Brendan Kelly. We’ve seen it from Tim Barry. And why not? Once you’ve established a dedicated fan base, it makes sense to occasionally shed the shackles of a full band and tour with just your acoustic guitar. Your name on the bill sells tickets and without any other band members, you’re pocketing the extra cash. Sam Russo’s sound fits in with this crowd. A British folksinger, he has played in the U.K. alongside Ragan as well as The Loved Ones’ Dave Hause and Lucero’s Ben Nichols. But unlike them, Russo doesn’t have the benefit of a notable punk background. He was never in any bands you’ve heard of. It’s just him and his acoustic guitar, starting from the ground up. And yet, Russo does what he does just as well, if not better than, most of the known heavyweights of this genre. His songs are evidence that while many of his musical contemporaries were out touring with their various bands, Russo was home getting his heart broken. Storm is an album about divorce, heartbreak, and letting go of love. You may be asking, “Do we really need another one of those?” Maybe not. But we need this one. Russo’s songs are staggeringly beautiful. They are deeply personal yet universally relatable, cripplingly sad yet toe-tappingly catchy, intricately poetic yet instantly enjoyable. There’s nothing fancy about the production of this album. Russo avoids all the pitfalls that typically accompany albums like this. There are no overly dramatic piano ballads, no sorrowful violins, no folksy harmonicas. Storm is just a man, his guitar, and some sad stories to tell. –Dan Ozzi (Red Scare)


SAM COFFEY AND THE IRON LUNGS:
Self-titled: 7”
Siggghhhh… there are really only so many ways to say “Marginally decent garage rock.” I’m drowning in this shit. –Ryan Horky (Hosehead, hoseheadrecords.blogspot.com)


RUNN-A-MUCKS, THE:
Deficit of Dreams: CD
I’ve seen this band’s ads and reviews around for years and had always written them off as a run-of-the-mill thrash band, mostly due to their kind of silly name and appropriation of old Marvel characters for all of their album sleeves. And while that’s partly true—there’s definitely a thread of tongue-in-cheek hardcore running throughout Deficit of Dreams— the Runn-A-Mucks are also surprisingly nuanced and multi-dimensional. Which seems a ridiculous thing to say about an album that has Captain America firing an Uzi on the back sleeve, but there you go. Elements of punk and even hard rock combined with thinly veiled comic book references (“Suspended Animation” and “Symbiote Saga” being the most blatant) are actually pretty rocking. On paper, it reads as possibly one of the shittiest ideas ever, but these guys pull it off. Couched somewhere between the Dwarves, The Humpers, and the Sons Of Hercules, though they’ve admittedly got a way to go before they can manage the swagger of those bands. Still, this one’s definitely got its moments, and is definitely worth a listen. –keith (Ripping)


ROUGH KIDS:
The State I’m In: LP
The long awaited debut full-length from L.A.’s most misunderstood punks over thirty. This is elitism at its most actualized. Stick around in punk, play enough hardcore shows, spend way too much money on records and instruments, you’ll eventually figure out that there’s a lot of bullshit out there. You can burn out and move on, or take a couple steps back and work at your own pace, work towards your own vision rather than what’s currently attracting attention. Rough Kids are just trying to be the best punk band they can be. The kind of punk that Stiff would release, or that Feral Ward would release. The kind of punk that hand-glues 500 7” covers cause you want them to look a certain way and the printers can’t do it. The kind of punk that thinks it’s weird to release an LP that’s 45 RPM. The kind of punk that may only makes sense to you, but that doesn’t mean you don’t follow through with it. Irascible and misanthropic, with a steady stream of guitar leads. Rough Kids play a traditional U.K. punk sound that’s been burdened by living life in 2013. It’s current, and it’s fierce. Not bad for a buncha white collar guys. –Daryl Gussin (Sorry State)


ROAD HOME, THE:
Old Hearts: CDEP
This five-song EP brings to mind melodic indie rock bands like The Gaslight Anthem, except these guys are a little cleaner and even less gritty sounding. To me, this is indie rock just a step away from the mainstream, whereas this band would like to lead you to believe that they were “built on a raw foundation of punk rock.” If this is what passes for punk rock these days, then I need to find something else to call the heartfelt yet shitty personal racket that I’ve lovingly held so close to my heart and mind for the past twenty-five years… because the music I love is as far away from this as it could possibly be. –Mark Twistworthy (Shield, shieldrecordings.com)


RIVERBOAT GAMBLERS:
Backsides: LP
Thanks to the vinyl re-issue label, Recorded Messages, this record is available for the first time on vinyl eight years after it was originally compiled. Backsides is the singles and rarities compilation that followed up their first full-length Something to Crow About. Twelve tracks of the high energy rock’n’roll punk that shows the band at their rawest— which isn’t too raw—but compared to their more recent albums, these tracks might as well have been recorded on a boombox. These days, this band has definitely hit their groove, and I always look forward to hearing their new stuff, but I definitely prefer the production value on Something to Crow About and Backsides. It’s got the perfect gritty, Texas punk vibe that can be felt at their live shows. Sometimes re-issues can feel like they’re for completists only. This is not the case; these songs are still as great as ever. –Daryl Gussin (Recorded Messages, recorded-messages.com)


RIPPER:
Death Rider: 7” single
I’ve been hearing about these guys for sometime now. Saw a tape of theirs a few weeks back at a local show and was urged to buy it, but I lagged and was scooped by someone more savvy. But, I did pounce on this record when I was going through the review bins at the Razorcake bunker. Ripper definitely look to Motörhead for musical guidance, but, at the same time, they are not a “by the numbers” clone band. They have slightly less low end in their sound and also throw in other influences from the straight-up rock and roll realm to punk. I know; you’re thinking, “Well, that’s Motörhead too.” Yeah, but these guys are a bit different. Kind of hard to explain, and maybe my mind has turned to complete mush lately. I like the opening of “Never Enough” with the bass and drums coming in right behind it. The tempo is moderate and urgent—also like the bridge towards the end—as it gives the song extra depth. The A side is the scorcher, and better lyrically as well. How can you not like a song about the Death Rider? Pretty good single. –Matt Average (Blackwater, blackwaterpdx.com)


RICKY C QUARTET:
Small Species: LP
Twelve inches on forty five is always a good combo, and these Brits don’t waste a second. Leather jackets with no shirts and more than a nod to punk gods Slaughter And The Dogs, every song chock full of sneers and handclaps. What’s funny is that this band sound like a lot of the late ‘90s bands from the U.S. who tried to sound like ‘77 England, like the Loose Lips or even the Briefs. There’s also a distinctive Australian flavor, maybe Radio Birdman? Or even some of the more obscure thug rock like Razar. If all those references are too obtuse, think rocking ‘77 punk rock. Boss sounds. –Tim Brooks –Guest Contributor (Wanda, wandarecords.de)


REVULSION:
Self-titled: CD
A collection of ten tracks spanning the career of a U.K. hardcore/anarcho-punk band active between 1983 and 1991. While there’s no shortage of the requisite thrashing and pontificating, things get really interesting when they start noodling outside of the box—in some cases right in the midst of all the aforementioned thrashing and pontificating—and start mining some odd guitar harmonies and taking things in unexpected directions. Hadn’t heard of ‘em before, so this was a bit of a nice surprise. –jimmy (Boss Tuneage)


REPETITOR:
Dobrodošli Na Okean: CD
Serbian post-punk with big riffs. A three-piece knocking around in the same ground as Wire and Noir Desir, with a muscularity akin to Big Black. Can’t understand a word they’re saying, but, musically, they’re a pretty convincing lot. –keith (Moonlee)


RED DOVES:
Off the Grid: 12”
A great surprise. It kicked my ass. These guys are off-the-chain, wild punk rock. I was expecting some softer, wimpy music with the very bland cover of a bird nesting in the barrel of a cannon. It reminded me of emo bands. These guys tear through the songs like they had to get out of the studio because they were being chased. It’s rare to hear punk rock played this well. They keep up the pace and the excellent musicianship right through to the end. This is a great album—it will get lots of replays in my house. –Rick E. –Guest Contributor (Gaphals, gaphals.se)


REALITY CRISIS:
Not Bound by the Past, We Live in the Present: LP
Must admit, I haven’t really kept up on this band. I saw them live when they first came over in 2004 or 2005, and their live show was pretty good, but their first LP was “meh” and I soon got rid of it. Then I picked up a 7” EP of theirs a little bit later. It was a little better, but nothing I would go back to for more listens. Then this arrives in my review cubby hole. What’s on here are re-recordings with the current line up of old tracks from various out-of-print EPs and compilations. They’ve definitely improved over the years. The recording captures a more energetic and tighter band that is out to make a sonic statement. There’s more urgency in the music than before. Each song explodes from the speakers and races at a manic pace to the very end, only to start up again with the thunder crack of the next song. Diehard fans will grab this, and for fence sitters, this is a pretty good place to get acquainted. Pressed on green vinyl, if you’re keeping score. “Stay free!” –Matt Average (Prank, prankrecords.com)


RATSAK:
20th Century Bricolage: 7”EP
A sorta scum-punk sound on this—mid-tempo rhythms, straight-ahead guitars, and a singer that sounds like a pro-wrestler—without the southern twang of the “Confederacy of Scum” set. Not bad. –jimmy (12XU)


RAGING NATHANS, THE:
Self-titled: 7”
With these four songs we are introduced to the Raging Nathans, a band of ragtag punk musicians haunted by the ghost of the ‘90s. They play quick but tight pop punk in the Epitaph/Fat Wreck vein. The production is slurred enough to create sort of a sonic barrage, generating a more muddled sound through which the vocals pierce through. Their songs are melodic, but are not what one might call “catchy.” This rough, carpe diem, “finish the songs before they finish you” mentality flows through the whole disc. They demand brevity and, since it is the soul of wit, I will be brief. It was okay. –Bryan Static (Rad Girlfriend)


PURITY CONTROL:
Coping: 7” EP
Loud, boisterous sturm und drang here, with lotsa screaming and hyper-thrash rhythms. Should go over quite well with Infest fans and the like. –jimmy (High Anxiety, distributed by No Idea)


PROWLER:
On the Prowl: 7”
I know that what I am going to say is probably going to offend everyone involved with this record, but know that I say it as a compliment and mean it. The song A-side of this sounds like how I would imagine Lou Barlow doing Sebadoh as an oi band and I love it! It’s not sad, lo-fi indie pop at all, just a stripped-down but hard-driving song that is really well written. The songs on the other side are good too, but don’t grab me as much as the first one. It’s rare to hear something fresh and different in this genre. I think Prowler is on to something. –ty (Longshot, longshotmusic.com)


PROTESTANT:
Reclamation: 12” EP
Thick and heavy d-beat in the melodic Swedish vein. I seem to remember this band being much less melodic, but I am digging this sound over all. There are some cool moments where the heavier side of the band takes over completely and allows for a cool change of pace, like the doomy riff that closes out the opening track “Home” that is certainly more Southern than Scandinavian, but the mix works well. It seems like this style has been done to death in the last ten years and I can’t really say that this record sticks out among the other End Of All or Wolfbrigade clones, but if the goal was “write a good d-beat record” they succeeded. –Ian Wise (Halo Of Flies)


PROTESTANT:
Reclamation: 12” EP
Protestant are pretty prolific. Seems like they have a new record out every few months. I’ve liked everything I’ve heard from them so far. On this record they have drifted just a little more in the metal direction, especially in the guitars, which have that black metal coldness and buzzing bee sound. But, at the heart, it’s still hardcore (not crust). The title track is a crusher! The delivery is fast and urgent, but what really knocks me on my ass is the piano that comes in at the end. It gives the music more emotional depth and conveys the mood much stronger. I also like how the lyrics in each of the songs create visuals and have a stronger poetic edge. –Matt Average (Halo Of Flies, halooffliesrecords.com)


POWERCUP / PIZZ HI FIVE:
Split: 10”
The thing about grind is that if you know what you’re doing, you don’t really have to do anything special because if you write catchy riffs and a drummer that can keep time, it will always be good. Thus is the case with both of these bands. The front cover for this record includes six crossed out quarter notes, two smiley faces, four upside-down crosses, skulls, beer, pizza, zombies, and a several general depictions of chaos. The back cover is a picture of a dude putting a power drill to his head. Credits include references to: “Thrashcan Dan,” “Blast Commander,” and “The Mighty Wizard,” and you can play either side at thirty-three or forty-five and it basically sounds the same. You know what you’re getting, and you can never own enough goofy grind records to throw on at parties. –Ian Wise (Give Praise)


PORN STARS OF HORROR:
From Love Letters to the Morgue: CD
Any band that can seriously sing the lyrics “We are the Porn Stars of Horror! We are blood drunk!” is cool in my book. This straightforward horror hardcore band with dual male and female vocals covers all the usual territory: Bride of Frankenstein, zombies, murder, etc. When the horror half of the band’s moniker is set aside in favor of the porn half, the digressions into gang rape and blue balls ballads get a bit tedious, and I could do without the occasional ham-fisted acoustic bit, but those are thankfully outnumbered by the more exciting, rocking tunes. –mp (1332)


POLITICAL ASYLUM:
Window on the World and How the West Was Won: CD
Reissues of this band’s albums three and four (?) courtesy of Boss Tuneage. Not having heard the first two, and indeed having no experience with ‘em prior to this save as a band name I’ve come across on occasion, I’m in no position to map their progression from their earliest days. What I can say is that the stuff from 1990s Window on the World sounds at times like they were no strangers to the sophisto-punk of New Model Army, who in turn were no strangers to homegrown “folk” influences. By 1992’s How the West Was Won, the influence of Hüsker Dü came to the fore, both in the acoustic cover of “Don’t Want to Know If You Are Lonely” and in the noodly electric guitar work elsewhere. Throughout, however, the band incorporates their influences into what is clearly their own sound. Both releases are a great chance to revisit not only a band likely overlooked in favor of more popular fare, but one worth a second look. –jimmy (Boss Tuneage)


PHOENIX FOUNDATION:
Silence: CD
Some unholy, unnerving amalgamation of pop punk, indie rock, and what sounds suspiciously like emo influences. Singer sounds like the vocalist from the old California band Capitol Punishment actually trying to sing, to which anyone who remembers that band can attest is not a good thing by any stretch. –jimmy (Passing Bells)


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