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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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PENNYWISE:
All or Nothing: CD
Probably the hardest band member to replace in a band is the lead singer. Some of these changes have produced positive results, and, in some cases, a stronger fanbase. Of course, some swaps have become complete disasters. But bands need to move forward, and I understand the need to hold on to what you have earned. Fletcher and the boys tapped Zoli Teglas (of Ignite) to fill the void created by Jim Lindberg’s departure. So does the music suffer? Listening to this record, I say no. The riffs are still loud, the playing is tight, and the vocals are strong. “Let Us Hear Your Voice” is one of the better singles they’ve released. The title track and “X Generation” are also heavy hitters. It’s almost a shame now that Lindberg has returned that these songs will probably be tossed into the scrap heap. So how will All or Nothing be treated by Pennywise fans? Like Bad Brains without HR? Angry Samoans without Metal Mike? Only time will tell. –koepenick (Epitaph)


PENETRATORS / TESTORS:
Syracuse New Wave!: 2 x 7”
A double-pack special here, with “collector’s edition” versions of the Penetrators’ 1979 “Teenage Lifestyle/Rock ‘n’ Roll Face” and the Testors’ 1980 “Together/Time Is Mine” singles, the latter featuring an additional exclusive B-side. They provide nice bookends to some of the “new” styles in the air during the time period, with the Testors presenting a more serious, straightforward rock/power pop take and the Penetrators delivering their tunes with tongues in cheeks. Comes with faithful reproductions of the original covers and a download card for those wanting access to digital versions of the tracks and additional tuneage. –jimmy (Windian)


PEACH KELLI POP:
Self-titled: LP
This sounds like The Chipmunks, if the Chipmunks were female and huffed helium. For reasons that are well beyond my own grasp, I like it. Sixteen-year-old me is punching me in the face every time I listen to this. This makes Redd Kross sound like the Cro-Mags in comparison. This makes ukuleles sound like chainsaws. And I like it. What the fuck? Goddamn, is that a triangle tinkling or a tambourine or a toy xylophone? All three? C’mon! It’s Allie Hanlon, drummer of the White Wires. Cut this and it bleeds cotton candy. Stare at it, and it grows cute cat whiskers. Gah! And I like it. –todd (Bachelor)


PAINT FUMES:
Uck Life: CD
At their worst, these noise-mongers crank out some heavy duty garage trash ditties hell-bent on making yer tinnitus that much worse. At their best, like “Jim & Juan” f’rinstance, they evoke fleeting glimpses of the hypnotic, bluesy psych-voodoo of early Gun Club. No small fuggin’ feat, that. –jimmy (Slovenly)


OOPS, THEE:
Happy Charlie: CD
Some Italian punkers OD on the old ‘80s American hardcore records in their collection. Thrashy tempos, yelled vocals, and aggressive overall without being dour, not unlike early Beastie Boys, whose “Egg Raid on Mojo” they cover here. –jimmy (Slovenly)


ONO:
Albino: LP
Despite their having roots dating back to the ‘80s, and I have a few releases that one of their previous labels put out back in that halcyon decade, this is the first time I’ve ever heard of this band. I guess what they do could be defined as “music” in the strictest sense—they primarily employ traditional instruments, there’s a guy singing and a discernible beat exists—but what they do within those parameters sounds more like a bunch of rhinos zonked outta their minds on brain-melting drugs running riot in a recording studio. A potent cocktail of industrial-inspired noise, blues, gospel, drone, skronk, psychedelia, and the Velvet Underground—their cover of “All Tomorrow’s Parties” is downright hypnotic. So many moods ‘n’ sounds mish-mashed back and forth that sometimes you dunno what to feel. It definitely ain’t for the squeamish, and I imagine a whole swath of casual listeners would be bored silly, but if it tickles yer fancy, I’m bettin’ green you’ll be playin’ it often. –jimmy (Moniker)


OFF WITH THEIR HEADS:
Home: CD
It’s almost been three years since the last OWTH full length, not to mention the unimaginable amount of miles of asphalt passed underneath the wheels of their tour van since then. It’s fair to assume that no one likes waiting every three frickin’ years for a new record from a band, but this new twelver of songs that clock in at just over a half hour was more than worth waiting for. See, there are a lot of bands that can write good songs, but then there’s the bands that write great albums. OWTH has been the latter since day one, and Home is no exception. When a band like this literally lives for doing what they love/need to do, it shows in spades. Heart placed squarely on the sleeves, no bullshit. Without having to list the (literally) numerous songs, I’ll just go on record that there’s a fuckload of punk-fueled mayhem doled out here—those barbed, trademark OWTH hooks that get the fists in the air and people howling along to the lyrics, the same way I can’t help myself at their live gigs (you others know who you are). It’s always a pretty goddamn good sign when a band can make you chimp-out at their shows, but to yield the same results from listening to their records? That’s an unstoppable force to reckon with. There’s even an updated version of “Janie” (originally from their Grin and Bear It split EP they did with J Church), as well as a few mid-tempo burners present (think “Fuck This, I’m Out”), not to mention a couple of slow jams that aren’t one iota lame. By the way, there isn’t a single break between the songs on the entire album here, so take a deep breath, dive in, and get ready to rock the fuck out to one of your favorite rekkids of 2013. –dale (Epitaph)


OBN IIIs:
Self-titled: LP
Killer follow-up to a killer debut. OBN IIIs are untouchable as far as current bands. I like ‘em better than Bad Sports, another of Orville Neely’s notable outfits. They have the “fuck you” swagger and searing guitar tone of The Humpers (but really, no one can play rock’n’roll punk guitar like Billy Burks!). Like their debut album (The One and Only), there are nods to Iggy Pop and The Damned. OBN IIIs were one of the best live acts I caught in 2012, too. The packaging is pretty sweet: gatefold with thick stock cover and a poster included, yet somehow like three dollars cheaper retail than when I bought the first album. Label website says this record cost them sixteen dollars a piece to make. Wild! –Sal Lucci (Tic Tac Totally)


NOTHING:
Self-titled: LP
Y’know, I wanted to be like, “Oh great, another band of hardcore dudes (Nothing features members of the now-defunct Philly band Horror Show) who decided to take a crack at shoegaze. Borrring.” But, fact is, I’m a huge sucker for this shit. Maybe there’s an underlying aggression to the punks-turned-gazers version of this genre, but Anne, Whirr, and now Nothing have found very comfy homes on my turntable. There’s not a whole lot of innovation going on here—think a drearier Jesus And Mary Chain or even a darker, de-popped Wild Nothing—but what they do, they do darn well. –todd (A389)


NO STATIK:
“No Hospice” b/w “Clean Swift Sunshine”: 7”
No Statik play apocalypse-happening-now hardcore. The atmosphere they create sounds like it’s narrated by ash-choked vultures. Sweeping, unsettled dust storms come from the guitar and bass. The drums sound like fire and then accelerate into a gallop (but never a blur). The instruments aren’t competing with one another and are recorded in a way that’s complex and layered, not murky, shit-wizard-here’s-my-crotch flashy, or competitive. Another cool aspect to both of these songs is that, although channeled through unmitigated anger, the song structures allow time for the chains to drop in from above and drag the listener behind. That’s menace. From Oakland. Ruby from Scrotum Grinder’s the singer. Ends with static hiss. This is getting repeat listens. –todd (Prank, prankrecords.com)


NERVOUS IMPULSE:
N.I.: 12” EP
DC punk blasters follow up on their Minimum Wage demo with this sharp-as-nails punk attack. Eight ham-fisted blasters that will make your stereo speakers cry for mercy. “Louder than Stupid” and “Build a Bomb or Shut Up” are my favorites here. But this whole thing flies by so quickly, you’ll have time to put it on repeat, again and again. Keep it up, boys. The rest of the world will catch up soon enough. –koepenick (Self-released; undercurrentrecords@gmail.com)


NAPALM HEARTS:
Urban Noise: EP
Don’t let the name fool you. This isn’t some wanna-be Johnny Thunders bullshit. These guys are (or were?) no-frills hardcore from Australia. The songs are simple and to the point, and, as result, pack more of a punch. The energy is hyper and delivered with a confident “fuck you” attitude. Something about this makes me think of Out Cold, but crossed with Cleveland hardcore from the ‘90s to early 2000s. Maybe it’s the whole “don’t give a fuck about the current trend” attitude that’s here? The Dead Boys cover is meh, but the rest is pretty good. –Matt Average (Helta Skelta, heltaskeltarecords.blogspot.com.au)


MONSIEUR JEFFREY EVANS AND HIS C.C. RIDERS:
Self-titled: LP
I like getting an education away from academies. When listening to Jeffrey Evans—my first exposure was years ago with The Gibson Bros.—it’s always seemed that I’m not just listening to him, but decades upon decades of great rock’n’roll, rockabilly, and blues through him. It’s no Blues Hammer “I picked cotton” histrionic shit. His music is often shaken and agitated or slightly askew, but with a deep understanding and great respect for the legacies of mostly overlooked icons. (Which Jeffery Evans has become, too.) This LP is a re-release (first time on vinyl) of a small CD run from 2001 that was originally released on Contaminated. The CC Riders on this outing were none other than Alicja Trout (Lost Sounds, Mouse Rocket, Nervous Patterns, on drums), Jay Reatard (on guitar), and James Arthur (Necessary Evils, on guitar). The recording is intimate and warm and has that Oblivians or Dirtbombs LP feel, where they balance out carefully selected covers and pair them with a handful of durable, memorable originals. If you’re looking for roots, you’ve come to the right place. If you’re looking for cheap, shiny things that will soon tarnish, take a pass. A welcome and recommended record. –todd (Spacecase, spacecaserecords.com, info@spacecaserecords.com)


MISSION OF BURMA:
Unsound: CD
If you have let this legendary band’s last few post-reunion releases slip under your radar, now is the time to rectify that egregious error. The band continues to solidify their place in history as post-punk champions with Unsound. Songwriting is clutch here, with all band members contributing vocally and lyrically. Roger Miller has a couple more songs than Clint and Peter, but it is still a cohesive slab of goodness. Bob Weston once again helms the board to offer up tasty sonic delights on each track. Having just seen them live again recently, I can say these new songs fit in well with the Burma canon. You need to have this record. It’s another fortified document that outlines how great music can be done on your own terms. –koepenick (Fire)


MENTALLY ILL, THE:
Strike the Bottom Red: LP
Yes, this is indeed THAT Mentally Ill, the mysterious pack of psychopaths responsible for the brilliant 1979 Gacy’s Place EP. This is a reissue, so far as I can deduce, of an LP they recorded with Albini at the knobs, self-released back in 1999 and didn’t include on the Alternative Tentacles retrospective a few years back. Two songs from aforementioned EP, “Padded Cell” and “Tumor Boy,” are redone here alongside charmingly titled ditties like “Doggie Sex,” “Bathroom Gays,” and “Wrinkled Star,” to name a few, as well as a cover of the Modern Lovers’ “Pablo Picasso.” While the crisp production values temper the immediacy that made their debut so infectious, the band itself more than makes up for it in sheer weirdness, with quasi-choir backup vocals, saxophones, and all kinds of odd shit popping up here and there, all the while keeping things “punk” but approaching that moniker with a sound as inimitable as the Butthole Surfers, No Trend, and like-minded trailblazers. Fuggin’ great, this is. –jimmy (Last Laugh)


MEDIA BLITZ:
Burn the World: LP
Fast paced, scathing, in-your-face hardcore delivered with undeniable passion and aggression. I love the bitter, pissed-off lyrics, dig the random solos, and have an itching feeling this would rule live. This is so fucking good; I seriously can’t recommend it enough. If you love Nerve Agents, Pulling Teeth, or Suicide File then this is right up your dark, angry, piss-drenched alley. Put on your headphones and go punch a jarhead in the face. –Rene Navarro (Media Blitz, mediablitz.bandcamp.com)


ROMAN MILK:
Xarhakos, the Third Temple of: Cassette
Nihilistic drone-y punk recorded inside of a cave on an old cassette recorder stuffed inside of a duffel bag, or at least that’s what I’m envisioning. Come to think of it, that description may sound better than the actual output. –Juan Espinosa (Roman Milk, romanmilkbeat@gmail.com)


LOW CULTURE:
Screens: LP
Shang-a-Lang (Razorcake cover #48) was like a favorite shitty-awesome tattoo: fuzzy-edged, shaky, proportions not exactly right. They were an authentic spot of DIY punk done with indelible ink and not pencil. For this, they hold a special place in my heart. They called it quits. I knew Chris and Jojo were starting another band. I needed to ease into it. The breakup was too fresh. It needed to scab over, heal. When I got the record, I didn’t listen to it immediately. The insecurity inside me wasn’t, “What if this sucks?,” it was “What if this isn’t as good?” I finally unbent a paper clip, poked the reset button in my head, and did something I hadn’t done in a long time with a record slated for review. I listened to Low Culture for three weeks and didn’t write a single word down about the record… And it’s not like I’m all “Shang-a-who?” now, but Low Culture didn’t show up to this “job interview called life” in an ill-fitting suit. They showed up in regularly washed T-shirts. Explanation: the recording is the cleanest it’s ever been with a band with Chris Mason involved in it, but it’s not a false dress-up—like a movie-ticket-taker in a bow tie—but a fuller, higher fidelity sound that provides a greater depth. Chris’s voice sounds even more exuberant, incisive, and vulnerable. The lyrics are filled with battles with depression and dislocation and they sound more... more cutting. Screens is a perfect title, too. Cultural. Societal. Personal. Televisional. All these screens. Damn, this is a fine record. Here’s to insecurities addressed, to obstacles confronted. –todd (Dirtnap)


LOTUS FUCKER:
Forever My Fighting Spirit: 12” EP
Last time I heard these guys was from their split with the Wankys. I liked the Lotus Fucker side of that record much better, and this twelve incher does not disappoint. In fact, it exceeded my expectations. Very heavy and noisy as hell. They definitely are inspired by the Japanese noise merchants of past and present, but they wisely put their own spin on the whole deal. The rhythm section is a force to reckon with, as the drums pound and rumble with near-devastating effect. The bass is bubbling and thumping along while the guitars crank out the white noise and strangled notes (are these notes?) that create this really tight tension throughout. I find I like the B side with “Inner Peace” the most. They take a risk and break from the formula with successful results. The ending where the horns come in was unexpected, and the horns work. If they keep this mindset, they could definitely stand out among the growing horde of noise bands that are proliferating like fleas this very moment. –Matt Average (Katorga Works, katorgaworks@gmail.com)


LIVE FAST DIE:
Practicing for the Gangbang: 7”
The best way I can describe this is it’s as if Dangerous Dave from The Bugs and The Queers wrote a couple of songs for The Spits. If any of the names I mentioned mean anything to you, you are sure to like this. I don’t remember Live Fast Die sounding like this before; I’ll have to check out some more stuff. –ty (Total Punk)


LITTLE MISS AND THE NO NAMES:
Mind: EP
Straight-ahead, no-frills hardcore punk with varying tempos. They have the feel of the 1980s heyday, but don’t sound retro. What I like best about this is how the bass and guitar sound together (Onj and Paul from Septic Death). They have this really nasty and combustible sound. There are parts where they sound like they’re about to bust holes in the walls (I imagine live it must be pretty damn nice to hear). The vocals are somewhat high pitched, but not annoying or cutesy. Instead, they have a scratchy, urgent way about them. “Perfection” and “Liar” are the choice cuts here. –Matt Average (Rigid, rigidrecords.bigcartel.com)


LEGS, THE:
AAAA The New Memphis Legs: LP
Circa-2000 recordings of a one-off group consisting of James Arthur and Eric Oblivian. As expected from such a terrible twosome, the results are awash with brittle, overdriven guitars and all the primitive, hoo-haw garage stomping bluster one could ever hope for. –jimmy (Goner)


LAMPS:
Under the Water under the Ground: CD
Another rambunctious release from these racket-mongers. Things are still rooted firmly in the garage, but as with their prior release, they take an ugly turn quickly with the brief blasts of pure noise interspersed throughout the opener, “Dogcatcher.” They don’t let up, either. The rest of the ride sounds like the soundtrack to one fucker of a bum trip, with things sludgin’ and skronkin’ along, at times veering so far off into the darker regions of hell’s psychedelic swamplands that they start sounding like the band’s hiding a secret love for early Swans. Rough traveling, but worth the fare. –jimmy (In The Red)


KRAUS:
Supreme Commander: LP
Ground control to Major Tom? Come in, Major Tom? Formerly of The Futurians, Norman McLaren, New Zealand’s space rock auteur, launches his latest release on milky blueberry-colored vinyl. Kraus is less Man Or Astro-Man? than early Delirium and Psychic TV’s experimental atmospheric shtick. Minimalistic and somber in its sense of isolation and solitude, this could be the soundtrack for the transit of satellites. Completely instrumental, Kraus pulls from traditional Japanese folk dramatics, mimicking a shamisen with high-pitched guitar plucks, while laying radar blips over stretched out guitar chords. Beautiful, contemplative stuff; Kraus manages to keep it all in orbit. Recommended. –Kristen K (Moniker)


KILLING CALIFORNIA:
No Pentagrams No Crosses: CD
Wow! This is some great punk that’s mixed with hardcore and the whiskey-soaked rock of bands like Nashville Pussy. Vocalist Danny Craig’s gritty singing sounds like he’s shredding his vocal chords. The rest of the band is fantastic, with their crazed playing that wants to go over to the deep end, but stays together. These guys have some really good lyrics too, not just the drink and party crap that gets so overdone. Killing California is a band that would blow away a lot of other bands offstage if they went on first. They should be headliners and deserve success. –Rick E –Guest Contributor (Basement, basementrecords.com)


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·FEAR OF LIPSTICK
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