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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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CHARLES ALBRIGHT:
The First Four Years: Cassette
This one man band from Sacramento, CA does a rip on the Black Flag album of the same name, even wearing a Black Flag shirt on the cartoon cover. You have eighteen mostly short songs covering the time from 2009–2012 that were originally released as singles, plus three unreleased songs. He plays really fuzzed-out garage punk with some hooks thrown in and a lot of energy. The production is a bit rough, but it makes the recording work, kind of like finding an old cassette that got beat up, but still has tunes that you really like on it. Only 250 hand-numbered copies made, 100 yellow, and 150 clear. –Guest Contributor (Pleasant Screams / Sacramento, pleasantscreams.com, sacramaniacs.com)


BURST IN:
1000 Slow: LP
Burst In is a hardcore band from Warsaw, Poland. So if you either speak Polish or don’t care what lyrics you’re fingerpointing along to (and judging from current popular trends in the hardcore scene, you don’t), Burst In is probably for you. The band is the Euro Youth Crew Hardcore equivalent of Chain Of Strength or Judge or basically anything Revelation Records put out in the mid-’90s. 1000 Slow is your pretty standard moshy hardcore record...but you know, Polish. –Dan Ozzi (Refuse)


ZIPLOCK / DESTRUCTORS:
Pax Romanus: Split: CD
This six-song split offers English streetpunk from real, legit English street punks. Ziplock are the most raw of the two bands here, with a vocalist who at times has a voice similar in gravely snarl to the singer of Fucked Up. Destructors, who are the stand out here, are much more traditional in their approach of classic U.K. punk—which sounds like it could have been recorded in 1982—including an obligatory cover of “Banned by the Pubs” thrown in for good measure. –Mark Twistworthy (Rowdy Farrago)


WRECK:
Nervous Wreck: 7"
There’s some pretty heavy metallic hardcore on this sophomore release from this five-piece band from Tacoma, WA. With only four short tracks, this band makes quite an impression with the cool guitar work going on and the strong, gruff vocals. The production is really good, with everything having a distinct space to hear it on here and the band just shines with how tight they are. Mighty fine release. I want to hear more from them in the future. –Guest Contributor (6131records.com)


WORMBURNER:
Self-Titled: LP
Kevin Nunn, the principle songwriter in Wormburner, previously spent his time in North Lincoln. Wormburner, perhaps inevitably, is less muscular than that band—Wormburner’s shooting for a much more restrained post-punk or indie rock vibe, and there’s no doubt that it’s done really well. There’s an Archers Of Loaf cover, and these guys (who have since gone on to be in bands like Blank States, Swearin’, and Shores) can set those guitars a-twinklin’ and keep those rhythm sections dense, varied, and dynamic. I’ve never really been a fan of the genre, but I can recognize craftsmanship and, who knows, maybe it’ll grow on me. And I’ll totally admit that comparing bands to its members’ previous output is totally lame, and yet… and yet… after I finish listening to this, I’ll most likely pull out a North Lincoln record. –keith (Tapes Not Bombs)


WOODEN WIVES / LEE HARVEY OSWALDS:
Together We Make Sense of Life: Split: Cassette
I imagine that this strange split by these slight, oddball garage pop bands is intentionally challenging. Lee Harvey Oswalds are more accessible than Wooden Wives. Both bands are interesting on an intellectual level, but not loose enough to get lost in. Hamburger Tapes is a high quality label, with all of its releases worth giving a shot. An odd psychedelic forced-retro tone undercuts both groups, although it’s an unimposing release overall. Are un-crunchy dudes playing crunchy music automatically up to something dubious? That question has been debated since Ancient Greece, yet no one knows the answer. –Art Ettinger (Hamburger, hamburgertapes.tumblr.com)


WILD ASSUMPTIONS:
Wandering Sailor: 7" EP
This three piece out of the Bay Area throw down two new post riot grrrl, garage tracks. In the same vein as Wild Flag and early Erase Errata, Wild Assumptions takes chunky, baritone guitar chords and female vocal harmonies to dispatch “Not Right Now,” a stormy sea helmed on a don’t-bother-me attitude while a brighter day dawns with stage jumping guitar riffs in “Wandering Sailor.” Coupled with their previous self-titled EP, Assumptions have carved out a niche for their brand of Bay Area grrrl rock. –Kristen K (Let’s Pretend, letspretendrecords.com)


WICCANS:
Field II: LP
This is the second full length by Texas’s Wiccans. While their first LP was straight forward with the hardcore punches to the cranium, this time around the songs contain a lot more influence from genres outside of the typical Negative Approach school of reckless aggression. I’m hearing some garage rock, metal, and just a dash of psychedelic rock (more like 13th Floor Elevators and not Jefferson Airplane). There’s some substantial melody in the guitar, which is not very common when viewed through the hardcore punk lens. The unifying quality of all these songs on this album is the desire you’re left with for repeated listens, making this one of those albums you really need to sink your teeth into. I’ve seen show flyers of theirs where they play alongside a mixed bag of bands from varying genres including Forward, Terrible Feelings, Sin Orden, Lightning Bolt, and the Mind Spiders, which makes me appreciate the fact that they don’t limit themselves to perform for just one kind of an audience. I’m down with what you’re about, Wiccans. –Juan Espinosa (Katorga Works)


WHY THE WIRES:
All These Dead Astronauts: LP
New York’s all right if you like saxophones! Why The Wires, from Ithaca, N.Y., utilize the sax, accordion, and other non-traditional “rock” instrumentation in a wild melding of mathy rock tunes with off-kilter rhythms. The more math instrumental parts of this record remind me a lot of the ‘90s math rock band from Texas, Paul Newman. Other parts remind me of Sweep The Leg Johnny (especially when the sax comes out). There are not a large amount of vocals on this record, but, vocally, I hear a similarity to The Constantines, especially with the tendency to deliver the vocals in a spoken-sung style during the most sparse parts of these songs. The mix of these styles works most of the time, creating an enjoyable, full LP of tunes harkening back to late-‘90s indie rock. –Mark Twistworthy (Rorschach, rorschachrecords@gmail.com)


WHITE PAGES:
6 Essential Punk Rock Blasts: Cassette
Hmm, this band name is familiar. Maybe it’s one of those bands mentioned in Razorcake a lot? Is that why it’s familiar? There are a lot of bands starting with “white” these days, buuuuut I’m pretty sure it had something to do with Razorcake... Hold on, I’ll look it up. Oh yeah, I’ve gotten something from them before to review and I ripped it to shreds. Not sorry. However, I’m actually quite relieved to say that this is far different than the earlier tape I got from them, by that, I mean, it’s all right. They obviously had far more fun making this oil barrel-recorded, garage, goof rock than you ever will listening to it. But, really, it’s not half bad. There’s not giving a fuck and then there’s not giving a fuck, and these guys do a good job of blurring the two. –Craven (Self-released)


WARTORN:
Aftermath of a Severed World 2004-2010: LP
One of the best crust bands of the new millennium, Wartorn continued the power violence trend of the 1990s, exceeding the intensity level of a vast majority of their competition. The vocals are just plain brutal, and there are some really clever pun-infested song titles like “Wal-Martyr” and “Stillborn-Again Christian.” The LP comes with a download card that includes their entire discography, although most of the songs are also on the vinyl itself. I always felt that this type of hardcore rarely translates well in the studio, but Wartorn’s recordings are a major exception. You can listen to this in the safety of your own home, without the odors and destruction inherent in their live sets, although I think my new neighbors might disagree with that assessment as I give this LP another spin. –Art Ettinger (Profane Existence)


VOMIT SPOTS:
Dude, I Didn’t Know: LP
Being from the state that most punks only know for producing Christian metalcore, seeing this re-issue made me more happy than I can explain here. There were great bands in Alabama before the Vomit Spots existed, including Grossest National Product, the Knockabouts, and Random Conflict, but the Vomits Spot’s 1987 7” Nina Häagan Daz is probably my favorite document of the state’s early punk music. They were sarcastic, insouciant, and most of all, really good. This 12” collects a bunch of songs recorded after that 7”, four of which were issued on a cassette in 1989 (the others were recorded back then and never issued), and I was happy to hear that the songs—while a little slower and better recorded—still retained that tongue-in-cheek wit that made me love that first 7”. These songs sound like a Southern version of the Adolescents. Think early hardcore that’s a little slowed down, a little more guitar oriented, and a little less concerned with making it big in Los Angeles. Fans of KBD/obscurities/good punk take note. –Ian Wise (Last Hurrah)


VILIPEND:
Inamorata: LP
Fuck yes. Fellow Ontarians who’ve conjured the spirit of Deadguy/Kiss It Goodbye in a sickening, serious way. Pummeling, off-kilter hardcore with unique, troubled vocals and sporadic, timely melodic flourishes. I imagine this record might be a grower for a lot of people, as it’s rather difficult to lump in with any contemporaries, but I insist that you give it the time it needs to get under your skin. (For those unfamiliar with the aforementioned Tim Singer bands, think early Today Is The Day by way of Bl’ast and you’d be on the right track) Jeezamoli. So great. –Dave Williams (A389)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
The Underground Vol. 1: CD
Another compilation here showcasing bands hovering on the sleazier sounding side of L.A.’s punk underbelly, featuring tracks by Symbol Six, Black Monday, White Flag Down, Los Creepers, The Scarred, Dirty Filthy Mugs, The UVs, Del Rottens, Skin Flick, Lightning Woodcock, Piss Broke Rebels, Dirty Eyes, Milestone, the Livingstons, and Million Kids. On the whole, the tracks stay firmly rooted in that gray area between gritty street rock/punk and the more melodic wing of the whole oi thing, but they all do what they do quite well and there is enough diversity between bands to keep it from sounding like one big mush of swagger and raspy vocals. Nice representation of what’s going on in this corner of the city’s underground. –jimmy (Suicide King)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Red White and Blue. Who Are You?: 2 x 7”
This double disc has two bands from the mean little island that I call home (England) and two from Big Brother (USA). Being that Longshot/Pirates Press put this out, you know this will be a quality piece of kit… and it is. I grew up with Cock Sparrer and Abrasive Wheels then the Dropkick Murphys and Workin Stiffs, so however much I laugh at “streetpunk” for being a clownish parody, it’s in my blood and I’m a sucker for the shit when it’s well done; like this package. The U.S. disc has Old Firm Casuals who have proved themselves to be the best at this shit on our side of the pond (irrespective of any Rancid sway) with a short banger about kicking people’s teeth in. Harrington Saints back them up with their ‘Sparrer inspired noise. The U.K. side is equally as solid with Argy Bargy knocking out a sing-a-along number in the vein of a more polished Business featuring London “Face” Watford John and Daryl from Cock Sparrer. Booze And Glory finish things up with an ode to LondonTown, which stands up against the other three even with the obvious nod to ivory tinkler Frankie Flame. This genre can be garbage if handled wrong; these four bands are a blueprint on how to do “streetpunk/oi” in 2012. Good shit. –Tim Brooks (Longshot)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Obvious Sampler Vol. 1: 7"
This didn’t look very promising. With its sharpied cover, it looked like it was destined for used 7” bin obscurity. Also, calling your compilation a sampler sounds like shameless promotion, not that there’s anything wrong with shameless promotion, but a little more subtlety would give it a less disposable feel and sound less like we’re only supposed to get familiar with these songs so we can buy stuff from the label. Anyway, there are five bands on here with a song each. The Stockyards contribution is a bit of energetic punk with shrieking, spastic vocals and a steady guitar riff. Dharma Dogs is a band that I’ve been playing a lot of after getting their cassette, Drown w/ Moon Rocks + Speed. I’m familiar with the song on here, “Hoka Hey,” and its crazy, dissonant wall of sound. Good track and definitely a band to keep an eye on. The Phantom Scars play a healthy dose of garage rock with a Stiv Bators-sounding guy on vocals. Inflatable Best Friend play sloppy, schlock-art-punk with a spazzed-out lead singer. The Overheaters simply play a quick blast of driving rock. All in all, a pretty good compilation. –Craven (Obvious)


VACATION:
Dream Dad: 7"
Anti-formulaic, capital P pop punk straight outta Ohio. Too smart to simply emulate their influences, but still staking their tent in the pop punk KOA somewhere between the TwinCities and Chicago. Carbondale? Perhaps. It’s fun and driving at the same time while still being quirky and original. –Daryl Gussin (Sidejar / Let’s Pretend)


UNHOLY THOUGHTS:
The Attic: LP
Raging hardcore punk out of Richmond, VA. I can hear some Government Warning in here, and I believe someone from that band is in this band. The songs range from fast to a nice mid-tempo pace (such as the song “Earthquake”). They wisely mix things up so it doesn’t turn into one long blur. The buildup in the opener, “Excess,” is pretty cool. It starts off at a slow lumber, then you hear the bass drum suddenly pick up the pace, it builds up speed, and then back again. Then they tear into “Black and Red” and all hell breaks loose. The riffs are good and the breakdowns are catchy as fuck. As the album progresses, so does the urgency and speed. By the time you’re in the middle of songs like “Tradition,” “Hell Is Other People,” “Whiskey Weed Girls And Speed,” the title track, and the rest, it’s a sonic maelstrom. And yet they can slip in a cool breakdown and not miss a beat. The whole second side is a scorcher (not to say the first side isn’t, because the whole fucking album cooks!). Absolutely love the part in “In Living Color” where everyone but the bass stops for a couple seconds before tearing back into it. Fuck yeah! Even having the bass open on “Sleep” is cool. This guy, Kenny, has a really good sound here. Low end for days and it grabs your attention. Great, great, great, record! –Matt Average (Forcefield, forcefieldrecords@gmail.com, forcefieldrecords.org)


TUNABUNNY:
Genius Fatigue: CD
Tunabunny play smart indie pop. The two girl singers weave in and out of harmonization and counter-play throughout the songs, whispering, speaking, and singing over guitars that go from a surf twang, to arty off-kilter riffs, to string-scraping drags seamlessly. They don’t stick to formulas and each song sounds completely different but essential to the whole of the album. You could compare it to Team Dresch or Sleater-Kinney, though it would be unfair. There was a lot more new ground to break when those bands changed the game. These folks do a whole lot with a whole lot less to work with, and have a fresh sound. Their lyrics are abstract—at times seeming to deal with gender—otherwise just abstractly impressionistic and poetically heady or spinning weird tales. I have to be in the mood for Genius Fatigue. Though melodic and catchy, it’s also complicated and requires attention. It’s seemingly benign initially, but it’s a caustic sugar, demanding to be recognized. –Craven (HHBTM)


THROAT SPROCKETS:
Methadone Picnic: CD
Throat Sprockets appear to have taken their name from an erotic horror novel, and their music pays testament to such potentially odd groupings of genre. They’re self-described as experimental/pop/rock, which helps explain why I find it so difficult to describe what I’m hearing…there is no one single sound here, but a grim-yet-beautiful mix of influences. (By the way, I like it a lot, but it had to grow on me.) The record is simultaneously gorgeous, stark, luxurious, horrific, awkward, disturbing, and comic. Imagine Jeff Wagner’s Tunnel Of Love / The Tunnel meets Blatz. That analogy is way out there, perhaps, but it’s the best I can do and I’m standing by it, goddammit. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Cat Sandwich)


TEEN ANAL TERRORIST:
Warm Blatz for Teenage Runaways: LP
Experimental electronic noise here. Don’t confuse this with harsh power electronics. This is more along the lines of something like Venetian Snares. The sounds are disjointed, fragmented, but, at the same time, it’s not like you’re being hit over the head with a hammer. This has a strangely ambient feel, from whispers, voices in the background, phone rings, and how tones hum and fade. You can put this record on and have it fill the room or be background noise. Either way, if you like this kind of music, you won’t lose. –Matt Average (Savage Quality, savagequalityrecordings.com)


STOCKYARDS:
Sunshine Smiley Face: 7"
Classic “your fave local band” shit right here. From Dekalb wherever the fuck that is? Midwest? Whatevs… scrappy mid-‘80s-sounding punk rock. No frills, messed up drum rolls, in-jokes… you know the drill. It’s like a waaaay shitty Dayglo Abortions or any number of mediocre one dollar bin bands. Bet they are super fun live though. –Tim Brooks (no label listed)


SPIRIT OF DANGER:
Self-titled: 7" EP
This debut from a hardcore NYC quatro pulls from British outfits splicing Discharge and GBH with Nik Fiend vocals. The offspring being four melodic hardcore cuts built on tight guitar riffs and vocals that oughta get you in the pit. “Broke and Alone” and “Rats and Trash,” bearing another likeness to GBH, show off the beauty in simplicity with a classic verse, chorus, rinse, repeat song structure. Absolutely solid throughout, this is getting heavy rotation at Casa Kristen. For those that dig ‘80 U.K. punk. Recommended. –Kristen K (spiritofdanger.bandcamp.com)


SPIRIT OF DANGER:
Self-titled: 7"
Four songs featuring heavily distorted guitars and vocals with loads of echo. There is a hint of grunge or ‘90s Alternative Tentacles to the song structures and sound. “Rats and Trash” is the most driving on the record. I would like that song except that it has an intro. The song moves and shakes. The intro loses me. But I’m not big on intros, so I may be out of my element. “Broke and Alone” is a simpler song that starts in high gear. It’s about a guy named “Johnny.” That appeals to me on some level. If you can’t learn anything from a story about a guy named Johnny in a rock and roll song, then you’re missing out on life lessons. These guys keep the energy up, but it’s not my thing. –Billups Allen (spiritofdanger.bandcamp.com)


SPIRAL:
Mind Trip in A Minor: CD
It can be rather cool when a musical work can evoke a sense of time or place. I suspect the fellows in Spiral were well aware of this when making this disc. Mind Trip in A Minor plays like a musical triptych taking the listener through a quasi-psychedelic voyage through the desert of the mind. The whole thing plays like a concept album of sorts. The tracks are listed as parts one through nine as opposed to just song numbers. If you ever saw Oliver Stone’s The Doors, there was a scene of the Doors wandering around the desert tripping out on psychedelics. This disc feels like the musical equivalent of that scene. As far as the music itself goes, the nine parts tend to be fairly passive affairs with hints of metallic guitar work weaved in for good measure. I personally found the atmospheric, instrumental tracks to be more enjoyable than the ones featuring vocals. All in all, not too bad if you dig soundtracks and psychedelic stuff. –Garrett Barnwell (Spiral, thespiral.bandcamp.com)


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