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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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MACHINES, THE:
Self-titled: CD
A return-to-action release from an old Essex, U.K. band originally active circa 1977, who managed the highly regarded and highly sought-after True Life EP in their first go-round. Their sound now falls somewhere between the Damned and more recent fare like Guitar Gangsters, with catchy hooks, vocals with less bite and more melody, and maybe a wee bit of oi there as well. Solid release on the whole, but the real score here are a couple of demo tracks and, yes, the aforementioned True Life in its feral, sick-guitar-fuzzed entirety tacked onto the end. –jimmy (Angels In Exile)


LOWER CLASS BRATS:
Rock N’ Roll Street Noize: CD
It’s funny. These guys have been around since 1995 and this is my first exposure to them. I’m going to admit something few people ever do: this is one of those bands that I’ve always thought of as the kind that I didn’t really need to listen to to know what they sound like. I imagined this to be mid-tempo street punk with gang vocals and slick production values. That’s exactly what I got. I see a lot of kids sporting LCB T-shirts, so I’m also going to assume that they have a respectably sized fan base, which means I may or may not be missing out on following them any further. However, I’m going to bet on the latter and instead wish them continued success and politely part ways here. –Juan Espinosa (Turkey Baster, turkeybasterrecords.com)


LOW CULTURE:
Screens: LP
The debut album on Dirtnap Records is finally out after a couple of previous singles to whet the appetite. This four piece from Las Cruces, NM—which has members from Shang-A-Lang and Marked Men—has given us twelve bouncy punk rock songs that don’t fail to get the head bobbing and the foot tapping along. Not a big time riff band, but lots of melody and good. gritty sound in the vocals. The band is really tight. A definite winner. –Guest Contributor (Dirtnap, dirtnaprecs.com)


LOST CHERREES:
Hung Drawn & Quartered: 7” EP
Although I’m acquainted with the name and know a bit of their history, I must profess some ignorance of the previous recordings of this long-standing U.K. anarcho punk band, so I can’t really judge sound/style shifts over time or anything like that. What I am hearing is a bit reminiscent of later Vice Squad in places, albeit with smarter lyrics and none of the annoying overproduction. The songs are tuneful instead of Crass-styled grating and, thankfully, don’t have that hollowness that too often comes with older bands “giving it another go.” Four tunes, with the last being a Finnish version of one of the others on the flipside. –jimmy (Antisociety, facebook.com/AntiSocietyRecords)


LOCH NESS RADIO:
Self-titled: CD
When I was young, I would often buy albums based on their sleeve art. Not the soundest criteria for purchasing music I know, but I generally did okay. Well, had I applied this “formula” to Loch Ness Radio, I would have missed out, as the cover is a painting of some old school radios floating in a body of water, which I don’t think the teenage me would have been too terribly taken with. I would have missed out though, as this disc kind of kills it: sixteen tracks of off-kilter punk rock with some meaningful variety. Just when I thought I had nailed down some apt comparisons, the band goes and throws me a curve ball on pretty much every song. The music sputters along with a certain nervous energy that takes equal parts from a loose, almost sloppy rhythm section coupled with some pretty manic guitar work. Likewise, the vocalist has a pretty diverse range, able to bellow as well as hit some sweet Dave Vanian-like stylings. Also worthy of mention are the lyrics, which tend to walk the line between straight up narrative and quirky rambling. Good stuff. –Garrett Barnwell (Loch Ness Radio, lochnessradio.com)


LIVING IN HELL:
Portões: EP
Members of Gritos De Alerta, and Unidos Pelo Odio get together and crank out some hellish metallic hardcore with influences from Doom, Wolfbrigade, and Olho Seco. All heavy hitters, and they do a pretty damn good job of it. The rhythm section brings in the heavy and dark sound and keeps the pace at a pretty quick gait, but never falling into thrash. The guitar dive bombs, screams, and buzzes like a chainsaw. “Não Confio Em Ninguém” has a hectic opening then crashes into a race to oblivion. Then there’s the ripper “Olhos Nos Olhos” that hearkens back to some classic late ‘80s on up to today’s Swedish hardcore heaviness. Four songs and all of them quality. –Matt Average (Terrotten, info@terrotten.com / terrotten.com)


LIVING DEADBEATS, THE:
Self-titled: LP
Out of Vancouver, BC comes the debut album from this four-piece band of two females and two males. You get twelve songs ranging from straight-up punk rock and garage that are all fairly short and performed with energy and a sense of fun. The songs are pretty catchy and are produced very well. There is almost a new wave feel to the songs, new wave before the synth bands took over, almost power pop-influenced on some tracks. A very cool debut release. –Guest Contributor (thelivingdeadbeats.com)


LITTLE SEIZURES:
Self-titled: 7”
A bratty little kid stomps around howling, “I can’t take it no more!” Wait a second, who gave that kid a grenade launcher? And a chainsaw? And why am I dancing instead of running away? Uh oh. –mp (Go Ape)


LEGENDARY WINGS:
Making Paper Roses: LP
This debut album from these guys from Kalamazoo, MI has a whopping sixteen songs on it and clocks in around forty-five minutes. They play some fun, poppy garage punk with the feel of a demo in the production. Things could be a bit more produced to sharpen some of the muffled parts, but it still is a pretty cool effort that put a smile on my face from both the lyrics and the samples from Billy Madison and The Cable Guy. I hope the next release is just as good as this one is, but just a bit more produced. –Guest Contributor (Dirtnap, dirtnaprecs.com)


LADY BANANA:
Adult Rock: EP
Mid-tempo garage rock (for lack of a better term) from Sweden. Only two folks here bashing out some primitive type rock’n’roll. The drums are nothing but smash smash the whole way, and I think I hear a keyboard making some spidery sounds over the whole din. The guitar is distorted and ringing in and out, while the vocals howl through the holes. “Jo-Anne” is the definite stand out of the four. –Matt Average (Frantic City, franticcity.free.fr)


LA GACHETTE:
A Travers Le Temps: CD
This band from Montreal, Quebec has a ton of tracks on this release, nineteen in total, including a bunch recorded live and unplugged. The whole CD has a great sound and feel to it, from the punky, oi-type studio songs to the acoustic songs. I could really see going to a concert from these guys, even though my French is pretty useless. The lyrics are included and are in both French and English. This is a damn fine release and now I have to go find their older releases. –Guest Contributor (Trigger)


K-JELL:
You Can’t Kill Rock ‘N’ Roll: CD
K-Jell puts the title statement to the test on this disc. Thankfully, it takes more than drooling ballads about how “this is the real me” or how “this is what it’s all about” to kill rock’n’roll. The addition of butt loads of too clean, grade school guitar solos almost did it, but not quite. Nice try though, guys. –mp (October Party)


KING TUFF:
“Screaming Skull” b/w “Love Potion”: 7”
Hot on the heels of Mr. Tuff’s LP from early 2012. “Screaming Skull” may feature King Tuff’s most dance-y drum beat yet, with a Dinosaur Jr.-like lead floating on top. “Love Potion” is a foot stompin’ head banger with a searing lead floating on top. I’ve never been able to categorize King Tuff as garage or rock, but some describe him as power pop. I’ll go ahead and agree, with the emphasis on power. –Sal Lucci (Sub Pop)


JOEY RAMONE:
“…Ya Know?”: CD
Finally, the long lost second album is given to the hungry masses. Joey’s brother Mickey Leigh put this all together, along with help from producer Ed Stasium. Mickey hints at why the holdup took place, but I will leave the real story to a possible upcoming exposé article from Designated Dale. Many guests are featured here: Joan Jett, Andy Shernoff, and Ritchie Ramone among many others. There are the usual straight-ahead rockers, but Joey brings the pace down on a couple acoustic-based songs. This is going right next to my “Poison Heart” single signed by Joey and I won’t be parting with either until I kick the bucket. “Rock’n’Roll is the answer” indeed. –koepenick (joeyramone.com)


JACK’S SMIRKING REVENGE:
Project Arcturus: 2 x CD
This is an impressive feat: one song recorded each week for a year. All the songs are primarily a male vocalist and an electric or acoustic guitar. I was reminded of The Mountain Goats (and, in fact, they are mentioned in the booklet as an inspiration) and at times Fifteen, especially when Alex (who is Jack’s Smirking Revenge) would sing about politics. While I can appreciate the concept and think it’s a cool idea, it also seems a bit much—the kind of eccentric thing that a well-established band with slightly crazy members might try and pull off and then sell for an exorbitant amount through a Kickstarter campaign. I suppose it’s okay for what it is, but it’s truly hard for an artist to make the combination of only electric guitar and vocals compelling. None of the songs came out and grabbed me and made me want to hear more of this, especially not fifty-one songs more –kurt (boulderdiy@gmail.com)


HORNY BITCHES, THE:
13 Reasons to Fuck: CD
Three females from Montreal, Quebec. The band does a good job staying just on the punk side with their speed, not really getting to into the hardcore, just punk porn rock, I guess you could call it. All of the songs deal with some aspect of sex, so if you are delicate, beware, they aren’t for the faint hearted, or the tight assed. They zip through these songs at a quick pace, playing with a lot of energy and tongue buried in cheek, if not other places as well. A fun release that will make you smile. I know that I chuckled a few times while cranking it up, and you should crank it up as well to piss off your neighbors. –Guest Contributor (Trigger)


INSULT / RAMPANT DECAY:
Split: 7”
The first band up is Insult. This band rips out some really tight and fast hardcore on their six songs that verge on losing control, but hangs on with a few fingers. They are more old school, super-fast hardcore with the last of their songs, “Diddler on Parole,” being the longest at just over one and a half minutes and sounding a bit like latter day Black Flag. Rampant Decay is next with three songs and they have a more modern hardcore sound, closer to grind and sludge and with longer songs. It seems to be a bit lopsided in the two styles, but it was a pretty good split all the same, although Insult was the winner on this one for me. –Guest Contributor (Patac, patacrecords.com)


HIGH HORSE:
Demo 2012: CDEP
Prog rock-influenced punk? Or perhaps it’s punk-influenced prog rock? I can’t tell. Whatever the case, it didn’t do a whole lot for me. Five songs at twenty-one minutes seemed five songs and twenty-one minutes too long. On a side note, there are many bands called High Horse out there. You may want to consider changing your name. –kurt (Self-released, hi-horsey@hotmail.com)


HELLBOUND HEPCATS:
No. 2: CD
What decade did these two guys fall out of? They play rockabilly with the feel of the ‘50s and the early ‘80s renaissance mixed with a bit of country from when it was good. Ten really awesome songs that run the gamut of heartbreak, humor, and attitude across the album with a sense of love for this style of music. This is the kind of stuff you just don’t hear too often and usually it’s not done anywhere as well as these guys do it. I’m going to have to play this for my wife who loves ‘50s music. I think that she’ll dig this, man! I know that I really dug it. –Guest Contributor (Stomp, stomprecords.com)


HAZEL’S WART:
Together We Didn’t: LP
This Bay Area trio mix bombastic punk with the textures of shoegaze pop, coming up with alt-punk like No Age, or Sonic Youth’s most shimmering moments. The sound is huge, but the core feels hollow as the record flies by on atmosphere and big riffs instead of memorable songs. –CT Terry (skrotup.com)


HAND GRENADE JOB:
Self-titled: Cassette
Two-piece band making quiet songs salted with xylophone, bells, and other random instrumentation and percussion. Hand Grenade Job is tilling some reasonably adventurous post-punk ground here. I’d say about half of the songs personally come across as more of an exercise in patience, but when they’re on—as in the deceptively simple “It Gets Old,” a song made up entirely of bells and vocals—it’s surprisingly effective. The band reminds me somewhat of Bratmobile, at least in the vocal department, and should be applauded for their willingness to take risks. Definitely not for everyone, but something like this wouldn’t be out of place in the Dischord, Kill Rock Stars, or Simple Machines back catalogs. –keith (Hand Grenade Job)


GREAT APES / KNOW YOUR SAINTS:
Split: 7”
Split single from two bands from California with both being punk, but different styles. Great Apes are a four piece from San Francisco who play punk with a more traditional sound and some nice gruff vocals on their two songs. Know Your Saints are a three piece from Oakland and their punk has more than a touch of alternative rock mixed in, kind of like bands from the ‘90s. Both are pretty good, but I think that Great Apes are the winners on this one for me. –Guest Contributor (say-10.com)


GRABASS CHARLESTONS:
Dale & The Careeners: CD
Serious gaps in their record collections/musical knowledge. Everybody’s got ‘em. Shit, I have a friend who couldn’t even name all the Beatles until this year. In light of that, it doesn’t look so bad that I was only marginally familiar with Grabass up to this point. Sure, I’d seen ‘em live once or twice, and I’m pretty sure I’ve got a burned copy of Ask Mark Twain lying around somewhere, but I hadn’t really let them sink in. (I know, I know, chill out—reference my opening sentence, goddammit.) They’ve always been on my list of bands to get to (And yes, that’s an actual physical list) but I’ve just never gotten around to it. It appears I’ve been missing out too, ‘cause this is good stuff. “Like Craig Finn’s singing, but not stupid.” (According to my roommate) (So, not like Craig Finn at all, I would argue…) I dig the subtle nod to “Sweet Child ‘O Mine” in the melody to “Fall Guy.” Apparently, this sounds different from the older tunes, and, yeah, upon further investigation, the older shit’s gruffer. The newer shit seems to be better-composed, with more thought-out melodies and parts. This isn’t the sort of record that catches you all at once, or has a stand-out “single.” But let me tell you, multiple listens are rewarded-s’good shit. One gap down. –Ryan Horky (No Idea, noidearecords.com)


GRABASS CHARLESTONS:
Dale & The Careeners: CD/LP
I have to admit that I don’t know much about the Grabass Charlestons. I’m sure that for many Razorcake readers, they are a well-known favorite. All I knew of the band was that they were a punk band on No Idea Records from Florida. I expected them to be silly, juvenile, and write equally immature songs. But I like it when my expectations are broken for the better. The Grabass Charlestons have put together twelve songs for thirty-six minutes of solid punk that shows that they are capable of writing songs that can bear some sort of message and include an array of influences beyond their punk rock base. While Dale & The Careeners is certainly a punk-influenced album, I keep hearing a slight bit of country influence as well as some southern rock through a number of the songs. I’m sure some may say Will Thomas’s voice sounds just like this or that guy, but it seems wholly original to me and made the band stand out from the morass that can often exist in punk rock. While it may seem that Dale & The Careeners is a concept album, as the band has said, it’s more a take on the American condition. The songs seem to often deal with a guy named Dale and his situation with drugs, working at the Flying J, and baseball, amongst other things. Other songs don’t mention him at all. So, I’m not sure what to make of the lyrics, but they certainly aren’t juvenile. Dale & The Careeners shows a mature band that knows what they’re doing and isn’t afraid to move past stereotypes that may have held some bands back from achieving an album that they should be proud of. –kurt (No Idea)


GRABASS CHARLESTONS:
Dale & The Careeners: CD
This CD has a definite theme to it. The character of Dale is in about half of the songs, and his lady Cassandra is in a couple as well. The album is dedicated to the life and memory of Lynnae Hottinger, a friend of the band. The music is easy on the ears, with all of the instruments holding their own. Will’s voice is that of a storyteller’s, and he spins some good yarns, with lyrics about real life shit. My favorite song is “Dale Is a Raindog, Too.” It is about the Tampa Bay Rays winning the American League Wild Card in the last game of the regular season in 2011. The Cardinals did the same thing that year, in the National League. I can relate. This disc features guest vocals from the likes of Chris Wollard, Isaac Thotz, and Neil Hennessy, to name a few. This is a very good CD. –Nighthawk (No Idea)


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