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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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HUSSY, THE:
Self-titled: 7”
Bobby and Heather Hussy make up this two-piece rock and roll duo out of Madison, Wis. and the two of them pound out four peppy, poppy, lo-fi shredders on this 7”, with each member getting a side with two tracks each. Heather’s side is the more immediately catchy of the two. Her tunes are fairly reminiscent of Bleached—joyous, singalong bursts of female-voiced garage pop. Bobby’s side is closer to Jay Reatard’s work, a little more raucous and rambunctious, with a little more pronounced post-punk angularity to the guitars, and bit of nervous jitter in the vocal delivery. Great stuff here.  –Jeff Proctor (Volar)


ICKS, THE:
Self-titled: 7”
The A-side song takes forever to get going. The intro is about three times longer than it needs to be. Once things get going, it settles into a moody, post-punk/goth sound that is pretty solid. The B side kicks into a real Slumberland indie pop-style song. Pretty decent single from this Indianapolis band.  –Mike Frame (DOD, dodrecords.storenvy.com)


INDEX:
Demo: 7” EP
Insert says this was originally released on cassette in 2012. White labels and all-but-illegible lyrics/song info Xeroxed onto the inside of the cover add to the mystery. Further scratching around reveals it was a short-lived hardcore band that included members of Brilliant Colors, Flesh World, Jump Off A Building, Nosedive, and Via. The sound is predominantly mid-tempo punk with reverb-drenched vocals and guitars that sound like they’re coming straight out of a 1981 garage. Not sickly catchy, not quite forgettable, definitely a nice time capsule piece.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Vague Absolutes)


INKWIZYCJA:
Wojny Nie Bedzie: LP
Inkwizycja (Polish for Inquisition) appear to be working with quite the unusual blend of influences which I can only describe as an awkward three-way between Tragedy, Severed Head Of State, and Machine Head. I have a feeling if they left one of those three out of the equation (you can probably guess which one), the results would be much sexier. However, commendations are in order for the Polish-to-English translations and overall for being a DIY product.  –Juan Espinosa (Pasazer, pasazer.pl)


JACK SCRATCH:
If Only: CD
Ugh. Derivative paint-by-numbers bar rock stylings that you’d find at a county fair or street festival. Dull.  –The Lord Kveldulfr (Another Bam Bam Recording)


JACUZZI BOYS:
Happy Damage: CS
I have seen this band name around for a couple of years, but this is my first time actually hearing Jacuzzi Boys. There is some fast, fairly hooky, poppy garage-y stuff to be found on this cassette. It makes a whole lot of sense that it is released on Burger. Jacuzzi Boys fit right in there with a lot of that mid-fi thing that bands like Strange Boys and Audacity and Nobunny do as well. Pretty solid release, though I have to admit that I have had more than my fill of this type of thing over the last decade or so.  –Mike Frame (Burger)


JERKS, THE:
“Cool” b/w “Cruisin”’: 7”
The Jerks “Get Your Woofing Dogs off Me” single is another of those KBD collector classics that has been reissued over the years. This recent reissue of their second single is as urgent a grab if you’re into ‘77. “Cool” has the mechanical ‘60s snare slap of early trash rock. “Cruisin’” is a great reaction song to someone who promised to write and never did. They are both mid-tempo snotty. Essential if you’re into KBD.  –Billups Allen (Paramecium, parameciumrecords.com)


JIM THREAT AND THE VULTURES:
Afraid of the Dark: 7” EP
A four-song sonic blast that clocks in at just under ten minutes, but will keep your ears ringing for a lot longer than that. It is hard to pick a favorite here, but trust me—this slab of wax is red hot. You can get it on red vinyl directly from the label, but act fast.  –Sean Koepenick (Dr. Strange, drstrange@drstrange.com)


JOHN WESLEY COLEMAN:
Greatest Hits: LP
I bought this record at John Wesley Coleman’s release party. The show was free, there was free pizza (although I arrived having eaten dinner, missing the memo on pizza), the records were cheap, and half of your record purchase dollars were donated to a charity of your choice. Can’t get much cooler than that. Even though JWC has more releases under his belt than I can count, Greatest Hits isn’t a collection of favorites and chart-toppers, just the name of the album. This time around, we find JWC more somber and wistful (i.e. “Pick up the Phone,” a tune perhaps about how as we grow up we grow apart from friends). The Rolling Stones wish they could have written “Television.” But my main question is: where’s the rollicking, drunken sax party of Last Donkey Show? Dare I say JWC is less silly this go-around (and remember the man has a song called “Nightmare on Silly Street”)? Let’s not go that far. The sax sneaks in on side two, somewhere around “Portlandia.” There are still a few up-tempo romps like “Tea and Sandwiches” and “Miranda” so don’t worry, Mr. JWC can and will still bring the good times.  –Sal Lucci (Super Secret, supersecretrecords.com)


JOHNNY THUNDERS:
Daddy Rollin’ Stone: 10” EP
Second in a series of archival releases and produced by Steve Lillywhite, featuring Phil Lynott (Thin Lizzy) on bass. “London Boys” will be familiar to Heartbreakers fans, but the title track and “Hurtin’” are probably new to most. Great sound and on yellow vinyl. Why wouldn’t you seek this out?  –Sean Koepenick (Remarquable, yo@remarquablerecords.com)


JOHNSON FROM ACCOUNTING / MOLEDEBATER:
Split: CS
Cheap, shitty, and fun. Johnson From Accounting starts this off with some one-to-two-minute blasts of ‘90s-style skate punk. The vocals are hilariously toneless shouting (in a good way, I think), and everything has that signature possibly-recorded-in-a-trashcan sound. This gets bonus points for lyrical content: “Macho Bullshit” offers great lines like, “I’m sorry that you’re sad, but that makes no one a whore,” while “I Wanna Skate” just boldly states what everyone’s thinking. “Another Casualty” is about how much The Casualties suck. The Casualties really, really suck, so I am on board with this. The Moledebater side starts out heavier and thrashier, but there’s some unexpected melody buried in there somewhere. This side sounds like it was recorded at the bottom of a far worse trashcan than the previous side, and I can’t really tell what’s going on. But I can dig it, I think.  –Indiana Laub (Faxed, faxedrecords.storenvy.com)


JUKEBOX ZEROS:
Count to Ten: CD
“Loose and boozy” (their words) pop punk from Philadelphia. Like a lot of other records like this out there, it borders on the formulaic without ever quite getting there. Songs about snot and riding public transportation. The record closes with a pretty ripping cover of the Replacements’ “Raised in the City.” Overall, maybe the Replacements meet Love Songs for the Retarded-era Queers?  –The Lord Kveldulfr (Rank Outsider)


K, THE:
Burning Pattern Etiquette: CD
The ten songs and thirty-nine minutes of music on this album is what happens if the Blood Brothers and Pissed Jeans had a baby and raised it in Belgium. The lyrics are all in English, but the vocalist’s accent helps the sound to stand out amongst a crowd of bands that might otherwise be too similar. There’s a darker bass sound that creates dissonance, but not in a way that is distracting. Instead, it makes me curious and wanting to get a closer listen. There’s an anger and frustration just below the surface that doesn’t emerge much but is instead diverged into a brooding angst. I can dig it.  –Kurt Morris (JauneOrange, jauneorange.be)


KATHERINE:
Katherine: CS
Katherine is a drum and bass two-piece band formerly of Columbus, OH peopled by one Catherine and one Kathryn. Their self-titled cassette covers a lot of ground, from short, thrashy songs about consent to slowed-down, melodic pieces replete with “ooh-oohs.” I was thinking that a cassette from a two-piece would sound necessarily spare or something, but I find I don’t miss the guitar at all. I like people who aren’t dudes shredding, screaming, and cooing about real shit like picking scabs, street harassment, being a deadbeat. It’s a soundtrack for generalized disgust, and it sounds sick in the fullest sense of that word.  –Lyle (katherine.bandcamp.com)


KEEPERS:
Blasé: 7”
Blasé is the debut release from Keepers, a San Diego three-piece featuring members of the Soft Pack and Plateaus. What you get here is Gang Of Four-styled post-punk, anchored by a dancey rhythm section (featuring a very pronounced, bouncy bass), punctuated with shards of abrasively intricate and crunchy guitar, and with vocals with a touch of British affectation. It’s a nice introduction to the band. Looking forward to checking out future output from these folks.  –Jeff Proctor (Volar)


KEEPERS:
Self-titled: 7”
The Keepers play bass-heavy post-punk veering into early ‘90s Touch And Go and AmRep-style sounds. This is one of my least favorite styles in the world, but they seem to do it as well as, or better, than most.  –Mike Frame (Volar, volarrecords.bandcamp.com)


KINDLING:
Galaxies: 12” EP
Kindling features folks from Ampere, andtheyplay densely textured, shoegaze-inspired punk. The guitars are warm and dirtied with fuzz and the bass thumps alongside the crashing cymbals. Overall, the production is spot-on. Although I enjoy most of the components of Galaxies, the EP is underwhelming. The vocals left me as bored as they sound, and there isn’t enough variety to make these four songs standout.  –Sean Arenas (No Idea)


L’ASSASSINS:
“Fire of Love” b/w “Liar”: 7”
Minnesota’s L’Assassins have a clear mission statement. Their surfy girl-power tunes fall somewhere between The Cramps and Annette Funicello, and their aesthetic falls somewhere between Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and Beach Blanket Bingo. The fuzzy, DIY sensibility of the band’s previous efforts served up a tasty cocktail of dirty, campy, self-aware homage; this single steers them closer to the realm of style over substance, its newfound polish canceling out much of the messy exuberance that made L’Assassins’ gimmick work. The accompanying music video for “Fire of Love” follows suit, portraying the band’s members less as tough, inhabited characters and more as pinned-up Masuimi Max clones. The higher production value does no favors for the music either, which now evokes the yeah-okay-we-get-it of HorrorPops as much as the transformative energy of The Sonics. While “Fire of Love” and “Liar” are still catchy, solidly composed songs, the dash of sandy grit that once made L’Assassins’ rebelitas-without-a-cause image resonate has begun melting down into a glossy veneer that’s just not as fun or memorable.  –Kelley O’Death (Piñata, pinatarecords.blogspot.com)


LAURA STEVENSON:
Cocksure: LP
Breezy Midwest fields of grain. Intimacy of a house show, but a barn. Airy, not thin, perfect fuzzy pop with toes in possibly both the No Depression and punk pools. Imagine seeing a band with enough warmth in sound to fill a storehouse. You might be the only attendee, but still never feel alone. The root of the experience lies in Laura’s voice, with the songs breathing and swelling forth. Went into this LP with only peripheral name recognition, but fell in headfirst on initial listen. Cocksure being her fourth full-length, cheers to a Neko-esque output future.  –Matt Seward (Don Giovanni, dongiovannirecords.com)


LAWSUIT MODELS:
“Dudeman” b/w “Hot Garbage”: 7”
This Lawsuit Models single for Snappy Little Numbers Quality Audio Recordings contains no false advertising: “Dudeman” and “Hot Garbage” are indeed snappy little numbers and recordings of quality. These bouncy punk rock odes knock on your door like little kids, plaintively begging you to come out and sing along with them. A little Lawrence Arms, a little Wonder Years, a little Off With Their Heads, Denver’s Lawsuit Models may not up the ante of contemporary punk rock, but they fit in nicely, extolling the virtues of playing music with your friends, drinking beer with your friends, and growing old gracefully with your friends. The refreshing lack of pretention and abundance of humor on display make me suspect that if you’re lucky enough to attend one of Lawsuit Models’ shows, you’ll probably wake up the next morning with a gnarly hangover, a hazy recollection of the night, and all of the band members’ numbers in your phone.  –Kelley O’Death (Snappy Little Numbers, snappylittlenumbers.blogspot.com)


LEFTOVERS:
This Time Tomorrow: CD
This might be harsher criticism than Leftovers deserve to shoulder alone, but I can’t listen to any more of this style of pop punk. I’m certain that nine out of ten bands I see in promo photos asking for votes to get them a spot on Warped Tour sound exactly like this. “Party Fucker” is basically a Blink-182 tribute song that drags on about two minutes too long and is about getting beat up by tall dudes after trying to kiss their girlfriends. The entire last verse turns out to be a dick joke. Really struggling to find anything remotely interesting in this, except the knowledge that this kind of music sounds exactly the same in Italy as it does here. Album of the month for drunk boys looking for new creepy pickup lines to use on girls at parties.  –Indiana Laub (Morning Wood, morningwoodrecords.com)


LOST BALLONS:
Self-titled: LP
The Jeff Burke hit parade rages on! This most recent installment is a fourteen-track collaboration with Yusuke Okada (Suspicious Beasts) of dreamy, ethereal, often-acoustic ‘60s pop-influenced songs. The tempo may be slower than most of these two’s sonic output, but the melodies are just as crushing as ever, the songwriting crafted with precision, and the emotion all too relevant. Imagine if Love spent twenty years wreaking punk chaos on the scene before they wrote Forever Changes. Continue the ride you’ve taken with Lenguas Largas and Treasure Fleet; transcendence never felt so free.  –Daryl Gussin (Alien Snatch)


LOST BALLOONS:
Self-titled: LP
It would not be an outlandish statement to say that I worship at the altar of The Marked Men. I know I am not alone. I get excited every time I hear that a member of that band has a new project going because I know it will be quality. Lost Balloons can be added to that growing list of amazing records. A two-man collaboration featuring Jeff Burke (Marked Men, Radioactivity, et cetera) and Yuske Okada (Suspicious Beasts), my first reaction was that sonically it falls in with Mind Spiders (featuring Marked Men and Radioactivity bandmate Mark Ryan) more than Burke’s other projects. I like that. I am not familiar with Okada’s other bands, but I think I am going to have to hunt them down because I really like what he is doing here (musically, as well as all of the artwork). In a nutshell, if you are familiar with Jeff Burke’s music, you know what to expect; well-crafted songs with incredibly depressing song titles. (“I Water a Tree (Called Depression)” and “Murder Me on Stage” instantly come to mind). As you would expect, I can’t recommend this record enough.  –Ty Stranglehold (Alien Snatch)


LOVE MOON:
Clouded Bliss: LP
Stoner rock, sludge, post punk, whatever the Melvins are… this fits into some mix of those genres. Great-sounding recording done in the band’s practice space; it’s clear, warm, and not trying to be too heavy, just rocking. Good riffs and pounding drums play an equal role in guiding the feel of the record. And because it seems Love Moon comes from a punk background rather than metal, no riff or song section is ever beaten to death. These are concise songs that never bore the listener by unnecessary repetition. The only thing that keeps this record from reaching that next level is the vocals. They’re not unlistenable, grating, or anything like that, they’re just not all that varied from song to song. With the exception of “Starstuff”—which contains a chorus hook that is undeniable—all of the songs’ vocal patterns, cadences, and melodies (to the extent that shouted vocals can be melodic) are very similar, and contribute to a bit of a lack of distinction between songs. Really though, that’s a minor complaint; this is a solid first album for this Oakland, Calif. trio.  –Chad Williams (Drink Or Die, dodrecords.storenvy.com)


LOWER ECHELON, THE:
Descent of…: 7”
For starters, this four-song release was recorded by Golden Beat Studios’s Andrew Schubert, who is a one-man army when it comes to documenting West Coast-based, independent punk bands. Others who owe a debt of gratitude to Schubert include personal favorites Spokenest and Neighborhood Brats. As for the Lower Echelon, what’s not to love? It is Los Angeles-based, guitar-centered punk rock with Jello Biafra-inspired vocals that playfully poke and prod the listener in hopes that they will wake the fuck up.  –John Mule (Ghostbot, ghostbotrecords.com)


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