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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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SIAMESE TWINS:
“In a Box” b /w “Stutter”: 7”
This Massachusetts mash-up of members from Libyans, Ampere, and Confines deliver their vinyl debut. On the heels of their debut cassette, this trio of twins claims their stake in the hinterlands between post-punk and dream pop. “In a Box” takes a liking to early Cranes and 4AD material. Underscored guitars and vocals beget their chilly, autumnal, sweater-wearing sound. “Stutter” rolls into a droll bass line only Joy Division or early The Cure are capable of. Hooky wisps of female vox punch through the funeral procession to land somewhere between The Shroud and whimsical Elizabeth Fraser. Just in time for fall. Recommended. –Kristen K (Labor Of Love, laboroflove.tumblr.com)


SHIRLEY ROLLS:
“I Got Nothin” b/w “Busted!”: 7”
This is slightly psychedelic power pop and it’s not bad. It brings to mind The Pizazz and The Strange Boys, but it doesn’t grab me. Maybe it would if there were more than two songs, I could get into the groove of it. But when it comes down to it, I guess that doesn’t say much for it, considering power pop is a singles type of genre. Whatever. It was okay. –Craven (SRS, shirleyrolls.com)


SCUTCHES, THE:
Ten Songs, Ten Years: LP
Saccharine pop punk that seems entirely unapologetic regarding how ridiculously cheesy it is. And I don’t mean cheesy-clever like Mr. T Experience, or at-least-we-unrelentingly-rock-cheesy like the Parasites, I mean full-blown “neon pink hearts floating above these guys’ heads” and “melodies so sweet and overloaded they run the risk of providing diabetic shock with repeated listens” cheesy. Cheesy as hell. I mean a level of cheesiness and melodic goo akin to Fun Bug’s Tezbinetop EP, which I don’t sling around like it’s nothing. That’s the cheesiest record I own, and while the Scutches won’t take the title, they were in the running for a minute there. There’s not a whole lot going on the old “words” department—”In Dreams,” Weekend Boyfriend,” “Don’t Go,” and “Together Again” should give you a good idea of the lyrical prowess we’re working with here. It’s too bad, since I enjoyed a fair amount of the music (in spite of the string section and acoustic numbers), but the overwhelming sappiness is sinking this ship quick. Yikes. –keith (Bright & Barrow, brightandbarrow.com)


SCHOOL DAMAGE:
Self-titled: CD
Pop punk with nasal, shouty/singy vocals. The six songs here pretty much stay in the mid-tempo lane and thankfully keep a polite distance from both the Queers and NOFX. –jimmy (My Fingers! My Brain!, myfingersmybrain.com)


S.X.R:
Feelings of Expiration: 7”
I really wanted to like this one because I’ve been through Redding, CA, where these guys are from—and know how much it sucks—but they play some pretty boring straight edge hardcore with dopey lyrics and lots of E chords and slow parts and breakdowns and blast beats. They do have a song called “Macho,” which refutes macho bullshit attitudes. I’ll commend them for that. –Craven (Mind Melt, mindmelt.com)


RUPTURES:
Deca: CD
Screamy vocal, late ‘90s-sounding stuff. Fans of Level Plane Records will wanna be all over this –frame (Ruptures)


RUPTURES:
Deca: CD
Intricate and well-recorded screamo that’s totally void of any band information, just a CD in a cardboard sleeve. Like I said, it’s well executed and tightly played, but there’s little to set it apart from the bajillion other yowling dudes doing the same thing. Lyrics or a few ventures on a few musical limbs would definitely help. Reasonably good, but I listen to reasonably good screamo stuff about as often as I listen to reasonably good calliope music. Sorry, guys. –keith (Ruptures Collective)


RUN DOWN:
“American Despair” b/w “The Coming”: 7”
Reverby, dirty hardcore. Run Down reminds me a bit of the entire Northwestern hardcore scene (Red Dons, Observers, Autistic Youth). These two songs are good, but hard to sink my teeth into. As a single, I wouldn’t say this stands out in particular way, but the songs are solid. Run Down probably works better as an LP band. My overall rating of this record is “shrug my shoulders.” –Bryan Static (Firestarter, firestarterrecords.com)


RUBRICS:
Covers Vol. 1: Cassette
Ragged and raw pop punk is what this band plays and I know a lot of Razorcake readers dig that. The band is from South Carolina and seem to be really into Fifteen, Crimpshrine and the like. This is a collection of cover songs and proceeds benefit anti-mountaintop removal organizations. –frame (Get Better)


ROLL THE TANKS:
Self-titled: CDEP
Snappy platter from this rocking four piece: driving riffs, great harmony vocals, and more-than-capable songwriting from start to finish. The band’s not so secret weapon is the drums slammed into gear by Joe Sirois (ex-Street Dogs). “Goodnight Jimmy Lee” is my favorite on here. Looking forward to hearing more from this band. –koepenick (Self-released-info@rollthetanks.com)


RIPPERS:
Fire Tractaät: CD
Honestly dunno if I’m inadvertently chronicling the efforts of a number of different “Ripper” bands, but from what I can tell, this is the Spanish band, a single from whom I reviewed waaaaaaaay back in the Flipside days. Their sound is markedly different than the “77 punk” sound they were strip mining back then, with a much darker, heavier rock vibe going here. Can’t say I dig it all that much, but I did enjoy the instrumental, “Under Frozen Moon.” –jimmy (BCore Disc)


RIPPERS, THE:
Better the Devil You Know: CD
Decent early 1960s-influenced punky sort of stuff here. Kind of like a cranked up Rolling Stones before the drugs took hold. The tempos are fast and borderline reckless. They even throw in a harmonica and it sounds pretty good. Not many bands past 1975 can do it convincingly. “The Prey Is In” is a complete scorcher. They pace the record with some mid-tempo burners to keep you from burning you out—though there are times where it kind of bogs down a bit too much, such as “Just for Ten Dollars” (which sounds very Rolling Stones) being followed by “Here Comes the Lunatic.” –Matt Average (Slovenly)


RIPFACE INVASION:
To Not Give In: CD
Now that we’re on what I suspect to be the tail end of the recent thrash resurgence, the bands that are still in it are starting to explore some of the nuances of the genre, rather than just rehashing Bonded By Blood. On this short CD, Ripface Invasion fulfills the promise of their band name by slashing their way through the more muscle-bound side of crossover, spewing vitriol from the very start with “The Dominator.” It’s familiar, but not too familiar. –mp (ripfaceinvasion.com)


REVENGE OF THE PSYCHOTRONIC MAN:
Shattered Dreams Parkway: CD
Pretty uninteresting hardcore that’s somewhere between nineties Epitaph stuff and UK‘82 British punk. –Craven (TNS, info@tnsrecords.co.uk)


RACCOON:
Demo: Cassette
This is one of those demos that could fall under one of two categories: Either they know exactly what they’re doing in creating a kind of nihilistic, lo-fi anti-music not unlike if Flipper came out of the U.K. in the late ‘70s, or they’re just a really bad band trying to do something else entirely and this is just how it came out. I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt and think that they know exactly what they’re doing, and I suppose that it doesn’t really matter in the long run anyways, because their sound is the same regardless. Intriguing. –Mark Twistworthy (Raccoon, 351braccoon@gmail.com)


PROPAGANDHI:
Failed States: CD / LP
The latest album from Propagandhi, and their first on Epitaph, shows the band continuing to delve into their thrash and metal influences. These are not the pop punk days, instead the band follows the pattern of their past few albums with some great guitar riffs and a mix of harsh and melodic vocals. Politics is still key in the lyrics and they haven’t sold out one bit. Propagandhi is as dedicated as ever to their left-wing beliefs and present their arguments and ideas in both intelligent and emotional terms. They always seem so spot on that it adds to the power of what they are writing. While Propagandhi has also been noted in the past for their sense of humor, much of that is gone on Failed States. That’s not to say that it’s all humorless and overly serious (“Things I Like” is a good exception), but the focus is on rocking hard and sharing their political message without beating the listener over the head. Unfortunately, Failed States doesn’t seem to have songs with hooks that grab the listener as on the past few albums. The opener, “Note to Self,” a six-minute tune that explores a quote from author Chris Hedges, stands as an exception. A few other tunes, “Rattan Cane” and “Cognitive Suicide,” seem like material that could have been on past albums, but even after fifteen listens, nothing has jumped out and blown me away like “Supporting Caste” or “Fedallah’s Hearse” did on their past two albums. So that’s pretty much the gist of this review: it’s a good album—not the band’s best, but definitely worth picking up if you’re a Propagandhi fan. Newcomers might be better off starting with one of the two or three previous albums, though. –kurt (Epitaph)


PRIMITIVE HEARTS:
Self-titled: 7”
Primitive Hearts is a sturdy trio of punk’n’rollers. This four-song 7” includes two tunes from their recent excellent demo cassette and two new songs that don’t disappoint. Good all-around Dead Boys-inspired rock. All solid. –Billups Allen (No Rules, norulesrecords.org)


PREFECTURE:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Four concise blasts of angry punk that would have been called “hardcore” if i would have fished this record out of my mailbox between the summers of 1981 and 1982. I was cranking this record this afternoon, trying to put together some vague theory about it sounding like Black Flag playing “Bloodstains” when my girlfriend walked in the room, and said it sounded like Eric Cartman singing, and now that’s all i can think of when i listen to it. Oh well, the Cartman giveth and the Cartman taketh away. BEST SONG: “Automatic Labor” BEST SONG TITLE: “Patriot Act I” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: The first sentence of this review is not a complete sentence. Also, i can’t figure out if the guy on the cover is Robotman of the Doom Patrol in a suit or not. –norb (Rerun)


POTBELLY:
2011: A Spaced Oddity: CD
Uh oh. You’ve accidentally stumbled into open mic night at the local comedy club. Brace yourself for obvious jokes and expired subject matter. “Why is it that death metal singers sound like Cookie Monster?” “Boy, that Fred Phelps / Sarah Palin / Michelle Bachman / Dick Cheney sure sucks, right?” “Vaginas are cool, huh? Huh? Huh???” If only this laugh-free experience could be set against a backdrop of tepid and generic punk rock. Your wish is Potbelly’s command. –mp (1332)


POLITICAL ASYLUM:
Someday: CD
Rerelease of this Scottish band’s 1987 mini-LP, adding a live set from the same year. Their music is really busy, mixing prog and pop punk with political lyrics. They look like Rush, sound like Cruz Records, and live in squats. Spiritual kin to New Model Army, but far poppier. Once I got over my initial “What the fuck?” reaction to the simultaneous bass noodling, guitar shredding, and Scottish accent singing, I was riveted—fascinated to hear what came next. –CT Terry (bosstuneage.com)


PHARAOH:
This House Is Doomed: 7”
Pretty rad, slow, heavy hardcore that falls somewhere between Demo/Mosquito Control-era Isis and early Bloodlet. It’s not often I get too psyched on predominantly slow hardcore, but the folks in Pharaoh are obviously students of the forebears of the genre and they do what they do very well. –Dave Williams (A389, a389records.com)


PERIKATO:
Jälkiteollinen Painajainen: 7”
Holy moly. Ten songs of breakneck Finnish hardcore on a 45. They included a very nice handwritten letter that informed me that the lyrics deal with the economic devastation in Europe as well as the situation with budget cutbacks in Finland, among other things. It sounds almost industrial in its relentlessness—like some machinist has lost his mind and is just losing his shit among the factory walls. That’s hardcore for you, I guess. D-beat fans pay attention: Perikato is one resoundingly abrasive band. –keith (Raakanaama)


PEACE OF SHIT:
Self-titled: Cassette
So lo-fi it’s not even on the chart, Peace Of Shit present a tape of dirty, down-to-earth hardcore/garage punk. Sounds like the Reatards or the Mummies. Despite its cultural pedigree, Peace Of Shit shines more when the songs take a step back from the frantic kinetics of their sonic predecessors. The slower songs remind me of the better parts of King Kahn’s output, which is a plus. If you can stand the no-fi, which is seriously harsh in places, take a look. –Bryan Static (Rainy Road, rainyroadrecords.com)


NORTHLESS / LIGHT BEARER:
: Split LP
Admittedly, my pool of knowledge regarding epic (i.e. really long), bleak (i.e. really slow) metal is questionable at best. I can tell you the packaging for this split is impressive: heavy gatefold LP with apocalyptic art, 180 gram gray marble vinyl, even a black LP sleeve rather than a white one. Northless has two tracks, including the downer of a title “For As Long As You Shall Walk the Earth, Your Blood Shall Reek of Failure.” Both tracks are lengthy, droning, and crushing. Lots of talk of decay, red skies, and living as a shroud in your darkest hour. Light Bearer contribute one track, apparently titled from one of the chapters of the Jewish Scriptures, in which free will first makes its appearance and results in the creation of Lucifer. It’s a long track with an introduction that lasts for some minutes as simply a sound collage, akin to God Speed You Black Emperor, until their own particular brand of doom-heavy metal kicks in. Like I said, I have no idea. The guy who runs this label works really hard and there are tons of people who eat this shit up. Personally, I can’t help but feel the whole thing’s a little too Dungeons & Dragons-heavy for me, like whoever’s Dungeon Master gets to decide which side of the flip they’ll play. Probably not fair, but again, I’m way out of my league when it comes to this stuff. Orcs and serious metal fans take note. –keith (Halo Of Flies)


MONEY IN THE BANANA STAND:
Giant Steps II : CD
I really couldn’t get into Money In The Banana Stand and it’s not for lack of trying. You see, Giant Steps II is a sincere effort by an original-sounding band. They have relevant social/political lyrics and I can appreciate what they’re trying to do. They kind of have a late-eighties post-hardcore, indie sound complete with Minutemen nods in their song names. They’re super original and relevant, but for some reason it didn’t gel with me. It’s just not my thing; maybe they will be on their next album. Nonetheless, I recommend giving it a spin because it’s a solid effort and you just might like it. –Craven (Bird Law, mitbs.net)


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