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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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EX-MAGICIANS:
California Grass: Cassette
Well, hoss, we’d have called this “college rock” back in the day. Fuzzy guitars, clearly discernable vocals, nicely done little guitar lines and “whoo hoos” placed strategically throughout, with just an undercurrent of ‘50s rock peppered in there. Anyone remember bands like Sponge, Cracker, and Overwhelming Colorfast? Ex-Magicians—and take this how you will—remind me of those bands if they had never met a gigantic recording budget or placed themselves in the major label wringing machine. There’s some definite promise here, but the band’s still somewhat couched in generica at this point. –keith (Garbagetown)


ELWAY:
Hence My Optimism: 7”
Elway plays straight-forward pop punk. A bit paint-by-numbers, but if you’re a fan of mid-‘90s Fat Wreck stuff and early Alkaline Trio, you’ll probably dig this. –Chris Mason (Red Scare, redscare.net)


ELECTRIC MESS, THE:
Falling Off the Face of the Earth: CD
This is what would happen if The Doors had a garage punk sound influenced by The Zombies, with more of a guitar lead than an organ (although that’s here, too), and an androgynous singer not nearly as charismatic as Jim Morrison. I can imagine The Electric Mess is another in a long line of groups that are probably way better live than on their albums. Thirteen songs in forty-two minutes of music that reminds me that I’d rather listen to the band’s influences than the actual band. –kurt (theelectricmess.com)


EATEN BACK TO LIFE:
: Love You to Death: CD
This pop punk band is a bit too cheerful to share a name with a Cannibal Corpse album. Still, they show plenty of love for the horror genre with tributes to A Nightmare on Elm Street, Evil Dead 2, and more. While their subject matter tends toward the more noteworthy horror films of the ‘80s, they’re sonically closer to those flicks that didn’t quite make the cut, the forgotten slasher shit that even the real horror weirdoes have lost track of, the ones that went straight to VHS and are so poorly lit that the screen is black for half the movie. They’re grimy and unpracticed, with bad vocals and too-shrill guitar, but fun nonetheless. –mp (eatenbacktolife.bandcamp.com)


DRUG CULTURE:
Self-titled: EP
Hardcore that draws from the past couple decades as well as building on the present. The sound is tense and often speedy. They don’t really go into the thrashy side of things, but do hit some speeds to underscore their urgency. The time changes and constant simmer keep things interesting. My favorite song of the five is the opener, “Prescribe,” with the lyrics and presence of the bass that snakes around sinisterly in the mix. That’s not to say the rest of the songs are not good. Quite the contrary. All the songs on here rip. It’s like they build in intensity with each track. “Slaveships” is a burner, and then along comes “To Cope,” which ratchets the power up about ten more notches. “McKinley” backs off a little bit, but the fire is constant and the change of pace with something just ever-so-slightly slower with a few time changes only adds to the overall punch and crunch of this one-sided affair. Is there more to come? It’s a question I ask myself as this record ends. –Matt Average (Mind Melt Ent, mindmeltent.com)


DIRTY MOUTH:
Self-titled: Cassette
Awesome riot grrrl-inspired rock from Ohio. Shrill vocals, loads of feedback, and jumpy riffs. The music rocks off the rails, threatening to come unhinged at every turn. It’s a winning combination. This tape is so punk, it comes with a lyric sheet that is nearly unreadable. They didn’t sell out and get you a lyric sheet that’s not easy to read. Don’t Google the name and confuse them with a cover band from Massachusetts called Dirty Mouth. They do a cover of “God Save the Queen,” but the Ohio Dirty Mouth is much punker. –Billups Allen (dirtymouth.bandcamp.com)


DAN ANDRIANO IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM / BRENDAN KELLY AND THE WANDERING BIRDS:
: Split 7”
Andriano: I hate to say it, but if this dude didn’t have the pedigree he does, this song “The Radiator” wouldn’t be making him any new fans. Plodding, monotonous, droll. Consistently good lyrics, but the delivery’s about as thrilling as reading German erotica when, you know, you can’t read German. Kelly: “Malthusian Clown” is a quick little number that’s pared down and simple, a ditty more akin in brevity and scope to Kelly’s side project The Falcon than the long-running Lawrence Arms. The song’s fuzzed out and buried in layers of dirt (I hear backing vocals and a few piano runs in there), and while it works slightly better than Andriano’s song, it still seems to meander along without providing any sense of urgency. It’s too bad: I’ve liked a lot of these guys’ musical output over the years, and on paper, this split should absolutely rule. But on wax, it’s just not working. –keith (Red Scare)


CUDZOO & THE FAGGETTES:
Daddy Issues: CD
Okay, it’s not that hard to, like, pop a boner over an all-girl band ((if it is, kindly consult the Post-T-Vac™ commercials they run during Mission: Impossible late at night)); Cudzoo & The Faggettes, however, are possibly the first all-girl band with whom i’ve ever fallen head over heels in L-U-V luv. Imagine, if you would, taking an in-tune and amazingly perverse Shannon & The Clams, then coupling that particular soup base with the pro-like songwriting, musicianship and production of bands like the Ettes or the Like, whilst bringing hitherto-unglimpsed concepts like taking someone’s dried-up umbilical nub, sticking it in their vagina, incubating it for nine long months, raising it for eighteen years, then fucking the shit out of them all over again to the forefront of mankind’s collective consciousness. This shit is so fucking genius i’m scared to play the CD a second time, lest i swoon or poop fatally. These are the kind of girls who kill Phil Spector first. If you do not own this you are a fucking fucktard. The end. BEST SONG: “Daddy Issues” BEST SONG TITLE: “You Taste Like Intervention,” although “Machine Gun My Poon” does have a certain allure to it. FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Approved by the Whiskey Fart Authority! –norb (Drug Front)


CRIMINAL CULTURE / RUBRICS:
: Split 7”
Criminal Culture are bearded dudes from Florida who play melodic punk. I peg the guitarist and drummer as the closet metalheads who make the songs faster. Rubrics’ vocals alternate between barfy and snotty. Their music starts and stops and never really gets going and sorta sounds like Shotwell. This here hobo is gonna tiptoe away from the window, because there ain’t much cookin’ in this kitchen. –CT Terry (kissofdeathrecords.com)


CRANK:
Self-titled: CD
Heavy as fuck, Nomeansno-meets-Fucked Up hardcore. The ingenuity of the songwriting mostly comes from the interplay of the vocals over the dense and stylistic guitar and bass work. The singer King of sounds like Lemmy, the bass kind of sounds like Big Black, and it makes me want to punch walls. Excellent. –Bryan Static (Self-released)


CONSTABLE:
The Capitalist Dad: CD-R EP
Heavy mid-’80s influence here, with echoes of “Revolution Summer”-styled punk mixed in with more modern indie-punk sensibilities. Markedly more sophisticated songwriting in the offing, so it ain’t a bad thing going on here, and they definitely ain’t afraid to kick up a racket when the urge arises. –jimmy (Constable, constable.bandcamp.com)


CLAW TOE:
Self-titled: 12” EP
Claw Toe bring quite a mixed bag of influences to the party, ranging from the all-out weirdness of Mr. Bungle, the more bitter-sounding moments of Nomeansno, and King Missile’s whimsical approach to lyrics. It’s not easily digestible, that’s for sure. The finer moments pressed onto this wax include the opener/stomper “Another Saturday Night,” the disturbingly funny “Geriatric Stalker,” and a cover of the Functional Blackouts’ “Kamikaze.” Try and imagine if Flipper and Throbbing Gristle combined forces and you’ll have a pretty good idea of whether you’d be interested in this or not. –Juan Espinosa (Criminal IQ, no address)


CINEMA CINEMA:
Manic Children and the Slow Aggression: CD
When I was a teen, I worked alone at a late night gas station. Essentially, I sat in a tiny cubicle and no customers came in. My only company was a lot of weed, junk food, and bands like Butthole Surfers, Jesus Lizard, and Sonic Youth to wring out my THC-addled brain like a sponge. Cinema Cinema would have fit the bill nicely. Noise rock or psych rock or whatever. It’s heavy and feedback-y, yet somehow beautiful. I think it’s pretty damn good, but I’d probably like it more if I was still smokin’. –ty (cinemacinemaband.com)


CHILLING WINSTON:
Pessimistic: 7” EP
A mix of modern indie pop punk and stuff that could easily pass for a late-
’80s Gilman Street band, not unlike Crimpshrine castoffs. Didn’t love it, didn’t hate it.
–jimmy (Sewing Circle)


CHILDSPLAY:
Righteous Rampage: CD-R

Fairly pedestrian punk stuff here: chanty exclamations and choruses, mid-tempo rhythms, raspy voice, and even a “street punk” rendition of Sabbath’s “Iron Man” that starts out with someone saying, “This song’s the motherfuckin’ shit, dog.” Should secure ‘em an opening slot on a bill with the Casualties, but there’s just too goddamned many bands that sound exactly like this for ‘em to stand out much.

–jimmy (Childsplay, childsplaymusic.ca)


CHEMICAL PEEL:
Bad Cream: Cassette
The second release from this trio out of South Carolina fills the lungs of post-punk and riot grrrl with fresh oxygen. A lo-fi, garage sound permeates the eight new tracks built on fuzzed-out guitars and bone-rattling bass lines. Evoking a shade of early Christian Death, a brooding bass hum anchors “Hell,” as it accelerates, face to the windshield from a penetrating bass hum into a sing-song chorus, then seamlessly reverts back. More like Bikini Kill with a bad heroin habit than the straight up rock’n’roll of The Runaways or effervescent shenanigans of Bratmobile; this ought not to be missed. Recommended. –Kristen K (Self-released chemicalpeel.bandcamp.com)


CARA BETH SATALINO:
The Good Ones: LP
Mellow and moody indie rock with dreary but heartfelt vocals. Brings to mind the Weakerthans but with a lady singing. Here and there, I can hear some distorted guitar parts which gives it a little bit more of a bite. This is college radio station material for sure so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Ms. Satalino suddenly gains quite a following. More power to her. –Juan Espinosa (Bakery Outlet / Salinas, carabethsatalino@gmail.com)


CAPITALIST KIDS, THE:
Lessons on Love, Sharing, and Hygiene: LP
I gotta say, it’s kind of funny at first to hear a band doing such a great Mr. T Experience/early-Green Day impression while singing about the evils of corporate welfare, their hatred of Ayn Rand, and their love of socialism. Something about major chords accompanying bleak statements like, “We live in a world of imbalance and disparity, where one’s manipulation severs another’s greed, some people live in comfort, others suffer, bleed, and die,” feels a little weird, especially when you sound like you’re singing about a girl you’ve got a crush on. But, honestly, Capitalist Kids pull it off. This is solid straight-up pop punk with straight-forward but poignant lyrics. Had they existed in 1996, when Noam Chomsky and Lookout Records were just about my two favorite things, they would have been one of my favorite bands, no doubt about it. –Chris Mason (Toxic Pop, toxicpoprecords.com)


BUDGET, THE:
Demo: Cassette
This is stupid Filth, Blatz, Hickey style hardcore from Asheville that is impossible not to like. While hardly indispensable, there were plenty of times I found myself wanting to spin songs like “GTA Garbage Truck,” a song about getting drunk, stealing a garbage truck, and disposing of hipsters, cops, crack whores, and fascists or the song “Titan” a song about squatting Titan (a spaceship or rocket, I presume) and taking it to Saturn where there’s free beer, room for all the punks, and “a godless town, where they build a church just to burn it down.” As a bonus, there’s an awesome surf song called “Water Boarding.” The hand-drawn insert is punk as fuck with a zine-like aesthetic. It’s just good times all around. –Craven (Self-released, thebudgetpunk@gmail.com)


BROONIES, THE:
Mid-Life Crisis: CD
Mid-Life Crisis is seven songs and thirteen minutes of crazy, rough, dirty-sounding punk. There’s certainly a ‘60s garage influence here, but from the moment I started listening to Mid-Life Crisis I couldn’t help but think this would be right up the alley of many a Razorcake listener. There are exciting bursts of energy that come through their music, such that I imagine The Broonies put on a good live show. They’re not afraid to tear it up and also be a little lo-fi and odd. The first track, “Hello Up There,” is a good example of this with its range of vocals and sound: screaming and spoken vocals, a Hawaiian guitar, trudging discordance, and a lo-fi mix. Not bad. While I got this on CD, you can also download it for free on The Broonies’ bandcamp site. –kurt (aaronfreifeld.bandcamp.com)


BROKEDOWNS, THE / WIDE ANGLES:
Split: 7"
The Brokedowns maintain a strong sense of melody and cohesion as they cram a lot of parts into their hardcore anthems. Their three songs sound like revved-up versions of the songs Paddy sings for Dillinger 4. Cool. Save for some techy guitars, Wide Angles don’t do much to expand on the Hot Water Music template. Two songs. The cover looks like late ‘90s zine art, and that makes me happy. –CT Terry (cassettedeckmedia.net)


BRIMSTONE HOWL:
Singles Collection: Cassette
Noisy garage punk with a real NickCave fixation would be the best way to describe this. I remember this band having several records out a few years back but don’t remember seeing anything recently. They are from Nebraska and this is a collection of their 7” single tracks. Fans of the majority of the output of In The Red Records would probably really like this band. –frame (Rainy Road)


BLOWBACK:
Greed Runs the Clock: 7" EP
Any band that can get a couple of Dons (Zientara and Fury) involved in the recording of its music should be on to a winner. Not only that, but when the band has a significant amount of chops of its own to add into the mix, the results should be more than above average, at least. Coming out with guitars and drums blazing in an oddly Big Black style, this soon moves into a more standard angry punk / hardcore sound with a clear enemy to focus that fury towards. There is a bit of early Circle Jerks to be heard here, certainly on “Rats in the Middle,” where the vocals are reminiscent of Keith Morris. Musically, this manages to be varied enough over four tracks to sound fresh throughout, with quite a scratchy guitar sound that provides edginess to the proceedings. “Cassandra’s Lament” is the standout track with spoken word elements that are like a less manic Jello Biafra, leading into a catchy yelled refrain of, “The smoke stacks reaching in to the sky.” Blowback manages to cram an awful lot into under three minutes on this one track. The final track, “Smoke Break,” has a surprisingly comic feel to it, showing that punks can display a sense of humor even when remaining mad at the world. Certainly, this is one worth checking out. –Rich Cocksedge –Guest Contributor (String Break, stringbreak.com)


BLOODY GEARS:
Landscapes of Disease: LP
I’m not totally sure how I feel about this band. I get the Hüsker Dü comparisons, but I also hear a lot of darker ‘80s references like early TSOL and even 45 Grave. The guitar tone and the vocal approach lean a lot towards that gothic-influenced punk, but it doesn’t sound like it’s jocking a style. The rhythms are almost danceable like Joy Division or—as a stretch—Rudimentary Peni, and the singer croons with a raspy but confident approach. When the melodies reach outside his vocal range, he strains to hit the notes, making him sound desperate—like he’s standing on the tips of his toes, stretching out his whole body for something out of reach. The way the guitar riffs are arranged reminds me of fellow Deranged band White Lung, but the approach is far less aggressive. This record makes me feel anxious and out-of-sync, and I think maybe the members of the band felt that way when they were writing these songs. –Ian Wise (Deranged)


BLOOD POLLUTION:
Monster Truck Man: CD
The good part about bands writing lyrics in English when English is not their native tongue is that it can give them a wider audience. The bad part is that it can make them sound like a bunch of fucking assfaces to a wider audience. I’m not talking about little grammatical errors. I’m talking about lyrics that discuss the “race problem.” Here’s another nugget (typos included): “sluty girls make lots of noise bout equal rights, so boys looks like a women, when girls just wanna fuck, of course there have place some hi feeling shit, but after 3 cans of cheap beer they’ll fall to love pit.” I’m more confused than offended. Please write your lyrics in Russian, Blood Pollution, so I can ignore your music simply because it sucks without having to wonder what the fuck you’re trying to say. –mp (bloodpollution.bandcamp.com)


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