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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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BAISEBALL:
Hot Stuff: 7" EP
I have no idea what the hell this French squad’s band name is all about—like, are they talking about one of the testicles of the bass player from the Devil Dogs?—and i don’t understand their English lyrics substantially better than when they’re singing en Français—but this band is spring-wound and tight and on their shit, and that’s largely all the lingua franca a sage consumer needs, ain’t it? Tuneful, rockin’ punk shit which gets extra points from me because their Eddie & The Hot Rods cover isn’t the best song on the record. I also think the skull and crossbones on the front cover is actually pretty cool; when’s the last time you heard me say that? I guess adding the sunglasses and the brain helped. Eat shit, Napoleon! Baiseball are storming your Bastille! BEST SONG: “Hot Stuff” BEST SONG TITLE: “We Are The Fame.” Hey, it’s original! FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: I think this is the only record i own that’s got a guy wearing a Buzzcocks t-shirt depicted on the label. –norb (Stress)


BADDAT FOR TRUBBEL:
Det Här Ar Inte New York: LP
A mix of garage, punk, some early Sixties…This is okay over all. There’s not a whole here that really gets your attention, outside of the really good “Sån är livet” with its saxophone. It’s as though all the songs on here are leading up to that one moment where they have this one really good song. After that, these songs are just kind of there and lack any real fire. Very tame and sterile. After a few listens, I’m still “ehhhh.” –Matt Average (1-2-3-4 Go!, 1234gorecords.com)


BABY GHOSTS:
Let’s Always Hang Out Together, Okay?: CD
Super, super sugary girl and boy-fronted indie pop. Some of the songs have little electronic 8 bit sounds to them, but it’s mostly just pure candy pop. It’s awfully cute with its anime-inspired cover and a ghost theme to all of the songs—too cute—but it’s not bad. I wouldn’t listen to it on my own time, but I wouldn’t kick someone out of bed for putting it on, either. –Craven (Self-released)


AWKWARD AGE:
Demo: CD
Sometimes I feel bad for bands that totally missed out on the era when their genre of music was cool. Awkward Age is playing breezy pop punk that skateboarding teenagers would have loved fifteen years ago. –Lauren Trout (Self-released)


AUTONOMY:
The Art of Work in the Age of Digital Reproduction: LP
Musically, this is pretty good. Kind of like a politicized Pornography-era Cure: crashing guitars, a dark and plodding bass, tribal to minimal percussion. A very dark and moody sound. However, the vocals really ruin this. Sometime he does a good job of it, but all too often the emotion is overwrought, or he just sounds flat. It’s really hard to overlook this and just listen to the music. –Matt Average (Dirt Cult, dirtcultrecords.com / Social Collapse, socialcollapserecords.bigcartel.com)


ATOMIC BRIDE:
Dead Air: CD
This Seattle five-piece includes dual male and female singers with two guitars, bass, keys, and drums. Dead Air is comprised of ten songs that play out over thirty-eight minutes. The sound seems influenced by surf and garage punk, and emerges reminiscent of the B-52’s. When I was in fifth grade back in the 1980s, I went to a carnival at the college in my hometown and my friends and I had a video made of us pretending we were a band and lip-syncing to “Love Shack.” If I remember correctly, I played the keyboard. It was pretty funny. –kurt (atomic-bride.com)


APACHE DROPOUT:
Bubblegum Graveyard: LP
I was hesitant to review this album initially since I’m friends with the group and was in a band with vocalist/guitarist Sonny Alexander. But hey—I didn’t buy too many new records this month, so here I go! Second full-length from these Bloomington, IN rockers and their second release on Chicago, IL label Trouble In Mind. I don’t want to say this album is more straight-forward than their last, but the vibe is less eerie and the vocals are less reverb-y. Apache Dropout often gets tagged as “psych,” but I don’t necessarily agree (I’d consider ‘em more Troggsian). They obviously rock in a ‘60s way, but avoid the trappings of what I associate with psych, like silly analogies to tangerine dreams and green grass skies. The songs’ subject matter is pretty reality-based, like long drives in the Midwest (“I-80”) or powerful orgasms (“Katie Verlaine”). Good bass tone that grooves. Drums are low in the mix and keep the drive simple, what we around here call the “caveman beat.” Drummer Seth Mahern was the singer of the late John Wilkes Booze, Sonny is/was/will be in too many bands to remember and bassist Nathan, well you know what, I can’t remember off the top of my head what other bands Nathan has been in, besides the greatest frat rock cover band since The Sonics, Sir Déjà Doog And The Wasted Knights. –Sal Lucci (Trouble In Mind)


ANOTHER SOCIAL DISEASE:
Brain Damage: 12" EP
This is well-played and passionate thrash / crossover hardcore. I’ll give ‘em that, but it’s really generic. And without a lyric sheet or any other information on the band, I find it hard to make this throwback record relevant. I have no idea where this band is even from. The only thing I can figure out is that the lead singer likes to perform shirtless. I was curious about the song “Night Terrors,” another boring thrash song on the album that I might have gotten something out of if there were printed lyrics. You see, I have Night Terror Syndrome. It’s a shitty sleep disorder that’s pretty hard to live with. Most people don’t know what it is, so when the term is used, it’s usually used to describe nightmares. If this song is actually about night terrors, it would make it relevant and meaningful to me. However, no lyric sheet. –Craven (Social Disease)


ANCHOR:
Recovery: LP
Seems like the past few straight edge records I’ve picked up have been a cut above all the shit that has come out in the past twenty years, especially in the lyrical department. Along with Poison Planet, and a few of the other bands I’ve heard on Refuse (which seems to be the world premiere straight edge label these days), Anchor put a lot more thought into their lyrical subject matter. They sing about apathy, and the political implications it has, animal rights, the eternal search when you feel lost, and more. Never really delving into clichés, or taking the safe and tired path. Musically, they draw from the past couple decades more than the usual ‘88 source. The style is modern with effects added in the studio for more emphasis on certain lyrics or to add a little more punch in the music. The guitar dominates the sound with a heavy and loud drum sound right behind. There are some straight up rock elements here as well, but done in a way where it doesn’t come out of nowhere. It’s more in the breakdowns and some of the riffs. The vocals are loud and shouted, but the words come across clear, and, at times, you can hear some cracking, which I like. Pretty good record. It comes housed in a gatefold cover with and a twelve inch lyric booklet with a bunch of well-produced photos. Whoa! –Matt Average (Refuse, refuserecords.prv.pl / refuserecords@gmail.com)


ALL OUT WAR:
Truth in the Age of Lies: LP
A well-done reissue of a very important piece of metalcore history. This is from a time when there was no defined aesthetic for the genre; it was just something that happened when some punk kids from a few cities around the U.S. decided to try their hand at metal. The original run of this record came out over twenty years ago when these guys, along with bands like Integrity, helped set the scene for the Victory Records craze of the late ‘90s that turned into the awful Ferret Records bullshit that hit later and had less and less in common with the punk scene as it evolved into generic drop C riffs and karate moshing. This is a record by a group of five fuck-ups who had the same goals and intention of any other hardcore band at the time: put out a record, hang out with your friends, and maybe open for some good bands. How far have we fallen? There’s no point in talking about the way the band sounds, because I imagine that I won’t change anyone’s opinion by talking positively or negatively about them. I will only mention that this reissue sounds fucking fantastic. Organized Crime did a great service to the original design and sonic qualities of this record and it’s refreshing to see a reissue of a higher profile release that’s more than a shitty digital cut of the record thrown inside a flimsy cardboard sleeve for sixteen bucks. –Ian Wise (Organized Crime)


ALASKAN:
The Weak & the Wounded: 12" EP
Heavy and drawn-out modern metal that seems to have influences by bands like Kylesa and From Ashes Rise, but with some late 1990s emo introspection parts in the songs. The vocals are dry in sound and delivery. It’s as though they’re really trying to give the songs more power by screaming their heads off. But despite all the things they do in the songs, from the time changes, movie samples, and all that, the songs don’t have any real grabbing power. They tend to drone on and on, building up this wall of sound, and it goes nowhere that you would want to follow as a listener. –Matt Average (Dwyer, dwyerrrcords.com / Moment Of Collapse, info@momentofcollapse.com)


ALASKAN / CO-PILOT:
Split: LP
Very well produced post-rock that has that repetitive, hypnotic thing going for it. I find that my mood greatly affects how I feel about this record and this genre in general. The whole of it reminds me of Explosions In The Sky (a comparison I’m sure both of these bands would scoff at), but with doomy metal parts thrown in. The Co-Pilot side has no vocals and just trudges on for a full ten minutes. It constantly feels like it’s building towards something, but it’s all tension and no release. While I see what they’re going for, I don’t think they do it very well. Some of the riffs build up considerable momentum, but they create a feeling of aggravation in you before just changing to something else instead of resolving the issue presented. If there was a narrative or real structure to it I could see the merit in their sound, but this all sounds like it was made to define itself with the aesthetic rather than accomplish a clear goal. The Alaskan side provides a clearer statement of intent, and the vocals do help steer the listener towards their endpoint, but I still feel like they may have just mic’d all the instruments and hit “record” with no clear idea of where they were going to go. –Ian Wise (Treaty Oak)


ZULUS:
Self-Titled: CD
Bauhaus, Specimen, and some of the most notable of ‘80s U.K. goth punk is resurrected by these blokes out of NYC. Where others have resorted to imitation as flattery, Zulus has reformatted the old standard of Peter Murphy cries and thrumming bass lines. “Kisses” draws on a whale call of a guitar chord to flesh out a cacophonic death knell of relationships past. The tail end of the album turns the corner toward hardcore punk on “Tremolo” with a spastic crescendo of drums and guitars. The production is a little muddy, but their revamp of ghouly tunes shines through the flotsam. Those who own Tones On Tail and The Chameleons UK, take note. Who says every day isn’t Halloween? Recommended. –Kristen K (Aagoo)


ZEBRAS:
Self-Titled: LP
The sides of the LP were recorded a couple years apart, and it’s interesting to trace this band’s evolution. Basically, Zebras are a skewed, gloomy metal band with a Moog. The earlier material borrows the surging dynamics of chaotic hardcore, while the newer stuff was recorded with a more precise drummer, and moves into Today Is The Day/Am-Rep territory. It’s got catchy moments and brutal moments and the whole thing is just recorded with bile. Certainly not a fun listen, but definitely a good one. –CT Terry (Secret)


WOLVES AT BAY:
Only a Mirror: LP
Prototypical, unintimidating emo-core with Victory Records-styled production values. You’re looking for Decibel, guys. Not us. –Juan Espinosa (Animal Style)


WHITE WIRES:
WWIII: LP
After two nearly flawless LPs I would have thought impossible to say that White Wires have really stepped it up on this record, but that’s just what they’ve done. So yeah, if the two previous records were almost perfect, I have to say that this record is about as perfect as it gets. The intermittent jokey songs that I always found a bit off-putting on their previous records are gone, leaving room for fourteen infectious garage pop singalongs without a hint of filler. And perhaps this record is a bit more “mature,” but it’s still unmistakably a White Wires record. In fact, I’ve yet to think of a single suitable comparison, which is great when you realize that their songs generally consist of between two and four chords. Brilliant! –Chris Mason (Dirtnap)


WHITE WIRES:
“Crazy” b/w “I Need Your Love”: 7”
The White Wires are top shelf, small batch distillers. Raw materials that are in bountiful in supply are run through plumbing pipes of primitive rock’n’roll, wiggled through the white glass of long, clarifying Ottawan winters, cooked and reduced over the blue flames in copper pots. The result is two clean-and-brilliant-sounding songs. Sure, The White Wires could be called garage, but their garage is immaculately organized. This one’s got a bar in it where they serve only one form of alcohol. It’ll fuck you up in dignified ways. There’s no hangover, no walk of shame the next morning. Unnervingly easy to like, The White Wires are both intoxicated and in full control. –todd (Total Punk)


WHITE WHALE:
“No Solace” b/w “Waxing”: 7”
The A-side sounds like High Tension Wires meets the Modern Machines. (Or is it more appropriate to say it sounds like Riverboat Gamblers meets Bruce Springsteen?) The B-side sounds like Samiam meets Shang-A-Lang. (Or is it more appropriate to say it sounds like Jawbreaker meets Gaunt?) I’m going to steal a line from my favorite politician Leslie Knope, and say the White Whale’s “ambiguous ethnic blend perfectly represents the dream of the American melting pot” except with music instead of skin color. –Bryan Static (Feral Kid, feralkidrecords.com)


WEIRD PARTY:
The Secret Lives of Men: 7”
Ex-Fatal Flying Guilloteens playing two hundred proof, no-holds-barred garage punk. It sounds like the band was raised on a steady diet of the Stooges and Wire that would pass for a hardcore band if it weren’t for the lead guitarist. There’s an element of the pure rock persona that eludes my ability to articulate on this record. I can visualize the lead singer’s strut as he belts out the shouted melodies, feel the sweat of the band through the record, and hear the hearing loss from a show I’ve never seen. Playing the one word essence challenge, I would choose the word: unfiltered –Bryan Static (Twistworthy, twistworthy.com)


VOIGHT-KAMPFF:
Self-titled: Cassette
Not at all what you’d expect from a long distance project involving members from Minneapolis’ Formaldehyde Junkies and St. Louis’s the Breaks: this is some compelling dark punk ala the current crop of Northwestern bands, such as the Estranged, Criminal Code, and the Red Dons. Speaking of Red Dons, I’m hearing a lot of the Observers’ magic with the in-your-face vocals and the way the guitar hooks weave in and out of a driving rhythm section. Perfect for punks who aren’t precious about where they shelve their Joy Division records. Voight-Kampff have apparently been collaborating for over seven years now and have more releases lined up, including a 7” on Firestarter under their previous moniker, Run Down. If this cassette is telling of what’s in store, then I offer to you my highest possible recommendation. –Juan Espinosa (Self-released, getbornbeat@yahoo.com)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
PVC H.Ex Compilation #1: Cassette
Washed-out, lo-fi-everything rock. At its best, it rings true with a nostalgic approach to the underbelly of ‘80s rock. At its worst, it’s a meandering sludge of incoherent bullshit. It averages out to a pretty fun compilation. Feels like channel surfing on basic cable late at night, watching scenes from various low budget movies. The sport becomes what strangeness you expect to find next. –Bryan Static (PVC H.Ex, pvchex.com)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Grown So Ugly: An Ugly Things Record Sampler: Cassette
A twenty-five song sampler from Ugly Things Records releases. Included in this cassette are tracks from the Misunderstood’s Lost Acetates and the long lost Pretty Things album Philippe Debarge. It’s an awesome starter for those uninitiated with eclectic ‘60s psyche. If you already have a good load of these Ugly Things releases, it’s a good tape to have in the car, bong room, or spaceship. –Billups Allen (Burger)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Dead Broke Records Four Way Split Vol. 5: 7”EP
A four way split featuring four Japanese punk bands: you had me at Japanese. I love Japanese punk! Their energy is always something to behold live and more often than not, the quality transpires over onto their recordings. GleamGarden lead off with some melodic punk that gives Tiltwheel a run for their money. Browntrout follow along in similar fashion but with a more free-flowing, cymbals-splashing-all-over-the-place sort of way. The Because and Your Pest Band both have a slightly more power pop, rock’n’roll edge to them, but there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. All songs are great. They could get any room rocking in no time at all, but what really does it for me is the quality which just screams, “demo quality is punk as fuck!” I also love how both of the final tracks on both sides of the vinyl spill over onto the runoff grooves. Four awesome bands on the best format for punk: Nippon wins again! –Juan Espinosa (Dead Broke)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Are You with the Band? A Collection of Female Fronted Pop-Punk: LP
This is an excellent collection of contemporary punk—from the quality of the bands, to the elaborate artwork on high-quality paper, to how its curated so each band is given the opportunity to share their varying thoughts and provide resources to reassure folks that they’re not alone. It’s all presented with obvious love, devotion, and care. The focus is gender inequality—and the resultant problems of a patriarchal society being reflected in punk rock. I’m down. To me, it’s so easy to see: Why wouldn’t you want anyone, regardless of gender or sexual orientation or race or limited income or age to not be exposed to and participate in DIY punk? Build a bigger boat, I say—and not just the more obvious band-on-stage vs. audience-coming-to-see-a-show dynamic, but all the way to more “invisible” punk occupations—from recording studios to grammarians to photographers to designers to folks who run collective spaces to people who just have their shit together and are willing to help in meaningful ways that we may not even realize today. Open those doors, keep ‘em open, and invite in all non-psychopaths, non-predators, non-shitbags. Great stuff. Power to everyone. Power to you. All proceeds go to Planned Parenthood. Thanks Lauren; great and necessary stuff. –todd (Paper And Plastick, paperandplastick.com)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
A Tribute to Repo Man: CD
The title makes pretty clear what the deal is here: a buncha folks covering one of punkdom’s most revered/reviled Hollywood flicks. What you get here is songs originally by Fear, Black Flag, Suicidal Tendencies, the Plugz, Circle Jerks, and others being covered by the likes of Mike Watt and the Secondmen, Matthew Sweet, Those Darlins, and Black Francis, to name a few. The results are surprisingly not as wholly wretched as expected, some of which, like Amanda Palmer’s horn-laden reinterpretation of “Institutionalized,” actually work well in their own fashion. Wholly went into this expecting to loathe like no one’s loathed before, but no, I’ve definitely heard much, much worse. –jimmy (American Laundromat)


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·SPACE COSSACKS, THE / THE HYPNOMEN
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