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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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SOMETHING FIERCE / OCCULT DETECTIVE CLUB:
: Split 10”
My love of bands from Texas continues with this brain-squeezing, amazing double LoneStarState blast of power pop punk whatever. Houston’s Something Fierce are new to me (other than that great set at Awesome Fest) and they kick this record off with a bang. Hard driving, yet kind of dreamy feeling pop, it just feels right. Denton’s Occult Detective Club commands the flip side with laser precision. They’ve been a favorite of mine for a while, and the new songs are more of the same greatness. It’s obvious to me that Dirtnap shares my affinity to Texas bands. Marked Men, Mind Spiders, Bad Sports, High Tension Wires, now Something Fierce and Occult Detective Club. Bring on more! –ty (Dirtnap)


SLUT RIVER:
Off White: EP
Off-kilter, lurching, abrasive sludge punk with snotty femme vocals: this is the sound of Iowa after too many PBRs, no niceties, just a smack round the chops and a kick to the head. Bringing to mind the abrasiveness of the Bags coupled with the drunken ramblings of the grunge years… Dickless, L7, Amphetamine Reptile… ugly and deranged. Totally into this, just wish the cover and lyric sheet weren’t a pile of horrible pixilated crap. –Tim Brooks (Salt Water)


SIREN SONGS:
Demo 2011 II: Cassette
“I didn’t experience fireworks, as they call them, until I was thirty three,” a deep and scratchy-voiced woman says on this tape long after the songs are over. It’s not a sample, it’s because this demo was recorded over a thrifted or dumpstered tape promoting some kind of love enhancing pill or potion. This is also probably the reason for the drag in parts of the songs, too. The fireworks, however, weren’t on this tape until Siren Songs started recording their punk songs over the original program. Siren Songs play female-fronted pop punk that is scrappy and raw enough to be irresistible. Legs’s voice is full of integrity and the sloppy warmth of young punk, but what stands out is how wonderfully imperfect her voice is. I’ve really been enjoying the wave of female-fronted bands with flawless and immaculate vocals like P.S Eliot, The Measure [SA], and Reading Group, but it’s refreshing to hear a return to some good ol’ punk rock grit, which Legs has by the score, for instance, on “Nuclear Son,” by far the best song on the album with its fast drumming and bouncing bass line. It’s a song written by a male member of the band whose ragged voice comes in on chorus and it’s a fast and desperate barnburner of a love song. “Nuclear Son” isn’t quite topped on the rest of the album, but the tone is definitely set for a bunch or really great pop punk songs from a band that you’ll be hearing about soon enough. So you can either download from their Bandcamp site or get a copy recorded over something that sucks for five dollars or trade. I would recommend the latter. It’s got some awesome art and I’m starting to like that part where it drags during the second song. Maybe you’ll get a similar idiosyncrasy. –Craven (Self-released, sirensongs.bandcamp.com)


SHORT CHANGED:
We Will Bury You: LP
EastBay hardcore punk with that metallic, sinister darkness bands from there have a knack for pulling off. The songs are mainly in the mid-tempo range, with some speedy bursts here and there. I like the vocals with their raspy and strained sound. Sometimes you can hear them crack, which gives them more character. The songs have a lot of low end and some drive, with a slightly abrasive guitar sound. The downside of this record is that none of the songs really stand out much. They tend to run together without too much variation between them. This would have more effect as a four-song EP. –Matt Average (Rodent Popsicle / Goat Power Recreation)


SHORT ATTENTION:
Polished Turds: 25 Decent Songs and One by Chris Grivet: 7” EP
Pop punk’s response to grindcore. In the early-to mid-‘90s, there was a race between Anal Cunt, Spontaneous Disgust, and Agathocles to turn grindcore into mincecore. On a 45 7”, the record for “songs” was way over one hundred. If you count the sound of a blip a “song.”It’s “interesting” in a Phillip Glass sort of way, but pretty aggravating listening. On the other side of the pendulum—but folded into the same envelope—are “The Chipmunks of Pop Punk,” Short Attention. This record is reminiscent of the Fat comp, Short Music for Short People, where the song limit was thirty seconds, only reduced into further absurdity. Twenty-six “songs.” I’m a man of a long attention and this aggravated me by its very design. If you constantly scan and never land, this is tailor made for you… assuming you like minced chunks of pop punk. –todd (No Breaks)


SHORES:
Leavening: CD
I like the slow, heavy, openness of this album. This band shows its post-rock DNA in the way that the instrumentation is more interested in building atmosphere rather than crushing with attack. Vocally, the singer’s eased dead pan reminds me of the more restrained moments of my beloved I Hate Myself. In short, this album feels like a perfect audio summation of the over-exposed black and white photography of the pictures on the album artwork—picturesque and given to contemplation. –Adrian Salas (No Idea, jennifer@noidearecords.com)


SEVEN SISTERS OF SLEEP:
Self-titled: 7”
Man alive, do I love this band. SSoS’ debut 12” was in heavy rotation for months on end upon its release, and I can pretty much guarantee that the same will be true for this 7”. Seething, ominous, bludgeoning, heavy hardcore that is equal parts classic doom, late ‘90s/early ‘00s Clevo/Cali metalcore, and blackened thrash. This band is as much about atmosphere/aesthetic as it is about sound, and both elements are fucking painful and stunning. Do not sleep on this shit. –Dave Williams (A389, a389records.com)


SENSIBLES, THE:
Dino: 7” EP
Not to be confused with the Notsensibles—which would indicate you are a very, very poor listener—this is an Italian quartet who slap out deep-dish slabs of mid-tempo punky-pop, heavy on the guitars, whilst a toy-voiced starlet chirps over the top in adorably accented English. “Open Book” is definitely the hit here, but that’s not for lack of trying on the other three songs. Meaty AND cute, like a good calzone! BEST SONG: “Open Book” BEST SONG TITLE: “Dino” i guess. They didn’t really seem to have much money in the budget for song titles. FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: After perusing the lyric sheet, i have decided that “cluntched” should, in fact, be a real word. –norb (Sensibles, thesensibles@gmail.com)


SCREAMING FEMALES:
Ugly: CD
Ugly is the fifth studio album from Screaming Females. On this go-round, the band continues exploring the boundaries of their singular brand of catchy garage punk. Song structures built around strong hooks typify Screaming Females’ songs, and the same goes for this album. Guitarist/vocalist Marissa Paternoster shreds through each track, but especially so in tracks like “High,” which was one of my favorites on this. If you’re already a fan, this has a bunch of new jams you’re sure to dig, and if you’ve never checked out Screaming Females before, this is a great place to get started. –Paul J. Comeau (Don Giovanni, screamingfemales@gmail.com)


SCHOOL JERKS:
Self-titled: LP
Ever since their first EP, I’ve been wondering if and when these hereSchool Jerks would put together a long player. Well, it took a couple more EPs I believe, and we finally have twelve hefty inches in our hands. Indeed, baby! This record is exactly along the same lines as their previous efforts. Pretty much what I was hoping for, since I always wanted to hear more from their short, short seven inches. Even live, when they played here with Cülo a couple years back, the set was a chaotic blast, and... well, short. This record is a smidge longer and definitely worth the wait. Somewhere between early Black Flag and Sick Pleasure. The vocals have a nasally sound with a disturbed growl. The guitars sound scratchy and gritty, and you can hear the drums stumbling and racing through the mess. Though they come from the frigid wastelands of Canada, you would think they live in Los Angeles, circa 1981. Kind of fast, but not really, though the urgency and tension create this auditory illusion of speed. It’s mostly mid-tempo and the songs sound gloriously filthy! Yep, they’re that fucking great. I wish they would come back to Los Angeles. –Matt Average (Grave Mistake, gravemistakerecords.com)


SAILBOATS ARE WHITE:
Turbo II: 7”
Not listening to music as much as I used to, prior to the birth of my son, has been detrimental to me at times. I get hung up easily and stumped to come up with words when something comes my way that is not familiar to me. Take this, for instance. I definitely hear punk rock. But I hear drums that sound like a drum machine. Synthesizers or something listed as a Stylophone take a part along with the usual suspect of instruments. The vocals are delivered with a moaning and painful approach, yet it seems to be with intentional with careless abandon. Put it all together and it’s a unique package that shows originality and appeals to me. I can feel the conviction. The energy is absorbed in my ears. Some may say this is indie and others may say punk. Either way, nothing is wrong when you don’t always paint by numbers. –don (Schizophrenic)


RSO:
Awl: 7”
The third release off Ryan Owens’ revolving door of an ensemble is a no wave, bluesy punk version of sittin’ on the porch with a triple x jug of hooch. Like Tom Waits’s later material of howling, vocal-centric tracks lightly seasoned with a rattling guitar thrash, these four new songs take a second or two to mature. Regrettably, Owens’ screechy Bobcat Goldthwait vocals seem contrived and at best; this is his version of PJ Harvey’s lo-fi, raw, minimalist Rid of Me, that fell short of the mark. –Kristen K (Self-released, r-s-o.bandcamp.com)


ROT IN HELL / VEGAS:
: Split 6”
A cool, screened, split 6” featuring one song each from top-of-the-Holy-Terror-heap creeps Rot In Hell and Vegas. I believe this was initially a part of Organized Crime’s mysterious Halloween package and is now available on its own. The Rot In Hell side is pure RIH, and anyone familiar with their LP on Deathwish or their slew of 7”s will recognize their perfect amalgam of Integrity, Ringworm, and early Pale Creation. The elusive Vegas offers a creepy acoustic track ala Roses Never Fade that only serves to reiterate their statement of weirdness. Very cool record. –Dave Williams (Organized Crime, organizedcrimerecords.com)


RIVER CITY TANLINES:
Coast to Coast: LP
The Tanlines are back! Been a long time, but fans of I’m Your Negative will want to pick up Coast to Coast. Alicja’s songwriting covers the gamut—from power pop to (almost) prog rock. John Bonds (drums) and Terrence Bishop (bass) form one hell of a rhythm section. Bishop, in particular, stands out. It’s crucial to have a great bassist in a three piece. The production on this record is unbelievably high—and it actually sounds good. Coast to Coast is a nice return LP for the Tanlines. –ryan (Big Legal Mess, biglegalmessrecords.com)


RIDGEMONT / TWO HAND FOOLS:
: Split 7”
I really didn’t want to like Ridgemont’s beard punk with its “Stay Gold, Pony Boy” type lyrics, but I have to say that it grew on me after several listens. Damn you, youth! They are, however, still pretty by-the-book and unremarkable at this point. If they spend some time developing their own sound, they have a chance at being a pretty good band because they certainly have the verve for it. Two Hand Fools are fucking awesome. They play a jangling and jagged post-hardcore full of progressive build-ups which lead to crashing breakdowns and gang vocals. The song “Hot Tongues” is a fucking uncomfortable and misanthropic love song that brings to mind the edgy, false sweetness of the best of Sugar songs without sounding anything like Sugar. When the band shouts out together, “I’m stepping on your tongue / and I hope you fucking feel it / you’re talking in the dark / your tongue so hot I can see it,” it’s so thick with angst and displaced rage that it’ll give you chills. By the time they get to the part where they sing, “So I’ll need to have you calm down / I’ve seen both sides of this,” you know that all is lost. It’s a fucking killer track. –Craven (Mindless, mndlsrcrds@gmail.com)


RIDGELANDS, THE:
Corey Webster Must Die: CD
Right off the bat, these guys get points for name checking the ultimate in cheesy ‘80s skate movies Thrashin’. Hell, the shot on the cover of Hook on the verge of smashing Corey’s arm is worth the price of admission. As for the tunes, we’ve got some good mid-tempo pop punk on the go. To be honest it, wasn’t what I was expecting, but it’s really catchy. I’d like to hear some more. Now, “Beat it ya Val jerks!” –ty (Sexy Baby)


RICKY C. QUARTET, THE:
“Small Species” b/w “Tonight”: 7”
The a-side’s a nicely thudding piece of work in its own right, but it’s the flip that really smokes. I mean, sheesh. If you had told me this record was put out in 1977 by some dorks in London, I’d have believed you. Think the best of the Adverts, Newtown Neurotics, etc. This 7”s only fault is that there’s only two songs. This thing—all four minutes of it or whatever—absolutely smokes. Awesome, awesome record. More, please. –keith (Rapid Pulse)


RICHARD JAMES & SPECIAL RIDERS:
Never Get Out: 7”
Moody garage punk with kind of a Gun Club meets Oblivians vibe is what this band offers up. Limited Edition of 205, copies so if this sounds like your cuppa, you will wanna move fast. –frame (Wrecked ‘Em)


RELENTLESS APPROACH:
Juicy: 7”
So… upon picking this 7” up, the first thing I noticed about it was the photo of Notorious B.I.G. on the cover. Being slightly familiar with Biggie Smalls, I then noticed that the title of this record shares the same title as a Notorious B.I.G. song, “Juicy.” Oh wait! It turns out all three of the songs on this record share their names with Notorious B.I.G. songs. Wondering if this is a cover band, I drop the needle on the record. These are definitely not covers, but instead appear to me more of the “tribute” variety to the deceased rapper… all done in a brutal, Midwestern hardcore style. On paper, this sound like it’s all a thinly veiled joke, but the dark and doomy inspired tunes prove to be no laughing matter. –Mark Twistworthy (Give Praise, givepraiserecords.com)


RED DONS:
Ausländer: 7”
I’m of the opinion that Red Dons are the best band walking the planet today. I fuggin’ love this band! They have this way of making music that causes everything else around you to melt away and all that is left is the music. You are completely in that moment. It’s a great feeling. The songs soar, race, and have undeniable soul. Catchy without being corny. Insightful without being overwrought. Just fucking great music. The title track is godhead! I’ve listened to it over and over so many times, and have yet to tire of it. Is that even possible? It’s such a great song. A nice, quick tempo and the vocals float over, pulling you into the song, and the chorus burns into your mind. I like how the guitar comes in at the end and builds and closes out with a noisy swirl. The kind of song that makes you want to start a band and take over the world. On the B side is “Mauvaise Foi,” which slows down a little bit with a jerky and bouncy rhythm here and there. When the melody comes in, nothing else matters. I really like the line, “Anointed one, where did I go wrong,” as it leads into the verse. This single is a classic. –Matt Average (Dirtnap, dirtnaprecs.com)


RAT COLUMNS:
Sceptre Hole: LP
This full length reminds me of maudlin new wave from the ‘90s. The vocals are reminiscent of gloomy jangle pop from that era. The album cover is a nice sepia photograph of a man swimming. It’s in the style of a Smiths or Coil album cover. I feel like that must be what they are going for, at least to a degree. It moves at the pace of My Bloody Valentine or Jesus And Mary Chain. They branch out into a few interesting beats that venture into Cure territory. I’d say it is well done. The songs are structured well and the recording is solid. I think it would stick out to me if I were more into this sort of thing. If you are way into shoegazing, it’s a thumbs up. –Billups Allen (Smartguy)


PUFFY AREOLAS:
1982—Dishonorable Discharge: CD
A potent, toxic blend of space rock, punk, and noise rock, not unlike Chrome, Disorder, and some AmRep band gettin’ all snuggly. The results vacillate between to the point blasts and longer pieces that sometimes border on the hypnotic, which, depending on general disposition, the average listener is either gonna love or loathe. Nice bit of racketmongering, I gotta say. –jimmy (HoZac)


P.R.O.B.L.E.M.S. / MODERN PETS:
: Split: 7”
Modern Pets have a couple records out and are quite good at the beach punk/Hostage Records kind of thing. Think Stitches running headlong into the Briefs or many of the releases on the Modern Action label. P.R.O.B.L.E.M.S. are a Portland band, featuring Kelly from Pierced Arrows/Resist on bass and Bradley from the Weaklings on vocals. Good, solid punk rock and a solid version of “Remedy” by Rose Tattoo. –frame (Doomtown)


PREVENGE / SHARED ARMS:
: Split 7”
Prevenge: Shouty not-quite-hardcore punk rock. I feel like I’ve heard these songs before with different names. Kind of reminds me of the punk bands Fat Wreck was signing in the mid-2000s, like The Sainte Catherines and the heavier bits of Smoke Or Fire. Could use some more variety, but good songwriting nonetheless. Shared Arms: Emo-tinged skate punk. The singer almost sounds like Jason Shevchuk which is cool, but I wish the song was as short as a Kid Dynamite one. Even if its length is longer than my personal preference, it does justify itself with motions of the music—changing paces and feel just enough times to move in all the right ways. Good stuff. –Bryan Static (Pavones, pavonesrecords.tumblr.com / Tragicomedy, tragicomedyrecords.com / Guerilla, guerilla-asso.com / Struggletown / Juice Box)


PRETTY BULLSHIT / WARM NEEDLES:
The Same Shit Everyday: 7”
I’m not altogether sure this thing is actually titled The Same Shit Everyday. It’s what the TV on the cover of the record says. It might just be a self-titled split release, and the TV’s just making a depressing point to go with the drawing of the dude hangin’ himself. I dunno. Pretty Bullshit: They either misspell “pores” in the lyric sheet or they’re bartenders and are being really clever. Sound-wise they sound like a second orthird tier punk band from 1980. Could use more melody / rage / something, but you’ll forgive it because they’re from way back when and were influential and original. Except they aren’t. Probably good live but I don’t see their side getting repeat spins. Warm Needles: Stupid band name. Depressing lyrics that are at least somewhat about drugs. Kinda reminiscent of Tim Version or similarly gruff but melodic bands. Shit, this is pretty solidly catchy. Definitely wouldn’t mind hearing more from Warm Needles. –Ryan Horky (Dig My Grave, digmygraverecords.bandcamp.com)


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