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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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LUKA FISHER:
Sleep Gallery: CD
Dreamy found sound/noise collages with a nice tactile feel. Each of these five tracks is about a minute long and features what seems to be a mix of altered tapes and live vocals. It sounds like the type of soundscape that an arty post-hardcore band would play while tuning, but stands up well on its own. I actually wish each track was longer, to give me more time to immerse myself in it and really start to dream.  –Chris Terry (Silbermedia.com)


LUMBERJERKS:
Four More E.P.: CD
Joliet, Ill., is not exactly a hotbed of punk activity. This may explain how the punk rock renaissance men in LumberJerks expertly fold so many different styles into their songs. These so-quick-you-might-miss-‘em hops from one influence to the next feel effortless, almost subconscious. The Four More E.P.’s tracks sound like what would happen if the brothers in the documentary The Wolfpack—who spent their whole lives hidden away, confined to their New York apartment—had been exposed to popular culture only through a handful of classic punk records rather than a handful of classic movies. The first seven seconds of the excellently titled “Trailer Thrash” fool you into thinking LumberJerks embrace the jazziness of post-punk masters Fugazi before launching into an authentically snotty, no-fucks-given punk reminiscent of The Dead Kennedys, punctuated with buried love letters to Sex Pistols and The Misfits. The frenetic, grinding vocals on “Schizo Episode” sound like Darby Crash posthumously conceived a lovechild with Choking Victim-era Stza—sorry for that mental image. Standout track, “Somthin,” is a surprisingly melodic Frankenstein’s monster of punk influences that has been given—inexplicably—Blondie’s heart. “Garage Hopping” introduces a little Operation Ivy into the mix, but also maybe shades of Strung Out, and possible a nod to The Go-Go’s? It’s just… it’s weird, you guys. And these days, that is perhaps the highest praise one can bestow.  –Kelley O’Death (Chump, chumprecords.com)


MAC BLACKOUT BAND:
City Lights EP: CS
Six new tracks from the prolific Mac Blackout are featured on this cassette, which came out for Cassette Store Day in the fall of 2015. The frontman for The Functional Blackouts and many others, Mac Blackout records a lot of solo material. Here we’re treated to a small group of catchy glam cuts that won’t disappoint. Who needs to travel to Chicago to see Mr. Blackout when you can pop this worthy cassette into your player?  –Art Ettinger (Rainyroad, rainyroadrecords.com)


MAL BLUM:
You Look a Lot Like Me: LP
Mal Blum has that kind of hyper-enunciated style that’s right there on top of everything, front and center. Whatever happens, however it’s arranged, it’s always going to sound like Mal Blum. Both their voice and lyrics have this confessional quality that gives everything the feeling of a private bedroom recording, though they’re well past that now. I’m going to get in the spirit and make my own confession, which is that my partner has overplayed that “Crying at the Wawa” song Blum did with Chris Gethard so much this year that it’s become a running joke how much I hate it. So listening to this album has kind of been my own personal journey of acceptance. I’ve come to understand that I don’t hate Mal Blum; I’m just prone to feeling uncomfortable and self-conscious when confronted with a certain kind of intimate honesty. Fortunately, this album deals heavily in uncomfortable and self-conscious feelings, so I’m in good company while I figure it out. I’m glad this one has as much of a “band” feeling as it does; I know the multi-instrument twee arrangement thing works for a lot of people, but this is connecting with me a lot more than the older stuff I’ve heard. Songs like “Robert Frost” and “Reality TV” strike the balance particularly well—catchy and driving without losing any of the introspection that makes the singer/songwriter stuff work. This is a good one, even if it’s not always for me. There’s something very real and raw at the heart of it. Also, I looked up a picture of Mal Blum to see if I actually do look a lot like them, and… I kinda see it?  –Indiana Laub (Don Giovanni)


MALOKIO:
Senza Scampo: LP
Mostly straightforward punk stuff with a singer who takes a stab at singing rather than howling.  –Jimmy Alvarado (SPHC, sphc.bigcartel.com)


MAMA:
Speed Trap: 7” EP
Things start off with a bit of post-punky Hüsker sheen that quickly burns off into high-octane pop-powered punk (or vice versa). There are hints of a dark undertow bubbling up in spots but the tracks retain their catchiness throughout, careening from one to the next. Thumbs up.  –Jimmy Alvarado (HoZac)


MANN KACKT SICH IN DIE HOSE / SAD NEUTRINO BITCHES:
Split: 7”
The very German-named Mann Kackt Sich In Die Hose kick out four songs of really solid hardcore punk with a very clean guitar tone. Falling somewhere between Amdi Petersons Arme and Japanese thrash, there is a whole lot to like here. Sad Neutrino Bitches are faster with cool, snotty vocals; kinda like a thrashy Bratmobile if you can pardon a strange comparison. This is a pretty good split from a couple of solid European bands.  –Mike Frame (Spastic Fantastic, spasticfantastic.bandcamp.com)


MANTS, THE:
Do the Dummy!: LP
I have been waiting a hell of a long time to hear a full-length record from Planet X’s (via Calgary in the ‘90s, via Victoria BC currently) Mants. Twenty years, to be exact. The Half Man, Half Ant, All Action 7” came out in 1996 and I have been a diehard fan ever since. What’s not to love? Raw, fuzzy garage punk played by humanoid ants in dapper suits is an all-around win in my books. The big question is do The Mants hold up after a couple of decades? Well, it is apparent to me that Mants age differently than us puny humans since this LP sounds as fresh as that first slab did back in 1996. If the time has come to be enslaved by our insect overlords, I will be first in line doing The Dummy!  –Ty Stranglehold (Dead Beat)


MARRON:
Self-titled: LP
Marron play punchy, rock’n’roll-inflected post-hardcore with husky, breathless vocals. They sound exactly like Swiz. Lyrics are in English and Spanish and are personal but just broad enough that they could be about being a brown person in the white punk scene, or in all of white America. But damn, I tune out for a second, forget what’s on, and think, “Wait, what second-tier Swiz song is this?” It makes for a frustrating and off-putting listen. Most of Swiz are now in a band called Red Hare. Check them out instead.  –Chris Terry (Take It Back)


MASSENGER:
Banshee: CS
Massenger is a surf-infused garage punk group from Southern California. The star is Sasha Green’s confident, pitch-perfect voice. When she belts, I’m reminded of Alley Cats’ Dianne Chai and, of course, Siouxsie Sioux’s swagger. The aforementioned singer/songwriter also adorns the cover and is the recipient of a playful ode. These six tunes are equally cool and rocking. I imagine that Massenger rages live so if you get a chance, see them or pick up this killer cassette.  –Sean Arenas (Burger)


MEDICTATION:
Warm Places: LP/CD
Medictation, a collaboration between ex-members of The Sainte Catherines and Leatherface, offers up a bittersweet listening experience with Warm Places. On one hand, it serves as a posthumous release of Dickie Hammond’s final work. It also allows for a celebration of that man’s talent and influence. Obviously the album is not all about one man, but it took me half a dozen plays before I could get beyond trying to identify anything other than his input. There is a relaxed—and at times sombre—feel to a lot of the tracks with Hugo Mudie showing that his voice is the perfect fit for that tone. However, his input is overshadowed by Hammond who takes up the mic for “Stalingrad,” a song which has more of an Americana quality as he documents the downs of his life and offers a reason why alcohol was such an important part of his existence. It truly is a beast of a track and brings me to the verge of tears each time I hear it. The one surprise I found is in “Saptor Raptor,” which seems to have a dual personality, trading back and forth between being in the same vein as the rest of the album and also fancying itself as an up-tempo Down By Law track. Regardless of the poignancy surrounding this record, it stands on its own two feet as a piece of work and is worth checking out.  –Rich Cocksedge (Paper + Plastick)


MIND SPIDERS:
Prosthetic: LP
Any time any former member of DentonTexas’s Marked Men releases some new music, it is cause to celebrate. It is no secret how much this group of guys’ music speaks to me, especially Mark Ryan’s Mind Spiders. For those unaware of this amazing band, here’s the run down: off-kilter, guitar- and synth-driven pop songs with heavy science fiction themes throughout. I often describe them as Marked Men meets Devo through the filter of a 1950s comic book. I love them. So here we are with Mind Spiders’ fourth full-length offering Prosthetic,and we find the sound evolving again. Right from the first song it is apparent that there is a harder, scrappier sound (perhaps the influence of long-time bass player Daniel Fried) and ever-further leaning into digital and synth territory. There is a heavier Devo spirit lurking within and it works masterfully. Over everything, we have Ryan’s words telling stories of alien loneliness and frustration. I keep playing it over and over, and every time I hear something new that gives me the shivers and makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. With Prosthetic, Mind Spiders are going on the attack. We are seeing the beginning of their full-fledged invasion.  –Ty Stranglehold (Dirtnap)


MODERN PROBLEMS:
Identity: CS
First off, this cassette came out of Black Dots, so I was pretty sure it was good before I even listened to it. And it’s really good. I know nothing about this band, but they soar through some early 2000s youth crew HC with ease. This stuff isn’t really my style but the recording is spot-on and the riffs are exactly what they’re supposed to be until they hit a killer Uniform Choice-style breakdown that sounds fresh and relevant in 2016, which ain’t easy in this style. The thing is over before you have time to think. If this cassette’s any indication of what this band will do in the future, there’s an audience ready and willing to X up and mosh in basketball shorts with their friends so that later they can cool down with an ice cold can of Coke. Do it!  –Ian Wise (Black Dots)


MOLEDEBATER / AUTARKY:
Split: CD-R
Moledebater play some loud and frenzied punk which may benefit from booking some DIY studio time. I’m liking what I hear but I’d probably like it better without the “single microphone in the living room practice space” sound quality. Autarky started off sounding like a quirkier Fish Sticks with socially conscious lyrics, though they could have been thought out/expressed a little better. (What the fuck do I care about lawn mowers?) Their last three songs sound a little artier in a Dead Milkmen or Nomeansno sort of way. I’ll go on record as saying that I am not a fan of CD-R releases, so I can’t really recommend tracking this down. Luckily, all these songs are available for free download if you feel so inclined.  –Juan Espinosa (Faxed, moledebater.bandcamp.com / autarky.bandcamp.com)


MOLEDEBATER:
The Only Punx in Town: LP
Pukey, fast, dirty punk with underlying melody like you might have heard on an old Recess comp or at Mission Records. There’s a good sense of self-deprecating humor, especially on songs like “We’re Small Town Nobodies” and “Jobs (Are Obsolete).” Twenty-six short songs on this LP. I bet their roommates know all the words.  –Chris Terry (faxedrecords.storenvy.com)


MOOD OF DEFIANCE:
In a Box: 7”
Mood Of Defiance are a San Pedro outfit that formed in 1981. This 7” is comprised of unreleased demos produced by Spot, who worked with many of SST’s stalwarts like Black Flag, Minutemen, and Descendents. The production has a uniquely South Bay, L.A. vibe, but the main attraction is Rachel Mason’s voice; she is ferocious and rabid. She howls, “We are hardcore drug addicts” without sounding remotely tongue-in-cheek. In a Box isn’t only a piece of punk history, but way ahead of its time. “She’s Afraid” is haunting and visceral, still gut-wrenching after thirty-five years. The digital download also includes a bonus track “Child Swapping Throws.”  –Sean Arenas (Recess, recessrecords.com / Water Under The Bridge, waterunderthebridgerecords.com)


MOZART:
The Tick: CS
This cassette is so grizzly. I’m moved to say it rips. This is up-tempo hardcore with femme vocals, complete with fuzzed-out screams and riffs. Reminds me a little of fellow Californians Mika Miko, but less poppy and angrier. There’s even one long track, which drags itself forward under the singer’s able moans, á la Flipper. Punk is done best when it gives voice to exasperation without being, itself, exasperating. Mozart delivers. –Lyle (m-o-z-a-r-t.bandcamp.com)


MUCH WORSE:
Chronic Instigation: LP
Second LP from this Minneapolis band. I did not hear their previous record, so I’m flying a little blind here. A lot of it reminds me of a lot of Double Negative—and in some ways Brown Sugar (but the vocalist sounds just like the vocalist from Positive Reinforcement)—but with a lot more wank in the guitar. The recording is crisp and appropriately heavy, and the musicians are clearly competent, but the problem with this record is that the songs follow no discernable path. I found myself zoning out whenever I tried to follow a song. By the end of the first side, I was left sort of just wondering what it is they are trying to do. Unfortunately, the second side offers no answers –Ian Wise (25 Diamonds, 25diamonds.com)


MUERTE:
Self-titled: LP
Was totally expecting some Mexican Discharge worship, but it ain’t that kinda party here, kids. They do bash things up a bit here and there in ways that’ll please the most stiff-necked hardcore fan, but underneath the chanting vocals and Stürm und Drang is a heavy duty post-punk strain o’ misery that seeps through and adds a haunting, almost psychedelic quality to the din. Some interesting things seem to be afoot in the motherland these days, and this is one of ‘em.  –Jimmy Alvarado (SPHC, sphc.bigcartel.com)


MUGWUMPS:
Can’t Be the One: CD
Kind of formulaically pop punk (after all, it’s on Monster Zero), but there’s a lot to like here. Mugwumps sound a lot like the more melodic early work of the Hard-Ons, but a bit slower, sort of like the Hard-Ons meet the Ramones. You know what you’re getting with this, and it doesn’t disappoint.  –The Lord Kveldulfr (Monster Zero)


MUTANT SCUM:
Field Recordings: CS
This casette comes complete with your very own hermetically sealed sample of ectoplasm painstakingly collected from ground zero of the hottest scientific discovery of the twenty-first century. Right here, on our beloved home planet, scientists have unearthed a new species of being. As explained by business management program junior, Skippy Williams of Jersey City State College, N.J., the species is believed to be the forgotten product of industrial waste and left to fester in the “way down deeps of Brooklyn, NY’s Newton Creek.” So far, research is inconclusive. Musicians, mutant waste, a Brooklyn favorite of the scientific community, and byproducts of said festering industrial waste have been tapped to seek out the help of the global community in the hope to prove the validity of government funding for the research of our new “neighbors.” Thus samples of this species’ excrement have been included with this album, allowing scientists worldwide to get the chance to, “Take a crack at it, yeah?” as stated by a member of Society for Estuary Waste Education and Research whom wishes to remain anonymous at this time. Joke or not, preserving our water supply is a big fuckin’ deal, so why not have some fun whilst raising awareness with some super tight metallic punk?  –Jackie Rusted (Sewer, sewernyc.org / Handstand, handstandrecords.com)


MYTERI:
Self-titled: CD
Gothenburg-based Myteri throw us a hardball of melodic crust that doesn’t let up from start to finish. There’s an emphasis on melody, for sure. Yeah, the vocals are guttural, but they’re overshadowed by layers of octave notes and major scales. Far from poppy, though. Catchy and aggressive.  –Steve Adamyk (Self-released, no address listed)


NAKAM:
Self-titled: LP
Vicious, marauding German hardcore that reminds me of Poison Idea. They’re perfectly heavy and pissed-off, with “revenge of the underdog” type lyrics. Makes me want to stand on top of a speeding car and throw cinder blocks through fast food restaurant windows. One gripe: they need to have a band meeting and tell the guitarist to chill with all the shredding. This ain’t Steve Vai, buddy.  –CT Terry (spasticfantastic.de)


NEON BONE:
Sick Of Me: CD
I’m mildly lactose intolerant, but Neon Bone compelled me to eat cheese. Here’s how: they’re Ramones-y, which reminds me of New York, which reminds me of pizza. Plus, their singer has a snotty voice like Ben Weasel, who now lives in Wisconsin, whose residents are affectionately known as Cheeseheads. I played this four-song CD this morning and, all day, I couldn’t stop thinking about pizza. I even ate some nutritional yeast, but it didn’t throw me off the trail. So, now I’m sitting here with a bellyache and an empty pizza box, telling you that this European band’s guitars are nice and crunchy, the band is super tight, and they write catchy hooks (which they repeat a little too much). I don’t tend to go for Riverdales-style punk, but this got me smiling. If this is your type of thing, don’t miss this... but maybe take some Lact-Aid first.  –CT Terry (monsterzero.nl)


NERVOUS TREND:
Self-titled: 7”
Excellent, excellent single! Nervous Trend plays music that falls into the realm of goth/death rock, similar to Catholic Spit, Christian Death, and Part 1. Instead of focusing on death and decay, they’re tackling gender issues with these two tracks. “Shattered” is nothing short of great. The music builds in tempo at the beginning and hits its stride with the bass and percussion propelling everything forward in a very direct manner. The vocals are just short of being high pitched and switch to something more sober when the mood calls for it. “Decency” is just a bit more urgent and quicker, but doesn’t have that dark, cold, and layered sound of the A side; however, it’s just as strong. I’m looking forward to hearing more from this outfit. Pacing the floor in anticipation.  –Matt Average (Residue, residue-records.com)


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