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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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ZOLTARS, THE:
Should I Try Once More?: LP
I’ve noticed an influx of folksy bands with bastardized ‘50s song structures coming out recently. I’m not sure I totally get what’s coming down the pike, but I like that it seems to be a different take on a tired structure. This Zoltars record is the better end of what I have been hearing. The heavy reverb on the guitar and tambourine bring to mind a blasé version of a minimalist shoegazer band. The occasionally overdriven vocals and sort-of-bored, matter-of-fact delivery cause me to think of the Urinals on the wrong speed. Many of the songs contain a clear narrative. There is something oddly compelling about the late night possibilities of this trio. The repetitive riffs in the song “Indian Princess” become eerily maddening. There are moments listening to Ricky Nelson when you forget that you are listening to a teen idol and something scary is evoked. If that makes any sense, you might like this record. –Billups Allen (Sundae, sundaerecords.com)


WILD ASSUMPTIONS:
“Run Like You” b/w “Roots”: 7”
In the vigorous, energetic, thoughtful vein of Songs For Moms and Bitchin’, two songs of redemption and reclamation, of identity and self-respect. I’m inventing a new genre: memoir punk. After listening to this several times, you start hearing life stories in poetic verses. Entirely likable and enjoyable. Features Megan March of the Street Eaters. She’s got such a great voice. –todd (Plan-It-X / Lost Cat / Sweethearts With Slingshots, sweethearswithslingshots.bandcamp.com / wildassumptions@gmail.com)


WHORE PAINT:
Menarchy: 7”
I’ve been eager to check out this 7” and it more than lives up to the hype. Whore Paint are a three-piece with no bassist, playing catchy, distorted no wave. Each of the three songs on this recording feature guitarist Hilary Jones furiously shredding riffs, matched measure for measure by Meredith Stern’s precise but spastic abuse of her drums, and accompanied by Rebecca Mitchell’s ethereal vocals. Mitchell’s vocals alternate between haunted singing and banshee-like screams that echo in the listener’s head and I was very into it. Some clever gear setup allows Jones to play low end out of a bass amp and high end out of her guitar amp. It’s an arrangement that works really well for the band. When you’re already rocking out this hard, who needs a bass player? –Paul J. Comeau (Anchor Brain, whorepaintpvd@gmail.com)


WHITE FACES:
Self-titled: LP
Poppy garage rock with a dose of the Hearbreakers that has its moments. There are some decent songs on here, like “Disconnected” and “Nots,” that have the urgency of a good punk rock song, along with “Ain’t Havin’ Me” and “I’m Your Creep,” but then there’s are lots of bleh songs, which the make up the majority of this album. –Matt Average (Windian, windianrecords.com)


WARRIOR KIDS:
Les Enfants de L’Espoir: LP
This is a reissue of this French oi band’s first album to celebrate the band’s thirtieth anniversary. The music’s true to form, with clean-channel electric guitar, vaguely thuggish vocals, and tunes that are rudimentary yet oddly poppy. Though I dunno for sure if they were an influence or not, but one can definitely draw a direct line between these kids and later bands treading the same water, like the Templars. Nice bit o’ history, this. –jimmy (Katorga Works, katorgaworks.bigcartel.com)


WAR OF AGGRESSION:
Come out Swinging: CD-R
Northern California hardcore with a smidge of metal sprinkled onto otherwise fairly traditional hardcore. They can gallop it up like any other band mining the genre, but their songs are most memorable and pack the most punch when they keep things more mid-paced and work a riff that’s a bit more thought out than the standard box-chord progression. Not a bad start. –jimmy (War Of Aggression, thewarcorp.com)


WALLRIDES:
EP: 7”
I think this Swedish band was custom built for my enjoyment. Early ‘80s style hardcore all about skateboarding. The eight songs on this single fly by fast and another run is mandatory. I want more and I want it now! –ty (Batshit Records, badshit@live.com)


VIVISEKTIO:
Naamiaset: CD
Fans of Scandinavian hardcore punk, this is something you will want to check out! Vivisektio, apparently existed during the 1980s, but never officially released any recordings, until recently (a good majority of these were written in 1983/’84). Stylistically they’re along the lines of bands like Riistetyt, Lama, Kaaos, and the sort. Raw punk that’s not buried under a veil of distortion. Instead, the rawness is in their power and drive. Moderately speedy, these songs have a way of burning themselves into your memory and you will find yourself singing along to songs like “Marionetti,” “Nukkekoti,” and the title track. As a diehard fan of music from this particular region, I’m pretty stoked on this album. It’s definitely logged in a lot of listening time here. One of those things where I feel pretty fortunate to own this. Seek out one for yourself. –Matt Average (VietKong Tapes, vivisektio83@gmail.com)


VIOLENT FUTURE:
Demo: Cassette
I first heard a couple Violent Future tracks on the web and knew that I had to get a copy of their tape to review. Hailing from Toronto, Canada, Violent Future play straightforward hardcore punk that sounds so raw and gritty, you’d think it’s 1980, and I mean that in the most awesome way possible. Sweet riffs with tons of intensity. Dual guitarists allows for some guitar wankery and creates jams that make you want to bedroom mosh or fist pump like crazy while driving. Guttural, shouted vocals with political lyrics complete this, making for one of my favorite jams right now. –Paul J. Comeau (Violent Future, xricksmithx@gmail.com)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Welcome to Minneapolis: 7”
This is a six-band compilation of heavy, basement-dwelling punks from Minneapolis. Lots of leather and spikes and seething anger. My favorites here are Ponx Attax and Favela Rising. The only band I really couldn’t get into was Kontrasekt. The record also features pictures of shows and all the bands by local photographer Adam Degross. Nice shots, for sure. It makes me feel good to know this stuff is happening all over the place! –ty (Profane Existence)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
To Live A Lie Sampler 2011: Cassette
It is currently 2012 and we are well into the fourth, fifth, and maybe even sixth waves of thrash, grindcore, and powerviolence. So many of the record labels that blazed the trail are sadly no longer with us: Slap A Ham is long gone. Sound Pollution called it a day a few years ago. 625 is not as active as it once was. To Live A Lie comes to the rescue and flexes their tuneless thrash muscle with this sampler featuring twenty-six tracks from as many bands, all representing the previously mentioned hardcore subcategories. But just like with any label and genre, some bands are destined to stand out more than others. On this cassette, the fist pumpers come from bands such as Sick/Tired, Shitstorm, XBrainiax, Sidetracked, Mehkago N.T., and Pretty Little Flower. Even some of the godfathers are represented, such as the legendary Capitalist Casualties and Asshole Parade. There are even some bands that exhibit unconventional (yet effective) approaches: Sissy Spacek and Suffering Luna, for example. The rest just don’t really stack up. I would get into exactly who and why, but I’ll spare myself the hate mail and just say that even though those bands didn’t do it for me, I still respect the fact that they are passionate about a style of music that is seen as tacky and tired to some of the hardcore elite and unlistenable to many others punks. After all, believe me or not, this music is also quite near and dear to me. Download code included as well as one of those “QR” code scan things for those of you who do everything but have sex with your phones. –Juan Espinosa (To Live A Lie, tolivealie.com)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
First Record: 7” EP
In the spirit of international fraternity and friendship, two U.S. bands (Meth Labs and Walk The Plank, hailing from SD and DC, respectively) and two South African bands (Swivel Foot and The Liberty Valance, both from Johannesburg), serve up three anthemic, oi-influenced stompers and one ska tune. The efforts are commendable, the tunes catchy, and the quality consistent. –jimmy (Big Tall Handsome, bigtallhandsomerecords.tumblr.com)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Bloodstains across Philadelphia: LP
While the album title is a bit disingenuous, especially if one is fooled into thinkin’ this is another addition to the infamous Bloodstains Across… bootleg series, this is a healthy overview of the state of Philly’s hardcore scene circa 2010-11. Bucket Flush, Jenkem, Gash (not to be confused with the old Australian band of the same name), Dry Feet, Ballistik, and a number of others dig into the various shades and hues of the hardcore genre, thrashin’ and screechin’ and whoopin’ it up like it was 1982 or something. Lotta good tunes here if this is yer genre of choice, but my personal fave comes from No Coffins, whose “Lazy” sounds a bit like the Groinoids. –jimmy (Eaglebauer Enterprises)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Best of Unsound Bands (1983-85): LP
Unsound was a short-lived label outta Long Island that unleashed some swell hardcore and other assorted noise circa the period that’s identified in the title. Collected here are tracks by Insanity Defense and Satan’s Cheerleaders (two different bands sharing pretty much the same members meting out a sorta yin-yang selection of thrash stuff), Fatal Vision (more thrash-o-rama for ye), SFN (aka Stands for Nothing, who are of a more melodic bent, and even occasionally hinting at what would later become known as “alternative rock”), and the Glenheads (a one-man noise mongering feast). Fans of obscure ‘80s hardcore, or just hardcore in general, will likely poop their pampers over this. –jimmy (Welfare)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
A Tale of Rotten Orange: 2 x LP
In the beginning, so many of my favorite bands came from Southern California— Adolescents, Dickies, Black Flag, and Descendents among many others. They shaped a huge part of my life. Somewhere along the line, punk rock from the region became “So-Cal” and was synonymous with big shorts and chain wallets. Some of it was good, but not a lot. I had to search out labels like Hostage and TKO to get my California punk fix. Those labels put out some amazing compilation records showcasing bands from all over the region that were out there ripping it up. This compilation is a fine addition to the tradition. Orange Fight has released a thirty-nine (!) song double LP worth of the best of the best that OrangeCounty has to offer. There is a healthy dose of the stalwarts (Smogtown, The Crowd, Broken Bottles, Bonecrusher, and The Stitches) and some newer stuff (The Junk, Crazy Squeeze, Disguster, Druglords Of The Avenues, and The Piss Pops). It all works and is a compilation that I’ll listen to over and over, just like Tower 13 or The Hostage Situation. I’ll also be on the lookout for records from most of these bands. Mission accomplished! –ty (Orange Fight, orangefight.com)


VANNA INGET:
Jag Ska Fly Tills Jag Hittar Hem: 7”EP
I know I’m in the minority when I say that I thoroughly enjoy listening to punk bands in their non-English tongues. (Not having English translations doesn’t bother me at all.) I liken it to foreign and silent movies. With silent movies, you watch them differently, pay attention to other details. One of the senses is limited; the others sharpen. Sweden’s Vånna Inget punch my ticket. Wonderful female-fronted melodic punk in line with Masshysteri and Knugen Faller (Ny Vag dripping all over the place, but not from Umea as far as I can tell.) Karolina has a wonderful roll of her r’s and spectacular enunciation, the band is mid-tempo, and wound tight, like how I imagine Blondie if they were more punk and less disco. Vånna Inget establishes a space, a mood, and constant force that’s not gnarly, but tight and on pressure points. Nice. What’s potentially lost as a non-Swedish understander-er? Singing along. I think I can rightly assume they’re not racist, homophobic, sexist, or classist and here’s what I’ve poorly patched together. The band’s name means “No Tank.” I think it’s less war tank, more of like a cistern, but could be wrong. Tankless? The song titles translate to: “I WillFlyUntil I FindHome,” “Spit in the Wind,” “Distress,” and “Our Dreams Are Dead.” Oooh, yeah. Add that to your English-Swedish of Volvo, Ikea, meatballs, and women’s volleyball team. –todd (Erste Theke Tonträger, erstetheketontraeger.blogspot.com, Vaukajott@gmx.de)


USELESS EATERS:
The Moves: 7” EP
Four tracks of simple punk rock tunesmithin’. Sounds like some long lost Killed By Death geek’s wet dream, which I reckon is the point. –jimmy (Jolly Dream, jollydreamrecords@gmail.com)


UNSANE:
Wreck: CD
Unlike some who have trod the same loud, sludgy terra, Unsane maximize the vitriolic hammer blows they pass off as “songs” by keeping things simple: come up with a riff, decide whether the rhythm will approximate trudging through molasses or tar, crank everything up to full volume, and start bludgeoning. They retain that formula here, dropping nine new vitriolic, occasionally bluesy, sonic assaults and a surprisingly faithful cover of Flipper’s “Ha Ha Ha.” Twenty-four years, seven albums, a few lineup changes, one near fatal ass-whoopin’, one hiatus, and these guys still crank out some of the most caustic brand of rock music you’re likely to find. –jimmy (Alternative Tentacles)


UNFUN / MUHAMMAD ALI:
Split: 7”
This is a pretty evenly matched split. Unfun kick it off by doing what they do best: fuzzed-out tunes that harken back to a day when we would call them “emo” and it wouldn’t be a bad thing. Wearing your heart on your sleeve via Jawbreaker, Leatherface, or Tiltwheel. You’re reading Razorcake; I don’t need to explain this any further. Short version: Another damn fine couple of tracks. This is my first exposure to Muhammad Ali. I like this a lot. Not so fuzzy, and a little more tuneful, these songs really want me to go check out some more from them. The two bands really sound good together. –ty (A.D.D.)


UNDERLINGS, THE:
Vice Squad: 7”
The A-side is an unexpectedly jaunty number about applying to join the vice squad that wouldn’tve sounded out of place on any of those late ‘70s/early ‘80s UK mod/power pop compilations of a few years ago on Captain Mod or Captain Power Pop or whatever-the-hell Records. As such, i think it’d sound pretty cool bookended between “Can We Go Dancing” by the Amber Squad and “Sema4 Messages” by Sema 4 ((or something)), but i’m not sure it really bangs me over the head as a standout standalone A-side—it’s decent, but not exceptional. On the flip, “Second Best” goes off in an almost Humpers-like direction, although the rhythm of the vocals in the bits with no drums remind me of Bob Seger in “Get Out Of Denver” and maybe I shouldn’tve told anybody that. Slightly rougher vocals on “Black & White” would allow it to pass as hardcore in perhaps the TMA mold, circa 1984. This band is not entirely uninteresting! Huzzah! BEST SONG: “Vice Squad” BEST SONG TITLE: “Black & White” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Cover art contains the first drawing I’ve ever seen of the Dictators’ “Manifest Destiny” album. –norb (Meth Bog, myspace.com/methbogrecords)


UNCIVIL, THE:
Fred’s Liquor: 7”

So much booze. My leathery liver shuddered just looking at the sleeve on this single. The music is steeped in alcohol as well. Mid-tempo scuzz punk not unlike Dayglo Abortions. Rounded out with a mediocre cover of Skrewdriver’s “I Don’t Like You,” it isn’t really all that memorable.

–ty (The Uncivil, theuncivil.com)


TUS IDOLOS:
Un Gusto: 7”
Tus Idolos describe themselves as “jean jacket rock’n’roll” and I think it fits them perfectly. Garage-y punk’n’roll from Puerto Rico, the jams Tus Idolos kick out are catchy, with great hooks and vocals worthy of epic singalongs. Lyrics are all in Spanish, so I don’t know what they mean, but I was able to follow along with the lyric sheet in hand while rocking out. My one complaint about this 7” is how the mix of the recording makes the entire band sound echo-y and distant, like listening to them from outside a venue. A better mix would do the band justice, but as it stands, I’m definitely digging it. –Paul J. Comeau (Discos De Hoy, discosdehoy@yahoo.com)


TROPIEZO / VIVISICK:
Split: 7” EP
Tropiezo: Is it even remotely possible these cats are capable of a crappy tune? If so, they’ve yet to serve one up thus far. Five more tracks here of fast, ridiculously tight thrash. That these cats are not worldwide superstars is criminal; that they continue here with what has to be one of the longest streaks of consistently killer hardcore is a treat. Vivisick: They handle their side of the wax slab quite adeptly, with crazed Japanese thrash that could also easily hold its own against bands like Stalin and Gauze had they their own Wayback Machine, and yet tempers what could be an onslaught of primal scream-fueled anger with a sense of humor. Helluva split here, I gotta say. –jimmy (Discos de Hoy, discosdehoy@yahoo.com)


TREASURE FLEET:
Cocamotion: LP
Isaac Thotz is one of a small handful of musicians I’m willing to follow anywhere. He’s musically much smarter than me. He’s here to reveal and share, not pretend, pout, and approximate. (See modern day corporate-backed, energy-drink-stupid-car “garage rock” for the latter.) Razorcake readers are probably most familiar with Isaac as one of the singers/guitarists of the Arrivals. Treasure Fleet’s done all the heavy lifting and dusty-fingered, shit-listening, vinyl flipping through hidden gems of the ‘60s. Dude, I’m not even going to pretend I like the Beatles. I’m motherfuckin’ choosy with the Pink Floyd / Kinks / Animals / Zombies catalogs—all signposts for Treasure Fleet. Yet, I openly embrace and totally dig this record. How? Distillery. Isaac took out the self-indulgent wank, the boring bits, the failed experiments, the major label softening and compromises. Cocamotion isn’t a nostalgic highjack or a thin stylistic exercise. I know Isaac’s a hard-working, music-loving, punk and punk-friendly musician who’s completely at odds with modern popular music—how it’s made, how it’s consumed. What to do? Reach back in time; renovate, rebuild, reconfigure, and reoccupy that space. Inspired. –todd (Recess, recessrecords.com)


TRANZMITORS:
“I See the Writing on the Wall” b/w “Dream Our Dreams Away”: 7”
When you live with four distinct seasons, you crave music differently. Those first warm days, driving with the windows down, call for nothing other than power pop to me (though the hoards of cars blaring Sublime probably beg to differ). The Exploding Hearts have been in my CD player for no less than two weeks and then this beautiful slab of clear blue vinyl shows up on my doorstep. Jeffy McCloy is one of my favorite current vocalists, going from the crooning of Dave Vanian/Doug Burns to snarls to staccato, seamlessly. This is a good a place as any to start with Tranzmitors because, honestly, it’s all fuckin’ stellar. If this hasn’t sold out already, it will. –megan (React, itstimetoreact.com)


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