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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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BUMS, THE:
Do It All Night: 7”
Expected DOA, got a one-drummer Dirtbombs plus a weird sax like on that second Damned album. Needless to say, my party snacks were completely out of date and no one appreciated the flannel on the dancing girls. I don’t own enough classic rock albums to tell you who the guitarist is playing like, but i’m certain that whomever he is, the fucker must be considered a soul-haver of some sort. Whatever genre this is, i’m pretty sure that the part where the singer starts laughing like the Joker redefines it. Word, surely. BEST SONG: “Do It All Night” BEST SONG TITLE: “Man Of This Town” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: “AARDMAN” is etched into the run-off grooves in very small letters. –norb (Big Nose)


BLUES PATROL:
…but I Gotta: 7”
The title tune consists of a drum going thud-thud and a guy saying variants of the same sentence over and over while a sorta blues organ is buried in the background. The flip ditches the vocals altogether and opts instead for a thud-thud drum and organ playing the same simple riff over and over again. This is either a work of genius or one of those records that makes you think, “Fuck, it must be nice to have the kind of disposable income that allows to press up stuff like this on wax.” I ain’t quite decided yet, myself. –jimmy (Hot & Ready, hotandreadyrecords@gmail.com)


BLOODY GEARS:
Frozen Rain: 7”
Released two years after their first EP, Boston’s Bloody Gears finally returns with another record. I was hoping for a full-length, but this three-song single is another super cool release. Dark, brooding punk doesn’t always work, but Bloody Gears has a flavor all its own. There’s a pinch of 1980s Euro-pop-ness and even a little bit of Pegboy hidden under it all, making for an interesting, instantly grabbing sound. The vocals are probably not for everyone, but that’s true of a lot of great vocalists. It’s time for Bloody Gears to put out a damn LP already! –Art Ettinger (Grave Mistake, gravemistakerecords.com)


BLOCKSHOT:
Envision: CD
This foursome out of Bonn, Germany bring a new face to riot grrrl garage pop. Some might suspect their second full length to throw up shades of Sleater K, and Lesbians On Ecstasy, and while it does, Blockshot goes further. Blending pogo pop harmonization, women’s rights, and a knack for progressive song structures, “I Don’t Wanna Play” brought me back to early PJ Harvey, circa Rid of Me, with its minimalist, jangly guitar-to-fuzz transition while “A is for Anarchy” kicks off with a souped-up “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” melody. For those old school riot grrrls and those in training. Recommended. –Kristen K (F-Spin, contact@f-spin.de)


BLANK FIGHT, THE:
House Band Feud: LP
Blank Fight was a band that featured Aaron Cometbus and Rymodee (from TBIAPB fame). The only thing I had heard of this band was “This Bike + This Guitar” because of the CD version of the Down in Front comp. That number was a Cometbus-styled scrappy pop punk bit with something of proto-folk punk coloring it in. I recalled liking the song and wishing that I hadn’t missed out on this album when it was on CD at the time, but it has been a few years since I had heard it. I was expecting not to give two shits about it and want to take it off half way through the first side. Much to my surprise, I enjoyed the hell out of this. The whole LP strayed not far (if at all) from the sound of the song on the DiF comp but never got tiring. A definite surprise and another nice reissue from Silver Sprocket. –Vincent Battilana (Silver Sprocket)


BLACK GOD:
II: 7”
Growing up, I was never a huge fan of Rob Pennington’s voice. I always kinda lumped Endpoint and By The Grace Of God in with Brother’s Keeper, Absolution, and other “weird, high voice” hardcore bands that I pretty much wrote off as “not tough enough” and likely resumed listening to Crown Of Thornz or 25 Ta Life. However, when the first Black Cross record dropped, I was somewhat compelled to check it out, being a fan of Ryan Patterson’s “heavy Wipers” style, and I was sold right from the get go. Pennington’s voice seemed more at home to me in a more brooding, Sage-inspired setting. Black God certainly picks up where Black Cross left off, and it’s quite safe to say that if you dug the first incarnation, you’ll dig this one as well. With more of a nod to the Dischord bands of the ‘90s than Black Cross, Black God is elaborating on its predecessor’s sound in a great way, and II is an even better record than the terrific debut EP. Awesome. –Dave Williams (No Idea, noidearecords.com)


BITPART:
Where We Are: LP
Alternating between male and female vocals, Bitpart play matured, indie-inspired punk. Bass-heavy with deceptively intricate guitar riffs. Varying tempos and levels of aggression, mixed with consistently intriguing song structures and pure DIY righteousness. When not found in their native city of Paris, France, they can often be found in the Pacific Northwest. Particularly Seattle and Olympia, where this LP was recorded by Rumbletowne Records staple, Joey Seward. –Daryl Gussin (Corn Dog / Zone Onze / Et Mon Cul C’est du Tofu? / Weewee / Gâteau Blaster)


BIG HANDS:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Whoa, here’s a surprise. The lyrics seemed kinda dumb (“Zombie Jesus,” really?) at first glance, but I think these dudes don’t really speak English. Their label is Swedish, near as I can tell. (The website ain’t in English, anyhow.) So we’ll forgive some corny phrases here and there. This is pretty rippin’ d-beat/hardcore type stuff. Seems about as angry and pissed as you’d want music like this to be. –Ryan Horky (Gaphals, gaphals666.wordpress.com)


BIG EYES:
“Back from the Moon” b/w “I Don’t Care About Friday Night”: 7”
What’s not to like? Powerful vocals (some gravel, some honey, lots of heart), hooks aplenty, melodies locked tight. If this were the ‘60s, think Sugar Pie Desanto. If this were late ‘70s, think Joan Jett. If this were the ‘90s, think Muffs. If this were the 2010’s, think Full Of Fancy and you understand the socio-political ramifications of this evening’s entertainment. I also surmise that Big Eyes appreciate the scaffolding the Replacements made for future bands to play on top of. I understand the nature of a two-song single. Direct, best-foot-forward. I’m cool with that. The entire enterprise watersheds around Kate’s voice and lyrics. Part of me wishes it didn’t, that some free radicals were zinging around, that there was an added dimension, because I want Big Eyes to break an almost seamless mold, to free a monster I hear lurking underneath the surface. But that might just be me. –todd (Grave Mistake, gravemistakerecords.com)


BEAVERS, THE:
Don’t Go Away: 7”
I get a new Beavers 45 every seven years or so, whether i need it or not. While these three songs are a much more sixties-ish squall than the garage punk’n’roll to which my Beaver-consuming palate has been accustomed, all Beavers is good Beavers, with the organ adding an air of chronological mystery to the proceedings, and the “just press record” production quality of it all maintaining a passable air of a great lost reel-to-reel tape recording of an out-of-season cyclone at whatever the Dutch equivalent of the Star Club would be, likely with a goat on the roof. “Baaa” it today. Wait, that’s a sheep sound, not a goat sound. Well, they make different noises in the Netherlands. BEST SONG: “Down And Out” BEST SONG TITLE: “Some Other Time” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: The Dutch don’t capitalize the names of the months. –norb (High School Refuse, rinsma.home.xs4all.nl/hsr)


BAND IN HEAVEN, THE:
Self-titled: 7”EP
Dreamy, lysergic-drenched drone rock. While minimalistic in structure, the four tracks here are remarkably diverse in approach, with one that sounds like someone’s jamming along on a sitar. –jimmy (Hozac, hozacrecords.com)


BALLANTYNES, THE:
“The Message” b/w “The Railtown Abbey”: 7”
This single seems to be going for a funkier, Northern Soul-type sound. There are male and female vocals that go well together. The performances are A-OK, but there is such a thick layer of reverb over the whole thing there is not much attack. Do I hear keyboard and xylophone? I like what I think is going on, but I can’t fully make it out. “The Railtown Abbey” comes across as having a lot of energy that just can’t seem to bust out of the mire of a murky recording. It’s a good song. I would take a guess that the band sounds better live. –Billups Allen (La-Ti-Da, latidarecords.com)


BAD ASSETS:
The Spirit of Detroit: CD
It’s not every day that a new band emerges with Oxblood as its main influence. But that’s easily the best comparison for this hard, super-catchy Detroit oi band. The vocals have that lovable, food-in-the-mouth quality to them that gets me every time. The lyrics take the traditional working class themes found on countless prior oi albums, but with a focus on current economic and social issues, adding genuineness not always found on oi or street punk releases. U.S. oi developed its own hardcore-influenced feel over the years, and Bad Assets borrows from that tradition. The production quality is especially studied, mixed with way less treble than albums from other punk subgenres. Anyone into skin sounds will get super excited by this totally kick ass new group. Bad Assets are anything but bad. –Art Ettinger (United Riot, angelfire.com/indie/unitedriotrecords)


BACKSLIDER:
Maladapted: 7”

Warning: If you eat a bunch of cupcakes and listen to this record, you better give yourself a lot of space or something is going to get smashed. For this reason only, it’s good that these six songs of powerviolence perfection clock in at only a couple minutes. You probably want to keep your walls.

–mp (Psychocontrol, psychocontrol.com / To Live A Lie, tolivealie.com)


AYBAT HALLAR:
Something Nice: CD
This is brilliant in that each song is incrementally worse than the one before. The first and best, “Half Alive,” is a rocking number about zombie sex featuring some bizarre demon-possessed vocals. The next couple can accurately be described as good. Then the tunes dip into acceptable range before plunging into cracking vocals, out-of-sync instruments, ballads about being a superhero and going back in time to win over an ex-lover, and choruses of “Fuck the people.” If you can make it to the last song, the inappropriately titled “Something Nice,” in which the band seems unaware of the difference between vampires and zombies and throws in a weird bouncy pseudo ska rhythm to accompany endless repetitions of the “You’re so young and fresh” chorus—and you’re not undead yourself; you have passed one hell of an endurance test. –mp (OSK, oskrecords.com / Rumble Fish, rumblefish.ru)


AVERKIOU:
The New Imperative: 7”
I have no idea what the name of this band means, but they are undeniably catchy. Averkiou play soft and fuzzy indie pop, with subdued vocals, including lots of layered backing vocals. Up-tempo drumming and riffs spiced up with lots of guitar and bass effects are what give Averkiou their sound, leaving plenty of room in all the layers of sound they create for strong hooks that keep your attention focused on the music. This is normally not my kind of music, but I found it enjoyable nonetheless. –Paul J. Comeau (Sound Study, averkiou@gmail.com)


AVENGERS:
Self-titled: 2 x CD
Double disc collection, both remastered and sounding crisp and punchy. Expanded liner notes and pictures make this upgrade totally worth it. I won’t give you a history lesson on the band here. If you don’t know who they are, I’m going to send Steve Jones over to your house to “kick down the doors!” Furthermore, if you don’t get a chill down your spine when you crank songs like “We Are the One” and “Cheap Tragedies” up to ten, then you should check your pulse. The band is still going strong today (with a modified lineup), so buy this directly off their site and you will be one happy camper. –koepenick (Water)


AMERICAN LIES:
Listen, That’s Disco!: 12” EP
This record has six songs on it and they’re all really good. The songs are also all on side one. Side two has no songs on it, but it does have a sweet image of two dudes who look like they’re out of Saturday Night Fever, disco dancing with Stormtrooper helmets on. The track listing is also there, on top of grooveless vinyl. Everyone in this band is talented as hell. The songs are all very catchy, and they pretty much draw you inside of them. Listening to this, I feel like I’m in the same room with the band. Honest and real lyrics are sung through strong vocals that make it easy to understand where the songwriter is coming from. Songs about questioning your existence and growing old, but not wanting to let go of your youth. Good stuff. –Nighthawk (Autentico Records, americanlies.bandcamp.com)


ALICE BAG:
Violence Girl: 7”EP
I’m much more fond of looking at music as a continuum instead of isolated times and places. Instructive history shouldn’t be trivia and artifact. That way, as a listener, I can actively participate, draw from my own experiences and enjoy music—even if it was released years ago—as a living, instructive thing. Alice Bag could have easily been solely a significant, static jewel in the crown of first wave L.A. punk and called it a day. Instead, she continues to make art through today and this 7” is a nice reminder of that, culling songs from five bands that Alice actively participated in: Bags, Castration Squad (live), Stay At Home Bomb, Goddess 13, and Cholita. The music Alice plays just isn’t one thing. It’s punk, goth, rootsy and mellow, angry, funny, violent, and tender. And that way, we all win when Alice uses this refracting jewel of her talent and perseverance, lighting up and crystallizing great music for three decades. An excellent short collection of songs by a fantastically talented lady. –todd (Artifix)


AGATHA:
Self-titled: 12”EP
I’m not of the belief that political conviction is absent from the punk community any more now than it has always been. That doesn’t give apathy a free pass, but I also don’t disregard the countless bands who continue to write meaningful, insightful music. With crystal clear perfection, Agatha fit into my mindset of contemporary, infuriated, passionate, and knowledgeable bands using punk as a release and as a platform to express radical ideas accompanied by inventive musicianship. A main difference with Agatha is that the lyric sheet not only provides the lyrics and song explanations, but some autobiographical context that give each track even more power. In terms of dynamic, hardcore punk; the four parts of this band are doing their each individual task perfectly. The reliable, driving rhythm section, the wild guitar stylings, three different vocalists with very different voices melding together, and the lyrical content. They’re fucking pissed, and they explain why. –Daryl Gussin (Rumbletowne, rumbletowne.com)


86ERS:
Carry the Fire (Discography 1999-2011): CD
Here we have the twelve-year anthology of rough and tumble punk band out of Portland, Oregon. Mid to fast tempo gruff punk about drinking and how shitty it is out there. And more drinking. For boozers of the highest order, they can write a great song. This is really good stuff. I guess it is inevitable that I compare them to another Portland band. The biggestPortland band. I don’t throw Poison Idea comparisons around lightly, but these guys tread the same territory and hold up fine. Not as good (not many are), but definitely good enough to keep on the lookout for more. –ty (The 86ers)


WYMYNS PRYSYN:
Self-titled: 7” EP
The rhythms here don’t get faster than mid-tempo, and even then there’s a sludgy quality to ‘em. Reverb-saturated vocals and a generally overdriven production round out a sound that’s dark and violent without resorting to typical hardcore tropes. –jimmy (Scavenger Of Death, scavengerofdeathrecords@gmail.com)


WSZY:
Miliony Oszukanych: CD
I am not sure I’ve come across a CD that has ever left me more befuddled. Apparently, WSZY hails from Poland and appears to have been active from 2001 until 2006. I use these terms loosely, as every bit of text on the CD packaging and any mention I could find on the interwebs was indecipherable to these western eyes, as were all of their song titles and lyrics. What I can tell you about WSZY is they have a very Welcome to 1984 sound, if you are familiar with that classic compilation. Other than not being able to relate at all to the lyrical content of the disc due to the language barrier, the music left me a little cold as well. In more than a few places, the band made an unfortunate choice in including a dub-reggae breakdown to the proceedings, which really just took away from what would have been a passable eastern-European hardcore release. To be fair, I’m personally not the biggest fan of dub and reggae even when it’s done competently, so I fear that I was at a real disadvantage with this release. If mid-eighties eastern bloc hardcore is your bag though, this disc may well be worth seeking out. –Garrett Barnwell (myspace.com/WSZY)


WORSHIP THIS!:
The Nard Years: 7”
If you like Red City Radio, Nothington, or Iron Chic, then this is right up your alley. Gruff-voiced pop punk with tight musicianship and post-pop punk song writing. You know what you’re getting here, if nothing else. –Bryan Static (Messy Life/Seven Inch, seveninchrecords.com)


WORRIERS:
Past Lives: 7"
For the most part, Past Lives hits the ground running, though I think the songs could stand to be a little more immediate. A little more gripping. Made up of some folks from bands such as Night Birds and the Measure, these three songs toe the line between shuddering melodies and a delicacy that rarely made or makes appearances in their other bands. And while it may just be me, Lauren Denitzio’s lyrics seem more confident here, or at least less obtuse, making them possibly the strongest element to this record. The closer, “Deconstruction Site,” carries the lightest touch of the three, and is probably my personal favorite. Good songs, if not always terribly engaging. I like this record just fine, but I’m also looking forward to hearing more from them. –keith (No Idea)


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