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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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EXIT CONDITION:
Days of Wild Skies: LP
This was originally released in 1990 on Meantime. Some of you may go, “Ahhh... The label that gave us early Leatherface, HDQ, Sofa Head...” Yes, and Exit Condition fit in there rather well. Punky pop rock that looks inward. At the time, this was out of the ordinary, and somewhat a breath of fresh air. I can remember the times well and I did like this stuff. But my tastes are much different than they were twenty-two years ago, and this isn’t something I will listen to over and over in a single night; maybe every so often on a rainy afternoon. But if you like early Leatherface, early Snuff, and Three (Dischord band that featured folks from Gray Matter and Minor Threat), you will definitely like Exit Condition. The music is poppy—but there’s a strong rock undercurrent—and the lyrics are not sappy, self-indulgent emo garbage. This is more real and honest and relatable to anyone who has a soul. Not all the songs are keepers, but you can not deny the greatness of a song like “10,000 Lights.” –Matt Average (Boss Tuneage, bosstuneage.com)


EXECUTIONER:
Anthology: CD
Executioner was a San Jose hardcore band active in the 1980s. Although comparatively short-lived in comparison to, say, MDC, they nonetheless were quite prolific, managing to release an EP and some comp tracks, as well the stuff under review here. Compiled here is their recordings from 1982-’83, which is some twenty-nine songs from different recording sessions, live sets, comp recording sessions, and the like. The sound is true to its time and place—mostly atonal thrash with brief metal flourishes (which portend what they would end up sounding like just two or three years later) and the odd slower tune. The recordings are, for the most part, clean to studio quality, and the band had a rock-solid sound all their own. Punk completists will drool all over this, but the average punter will also find much to love here. For those wanting a more comprehensive overview of the band’s history, it comes snazzily packaged seven-inch style with a poster with pics and tons of reading material to get you up to speed. –jimmy (patacrecords.com)


RECIDE:
II: Cassette
Lo-fiTexas hardcore, somewhere between Negative Approach and the first Government Issue 7”. Others will cry Void worship, but I hear the burly Texas edge weighing heavy in the mix. The recording is a nasty mix of heavy bass and reverb, with a layer of analog distortion as icing on the top. I like that Not Normal tends to lean more towards quality hardcore than a development of a concentrated aesthetic within the label, and this release is a good addition. That being said, fans of the obvious comparisons will find this an easy release to get behind. –Ian Wise (Not Normal, notnormaltapes@gmail.com)


EVICTION PARTY:
Demo 2012: Cassette
It’s great to hear this band again. Demo 2012 has six songs, dense with that same kind of earnestness and ragged charm that initially made Plan-It-X stuff so appealing: heartfelt, joyful, tired, hopeful, self-examining punk songs. Self-critiquing folk songs made electric, buoyant with singalongs and scattered little guitar leads. Scrappy and resilient, similar in scope and range as Punkin Pie and One Reason. Very cool, and absolutely worth seeking out. –keith (Eviction Party)


EVIL EYE, THE / LAST CHUCKS, THE:
Conjoined: Split 7”
This is the happiest record I’ve heard in a while. Like conjoined twins conceived in the ‘90s, this combo platter serves up cheerful power pop like no other. Out of Norway sporting members of Turbonegro, The Evil Eye, ratchets up the ebullient factor with two’90s-inspired tracks skating audibly between Third Eye Blind and Green Day. You can hear them smiling through the record. On the flip side, The Last Chucks, with members of The Queers, flesh out their optimistic version of alt rock with a liking to the Counting Crows or The Gin Blossoms on Prozac. Leaning heavily on singing, not howling or screaming, and logical chord progression, this split puzzles me. –Kristen K (Diner Junkie, dinerjunkie.com)


PROJECTION, THE:
While You Were Out: CD
The case has a sticker proclaiming this punk pop for fans of “Goldfinger, Allister, Hextalls, MxPx, Sick Puppies,” which already tells you a lot. (I do not know how the Hextalls fit into this). I’ll go far as to say after spending four years at a small suburban college, I’ve got a high tolerance for stuff like this, but this thing both a.) Goes into full on nickleback (lowercase on purpose) territory, and b.) Has lyrical content involving tanning during a Florida beach vacation and how they wish they were rock stars. In other words, it’s inexcusable. My advice to them is to just buy a Steinways record and get a shitty temp job like the rest of us. –joe (Paramount Drive)


DOOM TOWN:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Straightforward, charging, mid-tempo punk with enough of a nod to the past to sound familiar but well footed in the here and now. Think Hex Dispensers in a sullen mood. –jimmy (no address)


PROFESSOR:
Corientation: CD-R
Dunno a thing about these kids, but based on a cover offering an academic-themed take on the first Minor Threat EP cover and songs addressing different aspects of college life, this is a piss take on the hardcore genre along the same lines as Crucial Youth and Anarchy 6. The tunes themselves are catchy and amusing, which will no doubt up its shelf life considerably. –jimmy (no address)


DIGITAL LEATHER:
Modern Problems: LP
One man band and indie media darling Shawn Foree is back with another ambitious mixed bag of punk-infused pop. It’s self-indulgent and annoying, but kind of lovable, too. Some of the more drawn out songs are a bit painful, but others are ultra-catchy. The recording and mix are polished, but not obnoxiously so. It’s still a bit much, particularly when it turns super psychedelic. The cover art is bright, but the lyrics sure aren’t. –Art Ettinger (FDH, fdhmusic.com)


PRIMITIVE HEARTS:
Self-titled: Cassette
Putting on a five-song cassette with no information on it except three first names and having it rock is what it’s all about for me. This is a solid trio of players. The bass riffs are tasteful. The vocal harmonies are poppy and well executed. The drummer and guitarist play with a vocabulary of rocking, retro riffs. The pace of the songs hover around the speed of The Dead Boys’ “All This and More.” I was looking for a song to single out, but I like them all. Great tape. Keeper. –Billups Allen (primitivehearts.com)


DIE LAST:
Marzenia Zdesperowanych Romantykow: LP
So here’s what I can gather is going on here: These guys are from Poland and this record is an older release from 2001 re-issued on vinyl for the first time. Musically, this reminds me a lot of Leatherface, Boy Sets Fire, and sometimes Samiam… except completely sung in Polish. The lyric sheet contains English translations of most of the songs, and that’s the only English anywhere on the entire record/packaging. While I don’t necessarily mean this as a criticism (although some people would take it as such), this record absolutely sounds like it’s from 2001. It’s a very dated sound. Emo bands like this were a dime a dozen back then, and the fact of the matter is many of them did emo better than this. But, that being said, listening to this record is a good representation of those days. –Mark Twistworthy (No Pasaran, nopasaran.pl)


P.R.O.B.L.E.M.S.:
Make It Through the Night: CD
I remember hearing a seven-inch by these cats a while back and kind of being on the fence about ‘em, but this is one heavy duty release here. Things rarely go past mid-tempo, but the delivery is so ratcheted up that even solidly punk covers, like the Cortina’s “Fascist Dictator,” are hurled with such a roar that it sounds more like a hardcore ditty than an aping of the original. Not big on muffled chords, dynamics, or subtlety, this lot, and that’s just fine ‘cause the conviction that comes across makes the hearing damage worth the trouble. And then they finish up with a (mostly) faithful cover of Crow’s (by way of Black Sabbath) “Evil Woman.” Great stuff. –jimmy (P.R.O.B.L.E.M.S.)


DECAY AFTER DEATH:
Alcohol: 7”
This band is all speed and killer riffs. The vocals are a huge, reverberated, pissed-off diatribe, and the rest of the recording is all blown out, but the mix levels everything together. The guitar is absolutely sick, with nods to Motörhead and British crust, but confident and forward with a modern vibe. The thing I love most about this record is that it is a total “background record” for a party, but sitting down and listening to it by yourself with headphones provides a much more interesting experience. It’s kind of hard for heavy records to go both ways like that lately. A highly recommended, rough around the edges, distinctly punk listen that will probably fly under the radar. –Ian Wise (Occult Whispers, occultwhispersrecords.blogpost.com)


PALLBEARER:
Sorrow and Extinction: CD
Did you ever wonder what it would sound like if Ozzy’s vocals had some reverb and he sang for a doom metal band? Well, wonder no more! Pallbearer’s debut full-length album is five songs that clock in at forty-nine minutes (yes, that’s right) and drenched in a somber, sad tone. As with most doom metal, the music isn’t fast and crazy, rather it’s deliberate and thoughtful, something that really requires the listener to stand back and appreciate the dirge that is created. All five songs are weighted and heavy. The album feels like a slow, trudging battle with the band slogging away, as though someone told them they had to make an album and they’re tired and worn but are still going to make a fucking great album that showcases their admirable skills. While the songs all clock in at over eight minutes each, they’re not unnecessarily long. It all feels quite natural and surprisingly soulful; at times almost sad. The production and mixing is good, enabling each instrument to really carry its own weight and complement a full sound on Sorrow and Extinction. I can’t say that I am normally a fan of doom metal, but this four-piece seems like the real deal. –kurt (Profound Lore, profoundlorerecords.com)


DEAD TO A DYING WORLD:
Self-titled: 2 x LP
It might be unfair to accuse Dead To A Dying World of relying heavily on the Neurosis influence, but that’s exactly what’s going on here right down to the cellos, vocals, and dark musical atmosphere. At first I was bothered by these traits—seeing as how there can and should only be one Neurosis—but then I realized that the bar may have been inadvertently set so high that it is far too much to ask for anything of this caliber to sound completely original or revitalizing. However, this is no mere homage. You haven’t lived until you’ve heard cellos accompanying a heavy downpour of Tragedy-esque fast parts. Not so much a concept album as it is an experimental metal opera in four movements, each side seems to surpass the prior in brutality. The packaging is incredible: two-eye catching, slime-colored LPs (they appear to be black until you hold them up to a light) each with their own printed dust sleeves, full color gatefold album jacket which fits right into an embossed outer sleeve. As visually captivating as the music it houses. –Juan Espinosa (Tofu Carnage, no address)


CRY, THE:
Self-titled: CD
Punky power pop with occasional appearances of the obligatory (and too often neglected) twelve-string twanger, and no shortage of tunes about love, love lost, love rebuked, and so on. Tunes are sugary without being too saccharine, and are criminally catchy. Fans of the Exploding Hearts would do well to pick this up. –jimmy (SP, sp-records.com)


ORGANISMS:
Rainbow Black + White: CD
Loud rock music with a vague ‘60s influence (mostly courtesy of the inclusion of an organ) and a singer who sounds like he took lessons from Lemmy. –jimmy (Scene Spirit, distributed by Interscope)


OLDFASHIONED IDEAS:
Promises Mean Nothing: CD
I’m so fucking sick of fake nostalgia. Pictures of shit from the forties on a skinhead album. Shock me, shock me, shock me. Lyrically, this is so off it’s occasionally painful, and I’m not even getting into the missing space in the name. Or am I? I am. If you want your logo to consist of an O and an I, think of a fucking name that only has an O and an I. Anti-racist skins who claim “blues belong in sheds” and “country only draws in rats.” Genius lyricists, indeed. Musically, it’s second-rate street punk without the aggression or mandatory chant required to be oi! –Rene Navarro (Switchlight)


COPPER GAMINS, THE:
Self-titled: CDEP
These two dudes are making an attempt at playing some extra-distorted blues, like the Mexican version of the early White Stripes or Black Keys. This recording is almost sub-Daniel Johnston in recording quality, though. I’m usually all about “crappy” recordings (i.e. the Urinals, Flipper, everything on Deadbeat Records), but if you’re gonna bother getting an artist to do your cover/layout and paying for professional packaging, it might help to put some of that money into making sure your music isn’t mastered so that it’s so muffled and quiet that it sounds like your speakers are shorted out. At any rate, it sounds like there may be some promising garage punk blues poking around, and maybe given a recording that is not so much “cleaner,” but perhaps better balanced, this band can shine a bit more. –Adrian Salas (Saustex)


CEREMONY:
Zoo: CD/LP
I really loved Ceremony’s last album, Rohnert Park. It seemed inspired by acts such as the Dicks and Black Flag. The sound was passionate, creative, and intense. There was fury matched with sincerity. Now they’ve signed to Matador and seemingly lost much of that feeling and their edge. While the album starts with a great song, “Hysteria,” the other eleven songs (twelve songs, thirty-six minutes total) just seem dull and tired. While there are a few exceptions, such as “World Blue,” the sound and vocals seem muted and lacking passion. The entire album seems too long, monotonous, and boring. Musically, the band is hardly intense and seem to be channeling Wire, Dead Kennedys, Public Image Ltd. and the Sex Pistols, but not in an inspiring way. It’s as though they took a little bit from each of those bands and came up with something average instead of outstanding. It seems as though they’re starting to play their influences, which is always a bad idea. The band may argue something such as “We’re maturing” or “we didn’t sell out” and that may be true and is totally acceptable, but it doesn’t have to mean that they lose the things that made them good in the first place: creativity, intensity, and focus. –kurt (Matador)


OI POLLOI / APPALCHIAN TERROR UNIT:
Split: 7” EP
Oi Polloi: More than three decades in (!) this group still know how to kick up the dust and deliver the “Discharge gone oi” goods. Three tunes—one each in English, Finnish and Gaelic, respectively—with which to pummel your ears, and your brain. Appalachian Terror Unit: Less Discharge and more Conflict/Nausea in the mix, with songs about the stupidity of the American public, resisting corporate raping of the planet for its resources, and meat eaters. Comes with a foldout poster/cover with lyrics, information, and a larger reproduction of the cover. –jimmy (Profane Existence)


CARBURETOR DUNG:
Inginku Rejam Raksasa Kejam!: 10”
Hardcore punk that sounds more influenced by ‘77 punk than hardcore. The bits on this record that remind me of Black Flag equally remind me of Wire. For the most part, they honestly don’t sound much like anybody else. Being the melody nerd that I am, I find their best bits are when there’s a bit of a tune in the vocal line. Check it out; it’s pretty interesting. –Bryan Static (Famed, no address)


BUILDINGS:
Melt Cry Sleep: LP
Holy shit, did Big Black get back together? Oh wait, this band is called Buildings. Huh. You know, that’s actually a pretty good name for these guys. They play tightly constructed noise/math rock with post-hardcore thrown in the mix. I use the word “constructed” very consciously here. These tunes feel like they’ve been put through the shop for a while. They’ve been finely tuned and hand crafted into a very well done LP. My familiarity with this band could best be described as none, so if this is a debut, wow, good job. –Bryan Static (Cash Cow)


OGRE SMASH DEATH BOOM:
Self-titled: CD
Bit of an odd name for a band that sounds like the Pixies on a ‘60s garage band bender, or vice versa, but they do what they do well. –jimmy (Ogre Smash Death Boom, myspace.com/ogresmashdeathboom)


BROWN BROGUES:
Wildman: 7” EP
Fuzzed-out, echo-laden, feedbacky swampy pounding that sounds like what i imagine the Oblivians might have sounded like if they were performing at the Sistine Chapel and i was listening to them from some supply closet in the basement where i was trying to stir the chunks out of a big metal can’s worth of weird old smelly paint. Approximately as lyrically decipherable as the Urinals. Perhaps i’ll replace the Urinal cakes when i’m done with this paint. Thanks for bringing the matter to my attention. BEST SONG: “Grind A Go Go” BEST SONG TITLE “Grind A Go Go” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: The back cover states that “Brown Brogues is not, never has been and never will be a blues band.” Wow, sorry i blew up. –norb (Ken Rock)


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