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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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TENTACLES:
Ambivalence: LP
A pretty brutal merging of grindcore and screamo: slow, drawn-out instrumental parts butting up against the ceaseless, punishing relentlessness of the songs themselves. Pretty dang solid, whether the vocalist is willfully sacrificing throat-lining and the double bass is a blur, or they’re just building layers of sound on a single, ominous, loooong riff. Severe throughout. Screen printed covers and a release between multiple labels. Nice work. –Keith Rosson (Dead Tank)


TESTA ROSA:
III: CD
Atomic Records was such a great record store. Rumor has it that it recently closed, which has to be nothing short of rough for residents of Wisconsin. They also put out this full-length of solid, soft guitar pop. Captivating female vocals really carry most of the tunes on this long player. Likely crowd favorites at home, I’m sure.  –Steve Adamyk (Atomic, no address listed)


THISCLOSE:
Chapter III: LP
Seriouslydon’t get this band. Discharge references galore, a layout that looks like it’s culled from an Abe Froman or Defiance, Ohio record—quick, galloping riffs that toe the line between hardcore and metal and, again, Discharge—and hands down the worst vocals I’ve heard in a long time. Sorry, guys, but holy shit. Relentless operatic falsettos just do notwork here. Whose big idea was this, anyway?  –Keith Rosson (SPHC)


TIDELAND:
Love Luster: CS
Indie rock firmly planted in fertile shoegaze territory. Sometimes dreamy, sometimes catchy, and judging by the liner notes now very much defunct. If you loved Sleepwall then you’ll dig these guys. –Juan Espinosa (Protagonist, tideland.bandcamp.com)


TOLERANGRENZE / DANGER DANGER!:
Split: EP
I’m digging this split with Tolerangrenze and Danger Danger! Three weird fastcore songs from Tolerangrenze are recorded with the perfect amount of fuzz. Screamy atonal vocals add to its oddball sound. It’s in German, and I love the fact that I can’t understand a damn word of it. Just raw, early ‘80s Euro-punk. Danger Danger! lays on a nice, gritty layer of early DC hardcore meets oi!/street punk with some of the most maniacal beats out there. Both sides rule. –Camylle Reynolds (Spastic Fantastic / Crapoulet / Munich Punk Shop / PIFIA)


TØRSÖ:
Sono Pronta a Morire: LP
Bleak and blistering feminist d-beat made by members of a million good bands I don’t need to name because this stands on its own. The vocals are snarling and caustic—definitely the biggest standout on this release, though the rest of the band sure as hell keeps up. The vocals actually remind me a lot of Reivers, another Oakland outfit, though the bands aren’t necessarily that similar otherwise. There’s some kind of effect on them that makes them sound like they’re coming out of a cave, which is really the cherry on top when it comes to lyrics like, “We all have dreams of being dismembered.” I feel like I could make closer comparisons if I was more familiar with European crust, but I know hard-and-fast-as-fuck when I hear it. This is tight. –Indiana Laub (State, sorrystaterecords.com)


TOTAL COYOTEL:
Artwar: CD
Fourteen tracks of soundscape/industrial/spoken word stuff with the pretense meter turned up to eleven. An anti-authority screed pointing out fairly obvious things kicks it off, coming off a lot like something a nineteen-year-old kid would come up with during the first year of art school. Titles like “Art War Declaration” give you an idea of what you are in for. If you are big on spoken word/performance art, this will probably be up your alley.  –Mike Frame (Records Ad Nauseum, recordsadnauseam.bandcamp.com)


TRY THE PIE:
Rest: LP
Because there’s no better way to describe Try The Pie’s Rest, here’s a quote from HHBTM: “It’s a record so intimate it feels like you’re eavesdropping.” These are bedroom recordings from San Jose-based musician and artist Bean Tupou. Every song is a sparse landscape populated by ghostly vocals and a warm acoustic guitar and ukulele. Think Mirah, Badlands, and Joe Jack Talcum. It’s cathartic to listen to something so minimal albeit melodically rich. Ultimately, your enjoyment of Rest depends on your ability to relate to the sentiments and appreciate the sincerity.  –Sean Arenas (HHBTM, hhbtm.com)


TUNNEL, THE:
Apparition Overdrive: CD
I would guess that of all the music I like to listen to, about ninety percent of it is because it is fun. Music makes me happy. The Tunnel falls into the other ten percent. It isn’t fun and it doesn’t make me happy… But I can’t stop listening. Every time I try and to put it into words, I end up hitting backspace because it’s not quite right. I can’t remember the last time I had this much trouble describing a band. If the band is reading this, I apologize for this ham-handed attempt to describe what I am hearing. Musically, it is as if you’re able to combine The Jesus Lizard with Portishead and it somehow works. The vocals are a whole other story—they creep and croon around the songs—yet are right out in front of everything. It slides a bit too far into “bluesy weirdo” territory for my liking at times, but not enough for me to want to turn it off. In fact, I can’t turn it off. This record is not enjoyable yet incredibly satisfying. –Ty Stranglehold (Glorious Alchemical, insidethetunnel.com)


TURKISH TECHNO:
Number Two: LP
After a period of depression during which I didn’t listen to any music for almost five months, I slowly eased myself back into the saddle with some tried and trusted favorites, along with a handful of new releases. One of those newbies included this, Turkish Techno’s second album—one where time wasn’t wasted on choosing a title—containing a collection of songs that almost singlehandedly reignited my pilot light. From then on, doors kept opening and I felt reborn, with a renewed desire to listen to whatever I could get my hands on. No mean feat, yet all it took was the sound of two guitars frantically buzzing away, some catchy tunes, and to top it all off, an outstanding cover of “Just Like Heaven” by The Cure to getting the fire burning again. Much better than any prescription drugs, so I tip my hat to the band for this record.
  –Rich Cocksedge (Dirt Cult, dirtcultrecords.com)


TV FREAKS:
Bad Luck Charms: LP
The ever-prolific TV Freaks return with a new album and have ratcheted the nervous energy up even higher than before. TV Freaks are one of those bands that get better and better with every new record. How they’ll surpass this one remains to be heard, as this is up there, high in the levels of greatness I assign to their records, and makes their previous records pale in comparison. It starts off with edgy and belligerent then comes blazing around the corner and it’s full-on from there on out. “Fly High” sounds a little like Mission Of Burma, only with a dirtier and distorted sound. “Glue” is a cranker! The song is boiling over in urgency that reaches a frenzy, ending this record on a high note. I love the character that’s in the vocals and how David O’Connor stutters some of the words for emphasis, or just changes how he sounds at times in other songs to drive a point home. One of the best of the past year, for sure. This one is the limited edition purple vinyl version with screen printed cover art that’s different from the regular version. Get this, whatever edition is within reach.  –Matt Average (Deranged)


TY REX:
Self-titled: LP
I got into T. Rex late but fell totally in love with the band, so when this record arrived I was intrigued and pleasantly surprised. Ty Segall seems to be putting out a new record everyday, which is great, but it can be overwhelming. The Ty Rex take on T. Rex is really loose and garage-y, as you would expect. Most of the covers are done at the original tempo with Segall’s lo-fi twist on the vocals and overall production. “20th Century Boy” is taken to a much faster tempo, how I imagine T. Rex would sound at a live show if they were having a blast. There are some really great song selections on here, but what’s more important is the songs he didn’t pick—the obvious ones that have been covered ad nauseam.  –Ryan Nichols (Goner, gonerrecords@gmail.com)


ULICZNY OPRYSZEK:
Na Zawsze Punk: LP
Current Polish band Uliczny Opryszek pays tribute to old-school Polish punk bands from the late ‘70s through the early ‘90s, covering their songs and using bootleg live recordings of the originals as interludes. It’s an awesome concept, executed in a way that positions punk as a folk tradition to be passed along. Uliczny Opryszek ties all of the bands’ sounds together into a clean-vocaled, anthemic, melodic hardcore/oi! hybrid that’s a pleasure to listen to, revisiting the past without sounding stuck in it. Liner notes include info about the old Polish bands and a bunch of rad photos. –CT Terry (Pasazer)


UTAH JAZZ:
The Ivory Wave: LP
Though Utah Jazz are based in Buffalo, I keep thinking of something Brett Kucharski (of Bad Taste, Live Bait, Reel Time Records) wrote about Rochester—home of Eastman Kodak, maker of the raw material for our projected desires—and its status as an almost exact midpoint between rust belt industry and cinema dream space. As he puts it: “...the absolute physical connection between industrialism and art... the link between urban squalor and imagination.” It’s not quite either and also an extreme combination of both. We have our feet very much on the ground and our heads very much in the clouds, and we do the leg work so that out West (or anywhere, really) people can, I don’t know, be shaggy and laid back or make party records ad infinitum. Utah Jazz fit into the current upstate/Midwest/rust belt golden age of psych punk that’s both caustic and fun, far enough away from their influences to resemble only themselves, even on “Growin’ Stuff,” the best X song to come out in a long time. I’m not trying to pick a fight with the West Coast, either (look who I’m writing for), and even if I am, I’m not saying anything nearly as strong as the lyrics to “Moontan.” I’m not even saying you have to suffer for your art; I’m saying Utah Jazz actually made some art.  –Matt Werts (Black Dots, blackdotsbuffalo.bandcamp.com)


VALENTEENS, THE:
Fuzzed out Tone for the Painfully Alone: CS
The cover of this release from the Valenteens is a beat up Big Muff, one of the greatest fuzz pedals ever created. If you love that guitar accessory as much as I do, then this album will not disappoint. From the second you hit play, you hear the sonic hum, grind, and feedback and then an eardrum-disintegrating guitar assault of an album. It’s fast, it’s aggressive, but it has some real tenderness in terms of songwriting. This cassette hits all the right notes for me.  –John Mule (Hip Kid, hipkidrecords.com)


VAPIDS, THE:
“Punitive Damage” b/w “Thin Skin”: 7”
This single is the first release from Canadian punk veterans The Vapids since 2009. It’s a worthy reemergence, employing all of the credentials they’ve amassed over their two decades in the scene. The Vapids have a knack for crafting catchy songs just as adeptly as any of their ‘90s and ‘00s pop and skate punk contemporaries—as well as bands like Ramones, who directly influenced most of that ilk—but their melodies and hooks always rolled through the dirt and gnashed their teeth in a way that set them apart. “Punitive Damage” pulls even further away from the band’s poppier inclinations, boasting a distinctly rock’n’roll swagger and a blazing guitar solo. “Thin Skin” is even more of a ripper, tightly composed yet steeped in the kind of youthful aggression that evades so many veteran bands. The all-analog recording makes the A side’s tracks feel loose and alive, even dangerous—like they are blazing along the edge of a cliff and may plunge into the abyss at any moment. The B side is home to a secret untitled track dedicated to The Vapids’ fallen brother and guitarist Robert “Robo” DeGrunt. The song slows its roll enough to be called an anthem, but swaps one kind of intensity for another, deftly conveying years of hurt in less than four minutes. With album art inspired by The Misfits’ 3 Hits from Hell EP, this single is a whole cornucopia of punk rock pomp fit into a neat, little package. –Kelley O’Death (Surfin’ Ki, surfinkirecords.bigcartel.com)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Into the Voodoo: LP
“Toilet Paper Torches” by the Jim Parsons Project kicks this collection off with such blatant Misfits worship that I immediately groaned. If you want to cover “Halloween,” just cover “Halloween,” guys. Bad Whoremoans stick closer to a standard melodic punk sound, but go heavy on Misfits-style “Whoa-oh-oh”s. It works on “Deep Red,” but not so much on “Maniac.” Their on-point Argento and Henenlotter movie references are enough to keep the horror movie nerd in me satisfied, though. Creepersin threaten to do something original once in a while, but then pull back into a style that brings to mind Michale Graves-era Misfits. I listen to a lot of horror punk and what amazes me here and on so many other records is how bands can pull off the sound of the Misfits while totally missing the vibe altogether.  –MP Johnson (Uncommon Interests, uncommoninterests.bandcamp.com)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Ritmo Selvagem: 7”
Either a giant split or a tiny comp, this offering from Porto Alegre’s Yeah You! Records features four of the “most thrilling bands in activity in Brazil.” These groups represent “iê-iê-iê”—or “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!”—Brazil’s term for their garage movement that sprang up in the 1960s. Renegades Of Punk are first in line on Side A with “Estes Homens Farrapos (The Beggars),” on which the band’s lively, jangly garage roots show through their growling punk aggression. Ornitorrincos are next with “Lutamos Para Viver (Os Brasas),” a lo-fi entry that belies its contemporary recording via both its production and its vintage punk bop. Side B is home to Futuro’s “Abre, Sou Eu (Beat Boys),” the comp’s standout track that revels in its fist-pumping refrains, nigh psychedelic guitar interlude, and spastic, layered gang vocals. Rounding out the pack is Mahatma Gangue’s “Mundo Vazio (Márcio Greyck),” the former half of which translates to “Empty World” in English. This final track trades in the upbeat, rebellious punk of yore for spasmodically breathy vocals over a mid-tempo, fuzzed-out, three-chord melody that could totally pass for one of the Ramones’ adolescent love ballads—”I Want You Around” comes to mind—if it wasn’t sung in Portuguese. Ritmo Salvagem—or “Wild Beat”—is not only an excellent introduction to Brazilian garage punk, but also an all-around gem of a compilation.  –Kelley O’Death (Yeah You!, yeahyourecords.bigcartel.com)


VISION:
Inertia: CD
I had to do a double take when I saw that these guys were on Burger Records. Their sound is a lot closer to something that would have come out on Creation Records in the early ‘90s. There’s a dense blend on this record. The music falls on the fuzzy shoegaze side, while the vocals have a bratty Britpop quality to them. I can’t help but be reminded of Oasis, minus the pretension. Inertia is a strong start for a two-piece band from East L.A. –Ryan Nichols (Burger, burgerrecords@gmail.com)


WARCRY:
Needle Zero Drone II: 7”
Latest slab-o-wax from the long(ish) running Portland crust band Warcry, featuring members of a bunch of other bands. Warcry are one of the better Discharge-by-way-of-Sweden bands (and there is some stiff competition in the genre) and these three songs keep up the aesthetic and energy of their earlier releases. The two songs on the A side are new (or at least new to me), while the B side “Drone” is a different mix of a song that appeared on their last LP. While the style is certainly referential, the production and execution is top notch. This is a solid effort from a group of people that seem to be incapable of making a bad record. –Ian Wise (Self-released)


WARCRY:
Savage Machinery: LP
Portland’s d-beat hardcore kings need no introduction; they’ve been doing this for just as long as anyone else and probably better than most. Shitlickers at 1,000 RPMs. Motörhead attitude in a Totalitar shirt. Does anyone else out there happen to think that sometimes the best songs on a band’s album are on the B side? Even if you don’t agree, I dare you to not circle pit in your room to the sounds of earth-shattering hardcore devastation that, if played at the right volume, will cause air raid sirens to go off. Wake up and smell the napalm, poser. –Juan Espinosa (Warcry, no address listed)


WASTED POTENTIAL:
Nervous Conditions: 7”
These Canadians provide an energy-packed hybrid of punk and metal with thick, chunky guitars and wailing solos being the order of the day. It’s not reinventing the wheel but the four songs are invigorating and fun, easily keeping my attention as they rage and thrash in equal measure. With a tag line of “Gluten Free Crust Punk,” this is a band with a sense of humor although I admit to struggling to truly understand the meaning of the songs, even with a lyric sheet. What is unusual is that the last two sentences of both songs on the side A are exactly the same, not something I’ve ever encountered before.  –Rich Cocksedge (Get Party, getparty.limitedrun.com)


WESTERN SETTINGS:
Old Pain: CD
I love San Diego. It’s one of the farthest points in the United States from my home, yet from the few visits there, I actually ache for it. Western Settings’ sound is a piece of that yearning. Old Pain is warm and inviting, but with a strong undercurrent of melancholy. Friend-punk, ‘cause real friends go through all the emotions with you. That being said, beginning the six tracks with a rousing, heart-bearing singalong borders on the pre-ejaculate. Honestly, I burned this into my laptop, but completely changed the track chronology. Not saying it’s better than what the actual band decided, just saying I’m so invested in the songs I had to make it work for me.  –Matt Seward (La Escalera, laescalerarecords.com)


WET HEAVE:
Warm Shrimp: CS
Not nearly as disgusting as the name might make you think. It’s still doing absolutely nothing for me. All the hallmarks of stompy garage rock: jammy guitar leads; distorted, bored-sounding vocals; repetitive and vaguely douchey-sounding rock riffs. I know people out there are into this stuff, but I can’t for the life of me imagine what draws them to one new band over another. There’s absolutely nothing to distinguish them from one another. Sorry, nope, can’t do it.  –Indiana Laub (Crush Grove, crushgroverecords.bandcamp.com)


WET NURSE:
Daily Whatever: LP
There’s usually only so much of that jangly garage aesthetic I can take with my poppy punk, but Wet Nurse is totally nailing it. The whole album has this stripped-down but unfailingly energetic sound, something like what Songs For Moms or Jabber have been doing. It’s new and different from almost anything I’ve heard lately, but something about it feels like it’s from another time—a couple decades from now, I doubt anyone would be able to pin down exactly when this came out. I was hesitant to suggest that “Bon Voyage” and “Peace Treaty” kinda have this ‘60s-girl-group feeling, but then I got to “Randy Kelly,” and damn, no doubt about it. This band just sounds like they are cool as hell.  –Indiana Laub (Recess, recessrecords.com)


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