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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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WET ONES:
Self-titled: CD
A punk rock supergroup of sorts, featuring members of Mouthbreathers and Fag Cop. Tunes vacillate between spazzed-out, blown-out punk and spazzed-out, blown-out garage punk, with “Static” being the point where the two converge into a truly choice tune. If ye like yer music to sound like it’s being played through groovy power drills, look no further.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Slovenly, slovenly.com)


WHATEVER BRAINS:
Self-titled: LP
This is the fourth self-titled Whatever Brains LP. Confusing? Yes. But it’s fitting given how absolutely goofy they are. From the artwork mimicking old timey video game fonts to the bizarre electronica that punctuates most of the tracks, this is the sort of polarizing release that most will either love or hate. I didn’t find it pretentious at all and can see why some might get amusement out of it. It’s semi-obnoxious, but in a good way. I can’t tell if it’s purely a joke record or more of a tongue-in-cheek attempt to use a gimmick to worthy effect. Either way, it’s an interesting Devo-inspired trip into musical nuttiness.  –Art Ettinger (Sorry State)


WHITE FANG:
Chunks: CD
White Fang and the Gnar Tapes/Burger crew have given us thee ultimate party record. Chunks is bananas from start to finish. It’s fucked. Totally ridiculous—yet brilliant—lyrics somehow co-existing in harmony. Strip The Black Lips of their love of the ‘60s, replace it with some current L.A. fuzz and Municipal Waste’s sense of humor, and you’re off in the right direction. Nice. –Steve Adamyk (Burger, burgerecords.com)


WILD MOHICANS:
Get Me Out of This Hell: LP
Wild Mohicans is an excellent, straightforward hardcore punk band from Portland, OR. This album mixes everything from mid-tempo melodic punk to faster, classic core. They’re kind of a less corny version of the fashion bands of the 1990s, with an almost Boston vibe. The recording quality captures their earnest rawness beautifully and the packaging is a class act as well, from the neat black-and-white artwork on down. No one’s going to be clamoring to get out when listening to Get Me Out of This Hell.  –Art Ettinger (Black Water)


WOLFHOUR:
Dead on Arrival: LP
This Swedish supergroup is made up of members of classic Swedish bands including Anti Cimex and Driller Killer. Thus there’s a built-in audience for this release, as there should be, given how great those earlier bands were. Musically all over the map—from melodic semi-pop to screamed mainline hardcore—it’s as well-studied and solid as you’d expect given its members’ backgrounds. Sometimes supergroups disappoint, but this isn’t one of those instances. Highly recommended, and not just for fans of their earlier groups. Wolfhour is terrific.  –Art Ettinger (Kibou, kibourecords.bigcartel.com)


WRONG, THE:
Technology: CS
I think of Chicago and Northwestern Indiana as tacitly competing to make the weirdest punk releases in these United States, and the Wrong (from Chicago) is doing their part. This four-track release from Not Normal Tapes spins itself out in less than six minutes, during which the listener is pummeled with yelp-screamed vocals and mixed-down riffs too classic to resist. It’s noisy but deceptively catchy, like if the Ramones played twice as fast and vocalized by screeching. It makes me wanna slam, and I plan to. –Lyle –Guest Contributor (Not Normal Tapes, notnormal.bigcartel.com)


YOUR PEST BAND:
Never Fall You Again: 7”
Your Pest Band consistently writes really good music. Period. “Never Fall You Again” is now my favorite YPB song. They no longer resemble manic pop punk, so if your favorite tune is “You Were the Rebel,” then you might be disappointed. However, this Japanese quartet re-envision ‘60s garage pop hooks with a growling attitude. Fumito’s snarl softens the shimmering guitars and keeps the 7” from being too cute or throwback. When “Escape” kicks in with a howling guitar, I want to pogo until I puke. This is a great place to start for newcomers and an all-around excellent release from a prolific group. –Sean Arenas (Brassneck)


ZEN LUNATICS:
Sacred Mountain Blues: 12”
Zen Lunatics are from Kyoto, Japan, and this one-sided 12” record brings ten songs of thrashy, hardcore punk. Immediately upon putting the needle on the record and seeing that they were from Japan, I had an expectation of what I thought this was going to sound like, but was I ever wrong! The first song—with its bluesy lead riff and mid-tempo start—threw me for a loop, but it didn’t take long for the songs to take a sound seemingly influenced by both the late ‘80s singalong or youth crew hardcore scene (without the lyrical content of ‘80s singalong or youth crew stuff) and early ‘90s thrashcore. Actually, I would have never guessed they were from Japan without having read it first. Ultimately, this is good and comforting, like visiting an old friend you haven’t heard from in ages or a good book that you’ve read a million times. –Mark Twistworthy (Divis And Mason, zenlunatics.bandcamp.com)


ZEX:
Fear No Man: 7”
Ottawa’s Zex have done some serious global damage within the last two years. Since their inception, the band has toured—seemingly non-stop—all over North America, the Pacific Rim, and I believe they’re now in South America. No surprises to those who know Jo; the man is literally a road warrior and is determined as all hell to succeed at his craft. Germ Attak and Blue Cross left their marks and now it’s time for Zex to shine. This single is more of the punk-meets-NWOBHM the band has come to be known for (even though the back photo is a little dated with a non-current member). These tracks have more of an Adicts feel than previous releases, that’s for sure (especially “I Didn’t Know”). Great stuff.  –Steve Adamyk (Loud Punk, loudpunk.com)


ABOLITIONIST:
The Vicious Rumor: CS
Totally solid, mid-tempo punk rock from Portland, OR. Normally, I am quick to find an easy comparison for stuff I come across, but for some reason none readily come to mind here. I have to offer you something though, dearest reader.... Um, how about more Midwest than Portland? That probably isn’t too accurate as, lyrically, these guys are straight-up PDX. Some days it just doesn’t pay to get up.  –Garrett Barnwell (Death Culture)


ABORTTI 13:
Punkit Ei Kuole: CS
I’m not really sure about the chronology of Abortti 13. Their first documentation is their classic 1984 split with Pyhäkoulu (which seems to be climbing in price as the current wave of KBD hoarders learn of its existence after running through the other classic Finnish releases by Terveet Kadet and Lama), but then there were no records until 2009—though I managed to find a reference to a bootleg tape that collects those “lost years.” This tape is a retrospective of some songs I know (all their tracks from that split are on here) and a lot I don’t know, so maybe they’re intending to close the gap with this release. The songs were re-recorded this year, which bummed me out at first. I was found to be mistaken though, as these songs sound great. I’m not quite sure how they managed to make this sound so fresh and new after all these years, but I honestly think this is some of the best material this band has churned out. The production is heavy and has more bite to it than their last LP, but is just as urgent and retains a classic Finnish punk sound. Sadly, this was limited to one hundred copies and looks as if it was only released in Finland, but maybe there will be a vinyl pressing in the future.  –Ian Wise (Self-released, abortti13.bandcamp.com)


ABSOLUT / PARANOID:
Jawbreaking Mangel Devestation: Split: 12” EP
Absolut from Toronto take no prisoners with a four-song d-beat assault. The Far East is most noticeably the source of their inspiration, as I’m detecting hints of Burning Spirit hardcore and G.I.S.M.-esque metal influence and guitar leads—fierce-as-fuck, as you may have guessed. Paranoid from Sweden’s delivery is slightly rawer than Absolut’s but just as pulverizing, if not more. Buzzing guitars, apocalyptic drum bashing, and manic vocal howling will surely rip posers to shreds. Highly recommended for fans of Aghast, Impalers, Desperat, See You In Hell, and everything in between.  –Juan Espinosa (Beach Impediment / Brain Solvent Propaganda)


ALL DOGS:
Kicking Every Day: LP
All Dogs, from Columbus, OH, emit chill vibes and unfiltered heartache that appeals to fans of P.S. Eliot and Acid Fast. Singer/guitarist Maryn Jones softly croons on opener “Black Hole,” which is a forecast for much of the record. Many of the songs don’t so much as strike you as they seem to slowly seep under your skin. You gradually catch on to the dense melodies and poetic lyricism. When “That Kind of Girl” kicks in with its upbeat tempo (and downbeat lyrics: “I know that I am always fucking up your world”), it’s a break from the dreamy, head-nodding atmosphere of the previous three songs. That’s not to say that the slow jams aren’t appealing—rather the driving songs, like “Flowers” and “Ophelia,” make the interpersonal tragedy of “Leading Me Back to You” and “Skin” much more tragic. All Dogs are a whirlwind of emotions that I don’t mind getting swept up in.  –Sean Arenas (Salinas)


ANGELIC UPSTARTS:
Bullingdon Bastards: LP/CD
Whilst many older punk bands might never again reach the heights of their earlier material, it’s heartening to hear those that can still write impactful new music. The lyrical targets for Thomas “Mensi” Mensforth haven’t changed at all; the government and fascists are still within his sights. There is a fine mix of songs here, some maintaining a harder edge whilst others taking on a more melodic approach that is even a bit poppy in places. It’s this variation which makes the album work so well, never allowing it to stagnate. Another plus is a guitar sound reminiscent of Stiff Little Fingers, one more reason why I know I’ll be returning to Bullingdon Bastards on many occasions.  –Rich Cocksedge (Boss Tuneage)


ASHLEY REAKS:
This Is Planet Grot: CD
Ashley Reaks is a multi-faceted artist from England, with many works over the last two decades in collage, video, and music. This is his first true punk rock album, though you can clearly hear that he’s been a student of British punk since the early ‘80s, as This Is Planet Grot recalls elements of Crass, (English) Subhumans, and U.K. Subs. Unique songs and a unique perspective; this is an interesting listen, though some songs tend to be a bit repetitive.  –Chad Williams (Self-released, ashleyreaks.com, info@ashleyreaks.com)


AWEFUL KANAWFUL & HIS RUBBER HUSBAND’S BAND:
Brave as Hits: CS
Don’t be fooled by the corny ‘80s Glamour Shots photo on the cover that makes Aweful look like some sort of Christian rocker. Aweful Kanawful mines the history of American music, playing a bit of Sun Records rockabilly, a bit of sixties pop like the Grass Roots, some psychedelic rock, some Bob Dylan And The Band, some hootenanny stuff, and even some skiffle (which isn’t really American Music but Britain’s answer to... just forget it). He reminds me of Greil Marcus’s vision of Olde Weird America played with the (perhaps intentional) slop of a Richard Hell And The Voidoids bootleg, and some Mojo Nixon thrown in for good measure. Too diverse to be garage rock, I guess you’d have to call this garage Americana. Maybe that’s a stupid word, but Kanawful is takin’ it back.  –Craven Rock (Jelly Music, jellymusicinc.bandcamp.com)


AWEFUL KANAWFUL & HIS RUBBER HUSBAND’S BAND:
Brave as Hits: CS
Get ready to be bewitched by this magician musician. Loose-knit, lo-fi deep cuts sprinkled in rockabilly keef, unceremoniously marry manic piano to idiot-savant indie songwriting. Truly a bizarro wünderkind, Aweful Kanawful stitches together twenty-one mini-songs to make a colorful patchwork quilt of an EP, channeling Jerry Lee Lewis and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins while remaining wholly visionary. So helmets off to this daredevil crooner. He sure knows how to flip a mean single.  –Simone Carter (Jelly Music, reeltimerecordss@gmail.com, jellymusicinc.bandcamp.com)


BABY SHAKES:
“She’s a Star” b/w “Gimme Your Love”: 7” EP
Keep on walkin’ folks. Nothin’ new to see here. Baby Shakes offers up a mawkish EP featuring childlike vocals backed by cherubic “oohs” and “aahs,” tired ‘50s melodies, and trite lyrics. They’re like a really dumbed down version of Ex Hex, if Mary Timony tragically lost her moxie and all sense of dignity. Honestly, the best moment of this EP was the instant the last chord of the last song died. RIP.  –Simone Carter (Surfin’ Ki, surfinkirecords.bigcartel.com / Astro Girl, astrogirlrecords.bigcartel.com)


BABY SHAKES:
Starry Eyes: LP
Few bands are writing songs this good these days and none are better looking. I want to take this album into the bedroom and do terrible, terrible things to it. Perhaps I already have! Horizontally-striped Rock’n’Roll Girl rock’n’roll, that transcends the (admittedly not unwelcome) clichés of the art form. If I told you to quit your job, drop out of school, buy this album and run away from home, I wouldn’t be that far off the mark. BEST SONG: “All The Pretty Things.” BEST SONG TITLE: I dunno, do I get to make a joke about the Records song now or later? FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Packaging includes a photo of them getting their Undertones records signed by John O’Neill. THAT’S class.  –Rev. Norb (Lil’ Chewy)


BACKWARDS MESSAGE:
Self-titled: CS
All I can really say about this band is they play hardcore with barking vocals. There’s not much to differentiate one song from another, as the guitar rarely changes tempo and the vocals sound as if the singer was looped and dubbed over every track.  –Craven Rock (Self-released)


BAD BEATS:
Tough Luck: CD-R
Bad Beats is the essence of party; party is the essence of Bad Beats. Boil ‘em down, chop ‘em up, swallow ‘em whole, then puke ‘em out and you still have unadulterated fun in its most potent form. Tough Luck takes you to one hell of a sonic kegger: punk moshes into surf which twists into doo-wop and back again. It’s like they harnessed the incongruous DIY aesthetic of Parquet Courts to the brilliant pseudo-simplistic song crafting of Jay Reatard and rode that pony all the way to your local sock hop. So look for Bad Beats on the horizonthey’re bound to charm their way into the hearts of critics and neophytes alike and leave the dance wearing the world’s letterman jacket.  –Simone Carter (Self-released, badbeatstx.bandcamp.com)


BAD BOYFRIENDS:
Songs Yer Mom Taught Us Demo: CS
There’s a little something for everybody here: spastic-thrash, punkabilly, fuzzed-out lo-fi with just a touch of British punk kind of deal that was probably recorded in an empty grain silo. –Jackie Rusted (Gotcha! Comix, gotchacomix.wordpress.com)


BAD MOJOS:
Punx Faggots Freaks: 7”
Absolutely bizarre vocals highlight this instantly grabbing, Spits-inspired band from Switzerland. The singer is in the upper echelon of odd, sounding somewhere between a Muppet and a stroke victim in speech therapy. Most, but not all, of the songs are in English, with really silly lyrics presented totally humorlessly. Standing out due to the sheer craziness of the vocals, Bad Mojos is anything but bad.  –Art Ettinger (No Front Teeth)


BALLOT BURNER:
Forward into Extinction: 7”
Hailing from Regina, Saskatchewan, Ballot Burner is a d-beat/crust band with a populist approach. A lot of similar bands are totally inaccessible musically, but Ballot Burner is on the catchier end of the genre, reminding me of the classic 1990s group Dis Sucks. The lyrics are shrewd, the packaging is beautiful, and the recording is slick. The drumming is proficient and ambitious, the vocals are evocative, and the lyrics are political without being preachy. There’s not much more you could ask for in a crust record, so despite the title, they aren’t likely to face extinction anytime soon.  –Art Ettinger (Harvest King, harvestkingrecords.com)


BALLOT BURNER:
Forward to Extinction: 7”
The music is gritty, devastating, thrashin’ hardcore punk that borders on “crust-as-fuck.” The lyrics are thoughtfully pissed. The cover art is taken from Les Diableries, which according to the insert is “a series of early stereoscopic images published in Paris in the latter half of the 19th Century, depicting scenes of daily life in Hell.” All in all, solid, well-rounded release. Perfect for the next time you wanna listen to something that’s gonna kick your face in.  –Daryl Gussin (Harvest King, harvestkingrecords.com)


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