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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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UNRULED:
Time Is Running Out: EP
Originally released in 1984, and now reissued with an extra track (“Clear the Pigs Out”). U.K.-influenced punk with a huge dose of Discharge ran through a Canadian punk filter. Tuneful and thundering at the same time. The title track is awesome. Starts off with a familiar riff, then ker-blam!, they rip into some fast Discharge-style punk about the impending nuclear war between Russia and the USA. The solo towards the end adds even more mood. The previously unreleased “Clear the Pigs Out” is a noisy-as-hell song, where it sounds like the levels are pushing into the red. The song that stands out most for me is “Forced Mistake” with the raging opener that reminds me of NWOFBHM stuff. Grab this one! –Matt Average (Schizophrenic, schizophrenicrex.com)


TUCK AND ROLL:
Broken Radios: CDEP
Vaguely punky poppy rock. It sounds like the bulk of the songs are about relationships/heartbreak, or people who are on drugs. One of the songs reminded me of The Arrivals for a bit, which was cool. –joe (NXNW)


TRUE SOUNDS OF THUNDER:
Self-titled: LP
Pretty crude punk rock. Fans of Fear might be into this. –ryan (Jeth-Row, jethrowrecords.blogspot.com)


TRENCH ROT:
Self-titled: 7”
It’s getting harder and harder to find ways to review hardcore this generic in an interesting way. However, these guys couldn’t even be bothered to put in an insert, or even to print on the opposite side of their dead-war-victims cover. No lyric sheet. They don’t even bother to include the address of their label, so that we can assume where they’re from. So fuck it! If they’re not going to even try, why should I? Well, I guess I should say something... it’s generic hardcore. –Craven (Do Some Harm, no address listed)


TODOS CAERAN:
After Dark: LP
I had a hard time figuring out what to make of this. It’s a bit of a concept album. An extended intro and the first few songs which follow seem to be telling a story, and the album art and design feel like they tie in to this concept. However, the songs on Side B of the record didn’t seem to fit conceptually with the rest of the album. Musically, this is screamy, emo-tinged post-hardcore, but with a very subdued sound. There’s a dark and almost nihilistic feel to this despite the relative lightness of the music. The guitar work is quite interesting at points, which kept my attention for multiple listens, and the drums hold down a solid beat, but the screamed stream of consciousness vocals didn’t appeal to me. Overall, this album was interesting enough to listen to a few times for purposes of a review, but it didn’t strike me as something I’d go out of my way to listen to. –Paul J. Comeau (Revolution Winter)


TIN ARMOR:
Life of Abundance: LP
These dudes write really good songs. Songs that leave an imprint, that stick in your head for days and weeks after you first hear them. Rock and roll songs that are “punk” in spirit, if not execution. (This is really piano/keyboard-driven rock music with great melodies. They aren’t thrashing three chords and singin’ about smashing the state.) I can’t really compare them to anyone else. They manage to take my least favorite instrument in the world (the keyboard—admit it, those things are rock-killers!) and make it my favorite part of their band. They even play a Beatles cover live (“Don’t Let Me Down”) and not only do they not louse it up, (as is generally the case with Beatles covers, and by “is generally the case” I mean “is fucking always one-hundred percent of the time the case unless you are Gray Matter”) they kick its ass. I cannot recommend this LP enough—it’s quite simply one of the year’s best releases. Tin Armor are probably playing in a basement near you soon. Go see them and pick up this record. You’ll be very glad you did. –Ryan Horky (tinarmor.com)


TIME HAS COME / TRAINWRECK / OUT COLD / CHANGE TODAY / QUEEN CITY CREW:
The End Begins Now: CD
It was an unseasonably warm Saturday in November and I was rocking out to Leatherface’s Mush album (one of my favorites) in my bedroom, but I thought I should get cracking on some album reviews. So I popped in this five-way split CD of hardcore bands from Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, and the United States—including one band I like, Trainwreck—only to realize it was a different band with the same name. What I found were hardcore bands with metal breakdowns, or maybe it was metal bands with hardcore breakdowns. Either way, I quickly went back to Leatherface. –kurt (Pee)


TERROR VISIONS:
World of Shit: LP
This is a re-reissue of Jay Reatard’s side project that was originally released as a limited CD-R, then a picture disc, and a CD with extra tracks. So, this version collects all that was on the first three and adds a couple unreleased extras. If you haven’t heard this, imagine scuzzed-out synth wave that’s more gritty and filthy than concerned with modernism. The vocals are blown to hell and back, synths twitter, beep, imitate sirens, and go “skreeeeee!!!!!,” drum machines keep mechanized time, and then it’s sliced, diced, and mashed together. This is more room-clearing type stuff than, “Hey, everyone get on the dancefloor” material. There’s some good stuff on here, but as an album, it’s pretty uneven. “Medicating Dreams” stands out with its more fleshed-out sound, where the bass comes in strong (very reminiscent of early New Order). The song structure is more together and not as rushed and thrown-out-there-sounding as some of the other songs. The song “Infection” reminds me of Fast Forward, as it switches between calm and chaos, and both parts are so disparate that they obliterate each other. The cover of Brian Eno’s “Baby’s on Fire” is decent. –Matt Average (FDH, fdhmusic.com)


TENEMENT:
“Taking Everything” b/w “Daylight World”: 7”EP
Tenement know how to make songs and they know how to get weird. It’s this balance between catchy-noise-pop power and “What the fuck? I like this” that’s rising Tenement’s balloon up through the layers of “eh, shrug, clinical pop punk,” up through “you just discovered that effects pedal app on your computer garage rock,” up to heights of well-known bands that get referenced easily and readily. But if the stained, threadbare, inside out Hüsker Dü T-shirt fits—and the band sounds like an airplane crashing in one song and casually walking away from the wreckage the next—I’m all ears. As of this record, any and all Tenement is worth your time. –todd (Toxic Pop, toxicpoprecords.com)


SUNSHINE SS:
Teen Choices: EP
Here’s some decent hardcore punk that falls somewhere in between Black Flag and Murder Suicide Pact. Mid-tempo approach to let the power in the riffs stand strong instead of getting lost a blur. The first couple songs are so-so, but they hit their stride and keep it constant from “Teen Choices” on to “Another Day, Another Dolor.” The tension from the bass at the beginning of “Pillow Talk” is killer and really hints at what these guys are capable of. The way the song switches from riff to riff and back is great. Pulls you in and throws you around before spinning you into the last couple songs. There’s some good stuff on here, and I get the sense they have better days ahead. Looking forward to hearing how they develop. –Matt Average (Sacred Plague, sacredplague.com)


SUNMAKERS, THE:
Self-titled: CD
French rockers play revved-up surf, instrumental surf and rockin’ surf. It gets a wee bit redundant in places, but on the whole they do it well. –jimmy (Violent Lovers, violentlovers@live.fr)


STREETS OF RAGE:
EDQ: CD-R
Glasgow hardcore that, oddly enough, recalls the artier fringe of early American hardcore. Primal, devoid of extraneous bullshit, outside the box, and plain fuggin’ swell. –jimmy (Methodist Leisure, harry@methodistleisure.com)


STALWART SONS / SLATES:
Split: 7”
This sounds a bit like a punk rock version of the backwoodsman man coming into town for the weekend. I’ve rarely come across a record that is so obviously Canadian without becoming a parody of itself—songs about fishing, drinking, drinking water in the woods, etc., that seem to be under the poetic influence of Gary Snyder and Tennyson. Musically, both bands have a bit of the mid-’90s Kansas City sound to them, except for the quick, punky little ditty that Slates finish the record with. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Revolution Winter)


SPITS, THE:
Self-titled: LP
What can you say about The Spits that hasn’t been said before? What needs to be said? It’s not like the formula has changed in the least. It’s the same old sub-surface dwelling troglodytes opting to terrorize humanity with their substance abuse and noise making rather than the standard chase and devour. Yep, nothing new here but there is nothing wrong with that when it comes to The Spits because they got it right a long time ago. –ty (In The Red)


SOPORS:
Sopors Sopors Sopors: 7”EP
Ah, Quaaludes. Methaqualone. Gotta watch your doses with this stuff. They were called wallbangers for a reason. In ‘66 there were no re­strictions on the number of times the prescription could be refilled and authorities saw no need to monitor it. They saw no evidence of abuse potential. How wrong they were. When the label on the bottle fits, push down and turn the cap…. In 2011, four guys from the Bay Area play music that is simultaneously all over the place and fevered into focus. Where Thee Makeout Party thrilled in the sunshine, Sopors celebrate the mist, uncertainty, and cold dampness of fog. This is both mud and gold; sticky footsteps that reverberate in slow shockwaves. It’s sedative-hypnotic and I’m down. “Dude, I’m staring at your footprints slowly fill in. No, dude, really, look at this....” –todd (Margin Mouth, www.marginmouth.com)


SICK/TIRED / OXBAKER:
Split: EP
Sick/Tired churn out “Death Amuses Me” with a slow tempo that oozes out of the muck in agony, with an abrasive coating. The sound is large and has a way of making you think the song is longer than it really is, and as you start to get comfortable, it’s over. The fucked up sound bite at the end puts a more ominous and down atmosphere on the song. Oxbaker go for the speed, and a straight-forward delivery. Something about this reminds me of the early ‘90s when we had bands like Destroy. The music has a crushing weight, dual vocal attack, and some time changes here and there, but they definitely subscribe to the “no slow, all go” way of playing. –Matt Average (Schizophrenic, schizophrenicrex.com)


SHRINE, THE:
Featherheads: 7”
I’m thinking heavy, ‘90s stuff for some reason... I don’t know, but I like it. Not quite grungy or stoner rocky, but meaty and ripping... Think I could use any more adjectives? A fitting Thin Lizzy cover on the other side. Good stuff. –ty (theshrineband.com)


SELF-INTEREST:
Blooming: EP
I seriously rarely throw around comparing a band to Black Flag, but I do hear a strong Black Flag influence in Self Interest. In no way are they some direct-copy, glorified tribute band. It’s more in the sense that they absorbed the influence and built something of their own from that. It’s like Flag meets Econochrist and Born Against. They have the rocking riffs that crush as well as move, a sinister guitar sound, and then they have some strange time changes that are not typical in most hardcore, where the usual MO is to write a verse/chorus/verse song that runs in a straight line. Not the case here. Self Interest have some riffs, rock like mad, and then they sometimes take a sledge hammer to the structure and knock shit around. The song “For You” is a good example. Time changes galore, where it’s up and then down and all back again. Very manic. Then they throw in the Ginn style guitar near the end to add a little salt to the venom in the lyrics. The title track has a great riff that pulls you in and gets you lost for the whole ride. The opener, “Standards,” is a perfect introduction, as it contains the various elements that are fleshed out in more detail later on in the record. Killer riffs and tweaking the formula. –Matt Average (Pass Judgement, passjudgementrecords.com)


SCREAMING FEMALES:
What If Someone Is Watching Their T.V.?: LP
The second self-released full-length by the Screaming Females, originally released in 2007, is the first LP where guitarist/vocalist Marissa Paternoster lives up to the band’s name, screaming her lungs out on track after track. The deadpan vocals she did to good affect on Baby Teeth are here as well, but the more dynamic vocal range she brings to this recording—including the shrieks she lets loose—really take the vocals to a new level. The hook-laden riffs and guitar wankery that made everyone love the first LP returned on T.V., making this the stronger of the first two albums. A short string of EPs followed this release, but this was Screaming Females’ last LP before signing to Don Giovanni. With this repress on the label, it feels as though things have come full circle. –Paul J. Comeau (Don Giovanni, screamingfemales@gmail.com)


RULETA RUSA:
“La Ley” b/w “Psoriasis”: 7”
Let’s just face it; there is nothing that Modern Action puts out that I don’t love. Ruleta Rusa continue the streak. Trashy punk sung in Spanish that reaches deep into your chest and rips your heart out as if it were Mola Ram. It’s the first (and probably only) time that I got a bullet casing shoved in the wide hole of the record! I’m gonna wear this sucker out until I get an LP! Bring it on! –ty (Modern Action)


ROLL THE TANKS:
“Goodnight Jimmy Lee” b/w “Pistolero”: 7”
I would definitely refer to this as melodic punk with very strong pop elements, but I wouldn’t dare call it pop punk. If I write pop punk, you’re immediately thinking of lots of bands this doesn’t sound like. The first track, “Good Night Jimmy Lee,” actually sounds very influenced by 1980’s new wave, finely coated onto a very solidly built boxcar of rock’n’roll sound. It’s dedicated to a Jimmy Lee Lindsey Jr., now eternalized onto virginal white vinyl: beautiful. The second song, “Pistolero,” is right up my alley, and not just because I speak Spanish and can tell you it means gunslinger. It’s a simple, unpretentious, good song. Not mind blowing, but pretty good. Rock is not dead; it’s just no longer on the radio. –Rene Navarro (Sabot)


RISING STRIKE:
Bite the Hand That Feeds: CD
I would guess that being in a hardcore/punk/ska band has got to be tough when it comes to getting your record reviewed, as you’re inevitably going to get compared to Leftover Crack, Voodoo Glow Skulls, or both. Rising Strike are a band that have more of a hardcore/metal influence than either of those bands (especially in the vocal department), but the comparisons cannot be denied. They don’t have a full horn section but, instead, just a saxophonist, and that prevents from making this full-fledged ska but, instead, simply a hardcore/punk record with ska influences. This band’s use of spooky imagery— along with sometimes overly complex song arrangements—might turn some people off, but I’m sure there are fans of the hardcore/punk/ska genre that would love adding this to their collection. –Mark Twistworthy (TNS, tnsrecords.com)


RINGWORM / MINDSNARE:
Split: 7”
I feel vastly unqualified to review this. I know nothing about this stuff. Is this death metal? Both bands have a similar template: heavy, intricate riffs peppered with little, flittering high-pitched solos, lots of palm mutes and yowled, testicle-dropping vocals. Mindsnare definitely comes out on top, with a more punishing, intricate pairing of tracks. Still, the closest thing I can think of to compare these bands to, and I know it’s terrible, is Slayer. I’m sure within their respective genre that’s a shitty comparison, like saying Dillinger Four sounds like the Sex Pistols just because they’re both punk bands. Sorry, guys. I’m just not too familiar with your particular type of voodoo. I do know that this record comes with a goofy comic book insert featuring skulls, hipsters, and vengeance (and also features a download card), and metal dudes would most likely do well to pick this one up. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help, gentlemen. –keith (A389)


REVELING, THE:
Tributaries: CD
I’m going to talk about one-sheets for a minute (or perhaps for this entire review): These things are a waste of paper and I’ve yet to read one that says much of anything of value. For instance, statements like “[the band] manages to capture the spirit and fire that made the ‘90s sound so vital—while simultaneously infusing its songs with the immediacy and melodic muscle that makes modern punk rock a powerful force in its own right,” are difficult to take seriously when we all know they were written by a PR agent whose job is to lavish even the worst music with praise. But that isn’t to say that there isn’t a shred of truth to the one-sheet’s proclamations: it states that if you like Face To Face, Gaslight Anthem, and Alkaline Trio then you’ll probably like this. That’s pretty hard to argue when the truth of the matter is that this band pretty much rips their entire playbook straight from those bands’ past efforts. But I don’t hate it… I mean, not all of it. There are moments of Bad Religion-esque harmonies and Copyrights-esque melody. Come to think of it, the first song on this album is the first song on The Copyrights’ Make Sound (“Kids of the Black Hole”) note for fucking note. And I guess that’s the problem; every single second of this record sounds derivative and whatever it’s derived from was better (even when it wasn’t particularly good in the first place [see Gaslight Anthem]). Sorry PR dude, you have not converted me. But don’t worry, this band has the potential to be huge… I just don’t think that’s a particularly good thing most of the time. God, I’m such a grump. –Chris Mason (Black Numbers, theblacknumbers.com)


RETURNERS, THE:
Lost Souls: CD
Southern California’s horror punk foursome brings their latest release: an amalgamation of ‘80s death rock and hardcore. Despair, the human condition, and death are dissected amid heavy chords and crackling drums, but Rik Dachau’s piercing vocals—the likes of Paul Dickinson—are enough to make you shut up and listen. For those that haven’t had the pleasure, Rik’s voice shines like gold glimpsed through drab sediment. The anthemic “Lost Souls” made me want to sing along and circle a pit, while “Autumn Winds” brings the deepest, darkest metal crunch of the album. For those that appreciate AC/DC, Iron Maiden, and rockers that Sing, with a capital S. –Kristen K (Nothing But A Nightmare, nothingbutanightmare.com)


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