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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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BEACH PARTY:
Broken Machine: LP
This is catchy and smart as hell. Beach Party draws on some of the best stuff that’s happening in punk right now. There are the jangly guitars, the perfectly strained vocals, the dead-on harmonies… and of course there’s that mid-tempo, ‘90s alt sensibility—so easy to get wrong but so, so good when it’s right. I hear a little of each of the college rock regulars—Superchunk, Dinosaur Jr., Hüsker Dü, everyone knows the list—but it’s cleaner than that, somehow still fresh and new for all its nostalgia. Actually, maybe this is even more reminiscent of the buoyant emo bands that followed that era, particularly The Promise Ring. Say what you want about the recent overabundance of “beach” bands, but Beach Party have definitely earned their spot in alphabetized record collections (especially if you’re gonna be putting them next to Beach Slang). Would love to see this band venture down from Portland more often (hint hint); this is something a lot more people ought to be hearing.  –Indiana Laub (Sex Sheet)


BIG WHITE:
Teenage Dreams: CS
I liked Big White quite a bit the first few listens. They have a distinctive no wave sound, but manage to not come off as blatantly derivative as some of the more tiresome bands I’ve encountered in the same genre. It was nice to listen to this for what it was, and not immediately pin down a single overarching influence. The variety of sounds from song to song almost made this feel more like a mixtape than an album from a single band, and I appreciated the eclecticism that Big White brought to the table. After multiple listens though, this started to grow a bit stale. Countless artists have been exploring sounds akin to Big White’s from the new wave era to the present day. It didn’t do enough for me to stand apart from the background noise of the rest.  –Paul J. Comeau (Burger)


BLACK ABBA:
“Betting on Death” b/w “Civilized”: 7”
Proof positive that a dopey synth riff can make a decent song out of even the most threadbare garage-punk plodder. Problem is that I don’t really hear anything resembling an A-side here, just a B-side and a B-minus side. BEST SONG, BEST SONG TITLE, and FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT suspended due to lack of motivation.  –Rev. Norb (Goner)


BLACK MONUMENTS:
Self-titled: 7”
I’ve listened to this record several times now, trying to find something to convince myself that this isn’t a second rate Lost Sounds rehash. I could maybe keep trying, or I could just listen to a Lost Sounds record.  –MP Johnson (Independent Fries)


BLACK PANTIES:
“Prophet of Hate” b/w “Violence”: 7”
Crazed, lo-fi shenanigans abound as two brutally ultra-cool garage tracks leap off of the latest slab of vinyl from scene darlings Black Panties. I’m not sure what to make of it, other than it’s gritty and makes me pang for seeing them live. Slower and more sludge-laden than the majority of the garage records of today, this single is an attention-getter, that’s for sure. Definitely one for the ages, this cruel little record is worth looking for. –Art Ettinger (Total Punk)


BLACK PANTIES:
Future: 7”
Thuddy, mutoid garage punk that can suck in any positive vibes and effortlessly shit a dump truck of fecal matter on ‘em. Pessimistic, morbid, and broken. With most punk records you can always retain some level of ambivalence towards lyrical content and get what you want out of the music. It doesn’t seem so easy with Black Panties. If you’re not on a nihilistic tear—hell bent on total annihilation—then maybe this record isn’t for you. Yet, if you’re feeling like everything around you is sugar-coated horseshit, and the sun just can’t go down fast enough: Black Panties is waiting.  –Daryl Gussin (Windian)


BLOBS:
Demo: CS
Blobs are the Platonic ideal of punk. This Buffalo quartet has a woman doing the shouting, early-Black Flag riffing with surprising guitar hooks, a sloppiness that adds power, and seven songs in eight minutes. The results are feral, like mid-’90s Recess Records stuff or a wilder Neighborhood Brats. Total win across the board, I played it three times in a row. Gonna go throw a trash can at something now. –Chris Terry (More Power, morepowertapes.bandcamp.com)


BLOBS:
Shame: CS
Not to focus too heavily on their name, but I just read Josh Max’s piece in the New York Times about becoming a nude art model (“Zen and the Art of Art Modeling”), the quiet exhilaration and anonymity of it, and the support he got from both the teacher and the students, until he saw a drawing of himself by one student, “a lanky guy wearing a fedora, a beard and a slight smirk,” who had drawn “basically a blob with arms and legs.” Max feels stricken that he’s rendered not as “a lovable blob, a sexy blob, a confident blob,” but as “a repulsive blob, a loser blob.” Buffalo’s Blobs have perhaps dealt with the fedora smirk in one way or another (we are all dealing with fedora smirk), and are perhaps alienated blobs, wondering-why-life-is-so-terrible blobs, Charlie Brown blobs. But they’re also relatable, high energy weirdos who have made one of the best tapes I’ve heard in a while. Singer Amelia is just on the border between exhausted and unhinged, reaching her limit and going crazy over hyper rock’n’roll. She’s not accepting calls today. The band as a whole are not wasting any time. You are dancing no matter where you are when you hear this, you cool, smart blob.  –Matt Werts (More Power, morepowertapes.bandcamp.com)


BONES HOWELL:
Self-titled: CD single
People, this is a CD single! I’m so glad to see this thing. I used to get these all the time at the record store. If you grab a corner of the little cardboard sleeve and flick your wrist quickly, you can shoot the CD out like a rocket into the street. Bands are releasing records way too soon these days; you don’t have to put out a record just because you recorded something. The punk thing to do right now would be to stop blowing your money making pressing plants rich and start making CDs again. They’re cheap as hell and you can get them back immediately. The music on this release is well done, but a little too pop punk/affected America for my taste. If you like that sort of thing, it sounds good. The CD single is a shot across the bow. Well done.  –Billups Allen (Bones Howell)


BORN LOOSE:
Blow Out: LP
Blow Out is a speedy record that starts like a night of too much coffee, alcohol, and more alcohol. Born Loose belong in a dirty rock’n’roll dive bar, drinking, sweating, and having a good time. With song titles like “Whiskey Holiday” and “PBR on the Rocks,” it’s easy to see what I mean. These guys would be a good fit opening for Supersuckers or Zeke.  –Ryan Nichols (Hound Gawd, info@houndgawd.com)


BOTTLENOSE KOFFINS:
Peanut Allergies: CD
If somewhere in the bizzaro expanse of the universe The Beach Boys and Dead Kennedys joined forces, your outcome would be something like Bottlenose Koffins. They are the epitome of a party punk band. This is the Seattle surf punk band’s second full length this year and they’re really hitting the ground running. The band is quirky in the same vein as acts like Japanther, wherein they still demonstrate musical prowess but they’re also going to give you before and after song names like “East Bay Reagan.” Peanut Allergies is complete with a cover of the “Sealab 2021” theme song and a clip of “The Simpsons” theme thrown into one of the tracks. As soon as you hit play on this record, you’ll be hit with “ooo-eee-ooo-eee-oh” surfer melodies with a lot of Dick Dale-inspired, bright guitar work. It’s so pretty that you don’t even notice that you’ve been shakin’ your assets long into the daylight hours. Recommended for jumping around on your bed in your underwear. –Kayla Greet (Bomb Pop)


BOW & SPEAR:
Into.: LP
Bow & Spear are crafting galvanizing, genre-bending music that spits in the face of tedium. This noise is guaranteed to make you excited. It seems like these folks only recorded the most titillating bits, even though they are clearly capable of long-winded, jammy interludes. The arrangements and vocals are sometimes frantic, resembling Bleach-era Nirvana, with the rhythm section pummeling alongside the atonal guitar. “Doubtless” and “Blank Scene” are Drive Like Jehu-ish spasms. “Antrum,” the record’s six-minute centerpiece, nosedives into a dense wall of sound that cuts into an inventive riff only to build again. “Health” never lets up. My fingers ache just listening to David Ritter’s noodling. Closer “Void Boy” is a blitzing pop tune that is both shimmering and serrated. Into. is for the jaded listener in me. It wakes me up. I love discovering bands that seamlessly blend their influences, creating something unique. Get into this.  –Sean Arenas (Self-released, bowandspear.bandcamp.com)


BROWN SPIDERS:
It’s Something to Do: 7” single
Brown Spiders sound like a band that’s about to vibrate apart. The bass is distorted as hell, and the drums are forever pounding and pushing everyone else forward. The title track is catchy and slightly poppy with a sneer in the vocal delivery. When the song kicks in and the tempo kicks up is when they are at their best. The repetitive nature of the lyrics hook into your brain and don’t let up until you flip it over. But the B-side “That Was Then This Is Now” is underwhelming in comparison, so it’s immediately back to the A-side.  –Matt Average (Hozac)


BRUISER QUEEN:
Let’s Fall in Love Again All Over - Home Demos 2010-2015: CS
Let’s Fall in Love Again AllOver is a collection of Midwest garage pop band Bruiser Queen’s demos. Sounds like Shannon And The Clams and Best Coast. Demos range from stark acoustic (“On the Radio” and “Some Girl’s Ghost”) to fully amped and backlined. The songs are sometimes subdued and bitter sweet, some just flat out rock. Best song on here is “Telepathic Mind,” which is totally single-worthy.  –Camylle Reynolds (Certified PR)


BRUISER QUEEN:
Let’s Fall in Love all Over - Home Demos 2010-2015: CS
A compilation of demos from a St. Louis indie duo who draw from elements of surf, shoegaze, and grungy riot grrrl. At its best at least one song reminds me of early Dum Dum Girls. At its absolute worst it can come across as annoyingly incomplete: particularly the songs where it’s just guitar and vocals (which happen to be most of them). Demos are often a great way to see how a band’s sound has progressed and/or improved, but having no previous frame of reference for Bruiser Queen listening to this collection is a little torturous.  –Juan Espinosa (Certified PR)


BUTTERSCOTCH CATHEDRAL, THE:
Self-titled: LP
“Won’t you come inside the Butterscotch Cathedral / You can fly.” So begins a pseudo-concept album from the mind of Matt Rendon, the principle songwriter for long-standing Tucson psych band The Resonars. The Resonars have languished in the desert sun for years, amassing an arsenal of vintage equipment. The Butterscotch Cathedral is a graduation from the pop-psych of the Resonars. With heavy distortion and Hollies-inspired vocal harmonies rising from the blacktop, the album creates a haunting meringue. The album sandwiches two eighteen-minute songs around a two-minute offering called “Heavy Sun.” Heavy fuzz riffs underlined by clannish drumming and ethereal vocal harmonies make a modern psych classic.  –Billups Allen (Trouble In Mind)


CAGES:
Complaint and Riots We Should Leave to Cats: CS
I have gotten really tired of long and attempting-to-be-clever titles for releases. Almost as tired as I have gotten of acts playing themselves up as something and comparing themselves to their heroes. This project is “Ethereal Noise Improvisation” and compared to Boredoms, John Cage, Neubauten, Bjork, Laurie Anderson, and the like. Nice try but boring and, at this point, standard improvisation is not the same as inspired and innovative improvisation. If you absolutely cannot get enough of the kind of art/noise/improv that is available every night of the week at any DIY venue, here is more for you.  –Mike Frame (Peterwalkee)


CASUAL:
Self-titled: LP
Sort of emo (mostly) punk with dorky vocals and self-deprecating lyrics is what you’ll get from Casual—but with just the right amount of humor to make it palatable. They up the ante with “Opium,” a song about a friend’s addiction. It’s really a pretty good record; I just can’t get behind the overly nerdy vocals—but there are plenty of other popular bands with a similar aesthetic that prove a lot of people do. I’d steer those people in this direction.  –Craven Rock (Dead Broke / Square Of Opposition)


CHROME REVERSE:
“Yeah Yeah, We Are...”: 7”
First time I heard these songs I thought, “Fuck yeah, Budget Rock returns for the win!” But after a more few spins, I feel that while Chrome Reverse are rooted in ‘90s garage punk style (a time/place where my tastes stopped maturing, and I don’t give a hoot or other four-letter words if you don’t like that) it just is not Budget Rock. Chrome Reverse members have done time in The No-Talents and Splash Four, to name a few, so put those bands in your thinker when conjuring the yeah yeah sounds of Chrome Revere. Or just buy the friggin’ record!  –Sal Lucci (Mag Wheels, Facebook.com/Mag-Wheels-Records)


CHRON TURBINE / VIOLENT BULLSHIT:
Split: 7”
Chron Turbine: This is undoubtedly the most boring “song” I’ve heard all year. It is literally comprised of the same riff and beat played continuously for three long minutes, with some occasional soloing. No vocals, no variation, no nothing. Violent Bullshit: Now this is a song! As in, it is an actual song that has different parts that make up a whole that is interesting to listen to. In fact, this is a killer punk song. Like one of the mid-tempo Government Warning songs. It’s called “They Give You (What You Want)” and it’s an apt title. I wanted a punk song, and I got it. If you’re okay with buying a 7” for one song, then pick this up!  –Chad Williams (Peterwalkee)


CLITBOYS, THE:
We Don’t Play the Game: EP
Excellent reissue of this classic Midwestern hardcore punk EP originally released on Feedback in 1983. BeerCity has done another great job with the packaging, mimicking the original so well you think you’re getting the original for a deal when you flip to it in the bins. Though this was released nearly thirty-three years ago, this still stands up and isn’t really dated, especially in a scene that really looks back to the past for its sound. The Clitboys cranked out no-frills hardcore punk with soul and conviction, which keeps this sounding fresh. The delivery is a mix of mid-tempos to fast. The vocals are rapid fire and yet clear and concise, dishing out rants of teen angst and frustration, and taking a stand against homphobia (“Gay Is Okay”), which wasn’t something as common back then, especially coming out of the Midwest. All of these songs are relatable in one way or another because the words are to the point and without pretense. “Sheep” and “Slogan Boy” rail against conformity, “So Funny” and “No Such Thing” are pure teenage angst, the title track is a great mantra for taking a stand, and “Have Faith” calls out religion. All of the things any thinking person, no matter their age, deals with. The no-frills playing is where a lot of the character comes in. The guitar has just that right amount of grit in the sound, and the blasts that happen in the chorus during “No Such Thing” are perfect, sounding like they’re coming through an old transistor radio. The tempos are just short of going off into thrash, which keeps everything taught, intense, and memorable. Highly, highly recommended.  –Matt Average (Beer City, beercity.com)


COBRA SKULLS:
Live at the BBC: EP
I saw these guys play at Reggie’s in Chicago a few years ago. Every one of their songs had the word “cobra” in it, which, depending on how you see things, becomes more amazing or terrible as the night continues. None of that here, though. Devin Peralta seems to have so much fun singing with his ever-so-slight folky inflection that it’s hard not to get drawn in to these songs that are a bit too ripping to be given that pop stamp, but so aggressively melody-heavy that it distinguishes itself from a solid, steady-as-she-goes punk group like Blitz, whose song “New Age” they accelerate in a cover that closes out the B-side. Okay. So if you haven’t heard them before, let “New Age” be your safe song and then try “Honorary Discharge under the Influence”—more good, rollicking shit. I was ready to wearily sit through a bunch of weird snake songs, but this is a great intro to the band, and for fans, it’s some novelty live fun that’s worth grabbing.  –Jim Joyce (Gunner / Red Scare)


COSMIC PSYCHOS:
Cum the Raw Prawn: LP
Could this be The Cosmic Psychos’ most emotionally revelatory album? There’s a swear word tab sticker on the sleeve, and singer Ross Knight tells us that despite all the bad names he’s called people over the years, he really loves all of humanity. In the song “Bum for Grubs,” Knight sings, “There’s more to me than beer and pubs....” But the Psychos, known for their unique and scatological view of the world, follow up that sentiment with, “take me home, I’ll take your bum for grubs.” So, does this mean that Knight is a classy guy and will take you out to eat after a night of sheet sports? Or perhaps does it mean he’s into analingus? The world wants to know! Or maybe just me. I’m betting on the latter, as there is a song on side two detailing what Knight may have done to a spurned lover’s toothbrush. Yes, that. I really like this album, but it’s not as steamrolling as their last (Glorius Barsteds, which I think I like more than Go the Hack. Yeah, I said it). I would have sequenced the songs differently, and there are gaps between some of the songs that are too long, slowing the momentum. Album ender “Didn’t Wanna Love Me” might be the catchiest tune on the record, but there is an extended solo warbly vocal after the instruments drop out which takes the joke a little too far. Still, the Psychos deliver.  –Sal Lucci (Desperate)


MINERAL GIRLS:
Cozy Body: CS
Cozy Body play mellow post-punk tunes that are prone to slow downs and rising crescendos. Guitars and vocals are replete with echoey, hazy effects that create a sort of continuous, unhurried jam, one song melding to the next. When one song distinguishes itself from the mix, the band brings to mind Built To Spill, or any other similarly well-paced rock group that enables itself to cover more ground—the mellow, the steady, the aggressive—all because it’s not in a hurry or tied to big choruses. “Was the Worst Thing That Ever Happened to Me” is a track to check out. The second time I listened to this was when I watched some friends go rat fishing in an alley using a Halloween Whopper as bait. When one side of the tape ended and I didn’t flip it, people demanded it be flipped. The rats were biting, the music was playing. Easy, breezy, beautiful, Mineral Girls; it’s the soundtrack to your alley.  –Jim Joyce (Self-Aware)


CREATURES OF SPACE:
Wrynar 7: LP
So Stevie Ray Vaughn, Meatloaf, Van Morrison, and your stoner uncle’s drone-y psych/jam band walk into a bar. Okay, I have no idea what the punchline might be, but it involves Creatures Of Space and their downright baffling, batshit-odd LP. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say this is probably way, way outside of the vast majority of Razorcake readers’ interests. Weird indeed.  –Keith Rosson (Luminal / HeavyJazz)


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