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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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CHEETO CHAMP:
Gets the Giggles: CD
I left my copy of this CD in my friend’s car and was so sad, but the internet, as much as I complain about it, does have its uses. Cheetochamp.bandcamp.com. Hit it up and you can listen to this as many times as you like before you put those five bucks in the mail just to read the lyrics and see the cool stamp. This is some really fun punk rock noise that makes me want to frolic in a living room circle pit. I really liked Adrian’s vocal range, as well as the energetic backing vocals. The best song on here is “Up to You,” which is so fucking great I can barely deal with it. It’s as beautiful as any song on X’s Under the Big Black Sun. –Rene Navarro (Lauren / Bite The Cactus)


CHAOS UK:
Self-titled: LP
Nice reissue of Chaos UK’s first album, originally released on RiotCity in 1983. You get colored vinyl, an informative insert that includes a brief history courtesy of Wikipedia, a discography, a reprint from Blown to Bits zine from 1983, and some flyer art. I haven’t followed these guys too close over the years, but this album and their split with Extreme Noise Terror are worthy additions to your collection. The music is fast and noisy no-frills hardcore punk that has inspired more than a few bands, past and present, held in high regard from around the world. Favorite song on here is “The End Is Nigh,” that mixes some goth in their style with the brooding bass line and slow tempo, similar to Part 1 and Rudimentary Peni. Songs like “Farmyard” are still corny and too long, but the rest holds up. Can’t believe it’s nearly thirty years since this originally came out. –Matt Average (Papagajuv Hlasatel, phr.cz)


CAT PARTY / LA CORDE:
Rik L Rik: 7” EP
A four-song split 7” with two bands from Southern California contributing a song on each side. The A side consists of two Negative Trend covers—hence the title of this release—with both being well executed, although the out-of-tune backing vocals on La Corde’s version of “Atomic Lawn” sort of detracts from their offering. The B side features an original song by each of the bands that have a sound consistent with the Rik L Rik theme. Both are well-written post punk with a very dark early ‘80s sound and gothy-sounding vocals. No dis to the late Rik L Rik, but I actually liked both of these bands original compositions better than the covers. Overall, a successful split 7”. –Jake Shut (Resurrection, getresurrected.com)


BURNING ITCH:
Self-titled: LP
Frantic punk rock from this band. The tuneful and urgent delivery topped with a good guitar sound reminds me of early ‘80s So Cal punk. Check the solo in “Dead End Street” for an example. “Brains Fall Out” reminds me of Plain Wrap quite a bit. Except for “You Should Fucking Die,” they never tip the scales into speedy territory, choosing to keep it mid tempo, with a lot of dynamic time changes and a constant, rocking beat that keeps you on your toes and banging your head in a non-hesh sense. I find myself really liking “Say It Again.” Not only is the song memorable as hell, but the subject matter easily relatable. –Matt Average (Tic Tac Totally, tictactotally.com)


BUFFALO BANGERS:
“Granite Grandma” b/w “Blockader”: 7”
This 7” is really weird but really, really good. Somehow Buffalo Bangers seem to navigate a ton of subgenres in the matter of minutes. While both songs are pretty dark and quirky, “Granite Grandma” sounds like Siouxsie Sioux backed by Joy Division, while Side B sounds like a Patti Smith spoken word piece set to a great melody, quickly turns into this weird chant, and ends up sounding like Kathleen Hannah fronting Beat Happening. But, really, I wish this was longer; my hand is getting sore from flipping this over and over again and again. –Chris Mason (Buffalo Bangers)


BRIDGE AND TUNNEL:
Rebuilding Year: CD
There are some nice melodic, spacey stuff in this album, with rough post punk peeking out around the edges. But goddamn man, the first song is nearly six minutes long! The album has a tendency to lapse into quietness for too long as it marches toward a slow build that doesn’t feel quite earned. There are chunks and moments of songs I really love, but, as a whole, this album doesn’t come together. –Candice (No Idea, noidearecords.com)


BREED, THE:
Crossroads: CD
I can tell this Czech band likes bands that I like, I just think they like the bands I like in eras I don’t like them. Does that make sense? The Breed sounds a bit like DRI and a lot like Discharge, but in their metal years. I kind of like the chanted gang vocals, but can’t get past the Metal Zone guitar tones and double bass. Pass. –Chris Mason (Papagajuv Hlasatel, phr.cz)


BRASSKNUCKLE BOYS:
Appalachian Bastard: CD
This CD is a rerelease of the first two Brassknuckle Boys albums, American Bastard and Appalachian Industry, along with two hot previously unreleased tracks. They’re probably the greatest band from Kentucky since the Connie Dungs and have been playing straightforward street punk since the late 1990s. I’d prefer fancy new vinyl reissues of these albums, but this CD is very well put together. As was the case with Patriot, Brassknuckle Boys’ lyrics are way more positive than you’d expect. They are super good at delivering the goods when it comes to accessible, catchy punk. Color me immature, but I’ll take this over contemporary, multi-layered bands any day. –Art Ettinger (Fighting Poor, brassknuckleboys.org)


BRASS CASKETS / COLD SNAP:
Split: 7"
The opener on the Brass Caskets side is a slow, metal-tinged hardcore track. The riffs are down tuned and heavy, but the guitar sticks to interesting chord structures that make the riffs a lot more unique and memorable. Political, Orwellian lyrics and samples make up the ideas conveyed on both their songs. Cold Snap are a little bit of an odd fit, as their sound is a little more on the Level Plane style screamo side. The riffs are bleak and haunting, but the songs are still legitimately heavy, and the structures hold up really well. I don’t typically spring for splits featuring two bands I don’t know anything about, so this was a nice surprise to find in my review pile this month. –Ian Wise (Redscroll)


BRAIN TUMORS:
Self-titled: EP
One of the more interesting hardcore records I’ve heard recently. Brain Tumors can thrash it up with the best of them with blazing tempos and a crushing attack, such as “Improper Execute” and “Self Server.” But there’s some other stuff going on in their sound as well, and this is what helps them stand out. For instance, the song “Shadow People” shows a more tuneful approach to their sound. It’s pretty unexpected after listening to the first side, where the songs are a barrage of speed and sound. But that song really grabs your attention because it’s contrasting to everything else. There’s a bit of darkness in the music. The song structure is a bit more complex while still retaining the hardcore sound with its high-tension pacing. Then there’s the opening to “Rules of Abuse” that has a sort of power pop riff, though distorted and more punchy before they kick into the speedier side of things. –Matt Average (Pass Judgement, passjudgementrecords.com)


BOMBAY SWEETS, THE:
Self-titled: CD
Can’t say I remember much about what Selby Tigers sounded like, but this band includes a member. The sound is sorta mid-fi garage rock with a tiny smidge of maybe rockabilly and a lotta flamenco-steeped surf guitar. The result is simultaneously toe-tappin’ and laid back, giving off a good vibe, smarter and markedly more sophisticated than much of the stuff it’ll likely get lumped in with. –jimmy (The Bombay Sweets, thebombaysweets.blogspot.com)


BOMB, THE:
Challenger: 11”
Four new songs, plus live-in the studio alternate versions of some old Bomb favorites. Of the new stuff, I like ‘Hey World” and the title track the best. Vic Bondi from AOF guests on a song here. But this is the sound of a locked-in band that can run circles around the current crop of bands out there that are trying to rise to the top. The Bomb keeps threatening that this is their last record. I hope not ‘cause this is red hot punk rock with mucho attitude. Essential. –koepenick (No Idea)


BLOODCOCKS UK:
Self-titled: CD
Simplistic punk rock from Las Vegas. With song titles like “Tokyo Pop Shot,” “Godzilla Go-Go,” and “Cunt Cunt,” you can pretty much figure out what yer gonna get with this. –jimmy (Bloodcocks UK, bloodcocksuk.com)


BLACK HOLE OF CALCUTTA:
Self-titled: LP
Interesting mix of hardcore punk with some powerviolence and crust. At times, I hear Capitalist Casualties, and then other times they sound like a crust band with the semi-metallic breakdowns and scalded-throat vocals. I prefer the speedier, straight-ahead approach, as on the songs like “Parasites.” There’s a lot more urgency in the vocal delivery, and there’s time where he sounds like his voice might crack, or he’s about to collapse, and that only adds to the tension. The song “Lie” is a total ripper that reminds me of bands like Coke Bust. Fast and faster is how it’s structured. There’s some good stuff on here. –Matt Average (Sacred Plague, sacredplague.com)


BLACK FACE:
“I Want to Kill You” b/w “Monster”: 7"
A show of hands: who likes Chuck Dukowski-era Black Flag? Okay, now… who likes Chuck Dukowski-era Black Flag post Damaged? What’s that, you say? “Chuck didn’t play on any of those records, you fuck!” That’s true. But he was still a part of the band behind the scenes as a tour manager and SST Records employee. In fact, if you look carefully on the songwriting credits to My War and Slip It In, you’ll notice he actually co-wrote some of those songs as well as performed them live with the Flag prior to Kira taking over the reins. Through SST, Chuck became friends with Eugene Robinson from Oxbow (whose debut album was released by SST). Some decades later, Chuck pitches the idea to Eugene of recording some songs he had intended for Black Flag but decided to keep for himself and that’s why this record now exists. “I Want to Kill You” sounds like it could easily have made it as a Flag song on Slip It In, though it lacks any of Greg Ginn’s feedback-soaked power chords in favor of single note fretboard gymnastics and is carried by Dukowski’s signature bass thumping. Sadly, “Monster” strays far away from any Black Flag influence and instead sounds like something that Chuck would write for the Chuck Dukowski Sextet (i.e. free form, jazz-influenced, um, music). Those of you who read this far after I mentioned My War will surely enjoy side A and possibly side B if you’re more cultured than I am. And if you think I’m overcastting Mr. Dukowski’s musical credibility by endlessly mentioning Black Flag, you should know that Black Face’s logo borrows directly from the classic Black Flag logo font and even name drops them on the description. More records are in the works and, if anything, it’s good to see Chuck is still “in the van,” so to speak. –Juan Espinosa (Hydra Head)


BILL SKINS FIFTH WILL PUNCH YOU RIGHT IN THE FACE / ABSENT MINDS / DESTROY NATE :
Split: 7”
A four-way split 7” by a quartet of Portland bands. Besides delivering a name that is entirely too long, Bill Skins Fifth Will Punch You Right In the Face brings forth a pleasant and fun ‘60s-sounding keyboard-driven number with no lyrics other than skateboard and other less comprehensible yelling. Absent Minds’ song at the end of the first side, “Homeless,” starts off with a sorta hardcore bass line, but moves into unexceptional crusty melodic punk. The leadoff tune on the B-side by Destroy Nate Allen is raggedy folk punk with just male and female vocals backed by acoustic guitar that gets old quick even though it’s a fairly brief number. They saved the best for last with a rather fine song by Danger Death Ray. The wonderfully titled, “Zombies Even Eat My Nightmares” is also sort of in a folk punk vein, this time backed up by a full band as well as a prominence of doo-wop influences. –Jake Shut (NXNW)


BIG :
Phone Home: LP
Emo punk recorded live. The mix is very rough around the edges, and I wasn’t really feeling it. While the stream of consciousness lyrics are top quality, particularly the hilarious “I Am a Romantic Comedy Dude,” I found the music itself uninteresting by the second listen. –Paul J. Comeau (Protagonist)


BARRERACUDAS, THE:
Nocturnal Missions: CD
Sometimes I think I must’ve accidentally stepped into some alternate reality and ended up here, where peanut butter prices are going through the roof, three-fourths of honey being sold isn’t really honey (hell, nearly every goddamned thing we eat at this point is prefabricated or fucked with in some way to make it inevitably worse for us than it would’ve been if they’d just left well enough alone), Lady Gaga has a viable music career, and these guys aren’t the toast of the friggin’ town. A pitch-perfect blend of glam, punk, power pop, and rock here, like if Cheap Trick had actually hailed from New York, or Paul Collins and Peter Case had been the Ramones’ musical brain trust, with a resulting sound stuffed like a goose’s liver with wicked catchy hooks, humor, and sly nods to the Misfits and the New York Dolls. This hasn’t left my player in days, and, frankly, I don’t see that changing any time soon. “Girl” not becoming a bona fide hit would further serve as proof this ain’t the version of reality I belong in, so if that don’t happen I guess I’m gonna hafta rest comfortable in the fact that in some alternate universe Lady Gaga cleans their flatware for a living –jimmy (Douche Master)


BANNER PILOT:
Heart Beats Pacific:: LP
You know how life’s problems and life’s habits can seem a burden? A routine to get through while hoping for something else? You can get lost and found in such struggles. Banner Pilot has that rare ability to give the dramas of life meaning, like a great American novel unfolding on a daily basis. It fills the mundane with meaning, it restores a sense of pride and grandeur in everyday people struggles. Springsteen comes to mind, not musically, but in his ability to write something epic within a three minute-plus rock song that touches the heart of modern life. For me, Banner Pilot take up such efforts, presenting them in the form of Midwest punk gems, full of drive, emotion and tied to a clear sense of time and space, but instantly relatable. Just as we all got a sense of New Jersey thanks to Springsteen, Nick Johnson’s lyrics and the band’s grounding in the area’s punk sound instantly convey an understanding of Minneapolis life. The songs not only convey the immediate themes of love lost and love found, of searching for something more, of hope, it paints a portrait of the place. These portraits don’t just set a scene; they provide contrast to the human emotions at play. It elevates them—as in a world of cold snow and neon signs—they’re the only things that are real, that have life. Making what seems everyday, vital; what seems normal, important for living; important as it is the only thing that really matters. Like all Banner Pilot albums, it is emotive, and, in a way, fist-pumpingly defiant. Defiant, not in the sense of an outward rebellion, but of perseverance, of keeping going even when everything seems bleak. At least these are the emotions that it stirs in me. It has that amazing quality of making one feel not so alone in this world. It’s that spark that you try and hold on to for dear life, that forms bonds of fandom and love for the music, no matter where we are in the world. Amazing. –Justin George –Guest Contributor (Fat Wreck Chords)


BANNER PILOT:
Heart Beats Pacific: CD
I have a lot of respect for Banner Pilot. I’m a big fan of Resignation Day. They were fuckin’ great when I saw them live. They’re melodic Midwestern punk that’s sharing the expansive post-Rivethead legacy of bands like Dear Landlord. But, I can’t recommend this record. It totally fuckin’ pains me. Nick’s voice is Autotuned to death. It sounds like it’s a robot programmed to empty a fourteen-year-old-girl’s bank account. (Basically, there’s my definition of modern pop music.) And Nick’s voice is—Bad Religion-style—boosted on the top of the entire mix. I so don’t want to be a dick, but it gets more confusing. The dudes in the room are dudes who I also admire. The mixer, Jacques Wait, recorded a lion’s share of The Soviettes. The masterer, Dave Gardner, has worked with John Reis, D4, and Lifter Puller. I just wonder where the Midwestern rust is. Where the broken glass is. Where the frozen windshield and so-cold-the-engine-barely cranks-over is. Where the sound of desperation-to-match-the-lyrics-and-live-execution is. Where’s the Steinbeck-in-sound? It’s not in the mix, and I’ve got to assume that this record’s not made with folks like me in mind. Not to be selfish, but that’s a bummer… the instruments are recorded exceptionally well. Fuck, it feels like I’m sending hate mail to myself with this review. –todd (Fat)


AVERSIONS, THE:
Nocturnal Ghosts: 12”EP
These Canadian boys launch their latest batch of U.K.-flavored punk with six new tracks and a booklet with gorgeous, desolate watercolor paintings accompanying each song. Guitar riffs both taut and spindly plus Touchstone’s nasal cry remind me a tad of Bauhaus or Sex Gang Children. This is exemplified in my favorite track, “With Elegance,” where the vocals bear a shade of Peter Murphy. Here they vacillate from minimalist Joy Division chords to the effervescent thrash of The Damned. If you miss that elusive goth/punk sound of the early ‘80s, you best pick this up. –Kristen K (Die In Style)


ASTRAL:
Forever After: CD
Remember dream-pop? These kids sure do, and they’ve been doing their homework. All the touchstones can be heard in their sound—Cocteaus, My Bloody Valentine, Ride, etc.—and in the case of the opener, “Narcissus,” it sounds like they ain’t above nicking a little of the structure from U2’s “New Year’s Day.” The backline production might be just a wee bit to crisp ‘n’ clean on occasion when put against the howling guitar, but the strong songwriting is there and it’s clear they love what they’re doin’. –jimmy (Vibraphone, vibraphonerecords.com))


ARRIVALS, THE / THE ARTERIES:
Split: 7”
The Arrivals are one of the best bands in the entire world. They make music so good you can cry to it and, when the song ends, you have a smile on your face. Sometimes I forget how weird they are, but then they do something really weird and it’s pure magic. If you’re not familiar with this band, don’t start here. Get your hands on any—and all—of their full-lengths. Doing a split 7” with the Arrivals is a ballsy move, but The Arteries bring it with their two songs. A little more of the EpiFat sound than I’m used to, but it’s heartfelt and energetic. Mandatory tracks from both bands. Hunt this one down. –Daryl Gussin (All In Vinyl)


ARGUMENT 5.45:
Atavism: CD
Heavy modern hardcore, all the way from Moscow. They definitely have listened to a lot of ‘90s bands like Integrity, Acme, Starkweather, and the rest. The music is more metal than punk: the song structures are complex, time changes galore, crushing wall of guitar, and a vocalist who sounds like he’s in constant agony. This is not my favorite style of music, but they do a good job of it, and, unlike a lot of current bands of this genre, Argument 5.45 never stray into that shitty emo sing-songy stuff. They keep the music direct and pummeling. This disc is limited to 250 copies, housed in a tin with cards for lyric sheets, adorned with some awesome artwork from Seryozha “Milkpack” Parshakov. –Matt Average (OSK, oskrecords.com)


ANTISEPTIC:
Skate Punx Drunk Core: CD
It’s all there in the title of this record, just what you think a record called that would sound like. This is an Indonesian band that has been around since 1990 with a release on a U.S. label. Pretty solid, and if you are inclined toward the majority of 625 releases, you will probably dig this a lot. –frame (P.I.G.)


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