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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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FOSTER CARE:
Sterilization: LP
Sterilizationmoves unhinged, like a classic punk album. The guitars have an echo-laden punch without much distortion, reminiscent of the best of East Bay Ray. It’s raw. It’s short. It’s fast. It’s confusing at times—like a train that might derail. It’s got a skull on the front. The band is from New York, but there’s an early Southern California anxiousness to it. I can’t think of a way to sum it up without being patronizing. If you’re into The Germs, you’ll like it. If you’re into punk, you’ll like it.  –Billups Allen (Total Punk, floridasdying.com)


FREEZE, THE:
Someone’s Bleeding: 7” EP
Been a good long while since I last heard anything new by the Freeze, and this wasn’t a disappointment. Dunno the vintage of the four tunes here, but by the sound, I’d guess two come from an older session and two of more recent vintage. Three are bang-on mid-tempo tunes with the band’s prototypical mix of hardcore and oddly poppy sensibilities. The closer is a different rendition of “Sacrifice Not Suicide,” a tune some might remember from the Boston Not L.A.comp. Nice to hear they’re not only still kicking around, they’re still coming up with quality tunes, too.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Dr. Strange)


FUCKEMOS:
w.a.g.p.s.g?: 7”
The name alone was enough to make me roll my eyes, but it definitely set me up to be surprised. Who knows? This might be my new favorite band. I couldn’t have been more wrong (and confused). FuckEmos is a parody band – I think. The songs are a fusion of electronic bleeps and bloops and robotic vocals that are pitched down to sub-bass levels; I adjusted the speed of my record player countless times and the singing was always unintelligible. I don’t find FuckEmos’ schtick funny, and a band that describes themselves as “retard pUNK mETAL pop” just isn’t my thing.  –Sean Arenas (Slope, sloperecords.com)


GAS STATION OF LOVE / DEAD PAWNS:
Split: CD
Badly recorded generic punk on side A, badly recorded Ween rock on side B. I hate to decry a release on recording quality, but sometimes the lo-fi is much too lo. More to the point, there was a way this could have been recorded to make it listenable, but it wasn’t. Lo-fi can be a tool, an aesthetic which the music travels through. This is annoying. The difference between the two is all in how the artist controls the aesthetic to their advantage, which is an aspect that this record clearly lacks. No bueno.  –Bryan Static (8 Up, facebook.com/8uprecords)


GENOCIDE PACT:
Forged through Domination: LP
I had a theory that grind got big for a while because, similar to psychobilly, the nuts and bolts seem easy to break down. Get a fast drummer and have your friend growl and you’ve got a grind band. I’m grind suspicious, but I love early Earache records, Napalm Death, Carcass, et cetera... Genocide Pact’s Forged through Domination is one of the best grind albums I’ve heard in a long time and shows when it’s well done, it has power. I’ve had a fan-like obsession with this record. I can’t get enough of it. If you think grind is just something you do with blast beats, this album is an education. It has heavy production, Bolt Thrower fury, and great art. If you’re into Earache ‘88 or Assück, this is a winner. Really essential.  –Billups Allen (A389, a389recordings.bandcamp)


GIZ MEDIUM:
Waiting for the Fall: CS
Giz Medium is another offering in today’s seemingly endless panoply of cassette-issued scrap punk. (Or so I take it, for good or ill.) The songs rock to a certain degree, but the musicianship got just a bit too sloppy for me at times. I feel like I’ve heard all these songs before. Thus, I tuned out kind of quick. Not bad, but I’m suffering from a glut of this sort of thing recently.  –The Lord Kveldulfr (Bus Stop Press)


GREAT LAKES:
Wild Vision: LP
Well, hello there, Great Lakes. Apparently, I have been living under a rock or looking in all the wrong alleys because I hadn’t heard of you ‘til now even though you’ve been floating around for the better part of twenty years. The internet tells me that you were once in with the Elephant Six folks down in Athens, but this one ain’t soundin’ like them neo-psychedelic pop fellas. Had I not read that, I woulda thought that you’d routinely prayed at the altar of Gram Parsons. Maybe you always have; again, this is the first I’ve heard of ya. Either way, I’m glad that’s the vibe I’m picking up now—that vibe being a modern take on the cloth that Parsons once wove. I don’t know what they’re calling your type of rock these days, but I know it by a few names, such as Americana, country rock, and psych country. Whatever they’re callin’ it, I’m diggin’ it. You definitely bring a certain darkness, a certain sadness to the mix, that calls to mind the intensity and melancholy of the likes of Jason Molina and Will Oldham. You’ve definitely got a bigger sound than either of them, and y’all’s songs seem to simultaneously crush and soothe the innards. It’s good to know that when I wear this album out, you’ve got a couple of decades of material for me to delve into. Here’s to hoping it’s as engrossing as Wild Vision.  –Vincent Battilana (Loose Trucks, greatlakesbencrum.bandcamp.com)


GROWN APART:
Fun Extractor: CD
Eleven tracks of melodic Ameri-punk by way of the U.K. I have to say there is some very impressive bellowing going on here to match the muscular guitar crunch. What’s that? Some singalong-y gang vocals? Sign me up, captain. Bonus points for the awesome package art courtesy of Iron Chic’s Jason Lubrano.  –Garrett Barnwell (Self-released)


GROWWING PAINS:
I Always Know: 7” EP
Lo-fi poppy, surfy, post punk cowboys? A little sunny, simple, and sweet, Growwing Pains brings the charm. I Always Know is the sound of a summer fling, a budding romance, and your toes in the wet sand. I heart Growwing Pains. Swoon!  –Jackie Rusted (Volar, volarrecords.bigcartel.com)


HEAVY TIMES:
Self-titled: 7”
Picture a long shot. A cloud of dust breaks on the horizon. A speeding vehicle comes closer and closer, its image distorted by a mirage. It’s hot. It’s really fucking hot. Cut to a close-up on the driver. He’s wearing a bandana around his mouth to protect from the desert elements. His windshield is gone. There are bullet holes in the seat cushions and a torn and taped picture of someone very important on the dashboard. Whoever wrote this Heavy Times EP should be doing film music somewhere. Think of car chases and dystopian nightmares. Killers with mechanical body parts and antiheroes with a soft side. Heavy times is part synthy throwback, part gothic club music, part post-punk daydreams. The standout track for me is “Coptic Rot.”  –Jon Mule (Randy, randyrecords.bandcamp.com)


HESSIAN WOLF CHILDREN:
Self-titled: EP
Hessian Wolf Children sounds exactly like its name implies—raw, gritty riffs played at blistering speed over sweet blast beats and howling vocals. At first, I was way into it. When I dug into the lyrics, one of the titles of the songs was “I Wanna Have Your Abortion,” and is about performing a self-abortion. This is a group of all dudes writing lyrics making light of coat hanger abortions; an all too tragic reality for many women who cannot afford, or lack access to, quality reproductive healthcare. The use of the loaded word “slut” to describe living paycheck to paycheck, in the track “Debt Slut,” also didn’t sit well with me. As good as this was musically, I can’t comfortably say I like this after exploring the lyrics.  –Paul J. Comeau (Burning Tree, no address listed)


HIGHER STATE, THE:
27: LP
This latest release from The Higher State is another solid load of Back from the Grave-inspired, pre-punk fuzz. Their fourth album shows the band has it down without losing the chaos. The keyboards are ethereal and the distorted guitars are driving. A lot of these types of bands seek out the vintage equipment that helps create the sound, but there’s some magic in this record that can’t be created by scanning Craigslist obsessively. The vintage sound creates a din, burning off the hot sidewalk into a haze of Hollies-inspired vocal harmonies. It sounds old but moves like a teenager. It’s a winner for fans of Teenage Shutdown, Texas psych, or desert sunsets.  –Billups Allen (13 O’Clock)


HORROR VACUI:
Return of the Empire: LP
This is not my genre of expertise. Echo-soaked goth rock, with a just a hint of punk bite. I think death rock is the preferred nomenclature? Anyway, the music doesn’t inspire me, personally, but let’s just pretend for a moment that this record could be something I would consider listening to for pleasure. I can’t get past that a few of the songs sound very similar on first brush. Not that it sounded bad, but it did sort of blur together in a dreamy-via-’80s-guitar sort of fever dream. But I’ll be damned if every track or so they did a well-done song part. A good chorus, a smart breakdown, a sudden shift to a new territory. The building is functional, but the materials are interesting. If I were a teenage goth kid, I would probably rock out to this.  –Bryan Static (Black Water, blackwaterpdx.com)


SIN CAVE:
Demo ‘16: CS
This is exactly what a demo tape should be—five rough and ragged songs from a band that is already good but still finding their footing. This is simply excellent hardcore punk with a phenomenal guitar tone. My biggest complaint with most current hardcore is that the guitars sound like shit but SinCave has near-perfect tone. The recording is lo-fi but everything can be heard quite well. The rhythm section is solid with simple and great-sounding bass lines and drums that are right for the song without a lot of showing off. There’s lots of reverb in the vocals, one song has lyrics entirely in Spanish, and it’s all packaged in a very cool-looking glittery cassette with a lyric sheet. Denver hardcore roolz, okay?  –Mike Frame (Self-released, sincave.bandcamp.com)


HOT MAYONNAISE:
Heavy Moments: CS
With a band name so gag-inducing it would make the most vile grindcore act nod in grudging respect, Hot Mayonnaise has a pretty convincing swamp-boogie ‘70s thing going on here. Bluesy and swaggering, solo-heavy, with a gravel-voiced guy behind the mic; the whole outfit reminds me of that time The Heretics covered “Mississippi Queen.” Worst band name ever, but a decent—if a little paint-by-numbers—rock/blues band.  –Keith Rosson (Jelly)


HUNCHES, THE:
Self-titled: LP
Almost Ready pulls outta the ether an aborted 2001 album session from these Portland malcontents, and it’s a doozy. I vaguely remember being unimpressed with something else I’d heard from them, but this bad boy comes off like a long lost Dead Boys session, had they survived into the ‘00s with some nasty speed habits intact. Untamed, caustic, and up to its eyeballs in attitude, this’ll do you solid, punk. –Jimmy Alvarado (Almost Ready, almostreadyrecords.com)


IMAGINARY SONS:
Don’t Impress Me: CD
Though they dip their toes in a variety of influential pools—rock, psychedelia, swampy rock, a bit of punk, even a tinge of rap—at their core Imaginary Sons is a rock band, and a solid one at that. Meat and potatoes delivery masks a level of musicianship that sometimes seems ever more rare the closer one gets to crossing over the “mainstream” line. The diversity of sounds lends the whole package a bit more wings to keep the listener holding on for the ride just a bit longer than they would if things were kept in the same gear. Gotta admit, I was a bit skeptical when it started, and they’re swimming in tides I don’t usually sun next to these days, but they’ve handily, and rightly, earned a nod of respect here. –Jimmy Alvarado (Bossy Lil Thing, bossylilthingrecords.com)


INCREDIBLE KIDDA BAND, THE:
“Bullet in My Heart” b/w “The Girl Said No”: 7"
The legacy of The Incredible Kidda Band remains clouded in obscurity. Kidda burned brightly and quickly in England during a relatively short period of time in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Most of the material remains unreleased. Last Laugh has been slowly putting out 7”s of their material over the years. Each one makes you want more if you have ears for power pop. If you’re a fan of Plimsouls and The Real Kids, Last Laugh should be your next stop. The solid material keeps coming. This recent release is infectious and raw. It’s an essential soundtrack for Friday nights after eleven, or if you ever get that date with Jennifer Jason Leigh.  –Billups Allen (Last Laugh)


INFERNAL DIATRIBE / SLOW CHILDREN:
Split: 7"
Infernal Diatribe is the new name for the well-established Dover, NH hardcore band The Nasty. Their side of this split features four new recordings of old Nasty hits. They play fast New York hardcore, replete with slowed down breakdowns for clomping around. It’s about as good as this subgenre gets these days. Slow Children are anything but slow, with a similar vibe, plus the addition of a bit of a more contemporary influence. All three of their songs included here are also on the new Slow Children full-length. There is nothing earth shattering about this record, but it’s fun enough for an outsider to envision fans of either of these bands going crazy over it. –Art Ettinger (Pine Hill, pinehillrecords.com)


INFERNAL DIATRIBE:
Admission of Guilt: LP
I’m not usually one for powerviolence/hardcore, but these guys are fucking great! It’s hard to have a frame of reference for a genre you don’t follow, but putting this record on reminded of when I heard New York hardcore for the first time. The songs are super aggressive, comfortably short, and make you wanna get up and do something with your fucking life. –Ryan Nichols (Pine Hill, pinehillrecords.com)


ISOLIERBAND:
Kontrolle +: 12"
Isoloierband is the synth-pop brainchild of Bernd Zimmerman whose musical career spanned two decades (‘79-’99). That’s about as much as I can tell you about the man since there isn’t much information printed on the album’s gatefold other than a year-by-year timeline of the groups he was involved in. The internet yielded limited results, as the name Bernd Zimmerman appears to be quite common in Germany with much more information available on the neo-classical composer and architect of the same name. The primitive-sounding nature of the recordings seems to indicate that these tracks have been pulled directly from the source of rehearsal and demo tapes. Musically, it certainly falls somewhere in between English post-punk stalwarts Joy Division and German avant-garde pioneers Kraftwerk, although much more minimalist in delivery. Admittedly, my knowledge and appreciation for post-punk is limited at best. However, I have a sneaking suspicion that there are some diehards who are going to be thrilled to finally have access to these songs on vinyl. –Juan Espinosa (Red Lounge, redloungerecords.com)


IVAN THE TOLERABLE:
Gentle Blood Blue: CS
Ivan is getting at something that I wholeheartedly believe punk is in desperate need of: imagination. The second this cassette started to play, I immediately thought of Captain Beefheart then, naturally, Frank Zappa. And while this cassette pushes limits that need to be pushed, it doesn’t sit well with me. I highly encourage fans of the formerly mentioned legends to give Gentle Blue Blood a listen on bandcamp or by purchasing a copy of this cassette. For me, this cassette is a heavyweight in imagination and a featherweight in application. –Jon Mule (Forward Fast Tapes)


JEFF RUNNINGS:
Primitives and Smalls: CD
Has the umbrella term “underground music” expanded too broadly? I can’t make that call, and maybe someone more open-minded would describe this as melancholic electronic dreampop and leave it at that. But it kind of just sounds like Enya without the ethereal pop sensibilities to me. Sorry, wrong audience; can’t do it. –Indiana Laub (Saint Marie, wyatt@saintmarierecords.com, saintmarierecords.com)


JONI EKMAN:
Self-titled: LP
Joni Ekman is a Finnish punk and the man behind a laundry list of bands I’m not at all familiar with. Here, on his debut solo album, Ekman plays every instrument on an album of raw, garage rock’n’roll tunes. Guitar is clearly Ekman’s strength, as the Chuck Berry riffs and leads are written and played to perfection. Ekman’s entirely Finnish lead vocals alternate between a nasally Leonard Phillips thing and a falsetto style. While odd at first, after a couple songs it feels right for the lo-fi music surrounding it. From straight-up rock’n’roll to jangly power pop, and ending on what sounds like a traditional folk song (reminiscent of AC/DC’s Scottish-style B side oddity “Fling Thing”), this is a solid debut solo outing. –Chad Williams (Blast Of Silence, info@blastofsilence.com)


KILLER BEES:
Buzz’n around Town: 7"
Generic by-the-numbers glam punk. Then you read that it was recorded in 1979 and you have to reconsider the whole time frame. But even comparing it to its contemporaries, it’s hard to take it as anything but a cheap Johnny Thunders riff. This is no lost masterpiece. –Bryan Static (Windian, windianrecords.com)


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