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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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NO PROBLEM:
And Now This: LP
No Problem is one of those bands that you can plop on one of their releases and pretty much figure eight seconds in they can probably rock the fuck out of a crowd. Decidedly a hardcore band, they keep the tempos well reined in and instead lock into groove after groove and pelt you with hooks with the kind of sophistication one finds in the most memorable of bands inhabiting this genre. Thirteen tracks here, not a clunker in the bunch. –jimmy (Deranged)


SHARK?:
Kreegah!: 7”
Annoyingly boring indie rock with barely noticeable surf guitar noodling. This potentially could have been pretty popular back in those days when bands like Toadies and Hum were getting played on the “alternative” radio stations. Ya know, back when you didn’t need to see pictures of the band’s members throwing money in the air to know they had dollar signs for eyes. I tried to find some kind of redeeming punk qualities to this record, but aside from the fact that it’s pressed to vinyl, there are none. –Juan Espinosa (Oops Baby)


NIGHT OWLS:
Self-titled: 7” EP
The gut reaction is modern TSOL with a bit more bite and less reliance on the Damned. As the third song, “Germophobe,” launches into an extended jammy bit. That initial assessment hasn’t changed. –jimmy (Hex, hanginghex.blogspot.com)


MOUTHBREATHERS:
Demo: Cassette
Dirty and sludgy garage punk from this bunch. A lot of low end in the sound, which I like, and my neighbors don’t. The guitar sound is thick and near-syrupy, though there’s some biting distortion to give it more of an edge. The vocals sound like they’re sung through a bullhorn, usually annoying, but it works here. Stand out tracks are “Out Of My Head” and “The Creeper.” Worth seeking out. –Matt Average (Mouthbreathers, mouthbreatherslawrence@gmail.com)


MIGHTY SPHINCTOR:
Resurrection: 7”
I didn’t know what to expect from the band name, but it certainly wasn’t this brooding, metal-tinged goth rock. I looked these guys up. They have apparently been around since 1980 and these songs are re-recordings of older songs. That being said, I just can’t get into this. I can understand how a band like this was probably a huge influence on some stuff I like, but it seems to me like these songs just go on and on and on and I can’t even tell if I’m supposed to take this seriously or if I’m supposed to feel the same way I do when I watch Svengoolie. –Ian Wise (A389)


MARK SPARKLES:
Pass: 7”
The last thing that I heard from MS was a 7” that left me undecided but hopeful about the band. The opening track on this 7”, their follow-up to the last one that I heard, had me sold. It is a fine melancholic pop punk ditty with mainly female vocals. Had the remaining three songs on here been that good, I would have stayed sold. The second song on the front is an abrasive pop punk song that references Daria. On the back, it opens with an annoying track about wanting to do drugs with a crush/lover/something or other. It will definitely have a large amount of appeal among many, I’m sure. Rounding everything up is a track that I can’t remember for the life of me. I’m feeling pretty ambivalent about the band at this point. –Vincent Battilana (Artificial Limb Co. / Abandon Hope)


MAN THE CHANGE:
Weather the Storm: CD
Man The Change is a melodic punk/hardcore band hailing out of Brooklyn, NY. This self-released album is their first full-length after a pair of EPs, and it is clear that these guys have some talent going for them. All of the songs feature catchy, hook-laden riffs behind vocalist Mario Trolano’s sing-shouting. While their sound easily fits the formula for melodic-but-angry hardcore, heard many times over, Man The Change plays their own take on the style. While I was rather stoked on this the first few times I listened to it, it got a bit stale after multiple listens. While each of the songs had catchy hooks to get your head moving, too many of them sounded similar to one another, causing them to blend into each other after repeated listens. That said, I don’t think Weather the Storm is a bad album, just that perhaps the band should have waited a little longer after releasing their EPs before diving headlong into writing a full-length. If the best of the songs here (“Bowser’s Breakdown,” and one or two more), had appeared on an EP, I think this would have been an outstanding EP. As a full-length, the additional songs make it feel a bit lackluster. –Paul J. Comeau (Man The Change, manthechange.bandcamp.com)


LOVE ME NOTS, THE:
The Demon and the Devotee: LP
I remember hearing tracks from this band in the past and thinking they were on the respectable side of dancier garage music. Very little of that shows through on this record. Heavily distorted guitars, snare echo, and an unchanging, mid-tempo pacing add a ‘90s feel to the product. None of the songs really stand out. I don’t feel bands have a responsibility to stick to a particular sound, but I don’t like this as much. –Billups Allen (Atomic A Go Go, myspace.com/luvmenots)


LOVA NOVA:
We’re All in It Together: CD
Instrumental, Hammond organ-driven prog/funk/soul/rock/jazz stuff. –jimmy (Crustacean)


LOST TRIBE:
Demo: Cassette
Lost Tribe blew me away when I saw them live, and this demo captures their essence pretty well. Playing mid-tempo, reverby punk with lots of synth, the band calls to mind the best of ‘80s goth punk meets ‘60s psychedelia. The bass lines figure quite prominently in the front of this mix and—combined with the guitars—create neat riffs that get caught in your head. A few songs get a bit repetitive, but the quality of the riffs keeps them from ever getting monotonous. The same cannot be said for the vocals. I don’t know if it’s just the recording, but the vocalist came off flat and monotone almost throughout this demo. The few parts where he screams—which I would have wanted to hear more of—are where things get more dynamic vocally, but, overall, the vocals are rather a disappointment compared to how awesome this demo is instrumentally. Still, Lost Tribe has one of the most interesting sounds I’ve heard recently, and this is definitely worth checking out. –Paul J. Comeau (Lost Tribe)


LITTLE GOLD:
On the Knife: LP
After leaving his other bands, Christian DeRoeck has reinvented himself with the help of his two bandmates. Released in ‘09, this debut is mellow lo-fi folk at its best with viola, lap steel, accordion, and twelve string guitar. Like Thom Yorke, Little Gold manages to create a lonely, solitary atmosphere with DeRoeck’s expressive but understated vocals. The lyrics are witty, somber prose paired with inventive, refreshing melodies like in “Sympathy Chain” and “On the Knife.” They have a great song structure which reminds me of The Black Keys’ Brothers and Band Of Horses. Little Gold really shines. Recommended. –Kristen K (Adagio 830)


SOMETHING FIERCE:
Don’t Be So Cruel: LP
Wham! meets all of the slower Clash songs from the middle of London Calling, on. Serious. And it’s fuckin’ great. That’s all you really need to know, but for the band to understand I’m not clowning on them in the least, here goes: Rarely have I heard a band take the mellower, mid-tempo Clash as a starting point and embrace those slower-burning red-hot coals. (The Ratchets and Ringers being notable and worth-seeking-out exceptions.) Clash aping has typically been—in thoughtless hands—“punk ‘77! Charged hair! Spray-paint shit!” I love Clash ballads like “Lost in the Supermarket.” Here’s where Wham! comes in. Instead of mixing the Clash with more traditional rock’n’roll (or even the psych rock Something Fierce alluded to in their debut LP), there’s something prancy and Euro-pop in the delivery. Something very butt-missing in stone-washed jeans, gay-sex-in-public-bathrooms, and permanent-stubble that was a little off-putting when I first heard this new record with the echoes of There Are No Answers still ringing in my ears. But it’s this airy, open, summery, and unexpected gayness that keeps Don’t Be So Cruel spinning at high rotation at Razorcake HQ. Yeah, it’s smart, the lyrics belie some real though, but it’s also so prancing unicorn, so “Careless Whisper.” Shityeah. –todd (Dirtnap)


LAND OF BLOOD AND SUNSHINE:
Phlegm Realm: 7”
Always a thrill when the band or label goes ahead and describes themselves for you. In this case, psych/lo-fi/pop: that is correct sir, as ol’ Ed McMahon would say. I suppose some more scholarly folks might call it freak folk. To me, it just sounds like any one of the indie rock singles released between 1991 and 1994. Another example that the indie resurgence is right on target for the twenty-year cycle. –frame (Whoa Boat)


SMOGTOWN:
Dictoria: 7”EP
Few things are worse than a backseat driver punk. Guilty. Take one: Why the fuck weren’t these two ragers on the last full-length, replacing the too-long sound bite and the acoustic closer? Take two: Hostage Records (after a six year hiatus!) brings out the best of Smogtown once again, on the heels of their first LP in too many years. Smogtown’s strengths are nuclear-radiation, nuclear-power, and nuclear-suburban-decay. Some say that, for better or worse, California is the harbinger of the rest of the United States. (The foreclosure of the American dream, in particular.) Smogtown’s your early disaster warning sirens. Smogtown’s your prophecy that’s coming true. Take heed. Take notes. Stock up on clean water. Ripping single. –todd (Hostage)


KICKER:
Broke: 7”
Members of Dystopia, Neurosis, and Filth go in a different direction from their humble home and go into a time warp back to the U.K. in the early ‘80s. They take along with them for the ride a long-time punk figure, Pete the Roadie, to handle the vocal duties with great effect. He reminds me a bit of Ronnie Biggs singing with Die Toten Hosen on their punk covers record. Good olde fashioned punk tunes that have that cheery street punk sound that has images of being played in a pub with a fair amount of pints being consumed. The title track is one I can relate to. Getting older is not easy and I seem to be breaking down physically, just like the character in the song describes. To close things off, included is an interesting twist with a cover of SOA. –don (Inimical)


SLOWMOTIONS, THE:
Operation Anagram: 7”
Co-released with 540 Records out of Texas by the man who brings underground music fans the ultimate punk festival, Chaos In Tejas. This record was released to accompany their appearance at the festival this year and quick west coast tour. I was really bummed that I missed the band’s L.A. appearance due to my show-going hiatus. Heard their performance was fantastic and from hearing their two new songs, it makes me even more remorseful. ‘70s mid-tempo, driven, melodic punk rock that is pogo-worthy, yet has grit. The music is also textured and layered with off-beat tones that give the songs a gloomy atmosphere that conjures the sound of early Killing Joke. I love the really clean guitar tone that was captured here, giving it a historic sound that is rarely achieved in the Protools computer recordings of today. Also, the dual vocal attack drives home the songs. Absolutely hooked on the first listen. It has gotten a long stay on the turntable. The only let down is the title track skips at the very end of the song on my copy. Comes on green clear vinyl for the nerds out there. Reminds me that I need to seek out more of their titles that I don’t own. –don (HG Fact, interq.or.jp/japan/hgfact)


SLOW DEATH, THE:
Turnstile Comix #1: 7” and 40-page comic book
I admit it sounds stupid to give something a “high ten,” as in a double high five, but that’s what I feel like saying. The brainchild of Mitch Clem, he coupled four top-shelf Slow Death tracks to a forty-page comic book, featuring a preamble about Mitch mistaking The Dead Kennedys’ “Moon over Marin” for Flipper (“Sex Bomb,” perhaps?) two tour stories, an intermission mock advertisement, and a guest appearance by fellow independent cartoonist Liz Prince. The format took me back to my childhood, when the record would go “ding!” and you’d turn the page to follow along to the story. Fact #1: Punks—sorry, punx—will never rule the world if they can’t fix their own vehicles. Subfact #1: Your vehicle knows when it is the furthest from possible repair and it will break down there, especially if you’re traveling with an upright bass. Fact #2: I have a lot of first-hand experience with piss pants-ers and roaming, drunk, “that’s not the toilet!” pissers. But I’ve never read a story that had those two elements, plus an added twist. Nice. Fact #3: The secret ingredient to peppermint Rumple Minze is despair. This package—vinyl and comic combo—is a testament to how beautiful and competent DIY punk can be on its best days. –todd (Silver Sprocket Bicycle Club, silversprocket.net)


SLEAZE, THE:
Weird Truck: 7”
Punk rock, in all its simple, snotty, and primal glory. –jimmy (Three Dimensional)


SHRAPNELLES, THE:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Primitive garage punk that sounds like it was recorded in a deep coffee mug. –jimmy (Hozac, hozacrecords.com)


JUMP JETS:
Self-titled: CD-R
Instrumental music that sounds like a bunch of emo kids trying to flex their inner hardcore punker. Impressive in its utter pretentiousness. –jimmy (jump-jets.com)


SHITTY LIMITS, THE:
Speculate/Accumulate: 12” EP
I love The Shitty Limits. A while back, I held them up at the top of a list of bands to prove to a friend of mine that there is still vital and original punk rock being created today. So raw and unforgiving, the songs jerk you around and force you into something that you knew you already wanted. I implore you to even try to not at the very least bob your head while listening to this. Me? I woke up later not knowing what I had done, but I knew it was awesome! This is the band’s final release and that makes me incredibly sad. –ty (La Vita Es Un Mus Discos, lavidaesunmus.com)


SHITTY FUCKER:
Diarrheality: Cassette
This is what people refer to as grindcore, I guess. It fits the bill sonically, and lyrically... well, it’s grindcore. Songs about doing horrible things to people... who deserve it. Songs about, well, one’s called “Poop Filled Vagina,” you get the idea. This is the kind of stuff metalheads used to let me borrow in high school. I hate this kind of stuff, with the gross images and too many songs starting with sound clips. Why do I need to see different pictures of feces? I’m twenty-six, I’ve been excreting feces daily since birth. I know what shit looks like. Man, proof that people remain interested in this type of stuff past the age of fifteen. Harsh. –Rene Navarro (Tankcrimes)


JUKEBOX ROMANTICS, THE:
A Lion and a Guy: CD

Is it crazy for me to say that every band that plays Warped Tour is stupid? Not according to my fifteen-year-old self, who came to this determination in 1995. And I must commend myself for my foresight! The Jukebox Romantics, with their Bouncing Souls and Against Me! influences and sing-a-long choruses about brotherhood, have earned the disdain of my fifteen-year-old and thirty-one-year-old self, concurrently! Dumb!

–Maddy (Altercation)


SHINOBU:
“Tangram Sailors” b/w “Ashtray Sea”: 7”
Catchy indie rock with fuzzed guitars. Innocuous, radio friendly, and likely already on its way to being on the soundtrack to some film about smart-aleck girls and the socially inept, geeky boys who totally have a secret crush on them. –jimmy (Phat n Phunky, phatnphunky.com)


HUSSY, THE:
Cement Tomb Mind Control: LP
In many reviews I’ve written, I’ve complained that albums don’t capture the power—the essence of a band—and that the live performance is often much stronger. If you’ve seen The Hussy, you know how much of a madman guitarist/vocalist Bobby is and probably think there’s no way that energy can be captured on record. Not so with Cement Tomb Mind Control. This record not only sounds like the band live but grabs you by the hips and makes you swing. Lo-fi and blown out but staying just to the right side of complete chaos. The drums sound great considering how noisy Heather plays (lots of ride and crash). “Sexi Lady” and “Oh No” are my two favorites. –Sal Lucci (Slow Fizz, slowfizzrecords.com)


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·ROCK N ROLL PURGATORY, #15
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·Webcomic Wednesdays #172
·VARIOUS ARTISTS
·FOR THE WORSE
·TOUGH STUFF
·MY LIFE WITH THE THRILL KILL KULT
·PREMONITIONS OF WAR/BENUMB
·ALEX CUERVO


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