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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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FLAG OF DEMOCRACY / EX FRIENDS:
Split: 7”
Thirty years later and F.O.D. can still crank out the jams. It may not be as manic as it was when they were teenagers, and they may be playing about half as many chords as they did on their seminal albums, but, if anything, that’s just a testament to how goddamn gnarly those LPs are. These new tracks are perfect for old fans, or anyone new to the band. Snotty, fast punk done right. Ex Friends play a safer brand of punk-inspired rock. Equipped with female backing vocals, key changes, and lyrics that focus a lot on eyes and “looking at one another,” it’s definitely for the slower-paced set. Not bad by any means, just starkly different compared to the forever-young exuberance of our hallowed F! O! D! –Daryl Gussin (SRA, srarecords.com, srarecords@gmail.com)


FLAG OF DEMOCRACY / MERDA:
Split: 7”
I consider F.O.D. to be right at the tail end of the original maxi-wave of hardcore, which means they’re one of the last hardcore bands in which I have legitimate interest. Always interesting to hear how skilled practitioners of the craft work with its obligatory millstones of tempo and song structure to create something that transcends, even briefly, the last thirty years of mind-numbing stupefaction with which the genre has presented us, but they get it done on “Under My Dumb” and “Suicide Squeeze.” Merda are some nutty Brazilians who want to wax your bikini area and sing about pudding. I don’t think god wants it any other way. BEST SONG: Merda, “Cica Pudding” BEST SONG TITLE: Merda, “Can I Try the Hell?” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: The cover painting of two smoking elves was made by the mother of Merda’s guitarist in 1969. –Rev. Norb (SRA, srarecords.com, srarecords@gmail.com)


FLESH EATING CREEPS:
The Book about the Movie: Complete Recordings 1995-2000-2: CS
This tape is the complete recordings of a Virginia band that existed between 1995 and 2000. It’s a lot of songs and you get to sort of see how they progressed through their tenure and (since certain songs are repeated in different sessions), you can also see how they developed certain ideas and focused their efforts as they matured. Projects like this are always kind of an either/or scenario, as in “Why would anyone care to have literally every song by this band in a format that runs everything together?” or, “Oh my god I am blown away by this amazing band I’ve never heard of!” While this band isn’t going to change your life, it does answer the first question by listing later projects of the individuals, which includes well-known bands such as Brainworms, City Of Caterpillar, and Municipal Waste. Knowing the later work of those involved, it’s cool to see how they played with their influences in a much younger incarnation and provides a nice window into how art develops with its creator. Musically, imagine bands like Charles Bronson or MK-Ultra with more of a noisy element akin to bands like Born Against or Heroin. All in all, it’s good stuff. –Ian Wise (Handstand, handstandrecords.com, flesheatingcreeps.com)


FLESH EATING CREEPS:
The Book about the Movie: Complete Recordings 1995-2000: CS
Ripping, manic hardcore akin to brutality experts Goat Shanty and Society Of Friends, also known as the Quakers, who practically wrote the book on speed picking in hardcore—though Flesh Eating Creeps do it fairly well themselves. There are moments when things settle down long enough to reveal a little bit of indie and math metal influence—but the overall nature of their sound is unhinged aggression at times—coming across as unpretentious freeform jams. It’s important to keep in mind that these tracks date back to the mid-’90s and carry on into the new millennium: a weird time when powerviolence’s first and second waves were quickly fading, emo was evolving into screamo, and mosh-core was ignorant as fuck but at least the riffs were still good. In listening to these tracks fifteen years after the band’s demise, it becomes apparent that this band may have been underappreciated at the time, seeing as how they probably didn’t fit in with their contemporaries. Certainly not a band that everyone will agree on but definitely one that deserves consideration if you’re into bands on Vermiform, Gravity, or Initial records. Comes packaged in a book on cassette-style shell cover with extensive liner notes, alternate j-card artwork, stickers, buttons, and limited to fifty copies.  –Juan Espinosa (Handstand, handstandrecords.com, flesheatingcreeps.com)


FLESH RAG:
Self-titled: LP
The factoids: three piece from Toronto. Second pressing of a one-sided red vinyl LP, limited to one hundred copies with a squiggly silkscreen on side B. The feelings: first song sounds joyously and raucously like Portland’s beloved Minds—punchy, swaggering, and ferocious. Just charming as hell. Unfortunately, that starter-gate momentum gets dragged into the muck with a number of subsequent mid-tempo dirges replete with reverb-washed vocals and feedback solos. Every once in a while there are flashes of that same initial velocity, but it’s sparse. The results: Flesh Rag’s kinda fast, kinda slow. Kinda garage punk, kinda punk, kinda just moored in SST-like dirges. A little too all over the map for me. If this record was a kid in Punk Class, he’d be sitting in the middle of the room, not really sticking out all that much, turning in his assignments mostly on time, and occasionally say something fucking brilliant. –Keith Rosson (Surfin’ K)


FLEXX BRONCO:
Volume 3: LP
Flexx Bronco has been around awhile, and they put on a great, rocking live show. Drink a beer or twelve while watching them and you’re gonna have a good time. Trouble is, on record it just doesn’t work as well. They don’t have the great songs that similarly crafted rock’n’roll bands like the Supersuckers or Hellacopters have. Average songs, average vocals, stock riffs and arrangements. By all means, go see ‘em live, but I’d pass on the records. –Chad Williams (Self Destructo, selfdestructorecords.bandcamp.com, selfdestructorecords@gmail.com)


FLOWERS OF EVIL:
Self-titled: LP
Noisy, art-damaged punk rock... or something. The music is charged full of energy and the vocals are up front and sassy in their manner, despite sounding like they were sung through some crackly, blown-out microphone. Amid all the noise and controlled chaos are bouncy rhythms and percussion to keep you on the ground. However—after listening to this many times—nothing about these songs is memorable. It might help if the vocalist allowed for the music to have some room instead of singing over the entire thing—maybe. –Matt Average (Deranged, derangedrecords.com)


FRENCH EXIT / HILLARY CHILTON:
Split: 7”
This review is totally bittersweet for me, as I believe this is French Exit’s last record after breaking up in 2015. In any case, this 7” contains two tracks from each band. French Exit’s tracks are in step with earlier releases—crunchy guitars, plenty of dual guitar, and vocal interplay. Hillary Chilton chose to go a more angular, experimental route. While the word spastic might be a bit extreme, these cats are kind of all over the place in a good way. Looks like you might be able to score this on banana yellow wax. –Garrett Barnwell (On The Real, ontherealrecords.bandcamp.com)


GENERATION SUICIDA:
Edicion Especial Para Lantinoamerica: Flexi
First things first: I listened to the first thirty seconds of this on the wrong speed and it was fantastic, so when you finish reading this review and inevitably buy this record, make sure to do the same. Now that it’s running at the appropriate 45 RPM, it is still ripping hard. I know there’s been a minor amount of hype behind this band for the last year or so but, I for some reason, have not heard them until now. The songs are both mid-tempo romps that reminds me in part of early Finnish punk (the punk punk not the hardcore punk) and have a feel like the Rayos X singles (they apparently share members so that makes sense) but is more melodically driven than Rayos X. The guitar tone is clean and the bass drives the music while the drums maintain a pretty basic presence in the background and leave room for the vocals to carry the tune on the top. The recording and style is still really rough around the edges, but it seems very calculated an intentional. This style of punk is really my bread-and-butter and these folks are nailing it here. Track this down and buy it! –Ian Wise (Going Underground)


GET BENT:
Discography: LP
I was drunk the first time I heard this, and was definitely not impressed by the emo-leaning, Hot Water Music-style (complete with the second vocalist shouting the last three words of the verses). Then I flipped the record over and, all of a sudden, found myself kind of digging it. “Is drinking that much of an influence on me,” I wondered, “so much that it decides what rocks?” The second time I put it on I was stone sober. Same reaction: first side, not impressed. Second side, I kind of came around. Also, I read the title for the first time (only visible on the second side’s label): Discography. Oh, I get it now—they started out kind of derivative and boring, and then came into their own in the second half of their short-lived existence (they only have ten songs). It’s not a whole lot different in style than the first side but with more unique and defined vocals—and more dynamic and engaging songwriting—that I didn’t mind listening to at all. –Craven Rock (Dead Broke)


GOODBYE PARTY:
Silver Blues: LP
Maybe I just don’t have enough silver to get these blues. However, if you’re partial to pretentious, one-man vanity projects with lots of studio wankery and lyrics like, “If you get lonely, go find a heart / or someone to sew you / when you fall apart,” you might like Mr. Party. –Craven Rock (Salinas)


HAMILTONES, THE:
Self-titled: CS
Surf music must be much more fun to play than to listen to. How else to explain another entry into the vast sea of an overpopulated genre? Two of the six tracks are twenty-five seconds or less, probably the appropriate length of attention span for toothless background music. –Matt Seward (More Power Tapes, morepowertapes.bandcamp.com)


HANGMEN, THE:
What a Girl Can’t Do: 7”
A reissue of a garage rarity originally released on Monument Records in 1965. The title track is a rockin’ little ditty about a love gone wrong, while the flip, a track called “The Girl Who Faded Away,” is a moodier bit about a dream love never realized. Those who believe that nothing of any value has come out since 1966 or so will find much to drool over here. –Jimmy Alvarado (Windian, windianrecords.com)


HARMONICA LEWINSKI:
Naked Brunch: 7” EP
“I’m seein’ shootin’ stars inside of titty bars” is a damn great line, and that’s the kind of mondo trasho eloquence that Harmonica Lewinski excretes in their Naked Brunch 7”. Circusy keys traipse on fuzzy bass and surf on beachy Dick Dale guitar, while Tarzan pounds away at the skins. It’s like the garage punk aesthetic of The Cramps got lost in the jungle with the salacious creep-factor of Fat White Family. Someone please give John Waters a call: these freaks should score all of his future films. Two thumbs way up. Author’s note: best listened to while cloaked in leopard print and as stoned as Cheech. –Simone Carter (Reel Time, reeltimerecordss@gmail.com, reeltimerecordss.bigcartel.com)


HARPOON FOREVER:
American Flag: 7” EP
Harpoon Forever’s cover art for this EP is deceiving in 2015, but it doesn’t fall from the indie rock tree of the 1990s. Four tracks of Silkworm-esque tunes, but without some of Silkworm’s humor. It’s not hard to get lost in the music on this one. –Steve Adamyk (Sweater & Pearls, harpoonforever.bandcamp.com)


HEAT DUST:
Self-titled: LP
This right here is one of those albums that is so great, it’s life-affirming. You could call this post-punk, but that would be selling it short. Think of the Chameleons meeting Beautiful Skin (especially the vocals), and you get something like Heat Dust. The guitar figures heavily in the sound, slashing and careening around, sometimes shimmering, as in the song “Anybody.” Meanwhile, the bass and drums move everything forward with a certain swiftness while bringing that slightly brooding edge. The bass steps forward in “Seeking a Praxis” with just the right amount of distortion to announce its presence and singe your ears. The song structures are dynamic and layered with different textures coming up against one another—tempos change and varying moods come into play. In “Always,” where the song starts off with shimmery guitar, the tempo builds to a boil and the song suddenly shifts and breaks through the dark clouds to sound almost pop—then ends close to where it started. “Do You Think About It?” is the sole instrumental on this album and is still very expressive despite its lack of words. Tempos shift, the guitar rings and clangs, and there’s an air of despair over the whole thing. I strongly urge you to get this; easily one of the best albums of the year. –Matt Average (The Flenser, theflenser.com)


HEX:
Poison in the System/The Demos: CD
A collection of four demos from a Sunderland anarcho punk band founded in 1984 and containing future members of HDQ and Leatherface, to name a few. It’s another one of those instances when one gets to hear the growth of a band brimming with ideas—things start off with an odd mix of Conflict and post-punk and blossom into driving post-punk with some great guitar work by the time things wind down to the last three tunes. Good stuff. –Jimmy Alvarado (Boss Tuneage, bosstuneage.com)


HIEROPHANTS:
Parallax Error: EP
From the same camp that brought you Eddie Current Suppression Ring, Total Control, Ooga Boogas, and Ausmuteants comes this wonderful slab of wax. The aforementioned bands give a nod in the direction these Aussies take, veering away from the traditional paths of “punk.” Fiercely individual, the album swings and grooves but also has a palpable nervous tension. Elements of The Fall, Squeeze, and any number of one-single wonders from the bleak English DIY scene of the late ‘70s. I love how the bands from down under have ignored the rules and just make arresting music. Fantastic.  –Tim Brooks (Aaargh! / Goner, goner-records.com)


HIGHER STATE, THE:
"(Consider It) A Debt Repaid” b/w “In a World That Just Don’t Care": 7”
If you’re into Teenage Shutdown-style jangle rock, The Higher State are carrying that torch well. This recent single contains two mid-tempo pseudo-’60s rockers. The A-side moves. The B-side is an up-all-night comedown with a simple keyboard solo in the middle. Perfect for looking off of a bridge or a montage in a non-linear movie. Solid single. –Aaron Zonka (13 O’Clock)


HI-LITES, THE:
Self-titled: LP
On the surface, this looks like the typical lo-fi garage rock record. It’s got a retro design with images of vampires and ghouls all over the cover. As soon as the needle hits vinyl, however, it becomes clear that there is nothing typical about this record. There’s no goofy, ghoulish rock’n’roll. The true theme here is the sea. But it goes deeper than that. In songs with titles like “Lighthouse” and “The Fall and the Shipwreck,” boats and the sea really only serve as metaphors for finding clarity, for searching for meaning and truth amidst life’s complexities. It’s thoughtful stuff, and so is the music itself. Not content to just stomp and be fuzzy, the band creates a dense tapestry that really pulls you in and makes you feel the waves and smell the salt of the sea. It’s very powerful. –MP Johnson (Purepainsugar)


HOLDER’S SCAR:
Sin without Doubt: 7” EP
Hardcore malcontents pop in, wreck the place, and leave it burning to the ground before you even realize they were even in the neighborhood. Six tracks of driving thrash, and not a stinker in the bunch –Jimmy Alvarado (To Live A Lie)


HOLIDAY:
Self-titled: 7”
Straight-forward, modern punk that’s earnest and melodic, like the bastard sons of Lawrence Arms and Gordon Gano’s Army. One of the vocalists has a softer voicing than the other, but between the two of them you get a good mix. It’s not flashy and it doesn’t rely on current trends; it’s just well-written, sincerely executed music for people who want something they can hold on to and know it came from somewhere honest and real. –Daryl Gussin (Brassneck / Antikörper Export / Lost Cat / Pumpkin / JSNTGM)


HOLLOW SUNSHINE:
Bring Gold: LP
Hollow Sunshine does not like to be called shoegaze. So, let’s call this dream pop influenced by Unwound and Hum. All instruments are performed by Reuben Sawyer (who also mixed the record) with Morgan Enos performing lead vocal duties. I’m impressed by the minimal cooks in the kitchen, but Bring Gold needs some more seasoning and ingredients. All of the components seem to be here for a solid record. Rich atmosphere? Check. Obtuse lyrics and wet, layered vocals? Check. Dense guitars that shimmer and wallop? Check. Missing are moments of clarity and varying arrangements and tones. It’s a shame that you can skip around the record and think you have landed on the same song again and again. –Sean Arenas (Iron Pier, ironpier.net)


HORACE PINKER:
Recover: 7”
Three-song single on clear vinyl. It’s been awhile since we have heard from this band and even longer since results were put to wax. You can expect to hear tight songs with catchy melodies, solid playing, and all that jazz. If you haven’t heard this band before, think Down By Law or Face To Face with a Midwest sensibility. Here’s hoping this is just a teaser for another full length and more touring! –Sean Koepenick (Dead Broke, deadbrokerec@gmail.com)


HOUND:
Out of Space: LP
With a name like Hound, I expected something heavy and in my face, and that’s what I got. The vocals have a low, distorted, drunken charm to them. The tunes are really straight-forward, driving, hard rock jams—mostly riff-driven and shy of a lot of flashy leads. There are heavy rock’n’roll and early metal influences here, but more punk via the Ramones. –Ryan Nichols (SRA, SRArecords@gmail.com)


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