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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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DO IT WITH MALICE:
The Burned Over District: CD
There’s third wave ska horns which, aside from the very few bands that tastefully use them (i.e. Citizen Fish), I’m not big on already. The big sin which I cannot abide by here though is the autotune overkill going on all over the place with the vocals. Unless you’re making catchy dance tracks and are dressed like a robot, I’m just not down. –Adrian Salas (diwmny.com, doitwithmalice1@yahoo.com)


HAZARDOUS WASTE:
Destroy: 7”
Two things pop off the top of my head when I read the band’s name. Crossover maybe ala Municipal Waste or the lead track off my old Hated Principles’ LP. I know the latter is isolated to me and maybe one other person in the world. Dropping the needle changes any preconceived thoughts of this Canadian outfit. Early ‘80s hardcore that easily could have been on a Mystic comp during that period. A similarity to countrymen Career Suicide come to mind and also I have thoughts that they sound a bit like SOA. Overall, straight forward, no gimmick punk always is a pleasure to these ears. –don (Schizophrenic)


DISTRICT SIX YOUTH ENSEMBLE:
Certified Professionals: CD-R
It’s well documented that high levels of instant success irrevocably damage artists. Look no further than a boatload of child actors and author Joseph Heller. (Catch 22 cast a long shadow; one that he never escaped.) Bryan May, who I’ve chastised in the past never to send out band practice tapes as “demos,” heeded my advice. DSYE are good with flashes of being really good. The signposts and direction are clear: Denton, TX punk (wisps of Marked Men, High Tension Wires, Bad Sports). The good news is that the bands Bryan is playing in are getting progressively better by degree. That if these musicians keep chuggin’ away, they turn bright-hot instant success on its ear and fit the much better template of continually releasing stronger and stronger songs the longer they play. Keep plugging in and pluggin’ away. –todd (Self-released, no address listed)


POOR LILY:
Self-titled: CD
Poor Lily is doing a throwback Minutemen meets Fugazi says hello to the Dead Kennedys thing. It’s pretty good, as far as those things go. But my Ramones-addled brain wants a chorus, and a chorus you shall not find (for the most part) on this album! Poor Lily offers angular tunes, shouted vocals, short songs (two minutes or less) and lyrics like, “Why don’t you stick a needle in my head and extract my point of view?” Bonus fact: This three-piece includes the former drummer for Sick Of It All, Murphy’s Law, and H20 and the former drummer for the 1980s New York hardcore band Beyond. Two drummers, one band! (One of them now plays guitar.) If you like the Minutemen, then this is worth checking out. And the whole album is on the band’s website for free. Easy decisions! –Maddy (self-released)


DISASTERATTI:
Transmissionary: LP
Big, blustery, and heavy stuff—with its AmRep stomp and grunge-sludge tempos in all the right places—that still has the sense to throw in enough hooks to keep you coming back for another ass-whooping. –jimmy (Learning Curve)


POLICE TEETH:
Awesomer than the Devil: LP
One of the most interesting things about a piece of vinyl is how it forces you to consider the cover. A picture of a bobble Jesus, next to a bobble luchador, shot with the color palette of a Small Brown Bike record. It definitely gave me an impression right from the start (i.e.: this band is going to have some Fugazi influence). Though it turns out I was correct, these guys deliver more than enough interesting riffs to show that they can stand on their own two feet. While the songs can get a bit long at times (forgive me, I have a short attention span), this disc is pretty solid. B+. –Bryan Static (Latest Flame)


HARCO:
Incredible Jazz: Cassette
I really like how this band seems to experiment with different sounds to meld together their own approach. Very spazzy, energy-driven punk that rarely gets out of the higher gears. You can clearly see the influences of such groups as Nation Of Ulysses and Blood Brothers, but there’s also a bounciness reminiscent of early Wire and Magazine. I really dug the handmade tape case and info sheet. Very cool. –Rene Navarro (Self-released)


DISAPPEARED, THE:
Bridges: CD
Bits of youth crew, pop punk, and corporate rock/metal add up to very little worth paying any mind. –jimmy (I Hate Punk Rock, ihatepunkrock.net)


PLATES:
Taking Pictures of Poor People: 7” EP
A-Side: L7-style hypnotic sludge riffin’ with a dude who sounds like he listened to a lot of Second Wind. B-side has two more tracks that are nary a whit faster, but definitely heavier. –jimmy (Feral Kid)


DENNIS MOST:
Instigate Me!!: CD
I wasn’t expecting much from this CD-R with no real artwork and very little information. What I was able to dig up on the interwebs is that Dennis Most is an old school punk rocker whose history playing music goes back to the 1970s, including with his band The Instigators. There are seven songs on here that come in at eighteen minutes, so nothing is wasted. All the tracks are direct and fun, mixing a combination of ‘70s punk with new wave. Keyboards are prevalent on many songs, leading me to think of a non-hectic, slowed down version of Le Shok, but the stripped down nature reminded me a little of GG Allin. None of the songs are overwhelmingly amazing but they’re still competent and inspiring, which is more than I can say for most of the stuff I get to review. –kurt (Self-released, dennismostinstigator.com)


PEZZ:
The Wicked Leading the Blind: 7”
Woah, this was a surprise! I had no clue this band was still playing music but was a big fan in the late ‘90s. But while I’m happy to see this band is still releasing records, this three-song 7” is all over the place. Side A features the title track, a mid-tempo song with dueling vocals and thick guitars that would be right at home on a Fat Wreck Chords comp in the mid-’90s. Not bad. Then the first song on side B threw me for a loop. Bordering on hardcore, but totally misses the mark. It kind of reminds me of Sing the Sorrow era AFI... not a good thing. Surprising for a band in which most the members went on to form Bury The Living! The second song on side B is a total jammer that sounds like how I remember this band sounding! Leatherface worship is never a bad thing when done right. If this were a one-sided 7” that just included the third song, I’d be totally satisfied. –Chris Mason (Fat Sandwich, fatsandwichrecords.com)


PETER STUBB:
Piranha Death Groove: Cassette
The sheer weirdness of the music on this cassette overcomes all the superficial strikes against it (cheesy porn samples between songs, logo blatantly ripped off from the band Death, etc). Simple, catchy guitar parts collide with growled vocals and dance beats. Songs start and end in the wrong places. I’m pretty sure I heard synthesized handclaps. Or is Peter Stubb a robot? Maybe he’s a robot werewolf. No, he is probably an alien with no concept of what music is supposed to sound like, because music is definitely not supposed to sound like this, and that’s what makes it rad. –mp (Let’s Pretend)


DECLARATION:
Searching for the Answers: 7”
Well-made youth crew hardcore with zero originality. I could be a dick and say something like, “They should just call themselves Declared because all of this shit has been said and done a thousand times before.” Wait... yeah, actually I think that I’ll go with that. The best part about this record is the stencil artwork by everyone’s favorite graffiti artist, Banksy. Oh, wait, turns out it’s not Banksy. They’re just biting him, too. –Craven (Pee, peerecords.com)


HAPPY THOUGHTS, THE:
Self-titled: LP
Live, The Happy Thoughts (formerly “Eric And…”) are fantastic, a fresh breath into the power pop scene. Your mind’s ear will hear The Ramones and The Beat. It will hear the rapid-fire down stroke guitar and the vocal harmonies. It will hear Eric LaGrange’s resonant but not too syrupy sweet voice. It just looks like they’re having so much fun on stage. Their debut LP, however, is a little too thin and light on the low end. LaGrange’s vocals don’t have the power they do live. I’m thinking too much compression was used. Recorded at The Perennials’ house in Indianapolis and featuring Perennials bassist Jordan Allen. Now if only The Perennials release that goddamn album they’ve been sitting on! –Sal Lucci (Hozac)


PEOPLE AT PARTIES:
“Say” / “Control”: Flexi 7”
Kat Jetson, who runs Project Infinity Records, is awesome. She puts out music that she loves. She treats her bands extremely honestly and really takes the extra steps to make her packaging special. This time out is the re-emergence of the flexi-single. (Flexis are one-sided, thin records that often came as tear-outs in magazines.) People At Parties play multi-layered dance music with synthesizers. I also imagine designer jeans and fashionable… uh, fashion. My frame of reference is limited, so pardon comparisons to the ‘80s that may be way off the contemporary mark: Depeche Mode, Yaz, Aimee Mann, and Ultravox. –todd (Project Infinity)


DEAD UNCLES / THE CREDENTIALS:
Split: 7”
You only get one song from each band, but the packaging is pretty spectacular. Glued jackets with a hot pink paper strip around it. Hot pink, I tell you! Both bands play a similar style of downer pop punk. Gloomy moodiness at 45 RPMs, but both bands use their sides of the split to checker the choruses and verses with scene-building, guitar-led instrumental parts. Plus they put their phone numbers on the back, so pick this up and let them know what you think. –Daryl Gussin (86’d)


PANGEA:
Living Dummy: Cassette
Another great release from what is currently one of my favorite bands. So many bands are going for that surfy early rock’n’roll with a slice of punk sound and failing miserably; it’s nice to see these guys hitting the nail right on the head long after its disappeared into the wood. Three of these fourteen tracks are from their previous release, which I don’t quite understand, but it’s a major plus if you don’t already have a copy of their self-released Hold My Hand CD. Solid dudes putting out some solid sounds. Highly recommended. –Rene Navarro (Burger)


DAMAGE REPORT:
Nothing Left to Lose: CD
First-or-second-band-on-the-bill punk. They bullseye the anthemic hardcore pigeonhole but nothing hear ultimately resonates. Not bad, not really memorable. –jimmy (Damage Report, damagereportatl@gmail.com)


OLD MAN MARKLEY:
For Better for Worse: 7”
When this band was described to me by a friend of mine, I felt it was pretty much the opposite of something I’d want to listen to. Seriously, how many fiddle, stand up bass, and banjo bands are out there these days? Well, I begrudgingly went, saw them play, and was an instant convert. This is just great twang music that is played really well. The countrified Screeching Weasel cover on the flipside is pretty damn fine, too! –ty (Fat)


HAIL SEIZURES:
For the Ruin: CD
This is folk punk: there are acoustic guitars, a cello, a toy piano, a snare drum, and a suitcase kick. I don’t know what a suitcase kick is, but I do know that the guy who gave me this CD was super fucking nice, and that I’ve listened to it constantly, trying to think of something to say. It’s folk punk, but not standout material. This is not Andrew Jackson Jihad or Ghost Mice. This is something else, something I can’t get into, hard as I try. I dig the lyrics but just don’t like the music. Not my thing. On some songs, like “Daddy,” I really wish they would plug something in. –Rene Navarro (Self-released)


OH SEES, THEE:
Castlemania: LP
John Dwyer’s Thee Oh Sees have really taken off. If you’re a skate rat, you’ll know that their last In The Red release (2010’s Warm Slime) was heavily featured in Krooked’s 3D skate video. The band plays big festivals in Europe and gets reviewed in Pitchfork. It’s a nice change of pace to see a really good band “make it.” Castlemania, the group’s latest release, picks up where Warm Slime left off. The record was recorded by John Dwyer and Eric Bauer. The former’s lo-fi approach to production is still present on Castlemania. Dwyer plays pretty much all the instruments himself, with occasional help from Ty Segall (who pretty much plays all the instruments on his own records). Luckily, Dwyer is still under the influence of Syd Barrett and The Television Personalities’ Dan Treacy. Like Barrett, his phrasing is unique and there’s a storybook quality to Dwyer’s lyrics; some of his songs are almost appropriate for a kindergarten sing-a-long book. But like Barrett (or his lo-fi, punk-rock protégé Treacy) there’s just something a bit off about them—take out the bit about being dead, and “I Need Seed” would fit nicely on a PBS program for kids. Castlemania transcends the psych-burnout of ‘68-’70 with elements of baroque pop and darker material (incidentally genres Nico explored throughout her career). “Idea for Rubber Dog” displays elements of early Roxy Music (“Bob (Medley)”). But the baroque-pop tracks really come alive with Brigid Dawson or Heidi Maureen Alexander on vocals. These songs are really the highlight of the record, with the odd minor chord thrown in (something Gene Clark was known for). If you love the Notorious Byrd Brothers, The Rose Garden’s self-titled record, and/or Bull of the Woods, pick this one up. –ryan (In The Red)


CYNICS, THE:
Spinning Wheel Motel: CD
Could totally be my memory doing weird shit again, or this could very well be a different band, but I seem to recall these guys being a smidge more on the harder edge of the garage rock spectrum. What’s here is definitely steeped in garage rock, but it also has a heavy dollop of ‘80s sensibility to it, making it sound more akin to the janglier side of REM (aided in no small part by the nasal quality of the singer’s voice) and Slash’s stable of mid-decade alt-rock darlings than the Wailers or the Sonics. They’re quite good at what they do, don’t get me wrong, and the songwriting is top-tier, but it was a bit of a surprise nonetheless. –jimmy (Get Hip)


OAK & BONE / LIKE WOLVES:
Split: 7”
Two drop-tuned hardcore bands. Metal without being jock, brutal without being formulaic. With their rock’n’roll overtones, Like Wolves are the more straightforward of the two, while Oak & Bone throw in some double bass pedal thunder. Something that blows my mind about reviewing records even now, years into the digital age, is the sense of just how big the DIY punk world is. There’s a photo of the bands and a couple dozen of their friends, and the thanks lists are a litany of bands, showspaces, and punkhouses that I’ve never heard of. Sure, I don’t get out as much as I used to, but everyone in those bands and spaces mean the world to one another, and they flourish, completely under the radar. It’s inspiring. –CT Terry (Barbarossa)


CRUCIAL DUDES:
61 Penn: CD
Starting to get the feeling that I unwittingly stumbled upon the issue’s allotment of pop punk. These kids fall into the Warped Tour end of the pool, with lotsa hooks and a hint of emo whine. One of the songs here is titled “Through Being Crucial,” a fitting title because while it ain’t the worst I’ve heard by far, this definitely ain’t crucial. –jimmy (Jump Start)


NOISE NOISE NOISE:
Buck Kuts: CD
The tunes have moved a wee bit more down the Ramones end of the street since last we met—though that might also be a result of the better sound here, which is less “garage” than the last—but they have enough sense to avoid the pop punk clone trappings by keeping the songs a bit more creative in construction, dropping in other influences, and even being so bold as to drop in a full on “rock” tune now and again. Another solid outing from these cats. –jimmy (Noise Noise Noise)


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