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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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BIO CRISIS / SLAKTATTACK:
Split: CD
Bio Crisis is a really great band from Tijuana. They rule. Somewhat in the vein of Bumbklaatt, but definitely leaning more towards From Ashes Rise. This is my favorite type of local band: constantly promoting their scene and setting up shows. Their four songs on this split are really good; I just wish there had been a lyric sheet. Also, I feel the vocals sound much better live, less like growls and more like screams. Slaktattack hail from Sweden and really round out this split very well. Split CDs are so different than split 7”s, in that you don’t have to flip it, yet, luckily, this band sounds different enough to immediately be noticed as no longer being Bio Crisis. The same can’t be said for all split CDs. Slaktattack, while having shorter songs, definitely manage to keep the tempo up. A bit more straightforward, just as great. This is highly recommended, as both these bands are really good. –Rene Navarro (Self-released)


BIG TROUBLE:
No Patience: CD-R
This has “Dillinger Four influence” seeping out of its pores, with a similar sound, smart-aleck song titles like “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That) (But I Did That),” and lyrics a wee bit more serious in tone. A tad derivative, yes, but they ain’t bad at it. –jimmy (Big Trouble, facebook.com/bigtroubleforlife)


FRUSTRATORS, THE:
Griller: 7”
One of the guys from Green Day playing music with a band that isn’t Green Day but sounds a bit like Green Day without the vocalist from Green Day. Features Mike Dirnt from Green Day. –Vincent Battilana (Dr. Strange, rarepunk.com)


BEATEN HEARTS, THE:
Badlands: 7”
Woof, whatta pile’a mediocrity I’ve got here this go round! Nothing I have to review is really gettin’ me all that riled. Usually, I can at least muster some venom for some piece of junk release. Guess not this time. The Beaten Hearts play garagey punk rock that’s okay. If you’re into this style, you might dig it. If you just dip your toe in when something strikes your fancy, you won’t care. I don’t really care. Everything’s played well and there seems to be energy in the tracks, but the only thing that stands out is the Saints cover. –Ryan Horky (Maladroit)


BAND OF BEARDS:
Fuerteventura: 12”EP
Listened to this record. Didn’t like it. Googled the band, hoping to form a constructive perspective on their music. Found the site for the “comedy rock” group Band Of Beards. Thought, “Wait, was that supposed to be funny?” Turned out it was a different band. This Band Of Beards plays gruff punk with vague lyrics, painfully off-key vocals, and a couple of ska parts. Yeah, you read that right: ska parts. Eight songs. Good guitar work, aside from the up-strumming. Lovely cover art by Nate Powell. –CT Terry (Band Of Beards)


FRUSTRATION:
Broken Defective: 7” EP
Gotta love a thrashy anarcho-hardcore band with a grunty vocalist who occasionally tries to accentuate the dark melodic undertow running through the songs by actually trying to sing in that same grunty voice. Yes, that was a compliment and yes, it’s better than the description sounds, and the fact that the lyrics are informed without being preachy only makes it that much better. –jimmy (Inimical)


BAND OF BEARDS:
Fuerteventura: CD
Band Of Beards have a terribly gimmicky name (they all have beards), but hidden behind the silly gimmick, is a band of great substance. Band Of Beards have a lot going on musically, with a bit of punk’n’roll, ska, surf rock, and other influences wrapped up in their sound. The band does the fast and loud punk thing well, but they also slow down at points, and get a little wild with guitar wankery at others. Mix in some tongue-in-cheek song titles and some thoughtful and heartfelt-sounding lyrics, and you have a formula for a band that is great musically, but doesn’t take themselves all too seriously (in a good way). A few songs that showcase everything this band has to offer are the tracks “Richard Loves New Jersey,” “One Point Twenty-One Gigawatts!,” and “Buddy Was an Elf.” “Richard Loves New Jersey” opens with a bit of a slow jam before picking up the pace, and “One Point Twenty-one Gigawatts!” opens similarly before rocketing up to breakneck speed in the first verse. This song has some of the best lyrics of all the songs on this album, and the title is a sweet reference to the Back to the Future movie series. “Buddy Was an Elf” is another song of note that I really enjoyed, which has the most overtly ska-influenced sound of all the material on the album. In all, I’d say this band is an example of a band doing everything on their own terms, and succeeding admirably. Highly recommended. –Paul J. Comeau (Band Of Beards, bandofbeards@gmail.com)


FRESH TRASH:
La Jungla: LP
Proud to be dumb hardcore. It has a good early mid-’80s sound, but so do a lot of records with better lyrical content. –Vincent Battilana (Sell Our Souls, selloursouls.com)


ANNA BANANA FROM INDIANA!:
Live at the Pickle Barrel: LP
Anna Banana From Indiana! is a lady who plays an acoustic guitar and sings. Her lyrics range from Burger King to crack to being depressed and self-medicating. As the title suggests, this is a live recording. Not bad, but I have a feeling that I would be trying to have a conversation while she played had I been in the audience—you know, if I didn’t just leave. –Vincent Battilana (Tame That Poodle)


ANIMALISTICS, THE:
Run Amuck: CD
One thing is for sure. The Animalistics really, really like Dayglo Abortions. To the point that you might even be able to play this disc for a seasoned Dayglo fan (or a band member, perhaps?) and convince them that it is a lost recording from 1982 or so. In sound and content, these guys got it nailed. The good thing about it is that they emulate the band from the early days before the cheesy metal guitars and Dungeons & Dragons lyrics. The bad part is that it gets old a bit fast. I’d still go out of my way to see them play if they came to town, though. –ty (theanimalistics@hotmail.com)


FOUND DEAD IN TRUNK:
The Fried Demon Sessions: CD
When at their best, these guys sound like a good copy of How Can Hell Be Any Worse era Bad Religion, as if they studied that record for hours and learned every subtle nuance. Unfortunately, the inconsistency of the songs here takes the listener on a voyage through many different eras of “old school” punk, many of which come off much more non-descript and lack any cohesiveness. With that having been said, there are no real surprises here to discover. If you like generic ‘80s drunken punk rock, this is probably right up your alley. –Mark Twistworthy (75 Or Less, 75orless.blogspot.com)


ANIMAL EYE / GREEN SCREEN DOOR:
Split: Cassette
Animal Eye play some art punk that has some hyper near-thrash elements, with a synth to put a coldness in the room. The singer sounds detached and like he’s singing from across the street. Green Screen Door have a similar sound to Animal Eye, only with more urgency. Which is what’s needed. If it’s punk, it has to have urgency. They lose steam at the end with “Reckless Recluse.” –Matt Average (Midas, midasrecordings.wordpress.com)


ALL DINOSAURS:
Paranoid Indigenous: LP
Heavier, more distorted versions of ‘00 hardcore guitar riffs woven into a more technical framework. The songs are trickier than typical ‘00 hardcore and the vocals are reminiscent of No Idea bands. I don’t have a large frame of reference for this sort of thing, but it is well played and well recorded. People into Florida would dig this. –Billups Allen (Self-released, myspace.com/alldinosaurs)


ABOLITIONIST:
It Used to Rain: CD
Abolitionist has an interesting dynamic going on here. Starting out with thrumming the folk-punk intro of “Flaming Barricades,” It Used to Rain is essentially a concept album about a world with water shortages so severe that it’s caused a global collapse, rioting, etc. It’s ten songs of well-recorded and surprisingly headstrong, muscular punk, with nods—wittingly or not—to old ‘80s peacepunk bands like The Mob. They manage some interesting flourishes here and there—the oddly catchy, disco-like intro to “My AK” or the almost goth-like thread running through “The Bucket Brigade Kills” or the title track. My biggest complaint is that Abolitionist relies waaaay too heavily on A-B-A-B rhyme schemes, and the rhymes themselves come across as occasionally goofy or forced. And yet they usually manage to overshadow the potentially ruinous lyrics with solid song structures. This band’s been on a million comps lately, and while I don’t get the Jawbreaker comparisons I’ve been hearing—Abolitionist is way too literal, lyrically and otherwise—they are definitely on to something. Finishing touch is the awesome Horsebites artwork. –keith (1859)


FILTHY CHARITY / WARDEAD:
Split: LP
Filthy Charity crank out tried and true crust grind. Fast, near chaotic, dual vocals from hell, and drums that sound like they’re mincing everything down to mere particles. I like this, but find that a whole album side can be tedious when it’s the same thing song after song. Granted, it’s the nature of the genre. But more time changes would really help separate the songs from one another. Wardead, however, really pick things up with their side. They definitely have a Nausea influence with the dual male/female vocal style and metallic crust sound. A bit fast, but not a blur, and you can hear everything in the songs. The songs are near-blistering in their delivery. “Dealers in Death” is a rager that has a few tempo changes to make everything dynamic. “Hypocrite” is urgent as hell. Check out the bass line at the beginning. The energy is constant and the passion comes across in their playing. Would like to hear more, but it seems, at least according to their info on the back cover, they are no more. Hmmmm... –Matt Average (Undislessed, thrashattack@dbmail.com / Enthropy, maxenthropy@gmail.com)


ZOUNDS:
The Redemption of: CD
Zounds were sort of odd ducks amongst the slew of odd ducks that comprised the U.K.’s now-legendary anarcho-punk scene. While lyrically on the same page as many of their peers, they didn’t go the screamy, skronky, thrashy noise route, nor the proto-goth route, nor did they go out of their way to ape Crass (although their single on that band’s label did adhere to the required sonic and rhythmic qualities the label required. Always found that kinda funny—an anarchist punk record label dictating to other bands what they should sound like or they couldn’t be on said label. But, as per usual, I digress,), but rather they came at the punk thing from a decidedly different angle, with a sound that often owed more to the folk rock groups of the 60s than the “no future” phalanx of the ‘70s. This latest release treads the same lyrical mill as their efforts three decades ago, all of which are still very topical—the stupidity and folly of war and violence, gender politics, the insidious nature of government and politics—and while the music here evinces more of that folk rock influence, they retain enough “punk” to give the tunes some sting. Hard to believe that thirty-plus years down the road and not only are they still on about the same things, but that, now more than ever, it needs to be said. I tip my hat to ye, and it’s good to have you back making a racket. –jimmy (Overground)


YOUNG LEAVES, THE:
Life Underneath: LP
Good job, guys. After hearing your album Big Old Me, I must say I was a bit disappointed. The singing was off, the songs weren’t that good... but this! Oh man, this album is a vast improvement over your first one. I can hear Replacements and Superchunk influences and it works great. Your band is growing stronger and I have faith that the next thing you do will probably be better than this too. High five! –Bryan Static (Drunken Sailor)


YOUNG IDENTITIES:
New Trends: EP
Hell yes. This is the second EP from this Australian band, originally released in 1980, now an affordable reissue. As you peruse the review section this issue, make sure you put this record at the top of your shopping list. This is some great punk rock. Fast to mid tempo, delivered with attitude, and played with energy and youthful aggression. A bit raw—which is an important thing to have when playing this music—like the hand claps in the title track. “Instant Feelings” keeps the energy up, throws in some “ooh-oohs” and doesn’t miss a beat, at least not one that I can detect. They pull back on “Threats” but lose no urgency. These are the kind of bands and records that remind me why punk is the best music ever. –Matt Average (540, chaosintejas.com)


FERAL BABIES:
Self-titled: Cassette
There’s some serious Los Angeles punk/hardcore worship on these five tracks and it’s not just the Weirdos cover. Tapping into the influence of West Coast masterpieces such as the Yes L.A. compilation and the Middle Class’ Out of Vogue EP, Feral Babies are indeed a godsend and the answer to the question: “Why aren’t there any more bands as intense as Street Trash anymore?” Perfection. Go find this! –Juan Espinosa (Self-released)


X=:
Seeing Grey: Cassette
What first caught my eye was the excellent packaging. The cover wraps around the tape, held together by two bolts and screws that run through the bit mapped eyes of some man’s face on the cover. Opening this up, there’s a small lyric booklet in the far right panel. You have to see how they constructed the whole thing. Quite nice! Musically, this is a mix of mid tempo punk with some rock influences. In a few songs they remind me of the Pist. On the second side, the rock side of X= comes more to the front. The riff to “Pain of the Past” sounds very similar to the Rollins Band’s “Followed Around.” I really like the opener on side two, “Why Not Now,” which sounds like late ‘80s hardcore with some Motörhead influences shining through. It’s a mid tempo, moody number, but effective. Interested to hear/see where these guys go next. –Matt Average (X=, westpaunderground.com/x=)


WORLD/INFERNO FRIENDSHIP SOCIETY, THE:
The Anarchy and the Ecstasy: LP
As I’m going though the review materials, Todd pulls this out of the piles and says as simply and casually as can be, “You’ll like this.” Now we’ve been friends for quite a long time now, so when he says something like that, I know to listen to him ‘cause it means it’s either gonna be really fuggin’ good or really fuggin’ weird. This, my friends, is both, a subversive Brechtian orgy as interpreted by punk-friendly cabaret denizens armed with horns, keyboards, an arsenal of influences, impeccable songwriting, and tons of intelligence and creativity, all of which just oozes off the crazy-colored slab of wax into which it’s etched. Like it? Hell, I wanna get drunk and take over the world with it. –jimmy (Chunksaah)


EX-BOOGEYMEN:
Masters of Ceremony: CD
Rock music trying really danged hard to sound creepy, but came off more boring and hackneyed (right down to an opening song based around the main riff of the Sonics’ “He’s Waiting”) than anything else. –jimmy (Ex-Boogeymen, theexboogeymen@gmail.com)


WHITE NIGHT:
Immortal: LP
After being available on cassette for over a year, Immortal finally finds its home on vinyl. Snot-pop punk rock that dives headfirst into the fountains of weird and fun. Each individual member of this band deserves props for doing what they do. Mike, Frank, and Jon—way to go guys. You are crazy motherfuckers. If you ever have a chance to see a show at their house in Fullerton, California, I highly suggest it. They have this clown car of a practice space that everyone crams into and it’s probably the most fun you can have in OrangeCounty. Yes, it’s more fun than Disneyland. –Daryl Gussin (Dead Broke / No Breaks)


EVANDER BROLYFIELD:
Self-titled: Cassette
It must be said: horrible band name. The type of thing you make a crack about possibly calling the band, laugh, and then forget. Indieish songs with off-key vocals and “witty” song titles like “Rocky Balboner.” Made up band member names, bad name, dumb song titles: all the demo standards are firmly in place. –frame (Self-released)


WHATEVER BRAINS:
Self-titled: LP
I’ve never been more convinced that a band was made specifically for my own enjoyment. Whatever Brains fuses all the weird things I love into a cohesive barrage of noise. If you’ve been following their progression of 7”s, you might have an idea of what to expect, but holy fuck this album is weird. I hear equal parts Spits, Neutral Milk Hotel, and Les Savy Fav, with a bit of Jay Reatard in the poppier bits. This an album that I can never see myself being able to convince anyone else to listen to, but if this doesn’t exit as my favorite album of the year, I’ll be amazed. Hell, the synths were enough to throw me off on the first listen, but once I got past that (and the use of a drum machine), the album was like a delicious treat. If you can stomach lo-fi noise, rock-inspired pop punk, you have an obligation to check this out. –Bryan Static (Sorry State)


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