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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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BLACK WINE:
Summer of Indifference: LP
Babes In Toyland mixed with Treepeople? Screaming Trees? Seven Year Bitch mixed with Tad? But filtrated, distilled, de-heroine’d, and de-bonered grunge through legit DIY punks? With a hint of the Halo Benders’ precious but earnest light touch? Black Wine holds a definite non-ironic fondness early- to mid-’90s alternative. I enjoy that their prism doesn’t refract grunge’s defiling excesses; it warms up genuinely roisterous, almost-forgotten (to me) bits of music. That said, it is weird getting all these flashbacks—one after another—of bands that I haven’t thought about for years and had to rub my eyes that this wasn’t released on C/Z or K and it wasn’t 1994. And that’s totally not a dig. –todd (Don Giovanni, dongiovanni.com)


BLACK HOLE KIDS:
Dull Conjecture: 7”
This is the band’s first 7” and is mostly straightforward screamo of the Orchid/Ampere variety. There are some moments of sincere rocking that are held together by good lead guitar work. Wess’s vocals are sort of weird and only sound right half the time when the band plays live, but the little bit of distortion and EQing on this make them cut through really well. My only complaint is that the stereo panning on the guitars is a little too wide and makes the sound a little awkward. Definitely a recommended listen to those who are still interested in late ‘90s/early 2000s screamo. –Ian Wise (Self-released, blackholekids205.blogspot.com)


BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME:
A Lifetime of Learning: CD
Not sure why someone would decide to create a band whose main influences appear to be Blink-182 and Sum 41 for any reason other than a desire to make a crazy amount of money (also known as “money”). So we’ve got the band’s motive covered, but do people still really want to hear this crap? Answer: sort of. As it turns out, this California-based band is really popular…in Japan. Our irradiated pals apparently can’t get enough of the smooth sounds of the year 2000. As comfort to our Japanese friends, I plan to nudge this CD into the waters of the Pacific, so that it may wash up on a more friendly shore. –Maddy (Kid Tested)


BESTIA, LA:
Mind Games: CD
Pro-sounding, generally mid-tempo East L.A. punk with bilingual Spanish/English female vocals…i’m pretty sure i would have flipped my shit ((to some degree)) over this in ‘83 or ‘84, but, listening to it at this exact moment, it is produced so much more slickly than all the other records i’ve listened to tonight that my ears can’t cope with the contrast…it’s like i was sitting in a theatre all night, watching Universal Pictures monster movies from the 30’s, and then i got up to take a leak, and when i got back they were showing that Godzilla movie with Matthew Broderick. Sounds kind of like a satellite-radio-friendly moosh-up of Sin 34, the Plasmatics, the Avengers, Bikini Kill and the Epoxies, welded to “Animal Boy” era major-label punk kick drum sounds and suchlike, occasionally breaking into Spanish just to keep me from nodding off. Just slick enough that i expect something really masterpiece-like; just raw enough that i can’t get into the slickness. Ah well. BEST SONG: “Don’t Go” because it sounds like a Spanish-language “Butcher Baby” BEST SONG TITLE: “Revenge” if you’re Black Flag FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: The Post-It® note affixed to the interior of the tray booklet says “Norb – FYI, GUITARIST IS RUDY FROM E.L.A. PUNKERS THE BRAT –Jimmy” –norb (La Bestia)


BAYONETS!!!:
Two Songs Regarding Faith Mountain: 7” flexi
Two quick blurry, spazzy, artistic blasts. Think Japanther jangle at 78 instead of 33—a warp speed mixed with, say, Mens Recovery Project. I’m sure there’s a manifesto in there somewhere, perhaps some Dada, some Foucault; and it wouldn’t surprise me if they incorporate some mixed media; some visuals augmenting the experience. Really flashy silver embossing on the red flexi, to be sure. –todd (Revolution Winter, revolutionwinter@gmail.com / eaglefacecity.com)


BARE MINIMUM, THE:
Self-titled: CD
This Toronto band had me on their side for their first track, “Man of the People,” which started with a mid-tempo twangy punk guitar line and led into a rousing chorus of fist-raising group vocals almost on par with Against Me’s debut album. Sadly, things started to go to shit on the second track of this four song EP with a sudden influx of a nearly Hootie And The Blowfish level of optimism without a trace of punk energy or, god forbid, fury. It’s summertime in the Midwest and I’m a happy guy, but even in my current sunny state of mind, the “zippity do dah” vibe turned my stomach. They pull up the nose for a bit for the third track entitled “Off the Wagon,” which returns to a mid-tempo, vaguely Florida folk punk sound. On the fourth track things slow down and get sappy again. To make things far worse, they let another guy on lead vocal duties and he possess an insufferable, fucked-up pitch of a warble. So the scorecard says two songs that were on the good side of mediocre and two songs that annoyed the living christ out of me, which adds up to: avoid. –Jake Shut (TBM, thebareminimum.ca)


BANGERS:
Small Pleasures: CD
More Leatherface than Queers on the pop punk scale, with odd chords, mid-tempos, smart lyrics, and a bucket full of hooks. The guitar sound seemed a bit subdued at first, but I found that cranking the volume up fixed that up right quick. –jimmy (Kiss Of Death)


BAND OF BEARDS:
Fuerteventura: CD
A little bit o’ poppy indie punk here, a little bit o’ indie rock there. There are hints at some good ideas, especially when they lean more towards the former, but while nothing here is out-and-out bad, on the whole, nothing ever feels like it quite gels enough to say, “Wow, that was fuggin’ great.” –jimmy (Band Of Beards)


AWFUL MAN:
New Ways to Say Fuck Off: 7”
Ex-members of Witches With Dicks return to the gruff’n’catchy realm of DIY punk. Totally pissed and ready to go. If you found yourself listening to Manual on repeat, you should definitely get your hands on this. Damning, social commentary combined with wit is always welcome around these parts. It’s great to see people so obviously frustrated with punk, technology, and music actually making music instead of just complaining about it. Alright, now that the demo has been pressed to vinyl, how about a debut release? –Daryl Gussin (It’s Not A Phase Dad / Dead Broke)


ARCTIC FLOWERS:
Reveries: LP
I’m a bit slow at times. My mind gets lost with all the information out there. Heard about this band from Portland and the great reviews they were receiving. I put it on my mental list and filed it away. A 7” came out. Forgot to buy it. They came through town and I missed the show. A split came out afterwards and forgot to buy that. When I saw a pre-sale for a new full length, I sent my money before I got sidetracked. Luckily, I acted quickly. The LP sold out quickly. A repress is in the works, due to its demand. So my thoughts about the album? Fantastic! I am a big nerd for female-fronted bands. So brownie point number one. I’m on a big post punk kick lately. They fill that and more by incorporating anarcho punk and solid rocking rhythms that have punk energy. It’s like taking the solid punk foundation of Signal Lost and adding a more brooding sound that Witch Hunt had on their last record. The guitar work is immaculate; creating textures and emotions that a band like the Red Dons use to maximum advantage. The eight songs that are provided are well crafted and feel like they went through the maturity process before being released. I hope this band doesn’t implode too soon before I can experience more. For my first introduction, like heroin, I want more. –don (Inimical)


ANSTALT:
Altamont Raceway: 7” EP
Loud, rock-tinged hardcore from Austria. Angry and coming on like a battering ram is what you get here, and in spades. –jimmy (De Nihil, denihilrecords@gmail.com)


ANNIHILATION TIME:
II: LP
All I can say is this is one band that always brought the punk energy into their hard-rocking shows. I knew that they would always play with a good dose of reckless abandon and their sets would be a blistering and sweaty display of hard-charging fun. Seeing them in the tiniest of rooms to larger venues, they were always consistent in their delivery. Bringing their ‘70s arena rock with a stoner edge—mixed with the energy of Bl’ast and mid- to late-period Black Flag, which is not easily achieved—to whomever was present. So this record has seen many a repress and has been released by a number of labels. Not sure of the pressing differences since I only originally had the CD release. But the one that I hold in my hands comes in a gatefold cover, kind of faded denim blue color vinyl, and a bonus record that is the Cosmic Unconsciousness 7”. Hearing this makes me realize that it has been a few years since I last saw them. Pretty sure they are a done deal at this point. But I’m pretty sure each one of the members is playing in one or more bands right now. –don (Tankcrimes)


ANGEL SLUTS, THE:
Suesie Was a Nihilist: 7” EP
“This Is Violence” sounds like a cross between “New Rose” by the Damned and “Don’t Be Afraid to Pogo” by the Gears. “That’s What I Say” is a cool punk-Stax stomper, with real or simulated brass buried somewhere underneath all the punk. I thought “Social Breakdown” sounded like “She Loves Me Not” by the Dickies, but then they started playing guitar leads and i didn’t know what it sounded like. “Untitled” doesn’t sound like anything i can name, except for when they start playing the first little guitar lead, which makes me think of the Damned again, which many would consider a sign that the record should be played a second time, but the very last chord sounds like the last chord in “Submission” by the Sex Pistols, which kinds of puts an end to such musings. I do not disapprove of this record. BEST SONG: Either “Untitled” or “That’s What I Say.” BEST SONG TITLE: “Untitled.” Wait, they stole that from JFA! FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: I received two 45s to review this issue, and both had drawings of scantily-clad girls on the covers. –norb (Fat Sandwich)


ANCIENT SHORES:
Self-titled: 7”
I really liked this 7” quite a lot. It’s pretty intensely heavy hardcore. Sounds a lot like Trap Them, or Hope Conspiracy’s Death Knows Your Name in its ability to smother you with layers instead of chasing you down with speed. A very brutal approach. The vocals are gravelly and the music is surgically precise while letting the guitars hang out for a split second to create a little ambience. Good stuff, very neatly packaged, from a killer label. –Rene Navarro (A389)


ANCHOR:
Recovery: CD
CD players did not like this release, but the computer grudgingly accepted it. And what came forth from these tinny speakers was some earnest, topical, non-preachy straight edge hardcore. Surprisingly good stuff—Recovery, in terms of ferocity and approach, falls pretty close in the spectrum to bands like Reserve 34, The Effort, or Have Heart. It’s the feeling-man’s version of hardcore, shot through with smarts and compassion, versus the bro-style, dick-swinging kind. It’s more than competent stuff, and thoughtful, and blessedly free of both machismo and judgment. It’s really too bad that the stereo wouldn’t play this album, as Recovery would most likely be getting some repeated listens around here. I rarely like this type of stuff, but when it’s done well, like it is here, I’m a total sucker for it. –keith (Pee)


ALOUATTA:
DIY: 4-song 10”
Tightly-structured, loose cartography, expansive rock that ends in cabinets full of explosives and chipped dishes. An alouatta’s a howler monkey. So was D. Boon. This Swedish record could fit right into Fishwife/Tanner/Night Marchers adjoining neighborhoods of San Diego, Sweden. Following the map legends (and guitar leads) finds us in a swampy yet clear place that’s expansive, feral, and brightly lit. They know what they’re doing and it sounds big and tight and wobbly enough so it’s not tiny-precise but more embers-burning-a-hole-in-the-carpet, their-smell’s-everywhere. Nicely done. –todd (Sodertorn Record Company, skrammelrecords.com/sodertorn)


AFTER THE FALL:
Eradication: CD
Another solid melodic hardcore release from this band. I think the band managed to overcome the problem I had with their previous album, Presents Fort Orange, which was the vocals lacking a certain degree of balls-outitude. Musically, it’s clear these guys have been studying at the feet of Propagandhi’s Today’s Empires... and Strike Anywhere’s Change Is a Sound. Overall, a solid chunk of pissed-off, progressively political punk. Plus, did I mention it’s fourteen songs in twenty-five minutes? I appreciate the brevity. –Adrian Salas (Mightier Than Sword)


APACHE:
On the Outside: 7”
Bubblegum pop—good stuff; even inside the vibe it’s a little slow for me, but darn catchy, lots of bubble to blow. I’ll give them this—for awhile I was convinced it was a reissue; it sounds that pure.
–mike (Savage, myspace.com/sfapache)


ALARM CLOCKS:
Nov. 7, 2009 Live: LP
A rather nondescript cover, no song titles on the back, looks hand-made. A flyer for an Alarm Clocks show in 2009? Yes, it’s the band from Back from the Grave. Gotta admit I ignored the album Norton Records put out a few years ago but I think I need it now. Normally I disregard live albums (unless I’m a completist about a certain band) but I kept reading raves about this record on the internet. Sounds pretty good, and it should, being engineered by Jim Diamond (of Dirtbombs/Ghetto Recorders fame). According to the liner notes, the idea to record this live set came last minute to Diamond and he missed a few songs while tweaking the console. Sounds almost like it could be a studio album. Both cuts from BFTG (“Yeah,” “No Reason To Complain”) are included. Best song is their wild, wild cover of Bo Diddley’s “I’m Alright” although it’s misspelled in the liner notes.
–Sal Lucci (My Mind’s Eye)


ADAMS AND EVES:
Dear Professor: LP
Adams and Eves is a family affair that plays lush, exquisitely arranged indie folk/indie pop. The band is made up of frequent Red Pony Clock collaborator Adam Powell—who writes, sings, and adds melodica and saw to the mix—as well as his wife Chelsea who plays bass, and his sister Laura who plays accordion. Adam and Chelsea are joined by another couple in the band; husband David Lee on drums and banjo and wife Megan Lee on vibraphone and glockenspiel, the two of them showcasing a fantastic interplay of the banjo and vibraphone, extracting great emotional depth from their instruments rather than being employed for novelty. Adam’s voice brings to mind that of John K. Samson’s in the Weakerthans and the songs here, generally speaking, share the Weakerthans qualify of being folk music that is earnest without being pretentious and without subscribing to genre limitations. The songs accomplish the feat of being immediately accessible, due to the great song writing and production, and then challenging as well, to both the folk and pop worlds. It’s a lovely record and worth seeking out.
–Jeff Proctor (adamsandeves.com)


A COIN IN THE COFFER:
Hell’s Hounds: 7” EP
Kinda punky acoustic stuff heavy on the dark, murder ballad influence. The quasi-Irish lilt is kept in check, which is a relief.
–jimmy (A Coin In The Coffer)


8 EYE SPY:
How Damn Far to YinMa Lane?: CD
What am I supposed to do with this? Not only is there already a band called 8 Eyed Spy from the seventies, but they were also one of the pioneers of no wave, the same genre that this Chinese band claims to play. On top of that, when I listen to it, I can clearly hear an influence. Forgive me if I’m wrong or something’s lost to translation but I can’t see how this is anything but a complete rip-off and I can’t justify it with a review.
–Craven (Tenzenmen)


( ):
False Xmas: 12” single
No idea how to pronounce the name of this outfit. Sort of like !!!, or when Prince went by a symbol. Anyhow, this is synth-driven pop. Reminds me of early New Order and Pet Shop Boys mixed with Blank Dogs. This could have been a minor dance floor hit in the ‘80s. I do like this. They should lose the samples in “False Xmas” though. Sounds out of place. The rest of the song is pretty good, though. Large and sweeping. “What Shall You Say Tonight?” is down tempo, with a Krautrock influence in the sparseness of the composition and the guitar sounds like early New Order. Decent.
–Matt Average (Katorga Works, katorgaworks@gmail.com)


ZERO ZERO:
Demo: CD-R
Driving back to the glorious West Side from the barbaric lands where the Razorcake bunker is located, I put the Zero Zero disc into my disc player in my car, windows down, and cranked the fucker up loud. Sat in the parking lot a few extra minutes before picking up my daughter from preschool and enjoyed the sonic assault these folks dish out. Listened to it a few times over and over before getting out of my car. It’s that good. Fast, thrashy, and raw hardcore punk is what they serve up. The songs race at a breakneck gait, the bass is rapid fire, and the guitar has a great sound that reminds me of the Plugz for some reason. Vocalist sounds a lot like Tony Erba. They slow down on “Chinese Shoe” for a brief moment and it’s pretty good. There are six scorchers on here. Don’t be lazy and lose out on this. I hope they get something new out soon. I want to hear more. More! This is so damn good...
–Matt Average (Zero Zero, zerozeromail@gmail.com)


YOUTH AVOIDERS / ZOMBIES ARE PISSED!:
Split: 7"
I loved the Youth Avoiders demo and have been looking forward to more material from the band. This 7” delivered everything I could have wanted. While preserving the raw intensity of the demo, the three songs on this split present a more refined and melodic sound, with even more delicious hooks, sweet riffs, and an all-around crisper mix. The tracks “Night Fever,” and “Ready for the Action,” are my favorites, and easily among the best of Youth Avoiders’ catalogue. The Zombies Are Pissed! side of this split presents four songs that mix fast and thrashy hardcore with slow and melodic parts, including rocking breakdowns and sing-a-longs. The band’s sound is reminiscent of melodic hardcore acts of the mid-late ‘90s, but they distinguish themselves with excellent songwriting— making them more than just another clone. Better production quality here than on their demo makes these songs shine. I really dig both of these bands and consider this record a must-have.
–Paul J. Comeau (Destructure, destructure.org)


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