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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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HUE BLANC’S JOYLESS ONES:
Stoning Josephine: LP
I feel like if Ian Curtis was still alive and well, he’d be in a band that sounds like this. But more so if Ian Curtis found happiness, or at least discovered a way to curb his depression. It leans heavy on the Joy Division influence, on more of an upbeat, rock’n’roll tip. Right about now I’ve probably lost you. Just hear me out—things can be contradicting and coalescent at the same time. Vocally, I can hear Ian right there with Hue Blanc. Musically, it’s like an age progression from a sketch artist. Much like when the man is looking for someone years after an initial testimony and they have to guestimate what someone will look like later on in life, this is what I think Curtis lead post-punk would sound like today. Only swap the keys in for horns and less shoegazey than you might imagine. Though, for whatever reason, the band’s name is printed nowhere on this record and I was lead to believe they were called Stoning Josephine. The only indicators are “Produced by Hue Blanc” and “Everything else by the Joyless Ones.” –Kayla Greet (Certified PR, certifiedprrecords.com)


HUM HUMS, THE:
Back to Front: CD
At some point the Ramones and the Beach Boys got down and produced some kind of punk rock Japanese lovechild and I am hopelessly head over heels for The Hum Hums. If you don’t stop this one on the first spin, you probably won’t ever want to. –Maddy (Waterslide, watersliderecords.bandcamp.com)


HURRICANE:
In Vein: CD
Malaysian metalcore that really, really, really wants to be 1990s-era Converge. This stuff was really popular in the early 2000s. Is this the beginning of a revival of that sound? I sure hope not. –Kurt Morris (Dogma Artistic Guerrilla, dogmaartisticguerrilla.blogspot.com)


IAN QUIET:
Gas Station of Love: CD
Goofy, annoying disc that has no business going anywhere but into the hands of the friends of the person that spent money making it—a disc full of rap with “funny” vocals, ambient noise, and nothing that hasn’t been done a million times before. –Mike Frame (Self-released)


IMMOLATO TOMATOES:
IStumbling Block, Complete Recordings 86-88: CD
Forgotten English band Immolato Tomatoes are mid-’80s-as-hell, drawing influence from Revolution Summer D.C. bands and 7 Seconds, with a few late-Black Flag guitar skronks for good measure. The CD contains liner notes from the band and twenty-two tracks, which span three shoddily recorded and poorly preserved demos. Quite a few songs are repeated, giving the feeling of a local band spinning its wheels, but this project is still a worthwhile labor of love. –CT Terry (Boss Tuneage)


INSTIGATORS:
Phoenix: CD
More crucial history from the great Boss Tuneage records, this time the second Instigators album along with a live set. The band’s first LP Nobody Listens Anymore is still my favorite, but their second still hits the spot. The band at this point was an almost a completely different lineup and entity to the one that made the first LP. Gone were their nods to the anarcho world of bands like the Subhumans, taking on to a much more obvious USHC direction. This album shows the influence of the massive amount of touring this band did throughout Europe and the States (a thing very few bands of the era were doing to the extent they did), complete with bandanas and scissor kicks. Musically on this release the band have an almost mid-period Dag Nasty sound with Andy Turner’s unmistakable vocals. As with discs from my youth, it’s difficult to divorce a time and a place from the music. I absolutely love this and am happy it’s easily available for everyone else to enjoy. –Tim Brooks (Boss Tuneage, bosstuneage.com)


ISKRA:
Ruins: LP
There are a lot of reasons to be angry. I spend most days frustrated by the fucked-up shit that goes on at home and abroad. Well, here are ten more reasons to decry the state of the world. Iskra burst out of the gate with “Lawless,” screaming anarchist dictums: “Individuality is forfeit, culture destroyed / Militaristic carrion, totalitarian interests.” Wrap your head around that. The songs are on the longer side, but they aren’t simply blast beats and guttural growls. The metallic, face-melting riffs unravel and punctuate the caustic lyrics. It’s symphonic anarcho metal, especially on “Predator Drone MQ-1,” an objection to drone warfare. Iskra is relentless. They sometimes verge on Insect Warfare-level grind. They’re thought provoking. Iskra forces you to ask, “What is our Meaning? / What is our purpose?” You might not like the answer, but some questions you have to ask. –Sean Arenas (Profane Existence, profaneexistence.com)


JACQUES LE COQUE:
Tip of My Tongue: 7” EP
JACQUES LE COQUE: Tip of My Tongue: 7” EP Pop punk hit perfection with Jacques Le Coque. Layered, spider web-thin vocals stretch over too-catchy riffs and an infectious beat that moves your bones to dance. Tip of My Tongue draws on the melody-rich prowess of pioneering punk forefathers Hüsker Dü and adds a granulated grittiness that elevates it to being one of the sharpest releases of the year. These dudes have sculpted a damn fine EP, and it only gets better after each listen. –Simone Carter (Windian, info@windianrecords.com, windianrecords.com)


JAILL:
Brain Cream: CD
For some reason, I’ve always assumed Jaill were from NYC, or somewhere on the West Coast. Clearly I was way off, but I imagine these cats are quite the hometown heroes in Milwaukee. There’s never been a shortage of hot acts from Wisconsin, sure, but Cream City seems like an unlikely place of origin for these dream pop masterminds (albeit the title of the long player in question is “Brain Cream”). “Getaway” is clearly a fan favorite, but the whole record stands out quite well the whole way through. (“Picking My Bones” is likely tops for me.) Jaill’s lateral jump from Sub Pop to Burger is a solid one, as Brain Cream doesn’t miss a beat. –Steve Adamyk (Burger, burgerrecords.com)


JOEY CAPE:
Stitch Puppy: CD
In all likelihood, the Venn diagram of people who read Razorcake and people who are familiar with Joey Cape’s body of work just looks like a single circle, so you’ve probably already made up your mind about Stitch Puppy. For established fans of Cape’s previous solo efforts, his newest release pushes the formula forward, showcasing songs that are more ambitious and mature—and arguably darker—without sacrificing the gentle melodies and quiet introspection that have become his trademark. For those who’ve yet to be seduced by his siren song, the previously unseen instrumental diversity present on the third full-length may offer the nudge you’ve been waiting for. Stitch Puppy features piano provided by Brian Wahlstrom and cello by Serina Chang, as well as guest vocals from Flatliners frontman Chris Cresswell, who previously recorded a release with Cape for his session label, One Week Records, and Useless ID’s Yotam Ben Horin, who is an acclaimed solo artist in his own right. Cape’s acoustic releases have always felt deeply introverted, and the presence of more collaborators helps Stitch Puppy explore its themes of melancholy and atmospheres without ever spiraling into hopelessness. –Kelley O’Death (Fat Wreck Chords, fatwreck.com)


KATIE DEY:
Asdfasdf: CS
This collection of acoustic/electronic bedroom folk pop is strange and calming and seems to be from the sunlit pastel future we may never actually see. Kate Bush and pop punk combined might be a fair description? The autotune-ish vocals may set some people off, but it’s one of those things that seems too bizarre until five years down the road and you hear it in every pop song, like it’s always been there. Optimal for long subway rides and making dinner and hanging around in the sick, sad world that is the only planet we have, at least for the time being. –Matt Werts (Orchid Tapes, orchidtapes.com)


KHARLOS:
Don’t Go Dying at My Party: CS
Ten songs of danceable, Ramones-influenced garage pop. Organ bits are scattered throughout and some songs have a new wave sharpness. It’s nothing new, but neither is cold beer, and we all love that. –CT Terry (morepowertapes.bandcamp.com)


KNEW, THE:
Schmew: LP
Chock full of high energy glam, pop punk, and a whole lot of indie, The Knew really pops. Like a mix of Tony Molina’s take on Thin Lizzy, a serious dose of the Thermals, and Weezer. If you like any of those bands you’ll be into this LP. Fast, fun, and optimistic punk. –Camylle Reynolds (Greater Than, theknew.com)


KNOWLTON BOURNE:
Songs from Motel 43: CD
I know nothing about this motel. I do know that this solo artist hails from Mississippi and is in his early twenties. I can also take a wild guess that he has never read an issue of this magazine. But maybe his press agent mailed this release to HQ. The songwriting is definitely capable. Fans of Steve Earle and Wilco may find some music here that excites them. I doubt that most readers of this magazine will feel the same. –Sean Koepenick (Misra, misrarecords.com)


KOUKOUVAYA, THEE:
This Is the Mythology of Modern Death: CD
Super pretentious album titles and taking forever to actually start the first song is not a good starting off point for a review album. Oh, wait, that was the song. It just never got off the ground. Five minutes of vaguely 4AD-sounding drone and ambient noise does not a compelling sound make. You are not Cranes. Things don’t get better the rest of the way through. If you just cannot get enough of mid-’90s post-rock with ambient and dancey overtones, here is yet another addition to the stack. –Mike Frame (Saint Marie, saintmarierecords.com)


LABOR CAMP:
Musica Divina & Humana: CD
Rock from a buncha cats with roots deep in the punker milieu. This benefits greatly from some spot-on production work, courtesy of Mr. Paul Roessler. The result is a much more cohesive, spirited sound than its predecessor. The band bounds from bluesy roots rock to psychedelia to, well, punk—with some stops in the gray areas in between. The results are engaging and brimming with ideas. –Jimmy Alvarado (Pit-I-Ful)


LAST SONS OF KRYPTON:
Teenage Trash: CS
Teenage Trash is the perfect title for this youthful throwback to early punk. It’s stupid, fun, upbeat, humorous, and sounds like it was recorded in a large metal can. Apparently, these guys were the most hated band in the Wisconsin scene around ‘95 for their shitty attitudes and antics but nobody could stop playing their records, and this re-release is a big deal for a lot of folks. Deservedly so, this album is boiling over with restless, repressed energy that can only come from some brats from Manitowoc, Wis. If you want depth and nuance you best look somewhere else, but if you simply want some fast, pissy, goofy punk to put a smile on your face and a stomp in your step, get this now. –Craven Rock (Rainy Road)


LAYMAN:
Blue Mind: CS
The ‘90s slacker vibes start coming at you right from the cover: an inviting-looking swimming pool, rich with soft, diffused teal—just looking at it kind of gives me a hypnotic, slowed-down feeling. Whooa. The music is more than fitting, a lazy wash of breathy, Cranberries-esque vocals and heavy, low-end guitar fuzz. The bass is clear and melodic throughout, which lends that extra alt throwback authenticity. More structured and poppy than Sonic Youth, but it’s impossible not to make the comparison. This tape is just what it looks like, a glimpse of a sun-kissed, maybe-not-quite-real Southern California nostalgia. –Indiana Laub (Paradise, paradisefuzz@gmail.com, paradiserecords.bigcartel.com)


LEFTÖVER CRACK:
Constructs of the State: CD
Having risen from the ashes of Choking Victim, New York City’s Leftöver Crack return with their third album in fourteen years. I’ll admit 2001’s Mediocre Generica was an attention grabber with its then-innovative blend of hardcore, ska punk, and even a little black metal. The follow-up album Fuck World Trade was straight-up boring despite its deliberately offensive title. Constructs of the State falls somewhere in between the two previous records, where it’s neither remarkable nor completely flat. The politics are still that of anti-capitalism, anti-racism, anti-sexism, as well as a dismal outlook on life and love. I like to imagine people frowning as they “pick it up” in the pit. Features guest vocals by Jesse Michaels of Operation Ivy and Common Rider, the former band being the forefathers of countless waves of ska punk, for better or worse. –Juan Espinosa (Fat, fatwreck.com)


LENTIC WATERS:
The Path: LP
This German band pretty much nails the whole “emo violence” thing. It’s full of the heart-on-your-sleeve, DIY, love-thy-neighbor attitude that the scene developed as “screamo” became a more acceptable term. There are the obligatory pull-backs where the guitars go clean and play those arpeggios that exist solely in this style of music. There’s a focus on the “epic,” there are His Hero Is Gone-style breaks and inverted chords galore. The liner notes champion pretty safe politics, punctuated with statements like “Emotions can’t be bad!” I explain all of this because I need you to understand that this record is a genre piece and offers absolutely no stylistic progression in the genre it settles into. You are not hearing the next Orchid, Funeral Diner, or Circle Takes The Square. That being said, for fans of the genre, this is a great addition to the style. The recording is clear, and the bass-heavy mix was a good choice as it makes it easier to hear the structures of the songs. If this record hadn’t shown up in my review pile and I had seen this band live, I would buy this record and definitely recommend it to friends of mine that are still riding the scream wave. –Ian Wise (Deadwood)


LOBSTER KILLED ME:
Fake World: LP
Listen: I’m old as fuck and have a house full of records, so it takes a lot to get the hairs standing up on my neck. This is the third time I’ve reviewed this band, and dare I say this is even better than their last LP, which I absolutely loved. After the last review where I questioned their choice of band name, I got a lovely letter from the band explaining the name, which made sense, but doesn’t change the fact that the name is terrible! Who gives a fuck? The sounds within are wonderful. As with their previous records, this has shimmering guitars with a distinct Euro flavor like HDQ, Snuff, Instigators—and this time—a sprinkling of my favorite French band Les Thugs. Self-recorded, self-released this is a testament to punk spirit. Top ten material for sure. As I said last time, even if you can’t find a physical copy, go find them on the internet. –Tim Brooks (Gestalt, lobsterkilledme.bandcamp.com)


LONGINGS:
Self-titled: LP
Here is some killer post-punk from some place other than Portland, OR. Longings are from Amherst, Mass. The songs remind me of the more upbeat Christian Death songs on Only Theater of Pain. “Severed Ties” has a Rikk Agnew guitar sound. The alternating male/female vocals help give the record more dynamics. Fans of the Estranged, Thee Indoors, Christian Death, and the Proletariat will love this band. –Ryan Nichols (Echo Canyon, echocanyonrecords.com)


LOWBROW:
Insert Brain Here: CD
Fairly melodic punk rock that is easy to listen to, with some super shreddy guitar in the mix. Pretty accurately summed up as a SoCal pop punk band that seems to be really stoked on Propagandhi. A couple of the tracks start off kind of slow, considering the tone of the album. The track I enjoy the most is “I Have Misplaced My Pants”—mostly because it seems like an appropriate tune for the mornings that I get out of bed and have to spend a lot of time looking for my pants, although I am actually pretty sure the song is not really about pants. –Maddy (lowbrow.bandcamp.com)


LUNCH:
Let Us Have Madness Openly: LP
Just add another great band to your list of Northwest post-punk: Lunch. These guys have the ability to incorporate catchy hooks to their songs, similar to what Spectres do, but with their own twist. This record is an impressive shift in craft and maturity from their debut 7”. The vocals sound more confident and, musically, the whole album breathes nicely. Great, dark, upbeat, post-punk. –Ryan Nichols (Mass Media, contact@massmediarecords.com)


MALE PATTERNS / SCUZZ:
Split: 7”EP
Scorcher of a split! Male Patterns remind me a bit of World Burns To Death, but slightly more tuneful and less heavy and dark. The vocalist has a deep, throaty sound that adds weight to the charging music. Their two originals crank like a motherfucker. I wish they would have played one more original in place of the Showcase Showdown cover, as their sound is a hell of a lot better than the band they chose to cover. Also, I hope they write about more relevant topics on the next release, not how cheap punk is and cell phone zombies. Scuzz are more chaotic and sonically blistering. The guitar has a slightly blown-out quality, the vocalist sounds just as blasted, and the whole band sounds as though they’re about to spin out into a ditch. Hardcore punk that is relentless. Pretty damn good. Hope to hear more from both bands in 2016. –Matt Average (Loud Punk, loudpunk.com)


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