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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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S.B.V:
Swallow the Pill: 7"
Swallow the pill? I’d rather not. Boring posicore is boring. Also, who thinks a photo of Audrey Hepburn from Breakfast at Tiffany’s has any business being on the cover of a hardcore record? I mean, besides these guys? –Vincent Battilana (Refuse)


RUN, FOREVER:
The Devil, Death, and Me: CD
Run, Forever are obviously very much influenced by No Idea and Plan-It-X bands from the early 2000s. Bands like Against Me!, Defiance, Ohio, and Scouts Honor are all over this recording. That’s not to say that’s a bad thing, really. The songs are actually very well structured and the musicianship is remarkably high considering the amount of bands that pick up on this sound as an easy outlet to not have to think about things like actual songwriting. The songs and recording here stand up to most of the bigger bands in the genre. Some of the songs feel like there’s an amount of forced eclecticism (the country beat in “Grand Illusion” is a stab at branching out, but falls short, and the slower pace of “No Truth” is unashamedly pop) that feels like it weakens the record, but at least the band is making steps to try things that are a little different. –Ian Wise (solidarityrecordings.com)


RUINED TONGUE:
All of My Bad Habits: EP
Slow, crunching, and lurching. Ruined Tongue have general influences in hardcore and powerviolence, but never fall into either one easily. There is a blistering quality to their sound. Maybe it’s the vocal delivery. “Cave Kid” is the definite standout. The main riff has a good groove without sacrificing the intensity. The lyric “... so sick of living in this city of shit” has a universal appeal. –Matt Average (Radical Friends, radicalfriends.net)


RUBBER CUSHIONS:
Crazy: 7” single
Boy, dudes never get tired of dick references and heavy rock, do they? This single on Girth (Get it, dood?) Records is a pretty solid slab of heavy garage punk. Immediately brings to mind the Mono Men and the Nomads, which is certainly fine with me. White vinyl single, download code, this is twenty-first century, heavy garage for all the hot rodders out there missing the Scandi rawk revolution. –frame (Girth)


ROWSDOWER:
Demo: Cassette
Philadelphia’s Rowsdower brings seven tracks of poppy punk goodness to the table on this demo release. The drums sound like cardboard boxes and the production value is that of a boom box recording, but you know what? That can only help things in my opinion. They do seem to take particular pleasure in using cumbersome song titles, but, hey, I’m not arguing. –Garrett Barnwell (S.E.P. Tapes, septapes@gmail.com)


REJOUISSANCE:
Scrudding Wounds: CD-R
I’m the type of guy who likes lots of information about a band. I’m a collector of useless band trivia that gets locked in my memory banks while losing vital information in day-to-day life (which drives Mrs. Stranglehold crazy). Nothing pisses me off more than getting a Sharpied CD-R with a photocopied envelope with absolutely no information. Booo! It’s very important-sounding indie rock that gets all jammy and spacey at times. I like it a lot, but I can see myself forgetting about them. –ty (Time To Operate, timetooperate.com)


REBEL SPELL, THE:
It’s a Beautiful Future: CD
Protest punk is alive and well in VancouverBC. The Rebel Spell has returned for another twelve songs about what is wrong with the world in a manner than keeps you singing along and jumping up and down. The violin intro on “Uncontrollable” is simultaneously haunting and blood pumping. Being from the same part of the world as me, I’ve been to and played many shows with these guys and girls. They walk the walk as well as talk the talk. Honest and earnest to the bone, it really comes across in the songs. This disc fits in nicely with the rest of their discography and I highly recommend checking them out, as they pretty much tour non-stop. –ty (Rebel Time)


REATARDS:
Teenage Hate: CD
...i guess i would classify myself as having been “sort of” a Reatards fan back in the day—i bought all ((or most...or, at bare minimum, “a goodly amount”)) of their records when they came out and such ((and, like all the other bands of the day, taped their albums so they could be listened to while driving and shoved the vinyl on a shelf somewhere)), but, to be straight-up honest, i never drank the Memphis Kool-Aid® more than a sip at the time, can hum exactly zero of their songs, haven’t listened to a Reatards record since my purchase of a car with no cassette player in 2003, and really haven’t had the urge to do so, either ((and, although i specifically remember listening to “Heart of Chrome” westbound on Highway 45 one night, that is actually the only Reatards song i could identify by name prior to receipt of this reissue))—i liked them, but their influence on my capitalist way of life was pretty minor, overall. I mean, i remember the vaguely bluesy garage punk and the crunched-up, disintegraty guitar sound that makes you want to check the physical connection between turntable/cassette deck/CD player and your speakers every few minutes, and the three-chords-and-a-cloud-of-echo spirit of it all—and, after giving this a listen ((in my car, which is as it should be)), i remember “Stacye” and the Fear cover, too ((but completely don’t remember the Dead Boys cover. Weird))—but, to be kinda brutally frank, while i do like them, and Jay Reatard was definitely a talented dude, the Reatards still don’t hold my attention deeply nor for long, and thirty-nine songs ((original album + two cassettes)) is WAY more Reatards than i care to listen to in one sitting. I guess my point is that I was driving around with a seventeen year old kid listening to this album, and about two-thirds of the way through we both agreed that we were bored and should listen to KISS instead. HEY, I DON’T MAKE THE NEWS, I JUST REPORT IT. This must be hog heaven for the True Believers, though. BEST SONG: “Stacye” BEST SONG TITLE: I can’t help but think the abbreviated Fear title—”I Love Living In the City” is listed as “I Love Living”—merits a mention, given the circumstance. FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Band incorrectly uses “your” instead of “you’re” twice during track listings. –norb (Goner)


REARRANGED:
New Forms: CD
Must admit, the cover art and title of this disc had me thinking this was going to be along the post punk lines. Instead, Rearranged play late ‘80s/early ‘90s straightedge hardcore. Quite well. They’re not reinventing the wheel by any means—mid-tempo to somewhat fast, breakdowns, gang choruses—but the conviction comes through, keeps it interesting and sounding fresh, like this style did when it first appeared years ago. I like how the intro starts off with a somewhat lo-fi mix, making me think this is going to be some garbage, then the full mix comes in, and “whoosh”, it’s full-on power from there all the way to the end. “For a Change” mixes up the mid tempo with speedy parts and is catchy in the process. My favorite cut on here, without a doubt, is “A Prerogative”. It has a great, catchy riff that’s near rock’n’roll with tight execution. They use the studio for effect on “Lies Rotate” to emphasize the urgency of the song with a great outcome. If you like bands like Up Front, No For An Answer, and Gorilla Biscuits, then you’re going to want this. This is pretty good. Well thought out, executed, and put together. –Matt Average (Old Skool Kids, oskrecords.com, Love Pills and Whiskey, zyobradistro@gmail.com)


PUDOR CRONICA:
Self-titled: CD-R
Apparently a side project for one or more of the Rippers, this is a CD-R version of a 10” record they released. –jimmy (Ripper Records, therippers@therippers.net)


POUR HABIT:
Got Your Back: LP
Ugh. Fat Wreck skate punk that’s so clinical it comes up pretty much sterile. Probably my distaste for the new breed of bands of this ilk dates me a bit (I mean, does anyone really think that these guys or, like, Rise Against are on par with Hoss, Riches to Rags, etc?). This record just doesn’t have the feel that was present in the bands they so obviously grew up on. Like, the desperation’s gone… or something. –Dave Williams (Fat Wreck)


POISON IDEA:
Darby Crash Rides Again: 7"
I know I don’t have to review this, but what the hell. TKO released a repress of this rare gem for International Record Store Day and I’m sure happy to have snagged one. Poison Idea are one of the greatest bands to come out of the early American hardcore scene. The songs still rage after all these years! Nice pale blue clear vinyl is just the icing on the cake. Listen to me... record collectors are pretentious assholes! Haha. –ty (TKO)


PINK REASON:
Desperate Living: LP

First time hearing this group. I remember a lot of fuss about them in recent years. Walls of distortion and noise swirl in a dingy warehouse, while the drummer wails away, punching holes in the din here and there. “Empty Stomach” has a tuneful quality about it, then suddenly, it’s over and we’re racing full-on with a hardcore burner, “The Song with No Name.” The flipside is a V3 cover, “Your Girlfriend,” which is over as soon as it begins.

 

–Matt Average (Almost Ready, almostreadyrecords.com)


PHILLIP OF NAZARETH:
About Fucking Time: CD
The label that this band is on sent in several CDs this time around. Like its counterparts, this Phillip Of Nazareth CD has some awesome, eye-catching packaging that I love. Whoever is behind this label has definitely got the whole screen-printing thing down. Anyway, this band plays punk rock with alternately rebellious and goofy themes; the kind of stuff that Fat Records got us used to in the ‘90s and early ‘00s. I think I’ve outgrown all that already, but I bet I would have thought it was cool six or seven years ago. –Lauren Trout (The Automaton Records Media Conglomerate, myspace.com/thearmc)


PETER PRECIOUS:
Self-titled: CD
I guess three chords and one fast drumbeat makes it punk, but it doesn’t make it good. I can’t understand what the singer is yelling and there’s no lyrics sheet. This band needs to do something to make their music stand out because I feel like I’ve heard this a hundred times before. –Lauren Trout (The Automaton Records Media Conglomerate, myspace.com/thearmc)


PATRICK DONOHUE:
Straight from the Dragon’s Mouth: CD
A primitive nine-song solo project with no attempt to hide its amateur nature. The packaging consists of a xeroxed booklet and a CD-R with crude scribblings upon its surface. Lyrically, I heard a lot about ghosts and dragons which is okay in my book. The songs themselves are as unpolished as they are forgettable. I can hear similarities to the crude, early four-track works of masters such as Ween or Guided By Voices, but this is lacking the wry brilliance of those acts. –Jake Shut (No address listed)


PAPER FLEET:
Baby, We Love Each Other: 7"
While not terribly cohesive, this 7” does have some nice offerings. The record opens with a track that reminds me of something poppy in an alternative way from the U.K. in the ‘80s; I keep thinking of the Housemartins and The Smiths, mainly for the poppy yet melancholic sound. The second song is a good if not formulaic pop punk ditty. The other side has ‘90s alternative-sounding numbers. The first has the quiet/loud thing going on, while the last track on here is a bit twangy. Though the lack of uniformity is a bit stifling, all the songs are pretty good. –Vincent Battilana (Ottomen, ottomen.com)


PAPER FLEET:
Baby, We Love Each Other: 7"
Paper Fleet play retro power pop pretty well. (Say that five times fast.) This is a pretty decent record, though the first side is hampered by the recording. Remember how everything sounded coming out of the speakers of your first car? It’s that bad. The bouncy, catchy songs still stand, but the sound quality really holds them back. The two songs on the second side, for whatever reason, have a far better recording. They are much more dynamic and energetic. Paper Fleet doesn’t give us a lyric sheet, instead, a booklet with a many-paneled comic for each song. In these cartoons, a couple of anthropomorphic dogs play out what’s going on in the lyrics. This kind of cuteness reflects the overall package, both sonically and visually. I’m not wont to fall for such charm but the songs just get better each time I listen. –Craven (Ottomen, ottomen.com)


PALMS SPRING:
Nightwalker: Cassette
For fans of Go Sailor and people who unironically like the Shaggs. –Bryan Static (Self-released, palmsprings.tumblr.com)


OUTDOORSMEN:
Drunk Driving: 7"
From the mysterious new ClownCollege label with no insert and no address on the sleeve, comes this brutally scummy two-song garage record. Outdoorsmen are from the Bay Area and they remind me a lot of a less-refined version of Spider Babies, if it’s appropriate to call the Spider Babies “refined.” Ultra fuzzy lo-fi riffs accompany fun, rough GG-esque lyrics. The garage punk revival of the 1990s rarely produced records this great. Hopefully, Outdoorsmen have a new full-length in them soon. The goofy cover art is a total class act and would make for a great coloring book project for schoolchildren. Johnny needs to color in his decapitated roadside illustration tonight. –Art Ettinger (Clown College, myspace.com/clowncollegerecords)


ONSIND:
Dissatisfactions: CD
For some reason, I always prepare to hate any hippie-punk that’s sent my way. I don’t know why. I mean, I’m certainly not wild about TBIAPB or Defiance, OH, but man… Ghost Mice’s Europe? That record is a ten. And, thankfully, Onsind lean way more in Chris Clavin’s particular stripped-down, catchy-as-hell, melodic direction than toward those other gravelly-voiced hippie-crusts. Super-sincere, adorable, acoustic pop punk songs that reminds me a bit of Gordon Gano’s Army (due in large part to their accents, no doubt) meets (and don’t get bummed out on this) Swiss Army Romance-era Dashboard Confessional (and for the record… I love that shit. Ya, that’s right.). A very pleasant surprise. –Dave Williams (Plan-It-X)


ONE WIN CHOICE:
Conveyor: CD
I was a bit dubious of this one when the press one-sheet listed Rise Against as an influence. But the fearless reviewers here at the ‘cake have to keep an open mind, correct? Musically, everything was tight and moved along forcefully from song to song. I was hoping for a bit more melody in the vocals department. This issue seemed to be remedied as the record played on. “Who Threw Out the Itinerary?” and “Frame Your Favorite Pictures” were the choice cuts here for me. May take a while to grow on me, but it’s a good effort here. –koepenick (Jumpstart)


OAK & BONE:
Self-titled: CD-R
Loud, sludgy and comprised of equal parts hardcore and stoner metal. The narrow parameters within which so many of the bands adhere to in this subgenre often renders this stuff pretty faceless from band to band and song to song, but these guys give the proceedings a bit more personality dropping in bits of reverb-drenched guitar. –jimmy (Hanging Hex, hanginghex.blogspot.com)


NOI!SE:
Walk Beside Us: 7"
I was a bit wary of this one due to its inane cover. It’s a drawing of a skinhead mad-dogging me betwixt two American flags and a bald eagle backdrop. I’m not too down with the thanking of “the United States Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Navy” either. Yet it turned out to be quality, stomping oi with lyrics that thankfully avoid such jingoism. Most songs call out pathetic people who refuse to take responsibility for themselves. Here’s an example with some lyrics from the song “Blame”: “Nothing ever is your fault/Pointing fingers until you claim your bullshit victory by default/And then when all of your days are through/You’ll sit by yourself alone/Pretending there was nothing you could do”.This theme is continued with another song on the album. It’s clearly something that the band was dealing with in their community. Backing the songs that confront this behavior are songs about standing up and putting up a fight with your friends for the life you want. Between you and me, this is a keeper. Now I’m going to hide it because my anarchist girlfriend is coming over. –Craven (Longshot Music)


NEO CONS:
Self-titled: EP
Decent hardcore punk here. Straight-forward delivery and the recording sounds like it was done live. Though I think the reality is they—smartly—kept it basic and raw. The songs are loud, kind of chunky, and no bullshit. While I do like this, I wonder how much better they could be if they tightened up a little bit, chopped off small parts of songs, and honed it all down to a series of short sharp shocks. “Can’t Sleep” is my favorite of the six. –Matt Average (Deranged, derangedrecords.com)


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