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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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MEATMEN, THE:
Happy Fucking Easter, Asshole: 7”
A nice little “record store day” treat from TKO. Tesco Vee and the Meatmen deliver up the goods on this thick slab o’ wax. The first track is from an internet T.V. show and the B side is sporting two Germs covers. The Easter Bunny in the pictures on the sleeve is creepy as hell. It’s the fuckin’ Meatmen. You know what this sounds like! –ty (TKO)


MAX LEVINE ENSEMBLE, THE:
Mr. Gikokovich 2000-2005 / A Retrospective: CD
A best of, but re-recorded versions of old songs, like that Suicidal Tendencies record (which most people hate, but I’m used to hearing these songs live, so it’s no difference to me). They’re fairly political, but still maintain a goofy sense of humor. And while, musically, they’re mostly a pop punk band, they’ll thrash around a bit. Do I mean to infer that these guys are like the NOFX of the Plan-It-X scene? Perhaps. But am I too cool to throw on a NOFX record every now and then? Nope. –joe (Plan-It-X)


MANIC ATTRACTS:
Eyes Wide Shut: LP
Feedback-drenched pop. Mix the rawest Vivian Girls, or Finally Punk, with Psychocandy era Jesus And Mary Chain. The drums provide a catchy, driving beat, making the listener think all is swell, then comes a blast of feedback to let you know it’s not all pretty and sweet. I like the noisiness and I’ve always been a fan of feedback. I also like how the album starts off where the music sounds like it’s warped and f’d up before going into a straight-on cracker, “Animals,” that has a quick tempo and some shout-along vocals. For the most part, this is pretty good. At times, they kind of do some “ehhhh...” stuff, but then they have a song like “Waves” or “Images,” which bring the pop elements to the fore with great results. These songs are really tuneful and had me walking over to the stereo to put these two songs in particular back on for a couple more listens before proceeding to the songs that follow. –Matt Average (Dead Beat, dead-beat-records.com)


MAKE NO GAINS:
Severed Ties: Cassette
There is a place in the musical world for security blankets. Bands that don’t really seem to offer anything new but provide that safe comfort that we all know and love. Make No Gains offer a brand of pop punk that’s in tune with the times. Gruff vocals with sing-a-long choruses and that’s fine. I hear things that make me hopeful for their future. I look forward to hearing more from this band. –Bryan Static (Self-released, makenogains.bandcamp.com)


MAD ANTHONY:
I Spent All My Money on Speed Metal: CD
On the one hand, I can’t really say their indie rock tunes or the quasi-Danzigesque quality of the singer’s voice do much for me. None of it really sticks to the eardrums or screams for repeated listenings. On the other hand, they seem to be having a ball doing what they do, and when you get right down to it, ain’t that what this whole playing music stuff is about? Who the hell am I to piss in their punchbowl? Keep on keepin’ on, boys, someone out there’s bound to dig the hell outta what you’re dishin’. –jimmy (Phratry)


LUMBER LUNG:
Self-titled: LP
Hailing from Santa Barbara, Lumber Lung have a definite ‘90s post-hardcore sound. Sort of like Cap’n Jazz, with a thick—at the same time airy—yet tuneful guitar style, and the drums figure pretty prominently in the mix. The music has a franticness to it, without every really tilting into thrash mode. Instead, the songs race and swirl with the percussion moving everything forward. There is a slight groove to the songs, though never super strong. Makes me wonder if they emphasized that a bit more, then some of the songs would stick around in your memory a little longer. Listening to this reminds me of taking late summer road trips to faraway towns to watch a show in a rented hall where the band sets up on the floor and everyone there seems pretty into what they have going on. Nice letterpress job on the cover and cool printing the lyrics on cloth, as well. –Matt Average (Lumber Lung, lumberlungmusic@gmail.com)


LITTLE SISTER:
Repercussions: Cassette
I had been avoiding listening to this, and I can’t fathom why. This tape is just plain dripping with ferocity in a manner not unlike something Tragedy might serve up. Repercussions is short and sweet—four songs in a few minutes, but what it lacks in length it more than makes up for in awesomeness. Little Sister seems to contain members of Cheap Tragedies and Masakari, so if you are into either of those bands, you might want to search this out as well. –Garrett Barnwell (Tape Haus, tapehaus.blogspot.com /Big Purple, bigpurplerecords@gmail.com)


LIPREADER:
Broken Heart Attack: 7”
Punk has long been linked with depression. It’s music about alienation, poverty, and conflict. Yet, punk music tends to be fast, engaged, and loud. How many depressed people do you know who are constantly jumping up and down, shouting? Not many. Most of them are glued to the couch, sighing, and changing channels on TV. Lipreader, straight out of the smokiest loft on the West Side of Chicago, are a punk band whose sound fits with the true definition of depression. The tempos are a little lethargic, the vocals passionless and off-key, two song titles reference beds, and loneliness is a recurring lyrical theme. The songs have their catchy moments, but for the most part, they get bogged down in gray monotony. What is the punk equivalent of Paxil? Someone should slip a couple into these guys’ beers. –CT Terry (Lucky Gator)


LIVE ONES:
Yer Quite Welcome: LP
Another plucked gem from the city of Brooklyn, New York and the aural backhanded wallop this record delivers is the gift of rock that keeps on giving. Fans of proto punk/garage rock are going to have a real cool time with this full-length. When I gave this a listen the first time through, the thing that immediately jumped into my head was an image of 1975-era Ace Frehley being a hired gun for the Flamin’ Groovies, MC5, Teenage Head, The Dogs, and that short time The Stooges existed before Iggy went solo. If none of the above gets your private parts pulsating, you need to pull your thumb out of your ass and start slapping said parts around, because if this doesn’t get you up and party rocking, nothing will. Would love to hear what the Live Ones do onstage turned up to ten. –dale (Drug Front, drugfrontrecords.com)


LAVA/OX/SEA:
Next Episode: Lord Smart vs. Dr. Jin: CD
I have no idea if that’s the actual title of this record. My rules for internet research state that if I can’t confirm the info I want on a label’s home page or a band’s page, I no longer need to care if I’ve got it right or not. That said, Hefei, China’s Lava/Ox/Sea could well be described as twenty-first century prog punk, I guess. A description like that would make me think that Lava/Ox/Sea is somehow orbiting in the Devo solar system, but they’re not. This is a quiet record that seems kind of math-rockish, and it sounds more like the soundtrack to an avant garde film rather than a rock’n’roll record. This isn’t something that will find its way onto my regular playlists—I normally go for tunes with much more obvious bite and/or twang—but it will make for a magnificent musical change-up down the road. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Tenzenmen)


LADDERLEGS:
Approach This Once: CD
Ladderlegs play weirdo, discordant, spazz-out punk. The vocals sometimes involve the whole group going off in a weird, chanty way, but it’s usually just this one guy who just shrieks and flips out. The guitars and drums are all over the place in a calculated mess. It’s pretty demanding and distracting; I’m just saying—don’t put it on when you’re studying. Well worth your time if you are into Melt Banana, Frank Zappa, One Eye Open, and freak stuff like that, or if you just want to hear something different. –Craven (wipeyourearswiththis@gmail.com)


LA SERA:
Never Come Around: 7”
Candy indie-pop that reminds me of stuff from the early-nineties like The Spinanes and Velocity Girl. The super-sweet female vocals float over light, airy melodies. I believe it has members of Vivian Girls, if that means anything to you. It’s okay, but unmoving and kind of dull. –Craven (Hardly Art)


KNIFE IN THE LEG:
The Next 3 Stabs: CD
As the title implies, this is the second collection of previously released tracks from these guys, in this case stuff originally from a seven-inch EP and two split releases. The stuff here is still firmly rooted in hardcore, but there is definitely some more sophistication in evidence here in comparison to the stuff on its predecessor, The First 3 Stabs, and the result is songs with a longer shelf life. They pretty much keep the speed at mid-tempo throughout, with maybe a brief double-time bit thrown in here and there, but they do so without sacrificing any heft or intensity. Good stuff. –jimmy (Nikt Nic Nie Wie)


KIDS:
Self-titled: Cassette
Kids are thrashy hardcore with tons of squeally feedback and angry barking vocals. Each song is short but blends into the next without much break, keeping the excitement going. Fourteen intense songs clocking in at a little over twelve minutes usually equals a formula for awesomeness, and that holds true here. –Paul J. Comeau (Kids, kidshc.bandcamp.com)


JEN BUXTON:
Don’t Change Your Plans: CD
Jen Buxton is no-gimmick folk singer/ songwriter from New South Wales. It was amazing to learn that she is only twenty-one; her voice has depth and soul that is rarely heard from somebody who is so young. The nine songs on this album are about love and regret, written in a way that’s raw but never overly dramatic. Some of my favorite lyrics are in the title track: “She asks if I’ll be checking in alone; you know leaving just reminds me that there’s no one waiting for me at home.” I can’t wait to hear more from this girl, because Don’t Change Your Plans is a solid, timeless album that will appeal to a lot of different people. –Lauren Trout (Poison City, poisoncityrecords.com)


JACKY STONE AND HIS UGLY BONES:
Self-titled: CD
Lo-fi bedroom folk that bites Magnetic Fields and Sebadoh, but instead calls more to mind some pretentious, jerkoff in Olympia playing to a room of naïve, Evergreen students sitting on the floor. When I hear this, I keep expecting my shoulders to suddenly start being massaged by some creepy, artsy guy at any moment. Allow me to back up my ire. See, as shitty as this is, I might have been nicer and done the not-my-thing review, because I’m actually trying to be a little bit less of an asshole these days. But get this: THERE ARE TWENTY-SEVEN SONGS ON HERE! That’s four albums worth of wusscentric, whiny crap! A little humility goes a long way, dude, and I’m not talking about the soft-sleaze, sensitive act you put on to pick up indie rock girls. –Craven (jackystoneuglybones@gmail.com)


J.J. AND THE REAL JERKS:
Self-titled: 7”
In my years of writing reviews, I have learned that a pretty package is rarely a sign of quality. Still, I always find myself going all “ohhhh” and “ahhh” when I see a record like this one with its beautiful cover art and glow-in-the-dark vinyl that actually glows in the dark (I checked). When I put it on the turntable, I clench my teeth and hope that the music will justify me keeping the record in my collection. I always start positive. I say things like, “Okay, this is some cool garage rock,” and, “that guitar part is kind of neat,” but nine times out of ten, I can’t fight the fact that the music coming out of my stereo does not glow nearly as bright as the vinyl. I can’t forgive J.J. for sounding more like a spirited lecturer than a rock’n’roll singer, even with the so-so sax solo on the flipside. One more for the giveaway pile. Bummer. –mp (Kung Pao Chicken Pickin’, jjandtherealjerks.blogspot.com)


INTEGRITY:
Detonate Worlds Plague: 12”
The best band ever just dropped a new 12” that rips as hard as anything they’ve done to date. Atmospherically, this is by far Integrity’s darkest work. Admittedly, the production occasionally leaves something to be desired, but luckily this kinda adds to the overall effect. Typically awesome artwork (and a massive patch that came with pre-orders!) rounds out a record that’ll be on or around my turntable for months to come. If you’ve been a fan to this point, you won’t be disappointed. –Dave Williams (Holy Terror, holyterror.com)


HUNX AND HIS PUNX:
Too Young to Be in Love: CD
Punk mixed with ‘50s/’60s teenage girl rock/pop with a Queercore twist. I would like to hear them sing about Johnny’s car getting stuck on the train tracks and there’s nothing left for them to do but mourn his loss (they come close on “Lovers Lane”). At least that’s what I think of when I hear this. Apparently, this is the first time Hunx has an all-girl band backing him up. Whoa! I love the sassy and confident vocal delivery. Especially on “If You’re Not Here (I Don’t Know Where You Are).” Shannon Shaw’s vocals are awesome on here as well. Is there a solo project from her in the future? Should there be? I think so. Anyway... There’s a lot of good stuff on this album—”The Curse of Being Young,” “Bad Boy,” and “Can We Get Together” are just a few. This would be the music on the stereo at the parties I would think are worth attending. –Matt Average (Hardly Art, hardlyart.com)


HOLY COBRA:
Forever: LP
I seriously get stoked when bands form that take their music waaaayyy out there to somewhere else. Holy Cobras are one of those bands. Punk on acid. The music is loud with abrasive touches and it’s sometimes chaotic. But it’s like it’s melting, warping, and mutating into another life form. Sounds like Chrome/Helios Creed meets Wet Hair. The drums have a mechanical sound, though they are played by a human. The guitar sound is certainly influenced by Helios Creed, and the bass has its own thing going on, while the vocals sound like they’re from a distant place. Interesting juxtapositions, such as in “Fly Pilot Fly,” where the drums are hammering away while the guitar has a repetitive riff that floats upward, creating a different tension. Sometimes the songs degenerate into shambles then suddenly switch into something a little more restrained, though noisy and unconventional. –Matt Average (Telephone Explosion, telephoneexplosion.com)


HIGH SCHOOL:
You Already Know: CD
Sometimes it’s weird to think that there is music about which people get really excited but is unknown to almost anyone outside of a group of friends or those at some local high school. They look forward to seeing the band in concert, singing along with the lyrics, and dancing. When the band is done with their latest recording, their friends and fans are all like, “I can’t wait to hear it!” and it brightens their day and excites them. When the final project is all put together and is delivered, those friends are so excited and stoked on having it in their hands and almost feel blessed at the opportunity to listen to it. The memories and experiences that the band has with one another and their friends playing in basements and with other bands that they are friends with—they’re all so important to that band and those in their community. Yeah, sometimes I forget all that when I review these releases. I can totally sense that the stuff I just wrote would apply to High School. That’s why it’s too bad I wasn’t really into their poor man’s Hot Water Music sound they put out on these eight songs. Oh well. These things happen. Good luck, guys! –kurt (Ghost Like Me)


HERE HOLY SPAIN:
Division: CD
Sorta punk, sorta modern rock, and taken as a whole, not particularly interesting. –jimmy (Idol)


HELLMOUTH:
Gravestone Skylines: 2 x CD
Angry, hardcore-tinged heavy metal, all shouty and blustery. There are a few pentagrams and upside down crosses in the art, but the lyrics are more in the pain/virulence camp than paeans to the horned and ice-cube-challenged. –jimmy (Paper and Plastick, paperandplastick.com)


HAWAIIAN ISLANDS, THE:
Live Fast, Get Tropical: CD
If you’re playing indie pop music, you don’t need to have the majority of your vocals be screaming. –kurt (Poison City)


GUILT, THE:
Worth Nothing: Cassette
About twenty years ago, or less, really, these guys could have been on a label like Conversion or New Age. Stylistically, they sound like a straight edge hardcore band, though they don’t really sing about it. Mid-tempo, with big breakdowns, heavy drum sounds, crunchy guitars, gang choruses, and a vocalist who sounds like he’s either really pissed or emotionally overwhelmed. Urgent delivery and they hit on a lot of really good riffs that hold your attention the whole way through. Sometimes the lyrics are a little strange (check out the third verse of “The Situation,” second-to-last verse of “Your Leninism”). This is a pretty sold listen the whole way through, with songs like “Talk Hard” and “Dead Still” being the standouts. –Matt Average (The Guilt, jamesdoubek@gmail.com)


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