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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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FIGGS, THE:
Sucking in Stereo: LP
Got a Figgs forty-five a while back that was pretty good, so it was a nice surprise to find this in my in-box. This is apparently a remastered reissue of an album they released a decade ago, available here on vinyl for the first time. It’s clear very early on here that these guys know their way around a hook, and they wield them well, slathering tune after tune with catchy bits culled from power pop influences and delivering them with a bit of punk conviction. Not a stinker in the bunch and a definite keeper to add to your party platter rotation. –jimmy (Peterwalkee, peterwalkeerecords.com)


FAMILY MAN:
Self-titled: CD
Two albums for the price of one here, one from 2008 and the other from 2010. Both feature some top-tier, mostly mid-tempo hardcore, with a whiff of metal found in their love of the E chord, and well above average lyric writing. Dunno where they hail from—my guess would be somewhere in Germany, but I wouldn’t lay any money down—but they more than handily deliver the fuggin’ goods. Nice, sly homage to Black Sabbath’s Heaven and Hell album on the back cover, too. –jimmy (Nikt Nic Nie Wie)


EXTREME NOISE TERROR:
Phonophobia: CD
If you have yet to hear ENT, then this is the perfect place to start. I tend to think a lot of crustcore has a short shelf life. However, this album, Phonophobia, is like a box of Twinkies. Ageless. Could survive a nuclear holocaust and still be fresh as the day it hit the racks. Originally released in 1991 and remastered recently, it still packs a powerful wallop. Just listen to “Third World Genocide.” Starts off with heavy percussion that reminds me of Siouxsie And The Banshees, only faster and hell-bent. Then, kerblam! the guitars kick in and it’s chaos supreme. This reissue also includes two unreleased tracks (“Commercial Suicide” and “Is This the Way?”) from the same session, and a live recording from 1986. –Matt Average (Terrotten, terrotten.com)


ELWAY:
Delusions: CD
So here’s the wildcard in the latest batch of records I got this month. This band comes out of the speakers and tugs at the old heartstrings while pummeling your eardrums. Crisp guitars, slippery bass, and in-your-face drums. Plus actual songwriting skills! Real vocals chock full of melody! It’s so good I can’t stop using exclamation points! You get the idea. This is worth checking out. Oh yeah, and if that loser ex-quarterback doesn’t like the band name than go toilet paper his front lawn. That will learn him –koepenick (Red Scare)


ELECTROCUTIONS, THE:
Forgotten City: 7”
There’s an early punk influence in there, but it veers less in the default directions of the Ramones and the New York Dolls, and more towards the slightly off-kilter vicinity of the taut English cluster of bands that ended up being the vanguard of post punk. The band’s precision is impeccable, with barre chords sharing space with slashing guitar work, and an almost military backbeat. Some solid work is in abundance here. –jimmy (Windian)


DWARVES:
Are Born Again: CD
After the Dwarves were sentenced to die on their last outing, 2004’s The Dwarves Must Die, we all knew that it would only be a matter of time before they were reanimated. Well the wait was a little longer than usual, but the almighty Dwarves are back and born again. The amazing thing about the Dwarves is their amazing ability to cross styles and genres with ease. That said, it seems that perhaps they were spreading themselves too thin on the last couple of releases. A little too much experimentation, and not enough Blood, Guts, and Pussy perhaps? Well, I’m happy to report that the Dwarves have in fact been born again into the world of depraved punk rock insanity. There isn’t any foray into hip-hop on this one, just a great balance of melodic mastery and pornographic alchemy delivered at break neck speed. Twenty-one songs that traverse all aspects of the Dwarves world. Sex, drugs, violence... Would you expect anything else? The lyrical content is heinous, for sure, but the most evil trick that Blag and company pull is their ability to make them so catchy that they can’t help but stick in your head. In the end, if you like the Dwarves, you’ll like this. If you don’t, you’ll still hate them. –ty (Greedy, thedwarves.com)


DOGHOUSE LORDS:
Diggin’ at the Doghouse: CD
The good: A few members of some better known groups (namely the Blasters and the Cramps) get together to mine some choice rootsy sounds that sound more informed by the dark, swamp-soaked bluesy glory of bands like early Gun Club and Poison 13 than their own back catalogues. The bad: The sequencing of the tracks is such that the lion’s share of the moodier pieces are within the first six tracks and the Texas-steeped floor scorchers are within the last six, making for a release that (dunno if it’s intentional or not) is more like two different releases than a cohesive whole. The relief: Hitting “random” on the CD player fixes up that last issue quite nicely. –jimmy (Ratchet Blade)


DIE DIE DIE:
Forms: CD
These guys are from New Zealand and are really well known for their energetic live shows more so than their recorded output. An old band of mine was on a sparsely attended show with them a few years back in Austin where they played their brand of noisy post punk to a crowd of about ten people. Despite this fact, they still played with the intensity of a band playing a packed show. Listening to this record now, I would never have guessed that it was the same band. Forms dives much deeper into an indie rock realm from what I remember, reminding me a lot of the newer records by New York indie darlings Les Savy Fav, if those records were showered in reverb and given a less prominent vocalist. The guitars are not as noisy as they used to be, instead infusing a greater sense of melody throughout. I suppose it’s a pleasant record to listen to, but it’s just not very exciting. –Mark Twistworthy (Flying Nun, flyingnin.co.nz)


DEZERTER:
Prawo Do Bycia Idiota: CD+DVD
Poland’s Dezerter plays straightforward, no-frills, no-nonsense punk rock, and I found their tunes to be highly satisfying. While I’m trying hard to make fewer “sounds like” comparisons these days, these guys remind me a lot of Straightjacket. Dezerter’s riffs have a bit of a staccato feel to them, and the harmonies between the guitars and vocals are really good—all of the songs are sung in Polish, but it didn’t matter that I couldn’t understand the words because the vocals blended well with the music. For the record, English translations are provided for all twelve songs, and the lyrical content is fairly standard twenty-first century punk rock fare, but there are some interesting intellectual twists. I don’t have a review of the DVD at this time because I was gonna watch it sometime in the next twelve hours, but I’ve gotta drive nine hundred miles to a funeral instead. Watch for it next time, if you’re interested. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Mystic [not the Mystic of Super 7” fame])


DESPISE YOU / AGORAPHOBIC NOSEBLEED:
And On and On: Split: LP
The release of this record is as monumental to me as the first time I (or anyone) saw Despise You perform live at Murderfest ‘07. That might not sound like a big deal but in case you didn’t know, prior to that show, DY existed only on recordings between the years of ‘94 and ‘97. Fake band member names, interviews, and show fliers added to the confusion amongst many of their fans (myself included) and peers in the scene. Their records eventually became obscure collectors items and a partial discography, Westside Horizons, became a cult classic as the band’s fate appeared to have been sealed when a split with Man Is The Bastard never materialized. Sure, it’s a bummer to think of what might have been, but you’ll be glad to know that they picked up right where they left off—and with a suitable partner in Agoraphobic Nosebleed. If you loved DY’s classics, then you should have no problem enjoying these eighteen brand new tracks of the same brand of thrashy hardcore that they built a reputation on. Still fucking bleak, brutal, and fast. There’s also a cover of Fear’s “I Don’t Care About You” just to show you where they’re coming from. Agoraphobic Nosebleed have also created quite a name for themselves in the extreme music world, though it’s debatable whether it’s a name to be praised or shunned. Still no drummer in place of the drum machine, but the songwriting is still excellent as Scott Hull doesn’t seem to run of out of riffs to manipulate. ANB doesn’t seem to rely on speed (the musical kind, that is) as much as they did in their earlier days, but don’t kid yourself, shit’s still fierce. It’s fairly typical of Jay Randall to conjure up lyrical diarrhea, but this time around the lyrics are not as offensive. Still, that doesn’t mean that they haven’t or won’t be again. But, hey, Randall couldn’t have been more right on with these lines: “Get pissed—throw the disc in the trash? But the Despise You side is where it’s at.” Amen to that. –Juan Espinosa (Relapse, relapse.com)


DEEP SLEEP:
Turn Me Off: 12” EP
Hey, who put All into my hardcore? Deep Sleep. It’s noodly, but the noodles are kept in the bowl of the song (and aren’t at the top of the mix). Deep Sleep’s abrasive, like how sandpaper takes the burrs off, but the result’s a smooth finish that shows off the natural wood grain. Burly, with a purpose, without being unwieldy. Heavy without being “tough.” Deep Sleep are movers who clear out an entire truck in record time without chipping a single dish or dinging a chair leg. There’s something gratifying about listening to a band that’s getting the job done so efficiently and crisply. –todd (Grave Mistake)


DEATH FIRST:
Trapped: 7” EP
Loud, angry hardcore with a big, anthemic sound. The lyrics are topical, addressing punk trends, emotional blackmail, weekend politicians, and the need to continue disaster aid when all the cameras have gone home. –jimmy (Destroy Me, destroymerecords.blogspot.com)


DEATH DEALERS:
Files of Atrocity: CD
Remember when you first listened to Doom’s Monarchy Zoo? How it kicked your ass from one end of the room to the next, and you laughed like a maniac the whole time because you could not believe anything could be this good? Well, Death Dealers do much of the same thing here. Members of Extreme Noise Terror with Charlie Claeson from Anti-Cimex on drums. Even better than I was anticipating. Starts off with some ear-splitting distortion and feedback. Right there, a good sign, and then it’s a motherfucker of a hell ride from there on out. Even the bomb blasts in “Fix to Feed” are awesome. “Blinded by Fame” would make even the most reluctant listener of heavy crust move their ass in the name of rock. The sound is heavy, charging like mad, and the guitar on here sounds killer. –Matt Average (Farewell)


DEAD DOG:
Don’t Touch Me: LP
This record see-saws between weird/not weird. It’s energetic, and just-this-side-of-spastic. It’s got that fast-coasting, hands-off-handlebars downhill speed of Asheville’s Dead Things; the crunchy, shardy, broken lollipop of punk and pop that Hunchback sucked on; and the ragged and tattered glory of Allergic To Bullshit. It all adds up to a charm sum greater than the parts. Repeated listens verify that there’s some undeniable songcraft underneath. It helps that the production’s not tarted up to be anything except fuckin’ awesome DIY punk songs. –todd (Let’s Pretend)


DAMN LASER VAMPIRES:
Three-Gun Mojo: CD
Very Cramps influenced. The musicianship is pretty good. Surf, rockabilly, and blues all thrown in the blender. When I first heard this, I didn’t really like it much. Subsequent listens has made me appreciate it more. I hear more nuances than the last listen. I can appreciate where they’re going with this. Like I said at the beginning, they have a definite Cramps influence. But then they add some darker touches. I hear a bit of NickCave in the sound. I like the clean guitar sound quite a bit. It’s as if Dick Dale decided to join a shockabilly band. The songs move more at a cool pace than with wild abandon. They go a little wild on “Greets the Gang.” “Creepy Thing” is a stand out on here. It has a nice lurking tempo and a great guitar break that puts a little light in the murk. Also, really like “Hit Me Like a Man.” Sounds like the perfect song for driving across the desert. Wide open, sweeping, and still cool. “The Mo” sounds like something that should have been in a David Lynch film. Spidery guitar sound, shambling rhythm, and a sax to give more color. –Matt Average (Terrotten, terrotten.com)


CUTE LEPERS, THE:
Adventure Time: CD
Late ‘70s-inspired power/punk, not unlike the Marked Men, Reigning Sound, or even a lot like Rocket From The Crypt when the horns come in. Some of the songs run a little long for my attention span, but it’s still pretty great. Even if you’re not into this kind of stuff normally, it’s worth looking into. –joe (1-2-3-4 Go!)


CURMUDGEON:
Human Ouroboros: Cassette
This Boston-based outfit plays heavy, face-pummeling ‘80s hardcore with political lyrics. Featuring ex-Ripshit vocalist Krystina Krysiak tearing it up on the mic, Curmudgeon are everything you could want in a band of this style: Tons of low end, some blastbeats, plenty of breakdowns, and the occasional sing-along. “Shut Out,” and “Spineless,” are my favorite tracks, both because of how epic they rage and because of their strong lyrical content. Go download this already! –Paul J. Comeau (Curmudgeon, curmudgeon.bandcamp.com)


CULO:
Toxic Vision: 7” EP
Hooo doggy, this is one helluva record. Spastic hardcore in spades here, with tempos bouncing from one end of the spectrum to the other and back again, often in the same song. Angry, short, and brilliant in ways that only those who appreciate hardcore will truly get. Believe me when I say this is one o’ them pieces of wax folks’ll be forking over large wads of cash for when it becomes scarce. –jimmy (Deranged)


CREDENTIALS, THE:
Goocher: LP
Breathless, dark-bagged eyes insomnia music focused on the smallpox blanket of contemporary popular American culture. Lots-of-fast-words, politically-tinged pop punk. Goocher has the feeling of standing ten feet away from a roaring-by train. At first listen, it was hard to separate the individual cars rushing by. They’re along the line of a smarter, crustier, class-conscious, less “street,” more “dumpster and feminism” Rancid? So sorta like Fifteen? A speeded-up Rivethead—so, like 45 to a 78? Somewhere in that Bermuda triangle of possibilities. What I’m rubbing my head over is how blurry it is, like how so many of the songs don’t breathe. So when the breakdowns and semi-pauses—the semicolons instead of !, !, !’s all the time—like in “Younger Kids” and the intro to “Stealers Keepers” really stood out. Comes with a full-sized newspaper zine lyric sheet and one of the longest thank you lists I’ve seen in a long time. –todd (It’s Alive / Dirt Cult / 86’d / Muy Autentico)


COYOTE SLINGSHOT/ CAUTION (COMMA) LEMMY:
Jumping Fences with the Roadkill: Cassette
This is a split tape by two bands that are well suited to the lo-fi format. Coyote Slingshot sounds like the Misfits crossed with cheesy Halloween music (think “Monster Mash”). Their songs are synth-y and fun, but they also have an ominous snare drum beat that echoes that hollow-y Misfits sounds. Caution (Comma) Lemmy dishes out some equally creepy noise on their side of the tape. Their instruments are distorted beyond recognition, sounding something like helicopters and sirens. Amidst all the chaos, this could be a post- apocalyptic radio broadcast. –Lauren Trout (Sweat Power, Sweatpowerrecords.com)


CONVERGE / DROPDEAD:
20 Years: Split: 7”
One track each by these titans of hardcore. It blows my mind to think that these bands have been around for twenty years, but this split proves that both are as relevant as ever. Little can be said about Converge that hasn’t been said elsewhere. Punishingly fast and unflinchingly in your face, their track “Runaway,” is the band at their noisy, dissonant, best. “Paths of Glory,” is the first new DropDead recording in seven years, and the band is still pissed, still political, and still knows how to rage. Blasting out at blistering speed, the song is a little over a minute of pure punk/hardcore adrenaline. This is a must have for fans of either band, and, hopefully, a taste of more to come.    –Paul J. Comeau (Armageddon Label)


CONFINES:
Withdrawn: 7” EP
The sheer intensity of this band may blow your mind, or your speakers. Featuring members of some of the best bands out of Boston/Mass in the last decade, Confines play angry, driving, political hardcore with lots of guitar wankery and some catchy melodic riffage, usually at breakneck speed. Guitarist Ryan Abbott absolutely shreds on every song, and PJ Kuda on drums tears up his kit with the brutal ferocity. Thankfully, Jamie Jones on bass holds things together as Andrew Jackmauh screams like a banshee over everything. If fast and thrashy hardcore punk is your thing, check this out immediately. It rips! –Paul J. Comeau (Labor Of Love)


CHARLEY HORSE:
Professional Sinners: LP
A lot of the country revival produced by hard rockers comes across as a little affected to me. While it’s not my bag, Professional Sinners comes across as a sincere effort. The band can play and the record is well produced. The songs have a range of rockabilly and hard country influences and go beyond learning a few chords and whining about drinking. I would think those into later Social Distortion would enjoy this. –Billups Allen (Ratchet Blade, ratchetbladerecords.com)


CARNIVORES:
“German Flower” b/w “Sense of Dread”: 7”
A tip of the hat is always necessary when songs can seem so cluttered and so catchy at the same time. Carnivores packs these tracks with all kinds of change ups and left-field interferences, but they still nail those hooks! Somewhat psychedelic, all-out garage rock. Two short and pleasantly unnerving cuts. –Daryl Gussin (Dirt Cult)


BUST!:
Suck Kuts: 10”EP
This two-piece from the Chicago suburbs juggles familiar sounds and makes them sound fresh and interesting, much more so than many of their contemporaries in the melodic hardcore and pop punk scenes. This is my first introduction to the band and the first band that comes to mind is Dillinger Four. The songs have similar pacing, expressive guitar, and the flat, galloping bass tuned to a rhythmic thud. The bass I’m curious about since it’s a two-piece and I’m assuming it’s just a guitar and drums at the shows, but who knows? There’s also an angularity to the guitar and an energy to the vocals that distinguishes it from D4, something akin to Rick Froberg’s work in Drive Like Jehu. –Jeff Proctor (Cassette Deck)


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