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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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ÜBER:
Self-titled: 7” EP and España y Mierda: 7” EP: 7” EPs
Simple, fast ‘n’ silly punk de España. The drill is pretty much the same across both EPs, with thrashy beats, fuzz-free guitars, and lyrics that bounce between English, Castellano, Catalan, and Portuguese about riding bikes and everything being shit. –jimmy (Sell Our Souls, selloursouls.com)


TROWELS, THE:
Self-titled: 7”
Truth be told, I can’t stand thrash metal. But having been a skateboarder for sixteen years now—with the fucked back and chipped teeth to prove it—I really like this four-song EP. That’s not to say I’d ever listen to it again (probably won’t). Nevertheless, the lyrics are fucking amazing; literally every song is about skateboarding: dropping out of school and dropping into a bowl at FDR Skatepark; calling someone out for being a coward for kicking out of a trick; mixing concrete to build a skatepark and a track about session killers (Ken Park, Andy Mac, and McGill had reputations for this back in the day). If anything, I’m glad these kids are out there and involved in skateboarding. With Target and Mountain Dew getting into the fold, we need this DIY spirit. –ryan (Self-released, myspace.com/thetrowels)


THRASH OHOOII / KESUMAT:
Split: 7”
What a nice surprise this is. The packaging is great. It includes a cool poster and a really thick slab of vinyl. (Maybe the thickest 7” I’ve ever seen) Both groups are Malaysian. Thrash OHOOII are a total HC thrash attack. They rip, despite the weird name. (Do they mean Thrash Ahoy? I really have no idea.) Kesumat are both slower and faster at times, and a lot darker. They are also very cool. This is a 7” well worth checking out if you’re into fast, heavy tunes. (And you should be!) –Ryan Horky (Basement/Pissart, myspace.com/basementrecordstore, pissartrecords.com)


TENEMENT:
False Teeth: 7” EP
It always warms the ol’ black heart when a band approaches the pop punk equation without even a passing glance at NOFX, the Queers, or the Ramones. The easy reference point would be Hüsker Dü, but while their chord selection shows some Hüsker influence, they don’t have a third of the wild guitar noodling. There’s also an almost bar rock undertow that especially bubbles up on the B-side tune, “L City Bus #30” that is more in line with the boozy genius of the Replacements. The songs are well crafted and smart, and bore into the noggin in ways that happen too infrequently these days. –jimmy (Rock Bottom, no address)


TELEFON:
Smysl Malych Cinu: LP
Jarring and weird and skittish, like some guy poking you with a barbecue fork and them jumping back when you reach for him. A dozen songs sung in Czech with English translations that remind me of Fourth Rotor and, I don’t know, all the unpleasant aspects of post-rock. How’s that for vague? There are plenty of riffs stacked and piecemealed together and none of them seem to gel into something approaching a song. The tin man without a heart, you know? It’s just pieces. The vocalist approaches Joey Vindictive territory at times, which comes across pretty ineffectively here. Sorry to bag on it, and maybe this will grow on me, but Telefon managed to be musically excessive while gaining very little actual momentum. –keith (PHR, phr.cz)


TEENAGE BOTTLEROCKET:
Another Way: CD
A reissue of TBR’s first album, this is very much a document of the band in its embryonic stage. The Ramones-core pop punk attack the band perfected is a bit looser, although very apparent already. Also the band at this point did not yet have second guitarist/vocalist Kody, which is a dimension to the band’s sound that is missed when listening to this retroactively after their later releases. As bonus tracks, the band’s even earlier A-Bomb 7” and their half of a split with Bill The Welder (which has my favorite track, “Go Away”) are appended to the end. Perhaps not an essential release, but it is good to have this back in print for those who want to dig deeper into Teenage Bottlerocket’s roots. –Adrian Salas (Red Scare)


TATTLE TALES, THE:
Moon Glasses: CD
Here’s a group playing some straight-forward power pop with solid, sincere lyrics. My favorites are some lines from the song “No Pills” that go, “She went finding her own way. Next time I see you I’ll say—Hey! I knew who you were! But I don’t anymore.” As I was reading the lyrics, I noticed that most of the pictures in the background are grayish winter pictures that look like they were taken somewhere way out in New England. I looked up the band’s website, and they are in fact from that part of the country. They play shows in places like Dover, New Hampshire. People must love them for playing in small towns like that! I started reading the band’s blog too, and I am pretty much in love with how excited they sound about what they do: “Show tonight! Wooo!” and “This is happening Saturday, so come =)” I always love to see bands who aren’t too cool to get excited about shows. As if the deal wasn’t already sealed, I looked at the credits on the back and see that Mikey Erg played drums on all the tracks on this album. At that point, I am totally sold on these guys, but then I looked at the latest entry on their blog and they just broke up. Ah, what a cruel world this is. –Lauren Trout (Killer/ SP/ Hang Up/ Pop Jinx, hanguprecords.com)


SWEET SIXTEENS, THE:
Submarine: 7”
A-side sounds like some sorta minimalist new wavy redux with what sounds like toy synths and an ancient drum machine. The flip has a bit more of an early Velvet Underground feel to it, with aforementioned synth in tow. Simple, but effective stuff. –jimmy (Windian, windianrecords.blogspot.com)


SPINOFFS, THE:
Stayin’ Alive: 7”
This slab of wax was actually supposed to be released by the legendary distro/label Mutant Pop Records. But one thing led to another and the label went into a second hibernation. It’s Alive, much like a young Indiana Jones, rescued the plates from crypts of pop punk (complete with etchings like “I LIKE SHORT SONGS!”—dude!) and released it on yummy orange vinyl. Not only that...but this is the type of awesome shit with hand claps and on-fire guitar solos you expect from It’s Alive. I recommend the shit out of this. –mrz (It’s Alive)


SPAZZ:
Crush Kill Destroy: LP
Reissue of the classic power violence band. Ironically, despite songs calling for “The Complete & Utter Eradication of All Generic Pop Punk” there’s a very Ramones quality to these guys; they’re relatively simple (when placed next to prog rock influenced stuff, at least), but damn if it’s not super tight, high energy thrash. Combine it with a goofy sense of humor (they do the between-song sound clips better than most), and you’ve got a great record by an overall really fun band. My one super nerdy complaint is I wish the LP came with a download code (as I wish I could listen to this on the train, and not just at home), but, overall, it’s a beautifully done release, apparently the first in a series, so hopefully there will be more/a lot easier to track down. –joe (625 Thrash, info@625thrash.com)


SORRY EXCUSE:
Self-titled: 7” EP
While the band keeps things at warp factor nine on this, their second release, they’ve included a cover ostensibly depicting someone shooting up and either dying or passing out, and have expanded their lyrical content to address betrayal-by-friend, work sucking, not being heard making them angry, adultery getting them down, and more betrayal-by-friend lamentations. I really don’t wanna sound like I’m taking a swipe at the whole straight edge thing—drink, don’t drink, I really don’t give a fuck—but add a Jesus in here and there to all the finger wagging and pontificating and you’ve got all the makings of textbook bible-thumpin’ mentality. In short, the music’s much more interesting without the lyrics cribbed from worst bits of long out of print SS Decontrol records. –jimmy (Lifeline)


SLOW DEATH, THE:
Go Fuck Yourself: CD-R
The gravelly vocals were initially off-putting, but the catchiness of the songs and lyrics that seem at first blush to be a bit more eloquent than most won me over. Five tunes of catchy, sing-along punk that is anthemic without sounding cliché and gruff without sounding meatheadded. –jimmy (The Slow Death, myspace.com/prettyboythorson)


SLÖA KNIVAR:
Hemmakvälls Massakern: 7” EP
Dunno who the producer is here, but someone deserves a medal for some truly incendiary-sounding guitars. The band wrings every ounce of sleaze possible while keeping things mostly mid-tempo, but are just fucking on it the whole ride through while their singer vomits up lines like, “Are you a sailor? Do you like birds?” –jimmy (Ken Rock, myspace.com/kenrockrecords)


SLEEPWALKERS:
Your Hell Looks Like Heaven to Me: CD
A complex fusion of fast, technical, and heavy rock’n’roll with metal leads; plus post-punk-sounding dissonant squeals and shouted vocals make Sleepwalkers an interesting amalgam of a band. Other bands have tried to capture this kind of sound in the past, but few have succeeded the way Sleepwalkers does on this album. The songwriting chops on each of these songs are superb. No stray notes or weak riffs anywhere to slow the intense progression of the album, which grabs from the first song, “White Cotton Gods,” and hardly lets up. The overall production quality of the album is top-notch, with all the instruments sounding great. My only gripe is that I wish the vocals were a bit more to the front of the mix. With all the insane riffing and guitar wankery going on, the vocals sometimes get lost behind the instruments. That aside, this album is definitely worth repeated listens. –Paul J. Comeau –Guest Contributor (Sleepwalkers, sleepwalkers.bandcamp.com)


SLEAZE, THE:
“Crush” b/w “PCP”: 7”
Uptempo, demented, sloppy, wholly unintelligible vocals. Brilliant. –jimmy (Leather Bar, myspace.com/leatherbarrecords)


SHIRKS, THE:
Disease: 7” EP
Though done quite well, “Disease” has a Ramones base that’s just a wee bit too obvious. “Negative Reaction” fares much better, with zippy tempos and slam-bang chord hooks. The flip, “Nowhere Street,” is another mid-tempo rager, easily the strongest and catchiest of the three. Good stuff, all told. –jimmy (Windian, windianrecords.blogspot.com)


SHANG-A-LANG / BROKEN MOUNTAIN:
Split: 7”
Shang-a-Lang: You know what the ultimate prize should be? The ability to keep making music that not only keeps you alive, but encourages to keep your friends living, especially after the “punk death” age many hit in their late twenties. Shang-a-Lang’s on my permanent roster in the kickball game of life. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more resourceful, money-where-mouth-is, magic-on-a-budget DIY punk band that flat-out keeps on getting sexier as time goes on. (Mud baths? Oh, la, la.) Broken Mountain: I’ve heard demos and live recordings of The Saints, prior to the horns, rougher and dirtier than the first couple of untouchable records. Should it be strange that a Japanese band not singing in their native tongue has the same clipped delivery as Australia’s Chris Bailey? No matter, because any band that reminds me of the swagger, chug, and freight train delivery of The Saints’ll get their fair share of rotations on my record player. –todd (Dirt Cult / Snuffy Smiles)


SEVEN SISTERS OF SLEEP:
Self-titled: 12”

A mix of sludge with hardcore. Musically, the results are pretty good. They hit with some heavy riffs that work their way into you head long after the record is over. Lots of low end and the guitars sound great. The only complaint I have with this record is the vocals. They don’t work well with this music at all. At times, the music gets buried under a muddy wall of yelling. I get the sense the singer is overcompensating, when he should just let the music come through and complement the whole affair with less shouting at the top of his lungs. The gatefold packaging is excellent. This comes not only with a download card, but a DVD of each of the songs, which mixes footage of films from Mario Bava, Ed Anger, and Alejandro Jodorowsky.

–Matt Average (A389, a389records.com)


SEARCHING FOR CALM:
Celestial Greetings: CD
I have to admit that when I saw the album title, I thought, “I sure do like that type of tea.” But then I realized I had misread it. Searching For Calm is not a band that sings about tea. They are a Polish band that, amongst other things, enjoys the Talking Heads (they do a unique cover of “Once in a Lifetime”). Their singer has a slightly awkward but endearing accent that makes his vocals unique. Occasionally, it reminds me of Bjork or Mark Salomon from Stavesacre and The Crucified, but most of the time it stands out on its own. Musically, the band seems to take inspiration from a wide range of artists. I heard influences like System Of A Down, Dillinger Escape Plan, The Crucified, and, of course, Talking Heads in their sound. Their diversity works to their advantage as I could see Searching For Calm opening up or touring with a wide range of acts. And I’m always appreciative of a band that doesn’t sound just like their influences. Something about them still seemed second rate, however. I expected a little more muscle, considering that you could tell who some of their influences were. Although they handled their alternative/indie sound well and the band still knows how to throw out some hooks (“Follow”), I still felt as though there should have been something more. I think if they would get rid of some of the heavier, faster songs and focus more on the indie rock side of things, it might make them a little more palatable. –kurt (Mystic Production, mystic.pl)


SCHOOL JERKS:
Control EP: 7”
Primal punk. This record makes you want to bludgeon the concepts of “innovation” and “progression” with a blunt object. It’s all spit, sweat, and fury in six songs. But you only get the lyrics for one of them, and for a moment you kinda wish they didn’t print any. Not because the lyrics are boring, or dense, but because they’re kinda batshit crazy. But of course they are; it’s livid hardcore punk. Classically trained. For all those who agree that Off! is unlistenable, pick up School Jerks. –Daryl Gussin (Cowabunga)


SAN PEDRO EL CORTEZ:
Self-titled: CD
This is a wild, dangerous, surf-punk sounding band from Tijuana that’s been going at it for years before putting this out. I would say this colors far enough outside the lines to be comparable to Os Mutantes, in a way. I could really do without the sixth track and the final “secret track,” which are just sampling for two minutes. Their drummer is really into Los Apson, which I think comes through in “Por El Destino,” with its energy and sing along. The general feeling I got from these ten songs is that most of them were good, some were really good, but there lacked a sense of cohesiveness. It almost seemed like they were all from separate recording sessions, not due to the quality of the songs, but to how different they sound from each other. Straight-up Stooges punk, psychedelia, surf: it’s all there, but on different songs. Somehow, when they play live, it doesn’t seem that way and there are moments when it all just comes together. –Rene Navarro (San Pedro El Cortez)


RUBBER CUSHIONS:
“Crazy” b/w “I Won’t Be Your Lover”: 7"
It’s probably not this 7”‘s fault. Keep that in mind. But we all have our crosses to bear. When I moved to L.A. in 1996, not knowing my bearings, I walked into a version of punk rock that reveled and revolved around bar culture: Street Walkin’ Cheetahs, Texas Terri, Nashville Pussy. Some called it punk’n’roll. It was borne of excess, blues-scales, bad behavior, and on-stage flamboyance. Yep, they played their instruments pretty darn well. Behind their heads sometimes. After the initial sheen wore off pretty quickly, like the chrome coating on a cheap belt buckle, I’ve had a hard time revisiting it and not reverting back to a Ghost World-esque vision of Blues Hammer. Rubber Cushions play a very apt retelling of Stooges-era punk; one leg straddling Chuck Berry, gyrating their pelvis right into the listener’s face. Rubber Cushions are definitely talented and are expert channelers of dirty rock’n’roll, it’s just that this reviewer’s already had his fill at this particular buffet. Sorry. –todd (Girth)


RISE UP HOWLING WEREWOLF:
MSSD: 7”
The name of the band doesn’t quite match up for me—I was expecting unspent gasoline and greasy fingers, hunkered over engines of songs revved high, pegged in the red. But I’m not disappointed that it’s almost the opposite: beguiling, catchy, almost new wavy (Adam Ant) because of the keyboards, the sunshine, the dream-like quality, what could either be a drum machine or a single snare drum. Initially thinkin’ I’d be getting something akin to the Quadrajets, but gettin’ something that’d buddy up nicely and get laid back with Underground Railroad To Candyland and Lenguas Largas. Nice. –todd (Black Owl Radio)


RIGHT IDEA:
Our Way: CD
This discography CD brings the youth crew straightedge and brings it hard(core). The demo tracks which start off the disc could easily be mistaken for some lost Youth Of Today practice tapes if one didn’t know better. Once the recording quality picks up on the other sessions contained herein, Right Idea does distinguish itself a bit, though never straying far from the hardcore path their forefathers laid before them (the straight and narrow street). While taking in the whole twenty-something tracks at once can be a bit much, a nice bit of well-executed growly hardcore is always welcome. Favorite lyric: “Everyone’s turned their back on the edge! Everyone’s turned their back on the edge!” Only thing missing is subsequent stabbing of those backs (preferably in the streets) to make it the perfect HC lyric. –Adrian Salas (Refuse)


RESIGNATORS:
See You in Hell: CD
Holy shit, they still make ska bands! I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Some of the first shows I ever went to were ska shows. Nowadays, when I hear a ska band, I’m whisked back to the UW-Eau Claire Ska Fests. Those were some fun shows, with band after band of jazz class outcasts in pork pie hats just letting loose. That’s what ska is all about. Fun. It’s about skanking around your stereo while some goofball yells about chowing down at a taco stand over brass blasts. These guys work in some rawk riffing, keeping the whole affair very 1994. If you’re looking to do a bit of time travel, you might want to check this shit out. –mp (Stomp)


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