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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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CAPITALIST CASUALTIES / LACK OF INTEREST:
Split: 7”
This was included in the last issue of Short, Fast, and Loud. For those who have never heard Capitalist Casualties, use this record as a starting point. The band has released some great hardcore punk records over the last twenty years, but their catalog is huge and has several duds that somehow manage to be the ones that get more hype (Planned Community is total garbage), and a lot of people get turned off of the band as a result. The three songs on this record are more in line with their older, more influential material. Lack Of Interest have had an equally long career, but hold less of a “classic” standing in the hardcore/power violence/whatever you call this nonsense, but they still shred. The songs are heavy without resorting to sludge parts and fast without blast beats. It’s no frills, no pretense, and over before you know it. Awesome sounding, total throwback power violence with no metal influence that might as well have come out in 1993 (that’s not a bad thing in this case). The zine is huge and packed with columns/ reviews/ narratives/ photos relating to the more extreme aspects of hardcore. It’s a great resource, but be warned: even I have a hard time nerding out on hardcore this hard. –Ian Wise (Six Weeks)


BYRDS OF PARADISE:
Teenage Symphonies: LP
Super scuzzed-out pop/shoegazer bliss. Serene melodies are buried under walls of noise and distortion. The bass is heavily distorted, and sounds like it’s about to vibrate apart. Think of the Swell Maps. The songs are catchy and crushing at the same time. A lot of contrasts are put on the table and all of it works. “Broadcast News” grabs your attention with the near-shimmery guitar sound. I also like Laura Catalano’s vocals on “Honey Trap” and “Paradise DC.” Her voice brings in a near-ethereal quality to the music (not Enya ethereal, just to be clear). Listen to the opening of “Paradise DC” with just her vocals. So great; reminds me of the early- to mid-’90s when there was some truly great indie pop coming out (Unrest, Velocity Girl, Tsunami, etc). –Matt Average (Don Giovanni, dongiovannirecords.com)


BY THE THROAT:
One Good Night: 7”
You know what’s weird? This sounds like the dude from the Nobodys fronting a hardcore band. That snotty, decipherable voice works in their favor and lends a certain swagger to this thing—much preferable to the Cookie Monster vocals that usually dominate this type of stuff. One Good Night’s a decent five-song piece of green wax; rife with pick slides and fat guitar tones and a slightly dirty production that works in their favor. My only complaint is that it’s too bad they decided to run a photo of “guitar dude in camo shorts jumping in the air” rather than any actual lyrics, but I guess that’s just their way of telling us what they’re here for. This one won’t rearrange any jaws, but it’s a nice outing for the genre. –keith (Winter Street)


BUCKET FLUSH:
Self-titled: 7”
It’s no secret that I like the dredges of the punk rock gutters. I dunno, maybe it was being exposed to Dayglo Abortions at a young age, but whatever the reason I seem to dig some of the seedier bands out there. Well, it turns out even I might have my limits. Bucket Flush might well be the sleaziest band I’ve ever heard. Seriously, these are some sick bastards! I’m not sure if it was “Cum Bum” or “Rapist in the Nursing Home,” but there was a point on this record when Bucket Flush managed to make The Mentors look like Minor Threat. Eeeww. –Ty Stranglehold –ty (Eaglebauer Enterprises)


BRIMSTONE HOWL / HELL SHOVEL:
Split: 7”
I’m a big Jeff Clarke fan; best known for fronting The Demon’s Claws. Hell Shovel is his lesser-known group. Hell Shovel is rounded out by Bloodshot Bill (solo artist and occasional Ding Dong) and Dale from Chocolat. Fans of Demon’s Claws will dig their contribution, “Stealing Candy.” It sounds like a lo-fi, stripped-down version of a standout Demon’s Claws song. Brimstone Howl is pretty awesome. Got one of their CDs to review a while back and dug it. This outing is better because the medium is superior (pay attention, labels). Fans of The Head Shop will be into their track. Keep up the good work, Certified PR. –Ryan Leach –ryan (Certified PR, certifiedprrecords.com)


BRAGGING LADS, THE:
Half Empty: CD
Like Pogues-inspired punk, which is what I was expecting from the band’s name, the whole U.K.-via-OC punk thing is a very dicey prospect—move too far in one direction, you’re in meathead territory; move too far in the other, and you’re in bad glammy rock territory; tilt this way you’re neck deep in bonehead modern oi; tilt that way and you’re trolling around in the depths of the worst of the Social Distortion clones. These guys are quite the dancers, though, pirouetting through the much and balancing all the best bits—anthemic and catchy songwriting, non-wanky guitar leads up the wazoo, a singer that can growl ‘n’ howl in tune, and the wisdom not to take themselves too seriously—to come up with a full-length that puts ‘em in fine company along Mad Parade, Black Jax, and Channel 3, among others. Though the mix is a bit bass-heavy, they’ve got themselves quite the release here, and though it’s making for some mighty fine tuneage in cold-ass mid-February, it’s really gonna hit the spot come July when the windows are down and the volume is up full. –Jimmy Alvarado –jimmy (Collision Course)


BOBSLEIGH BABY:
Self-titled: CD
Wow. This Italian garage album is a very striking, energetic debut from a young garage-folk-punk band from Rome, Italy. Reminiscent of the Violent Femmes, but with dual male/female vocals and with raw, lo-fi production, Bobsleigh Baby is a winner. The lyrics are sung in heavily accented English, with a haunting quality to them. The drums are uncommonly high in the mix, adding to the punch. They self-describe as post-punk, but I’m failing to see the post part. Unless the post part is post-dated. –Art Ettinger –todd (Jeetkune, jeetkunerecords.blogspot.com))


BOBBY JOE EBOLA AND THE CHILDREN MACNUGGITS :
F: LP
Kind of like a They Might Be Giants of Bay Area pop punk. At its core, two dudes who push themselves to crank out some great songs, with the help of an assortment of other local musicians. Musically speaking, it toes the line between folk and pop punk just enough to keep things interesting, but without making you say, “Ugh, what are they doing now?” Lyrically, there is a lot of “anti”—lots of snarky stuff that I tend to associate with the East Bay for whatever reason—and when you combine all of that together, it makes for a neat, unique record. –Joe Evans III –joe (Silver Sprocket)


BLACK TIE OPERATION, THE:
Self-titled: CD
From what I can make of the lyrics, they seem to vacillate between more serious subject matter to singin’ odes to half-baker’s dozens of bagels and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Their music mixes dashes of metal, ska, ‘80s hardcore, and Southern California punk into more modern punk sounds, which results in stylistic changes all over the place, sometimes mid-song, and keeps things interesting. –Jimmy Alvarado –jimmy (The Black Tie Operation, myspace.com/theblacktieoperation)


BLACK MAMBA BEAT:
Self-titled: CD
This trio has a lot of the appealing sensibilities that the Minutemen brought to the table. The most noticeable is that most of the songs are between :45—1:45 minutes long. There is nothing funky about the band, but the chaos is similar. The lyrics and arrangements are very stream of thought and the riffs are punchy. I like this CD a lot in that there is something simple about the songwriting, but something layered in the ideas and playing. This band will ultimately suffer from the comparison; Minutemen fans are an over-thinking and contrary bunch. But I like it and I think other Minutemen fans would see the connection. Or call me an idiot for making the association. Either way, Boon/ Watt/ Hurley enthusiasts will get some sort of enjoyment from listening to this. –Billups Allen –Billups Allen (Jeetkune)


BLACK ICE:
Before the First Light: CD
Oh, wow. What the hell is this? My vocabulary is failing me. I don’t think anyone has ever made music like this before, and that’s probably for the best. Black Ice is sort of like if Blondie went through a goth phase and put out an atmospheric soundtrack to a campy horror movie musical. I am trying to imagine who would listen to this, and in what context, and it’s cracking me up. –Lauren Trout –Lauren Trout (Hungry Eye, hungryeyerecords.com)


BLACK FEET:
Self-titled: CD
While they keep their (black) feet firmly planted in a concoction of punk and ‘60s garage rock, they aren’t above dipping their fingers into other puddles, like post-punk and even death rock, to add some texture to what they’re doin’. No coincidentally, it gives them a bit of an edge over the rest of the punters who like some tambourine in their punk. –Jimmy Alvarado –jimmy (Dirty Faces, dirtyfaces.de)


BEHIND THE WAGON:
11 songs: CD
This record really catches fire on the fourth song! After three perfectly fine tunes, Behind The Wagon just nail it, starting with “Battle and the War” and the record is fantastic the rest of the way through. The cover looks indie, the band name sounds alt country, and the sound falls somewhere in between. The sound is a lot like Gainesville’s The Takers but with less grit, or like Dinosaur Jr meets the more recent punk rock retirement plan alt country sound. Since I am a big fan of all of these sounds, I really enjoyed this record. –Mike Frame –frame (Double Barrel)


AV OKUBO:
The Greed of Man: CD
A four piece indie rock band from Wuhan, China formed in 2006. Quite bland music that I would describe as the shittiest songs Gang Of Four released in the mid ‘80s mixed with what I would imagine the Strokes to sound like, although I have never knowingly listened to them and only have negative stereotypes and press to go by. Things get worse on the last two tracks on the nine-song release when the eighth track sucker punched me with some horrid techno rock with overtones of that dreadful disco version of “Cotton Eyed Joe” that came out several years ago. To add insult to injury, the last track was an extended remix of the abhorrent techno tune on track eight. –Jake Shut –todd (Maybe Mars,maybemars.org)


AUXES:
Ichkannnichtmehr: CD
The people responsible for this are apparently somebodies in the big world of punk rock superstardom, but I couldn’t much give a toss past what’s coming through the speakers and, surprise, it ain’t all that bad. They manage to find some sorta sweet spot between hardcore, skronky post-punk, and melodic modern punk that results in something that’s both dissonant and oddly catchy. The direction they’re coming from is an interesting one and on the whole this was much better than expected. –Jimmy Alvarado –jimmy (Gunner, gunnerrecords.com)


ASSHOLEPARADE:
Live in Rostock: 10”
I’ve always doubted the legitimacy of live releases because it feels like an excuse to release a record to make money when the band is too lazy to just write material. Also, most live records just aren’t very good. I was delightfully surprised when I put the needle down on this one to hear a high quality live set that flows well and is decently recorded. Most of these songs have been released on other records (maybe all of them?), and the band also throws on a Citizen’s Arrest and an Infest cover. To Live A Lie specialize in that “cult grind” niche, and this record is definitely a cult record. A good bit of their material is still available from No Idea, so while the quality and range of material on this record makes for a good introduction to the band, I think majority of the people who will go out of their way to track this record down are people already familiar with Assholeparade’s gritty, angry brand of hardcore, and I don’t think any of them will feel let down. –Ian Wise –Ian Wise (To Live A Lie)


ASSASSINATORS, THE:
I Disse Mørke Tider...: 7” EP
My inkling is The Assassinators are too poppy for the black patches, white ink crusty crowd and too overtly political (and not singing in English) for the pop punk crowd. This is too bad, because I think both camps are missing out on one of the strongest currently-running bands in Denmark. Musically, they share the catchy tightness of bands like Funeral Oration, Harum Scarum, Signal Lost, Knugen Faller, and Gorilla Angreb. Politically—with not only English lyrical translation from Danish, but song-to-song explanations and essays that shed light on subjects like the current right-wing-ification of traditionally immigrant-asylum-cool Denmark—the record reveals a band concerned with deep, long thought, just not cast-off, sing-along slogans or vaguely “political” statements to keep the pit going and fists pumping. Highly recommended. –Todd –todd (Halo Of Flies, halooffliesrecords.com)


ARTIFICAL PEACE:
Complete Session November 1981: CD
It’s quite a coincidence that this session is put out by Dischord now, along with a recently unearthed Government Issue session. At Government Issue’s one-off reunion show recently, drummer Mike Manos of Artificial Peace got up and played a few songs with the opening band. Okay, maybe that’s not amazing, but this record is. Only released in pieces back in the day, this is seventeen songs clocking in under twenty minutes. That’s how old-school harDCcore should be played. “Suburban Wasteland” and “Neighbors” stick out for me here, but they all spill over with youthful aggression. The only misstep is the goofy cover of “Wild Thing,” but it’s good for a laugh. Three of the members of A.P. went on to greater success with Marginal Man. But get this to hear where it began back in 1981. –Sean Koepenick –koepenick (Dischord)


APATIA:
100 Percent Vegetarian Band: LP
Not uncommon; I had to do some research on this band. Originally formed in Poland back in 1989 and this is a re-release of their 2000 LP. It’s interesting that the songs are from the time span of 1989-1991. From what I read, this was their fourth LP or release. I’m guessing that writing music came slowly for this highly regarded band. It’s interesting that there is a Good Riddance cover, too, since their musical stylings are not similar. This band’s music is more in line with their Eastern European lineage in sound. More ‘80s than new millennium. Raw production that is more on the clean side. It gives the guitar sound that twangy tone. The punk rock is solid, though, with some sprinkling of metal riffs on some and a post punk edge on others, giving it the grit that it needs to keep my attention. Also, the playfulness with the new wave intros is a nice touch. I love releases like this. It’s like a history lesson on a new subject. –Donofthedead –don (Pasazer)


ANTI-SYSTEM:
Self-titled: CD
Anti-System were an English band closely tied to that country’s legendary early ‘80s anarcho-punk scene. What set them apart from many of their peers was their adherence to a thrashier sound more along the lines of the UK82 crop of bands than the almost artsy approach of bands like Poison Girls, Crass, and The Mob. The tunes here, pulled from assorted demos, albums, and EPs, show the band’s progression from some raging hardcore to a slower, yet no less intense sound. Despite numerous spelling errors, the packaging is top notch, with the CD accompanied by a thick booklet crammed with old fanzine interviews, informational flyers the band ostensibly once distributed, photos, and even the band’s family tree. Kudos all the way ‘round here. –Jimmy Alvarado –jimmy (Anti-Society,antisocietyrecords@yahoo.co.uk)


ANTILLECTUAL:
Start from Scratch!:: CD
Mediocre, overproduced punk rock with a very ‘90s vibe. Some of the tracks go sort of emo in a Promise Ring way and the faster songs sound like Pennywise outtakes. Not the worst thing I ever heard, but nothing I would recommend. –Jake Shut –Jake Shut (Shield,shieldrecordings.com)


ANTI YOU:
Two-Bit Schemes and Cold War Dreams: CD
Speedy hardcore, courtesy of these Italian thrash monsters. You get the seventeen tracks that comprise the album itself, plus the tracks from the Johnny Baghdad and Pig City Life EPs and covers of Discharge’s “Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing” and Descendents’ “I’m Not a Loser.” The lion’s share of stuff here is amped way the fuck up and will surely warm the hearts of your favorite speed freak punker pals. –Jimmy Alvarado –jimmy (Six Weeks, sixweeksrecords.com)


ANTHROT:
Self-titled: CD-R
These kids cover both Dropdead and Rudimentary Peni, which, fortuitously enough, also serve as nice parameters on where they’re coming from. They’re dolin’ out hardcore, and tons of it, vacillating between hyper-speed and slower ‘n’ brooding with nihilistic lyrics addressing children, chem trails, the Jesus punk scourge, and other topics. Dunno if this is their first recorded outing, but if so, they’re off to a flying start ‘n’ it’ll be interesting to see where they go from here. –Jimmy Alvarado –jimmy (Loop The Feedback,loopthefeedback@gmail)


ANDY HUMAN:
Self-titled: 7”
Catchy retro-new wave is the order of the day here, dripping with pop hooks and slight ‘50s undertones. Perfect for your next KROQ Flashback Weekend get-together. –Jimmy Alvarado –jimmy (Tic Tac Totally, tictactotally.com)


20 BELOWS, THE:
For Better Days: CD
This four-piece power pop band from Denmark offers up a solid record here that’s a bit hard to categorize at first listen. “Like a Choke Slam” and “Double Gin” are standouts. Solid guitar riffs—and maybe a bit of Mike Ness in the vocals—but way more exciting than any Social Distortion song. I like how three out of the four guys in the inside cover photo are all dressed the same. The one guy who didn’t get the memo should get with the program for the next photo op. –koepenick (Monster Zero)


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