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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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PALE LIPS:
Got a Sweet Tooth: 7”
Truly sugary, fun garage pop. Pale Lips only veer away from candy talk briefly to sing very charmingly about murder (“Sweet Dreams”). If you’re trying to curb your dessert/soda intake, this record may cause you to backslide, but it will be an enjoyable backslide. Okay, everyone raise your Dr. Pepper. To diabetes! –Matt Werts (No Front Teeth, nofrontteeth.co.uk)


PARANOID:
Satyagraha: CD
Paranoid is an English translation of the band’s Japanese name. The CD is a bonus inclusion with the LP, and does not appear to exist separately. After some internet sleuthing, I deduced the band was not in fact Japanese, but Swedish. Musically, Paranoid play ripping d-beat, that will make you want to headbang until you have whiplash. The album opens with digital noise before crashing into the first track. The ten tracks on this album rage but are all short, even for d-beat. The five-minute electronic organ outro closing the album is almost as long as the rest of the album proper. I thought this was great for what it was, but it didn’t particularly move me. The lyrics and translations accompanying the LP version of this would have been nice to have. With just an empty CD sleeve, there’s not much to talk about here. If you dig d-beat, this is worth checking out. –Aaron Zonka (Konton Crasher, kidcharge84@gmail.com, kontoncrasher.blogspot.com)


PATSY:
“Tuley-Tude-High” b/w “Paradise”: 7”
Patsy are a current band from New Orleans, but they sound like the missing link between the Masque and the Nervous Breakdown 7”. Bouncy and pogo-y, but with a sharp, unconformed punk edge. The female vocals transmit secret punk code, and while I’m not able to infer a meaning, I definitely want to! These songs rip! –Daryl Gussin (Total Punk, floridasdyingrecords@gmail.com)


PEACH KELLI POP:
Self-titled: LP
I’m going to admit something totally lame: I’ve avoided this band for three albums because of the record covers. I know how that sounds, but I just can’t get past the album covers. I even admire the uniformity. But it’s young people’s music, I guess. This band does do something new and raw with the three-chord punk song with ethereal vocal segments adding an out of tune and unpredictable element. “Shampoo” stands out as having about as much thinking as I like in a song. “It stings, stings, stings in your eyes.” I like stuff like that. This isn’t essential to me, but if you like that sort of Bay Area sound, I feel you’d like this. I saw them listed on one of those lame “punk bands to watch out for” lists on the internet. They strike me as having more staying power than being listed on one of those, if that helps. –Billups Allen (Bachelor)


PENETRATORS, THE:
She’s the Kinda Girl: 7”
Prior to getting this record, I hadn’t listened to The Penetrators. I had seen the name, but I hadn’t bothered to check them out. After listening to this new record, I got curious about how it compares to their classic stuff, so I dug into their Kings of Basement Rock LP. I randomly started playing the song “#1 Band in Town.” It sounded so much like the title track of this new record that I got super confused. The music of the new song is more or less the same as “#1 Band,” except less raucous. A lot less raucous. It sounds like a watered-down version of the real deal. So I chucked the new record and started jamming the old stuff instead. –MP Johnson (Slovenly)


PLEASURE LEFTISTS :
The Woods of Heaven: LP
The Woods of Heaven is recorded with muted vocals, which I don’t think does Haley Morris’s deeply rich and haunting voice justice. With that said, this sophomore release is everything you’d expect from the Pleasure Leftists. Copious amounts of tedious, post-punk guitar is both anxious and melodic. It flutters back and forth between a constantly throbbing bassline. Their dark punk, new wave signature sound is both upbeat and somehow utterly laid back at the same time. They are at their strongest in their mid-tempo songs—(with beats that sway and propel), like “Protection” and “Reality Changes”—and bounce into danceable songs, like “Private Persons” and “You You.” The songs “A New Name” and “Burning Down” have a darker churn that slows down the momentum built up on each side. The Woods in Heaven is consistent and solid but explores no new territory to differentiate from their first breakthrough self-titled LP. Still worth picking up. –Camylle Reynolds (Deranged)


POINT BLANK:
Self-titled: 7”EP
Point Blank’s self-titled 7” is hardcore done right. You’d expect nothing less from Danny D., a founding member of Underdog who plays bass, and Ken “KWE” Wagner, a scene legend in his own right who rocks the mic. The opener “No More” was a fast one, setting the tone for most of the record. Point Blank’s namesake anthem was a slower jam certain to inspire epic singalongs and pile-ons when played live, and it was one of my favorite tracks. Lyrically, the band tackles issues both personal and political. I was particularly a fan of the positive messages in the tracks “Live for You” and “Well Defined.” They were a nice juxtaposition to the violent imagery in the band’s name, logo, and interspersed in their other lyrics. These negative images didn’t detract from my appreciation of the band. On the contrary, this record was one of my favorite discoveries of 2015. If you’re a fan of Underdog, or classic NYHC in general, you need to check this out. –Paul J. Comeau (Not Like You, pointblanknyhc@hotmail.com)


POINTED STICKS:
Northern Electric: CD
“Impatient” is a nice bit of snotty power pop, “Tin Foil Hat” is built on a choice jazz shuffle, and the lion’s share of the remaining tracks are heavy on ‘70s rock and pop. The songs are definitely well written, as can be expected, but somehow, the aforementioned exceptions notwithstanding, this just ain’t sparking for me like it should. Could be the laid back delivery, could be a million other things, but, while most definitely good, I was rootin’ for great, a bar this falls just shy of. –Jimmy Alvarado (Sudden Death)


PRONTO:
Self-titled: LP
Fuck, this is great! Imagine a totally dirty and scuzzy lo-fi garage punk version of Fucked Up playing homage to both the hookiest ‘70s power pop and various KBD classics, and you might have some idea of where this is coming from. One song might have an oi influence (although, being from Melbourne, that could just be the Australian accent coming through) while the next one might sound like a Ramones-influenced ‘70s power pop song or a disjointed Gang Of Four-influenced track. There’s a decent amount of variation here, but they never vary too far off from the “Fucked Up playing Cockney Rejects songs in a punk house basement” formula. Even at their least accessible moments, the plethora of hooks in all of these songs are un-fucking-deniable! Recommended. –Mark Twistworthy (Slovenly, slovenly.com)


PSO:
My Way Out: CD
My Way Out is ten tracks of hardcore punk about typical subjects like hating cops and struggling with growing up. It’s easily relatable subject matter for most punks. Some of these tracks felt a bit repetitive with simple verse/chorus/verse/breakdown structures. A couple, like the title track and “Wrong Board,” were really damn catchy. I wasn’t feeling the lyrics of “Wrong Board”—calling out posers isn’t really something I focus a lot of time or energy on—but the chorus of the song was still really good. “My Way Out,” on the other hand, addressed our consumer culture and breaking free through punk rock and skateboarding. Now that’s a sentiment I can get behind! –Paul J. Comeau (Not Like You)


QUITMAN:
Demo: CS
I’m not sure what I expected going into this, but it certainly wasn’t lo-fi acoustic music with two dudes shouting in unison over the backing track. The ultimate result is public transit punk, recorded for prosperity on inch-thick plastic and magnetic tape. Musically, the only thing that really seems reminiscent is the lazier tracks from Personal & The Pizzas, but Quitman does not boast any kind of hyperbolic stage personas. The output is lackadaisical and soothing—not exactly party music. There are the makings of something interesting in here, but with only these four barebones songs (one of them is borderline instrumental drone), it’s hard to know how much attention Quitman is worth. Grade: B. –Bryan Static (Self-released, subject1.bandcamp.com)


RADIATOR HOSPITAL:
Torch Song: LP
Radiator Hospital write short songs for sensitive people. Nothing ever feels undercooked. In less than two minutes, a single song has sharper hooks than some entire records. Torch Song sounds like The Ergs!, Guided By Voices, and Paul Baribeau had a sad slumber party. It’s all sincere and captivating. The power is in the execution. The mumbled, heartsick vocals embody the clawing voice inside our heads that we spend much of the day trying to bury. Radiator Hospital is unafraid to shed light on complicated feelings (“I just wasn’t bred to sleep alone”) without building a monolith to depression. The record has a cathartic effect. After listening, I’m purged of my emotional muck. –Sean Arenas (Salinas, salinasrecords.com)


RADIOACTIVITY:
Silent Kill: LP
Radioactivity has cracked the code. They have discovered the chemical formula for the perfect hook and leaked it in the Denton, Tex. water supply. Need proof? Check out the resumes of Jeff Burke, Mark Ryan, Daniel Fried, and Gregory Rutherford: Marked Men, Potential Johns, Mind Spiders, Bad Sports, and Video. Burke’s penchant for Carpal Tunnel-inducing down-picking and punk rock’n’roll is rawer than ever on “Battered,” “No Alarm,” and “Silent.” But there are some searing mid-tempo tunes as well (“No Connection” and “Where I Come From”) that slow the pace and demonstrate Burke’s vocal virtuosity. He’s one of few singers that can belt “I’m all out of love” and not sound sappy. I can’t help but think of ‘80s musical Shock Treatment’s “Denton, U.S.A.” when listening to Silent Kill: “Denton, Denton, you’ve got no pretension.” That’s just it. There’s nothing pretentious about Radioactivity. There’s no studio trickery or sleight of hand, just punk perfection. –Sean Arenas (Dirtnap, dirtnaprecs.com)


RADIOHEARTS:
Lot to Learn: 7”
Bubblegummy power pop that isn’t afraid to try a little tenderness. They open up with a riotous burner of a track and then let the listener know they have a softer side with the remaining three. They got the hooks, they got the harmonies, they got that courtly swagger that no power pop record can go with out. They even let the bass player get the spotlight for a hot second on “Let Them Know.” No Front Teeth continues to be one of the most reliable labels for this sound, and Radiohearts are another prime example. –Daryl Gussin (No Front Teeth)


RATS REST:
Self-titled: CS
Four songs. Sounds very much—and you can call this good or bad, depending—like Matt Freeman singing over Onion Flavored Rings. –Keith Rosson (Stay Punk Tapes)


RAZORBATS:
Camp Rock: CD
Sits firmly between garage rock and hard rock, but gets a little too close to cocky glam rock for my taste. If I can confuse your band’s intros with Mötley Crüe songs, I think I’m right to react a little adversely to that. The parts that work for me are the bits that are aping Ramones riffs, not the flanger-flavored sluggish breakdowns. Not that these are influences that the Razorbats are ashamed or embarrassed of, in fact they flaunt it proudly with single-ready tracks like “Kids of the 70s.” I can’t knock off points for musicianship or songwriting, but this is a standard case of “not for me.” Listen if you think punk rock could maybe use more leather jackets, but more for the sake of fashion. Grade: B-. –Bryan Static (Self Destructo, selfdestructorecords.bandcamp.com)


RED KATE:
When the Trouble Comes: LP
I was ordering a cocktail at the bar when a lanky, bespectacled dude with a bowler on his bald head approached the bar next to me. “Must be one of the dudes in the out-of-town band. Probably thinks he’s way too good for this shithole townie bar,” I immediately surmised from atop my cloud of judgment. Turns out these Kansas City, Mo. natives are just a really great, down-to-earth, hilarious bunch of good-time dudes that have brought back the art of rock’n’fucking roll, baby! Riffing and snarling their way through the set, they rocked their way right into my little heart. Hard working and tight as hell, this band has paid its dues and you can hear it. When I found out they had been poorly reviewed by my beloved Razorcake, I decided they should get another chance, and I shall be the one to redeem them! This album does a great job mimicking the energy of that live show. No bullshit here. Just solid, no-frills, for the love of rock’n’roll tunes. It is unapologetically oozing with calls to action and a hint of debauchery. There’s just one love song here by the name of “Pink Sweater,” which is pleading with an object of affection, questioning her taste in d-bags, and attempting to woo her with promises of mocking famous works of art together, riding bikes, and taking her last smoke. It’s all heart and it’s all great stuff from some legitimately good shits! If you’re looking for a lil’ something to get that ass a-movin’, you gotta give these guys a shot! –Jackie Rusted (replayrecordsusa.com)


RELENTLESS APPROACH:
Notorious Thugs: 7” EP
Heavy and dense hardcore in the realm of Tragedy and From Ashes Rise. Or as a friend of mine has tagged that genre, “epic hardcore.” Three songs that are a massive wall of sound—they must be like a speeding steamroller live. The nasty-as-hell sounding bass at the very beginning reminds me of Lemmy at the beginning of “Ace of Spades”—it has that gritty, filthy, attention-grabbing sound. They also have catchy riffs, but the songs tend to run short. My only complaint is the vocals become one long, guttural wrench, making the words mush. Other than that, it isn’t bad if you’re into epic hardcore. –Matt Average (Berzerker / World Trade, xberzerkerrecordsx.bigcartel.com, relentlessapproach.bandcamp.com)


RHDP:
Parusa: 7” EP
What we have here is an excellent slab of bluesy, punk rock’n’roll. It’s difficult to pinpoint why, but Virginia Beach seems to have always had bands like this kickin’ around. Maybe the Candy Snatchers have something to do with that. By no means a bad thing, either. RHDP (unsure of what it stands for) are a solid and well-equipped band. Makes me miss the Pleasure Fuckers even more. –Steve Adamyk (Tension Head, tensionheadrecords.blogspot.com)


RHYTHM OF CRUELTY:
Saturated: LP
Here’s another great release from Mass Media. I can’t help but be reminded of Mephisto Walz when I heard this record. Rhythm Of Cruelty have really lovely, dark, ethereal vocals over dreamy, minimal, dark-wave drum and bass. There is a good amount of experimentation and sampling throughout the record that makes me curious to see how this two-piece pull these songs off live. All the songs flow together nicely and there are no spaces between the tracks on the vinyl. If you like Christian Death, early Cocteau Twins, or Blouse, then you need to pick up this record immediately. –Ryan Nichols (Mass Media, contact@massmediarecords.com)


RIBBONHEAD:
Animals: CS
Four songs and thirteen minutes of screamy hardcore punk from Chicago. The EP starts out with an aggressive burst of frenetic energy followed by a slower jam “Kneecapper,” which has a rumbling bass and feedback on the guitar. The third song “Gray” is another fast tune, clocking in at under two minutes before the closer “CPD” comes on the scene. It’s easily the best song on the album, due to an almost hypnotic swagger. A couple notes: the vocalist shouldn’t sing. No. Cut that out. It’s not often but Ribbonhead shouldn’t try for melody, just aggression. It’s what they do best. Also, I’m strangely entranced by the band’s use of ambient sound at the end of the EP. Perhaps a side project or an entire album of it? I’d go for it. Whatever the case, this is a strong effort that I’ve listened it to more than I usually do for most reviews, which really says a lot. –Kurt Morris (Self-released)


RICECRACKERS:
Kolohe Kid: CD-R
Four-song demo on CD-R from this Boston area band, with several different sounds happening. The best song is the opener “Mall Girls,” which has a wispy folk feel, not unlike something like Tudor Lodge until it breaks into generic ‘90s alt rock toward the end. The other three songs vary from indie type stuff to a full-on melodic punk song that closes out the demo. The band has a lack of focus and no defined a style yet, in standard demo form. –Mike Frame (Self-released, berkleepunx.bandcamp.com)


RIK & THE PIGS:
“Pig Sweat” b/w “Feed the Animal”: 7”
Raw, lo-fi, and abrasive punk rock from Portland, Ore. “Skidmarks on society. Glued in front of your TV. Make it up and you’ll believe.” Definitely doing right by the only other Rik-spelled-R-I-K name in punk, the legendary Rik L Rik (RIP). –Chad Williams (Total Punk, totalpunkrecords.tumblr.com)


RIPPERS, THE:
I Wanna Know Something About: 7”
These Italian garage tycoons crank out rootsy, primal rock’n’roll in the best way possible. Slick licks and a coat of warm, fuzzy reverb cover the entirety of both cuts. And just so you know it’s the real deal they buried a harmonica down in the mix. Top notch party central tracks for all the retro-rockers to bop around to in the now! –Daryl Gussin (Surfin’ Ki, surfinkirec@gmail.com)


ROLANDO BRUNO:
Bailazo: CD
In a surprising shift from their usual noisy blues/garage noise, Voodoo Rhythm has unleashed this fantastic album of Latin Cumbia music. Apparently, Rolando Bruno is in the garage punk band Los Peyotes, so the label connection makes a little more sense, but this is just killer Cumbia with a real psychedelic bent. A real surprise to be sure, but a pleasant one. Anyone with an open mind and any interest at all in psychedelic music will likely love this release from Rolando Bruno. I am looking forward to hearing more because this disc is unbelievably good. –Mike Frame ()


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