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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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SCREECHING WEASEL:
Television City Dream: CD
The latest in the series of reissues of the entire catalog of the well-known Chicago pop punk band. I feel in this day and age, this is like an issue of MRR—you’ll either get it blindly/loyally, or just dismiss it. If you happen to be curious and are checking the band out for the first time, I’d recommend something else like one of their old Lookout albums like My Brain Hurts. On a side note, there’s bonus tracks mixed in throughout this, claiming “re-sequenced for 2010, making it the classic Weasel record it always threatened to be!” I guess it’s like a directors cut (though I partially wonder why the songs where cut in the first place) which I genuinely can’t decide if I like or not. –joe (Fat)


SERIOUS TRACERS:
Self-titled: 7"EP
Minimalist weirdo punk rock. Serious Tracers remind me of the Darvocettes (especially with songs like ““The French” and “Cowboys & Indians”). If you like the aforementioned Darvocettes and Clone Defects, then Serious Tracers will fill the void left by these long gone bands. Some fast, some not so fast, and some back and forth. Their songs are strange, and yet they’re a pretty good band. “CocaineIsland” is the most erratic of all. –Matt Average (Sick Thought, myspace.com/16908066)


SCIENTIFIC MAPS / KITTY LITTLE:
Split: 7"
Power pop—ala early ‘70s Kinks—that I can’t back. Kitty Little is the stronger of the two groups. –ryan (Peterwalkee, peterwalkeerecords.com)


SAVAGE BREWTALITY:
The Last Slice: LP
Dudes from bands you know doing eleven thrash songs about Zombie Jesus, Fundar the Brewbarian, smoking weed, and Full House. Would have made a funny demo to hand out to friends, but instead we’re treated to full-color covers and inserts, translucent vinyl, the whole bit. Musically well done, for sure, but the disappointment creeps in when you realize all they’re howling about is America’s Funniest Home Videos. If we’re talking novelty bands, I’ll take Jud Jud over these guys any day. –keith (Fest, no address)


SAUCERS / ALLIES:
78-81: LP
One of the things that too often gets lost in the history of the punk rock pigeonhole is the sheer breadth of diversity in sound the term encompassed in its early years. Terms like “‘77 punk” usually refer to some Dolls/Ramones variant, totally ignoring the fact that harder to pin down acts like Patti Smith, the Voidoids, and Television were cranking out brilliantly fucked up music right next to Dee Dee and his needle-pal Thunders. Also lost in this age of instant, intercontinental connections is just how different those influences would manifest themselves in isolated pockets around the country, from New Orleans to Los Angeles to, in this case, Berkeley, California. Saucers were one of Berkeley’s early punk champions, formed by guitarist Dave “Slave” Velasquez and Farfisa-flogging vocalist Joey Michaels. According to the liner notes, within a week of the two getting together, a two-track recording of their tune “Piggy’s Jukebox” was in local radio station KALX’s regular rotation. Bassist Shelly Wolfe and drummer Jake Smith soon rounded out the lineup and by 1980 the band (along with Romeo Void, no less) was being lauded as the year’s best new band by Ginger Coyote’s seminal fanzine Punk Globe. The band’s two studio and four live cuts here feature a more sophisticated approach than the average three-chord thud punk fodder, with an organ-drenched yet muscular sound with vocals that are more Mothersbaugh than Johansen, mixing political outrage with a streak of sarcastic humor. Soon after their Punk Globe’s kudos, however, Michaels and his Farfisa were gone, and the rest of the band soldiered on under the new name The Allies. Likewise, The Allies side of the record sports two studio and four live tracks, and showcases a band with a more conventional guitar-driven sound than the Saucers, though the intelligence is still very much in place and, in the case of “Cold Act,” a reggae influence was starting to creep into the sound. By 1981, then-married Shelly and Dave’s marriage unraveled, and the band followed suit, with Dave joining Necropolis Of Love and Jake Smith going on to play guitar for Bay Area peace punk icons Crucifix and an early lineup of Faith No More, among other things, and the rest of the members spreading out to various parts of the world. All told, this is one of those rare compendiums of rare, now-obscure punk bands that is as much a good listen as it is a time capsule piece that shows that punk sonic revolution was a lot more diverse than at first blush. –jimmy (raveuprecords.com)


SAMIAM:
Orphan Works: 2 x LP
I’m going to be perfectly honest; this is the first time I’ve ever actually listened to Samiam. These recordings are a collection of some studio outtakes, covers, and live on the radio sets taken from their more “popular” active years. What a sucker I was for ignoring them for this long. These songs are earnest, heartfelt, and deeply emotional for a band that at one point was heavily commercially promoted. It makes sense why people with no actual taste in music never caught on. I don’t know what my excuse is. –Juan Espinosa (No Idea)


SALVATION:
Mortality Interactions: 12"
Pennsylvania’s Salvation have tossed a wrench into the hype machine with this record. With the “mysterious guy” craze finally winding down, but hardcore records being churned out overnight by the hundreds, getting by on mere “energy,” Salvation have produced a full-length with all the vim and vigor of their peers, but with an actual depth and continuity of the seasoned band they are. The crushing riffs and tortured, distorted vocals lend themselves to more ambitious cults of the underground, but the drums provide a steady post-punk backdrop to the mess. The album remains mostly mid-tempo, which makes the moments of thrashing in songs like “Parallels of Inheritance” come as genuine surprise. The result is sort of a hardcore version of Joy Division that is somehow both devastating and danceable, but with an intent that remains clear and uninhibited. While some bands in hardcore are taking cues from the bleaker aspects of post-punk as a way to validate their artistic merit, the influence has typically been limited to the visual aids and brief, moody interludes. Salvation, on the other hand, have made no pretense about their craft and have achieved the sound on their own. The results are absolutely beautiful. My favorite record of 2010. –Ian Wise (Youth Attack)


SAFES, THE:
Double Single: CDEP
I had heard good things about the live show from this band so I was interested to check out this five-song EP. Good, solid power pop with just a bit of a garage edge is what is to be found here. Nothing mind blowing, but a perfectly enjoyable listen. I would still like to see them play some time if they make it out west. –frame (WRR)


SAFES, THE/BLACKBELTS, THE::
Split: 7"
The Safes play decent enough power pop, but nothing exciting. The Blackbelts play country/bluesy pop rock. Also not bad, and probably better live, but I found this record hard to get too excited about. If this were a cereal, it’d be Kix. Dependable, but not great. –Maddy (Wee Rock)


SABRE:
Self-titled: CD
Dunno how I managed to be the lucky one (and I’ve got no one to blame but myself ‘cause I’m the silly, optimistic bastard who pilfered it all from the review bins), but it appears that I managed to get this issue’s full ration of sludge releases. Sabre leans more towards the metal end of the spectrum, with vocals vacillating between howling and grunting. They zip along about as fast as two snails fucking, but they ain’t without their charms, I guess. –jimmy (sabreband.com)


S.S.S.P. / NO RESISTANCE:
Split: 7"
Well, the first time I listened to this I may have been a little drunk and confused. I realized the second time around that the record is labeled backwards, so that’s why it wasn’t making sense to me. S.S.S.P. is still doing the oi-meets-N.Y. hardcore thing, leaning more into the hardcore end of the spectrum. They balance it out with a faithful Blitz cover, though. No Resistance was a little more intriguing with their songwriting and singing more than growling. Almost a hint of New York Dolls or something in the mix. I like it. –ty (Koi)


ROUGH KIDS:
“Into the ‘00s” b/w “So Sophisticated: 7"
Rough Kids sound like The Nerves getting in a not-joking, my-fist, your-face, no-I’m-not-going-to-apologize fight on stage. Peter Case-style hooks are played through what sounds like a smog and battery acid effects pedal. The energy on both songs sounds like kicks through the bass drum during the middle of the set, and the drummer answers by hitting the kit harder. Ratcheted anxiety. I have no idea of the inner dynamic of the Rough Kids; it’s just that the tension’s palpable inside of these two songs. If the idea of pop power wanting to get into a fight sounds good, you can’t do better than Rough Kids. Another strong 7” from these guys. –todd (Margin Mouth/Rough)


ROT IN HELL:
As Pearls before Swine: CD
I don’t really need to reiterate my love for Deathwish Records’ choice of signees, but let’s just say that Rot In Hell was yet another great call. I’ve been incredibly intrigued by this band since their first few 7” releases (available on the Hallways of the Always collection) and when I got wind of an upcoming LP on by far my favorite hardcore label, I was mad pumped. And yep, it fucking rips. Vile, vicious, raging hardcore from the Ringworm/Holy Terror school with heaps of ambiance in the form of instrumental interludes and spoken samples. Everything one would hope for from one of the newer torchbearers of dark, evil hardcore. Phenomenal. –Dave Williams (Deathwish, deathwishinc.com)


ROMAN CANDLES:
“Whatever Happened to VBK?” b/w “More Man”: 7"
I don’t know what’s worse: the fact that a band so boring would actually aspire to one day “headline the Glass House.” Or that they actually thought pressing such attempts at indie punk to vinyl was a good idea. –Juan Espinosa (Young Foole / This Side That Side, romancandlesmusic@gmail.com)


RIVER CITY REBELS:
In Love/Loveless: LP
If Bruce Springsteen met D Generation and had several babies, that would be strange. It would be even stranger if some of those babies started a band. Spoiler: It’s happened. If this record were a cereal, it’d be Banana Nut Crunch. Bananas? Nuts? Together? No thank you. Oh, and they used to be a ska band. Ack. –Maddy (Mod House)


RISPOSTA:
Schvalen Byl Novy Rad: LP
The one country that does crust and grindcore correctly is, hands down, the Czech Republic. Just about every band of either genre that I hear from there is great. Risposta are yet another band from that country that does crust core right. The music is dark, heavy, abrasive, fast, and interesting: a mix of hardcore with metal (check out some of the solos!). Everything on this record is wired down tight as hell. The drummer is an absolute rager. The drums are bashed to hell and sound like rolling thunder one minute, then they chop away with speed with some crazy fills here and there. “Nabruste Noze!” is the definite standout cut. Great opening that reminds me a little of late ‘80s youth crew, in that it’s as hard as it is melodic, then they rip into the main body of the song which loses no momentum. “Iluze a Mytus” has a nice guitar break at the end that floats over the wall of distortion and gives the song a little more depth. If you like the heavy and dark stuff, then, by all means, get this record. Nice lyric/collage booklet as well. –Matt Average (Insane Society, insanesociety.net)


RIGHT IDEA:
Self-titled: 7"
Aw, man. It’s really hard to review “youth crew”-styled hardcore at this point in my life. Look, I got syringe and ink Youth Of Today fist tattoo when I was fourteen years old. I sang for a band called New Direction before I had armpit hair. I still listen to Bold. A lot. But I dunno… it’s just so hard to review new bands like this without accusing them of being complete clones. Perhaps it’s because I haven’t been part of that world in so long, or perhaps, as was certainly the case “back in the day,” imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery in the “old school” hardcore genre. And it’s not that I don’t love any new hardcore. I’m still a total fiend for killer new hardcore bands (see the Rot In Hell review), but I just cannot begin to enjoy this Right Idea record. It just… it offers nothing unique or interesting at all. Okay, so if you were just getting into this stuff today then maybe you’d love this, and you could go and see the band play, which is always a plus (although with the amount of reunions in the past few years, you can go and pick-up-change to most of the classic NYHC bands…), and you could have a really great adolescence, as I did, as a clean cut hardcore kid, root beer in hand. But for those of you who’ve been down this road before, I’d say it’s pretty safe to just cruise on by. –Dave Williams (Refuse)


RHONDA IS A DEAD BITCH:
Laos: 12” EP
In 2003, my band was on tour and got booked to play a hardcore festival in an arena in Shitballs, Iowa. We were the only guys there without basketball jerseys and chinstrap beards. I decided to take a crap after the first band’s first song and, from the men’s room, with a pair of Sauconys in each adjacent stall, I heard the singer say, “This next song’s about slitting bitches’ throats.” I farted. At the time, metalcore with misogyny-disguised-as-emo lyrics that followed the “you hurt my feelings, so I want to kill you” template was popular. My bandmates and I called that stuff “Kill Your Girlfriend-core” and, for the rest of that tour, would shout, “This next one’s about slitting bitches’ throats!” in between songs on our van’s radio. When I saw the band name Rhonda Is A Dead Bitch, I raised an eyebrow, worried that Kill Your Girlfriend-core was making an unwelcome return. But the first song was reverby garage, without a floorpunch or spinkick part to be heard. Then the next song was a creepy, ascending keyboard melody and the next two were ambient and synthesized, sounding like the score to an artsy student horror film. Well, the band name is still unfortunate to say the least, but the music was pretty interesting. It didn’t stand on its own very well, but it would be very effective playing behind images of people in occult masks, lurching through fields. –CT Terry (PO Box 41162, Des Moines, IA 50311)


RETURNABLES, THE:
Self-titled: CDEP
Really good power pop that sounds like it borrows equally across the ‘78 to early ‘80s timeline, and still manages to sound a bit like a Chicago punk band circa Naked Raygun. This includes four studio tracks recorded in March 2005 and three live songs from a June 2005 show. A month after the show, the singer was killed in a bizarre car accident—a girl driving ninety mph plowed into another car stopped at an intersection. She later said it was a suicide attempt. All three people in the other car died. The girl broke her ankle and only served a few years in prison. Note to the suicidal: please do not kill other people while you’re trying to kill yourself. Thanks to Dirtnap for putting this out. –Maddy (Dirtnap)


RESTORATIONS:
Strange Behavior: 12" EP
Four songs here and they’re all rich with space and breathing room; it’s mid-tempo post punk that meanders rather than thunders along, and it generally works pretty well. It’s the vocals that are the saving grace here—they’re rough and haggard and offset the frequent delicacy of the music itself. Starting out with the first side, “Title Track” and “Linear Notes,” I can definitely understand the references I’ve heard to Lucero, though Restorations are much more playful and odd—dig that weird guitar freakout at the end of “Title Track.” The closer, “Documents,” takes a long and wandering path from start to finish, and closes the record out on an even more slowed-down, somber note. All in all, this one come across as pretty underwhelming at first listen but manages some atmosphere after a few rotations. –keith (Paper + Plastick)


RESISTANT CULTURE:
All One Struggle: LP
This is the second full length, following their debut Welcome to Reality, from this Los Angeles band that has been playing consistently since their inception. Vocalist Anthony has been active since the early ‘80s with Resistant Militia when I first met him. I believe this band is a mutation from past to present. He also did vocals for the second Terrorizer album. This record continues their brand of self-described tribal grind with crust leanings. The vocals are guttural but very phonetic in delivery. The signature in their sound, to me, is their drummer Ben Axiom, who delivers precise drumming that is on point. The guitar delivery is downtuned and almost mathematical. Bass fills the holes and puts the bite in the mix. This recording has more impact, in my opinion, than their previous release. A stronger production gives the songs more brightness. But my preference is still the live experience with this band. A trend I see more and more, this is co-released with Shaman, Profane Existence, Underground Movement, Bloody Lips, Anti-Corp, Patac, and Jornalero Records. –don (Seventh Generation, seventhgenerationrecords.com)


REGIME, THE:
Self-titled: CD-R
Four songs on a CD-R with a photocopied track listing. Is there such a thing as “crusty pop”? It’s just that I can picture these guys with spiked vests and patched-up pants, but rather than singing about the global political climate or our impending doom, they’re singing about girls and it’s kinda catchy. I could be way off base, but I’m working with said photocopy and a website that’s expired... I’d be interested in hearing some more. –ty (Regime)


RAW NERVES:
Self-titled: LP
Not to be confused with Raw Nerve from Chicago. So note the “s” at the end of “Nerves.” This Portland outfit sounds like a cross between Econochrist with early Dead And Gone, and just a little bit of From Ashes Rise lurking underneath. The guitar sound is thick, the vocals are throaty and raspy, and the drum kit is taking a severe pounding. Every song on here is one massive and dense wall of sound. The one thing that sort of works against them is the amount of time changes in each song. A few straight forward songs thrown in would be pretty good. The amount of time changes makes me think the song has stopped and another has started, then a check of the lyric sheet and I see I’m still listening to the same song. A lot of momentum that gets built up also gets lost. This isn’t a terrible record; it just needs some tightening here and there. “Time to Disintegrate,” “Bread or Lead,” “Slave Trade,” and “Taste of Annihilation” are the stand outs. –Matt Average (Inimical, inimical.com)


RATIONS:
For Victory: CD
Raw, angry, political punk that reminds me of a band you’d hear on a Lookout comp in the mid-’90s. You know, the band that didn’t sound remotely like the other bands, but you ended up loving their song and tracking down the LP. This ain’t bad, but would benefit greatly from a slightly less crappy recording and a better drummer. (I’m no recording snob either, but this sounds like it was recorded in a trashcan. Not one of those fancy trashcans either—a really crappy one.) –Ryan Horky (86’d, 86drecordsandfanzine.com)


RATIONAL ANTHEM / BILLY RAYGUN:
Split: 7"
Man, when I hear stuff like this I really feel old. Sarasota, Florida’s Rational Anthem and Portsmouth, New Hampshire’s Billy Raygun deliver a 7” scoop of some pop punk that didn’t really do it for me. Both bands stay in a comfortable zone that feels neither dangerous nor particularly passionate—both traits of what I look for in all music, not just punk rock. Rational Anthem pretty much stick to the formula while Billy Raygun adds a little of the awkward, geeky to the mix to slightly better results. –Garrett Barnwell (Traffic Street/John Wilkes Booth)


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·ANTI NOWHERE LEAGUE
·GRAND COLLAPSE
·COMPLAINTS
·One Punk’s Guide to Poetry
·HELLACOPTERS, THE
·SOUTHERN CULTURE ON THE SKIDS
·BEFORE I HANG
·SONIC AVENUES
·SIXER


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