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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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NOT ON TOUR:
Self-titled: CD
Relentless, smashing girl-fronted hardcore out of Israel. About half the tracks on this CD are roughly thirty seconds long, just quick explosions of energy in your earholes. The metal-tinged guitars pounding away in the background are a nice contrast with Sima Brami’s vocals. At times, songs lean on the poppier side of things, with some catchy choruses (“Don’t Touch My Stuff”) and bouncier guitars. Sima’s voice is sweet enough to carry them, plus it has plenty of bite to dig your toes into on the heavier tracks. –Candice Tobin (Diner Junkie)


NO CLASS:
Self-titled: 12"EP
NYHC filtered through a Midwestern approach. Big drum sound, burly vocals, gang choruses, breakdowns. They vary the tempos from song to song, giving everything more of a solid punch to the chest. I do like the speedier parts, but when they shift down it makes those faster parts stand out more, and vice versa. “Crossed Wires” is a total rager. Fast with some stop-go parts and the vocalist sounds flustered, like he’s so pissed he can’t get all the words out fast enough (though he does). From there they transition into “Hate Crime,” which is a slow, mosh-style number, with one of the more interesting lyrics I’ve heard in a while: “The way you treat me is like a hate crime...” Whoa! I thought the outro on side two was a lock groove at first, then, one evening, I was too lazy to switch it back over and let it play for a while. Lo and behold, it’s a noisy ending where you get a long, annoying tone that eventually switches over to a throbbing hum. Only 500 pressed of this misanthropic stuff. –Matt Average (Deranged)


NIHILIST CUNT:
You’re Next: 7"
Want to keep those teeth? Then don’t stand too close to the stereo when you put this record on. This is not nice punk rock. No hugs and high fives here. This is straightforward, kicking and screaming shit. If some of the rage from these ten tracks manifests itself in the form of a boot that lashes out at your face from your speakers and puts a damper on your living room mosh session, don’t be too surprised. Who needs teeth when you’ve got a kick-ass record like this? –mp (Suburban White Trash)


NIGHTGAIN:
Self-titled: 7"
On its face, this is another Discharge clone band with the template and political haiku lyrics intact. Thing is, they ratchet up the velocity of their delivery such that they come out well above the average pack of punters mining the same hill and will surely give their Scandinavian and Japanese brethren pause. Tunes are tight, heavy, and fast as fuck. –jimmy (nightgaun82@gmail.com)


NIGHTBRINGER:
Self-titled: 7"
What Nightbringer brings on this 7” are three tracks of metallic hardcore not unlike the HolyMountain. Nothing really new here, just more of what you’d expect from the folks at No Idea. Don’t get me wrong, this is a fine release unto itself; it just kind of blends into the pantheon of classic No Idea releases, even if it is a split release. Nightbringer do play with a certain fury that is unmistakable and I’d really like to hear them live for a possibly more accurate account of the goods they deliver. –Garrett Barnwell (High Anxiety/No Idea)


NICK FLANAGAN:
I’m Here All Weak: CD
Most readers might know Nick Flanagan as the front man of Brutal Knights, Canada’s ‘80s hardcore throwback with a goofy sense of humor, so it’s not a huge stretch that he also ventures into stand up comedy. This was my first exposure to his material, and while I hadn’t heard good things, I still enjoyed it. He goes for a Neil Hamburger approach, with a very clear, self-deprecating attitude, both in material and the tone of the delivery. But even amongst all the groaner moments, it’s easy to miss some really great lines, for example why life is like diarrhea. If you’re a pretty big nerd, comedy or otherwise, you could dig this. –joe (Talent Moat)


NHL 95:
Self-titled: Cassette
Finnish pop punk that brings nothing to the table. That’s all I got. –Craven (myspace.com/nhlysiviis)


NEGATIVE STANDARDS:
I, II, III, IV, V: Cassette
Vaguely crusty-sounding hardcore from California that reminds me of various Tragedy/Deathreat/His Hero Is Gone family of bands and should appeal to fans of any of those mentioned. The songs are solid, decently recorded, and lack the overly “epic” sound that makes bands like this fail. The samples are well placed and don’t come across as cheesy. Honestly, though, the highlight of this tape for me was the essay written by the singer about his brother’s decision to join the military and his own struggles and self-awareness with rethinking his political ideology (though not necessarily going back on it). It lends a lot of credibility to a band in a genre that sort of prides itself in being reactionary and full of rhetoric. It stuck out to me—not necessarily because I agree with his politics or those outlined by his brothers situation—but because it was refreshing to see a punk record that allowed the person on the receiving end to understand the shortcomings of the performer in a very human way, which is essentially the purpose of art and something overlooked by a lot of bands who tend to talk write essays explaining their intent with a certain recording. As a result, the listener comes to appreciate the band more and actually make a substantial connection. And that’s my lame explanation. Also, the B-side of this tape is just the A-side played backwards. –Ian Wise (fivetentapes.com)


MORROW LIBERATES:
This Is a Democracy Not a Fucking War: CD
I know I’ve prattled on about this before, but back when I was a kid, probably long before I’m guessing the oldest member of Morrow Liberates was born, I was neck deep in the East L.A. punk scene. The Vex had closed down, the first group of local punk bands were off doing the dance with the major labels and breaking up, and we, the next group of piss-poor and funny-haired malcontents overdosing on Ramones and Black Flag records, found ourselves pretty much without a pot to piss in—no clubs to play, no one interested whatsoever in what we were doing outside of our immediate area, and no money to rent halls, release records, or even buy decent equipment. Left with exceedingly limited choices, we eventually coalesced into an ad hoc scene of bands—Butt Acne, Plain Agony, Copulation L.A., The Thrusters, No Church On Sunday, Insurrected State, Misled, Anti-Social, Resistant Militia, Conscientious Objector, and the list goes on and on—based almost solely in the neighborhood backyards. Most of us were shitfaced most of the time, few of us could play with anything better than rudimentary competence, and even fewer of us were savvy enough to know the difference between Emma Goldman and Goldman-Sachs, but underneath the drunken caterwauling was the sincerity of kids reacting to crushing poverty, the bleakness of their surroundings, and the triple dead end choices of “courthouse, jails, and factories” that seemed inevitable. Every weekend we drank, fought, and had a helluva blast reveling in being cultural pariahs. Inglewood’s Morrow Liberates is affiliated with a cluster of bands that fly the banner of “L.A. [Drunk] Punx,” a non-professional-punk scene that likewise often utilizes backyard spaces, but is smart enough not to isolate itself geographically, playing anywhere they can across the county and beyond. It would be presumptuous, and pretentious, of me to infer that they’re directly descended from what we were doing, but listening to ‘em, I do hear the same anger at living in conditions that apparently haven’t changed in the more than two decades between our respective scenes—discrimination, asshole cops, blight, poverty, and being ignored by a political machine that cares nothing for people that can’t make campaign contributions. While their tunes more or less adhere to a too-well-worn “punk” template, and their adoption of the Cockney “oi” rallying cry makes me smile and shake my head in much the same way it does when American skinhead bands do the same, buried in what they’re doing is a sincerity that most punk bands can only dream of. Unlike your average parrot punk band, they aren’t afraid to take a position and do so with a lyrical intelligence and sophistication that, while no less direct, transcends their musical limitations. The average listener would probably pop this in and summarily dismiss it as the ravings of a bunch of kids born way too fucking late to know what “real” punk is, but those for whom it’s intended will get it and love it. Sitting here in front of a computer less than a mile from where I grew up and twenty-five years removed from wild weekends and Top Ramen for dinner, somehow I still get it, and I can tell you from experience: they may not sport the artistic nuance of others, but punk rarely gets this fucking real. –jimmy (unrepentantrecords.com)


MOSCOW MOSCOW MOSCOW:
Fans of Stalin Show Yer Bottom: 7"EP
Sometimes an idea works better in theory than in practice, in this case a two-piece surf (though they sound more garagy than surfy) band playing up a soviet shtick with song titles like, “Fans of Stalin Show Yer Bottom,” and “Take a Walkski.” Still, one has to give ‘em points for thinkin’ outside the box, and plopping the tunes on “Um, I think I ate too much asparagus” yellow-colored vinyl was an inspired choice. –jimmy (Eradicator)


MOTHER:
Self-titled: 7” single
Fuuuuckkkk.... Heavy as all hell! This is stoner rock done right. These guys sound like cross between Black Sabbath and Om (especially the vocals). The A-side (“Through This Disappearing Land, Pt.1”) is dark, crushing, and they have a solid riff that’s backed up with some thundering percussion. The B-side, “Through This Disappearing Land, Pt.2,” is an acoustic instrumental. Cold, desolate, and forlorn. Excellent cover art from Stepan Adamek as well. –Matt Average (Insane Society)


NAKED HEROS, THE:
99 Diamond: LP
Growing up on the Osbourne years of Black Sabbath, I can’t help but hear that particular influence spinning out of the grooves from this picture disc (limited edition of 500 that includes an extra cut). Sure, the swinging rhythms and swirling, fuzzed-out guitar are there, but there’s more here than just some third-rate, stoner rock rip-off happening (like a lot of bands are cashing in on as of late). The Brooklyn-based ‘Heros have something here that catches more than just the Sabbath fan in me—it also touches the soft spot in my heart that I’ve always had for the Mad Daddys (RIP, Stinky!). Just enough guitar leads without venturing into wank territory, with the pummeling wall of sound that will high-stick you in the teeth like the Hanson Brothers, and if you don’t get that analogy, you’re obviously not gonna get what this LP has to offer you, Señor Oblivious. Oh, and did I mention that The Naked Heros are a two-piece consisting of a guitarist/singer and drummer? Like our own thunderous, two-piece fucker-uppers, It’s Casual here in L.A., The Naked Heros bring that shit to the table and then some. Don’t be afraid of the rock. You know you want to get yours on. –dale (drugfrontrecords.com)


NATURAL CHILD:
“White Man’s Burden” b/w “Ray Thompson’s Blues, Bang My Head”: 7"
Second 7” from this Nashville, TN-based trio. “White Man’s Burden” is the A-side and threw me for a loop, as it’s a slow ‘70s rocker over five minutes long. I much prefer the flip, which sounds much like their first 7” and continues the theme of dumb and fun rock’n’roll. “Bang My Head” is my favorite of the three. This band is something to keep your eyes on. – Sal Lucci –Guest Contributor (Infinity Cat)


NEGATIVE LIFESTYLE:
In a Crowd: 7"
Swedish hardcore that owes more to early U.S. bands than Discharge or the bands they inspired. Five tracks that zip by before you’ve had a chance to sit down to really pay attention, which means they’re short on time and long on attitude, which is just how it should be. –jimmy (batshit@live.com)


NATURAL LAW:
Slump: 7"
Can a band be classified as “mysterious guy hardcore” if a copy of the record gets sent in for review? Sonically, it harnesses all the aspects, and quite well I might add. Weird and dirty hardcore for the soul. Fans of the “genre” are highly advised to track this one down. –Daryl Gussin (Katorga Works/Hesitation Wound)


MORALENS VÄKTARE:
Self-titled: 7"EP
Simple yet catchy Swedish garage punk. The guitars are jangly, the performance spirited, and they thankfully steer clear of trying to sing in English –jimmy (myspace.com/kenrockrecords)


MORAL DECAY:
I Quit: CD + DVD
Not to be confused with the old San GabrielValley band of the same name or the more recent South Central Los Angeles band with the same name, this Moral Decay appears to have existed since at least 2001. They deal in metallic hardcore made by guys who clearly can play their instruments and sound angry when they shout. Dunno the story behind this, but by the looks of it—in addition to the CD is a DVD with their “final show” on it, tracks from an unreleased EP, a sorta narrated band history, and other stuff along the same lines—it might be some sorta swan song for ‘em. While I gotta admit, I’m much more partial to the SGV band that used the name some thirty years ago (what can I say? I’m an elitist old fart), these cats ain’t (or rather, weren’t) bad at what they do. –jimmy (Anti-Corporate Music)


MOJO MONKEYS:
Blessings & Curses: CD
Thirteen songs of no-frills barroom blues from this Los Angeles band; apparently made up of people who have played with Mike Ness and Bonnie Raitt. Nothing much to say. If you are the type to just show up at a blues club at night to see who’s playing, you’d probably like this. Folk blues and delta blues types would probably wanna steer clear. –frame (Medikull)


MIRRORS AND WIRES:
Mercitron: 7"
Shoegazey noise punk with some pretty cool surf guitar on the last track. Two of the three songs are instrumentals, and that could be this record’s only flaw. –Juan Espinosa (Headcount)


MERCHANDISE:
(Strange Songs) In the Dark: 12"
If life has taught me anything at this point, it is that it’s not always a great idea to stick to just one regiment or ideal. Ten years ago, I’m pretty sure that I would steer clear of anything that wasn’t punk, thrash, or grindcore. But, of course, time changes people and eventually my palate was cleansed enough for me to give other sounds a fair chance. Merchandise is definitely not what I would expect from a member of Cult Ritual—a band that very quickly became influential and sought after in the hardcore punk scene. With Merchandise, you’re treated to the influence of acquired tastes such as ‘80s shoegaze and noise pop a la Jesus And Mary Chain or My Bloody Valentine. If you’re a die-hard “give it to me short, fast, and loud” type, then this record isn’t for you. Those of you with a broader scope for great music might end up as pleasantly surprised as I was. –Juan Espinosa (Katorga Works / Drugged Conscious)


MENTHOLS, THE:
Michigan Works: LP
I tried and tried, but I couldn’t think of a negative thing to say about this record. About thirty-three minutes of heady garage spread across nine tracks on twelve inches of vinyl. It has adrenaline without testosterone and jams without tie-dye. It’s some rad-as-fuck rock’n’roll. This shit kills it. Every note on here is quality, all with a hypnotic allure, all lacking any hint of pretension. Whether you are out on the town, on a drive, or just sitting around, this record will undoubtedly make you think you are much cooler than you are. Five hundred of these exist; you should get one. –Vincent Battilana (UFO Dictator)


MIESHA AND THE SPANKS:
Bedroom Back: 7"
Great indie pop single from this fantastic Calgary, Alberta band, featuring the rhythm from the overlooked and genius Neckers. The sound is like a really poppy Heartless Bastards or that great Twinkle Van Winkle stuff from a few years back. High praise on both counts and a good band here; can’t wait to hear more. –frame (Self-released)


MESS FOLK:
This Is Mess Folk…and More: LP
From the info on the back cover, Mess Folk looks like the pet project of one guy who gets others to help him out from time to time. The songs were recorded over the course of two years, which, in combination with the variety of musicians, explains the inconsistency of this record. Side A is populated by eleven tracks, mostly no-fi garage that range from good to almost nauseating. The back side of the record plots eleven more points all over the map, going from later Big Boys type funk punk to experimental noise to straightforward Sonic Youth rock back to no-fi garage. A little quality control along with some discretion in sequencing could have made this a whole lot better, but I guess this is what you get from people who thank “drugs and insanity for their unwavering support” in their liner notes. –Vincent Battilana (Bachelor)


MEAN JEANS:
“Tears in My Beers” b/w “Cool 2 Drive: 7"
The essence of comedy is taking the darkest shit in humans’ psyche and making us laugh in spite of ourselves. It attempts to be a small slash of light in a fucked-up world with no shortage of truly horrible stuff happening every nanosecond. So when the Mean Jeans pull on the Ramones denim and stuff a couple sausages of songs down the front, we all know they’re not really encouraging everyone to drive drunk. Right? I mean, if you’re taking the Mean Jeans at their literal word, you’re going to run into some serious life management issues sooner or later that’ll involve jail time, someone getting injured, liver cirrhosis, or, at the very least, high cholesterol. Fuckin’ love the Mean Jeans. They take some of the sting out of George Carlin and most of the Ramones being dead. –todd (Trouble In Mind)


MAYBE, BABY:
All I’ve Got: EP
Debut EP from this duo. What we have here is a mix of garage, pop, and some punk buried in there. The opening riff to “All I’ve Got” sounds awful similar to Urinals’ “Black Hole,” just a little faster. The vocals are nasally, but I do like the main vocals in “Psycho in My Head.” The guitar rattles and races at a quick pace, while the drums bash and smash, and give the songs a needed kick. Decent, but not awesome. –Matt Average (Windian)


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