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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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MARVELOUS DARLINGS:
Live at Gales Snack Bar: 12" 45
Live records are a risky business. On one hand, yes, of course, seeing a band live is the best possible scenario for music. Plug in a recorder; capture magic. Sounds like a no-brainer. On the other hand, something’s always lost in translation from live to tape or video. Also, rarely, if ever, are there new songs released on live records. And if there’s a lot of banter between songs, it’s difficult to repeatedly listen to the record. Live at Gales Snack Bar works very well. It confirms what I’ve suspected down the golden brick road of all the Young Governor, The Bitters, and Marvelous Darlings 7” has laid down before: Ben Cook is a performer of a high order. If you don’t make hard and fast distinctions between pop, powerpop, punk, hardcore, and garage, but like maximum melody and volume, he’s well worth checking out. This is one of those rare live records that could win over new fans instead of solely rewarding the already-faithful with a kickass set in a Toronto greasy spoon with insanely cheap prices. Try the grilled cheese. –todd (Deranged))


MARK SPARKLES, THE:
Uppers and Downers: 7"
The Mark Sparkles offer two songs of really rough around the edges pop punk in the mode of the EastBay of yesteryear (i.e., pre-Dookie). The bass is probably the best part, as it bounces all over the place while never sounding off. The vocals are the worst part. It’s not that the vocals are inherently bad. It’s just that there are three different vocalists, and they are all in stark contrast with each other. One guy has a perky approach that follows the upstroke of the guitar, another guy goes the gruff route (think more early Jeff Ott), and the third is a girl who is bordering on shrieking. Though I wouldn’t immediately dismiss any future output, this record has me firmly placed on the fence. –Vincent Battilana (Abandon Hope / Artificial Limb)


MALIGNANT TUMOUR / LYCANTHROPY:
Split: EP
A crusher of a split here. Malignant Tumour play crustcore with a Motörhead influence. Instead of being fast, they go for a more mid-tempo approach. This gives their sound more weight and darkness. Lots of low end, gravelly vocals, and a thick guitar sound. Three songs and they’re all good. Lycanthropy plays blindingly fast grindcore with multi-vocals. This is more raw than the material on their album. Five songs in a matter of minutes. There’s fast, and then there’s fast. These guys are fast! They throw a couple of stops in here and there, but the majority of it is like being on a rollercoaster ride that is one large speedy drop after another, then whipping turns that could fling you out if you’re not hanging on. –Matt Average (Insane Society)


MAGNUMS:
Young Romans: 7"
Three songs of the now sound: lo-fi, trashy, vaguely punk-sounding tunes featuring Derek Lyn Plastic. Hozac Records and Florida’s Dying fans will wanna be all over this. –frame (NMG)


MAGNUMS:
Self-titled: 7"EP
A-side’s a bit of Spits-y thud punk. Flipside sports a couple of artier, minimalist stabs with funny, smarty-pants dumb lyrics. –jimmy (NMG)


MAD CADDIES:
Consentual Selections: CD
Nearly fifteen years after their debut and innumerable world tours later, these rude boys are not labeling this a greatest hits comp. Instead, these twenty-four tracks were chosen as some of the Caddies’—and their fans’—favorite songs. A new roots reggae tune from their forthcoming album Keep It Going is also thrown in, plus tons of color photos and commentary from a bandmate on each song. Spanning early tracks like “Preppie Girl” and “The Bell Tower” to “Drinking for 11” and “Tired Bones,” some veteran fans may be disappointed that faves like “Macho Nachos” weren’t featured. Nevertheless, whether you’re a hardcore never-missed-a-show fan or just looking to add to your punk/ska collection, this skaroovy comp shouldn’t be overlooked. Recommended. –Kristen K (Fat Wreck)


M.O.T.O.:
Kissing All the Wrong Asses: 7"
M.O.T.O.’s Paul Caporino has put in several lifetimes as a musician. By default, punk’s claimed him (which he seems ambivalent to, at best). Any way it’s sliced as music (not commerce), it’s a victory for both artist and audience. Huge, catchy guitar riffs—think Kinks, Thin Lizzy, Cheap Trick, T Rex—but not as cock-and-balls wagging. More outsider. More weirdo. Not ironically. Not as a come-on. But as someone who’s unsure of how to act in society aside from making amazingly catchy songs that could become national anthems of disenfranchisement. I like how M.O.T.O. songs vibrate, like you’re hearing two things simultaneously, so it’s always a bit off and totally on. This EP’s as good as any in Paul’s extensive catalog. –todd (Windian)


LYCANTHROPY:
Self-titled: LP
A seamless blend of grind and hardcore punk. Woven so tight you can’t tell where one ends and the other begins. Lycanthropy have done an awesome job of melding the genres that many attempt time and again. The music is crushing and insanely fast. Everything hits with a bone-crushing thud—guitars, bass, drums. Super abrasive distortion that really grinds and churns. Zdisha’s vocals cut through the wall with a throat-shredding growl and gives these guys an edge many bands lack. One thing that blows me away with every listen of this LP is how they can start and stop the songs so cleanly, and the effect it creates. It’s like being on an escalator that suddenly stops. Every one lurches forward, then the escalator starts up again, immediately lurching everyone backward. Hope that made sense. “Never Ending Frustration” varies between mid- and ultra-fast tempos and is a nice switch from the full-on speed assault. “True Face” has some cool drum breaks towards the end as well. Also, glad to see/hear another band singing about animal rights—“Fur Farms”. –Matt Average (Insane Society)


LUCKY ONES, THE:
The Booze Sessions: CD
Pretty straight forward punky rock’n’roll here. Nothing too exciting going on. A lot of songs about drinking. It kind of bugs me how much the chorus of “No Fear, More Beer” is sung exactly like Fear’s classic “More Beer.” I can’t see myself putting this on the next time I’m drunk –ty (Stumble)


LOVEY DOVIES:
Self-titled: CD
These guys are wedged in that space between late-’80s alt-rock and pre-Nirvana grunge. Thick, sludgy guitars, loud bass, and maimed mastodon tempos with enough pop sensibilities in evidence to keep it all from sounding like yet another bad Melvins rehash. –jimmy (LOVEY DOVIES)


LOVER:
Home Alone: 7"
Lover always delivers with the fun, no-frills, pop rock that makes you smile and bob your head and play it again. Great guitar sound from Rich Crook from the Reatards and Lost Sounds, sounding nothing like them—but you know you can depend on him to deliver cool music. These are hooks you need. –mike (Windian)


LOST TRIBE:
The Dawn: Cassette
Authentic and atmospheric and shot through with a kind of ground-level doom. Sounds like a pitch-perfect melding of Joy Division, the Instigators, and the Mob, if that makes any sense. People from Aghast and Helldistort playing frickin goth, and it works incredibly well. I’ve played this cassette at least once a day since I received it. Wonderfully dark and simple tunes braced by occasional flurries of synth, a singer who belts it out with the reverb on ten, and an overall feel of a terrifically danceable apocalypse right around the corner. If you can find this, get it. –keith (Lost Tribe)


LIQUOR STORE:
“Free Pizza” b/w “Trash Sandwich (Parts 2 & 3)”: 7"
The A-side is some sloppy, lo-fi 1-4-5 inspired garage rock’n’roll that I would say is all about pizza, if I could actually understand what they were singing about (I can’t). Meanwhile, the B-side isn’t quite thrash, but it’s still great. It won me over, even if this “free pizza” coupon is fake. –joe (Almost Ready)


LIL DAGGERS:
King Corpse: 7"
This is music to dance to in smoky basements that have shag carpeting on the walls. Lo-fi garage rock that is completely disinterested in who you are or what you have to say, and it’s not going to give you anything unless you get up off the couch and move, at least a little bit. Then if you’re not happy with the organs suffocating you or the drums pushing you to dance faster, you can just leave. The party will be better without you. –mp (Livid)


LIFE ERASED:
Atop the Mountain of Your Dead Selves: CDEP
Death metal meets crust in the same rotting vein of Cannibal Corpse, with a little Napalm Death sprinkled in. What sets these guys from Dallas, TX apart from the rest are their two vocalists. One uses the trademark demonic growls while the other uses screamo, throat-shredding vocals. One follows the other while frenzied chords and drums like machine gun fire comprise the song structure. Although this isn’t bringing much new to the table, I’m interested to see what Life Erased has planned for the future. –Kristen K (lifeerased.com)


KNIGHTMARES:
Off the Record: LP
Noise pop from Sacramento, featuring (according to the piece of paper taped to the record) members of the Riff Randals (not to be confused with thee mighty Riff Randells), and a bunch of bands I haven’t heard before, including Four Eyes and Milhouse USA. There are a bunch of pretty good songs on this, particularly of the boy/girl shared vocals quiet pop variety. Some of these songs could be adjusted and shaped into something that would sound like it was influenced by the Magic Kids (one of the greatest bands currently in existence!), but this is really only worth checking out if your primary interest is noise pop. –Maddy (???)


KNIFEY SPOONY:
Animal Pleasures Demo: Cassette
With a name like Knifey Spoony and coming from the Bay Area, you expect some fannypacker pop punk here. This is definitely in the same loose, not-too-serious spirit of a Thrillhouse Records band and I would bet that they wear fanny packs. However, instead of pop punk, it’s raucous and freaked-out garagey punk. The first bands that come to mind when I hear this are The Teeners, Knife Party, and Circa Now!-era Rocket From The Crypt. It reminds me of shitty Richard Hell bootlegs, too. The spazzed-out vocals kick my ass right out the porta-potty where they recorded this demo. Then I’m left with no choice but to start shaking my butt before I can clean the shit off myself. I hope they stick around long enough to cut a record. You get some blistering covers of Creedence and a well-loved band from Minnesota, too! –Craven (knifeyspoonyband@gmail.com)


KAROSHI:
Ichi: LP
There is something truly grey about the music from the south and this band from Nashville only solidifies my thought: Dark and brooding screams over the top of a mixed bag of music. I hear atmospheric melody, charging hardcore, melodic crust, and other heavy influences in the music. Not restricted to one tempo, this band controls the tempo to their advantage. They maintain the power and the music. You can feel the anguish of emotions in the songs. It’s an interesting use of sounds that have a live feel to them in the recording. The instrumental acoustic guitar track at the end of side one gave me the feel of sitting in a living room, kicking back. Color marbled vinyl and inclusion of a CD is a nice touch. Co-released with Meat Cube and Burnt Bridges –don (Anti-Corp)


JUKEBOX ZEROS:
City of Bother and Loathe: 7"
Another phenomenal release from Philly’s kings of punk rock’n’roll! This band never fails to blow me away with their great songs and top notch songwriting. Coming on a whole lot like the Humpers, the Jukebox Zeros just nail mid-tempo glampunk. The title of this one is a great play on the nickname for their hometown and includes a cover of “Let’s Get Zooed Out” by The Testors. –frame (Rank Outsider)


JONNY GERRIWELT:
Living with Class: LP
Streetpunk from Spain, with all but one of the songs sung in English. I think the other song is Basque. Lyrics like, “Work, work, work, work/Working to live and live to feel alive/Living with class I do it my way/Working to live ‘cause I’m working class/I do it my way right or wrong.” The singer sounds like the U.K. Subs guy, but faster. Overall, not fantastic. This is certainly no Cock Sparrer (the best street punk band, according to someone who mostly likes pop punk and related genres). –Maddy (True Force)


JOHN WESLEY COLEMAN / THE CRACK PIPES:
Split: 7"
Not sure if this is the same Crack Pipes who were on Sympathy For The Record Industry or not. The Austin, Texas connection and the sound would make a strong case for it. This is kind of a weird record; a split single that appears to be some sort of tribute to Minor Threat with the term Minor Wes being used, presumably in reference to John Wesley Coleman. The record toes the line between poppy, fuzzed-out indie stuff and garage punk. –frame (Sick Thought)


JOE BUCK YOURSELF / FLAT TIRES:
Split: 7"
We all have genres of music we give a pass to. Maybe the band isn’t that original, maybe the songs aren’t that special, but it sounds like the Ramones, so we listen. For some people, any artist who punks up a caterwaulin’ mix of country/blues is gonna get that pass. This record is for those people. Both sides are live, limited to three hundred on blue vinyl. –Ryan Horky (Rusty Knuckles)


JAIL WEDDINGS:
Love Is Lawless: CD
Queen meets World Inferno/Friendship Society. Musically, that is. Lyrically, it’s decidedly more towards the WI/FS side of things. It’s a pretty good record, but at times it begs for a bit more polish and sophistication. (How often do you read that in a review in a punk mag?) I love records like this because they take all the piss, vinegar, and rock’n’roll elitism out of me and remind me that there’s more to life than 4/4 time and buzzsaw guitars. –The Lord Kveldulfr (White Noise / Tru-Vow)


J.C. SATAN:
Sick of Love: CD
This is what I get for expecting some kind of Thrill Kill Kult knock off. But can you really blame me? The cover is hand drawn: a masked guy, two topless babes, one with the number of the beast carved into her torso, another with a baphomet necklace hanging between her tits… Instead of overtly campy, sexploitatious tracks, J.C. Satan churns out an orgy of garage, psychedelia, and rockabilly. Using male and female vocals, this French and Italian quintet conjures up hippy Beatles tunes, The 13 Floor Elevators, My Bloody Valentine, shoegaze, and The Velvet Underground’s easy chord progression and dreamy, narcotic vocals. My faves are “Prehistoric Love,” “Escape for Love,” and “Superhero.” Also included is the four-song Satàn EP. Like Gogol Bordello, Satan has managed to build bridges between genres where others have failed. If you dig the aforementioned bands, pick this up. Recommended. –Kristen K (Slovenly)


HUMPERS, THE:
War Is Hell/My Machine: CD
I occasionally troll the internet for records I can’t afford; guess I like to torture myself. I found this disc on eBay for like twelve dollars, thinking maybe it was a cheap bootleg. Last time I checked, The Humpers first album, My Machine, went for upwards of $150 and there’s no way I’d pay that much for any record. And what is this War Is Hell? I’d heard this was the long-lost second Humpers album, so I had to go for it. As a quick aside, I long had doubts that My Machine even existed, as information about The Humpers was non-existent until maybe 2007. I stumbled across their MySpace page as the band was preparing for some reunion shows in 2007 and interviewed vocalist Scott Drake, who confirmed the existence of My Machine. At a 2009 show for his current band (Scott Drake And The World’s Strongest Men), Drake asked me if I’d ever heard of this alleged second album and that he was hoping to someday release the first two on one disc. Apparently, this here is a legitimate release from Europe’s Devils Jukebox Records (I know, it makes me uncomfortable too that they don’t put an apostrophe before the “s” in “Devils”). Liner notes, written by Drake himself, detail the circumstances of both albums (recorded for Yugoslavian label Listen Loudest, but War Is Hell was shelved due to the Yugoslavian Civil War). Many of the songs from War Is Hell would go on to appear on The Humpers next album, Positively Sick on 4th St, re-recorded, of course. Apparently, both albums were recorded live to DAT and to today’s ears they have obvious limitations, but don’t disregard this disc! Remember that technological innovations have greatly improved chances of bands with no recording budgets to record a decent sounding album. For those who don’t know The Humpers, this is rock’n’roll (yes, like The Kids song says) from one of the greatest (and my second all-time favorite) bands. Imagine if Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers took uppers instead of downers. –Guest Contributor (Devils Jukebox)


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