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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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SO COW:
Meaningless Friendly: LP
I got the mail-order version of this record as soon as I saw that it was available, which differs from this version I got for review by adding a bonus 7”. I got it based on the strength of the first LP on Tic Tac Totally, a collection of some of the one-man band from Ireland’s output. The first time I heard So Cow’s punky, happy-yet-melancholy, jangly rock’n’roll songs, I immediately swooned. Meaningless is more of a continuation than a progression, but it is a slight progression. The songs seem more centered and focused with less variation, which isn’t terribly surprising given that the previous LP was a collection of sorts. Lyrically, So Cow centers on common disappointments that seem unavoidable as one grows older with youthful hopes diminishing and adult fears growing larger. This LP is a damn fine follow up, and I recommend it just as much as the rest of the So Cow catalog. As I said above, I purchased the mail-order edition with the bonus three-song 7”. I wouldn’t mention it, but the A-side, “Ain’t No Fun,” should have been a proper album track. It’s definitely one of my favorite So Cow tracks. Midheaven is handling TTT’s mail-order now, so I’d get over to their site ASAP to grab the LP + 7” (as well as any other So Cow you ain’t got your grubby paws on yet). –Vincent Battilana (Tic Tac Totally)


SMOKE OR FIRE:
The Speakeasy: CD
The Speakeasy builds on the strengths of Smoke or Fire’s previous full length The Sinking Ship and tops it by adding the little extra pop that was missing before. The catchy, political discontent starts right away from the lead off track “Integrity” and holds sway with its melodic punk all the way to the closer “Utah.” Actually, there’s one stumble and that’s the acoustic track “Honey I Was Right about the War.” While I understand the song’s sentiment of “I told you so,” it comes off mostly as arrogant. If I was dating the dude, I don’t think I would be changing my politics so much as punching him in the nuts. That aside, the rest of the album really is aces. –Adrian (Fat)


SMALL BONES:
Self- titled: CD
Ah, I could almost taste the cheap beer and cigarettes at a show in some DIY punk house down south when this CD started playing. Small Bones are a relatively new band from New Orleans and this is their first release on Plan-It-X. They play this super fast punk rock with a little melody thrown in here and there. They sounds a lot like a sped-up version of This Is My Fist!, and I’m not just saying that because the singer is a girl. Small Bones doesn’t sound like any of the other bands that are on the same label as them, which is sad because I usually like the quirky acts that Plan-It-X puts out. The best song on here is “Cold War Storage,” which starts out with a forty-five second sing along with no instruments, and it sounds good because they’re not rushing through it at full speed. This CD is a decent first effort, but maybe before their next release, they need to sit down as a band and meditate on what they want to do next to make themselves stand out. –Lauren Trout (Plan-It-X)


SLIT PLASTERS, THE:
It Smells Like Hell Over Here: 7”EP
Sounds a lot more ROCK than one would rightly imagine a band called “The Slit Plasters” to sound; then again, having rarely had occasion to, in fact, imagine what a band called “The Slit Plasters” might, in fact, sound like, this statement is high conjecture on my part and perhaps taken best with a grain of slit. A-side sounds like perhaps The Cult, after having been smacked on the head rather soundly by a floor safe containing the early 2000’s; the two songs on the flip sound more like the early 2000’s, after having been smacked in the head rather soundly by a floor safe containing The Cult. The brain damage is only there to keep it the right length. I’m on board with the saxophone; hit it in the head with a safe containing something of topical interest and let’s take this party off campus. BEST SONG: “Wayne Svitato Integro.” BEST SONG TITLE: “Hildegard, 5 Vice Commando SHE-WOLF.” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Band members include Sayid 1, Senor 2, Mister 3z, Herr 4 and Signore 5; guest musicians include Monsieur 6, Pan 7, Bay 8, and Monsieur 9. Ben 10 was apparently unavailable due to contractual stipulations. Also, one of the cartoon guys on the cover has the flag of Algeria on his sleeve. –norb (Chorizoloco)


SKINNY JIM & THE NUMBER 9 BLACKTOPS:
Daredevil Action: CD
Straightforward, hard-charging, and pure American rock’n’roll from America’s Heartland. Seemingly the nicest guys around, the trio blasts out full-bodied, red-blooded rock that still makes me want to drink a few beers and watch people jive (dance). –thiringer (Self-released, skinnyjimrocks.com)


SINNER SINNERS:
Cardinal Sins: CD
The promo blurb on the inside sleeve says they’re a Dutch-French duo influenced by “80s Californian hardcore punk, ‘77 punk, and even early Goth rock.” In this case, these influences manifest themselves into middling dark rock with horror themes. The songs, while well executed, cover the same bases others have ad nauseum before, and aren’t really all that interesting to begin with. I imagine those who get all dewy-eyed over stuff that fits nicely into their preferred genre pigeonhole will find this to be the bee’s knees, but there’s too little originality going on here to make it even remotely memorable. –jimmy (myspace.com/sinnersinners)


SIMPLE CIRCUIT:
Self-titled: 7”
Rather uninteresting garage pop with Radio Birdman-esque vocal delivery (but kinda Lou Reed lazy) and rudimentary leads that sit way above the rest of the music. I guess I could see a room full of Factory Girls (and Boys) swaying hypnotically to Simple Circuit, but I wouldn’t be there... unless Edie Sedgwick was hanging out. –Dave Williams (Super Secret)


SHADOW OF A DOUBT, A:
Demo 2010: Cassette
Tech-y, at times noise-y, chaotic math-core. Like the basement-shackled son of early Dillinger Escape Plan and Orchid. It sounds a bit dated for today’s tastes, though, since most people who were into that kind of stuff moved on to either indie rock or big budget prog metal. –Juan Espinosa (Self-released, no address)


SEXY NEIGHBORS:
Dream Out: CD
Sexy Neighbors are one of those bands most people I know would probably consider an “acquired taste,” but I’d totally geek out over at a gig—a guitar player who prefers trebly, clean channels and often veers off into his own herky-jerky rhythmed world; what might be a Farfisa organ layered over quirky, arty punk, and a singer who sounds like he’s trying to find some sorta sweet spot between Gordon Gano and Chris D. The ten songs here often teeter dangerously on the brink of going on a bit longer than they should, but their sound leaves plenty of room for experimentation and growth. –jimmy (Kings Highway, no address listed)


SEX PRISONER:
Self-titled: EP
The power violence revival continues. Sex Prisoner, from Arizona, sound a lot like Crossed Out mixed with some Infest. Musically, they deliver. The sound is heavy, abrasive, and definitely rife with anger. They rarely venture into full-on thrash, which is a plus. Instead, you’re bludgeoned with some heavy riffs and a vocalist who spits the words out in a throaty, dry rasp. The lyrics, however, tend to get ridiculous and one dimensional. A lot of “beat down” posturing going on with threats of breaking one’s ankles (“Lethargy”), shitting on someone’s clothes (“Vanity”), the really confusing “Piss When I Cum,” which starts off ranting about “crackheads,” then the singer declaring he can’t be broken, he’s a “motherfucking machine,” then ranting about people begging change for dope. The list goes on. Makes me wonder if whoever writes the lyrics is in a fucked living situation, so they’re just lashing out, or are they a paranoid right winger? Musically, I’d recommend this. Lyrically, it’s a cringe fest. As a friend once said about bands like Tragedy and From Ashes Rise, “The music is great, as long as you ignore the lyrics!” You can apply that here as well. –Matt Average (To Live A Lie)


SEKAANNUS / ABORTI 13:
Split: 7”
So disappointed. I really thought I was going to like this. Two bands from Finland with a Crass-like cover. Grey colored vinyl with hints of black and white in it. I guess I just don’t need to relive the years of ‘79–’81 again. Great hearing it the first time. Hearing two bands replicating it doesn’t really do it for me today. The bands on this split were matched well. Flipping the record over and over, I really couldn’t tell who was who without looking at the label. –don (Killer, myspace.com/kilrec)


SECOND STORY MAN:
Screaming Trees: CD
Noise pop for the most part, with fuzzed-out production, catchy hooks here and there, and enough restraint and bite to keep it from falling into either the “too sugary” or “too abrasive” camps. –jimmy (Noise Pollution)


SCOUTS HONOR:
Buried: CD
Final release from this Chicago-by-way-of-Peoria band. Singer/guitarist Jared Grabb kept this group together, mostly as a three piece, since 2002. It’s heavy rock with thick-as-molasses guitar riffs, chunky bass, and plodding drums. “Vultures” and “Arise” finds Grabb baring raw emotions for all to see with a jarring effect. “Sweating through Our Days” is about drinking—a lot. The record ends with “Punk Ltd.,” which could almost be the band’s anthem. The one misstep on the CD is the thirty-minute bonus track, which is the same chord played over and over again. Lame. But there is an in-depth DVD included with this package. It details the band’s history and numerous line-up changes. There are some good extras here as well. The band’s German tour of 2008 is documented by the band playing in abandoned subway stations and bomb shelters, which looked pretty tight. Don’t be eating food while watching “Jose’s Story” however. I almost threw up a little in my mouth. Thanks, dudes! –koepenick (Thinker Thought)


SAINTE CATHERINES, THE:
Fireworks: CD
Attempts at such a thing as this often go horribly awry, but these guys lay down a very nice mix of Leatherface-tinged poppy punk, tuneful oi, and big guitar rock. Singer has that “battery acid with a handful of broken glass chaser” type of vocals, but he manages to sing in key and sneaks in a bit of pathos into the delivery of personal lyrics. Good, good work here. –jimmy (Anchorless, no address)


SAFES, THE / BLACKBELTS, THE:
Split: 7”

The Safes: Simple old timey rock’n’roll. A good band to when you’re too tired to do anything but just sit back, but still too worked up to call it a night yet. Not unlike a lot of late ‘70s first wave punk, with a little more power pop to it. The Blackbelts: If there’s one split that almost made me disregard the “This band:/That band:” approach, it’s this one. Reason being that The Blackbelts seem to be cut from the same cloth. With the exception of the vocals, I find them incredibly similar musically speaking. It’s good to listen to, just tricky to write about. That said, if The Safes are rock’n’roll, then these guys are also just a touch country (read as “not afraid to pull out an acoustic guitar”).

–joe (Wee Rock)


ROBB BLAKE / LIAM O’KANE:
Heavyweight Acoustic Ska Showdown: CD
Just when I thought ska punk was the worst the desecration of this genre could get, someone came up with a whole new sub-pigeonhole—one man acoustic ska—which, by the sounds of this, seems to be one person playing staccato rhythms on an acoustic guitar. Two guys are featured here doing exactly that, neither really delivering anything much worth the initial novelty, which lasts about fourteen seconds into the first tune. –jimmy (dothedog.com)


RNR TERRORISTS:
Stolen Blues: CD
This Italian band covers Fred McDowell, Billy Childish, Mississippi John Hurt, Robert Johnson, the Soledad Brothers, Discharge, and more in a Gories-does-Delta-blues style. Primitive, lo-fi, etc. –thiringer (Bubca, no address listed)


RIVERDALES:
Tarantula: LP
It’s like they wanted to sound like the Ramones if the Ramones were totally boring. I’ve heard way better takes on the Ramones. –Vincent Battilana (Recess)


RIVERDALES:
Tarantula: CD
By now you probably know the Riverdales deal: Weasel and Vapid paying homage to the Ramones with clean note down strokes on the guitars, snotty vocals, drums like a metronome, and all the rest. While probably not exactly essential listening, it sounds just like a Riverdales album should and leagues better than the sea of imitators. –Jeff Proctor (Recess)


RIVER CITY REBELS:
Done with Love: LP
I think the album title is two words too long. “Done” will suffice nicely. BEST SONG: “One Sheet.” BEST SONG TITLE: “Round Trip Heart” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: This is the first time i have not utilized the download card of any record that has come into my possession outfitted with a valid download card. –norb (Mod House)


RIPPERS / QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE:
Split: 7" 45
My first thoughts when picking up this record were “wow, Sub Pop still puts out records?” After quick inspection, my second thoughts were “wow, people still make bootleg 45s that look like Sub Pop records?” Oh well, no accountin’ for what those wacky kids will do. The Rippers are a band whom i have already clearly established i don’t like ((although, to their credit, they are loud)); Queens of the Stone Age are a band that this guy i used to work with who told me KISS sucked liked, and this is them playing a Black Sabbath cover on VH1. Needless to say, everybody connected with this record can go get fucked. BEST SONG: “Paranoid” BEST SONG TITLE: “Paranoid” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Quote: “recorded at the VH1 2007’s Rock Honors ceremony, on witch (sic) the band paid tribute to Ozzy Osbourne.” I want black coffee! –norb (fake Sub Pop)


RIGHTEOUS FOOL:
Self-titled: 7" EP
There’s little to say about this Corrosion of Conformity side project. It’s radio metal with a Southern rock flavor. So many better records have been released by Southern Lord this year. Go check out those instead. –Paul J. Comeau –Guest Contributor (Southern Lord)


REFUSED:
Shape of Punk to Come: 2 x 12"
The original pressing of this album was hindered by the then limited budget of Burning Heart Records and was released on a single LP. The record was far too long to properly fit on one record, and the result was a thin mastering job and a subpar sound. It wouldn’t have mattered if it hadn’t been one of the most fully realized hardcore punk records to have come out (ever). Epitaph reissued the LP a few months ago on a bigger budget, but again as a single disc. This is the most recent reissue, and finally sees the record cut across two 12” records, allowing the grooves room to sink and the signal to come out without any hint of distortion. It sounds great. I’ve bought this album at least times since its original release and don’t regret picking it up yet again this time around. This is at least as essential to a hardcore record collection as Damaged or Age of Quarrel. If you read this whole review not knowing what I’m talking about because you’ve never heard this, do yourself a favor and pick it up. –Ian Wise (Epitaph)


RED RED RED:
New Action: CD
Big, loud, heavy, slightly spacey, and trippy jams that rest somewhere in the shared space of a Venn diagram that includes garage rock, punk rock, and psychedelia. A lot of the tunes are straight rippers, though the guitars throughout the record are often played as if being strangled, to show off some epically noisy, fuzzed-out, effects-laden six string pyrotechnics. The blown-out vocals tag along, while a bleating sax pokes its head around to counteract the trudging dirge-like bass notes. This is pretty solid stuff. –Jeff Proctor (Big Neck)


RED DONS:
Fake Meets Failure: LP
Lightning. Pure, white-hot, hot-streaking, sizzling, punk lightning. It’s punk that people who’ve “given up,” “don’t get,” or “moved on” from punk have the highest percentage of liking. It’s just so obviously scorching, beautiful, and crackling music, regardless of genre. And I was reluctant to admit that lightning could strike twice. One of the driving forces behind Red Dons is Doug Burns, the lead singer and guitarist of the untouchable every-member-made-it-greater band, The Observers. The Red Dons first LP, Death to Idealism, while it had its bright spots, sounded covered in blankets, a little restricted and restrained, a little awkward, a little tentative. Getting used to new skin. Not so with Fake Meets Failure. The burka’s ripped off, faces are revealed, and those faces are screaming. Analogous to the transformation of the Vicious to Masshysteri or Sexy to Future Virgins, it took a little time from the dusk of one band to the dawn of another, but the newer band, exhibiting similar genetic code to its predecessor, has developed its own personality, its own habits, and has accomplished what many, including myself, didn’t think was possible: release more music that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with some of their own legacy’s finest work. One of the best punk records of 2010, hands down. –todd (Deranged)


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