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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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STONE THE CROWZ:
Protest Songs 85-86: CD
Stone The Crowz were a London-based anarcho punk band active in the ‘80s. They produced a couple of demos—tracks from which subsequently found homes on a few influential comps before the band broke up. A couple of members went on to form Axegrinder and their drummer started Endangered Muzik, which released early recordings by Anti-Sect and Oi Polloi. Collected here are tracks from those demos, plus a live cut, all of which show—surprise!—a heavy Crass influence lyrically and musically, although they do retain enough personality to keep them from sounding like a cover band. The usual ground is covered—war, shitty cops, religion, and, especially, animal rights. It’s easy to sit some thirty years later and wallow in cynicism as it plays ‘cause, facts being what they are, ain’t all that much changed and, in some very major ways, have actually gotten much, much worse. It’s just as easy, though, to remember a time when it felt like the world could be changed, a feeling permeating every track here and that once fueled the greater movement with which the band was aligned. We could definitely use a bit of that now, and a soundtrack just as good and inspiring. –jimmy (Overground)


STRAFPLANET:
Big Feelings: 7”
Fuuuuuck! Truly punishing music here. Non-stop intensity and the riffs to back it up. Comparisons to Punch and No Statik will put you in the ballpark, but Strafplanet have got their own thing going on. Seven tracks of bludgeoning hardcore punk that slow down only to demonstrate how heavy they can get. As a whole, this EP is masterfully crafted and sequenced. They change it up with unique sounding parts so it’s not just an onslaught of noise. This record is a straight-up rager. –Daryl Gussin (Contraszt!, info@diyordie.net)


STRANGE LORDS:
Self-titled: 12”
Strange Lords are a garage/surf/psych duo from Florida that contains an ex-member of Against Me! A long line of fucked up, bluesy punk/garage bands before them—like the Cramps or even Pussy Galore—have paved the way for bands like this, and Strange Lords throw a layer of reverbed guitar of the top. There are parts of this that I like quite a bit and I believe that anyone with an appreciation for the kind of stuff that the infamous garage punk label Estrus Records used to release regularly would feel the same. The single-sided LP with a screen printed B-side is a nice touch as well. –Mark Twistworthy (Surfin’ Ki, surfinkirecords.bigcartel.com)


SUBURBAN HOMES, THE:
“Conformity in the U.K.” b/w “Television Spies”: 7”
Damn, this record is loud! First time I listened to it, I said to myself, “What, did Tim Warren master this?” Sure enough, he did! (For those not in the know, Tim Warren is Crypt Records. He has a second career as a recording masterer and he does a masterful job with each record. Shit jumps out the grooves!) Anyway, this record has a caveman-drum-pound intensity. Lyrics touch on the political and personal on “Conformity in the U.K.” (although they’re a mouthful, as there are so many) and the paranoid on “Television Spies.” Total Punk is getting hotter with each release, as they seem to sell through pressings in days and I can’t even keep up with them. Total Punk is definitely a label where you should buy every release, just because it’s on Total Punk. They continue to deliver the goods, and Suburban Homes is a good fit. ‘Nuff said! –Sal Lucci (Total Punk, floridasdying.com)


SUBURBAN HOMES, THE:
“Conformity in the U.K.” b/w “Television Spies”: 7”
Sounds like Patrik Fitzgerald doing Billy Childish songs, or possibly vice versa. This probably wouldn’t’ve sounded at all out of place on that Streets compilation album thirty-five years ago, and I was legitimately surprised when I found out this wasn’t a reissue. However it is you thought they don’t make ‘em like anymore, this is like that. BEST SONG AND SONG TITLE: “Television Spies.” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: “Conformity in the U.K.” has a download price of one thousand dollars (or more) on Soundcloud. –norb (Total Punk, floridasdying.com))


SUPERMOON:
Comet Lovejoy: CS
Vancouver’s Supermoon play lo-fi fuzz pop that I’m calling “A Tigertrap for the twenty-first century.” “Burnout of My Dreams” is a good song title and a good name to dream of being given, but “Grounded” and “I’ve Been Told” deliver Supermoon’s best blend of surf tones and catchy melodies over a singer recounting how she “watch[es] a documentary / of someone else’s tragedy” in a dreamy song world where the strange and sad ride along together. If you were ever into The Organ or any of Rose Melberg’s groups, Comet Lovejoy is well worth the “name your price” amount on their bandcamp. Meanwhile, I’m keeping my cassette copy as a hangover antidote. –Jim Joyce (Alarum)


SWEET TALK:
Double Perfect: LP
If Austin’s Sweet Talk released Double Perfect six years ago when Denton’s Bad Sports released their debut album, I would have said that you had your pick from two very similar-sounding bands and I would have given the advantage to Bad Sports. Today, I’d say that this record—while it still sounds remarkably like a chip off the ol’ Bad Sports block—is a formidable album for fans of rockin’ garage punk. The soaring guitar leads add a touch of Southern rock hospitality but without any of the sleaze typically associated with the bible belt states. Recorded by Orville Neely of Bad Sports and I swear to fucking god that I wasn’t aware of that until after this review was written. –Juan Espinosa (12XU, sweettalkaustin.com)


TANG SOLEIL:
Outboard Sensory Meridian Response: LP
There’s a reason the sound of a motorcycle engine permeates this LP. It’s the speed and freedom of Captain America coupled with Billy’s bad lysergic trip. Dangerous like Altamont. California if the San Andreas swallowed Brian Wilson. Fucked and out-of-tune guitars on top of a rock solid shimmy backbone shiver and shake. The A-side is preferable if you lean towards the funk and soul dirt and grit of an MC5-inspired rhythm section (and The Godz cover!), while the B-side leans a bit more toward an inspired Stones/ Pavement hybrid. A psychedelic cup-o-tea to be enjoyed repeatedly. –Matt Seward (Dusty Medical, dustymedical.com)


TAPE MONSTER / GAS STATION OF LOVE:
Split: CS
Allentown, Pa. enigma Tape Monster’s first three tracks are basically the aural equivalent of connecting to the internet via a dial-up modem. By the fourth track, you are online discussing EVP phenomenon with teenagers on 4chan’s /x/ board, and playing 4 Wheel Thunder for Dreamcast while your mom uses the blender to make margaritas so she can momentarily forget she gave birth to you. Austin’s Gas Station Of Love turns in tracks five through eleven. Respectively: “Meggs Nog,” a street corner knockoff of Naked City. “Spacepussy,” which could’ve been recorded by RuPaul’s cystic twin. “Pepp Pizza,” which might’ve been a Baz Luhrman song, had he sustained a serious head injury. “Codeine Outlaw,” which I imagine is what having no friends sounds like. “Herb222,” which is twelve and a half minutes long, and I respect you guys too much to lie and say I listened to it. “U.N.,” which either features slow-mo Donald Duck descending into H.P. Lovecraft levels of madness or a fussy baby being shot with a machine gun. The cassette finishes out with “Tranny Porn.” Epic trolling, dude. –Kelley O’Death (Self-released)


TELEVISIONARIES, THE:
Freezing to Death: CS
Instrumental surf punk from Buffalo, New York’s More Power Tapes, who are making an excellent showing in this review cycle. Big drums, lots of reverb, and a tsunami’s worth of clever tempo changes. Lots of guitar tricks and fun, toe-tapping melodies, good enough to—albeit briefly—give Night Birds a run for their money. Standout track: “Glasstron.” Check these guys out! –John Mule (More Power Tapes)


TENAFLY VIPERS, THE:
The Way of the Woods: CDEP
Six-song release from this Boston band that plays action rock. Precise, pummeling, and perforating your eardrums, these gentlemen take no prisoners. “Broke So Good” features a groove riff that reminds me of Hendrix’s “Manic Depression” then veers back into uncharted waters. The next song really sums it all up in the title: “Teenage Girls & Free Cocaine (All Night Long).” “Napalm Discipline” sports an excellent chorus that uses the backing vocals like a concealed weapon. If Lemmy and Buzz from The Melvins formed a supergroup, it might sound a bit like this band. Worth checking out. –koepenick (Self-released, facebook.com/tenaflyvipers)


TESTOSTEROSO:
Into the Sun: CD
You are invested enough to put out a physical CD in 2015 and you can’t do better than this terrible band name and a naked woman with pig head riding a hot dog into space on the cover? Testosteroso play boring-as-shit “rock” with no riffs, no hooks, and nothing to stand out in any way. This is nothing more than a band that you suffer through while you wait for the next band to start at your local music venue. –frame (Self-released, reverbnation.com/testosteroso)


THEMINDLESSSHOW:
10 Years of Epic Failures: CD
A self-described semi-discography courtesy of a band apparently hailing from Malaysia. The sonic base is emo-tinged melodic hardcore, but they make no bones about throwing in pretty much anything they can get their hands on—jazz, ska, backyard hardcore, pop punk, acoustic guitar, multi-part harmonies. While I can’t say what’s here tickles my own personal preferences, it’s an interesting ride nonetheless to hear the band grow from a series of disparate—yet highly creative—ideas to a sound that finally manages to marry a pastiche of influences into a coherent sound crammed in songs that sometimes last less than fifteen seconds. Not my bag, but I respect the effort they’ve clearly put into what they do. –jimmy (Pissart, facebook.com/pissart.recs)


THOSE PRETTY WRONGS:
Lucky Guy: 7”
Admittedly, I had no idea what this 45 was all about. Details slowly stood out—namely Ardent Studios—that led me to my “Holy SHIT, this is the drummer from Big Star” moment. Turns out Jody Stephens teamed up with Luther Russell of The Freewheels to make this delightfully sweet A/B single. “Fool of Myself” is a mid-tempo rocker that stands well on its own, but the title track is the real winner here: a pleasant ballad that’s catchy, upbeat, and far from sad. Maybe even channeling Chris Bell more than Alex Chilton. This record was a nice surprise (with hopefully more to come). –Steve Adamyk (Burger, burgerrecords.com)


TOMBOY:
Sweetie: LP
A solid entry in the “fuck the gender binary” canon. Loud, but deliberately paced in that ‘80s alt rock kind of way. The slowed-down aesthetic does some favors for their overall sound, as the dynamics between the drums and guitars play well against each other. There’s an underlying post-punk influence that fills out the room, like the production legends of old. Tomboy sounds big, their presence is commanding on record. I can only imagine the science these guys bring to the stage. Their songwriting strength really comes out on Side B, with the off-kilter call and response of “Bethany” and the aggressively stoned but gentle “Can’t Stand You,” which make a case for the disc themselves. That’s not even mentioning their absolutely essential jam “I’m in the Fucking Band,” which is a must-listen for everyone. Buy the record if you want, absolutely listen to “I’m in the Fucking Band.” Grade: A. –Bryan Static (Ride The Snake, ridethesnakerecords.com)


TORINO/ ZERO AGAIN:
Split: EP
Two French bands on one record. Zero Again sing in English with a Leatherface- meets-Bob-Mould-sound. The vocals are gritty and heartfelt while the music is really upbeat and catchy, similar to what the aforementioned bands do really well. Torino sing their tunes in French, which I’m a fan of and I think sets foreign bands apart in a good way. They blend punk and driving hard rock together nicely. Anyone who is a fan of the BYO split series should check this record out. –Ryan Nichols (Echo Canyon, echocanyonrecords.com)


USELESS ID:
The Lost Broken Bones: LP
By the time of this review I will have stopped following Fat Wreck Chords on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Match.com because I am overwhelmed by the megatons of information regarding Fat’s 25th anniversary. And while media saturation has my brain begging for a media-fast, this re-release of Israeli punk band Useless ID’s 2008 album, plus bonus tracks, sounds as clean and sharp as ever. Pick up this release if you are still waving the Fat flag and if you like your punk sharp and melodic. –John Mule (Fat Wreck Chords, fatwreck.com)


VAN BUREN WHEELS, THE:
Self-titled: 10” EP
The Van Buren Wheels from Phoenix AZ were a ‘60s rock-inspired garage band boasting a Vox Continental organ front and center. Lasting all of four years before drug abuse and the death of their vocalist Vince Bocchini did them in, the band started off doing covers before penning originals, which are what this record compiles. The liner notes are quick to point out that there were no other bands playing this style of garage rock at the time in Phoenix, though their sound eventually caught on posthumously. The Van Buren Wheels certainly do have the kind of appeal that is all too common these days with bands like King Khan And The Shrines leading the charge. If there’s any justice left in this world these six songs will finally give the band their due. As if the 10” record format wasn’t obscure enough, this platter also features a 45 adapter hole. You read that right: a 10” with a 45 hole. Recommended for those who can appreciate the trinity of budget rock, garage, and ‘60s rock’n’roll. –Juan Espinosa (Slovenly, slovenly.com)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Bay Area Retrograde Vols. 1 & 2: CD
A corker of a collection of assorted synth-related noise straight outta Frisco’s first couple of punk/wave waves. Those with a more holistic view of the term “punk” will find many interesting and diverse sounds—neo-psych-punk, mutant disco, oddball wavo stuff, synth punk and beyond—courtesy of Tuxedomoon, Chrome, Red Asphalt, Wasp Women, Nominal State, Voice Farm, Danny Boy And The Serious Party Gods (who turn in “Castro Boy,” a gay-themed piss take on Zappa’s highly successful piss take, “Valley Girl”), Units, Factrix, and many, many others. Both volumes released thus far are collected on this disc and both are indispensable. Kudos to Dark Entries for showing some love for a too-often neglected and dismissed aspect of punk’s first salvos. Now if only someone would do the same for Los Angeles…. –jimmy (Dark Entries)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Feral Kid Mix Tape Volume II: CS
I will always have a soft spot in my heart for compilations, as they were one of the ways I discovered punk and hardcore at an early age. They are not only an excellent introduction to an array of bands, they are a great intro to a label as a whole and make nice road trip mixes. The Feral Kid Mixtape Volume II is a great collection showcasing previously unreleased songs by thirty-three bands. That’s a ton of tracks on a single comp! The immediate thing I appreciated about this comp was the eclectic variety of bands. From the surf rocking of Aaron & The Burrs, to Skate Korpse, to Fleshy Mounds, you’ll be hard pressed to find a compilation as diverse as this in any format. The sheer variety and number of tracks not only kept this interesting, but gives this comp a wide appeal. There’s something for damn near every punk fan to appreciate on this tape. A number of the recordings are on the grittier side of things, which might be polarizing for some but should in no way sway the reader from checking this out. If you’re looking for new bands to check out, you’re bound to be stoked on something here! I know I was. –Paul J. Comeau (Feral Kid, xFeral_Kidx@yahoo.com)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Give and Take 2012: CD
Back in the day I used to love obscure cassette compilations from places like Yugoslavia or South America, as the sounds were so different and showed how music from different countries was unique. With the internet, a band from Russia can sound like a band from Seattle. The world is homogenizing and we are starting to lose any individuality. Case in point this disc from 2012 (did it take three years to get here?), which could be from anywhere. The only thing that unites these bands is location, so we go from dreadful NOFX bro punk to grind to anarcho stuff. The majority of bands sing in English and sound like they could be from down the street. There are some notable exceptions like Brayok and Perek Kasi Gerek—who while didn’t wow me musically, but at least they sing in their own language. Don’t get me wrong, I’m super happy that unexpected countries get some coverage but I struggled to get through the whole thing. –Tim Brooks (Tenzenmen, tenzenmen.bandcamp.com)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Squidhat Records Fresh Ink Vol. 4: CD
Butt rock punk from Vegas. Features bands with names like The People’s Whiskey and songs with names like “Corporate Dick.” –Jim Joyce (Squidhat)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Deep Secret Vol. 3: CS
Although there doesn’t appear to be any information to clue you in as to the focus for this compilation, after a little internet sleuthing I have concluded that this is in fact a regional compilation zeroing in on the state of Texas. Just as expansive as the state itself, there are a bevy of styles and genres represented such as punk, garage, indie, and experimental. Standouts include the Secret Prostitutes, Ghetto Ghouls, FOGG, Crooked Bangs, and Hidden Ritual. Further research indicates that the previous two volumes of this series showcase Southern Texas bands (volume 1) and ‘60s bands (volume 2). I look forward to a fourth installment should it ever come to fruition. –Juan Espinosa (Burger, burgerrecords.com)


VICIOUS DREAMS:
Demo: CS
Orlando, Fla. punk’n’roll band Vicious Dreams appears to take their ‘77 punk aspirations very seriously. The fashion sense, vocal style, and chord progressions read like a calculated Enid Coleslaw approximation of ‘70s punk authenticity. Plus, the “Vicious” half of their moniker naturally evokes a certain hack bassist who many still scramble to lionize. Their throwback aesthetic seems calibrated from top to bottom to reference the era with an unwavering devotion that leaves little room for innovation. The song structures and just-lo-fi-enough production serve their intended purposes, but the general talent and competency on display make me wonder if there isn’t something more interesting lurking beneath Vicious Dreams’ this-is-what-we’re-going-for vibe. –Kelley O’Death (Self-released, viciousdreams.bandcamp.com)


VIOLENT BULLSHIT / CHRON TURBINE:
Split: 7”
Violent Bullshit’s brand of hardcore punk is quite playful. Squealing guitar leads, party bus gang vocals, and a singer who does not fear ‘80s hair metal territory. I trust they can turn your run-of-the-mill bar show into chaos, so kudos to them for that. Chron Turbine lays down some post-rock/post-hardcore/post-punk/post-uuuuhhhhh, who knows! It’s repetitive and heavy. Dense yet accented. Psychedelic music for people who just like beer. This 7” definitely works as a decent introduction to two very different bands. Now feel free to acquaint yourself. –Daryl Gussin (Peterwalkee)


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