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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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MARCHING ORDERS:
Days Gone By: LP
I watched The Truman Show last night and if he was a skinhead, they would make him listen to this: “I haven’t been everywhere. But there’s nothing out there. Here is where I’ll stay.” This is some really basic oi. Their singer has an accent, which must be a plus for fans of this genre. This band is stuck somewhere between lacking the punch in the guts of the Anti-Heroes and not reaching the catchy frenzy of Cock Sparrer. Unimpressive riffs and lame lyrics. This one’s a pass. –Rene Navarro (Contra, Longshot)


MACRONYMPHA:
Cut Ups, Drones, and Other Weird: LP
Harsh noise gives me a headache. It’s all one circuit run through distortion and delay and set to run for C-10, C-20, C-45, whatever. The entire genre defies any sort of real explanation. But this actually makes sense to me. Macronympha side step the power electronics craze with actual noise (supposedly “metaljunk bashed against each other”) that is then sampled onto tape and looped with other similar samples. The stereo panning makes all the difference in the world to me, as the parts separate themselves in each ear and then converge in your brain like Robert Monroe’s Hemisynch series (terrible reference for anything music-based, I know). However awkward the sounds might be, they are somehow completely engaging. The samples for this record were recorded way back in 1993, but tracked specifically for this release this year in Alabama. If you’re going to check out one noise release in this whole craze going on now, side step all the black metal shit and pick this up instead. –Ian Wise (Premier Sang)


MAAKUNTARADIO:
Ehka Huomenna Kaikki on Toison: CD
Huh. Musically, they remind me a bit of Dan Webb & The Spiders—there’s the same fat guitar tone and snappy drum backbone. But the energy just isn’t there; Maakuntaradio sounds like a withdrawn, very subdued version of a ‘60s garage band. The first few songs are interesting if only because they’re sung in Finnish—but it gets pretty blasé pretty damn fast. They never turn shit up into the red or, hell, even the orange or mildly bright yellow. Muted garage pop songs in which the dude never sounds like he’s remotely pissed about anything or even that interested in his own lyrics. The packaging here was dark and promising, but the band, instead of coming out swinging and howling, stepped from their corner like a rice cake with a headache and a hula hoop. –keith (Airiston)


LUMIÑANAS, THE:
Self-titled: CD
Slinky fuzz rock from a French couple apparently trying to meld Velvets and Nuggets influences to something a bit more modern. My “Future Hipster Dickhead Soundtrack Fodder” radar is screaming blue murder, but that doesn’t deter from the fact that this is actually pretty good. –jimmy (troubleinmindrecs.com)


LOSE THE TUDE:
Self-titled: 7"
Mostly mid-tempo indie hardcore with lyrics focusing on jealousy, greed, corporate influence, avoiding becoming jaded, and figuring out an effective way of utilizing anger. This could’ve easily turned into one long preach-fest, but they keep the tunes interesting with odd timings ‘n’ breaks. –jimmy (sacredplague.com)


LIQUOR STORE:
Free Pizza: 7"
The music is yer standard lo-fi fodder. The gimmick is the single includes a coupon good for a free pizza from New York City’s Moustache Restaurant, courtesy of the singer’s dad, who owns the joint. –jimmy (almostreadyrecords.com)


LION SIZED / ACCORDION CRIMES:
Split: 7"
Lion Sized: Solid, bass-heavy noise rock along the same lines as Jesus Lizard. Accordion Crimes: a bit more Birthday Party grind employed here, with occasional blurts of full-on skronk breaking up any potential monotony. Both bands adroitly know when to apply the “heavy.” Good split. –jimmy (Cash Cow)


MADISON BLOODBATH / ANCHOR ARMS:
Split: 7"
Still life with half-filled Jameson bottle.This 7” came with a secret Madison Bloodbath decoder ring. It just says, “Everything negative is really positive.” It’s like an inverse of early Against Me!, where instead of swelling belief in positive change, there’s this sweltering dwelling in dark places and existential anguish. (And if that sounds too square hat to you: it’s the time you realize you’ve been fooling yourself, life don’t mean anything, and you’re in a dark, cold place like inside the “refrigerator of the soul” when the door’s closed.) The Bloodbath paradox is that they sing and play so convincingly and with so much verve, while simultaneously proclaiming defeat, self-dishonesty, and decay. Anchor Arms: More saxophone! I have more tolerance than the average listener for “Fest music”—gruff vocals, anthemic, guitar-driven melodic punk rock, but, being so, I’ve listened to so much of it by now, that it takes something else—like ragged saxophone integrated into the middle, not just the beginning and end—to really draw me in. Not offensive, but not clearly separated from the densely populated pack. –todd (Kiss Of Death)


MAD SIN:
Burn and Rise: CD
What can I say? It’s everything you expect from Mad Sin—nothing more, nothing less. If you already love Mad Sin, pick it up. It has nineteen tracks of what you may consider a German delicacy. If not, pass on it. –thiringer (People Like You, peoplelikeyourecords.com)


MADISON BLOODBATH / CALVINBALL:
Split: 7"
Still life with a three-quarters empty Jameson bottle. The yin-yang of Madison Bloodbath is the mess of Matt, the main singer, and the not-as-obvious proficiency of the rest of the band. Because if Matt wasn’t a mess, it’d be too slick. If the band wasn’t composed of skilled musicianship, it’d be a hot mess. The country flavoring is more like fingerprints or the taste from an oak barrel than a hayseed, getting kicked by a mule in a bandana Hee Haw parody. That works, also. Plug that into the Lookout Records amp sitting in the corner and play. Calvinball: This English band’s first song sounds like the vocalist is mostly reading the lyrics over the music. Sometimes, the entire band joins in, and that’s the most like singing. He sounds pretty grumpy, disaffected, and defeated. The second song is more singy. Reminds me of a straight-ahead, more workman version of No Choice: poppy English punk with melodies, a gruff voice, and up-high guitar parts. Improves with repeat visits. This is the fifth installment of pairings of English and American punk bands. A great idea. –todd (All In Vinyl)


MADISON BLOODBATH / SUNNYSIDE:
Split: 7"
Madison Bloodbath: Still life with an empty Jameson bottle. Lyrically, Madison Bloodbath has some self-esteem issues and they’re drowning in alcohol. And not “Yay! Partying! alcoholism,” but scars-across-the-liver alcoholism. And the music’s both celebratory and brooding. Shades of country music inserted firmly into the form of punk rock Hot Water Music explored, but it’s neither curdling like milk in whiskey nor hard to choke down. For reasons that aren’t so clear, even to myself, it’s been a slow, cautious grow with Madison Bloodbath, and I now consider myself a fan. Sunnyside: Jason, one of the vocalists could do stunt double work as a blown-out speaker, if that speaker sung about prescription drug abuse and shattered-glass nostalgia that can never be put back together right. The bands follows suit. It sounds like they’re battling psychosis on daily basis… all to a beat you can tap along to in a Fifteen-esque way. As an aside, the cover art’s the best Roadhouse-inspired illustrations, ever. Craig Horky’s a master. –todd (ADD, addrecs.com)


KNUCKLEHEAD:
Hearts on Fire: CD
I’d ask how a killer band that’s been around for fifteen years could remain as underappreciated as Knucklehead, but that would be silly. Everyone knows that there are tons of amazing bands out there that are overlooked, right? In any event, Calgary’s Knucklehead is a rare pop punk band that’s been around since the mid-1990s pop punk heyday, yet survived through the passing of that one-time major jolt. There are a lot of other influences at play, too, but this is basically a throwback pop punk release, informed by a decade and a half of going at it. We’re not talking “la la” beach-y pop. Instead, Squirtgun-esque riffs prevail, with a hint of fashion/1990s spike punk. This thing is so retro, I got confused, turned on my TV, and tried to tune in to a new episode of Married… with Children. We can dream, right? –Art Ettinger (Stumble, stumblerecords.com)


KLASSE KRIMINALE:
The Rise and Fall of the Stylish Kids…: LP
Umpteenth release by this antifascist oi band that’s been putting out records for over twenty years. The band sings in Italian, but they’ve provided a lyric sheet with English translations and comics, ala Fly’s insert on the Pinhead Gunpowder side of their split with Dillinger Four. I have no idea how a band that’s been around since 1985 still manages to come across as excited about punk rock, but Klasse Kriminale does, and it’s pretty great. The music’s pretty standard streetpunk fare—but shit, are they really copying anything? Seems like a band that’s been around this long has probably helped define the genre rather than ape it. Translations are a little spotty here and there, but that only adds to the charm. Beautiful colored vinyl, extensive packaging, and armfuls of sincerity. Not something I ever would have picked up on my own, but the band’s enthusiasm carries them through here. Fans, take note. –keith (Contra)


KITTY LITTLE / SCIENTIFIC MAPS:
Split: EP
Kitty Little remind me a little bit of Superchunk. Maybe it’s because both bands have a song that says “back of the bus”? They play guitar-driven indie pop that has a roughness, like they’re more influenced by punk than the Beatles. Listening to this, you would never suspect that Matto’s a raging hardcore punk guitar player (Resist Control, Give Up, JBA, etc.) Whereas, Scientific Maps sound like maybe they have been influenced by mid era Beatles—bouncy rhythms, a piano, some brass, jangly guitar... Only 300 pressed. –Matt Average (Peterwalkee)


KICKING SPIT:
Psychrockbullshit: Cassette
In the early ‘90s, I was too young to be too cool for grunge. Nirvana are still one of my favorites, so I like hearing current DIY bands that merge punk and hard rock. Enter Kicking Spit. They sound like the earliest Dinosaur Jr. records, when J Mascis was still getting the thrash riffs out of his system. The catch is that Kicking Spit’s guitar shredding is studied and precise, as opposed to the intuitive noodling that Mascis is known for, so the guitar leads on this tape sound like Steve Vai ripping a solo over “Little Fury Things.” The two don’t mesh. Then they mess with the time signature, and it sounds like the limp prog from the first All records. Kicking Spit’s off to a good start, but they need to have a band meeting and tell their guitarist to settle down. –CT Terry (tankcrimes.com)


KENTUCKY KNIFE FIGHT:
We’re All Nameless Here: CD
I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this band open up for a few dozen other bands. Not literally, but they just have that sound reminiscent of some band you have to sit through to get to see the indie rock or garage rock band you really came to the show to watch. It’s not that they’re not talented, but their Southern-influenced bar-brawlin’ sound is just something I’ve seen a number of times and I’m not real impressed. Maybe they put on a good live show? –kurt (kentuckyknifefight.com)


JULIUS C:
OK, OK: CD
If you like music with cheesy handclaps, goofy horns, and yawn-inducing keyboards, then this record is for you. I can see why NYC hipsters are all over this band like flies on cow dung. Bland, overdone funk workouts that even Weezer wouldn’t touch. Oh, and having all four band members sporting the same hairstyle and facial hair is beyond retarded. –koepenick (Self-released)


JOYCE MANOR / SUMMER VACATION:
Split: 7"
Joyce Manor: I’ve been told they’re a grower of a band. First listen: oi-folk with a Happy Days vibe and a lot of “I really mean it” sing-a-long parts. But not half as bad as that may sound. They still haven’t completely clicked with me, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they do in the future. There’s something very cool and just odd that some members of Summer Vacation were eight or nine years old when Razorcake started ten years ago. It’s cool because one of my main theories is being proven true: DIY punk is a force unto itself. It doesn’t need outside forces to drive it (like emo, ska punk, screamo) to keep it viable. It’s somewhat odd because I’m double these dudes’ age, they have to hide out if they stay at a bar show after they play, and yet they’re picking up on musical cues that’ve been relevant to me over time: J.Church, a little bit of Pretty Boy Thorson, Minor Threat sheep tattoos, some Defiance, Ohio and Billy Bragg, the straight-edge lifestyle, and an understated layering of instruments. They’re an excellent, local band and I’m looking forward to hearing more of them. –todd (Muy Autentico)


KIDNAPPERS, THE:
Will Protect You: CD
It’s a wonder why these guys aren’t bigger than Christ at the moment. Super catchy power pop that’s as powerful as it is sugary and, well, poppy. A quick reference to throw out is The Boys, and more currently, The Impulse International. Definitely rooted in the ‘70s, with songs about girls, girls, and one about a prostitute (“Sally”). Strong riffs, infectious melodies, and it’s all fun, fun, fun. A good mix of cookers, like “Milkshake,” “She Won’t Come Home,” and my favorite of the album, “Nothing’s Gonna Change,” then there’s the slightly reserved type songs, “Heartbeat,” “Tomorrow you Feel Better,” and the like. Great album, without a doubt. –Matt Average (Alien Snatch!)


KIT:
Invocation: CD
At first, I rolled my eyes at the press release, but then I realized that there are actually “Accomplished Musicians” in this band, so it makes sense. I’ve just gotten used to seeing teenage garage bands pay a publicity rep to write up a glowing press release of their “revolutionary and awe- inspiring” (but actually mediocre) first release. This is a pretty legit indie band though. They’ve done splits with Thurston Moore/ Kim Gordon and Deerhoof. Oh, and it says that Mike Watt plays bass with the band sometimes. But more important than press release credentials, I’m really into the music on this album. It has a lot of distortion, but in a really pretty kind of Kill Rock Stars kind of way. There are vocals, but the band’s focus is definitely instrumental. It sounds Kit should have been around twenty years ago, but I like them now anyway. –Lauren Trout (Upset The Rhythm!, UpsetTheRhythm.co.uk)


JOSIE COTTON:
Pussycat Babylon: CD
I so wanted to like this. I still have a soft spot for new wave pop from my childhood. But it just didn’t capture the free spirit of the early ‘80s. A little over produced for my liking? Not sure, but the remake of “Johnny Are you Queer?” sure didn’t stand up to the original recording. –don (Scruffy)


JESU:
Heart Ache and Dethroned: 2 x CD/ 2 x LP
It has been written (and this reviewer agrees) that the EP is the proper medium for Jesu (pronounced Yay-sue). So what might be better than what is essentially a double EP? The first disc, Heart Ache is only two songs, but combined they clock in at around forty minutes. Heart Ache is actually a re-release of Jesu’s first EP, released in 2004. Being that Justin Broadrick (who essentially is Jesu) had just broken up his industrial project, Godflesh, the similarities are much more evident than on Jesu’s most recent work. The electronic smash of the drums especially strikes one of the same pummeling that Broadrick’s industrial act offered. The two tracks aren’t entirely cutthroat, though. The second track, “Ruined,” starts with a five minute, minimalist piano taken straight from the M83 playbook. It’s quite pleasurable in its own right, but all that is taken away when the churning guitars kick in. The second EP, Dethroned, was originally started in 2004 but not completed until 2010. It’s interesting to note the range of Broadrick’s music on these four songs. While the Godflesh guitar aspects are occasionally there, there is also the shoegazing influence rearing its head throughout. Like much of Jesu’s previous releases, the sounds are always compatible and work well together. Furthermore, the emotional qualities of other Jesu works is still here: that of sadness, dreariness, and morose connection to one’s own psyche, while it holds hands with this little glimmer of something better. While I wasn’t sure about this double album at first, repeated listens have shown me that it’s an efficient medium for understanding the full range of Jesu’s sound. That being said, it might be a good place for a new listener to begin to check out the band. –kurt (Hydra Head))


JEFF ROWE:
Barstool Conversations: CD
I don’t know what genre this is. Folk? Singer-songwriter? Whoever will take him, maybe? If I had never heard, say, rock’n’roll, and someone told me that this dude was playing rock’n’roll, I’d be like, “Man, I hate rock’n’roll!” after listening to this CD. So that’s why I don’t want to label what kind of music this is; for fear of giving an entire genre a bad name. I’ll just say Jeff Rowe is a dude playing sparse guitar chords and singing completely out of tune with a disproportionate amount of emotion. Totally cliché lyrics too: “Pour me one more drink/ I’m sorry for the things I haven’t done.” No thanks! How about I buy you a drink when you put out a CD that isn’t so bland instead? –Lauren Trout (Anchorless, AnchorlessRecords.com)


JIMMY THE SQUIRREL:
Whatever the Weather: CD
Ska stuff with more in common with the Moon Ska stable of third wave bands than the wretched post-Operation Ivy batch of ska punks. While I can’t say I was blown away, topical and substantive lyrics and outside-the-box song structures make this one of the better recent outings I’ve heard from this pigeonhole. –jimmy (dothedog.com)


JOHN WESLEY COLEMAN:
Bad Lady Goes to Jail: CD
Mr. Coleman dances a fine line between sloppy ‘70s punk and trashier ‘60s fare (and when I say “trashy,” I don’t mean stereotypical and Farfisa-saturated, but rather in the more primitive and less polished sense), sometimes sounding like an odd mix between the Velvet Underground and, oh, the Zeros’ more up-tempo efforts. All told, this is some pretty good stuff. –jimmy (Goner)


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