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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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FEAR OF LIPSTICK:
Self-titled: CD
Hard-driving, straight-up punk with an edge is what I would call these boys. I have seen them live and, hopefully, will again sometime soon. Wait—do a “Canada Invades the U.S.” tour with The Riptides! (Thank me later after all the cold, hard cash rolls in). “Correction Facility” is a cool tune that anchors this record. “I Wanna Be a Werewolf” is funny, but the animal sounds could have used a bit more snarl. “Summertime” is an awesome song to guide you to the end of this album. I’ve heard the uninformed compare this band to Teenage Bottlerocket. Doesn’t TB get compared to some other band? I can’t remember—but I think you get my drift. Take it as it comes and just give this record a shot. I’ll bet you at least eight bucks that you’ll agree with me. I will have to write you an I.O.U., however, if you disagree. Times is tight. –koepenick (It’s Alive)


FEAR OF LIPSTICK:
Self-titled: CD
Generic punk rock can only take me so far. There’s something to be said about creating a tune that can find a way to reside in a person’s mind due to its catchiness. With albums such as Fear Of Lipstick’s self-titled release, it all just becomes a subtle equation in my head and, after more than a dozen years of listening to poppy punk, I still haven’t figured out how it works. Sometimes bands in this genre strike me in the right way and endear themselves to me and other times their music comes across as dull, redundant, and utterly unnecessary. I’m not sure where Fear Of Lipstick lay. I enjoy their ability to create a hooky tune now and then but does fifteen songs come off as a bit much? For too long, many of the bands that loosely fit in this genre have done nothing to create an impression on a person like myself who doesn’t find it to be a favorite, let alone in my top five favorite genres. This really didn’t do much for me. I don’t even feel like it would be worth much to those who like this genre. It doesn’t bring much that is new, nor does it get me excited about music in general. Then again, all I’ve been listening to lately is Leatherface, so perhaps I’ve just been spoiled. –kurt (It’s Alive)


FAT WORM OF ERROR:
Ambivalence and the Beaker: CD
The mental movie my noggin makes up as this is playing: A man falls asleep with a mouthful of Pop Rocks. Some construction going on outside his window wakes him up and he begins raving incoherently, rampaging around in his room in total surprise and fear. Settling down, he turns on the television, but can’t seem to get it to tune to anything in particular. His mother comes into the room, stomping on the cat’s tail and ranting about circadian rhythms, perplexed scientists, and time travelling fecal matter. He goes outside to milk a cow and is accosted by a mosquito. Annoyed, he goes back inside, rubs two busted, notched pieces of wood together, and turns on a cassette player to listen to some music, but the tape is too tight and the singing is warbly. He begins banging on the player, which of course does no good and he ends up flinging the whole thing down some stairs, where it hisses, pops, and rambles on from the basement. The man then decides to play video games and a drum set at the same time. That failing to alleviate his boredom, he puts an LP on the stereo and toggles the record back and forth, impeding its playing, then releasing it, then putting his hand back on it. He finally lets it go—it’s a recording of the mosquito and some of its friends playing atonal, arrhythmic noise music. The man places the whole stereo in a box, puts it in the washer, fills up the machine with water, and leaves. Outside, he again runs into the mosquito that was annoying him earlier in the morning, which is now mistakenly under the impression that the construction workers are musicians and is warbling along to their work noises. The man decides to join in, but he’s just as tone deaf and the mosquito, thanks to all that time listening to warped tapes and fucked-with records. He finds an archaic drum machine in the rubble and begins fiddling with it. Yeah, it ain’t exactly a tale Kafka, or even Buñuel & Dalí would drool over, but I reckon it is proof the tuneless cornucopia of sound this release is comprised of was effective on some level. –jimmy (resipiscent.com)


FAT BEAVERS:
Still Don’t Know What to Do: LP
French band with a horrible name and an interesting palette. Charming accents and decidedly weird lyrics layered over elements of pop punk, indie twinkling, and the occasional hardcore-like blast. I honestly can’t tell if they’re a funny band that shoots for seriousness every once in a while, or a serious band that’s unintentionally funny. I mean, lines like “uvula is not the horizon” and “advertising world you block my cock, spectacular scenes you suck my dick” are pretty much just nonsense, and there’s a song about how the singer has fallen in love with his dentist. So they’re a joke band, right? And yet songs like “Hate and Apathy” or “Dead Or Something”—apart from the fact that the dude’s vocals are a dead ringer for Draw Muhammad-era Cobra Skulls—could almost pass for hardcore with their structure, speed, and unbridled, galloping nervousness. And then “Snowfall” sounds like Onion Flavored Rings. Jesus. I’ve listened to this one quite a bit and I still can’t get a handle on it at all. Co-released by approximately ten different labels aaaaaand the band has apparently broken up. –keith (Slow Death)


FANTASY FOUR, THE:
Getting Fantastic with…: CD
At first glance, I’d almost bet these guys are fans of the Kung Fu Monkeys (it’s got a very ‘60s look to it and refers to “being popular with the teens,” although James KFM would never write a song titled “Fuckin’ A Right.”). Upon listening, they’re a bit more ‘90s alt-rock, like a good step in between classic Lookout and Sub Pop. If they were playing around my neighborhood, Full Of Fancy would be a good fit for the bill. –joe (Pancake)


EUNUCH:
Self-titled: 7”
This record is a monstrosity. Bass and drum hardcore with distorted vocals held back enough in the mix for the vocalist to really tear into the microphone, and a fourth member credited as contributing only “feedback,” which I believe to actually be coming out of a guitar and not any sort of circuit-based noise generator. The result is something like the more realized Godstomper recordings with a lot more sludge influence. While the band provides many obvious nods to the forefathers of early power violence, the record is paced much more in the mid-tempo range, which makes the moments of blazing more surprising and articulate. Some sections are like the slower Man Is The Bastard or His Hero Is Gone songs, while the fast opening of “Carcasses” reminds me of Finnish jazz grind masters Cause For Effect. The aesthetic of the band falls somewhere between power violence and the “mysterious guy” trend, but remains ugly enough to ensure authenticity. Highly, highly recommended. –Ian Wise (Self-released)


EX-FAG COP:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Raw, gritty, primal and wholly unintelligible—this disc has the early ‘80s written all over it, but, no, it’s of recent vintage. Three tracks of full-bore aural assault, one no-fi growler to finish things off, and a name to set the message boards loaded with punk’s puritanical ablaze with outrage. Beautiful. –jimmy (batshit@live.com)


EVERYONE EVERYWHERE:
Self-titled: 12”
This is bad emo rock. This being said by a guy who likes The Promise Ring, Saves The Day, and Jets To Brazil. Yes, I know you think those bands play bad emo rock. If that’s your perspective, let me put it to you this way: this band promised to sound like them in their bio and failed to do so. Given how common that is for this genre where diamonds are so rare amongst the rough, I was prepared for it and braced for another waste of a beautiful slab of vinyl. Dark purple with an undercurrent of black. What did it ever do to deserve this? –Rene Navarro (Tiny Engines)


FALSE POSITIVE:
Self-titled: CD
Albany, NY activist Justin Mikulka has a lot to say, but rather than just talk shit through a bullhorn to the already converted at a rally, he’s decided to take a more populist approach and create an anti-war, anti-religious concept album. The radical politics and overall bizarreness are attractive, but some of the songs meander musically and seem underdeveloped. There are hauntingly cool lyrics throughout, with a handful of really cool tunes. The mix of folk, classic rock, and more aggressive contemporary styles works a lot of the time. The psychedelic material gets a bit campy though, like something out of an anti-drug After School Special. Only with the drugs. And not after school. –Art Ettinger (One Mad Son, onemadson.com)


ENABLER:
War Begins with You: Cassette
This starts off like a race, with all members of the band fighting to get to the finish line first. They throw elbows and scream along the way, and the result is some absolutely manic, fast-paced hardcore. Then they come together for the last track, “Symbiosis,” and really show everyone what they can do: Destroy (with guitar solos). –mp (Sacred Plague)


EARTHMEN AND STRANGERS / FAR CORNERS:
Split: 7”
Earthmen And Strangers: It’s been a long time since I’ve thought about the Talking Heads as, well, as a punk-punk band. Oh, I understand their history. I get that, but I haven’t seen any of their direct influence on punk bands recently. I can’t remember the last time I dropped by a friend’s house and they plopped on the Talking Heads. But it’s in Ryan Rousseau’s capable hands that I have to do some double-thinking. The first half of “Slaves” has that tense, slightly off-kilter, atmospheric-as-an-empty-highways, almost bordering on a warble feel of early Talking Heads. Then the song hits the high gears and blows the doors off so hard, you’re digging gravel out of your ears at the end. This song could’ve easily been on the Repo Man soundtrack. Far Corners: Bordering on no-fi, this could be totally shitty, but if you’ve ever had a soft spot for Supercharger or the Oblivians and you can spot the hidden melodies in a recording that sounds like it was done in someone’s kitchen when their mom is making grilled cheese sandwiches, I know you’ll find their charms-in-the-rough as appealing as I did. –todd (Dirt Cult, dirtcultrecords.com / GC, gcrecords.com)


DOUBLE NEGATIVE:
Daydreamnation: LP
A little put off by the Sonic Youth-copped album title and the Double Platinum-reminiscent cover? Remember this: WHOP. That’s the sound you will hear the instant before what’s coming out of the speakers smacks you square in the face and makes its way ‘round to doing permanent damage to your ear canals. One battering tune after the next, strip mining and milking every ounce they possibly can squeeze from all that was glorious about Poison Idea’s early years, including the sheer timelessness aspect of it all. Truly good tuneage doesn’t stagnate with age and there is no shortage of flat-out jaw dropping moments here. Still on the fence about this one? Trust me: WHOP. –jimmy (sorrystaterecords.com)


DOGHOUSE SWINE:
Faster Side of Normal: CD
You know sometimes when a CD is so bad that it’s good again? Well, unfortunately, this disc isn’t one of those. There aren’t really any redeeming qualities to this release. The cover and liner text are all so blurry they gave me a headache to look at them. The CD, though, has ten songs of plodding bar rock fodder with titles like “Bitch,” “Show Me How You Dance” and “Go to Hell.” To be fair, these guys look and sound like a bar band that might be playing in your local watering hole and they probably get the crowd tipping the bartender pretty good. That doesn’t much make for an interesting CD, though. –Garrett Barnwell (Banned, no address)


DOG COMPANY:
A Bullet for Every Lie: 12”
This band is too light for my taste in the genre these guys are going for. That genre, I can only assume is street punk, though I can’t picture these guys backing up what they sing. The vocals pack no punch, with a band that is the definition of generic—bad generic, the kind that doesn’t even hint at a different approach. If that wasn’t bad enough, the lyrics are moronic. These guys sing about being part of a secret society that can kill you at any time, about having artillery, and asking skinhead girls what their name is. Only six songs on a 12”, none of which are good, on patriotically-colored vinyl. –Rene Navarro (Contra)


DIRECT CONTROL:
Bucktown Hardcore: LP
I remember getting this demo a few years back when Municipal Waste and Caustic Christ played a show with Born Dead Icons at the Che Café. Thought it was one of the better demos around. Then, it seems less than a year later, they were one of the bigger bands making the rounds and putting out vinyl. On one twelve inch smashed circle of vinyl you get the Bucktown Hardcore demo, the demo from 2002, and the Public Safety session from 2006. If you missed out, and like early ‘80s style hardcore, then now’s the time to pick this up. Songs like “What’s the Point” and “War All the Time” are ragers, and the stuff that came later is just as good. It’s interesting to hear the raw recordings from 2002 as well. They sound more intense during that period. Glad to finally hear it. –Matt Average (Tankcrimes)


DEVLIN’S KIDS:
Self-titled: CD
Dear Devlin’s Kids: If you think that writing a song called “Retro Zombie Jesus” is all it takes to win me over, you’re wrong. Now, if you had written a catchy song called “Retro Zombie Jesus,” one that was a little more memorable, that probably would have done the trick. –mp (myspace.com/devlinskids)


DEVIL’S BRIGADE:
Self-titled: CD
Matt Freeman’s hallmark, cleanly-picked bass lines and gruff voice are the cornerstone of this raucous collection of early demo songs, plus a half dozen songs in homage to the building of the Golden GateBridge. References to ironworkers, labor unions, the Dust Bowl, and more resonate with today’s issues. Punk, punkabilly, folk, spaghetti western and ska influences round out this crisply produced album. Stand out tracks: “Shakedown,” “Gentleman of the Road,” “Protest Song,” “Half Way to Hell.” –thiringer (Hellcat)


DÉTENTE:
Decline: CD
Los Angeles speed/thrash metal with a decidedly hardcore punk feel. Détente encourages people to speak up about social injustice and poor politics—and speak out this band does. Well-executed, crunching thrash and a female vocalist whose strong, hardcore-styled vocals pierce the gravity and shine like a beacon. Well produced by Bill Metoyer. –thiringer (Cognitive, myspace.com/cognitiverecords)


DESTRUCTORS, THE:
Helloween: CD
Another Razorcake issue, another release from this long-in-the-tooth U.K. punk band who seem to be trying to give Billy Childish a run for his money in the “let’s see how many releases we can crank out” department. As the title implies, the tunes showcased here tap the horror vein and keep things mid-tempo and catchy, with a few covers of standards penned by Ramones, Misfits, and Dead Kennedys alike. While their song output remains remarkably consistent, one can’t help but be thankful that some other punter will have to eventually put together a discography for ‘em –jimmy (destructors666.com)


DEREK LYNN PLASTIC:
The Smell of My Room Volume Three – Wicked Bad: CD
I have to say I don’t think I’ve ever been so confused by a CD sleeve. There is a dude standing in front of an Arby’s sign on the front cover and a photo of beer bottles, a bong, and a pile of weed on the back cover. Doing my homework, I found out that Derek Lyn Plastic was the culprit behind the disc. Turns out, nothing could prepare me for what lay inside: thirty tracks of garage-tinged, punkish pop plus another twenty-nine tracks of demo versions of the same tracks in the same order. Even though it’s a fun listen, one version is certainly enough. “30 years,” “You Need Money to Love Me,” and “Worlds Are Burning” were probably the disc’s most compelling tracks for me. –Garrett Barnwell (NMG, no address)


DEREK LYN PLASTIC:
The Insides and Outsides of Plastic Surgery: CD
Holy cow, this CD has twenty-four songs. They could have left a few off that wouldn’t have been missed. Filler songs are not fun for us listeners. There is some good stuff in there, though. It’s total pop punk with snotty undertones. Multiple songs include keyboard technology. A good band for fans of Creepy Creeps. I imagine the indirect influences were bands like Quincy Punx and… gross. Is this song about a chick with a UTI? Ugh. –Corinne (NMG, nfluential.com)


DEMON’S CLAWS:
The Defrosting of: LP
I honestly cannot fathom why Demon’s Claws are not recognized as one of the greatest rock’n’roll groups around right now. I mean, of course this can be attributed to the fact that their label In The Red can’t buy them that distinction through music videos and other vacuous media exposure, but word of mouth should have these guys somewhere around Miami-era Gun Club. Evil. Debauched. Fucked up. Great songs. A few years back, these Canadians released Satan’s Little Pet Pig and it was head and shoulders above their previous efforts. The Defrosting of continues that artistic ascent. Jeff Clarke is a great songwriter. His arrangements are strong and his lyrics are compelling. His vocals are at times indecipherable—and the album lacks a lyric sheet—but it’s easy to visualize the scenes of degradation he describes…going to a free clinic in the south side of town…being fucking up on ketamine. It’s a bad place to be and it convincingly sounds like Demon’s Claws are providing reportage of their daily lives…. I can’t shake the feeling that this record at times feels like the 13th Floor Elevators’ brilliant last one, largely the work of Stacy Sutherland on his last leg. There is that kind of hopelessness on some of these tracks. It’s the second side of The Defrosting of that’s the burner. “You’ll Always Be My Friend” has a real street-level International Submarine Band feel to it…train-shuffle drum beat and lyrics in the form a personal letter. I haven’t read too much press on Demon’s Claws, but I’m hoping people are picking up on how talented these guys are as musicians. In particular, Ysael Pepin’s bass lines are never less than formidable, and, wisely, his work is high in the mix. The dude grooves like a refined Bill Wyman. This review is about as real as they come. What I mean by that is I wasn’t sent this record by In The Red. I bought if from Goner then paid to have it shipped out to New Zealand. Sorry. If you’re looking for sycophancy, read something else. I’ll be damned if this album slips through the cracks. –ryan (In the Red)


DEAD BROTHERS:
5th Sin-Phonic: CD
The gothic country/dark cabaret genre continues its expansion with the Dead Brothers; another high-quality pick by Voodoo Rhythm a la Those Poor Bastards, O’Death, Munly and the Lee Lewis Harlots, etc. For a primer on the genre, consider some of the pioneers, such as 16 Horsepower, Legendary Shack Shakers, and the Handsome Family. –thiringer (Voodoo Rhythm, voodoorhythm.com)


DE HØJE HÆLE:
Skal Vi Aldrig Videre?: CD
This is just great. Danish bouncy, poppy, weirdo punk rock. I don’t understand anything about it and I don’t want to. The hooks are in me, I couldn’t leave if I wanted to. Such a fresh, quirky record, it makes me want to shoot bottle rockets at the moon. A little Shitty Limits, a little Gorilla Angreb, and a little Cola Freaks, but like all three of those groups, bands comparisons do very little justice. –Daryl Gussin (Hjernespind)


ROUGH KIDS:
Into the ‘00s: 7"
Hell yes. Killer minor key punk rock that immediately brings to mind some of my recent (sorta) faves like Hex Dispensers, Idle Hands, No Hope For The Kids, etc. A lyric sheet would’ve been swell, because it usually goes one of two ways with bands of this persuasion: angry-smart or faux-spooky. I’m certainly hoping it’s the former more than the latter. Regardless, great record. –Dave Williams (Margin Mouth/ Rough)


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