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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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STATUES:
Holiday Cops: LP
A decade ago, around late August, was the last time I worked for anyone else. I was fired from Flipside (a punk zine that existed from the summer of 1977 until that day). Fired isn’t a strong enough word. Locks were changed at night. I had to go seek my boss out. Confrontation wasn’t his scene. I wish The Statues were a band then. I’d’ve put them on the record player as a motivational tool before heading over to soon-to-be-ex-boss Al’s house. You see, The Statues are unmistakably punk and hummy, but they’re not pop punk. They’re more like sweater vest power pop. But that sounds a little douchey and the Statues aren’t douchey. They’re just a little Dilberty, more than a little Office Space-y, nine-to-five, forty hour death sentence rock, ties-are-nooses, Smalltown-friendly punk. They’ve got the deadening effect of mundane work at the crack of someone else’s whip vibe down. And they always make me think of literature. This time out, it’s Orwell, living in a grey world with conflicting directives. I like The Statues. This isn’t my favorite record by them—it’s less crunchy and less diverse than the past couple outings—but I’m still a big fuckin’ fan and I’m not gonna fire ‘em anytime soon. –todd (Deranged)


STALAG 13:
In Control: LP
Smart idea to remaster this album. I must confess I didn’t care much for this album when it first came out for the very reason that it sounded dull and flat. I figured this was one of those bands you had to see live to appreciate. Living in the middle of the country during the ‘80s, where a good hardcore show was twenty-five people in the audience, I was never going to see these guys in their prime. Hearing this version, my opinion has changed drastically. The songs now have more spark and there’s that needed punch here that’s necessary to make a hardcore record and band good. The songs are straight forward, as are the lyrics of teen angst. It’s aged a bit by today’s standards, but the most important aspect remains, and that is the raw energy that Stalag 13 and most of the early hardcore bands possessed. I’ll gladly take that approach any day over musicianship, wall of sound, and opaque lyrics. There are four extra tracks on this edition—three recorded in 1983 with a different line-up, and a live song that’s pretty unnecessary. I’d recommend this pressing over the Upstart version. –Matt Average (Dr. Strange, drstrange.com)


SPOOK LIGHTS:
Self-titled: 7"
Do you ever listen to a song and realize the verses and choruses blend together and there are no real ups and downs in the music? It’s kind of boring. Even if a band has some wacked-out rockabilly nut hollering like a maniac and spazzy guitar riffs right and left, if there’s nothing to latch onto, there’s no real point in listening to it more than once. I’ve listened to this a few times now, but when I sit down to write about it, just moments after the record has finished, I’ve already forgotten the songs. –mp (Self-released, myspace.com/thespooklights)


SNAKE MOUNTAIN:
Don’t Surf Zombie Beach: CD
Sounds a bit like if in the late ‘70s Glenn Danzig would’ve revamped his B-grade horror movie shtick with just a touch o’ the rockabilly influence. Granted, this isn’t psychobilly, but rather dirty, grimy rock‘n’roll mixed with the macabre. Perfect, unobtrusive use of saxophone, too—the one instrument that can ruin a record as easily as improve it. On the whole, it’s as if the Quadrajets were into death and cemeteries. Yet I can’t stop thinking that this reminds me most of the Dogmatics, but not because Snake Mountain sound terribly like those rockin’ Boston ne’er-do-wells; rather, Snake Mountain has the same stripped-down let’s-just-fucking-rock-without-slick-tricks attitude that pervades some of the most timeless rock‘n’roll ever made. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Old Bird)


SMALL TOWN RIOT:
Fuck Those Who Go Unheard: CD
Melodic punk by a band from Hamburg, Germany that sings in English and has been around for nearly a decade. This is the band’s first proper release in the States and this album compiles a best-of from Small Town Riot’s catalog to date in reverse chronological order. A solid, if unremarkable synthesis of a lot of current bands with reverberations of Anti-Flag, Hot Water Music, Screeching Weasel, and Dear Landlord coming to the surface. There is one major misstep on the album, that being the acoustic folk punk track “Madness” that bogs down the album half way through. Fortunately, they recover quickly with the next track “Timmy” that is the most up tempo, hardcore-influenced, and perhaps finest on the record. The other standout tune is “Cemetery Hill” which adds a harmonica and the western swing of cow punk to the mix to craft a damn fine song. It ended up my favorite tunes on the CD were towards the end, so, apparently, I liked Small Town Riot’s earlier material and the newer stuff left me a bit cold. –Jake Shut (Warbird)


SOUTHSIDE STRANGLERS:
Too Much TV: 7" EP
Seventies-steeped rock’n’roll fodder with punk undertones to give it some heft. –jimmy (Grave Mistake)


SONS OF TONATIUH:
Self-titled: CD
Their name led me to think this might be some sorta militant Chicano rap stuff, but no, you get sludgy Sabbath-derived metal delivered at snail’s crawl tempos with vocals howling lyrics that offer no explanation of their purported connection to either Pedro de Alvarado or the Aztec deity. They did inspire me to start a jazz fusion band called Huitzilopochtli’s Second Cousin on His Mother’s Side, though. –jimmy (hydro-phonicrecords.com)


SLEEPOVERS:
Secret: 7"
What a great song the A side song, “Secret,” is! Coming on like some sublime classic power pop and indie twee pop with a little swagger in the guitars, Sleepovers seem to really have it down. The production is good too, not too lo-fi like a lotta this kinda stuff seems to be these days. B side song is strong also. Looking forward to hearing a full length from this group. –frame (HoZac, hozacrecords@gmail.com)


SIVLE SI DOG:
Drain-O: 10"
A reissue of this North Carolina band’s 1994 debut. This is what it’s all about. Small town outcasts hell-bent on flipping out the squares. But this music isn’t punk so much as grunge. Not that Pearl Jam shit. This would scare the Capri pants off sorority girls. It’s snide, murky hard rock, like Mudhoney, Tad, and Fitz Of Depression. While not essential, especially if you don’t already own “Superfuzz Bigmuff,” this is an interesting document of what was going on in the punk scene in those odd couple of years between Nirvana and Green Day. Bonus points for the anti-Bush song being about the first President Bush. Four studio tracks, two decent-sounding live ones. –CT Terry (Girth)


SILVERBACK:
6 More Reasons to Hate Us: CD
You know, there’s really only room in the world for one Hatebreed. –Ryan Horky (Pee, peerecords.com)


SIC SENSATIONS / STRIPMINES / DEVOUR / COKEBUST:
Split: Cassette
This is one of those “you had to be there” or “you really must love these bands” kind of deals. I really like Devour, and Coke Bust. And what I can hear of Sic Sensations and Stripmines, they must be pretty good as well. However, the recording is not all that hot. Granted, it’s a live recording from their show at Kent House in Raleigh. But the vocals for all the bands sound like they’re recorded in a metal shed, which ends up sounding like “bwaaahhh bwaaaahhhhh!” The music sounds a little flat, but the chaos and energy come through. If you weren’t there at the show, or are a diehard fan of the any of the bands on here, there’s really no reason to get this. It’s not horrible, it’s just not necessary. –Matt Average (tolivealie.com/webstore)


SHANG-A-LANG:
Collection: CD
Bruce Lee weighed 125 pounds. Shang-A-Lang use a four track recorder with one channel busted. Both kick way more ass than some steroid-confused, alpha-male Cobra Kai cheat-to-win bullshit motherfucker. Metallica has all the money in the world and has nothing to say. Shang-a-Lang farms the dirt of New Mexico where the most resilient flowers and the most delicious Hatch chilies grow. They’re hot and spicy with an underlying taste of years of growth in harsh environments. Chris Mason was preached to as a kid about this lady who got fucked by a ghost and everyone in attendance got a halo. Chris now proselytizes that it’s not what you’ve got—money, “fame,” unlimited cheeseburgers— it’s what you bring. Like DIY; like some of the most honest, fun-to-sing-along-to punk. Ever. It falls apart and reassembles right in front of you like in-reverse magic. Part of me wanted to copy and paste all of my previous reviews of the records that were compiled to make this Collection, but that would have taken an entire page and would have been sort of like cheating. And Shang-A-Lang makes me want to be honest. I’ve already started heckling them to play “Summertime” next time I see them live. Please do the same because that song rules, in every season. –todd (Facepalm / Silversprocket)


SHITSTORM:
Paranoid Existence: LP
Brutal as hell grindcore from this Florida outfit. Think of Nasum, Discordance Axis, and other crushers of the genre. These guys hit speeds so fast at times it doesn’t sound human. Almost disorienting. There’s times when I focus on the drums, it’s akin to being hit by a set of ten-foot waves—spins you around and you can’t tell up from down. I like the way the guitars are tuned—dark, heavy, and with a somewhat disturbed edge. You hear the guitar come in and you know things are not as they should be, which is a good thing. There are thirty-three songs here and they go by quick. Material is taken from their tour EP CD-R from 2005, the splits with Sloth and The Gentle Art Of Chokin’, and their songs from the This Comp Kills Fascists Vol.1. There are a lot of grind bands out there today, and most are complete garbage. Shitstorm is one of the few who are actually worth listening to. –Matt Average (vinylrites.net)


SHARED ARMS:
III Sessions: CD
Super-impressively executed skate-style pop punk not too far off the map from bands like The Swellers or Living With Lions. Slick without being too sugary, technical without being too show-offy. Not exactly my favorite style on earth, but these dudes are certainly right up there in quality with their very-popular peers. This band could certainly turn a lot of heads. Good stuff. Awesome handmade, spray-stenciled packaging, too. –Dave Williams (Tragicomedy)


SIGNALS:
Too Modern World: 7" EP
I could swear I’d reviewed something else by this band in the past, but a quick perusal of the reviews on Razorcake’s website says I haven’t, which is ultimately of no consequence, I guess. The two tunes on the A-side, “Too Modern World” and “Invocation” bring to mind the angular, synth-laden punk of Lost Sounds at their skronky best, while the B-side’s “Diagnosis” sends things into space rock land. –jimmy (Signals)


SICK FUCK:
Storytellers: Cassette
Lackluster hardcore that aims to reach high levels of epic-ness but barely lifts an inch off the ground. –Juan Espinosa (Ground Up, sickfucknj.blogspot.com)


SEX OBJEX:
Batshit/Cathedral Fever/Songs For No One: CD-R
If you’re going to use misspelled words as a band name, why not go all out? Why not call yourself Secks Objex? This is a collection of three EPs, each one written and recorded in one day. The output is pretty damn amazing, considering. I can only imagine how good these songs would be if they were given a bit more time to reflect upon them. This is garage/electro punk in the style of Lost Sounds-era Jay Reatard. Approved. –Bryan Static (Fleshwave)


SEA OF SHIT / SOCIALLY RETARDED:
Split: 7"
Both bands are from Chicago and play power violence, so there’s not much else to say. The Sea Of Shit side is relentless; the drumming is manic on the forefront and the muffled vocals are pushed back in the mix and sound great with the rest of their sound. Check Man Is The Bastard or Apartment 213 for obvious comparisons. The Socially Retarded side is bass-heavy with electronic noise and great guitar feedback. The noise parts are all pretty subtle, which offers a good dichotomy with the otherwise full-on hardcore they’re spewing. The end of “No Date…” is a quiet electronic beat that sounds like the soundtrack to an old horror movie that lures the listener into a sense of security before blasting off into “Apt. 26.” Great split. The artwork is hand screened and comes with a lyric insert. Awesome record, great packaging, and limited to three hundred copies for the power violence nerds. –Ian Wise (Diseased Audio, diseasedaudio.blogspot.com)


SEASICK:
Imago/Gestalt: CD
Know jackshit about this band, but considering the label’s origin, the copious use of Japanese writing on the cover, and the lyrical translations included, I’m guessing they are, in fact, big in Japan. This appears to be a collection of EP and comp tracks with a few unreleased recordings thrown in for good measure. The thirty tunes here zip by fast ’n’ angry, with more experimental tracks strategically dropped in to break up the monotony. Their originals ain’t too shabby, and they have the distinction of turning in the best cover of Black Flag’s “Wound Up” I’ve heard to date. –jimmy (crewforlife-records.com)


SCREAMING FEMALES:
Castle Talk: CD
The first twelve seconds of this record sound like I’m about to be taken on an adventure through hell. It’s a really powerful twelve seconds. And while the rest of the record is impressive as fuck—I mean, it is the Screaming Females—I feel like I’m just being re-impressed, not more impressed. When I saw them live I was more impressed. Marissa throwing her guitar at the amp and manipulating the feedback with her array of pedals and knobs was fucking awesome! If you’ve been stoked on all the other full-lengths, then I suggest picking this up without hesitation; it’s still full of hooks and riffs. But if you’ve found yourself tiring of the wankage, you’re probably better without it. –Daryl Gussin (Don Giovanni)


SAVANT:
La Mancha: LP
La Mancha is a dirty, scuzzy fucking mess, and for the most part, I mean that as a compliment. They’re throwing out some raucous, atonal, ugly footstompers here that never fully escape the fact—and they’re all the better for it—that this album sounds like it was recorded in a basement somewhere using some questionable amps and 4-track tape recorded over a hundred times or so. The sound quality fits the music perfectly—that scrappiness works entirely in their favor. Couched somewhere between Gravity Records’ love for the atonal, straight-up noise, and Foghorn Leghorn smoking weed in his jam room, La Mancha is a pretty impressive ride, if only for the fact that it consistently unnerved me the whole way through. This one-sided LP’s limited to one hundred copies, has beautiful silkscreen work on the cover and the b-side, and comes with a patch. Savant’s not my thing, not by a long shot, but their aesthetic and care is apparent, and their music does come pretty close to scaring the hell out of me. –keith (Green Line)


SAUNA YOUTH:
Youth: 7" EP
Quirky English punk. Lyrically, they remind me of bands like The Shapes without quite the warped sense of humor, while, musically, they’re a bit more formal in delivery, though by no means bad. Nice screened cover art, too. –jimmy (huxleyboon@gmail.com)


RUMSPRINGER:
Empty Towers: CD
Most likely,EmptyTowers will not sonically tear your head off or make you swear, truly and forevermore, by the way of pop punk. It will not blow your mind or have you shouting from the mountaintops that you’ve happened upon greatness. Rumspringer, after a spin or two, will most likely come across as a pretty good pop punk band, somewhere between, say, The Decay and labelmates Dead Mechanical. Nothing jaw-dropping, but most certainly passable. They’ve crafted some nice songs that weave between simple melodies and dense, challenging structures. If it all seems a little hookless, at least it also goes a bit beyond the verse-verse-chorus. Your first listen may be summarized as “good, but a fair hop short of truly memorable.” All that said, I’m also convinced that Empty Towers is gonna be a grower for a lot of people—that’s how it’s been for me. The full breadth and width of these songs will take repeated listens and some perseverance. There’s that just-right blend of raggedness and confidence that becomes more apparent (and pitch-fucking-perfect for this type of music) the more you listen to it. There’s great, introspective lyrics that toe the line between brevity and ambiguity—and require some patience to decipher. The songs themselves begin to stand out individually as time passes and run-throughs accrue. The album’s already grown on me quite a bit since that first “meh” listen, and by now I’m getting the feeling that I have indeed lucked into something pretty goddamn great. –keith (Traffic Street)


RUMSPRINGER:
Empty Towers: CD
Like early Green Day, with a bit of dirt rubbed on it. Super upbeat and positive pop punk. For a second I was going to label it as “gruff,” but as you keep listening you notice that the dudes (there seems to be more than one dude singing) can actually kind of sing. The downside is when they start to channel later era Green Day, and start getting “epic” with songs that are much longer than they should be. If the whole thing were roughly a third shorter, give or take, it’d be excellent, but in the meantime I think it’s okay. –joe (Traffic Street)


RUMSPRINGER:
Empty Towers: CD
I’m a fan of dualities. On the surface, Rumspringer sounds bright and positive, like a Youth Of Today Tiltwheel. It’s happy-sounding, assertive music, almost blinding like sunlight reflecting off a water-soaked porch. But the lyrics deal primarily with a “What now?”, a hardening of crusted-over and almost-abandoned idealism, a crushing feeling of that something went terribly wrong in the developmental stages between the utopia in one’s brain and the suburbs at one’s feet. When lines like “backed it with unanswered questions and sealed it with a blind repression that spirals toward a deep depression” come out, it mysteriously doesn’t sound like the white flag of defeat, but a sharp stake into the side of a steep mountain to hang onto. The music itself—the guitar, bass, and drum—continue to be uplifting through the entire record. Oddly, this record reminds me of friends in the service industry. In your twenties, at least the cash can be decent and a lot of it’s under the table. Often, your friends come to you. You can give and receive small kindnesses. In your late thirties, the ideas of long-term security, the ability of your body to hold out, and rubbing your fingers on along the ridge of gigantic teeth that want to chomp you into little, little pieces and spit you back out comes fully into play. High marks. –todd (Traffic Street)


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·CLITCOPS, THE
·REXX
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·BITS OF SHIT
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