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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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BRACKETS, LOS:
Bracketsmania: CD
Sounds like corporate mall rock. Is it corporate mall rock? Unclear. It’s also in Spanish. Sadly, I wish I liked this because they have a really ridiculous photo of a big metal case that holds each band member’s Buddy Holly-esque glasses, presumably for touring purposes. If this were a cereal, it’d be Total. Who buys Total? Unclear. –Maddy (SP)


BOSTON STRANGLER, THE:
Outcast: Cassette
True story, as I type this review, and listen to this tape for like the twentieth time, I can hear one of my neighbors blasting the Grateful Dead from their apartment. It just makes this band sound that much better. The Boston Strangler sound like early ‘80s Boston hardcore, right down to the raw recording. Seriously, this demo is awesome. One of the best I’ve heard in forever. The obvious influence is Negative FX, but they sound alive and not like some glorified cover band. All five songs on here are total rippers. Can’t pick a favorite, as they are all that good. If any band today deserves to have vinyl out, it’s these guys. Looks like they only made one hundred of these, so act quick. Definitely in my top 10 of the year. –Matt Average (birthdisinfectant@gmail.com)


BOOTSCRAPER:
Country & Eastern: CD
There seems to be an awful lot of bands out there doing the whole “pirate” thing these days. Come to think of it, there are a few bands doing that “gypsy” thing, too. What if someone were to start some kind of “gypsy-pirate” hybrid thing? A Gyprate band! There would be fiddles and accordions and banjos and mandolins playing sea shanties... If that is something you’ve been clamoring for then Bootscraper is your band. It’s well played and pretty fun. I get the feeling that seeing them live would be a booze-soaked, wench on either arm type of affair that I would have a hard time remembering in the morning. Sign me up. –ty (TNS, tnsrecords.co.uk)


BOO FROG:
Better Than the Rest: CD
Kind of like some Black Keys stuff. A little Tom Waits-y. Alt-indie-blues, with what I can only think to call “world music” elements (even though that’s basically a crock). One singer also reminds me of Will from Grabass, which I like. I was a little skeptical at first, but it picks up as it goes on, and gets a bit spacey/trippy. Not that bad. –joe (Skullman, skullmanrecords.com)


BOLLOX, THE:
Self-titled: LP
Irish punk. Somewhere fighty people think this is the greatest thing since God’s moustache. And they want to punch me in the nose for thinking otherwise. –Jeff Proctor (Operation)


BOILERMAN:
Bright Young Things: 7”
Zippy, poppy punk with some very nice guitar fills. Tunes are short, hook-laden, and more late-‘80s than late-‘90s in approach. –jimmy (hipkidrecords.com)


BODIES, THE:
“Angel on the Nine” b/w “Open Your Eyes”: 7”

The past ten years have been unpredictable. No longer is TKO at the top of the heap of American street punk and oi. Duane Peters isn’t releasing a new record every six months. The Reducers SF haven’t been heard of for a long time, either have the Anti-Heroes. Hostage Records is woefully missed. And in the middle of it all, The Bodies somehow manage to exist like slow-moving glaciers. Never the fastest on the trigger on a release date, these guys from Sonoma have become synonymous with no-nonsense, American-made, full-throttle punk (street or otherwise). To those who’ve never heard them, there’s more than a passing blush to the tightest, toughest Bouncing Souls. To those that are familiar with their output, these two songs are right down the Bodies well-constructed, almost seamless alley.

–todd (Modern Action, modernarctionrecords.com)


BOBBY AND THE SOFT SPOTS / BABY DINOSAURS VS.:
Split: 7"
Two Atlanta bands on this split single from the generally solid Rob’s House Records. Baby Dinosaurs have kind of a power poppy/girl group sound with a song called “Coke Dick.” Bobby And The Soft Spots are vaguely noisy and vaguely poppy with a lo-fi production. Fans of the majority of HoZac or Big Neck Records releases will wanna check this out. –frame (Rob’s House)


BOB BURNS:
Self-titled: CD
Dunno who Mr. Burns—well, at least the Mr. Burns in question here—is, but his forays into the fork in the road where rock, punk, and power pop diverge are about as good as it gets. He’s in possession of a voice reminiscent of Paul Mahern, and while the tunes don’t necessarily trample the same terra, the diversity of styles mined—predominantly straight-rhythm rock tempos with the occasional thrasher, slow-burner, and swaggerer tossed in to keep things—and the infusion of just the right amount of pop sense likewise brings to mind Mahern’s much adored band, the Zero Boys. A lofty comparison, yes, but there is no denying there is some rock-solid work put in here. –jimmy (Crustacean)


BLOODY GEARS:
Self-titled: EP
It’s one thing to be influenced by a band, and it’s another to blatantly sound exactly like a particular band. Quite a few bands are citing the Wipers as an influence these days. Which is understandable. The Wipers were an amazing band. But many of these bands still sound more like themselves, and have other influences in their sound. Then there’s a band like the Bloody Gears who sound like they decided to start a band around the third Wipers album, Over the Edge. Everything about this band sound wise, minus most of the lyrics, is a direct influence of the Wipers. From the guitar sound, the vocal delivery, and on down the line. Being such a blatant knock off, they’ve also scrubbed any chance of the music having a soul. Which is one of the key elements the Wipers possessed. You could say these guys are nothing more than a glorified cover band. I will say they do the sound well. But when faced with the decision of listening to Wipers or Bloody Gears, I’d rather go with the original than simulacra. –Matt Average (Deranged, derangedrecords.com)


BLACKLIST ROYALS:
Semper Liberi: CD
I just can’t get behind the “Americana-meets-punk-rock” thing. It’s such an unexciting aesthetic and sound that it bores me to tears. There are rare exceptions (I actually really dug the Loved Ones’ first couple of records, and I guess they’re of that ilk) but man… I dunno. I love Springsteen as much as the next cat, and Mellencamp’s swell, and Petty’s a cool dude, but toss in a hearty helping of already-infuriating Social D worship and you’ve got a recipe for complete forgettability. Really, really not my thing at all. –Dave Williams (Paper & Plastick, paperandplastick.com)


BLACK WINE:
Self-titled: LP
Black Wine is a New Jersey trio, featuring a former Erg!, and with alternating male and female vocals. I know I’ll be made a pariah by the readers of these pages for saying this, but the Ergs! never really did it for me. This however, is right up my alley. The record starts off with a heavy instrumental, conjuring up Black Sabbath and the ghost of the recently passed Ronnie James Dio, and then funnels into a stream of tuneful, melodic punk-inspired rock numbers, some peppy, others somber. Vulnerable, harmonized vocals, a little twang and jangle on the guitars when they’re not raging into J Mascis/Neil Young territory. The songs benefit from a variety of properties as they can be tender, urgent, mellow, and aggressive. Since the Pixies in their current state are unfortunately little more than a greatest hits band, consider Black Wine’s debut record the best record the Pixies will never release. –Jeff Proctor (Don Giovanni)


BLACK MARIAS / DESTRCUTORS:
Zengakuren: CD
Black Marias play ‘77-style streetpunk and they play it pretty well. I like this, but it doesn’t have the unbridled passion of Sham 69 or Stiff Little Fingers, who I’d rather listen to. It just seems like some old guys sticking to what they know. It’s good, though. The ever prolific Destructors stick to their guns and play some more punk in the style of The Damned or maybe The Dictators. They also give us a cover of “Sonic Reducer,” which isn’t really necessary. –Craven (Rowdy Farrago, no address listed)


BLACK AMERICA:
The Process of Bitching out: CD-R
Musically, they bring to mind very early Dead Milkmen, Artistic Decline, and some of the fringe hardcore bands that flocked around the SST/New Alliance crowd. Lyrically, they go the button pushin’ route, sure to raise a few eyebrows amongst the more puritanical punk sects. Love the diversity and oddball creativity evident in the songwriting, which definitely sets them apart from the “hardcore for life” muscle-heads and the average pack of puswads vying for punk festival superstardom. –jimmy (No address)


BITERS:
It’s OK to Like: CDEP
They’ve clearly done their homework to get the pitch perfect corporate power pop sound—loud guitars, vaguely Cheap Trickesque song structures, fairly frivolous lyrics. It’s often a bit too slick for its own good. If yer a fan of the genre you’ll likely find much to appreciate here, while most others will find much to blow off. –jimmy (Underrated)


BIG DICK:
Jensen: 7”
There’s a certain point on every NoMeansNo album where I turn to my stereo and say, “get on with it!” My attention span isn’t my strongest suit. What we have here is a drummer/bassist duo who kindly informs me in a handwritten note that they are fans of the above-mentioned band (I can only assume they are named after the last track on the Would We Be Alive? EP) and the Jesus Lizard. They nailed it. I cannot describe them any better than that. They were kind enough to make their songs manageably short, which is definitely a plus. They also, hands down, have the best bass energy I have heard in a damn long time. Kudos. –Bryan Static (Self-released, no address)


BE MY DOPPLEGANGER:
No Composure: CD
This is like a sampler pack of Midwest pop punk. Sometimes, BMD gets a little more rock and roll like early Replacements, sometimes this sounds like Chinese Telephones buzzsaw pop punk, and quite often you can find the Copyrights’ Chicago fingerprints on things. All in all, this is a pretty all right listen. –Adrian (It’s Alive)


BE MY DOPPLEGANGER:
No Composure: CD
Chuck Berry riffs. Dillinger Four respect. Alkaline Trio echoes. Copyrights hopscotch fun. Basement cocooning with records. Beer celebration. Beer dominance. Beer in backpacks. Beer pizza. Beer Dear Landlord. I have to admit that this was a bit of a grower. I tried to chug the record at first and it reflexed on me. And nothing’s worse than trying to hold back a puke than getting it in your nose and the back of your throat instead of letting the chunks flow. I slowly warmed up to it over several spins, first in the background, then hanging out in the kitchen, and finally going down in the sweaty basement. Then the irrepressible urge of a band on the constant verge of jumping into a Replacements cover hit me. I think what got me going weird was that the first song’s a curveball and comes across a lot like the Bodies, which I wasn’t expecting. But expectations are like puking. Get it over with, soak in it, then get back to partying. –todd (It’s Alive, itsaliverecords.com)


BARS OF GOLD:
Of Gold: LP
Boy, I sure am a fan of records that have a consistent feel throughout. This record does not. It bounces all around. The LP starts off with violin then drops into a post punk disco beat, followed by some kind of keyboard action. Yowch! From there, one is treated to acoustic interludes, some ska, and banjo via dance/disco/post punk. Fans of stuff like Q And Not U and such will love this. Dumb rockers like me will not. –frame (Friction, frictionrecords@gmail.com)


BANQUETS, THE:
This Is Our Concern, Dude: 7”
The Banquets play a cool, DIY version of the emo pop that infiltrated mainline Warped Tour culture in the past few years. Its members were in other known bands like Let Me Run and The Banner and this driving four-song 7” is aggressive, harmless fun for contemporary complex pop lovers. “I Wish I Was a Little More Lou Diamond Phillips” gets the song title of the year award, although I personally wish I was a little more Edward James Olmos. –Art Ettinger (Black Numbers, theblacknumbers.com)


BAND NAME:
Insert Hear: CD
Friends, what we have here is some seriously fantastic, fun and catchy lo-fi slack pop. Carefree ramshackle jangle, a scoop of Sebadoh with a swirl of Beat Happening is Band Name’s flavor of the day, a delectable summertime treat. –Jeff Proctor (myspace.com/bandnameb4tv)


BALANCE AND COMPOSURE / TIGERS JAW:
Split: CD
I don’t know how anybody can really be into music that either band makes. Balance And Composure sound like they are trying to write songs that will have mass alternative radio appeal. Just pure crap. Tigers Jaw is lucky that BAC is the other band on this split, because, comparatively, TJ is genius. While I don’t care for Tigers Jaw’s brand of Vagrant Records-styled stuff, they sound like they actually play what they want to. Plus, TJ keeps their songs close to the bearable three-minute mark; BAC’s tracks seemed endless. Not cool. –Vincent Battilana (No Sleep, nosleeprecs.com / Run For Cover, runforcoverrecords.com)


BAD BUNNIES:
Self-titled: CD-R
This is fairly bizarre: three songs on CD, with no label information or contact information other than personal e-mail addresses to the people in the “band.” And I put band in quotations because from what little I am able to derive from the liner notes, this appears to be perhaps a school teacher with two classrooms full of New York public school students who make up the chorus to what is some catchy pop punk. When you listen to Underground Railroad To Candyland and think that the songs sound like schoolyard chants, well, as far as I can tell, that is exactly what this is. Don’t know how old these kids are, what grades they’re in, but this is pretty cool and I wish there was more info to go off of and learn some more about what these Bad Bunnies are all about. –Jeff Proctor (imanlamb@yahoo.com)


BAD BUNNIES:
Self-titled: CD-R
Ian Lambert is a punk rocker with a true heart of gold and the brains behind the Bad Bunnies. Ian works with grade school children (ages eight through ten) in New York and came up with the perfect solution to the vapid, commercial attempts at encouraging kids to appreciate and embrace music: let them write what they want to hear. Ian uses an after-school program as an opportunity to brainstorm with the kids about song topics, lyrics, and also in using their input on the actual songwriting. This CD-R contains three songs with vocals by a class of over twenty students and instrumentation selflessly provided by members of bands such as The Unlovables. It comes as no surprise that the songs are actually very good. They could easily be on a Descendents or Lemuria album. I personally don’t have any children of my own. However, I’ve lived my whole life around them as younger siblings, nieces, and the newest addition to our family: a bouncing baby nephew. So I must say that I wholeheartedly support Ian and the Bad Bunnies both as a punk rocker and as an advocator of children and their involvement in arts and music. A hearty round of high fives to Ian and the Bad Bunnies! –Juan Espinosa (Bad Bunnies, imanlamb@yahoo.com)


BABY DINOSAURS VS. EXTINCTION / BOBBY AND THE SOFT SPOTS:
Split:: 7”
Great poppy pop. No frills, just guitar and harmonies that deliver more than a 1960s milkman. The late, great Bobby Ubangi’s two songs were recorded at Rob’s House. “Make You Mine” really makes you want to run out and get to a show—a small house show where a kickass band is playing in the living room with beers from the fridge, where everyone is so fucking happy that you forget all the stupid shit that happened at school. Their cover of “Rumble” is simple and sweet and the great end of a night. The Dinosaurs are also simple and sweet—really nice female vocals—and they play their instruments loosey goosey. Dammmit, where is this party? I know it’ll be the best. –mike (Die Slaughterhaus, dieslaughterhausrecords.com)


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·NIGHT BIRDS
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·DEAD WORDS
·BILL BONDSMEN


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