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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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APACHE DROPOUT:
Do the Splendid Crown: 7”
This is the kind of stuff I’m always hoping to stumble across when I have a bunch of music in a box to pick from. Something out of the ordinary, something “off,” something that goes “out there.” Essentially stuff that makes music exciting. Apache Dropout is some warped bluesy melted mind sort of music. Perceptions are distorted and the music is the focus of your attention. Everything sort of oozes and kind of lumbers in some far-off way. It’s lo-fi, loose, trashy, and psychedelic. “Do the Splendid...” is a mid tempo shuffle, while “All I’m Gonna Do Is Laugh” lingers and floats like late summer heat in the mid afternoon. –Matt Average (Magnetic South, magneticsouthrecordings.com)


BABYSHAKER:
Legendary: LP
Babyshaker started out in late 1998 as a glammy, fun, loud guitar-having, party band. Almost twelve years later with the original four members still on board, they have evolved into something darker and heavier with a tender but bruised heart that was previously obscured. The glam rock good times of yore are still in place, but now they’re accompanied by songs that reveal an undercurrent of desperation and sadness. This recording does a great job of capturing their huge live sound. Listening to it with the volume cranked up, I feel like I’m down front at one of their shows. In other words, it does not have the dreaded “studio” feel to it. Their rhythm section has always been spot on, but the biggest change is Dudley’s guitar. It used to be all about power chords rocking out—which it still does do without fail—but now on songs like my favorite one here, “My Karate Is Good Tonight,” his guitar wraps around your head until it’s like a close friend whispering a secret in your ear. The singer sings so plaintively on the choruses that before I know it, I’m completely sucked in. –chris (Self-released)


ANTIBODIES:
Concrete Rockers Go Uptown: 7” EP
These old dudes from the U.K. play Subhumans / Crass-influenced U.K. peace punk. The lyrics are potent, the vocals strong, and the production clear without being overly slick. Those with an aversion to cocky, snotty British-accented cheeseball punk will want to steer clear of it, but their retro sound is pretty damn amusing. Listening to Concrete Rockers Go Uptown is kind of like watching a sitcom when you haven’t seen one for awhile. It’s that cheerful. A full-length from them is supposedly in the works, but this solid EP is a great start. –Art Ettinger (Choking Hazard, chokinghazardrec.com)


AMEBIX:
Redux: 12” EP
Here are three old Amebix songs updated, and believe me, these versions are in some ways better than the old recordings. They’re definitely more metal here than they were on the superb Monolith, and the recording is more full and dynamic. I had always thought the old stuff sounded a little flat. On this 12” everything sounds alive. I was skeptical at first, but as soon as “Winter” begins—with the high-pitched drone and the guitars feedback and the bass brings it all together—all doubts were immediately dispelled. The sound is even darker than before and there’s more of a goth feel. “Chain Reaction” really stands out with the church bells, the cold overdubs, and the vocals are stronger as well. There’s more tension, the drumming is more intense and puts more power into these songs. “Arise” has always been a crusher, and the refreshed version is just as vital. Twenty some years later, the music and lyrics are still relevant. On the packaging front, this comes with a large embroidered patch and a download card that has a live version of “Progress.” –Matt Average (Profane Existence, profaneexistence.org)


2009:
The Future Is Soon: LP
The packaging for this is friggin’ awesome: an old sleeve sliced up, turned inside out, and hand-painted and screened. How rare to see such personalization, even in a D.I.Y. world! And how ecologically sound! Soooo…2009 is a two-piece (drums and guitar) comprised of dudes from Rock Paper Stupid and playing stripped-down punk tunes that are surprisingly sophisticated at times. Their sound is speedy and trashy, but there are some nice poppy hooks in there and an intricacy to the guitar that is somewhat veiled at first by the low-fi recording. This record seemed rather one-dimensional on my first listen, but added nuances revealed themselves with each subsequent spin. Solid. –The Lord Kveldulfr (No Breaks / Let’s Pretend)


YOU BLEW IT:
The Past in the Present: CD-R
Sleepy indie rock with twinkly guitars. Could be lumped in with bands like Jejune and Rainer Maria. Didn’t music like this get outmoded by Jimmy Eat World’s radio hits in, like, 2001? I thought we were done with this stuff. I expected more out of cool song titles like “Hope It’s Not a Deposit Bottle” and “Sneaky Fuckin’ Russian.” –CT Terry (goodfriendsrecords.com)


YEAR ZERO:
Year One: CD
A bad draw of luck happens sometimes for releases getting reviewed. I honestly can say I am not the best person to review this release. Not really the genre I listen to much anymore. But I will give a good ole boy try. Melodic pop punk with a polished sound of a band like Pulley with a garage-y feel of a band like Tiltwheel or Dillinger 4. In fact, the singer of this band sounds a lot like Scott from Pulley to me. Musically, they tend to play mid-tempo numbers that do have memorable rhythms. For me, if it was played a bit faster, I think the songs would come alive. Good effort and is not bad on the ear drums to this listener. –don (Young Modern)


Y LA BAMBA:
Lupon: CD
Delicate indie rock stuff with no shortage of very mellow, very pretty, and well written songs. Definitely not a recommended selection for narcoleptics, though. –jimmy (tenderlovingempire.com)


WE ARE HEX:
Hail the Goer: CD
Dark, arty punk stuff here with a definite death rock influence tapped into its main artery, not unlike bands like Black Ice. “Warphone” is my pick to click here, with its simple repetitive bass line serving as the foundation for something a bit more complex. –jimmy (Roaring Colonel, no address)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
One Hundred in 10: LP
Apparently, this copy is the second of three versions of this comp, which features one hundred bands cranking out short blasts of mostly hyper-speed hardcore and noise. Some better known names on here, like Voetsek and Yacopsae, mixed in with names I’m not as familiar with, and the sound quality varies from track to track, but on the whole if this kinda stuff is your bag, you could definitely do worse than seeking out a copy. –jimmy (Intellect)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Brutality in Seconds: LP
The title is no misnomer. You get forty short blasts of thrash and grind from thirty bands, including PLF, Battle Rifle, Full Blown Aids, Pleasant Valley, Hummingbird Of Death and more, all short and to the point. It does get a bit repetitive after a while, but it is a pretty good crash course introduction to some of hardcore’s more wild fringes. –jimmy (trekbgh@yahoo.com)


VACCINES, THE:
Self-titled: LP
The Vaccines played dirty, trashy bar punk in the late nineties and early aughts, fraught with tattoos and stale beer, and musical stylings ranging from mid-tempo-rockin’ near to the hedge of a classic hardcore sound (but not quite). Lyrics about being fucked up, fighting, and drinking. The A-side is live and sounds it—tinny and muted, but it rocks satisfactorily despite what sounds like a one-track (read: boom box) recording. The B-side has some studio stuff and some live. I’m done with covers of Gang Green’s “Alcohol,” however. The original will always be the best, and so far only Tesco has managed to pull off a decent remake. Nonetheless, I like this record. Even though there’s nothing new and exciting as far as the Vaccines’ sound, if you’re into this quadrant of the rock’n’roll sonic universe, I’d pick it up, if for no other reason than the marbled green vinyl. A huge poster is included, too. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Wolf Dog)


TONY SLY:
12 Step Program: CD
Well, it’s Tony Sly from No Use For A Name playing acoustic songs. Sometimes there’s a keyboard or a violin or some vocal harmonies, but otherwise it’s pretty much a stripped-down affair of Sly and his guitar. I’m gonna admit, I don’t really dig this wave of guys from punk bands trying to go the singer-songwriter route (ala all this Revival Tour nonsense). It’s not that I’m opposed to acoustic music on principal, it’s that I find a lot of what I’ve heard really boring. There have been couple of great things out of this trend, like Kepi Ghoulie’s inspired acoustic music, the Sundowner, and a few Frank Turner songs. As for this, like so many of the other acoustic punk outings, it feels like something you would pick up on the pop up display at a major coffee chain while you’re grabbing an Americano. –Adrian (Fat)


TERMINAL GIRLS:
Discophobia + Invisible Ills: CD-R
Discophobia boasts some nice synth-punk noisemaking that manages to come off as simultaneously aggressive and laid back. I can’t speak to the nature of Invisible Ills, however, as the disc was blank. –jimmy (mikefleshwave@gmail.com)


TEENAGE REHAB:
Abuse Your Solution: 7”
This is the stuff that I love! Quicker than mid-tempo punk rock tunes about booze, drugs, masturbation, booze, TV, getting old, and booze. Somehow these guys are managing to write my life story. The singer reminds me of Lee Ving from time to time. It’s a great record and I’ll be looking for more. –ty (Jailhouse, jailhouserecords.com)


TATTOOED MOTHER FUCKERS:
Hey Ho! Let’s Go!: 7”
I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that it just comes off sounding wrong when someone other than the Ramones sing “Hey ho! Let’s go!” in the chorus of their song. That said, these guys are doing the oi thing and it’s just not doing anything for me this time around. –ty (Koi)


SUNDOWNER:
We Chase the Waves: CD
Side project from frontman and guitarist for the Lawrence Arms. Not punk at all but more soul-searching folk with acoustic guitars. Not really fitting in my genre preference but the music is subtle and passionate in sound. I can hear that he has the craft of melody and lyricism. This is his second release. There are fans who are likely in anticipation for this release. –don (Asian Man)


STILLMEN, THE:
Nothing Happens: CD
Modern punk stuff with a poppy undertow that sometimes brings to mind a less technical Descendents, gruff vocals, and the occasional dual octave guitar playin’ style popularized by virtually every band Rikk Agnew has been in. –jimmy (gainesstrecords@gmail.com)


SPANISH GAMBLE:
It’s All Coming Down: CD
Well, this is another one of those bands that sounds like it must have been genetically engineered to play one of the second tier slots at The Fest. You know the recipe: a little bit Tiltwheel, a smidge of Leatherface and Dillinger Four, and a huge glop of Hot Water Music, all topped off with group vocals wherever they can be used. Usually, the results are less than their component parts, because I think exhaustion with this type of band is starting to set in. I’m having trouble keeping them all apart in my mind. As far as Spanish Gamble goes, they seem pretty competent and you can definitely do worse, but it’s getting hard for me to pick them out of a clutch of other similar bands to throw on. –Adrian (Paper + Plastick)


SNUGGLE:
Self-titled: LP
The music from this band is swell, but I feel like I’m not alone when I say their songs are not memorable. The tunes are fun to rock to when they are playing, but when you walk away, can you repeat anything you just heard? There is a lack of “hook,” which is fine, but makes describing them difficult. I still give this LP a thumbs up and will continue to say I like the band. Tunes don’t have to stick like barnacles to be genial, and that’s the truth. –Corinne (1234GO)


SLUGGING PERCENTAGE:
Self-titled: Cassette
As far as I know, Slugging Percentage are the first baseball-themed hardcore band anywhere. On paper, the melding of two of the pastimes that I hold dearest to me sounds like a winning combination. However, I consider myself both a die-hard baseball fan and an unbiased record reviewer, so my final thoughts on this tape are as fair as I could possibly make them. First, as a baseball fan: the theme is not lost on me one bit. I truly do appreciate every aspect. From the front of the cover that looks just like the stitching on a baseball to the scorecard on the back with real player’s (though, mostly inactive or retired) names as song titles. The lyrical subjects are either that of praise or defamation of a particular player or situation and I fucking love it. Seriously, calling out John Rocker for the racist douche that he is was something that needed to be done. This duo’s combined knowledge of the game and their witty/critical observations are as valid as they are admirable. Now as a record reviewer: Musically, I feel they’re missing the strike zone. Self-described as sludgy hardcore, at their best they sound like Blöödhag without guitars. But at their worst they’re like Godstomper minus the power or the violence. It’s a real shame because I desperately wanted to appreciate this from all angles. Hopefully, this is one of those deals where the earlier material is their formative stage and the best is yet to come. –Juan Espinosa (Self released, no contact info)


SLOPPY SECONDS:
You Can’t Kill Joey Ramone: 7”
You couldn’t imagine the excitement when I found this slab in my review pack. Not only am I a big Sloppy Seconds fan, but I am a collector of their 7”s. This new one came out under my radar, yet it still made it to me. The A-side is the Sloppy’s ode to one of their main influences. It was a stand out track on their Endless Bummer LP a couple of years ago and it still sounds great here. The graf portrait of Joey on the inside sleeve is pretty damn cool, too. On the flip they do a cover of Anti Nowhere League’s “Can’t Stand Rock ‘n’ Roll,” which is funny because Sloppy Seconds are truly a great rock’n’roll band. They just better not wait another decade to release more records! –ty (Wallride)


SHIT HORSE:
They Shit Horses… Don’t They?: Cassette
The major question for the release, of course, is whether any of the music contained within is even half as good as the title. The answer is all in how you look at it. If you so choose, you can embrace the quirky garage rock with its interesting style of presentation and performance or condemn its gimmick premise of repeating fecal and equestrian references. I, for one, am intrigued by their Mummies/Sebadoh-esque brand of noise even if they resort to writing lines like “Have you ever had a log you couldn’t poo?” –Bryan Static (Odessa, odessarecords.com)


SHANE LOBOTOMY:
I Can’t Help Myself: 7”
The cover is inundated with scratchy, barely legible writing and the whole layout screams “skronky noise,” so imagine my surprise when what instead comes out of the speakers is über-catchy punk rock with multi-part harmony vocals. Both sides of this are very much worth a listen. –jimmy (Fatal Seizure, no address)


SEX OBJECTS:
Negative Batshit/Cathedral Fever: CD-R
Dunno much about these kids, but what I’ve been able to glean is that they are apparently a duo and seeing as this seems to have been recorded exactly one month from the date I’m reviewing it, they have a quick turnaround time. They specialize in noisy synth-drenched stuff, more arty than blunt force trauma. Eight songs here, my favorite being the brooding “Cathedral Fever,” and they do what they do well. –jimmy (mikefleshwave@gmail.com)


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