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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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BLINDNESS:
Wrapped in Plastic: CD
I hear the ‘90s are in vogue again. It was an interestingly fertile period for so-called “alternative” music. Like every other musical subculture before or since, it was gelded, commodified, narrowed, and strip-mined until all that was left was fleeting touchstone references that could be marketed and resold to punters and fuckwits who didn’t know better or didn’t care a two-penny fart that what they were ingesting was crap. Bush, Creed, and a ton of others owe their mansions to these dipshits. Ignore the recording date of this release and you’d swear it was some lost gem released just before things went south—echoes of shoegaze dissonance washing over a funky backbone-bender rhythm section, padded with later-period psychedelic references. Despite some easily pulled influences, it shines with a creative streak largely absent in this modern era of music-as-bland-conveyor-belted-product pop, musicians making a racket that comes from within, not from a focus group… or maybe they just caught me in a maudlin mood or something. Who the fuck cares? Right now all’s I want is someone to plop a Mad Hatter chapeau on my noggin’, dose me, point in the direction of the nearest clandestine warehouse gig, and play this fucker loud.  –jimmy (Saint Marie, saintmarierecords.com)


BLOODSHOT AND DILATED:
Negative Mental Attitude: CD
For a band with a theme song about smoking weed and doing bong hits, these guys sure are angry. They’ve got the pissed-off punk thing down to a science. They are angry about the system that is trying to imprison them. They are angry about the forces that want them to conform. They’re so fucking angry! That’s cool and all, but they might want to get a refund from their pot dealer, ‘cause I don’t think their weed is working right.  –mp (Self-released, bloodshotanddilated.bigcartel.com)


BOILERMAN:
Self-titled: EP
Boilerman is a Chicago power trio, busting out scrappy, hardcore-tinged pop punk with manic precision. The record is less than ten minutes long, but there’s enough relatable anger and anxiety to go around. Listening to a Boilerman record isn’t the same as watching them perform while someone tries to climb up your back to use you as a diving board. Or at least I imagine they inspire such activities. –Sean Arenas (86’d, 86drec.com / Waterslide, watersliderecords.com / Crapoulet, cool@crapoulet.fr)


BOLLWEEVILS, THE:
Attack Scene: 7”
Another blaster from these long-running IL punks. “Honesty Isn’t So Simple” thrashes away with reckless abandon. Fans of Bad Religion and Pegboy will find something enticing here. The flip is a “theme song” effort. The first line of this song’s lyrics pretty much sums it up: “It may sound stupid but you’ve got to do it.” It would really be stupid if you didn’t buy this right away. It comes on shiny blue vinyl. –koepenick (Underground Communiqué, facebook.com/thebollweevils)


BOMBÓN:
A Date with: CS
Remember that episode of Twin Peakswhen James, Maddy, and Laura record a song in the living room? That cheesy scene with a breathy love anthem recorded with a hollow-body guitar and Shure microphones? After hitting play on this cassette, I was worried I was in for a whole EP of that. First song starts off that way, but within a few measures it kicks off and turns into something much more enjoyable. Rumbly surf vibrato in the guitar, stripped-down drum sound, mixed in with deep bass, and despondent trumpet pull through for the other five and two thirds tracks of the record. To be honest, I get tired of songs like “Dance Just Like Annette,” where girls are pining over guys named Johnny Boy and Frankie. Though I thoroughly enjoy that authentic garage/surf combo, I’d rather bands update the content of the songs for the modern age and let go of the soda fountain, make-out hill sort of date. If I’m going on a date with Bombón, I’d like a different kind of malt, if you know what I mean. Fortunately, many of these rockin’ tracks are instrumental and easy to dance around like a goon to.  –Kayla Greet (Burger, burgerrecords.org)


BONNY DOON:
Self-titled: 7”
Sleepy, jangly indie rock that sometimes lolls into sleepy, jangly indie pop—I don’t know exactly where the line is. Either way, there is definite sleepiness. “Lost My Way” is actually pretty upbeat and driving, but there’s still this sense of casual slouchiness that the band embodies. Maybe it’s the slight twang that’s making me think of a more chilled-out Wilco. Pretty solid lazy afternoon music.  –Indiana Laub ((Salinas, salinasrecords@gmail.com, salinasrecords.com)


BRENDA’S FRIEND:
Under the Shrub: CS
Amy Oelsner and Erin Tobey, the multi-instrumentalists behind Brenda’s Friend, have a lot going for them, but keep it minimalistic on their seven-track cassette Under the Shrub. Their voices vacillate between angelic, snarky, and twee, but always blend perfectly. Songs like “King of the Doctors” and “Estate Sale” rely only on guitar, leaving lots of space in which listeners can wander and daydream. “Thunder Pillow” and “Mother’s Tongue” play with percussive elements, “Freon” experiments with psych-y, spacey guitar tones, and “Comedy Show” has apparently decided it’s time for you to have a good cry. A keen, almost subversive humor buried in the poetic lyrics ties the record together from start to finish. If you need someone to score your new indie film, your search is over. –Kelley O’Death (Let’s Pretend, letspretendrecs@gmail.com, letspretendrecords.com)


BRIMSTONE HOWL:
Magic Hour: CS
This is the cassette version of the album from this Nebraska band that I already gave a favorable review to a few issues back. Recording still sounds good on cassette and I stand behind my initial review that this band plays above average In The Red Records-type stuff. Songwriting here is much better than most. They don’t try and just get over with noise and distortion.  –frame (Rainy Road, rainyroadrecords.com)


BROKEN COGS:
Self-titled: 7”
Solid punk rock out of Wales. These chaps are almost there. Reminds me of something that would have come out of Portland, Ore. ten years ago—maybe Coldbringer or something of that ilk—dark, a little hardcore, and on the brink of being really good. Just enough melody in the gruff vocals to make you want to listen again and catch whatever else might be hiding below the surface of these songs. This is a 7” you’ll want to get now, because I’d bet that if these Welshmen really put the effort in, their next release—hopefully a full-length—is going to be essential.  –Chad Williams (Brassneck, brassneckrecords.bandcamp.com)


BUCK BILOXI AND THE FUCKS:
Streets of Rage: LP
One of the most celebrated garage punk bands since the early days of The Spits is back with an insane LP full of their Ramones-meets-outlaw-grit trademark sound. The back cover features a hilarious map of Mississippi, which has it bordering Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, and Pakistan. The Mississippi map also designates sections of the state with various labels such as “Gays Burned at the Stake” and “Dirt for Dinner.” This sort of seedy garage punk is best enjoyed by fans of rough groups like Spider Babies, but it’s catchy enough that a wide range of listeners will dig it. It’s definitely the garage highlight of the year so far, so run and pick it up now.  –Art Ettinger (Hozac, hozacrecords.com)


CAUSTIC CASANOVA:
Breaks: CD
Overly complex college rock from D.C. Wandering guitar lines, tricky time signatures, and dual female/male vocals. Records like this are the reason one should never learn to play your instruments. It’s all off keys and weird timings. Not quite math-rock, but getting there. This is the sound of chewing on aluminum foil. Excuse me while I go and rinse my ears out.  –Tim Brooks (Retrofuturist, retrofuturistrecords.com)


CANCERS:
“Missed” b/w “Helpless”: 7”
These guys are wizards of nostalgia. Listening to thissingle is like cruising down the street you grew up on, with the windows down on a clear fall day. Cancers fully embrace a no-frills aesthetic, employing tinny guitar, shoegazey melodies, and reverb-laden drum machine tracks to connote simpler, sunnier times. Imagine if Wavves and The Breeders were to have a jam sesh playdate, and you’ve pretty much grasped the charmingly straightforward prowess of these grungy pop punk prodigies. –Guest Contributor (Debt Offensive, debtoffensiverecs.bigcartel.com)


CAVES:
Leaving: LP
Much has been made of BristolpunksCaves over the last few years, but I’ve mostly ignored the hype—”For Fans Of” sections can really fuck up your internal compass. For the uninitiated, the pop sensibility of Leaving makes it a strange entry point into the career of a band known for riotous melodic punk rock. But as a wayward queer, it reinforces my belief that if you are meant to have a song in your life, it will find you. The album opens with “Sad,” a staunch disavowal of the gender binary that is decidedly not hostile, but tinged with melancholy and hope. The remaining fifteen minutes of music on the LP sways gently between bitter and sweet, with both flavors passing through the teeth one expects to find on a punk record. The hype makes sense. Caves are not the kind of band that makes it easy to just like them casually. They are the kind of band that pens lyrics you want tattooed on your body until you realize that, once they are divorced from their song of origin, the words lose all of their power. Leaving exists in that magical realm in which the music is the message; capturing all of the feelings that manifest in between life’s pivotal moments. “Breathe in, breathe out.” Thanks, Caves. I will.  –Kelley O’Death (Dead Broke, deadbrokerec@gmail.com, deadbrokerecords.com)


CHANTICLEAR:
Old Glories and War Stories: CD
This Boston band has been around since 1999. If this is your first time hearing about them, then listen up—super tight rhythms and awesome songs with hooks galore. Apparently, they have also spent some time in Haverhill, MA but they have a love/hate relationship with the town. If you aren’t interested in hearing about a band that has a song called “Cock Rocket” then I guess I never really knew you. But seriously, this deserves a spot in your collection. “Wasted” may encourage you to do likewise. Recommended. –koepenick (BlueFX, facebook.com/Chanticlear)


CHEAP DATES, THE:
Piss Away another God Damn Year: CHEAP DATES, THE: Piss Away another God Damn Year: CS
Surprisingly potent. Wasn’t expecting much, but here are seven songs of terrifically crafted and woefully snotty punk à la Toy Dolls or The Briefs. If you dig the rosters of Modern Action or No Front Teeth, you’ll find a shit-ton to like here. Catchy as hell, and will continue to garner repeated listens in this place of worship. (Sidenote: I thought the cover was an image of a weird, mutated root vegetable, like a potato or a turnip, which was charming. On closer inspection, I think it’s actually a tooth, which is probably more traditionally punk or whatever, but not nearly as cute. Regardless, you should probably get a copy of this anyway.) –keith (Don’t Panic)


CHROME CRANKS:
20th Anniversary Edition: LP
As implied by the title, this is a remastered anniversary edition of their debut album. The order of the day now, as then, is a heady, sleazy mix of punk, blues, country, garage rock, no wave, and a wallop of grime so thick it’ll take months to wash it off. If you thought the Cows could kick up a raunchy racket, you’re in for a bit of a surprise here.  –jimmy (HoZac, hozacrecords.com)


CIVILIANS:
Self-titled: CD
Civilians play mostly straightforward punk rock with working class lyrical leanings. They shake things up a bit on the second track “Heroes of Our Past,” a Ramones tribute featuring bagpipes. It’s the first Ramones tribute song to feature bagpipes that I have ever come across. The more I listened to the CD, the more Civilians grew on me. The band clearly knows how to write a catchy riff and how to pair it with an equally catchy chorus. There are a number of earworms on this. My favorite was the closing track “I Ride On.” The lyrics are a bit tongue-in-cheek—about the singer being forced to choose between his girlfriend and his motorcycle, and ultimately riding off into the sunset on his Harley—but damn if it’s not still stuck in my head.  –Paul J. Comeau (Civilians, info@ the-civilians.com, the-civilians.com)


COMMIE COWBOYS:
Monster: EP
The other day I was losing my mind to the bona fide classic Young Wasteners album. After about the fifth consecutive listen, I allowed myself time to think and wonder, whatever happened to all those great bands from Denmark and the inspired energy from that era? I’m guessing it’s dormant at the moment from listening to the latest Commie Cowboys EP. This is crap. Seriously. This reminds me of the dark ages of hardcore in the late ‘80s when bands started drifting over to pop pap (to even call some of those bands at the time punk is a stretch) or shitty hair metal wank, like that second Uniform Choice LP Staring into the Sewer. The fact that a shit bands like Youth Of Today and Bold were popular at that time is a good indication of how dire times had become. The music on this record is the sound of a band grasping for ideas and coming up with nothing. Uninspired punk and roll doo-doo. It’s apparent they can play, but proficiency doesn’t necessarily mean the music is good. The songs just sound tired. They plod and drag on longer than needed. The vocals are good, but wasted on bad songs. Everyone in this band is good, but they just can’t pull it together to make interesting music. –Matt Average (Wargame, wargame-records.blogspot.com / Halshugga, halshuggarecords.tictail.com)


CONCEALED BLADE:
Demo 2015: 7”
I have to admit that I was a little weary of a demo recorded so recently being pressed to vinyl, but I wasn’t let down on this one bit. This record is pretty much a ripper from front to back with pauses only for some weird (but awesome) whammy bar action. Great riffs, killer breakdowns, and a nice, thick guitar tone. For fans of early Boston HC, late-’80s NYHC, and ‘80s Italian thrash (which all of you should be). Approved.  –Ian Wise (Beach Impediment)


CONSTANT INSULT:
Self-titled: 12”EP
Containing members of Frozen Teens and Peer Precious, these six songs continue where the much-heralded (and deservedly so!) Frozen Teens LP left off, but with a strong Mac McCaughan influence. It’s lighter, it’s brighter; it brings to mind a summer afternoon in Chapel Hill before a desperate winter night in Minneapolis. For those of you feverishly lurking the alleys for another unwashed, melodic DIY punk band with male and female vocals, for those of you who still miss Homeowners, for those who can’t wait any longer for this new Acid Fast record to come out: check out Constant Insult.  –Daryl Gussin (Let’s Pretend)


CROSS CLASS:
Minimum Rage: CS
Sick hardcore out of Sacramento. With members of RAD, Cross Class stays in the vein of Hunting Party and Torso with menacing bass lines, tight guitar riffs, occasional well punctuated d-beat madness, and high-pitched atonal, throat-tearing shouts that will make you feel anxious, uneasy, and fed-the-fuck-up. –Camylle Reynolds (Self-released, craigbhancok2011@gmail.com)


DAMNIT JIMS, THE:
Never Die!: 7” EP
A band made up of members of Surrounded By Thieves, DC Fallout, and New Cold War intrigues me, seeing as how I like all three of those groups. The outcome of their endeavors hits the mark immediately. The first two tracks sound a lot like the Circle Jerks, in terms of their structure as well as the vocal delivery. The remaining four songs have more of their own identity but there is no denying the influence that decades of Southern Californian melodic punk has had on the quartet. Good stuff and worth checking out. –Rich Cocksedge (Squid Hat, info@squidhatrecords.com, squidhatmusic.com)


DATA CONTROL:
Radiating: LP
I reviewed a CD-R copy of this that was sent in a while back bearing the name One God, One Love, wherein they expressed the hope to release it on vinyl. Glad to see they succeeded ‘cause this is a corker of a release, with a L.A.-via-The-Regulations vibe with guitars that churn, burn, and add heft to songs that show a band that ain’t afraid to throw in some secret ingredients among the meat and potatoes. Highly recommended.  –jimmy (Farsot, farsotfarsot.tumblr.com)


DEAD BARS:
Emergency: 7”
I love it when you unexpectedly discover a band you love. With Dead Bars it was at the Roachella fest in Seattle. They were the closing band of an entire weekend of insanity. We almost split back to the hotel before they played. That would have sucked because I would have missed out on all kinds of radness! They tore the roof off of the Victory Lounge and I immediately bought all the records they had, including this here new one. Beautiful hooks with gruff-ish vocals. I find myself singing these songs to myself long after I am done listening. I am excited about so many bands in Seattle these days!  –ty (Eager Beaver, eagerbeaverrecords.bandcamp.com)


DEAD HOPE:
“Truth Be Told” b/w “Swordz”: CD
Two songs of fuzzed-out power pop/melodic punk/alt-rock from this Glasgow trio. Both songs have a bouncy beat that adds swagger and swing. Write eight more and send me an album, for fuck’s sake! –CT Terry (itsdeadhope@gmail.com)


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