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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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TRENCH PARTY:
Kitchen: CD-R

When I put this on. my buddy said, “Shut up. You’re boring and you’re making people feel bad.” (He meant “feel bad” as in bummed out, not insulted or degraded.) I don’t have to make it up, people, I just have to write it down.

–Craven (Terminal Detour, walkmankiller@yahoo.com)


TOXIC LAB RATS:
Intoxicated: CD
Oh, man, do you guys remember the US Bombs? How about any band Duane Peters was in during the early ‘00s? Or, better yet, any slightly oi-inspired skate punk from Epitaph in the ‘90s? Well, the legend continues in the Toxic Lab Rats. It’s sad, more than anything else. Like that incredibly misguided neighbor kid who was always trying to impersonate his idols. I mean, c’mon guys, you’re an indie label. Do you really need a parental advisory sticker? But, seriously, your worst offense is the fact that you chose to randomly emphasize words on your lyrics insert. It was like reading a Silver Age comic, for deity’s sake. –Bryan Static (Spectra, spectrarecords.com)


TIME HAS COME:
Disaster Zone: CD
Had I not done my homework, I woulda thought these dudes were from the suburbs of Anytown, U.S.A. rather than Brisbane. Who woulda thunk that these days the Aussies could top Americans in speed metal chops? (Looks like we’re getting toppled off all of our pedestals these days. That’s probably a good thing.) I will give Time Has Come this: without a doubt, this is one of the tightest records I’ve heard in this genre; it’s speed-of-light fast and has the precision of a blade honed with the help of an electron microscope. There are some rockin’ bits on this, but, for the most part, it’s straight-ahead speed metal with a bit of an electronic backbeat to it. I can’t deal with this kind of stuff all day long, but it has its place on my playlist, just not nearly as often as Little Richard or Dag Nasty. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Pee, timehascomemanagement@hotmail.com)


THINGZ, THE:
Las Cosas del Norte: 7”
The tunes are a bit better this time around and when they get a burr in their bonnet, like on the instrumental “Canned Beer,” they kick down with some decent enough ‘60s-influenced stuff. Soon as the vocals kick in, though, the energy just seems to dissipate. Definitely one of those bands I wanna like more than I do. –jimmy (no address)


TERRIBLE TWOS:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Thirty seconds in I had to go through my piles to find the CD I reviewed a couple of years back. Why? ‘Cause the A-side, “Keep It Grey,” is a punk tune delivered so tight and on the ball that I had to make sure it was the same band. Yup, same band, and it shows on the B-side, “Catch a Cold,” which, while still tight and on point, has more of the chaotic noise bent they hammered home on the aforementioned full-length. –jimmy (lemon-session.com)


SUPERIONS, THE:
Self-titled: CDEP
…so i’m halfway through the dancy nu-waveness of the first track, “Those Sexy Saucer Gals,” and my initial thoughts are that maybe i liked the song better when i wrote it twelve years ago and it was called “UFO,” but whatever, and, as the wistful ballad of wrong-way space impregnation trots onward, i can’t help but think that the singer’s smarmy deadpan delivery kinda reminds me of somebody, though i can’t quite put my finger on it. By the second song ((a merry tale of failed shoplifting entitled “Who Threw That Ham at Me”)), the singer—or, more correctly, the person whom the singer is clearly ripping off—is really beginning to gnaw at me. Jonathan Richman? Nah, not him.Then whom? As i continue attempting to put a finger on the identity which has thus far eluded fingering, said singer makes reference to being at a Piggly Wiggly™ supermarket, which immediately leads me to suspect that the band is from Chicago, on accounta i’ve always imagined Piggly Wiggly™ to be a Midwestern thing, and i can’t imagine a city in the Midwest besides Chicago that would spawn this sort of ironically gayish deadpan ham-and-sexy-aliens dance-rock. That particular line of thinking leads me to wonder if this band isn’t somehow derived from the sugary remains of Deadly Cupcake, the Windy City unit who backed up Fred Schneider on that ‘90s solo album of his, which, in turn, starts a veritable electromechanical pinball machine of bumpers, bells and knocker rods in my head: FRED SCHNEIDER! OF COURSE! THIS SINGER IS SHAMELESSLY, UNABASHEDLY, WHOLE-HEARTEDLY TRYING TO APE FRED SCHNEIDER OF THE B-52’S! As the lilting strains of “Totally Nude Island” stroke my cochlea, my embarrassment at having taken so long to identify the source material abates in favor of me laughing at just how slavishly this guy is aping Fred Schneider. I mean, holy shit, it’s cool to have musical influences and such, but THIS dork is really overdoing it, as far as sounding like a cartoon character of a gay private detective on a case on Planet Love goes! Undaunted, i start poring over the CD insert, trying to find evidence to corroborate my theory that the band—and their unrepentant Fred Schneider ripper-offer vocalist—are from Chicago. I don’t find out any of that. I do find out, however, why the vocalist has been reminding me so much of Fred Schneider: It, uh, IS Fred Schneider. Huh. In any event, this is not a bad little disc—it sounds like what i imagine the B-52’s would have sounded like if they were all guys, came along thirty years later, didn’t own Martha And The Vandellas records and eliminated that one pesky holdout electrical stringed instrument from their lineup. And who can imagine life without four mixes of “Totally Nude Island,” anyway? BEST SONG: “Who Threw That Ham at Me” BEST SONG TITLE: “Who Threw That Ham at Me” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: There are actually no Piggly Wigglys in the state of Illinois, but there are lots down South. Who knew? –norb (HHBTM)


TEENAGE NIGHTWAR:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Discordant, angular punk stuff—arty without getting pretentious, heavy without getting meatheaded, and catchy without being poppy. –jimmy (lemon-session.com)


TERMINAL GIRLS:
Invisible Ills: CD-R
I… This is… wait, what? What the fuck was that? Poorly recorded shoegaze techno punk? Neon pink cover with unreadable text? Haphazardly designed CD insert? Blech. Everything about this record makes me cringe. –Bryan Static (Self-released)


SUCKINIM BAENAIM / ACHZAVOTH:
Split: EP
Fuckin’ horrible! Suckinim Baenaim sound like Black Flag dialing in a version of Process of Weeding Out. Some decent riffs, but the jams go into a black hole and are forgotten about as quickly as you hear it. Achzavoth are annoying with their keyboard tone that sounds like a busy signal. The vocals are shouted and moaned, and are shrill and nasally. The stop/go time signatures are tedious, the lyrics are disposable, and this record was a waste of petroleum and money. –Matt Average (Family Business, myspace.com/familybusinessrex)


SUBMARINE SPACESHIP:
Self-titled: CDEP
This two-man band consists of a drummer and guitarist and generally has an indie rock style but with some strong drumming. The guitars seem to not come out and bite as much, though. Submarine Spaceship’s self-titled EP has eight tracks, some of which are titled after such celebrities as Brian Wilson and James Dean. The songs are short and there are a couple of throw-aways, but this seems like a good start. Evidently, these guys morphed into Bright Effs but they have since broken up. Oh well. –kurt (Gnarly As I Wanna Be!)


SUBHUMANS, THE:
Same Thoughts, Different Day: CD
When I was younger, I used to consider things like whether or not it would be cool if punk and underground music became more popular. It obviously could never have occurred to me that punk rock would become a career for some people. I could have never imagined a thing called “the Internet” where people fight to shell out high prices for records like The Subhumans’ Incorrect Thoughts. The popularity of punk rock is a double-edged sword in my opinion, but I feel overall that the world is a better place with this music in demand. However, in the case of this seminal Canadian band’s watershed release, the sword cuts the wrong way. Ebay prices have remained consistently high on Incorrect Thoughts. The record usually sells for between $35-$60 on eBay. (Some jackass has the cassette up for $125 as of writing this.) And the reason for these high prices is that another record company is claiming and retaining the rights to the album; there does not appear to be a proper release in the near future. And so lies the dilemma. Re-recording an album is almost always a bad idea. Yet these songs deserve to be heard by a younger, budding audience. Standing on its own, Same Thoughts, Different Day is better than any thousand punk albums that will be released this year. The uninitiated deserve to hear classics like “Big Picture” and “War in the Head” and the band deserves to be heard and recognized. As far as reduxes go, the album is well done. Aside from extremely distorted guitars, the songs sound pretty close to the originals. There are four additional songs, two of which are pretty rockin’. You can tell they still care. This version of these songs is the best way to support an important band and support a label that is re-releasing classic lost punk recordings by bands like The Eat and Th’Inbred. However, like most punkers, antiquity generally wins out with me for some unnamed reason. If my house burned down, could I live with Same Thoughts, Different Day as my primary link to this band? Eh. –Billups Allen (Alternative Tentacles)


STRAWBERRY BLONDES:
Fight Back: CD
This album is extremely derivative of Rancid, right down to recording quality and structure of the album. I always felt the extended appeal of Rancid lay mostly in the quality of Tim Armstrong’s voice. The Strawberry Blondes don’t have that personality working for them. The music is competent in the overproduced punk-with-ska-riffs vein. I’m not trying to be a dick about it; if you told me there was a band derivative of The Devil Dogs, I would probably give it extra consideration. So if you are esoteric about Rancid, this might appeal to you. However, I will be a dick about this: their bio claims that their songs are “based on the rudiments thrown down by the classic first Clash album.” Couldn’t this be said about almost any punk album produced after 1977? Oh, how bands will try and try to noncommittally edge The Clash into their bios. Punk 101: Don’t compare yourself to the Clash. –Billups Allen (Wolverine)


SPEARS, THE:
Shove: LP
I am pretty sure that I’m under qualified to review this. This band features members of Pink Lincolns, Hated Youth, D.R.I., and Down By Law. I am only familiar with three of those bands, and I only like one, but do not listen to them regularly. I can’t compare this to any of their previous efforts (though I can tell you it doesn’t sound a thing like D.R.I.), but it is good. It’s good enough that it makes me really wish I had made the effort to track down the Pink Lincolns before, as they both share a singer. Thanks for making me feel guilty, record! –Bryan Static (Sixty Nine Apple/Jailhouse, jailhouserecords.com)


SOUTHSIDE STRANGLERS:
Strangle You: 7”
As one might expect with a name like Southside Stranglers, this is raging punk, almost veering into hardcore territory. Actually, the first thing that came to mind when listening to this was that it sounds kinda like Electric Frankenstein, with some noisy vocals that bring Lux Interior to mind. The band features members from Government Warning and Direct Control. Good, solid single from this Richmond, VA band. Not much else to say. –frame (Fashionable Idiots)


SOCIETY OF FRIENDS:
Self-titled: CD
Some fifty-five tracks of spastic thrash that throws tempo changes around like spaghetti at a wall. Not bad at what they do, but after a while the tunes start to blend together into one big ball of noisy moosh. –jimmy (Insect)


SMOKE OR FIRE:
Prehistoric Knife Fight: 7”
Remember those old fast food ads that would go something like, “We take a sizzling beef patty and pile it with crisp, smoky bacon, then drizzle on melted cheddar cheese and add a handful of zingy caramelized onions…?” By the end of the commercial, your mouth is watering because they’re exploiting your hungry, hungry senses that already know and love what a bacon cheeseburger tastes like. Well, I’m going to attempt the same thing with this 7”. “Smoke Or Fire flame broil Richmond by taking driving Hot Water Music punk and throwing in a sweaty former member of Avail. They top it off with high, clear vocals that make you miss those Richmond summer days when it’s so hot that you sweat in the shower.” Does that work? Does it trigger a Pavlovian response? Are you drooling and growing a beard and cutting some Dickies into a pair of Daisy Dudes? One question. Since when is it okay to give a title to a two-song punk 45? Isn’t there some kind of rule about this? Shouldn’t this just be called “Speak Easy b/w Modesty”? Rev. Nørb, where are you when I need you? –CT Terry (Fat, fatwreck.com)


SLACKTRENS:
Ur Balans: 7" EP
Fifteen tracks of silly fast Swedish hardcore that makes Mob 47 sound like Black Sabbath. Limited to 500 slabs of clear red vinyl, so start scrounging before Ebay starts gouging. –jimmy (rawby.se)


SKEPTICS, THE:
You Make Me Sick: 7” EP
Sludgy fuzz rock. –jimmy (franticcity.free.fr)


SINKS, THE:
I Drove the Sinks: EP
Two songs of lo-fi garage punk. The vocals are buried under the instruments and delivered in a garbled manner. Sort of works, but, at the same time, I’m not compelled to listen too close. In fact, this whole record passes by without leaving an impression. I listened a few more times. No difference. File under “ehhhh.....” –Matt Average (Fashionable Idiots, tchardcorejouranl.com)


SHADRACK WILDE:
Unforgiveable Things: CD
This Louisville musician plays country-influenced songs of self-deprecation, loss, and hardship (which I guess is to be expected on an album called Unforgiveable Things) in a style akin to Ryan Adams or any of his various projects. There seems to have been a lot of sorrow in Shadrack’s life, but he does an effective job of sharing it in a means that doesn’t seem too tiresome. I like the addition of harmonica, violin, and electric guitar to the songs, which give them a fullness and strength. Wilde is a decent songwriter, too, although his focus on the morose could stand to be tempered to a degree. I wouldn’t mind hearing the next album, though. –kurt (myspace.com/shadwickwilde)


SEXUAL SUICIDE:
Old School Rules: 7”
You wrote a song about Venom and Mary Jane gangbanging Spider-Man? What possesses people to do things like that? I’m not disgusted or offended or anything, but I just can’t comprehend why you would go out of your way to write, record, then use money on expensive vinyl to print something like that. I’m sorry I didn’t write about any of your five other songs, but that is just distracting. I guess if I were in a generic hardcore band, I’d try something strange like that too. –Bryan Static (United Riot)


SEVERANCE PACKAGE:
All Down Hill: 7”
This here is some speedy basic punk, falling somewhere between maybe the Loudmouths and the Motards or something like that. Good, solid punk featuring the singer and guitar player from Black Fork along with the drummer from Special Forces. Fans of Black Fork would certainly find plenty to like here, and I would love to see them live because every time I saw Black Fork, they were drop-dead incredible. Look out for this one if you like simple and fun punk rock. –frame (Shut Up)


SEDATIVES:
Human Beings: 7”
Straightforward, no frills punk stuff along the lines of bands like the Spits, only without the intentional dopiness. Good stuff. –jimmy (Taken by Surprise, no address)


SICK ELECTRIC:
Death by Electrocution: CD
Quirky guitar rock. –jimmy (no address)


SCEPTRES, THE:
Self-titled: 7”
Cover reminds me of something that would’ve sat in the 45 bin at Pasadena’s Poobah Records for ages, waiting for someone to polish it off ‘n’ give it a much deserved spin. “Flatline Generation” is a nice bit of thuddy punk with some definite artiness buried in the heft. The flip, “The Tow,” follows pretty much along the same lines; catchy, but packing a bit of punch to get the point across. This’ll definitely grow on me. –jimmy (Dire, no address)


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