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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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DAWN / SANCTION:
Split: 10” EP
Dawn: Occasionally grindy, occasionally crusty stuff with a singer who doesn’t sound like he’s impersonating his favorite Sesame Street character. Sanction: More straight-ahead thrash stuff with a singer whose spleen has to tickle when he screeches like that. –jimmy (Anti-Corporate Music)


CUTE LEPERS, THE:
Smart Accessories: CD
The second album from the new band by the Briefs’ founder Steve E Nix and later Briefs’ member Kicks, continuing the power sugar pops their previous band invested everything in. Err, what else would you need to know? That should make it automatic for you, whether it’s run-out-and-get or total avoidance. I feel like it’s by-the-numbers punk, but hard to deny anyone their love for all things Cheap Trick. –mike (1-2-3-4 Go!, 1234gorecords.com)


CRUDDY:
New Level: 7”
Strange, simple cover art leads to smokin’ punk rock. Take the minimalist punk of the Urinals and electrify it with Greg Ginn’s guitar. Jab jab jab jab jab jab jab jab jab jab jab jab jab jab jab fuckyeah. This is great. Less is more, as long as the band gives it their all, with energy and some thought. And from Austin—take that, Stevie Ray. Can’t wait for more from Cruddy. Simply kickass. –mike (Let’s Pretend / Basement Scream)


CREDENTIALS, THE:
Routines: LP
So if the Pinhead Gunpowder / D4 split and the Screeching Weasel / Born Against split somehow decided to do a split together, it might sound something like this. Pop punk with slightly cruder edge; throw in a couple songs about politics, and a couple about girls (respectively), and your standard undercurrent of shit being fucked up. Record it at Witches With Dicks’ practice space, Cometbus can do the layout. It definitely has its rookie hiccups, but it has some impressive moments too, and since shit like this is pretty much right up my alley, I will be spinning this all summer. –Nick Toerner (Self-released)


CHURCH OF GRAVITRON:
19+Sterile: CD
Static- and feedback-laden soundscapes, four tracks in total, are the rule of thumb here. While many others treading similar ground too often merely grab the nearest radio, tune it off-station, and record the results as some sort of quasi-artistic statement, it’s clear here that much more thought was given to what was being done. This makes all the difference and the result, while still nowhere near the traditional verse-chorus-verse definition of “music,” is abundant in moody, screechy, cohesive charm. It’s definitely an acquired taste, but those with the palate will find much to savor. –jimmy (Doom Town)


CHEMICALS:
Bubble City: 7” EP
I wonder if this band could have been one of those bands who appeared on both the “Hell Comes To Your House” and “Life Is Ugly So Why Not Kill Yourself” compilation LPs back in ‘82? Wait…hold on…the only band that was on both of those album was 100 Flowers. Hmmm. Then no, no they couldn’t be. But they could have been on the Sudden Death compilation album ((given a proper time machine))! Yes. Yes they could. Songs about building cities in bubbles under Niagara Falls are niche-y, but once you find that audience, brother, it’s all high-fives and Skittles™ thenceforth. BEST SONG: “Bubble City” BEST SONG TITLE: “Schaaappps” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Sure looks like this band is called “KMKLZ” if’n ya look at the front cover… –norb (Sonic Jett)


CANADIAN RIFLE:
Facts: 7” EP
One of the odd wrinkles that develops when reviewing records is separating the layers of knowledge and fandom that someone reading a review may have. It’s tough to satisfy folks who are already intimate with a band’s production, and, at the same time, explain the band sufficiently to someone who’s never heard of the band. Then, you have to explain if the record’s good. With that in mind, if you’ve never heard Canadian Rifle but you like the gruff-voiced “I hate you. Modern society is a plague, but the good news is that I hate myself even more than anything else”-isms of Off With Their Heads mixed with a good dose of walked-on bubblegum scraped off the sidewalk, chances are you’re predisposed to enjoy Canadian Rifle. For those of you who are intimate with the band’s output, what’s not on this record is what I miss: that second guitar that twined like a snake around a pole when Jake talk-sings. When I’m just sitting here, only listening to the record, headphones on, it’s the most apparent. Yet, when I plop, crank, and play—a much more natural listening environment—my fists pump freely along to Jake’s infectious maledictions against modern, cappuccino-chokin’ society. –todd (Residue, residue-records.com)


BUSINESS, THE:
Doing the Business: CD
A sort of odd ‘n’ sods deal here, with four newer tunes that include a smokin’ version of the Professionals’ “One Two Three” (also known as the Avengers tune “Second to None,” also known as the Penelope Houston tune “Girls”). Also included is a live recording of a brief, five-song set constituting their only performance at the Marquee Club in 1982, and another live tune from a more recent gig. All told, it isn’t necessarily a crucial purchase for those other than completists and fanatics, but it doesn’t soil their rep any. –jimmy (Sailor’s Grave)


BUCK PETS, THE:
Rares and Unreleased: CD
This is a new outtakes collection from this underappreciated outfit from Texas. “Sick and Stoned,” “A Longer Look,” and “Disappointed” are stand out songs here, but these all would have been good enough to get on an album proper. Only the last tune—a jazz vamp called “Funny That Way” should have been left in the garage. Otherwise, this is a worthy addition to a criminally out of print catalogue for this band from the ‘90s. I heard they just did a reunion show, so go find Ted Nicely and give us a new record! –koepenick (Self-released)


BROWN SUGAR:
Self-titled: Cassette
Packaged like a cassingle, this tape starts out sounding vaguely punky/poppy, sort of like a cross between Dinosaur Jr and the Doughboys or something. From there, the band plows straight ahead with some solid hardcore punk. Actually, this band sounds quite a bit like a less polished Paint It Black, another Rolling Stones song-named band. There must be something about taking your name from Mick ‘n’ Keith ‘n’ the boys that leads to gruff hardcore punk stylings. –frame (Feral Kid)


BROKEN NEEDLE:
Discography: CD
Los Angeles circa now is not at all synonymous with the words “great” and “hardcore scene.” And that’s too bad because amidst bands and venues that come and go without leaving a lasting impression, there are bands like Broken Needle who prove that punk and hardcore isn’t a passing phase for them. Like any band that evolves into their sound, members came and went from the likes of Life’s Halt, Total Chaos, and Street Trash. Eventually, they would settle down with their current lineup comprised of Holier Than Thou?, Knife Fight, and Fields Of Fire alumni, not to mention one incredibly talented prodigy drummer who isn’t old enough to buy alcohol yet has also lent his services to Dr. Know (among others). This CD compiles the band’s up-to-date discography, spanning their 2004 demo (a demo I played the shit out of in anticipation of a proper release), a full length LP, EP, and compilation tracks. Most of the bands previously mentioned (the mohawked guys being the glaring exception) are spot-on references to Broken Needle’s sound: anthem-inducing, pit-starting hardcore deeply rooted in the influence of the first wave of bands from both the East and West coasts of the U.S. It’s very obvious that the guitars lead the band in their earlier recordings, whereas the newer songs are much more straight forward in approach. You can’t count Los Angeles out of the hardcore world just yet. Not if Broken Needle has anything to say about it. –Juan Espinosa (Lengua Armada, myspace.com/brokenneedle)


BRENDAN KELLY & JOE McMAHANON:
Wasted Potential: CD
Acoustic stuff is tricky work, especially in a setting like this: two frontmen of two popular bands (Lawrence Arms and Smoke Or Fire) rendering acoustic versions of their songs. To their credit, I’d say that Wasted Potential is reasonably successful. I’ve heard Smoke Or Fire on a handful of comp songs over the years and never really found them that memorable. Unfortunately, Joe McMahon’s solo outings seem to yield the same results: his voice comes across as a bit too high-pitched to compliment the git-fiddle in his hands, and the songs themselves tend to blend together. Brendan Kelly’s material fares better, if only for the fact that his bandmate Chris McCaughan sings on half of his songs, lending a bit of variety. The bias is obvious: I’ve enjoyed the Lawrence Arms for years, and hearing these songs was a treat. Granted, it’s certainly not the best venue to be introduced to the songs, but hearing the solemnity of “Necrotism”—somewhat buried in the original, electric version—and the subdued, yearning rendition of Jawbreaker’s “Kiss the Bottle” was pretty awesome. I’d say Wasted Potential is mostly for hardcore fans of either band, but Kelly’s side (though why McCaughan isn’t credited for any of the vocal work here is beyond me) carries the bulk of the weight. Fun record. –keith (Red Scare)


BOMBÓN:
El Party Con Bombón: Cassette
Apart from sheer nostalgia for people of a certain age ((and perhaps consideration for those of us who still drive motor vehicles manufactured after 1980 but prior to 2003)), there really are no abiding reasons why anyone should ever release anything on cassette again, ever. Cassettes were a fucking DUMB format. Their fidelity decreased every time you played them, they got dusty and warbly and fucked up, they got twisted and kinked and snapped, tape transport from song to song was a time-consuming and aggravating pain in the ass, and every now and again your cassette deck would just randomly eat a tape, sort of like Charlie Brown’s kite-eating tree, but less epic. About the best thing i could say for pre-recorded cassettes ((as opposed to mix tapes, which still remain the gold standard for such things)) is that if you didn’t like what was on there, you could tape over it. That said, Bombón are a pretty cool, bargain-basement, instrumental ((with occasional female Beatnik Termite-like “whaa-ooh” backing vocals and/or screams)) combo who have dispensed with such restrictive social detritus such as track listings, presumably because such Tools Of Order interfere with their prime directive of PARTY. The general vibe is reverby—but not annoyingly so—and the bass occasionally acts as a second guitar, allowing the guitar guitar to vacillate back ‘n’ forth between almost ((but not really)) Fall-Outs-like chord chomping to Cramps-like single-string twangling. I state unequivocally that this is the best cassette i’ve heard all month! Now knock it off. BEST SONG: The one where it sounds like the girls in the background are saying “Homos on the fire, wha-oh-oh, homos on the fire, wha-oh-oh” BEST SONG TITLE: Bombón are not part of your machine and reject your restrictive taxonomies accordingly! FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Never mind, i found some song titles printed on the cassette shell. I guess my favorite song is “La Playa,” then. –norb (Burger/45 RPM)


BOBOT ADRENALINE:
Dumb Bomb: CD
This is another solid effort from L.A.’s punkabilly trio. It’s stuffed to the gills with rockabilly riffs, gang choruses, and armchair politicking. Confronting militarism, war, and poverty, Bobot is the very articulate mouthpiece for the disenfranchised. While The Clash influences bleed through in “East of the Docks” and “Blast,” where the latter’s guitar structures are pretty close to “London Calling,” Bobot is not content to mimic. Striking a balance between melodic sway and roiling drums, I think this is their best work yet. If you’re in the L.A. area, check ‘em out. Recommended. –Kristen K (Basement)


BLATZ:
Cheaper than the Beer: 7”
Imagine if the Crass song “Reject of Society” was a band and recorded an EP in Berkeley, California circa 1991. Well it pretty much happened and this is it. Powerful, off-kilter songs that are just so pissed, almost tuneless, and really fucking good. While prolific bands like this are lousy with context, it’s nice to separate these songs from everything else and enjoy them for how strangely beautifully ugly they really are. –Daryl Gussin (Silver Sprocket)


BIRD NAMES:
Twenty Charters: 10” EP
Arty stuff here with creative instrumentation, sludgy rhythms, and a dream-like quality. –jimmy (Pecan Crazy)


BEAT BEAT:
Self-titled: LP
Catchy, hook-saturated garage pop. The kind that would’ve fit well on Sympathy For The Record Industry back when it ruled the roost. Rather than burying the whole thing in a morass of bad recording quality, they go for a clean, straightforward mix with enough punch to accentuate the well-written tunes. –jimmy (Bachelor)


BAYONETTES, THE:
“Guilty Pleasure” b/w “Outta My Mind”: 7”
Epigraphs on a tombstone are bittersweet. They evoke the best memories of the deceased. They’re also a reminder that they’re dead: “Beloved band. Daughter to one. Sister to many. Servant to none.” The Bayonettes, quite possibly the contemporary Canadian answer to X-Ray Spex, called it quits in 2008. These two overdriven, jumping-for-the-ceiling, scream-until-breathless songs from 2006 are right on track with what made the Bayonettes such a kick. I miss ‘em. In celebration and memoriam, “Guilty Pleasure” will get cranked so their ghosts can continue to dance around my house. –todd (Deranged)


ATOMIC SUPLEX:
Rock & Roll Must Die: 7”
There are very few times in life that a grown man can get away with claiming that a phrase as simplistic and unimaginative as “the English Guitar Wolf” constitutes a valid review. This, however, is one of those times ((except for “Do the Suplex,” which sounds like the Mad having an almost-lucid moment)). The English Guitar Wolf. Word. BEST SONG: “Rock & Roll Must Die” BEST SONG TITLE: “Do the Suplex” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: There are no songs on this record that don’t contain the words “rock & roll” or “suplex” in their title. Again, word. –norb (Frantic City)


ASSPISS:
Fuck Off and Die: 7” EP
Despite a silly name and a hackneyed title, these guys lay down four tracks of some on-point, no frills, no-bullshit thrash. Good stuff, I gotta say. –jimmy (Suburban White Trash)


ARMS ALOFT:
Comfort at Any Cost: CD
I can say with confidence that this six-song EP will make my Top 10 list for this year. The CD combines their self-titled 7” and their recent Kiss Of Death split 7” with Fake Boys, and it just so happens that this is some of the most assured, muscular, hook-filled, and smart music I’ve heard in a long time. Combine the fattened-guitar steamrolling that Rivethead dished out with that weird juxtaposition that the Lawrence Arms frequently manage, how they make solemnity and damage sound somehow redemptive. That’s pretty close to Comfort at Any Cost. Arms Aloft have crafted a handful of songs here that are wicked smart, ridiculously catchy, and wrenched from one of the most basic tenets of punk and, yeah, folk music: the idea of protest, of flying in the face of. And they do it beautifully and with just the right amount of swagger. I particularly love this type of stuff but, like sugary pop punk in the ‘90s, we’ve become inundated with bands like this. There’s a glut of groups doing this type of stuff. And yet I can think of less than half a dozen bands who are doing it as well—with the same amount of obvious passion and jagged-edge songwriting—as these guys are. I’m moving to their home state in about a month and plan on making it a mission to catch ‘em live as often as possible. Grab this one up. –keith (Gilead Media)


ANGRY SNOWMANS:
Self-titled: CD
Nothing chaps my hide more than the thought of folks being oppressed, and the best punk rock has always managed to highlight the plight of those living under the boot heel of some asshole exploiter. This album is a heartfelt primal scream from one of the most brutally overworked, yet criminally overlooked class of worker. I’m talking, of course, about Santa’s elf helpers. Three hundred and sixty five days a year (sixty six on leap year, thanks to Pope Gregory) these folks are worked in conditions Dickens would’ve found revolting to sate the greed of a planet and the obsessions of an overweight sadist with a thing for red pajamas. The Snowmans repurpose twenty of punk rock’s finest songs from the likes of the Misfits, Adolescents, D.I., (Canada’s) Subhumans, Minor Threat, Youth Brigade, Dead Kennedys, and, yes, the Angry Samoans to call attention to the deplorable conditions the “Elves of the North Pole” have endured for millennia, with titles like “Ebeneezer Über Alles,” “Richard Hung His Sock,” “Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Halls Decked in Tonight,” and “Slave to Saint Nick.” These socially aware recreations of punk classics are executed so damn well makes this a must for your favorite anarchist rally. Fucking Santa Claus. I’d shoot the fucker out of the sky next Christmas, but it’d only render the poor little fellas unemployed. –jimmy (myspace.com/angrysnowmans)


ANDREW JACKSON JIHAD / THE GUNSHY:
Split: 7”
While I really enjoyed the recording of Andrew Jackson Jihad’s Can’t Maintain album, I feel these songs somehow lack the raw, crucial, heart-on-sleeve dynamic of their earlier recordings. To be honest, I was really hoping for a return to their acoustic form, if only for this one 7”. Usually, their songs get immediately grafted into my psyche, but these songs slip out faster than math equations. When you flip this record, you flip the energy level as well. The Gunshy sound a lot like the Pogues with cool horns and strings. It’s cool that their second song is called “Only Sean Can Judge Me,” in reference to an awesome Andrew Jackson Jihad EP. –Rene Navarro (Silver Sprocket Bicycle Club)


AMERICAN CHEESEBURGER / RELIGIOUS AS FUCK:
Split: LP
American Cheeseburger: Spastic thrash with wild tempo changes popping up all over the place and a singer that’s gotta spend his waking hours perpetually sucking on throat lozenges. A whole different kind of spastic thrash with wild tempo changes popping up all over the place, RAF seem to have a wee bit more metal-by-way-of-Negative-Approach buried in there somewhere, and the guitarist often opts to let chords ring rather than strumming wildly at them. Pretty good pairing. –jimmy (No Idea)


ALICJA-POP:
: 7”
Truth in advertising, this is Alicja Trout (River City Tanlines, Mouserocket, Lost Sounds) playing straight-up, ‘60s-inspired pop by way of Oranges and Lemons XTC with gentle keyboard caresses. One original, one Daniel Johnston cover. It’s extremely pretty, full of innocence, and very far afield from what I normally listen to… but goddamn it if Alicja Trout can’t hold my hand far into a scary land that I’m fearful of—”indie rock I don’t understand made by members of once-frenetic punk bands”—and show me something, well, something that’s beautiful. –todd (Certified PR, certifiedprrecords.com)


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