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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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STAID:
Demo: CDEP

405.0pt" class="NoSpacing">Four songs in six minutes: it’s youth crew hardcore! From the Philippines, even. This is much better than I expected it to be. The lyrics are superior to most in the genre; I especially appreciated the idea of questioning the “authority inside” ourselves as a first step in getting “one step ahead.” Screamy lead vocals with some occasional gang vocals—this is fast and makes me feel like I’m nineteen again. I like it.

–kurt (myspace.com/xstaidx)


STABBINGS:
The Fall b/w No Passion: 7”

405.0pt" class="NoSpacing">Two tracks of Christian Death-inspired goth rock that weren’t at all the “outsider black metal” I was preparing myself for. Don’t let the word “goth” turn you off. No, seriously. This is good stuff. There is definitely an organ involved, but it doesn’t drown out the rest of the instrumentation or the great, agonized vocals on here. The minimalist packaging and hand stamped center labels add that DIY charm that is seldom associated with a genre of music that often relies heavily on stage theatrics and shock value for substance. Clearly, the music is the substance here.

–Juan Espinosa (Sycophanticide, stabbings.net)


SOVIETTES, THE:
Rarities: CD-R

405.0pt" class="NoSpacing">There’s a strict policy of not reviewing digital downloads of records. However, there’s also a stricter policy on “cover bands because you love them,” so when this collection of rare stuff went up for free online, I burned this shit to a CD-R and listened to it while walking to the park. That’s how much I love this band. It’s a neat collection as well. The early stuff is that classic rough-edged yet still catchy pop punk, almost like a lady-fronted D4 at times (Lane drummed on some of the early stuff). It makes me nostalgic of when I would go to shows on my own, before I really knew people, often listening to LP I on the way. It’s also neat to see how they branch out on some of the later stuff (like the Japanese song, or the “holy shit, that’s great” alternate opening track to LP III). There’s also an LP pressing of this, which I’ll hopefully acquire one way or another. In the meantime, I’m going to hope that there’s at least a few more reunion shows (I’m looking in your direction, Fest).

–joe (Red Sound, redsoundrecords.net)


SONIC AVENUES:
Self-titled: CD

405.0pt" class="NoSpacing">This gaggle of Canadian kids sound like they’re hell-bent on giving U.S. counterparts like Beat Beat Beat and Cute Lepers a run for their money and, I gotta say, they succeed handily. Of the ten tracks here, not a bad one can be found. The tunes are short, energetic, and made from equal parts punk and powerpop with just a sprig of ‘60s jangle to put ‘em over the top.

–jimmy (myspace.com/goinggagarecords)


SNOWBYRD:
Diosdado: CD
Casserole-like layers of all manner of percussion, guitars, piano, pedal steel, horns (and more) swirl like the Milky Way centripetally fixed to the sun. Even in the loss of their drummer Manny Diosdado Castillo, Snowbyrd pulls out a heady, positive mix of psychedelic story rock that may make listeners prone to such things ingest psilocybin, just to separate the layers and isolate each auditory complexity that when combined, is a bit of Santana, Phish, Animals, and even Stone Roses. –thiringer (Saustex, saustexmedia.com)


SKINNY DICK JONES:
Urban Hillbilly: CD
One-man hillbilly band. It has to be challenging to concentrate on so many things at once, which must be why this seems repetitive from song to song in tone and style. Well executed? Yes. It’s rhythmic and features several instruments. Creative? Sure. Some of the lyrics are funny. Played more than once? No. –thiringer (Madison Underground)


SILENT WAY:
Wound: LP
Starts off with a standard ‘90s indie rock sound, then around the middle they suddenly turn into Dinosaur Jr, and that’s when things start to get interesting. The sound is soaked in distorted guitars, the vocals are buried under a layer of noise, and everything else mixing around in the swirl. Songs like “Lack of Support” and “Sure Enough” sound more focused, and these are the two strongest cuts on the album. Still, this is a pretty solid record the whole way through, as they try their hand at almost a little bit of everything, such as the semi-quiet “Riptide,” which is a slow number, with the vocals sung a little soft, that sort of reminds me of Superchunk’s “Here’s Where The Strings Come in.” I get the sense that the best is yet to come from these folks. –Matt Average (myspace/com/silentwaynb)


SHELLSHAG:
Rumors in Disguise: CD
If this album were to be described in household appliances, it would be some kind of humidifier-juicer-slow-cooker hybrid. Just soothing, nutritious, delicious, patient, songwriting with maximum payoff. I’ve been a huge fan of this duo since I first heard their debut, Destroy Me, I’m Yours, and, if anything, Rumors in Disguise is their best work to date. If you’ve yet to check this band out, imagine if This Bike Is A Pipebomb decided to become a minimalist psych-garage Pixies cover band that would only play the Pixies songs that were actually good. If that doesn’t make any sense, here’s a much clearer rundown: Shell plays guitar while Jennifer plays drums. They both sing and together they create these spectacularly indefinable songs that I’m convinced almost everyone has a place for in their lives. –Daryl Gussin (Don Giovanni)


SHARK MATTER:
Chum Bucket: CDEP
Popped it into the stereo and couldn’t figure out why it wouldn’t play. Then I noticed the glue (or glue-like substance) caked all over the disc. –jimmy (sharkmatter@gmail.com)


SECOND ACADEMY, THE:
Grave from out of Which We Briefly Wander: LP + CD
This album lacks some serious consistency. It’s got more consistency than a Ween album (what doesn’t?), but I don’t think it’s supposed to come off that way. It is more like two or so bands doing a split LP, but mixing the all the bands’ songs together instead of segregating them by artist. At times, the better times, they sound like they listen to X and The Kills. At other less good times, there is some Americana/indie/acoustic business going on. –Vincent Battilana (Tsurami, no address)


SCRAPING FOR CHANGE:
Self-titled: CDEP
This band is fronted by Sterling Selover, who is the creative mastermind behind this project. How do I know for sure? Because he plays guitar and handles vocals. He also plays keyboards on four of the six songs on this EP. He wrote all the songs. All the lyrics and melodies were by him. He is also the “executive producer” of this release. I have never seen a band member’s name mentioned so much in the liner notes. The sticker on the front tells me that “track one” is the hit single. Being the diligent reviewer that I am, I listened to more than the first song. I really should be getting hazard pay for having this overproduced emo schlock in my possession. Unless you like over-emoting cock rock bands like Creed and Three Doors Down, this is not the band you are looking for. This is not a CD you  need. No Jedi mind trick needed to avoid this one. Ugh! –koepenick (Self-released)


SAVANT:
Self-titled: CD-R
I’m all for art-damaged weirdness, but you gotta draw the line somewhere. As far as Savant is concerned, it’s recording quality. I’m hearing some great sounding Jesus Lizard-style screech and skronk in there, but it’s overshadowed by the fact that it had to be recorded on that shitty ghetto blaster that sits on the dusty shelf next to the stack of ‘70s Hustler mags in Grandpa’s garage. Blown speaker fuzz can be cool at times. This isn’t one of them. –ty (myspace.com/savantatl)


ROUGH KIDS / THE IRRITONES:
Split: 7"
The Rough Kids have easily become one of L.A.’s most cherished bands. They’re able to harness a brand of garage punk that never shies away from the bubble gum hooks yet still stands firm and aggressive. Seeing them play has become a bonding experience of sorts. It’s not very often that L.A. can agree on a band. And, of course, anytime Tsubasa wants to pick up a guitar, I’ll be there with my mouth already agape. The two songs featured on this split are much poppier than the debut 7”—with cleaner vocals and more prominent guitar leads—but by all means good, yet not as good. On the other side are The Irritones. They’re French and feature members of Les Hatepinks. Ultra-snot vocals and over-the-top guitar wanking. For Christ’s sake, they’re called the Irritones! It’s kinda irritating! But if you’re gonna try and track down every Rough Kids record—and I suggest you do—then this record counts as #02. –Daryl Gussin (Crapoulet, cool@crapoulet.fr)


ROOMS:
Self-titled: CD
Have you ever seen a local band play at a bar in Austin? They almost all have this kind of sound: this really safe, non-rockin’ sound influenced by all of the other local bands in Austin. Picking up on cues from super famous “adult alternative rock” bands from The Cure to The Killers, hoping to catch on to whatever got those bands to where they are now. That said, Rooms aren’t even from Austin, but that may be their spiritual homeland. I wouldn’t mind listening to them play at a bar while I was throwing back a couple of beers, but I wouldn’t go out just to see them play. Know what I mean? –Lauren Trout (Self-released)


ROD MITCHELL:
Rose & Thorn: CD
I have to admit that I was having a little trouble listening to this album. There is something about it that is, how shall I say… excruciatingly unappealing to me. I had put it in the player quite soon after receiving it and decided at the time that I was fully not in the mood to listen to it. Thereafter, I often thought that I needed to put it on and have a listen, but I just couldn’t seem to manage to. So here we are. I’ve listened to the whole thing. I am really pretty strenuously not into it, and I feel a bit at a loss as to what to say about it. It’s kinda poppy, kinda rock’n’roll-y. I’m not exactly sure why it ruffles my feathers so, but I pretty much don’t like anything about it. I don’t like the artwork, the lyrics, the singer’s voice, or the music. I don’t like the guest female vocalist’s voice (although the female back-ups are a bit reminiscent of the B-52’s and a lot better for me). I don’t like most of the choruses. I don’t like what sounds to me like a whole massive lot of unoriginality. I actually, for a second, thought that it sounded like a kids’ album—and not a particularly good one (because to me it feels so… inconsequential, weightless, overly simplistic, or wimpy, perhaps), and if I think about it like that, it is surprisingly much more manageable for me. I looked online for a minute to see if it’s possible that it actually could be a children’s album (apparently not) and found that someone out there feels that it’s “An album both of social protest and reconciliation. It is also filled with a number of feel-good love songs sacrificing none of the thoughtful lyrics one has come to expect from a Rod Mitchell album about love, loss, and the hope of better days to come.” Although it’s quite hard to comprehend that we could actually be talking about the same album, I’m glad that someone likes it! I really am. –Jennifer Federico (Orange Knight, no address listed)


RIVER RAID, THE:
In a Forest: CD
This record is a combination of all the things I hate in music. The songs are comprised of generic keyboard loops smeared over generic power chord guitar riffs. It sounds as if it falls into the category of what I understand to be the new “dark wave.” I’m a fan of the bands that influenced this type of music—such as Killing Joke and New Order—so I asked a friend to play The Faint to see if I just wholly do not understand this type of redux. I could understand why someone would like The Faint. I do not understand why anyone would like this. –Billups Allen (Sunset, theriverraid.com)


ROGER MIRET & THE DISASTERS:
Faded: 7"
It’s interesting to note that while Roger Miret (mainly known as the vocalist behind NYHC stalwarts Agnostic Front) still belts it out the same as he ever did—twenty-five years in and he still sounds like he’s trying to cough something up—the band behind him seems to have changed their tune a bit. I have no idea what kind of songwriting process these guys go through, but the three songs on this record are tilted much more towards the rock/garage vein than previous efforts. Many would qualify this stuff as streetpunk, actually—think of the material on Lars Frederiksen’s solo records and you’re getting there. Unfortunately, the songs here are generically passable at best and I don’t like this shit for the same reason some people are undoubtedly going to laud it: the man’s legacy. He’s an undoubtedly important figure in punk rock, sure, and yet as recently as the Disasters’ last full-length, he was still throwing around thuggish gang-mentality lyrics and blatantly homophobic slags. I’ll pass. –keith (Zodiac Killer)


RIPTIDES:
Tough Luck: 7"
Punk rock on the pop punk end of things, but with a harder sound—more mid-period Ramones than “Listen to My Heart.” There’s also a definite late-period Lillingtons influence here. But enough with the referencing! This is a decent 7”, not amazing, but only a missing ingredient or two away from being really good! (But if late-period Lillingtons is your thing, you need look no further than this release, I assure you.) If this were a cereal, it’d be generic Raisin Bran, which, now that I write it, sounds like a total insult, but Raisin Bran is actually pretty good, and if the Riptides could just find a way to make their raisins a little bit sweeter… Okay, I’ll stop! –Maddy (Rally)


RANDY THUNDERBIRD:
How to Talk to Kids about Robots: CD
How to Talk to Kids about Robots is ten songs (in twenty minutes) of melodic punk from this Kalamazoo, Michigan band. However, this album does not offer any advice on how to talk to kids about robots. And, frankly, it’s a legitimate conversation that we all should have with our children. When robots grab you with those metal claws you can’t break free. Because they’re made of metal and robots are strong. They also like to eat old peoples’ medicine. And they’re a leading cause of death in people over the age of fifty. (However, I hear Old Glory Insurance offers coverage in the case of robot attacks, so there is hope.) Nevertheless, Randy Thunderbird (although it’s kind of a dumb name for a band) still puts out some good music. It’s somewhat in the vein of Hot Water Music but with some pop influences. Maybe it’s the sunny, warm weather I’m experiencing today, but this is an enjoyable, energetic album that isn’t incredibly original but still a lot of fun. –kurt (myspace.com/randythunderbird)


RAD COMPANY:
Carnivals: CD
Despite a pretty lousy name, this is one of those bands I really wanna like more than I do. The music is spot on and catchy post-Hüsker punk; fast and hook-laden in all the right ways. The problem, though, is the gruff vocals, which sound fine when things lean more towards the hardcore, but sound woefully out of place and way too forced and atonal for the remaining bulk of the songs here. A little more attention to sonic dynamics from the singer and this would’ve been much, much better. –jimmy (teamhumanstudio@gmail.com)


RAD COMPANY:
Self-titled: Cassette
This tape reminds me of late ‘90s pop punk bands I used to like and are all but forgotten: Shyster from Florida or Pinhead Circus from Colorado. I could see them opening a show for The Lawrence Arms. Like these bands, Rad Company plays heavy and hard-hitting music, but there’s always a little of that emo aftertaste to their songs because of the heart-on-the-sleeve lyrics. Take Rad Company’s “Blood Bath” lyrics: “But you could not stand someone loving you so you pushed me away.” Unlike these before mentioned bands, Rad Company is a bit more rugged on cassette in terms of production, as these songs sound like they were recorded decently in a practice space. I actual think by approaching their recording like this, it made their songs more appealing because it captured the raw aesthetic that fits their sound. My favorite track here is “Nothing Works.” It’s a tune about these guys quitting their jobs, selling their cars, and going on tour. Overall, this is a pretty decent demo worth getting if you’re into this specific style of punk. –N.L. Dewart (Rad Company, myspace.com/radcompany)


QUIEF QUOTA:
Waygae: CD
This is really hard to describe because it is influenced by so many different genres. The guitar and vocals make this a light indie rock, but they are backed by beachy, reggae-tinged beats. There are some weird ambient noises filling out the background, sort of like elevator music (or is it Muzak?) going along with the song. Makes me think of a burnt out scenester chilling out on the beach, but, I have to admit, it’s not a bad album. Definitely a “Worst Name for a Band Ever” candidate, though. –Lauren Trout (Bert Dax Cavalcade Of Stars)


PURPLE RHINESTONE EAGLE / NORTHERN SWORDS / FORSORCERERS:
Fantasy Quest: Split 25"
Aside from this one, all the reviews you see written by me in this issue were actually rewritten a second time because I got stoned and forgot to save hours and hours of work. This record is another example of why pot fucking sucks. I’m sick to death of all this noodley, wanky, hippie, retro crap that keeps coming out. If only I had started writing my reviews after listening to this record, I would have thought better of eating that fucking brownie and saved myself a lot of time. –Craven (Poison Apple, poisonapplerecords@yahoo.com)


POPPETS:
Live På Utmarken: Cassette
Who thought cassettes would come back? In the last few years, the sturdy format that was once the standard for demos is returning with a vengeance in DIY circles. Burger Records is at the forefront of the tape revival movement and they specialize not only in making cassettes, but also in making cassettes of bands that sound especially rocking on that medium. Poppets is a great, sloppy Swedish pop outfit. This live set sounds extra vital on cassette. I want to hear more of Poppets and their danceable brilliance. This isn’t some shitty homegrown packaging, but a real, factory-produced tape. Hand-numbered and limited to just 250 copies, this cassette is a blast from the format on down. –Art Ettinger (Burger, burgerrecords.webs.com)


POLYGON:
Demo: CD-R EP
Before this disc was sent to me, I downloaded the tracks because it features three of the five guys who made up the now recently departed Sleepwall. Those three guys got another guy and formed this here band, Polygon. I didn’t expect Polygon to be Sleepwall, but Sleepwall does work as a decent and seemingly appropriate reference point for discussing Polygon. Polygon, not unlike Sleepwall, also likes their ‘90s. Polygon doesn’t have all the punk inclinations of Sleepwall, but does have the affinity for good indie/alternative stuff from decades past. This doesn’t hit as hard as Sleepwall did, and part of that is due to the vocals. That doesn’t mean that it’s not good. The music is something that Sleepwall could have progressed to, but the singing is uniquely Polygon. His vocals are younger sounding and softer, which give Polygon a more playful and light-hearted tone. Polygon’s definitely worth keeping an eye out for. –Vincent Battilana (myspace.com/polygonzz)


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