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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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NEW ENEMY, THE: Shakedown:
Shakedown: CDEP
The lyrics here are intelligent and well above the average group of punters, but the music recalls the late ‘80s/early ‘90s period of hardcore when the straight edge bands started dumping the Minor Threat worship in favor of a wee bit more metal in the geetars. –jimmy (No address)


NAKATOMI PLAZA:
Ghosts: CD
I’ve been a fan of Nakatomi Plaza (NP) since I got their Private Property album to review back in 2002 for my old zine, actionattackhelicopter. They’ve finally called it a day and decided to release these songs as their last album. For those unfamiliar with them, NP was from Brooklyn and utilized female and male vocalists while the male vocalist also did some screaming now and then. Their music was probably closest to an indie rock or punk rock sound and their lyrics were often political, in an anti-establishment vein, which I always appreciated, as they were written with some attention paid to personal emotions within that political context. However, the new album, while probably showcasing NP at their most introspective and personal, seems to lack much excitement or edginess with their sound. It’s more indie than punk this time around but, unfortunately, Al Fair’s female vocals (which I really like, as they remind me of Caithlin DeMarris from Rainer Maria) seem to be less prominent than Oscar Rodriguez’s male vocals and there are hardly any screams on the album at all (which is fine by me). I suppose that this is a logical progression in sound for NP. Because I’m a fan, I’ll probably find this album growing on me over time, as it has its compelling moments and good musicianship. However, if you want to be introduced to the band, I’m not sure this is the best place to start. –kurt (nakatomiplaza.com)


MUSIC FROM THE FILM:
World War Tree: CD
What amounts to a soundtrack for a non-existent movie about the life and death of a tree is really a bunch of unlistenable garbage played with varying degree of ability on your standard guitar, drum, and bass with keys, maracas, banjo, etc. To their credit, the Theremin sounds nice and spooky, as it should, but the rain stick certainly cancels that out. If you like listening to stray and ambient noise then you’ve got a winner here. –Jeff Proctor (myspace.com/musicfromthefilm)


MUSIC FROM THE FILM:
Playfully Abrasive: CD
Twenty-four cuts of disorientating avant audio weirdness by an experimental musical project helmed by Gary Young, augmented by a rotating cast of like-minded noise practitioners. This is some really out-there, atmospheric shit, yet it seems to be crafted well enough to grab the attention of people who generally crave traditional song structure. This album could appeal to fans of bands as diverse as U.S. Maple, Bongwater, Mister Bungle, or Pink Floyd’s Ummagumma album. This one is not for the timid, but can be quite rewarding for those looking for music far off the beaten path. –Jake Shut (Self-released)


MIXELPRICKS, THE:
Pop Punk Is Dead: CD
The Mixelpricks make an album titled Pop Punk Is Dead, then proceed make fun of stuff while sounding like a pop punk band. “If I Had Two Wives” is one of the funnier songs that delivers some lyrical zingers such as, “If I had two wives, I would be busy most every night, I could go to my other nice wife if we fight.” This album reminds me of Reggie And The Full Effect because there are humorous songs that use irony, innuendos, and stereotypes to be funny. I think I understand the concept but the album as a whole, but just doesn’t keep me interested. –N.L. Dewart (Murk Ta, myspace.com/murkta and SP., sp-records.com)


MARK SPARKLES, THE:
Rage Blackouts: 7"
A five-song 7” of primitive, lo-fi garage punk from a Seattle five piece. The jacket art fits the sonically crude nature of the band with cut and paste artwork on the front cover and a sloppy, handwritten back cover. That being said, the songs were predictable and mediocre. Not rising to the level of annoyance, just very forgettable. –Jake Shut (Artificial Limb)


MANUAL ZOMBIE:
Autumn:: CD
When I get a burned CD with a band’s name scribbled on it in ballpoint pen, wrapped in a Xeroxed piece of paper instead of a traditional jewel case, I make some assumptions: I assume I’m going to be listening to music that the band barely gave a shit about and that nobody else is going to give a shit about either. I love being reminded that it’s stupid to make assumptions. This CD is epic. So much ground is covered in its seventy minutes that it’s a challenge to sum it all up. Psych industrial soundscapes bleed into straight-forward punk. Surf guitars hump the sound of heart monitors over heavy breathing. Fuzz buries metal in dust before being intercepted by sound bites from unrecognizable films. All of this is held together by the gritty voice of a lunatic whispering into your ear that you can’t stop listening, whatever you do, don’t stop listening. –mp (Self released, myspace.com/manualzombie)


MEDICAL TOURISTS:
Self-titled: CD-R
I imagine this is their demo. Musically, this outfit is heavily influenced by Devo and late ‘70s new wave. It’s okay. Nothing really stands out, to be honest. It’s a little ironic at points, and that’s a tired hat to wear these days. Perhaps they’re having fun, and that’s cool. But the music is still bleh. You’re better off looking for more progressive electronic bands like Secret Society Of The Sonic Six, Sixteens, Led Er Est, and Xeno & Oaklander. –Matt Average (tourists.medical@gmail.com)


LORD GREEN:
Sound and Vision: Cassette
A strong debut from this Illinois stoner punk band. Their style is a little slower and sort of rambling which, coupled with the high presence of bass tones in the mix, reminds me a lot of Born Against, but with more obvious crossover tones a la early Annihilation Time. The riffs are catchy (especially the song “Circle Takes the Square”), but not as memorable as they could be. The band’s main strong point is that they seamlessly flow from faster punk rock parts into more groovy jam sessions. These guys are great live and are definitely a band to watch out for. –Guest Contributor (Self-released, myspace.com/lordgreen420)


LOVE CITY:
I Can’t Stop: 7" + CD
This is four songs of noisy garage punk with organ from this band, with the same tunes included on a CD. They are from Philadelphia and would likely fit well on a bill with Mondo Topless from the same locale. The organ is very prominent in the mix, leading to a bit of a ? And The Mysterians vibe at times. Nothing’s mind-blowing but it’s a good, solid single from Love City. –frame (Certified PR)


LIFE PARTNERS:
Men Are Talking: LP
Goofy, slightly weird lo-fi indie stuff with trumpet is what you will find here. If that description sounds appealing to you, then you will likely love this band. The vinyl is grey swirl and there is an ironic and funny picture on the cover. –frame (Ride The Snake)


LIARBIRDS:
Cut the Slack: CD
I’d heard great stuff about this band and had missed them when they came to New York the summer before, so I’m glad I got this. It’s a little hard to put my finger on, but it reminds me of a.) Some of the different but cool alternative rock bands I’d hear on the radio when I was a kid, for that roughly a year period when you’d hear cool stuff, and b.) It kind of reminds me of ALL/some Cruz Records influence. Only, they don’t beat you over the head with it, like every other band that’s influenced by Cruz Records. –joe (Heart of the Lakes)


LEFTOVERS, THE:
Eager to Please: CD
Sounds like a combo of The Ramones, The Phuzz, and the God Damn Doo Wop Band, which is pretty cool if you think about it. This pop punk trio comes with a twist that is listening-friendly, even for the weakest ear. Music can be applied to drinking parties, dance parties, and long car rides that need some spicing up, especially with songs that have choruses which say, “We’re gonna party till we die.” Shit, you’re gonna love this. –Corinne (Crappy)


LA MALADRESSE:
Self-titled: CD
Sounds like Rites of Spring meets the Minutemen’s time signatures meets several dozen of those teenage emo bands who used to open up for my old band at stinky VFW halls with no stage and the house lights either all the way on or all the way off in the 90’s that made me question whether my earplugs were working properly because i could still hear them somewhat, mashed up into a certain type of gravel that gets in your shoe easily and also, counterintuitively, sticks to your pants like cockleburs. In the spirit of sportsmanship, i usually think it’s pretty important to give any record i am assigned to review a fair playthrough; this one, however, i’ll admit i got up from my desk and got lunch about two or three songs in. Lunch didn’t work, though—i could still hear them somewhat. BEST SONG: “Océan de Distance” BEST SONG TITLE: “Hypertension” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: I actually have hypertension. –norb (Mon Oeil)


KRUM BUMS:
Same Old Story: CD
These guys have been around a fair bit. Nothing really different here. Hard-driving street punk that fits in just fine on TKO Records. I find the vocals to be a bit over-the-top in the screamy/screechy department. Yep, I’d like it more without the vocals. –ty (TKO)


KNIFE THE SYMPHONY:
Dead Tongues: CD
Alt-rock stuff that strip mines the loud/soft trappings of emo, albeit leaning more towards the early ‘90s variant than the current crop of boohoo simps. Ain’t my cup o’ poison, but I’ve heard worse. –jimmy (Phatry)


KILLED BY THE BULL:
Failing Is Fun: LP
The first song blows. It starts off with someone asking “Can everybody hear me” through a megaphone and continuing to rant unintelligibly through it. It shifts into a breakneck psychobilly monstrosity. “Turn Me into Dirt” is an operatic monstrosity with soaring riffs and galloping drums. It’s not any better than the first song. I flip the record over and am treated to a vocal monstrosity of off-key caterwauling on “…From the White Light.” Reading some background about the band on the label website says that the members have hardcore roots (The Judas Factor) but choose to explore the musical intersections of punk, folk, and indie. Should’a remained uncharted territory. Why not throw in techno and two-step to the mix? It couldn’t sound any worse. With all the time changes, breakdowns, and explorations of musical styles, it comes off sounding like a well executed impression of System Of A Down and, at times, Muse. No, that’s not a compliment. –benke (Koi)


KID TESTED:
Pop Era Laundry: CD
I can’t say I’ve ever heard a band that sounded so bored in my life. If you’re not interested, I’m not interested. It’s that simple. They had one or two good songs that were fun, but most of it was slow and boring. Usually, one doesn’t equal to the other, but with this band it did. Their style is garagey-surfy, punk-esque indie. Just from the genre name it should be fun, but it isn’t. I wanted to like you—your song titles were so good! –Bryan Static (Self-released)


JUDAS BUNCH, THE:
Betrayer’s Brew: CD
Musically, this has all the earmarks of a band trying their damnedest to secure a slot on both the Hootenanny and the Warped Tour. A GG Allin cover and a track entitled “Fuck the Police,” which is not an NWA cover, indicates they’re not quite so worried about radio airplay. –jimmy (myspace.com/thejudasbunch)


JOHN WESLEY COLEMAN III:
Steal My Mind: LP
I don’t know why I’m having such a hard time finding the words to express just how good this album is, but for some reason I can’t put my finger on exactly what keeps me going back to the turntable to play this fucker again and again. Having heard the Golden Boys and digging them a hell of a lot, I thought that an album by one of them would sound a little different. Like what? I’m not sure, but not like this, and not this good. This record sounds like the Cheater Slicks decided to record with a big time Nashville producer and Bob Dylan’s organ player. There’s even a little Velvet Underground influence going on on side two. Standout tracks are “Donkey Song,” “I Can’t Sleep,” “Where Did My Friends Go,” and “There Goes My Baby.” Track this down and play the shit out of it. –benke (Certified PR)


JOHN WALSH:
Home: CD-R
John Walsh is a joke band, but a pretty fucking funny one at that. The twenty fast hardcore songs featured here include “The Best Fucking High Five Ever!” and “What I Say Is Heck Yes!” Instead of backing vocals (or “shout outs,” as one might expect from this subgenre), you get whistling. Yes, whistling. John Walsh is kind of reminiscent of Fat Day, but not quite as classy. –Art Ettinger (Self-released, myspace.com/americasmostpositive)


JESU:
Opiate Sun: CDEP
All of the records released by Jesu have been thick and syrupy, but the past few recordings are so crushingly beautiful, slow and plaintive, heartbreaking, and sublime, that they command full attention. I’ve found a few of these songs come up on my ipod shuffle—once pulling over on the highway to finish the song, “Losing Streak,” while staring at a red sun setting beyond the West Maui mountain. This EP captured that moment perfectly. –Steve Hart (Caldo Verde)


JAPANESE MONSTERS / READY THE JET:
Split: 7"
Japanese Monsters: Sarcasm, cynicism, and “I’m-over-it”-isms abound. It could be said that they’ve been huffing Off With Their Heads’ model glue fumes, but that wouldn’t be completely fair. These two songs show a nice range, from a direct punch to one more spooling, filled with a caustic tension. Ready The Jet: I miss Superchunk—I unabashedly celebrate their entire catalog, even the slower stuff—and that style of indie rock. The power and brightness of jangling guitars. The positive bounce. The poetic-without-wincing lyrics. Softer voices sung rather than shouted. Tight rhythm section. Excellent split. –todd (Enith)


IT BURNS:
Tenant’s Rights: 7"
Pretty strong mid-tempo, snotty hardcore punk single from this band. There can never be too much of this style and It Burns are doing a damn good job of it. I also felt like I heard a little Boogada-era Screeching Weasel in the mix here and there while this was playing. The band appears to be from Carbondale, IL and plays shows with Sass Dragons and others. Check ‘em out. –frame (Let's Pretend/Beercan)


IRON LUNG / WALLS / PIG HEART TRANSPLANT:
Public Humiliation: 12"
This is a three-way collaborative effort recorded live on Halloween night of last year. The set list consists of rearrangements of songs by the three bands as well as a great cover of a Big Black song. The sound quality is way above par—considering the fact that this is a live recording—and the playing is so insanely tight it’s almost unbelievable. I always chalked up Iron Lung’s ability to play so fast to them being a two-member band, but here they are playing just as fast with a total of seven players. The time changes are spot-on, the arrangements never lose you, and they skip over most of the annoying parts of the live record experience (no long interludes, no pointless stage banter). Iron Lung is currently an unstoppable force and, apparently, just can’t stop putting out records. Like all their releases, the packaging and artwork is top notch. The original pressing sold out almost immediately and it’s currently on a second press on white vinyl. –Ian Wise –Guest Contributor ()


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·GREAT BRAIN REBELLION, THE
·RETARDED, THE
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