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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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IVY:
A Cat’s Cause, No Dogs Problem: 7” EP
There’s a bit of artiness in Ivy’s sound to give their music a tinge of detachment or isolation. They’re clearly working within the hardcore pigeonhole, but—while they don’t ever go the full-on freak-out route—there’s something definitely off-kilter about what they’re delivering. This results in a sound that relies on creativity, not cliché parlor tricks to give the tunes a singular sheen. Nice work. –jimmy (Katorga Works, katorgaworks.bigcartel.com)


JABBER / SCIENCE POLICE:
Split: Flexi: 7”
Okay, the two sides of this split are like a pop punk power couple. Jabber have managed to totally nail it with every one- to two-minute blast of poppy sweetness I’ve ever heard from them. “All I Wanted” is my new favorite song of theirs—I don’t know how you even write hooks like that, but I need them to keep doing it. This band just gets it right every time; perfect harmonies in all the perfect places. On the other hand, five seconds into the first Science Police song, I said “That’s the fucking Get Up Kids,” meaning I’m totally on board with this. Really, though, “Look” could easily pass for a Guilt Show B-side, something I don’t see enough of these days. “One of Those Girls” tilts the balance a little further toward the scrappy pop punk end, kind of like… um, Jabber, actually. That’s a quality split pairing. This one’s going to turn out to be pretty addictive.  –Indiana Laub (Bloated Kat, bloatedkatrecords@gmail.com, bloatedkat.storenvy.com)


JEREMY PORTER AND THE TUCOS:
Above the Sweet Tea Line: CD
Smooth rock stuff with vague undercurrents of country. Even if you threatened me harm, I’d have a hard time saying that there’s any punk in this album’s DNA. Very produced and toothless. Honestly, sounds a lot like a watered-down Cracker to me. Sorry, guys, not my bag.  –keith (New Fortune)


JO KUSY:
Skyridin’ Strange Dream: CS
Listening to Skyridin’ Strange Dream is like a door swinging back and forward in time. Kusy manages to channel the best of ‘60s rock and psychedelia while adding a bit of modern pop sensibility and a touch of lo-fi navel gazing. Fuzzy vocals hiding in the mix help complete the package. If you were to eliminate his fuzzed-out vocals, I could easily imagine some of the tracks on this serving as beats for the more experimental MCs out there to rhyme over. I’d probably enjoy that album more.  –Paul J. Comeau (Wiener)


JOHN KRAUTNER:
Fun with Gum: CD
Bubblegum and other retro pop forms get the garage punk treatment on this solo album by John Krautner from The Go. The playing’s loose and the songs are fun. Krautner’s nasal croon had me thinking of The Smoking Popes, if they had a thing for David Cassidy instead of Humphrey Bogart. These ten songs hit the spot during a Sunday morning drive up the PCH.  –CT Terry (Burger)


JONNY MANAK & THE DEPRESSIVES:
Cold Pizza & Warm Beer: CD
Punk rock’n’roll, pure and simple. Carrying on where the Humpers left off. Nothing groundbreaking, but obviously that’s not the damn point. What Jonny Manak does, he does well. Perfect Friday-night-record-party music. Record party? You have those, right? No? Jesus, you’re missing out. Call up (don’t fucking text, call) at least three rock’n’roll blood brothers or sisters, stock up on beer, and crank records like this one from when you get home from work until late at night, when your neighbors threaten to call the cops. Pass out wherever you are when your legs tell you to fuck off, wake up late Saturday morning, finish off that nearly full tall boy you cracked at 4:00 AM, and after maybe an hour of the Supersuckers’ country record and some Stones, get right back into Jonny Manak & The Depressives type shit, and turn it into the best weekend of your life.  –Chad Williams (Reach Around, reacharoundrecords.net, info@reacharound.com / Self Destructo, selfdestructorecords.bandcamp.com, selfdestructorecords@gmail.com)


JOYRIDE!:
Bodies of Water: LP
This record is awesome. Joyride! has found that perfect medium that allows them to showcase powerful lyrics, great musicianship, and a heartfelt intention that is the backbone of any lasting band. On “Small Talk,” the ending reprise of “We might not say much, but we still like to talk” is belted out with such beautiful cadence and sincerity that I wouldn’t mind if the record started skipping and played that on an endless loop. There’s a small southern twinge in front-woman Jenna’s voice, which comes off as approachable and endearing, like a childhood friend. If I had to pin the band down musically, I’d say they’re somewhere between The Measure [SA] and Discount. There’s something about the delivery of the lyrics that really grabs me. This band takes the time to slow down and release each word at just the right time to make them resonate strongly while the drums are building up quietly in the background. It’s like taking a partially inflated balloon, leaking out little bits and pieces, and breathing new air into it until it either bursts or floats away in a haze. The closing song has this sleepy trumpet that takes you out in a dreamy nostalgia.  –Kayla Greet (Salinas, salinasrecords.storeenvy.com)


JUKEBOX ROMANTICS, THE:
Plot Points: 7”
Produced by Bouncing Souls legend Pete Steinkopf, the ‘90s punk rock reference points on The Jukebox Romantics’s two-song 7” Plot Points are not hard to decipher. “Where’s my country gone?” vocalist and guitarist Mike Terry demands on the first track “Living with Sin.” On “Laugh and Say Goodbye,” he implores listeners to turn away from complacency and return to the youthful punk idealism so many have left behind in favor of steady jobs, little boxes made of ticky-tacky, and political memes adorning their Facebook timelines. Hanging on an infrastructure of galloping drums, gang vocals, and album art lousy with riot cops, these sentiments will transport any punk in their early thirties back to a simpler time when the music was fun, but the message was deadly serious. –Kelley O’Death (Jailhouse, info@jailhouserecords.com, jailhouserecords.com)


KIM AND LEANNE:
True West: LP
Kim Salmon and Leanne Cowie kick up a racket across eleven tunes. As can be expected, echoes of his best-known band Scientists are in evidence, along with heaping doses of bluesy, raunchy-sounding swamp punk. Aside from a fairly unnecessary cover of the Stones’ “Dead Flowers,” and maybe a bit more intensity in vocal delivery in some places, the tunes are spot-on in the way that makes you just know they smoke live.  –jimmy (HoZac, hozacrecords.com)


KOOL 100s:
Diet Black: CS
Trash and jangle. Distorted vocals. New full-band project from one-man-band maniac Mosquito Bandito. Kool 100s is exactly the kind of off-kilter ramshackle tuneage one would expect from a band that takes its name from long menthol cigarettes. Add cool points to your cassette collection. Limited pro-dubbed cassette with screened cover.  –Matt Seward (Rainy Road, rainyroadrecords.com)


KUUDES SILMA:
Kuolemaa: 7” EP
A fine EP here from a Scandinavian band not obsessed with Discharge. Sound here is punked-up death rock, with post-punk structural sophistication and moody synths backing mostly shouted vocals. More peppy than morose, the three tunes here have the goods to get you shimmying off the gloom they just laid all over you. –jimmy (Combat Rock Industry, fireinsidemusic.com)


LASERS AND FAST AND SHIT:
Third: Munch: CD
Despite a misleading band name—not one laser sound to be found, they aren’t remotely “fast,” and this ain’t shit—these cats kick down some serious noise rock, with things especially gelling when they opt for the latter rather than the full-on skronk. If you like your Jesus Lizard with a bit less technical prowess in evidence, this’ll get your dander up. –jimmy (Forge Again, forgeagainrecords.com)


LAURICE:
Best of Laurice Vol. 1: CD
Laurice’s music is for fans of glam-era Lou Reed, ‘60s girl groups, Belle & Sebastian, musicals about teenage love, androgyny, sexual angst, and hair combs that look like switchblades There are some really great songs here done with a whole lot of heart and soul.  –John Mule (Mighty Mouth Music, almostreadyrecords.com)


LITTLE TENTS:
Fun Colors: CDEP
This record starts out as really nice, mellow, kinda indie pop with a cool, chilling build up and then HOLYFUCKINGSHIT—screamo vocals. It’s like the best jump scare in your favorite horror movie. Then the protagonist gets away from the bad man and things are nice and—OH NO, HE’S BACK. Don’t go back in the house! It’s not safe yet! Both sides of the musical coin are well executed, but they’re also jarring as hell. A few songs on the EP are sans shouts, and I tend to gravitate to those more. Especially “Try Cubed,” with melodic male vocals working in concert with the female ones, complete with lines like: “If I could be born again / I’d say fuck reincarnation.” That song is a true jam. After a listen or two, I’ve had time to prepare for the screamo parts and it makes for a much better experience. The first track is lyrically concise, though it has a couplet that really grips me: “It’s calmly cracking and it flows right out / the outcome is out of my hands.” Those lines are delivered with such an engaging tempo that it’s hard not to zero in on the lyrics straight away. There’s a lot of incredibly pretty guitar work here and intriguing tempo changes. All four members take vocal duties at one point or another, creating a myriad of styles. Certainly never heard a mix quite like this and I wasn’t quite sure what to think. End of day verdict: Why the hell not? Embrace the weird and unconventional beauty that is Little Tents.  –Kayla Greet (Bomb Pop, bombpoprecords.com)


LONESOME BILLIES, THE:
It’s Good to Be Lonesome: LP
This is a country record. A throwback, somewhat traditional—yet at times totally a rock-oriented country record—or “alt-country” if you will, but it’s still a country record. The Johnny Cash influence is evident in the sound and while the “vibe” of the record paints an “outlaw country” feel to it, I can’t imagine a time where I would ever choose to listen to this over any classic record by Waylon, Willie, or Johnny Cash. While rooted in traditional “old” country, this record has just slightly too much of a modern sound to allow me to like this.  –Mark Twistworthy (Lonesome Billies, thelonesomebillies.com)


LONG KNIFE:
Meditations on Self Destruction: LP

Another full plate of Poison Idea-influenced punk. What this translates to is thrash with a tasteful streak of metal buried in the guitars, feral and hardwired with a brutality that somehow avoids being meat-headed. It’s rare when stuff like this skirts so many lines and still maintains fire and flavor, but they’ve pulled it off in spades here. –Jimmy Alvarado (Long Knife, longknife.bandcamp.com)

–jimmy (Long Knife, longknife.bandcamp.com)


M SECTION:
Eat Your Feelings: 7”
This four piece from Santa Rosa have followed up their 2013 full-length (Vs. The Immortal Jellyfish) with a killer five-song EP. While they do wear Mexican luchador masks as a signature move, these dudes are certainly not wrestling with their instruments.Eat Your Feelings checks in heavier than their last release with dirtier production, and it’s somehow more metal. While one guitar just shreds riffs like paper in an office appliance, the other wails with whammy-induced solos. The drumming of M Section is super intense and fast—but not overbearing—and the bass keeps pace really well. Songs are introspective, smart, and have a “coming of age” sense to them. In their song “The Bills,” they cover an alternative idea of success that isn’t defined monetarily. With lyrics like “This one goes out to the ones that work to live / Job titles don’t define us, we’ve got so much more to give,” I’m confronted with issues that I can absolutely relate to. The track “Mirror of Confusion” looks at themes of glossing over depression / mental blocks just to carry on day to day, instead of tackling these beasts head on. All of these topics are presented skillfully in concise AABB rhyming patterns, spat out with a punk snarl, and resonated with intense hardcore breakdowns. Definitely a refreshing response to their full-length release. It’s really nice to watch a band grow like this. –Kayla Greet (Dump Truck / Sweet Lodge)


MAD CONDUCTOR:
Space Rock Steady: CDEP
Several times throughout this EP I had to remind myself that this is hip-hop with a full band. And sometimes I had to remember that it’s hip-hop—but so much more than just that. Ska, reggae, and funk permeate this EP and become the vehicle to MC Devlin’s lyrical manslaughter. Words like “cherubic” and “mercurial” make up Mad Conductor’s lexicon, which immediately elevates the group in my mind. I put a lot of stock in lyrics and intent when I experience music, and these guys are sharp as tacks. Unlike most hip-hop groups, this is a band that plays many different styles of music with rapping overtop—and not in that terrible Limp Bizkit/nü-metal way. The second track is about having a show shut down by cops for being over capacity and moving to a different venue. Later in the song Devlin spits about rooftop and generator shows, letting his punk rock roots show through. This MC started out fronting the punk band No Cash and has moved onto a band that is much more diverse. You can hear the punk lifestyle shine through in couplets of approximate rhymes like these: “When you were juicing vegetables, I was rockin’ Sex Pistols / Hated by the constables, because I pump the decibels.” The five-song EP is also heavy on the ska / reggae influences (complete with rude girl backing vocals), which is a perfect marriage to Devlin’s smooth lyrical poetry. These guys blew me away with their last record. This one is just as strong and deserving of your next dance party. –Kayla Greet (Self-released, madconductor.bandcamp.com)


MADCAPS, THE:
Self-titled: LP

A nice dose of ‘60s garage rock’n’roll by way of modern day France! Early Kinks and Stones are the touchstones here, along with (I’m sure) a number of other Nuggets-type bands that I’m unfamiliar with. This LP is a really enjoyable listen for someone like myself who loves those aforementioned bands but generally thinks that modern garage rock focuses way too much on fuzz and fashion rather than songs. The Madcaps have packed an LP full of great rock’n’roll songs, memorable and worth replaying on a cold night indoors, a lazy Sunday afternoon, or at a Friday night dance party. This LP will fit in nicely alongside the half-century old classics these guys obviously love. Despite the ill-advised flute-type

thing on the first song (almost lost me there guys!), I’m stoked to have this in my collection, literally filed in the rock’n’roll section between Th’ Losin’ Streaks and The MC5.  –Chad Williams (Howlin’ Bandana, howlinbananarecords.com, howlinbanana@gmail.com / Beast, beastrecords.free.fr)


MAIDEN MARS:
The Other Side: CD
Maiden Mars sounds like the Presidents Of The United States, or even Offspring with syrupy sweet vocals. It’s simple with some solid hooks; these eight songs fly by with ease. Nothing spectacular, but a pleasant listen.  –Camylle Reynolds (Bloated Kat, bloatedkat.storenvy)


MAIDEN MARS:
The Other Side: CD
This band smells like Girlvana. Not completely, but the first twenty seconds of the opening track is heavily reminiscent of the teenage grunge hit and then they divulge into their own sound. Like a set of unbrushed teeth, the majority of the guitar work is dirty, fuzzy, and biting. When combined with the layered vocal melodies from these two ladies, it comes off as a new generation of The Breeders. Maiden Mars has Kate Kane from Lipstick Homicide on drums, proving that she’s as well-versed on the strings as she is on the sticks. A lot of the tracks bounce between dual vocalists coercing in pitch-perfect harmonies and a varied sound collage of highs and lows. These women have a great deal of range that shines brightly over the alt-rock grunginess, which is both refreshing and extremely interesting to hear. –Kayla Greet (Bloated Kat, bloatedkat.storeenvy.com)


MANDATES, THE:
In the Back of Your Heart: LP
Route 66, without the cheesiness. An ultra-tight band with solid guitar leads/vocal hooks, minus any overproduction or remnants of overdoing it. That more or less sums up Calgary’s Mandates. It’s difficult to be an extremely talented band without reeking of trying too hard, yet the foursome pulls it off. Their sophomore LP has their sound honed-in a little closer to the tone-classic punk band. Gone are a few of the slower jams found on their previous long player. But don’t let that fool you—In the Back of Your Heart is a dynamic record. Pat Kearns—who’s had a hand in almost every Mandates recoding—has a sound that you can likely picture, so hopefully reference doesn’t need to be made to The Exploding Hearts, The Observers, or other blasts from Portland’s past. The album falls in line with their previous Suspicionssingle, but is still far from a departure from the self-titled LP. A smooth, anthemic ride into the night. West-coasters take note.  –Steve Adamyk (Hosehead / Taken By Surprise, takenbysurpriserecords.wordpress.com / Teenage Rampage)


MARY BUE:
Holy Bones: CD
First and foremost, this CD is not punk at all. It is indie rock with no edge or bite; suitable only for Starbucks wi-fi users. Everything I’m hearing and seeing is nothing more than stardom hopefulness from a career “musician” and quite frankly, why anyone thought of sending this in for review to a punk fanzine just puzzles me. But hey, if anyone happens to ask me if I know of an indie artist who sounds like Paula Cole with songs for a teen drama TV show then I’ll gladly hand them my copy of this disc.  –Juan Espinosa (Self-released, marybue.com)


ME TIME:
Episode 1: 20 Years Late: CD
Being a teenage skate punk in the ‘90s myself, I totally see where these dudes are coming from. From the thanking of their wives in the liner notes to the band drawing done by the bass player Paddy’s kid Cooper. This is a couple of old pals who went off and did the family thing, then came right back around to their roots. Having a gang of step kids myself, the band name totally makes sense. The act of fatherhood, if done properly, is a selfless act and can be totally draining if one is not allowed some “me time”—kudos to these dads for acknowledging that fact and doing something about it. And doing a kickass job at that. If you were a wayward punk rock teen in the nineties and want to take a trip down memory lane with some brand new shit, check out Me Time!  –Jackie Rusted (Self-released, metimeband.bandcamp.com, proteus.ix@gmail.com)


MEGAGIANT:
Today (And Every Day): CD
Retro ‘90s alternative rock. Every past music trend eventually comes back, so it was inevitable that this one would, too, right on time two decades later. What is confounding and irritating about this one is that is has crept into our little punk rock world. So-called “punk” bands covering the fucking Gin Blossoms and crap. That sucks. Now I don’t know if this Megagiant band thinks they’re a punk band, or is part of a punk scene, but just the fact that I am holding this CD for review is troubling enough. Keep alterna-rock outta punk. –Chad Williams (Minor Bird, minorbirdrecords.blogspot.com)


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