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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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CATALYST, THE:
Swallow Your Teeth: 12”

The Catalyst is the most exciting band in punk right now. I was completely blown away by the Mariana’s Trench 12” they put out, and this record is even better. It’s a definite progression, but they retain the same dirty aesthetic they’ve shown in the past. The heavy parts still remind me of the Melvins, and while there are nods to other influences that round out the album, the band has developed a sound all their own. “SmallTown, Big Mouth” bleeds Scandinavian crust in the vein of End Of All while its follow-up track, “Werewolves of Washington,” slows down to a near stop to allow the huge guitar riffs to soar over the rest of the music. The greatest thing is that in refining their sound, the band is even more capable of writing great songs that work on their own while building on each other in the context of an album. This is a completely calculated, thought-out record that grips you like The Refused’s Shape of Punk to Come or Circle Takes The Square’s As the Roots Undo. This album is tomorrow’s absolute classic. –Ian Wise

–Guest Contributor (Perpetual Motion Machine)


BROTHERS GROSS, THE:
Time to Go Now: CD
Simple, yet solid ‘77 style pop punk a la FM Knives from this Indiana three-piece that includes an actual set of Brothers Gross, as the name suggests. The more rocking numbers explore the area mined out by the skinny tie sneer of 999, while an ever-present tambourine glosses everything over with a pop sheen. More contemplative tunes, like “When the Lights Are Low” flirt with synths and female backing vocals, giving off a new wavey Buzzcocks feel to them. More natural than nostalgic, this is a fun listen. –Jeff Proctor (Bad Track)


BROKEN NEEDLE:
Self-titled: 7”EP
L.A. hardcore in the long Southern California tradition of the Middle Class to the Adolescents to Reagan SS: shouted vocals, pissed-yet-one-percent-hopeful lyrics, Vicious Circle guitar sound, drums as dense as mid-summer smog. Broken Needle, like Career Suicide, straddle a nice balance between of being unmistakably hardcore played by folks who have a deep and long understanding of it, while still being played with an urgency and an abandon that keeps them from being merely throwbacks to a time that really didn’t exist. Bonus points for the archival and new Edward Colver shots on both sides of the sleeve, tying in the concept of tradition mixing with new blood. –todd (Schizophrenic)


BOUNCING SOULS, THE:
Ghosts on the Boardwalk: CD
So this is the collection of the twelve songs that The Bouncing Souls released one-at-a-time on the first of every month over the course of 2009—a pretty cool idea that I did not keep up with, opting instead to hear them in their collected format. The result is a record that keeps right in line with the Souls’ evolution. In the same world as The Gold Record, Ghosts on the Boardwalk has its share of killer fist-pumping sing-along anthems, a few weirder, slow rock’n’roll tracks that have become staples of their records, and the requisite fast, goofy fun songs that the band always throws in the mix. So, ya, it’s a Bouncing Souls record, which, for me, means that there are a few skippers, a few pretty good songs, and a handful of songs that I will love deeply forever. I guess I can’t really complain about that. –Dave Williams (Chunksaah)


BOTOX RATS:
Modern Caesars: LP
Good, solid snotty punk rock for fans of Pelado and Hostage Records. Features members of Disco Lepers, Shanghai Wires, and the Jabbs and would appeal to fans of Stitches, Smut Peddlers, Cute Lepers, or The Pegs in a big way. Reminds me a lot of a SoCal band I got a demo from about a decade back called the First Wave Boys. The music is herky jerky without being post punk and the vocals are high pitched without being whiny. Looks like they have a split single coming out with Duane Peters’ Gunfight, so I am sure we will be hearing more from this band. –frame (Meaty Beaty, myspace.com/meatybeatyrecords)


BOATS!:
Summer Vacation: 7” EP
Boats! just blast out four perfect pogo punk pop songs on this 7”. Think Cute Lepers with more emphasis on the fun. It can be a risky endeavor for bands trying to turn innocuous themes such as pool parties into punk anthems but Boats! do it without a hitch with the track, “Pool Party.” Overall, this record reminds me of one those ‘80s National Lampoon movies for its perfect recipe of self-deprecation mixed with funny and served with just the right amount of edge to hold the whole thing together. Ahhh, this is such precious vinyl. –N.L. Dewart (No Front Teeth, May Cause Dizziness, mcdrecords.com)


BLOODBATH AND BEYOND:
Punk Planets: 7”EP
Expectations destroy. Schedules are for squares. Being on time gives you ulcers. Knowing what day of the week it is is a weakness. All weed is medicinal. The part of the burrito that runs down your arm? That’s where all the vitamins are. This was recorded way before caffeine and taurine were taken out of Sparks. Beer = brain food. A motivational speech goes as following: “I like pickles! I like bunnies!” Supergroups = Damn Yankees. In April of 2005, Paddy Costello (D4), Mike Napkin (Observers), Davey (Tiltwheel), and Ben Snakepit (J. Church) oiled up their party bellies, shaved for battle, and got down to the business at hand of making… a purely American record. It’s a paradox. It simultaneously supersedes and falls short of expectations. It’s a mess, but it sounds chaotically alive. It’s a clever gimmick—all the way, starting with the name—but it’s not a joke record that lives out its welcome after a spin or two. If George Carlin grew up listening to Ass Rash, Battalion Of Saints, and the Effigies? Maybe. Dudes having fun, wanting dudes of both genders to have fun with ‘em? That’s the target demographic. “Did you just puke on the carpet?” –todd (Little Deputy / Recess)


BILL COLLECTORS:
Hole in the City” b/w “Gold Medal: 7”
Some great, trashy garage punk from Seattle. Inevitable comparisons to Estrus bands or dudes from Calgary like Von Zippers or The Mants. Love it! –ty (Collectors Inc.)


BI-FURIOUS:
Are Stoked!: CD
Someone from Sass Dragons is in this band. Unfortunately, that didn’t make me like it any more. There are some decent song titles like “Hurry Your Ass” and “Let’s Smoke Crack,” but the songs all just come across as one big blur. There’s nothing here to make any of them stand out. I did like the letter in the insert, but that’s not going to move any product this time around. –koepenick (Let’s Pretend)


BEAUTIFUL MOTHERS, THE:
Chikara: CD
The first mistake I made with this album was thinking the band was Japanese. In my defense, the song titles are written in both Japanese and English. It was a fair mistake. This band is from Seattle, but the internet tells me they are very popular in Japan. Hence the Japanese translations on the album cover. The second mistake I made with this album was listening to it at bedtime. This is not a bedtime album. This is an album of heart-clutching rock’n’roll. It sounds desperate and not in a bad way. The good kind of desperate, the kind that propels music forward and makes it an experience instead of just a recording. I think Japan is on to something. –jennifer (Tsurumi)


BARRERACUDAS:
Self-titled: 7”
This is the Barreracudas first 45 and in the time it has been sitting in my review pile, they’ve released at least one more record, possibly two. Don’t let my laziness prevent you from picking up this 7”, though, especially if you yearn for a return to the summer of ‘75 hanging out at the MercerArtsCenter. From the sound of this record, the Barreracudas have been tearing up Atlanta dive bars with glittery blasts of boozy glam rock that would make Johnny Thunders smile even at his most jaundiced. The A side, “New York Honeys,” is a swaggering power pearl dripping with the lyrical agony of a guy giving his girl an ultimatum—”It’s me or him, babe.” The guitar playing is what you’d expect to find on a long-lost Hollywood Brats single. The flip side contains “Don’t Get Me Wrong,” a driving tune in the Real Kids vein that rips its guitar solo from a Cars song. Good, decidedly unclean fun. –benke (Douchemaster)


AURYN / FILTH MATTRESS:
Split: 7”
Auryn: The perfect mix of dynamic hardcore and triumphant metal. Super exciting. Reminds me a bit of the old Ohio band Memento Mori. From Pittsburgh. One song. Filth Mattress: Crusty, simple punk with shred-metal leads. From Seattle, like Sir Mix-A-Lot. Two songs. The bands compliment each other well, but Auryn really gets the blood pumping. Cool packaging with silkscreened cardboard and a paper sash. –CT Terry (Square Of Opposition)


ASSHOLEPARADE:
Welcome Fucking Home: 7”EP
Prior to listening to this, if someone had told me that the Assholeparade of today still tore shit up the way they used to in the ‘90s, I would have cynically said that I would find that hard to believe. How many times have we seen our once-mighty heroes hang up their guitars only to wish they had never decided to strap them back on after listening to what years of hibernation had done to their songwriting capabilities? Assholeparade, I will never doubt you again for a second. Still true to form in their Septic Death by way of Infest delivery, not one of the seven songs here sounds like a rehashed version of any of their previous material. Now put the bong down and go get this! –Juan Espinosa (No Idea)


ANALENA:
Inconstantinopolis: CD
Wow. Analena—centered out of Croatia, and having been around for over a decade—is just spot on with this record. Wonderfully intricate melodies that give way to harsh, howling freakouts—dual guitar attacks and a vocalist who ranges from rich singing to acerbic shrieks and back. Inconstantinopolis is apparently their third full-length, alongside a handful of other releases as well, and they come across as a group of folks entirely on top of their game. There’s an assured confidence here that’s hard to deny. At times they remind me of old screamo acts like The Assistant and at others—particularly when they go from those melodically interwoven musical moments to a full-blown howling explosion—where they’re wonderfully reminiscent of Submission Hold. I mean, the vocalist comes across at times as a dead ringer for Jen Throw-Up, which made me really enjoy this record and also more than a tad wistful for the old days. But all that aside, this is some absolutely ferocious and capable “post punk” with focus and energy to spare. The more I listen to it, the more involved and ambitious it sounds. I rarely do this, but folks should head over to analena.org and check this band’s stuff out. –keith (Moonlee)


AMMUNITION:
Unity and Rebellion: CD
Here’s something that I wasn’t expecting to be writing. Ammunition is a band that is doing something new in the oi genre. Really. From the looks of the disc, it is pretty much the usual fare. Old English-style fonts, a group of skinheads, a skull, and a mean-looking dog. It was only after I played it that I realized that this was something special. Right off the bat, you notice that it’s really quiet. It wasn’t the mix, but the actual music. Low key, mid-tempo rock with the bass up front. Then the lyrics kicked in. The guy singing has a low, raspy voice and is almost whispering in his delivery. This in itself may not seem at extraordinary, but the lyrics themselves are what you would usually find on this kind of record, so it winds up being pretty amazing to hear someone so relaxed singing about storming the streets, standing and fighting, and hating the cops. It took me a couple of songs to wrap my head around it, but once I did, I really got into it. Cheers to you, Ammunition. You’ve managed to be original in a very static genre. –ty (Class War)


AMISH ELECTRIC CHAIR:
Straight, No Chaser: CD
This five-song disc really packs a punch. Right off the bat, it took me back to the late ‘90s with a sound that’s reminding me a lot of some of the bands on Dr. Strange in that era (The Marshes in particular) with a heavy dose of Anti-Flag’s first couple records (you know, the ones where they were mad rather than sad). They’re pissed off and rocking. There is something to be said for putting a socio-political message in your lyrics and not coming off like a preachy, whiny jerk. AEC pulls it off nicely. I really like this a lot and would hope there is a longer disc on the way. –ty (Geykido Comet)


ALKALINE TRIO:
This Addiction: CD
Aw, man. Okay, I want to love this. I really do. This band has put out three of my favorite records, and, while it often raises an eyebrow, Crimson is easily my favorite of the lot, so I’m not exactly adverse to their “spookier” side or their more recent forays into melodic rock territory. When I got wind that this new record was going to be a return to their “punk” sound (rarely a successful initiative), I was very cautiously optimistic. After one listen, I wasn’t exactly floored. Song titles like “Dine, Dine My Darling” and “The American Scream” already had me cringing, and the rather uninspired, throwaway songs themselves certainly didn’t make up for it. There are some great tracks on here, for sure (sadly, one being “Draculina”), but I fear that these three incredibly talented young men have crossed one step too far into cartoon territory. It’s entirely possible that, in time, I will love this record (which happened with Agony and Irony), but my hopes ain’t high. Dang. –Dave Williams (Heart & Skull)


AL SCORCH:
This Lonesome World…: 7” EP
These four tracks from Chicago’s Al Scorch And The Country Soul Ensemble are foot stamping and banjo shredding. Two songs are Scorch’s own and the others are traditional tunes Scorch and company adapted. My favorite, “BetsyBay,” a Scottish sailing song, incorporates a violin and is rife with homesickness and longing. This snapshot of Al’s talent, although impressive, makes me wish he employed the Ensemble more to cook up a truly potent folk punk brew –Kristen K (Let’s Pretend)


AK-47:
Self-titled: CD
Right off the bat, I will disclose that the members of AK-47 are friends of mine. That said, I feel that I can still review this properly since I was a fan of the band long before I met the personnel. AK-47 are a hardcore institution here in Victoria B.C., having released their first cassette back in 1997. Here we are, thirteen years later, and the band has just released what I can honestly say is their best. “But wait, Ty. You don’t even like hardcore!” Bullshit! I hate that jock metal that seems to pass for hardcore these days. AK-47 is a prime example of what a hardcore band should sound like in 2010. Hard, fast, and brutal, the disc is relentless in its attack on the laundry list of ills in our society. Governments, corporations, religion, and racists all get a taste of the fury. The songs are quick blasts that are over before you know what hit you, yet the message is clear. There is no “cookie monster” growling and “chugga-chugga” riffage here, just pure anger exploding in your ears. Imagine a spider monkey trapped in a small cage constantly poked and prodded by some clown with a stick. Well this disc is the soundtrack to the day that monkey gets out of that cage and exacts its revenge. It’s the sound of the desperation of the situation mixed with anger and vengeance. To answer a question posed by a song on the disc: Yes. Yes I have wanted to curbstomp my fucking boss from time to time. –ty (Reason)


A/V MURDER:
Tourettes” b/w “Fight like a Man: 7”
If I had started that band that I always said I was going to start all those years ago, I’d be pretty pissed off at A/V Murder for biting our style. Stripped-down, dirgey punk rock with a slight hardcore influence and not a trace of melody to be found. Sir Henry Fiat would approve of the spazzed-out vocals here. Great stuff from what you would sort of expect from Tyrades and Baseball Furies members, but probably not Cococoma –Juan Espinosa (Local Cross)


AIRFIX KITS:
“Playing Both Sides” b/w “Leaving” and Flex Time: 7” EP
Ten years ago, I sneered at the idea of “singer songwriters,” casting them off into the Yacht Rock camp of Loggins and Messina or post-Wings McCartney. But, as in this often cicada-short lifespan of many punk bands, it’s a worthy enterprise tracing particular folks through their various bands, discovering which of their fingerprints were on the steering wheel of a particular musical conveyance. Airfix Kits emerge from the Giant Haystacks cocoon, vocally led by Allan, a British ex-patriot. The Airfix Kits shed many of the Haystacks’ Minutemen-isms. Charming noodling is replaced by tighter, bouncier songs. And the reason I’m intentionally covering two 7”s in the same review is that they have a nice “snapshots of a time” feel to them. The 7”s work great by themselves, but played one after another, it’s like several short stories—think of author Alan Sillitoe, if that helps—telling a larger one: of a man emotionally betrayed, a man trapped by his lack of ambition, a man who’s surrounded by friends making bad decisions. It’s reminiscent, in the best ways, of early Who, early Jam, and Gang Of Four: specific, but universal narratives played like actual lives are at stake… with a beat you can snap your fingers to. –todd (Dirtnap, Deranged)


45 ADAPTERS, THE:
Not One More Day: 7”
After a quick glance at this 7” jacket, smattered with Fred Perry ensembles and a dedication to a carpenters’ union, I was preparing myself for some run-of-the-mill, American-style oi. Thankfully, this is not the case. Actually, the 45 Adapters (questionable name choice aside) are infinitely more interesting than the bands they’d likely play alongside. Make no mistake, there are elements of gruff street rock present, but it’s clear that these lads also have an ear for Jamaican ska and R&B, and it shines through not only in the music, but also in the production of the record. The recording alone sets this band apart from its peers, which is painfully necessary in a genre that is totally oversaturated and typically invariable. I’d definitely be interested to hear what else these guys have in store. –Dave Williams (Longshot/Contra)


X:
Home is Where the Floor Is: 7"EP
Not to be confused with the LA band, this is a collection of late‑'70s recordings by this long‑gone Aussie band. What it sounds like is raw, rude punk slop with virtually no discernable Ramones influence whatsoever. Classic, to say the least. –jimmy (Rocknroll Blitzkrieg)


WORTHLESS:
Which Side Are You On: CD
Nothing pleases me more than when a band accurately assesses just how crucial their music is to the underground with their name. Too cryptic? How's "Piss poor Rancid pretenders" sound? –jimmy (Metro)


WILD SAMMY & THE ROYALTONES:
Speed Crazy: CD
Wild is right. This is some Grade‑A, smokin' surf music from a top‑notch Japanese trio. The rhythm section provides a solid backbeat for a guitarist who has all the chops to put him up in league with Dick Dale hisself. No bullshittin' here, kid, this is some seriously good music. –jimmy (One Million Dollar)


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