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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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TILTWHEEL/OVAL:
Split: 7"
This 7" has two three‑piece bands who approach music similarly. Tiltwheel: unsung, virtually unknown, and usually hands‑down favorites of mine, don't play poorly, but Davey's vocals on this 7" sound like a hybrid between Alvin Chipmunk and a prostate cancer'd Bob Mould ‑ tight, high, and uncomfortable. It think it's the mastering or Davey lost a testicle and didn't tell anyone. Anyhow, if you're willing to be netted into songs instead of going for a "professional," bright hook, Tiltwheel will grab a toe and take you down slowly. (Well, except the second song is a cover of Cher's "Believe.") Their last LP, "Hair‑Brained Scheme Addicts" is well worth seeking out. Oval: hyper‑proficient, super‑tight Japanese rock, much in the vein of Leatherface's instrumentation (i.e. they build this thing called tension instead of doing a bar chord). If you give your ears the time to unspool what's being played, you realize how lazy most other pop bands are. The only drawback is, once again, the vocals, which are scratchy and stuck in mid‑screech all the way through ‑ but maybe that's how they always sound. Last word: hard to fully endorse because of the vocals, but wouldn't hurt to snap up if you see it in the bin. –todd (Snuffy Smile)


TIGER ARMY:
Self-titled: CD
With such "powerhouse" affiliations (A.F.I., Tim Armstrong, Rob Peltier of the Quakes, nourishment from the Hellbillys and across‑the‑board references to early Misfits and the Rev), only the most bored and bitter of devotees could wonder why this shouldn't be the American psychobilly "IT" band of the millennium. Although the album gets off to a rollicking good start like any great Klingonz album would, Nick 13's (insert hysterical bobby soxer screams here) mellifluous voice, albeit strong and unwavering, doesn't always convince or make a concave impression through the blistering muck of a nimbly‑played stand‑up and rip‑roarin' guitar, all done up in proper style. But there is redemption ‑ Nick's voice shines like a Gibbous moon late for Halloween on the more country‑oriented material (akin to Ness sans battle scars) and may send chills through the spines of any pretty‑boy lovin' Bang Bang sissy. Caveat emptor: proceed with caution and a grain of salt. The hoodoo‑voodoo setting may bore you to death and that ain't how the properly evil die. –Guest Contributor (Hellcat)


TANTRUM OF THE MUSE:
Modernmu$ick 2000: CD
For an apparent bunch of Christians, these guys are pretty hard. I guess, what with the violent lyrics and the various pictures of pigs' heads, they've decided to embrace the hypocrisy between the theory and actual practice of their chosen religion and exploit it for all it's worth. –jimmy (Take Hold)


SUPA DJ DMITRY:
Scream of Consciousness: CD
I guess disco's trying to make yet another comeback. It figures this guy was in Deelite. –jimmy (TVT/Wax Trax)


SUK:
Self-titled: CD
Pretty run of the mill hardcore. No big whoop here. –jimmy (Incriminating)


STRIKE ANYWHERE:
Chorus of One: CDEP
Fuck me, this is great. Ever listen to bands that burn fast and hot just like gasoline, that make you want to start fires the first time you put them on? They've got the supercharged posi‑core anthems for tomorrow dynamics down to a tee. I hear a lot of Good Riddance, only if Russ was cloned three times and did backup vocals. I hear a lot of Avail. Super tight, uber‑force Richmond, Virginia songs of rebellion. (Lyrics proclaim "resist infiltration," "we are at war" and "leave their power unfilled." And the conviction is so believable that it's far from laughable.) I hear a lot of Hot Water Music. The guitarists are twining the same strands of rope into a double‑tight musical noose and although the songs are powerful, they're not simple, wanky, nor fearful of slowing down on occasion. Most importantly, I hear a band that believes in themselves. Impressive first volley across the bow. I think Jade Tree's going to re‑release this. –todd (Red Leader)


STRAP ONS:
Self-titled: 7"EP
Primal punk rock dementia covering masturbating perverts, women with urinary problems, assholes and teenagers committing infanticide. Pure fucking genius. –jimmy (Rapid Pulse)


STRAIGHTFACED:
Pulling Teeth: CD
If I were in Helmet, I'd sue these guys back into the Stone Age. –jimmy (Epitaph)


STARTER KIT:
Self-titled: CD
Boring as hell emo/college pop. –jimmy (M-Theory)


SOLAR SATURDAY, THE:
The Solar Saturday: EP
Kinda garage/lounge/indie. The keyboardist from Papas Fritas is in the band so it does sound a bit like them. Definitely Silverlake lounge‑able for those of you in the LA area and know where I'm talking about. If you're not fond of bands who bear tambourines, then you might not like Solar Saturday. –Guest Contributor (Nearby Music)


SMUT PEDDLERS:
Bipolar Girl: 7"EP
Tickle me pink and tattoo a skull on my throat. This is good. When I'd cordoned off the Smut Peddlers to the playground of The Dwarves and GG Allin camp of white trash punk, comes this slab of wax. The playing has always been powerful (shit, with Roger Ramjet (X‑Members, Pushers, ADZ) skinning his guitar, leading the attack) and with Julia's drumming and Gish's bass, the music's been as tight as a liposuctioned thigh on a soccer mom, but the lyrics seemed ‑ well ‑ a bit dumb. I'm not asking for "Masterpiece Theatre" or anything, but it seemed they were gonna get as complex and deep as shooting speed. Maybe I wasn't listening closely enough before. For example, with the song and main chorus "Let's Get (Fucked Up)" is the inverse of what you're thinking. It's about the travails of a sober guy drinking fizzy apple cider on New Years Eve. And the other two songs complete Polaroid snapshots of Orange County in decline ‑ surfers with Hepatitis C, washed‑up construction worker surfers, and being in love with a girl with a bona fide psychological disorder. I'd even go far to say that "Surfer's Grave" is an epic. A surprise. What separates this release from the rest of the Hostage pack? The band's actually smiling on the picture on the insert. –todd (Hostage)


SMOGTOWN:
Audiophile: 7"EP
The question I find myself presented with is this: How or what makes Smogtown the best at what they do ‑ surf punk? The title track fucking kills and plays along like an air raid siren blasting over a bong‑toking beach party. It's the fun, nervous tension that they capture which is so addictive. I can hear echoes of the past of Orange County punk, but those echoes are distant compared to the absolutely fresh scree Smogtown continues to provide. They even tackle and champion an instrumental on this one: "Blackout in Beach City." As with anything that has Smogtown on the cover, you'll be a better person if you buy it. That all said, the cover blows. Sorry, but it looks like someone just learned computer layout, found the emboss filter and had a 45 spool to play with. My only qualm with the band? Tour, you fuckers, tour and the world will be yours. –todd (Hostage)


SMALL BROWN BIKE:
Dead Reckoning: CD
Small Brown Bike is touring with Leatherface and Hot Water Music now, and that line‑up sounds just about right because Small Brown Bike is definitely in the same vein, musically. There's a sense of racing towards the edge of chaos without going off. The sound is very full, and everyone seems to be doing something interesting. The bass guitar is more prevalent in this album than in most rock'n'roll records, but not in a wanking way. Ben Reed has a way of playing bass like it's a drum, filling in spaces between beats. It's very cool and it matches well with the rest of the songs, which all rock. Lyrically, it comes across as the poetry of a melancholy guy in his twenties, which I don't really dig, but when you don't read the lyric sheet, you catch only snippets of pretty poetic lines, and I do dig that. No Idea found a real gem in this band. I'm looking forward to catching them live when they come around. –sean (No Idea)


SLIGHT SLAPPERS:
A Selfish World Called Freedom: CD
My band did a split with these guys and it was one of our more popular releases. Fastcore at its finest. Fast, faster and sometimes over the top - manic rage that feels like a power drill is being forced against your temple while you are overdosing on amphetamines. Screaming vocals are flowing over guitar riffs that are so fast that you wonder if it is possible. The drum beats are pounded so fast you wonder if the tape machine was sped up. I sometimes think the bass player must have calluses the size of quarters on his fingers. It's a full release with 20 tracks that barely clocks in just under 21 minutes; short bursts of intense energy that peeks your adrenaline meter to the point of a heart attack and you survive with no side effects. This is the first thing you need to listen to after leaving that shitty job you got stuck in. –don (HG Fact)


SLIGHT SLAPPERS:
A Selfish World Called Freedom: CD
The band's name is a misnomer, for there is nothing slight about what they do. Their music is the aural equivalent of being repeatedly bitch‑slapped with a studded metal fly swatter. This is a seein' stars, turn all the lights off, no relief in sight migraine that no amount of aspirin is gonna help. It's all hyper‑speed tempos, over‑the top screeching and a "let's go in, kill 'em all and get the fuck out" plan of attack. More succinctly, the title of their opening salvo says it all: "Tokyo Power Violence." –jimmy (HG Fact)


SICK BEES:
My Pleasure: CD
This was kind of a harsh listen at first, but I worked it in like a pair of Docs. Sick Bees are a duo (guitar and drums) but they do have bass and some keyboards on the album. This album experiences many attitude changes throughout its entirety. Songs go from light and twangy to harsh and heavy. A clarinet gets some good use. Overall a good listen. –Guest Contributor (Up)


SHORT FUSE:
Get the Hell Down: CD
Sounds like the BellRays with more restraint. A pinch less soul and a dab more metal. Either way, the formula's still the same but the ingredients aren't quite right. Maybe the oven wasn't at the right temp. A few listens and I'm disappointed. –Guest Contributor (SFTRI)


SELLOUT POSERS:
Bad Mood Music: CD
This is one strange box o' cookies here. Take yer average hardcore band and poison their brains with way too much Birthday Party. A unique and very interesting take on a pretty rigid form, and how. –jimmy (Sellout Posers)


SCHINDLER:
Transverse Mercator: CD
English indie‑rock that wasn't as bad as I was expecting it to be. I still didn't think much of it, though. –jimmy (www.plastichead.com)


SCARED OF CHAKA:
Seven Stories Tall: CD
An anthology of sorts, compiling various singles, B‑sides, comp tracks and a live set. If you've heard 'em before, you know what you're getting yourself into. If you haven't, picture the Supercharger with a tad more hardcore sensibilities playing pop punk. Pretty good stuff. –jimmy (702)


SAIBON:
Number Two: 7"EP
Who the fuck are these guys? This is some righteous fast punkrockdon'tgiveashittearthefuckinghousedown genius! Eight brilliant tracks on this piece of shit disc, every one of them crucial listening matter for anyone even pretending to have a clue. I suggest you buy out the pressing of this and give 'em to all those Blink fans at your school so that they'll know what real punk rock sounds like. –jimmy (Hard On)


RUMBLESEAT:
Trestles b/w Restless: 7"
This is the country side project of Chris and Chuck of Hot Water Music, along with Samantha Jones, that heavily reminds me of Johnny Cash's "Rock Island Line" LP (mostly because it's chock‑full of railroad references). It's replete with solemn echoes, poetic vagrants, and souls who have been beaten but not broken accompanied by plaintive vocals and a warm‑toned, hollow‑body guitar. What keeps it far from sucking is that it's clichΘ‑free, and it trembles out of the speakers as heart‑felt. A welcome change of pace. –todd (No Idea)


RONDELLES, THE:
The Fox: CD
I was a little bit disturbed when I first listened to this CD, for it's a bit different from their last and first (self-titled) album. The first album reminded me of rollerskating rings and comic book reading. It was a little more pop‑y and the keyboards were a little more prominent. "The Fox" sounds a little harder, a little more mature. Here's where I have torn feelings. I respect a band who finds maturity with their music, but part of the charm of the Rondelles are their teenage rebelliousness. This album still gives you plenty of room to dance and play your electric air guitar. I guess these CDs are the difference between chocolate cake and brownies. I like one for its light and airy sweetness, but I like another for it's thick, stick-to-the-roof-of-my-mouth gooey goodness. Both are equally as exciting and good, served up fresh and with love by the band we all crave. –Guest Contributor (Teen Beat)


ROCKET 455:
Cross-Eyed: 7"
Rocket 455 raucously roar with robust bowery garagerock trashiness which sent me into a spastic state of all‑out foot‑stompin' insanity. The duo of deviant ditties contained on this skull‑pummelling platter of psychotic sounds fiercely rage with murderous musical madness like there just ain't no tomorrow. It knocked me upside the head with such full‑force seething intensity, I'm now permanently brain‑damaged, cross‑eyed, and imbecilically slobberin' all over myself... wheeeee, what fun! –Guest Contributor (Get Hip)


RICHIE WHITES, THE :
Stop Me Before I Kill Again: 7"
Kinda nondescript. The songs ain't bad, just unmemorable from this end of things. –jimmy (Rapid Pulse)


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