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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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BRIEFS, THE/THE SPITS:
Split: 7"EP
Briefs: Their side of the cover is a total bite of the first Child Molesters' single. More engaging than their CD. I can hear a Voidoids influence in there somewhere on "(I Think) My Baby is a Communist." "Silver Bullet" calls for the death of Bob Seger, and I sure ain't gonna argue against that. Pretty fucking good stuff. Spits: Sound quality is as bad as the Misfits' "Cough/Cool" single. The first song is a punk'n'roll ditty and the second reminded me of the Normal. –jimmy (Dirtnap)


BOTTLES AND SKULLS:
Amped the Fuck Up: 7"EP
Some solid, tight hardcore here that ain't particularly speedy, but rather goes along at a nice enough clip to facilitate head‑bobbin'. I'd like to see if they could pull off a full‑length, 'cause this EP was pretty good. –jimmy (www.bottlesandskulls.com)


BLOW UP, THE:
Self-titled: 7"EP
Side one has some good mid‑tempo punk rock, and side two, while not as strong, is still pretty good. The singer reminds me of the guy in Barkmarket. –jimmy (www.emptyrecords.com)


BLITZHOSEN:
The Manual Transmission: CD
Emo. Insert gratuitous, tear‑drenched vomiting sounds here. –jimmy (www.blitzhosen@hotmail.com)


BLACK JAX:
Self-titled: CD
Look, the fact that I was a member of a later version of this band is of no consequence because A) That version of the band was completely different from the version presented here and B) I was a fan long before I was a participant in any of their shenanigans. So there. All of you screaming "conflict of interest" can kiss my ass. Now, on with our story. I first saw the Black Jax in late '85/early '86 at a party in Montebello, if I'm not mistaken. I was a little, bald, hardcore shithead who thought that you had to play fast and hard to be considered a good punk band. They proved that particular belief of mine was ridiculous. The band was hard, up‑tempo and (gasp) melodic at the same time. The fact that Pogo was a fuckin' madman didn't hurt much either. We later got chased out of the party 'cause a drunk Vietnamese kid who was with us was claiming to be a "Suicidal" in a party filled with skinheads (Suicidals and skins didn't get along back then, mind you) and he ended up jumping into the swimming pool. I left that party humming the song I later learned was called "Fooled By a Pretty Face" and considered myself a fan from that day forward. Over the next year, I saw them many times and, each time, I stood awed at how utterly goddamned good they were. They could pull hooks out of thin air. They laid waste to almost any band dumb enough to play with them. They were, to sound like a high school geek, fucking awesome. Sadly, though, they never got their moment in the sun or the chance to put their amazing set on vinyl. This release, which consists of two demos, will hopefully rectify that injustice. The first nine songs were recorded in 1986 and later (coupled with a live show from Raji's that ain't on here on the other side of the tape) became the band's official demo. The sound is what is now referred to "77 punk" with a good dose of old So Cal punk for good measure, yet, 14 years later, they don't sound dated at all. The recording is excellent (which is amazing considering that it was recorded on a four‑track in a bedroom) and the tracks are tight and fat with instantly hummable hooks. Their finest moment, the song "Growing Pains," which begins with a quiet guitar intro and quickly kicks into overdrive, still gives me chills. The remaining three tracks are from an earlier demo that I've never heard (dammit, Gary, you were holding out on me!). The sound on these are a little rawer, but the songs shine through and transcend the primitive recording limitations. A note of gratitude goes out to Steve Stiph for finally giving this great, long‑gone band their due. Now those of us who have been listening to shitty, worn out cassette copies of the demo all these years can give them a decent Christian burial and rock out once again to one of the best punk bands East LA/San Gabriel ever produced. –jimmy (Wankin' Stiphs)


BLACK DICE:
Self-titled: CDEP
Out of 15 tracks, two could actually be construed as songs, and they weren't nothin' to write home about. In all, a waste of 11 valuable minutes of my life, by my calculations. –jimmy (Troubleman Unlimited)


BELLRAYS, THE:
Grand Fury: CD
The mighty BellRays have once again reared their collective heads and let fly 13 tracks of some bombastic, scathing rock'n'roll. Let me tell you, kids, this is a pretty welcome addition to the playlist at the Alvarado/Perez‑Villalta household. Karla (my girlfriend) is not especially punk‑friendly, but the Bell Rays is one of few bands that she not only tolerates but actively encourages the listening of on a regular basis (the Descendents and early Bad Brains being a couple of others). Of course, we still have our disagreements about who we hear traces of in their music (she says either a meeting of Jimi Hendrix and Tina Turner, or Angela Davis set to music, but I think she's high, because it's patently clear that what she's hearing is an MC5/Aretha Franklin hybrid, but I digress), and these discussions usually get pretty heated when they're coupled with a game of Scrabble (I do not make up words! "Git" does exist! Sod the dictionary!). While we may disagree on the irrelevant particulars, we do agree that the Bell Rays are one of the best groups that rock'n'roll in the new millennium has to offer, even if listening to them at excessive volumes causes your ears to bleed. I hear through the grapevine that they're going through a bad patch right now, and I hope that they are able to come through it relatively unscathed, 'cause losing this band would be the equivalent of losing a lung for any fan of loud music. –jimmy (Upper Cut)


BEACH BITCHES, THE:
Soul Shake Power: CD
Stupid band name, good Cramps‑on‑speed garage rock. I really thought this would suck, so I'm pretty impressed. –jimmy (http://www.multimania.com/bananajuice/)


BASTARD NOISE:
The Analysis of Self Destruction: CD
Noise, primarily of the static and hum variety. I probably woulda liked it if I understood the point of the whole exercise. –jimmy (Alien8)


BAD LUCK CHARMS:
Bad Luck & Heartbreak: CD
Modern grease monkey crap. Yawn. –jimmy (Zodiac)


BAD INFLUENCE:
Last Cries: CD
British anarcho‑hardcore in an Oi Polloi‑meets‑Unsane kinda way. It's engaging enough, for the most part, but the song lengths get a little trying on those of us suffering from attention deficit disorder. –jimmy (RRR)


LADY MONOXIDE:
Lake Street Basement Tapes: CDEP
Sludgy female‑fronted punk rock. I detect a slight Hole influence in there, but it's more akin to early the pre‑Kurt days, thankfully, 'cause I loathe anything by Hole after their first album. The songs are a little on the long side, but it ain't too shabby as a whole. –jimmy (Lady Monoxide)


AVENGERS:
Self-titled: CD
This has got to be a bootleg. What you get here is the "pink" album released by CD Presents back in the '80s, "Cheap Tragedies," which was originally on the first "Rat Music for Rat People" comp, a cover of "Money" and live tracks from another bootleg, the name of which escapes me at the moment. The reason this has got to be a bootleg because you can hear the occasional pop and ping from the vinyl from which it was duped and all the distributors on the back folded long ago (which was a pretty funny touch, might I add). Either way, though, the album from which this is derived is still the definitive statement for this band. Every possible classic this band ever put to tape is on this puppy (especially since the person responsible for this had the intelligence to include the aforementioned "Cheap Tragedies"). This record still sends chills down the spine years after its original release and I'm happy to say that the songs still sound pretty dang fresh for their age. The people responsible for the original release should cough up the tapes to Penelope and let her release it proper, with lyrics, pictures and all. The address is probably fake, but if you're pretty loose with your money, feel free to send a check to it and let me know what happens. –jimmy (Lady Butcher)


ATOM AND HIS PACKAGE:
Redefining Music: CD
If you've never heard of Atom, it's a hard sell. "Uhm, it's this Jewish guy who tours the land solely with his synthesizer and his wits to protect him. He got threatened to be doused with a bucket of blood in Wyoming." But he's much more than that. Live, he rocks the house. Serious. Although not quite a redefinition, Atom's surely exploring some fun stuff. Think of an extremely warm‑sounding Devo crossed with the gleeful abandon of Masters of the Obvious (if you've never listened to MOTO, do yourself a favor and get the "Bolt" LP ‑ $8 to Box 578912, Chicago, IL60657) with some Weird Al Yankovic poking its nose in here and there. What makes the kitsch/ joke value almost irrelevant is fact that Atom makes Grade A, excellent songs; little poisonous capsules that sound like simple sugar until you realize how damn catchy they are. No matter how hard you shake your head, those little ditties stick. They're layered, catchy, structured really well, and thoughtful. Songs range from whatever happens to be on his mind: "I'm going on a shopping spree," to a workmate being "undercover funny," to a plea for the Washington Redskins to change their name, to "Oh, I get it. Anarchy means you can litter." If you're already familiar with Atom, this album's a natural extension of "Making Love." He's definitely developed a steadier music and a tighter album as a whole. Parting shot: if the popular '80s new wave had a sense a humor and more balls than hairspray, distilled through thousands of van miles, you'd get Atom. –todd (Hopeless)


AT THE DRIVE IN/ MURDER CITY DEVILS:
Tour Split: 7"
ATDI: Artful, jazzy middle‑Eastern remix, filled with reggae loops, stoner jamming, and a lonely horn. The dead wax pokes fun at the title of their newest album, "Relationship with a Man?" MCD: Organ‑washed, seal‑backed, spooling dub, creeping with an ether rag over its mouth. This split is definite smoky yang to their regular fireball rock yin, and where better to experiment on a low‑pressing, tour‑only split? –todd (No address)


ASHTRAY BABYHEAD:
Radio: CD
KROQ pop fodder. It's kinda enjoyable in the same way as popcorn: it tastes nice and all, but it leaves no lasting impression once you're done with it. –jimmy (Glue Factory)


ASEXUALS:
Greater Than Later: CD
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, you too can listen to this old Canadian band start off with a pretty good pop/hardcore, pull a Stiff Little Fingers and slowly sink into the depths of the indie pop garbage heap. I remember these guys from way back when, and for some reason always thought they broke up before they could make utter fools outta themselves. Sad. –jimmy (Boss Tuneage)


ARSYN:
Degeneration: CD
A truly pathetic aping of mid‑period Megadeth packaged as some sort of new direction in heavy metal. God, this sucked bad. –jimmy (Arsyn)


ANDRE WILLIAMS :
The Black Godfather: CD
Although dirty old man Andre's still growlin' and howlin' about the good things in life ‑ pussy, ass, dope and pussy ‑ his rug burn voice no longer resonates visions of orange‑juice soaked BBQ ribs and Bonneville joyrides. Distracted by far less than 36‑24‑38 these days, the gritty "Pass the biscuits, please" signature voice now inertly punctuates the fuzzed‑out guitars of the Countdowns, Blues Explosion, Cheater Slicks and Compulsive Gamblers ‑ Andre's never had so much competition from a bunch of white‑boys‑gone‑black. Ol' Andre, senior citizen, was done plucked plumb outta his weekly‑rate hotel room on Detroit's notorious Cass Corridor and re‑branded as the Pimp of all Pimps, injected with the trademark Jon Spencer sound. A good idea in theory, but much to my chagrin, "Shut the gate Sally, and don't let me in." –Guest Contributor (In the Red)


AMP 176:
Repo: CD
Mid‑tempo college rock/punk with an almost emo undercurrent that only served to get on my nerves. I heard that at least one of the people involved was in Dillinger Four at one time or another. You'd figure it would have more balls with that name in the band's pedigree. Oh well. –jimmy (Modern Radio)


ALLEGIANCE:
Heroes in the Making: CD
The best Blitz impersonators I've heard in years. The fact that they're from Japan makes this even more impressive. –jimmy (MCR)


ALL NATURAL LEMON & LIME FLAVORS:
Straight Blue Line: CD
The "Loveless" ‑era My Bloody Valentine influence is painfully obvious, yet this stands pretty well on its own. While not a sonically overwhelming or as densely lush as "Loveless," this group manages to effectively channel MBV's poppiness and wobbly, hypnotic repetitiveness through a sound not unlike Os Mutantes' psychedelic bossa nova experiments and come out sounding less like a rip off than extension of an idea. Shoegazers all over the world can rejoice. With this release, the total number of bands playing that style that are worth a piss has now been upped to five. –jimmy (Gern Blandsten)


AFI:
The Art of Drowning: CD
A very anthemic, almost Misfits‑y punk sound with a little more metal than is good for them thrown in. –jimmy (Nitro)


ACTION TIME, THE:
Versus The World: CD
Really boring minimalist punk with a touch of '60s rock. My suggestion would be for the guy to shut up and let the girl do all the singing. You suck hard, dude. –jimmy (Southern)


ABIGOR:
In Memory: CDEP
So-so black metal. Even the Slayer and Kreator covers were weak. –jimmy (Napalm)


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