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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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324:
Boutokunotaiyo: CD
I was really apprehensive putting this thing on. I see sun flares on CD covers and my first (usually correct) assumption is that I'm gonna be lambasted by a bunch of emo crybabies pouring their poor, wounded hearts into some of the worst songs ever conceived. Thankfully, I was wrong in this case. 324 play some punishing metallic Japanese hardcore that could easily have been recorded in the mid‑'80s. There's nary a slow song here and lots of gutteral "rooaooar" in the vocal department. Damn if this ain't some kickass stuff. I'm willing to bet that a double bill featuring these guys and Gehenna would be a very dangerous place, indeed. Yes, I recommend this bad boy. –jimmy (HG Fact)


324:
Boutokunotaiyao: CD
After the "Soulwinter" 7" and the "Customized Circle" CD comes this absolute beast of a release. That is the only history I know of this band and that is all I own. This three piece from Japan has gotten plenty of references to Terrorizer (Earache Records, 1980s) for their pounding grindcore meets hardcore. The two releases that I got prior were almost exactly reminiscent of that band. This one carries on the same tradition but comes off heavier with added influence, in my ears, of Entombed and Hellchild. Manic and excruciating in their madness while the energy thrusts upon bleeding ars. –don (HG Fact)


@PATIA NO/JABARA:
Split: 7"EP
@patia: Venezuelan political punk with that classic Latino hardcore sound, the closest comparison being early Atoxxxico. Jabara: Discharge‑y hardcore with that patented Japanese over‑the‑top nudge. This is one great 7 incher. –jimmy (HG Fact)


ZOO PARTY:
Re-Fuse: CD
New records featuring work, especially guest work, by old punk luminaries can be dicey propositions. Too often the luminaries in question have long moved past their former punk personas and any attempts to reconnect come off as either trading in their name for a quick payday or a textbook case of what happens when you forget what you were about. This is not the case here. Zoo Party is a Swedish band that delivers rock-solid tunes heavily influenced by the first wave of U.K. punk bands. While the lyrics aren’t exactly Thoreau, the tunes are catchy and well delivered. Best of all, the old punk luminaries guesting here—The Damned’s Brian James and Sex Pistol Glen Matlock— actually add, rather than detract, heft to the proceedings. Gotta say, this is one of the better releases in this style I’ve heard in a while. –jimmy (Acme)


WRECKED CHORDS, THE:
Hot Mess: CD
Decent enough bluesy, bar rock’n’roll. It’s pretty standard for that kind of thing; not bad, but nothing that really grabbed me. –joe (Rockin' Stan)


WOODS, THE:
The EP Logue: CDEP
Argh. I feel like I’m listening to an indie singer/songwriter version of Mr. Rogers. Thank god this is only twelve minutes. –kurt (myspace.com/thewoodsmusic)


WOMBELS:
Wompologic Adventures: CD
I know fuckall about these guys, but so far as I’m able to glean from what little information is here, it looks as if the Wombels are a German band on the verge of celebrating their twenty-fifth anniversary. This is a collection of tunes spanning the breadth of their existence, though the lion’s share of tracks here date from the ‘90s. There are definite hardcore tendencies in evidence to complement the pop punk they deal mostly in, though it must be said that is meant in the ‘80s sense more than the modern connotation, meaning they sound closer to the Hard-Ons and Hostages Of Ayatollah than Blink-182 and crap like that. Some really, really good tunes are crammed onto this disc, enough so that I’m flummoxed as to why I haven’t come across them sooner. Then again, for all I know they’re fuggin’ millionaire international stars and I’m the only dweeb on the planet who ain’t in the know. If the latter, they deserve it. –jimmy (sp-records.com)


WIZZARD SLEEVE:
Make the World Go Away: LP
One of those bands I hear and instantly wonder, Where have they been all my life?! A band that has “Today we harvest your brains” in their lyrics is a band worth listening to. Wizzard Sleeve, from Alabama, sound like some lost band from the early punks days of L.A. and S.F. Imagine the Screamers, Catholic Discipline, Chrome, and a little bit of early Tuxedo Moon mixed together into one toxic mass. Synthesizers that bury a distorted and crackly guitar, bass lines that snake around, and percussion that keeps the whole circus in line. The music is ultimately dark, but there are pop sensibilities and garage rock elements blended in with a post punk sound. The whole album is great, but the songs that really grab are “No Mongo,” “Alabama’s Doomed,” “Pterodactyl Meltdown,” “High Bugs,” and they beautifully mangle “When I Die” from the Pagans. This is the sort of record I can listen to over and over for days. –Matt Average (HoZac, hozacrecords.com)


WHITE LOAD:
Self-titled: one-sided 7”
The sparse packaging of this 7” was the first thing that caught my eye: photocopied (or computer-printed) cover and dust sleeve. Then I took note of the staples adhering the inner dust sleeve to cover, which were preventing me from slipping the disc out. Definite points for the sparse packaging, but a slight deduction for the staples. That angered me a bit, but what I felt pales in comparison to what they had pent up to put on this slab. As I sometimes do, I played this at the wrong speed (33 1/3 instead of 45 this time) for a bit before realizing that this wasn’t rad hardcore just slowed down. It turns out that this is rad hardcore played pretty fast. It also turns out that White Load is constituted of just three dudes: one on drums, one on guitar, another on vocals, and nobody on bass; and there doesn’t need to be. The vocals are low in the mix, but, faint as they are, you can still hear dude’s overwrought screams fill the record with his frustration. Combine that with frenzy of the guitar and the pounding of the drums, and you’ve got yourself some one hell of a record. This whole thing sounds like it was born out of boredom and frustration, two killer ingredients for good hardcore punk. I didn’t get a lyric sheet, but I’m sure that they aren’t singing about sunshine and smiles. One of the three songs is called “No Exit,” which I am betting is a Sartre reference. And if you’re referencing No Exit, then I doubt your life is all thumbs up and good times. Totally recommended, especially for those who want some frantic shit. –Vincent Battilana (Leather Bar)


WHISKEY TRENCH:
Television: LP
I have been waiting for this record for years. Not a record like this—I mean specifically a Whiskey Trench full-length record. I was worried that this band would fall into obscurity before releasing a wax testament to their greatness, and, thankfully, that’s not the case. Borrowing equally from the late ‘80s/early ‘90s “Gilman sound” and the Asexuals/Nils/Doughboys sound from the band’s hometown of Montreal, Whiskey Trench have been working toward this point for so long, and this LP absolutely does that work justice. Incredible songs, very cool production, heartfelt lyrics, and even a killer, die-cut sleeve. I know that the frequency with which Crimpshrine or Fifteen appear in reviews will render these comparisons somewhat annoying and arouse some suspicion as to their validity, but I assure you that in this case they’re accurate. Hell, throw in some Sweet Baby, Cringer, Green Day, Hi-Fives, early MTX, etc. and you’ll be well on track. Of all of the bands who are shooting for this sound, I think Whiskey Trench have captured that spirit most accurately and sincerely. These songs are just oozing that desperate, youthful-but-not-childish passion that generated the magic that has always surrounded their predecessors. Well worth the wait. Great job, boys. –Dave Williams (Kiss of Death)


WE ARE THE WILLOWS:
A Collection of Sounds and Something Like the Plague: CD
Plopped this into the car stereo on the way to work and suddenly felt like I was in a scene from Juno. –jimmy (ambledown.com)


WAR TRASH / WHATSHAME?:
Split: 7"
War Trash: Brutal and harsh d-beat with some Bolt Thrower tones from this Bay Area four-piece, featuring members of Stormcrow and Population Reduction. Vocals are delivered with a mental image of tonsil and throat destruction. Guitar and bass thunder with a bottom heavy roar with no effort to sound pretty or nice. Kind of left me feeling that my life ahead is bleak. Whatshame?: Los Angeles-based band carries the harshness theme to their side. Multiple vocal attack with screaming and guttural trade offs. Heavy crust with grind overtones blast out of the speakers like a sandstorm filling the room. Good offering from both bands. This reinforces my enjoyment when seeing both bands live. –don (Injustice Of Humanity, myspace.com/injusticeofhumanity)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
The State I'm In: CD
Well, no matter what you may think of the music, Crafty Records should get a gold star and a piece of candy for the packaging alone: The State I’m In comes in a license plate sleeve. Yep, the CD’s actually packaged in half of a Missouri license plate. Goddamn. As far as the actual album, it’s a nice mix of acoustic and low-intensity electric numbers. Folks like Wingnut Dishwashers Union, Mischief Brew, The Sweet Ones, and Chris Clavin all make appearances, and while it may seem a little thin on content with only eleven songs, they’re all pretty solid tracks. Sure, The Stick Martin Show’s “The Tail of Captain McNail” sounds suspiciously like Billy Joel’s “Piano Man,” but c’mon… it’s packaged in a fucking license plate. –keith (Crafty)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Punkfest 2009: CD
Obligatory full disclosure blahblahblah: Not only is one of the persons responsible for this comp, specifically the Right Wrong Rev. Paul Putrid, a buddy of mine, one of my old bands also contributed a track. Now that we have that out of the way, lemme say it’s no secret that underneath them gruff exteriors, the average old punker is about as soft-hearted as a melted Three Musketeers bar when it comes to kids, so every year Paul (a vocalist whose crazed live antics are the stuff of legend) and some buddies put on a benefit show and release a compilation to benefit the Detroit Children’s Hospital. The disc currently under discussion is the benefit comp for 2009. Before you start groaning and lamenting about how these comps usually suck and are full of wimpy poseur bands passing off their crappiest tunes to beef up their résumés, lemme give you an in-order rundown of who’s providing the tuneage here: The Nihilistics, Retching Red, The Offenders, Cretin Grims, White Rose, Guerilla Wrench, Kent State, Pork Dukes, Tumors, Noisecult, Satan’s Toilet, Into the Void, The Repressed, and Filth Eater. Those with more than a passing knowledge of punk/hardcore history will recognize more than a few of those names. Further, while the sound quality may occasionally vary from track to track, not a single tune on here is a throwaway, meaning this is prime fodder for cranking loud enough to annoy neighbors three cities away. Besides, the ten bucks you plunk down is going to a good cause. Oh, and keep an eye out for next year’s comp, ’cause as implausible as it seems, word on the street is it’s gonna be even better and will include some seriously heavy hitters. –jimmy (Punkfest)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
No T.O.: 12"
Somehow forgot to review this a few issues ago and then my turntable takes a dump after twenty-five years. All I got to do was stare at this record and wished I could play the damn thing. Rolled some quarters, went to the bank, and I scored a used turntable on Craigslist. First up! This comp! This is a remake of the famous Yes LA comp from 1979 but Toronto style. Songs are played track for track as the original. Replicating the original, the record is also one-sided with a silkscreen on the B-side. Tackling the songs: Stef And The Studs do the Bags and Alleycats, Career Suicide handle the Eyes, The Brown Knuckler takes care of the Black Randy track, the Dangerloves do a great X, and to close it off, Legion 666 put the heavy on the Germs. Limited to 300, so go jump on it! Now I have to go see if my brother has an original to hear what that actually sounds like. –don (Schizophrenic)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Mainstream Music Is Shit: 2 x CD
To be honest, it’s hard not to have a few ideas regarding what to expect when getting something like this. A title like this quickly provokes thoughts like “Yeah. Also, check out my benefit, ‘Cancer is an often fatal disease.’” However, we all were at a point where we had no idea what any kind of disease is, so fair enough. But, two CDs worth of music is a lot when I’ve never heard of any of it before, so I’d hope that it can back it up. The music within is okay, if not a little “Okay, here’s a hardcore—wait, no, ska band?” Reminds me a lot of all the comps I’d find as a teenager, when I’d probably love every song. –joe (TNS)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Lost Souls Volume 2: CD
Who knew so much quality fuzz came out of Arkansas in the late ‘60s? Lost Souls is a series dedicated to archiving psych and garage singles from the Deep South. Volume Two comes on as strong as the first one. The Modds “Leave My House” is a Teenage Shutdown quality rocker and the range of music stretches to bass-heavy psych. Loads of good stuff from early Arkansas. In the arena of regional archives, this crosses the border. There is a lot of variety here and you don’t have to be from Arkansas to dig it. –Billups Allen (Psych Of The South, psychofthesouth.com)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
July 7” 2009: 7”
Side A claims to have a tune each by Religious SS Disorder and Cains & Abels, with a song each by 4D and Party Favorites on the B-side. But there’s no label on the record and I couldn’t make out the words well enough to tell what song was what. Anyway, one side has two good rockin’ songs, and the other side has an experimental-electronic sort of thing as well as a low-key, ethereal song done a cappella. An interesting mix of styles to be sure, and it worked. I liked it. –The Lord Kveldulfr (77, regroup.gr@gmail.com)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Dangerous Intersections IV: 7"
When did pop punk get so damn wordy? This four band comp features a bunch of songs that ramble on and on, with one exception. Thank you, Straight A’s, for writing lyrics and not essays. Thank you for “Fuck you, you’re an idiot and I don’t even like you anymore.” No thank you to Like Bats for “I want you to feel that pain deep in your chest like something’s buried deep underneath your skin, and it’ll throb every now and again, reminding you of what could have been.” And that’s just one line. There are about 327 more of them where that came from. Actually, that’s not too bad. It’s just fucking exhausting. I prefer my pop punk to hit me fast and hard, to make me smile and then to get out of my way so can listen to a metal band sing about Vikings or some shit. Straight A’s: mission accomplished. –mp (Traffic Street)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Boston Underground: CD
A “four-way split” featuring Superpower, Allston Pants, No Shit, and Colin And The Cancer. All four are hardcore bands, so if you’re looking for major diversity here you’re probably in the wrong place. While much here relies on variations of the tried and true fast’n’loud template, each band injects enough personality into what they’re doing to keep it from sounding like one band playing the same song over and over. –jimmy (KT, no address)


UZI RASH GROUP BAND, THE:
High and Free: LP
I’m really liking this stuff. I don’t know how to quite explain it. It’s not like anyone has come up with some catch-all label to put bands like this under. Which is a nice thing. Keeps being co-opted much harder. If you like bands like Swell Maps, Sic Alps, and Dan Melchior, then you need to listen to the Uzi Rash Group Band. Lo-fi art post punk garage damage and some other things. The songs shuffle and meander, sometimes they linger. Instruments make clanging sounds, the guitars are tinny sounding, the drums are crunchy without being loud, and the vocals sound like they’re coming from another room. “Bag of Dirt” is instantly memorable. “End Times,” which closes the record, is a slight bit different than the rest of the tracks, from the vocals to the overall tone. A little darker and slightly more bent than the rest. The others tend to reveal themselves with each subsequent listen. –Matt Average (Freedom School, myspace.com/freedomschoolrecords)


UNWANTED, THE:
Reanimated: CD
Before I tell you that ‘80s hardcore legends The Unwanted are back with their first release in twenty-five years, let me explain something: I once wrote that a band “rocked” in a review I did for my old fanzine Pages of Rage. Upon reading the hard copy later, however, I realized that “rocked” is the lamest adjective in the world and vowed never to use it again. That being said, I was tempted to dust off the dreaded adjective after listening to the new Unwanted EP. Only after careful consideration did I come to the conclusion that not only did the motherfucker “rock,” but it also kicked like a mule and bit like a crocodile. The songs are short, catchy blasts of pure adrenaline that will have you trading in your walker for a skateboard, or at least it will if you’re an old cunt like me. After several plays, I threw away my Viagra and a year’s supply of Geritol as well. I won’t be needing that shit anymore. Highly recommended. –Chris Walter –Guest Contributor (myspace.com/the unwanted2006)


TV WATCHERS, THE:
Carl in the Sky with Diamonds, Split CD: 7"
Shrouded in mystery from the get-go. The hand-drawn sleeve and 7” labels do not match up at all. The actual songs—and yeah, that’s a term used reasonably loosely—are apparently penned and performed by two dudes named “Poopy” and “Food.” The songs are pretty much a sampling of random keyboard bleeps and odd drum bloops while a guy flatly intones random gibberish about Hollywood (“I get to watch Jessica Simpson / be Daisy Duke/ sweet / the plots are really dynamite”) and science (Intelligent design / use your mind / science is lame / don’t listen to it / Jesus will win / science will die.” Definitely hits the “so bad it’s good” button, but probably won’t get too many repeated listens. What it really sounds like is when kids get their first four track recorders (which I guess is, what, ProTools these days?) and are just learning to fuck around with them. But a bit of internet research indicates that either “Poopy” or “Food” of the TV Watchers may actually be a member of ‘90s weirdness/noise act Sockeye, and then things actually start to make a little more sense. Like I said, the whole thing is a little juvenile, pretty silly, and totally shrouded in weirdness. Which is probably just the way they want it. –keith (My Mind’s Eye)


TOUGH SHITS:
Pretty Wild b/w Why You Gotta Roam: 7”
Funny, this band doesn’t really come off being particularly tough at all. Instead, they put out a record with two country songs, the a-side a bit rock’n’roll, and the b-side a little mellower, until it kicks in at the end. I dig it. –joe (Ramo)


TODD CONGELLIERE / JACOB HAMILTON:
Split: Cassette
Todd: I’ve enjoyed the Cong’s eclectic output over the years—the snotty FYP, the more focused Toys That Kill, the weird party jams of URTC, so I’m not surprised I like this “solo” material (I picked this up just before seeing a solo set, where he was accompanied by music-life-mates Jimmy and Chachi). It’s acoustic-backed with assorted drums, melodica, and a few other odd instruments. I feel that if they were going to remake one of the Twilight Zone episodes that takes place in a small town with a little weirdness, this would be the perfect soundtrack, and I love the Twilight Zone. Jacob: Conversely, never heard of the fellow. Seems to go back and forth between echo- and reverb-soaked acoustic, to full band stuff, most of which sounds like it would belong on Plan-It-X, before it had really established itself. –joe (People’s Republic Of Rock And Roll)


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