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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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SICK SICK BIRDS:
Heavy Manners: LP
I’ve enjoyed Sick Sick Birds for a while now. This record blows my mind, because it almost sounds nothing like them live, but that’s not a bad thing. They’ve always had that “We’ve done the loudfastrules thing, and it’s time to move on” post punk element, but on their full length, it really shows. Slower and a bit more blueprinted out, bringing to mind bands like Wire, or what the Minutemen would probably be like if they were still around. –joe (Toxic Pop)


SHOT BAKER / SERF COMBAT:
Chicago vs. London: 7”
Shot Baker: One original, one cover. Their original is great. If you’re not a fan of Shot Baker already, this one isn’t going to convert you, though. They cover “England Belongs to Me” which sounds really cool with Tony’s voice and I’m still not convinced that the song is as big a deal as some of my friends think it is, but I am now one step closer to admitting that it can be good. Serf Combat: I’m fairly impressed with their original on this record. Folksy indie punk: hints of Lemuria and the Measure [SA], except with a male singing. Really, really good, but the vocals might not be for everyone. –Bryan Static (Home of the Brave/Underground Communiqué)


SHARK PANTS:
Automatic Pinner: 7”EP
Well, this one’s easy. Shark Pants released this one several years back on Underground Government in Japan in support of a tour there, only as a CDEP. And since I’m becoming sort of a jackass in this digital era where I don’t consider music one hundred percent real until it’s released on vinyl (there hasn’t been one instance reported of a record player downloading a virus and you never have to worry if your record player just erased your entire collection in one digital belch), I can now fully rejoice that this four-song capsule that’s a great distillation of Shark Pants. It’s a wonderful introduction to these three Tucsonian wizards. Strip Hendrix of any hippie tendencies, feed him a steady diet of norteños, Underdog, and file under complex, not busy. A band that other bands absolutely adore and are mystified by. –todd (Dirt Cult)


SHANGHAI RIVER:
Demo: CDEP
Panning for gold is all about the promise of future riches. This demo is muddy, murky, dirty socks, Bill Beltone guitar, and whacked-sponge-sounding drums. However, if your ears are used sorting out the slime and slurry, finely blown out after years of basement and backyard shows, one can recognize the faintest glimmers—future nuggets—in the shape of the songwriting. ShanghaiRiver has that; a nice basic shape. Sonically sounds like Frankie Stubbs with mumps or the dude from Fat Albert that no one could understand—not just the vocals, almost everything—leading the Chop Sakis’ first practice. Yeah, I’d listen to ‘em after the demo takes a shower, gets cleaned up and smells better. –todd (myspace.com/shanghairiver)


SHANG-A-LANG:
Sad Magic: LP
What a perfect title; this record’s both that adjective and that noun in equal measure. Shang-a-Lang’s first foray into full-length territory reveals what I’ve guessed all along: the more songs they write, the better they get, the more I like them. It’s knot-in-throat music. I understand that “being real” is a cliché and means as much as “street cred,” but S-A-L aren’t afraid of looking at the ugly in themselves and their situations. (Perhaps I’m reading too much into it, knowing that lead singer Chris has a tough job in the social services, yet he helps turn that anxiety into an all-ages space in Las Cruces while running Dirt Cult Records.) But it’s these doses of self-doubt and self-depreciation funneling themselves into songs that act as mysterious, inspirational catalysts. (Instead of being total life crushers.) My guess is if the world didn’t have so many shit bits flinging up and cracking S-A-L’s windshield, there’d be less of a constant catalyst to create music. It’s because they just can’t stop doing it—it’s their antidote, their inoculation and booster shots—which is such a different place to make music from than making it because you don’t have anything better to do. (And let’s laugh at making music for fame, sex, or money in this review.) For anyone interested in an unadulterated archetype of what DIY punk’s up to in the late ‘00s, drop the needle on Sad Magic. –todd (Fast Crowd)


SECRET ARMY:
Redemption: 7”
Four songs of totally solid street punk from a Spanish trio singing in English. Nice-looking packaging with a thick, clearish golden 7” enclosed in a sturdy double sleeve with sweet artwork, to boot. The first song, “Hypocrites and Parasites,” starts off very strong with a guitar overture that adds strings before doing an about face into energetic and appealing punk rock fury. The following three songs on the record are also consistently quality material with obvious similarities to better known American counterparts like Rancid and The Forgotten. Without a doubt, the best record I had the pleasure of reviewing for this issue of Razorcake. –Jake Shut (Longshot)


SCREEN VINYL IMAGE:
Interceptors: CD
Occasionally ethereal, occasionally reveals possible Chrome and space rock influences, often loud and electronic/organic based. Good stuff if any of that sounds interesting to ye. –jimmy (Safranin Sound, no address)


SCRAMS, THE:
Self-titled: 7”
The Scrams hail from Albuquerque, New Mexico and sound like they have a pretty good thing going: Keyboard-driven rock’n’roll that’s raw and unrefined, kinda like the first Cococoma and Okmoniks 7”s. The songs don’t develop much past their initial inspiration or idea, but there is promise and hope contained in these grooves. Take “Molasses.” The Scrams hearken back to the ‘60s, writing a song about a brand new dance, the Molasses. The lyrics are jokey and the tune doesn’t move much past the novelty of a dance based on being lazy in a climate known for extreme heat. But, the guitar riff clearly references the Sonics version of “Have Love Will Travel,” and the keyboards dance over the top of the melody without drowning it out completely. The band bio says they’ve only been playing together since 2009, so I’m betting their songwriting will improve vastly over the next few releases. –benke (Self-released)


SCENE OF ACTION:
20 Minute Hour Glass: CD
Modern rock dreck primed for radio saturation and big buck contracts. –jimmy (Pop Smear)


SANDWORMS:
It’s a Fucking Demo: CD-R
With a name like that, I’m thinkin’ this is either gonna be some sorta sludge punk band or complete noise, right? Well, they choose option C and throw a wrench into all my name-pigeonholing efforts. Five tunes of punky pop residing somewhere between Replacements Road and Plimsouls Place, all of which is well written and performed. I halfway wish the recording had a wee bit less reverb pumped in, but am also afraid that any deviation from its current incarnation would somehow spoil the magic. Best to leave well enough alone, then, and be content with the fact that they have succeeded in delivering my pic for sleeper fave of the issue. –jimmy (myspace.com/ohnosandworms)


SAME-SEX DICTATOR/REQUIN:
Split: 7”
SSD: Bass-heavy black metal (I think? There’s no screeching, high-pitched vocals) without a bassist. Lyrics aren’t bad. They left me thinking I was going to die in a terrible, terrible world all alone. Good job. Requin: Similar, but less complex lyrically and musically. A simple man’s Same Sex Dictator, if you will. This 7” has been approved for the masses by… –Bryan Static (Artificial Limb, no address)


SAKES ALIVE:
Act 2: EP
Modern hardcore with a definite rock influence, and it’s for the better. Sakes Alive are noisy and thrashy, but solid, tuneful, and catchy at the same time. Kind of like a gutsier and punker Gallows. All three songs on here do the job of getting down and dirty. Mainly mid-tempo, and a tad heavy, the music takes over the room with thick guitar sound and a drum kit that sounds like it’s getting beat to hell and back. The production on here is big and roomy, allowing the songs to develop and reveal themselves as they move along. “Images of Modern Man” on the flipside is the standout cut. Comes on greenish yellow vinyl. Chartreuse? –Matt Average (Cavity, cavityrecords.com)


SAINTS, THE:
Live in Brisbane 2007: CD
During the Queensland Music Festival, July 2007 to be exact, The Saints got back together. I mean the original Saints. Well, three out of the four. (Where are you Algy Ward?) Ed Kuepper and Ivor Hay came back to burn it up with Chris Bailey. Twelve songs that sound they never broke up, although the last time they played together was 1978. “This Perfect Day,” “Know Your Product,” and “Messing with the Kid” really drive the nail into the bloodless heart of some of today’s bands output. Save up your pennies. It’s a pricey import, but it’s well worth it. –koepenick (Fatal)


S.P.I.C.:
Day Drunk: CD
Pedestrian, punky rock with a singer that sounds like he’s actively avoiding singing in tune. Cute acronym for the band name there. –jimmy (Pop-2121)


RVIVR:
“Derailer” b/w “Real Mean”: 7”
It’s hard not to be smitten by RVIVR (pronounced “reviver”). Even if you disregard that all profits from this 7” go towards a bicycle non-profit in Denver, even if you disregard that the lyrics deal with the complexities and nuance of the word “community” in a compelling manner, even if you disregard that Rumbletowne Records—operated by Erika and Matt of RVIVR—has consistently put out great music in crafty packaging, you still have to contend with how flat-out kick-ass the music is. Achy-voiced compassion played with DIY magic. They’re one of what I call “Thundercats” bands; it’s where each member is excellent on their own, but when all forces combine, they’re basically unstoppable. I find myself putting the brakes on from flipping this over more than twice in one sitting. I want it to continue to last in small, powerful sips over a long time. Great stuff. –todd (Rumbletowne)


ROUGH KIDS:
“Why So Serious,” “Going Blank” b/w “Can’t Stand You”: 7”EP
There was a time all the way through the ‘90s where a band like the Rough Kids wouldn’t have to look too far to find a record company that would be in easy alignment with what they’re doing. These guys would be a shoo-in for Rip Off, Crypt, or Estrus; all extremely prolific labels, all known for their deep catalogs and great taste. All, now, are out of business or not releasing anything new. So, it’s a telling sign that catchy punk rock with deep rock’n’roll roots is once again on the outside looking in, to the point where it’s a DIY affair, recorded and released by the band. (Or maybe they’re tired of getting ripped off. Dunno.) I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them several times in L.A.—and not once with a proper roof over their heads. Well worth seeking out. –todd (Rough, myspace.com/roughkids)


ROBOTOSAURUS:
Manhater: 10"
Heavier-than-hell metal that reminds me of bands like Acme, Hewhocorrupts, Morser, and the sort. Abrasive, noisy, chaotic, perplexing time changes, and pummeling riffs. They tend to keep the songs cranked towards the far right of the speedometer. It’s though they laid a heavy brick on the gas pedal, saying, “Fuck it. Let’s take it over the cliff and bask in the adrenalin rush.” Put this record and on and you can’t ignore it. It just takes over the room with its massive sound. The guitars are a solid din of distortion, with occasional stabs in the fabric, and the vocals are equally ugly and unsettling. All held in place by the low end. –Matt Average (Vitriol)


RIPTIDES, THE:
Tales from Planet Earth: CD
All I have to say is this was worth the wait. Produced by Mass “Magic Touch” Giorgini (I just made that nickname up. It fits), this twelve-song CD will blow the fucking hinges off of any door of your house. You won’t even have to crank it to ten, either. Sweet backup vocals, crunchy guitar riffage, and solid songwriting make this is a must-have. “Omega Man” is a great song. Then it’s followed up by the equally impressive “Dial M for Murder.” There’s even a Xmas song on here that’s almost as good as “Christmas in Hollis.” How can you argue with a record that ends with a song called “Shit Outta Luck”? Buy this now or live out the unbearable prophecy of the last song for the rest of your life. I’m really not kidding you now. –koepenick (Asian Man)


RESTLESS KNIGHTS: I Wish I Was a Terrorist:
Split: CDEP
Six hot shots of hardcore here from a band with enough sense to get in, make their point, and move onto the next topic. Meathead and metal trappings are kept to a bare minimum and the lyrical subject matter lean towards being a square peg in a round hole world. Good stuff. –jimmy (myspace.com/restlessknightslkpg)


RESTLESS KNIGHTS:
A Quick Fix…: 7"
While the pink and light blue cover art had prepared me for the second coming of Abba, the music reminded me how Linkoping, Sweden has a knack for harvesting such a high quality of infuriated, energetic punk bands that constantly strive to expand the possibilities of the genre. Three songs of dense, NYHC-influenced triumph. And to top it off, two of these guys were in criminally under-appreciated; Svartenbrandt. –Daryl Gussin (restlessknightslkpg@gmail.com)


REMAIN OPPOSED:
Time Waits for No One: CD
This could be speed metal, ‘90s skate punk, or posi-core. There are tight, fast synthetic-sounding drums, wailed vocals, and chugging guitars. The cover art is super computer-y and could be to a rap record from ten years ago, or a video game. I appreciate how Remain Opposed cannot be easily pegged and filed away into a punk subgenre, but I wish they had more personality. Just looked them up online, and another reviewer suggests them for people who “grew up on early to mid ‘90s Epitaph punk rock and wish more bands still played music that damn cool.” I’m completely out of my element here and I want to go home. –CT Terry (Pee, peerecords.com)


RED THREAD:
Self-titled: 7"
Four mid-tempo punk rock songs from this female four-piece. Blown-out vocals over dirty guitar chords with bass and drums makes it sound like you’re right there at that basement show. Not sure if this is their debut, but these ladies bring forth the energy and anger that would make me check them out live or listen to another release that they may put out in the future. –don (Shock To The System, shocktothesystemrecs.com/store)


READY THE JET / JAPANESE MONSTERS:
Split: 7"
I understand that upon first impression Ready The Jet might come off as a little too precious, but, then again, the first time I saw them play was quashed in the middle of a rowdy house party in none other than Lancaster, California. For those unfamiliar with the town, Lancaster is known for three things: speed, having a disturbingly large population of KKK members, and affordable housing via Chapter 8. Not that all these elements were visible at the party, but they definitely weren’t too far away. Ready The Jet unabashedly play ‘90s indie rock, but with fifteen plus years of reflection and punk lessons learned. Punk lessons like; knowing the right time of night to pack up and leave a Lancaster house party. These two songs work as a great accompaniment to their Killing Pace 7” recently released on Asian Man. Japanese Monsters: if you’ve ever had a fun time in Phoenix and pop punk was involved, there is a very good chance that one of these dudes was there. A verrrrrrry good chance. Bitter, angry, pissed off pop punk, and why the fuck not? Fans of OWTH, Copyrights, and Rumspringer should definitely check this out. –Daryl Gussin (Split, Self-released)


RAPID CITIES:
Machinery Saints: CD
Sounds like emo that could have come out around a decade or so ago, back when “emo” wasn’t such a bad word. –Vincent Battilana (Love Hate, ilovetohaterecords@gmail.com / Look Again Media, lookagainmedia@yahoo.com)


QUESTION MARKS, THE:
Boo! I’m a Ghost!: CD
Overdose Polysics on ‘60s trash and Zep and this is what would likely result. Yes, it’s good. –jimmy (toyonorecords.com)


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