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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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PURPLE HEARTS:
Mod Singles Collection: CD

A musical trip through the band’s career via its singles, starting off with Who-gone-punk ditties like “Millions Like Us” and “Frustration” to more traditional ‘60s-inspired fare like “My Life As a Jigsaw” and “The Guy Who Made Her a Star” and ending with their final single, 1986’s “Friends Again.” As can be expected, the Captain has tacked on some additional tracks, in this case three songs culled from The Beat Generation & Angry Young Men compilation that the band recorded in 1981, one of which co-produced by some dude named Paul Weller. In all, this is a nice introduction to one of the better bands that came out of the UK’s ‘70s mod scene.

–jimmy (Captain Oi)


PULLOUT:
Eagles & Vultures: CD
Was a little apprehensive when the first song started up that they were gonna be one o’ them modern metal bands that like to use the word hardcore as if they knew what it meant. It became apparent pretty quickly, though, that while there is a little metal embedded in their sound, they are more on the punk side of the fence. I prefer ’em more when they thrash things up, but they manage to find enough of a groove when they downshift to keep things interesting. –jimmy (Downtown Academy, no address)


PSYCHED TO DIE:
Year One: CD
I’m guilty of an Erg-related bias, for sure. I just expect that anything those three fellows touch will turn to gold, and, really, I’ve yet to be disappointed. That’s no easy feat in Mike Yannich’s case, since it seems that he’s had a hand in about two hundred or so bands in the past few years, yet his track record remains killer. Psyched To Die, while definitely his biggest departure style-wise from The Ergs (although not too far), is no exception: Fast, American-style hardcore with plenty of melodic flourishes and super-memorable choruses. I feel one of the most important aspects when starting a band of this genre is that one refrains from choosing a particular band to emulate (which is often the case), and while there are certainly hints of some specific bands in these songs, Psyched To Die totally pulls off sounding like their own hardcore band. They also keep things catchy enough that they’ll transcend subgenres based on more than just the ex-members list. Really great. –Dave Williams (Dirtnap)


POSITIVE NOISE:
2008 Hardcore Punk: Cassette
From the state that gave us Negative Approach, Michigan punks Positive Noise compiled all of their up-to-date released output onto one convenient blue cassette. Musically, they’re as fierce as they come. Straight-up hardcore with nods to Youth Of Today and R.A.M.B.O. As far as the lyrical content is concerned, so much of it is nothing you haven’t already heard before: cries for social, political, and communal activism with concern for the betterment of punks and humanity as a whole. Though, after reading their mission statement and liner notes, I couldn’t help but feel being preached to. I eat meat but I don’t necessarily feel that it makes me less of a person. If the band’s members can get past their hang ups about other people’s personal choices I wouldn’t doubt that it would be fun seeing them live, and possibly moshing alongside them. –Juan Espinosa (Otherwise Dead)


POGO, THE:
Police Story: 7"
I think, logically, this is what my old band would have sounded like if they kept me on vocals. Hell, even the pictures remind me of my stupid freshman haircut. My only conclusion is that this band is from an alternate universe where I still like street punk. I didn’t realize street punk was getting into quantum physics. Just to be clear, if a street punk band were to start singing about science, it would be metric buttloads better than this 7”. –Bryan Static (Loud Punk)


PLASTIC CRIMEWAVE SOUND:
Shockwave Rider: 7"
I had some good expectations, since this outfit is fronted by the editor of Galactic Zoo Dossier. Unfortunately, this whole single is forgettable: noisy modern-day psychedelia with the vocals buried in the din. No hooks and absolutely nothing that stands out. –Matt Average (HoZac, hozacrecords.com)


PLASTER:
New World: CD
Marshall-saturated, grungy rock stuff from (according to the Day-Glo green sticker affixed to the front) members of Coffin Break, RC5, and Jet City Fix. More succinctly: think Soundgarden with huevos. Take that as you will. –jimmy (Flotation, no address)


PINK RAZORS:
Leave Alive: CD
Fun, zippy, revved-up poppy punk, and at nine tracks the record was far too short. I think that this is one of those occasions in which a band’s name really does reflect the tunage…Pink Razors are sharp and cutting but there’s an element of frivolity and panache at the same time. Well done. –The Lord Kveldulfr (No Idea)


PHANTOM FAMILY HALO / MEAH!:
Split: 7"
This is some beautiful packaging. I like the pictures on both sides of the record cover, although they are very different (aside from the color) from one another. It’s a great purple color; it’s like a DumDum lollipop or (of course) a crayon. Love the insert from Sophomore Lounge Records. It’s a real photograph (I think!) of a forest with the sun breaking in a misty shine through the trees, and the color of the light is this mauve/deep pink /purple color; I think it looks nice with the pictures on the front and back covers. There is a list of releases printed out and glued to the back of the photo; it is great, very nice. I also like the band insert, with two different but cool photos on nice, thick cardstock. The record itself is this gorgeous baby blue / periwinkle color with nice artwork on the inside circle. All and all, really excellent packaging! On to the music, well the Phantom Family Halo cover of “Hurricane Fighter Plane” I totally love. I actually remember a different cover of this song, done originally by The Red Crayola in 1966, by Alien Sex Fiend, from when I was a wee lass. Needless to say, it sounds completely different than the version done here by Phantom Family Halo, a band from Kentucky. I have never heard the original, but I can hear some ‘60s in the way the singer from Phantom sings it (by the way, the info about The Red Crayola on Wikipedia is worth checking out, it says: “This is a band that was paid ten dollars to stop a performance in Berkeley. If Berkeley’s not having it, you know you’re in for rough sledding.” Ha!), and I would definitely like to hear the original. This version I really like, it’s kinda hypnotic. The singer sounds like he’s mellow and very suave, but actually also a little weird and creepy. I found it to be dangerously enticing. There are awesome guitar (or something!) effects in the middle of the song; it sounds like ravenous seagulls swooping around in the dead of night. Favorite line: “Takes me to the sky above, To the clouds of love.” Meah!, on the reverse side, I am still undecided about. At first listen, there is a little too much going on. Vocally I can hear Blood Bros., Tom Waits, Black Eyes, and some kind of rap / hip hop style. There’s a part in the first song where a child is speaking and I wasn’t into that. The second song I liked better. Easy and nonchalant at first, it later breaks into a more dance punk type of style. Again a lot of Blood Bros. in that one. I wouldn’t have minded a more consistent tempo—not that I don’t like to mix it up, it’s just that sometimes I like to get in a mood. Prominent quirky bass and scratchy guitar. I’ll listen to it more. Overall, very excited about this release. –Jennifer Federico (Sophomore Lounge, sophomoreloungerecords.com)


PELICAN:
What We All Come to Need: CD/LP
I have been really fortunate in coming across some remarkable albums this year. Especially in heavy music, it’s been a quality year (Isis, Converge, Slayer, etc.) Pelican’s latest and their first on Southern Lord (Boris, Sunn O))), Earth) didn’t let me down. In fact, I’d say this is easily their best album, even better than the fucking triumphant The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw. The eight tracks herein aren’t as long as some of their previous releases, with everything tracking in between four and eight minutes. Unlike the upbeat, righteous sound of their past work, What We All Come to Need has somewhat of a hesitant, contemplative sound. It’s not always blistering guitar attacks but there aren’t any acoustic interludes, either. Pelican hits it right on, balancing the melancholy with the edgy and pulling it off big time. There’s no standing back from the album; the riffs are too engaging. The textures and atmosphere give off an almost autumnal feel. There are a number of guest spots on the album with the biggest being Allen Epley of The Life And Times providing vocals on the last track, “Final Breath.” It’s a first for Pelican, but it sounds beautiful. This album works great as both background music while reading or when you want to rock out. It definitely covers all the bases. There’s no doubt this will be in my top five for the year. –kurt (Southern Lord)


PHANTOM.357:
Roadhouse Nightmare: CD
The guys in Phantom.357 are pretty cocky. They think they can just break the rules and release a CD in a DVD case. Well, that shit may fly in China, but not here in the United States. We like to have all our CDs in jewel cases. Roadhouse nightmare? Pfff. I’m more concerned with the organizational nightmare that would be created if bands decided willy nilly how to package their CDs. How the hell would I organize my collection if half the bands I listened to put stuff out in jewel cases and then the rest put stuff out in dirty socks and shoeboxes and whatever else they felt like stuffing their CDs into? Creativity be damned! My CD shelf is designed for certain shapes and sizes! And no, just because you put rad pulp art on the cover and fill the CD up with catchy old school punk—so old school that I thought I had accidentally popped in my DIY: The Modern World CD – doesn’t mean you don’t have to play by the rules. –mp (Self-released, myspace.com/phantom357)


PARASITES:
Solitary: CD
So this album’s all right except for one thing. About 4/5ths of the songs on here sound exactly like a Chad Price All song or Descendents tracks off Everything Sucks. Now I love Descendents/All more than nearly any other band, so similarities should be a good thing, in theory. The problem is that the Parasites songs sound much like the Descendents most of the time (minus the oh-so awesome Milo grit in the voice), I keep wanting to go and throw on the Descendents or All and get right at the source. So, in summary, this sounds like a B-sides album with the leftovers from Mass Nerder or Cool to Be You. That’s not a bad thing, but if the Parasites changed their sound up some more, they could produce something more memorably distinct. –Adrian (Kid Tested, kidtestedrecords.net)


PANGEA:
Never Not Know Nothing: 7"`
Progressive pop music that hops and flops around in tasty melodies and zany musicianship. Definitely not easy to categorize or even comprehend, just imagine oldies radio as an Abba Zabba. Now imagine Pangea as a pack of wild, fun-loving wombats tearing it to pieces. Stretching it and distorting it into an untamed, savage form. They’re the kind of band that easily wins over a crowd, while also being a band that thinks it’s a good idea to put a sound clip from a road construction pinball game in between two songs. Three-hundred pressed, so don’t think about it for too long. –Daryl Gussin (Stress Domain)


OVER STARS AND GUTTERS:
Consider This Your Curse: CD
To describe this in very (over)generalized terms, Over Stars And Gutters have a sound that is pretty familiar: throaty vocals bellowing over tough-sounding punk anthems with a bit of a pop influence. It seemed that I had heard such fare many times previously, but Over Stars And Gutters didn’t really sound rehashed or clichéd in any way, and I liked this record more and more with every listen. There’s something infectious about this band’s muscular sound and melancholy outlook that kept me coming back, kind of like the bitter pleasure of picking a scab and making it bleed all over again. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Self-released, myspace.com/overstarsandgutters)


ORPHAN CHOIR:
Self-titled: CD
If you took a good punk band, added two tablespoons of Bryan Adams, one teaspoon Leatherface, two teaspoons rotting Bruce Springsteen (in a bad way), stirred, and put it in the microwave, this is what you’d get. Slightly gruff lyrics (think, roughly, Against Me), on the poppy end of things. With the lyric, “only the good die young/and we’re no good baby, no damn good.” If this were a cereal, it’d be French Toast Crunch: a mix of bad ideas. –Maddy (Art Of The Underground)


ONION FLAVORED RINGS:
Funny: 7"
Science me this: is there a process or a material that instantly converts light rays into dark voids? Maybe something that turns bubblegum into lumps of coal? Because if one was to listen to solely Onion Flavored Rings’ music and the lyrics were indistinguishable, one could make the argument that this 7” is one, big, fuzzy teddy bear that inhales cotton candy and poos glitter puff paint rainbows. Yet, this is not so. The lyrics are bleak, broken, and destructive. Relationships are holocausted left and right and the radiation continues to sicken even distant memories. Just change the color of a condiment and it fundamentally changes. Funny is the black tartar sauce of pop punk and it’s Onion Flavored Rings’ swan song. OFR are dead. Long live OFR. –todd (Thrillhouse)


ON THE BRINK:
Take Cover: CD
Take Cover is loaded with standard, at-the-speed-of-NOFX pop punk. This trio plays well, is recorded well, seems to have their act together, and there is nothing wrong with this band at all, but there is just nothing going on here for me. Every song on the album moves at the same pace. All the playing is so competent to the point where nothing stands out. This is dictionary-entry, hardcore-style pop punk album with songs titles like “Corruption,” “My Truth,” “Something to Lose,” “Damned from the Start.” There are bass breaks, vocal alone breaks, snare starts, melodic guitar runs, alternating singing (they all have good voices). Everything from the book is represented here. Not my thing, but they play well. –Billups Allen (Longshot)


NO NO NO HOPES, THE:
Self-titled: 7"
The No No No Hopes are a Texas four piece that play mid-tempo, southern-fried garage rock with all the nuance and subtlety of a long haul trucker spun out on speed and singing along to the Supersuckers. The singer has a sneering growl and the music rips along all right, but for all the toughness and rebellion this is trying to muster, I’m left feeling cold to it. The drummer tries to do too much, playing snare fills when it would be better to hang back and simply keep the beat. The guitar riffs remind me of the Hyenas, so that bugs me, too. The best song is a cover of the Action Swingers “Kicked in the Head.” –benke (Twistworthy)


NO ILLUSIONS:
Demo: Cassette
I will always be a fan of the demo tape. Bad recording, poorly printed j cards, and typewriter style fonts are totally fine by me. No Illusions appear to be from the Massachusetts/Boston area. Their style is not one that isn’t already currently being done by bands who I’m sure are their regional peers. Deep Sleep and Social Circkle quickly come to mind. Throwback comparisons bring to mind Dag Nasty’s melodic goodness alongside Negative FX’s punch to the throat toughness. All in all, I think No Illusions are a damn fine good band who would benefit greatly from a vinyl release and maybe some touring. However, after a bit of research via the interweb, it has become apparent that these folks have cashed in their chips and left the table. Fans of No Way/Grave Mistake bands, this was your new favorite band. –Juan Espinosa (Self released, myspace.com/noillusions2008)


NUX VOMICA:
Asleep in the Ashes: CD
I thought this was an EP when I saw that there were only six songs. I was wrong on all fronts. This thing clocks in a bit over an hour or so. But surprisingly enough, it was not a labored effort. It’s a genre melting pot of epic storytelling soundscapes. You get everything from crust, black metal, punk, and rock with everything in between. Fast, slow, medium. It runs the gamut for a tonal adventure. The music is not pretty by any means, but it does take you on an adventure of sound. Production-wise, I was surprised by the brightness of the recording. I was expecting more of the dark, bottom-heavy sound. But this has a more open and widespread sound of guitar gushing from the speakers, giving the music a speck of hope. That’s not common among many contemporary bands that they may play along with. I saw the band live when they came through my town on tour recently. Hearing these songs live was eye opening. Also seeing them a few years prior showed that they are a band that definitely has come into their own. –don (Aborted Society)


OLD GROWTH / 12XU:
Split: 7"
We’ve got a problem here. It’s finals at school and I’ve got limited time to write these reviews, but all I want to do is play this record over and over! Old Growth combine winding guitars, interesting rhythms, and vocal hooks while retaining a punk compactness. Think Jawbox or Unwound at a house show. France’s 12XU play silty indie punk with sing-song vocals. They remind me of an old favorite, Garden Variety. Two songs from each band, but I’ll be seeking out more. My grades may suffer for it, but damn the torpedoes; it will be worth it. –CT Terry (Bakeru Outlet)


NO FRIENDS:
self-titled: CD
Supergroups rarely seem to live up to expectations, and this one’s no exception. No Friends is made up of the bulk of guys from the now-defunct New Mexican Disaster Squad and fronted by the yowler for Municipal Waste. For a lot of people it probably sounds like a dream, like some kind of thrash/punk bestial coupling of a lion and a unicorn. Unfortunately, it’s also one of those records that reads a lot better on paper than it actually sounds. Fully grounded in a rehashed ‘80s hardcore template with a dash of melody thrown in—think early Paint It Black and Death Is Not Glamorous languorously bathing in a bacteria-laden hot tub with the Descendents—it comes across as more formulaic than anything else. If this band was coming out of some podunk town in the middle of nowhere, I don’t think people would be so quick to jump on the bandwagon. But since it’s these guys… Probably a fun project for those involved, but be wary of the hype, you know? –keith (No Idea)


NIAGRA & THE HITMEN:
St. Valentine’s Day Massacre: CD
Okay, not sure I grasp all the particulars, so forgive me if some of the following info is suspect, but from what I can gather, the bulk of this is comprised of a live recording of a band called the Hitmen performing a set of tunes by another band, Dark Carnival. The latter’s lead singer, Niagra, joined the Hitmen for this live set to honor the legacy of Dark Carnival/Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton, who had a hand in penning all the Dark Carnival and Stooges classics the band performed that night. As can be expected, the songs are heavy with trancelike, primal, and sleaze-infested Stoogeisms, with Niagra and company putting in the requisite work to make this one of the better Detroit punk-related artifacts available. –jimmy (Steel Cage)


NEW MODEL ARMY:
Today Is the Day: CD
Gotta admit that though I’ve been fully aware of their existence since the mid-‘80s or so, my knowledge of this band’s repertoire is limited to a limited edition “best of” CD I picked up ’cause I love their tune “White Coats,” a poorly packaged CDEP that I got to review some years ago, the interview that ran in this fine mag a few issues back, and now this CD. What you get for your buck is intelligent, poetic lyrics coupled with first-rate songwriting that bounces across a number of musical sub-niches, from the metallic opening title tune to electrified folky stuff, to the odd rager, all delivered with the same level of conviction and passion as the Clash or even the more believable of the hardcore lot. Is this a full-on stereotypical sonic punk attack? Not by a long shot, but liberal doses of punk sensibilities are rampant throughout, so if you’re a little more open-minded than the average mohawk-coiffed punter, there’s much here you’ll find quite impressive. –jimmy (Attack Attack)


NERVOUS DOGS:
Great Doors: 7”EP
Depression, defiance, fires, and formlessness. Raspy-voiced. Smoke-filled lungs—from both wildfires and enclosed spaces. It’s Florida punk with much to owe to Spoke, Fay Wray, and Clairmel, the lesser-known structures which Hot Water Music would one day build its foundations on. The Nervous Dogs are confessional but not anthemic. They hide their melodies like a well-concealed flask and play bodies of songs heavily scarred, but with the slightest of smiles on the lips. They aren’t a band that is likely to blow you away immediately, but if you like them on first spin, chances heavily weigh toward that fondness will continue to grow. –todd (Bakery Outlet)


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