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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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FOREIGN CINEMA:
Non-Synchronous Sound: CDEP
This debut recording from a trio out of San Francisco reminds me of ambient dark wave off Projekt Records. The first and last tracks offer a chilled-out tempo, taking cues from Massive Attack and Brian Eno with dreamy guitar melodies. “At the Bottom of the Deep Blue Sea” and a Depeche Mode cover of “Ice Machine” sound more like early Slowdive with wintery, ethereal vocals and sparse guitars. Audibly, Foreign Cinema fell short of their goal with synchronous, moody melody. Choosing to go analog on their debut makes me think they have more up their collective sleeve. Let’s hope so. –Kristen K (Parallax Sounds, parallaxsounds.com)


FINFANGFOOM:
Monomyth: LP
I was all set to have a field day bagging on this CD because of the doofy band name and indie rock yuppie record label, but it’s pretty damn pleasant. The vocals are passionate and engaged without being overwrought and the echoing guitars are spacious and pretty. They include keys, vibes, and weird percussion in ways that vary the arrangements without making the new instruments sound tacked on. That said, there really isn’t a whole lot going on here. It brings me back to my early impressions of indie rock, as a skate rat in the first half of the ‘90s, when I would have said, “This sounds like boring college guys ripping off Sonic Youth.” That still holds. –CT Terry (Lovitt)


FILTHY CHEATERS, THE:
Sizzle and Chunk: CD
Dirty southern punk rock. It sounds exactly how you think it does. It has all the riffs you think it does. The cover has something to do with motor vehicles and/or explosions just like you think it does (no confederate flags, though). Predictable. –Bryan Static (Self-released, myspace.com/thefilthycheaters)


FIGHTING THE VILLAIN:
First Impression: CDEP
My first impression? This is Paramore 2.0. Is that a good thing? Maybe for some people (people with swoopy bangs who are about to evolve from emo kids to hardcore kids, and eventually become hipsters once they’re legal drinking age), but not me. The good thing about this album is that I discovered the band the Downer Party on their label’s homepage when I was trying to find an address. –Adrian (Popsmear)


FAKE PROBLEMS / NINJA GUN:
Split: 7”
This clear vinyl split off Sabot offers up the country garage sound of Fake Problems with “The Manliest Man of All Men.” With a swaggering blues guitar riff not unlike the early Black Keys, the song is infectious and makes you wanna get off your duff and shake a leg. Ninja Gun shored up their half with “Time and a Half.” I wanted to enjoy this song, but didn’t. Perhaps it was the wonky guitar recording that made me double-check if I had my record player on the right speed. If you dig Fake Problems, this won’t disappoint. –Kristen K (Sabot Productions, sabotproductions.net)


EXPLODE AND MAKE UP:
12”: EP
Chicago scene vets rip through half a dozen tracks of earnest, positive hardcore with powerful, melodic vocals. If you like Dag Nasty, Lifetime, 7 Seconds, or Gorilla Biscuits, and you need some cheering up, this is the antidote to your blues. Let me put it this way, this record made me smile while I was folding my fucking laundry. –CT Terry (Underground Communiqué, undercomm.org)


EVERYTHING FALLS APART:
Relief: LP
This is a serious helping of thinking man’s hardcore. While a lot of bands are getting noisier as a way to increase the aggressiveness, Everything Falls Apart seem to be really zoning in on some great melodies and non-cock riffs, while still retaining the ‘80s HC influence. Consistently powerful, while definitely mixing it up and creating their sound. It’s great to hear a band develop without jumping off the deep end. Anyone who has a soft spot for pre-Hidden World Fucked Up should check this out. –Daryl Gussin (Self-released)


ESTROGEN HIGHS:
Tell It to Them: LP
Estrogen Highs has a lot going for them. Their label (Dead Beat) sends out LPs for review. The LP they sent me came free of PR bullshit. Which means Dead Beat is not trying to fuck with me (or you) in such a patronizing way. And I think Gestapo Khazi is a labelmate of the Estrogen Highs; being even tangentially associated with John Roller puts you in good stead with me. Tell It to Them is a solid LP. A little bit Demon’s Claw—definitely into 13th Floor Elevators. The musicianship is strong. The guitar playing has that raw Eddie Cochran feel in some places—and the solo on “Age of Romantics” is aces. I’m also pleased that the bass is far from buried in the mix—it’s heard and felt. Most LPs in this vein skimp on the low end (a quality synonymous with mid-‘60s recordings) and that’s just ridiculous. (Don’t make the same mistake the early Gun Club did.) Affirmative on this one, amigos. –ryan (Dead Beat)


ESPRIT DE CORPS:
Under Constant Influence: CD
Kind of a ‘90s screamo attack that’s also somehow catchy and surprisingly unpretentious. It’s an odd grouping of sounds that works well for these guys: some nice gang vocals over punchy, nearly-anthemic dancepunk. Okay, yes, maybe review deadlines are looming and “dancepunk” conjures up something icky like the Faint. So scratch that. But I’d still be up for saying that EDC comes across as a workable, brick-and-mortar mishmash of Lost Patrol’s catchy dance shit and Orchid’s spastic hammer-yowls, with some Super Black Market toeing the line and smoothing things out in between. Add some nice chipboard packaging and friendly liner notes, consider the fact that they have a keyboardist who actually adds something rather than hinders or neuters the band, and Esprit De Corps comes out of the gate here with a pretty nice five-songer. Look forward to hearing what they come up with next. –keith (Esprit De Corps)


ERGS!, THE / THE MEASURE [SA]:
Split: 7”
The Ergs!: Nope, not back from the grave; not pulling a Nirvana, Sublime, or Tupac, where dead people keep on releasing “new” music. It’s just that in this imperfect world of punk vinyl, shit recorded gets out of sequence of shit being released. I know there’s more Ergs! vinyl coming out (Thrash Compactor’s on the way, I believe, along with a split with Teenage Bottlerocket) that was recorded prior to That’s It… Bye! It’s all bittersweet math, though, since we’re on the final pages of a book I don’t want to end. The Ergs! decimated many of the concrete walls of pop punk like Hulk smashing puny jello cups in massive fists, cheerfully squirting that goo which choked out so, so many lesser bands. Measure [SA]: it’s the small stuff that makes ‘em so great, like young, funny Chevy Chase on the cover, how they can make the political “Dullards and Dreadful Prose” sound like the bad relationship it is; a relationship of the far right and their courting of America’s soul and not just stuff like “Limbaugh suck dog tit.” Yup. Big fan of both. –todd (No Idea)


EQUALITIES, THE:
On the Street: 12”
I either grow tired of things after awhile or I am just fickle. So I see that this release looks to be street punk. Ugh. But it’s from Japan. Mmm... How bad can it be? Well it’s pretty frickin’ good. Melodic, tight, but the big factor is that it exudes a sense of fun. Fun in a pogo sense that you want to bounce around the room in a drunken stupor. But also the energy from the band feels genuine. Not playing by the numbers, but feeling it and showing that they enjoy what they are doing. I like being surprised. This was a pleasure and should see some time on the turntable. –don (Loud Punk)


EDDY CURRENT SUPPRESSION RING:
Self-titled: CD
My esteemed colleague, Suburban Voice’s Al Quint, tells me this is a reissue of this band’s first album, and I ain’t gonna argue with him ’cause everyone knows Al knows his shit. He also sang this band’s praises and, again, I’m inclined to agree. What this Aussie band does here is synthesize a number of influences in ways that recall past styles—a little Headcoats here, some classic ‘80s thud-punk there, maybe even a little Sniveling Shits as —while infusing it with a heap of much-needed ineptitude to keep things vibrant and relevant instead of slick and contrived. The often monosyllabic lyrics about love, poverty, and ice cream and the verve with which they play the tunes recall the best of punk’s first few waves without sounding like a stale tribute band. –jimmy (Goner)


EDDIE AND THE HOT RODS:
The Singles Collection: CD
A collection of A-sides from this legendary pub rock band’s initial ‘70s/’80s run here. As can be expected, the bulk of the hits—“Teenage Depression,” “Get out of Denver,” “Do Anything You Wanna Do,” et al.—can be found here, along with liner notes for each single. Been many a moon since I last saw a Captain Oi release and I was kinda worrying they’d called it a day. Glad to see that fear was unwarranted. –jimmy (Captain Oi)


DR. KNOW:
Killing for God: LP
For better or worse, I’ve just thrown Dr. Know in there with a lot of the other Oxnard/Mystic bands of the ‘80s. My knowledge of their catalog is practically nil, apart from those random Mystic comp LPs I’d find in the used bins long ago and never seemed to hold onto for very long. They seemed synonymous with so much of the music from that era and—the stuff just hasn’t aged that well. I mean, sure, I liked Ill Repute when I was sixteen, but their catalog (Uh, Big Rusty Balls, anyone?) has just not proven to be that sturdy over the years. So I was pretty surprised to hear that Killing for God, despite all expectations, is actually pretty good. Okay, if not good, it’s at least passable. There’s some reasonably cheesy chugga-chugga moments that veer pretty damn close to metallesque territory, but it all sounds reasonably… accurate. Dedicated. Sincere. It’s not as seamlessly awesome as the Empty Grave LP that came out a while back, but nowhere near as embarrassing as Big Rusty Balls, you know? Still sounds very “Nardcore” to this untrained ear, but it also comes across as the very definition—with all its limitations and trappings and corniness and, yes, strengths—of old-school hardcore. –keith (Unrest)


DOWNER PARTY, THE:
Ego-Driven Lust Creatures: CDEP
Sort of dreamy at bits, but definitely more garage pop from this female-led Bay Area three-piece. Songs that have that shake-your-booty flair with a strong, rocking underbelly to carry it along. I really like the loud production on this recording; real bright but mixed evenly, while still having a hint of rawness. –don (PopSmear)


DOWN WITH PEOPLE:
Self-titled: 7”
Retro psychedelic guitar rock from this Seattle three piece, led by Ron Nine who fronted Love Battery. The first side is some gritty, heavy, yet tuneful rock with more than ample wah wah pedal use that manages to get its hooks into you a couple minutes in with its trance-inducing chorus and clever bridge. The other side is a fairly pedestrian cover of “Meloncholia” by The Who that just made me wish they had put another original song on the B side. –Jake Shut (Flotation)


DOCKSIDE HOOKERS:
Killing the Music: 7”
A cool looking splattered marbled 7” by a four piece street punk band from the province of Quebec. All four songs have above average guitar hooks and catchy choruses. Kind of reminds me of very early Dillinger Four or The Arrivals. A weird thing about the packaging is that the 7” jacket has the black and white cassette with crossbones below graphic exactly the same as M.O.T.O. album Raw Power. If I were going to steal another bands’ graphic, I would have went for Social Distortion’s, smoking and drinking skeleton, but hey that’s just me. –Jake Shut (Longshot)


DIRTY LITTLE HEATERS:
The Fatty Don’t Feel Good: 7”
This is terrifically uninhibited garage rock with currents of blues and stoner metal bubbling beneath the surface. Vocalist/guitarist Reese McHenry carries some particularly punchy pipes (her impassioned shouts of “I believe in karma, too” light up “Untitled”), the instrumental work is taut, and the production is clean yet far from sterile. Per their MySpace, this North Carolina group only has shows in their home state listed. Why the hell aren’t these guys taking their amped-up tantrums to the road? –Reyan Ali (Churchkey)


DIENTE PERRO:
Muertos en la Noche: CD
Took one look at the packaging art and figured I was in for a crusty experience, but no. Hailing from Puerto Rico, these guys turn in some well-executed punk/hardcore with enough pop sense thrown in to make the tunes catchy as well as loud. Nice surprise. –jimmy (myspace.com/dienteperro)


DEZERTER:
Ile Procent Duszy?: LP
Dezerter is a Polish punk rock band that has been around since 1981 and under the name Dezerter since 1983. The fact that they existed years before the fall of communism is notable. The fact that they had material released on Tonepress (the state-run record label) is even more impressive. Appearing on the legendary Polish punk rock sampler Jak Punk to Punk, Dezerter have gone through different lineups and different general sounds over the years, but they always have had a serious sneer for the establishment. I think that carries a lot more weight in communist Poland than it does for bored American suburban kids. This red/black marble swirl vinyl was a total treat to find on my trailer’s doorstep. Coming from Pasazer, it is not surprising that the production is topnotch. The sleeve, insert (in Polish and English), vinyl, and labels all look outstanding. The music reminds me of various late ‘80s hardcore outfits, sort of metally and not unlike Verbal Abuse. This is a gem amongst my vinyl collection. Dziekuje bardzo za doskanale plyty! –paul (Pasazer)


DEMENTS, THEE:
No Job, Blowjob: 7”
These two guys sure did tap into something with the name of this record. Some people just seem to think it’s the funniest thing they’ve ever seen. Equals parts dementia and the realistic boundaries of “what is music,” they concoct a rather hearty stew with the ingredients being: acoustic ukulele / guitar, theremin, vibraphone (whatever that is), and their own voices. It’s a crunchy sound, made for people who like things a little on a strange and silly side. Contains ex-members of the Ultra Twist. –Daryl Gussin (Bubca)


DEAD VOICES ON AIR:
Fast Falls the Eventide: 2 x CD
This is a double disc of noise. I like noise stuff sometimes, especially if it’s slightly ambient and open. And, occasionally, Dead Voices On Air has that quality, but, often, it’s just repetitive and slightly grating. Evidently, the guy who does this act, Mark Spybey, has been doing this for quite a while, and it’s definitely inducing of something, but what it makes me feel isn’t always the notion of abstract floating or calm white sound I usually prefer. –kurt (Lens, lensrecords.com)


DEAD TO ME:
African Elephants: CD
This album was a comedown after the Little Brother EP. After spending some time with it and seeing the new Jack Dalrymple-less three-piece lineup of Dead To Me live, I am warming up to this CD though. One of my initial criticisms is that it’s just not possible to replace Jack in the vocals department. This isn’t a slight against guitarist Nathan stepping up to the mic to throw in lead vocals alongside Chicken, so much as it is a tribute to the strength of Dalrymple’s singing. He has one of those great punk voices, like Jeff Pezzati, that can make a song almost on its own. Secondly, the sequencing of the CD kinda throws the flow off right away because of the dubby, protest track “X” that starts it off. It’s not a bad song by any means, but it’s way different from anything that comes after, because of the slower reggae beat and organ going on, and is therefore an awkward start to the album. I would also say my final complaint is that there’s a flatness to the production on a lot of the album that holds back some of the songs. I noticed this mostly when I saw that band play recently. Some of the songs that I didn’t really pay attention to when I first heard them, really hit home on the stage, like “Cruel World,” “Nothing Runnin’ through My Brain,” and “Fell Right In.” (By the way, DTM is still amazing live, see them every chance you get.) After a few listens, a nice contrast becomes apparent between Nathan’s more personal lyrical style and Chicken’s political themes. That keeps a tension in the flow of the album that partially makes up for the sameness that happens in a couple of the stretches. So, in conclusion, this isn’t as great as their near-perfect Little Brother EP, but this album is a grower, and is moving closer to Cuban Ballerina in my estimation. Not bad at all for the initial effort after a pretty radical regrouping. –todd (Fat)


DEAD SCENE RADIO:
Self-titled: CD-R
Rock band dreck. –jimmy (attractionrecords.com)


DEAD CAT LOUNGE:
Don’t Come Back: CD
Pretty standard political street punk/American oi hybrid. There is a song called “Barbara’s Bush” about Barbara Bush’s, … well, … bush. It comes across as bit immature, but not ostensibly offensive and definitely reminiscent of late-‘80s crossover humor. The singer really sells the humor element of the band. The vocals come across loud and clear and he is able to express sarcasm without sounding too pleased with himself. He sounds pissed and confident. Overall, a pretty strong band. The songs are good, but the album suffers from the songs having too many intro riffs. There needs to be a little more 1234-go in the presentation. The album starts with a one and a half minute excerpt from Network. Just get to the songs; I got stuff to do. If I wanna see Network, I’ll rent it. –Billups Allen (Fish, myspace.com/DeadCatLounge)


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