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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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SEASICK:
Ennui: 7”
Thick, dark hardcore from New Jersey. It’s got a metal influence that comes through in the melodic leads and adventurous, but smooth, tempo changes. You can tell that the guys in Seasick are great musicians; the playing is tight with technical flourishes, but they hold back and concentrate on kicking ass instead of impressing you with shredding or weird time signatures. If you like skewed hardcore like Born Against, His Hero Is Gone, or Deadguy, there’s something here that you’ll find worthy. Each side has two songs that run into one another, and if I hadn’t looked at the insert, I would have just thought there were two five-minute songs on this record. Also, if I hadn’t looked at the insert, I wouldn’t have seen the grouchy, “I hate the scene” lyrics. Hey chief, if you can’t go on with your life, then cheer up—your band just put out a ripshit record. –CT Terry (Headcount, headcountrecords.com)


SCHWARZEN SCHAFE, DIE:
24 Years of DIY: CD
They sound like yer average German bald boy punk stuff, but based on the pics, there doesn’t seem to be a skinhead anywhere near the vicinity. Stuff here follows the basic oi template; not revelatory, not horrible. –jimmy (sp-records.com)


SCA:
Decadence & Rage: CD
Heavy, big sound hardcore with a slight metal tinge here and there, not unlike bands like Voorhees or the Horrors. Lyrics appear to lean toward the angry and nihilistic; the beats are fast, the playin’ furious. –jimmy (SCA, no address)


SATURDAY’S KIDS:
Demo: CD
I’m not really sure how to describe this band. The music is melodic, slightly “quirky” mid-tempo post punk, I guess. These folks are no strangers to early ‘90s Dischord bands, that’s obvious. The vocals certainly leave something to be desired, however. Monotonous, as the subgenre would suggest, but kinda obnoxious, as opposed to the requisite strained, passionate thing you’d expect from a band of this ilk. Anyway, it’s not terrible, but there are a lot of bands doing this kinda thing who happen to be doing it better. Cool lyrics and rad handmade packaging, though. –Dave Williams (Self-released)


RVIVR:
Derailer: 7”
Here’s the scoop: two songs: one song an acoustic version that will show up all done out on a future full-length. The other: some of the best DIY, community-conscience, melodically inclined, dual-male-female-vocal pop punk that hosts both a trumpet part and some ridiculously powerful (both auditory and symbolically) gang vocals, you’ll hear all year. I’m not lying. I’m not even really joking. Once again, RVIVR seem make big waves off a small platform. Impressive. –Daryl Gussin (Rumbletowne)


RUMSPRINGER / SLEEP LIKE A DOG:
Split: 7” EP
Rumspringer: Saw these guys turn in a great set at the Razorcake benefit, so I naturally picked this out of the review pile. Two tracks from ‘em here, both catchy bits of poppy punk that. Nice enough to make me wanna hear more. Sleep Like A Dog: They follow along the same lines as their record mates here, though the heavy Japanese accents make the lyric sheet indispensable. –jimmy (Traffic Street)


ROUGH STUFF:
Self-titled: 7”
Rough Stuff is an example of a band that makes me feel uncultured to be an American. The group consists of four guys from Japan who sing in English and whose music is released on both an American and a Spanish label. (I barely moved outside of Colorado last year.) With that said, these are two mid-tempo pop punk songs. For what they lack in fierce beat, Rough Stuff makes up for being genuine. Sample lyrics from “Out of Control”: “The council enacts various ban but you don’t care, you’re having fun.” –N.L. Dewart (Long Shot Music, True Force)


RIVERWINDS, THE:
Self-titled: CD
Because of the genres of music that we usually review, I know that if I make a reference to country music, you’re probably going to assume that this album is going to be some cool alt- country or folk-punk record, but let me tell you right away that this band is neither Wilco nor Defiance, Ohio. The Riverwinds play the straightforward kind of country music that you hear blasting out of pickup trucks when you make a pit stop at a local convenience store on a road trip from Houston to Dallas. Clean-sounding, mid-tempo electric guitars ring along with lyrics about broken hearts, rock‘n’roll, and small-town angst. The CD is produced with that big, full sound complete with perfectly harmonized backing vocals and organ fills in the background. Now, country music isn’t my thing, but after ten years of living in the South, I’ve at least gotten used enough to it to tolerate it as a cultural thing for people in this region. This album wasn’t particularly bad for its genre, except that the singer goes over the top with his exaggerated (fake?) Southern accent. The Riverwinds didn’t change my opinion on country music, and they probably won’t change yours, either. –Lauren Trout (LP-EP, www.lp-ep.com)


RINGERS:
Hurry up and Wait: 12” EP
Well-made, earnest, and entirely listenable melodic street punk from Boston. Like watered down whiskey, the record is rough around the edges and smooth going down. But here’s the deal: if you’re like me you don’t want water in your whiskey and you don’t want your punk to go down smooth. You want it to knock you on your ass. There is no ass knocking here. I kept waiting for it, like the album title told me, but the ass-knocking never came. It just made me sad. Now melodic doesn’t always mean mellow, but here it does. Big time. It might even mean soft. Maybe I’d like it more if it didn’t keep reminding me of One Man Army, only their vocals were way better and they actually rocked. –Jim Ruland (1-2-3-4 Go!)


RINGERS:
Hurry Up and Wait: 12” EP
Let me preface this shit by saying that I’m not a completist. I liked some of their previous bands’ work more than I liked Ringers’ material, though I thought there was a vast improvement from these dudes’ first full-length to their second. Thing is—and I don’t know if it’s time, a serious stepping up of craft, or the format itself (seven songs on a 12”), but Hurry Up And Wait easily blows both LPs out of the water. All the songs have room to breathe here, and what came across as static or a little run-of-the-mill in the past has been sharpened and transformed into some really rugged, bad-ass, anthemic songwriting. I get Todd’s comparison of Bent Outta Shape and The Clash now—there’s that same snarl coupled with a confident, easy strut and exuberant catchiness. These tunes come across more like rough-hewn folk songs (and I mean that in the sense of a very misleading simplicity, how goddamn joyful this noise is) juiced up to ten than anything else. They just nailed it here. Totally awesome record. –keith (1-2-3-4 Go!)


RF7:
Hatred on the Rise: CD
Hardcore progenitors RF7 manage to do it all over again, thirty years after their first album, Acts of Defiance. Like clockwork, every few years a new incarnation of RF7 creeps into a studio. A ton of past and present members of RF7 contributed to this recording and it’s a damn fine example of old meeting new, meshing like fishnets on a fashionable rocker. Naysayers will yawn at these aged dudes trying to keep up with hardcore, but it’s a ton of fucking fun, especially the danceable title track. Count me in. –Art Ettinger (Just 4 Fun, www.j4f.dk)


REVENGE OF THE MORMONS:
Self-titled: CD
Naturally, this band’s name had me curious, but an Internet search did not reveal any actual religious affiliation, although the back of the CD does feature a drawing of someone holding the Book of Mormon. But the lyrics confirm that there’s no way this band is in love with Joseph Smith. Basic, fast-ish punk rock, with songs about whisky (a Mormon sin!), being broke, and other related topics. I like my music catchy, and this just didn’t do it for me. If this were a cereal, it’d be Oat Bran. Just don’t like it. –Maddy (Mistake By The Lake )


RESISTANT CULTURE:
Welcome to Reality: LP
Just looking at the cover of this, with its montage of barrels, rifle-brandishing shadows and helmeted skulls, and the song titles pretty much tells you what to expect here. That said, these East Los veterans are one of the better bands doling out crusty hardcore and, seeing they’ve been together in one incarnation or another for more than twenty years, it should come as no surprise. Mixed into the down-tuned instruments and growly vocals are shards of tribal singing, acoustic guitars, and a worldview a bit more complex than most of the bands that fly the black flag. As someone who remembers their earliest gigs and shared many a backyard bill with them, it’s heartening to see Tony and crew still carrying the torch and raising hell. –jimmy (profanceexitence.com)


REJOUISSANCE:
Miss on Monuments: CD
I don’t know why, but every time I hear these songs, I think of an intense surfing video. Hear what I’m sayin’, bro? –Corinne (Time To Operate)


REIGNING SOUND:
Love and Curses: CD
On Love and Curses, Greg Cartwright proves once again why he’s one of rock’s great songwriters. Lyrically, the album finds Cartwright tackling familiar territory—notably strained relationships and alienation—which he handles with the grace of a young Gene Clark. The treble and distortion found on Too Much Guitar has been quieted on Love and Curses. This outing’s production values and oscillation between rockers and slow songs has more in common with Time Bomb High School. Musically, this new version of the Reigning Sound is tight. Lance Wille (drums) and David Wayne Gay (bass) had big shoes to fill with the departure of last album’s rhythm section of Greg Roberson and the phenomenal Jeremy Scott. And Wille and Gay more than pass the test—check the Motown-meets-Moe Tucker thump of “CallMe.” I mean, you’ve got to hand it to Cartwright for assembling such a formidable band (rounded out by the impressive Dave Amels), something he’s done since day one of the Reigning Sound. Cartwright has an undeniable gift. He continues to write songs that could’ve come out of the BrillBuilding. I can think of no other album out this year that deserves your attention more than Love and Curses. –ryan (In the Red)


REAL NUMBERS, THE:
EP: 7”
This Minneapolis three-piece plays simple, straight forward, lo-fi garage rock. Effortless strumming, easy to remember sing-a-long lyrics, and toe-tapping drums that don’t skimp on the crashing cymbals make this a fun one. –Jeff Proctor (Bachelor)


FRUIT PUNCH / YOUTH OF TOGAY:
Limp Picnic: Split: 7”
My vote for “Most Juvenile” record of the year goes to this waste of oil here. Let’s break down the suckage: Both bands have terrible names. They alternate songs on both sides of a split record, which I find more annoying than the use of a kazoo on one of Youth Of Togay’s songs. The terrible artwork reminds us that there are so many things that can remind us of penises and testicles. As if some of us don’t already have them in our pants. There’s also a press sheet included. Yeah, that’s always a good sign. It’s quite a shame that Fruit Punch (who, musically, have more going for them) decided it was a good idea to pair up with a band full of jackasses in Youth Of Togay, a band who thinks that gay jokes and explicit lyrics are shocking/offensive. Or that somehow any of this is successful in making people aware of the homophobia and bigotry that makes hardcore punk an often close-minded genre when it should welcome punk kids of all kinds without prejudice. I’m not trying to be a PC blowhard here. I’m just saying that none of what they’re doing is funny or thought provoking. If not for Youth Of Togay’s participation in this record, I would have taken Fruit Punch more seriously. Avoid at all costs. –Juan Espinosa (FNS/Evil Squirrel, fruitxpunch.com, youthoftogay.com)


FRANZ NICOLAY:
Major General: CD
I’m only familiar with Nicolay’s work (The Hold Steady, World/Inferno Friendship Society, Guignol) in name, but this solo album is more rockin’ than I expected. It skips freely between half a dozen genres without settling in any one for even a single song—and really, would you expect any less from such a man? From punk to folk to cabaret to jazz, the changes are quick and unapologetic. The album becomes occasionally theatrical (“Dead Sailors”), but other tracks (such as “Jeff Penalty”) are fun, one-off rock songs that don’t feel as if they’ve been ripped from some epic, twisted musical. Features Nicolay’s World/Inferno cohorts Brian Viglione and Peter Hess. –Sarah Shay (Fistolo)


FOREIGN OBJECTS:
Self Titled: 7”
Well, this one’s a ferocious little buzzsaw, isn’t it? Cursing in an alley with the Tyrades, renting the shitty warehouse on one side and the Bayonettes’ fucked-up van broken down on the other, there’s Foreign Objects. They give us three nice snotrockets that land somewhere in that nefarious world that rests between garage and punk. Thankfully, with plenty of attitude to spare. Three songs in a smidge over five minutes, firecracker-smart lyrics, and a recording by Will Killingsworth at Dead Air. The only thing not to like is how quickly it’s over with. Nice attack for sure, and worth picking up. –keith (Shock To The System)


FAILURES, THE:
Working Class Blues: CD
If you like the second two Rancid LPs, you’ll probably like this. Lots of choruses. Tons of choruses. A Billy Bragg cover. Lots of lyrics about unity, not backing down, and even the following, “As the sun goes down and the temperature drops/the streets come alive with the sounds of punk rock/’cause where we’re from the night belongs to the punks.” Where I’m from, when the temperature drops, punks stay inside and read books, leaving the night open to whoever wants to take it, but then again that’s Minnesota. If this were a cereal, it’d be Cheerios. You pretty much know what you’re getting here. –Maddy (Self-released?)


EXPLOSIVOS, LOS:
Self-titled: CD
Punk fuggin’ rawk! This rowdy bunch from Mexico City crank out high energy, ‘60s-style punk. The kind you hear on the Back from the Grave comps, the kind Thee Headcoats play, and many bands in the ‘90s were grasping at. Los Explosivos keep the energy extremely high from beginning to end. Makes me think their live shows must be wall to wall chaos. Here are fifteen tracks of one cranker after another. I’m not kidding. There’s not one slow song on here. It’s just bam! bam! bam!, one after the other. First couple listens, I was a little lukewarm about them. Then I realized the volume was way too low for me to get the full experience. So I cranked the stereo and, lo and behold, Los Explosivos exploded (natch, natch!) out of the speakers and I “got it.” I hear there’s a follow up LP planned for later this year. –Matt Average (Get Hip, gethip.com)


EXISTENTIAL NIGHTMARE:
Self-titled: CD
Have you ever seen a TV show where they use the words “punk rock” to describe a bunch of actors playing sloppy music with some dude making stupid screaming sounds over it? This sounds kind of like that. –Bryan Static (Suggestive Phantasm, no address)


EXETER:
Grey Noise, White Lies: CD
An eleven-song dose of indie rock with emo elements in the mix. Mostly, it tends to blend into the background due to its bland nature. However, about a third of the tunes raised my hackles with songs and production that screamed, “We want to get played on commercial radio!” I did like one of the songs, “Widowmaker,” which was actually of a sufficient quality to perhaps be the worst tune on a hypothetical, unreleased Hot Snakes album. –Jake Shut (Jake Shut )


EVERYTHING IS RUINED:
S/T: CD-R
Nine songs couched nicely between Astrid Oto’s crazed screech and the unabashed melodies of defunct Cincinnati punks, The Messengers. The recording’s a bit ragged, but it’s one of those times when it seems to accent rather than detract. There’s some strong male/female vocal interplay (probably the best thing the band’s got going for them is the creativity of their co-vocalists), laid over some punchy, solid musicianship. Self-proclaimed influences are Rivethead and La Quiete, and while they’re certainly not up to the caliber of either of those bands—those are big shoes to fill—I can see what they’re getting at, and fully expect them to be slaying by the next release. The lyrics are also really great—coming across as very humble and down-to-earth, intelligently acknowledging personal struggles while retaining that ever-elusive glimmer of hope. My only complaint (it’s a small one and yeah, I know I’m in the minority here) is that graphically, visually, the presentation’s a little thin. The chipboard packaging is nice, but the blank-paper CD face, Xeroxed insert, and sticker on the front cover smacks of carelessness or a rush job. The music is all there, you guys, and it’s some pretty solid work. Now give us something to look at. –keith (Everything Is Ruined)


EVERONE EVERYWHERE:
A Lot of Weird People Standing Around: 7”
This record came in some nice packaging. The cover is made from what seems like regular, plain, old brown cardboard, with a black ink drawing of some people that remind me a bit of Mike Judge characters (only better drawn). Clear vinyl. The music itself is pretty poppy, and the singer has a very earnest voice. I’m not too into the music; it’s a bit too “nice” for me, if you know what I’m saying. Although, I did like the first song on the second side more than the rest. They mix it up a little—in one of the songs there’s a bit that sounds like radio clips or TV infomercials, but it still doesn’t do it for me. The bio on the insert says it sounds like late ‘90s emo, and that it’s “warm and bright,” and I’d say that’s about right. The difference, I guess, is that I was never particularly into emo and the reviewer for their bio apparently is. –Jennifer Federico (Evil Weevil, myspace.com/evilweevilrecords)


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