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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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CITY OF SHIPS:
Look What God Did to Us: CD
I played this loud, quiet, drunk, sober, late at night, early in the morning, and while eating a bowl of hemp granola on the eighth hour of the eighth day of the eighth month of the year, and for all that effort, the only thing I could hear was Alice In Chains with quirky guitar leads. –jimmy (Translation Loss)


CITY OF SHIPS:
Look What God Did to Us: CD
Alternative songs about feelings and wrath with highly unoriginal artwork for the CD. Not really my scene, but, hey, sometimes people like music from the ‘90s. I read somewhere that this music was inspiring, but the only thing it inspired me to do was change the CD. –Corinne (Translation Loss)


CINEMATICS, THE:
Love and Terror: CD
Guitar-driven, gloomy, nouveau new wave stuff that takes more cues more from bands like Echo And The Bunnymen than Gang Of Four. The songs are well written and catchy, and the sound itself has yet to be run into the fucking ground by a billion others, so right now this is sounding pretty danged good. Kudos to all involved. –jimmy (The Orchard)


CHOOGLIN:
Sweet Time : CD
Good, solid, ‘70s heavy rock from this Minneapolis band. Losing much of the speed and fury of the debut, this sounds like a record that would have been on Atco or Elektra circa 1972. Please note this also means there are softer songs in the mix. Chooglin have nailed the vibe and feel of the era coming on like a mix of Mountain, Deep Purple, Steppenwolf, and Grand Funk Railroad. Live photos show a horn section, so it would seem the band is embracing the aesthetic fully. There may seem to be a bit of a wink and a nod here, but it is unlikely that anyone would go this far just for a laugh. Fans of stuff like Cherry Valence and the Dirtbombs may wanna give this a listen. –frame (Big Legal Mess)


CHINA CREEPS:
Stay on or Die: 7"
Vancouver’s skate thrash masters are back with a four-song blast of wax that will force you to get on your stick and go hunting for empty pools. These five tracks are over before I even knew what was up. My mind was stuck thinking about the crazy skate pits that break out every time they play live. Even the blue vinyl had me dreaming of swimming pools. Track one down and get the shred! –ty (myspace.com/chinacreeps)


CHILD BITE / BIG BEAR:
Split: 7"
As soon as the needle hits the groove, I hear what I think to be saxophone. Immediately, I check the back of the sleeve, and sure enough, that’s a saxophone I hear. One of the most maligned instruments in pop music, and certainly in punk rock, has the luxury of kicking off the Child Bite side. These hirsute Detroit gentlemen play some moody indie rock, both complex and groovy, that’s accented by hoarse vocals that call to mind Archers Of Loaf’s Eric Bachman and that ever-present saxophone humming throughout, adding some bottom to the mix. I can’t think of another band to compare it to right now, but I like it. And if you’ve got a soft spot in your heart for something new and a little bit different, then I think you might like this, too. The Big Bear side is lady-fronted, keyboard-heavy, bare bones and angular. The keys on here sound like they’re straight out of the golden age of arcade games. The guitar work sounds like some of Tom Verlaine’s more sharp and jagged moments. Big Bear comes across as a little less intriguing than the Child Bite side, but still a nice pairing here. Hand numbered, limited to 500, on clear green vinyl, with really engrossing and colorful album artwork as well. –Jeff Proctor (Joyful Noise)


CHARLIE AND THE MOONHEARTS:
Drop in Drop out: 7"
This record features three songs from a psychedelic garage rock trio out of the Bay Area and produced by Ty Segall, the hardest working musician in the Bay Area. The vocals are so blown out that I have no idea what they’re hollering about, but this is some mean-ass ‘60s rawk. Usually I’d run from a song called “Stoney Jam,” but the b-side cut is all kinds of crazy. –Jim Ruland (Tic Tac Totally!)


CENTERHITS / YOUR PEST BAND:
Split: 7"
Wow. Sample Centerhits lyrics: “Shave his stubbles! Waiting? While I get calcium so fast!” The Centerhits are kinda reminiscent of mid-period Modern Machines meets the Soviettes. Boy/girl vocals. Punk + rock + a lot of energy! And, actually, Your Pest Band is pretty similar. Lots of loud guitars! The more I listen to this, the more I like it. I like this genre that’s a little more complicated, a little more ROCK than pop punk, but just barely. If this were a cereal, both of these bands would be Rice Krispies with bananas! A solid formula, plus something of substance! Something that gives you the power to ride your bike and jump up and down, and, maybe, at the same time. Impossible? Perhaps! –Maddy (Snuffy Smiles)


CASTAVET:
Summer Fences: CD
Nineties-style emo punk from Chicago with gruff Small Brown Bike/Hot Water Music vocals and clean, math-lite guitars. Most of the songs are snoozy and ponderous, but on the rare occasion when they pick up the pace to something faster than a crawl, I get bittersweet memories of bearded guys clutching backpack straps and bobbing back and forth in VFW halls. –CT Terry (Count Your Lucky Stars, cylsrecords.com)


CARA OCULTA, LA / SCUM OF THE EARTH:
Split: 7” EP
More Ramones worship en español from these kids. Tunes are simple and catchy, as they should be. Scum Of The Earth: Surprise, surprise, three hip hop tunes. Catchy beats, lyrics deeper than the standard “bitches” drivel. Good stuff. –jimmy (TPV)


CANDELIERS, THE:
Self-titled: CD
This band carries some old country with a little bit of rockabilly in the mix. All songs are at a medium to slow pace. I can hear the inspiration from Tom Petty in one of the songs. But, trust me, this band has nothing on Tom Petty. Something new and interesting to listen to, but this band has some room for growth. They’re on to something, and I’m sure eventually they will get there. –Corinne (Activities)


CAFETERIA DANCE PARTY:
Man the Life Boats: 7"
Cafeteria Dance Party is a poppy, garagey, rock’n’roll quartet out of Portland with alternating male and female vocals. Four songs here; all very short and deliciously sweet. Cafeteria Dance Party plays sloppy thrash, shiny happy pop, and trashy rock and roll on (and occasionally all within) the four tracks here, all with hints of xylophone and mashed synths to keep things interesting. Think Selby Tigers fronted by Jay Reatard. It sounds like they’re having a hoot playing together. I certainly am, just listening to it. I’ll take a full-length and a tour now, please. –Jeff Proctor (Hovercraft)


C.O.P.:
Dedicated Cop: EP
This is one of those records that’s not bad, but it’s not exactly all that good either. Just okay really. C.O.P. play standard hardcore punk influenced by the ‘80s, but are not a retro rehash. The songs are speedy and well played. But there’s no real spark or energy that will pull the listener in. I’ve played this record quite a bit, listening for something, anything, to standout. Despite all the repeated plays, not one song was memorable. –Matt Average (Flat Black, myspace.com/flatblackrecords)


BYKES AND BRIDGES:
Speak Treason: Tape
Even though I wasn’t an original/super longtime fan, I can tell you this sounds like the very first incarnation of Against Me!, but with gruffer voices and without any pot-and-pan percussion. Basically, your standard Plan-It-X/train hopper solo acoustic stuff. –joe (myspace.com/bykesandbridges)


BUZZER:
Teacher’s Pet: 7"
Buzzer is a more than proficient power pop group. Fans of Rockpile will eat this up. –ryan (Tic Tac Totally)


BURNING ITCH:
Self-titled: 7”
There is really no information here, so I’ll try and interpret what I’m seeing and hearing. Two fucked-up looking guys, one with a guitar and one with a bass. Both with AK-47s. Not sure who is drumming. Really catchy songs that have me thinking a little bit about a not so weird, straight-forward rock Butthole Surfers with some Minutemen, Big Boys, and MC5 in there. That looks messed up on paper, but I gotta tell you it sounds great. If only they’d include some more information next time. –ty (Mono, myspace.com/burningitch) Mono, myspace.com/burningitch) Mono, myspace.com/burningitch)


BURNING ITCH:
Self-titled: 7"
Grimy as hell. Both their sound (tightly wandering guitars, bullet-like drums) and (from the photo of the apparently unshowered dudes holding automatic rifles and guitars on the sleeve), indicative of band as well. Not bad the first go round; gave it another listen. I was really sold on the first B-side track “Dickin’ me over.” Bonus nerd points: one side’s wind-out groove reads “Don’t touch my moustache.” I’ll keep this one around. –Samantha Beerhouse (Mono, www.myspace.com/burningitch)


BURIAL:
Speed at Night: 12” EP
This is better than anything they’ve done prior! The obvious Japanese hardcore influences are still intact, however, they’ve thrown in a bit more Discharge, and with all this they’re starting to sound more like themselves instead of someone else. If that makes any sense. The vocals are stronger, whereas on Never Give Up, Never Give In they sounded forced and trying too hard to sound like many of the Burning Spirits-style bands in their delivery. Here, the delivery is more natural and far more powerful and effective. The musicianship is unbelievably solid. Maybe on par with bands like Wolfbrigade and Tragedy? While this is definitely not original, what makes this work so well is the sheer power in the music. The songs attack, one after the other, with an urgency that lacks in too many bands these days. The sound is almost like a solid mass. Imagine something like a massive bulldozer plowing its way through a city street and the chaos that ensues. Six songs of pure adrenalin. A sonic ripper from start to finish. –Matt Average (Deranged)


BUGS, THE:
Barbaric Mystical Bored: 12"
Male/female two-piece garage rock combo out of Portland. Crisp and clean on one cut, then fuzzed-out and raucous the next. It’s like having a dive bar on your record player. After a couple songs, you can feel the floor stick to your feet, cheap lipstick starts looking really hot, and your living room smells like PBR. A cool record with exceptional album art. –Jim Ruland (Hovercraft)


BRUSHFIELD SPOTS:
3: CD-R
I’ll be honest: my knowledge of what constitutes a good noise band is nil. If I wanted to be generous with the Brushfield Spots, I’d say this thing sounds like two late-night college radio stations playing ambient noise stuff at the same time while some kid puts a fork in an electric pencil sharpener. Since I’m not feeling particularly generous, I’ll just say it’s funny how they felt the need to put song titles to what is essentiallythe sound of two robots repeatedly farting on each other. Garbage. –keith (Brushfield Spots, myspace.com/thebrushfieldspots)


BRAIN KILLER:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Some heavy Discharge worship here with a big sound, feedback, short songs, anti-war lyrics, etc. They play to the template well, though, with enough personality seeping through to make ‘em worth a listen. –jimmy (Deranged)


BRAIN DRAIN:
Demo 2009: CD-R
What you got here is fairly standard hardcore recorded on the cheap, but clear enough to make out what’s going on. The members sound like they gel well together, though, and I hear some flashes of serious potential, especially during the slower bits where they start messing with time signatures and such. Dunno how long they’ve been together, but it sounds like they’re still ironing out what their personal take on hardcore is ultimately gonna sound like, which ain’t a bad thing at all. My suggestion would be to bypass the standard go-to old school bands and instead wallow in the influence of early Die Kreuzen (the Cows and Beer EP is a great place to start), Scratch Acid, Filth-era Swans, and United Mutation if you really wanna come up with something that’ll fuck with people’s heads. –jimmy (braindrainwi@gmail.com)


BOX ELDERS, THE:
Alice and Friends: LP
This is one of the best records I have heard that puts into operation ‘50s pop sensibilities using overdriven vocals. “PalisadesPark”-style keyboards and jangly, reverbed-out guitars make the songs lighthearted and jumpy. “Jackie Wood” opens the album and is a highlight of the mid-tempo songs. “Isabella” and “Cougars” appear later in the album and shift the sound into the pace of Teenage Shutdown-style ‘60s punk. The album is great, but I feel like they would be fun to see in a basement, particularly if it has a low ceiling and there was a danger of hitting your head on the ceiling. –Billups Allen (Goner)


BOMBER:
Mourning: 7” EP
My first impression was that they sound like a cleaned up Groinoids, but there seems to be a little more going on here. The tunes are decidedly in the hardcore vein, but don’t ever get ramped up more than mid-tempo, and the tunes have the same stream of consciousness feel of early Urinals but without the artsy-fartsy pretense, in that the tunes only last as long as the singer has lyrics to garble. I’m not sure how well they’d manage to pull off a full-length, but this was good enough that I’m definitely curious to find out. –jimmy (On-High, no address)


BOMB, THE:
Speed Is Everything: CD
How often does it happen that a band makes a great record and then follows it up with a record that literally blows shit out of the water? Put this up against any release of recent memory and this one rises above by a mile. There are cool lyrical references all over this one, from The New York Dolls to The Damned. But, musically, the songs are held together by guitarist Jeff Dean, whose sonic onslaught here is most impressive. Pete Mittler’s and Mike Soucy’s drums and bass lines offer him a fertile background to play with. They moonlight in another rocking combo called The Methadones. Finally, there is the voice. Yes, you have the “whoa-whoa” factor here. But that’s not all. Check out the emotional fragility of songs like “The Kids” and “Not Christmas Night.” If you haven’t guessed yet, it is Jeff Pezzati, also of Naked Raygun. But this is not All Rise II. These guys are their own separate deal without a doubt. Songs like “Spaceman” are going to put The Bomb into territory beyond the reach of mere mortals. Epic… and essential. –koepenick (No Idea)


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