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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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AFTER THE FALL:
Presents Fort Orange: CD
Musically, this has the sound of Fat Wreck-era Rise Against. It has that really fast and complex- sounding (but not really technical) skate punk type of thing going on. There’s a hint of the later Propaghandi too because of some melodic bits floating here and there. So this is kind of like No Trigger or Crime In Stereo. Musically, this album does kick a fair amount of ass. As for the vocals… hmm, not bad but they lack oomph some times. Hard to describe how exactly, but it’s like they need a little more grit to really grab ahold. Lyrically, these guys seem to be pretty conscientious dudes, but the one line in the song “Thomas Philbrick,” where the dude sings “Do you remember that Millencollin record?!” sticks out like a sore thumb and always ends up being the only thing I can remember. So this is actually pretty good modern melodic hardcore, but I just know this album is doomed to go down in my mind as “The CD where the guy gets really heartfelt about Millencollin.” –Adrian (Raise Your Fist/ Ass-Card)


ADAMS DAGGER:
The Ripper: 7"
Straight-ahead punk rock with an ‘80s OC feel to it—tempos not aiming for a land speed record, lyrics sung more than shouted, tongue-in-cheek subject matter. When all’s said and done here, they do the job nicely. I’m sure the Babylonian Brotherhood will approve. –jimmy (Durty Mick)


ACTION, THE:
Complete Punk Recordings 1977-78: CD
A collection of assorted singles, demo, and live tracks of an obscure Canadian band apparently active during the years indicated in the title. Musically, they sound like the long lost link between the Dictators and early-‘70s Stones, which is definitely not a bad thing. On the whole, they had the tunes, the verve, and the nerve, so it’s a shame they didn’t manage to crank out more than this. Kudos to Joey and the Sudden Death crew for givin’ ‘em a second shot at infamy –jimmy (Sudden Death)


A. RESTREPO AND THE OLDER SIBLINGS:
Bare Tepiole Termination: 7"
Jesus Christ, do not accidentally play this thing at 45 RPM. It will give you a fucking heart attack. Side A begins with a man screaming repeatedly, but after that inauspicious beginning, you’re segued into nasal-voiced, occasionally off-key solo acoustic guitar-folk. Nothing particularly special, here. The random off-key moments (from both voice and guitar) started to get on my nerves before the first song was over. Despite that, the guy seems earnest and without pretension, which earns a few points with me. –Sarah Shay (BBtM, Friends and Relatives, DIY Bandits, Green Tape, and Big Magic)


ZEBRAS / E=MC HAMMER:
Parasitic Clones under the Strong Arm of the Robotic Machine: Split: LP
I imagine Zebras think they’re pretty cute. Reminds me quite a bit of spastic, synth-heavy bands of yore like Red Light Sting and Sick Lipstick and shit like that. They seem to be shooting for the sassy, teased-hair and white-belt audience—an audience that may or may not be still around. I mean, this would’ve been totally appropriate if it’d come out on Dim Mak or Sound Virus in, say, 2002, but culturally, I think this particular genre may have (thankfully) run its course. Unfortunately, they turned out to be head and shoulders above their vinyl partners—E=MC Hammer sounds like a bunch of people with spiritual hard-ons for Ruins and John Zorn and whatnot. As a result, they come across as pretentious as hell and trying way too hard to create something “cerebral” and “challenging”: the lyric sheet shows three songs with different names but the exact same lyrics (not that I was actually able to match up the vocalist’s yowls to any of the printed material), and there’s no real discernable moment where you can tell which “song” ends and the next begins. It pretty much comes across as some dipshit yelling and growling nonsense over some tape loops and guitars, drums and keyboards. It’s pretty sad when the best you’re hoping for out of a record is thirty seconds of musical cohesiveness. Possibly one of the most beautiful pieces of vinyl I’ve ever seen, so it’s a shame that the music itself falls so solidly between okay and shitty. –keith (Secret, myspace.com/secretrecords)


YAKUZA:
Transmutations: 2x LP
Yakuza draw from a variety of musical genres to create their brand of progressive metal. There’s some jazz, some grind, some black metal (particularly the vocals on a few songs), ambient, and Eastern influences seeping in. As a result, this album is a collection of mixed results, some good, and some pretty bad. First off, there’s not much of a seamless flow, as you get the overly tech grind song (“Meat Curtains”), then a ambient type song (“Egocide”), etc. When they find their stride in songs like the aforementioned “Egocide”, “Perception Management,” and Justin K. Broadricks’s (Jesu, Godflesh) remix of “The Blinding”. Unfortunately the majority of songs tend to drag on and on, getting buried in being overly musical and trying to cram as much as they can into each piece. The packaging is nice. Gatefold sleeve, with minimal layout of red type and graphics on a black field, which captures the tone of the album well. Limited to 500 copies. –Matt Average (Scenester Credentials, scenecred.com)


XWALRUSX / IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS:
: 10"
Ten inches, thirty songs. That’s one and a half songs per inch of vinyl. There are soundbites on the record. One of the band members is wearing a luchador mask. Is power violence back? xWalrusx play blazing fast hardcore with scene-centric lyrics that balance hilarity and anger. Their side of the insert has photos of the cast of “Law and Order SVU” and a list of vegan eateries in Tucson. Important Documents mixed their side so that all you can hear are cymbals and vocals. –CT Terry (Bonecutter, bonecutterrecords@hotmail.com)


XBRAINIAX:
Deprogrammed: CD-R
This is a West Coast tour-only advance copy of a full length yet to be released. Being already familiar with this band, I kinda knew what to expect. Or at least I thought I knew. To help put things into perspective, let’s consider the fact that they recently released a collection CD of all their previously released material and it all adds up to ninety nine songs from an EP, several splits and compilations. There are only fourteen songs on this CD. The first of which is not the ten second beat down I was expecting. More like a two and a half minute jam with a steady drum beat (which is unusual given their track record.) After that song, forget it. The songs explode into a frenzy of blastcore and thrash that has not been this entertaining to listen to since Spazz. They love to keep you guessing. The second (and I do mean second) you wrap your brain around a blast part or guitar riff, it’s over and the song morphs into an entirely different being. Like an amoeba of powerviolence. Right after they’re done slapping you silly with their speed, they decide to slow down and drag your unconscious body through a dark, smelly hallway of an apartment building once inhabited by members of Grief and Noothgrush for a good ten minutes on the last track. They recently came through town and regrettably, I missed them. You, however, should not miss out on one of the best powerviolence releases in years. –Juan Espinosa (Self-released, no contact info)


WOVEN BONES:
Your Sorcery b/w Howlin Woof: 7"
Creepy crawly punk with a surf swing. The vocals are campy and sinister and remind me of INXS or Love and Rockets. This music sounds like a nightsweat, and if there isn’t any sneering going on in their band photos, I’m going to be a little let down. –CT Terry (Sweet Rot)


WORMBURNER:
Self-titled: 7"
Salinas Records has an amazing track record and this 7” does not disappoint. Most record labels usually stumble by this point, but I don’t think I’ve heard a Salinas release that I don’t enjoy. There really needs to be a better name for this besides post-hardcore indie punk. Oh, I’ve got it. How about we call it awesome? –Bryan Static (Salinas)


WHAT IF…:
Self-titled: 7"
When I picked up this 7” I was put off by the cover, the skulls and hearts motif is totally played out, though this art has a whimsy you don’t see often, and well done color. Still, I was willing to give it a chance, and it was worth it. Fun songs about getting fucked up, and maybe fucked, a few poignant observations on living poor and happy, rather than relentlessly chasing a buck. The playing gets tighter as the 7” rolls on (they crammed six songs on it); I bet they tear it up live. They included the lyrics, which are always a bonus for anyone who’s shot their hearing at shows over the years, and the back cover is my favorite illustration on any record I’ve seen: A red “What If...” be-licensed-plated dune buggy heading off into the horizon, the sunset being a warm, glowing foamy mug of beer. Check it out. –Samantha Beerhouse (Do Ya Hear We)


WATTS ENSEMBLE:
Two Suites for Crime & Time: CD
My initial reaction to this was that it sounded like a junior high school band trying to channel their inner Henry Mancini who, in turn, is trying to channel his inner Mingus. My interest piqued ’cause this isn’t the type of music one expects from kids these days, I did a little looking into the group. So far as I am able to determine, the “Watts” in their name is actually in reference to the ensemble’s drummer and composer, Brian Watson and has little or nothing to do with anyone involved living within the boundaries of the area of Los Angeles known as Watts. Further, most of the folks pictured on their site appear to be past junior high school age. Ergo, methinks the whole thing is more than a little disingenuous in addition to being poorly executed and not very good as far as music of this type goes. –jimmy (Kill Shaman, no address)


WAR FROM A HARLOT’S MOUTH:
In Shoals: CD
With a band name like that, I was expecting some kill-your-girlfriend-core bullshit. That was not the case, thank goodness. WFAHM plays metal-core with punk’s indignant fury. There’s double bass drum action, and the songs are loaded with off-time parts and technical bits, but the songwriting is of such a high caliber that the virtuoso parts don’t sound tacked on, and never compromise the music’s drive. I won’t lie, I usually hate this type of stuff, but this band is so good at what they do that it’s impossible not to enjoy and appreciate it. –CT Terry (Lifeforce)


VISITORS, THE:
Tropic of Cancer: 7"
Pleasant surprise; Pop punk, but with more of a ‘70s thing going on than a shitty Queers/Weasel-core thing. There’s rotating female/male vocals that help keep it interesting as well. The whole thing is put together quite nicely to boot, with nice art, crazy looking vinyl, and a download postcard. I’m into it. –joe (House Party)


WE ARE ALL SAVAGES:
Booby-Trap: CDEP
A power pop riff similar to early Weezer or Elastica, kicks off the first track and leads into vocals like Pete Doherty. More Babyshambles than The Libertines, WIS tickled my earbuds with these three songs and have been on regular rotation in my disc player. Garage pop fun. My only regret is that there weren’t more songs. Recommended. –Kristen K (Realfnlove, realfucknlove.com)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Streetpunk & Disorderly 2009 / Longshot Promo EP #2: 2x 7"
You wouldn’t know that streetpunk and oi are in trouble given the release of this killer double comp of eight of the world’s finest mainline specimens: Alternate Action, Marching Orders, Harrington Saints, Secret Army, Bad Co. Project, Tower Blocks, Klasse Kriminale, and The Analogs. It’s a solid mix of new and more experienced bands, with the only disappointing track coming from Italy’s usually unbeatable Klasse Kriminale. Both records are on marbled vinyl, giving a nice fancy touch to a typically barebones subgenre. These were given away at the 2009 Punk & Disorderly festival in Berlin. I wasn’t there, but Australia’s Marching Orders blew me away when I saw them at the 2008 East Coast of Oi festival in Allentown, Pennsylvania before the show erupted into a mini-riot after Oxblood performed. But I digress. –Art Ettinger (Joe Pogo/Longshot)


VERMILLION SANDS, THE / MOVIE STAR JUNKIE:
Split: 7"
Each band here got one song and one side of the split but from the liner notes it looks like all the same people are in both groups they just play different parts in each. Vermillion Sands’ song slow dance sounds like creepy carnival-esque music. With the Organs and Wurlitzer it’s very atmospheric and visceral. Their song writing is strong and reminds me of Leonard Cohen for some reason. It’s such a great and interesting song. The Movie Star Junkies track has a lot of the same aesthetics as Vermilions Sands but it just doesn’t capture that same mood in that same impactful way. –N.L. Dewart (Rijapov, rijapovrecords.blogspot.com)


VICIOUS CYCLE:
Pale Blue Dot: CD
To be perfectly honest, Vicious Cycle’s Fucked Up affiliation does very little for me. Prior to hearing this record, quite a few word-of-mouth FU comparisons actually dissuaded me from checking this record out, expecting the mediocre-hardcore-with-uninteresting-indie-rock-interludes version of FU to shine through on this new Vicious Cycle release. Luckily, Pale Blue Dot refrains from incorporating any of that awkward melodrama and instead sounds only slightly (if at all) like FU’s early material. I actually still hear a lot of the Motörhead-meets-Negative Approach sound of Vicious Cycle’s earlier output, but Pale Blue Dot finds the band injecting a ton more melody and expanding on the song structures of those records. Jonah Falco (of Career Suicide, Fucked Up, etc) did a hell of a job recording this album, creating a super unique sound that definitely warrants Fugazi comparisons without sounding particularly akin to that band musically. This is a very cool record that manages to cover a lot of ground without sounding at all disjointed and still stays comfortably within American hardcore territory. I’m digging this big time. –Dave Williams (Deranged)


VIC RUGGIERO:
On The Rag Time: 7" EP
Music can be a personal tour guide to some other place and some other time and when listening to such date specific and location specific music such as Ruggiero’s, On The Rag Time vinyl, I’m extremely guarded about letting myself get carried too far away. That said, the sweet innocent nature of this old time blues music makes me feel like I’m in some Louisiana parlor and I can’t help but smile. I don’t find myself listening to this kind of stuff normally but if you’re into time warp blues piano man/song writer stuff than this 7” is for you. –N.L. Dewart (silversprocket.net, Thought Squad)


VIC RUGGIERO:
On The Rag Time: 7"
I was way excited to listen to this 7”, I’m a sucker for ‘old-timey’ sounds; I like to view enjoying music as my personal soundtrack thru American history (ragtime to punk rock? Crazy!), and it makes me really happy that people are interested in maintaining America’s older music traditions.  I liked this record, and listened to a few times over, really digging the piano. I thought that his music actually didn’t benefit from the lo-fi recording, the usually enjoyable hisses from maxed levels were distracting; it’s not like there is a weakness in his voice or playing. Love the title pun. Subject matter is pretty standard, in sense that a Billie Holiday song is still a standard; universal themes on love, and loss (and booze). Nice dark marbled burgundy vinyl to boot, like a pair of classy Doc Martens. Not really setting any new ground but if you wore a fedora, you’d probably tip it at this guy. –Samantha Beerhouse (silversprocket.net, Thought Squad)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Street Punk & Disorderly 2009: 2x 7"
What we have here is a double seven inch, eight band, international oi/punk fest courtesy of both Joe Pogo and Longshot Records. I’m sure there’s no need to get into detailed descriptions of the music here. It’s big, bald and tough. It’s all good so I’ll just list off the bands for you. Marching Orders (Australia), Alternate Action (Canada), Harrington Saints (U.S.A.), Secret Army (Spain), Bad Co. Project (Germany), Tower Blocks (Germany), The Analogs (Poland), and Klasse Kriminale (Italy). I’m getting loaded thinking about all the beer this makes me want to drink! –ty (Longshot)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Shiftless Decay: CD
If you were to ask me to name a city that I'd want to hear a DIY compilation from, I’d probably say Detroit. An urban wasteland of poverty and crime? Check! Without the huge scene safety, incest and “makes-it-worth-it-ness” of punk meccas like Oakland and New Orleans? Check! It would just have to rock! Does it disappoint? Hell, no! This comp ranges from noisy punk, to garage, to psychedelic punk and then some other stuff like weird jazzy, instrumentalness. It all overlaps in a weird way (noisy garage?), so it’s never jarring. There’s not a dud on here. –Craven (X!, x-recs.com)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Half-Assed Chicago: LP
This regional comp LP is too good to be true. The first three tracks go Brokedowns, M.O.T.O., Sass Dragons! Hot damn! Releases like this remind me how good it can be. Exclusive songs from all bands, clear green vinyl, a wide variety of punk sub-genres. Fun fun times. Even bands I don’t necessarily like listening to I enjoy on this record. After much contemplating I could only think of two Chicago band I really like that aren’t on here. Pick this up. –Daryl Gussin (Johann's Face)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Econo-Comp: CD
Thirty-five tunes from an equal number of bands, many of which I’m fairly certain hail from Southern California. You’ll find here tracks from YAPO, Dead Lazlo’s Place, Entropy, Naked Aggression, The Vermin, Death Mickies, Last Rights, Homesick Abortions, Outtastep, Oppressed Logic, California Redemption and many others. On the whole this reminds me of ‘90s compilations like Nothing to Believe In and Backyard Shenanigans, the latter of which also has track by a number of the bands here, the recurring genre is thrashy hardcore, but the songs are catchy enough and there’s enough diversity in delivery while adhering to the genre’s rigid constraints that the bands manage to refrain from sounding all the same, for the most part. –jimmy (recordsontap.com)


TRANZMITORS:
Busy Singles: CD
This is a singles compilation from the Tranzmitors which actually sounds coherent enough to be a standalone LP. I never heard the band’s full lengths, but this is a great chunk of power-pop. These guys strike me as the modern successors to the driving power-poppery of the Pointed Sticks and the Exploding Hearts. A lot of the songs are built around a foundation of keyboards, crunchy Rickenbacker style jangle, and lyrics about girls. Plus, you get the vocal variety pack of the croony dude and the more gravelly dude. I would name names as to who has which voice but without seeing them live I couldn’t tell you. These guys would be the perfect band to play a punk rock prom along with the Undertones. My main problem with the disk is that for me it’s frontloaded with my favorite track, “Bigger Houses, Broken Homes,” being the very first song. It’s one of the greatest, driving, upbeat songs about suburban breakdown I’ve heard since the Briefs cover of “Dead in the Suburbs” and the Buzzcocks’ “Something’s Gone Wrong Again.” Don’t get me wrong, most of the rest of the songs are solid gold, but for me “Bigger Houses…” is platinum. –Adrian (Deranged)


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