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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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PREGNANT:
Wanna See My Gun?: 7”
These guys are not pregnant. And no, I do not want to see their gun. My record-reviewing assistant said that one of their songs sounds like Trompe le Monde-era Pixies. I say that they sound like a band that might have been around in the early grunge era. Just not my thing. If you’re a HUGE early Sub Pop fan, I’d recommend checking this out. Otherwise, if this were a cereal, it’d be S’mores. I know some people who really like it, but I’ve directed my spoon elsewhere! –Maddy (Don Giovanni)


PILLOWFIGHTS, THE:
Round 1: CD
This album feels like some young people did it, so I’m sure they’ll still be putting out more records. With that said, The Pillow Fights touch on all the typical run-of-the-mall themes and sing about them like we just walked out of the food court after spotting our crush there: “Don’t think I didn’t see you eye me, because I saw you stumble over, with your head over your shoulder looking back.” Those are the lyrics to their song “Touche Marianne Touche,” which would undoubtedly be clever to me if I were in high school. That’s the problem. All the juvenile lyrics throughout the album don’t translate well on a universal sense, but more in a demographic sense. We’ve all had crushes (and now I feel sixteen again after typing that line) but it’s been a long time since some of us thought of our crushes in the way they’re presented here. Musically, you can compare the singer to Discount but a more out-of-tune hybrid with New Found Glory riffage, and you’d have a succinct surmise of The Pillow Fights. –N.L. Dewart (Silver Sprocket Bicycle Club, silversprocket.net)


PILLOWFIGHTS, THE:
Round 1: CD
I declare this album to be pop punk perfection. It’s ten tracks and most of the songs are about a minute (the longest is a minute and twenty-three seconds and the shortest is a robust thirty-three seconds). This band definitely subscribes to the Minutemen’s “jam econo” philosophy. This isn’t blast beat-driven powerviolence either, but fully fleshed out and great pop punk that just doesn’t see the need for stuff like bridges or repeating a chorus if it can get the job done the first time. With the male/female vocals, this is like a distilled concentration of the best moments of bands like Lemuria and Tsunami Bomb. The song “True Story” has one of my favorite lyrics as of late: “And on the first night, we hung out in the park/ it was like reading Huxley for the first time.” Something about the sentiment of that line really sticks with me. Not a second in the roughly ten minute runtime of this album is wasted, as every song has a memorable lyric, or riff, or little melodic moment. –Adrian (Silver Sprocket, avi@springmanrecords.com)


PEOPLE:
The Cliché: CDEP
Killers-styled new wavy rock stuff. –jimmy (peoplerock.us)


PAINT IT BLACK:
Amnesia: 7” EP
While I have the first three Paint It Black full lengths, this is the first time I’ve seen them branch out into EP territory. This is a format that suits their style of hardcore very well, actually. Paint It Black plays modern day youth crew-influenced hardcore with a bit more melodic edge that shows the pedigree of singer Dan Yemin’s years playing guitar in Kid Dynamite. While none of the three previous efforts could be mistaken as mellow, it seems that Yemin’s vocals manage to be even more unrestrained and throat shredding than before. This is really apparent on the opening track, “Salem,” which is a very pointed condemnation of the religious right’s influence on society. This may be the heaviest and angriest track I’ve heard the band lay down yet. The song begins with a heavy, plodding near drone which leads to a fast midsection before returning to some slow heaviness and ending with Yemin, unaccompanied, yelling of what sounds like the death sentence of the right-wing establishment. I’ll be honest and state that this style of hardcore can get a little tedious at length, and there are times where I’ve caught myself losing focus when listening to the band’s earlier full lengths from end to end. The brevity of an EP really helps to focus Paint It Black’s attack to a few powerful, short but sweet, bursts. –Adrian (Bridge Nine)


PAINT IT BLACK:
Amnesia: 7” EP
I heard bits of Paint It Black years ago and didn’t think much of ‘em. Not bad by any standards, but it didn’t capture me, and thus I didn’t pay attention to what they did. That being said, I didn’t know what to expect from this. Crudely, this is a piece of modern hardcore that isn’t a complete outcast from Bridge 9’s catalog as a whole. However, leaving it at that would not do it justice. After the quality of the production value, the first thing that hit me was how heated and ferocious this is—pretty unrelenting. However, PIB accompanies the pummeling with melody, such that the melody doesn’t detract from overall force—kinda makes me wonder if this is what Gorilla Biscuits would be like if they were angrier and around now. It also makes me want to reassess my previous thoughts about Paint It Black. –Vincent Battilana (Bridge 9, bridge9.com)


OUTRAGE:
Savior: CD
Was Panic ever a big metal label or am I remembering wrong? Anyway, this Outrage CD does seem to lean towards metal a smidge, although I’d chalk it up more generally to hardcore. I can see some meathead jocks getting into it, trying to get pits going and that kind of thing. It’s nothing really new, nothing terribly unexpected. It’s not bad. They’re totally competent, but it doesn’t excite me. There are some slow breakdowns and some fast parts; it’s kinda East Coast-sounding to me. The singer is, at least, apparently pretty young, so if the rest of the band is as well, I can see them going into something more interesting as they progress. I liked the short stop at the end of the first song, some cool rhythms in the sixth song, and the different sounding vocals (singing through something, anyway) on the last song. A solid effort. –Jennifer Federico (Panic)


OUTRAGE:
Broken: CD
As I’ve mentioned in past reviews, I’m a sucker for ‘90s-style “new school” hardcore. Luckily for me, the cyclical nature of genre resurgences currently finds the rather stale faux-Madball thing being replaced by a slew of bands channeling the early-Ferret/Victory/Trustkill catalogs. Outrage brings to mind a lot of When Forever Comes Crashing-era Converge and Cave In’s brief Until Your Heart Stops period, along with a hearty dose of Harvest or early Botch-esque writing. A totally accurate and fitting throwback that still manages to sound current. Good work fellas. –Dave Williams (Panic)


ORCHARD OF THE LIVING:
Self-titled: CD
Sour hardcore dirges with lyrics showing some good election-year anxiety. The drummer is the singer, which is always a hoot live. These guys’ hearts are obviously in the right place; they’re just lacking that bit of oomph needed to make them really stand out –CT Terry (Sickle Moon, myspace.com/sicklemoonrecordings)


OFF WITH THEIR HEADS:
Live at the Atlantic : Vol 2: 7”
This pristine live two-song recording of Off With Their Heads flew off the needle and rocked my studio apartment so fucking hard I felt like was at their show. The “I Am You” side alone makes this 7” worth getting, but the vomit confession on the “Go On Git Now” side really proves why you should go on and get this now. –N.L. Dewart (Sound Study)


OBNOXIOUS OBLOQUY:
Self-titled: CD
Earnest, but painfully redundant Fat Wreck/Epitaph-sounding punk by teenagers. These guys may very well go on to do much better stuff. I ain’t mad at ya. –Craven (no address)


NUISANCE DRILLED:
All Is Well, Euphoric Ending: CD
Screechy Malaysian metal/hardcore stuff. The artwork included is pretty nifty. The music is more or less take-or-leave. –jimmy (revcords@gmail.com)


NOMEANSMOCK:
Throng: CD
This has to be one of the craziest records ever. It is nine Nomeansno covers, but none like you’ve ever heard before. Would you like a disco funk version of “Two Lips, Two Lungs and One Tongue”? How about a bluegrass hoedown cover of “Oh No, Bruno!”? As I understand it (as most of the information is in French) NomeansMOCK is a one-man project and, let me tell you, it is a massive undertaking of talent and a true labor of love. I can’t imagine all the work and time that went into making this. On repeated listenings, I have to say that my favorites are the Middle Eastern-flavored version of “Rags and Bones” and the crazy spy-theme take on “It’s Catching Up.” So much fun. As far as I know, this is only available as a download. If it ever gets pressed, I’m all over it. My only complaint is that I think the project should have been named FauxMeansFaux instead. The real Nomeansno are fans of this and so am I. –ty (myspace.com/nomeansmock )


ON THE BRINK:
Take Cover: CD
This reminds me of bands that I used to see at the Warped Tour back when it was worth going to. (I suppose everyone has a different definition of this, but for me that would have been up to about ‘98-’99.) On The Brink has a sound reminiscent of older Fat Wreck Chords releases: They’re anthemic, crunchy, and vaguely political. If you’re into that sort of stuff, this is pretty solid. –Ryan Horky (Longshot, longshotmusic.com)


NICE FACE:
Mnemonic Device: 7”

Nice Face has a sound that is a bit arty and slightly experimental. The a-side, “Mnemonic Device,” is hypnotic, echoey, and a bit creepy-sounding—a good tune for late autumn in northern climes. The b-side, “Situation Is Facing Utter Annihilation,” is more straight-up rocking with a very fuzzy sound that made we wonder if this outfit were from Detroit (initial research has revealed nothing in that regard) because they remind me of a version of the Go on amphetamines. Vocals sound like their done through a hummacomb. With my arcane Rocky and Bullwinkle reference complete, so is what appears to be a rather inadequate review. End of transmission.

–The Lord Kveldulfr (Sacred Bones)


MUNDO MUERTO:
Rompe el Silencio: 7”
An exciting new band from the Southern California area—which I have had the pleasure of seeing a few times this year—that has really caught my eye and ears. Featuring a collection of members from Mala Sangre, The Homewreckers, and Svarta Tankar, this band has an early ‘80s sound that takes pieces from South America and Mexico and make it sound relevant today. Songs sung in Spanish are backed by a sonic push of lightly distorted guitar sounds that give the music a raw edge but hook you with their strong melody. It makes you want to just dance in the pit or pogo in your room. First time I heard the music, I got energized with excitement that I’m really going to have fun listening to this instead of the usual appreciation of music through anger. I can’t wait to see what more is in store from this foursome. –don (Mundo Muerto, myspace.com/mundoxmuerto)


NIGHT BIRDS:
Demo: CDR
The latest in the recent wave of “well, our old bands broke up, time to start fresh” bands from the New Jersey area. Four songs of ‘80s West Coast/California-influenced hardcore punk, that sounds a lot like the Dead Kennedys (especially with the surfy guitars/solid musicianship all around), and touches of bands like the Adolescents, D.I. and TSOL. Pretty awesome, considering, I think, they’ve been around for about two days. –joe (Self-released, myspace.com/nghtbrds)


MUGRE:
En Estos Tiempos: EP
Apparently, these guys have been kicking around in Los Angeles for more than a few years now. Yet, this is my introduction to them. It’s totally my loss. I’ve always said that the less melody in hardcore, the better. While I do love me some Tragedy, I’m always more in favor of dark, crushing heaviness than an acoustic interlude. No unplugged instruments here, folks. All a hardcore band really needs to do to leave a lasting impression is play raw, fast, and pissed. And that’s exactly what you’ll get with this record. Straight-up "We're not here to fuckin' amuse you" hardcore. There’s an endless string of bands with a similar approach to this sound. But Mugre, seemingly without effort, stands out amongst the clones. Or should I say stood out. I write this the night after they played their last show ever less than a mile from where I stay. Bummer. Let this record be the final shovel full of dirt on the makeshift grave of yet another highly underrated Los Angeles hardcore band. –Juan Espinosa (Lengua Armada, no contact info.)


MODERN CAESARS, THE:
Botox Rats: LP
Ugh…the Modern Caesars play Johnny Thunders-style tunes with less pizzazz than The Joneses. And that sucks. –ryan (Meaty Beaty)


MISS DERRINGER:
Winter Hill: CD
Always a kinda dicey affair for me whenever I hafta review a disc from a band that includes people I know, in this case Liz McGrath, whose old band Tongue I shared many a rehearsal space and bill with when I was in the Black Jax. Luckily, her latest musical endeavor, while nowhere near the oddball hardcore scree that Tongue reveled in, is a nice mix of rootsy rock, ‘60s garage rock, and Spector-tinged teen tragedy girl group fodder. It’s a little hard getting my head around an El Sereno girl affecting an occasional country twang, but she has a nice, rich voice that fits well with the music the rest of the guys in the band are laying down, and vice versa. Gotta admit, I kept half-expecting her to wind up and let fly some prime throat-shredding vocals while the band pummeled their instruments in wild abandon, but while that never happens here, what they did deliver was pretty danged good. –jimmy (Nickel and Dime/Triple X)


MINOR AUTHORITY:
Punk Side Up: CD
If you’re able to get past the ridiculous band name, album title, song titles, haircuts, and everything that isn’t the music, you might be able to stomach this. The band sounds like early ‘80s hardcore (Bad Religion, Adolescents, etc.) and does a superb job. It just looks so lampoonish that it’s amazing it isn’t. It’s very hard to take it seriously, but damn if they don’t know how to write a song. –Bryan Static (Pop Sweatshop)


MIKE HALE:
Lives Like Mine: CD
This is some acoustic stuff from an ex-member of Gunmoll. This record is extremely mellow and sounds more like Toad The Wet Sprocket than anything else. That is not a lazy comparison. The vocals and arrangements do in fact sound a lot like Glenn Phillips from that band. There are far worse things out there and the songs are fairly strong overall. I will definitely give this guy credit. He sure seems to cover a fairly broad spectrum of styles and puts out a lot of records. –frame (Suburban Home)


MIDDLE AMERICA:
Scars: 7”
The title track, “Scars,” sounds a hell of a lot like Black Flag’s “Damaged,” with similar bass line, tempo, and distorted and twisted guitar sound. Some may think this is a good thing. But Middle America is no Black Flag. The playing is less intense, and despite all the screaming and growling, the urgency and desperation sounds a tad forced. The opener, “Every Night” starts off okay, then tends to lose its way and washes out with some feedback. “Reclusion” starts off with a dark and minimal tone similar to what the Birthday Party could achieve—plodding—then lurches into thrashy hardcore punk and is suddenly over. Of the three cuts on this record, this is the standout track. –Matt Average (Fashionable Idiots, fashionableidiots.com)


MEATMEN, THE:
Cover the Earth: CD
First new recording from Tesco Vee in quite some time. Here the man offers up his favorite covers. With twenty-four tracks, there is something here for everyone. You get punk chestnuts from Fear, GG Allin, Roky Erickson, and Black Market Baby. Metal gets the nod with Motörhead, Saxon, and some B.O.C. There’s even some Motown love junk on here. I could have done without two Black Randy tunes, but, hey, that’s nit-pickin’. Tesco’s back in action, just don’t leave the cover lying around the next time you have the P.T.A. over for tea and biscuits! –koepenick (Meat King)


MAX LEVINE ENSEMBLE, THE / BEN WEASEL:
Split: 7”
I lost many important and useful brain cells a few years back reading Mr. Ben Weasel’s punk rock gospel/book Punk Is a Four Letter Word. It was his collection of his Maximum Rock’n’roll essays. Though I still remember parts of what he wrote and agreed with some of it, I swore to stay away from his input because of his whole punk rock dress code thing. If I remember correctly, it was in that book where Weasel wrote about eating his hat because Jawbreaker signed to a major label. So, when I saw this 7”, which reads on the liner, “Fuck You Is A Seven Letter Word Records,” I had to snag it up for the sake of nostalgia. Weasel’s side of the split has him doing some radio announcing. This time he’s preaching his opinions about how The Max Levine Ensemble sucks and ending with The Max Levine Ensemble’s cover of “God Gave Rock and Roll to You.” Staying away from the internet and taking in all of this at face value, my theory is that this split is Weasel’s humor/reverse psychology to get listeners to dig this band. After all, we have to take what he says with a grain of hat. As for The Max’s side, it has great pop punk songs. They really know how to inject personality into their three-chord rock. They’ve got everything here from simple pop tunes to songs with quirky lyrics and wild guitar solos. I guess what I’m trying to say is “I dig this split” is a thirteen-letter word. –N.L. Dewart (Fuck You Is A Seven Letter Word, benweaselthinkswesuck@gmail.com)


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