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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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MANIKIN:
Stop the Sirens: LP
Taking cues from PIL, Joy Division, and Bauhaus: distorted vocals, wailing trumpet at times, marching bass lines, garroting guitars, all played on with the tension of a large mass sliding on black ice, Manikin continue along the trajectory of their earlier 7”s. Like an obscure map of a yet-fully-discovered land, it takes a while to notice the details lurking beneath the more obvious mountain tops. I’m sure this record will reveal more from the shadows on additional spins and I’m willing to give it that chance. Fans of The Estranged and The Lost Sounds, take note. You’re preconditioned to give Manikin a fair shake. Extremely well realized. –todd (Super Secret)


MAMMOTH GRINDER:
No Results: 7” EP
This is some hardcore, crusty-styled punk that I thought was pretty nice. The vocals reminded me of Born/Dead a little—shouting, but not in a doom/death metal way. Like Born/Dead, there are three members in the band, although they apparently hail from Austin, Texas. The drums rarely verged into that boring, fast hardcore style (and seemed actually quite good), and there were some nice break downs and heavy rhythms. Reasonably furious, probably fun live. Lyrics seem political in style but they’re a little vague—this is not a bad thing, just means they’re not as easy to figure out as they might otherwise be. Pretty aggro, though. Nice photo of the band playing a show on the insert. The vinyl itself is wine—red colored split with gray—white. Good stuff. –Jennifer Federico (Inkblot, c/o Sam Sputo / Faith Laurel)


MAMA ROSIN:
Brule Lentement: CD
Raw and authentic Zydeco and swamp roots from France. Banjos and melodeons (type of button accordion) too much for you? Throw in some thoughtful and irreverent folk punk (think Pogues, but French) harmonies and you’re on your way. Even early genre populists would be proud of the sometimes traditional, sometimes modern approach. Two of the best songs, “Dead Love Song” and “You Stole My Motorcycle,” are examples of this extreme. –thiringer (Voodoo Rhythm, voodoorhythm.com)


MAC BLACKOUT:
The Rabid Babies: CD
The press sheet mentions Big Black and Devo as major reference points for Mac Blackout. Seeing as those are two of my all-time favorite bands, I felt almost obligated to listen to this. After giving this a couple spins, I don’t really agree with the comparisons. This is way garageier than either of those two bands. There are a lot of keyboards and weird electronic sounds, like Devo, and some extreme, in-the-red guitar tones and drum machines, like Big Black, but it’s not quite the same type of thing. What this strikes me as is more like a one man version of the early L.A. art punk stuff like Geza X And The Mommymen, Black Randy And The Metrosquad, or The Eyes. This is fine for what it is, but not what I was expecting. This feels like music that shoots for innovative but instead lands at well-worn eclecticism. –Adrian (Dead Beat)


LOVER!:
I’m Not a Gnome: 7”
This is okay, but not really my thing. Total Nuggets/psych-garage tribute. It’s authentic and they get the sounds right –Ryan Horky (TicTacTotally)


LORD BY FIRE:
“Three Sisters of the Wolves” b / w “Tribes of the Unnamed Beast”: 7”
This is a pretty good slab of wax. Both tracks are sludgy stoner numbers that don’t get very Southern fried, but still worth checking out if you’re into Eyehategod. –Vincent Battilana (Forcefield)


LONG AND THE SHORT OF IT, THE:
Caw! The Unkindness of Ravens: CD
This is some wild-ass stuff. I’m not sure it’s actually good, but it’s definitely interesting. The Long And The Short Of It play a mix of punk and prog rock that is best taken in small doses. The guitar riffing is occasionally pretty inventive, but the vocals get old quick. (Dude sounds like an annoying version of Guy Piccioto.) I can’t decide if they do that on purpose or not. –Ryan Horky (Black Rabbit Rebellion, blackrabbitrebellion.com)


K-JELL:
Refreshing K-Jell Power: CD
Norway’s K-Jell on the “East meets West” Norwegian/Chinese label October Party are a mind numbingly catchy, poppy punk band that is one of the best kept secrets of our time. It’s downright alarming that an instant classic like Refreshing K-Jell Power can be relatively unknown, at least stateside. K-Jell is sort of what D4 would sound like if they had some streetpunk influences. Brilliant. Just plain fucking brilliant. –Art Ettinger (October Party)


KILLING CALIFORNIA:
Goin’ South: CD
I liked them before, but Goin’ South really has me listening. Like I said before, I hear the likes of Agnostic Front or Death By Stereo in there, but there is something else in the songs that I couldn’t finger until the third or fourth track. The songwriting style is a lot like the Adolescents but with more of a metallic edge to it. The lyrics are even Tony-ish but are delivered with a gruffness not quite on a Frankie Stubbs/Lemmy level, but well on their way. Solid stuff. –ty (Basement)


KILLING CALIFORNIA:
Bones & Sand: CD EP
Hard and heavy thrash punk from these San Clemente rockers: tight guitar riffs smashed with a frying pan into vocals that will make your eardrums beg for forgiveness. “BlueHeronBridge” caught my ear on this six-song platter. These guys look to be touring a lot, so go check them out for some fast and furious hardcore. –koepenick (Basement)


KIDS EXPLODE / SOLEMN LEAGUE:
Kids Come Across, Solemn and Lost: Split 7”
Kids Explode: reminds me of the post-punk stuff coming out in the mid- to late-’80s, but I’m not quite sure why. Kids Explode vaguely reminds me of bands like Brave New World and mid- to late-’80s Dischord acts like Egghunt. The sound is a bit of the dance machine along with a fetally conjoined twin of muted yet desperate rock’n’roll. There’s a real new wavish feel on the second song. Even a hint of math rock. All in all, good stuff—it’s a mix of a number of different sounds but the songs do not sound forced, so everything works well together. Solemn League: very much in the same vein, only a bit more traditionally rocking. If not for a different vocalist, I wouldn’t have known that this was a different band. Solumn League has a bigger, more melodic sound bordering on an emo sound, but I dare not splash them with such labels. The groups chosen for this record work so well together that they can be mistaken for the same act. Yet there is something distinctive about each. Can this record be described as emo math rock with a club mix sensibility? Or is it an angry reflexive property put to music? –The Lord Kveldulfr (Asymmetrie, asymmetrie@gmx.net)


JUNK, THE:
Demo: CD
Word on the street is that the institution known as the Smut Peddlers has called it quits after a fifteen-year stab at things. But one not to rest on her laurels, Julia the gate-crashing drummer, is already involved in another band. The tattooing from her long tour in the Peddlers is immediately recognizable. Take the first British wave of punk, ghost ride it into the endless suburbs of OrangeCounty and knock over a phone pole. Let that shit fester under the facade of sunshine and home owners associations, inject it with bad drugs in an attempt to make the cul-de-sacs disappear, and that’s the starting point. The Junk make some important departures from their predecessor, though, namely eyeballing Ohio and Michigan: Dead Boys, Pagans, Iggy And The Stooges. And you know what? It’s menace, pure, simple, shorn, and played with the slightest of smiles. Very effective and a great first batch of songs. –todd (Self-released, thejunksite.com)


JUICEBOXXX:
Thunder Jam #5 and #6: 7”

Electric drums, electric cymbal, electric piano, dare I say it in a punk zine but it’s pretty fun. Sounds like a party inside a bedroom.

–mike (Vicious Pop, viciouspoprecords.com)


KILL CONRAD:
“Work & Class” b/w “D.B.D.S”: 7”
Hailing from Boston, it makes sense that Kill Conrad are reminiscent of later ‘80s East Coast punk, a little hardcore crust with the melody; it’s got the beat, got the tight energy that keeps you listening. Just recreating that sound without the trying too hard feeling is admirable. Two titles, two 7”s in one? Five cool songs. Plus, not enough bands write punk rock anthems about Peter North and David Schwimmer anymore. Put this on your mix tape and skate to the bowl. –mike (Neutral Territory, neutralterritoryrecords.com)


JOSE PHINE:
Self-titled: Cassette
This is screamy. Heavier than screamo stuff, but with similar breakdowns and slow, melodic parts. I can’t understand what the singer is saying at all, despite the fact that most of the lyrics are in English. Much better recording than I was expecting, considering it’s a cassette. Assuming there are not tons of bands like this in Malaysia (although maybe there are—an investigative visit may be in order), I am excited that Jose Phine is playing this kind of stuff, but I couldn’t get too into it. The screaming just puts me off. It hogs all my attention and I can’t get around to the music. However, if full-on screaming is your bag (or if you can ignore it), maybe you should check it out. Comes in a plastic, blue-colored sleeve, with a small insert with lyrics and a few dark photos. –Jennifer Federico (Utarid Tapes, myspace.com/utaridkaset)


JONESIN’ / DUDE JAMS:
Split: 7”
Jonsesin’: It’s fun to think that if Sasquatch was a hobo who was in a punk band and then he lit himself on fire accidentally from falling asleep in bed while smoking. Oh yeah, and he was in a pissy mood and had a powerful backup band. One song about choking on bad geography, and on the slower second song, the fire turns to smoky-voiced anthems of breaking down. Dude Jams: Is a studio band of an ex-Grumpies dude, who’ll play out occasionally with a full band. The “music critic” in me struggles against the feeling of “This is too easy. I already know these songs,” but the dude in me really likes a song like “Shit Fit,” where it’s totally and simultaneously like and unlike The Knack: duct tape as wallpaper, self-loathing in dirty pop sensibility, and undeniable bounce and sing-along-ability. Fun. As an added bonus, played this as per the label’s instructions at thirty-three and it’s not-so-bad doom, so you get two records in one. –todd (Muy Autentico / Dirt Cult)


JEFFREY NOVAK:
One of a Kind: 7”
Similar to his Memphis neighbor Jay Reatard, Novak has a furious and steady output of records, also moving from a more harsh noise to cleaner poppy work. I didn’t want to describe it as “growing” because Novak’s early fuzz sound as a one-man destruction crew is still great and accomplished. He is just doing a different type of music now. I never get hung up on someone not sounding exactly the same for fifty albums, provided what they are doing is good. As the OMB, Novak tore it up with the precision timing of vicious, noisy garage punk on a full-length and tons of 7”s in a short time, moving on to the three-piece Rat Traps, which slowed down to punk before hitting breakneck speed on their third 7”. Next came Cheap Time, which seems to be a band concurrent to his solo releases, both embracing a sort of post-Bowie and T. Rex sound—I’m sure I’m missing much better, more obscure references/influences. While Cheap Time is more poppy, the solo work on his recent full-length and this 7” is more slow and dreamy, some piano mixed in, with the pedals on but not distorted. It’s catchy, it’s sweet and melodic, and probably more popular in Brooklyn and Silverlake than the early, brutal stuff. All in all, Novak is someone to always listen to. –mike (Sweet Rot)


JAIL:
There’s No Sky (Oh My My): LP
These jingle jangly indie rock tunes had me bobbing my head as soon as the needle hit the vinyl. It’s got nice a nice mix of organ and splashy drum cymbals to keep the tracks moving right along. This album has all that right touches of old school garage rock without sounding washed up by being too derivative. Damn fine LP here. –N.L. Dewart (Jail, myspace.com/jailjailjailjail)


IN THE HOLLOWS:
Self-titled: 7”
Solid Baltimore post-Fugazi hardcore, driving melodies with anger, melodic but snarly voice, lots of moody energy. Poetic lyrics that have issues with society. “Move Away” is kickass, nice and powerful. The other two songs are good but not as excitable to me, but this is obviously a band that can do cool things. –mike (Mightier Than Sword, mtsrecords.com)


JFA:
To All Our Friends: CD
I remember seeing this band at Fenders in Long Beach circa 1986. Their drummer Bam Bam was zonked on acid that night, which resulted in a super-looooong, tripped out version of “The Day Walt Disney Died,” but he more than held up his own during warp factor nine versions of all their hits. A badass show that fits easily into one of the top two best shows I ever saw ‘em do (the other being a show they did with Bad Religion and L7 at a Mexican restaurant in Hollywood a couple of years later, where every band was at their peak and the place was on the verge of total mayhem for most of the night, a vibe that finally ended with someone stabbing someone else on the dance floor right in front of Yogi and me while we were tripping on acid. There was also the show they did with Die Kreuzen and Mighty Sphincter, but this little fan-geek is digressing). My clutch of friends fuggin’ worshipped this band not because we were skate rats (although a few were), but because they were masters of a unique brand of hardcore that was fast, furious, and chock full of disparate influences ranging from psychedelia to surf to funk. There was no way you could confuse JFA with any other band, a trait that is always a marker that the band you’re listening to is goddamned good at what they do. This live disc demonstrates that they remain masters of their domain. The tempos are slower than their ‘80s peak, but unlike other bands, what this translates into is that they play at around the speed of the original studio versions of the songs here, which, in turn, were pretty thrashin’ in their own right. The tracks here are culled from the crème de la crème of the band’s catalog—“Preppy,” “Beach Blanket Bongout,” “We Know You Suck,” “Charlie Brown”—as well as a couple from their last studio effort. Sound is faboo, delivery is properly spirited and Brian is in fine, um, howl. Gripes? Inclusion of the aforementioned “Walt Disney” and at least one of their legendary surf covers would’ve been nice, and though it has fourteen tracks, the disc is too goddamned short, which says a lot. Other than that, this is about as good as live hardcore albums, and bands, get. –jimmy (DC-Jam)


JONESES:
Criminal History: 2 x LP
What we have here is a reissue of the Joneses collection that originally came out on Sympathy For The Record Industry at the beginning of the decade. That collection went out of print rather quickly and became quite sought after. This is an excellent overview of this amazing band and this new version is available on vinyl for the first time. In addition, there are bonus demo tracks here that are quite awesome, unlike the usual throwaway bonus tracks. The Joneses are one of the greatest bands of all time and this is a fantastic introduction to the band for anyone who has yet to hear them. –frame (Full Breach, fullbreach77.com)


IDLE HANDS:
Postponed: LP
This record fucking rips. Ultra-melodic punk rock, like a sped-up Statues but with unmistakably European melodies, almost like slowed-down ‘90s Burning Heart skate punk at times. I don’t know if it’s a welcome comparison or not, but I even get a total Satanic Surfers vibe from some of these tracks and I am stoked. Don’t take that too literally, though—Idle Hands are straight-up ‘70s style sing-along punk from the Jam/Buzzcocks school, but there are elements at work here that avoid having the band too easily pigeonholed. Regardless, if you’re a fan of that post-power-pop, early Jam-influenced sound, I’m pretty damn confident this record’ll floor you. Pick up their debut EP while you’re at it; it’s a total slayer. –Dave Williams (Hardware)


HUSSY, THE / SLEEPING IN THE AVIARY:
Split: 7”
The Hussy: total garage trash. I accidentally played it on 33 instead of 45 and liked it better that way. Sleeping In The Aviary: Bad garage meets even worse indie rock. It’s amazing that someone actually paid to have this pile pressed on vinyl. Whoever gave these guys their first instruments made a huge mistake. –Ryan Horky (Science Of Sound, no address listed)


HUMANS, THE:
Pop!: 7” EP
The Humans aren’t reinventing the 12-bar blues here, but they’re using it to burst out some fierce garage rock. This is fun times with four songs. You gotta love the humorous sleeve art for this 7”, which has a comic of a woman popping her zit. Good times. –N.L. Dewart (The Humans)


HUB CITY STOMPERS:
Ska Ska Black Sheep: CD
Horrible cover art, a regrettable album title, and something immediately off-putting about the drum and guitar sound on the recording. I can’t say it got much better from there. Ska ranging from fast paced with slight metal influences to traditional rock steady and dub.  Nothing struck me as utterly horrible for the genre, but nothing above mediocre that I am drawn to listen to again. The lyrics offer no redemption and the chip-on-the-shoulder tone of the liner notes is likewise a turnoff. –Jake Shut –Guest Contributor (Stubborn, stubbornrecords.com )


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