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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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GATEWAY DISTRICT, THE:
Some Days You Get the Thunder: CD
There’s so much right about this album, from its handwritten lyrics laid down on art by the band members, to great imagery in their songs. “My eyes are too wide for this light. It makes halos around the wine.” That’s a line from their song “Keeps Track of the Time.” But there’s too much juxtaposition to the overall flow of the tracks for me. Going from deep, heartfelt songs to straight-up pop tunes was a little too jarring for my ears. There are a lot of meaningful lyrics here, but it’s put to music that just doesn’t express the emotions of what they are saying. –N.L. Dewart (It’s Alive)


FUTURE VIRGINS:
Easiest Years: 7”
There are a few large reasons I don’t consider myself a “music journalist,” even though I’ve spent a huge portion of the past fifteen years constantly writing record reviews. There are two poles that such an individual shoots for. 1.) Latching onto a rising star that they’re hoping will get a lot of sales: all that next-big-thing, voice-of-a-generation bullshit that VH-1/Spin/AP has a boner for. 2.) The writer as self-made superstar through outrageous behavior (at least on paper). And not to make too fine a point of it, a majority of those “music reporter superstars” of yore became beholden to major companies, even beloved Lester. I believe in neither of these approaches because the bands that I champion—ninety-nine percent of them—will never sell more than a couple thousand records at a time. So, when I say that this Future Virgins 7” is in the upper atmosphere of the best DIY punk ever recorded, I say it with intentions to aggrandize or fool no one. A long and fully loaded train of experience is backing me up. So, let those who are in a large, crumbling musical houses with big megaphones propagandize what they may. I’ll be listening to the Future Virgins instead. Over and over and over again, my friend. And there’s no better testament than listening to music that’s so good that it feels as important as a basic human need. –todd (Plan-It-X South)


FUTURE VIRGINS:
Easiest Years: 7”
Good fucking lord. It’s no secret that this band is capable of amazing things, but this 7” is a piece of work. After seeing them last Fest, it was determined they had to be robot aliens to be that good. This is must-have! And the fact that a gigantic majority of the world has absolutely no access to it is a god damn shame. This is music that’s honest, meaningful, and straight enjoyable to listen to. I’m pretty sure a record hasn’t affected me this much since StrayDogTown. –Daryl Gussin (Plan-It-X South)


FRESH MEAT:
Leather Daddy: EP
The cover of this record, which is a photo of a man covered head to toe in leather, including the mask, looks like something you would find stashed way at the back of some 7” record bin that’s located in the far back corner of some out of the way record shop. At least, this is the sort of stuff I’m always hoping to find. Plus the record is called Leather Daddy. Right there alone, you know this is something you want to hear. The music is bent and noisy with twittering feedback all over the songs. The vocals have almost no emotion, or at least they sound detached and far away. The pumping bass lines work the songs into your mind, playing almost endlessly on that mental i-pod of yours, and disturbing your sleep. Not to mention, the whole thing sounds like it was recorded in a storm cellar with no sound proofing. In short, this is some cool stuff! The crying at the beginning of “Problem Fixer” is the obvious indication one is in for a good record. Sometimes I think to myself that today’s punk rock lacks vision, is all cookie cutter, is playing it safe with their black clothes covered in patches of bands from a millennium ago with dirt bags grunting clichés into a microphone, then I hear bands like this here Fresh Meat that knock me out of my cynical haze. Would be nice if they take this show on the road and head west. West, where the land meets the sea, and all your dreams come true. –Matt Average (Fashionable Idiots, fashionableidiots.com)


FRANCIS HAROLD AND THE HOLOGRAMS:
Mirror of Fear: 7”
Bloody-naked-tied-upside-down-hanging-from-a-tree-guy-wearing-a-pig-mask on the cover—check. Must be HoZac Records release. I pretty much like or love everything on this label, purveyors of extreme bands, and Francis fits right in—not super fast, or too noisy, or particularly arty, but a fucked up combination of all those things in very palatable droning way. Francis is from Bisbee, AZ, a strange-ass and cool lost oasis, so no wonder the band sounds like a toothless cousin to TV Ghost or Functional Blackouts. Mysteriously refreshing, like a spray of new car fragrance in your mouth. –mike (HoZac)


FILTH:
Live the Chaos: 7” EP
Here’s the latest repressing of this sacrosanct 7”. This time, it is on Silver Sprocket (formerly? Springman), but the covers appear to be left over from Life Is Abuse (since the Life Is Abuse info lays where the Lookout! info once did). Though the covers might be old, the plates are new and the vinyl is transparent mucus green. I feel different about this than I when I first  heard it. When I first heard this EP, I had the thought that the instrumentation was a bit slow for the vocal style. I have no idea why. Anyhow, I didn’t exactly get Filth the first time around. Cheaper Than the Beer (Blatz), on the other hand, I took to instantly. I picked up the majestic Shit Split on CD because of Blatz, but I fell in love with Filth. Whatever I thought was wrong with the four songs from this EP went out the window. In short, the songs rage. The songs are simple and repetitive in structure, the vocals are screeched; nothing too out of the ordinary. But when Filth does it, it works fucking perfectly. You get the Zen-ish “Today’s Lesson”; the stay-punk credo “Lust for Glory”; a story of young love and loss in “Hate”; and the anxiety-ridden wrath of making decisions about destruction from a post-apocalyptic mindset in “Freedom,” all on one hallowed piece of vinyl. Just go get this now! –Vincent Battilana (Silver Sprocket, silversprocket.net)


FEUDS, THE:
Square Go?: CD-R
The Feuds are a Scottish punk/rock band a la The Black Keys or the Ramones. Each member even takes the last name Feud. And, like the Ramones, it’s catchy and a pleasant enough listen, but, unlike the Ramones, it didn’t cause me to want to sing any of their songs at karaoke. (I always dedicate “The KKK Took My Baby Away” to Black Nationalist Marcus Garvey.) –kurt (myspace.com/thefeudsvstheworld)


FAST BOYS:
Rock N Roll Trash: CD
This album has fourteen songs that clock in at less than thirty-two minutes. This reminds me a lot of The Stitches but with Guitar Hero-sounding solos. There’s a fun cover of The Damned’s “New Rose” on the CD. All the music is as straightforward as it gets. It’s just good, old-fashioned, assaulting punk rock here. –N.L. Dewart (Zodiac Killer)


ERGS!, THE:
The Ben Kweller EP: 12”EP
I realize the delusion of such a thing, but I still do it. Whenever I drive down to San Pedro, I really hope for a statue of The Minutemen to greet me as the 110 turns into Gaffey. The times I’ve been to New Jersey, I half-expected Ergs! songs playing over the train terminal’s loud speakers, to have the guys’ disembodied heads on taxi ads, claiming “Welcome to the GardenState!” It’s just because the music, to me, is rooted in that sense of place, that it’s wishful thinking that people in their own hometown would realize feats of true musical heroism. But I’m a realist, and the only monuments likely to built for the Ergs! will be these little vinyl disks, which hold up much better in the long run than the smaller shiny disk format this EP was originally released on several years back. The Ergs! are dead; just reconfirmed with Mikey when I saw Psyched To Die. Long live the Ergs! –todd (Freedom School)


EMPTY GRAVE:
Abandoned: LP
Oh my God. What kind of alternate universe did this band come from? Who the fuck are these guys? Whatever smoking, other-worldly elixir they’ve managed to imbibe, it’s apparently given em near-magical powers and the ability to channel everything that was cool and potent about ‘80s punk. I mean, I’m gonna drop some names here, okay? And let it be known that Abandoned is, in all seriousness, when taken purely as sonic artifact and without any of the nostalgic connections inherent in such name dropping, nearly or just as good as the following bands and records: Attitude Adjustment’s American Paranoia. Cryptic Slaughter’s Convicted. Christ On Parade’s The Mind Is a Terrible Thing. Are you getting me yet? Seamless and awesome and raw and totally unpretentious. If the album runs the risk of sounding dated, fuck it—personally, I could not give a flying shit if you wear your influences on your sleeve, as long as you bring something solid to the table. And I’m telling you, Empty Grave perfectly capture the audible equivalent of the bad old days: two terms under Reagan, Cold War terror, us versus them. Then they condense it onto one 45 rpm LP beautifully entrenched in punk rock from, say, 1986. Then they resoundingly kick you in the ass with it, over and over again. It takes a lot for me to give a glowing review, but I’ll say this: if you care at all for straight-forward 1980s punk rock, I just cannot recommend this enough. Worth seeking out. –keith (Absent)


FARMS IN TROUBLE:
The Gas Station Soundtrack: CD
Some serious Guided By Voices worship going on here. There are certainly worse bands to copy, but I wish this was GBV worship of the “we used a 4-track to record these great rock songs while we were drunk” variety and not the “this is such a copy that I had to check the liner notes to make sure Bob Pollard wasn’t involved in some way with this record” school. –Ryan Horky (Activities, Activitiesrecordings.com)


EVIXXION:
Strategic Cancellations: CD
Crushing metal along the lines of bands like Kylesa and early Neurosis only slower, allowing for the heaviness to dominate. There are no ambient breaks or acoustic guitar interludes. This is all systems go, pummeling, and no where near being pleasant. Vocal chords are shredded, leaving the listener to wonder if there are polyps forming in this man’s throat. The wall of guitar is never-ending. The low end rumbles. Despite the humorous artwork on the cover, and the fake T-shirt ads in the lyric sheet, this music is definitely not light hearted. It’s dark, and with an air of hopelessness. –Matt Average (Peterwalkee, peterwalkeerecords.com)


EVAPORATORS, THE / ANDREW W.K.:
A Wild Pair: Split: 7”
White vinyl, sweet comics, sing-along choruses and electronic-infused powerpop rock tunes…Need I say more? Damn happy to add this fun split to my collection. –N.L. Dewart (Nardwuar)


ELEKTROLUX:
Self-titled: LP
I like this, although I have a hard time putting my finger on exactly what genre of music it is. A French band from Marseille, they sing in English and have short and interesting lyrics, to wit, “The Boy Aside”: “& if I was Christ myself I wouldn’t start any religion but stay home all day long eating food as praised in the TV commercials.” Fantastic! The singer has a nice, deep voice, robust and appealing. On the first song on the second side, it almost reminds me a little of Mr. Jim Thirwell (also known as Clint Ruin, Foetus, etc.). They go through a couple different styles on the album; I sometimes hear a little Birthday Party influence, or maybe some Firewater, and the guitar in a couple of songs has an almost rockabilly feel. A female guest vocalist sings on a couple tracks and it’s an interesting addition—makes the songs a little more screechy and punk. The bass is strong, and I bet they’re really fun live. Dig it. –Jennifer Federico (Jojo, myspace.com/jojorecords)


ECOLI:
Judas Cradle: 7”

From the first track, “Shut Up and Suffer,” this 7” blasts through eight songs of maniacal auditory torture. Grueling, derogatory destruction of all things sacred and held dear by a culture that lacks any respect for non-conformity. It’s odd ball punk rock played super fast and as hard as possible. Ecoli is the path that I felt the Harpoon Guns were on: pressing ‘80s throwback hardcore to the limits of reality while mixing their passion for aggressive punk music with being a goddamn weirdo.

–Daryl Gussin (Stress Domain)


DUM DUM TAK:
Hentikan Penindasan: CD
Catchy, sing-along punk rock. Most of the lyrics are in Malaysian, but there are English explanations at the beginning of each song to indicate they are more politically astute than many contemporaries in other countries whose music falls into the same sonic strata. –jimmy (nizangmosh@gmail.com)


DROPSKOTS, THE:
More Seriouslyer: CD
These guys are staying true to their late ‘90s era pop punk influences on this CD. All thirteen tracks sound like a mash up of Blink 182 during their Cheshire Cat days and FenixTx with metal riffs dispersed throughout. There are plenty of anthem-swelling songs here, many of which are odes to laments about girls, a la track titles “Walking for Poontang” and “Forgetter.” With lyrics such as, “Burn down the bridge just for you/ no need to cross that misery,” I could see this music being in one of those new low budget American Pie flicks. –N.L. Dewart (Zodiac Killer)


DOPAMINES, THE:
The Soap and Lampshades: 7”
When I opened this record, a tiny piece of paper dropped out. It said, in six-point font, “This record was stuffed by matt lame of SUCIDIE!! See SUCIDIE LIVE with guest guitarist Larry Livermore at the Insubordination Records Fest…” The lowly record stuffer strikes back, turning punk rock shit work into an unusual method of band promotion! Could other shit workers employ similar tactics? What if the next time you bought a pack of socks, instead of a sticker saying, “Inspected by #4,” it said, “Check out my dad’s auto shop at 1215 Main St.” or maybe it could just say, “I hate this job. Think about it. Putting something into something else for hours? Really.” So, thank you Matt Lame for stuffing this Copyrights-influenced record! The more I listen to it, the more I like it. It’s got a bit of a Teenage Bottlerocket sound (without the ridiculous lyrics and not as catchy), but I imagine that this is the sort of record that I end up liking more a few months later. It this were a cereal, it’d be Frosted Flakes. You start off thinking that there are probably a lot of other better cereals, and, in fact, there are, but once you’re eating it, you think, “Hey, this is actually really good!” –Maddy (Cold Feet)


DOUBLE DAGGER:
More: CD
This band is just a drummer and a bassist or maybe a guitarist. I don’t know; it’s a two-piece of some sort, which I learned on the internet. My internet is down right now, so I can’t confirm this. It also has quite a big sound for a two-piece, which the internet also told me. This I agree with, yet it does not make me like it any better. They also tried to do some conceptual shit with design (?), similar to what Nation Of Ulysses did with rock and Situationism or whatever. They call themselves design-core or something. It’s similar to Revolution Summer-era Discord stuff, but without a lick of soul or heart. I didn’t need the internet to tell you that, yet that’s the most important thing that I feel I need to get across. I could somehow try to tie that in with the fact that they’re doing the whole design-core thing. But that would imply that I came to that impression after I looked them up on the internet, which was hardly the case. –Craven (Thrill Jockey, thrilljockey.com)


DIRTY FILTHY MUGS:
Half-Pint: CD
I am so sick of the whole “yerdy, derdy-fiddldy-dee” Irish punk thing. I get it. You’re Irish, you’re drunk, and you wanna fight. Throw in a ballad with an accordion and a tin-whistle and you could be the next big thing in the burgeoning punk rock subgenre of Lepracore. Lucky Charms this is not. –ty (Brraapp, myspace.com/brrapprecords)


DIHYF:
Some Positive Words: CDEP
Back cover is laid out like an early SST release, complete with a drawing trying hard to look like a Pettibon work. The music is beefy hardcore that keeps pretty much to the mid-tempo range. The cover of the Misfits’ “She” is a complete throwaway, but nearly all Misfits covers are these days, so no shock there. In the end, it ain’t bad and it ain’t a stunner. –jimmy (Rawker)


DESPITE ALL THIS:
Spring Tour Demo: CD
For one reason or another, I find myself very standoff-ish in the face of new folk punk bands. I don’t know what it is. I think my adolescent punk rock aversion to hippies is perhaps too deeply engrained. Anyway, I had pretty much decided I didn’t like this about fifteen seconds into the first song. Luckily, I kept listening and reading along and ended up immediately restarting this totally charming record. I can’t put my finger on why exactly, but Despite All This reminds me very much of early D.B.S. (Lynn Valley, Canada’s favorite sons, not Death By Stereo). There’s something very youthful and endearing about these songs, both lyrically and musically. TBIAPB or D’OH comparisons would be easy, but I think there’s actually something cooler than that going on here. Really great. –Dave Williams (Self-released, no address)


DEAR LANDLORD:
Dream Homes: CD
Being a disciple of Rivethead’s entire catalog, the first several times I took Dream Homes around the track, I thought it was too easy for these dudes. A steady diet of Weasel and bad decisions? Check. Flawless harmonizing about being desperate, barely-not-homeless, backing sealed-with-wax watertight guitars? Check. One of the most purposeful drummers in our world? Check. It sounded flawless, almost too well groomed. And when I think of these dudes I think of a lot of things, but “well groomed” is not on that list. (This is so not a dis.) But—and this is a large but—I found myself humming the songs days later. Not immediately. They had to bubble to the surface, through the layers of what at first seemed like a cake made purely of frosting. And like a familiar cat that you pet wrong just once, Dream Homes also has fangs and just-as-easy claws that slash unexpectedly and draw blood. Dream Homes is definitely pretty in its almost patentable punk pop, but it’s not fully domesticated. It’d be a mistake to take familiarity of their sound for granted. This grew on me like crazy. –todd (No Idea)


DEAD UNICORN:
Yellowstone Supervolcano: CD
How’s this for original? A concept album about a volcano in YellowstoneNational Park erupting and destroying life. That means no more Yogi Bear! Wait, Yogi lives in Jellystone. Whew! However, Yellowstone is very real. So now I have to consider the possibility of a volcano fucking up the West Coast, and then there’s talk that the Mayans predicted the end of the world in 2012. G’damn, we’re fucked either way. Dead Unicorn spread the fear and paranoia via a mix of grind and nü metal stylings. You can sing along in a tuneful manner, then growl in fear and anger over the fact your life is being cut short by a river of lava. –Matt Average (Peterwalkee, peterwalkeerecords.com)


DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR :
Our Glory Days: 7”
Work with me here. Picture a Michael Madsen or Jean Claude Van Damme direct-to-video flick from 1999: one of those movies about the alcoholic, down-on-his-luck cop or ex-Special Forces guy who threw it all away to, I don’t know, became a carpenter or something. This poor guy, he just wants to live the good life. But he’s tormented by his past, right? And, well, he just needs the love of a good woman to put his demons to rest and set him free. Unfortunately, she’s been captured by evil terrorists! He’ll have to don his twin Uzis and body armor one more time! Does this sound predictable yet? Seem like you’ve heard it a million times before? Well, welcome to Death Before Dishonor’s latest. Three songs, in which they wax wistful about the glory days of their violent hardcore youth, gleefully wish drug addicts would hurry up and die, and cover everyone’s favorite skinheads, The Bruisers. Fuck this dumbed-down, paint-by-numbers, predictable shit. –keith (Bridge Nine)


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