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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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BURNING FICTION:
Don’t Lose Touch: CD
Perth, Australia’s answer to Pennywise, Burning Fiction plays bland, but listenable melodic hardcore with a little less melody and a little more hardcore. This is an appropriately slick, but not overproduced album that couldn’t hurt a fly. Some of the songs have a few too many breakdowns to take seriously, but populist, earnest, accessible punk will always have its place in the hearts, minds, and high school lockers of youth worldwide. Plus they’re on Pee Records, a label name that I can’t say out loud without cracking up. –Art Ettinger (Pee)


BREWTAL THIRST:
Unquenchable: CD
I think every town has a band like these guys. Slightly older guys who enjoy Motörhead and drinking and have probably gone through a Gregg Allman-like amount of marriages. Dudes who sound like Fear and wear their own T-shirts, not in an exercise of self-promotion, but because that was what was within reach when they drunkenly stumbled out of bed that morning. It may sound like I’m not talking about the actual music in this review, but you’d be wrong. This CD is the aural equivalent of those things. I think the world needs those things. –Ryan Horky (Wet Brain)


BRENT WEINBACH:
The Night Shift: CD
It’s a change of pace to get a comedy CD. Although, the production quality seems professional in terms of the laugh tracks and getting an extremely eerie effect from the tone of his voice (it’s rather emotionless, like a serial killer on the phone). During the stand-up stuff, Weinbach has high energy and the crowd sounds receptive, but the material alone without us listeners seeing his facial expressions or mannerism falls flat. I just didn’t find myself laughing about how he wanted to be Chun-Li from Street Fighter II and how the six joystick buttons reminded him of his six testicles. So, perhaps Weinbach sums it up perfectly in his track “Making Sense” when he says, “It’s not supposed to make any sense.” –N.L. Dewart (Talent Moat)


BRAIN KILLER:
Demo: 7”
Just like their debut 7”, I can’t fucking tell what speed this record is intended to be played at. With their debut 7”, I finally resided with 33. But the interesting thing is the music doesn’t really change that much between the two. Either way, Brain Killer still plays noisy, feedback-infected hardcore punk. The demo 7” is cool to have, but for anyone interested in checking out this band, I definitely recommend picking up the debut on Deranged. –Daryl Gussin (Deranged/Vinyl Rites)


BOYS CLUB:
Self-titled: LP
I won’t pretend to be an expert on all things power pop. But if there’s one thing I’ve noticed about the current wave of bands is that more often than not, the “power” is overshadowed by the wardrobe. Boys Club, however, keep it simple (both musically and fashionably.) They play shoestring budget power pop with more of a nod to the punk side of things. Each and every song sounds like it belongs on a single or EP. Not just that, but a single I would listen to frequently. Great job. –Juan Espinosa (Three Dimensional)


BLOODHORSE:
Horizoner: CD
Heavy and epic. There’s a foreboding tone through the entire record, as though the skies are filled with black birds of death circling as the heathen horde storms the desert village, taking no prisoners, laying all to waste with their hell-forged steel. It’s slow and deliberate one minute and then the next they’re cranking out an unholy riff that could move the catatonic. Somewhere between stoner rock and doom. You can hear the influences of bands like Sabbath, Pentagram, and Electric Wizard, but Bloodhorse are wise enough to keep it original and not take the easy route to become some glorified tribute band. If you like bands like the Sword, Ancestors, Cavity, and other bands of that style, you need to check out Bloodhorse. Fuggin’ great album. –Matt Average (Translation Loss, translationloss.com)


BLANKET OF M:
Self-titled: CD-R
This is a four-song, nine-minute EP. This could have been more fun if they had made it into a 7” with some cool artwork instead of burning it onto a CD. Of course, that’s assuming this would’ve been worth even putting out. The second track, “We’re History,” is great. Its got a good hook and a quick beat. The other three tracks were unexciting and insignificant. Make more songs like “We’re History,” drop the other shit, and you’ll be heading down the right path. –kurt (myspace.com/blanketofm)


BLANK:
Demo: CDEP
These three from Hanover, Germany got something good going on. Usually, I expect a bit of disorganization in demos since band members are still trying to learn what works for them. That said, the first two tracks were not that rich in sound structure and fell into the punk pitfall of having a one-line chorus on repeat. “Dig a Hole” is the anomaly with a festering post punk guitar line that explodes in a deluge of drums and guitars. My favorites are “Bilbao” and “The Devil in Miss Jones” for their blistering guitar work. For a demo, this has surprisingly good acoustics. Keep up the good work, guys. Recommended. –Kristen K (Self-released, myspace.com/blanksucks)


BLACK TIME / TY SEGALL:
Split: LP
Your eyes do not deceive you: this is a split LP—so essentially this album contains an EP’s worth of material from both Black Time and Ty Segall. (I know Tito Larriva of the Plugz used to do releases like this one back in the day on his Fatima label, but I don’t know too many people doing it currently.) Black Time, you kids know these Brits (plus one American on bass)—real lo-fi, like Electric Eels, Crime, and Rocket From The Tombs. Visceral. The treble assault fucks you hard—not Throbbing Gristle hard, but enough to make you think twice about leaving that volume knob above five. Lemmy and the gang are coming hard on this one; some of the slower stuff on Double Negative seems like a distant memory. Subject matter remains the same—like Herbert Marcuse, Caution still can’t deal with Late Capitalism (and while not quite hitting it with the acuteness of Andy Gill), “Contract” seems to capture the same frustrations the Clash had with CBS (“Complete Control”)—the precise moment of cognition when a band realizes it’s nothing but a commodity to a record label. While I wholeheartedly back this EP, I feel some of the more experimental moments on last year’s Double Negative were incredibly promising (“Backwards in Black”); I’m hoping Black Time will follow up on these tracks in the future. But anyway, LONG LIVE BLACK TIME! Ty Segall—I don’t know this kid, but I like what I’m hearing from him (fans of Black Time will be more than happy with his tracks). Lo-fi surf guitar. Solid stuff. (I dig the album cover, too. Black Time’s side has two European kids standing in front of a Bauhaus-inspired building, staring at a duck. Alienating and troubling. The kids seem fine with prefabricated housing, yet perplexed by nature.) –ryan (Telephone Explosion, telephoneexplosion.com)


BIG FUN 4EVER:
Self-titled: 7”
This record is fucking catchy! Weird, synthy pop music, with keyboards and the most underused instrument in modern butt-shaking music: the sax. As I played this, my roommate (who’s very musical but not a dancer) stopped and went, “What the fuck is this?” Not in a negative way, but as a genuine “I haven’t hear anything quite like this before.” That’s accurate. Not much dancey-pop music has a real homemade feel to it. The leading lady has a really lovely voice, and the harmonies are tight as well. This record is on repeat for the “getting ready to go out” ritual (ladies, you know the mildly annoying task of make-up and hair is always more fun when dancing around). “Teenage Sensation” is a great little ditty about still going after the person with the bad reputation. Pink swirled vinyl keeps up with the pop sensibility, and the silkscreened sleeve (a volcanic eruption with cars) is rad as well. I hope to see them live soon. Ultra bonus: They’re from Milwaukee! Play this on repeat. –Samantha Beerhouse (viscouspoprecords.com)


BLACKMARKET SYNDICATE:
Why Do We Even Try?: CD
I don’t, in essence, have a problem with Social Distortion. Individual elements of what they created are fine, but, as a band, it was kind of blah. I will contest that “It’s the Law” is a damn fine song. Hell, if I’m in the right mood (drunk), I might even admit to liking “Mommy’s Little Monster.”, but I never saw how they were good enough to warrant other bands using them as a template for a defining sound. If you’re one of those people who are angry that Social Distortion hasn’t released an album since 2004, maybe this will be up your alley. –Bryan Static (Regional I&B, no address)


BEAVERS:
Silly Girls: 7”
I remember this band from the mid-‘90s when they released several singles but am surprised to see they are still around. It’s good, solid garage punk of the Crypt and Estrus style but with a fun and rockin’ undercurrent that many of those bands lacked. Fans of the Devil Dogs, Rip Offs or others of the style will find a lot to like here. The band appears to be from the Netherlands and the single is limited to five hundred copies. –frame (Frantic City)


BEAR PROOF SUIT:
A Suit to Alter Fate—2005-2008: CD
There are two covers that I recognized on this CD and those are Hüsker Dü’s “Real World” and Poison Idea’s “Pure Hate.” Describing these guys as sitting in the middle ground between early Hüsker Dü and early Poison Idea, with a sprinkling of Canada’s Subhumans, is a really apt summation of how these guys sound. They play really frantic hardcore of the ‘80s variety. The guitars, drums, and bass work are totally capable of shredding, should the band choose. More than once there are guitar lines and bass riffs on here that grab my attention and make me pay attention. The band keeps this sound fresh. Bear Proof Suit actually sounds desperate, angry, frantic, and not just like a bunch of aging punks going through the motions while harping on the sounds of a couple generations ago. There’s often a danger of a band trying to play hardcore like this sounding like they’re serving up the hardcore equivalent of microwaved leftovers, but, thankfully, that’s not at all the case here. This is a discography CD that includes the tracks from the band’s 2008 LP B.Y.O.B.O.C, two 7”s, and a few unreleased tracks. Pretty damn good. –Adrian (Urban Pirate)


BE MY DOPPELGANGER:
Sonic Annihilation: 7”
Important Literary Notice: As of this morning, it has become apparent to me that The Ergs! have supplanted Screeching Weasel and the Queers in contemporary punk rock referencing! To wit, a zine I was reading late last night included a footnote to the Ergs! And now this lyric: “I think you’ve probably heard the Ergs before/You said I play them all the time.” And although studies show that it’s not scientifically possible for me to like Screeching Weasel more (“Your levels might be considered dangerous by some researchers,” the study leader told me. “But still, I say, ‘Go for it.’ I love My Brain Hurts, too!”), I am wholeheartedly in favor of this paradigm shift! I love the Ergs! And now, to the matter at hand: This is really good pop punk, two boy singers, a song about a pizza party, and, guess what? One of their songs reminds me of, dare I say it, the Ergs! You should like this band! Maybe you already like this band! If this were a cereal, it would be Apple Jacks! And I think this band could very well someday reach the Corn Pops level! Seriously! –Maddy (It’s Alive)


BATTLEFIELDS:
Thresholds of Imbalance: CD
Mathmetal. Perhaps this stuff is the offspring of doom metal? This has its moments, however brief, but, on the whole, this album is boring. The songs jam on and on without much that’s really dynamic or interesting happening. Every so often, there will be something, like an atmospheric guitar bleeding through, and a pensive piano interlude, but that’s about it. The dual crustcore, or gindcore, vocals remind me of all the shitty bands I’ve seen playing the L.A. circuit in recent years. A lot of screaming and growling, and yet so blah. The songs speed up, then slow down and begin meandering and meandering some more, and when it’s done, it’s pretty uneventful. If I was stoned listening to this, then I would probably find this irritating. –Matt Average (Translation Lost, translationloss.com)


BASH BROTHERS:
Bash: 7”
I saw Bash Brothers a couple of weeks ago opening for Nobunny and absolutely had to pick up a record. Here is everything I know about Bash Brothers. They are two girls from NanaimoBC who play bass and drums. They play loudly and abrasively and are goddamn funny! They really are not like anything I’ve heard before! The thing that sold me on them when I saw them play was they were often cracking up too much to finish the lyrics. It made me laugh even more when I thought they were called Hash Brothers and they were so obviously stoned. It is nice to see people doing fun and different things! –ty (myspace.com/bashbashbash)


BASEBALL FURIES:
Throw Them to the Wolves: CD
Fucking bad times. Terrible, angry, frustrating times. Moments of seething, uncontrollable hatred and animosity. Supposedly, this is the Baseball Furies last album, and it just sounds like they don’t want to be anywhere near each other. And it works so well with this type of grimy garage rock. Imagine the fucked-for-life tones of Vee Dee’s Further LP mixed with Eddy Current Suppression Ring’s Primary Colours LP and you’re on the right track for Throw Them to the Wolves. It’s captivating and prodding—all while oscillating tempos—yet never losing its intensity. Plus the album was recorded by Bob Weston. –Daryl Gussin (Big Neck)


ARMS EXPLODING:
Ruminari: CD
Odd mix of screamy metal/hardcore stuff and emo. Liked the cover art and precious little else. –jimmy (Phratry)


APOCALYPSE MEOW/RATIONAL ANTHEM:
Split: 7”
Two bands with bad pun names do a split. It’s much better than their names lead you to believe. I liked it enough to put the free sticker that came with it on my bass drum. If you have a spare four dollars, it would not be a bad decision to buy this. –Bryan Static (Traffic Street)


ALWAYS LAST:
Self-titled: CD-R
Wow, Malaysian pop punk. Something you don’t run into every day. Good stuff from a band that sounds close to what I imagine Me First And The Gimme Gimmes would sound like if they played originals. –jimmy (nizangmosh@gmail.com)


ALTERNATE ACTION:
Thin Line: CD
Semi-catchy street punk that sounds all right. If that’s your bag. You could do a lot worse than this. –Ryan Horky (Longshot, longshotmusic.com)


AK-77 / DEATH STATISTIC:
Split: 7”
As they say on The Antiques Roadshow, it’s the provenance—the documented story—that increases the value of a piece. On the surface, AK-77 is serviceable tongue-in-cheek oi (along the lines of Oil!). Death Statistic provides roughly recorded songs played at home. Their band name / logo takes a bit of time to visually decipher, so I’m saying they’re going for something along the lines of Bathory or Entombed, but don’t hold me to that, since my time in those dark corners are limited. What this 7” is really about is an audio tribute to a Ukrainian punk—who had formed both bands—and died before his twenty-first birthday. And in that context, it’s oddly sweet that making fun of bald xenophobes and sidling up to dudes who prove their commitment by burning churches is this guy’s swan song. –todd (Do Ya Hear We)


AIRES AND GRACES:
What Happened to the Kids?: 7”
It seems like I’m reviewing at least one Longshot record in every issue. Trust me, I don’t mind in the least. There are some great bands on the label and Aries And Graces seem to fit in just fine with the likes of Alternate Action and Harrington Saints: straight-forward street punk that’s played well. I was a little shocked to find a standard black vinyl record in the sleeve. I guess I’ve been getting used to the wacky colored vinyl that Longshot has been throwing around on their last few releases. I should also mention that as much as I dig the tunes, I’ve gotta say “Better Dead Than Red”? Really? It would seem apparent to me that America has bigger problems than communism. –ty (Longshot)


AGAINST ME!:
The Original Cowboy: CD
There are people who absolutely love this band. I’m a guy that gets hot and cold depending on the mood. I was intrigued that this was in my inbox at HQ. They went major label, didn’t they? Haven’t really kept up since they left Fat. I look at the cover and see that Fat has indeed released this. Did they get dropped? Not that I can tell. I took a look at the promo attachment and saw that these songs are the demo recordings for As the Eternal Cowboy. I never heard that release, so I can’t make comparisons. What I can comment on is that they do make good music that is challenging and, at times, anthemic. Surprised that these versions of the songs weren’t used for the record. They have no elements of sounding like they are demos. –don (Fat)


AGAINST ME!:
The Original Cowboy: CD
The question isn’t whether or not this is a good album. I liked As the Eternal Cowboy just fine when it came out back in 2003. It was catchy and it seemed like they were singing about important stuff like being passionate and shit. The question with me is whether The Original Cowboy is really necessary. The deal with this CD is that it’s the release of the demo tracks the band made for As the Eternal Cowboy, but I can’t really tell the difference at all. The sound quality isn’t noticeably different, there weren’t really any major changes in the lyrics or song structures between the demos and finished product, and it’s not all that sloppier or tighter than what the band eventually put down for the finished album. Don’t lose any sleep about not getting this if you already own As the Eternal Cowboy, unless you’re an Against Me! completist. This feels like bonus tracks in search of a deluxe reissue. If you’re new to Against Me!, this album wouldn’t be a bad first pick to be introduced with, though, as it’s basically As the Eternal Cowboy with different packaging. –Adrian (Fat)


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