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Record Reviews

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RUTH:
Sloppy Poppy Punk Band: 7"EP
Dumb (and not even particularly sloppy - that would've helped) poppy punk band who charm me very slightly until they get to the Archies "Sugar Sugar," at which point I jam two pencils or pens into my eardrums. It came with a sticker and a button. –Cuss Baxter (They Still Make Records)


ROTTERS, THE:
Pull It and Yell: CD
The Rotters are an old LA punk band who scored it big (well, a relative, flash-in-the-pan, late-seventies punk big) with the song "Sit on My Face Stevie Nicks." When people finished laughing over the title, they realized that the Rotters couldn't sing or play, and the Rotters drifted back into obscurity. Now, record collectors are selling their grandmothers for those early singles. Luckily, you can hear the music (though I don't know if it's the exact mastering and I know it's not worth any more than the ten bucks you paid for it) on this Dionysus re-issue, which is cool for those of us who like raunchy late-seventies punk that's completely derivative of the Sex Pistols, but don't want to scour ebay for the mint condition 45 with a misspelled producer's name on the sleeve that costs so much you wouldn't dare spin it. The songs were recorded in '78 and '79, and this album includes all their hits, plus eleven more songs. It's complete trash. I love it. –sean (Dionysus)


ROBERT BELFOUR:
What: CD
On this here inspirationally soul-stirrin' CD, Robert Belfour spiritually moves my ears with a folksy rural array of acoustic sharecroppin' shotgun-shack blues that perfectly captures the aural essence of the Deep South's rustic mystique. In a dead-end era of blandly contrived watered-down hippie blues drivel (via the uninspiring ilk of Eric Clap-out, Stevie Rank Vaughan, and Kenny Wank Shepherd), it's a pleasurable delight indeed to be musically stimulated by an authentic well-structured display of moanin'-and-groanin' northern-Mississippi hill-country blues. Mr. Belfour's vocals adeptly alternate between hogcallin' backwoods-twang wails and mannishly mumbled scat caterwaulings of moonshine-drenched madness... his earthy cottonpatch'n'porchswing guitar pickin' is intricate, hypnotic, and skillfully free-flowin'. I'm beyond awed! I could easily sit here, drink beer, and listen to this all day long... ah hell, I think I'll do just that. –Guest Contributor (Fat Possum)


RIZZO:
Phoning It In: CD
Just when I thought the sound of Los Angeles was dead to my ears, I heard the delightful voices of Rizzo. Actually, I don't know for sure that they are from LA, but they are on Sympathy, which is good enough for me. These girls are great. If Josie and the Pussycats existed today, they would sound pretty gosh darn close to Rizzo. I can hear some Sissybar in there somewhere as well, especially in their "Raspberry Beret" cover. They cover "Raspberry Beret," for goodness sakes! How cool is that? –Guest Contributor (Sympathy)


RISE AGAINST:
The Unraveling: CD
By-the-numbers poppy hardcore swill. What a waste of money. Hey, Fat Mike! My job ain't too satisfying career-wise, you know? Send me some ridiculously large amount of cash to record an album, too. I can't guarantee that it'll sound just like everyone else (like these guys do), but I'll try my dangdest, if that's what it takes. –jimmy (Fat)


RICHMOND SLUTS, THE:
Self-titled: CD
The cover art for this San Francisco band's debut bears a striking resemblance to the poster art for the movie "Almost Famous." I've been assured that it's all a coincidence but, just the same, it's an interesting contrast. The Sluts' cover is darker and sexier compared to the wholesome image of Goldie Hawn's daughter who appears to have a school girl's crush on rock rather than a true lust for life. But I digress. Richmond Sluts mix '60s garage with Stooges and New York Dolls on this album's worth of sex-obsessed rock tunes. They can sound like the Fuzztones on "Service for the Sick" and the N.Y. Dolls on "City Girls" but the album somehow manages to stay cohesive. It's good, dirty rock'n'roll. –Guest Contributor (Disaster)


REJX:
300 Orchard Place: CD
The wave of NOFX knock-off bands has definitely subsided, which is cool. It also gives me a chance to relax when I see a band spell their name like REJX and when the first three chords sound like Eric Melvin played them. I can suspend judgement for long enough to figure out if there's something more to the album. And there is something more to this debut CD by the REJX. They're not knocking-off "Punk in Drublic" or any of the more recent NOFX albums. At first, it reminds me of "S&M Airlines." The more I listen to it, though, it actually reminds me of RKL - the band that NOFX wanted to be in the beginning. It's good stuff. Not great, but not easy to dismiss. It's fast and angry and sincere and sometimes funny and easy to sing along to. I'd definitely like to see what these guys grow into. –sean (Uprising!)


REDRUM/ NEGATIVE STEP:
Split: 7"EP
Redrum: Thrash, side one. Sounds like they totally stripped out the innards of Minor Threat's songs, built a new machine that grinds louder, is less anthemic, and runs at a higher RPM. Not a new wheel, but not a flat tire neither. Points go to the lyric, "there's no laws that make me comfortable, no amount of police that make me feel safe." Negative Step: Thrash, side two. I don't get the Negative Step graphics. On the inside, the grim reaper's going after a guy with a mohawk, and on the cover, he's got the head of a guy with liberty spikes in his hands. The reaper's wearing a baseball cap with "Dekalb" embroidered on it. (A possible reference to a release of thrashmasters Charles Bronson?) They've got the early "in an empty tin can while standing in a metal bath tub" feel of the recording, at least - but not the unhinging power - of Bronson. Yet, they endeared me with the ditty "Skate Free." Skating's fun. The songs give me a headache. That is not a complaint. –todd (Satan's Pimp)


REAL MCKENZIES, THE:
Another Round b/w Loch Lomond: 7"
Getting the facts straight, The Real McKenzies - Canadian Scots - have been knocking it around for a bit, so don't think they're hopping the bandwagon of Pogues-infected rock that the Swingin' Utters, Filthy Thieving Bastards, Flogging Molly, and the Dropkick Murphys have been skirting the last couple albums. The McKenzies helped build that wagon, have been pushing it for a long, long time. Discounting my own nut sack, I'd have to say I've seen the leader of the McKenzies plum pouch the most of any man's. Kilt a-flappin'n, he literally lets it all hang out live. And that's where I think the band excels. This 7" is pretty good, but some of the intensity is lost in the translation. Not piss, nor godhead. –todd (Fat)


RAISED FIST:
Ignoring the Guidelines: CD
I was working at trying to find a clever way to say they suck when I learned from the webpage that their name is taken from a Rage Against the Machine song. Think Rage meets Pantera. I think they're ignoring the wrong guidelines. –Cuss Baxter (Burning Heart/Epitaph)


PUPPY VS. DYSLEXIA:
Let: CD
This is acid-drenched punkrock wackiness at its most frenzied, fucked-up, spastic, noisy, and bizarre... it's a crazed crossbred cacophony of the Butthole Surfers, Dead Milkmen, Circle Jerks, Germs, and The Paper Tulips all anally plundering each other and then voraciously splooging into the open wax-encrusted ears of society's most undesirable malcontents (yep, soused-silly social rejects like you and me!). The zapped-out zaniness of such wildly warped song titles as "Bunni Prays for Death," "I Wanna Do Cocaine," "Soundtrack to Bloody Carpet #3," "Emilio's Crankin the Rock," "Ded Man Don't Eat Fuk," "Hula Man," "Oh Shit! I Thought You Were That Other Dog Person," "Yr Boring When Yr In Love," "Old Man with the Electric Toolbelt," "Bucky's on His Back," and "Blackout Gonorrhea Madness" descriptively add even more of a sick and twisted element to the maniacal audial lunacy contained herein. P.V.D. are loud, sloppy, disjointed, and musically chaotic... a frenetically enjoyable listen, indeed! Now I just wanna be strapped into a straightjacket and tossed into a padded cell where these madly demented ditties are constantly played 24/7... –Guest Contributor (Puppy Vs. Dyslexia)


PROWLERS, THE:
Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: CD
I picked this up 'cause I liked the title. They sound like the Oppressed, which is always a plus, but the lyrics are more of the same boneheaded, hackneyed shit that so many other bald boy bands have driven into the ground. What a waste. –jimmy (Mad Butcher)


POLYSICS:
Hey! Bob! My Friend!: CD
Close your eyes. Now picture Servotron as a three-piece Japanese group who develop this weird kink in their music after one too many Melt Banana listening sessions. Thank God that I didn't go with my initial gut instinct and pass this one up, 'cause this is gonna get a lot of airplay in my house, boyo. Frighteningly good. –jimmy (Asian Man)


PLEASURE FOREVER:
Self-titled: CD
Andrew Rothbard. Josh Hughes. David Clifford. Two-thirds of this San Francisco-based trio initially impacted independent music as The VSS in 1995. With one full-length ("Nervous Circuits") and a handful of singles, split albums, etc., The VSS were part of an early wave of keyboard-heavy art rock. Theirs was music for kids who liked Joy Division and Gang of Four, but never really went goth. After an abrupt split in 1997, The VSS reformed as Slaves, an equally dark experience in rock music. Which bring us to Pleasure Forever, the trio's most recent moniker, and its self-titled, Sub Pop debut. From the heavy swirl of keyboards that mark "Goodnight," Pleasure Forever opens like some Baz Luhrmann fantasy of 1920's Berlin invaded by the Birthday Party with Ray Manzarak on keyboards. As the album progresses, Pleasure Forever's post-punk cabaret swells to fierce proportions, marked by the industrial-tinged chant of "rise, rise, rise" on "Meet Me in Eternity," before moving towards a more guitar-driven path. With the album's eight minute, forty-two second climax, "Magnus Opus," Pleasure Forever channels the spirits of rock music's darkest spirits from Black Sabbath to Bauhaus without ever really sounding like anyone other than Pleasure Forever. –liz (Sub Pop)


PITS, THE:
Introducing My New High: 7"EP
I used to hate the French, but I think I hate the English even more now. I take that back. I hate English people who sing in English complete with that repulsive snotty snarl that makes one think that they're not even English in the first place but a bunch of poseurs that listen to too many Sex Pistols and The Clash's "Best of..." records while fucking donkeys in the middle of a cow field in Butte, Montana. –nam (Rapid Pulse)


PISTOL GRIP:
The Shots from the Kalico Rose: CD
I had an idea what these guys were going to sound like when I saw their name listed on the line-up for the Holidays in the Sun festival. What I didn't expect was great, melodic arrangements of their brand of street punk. They show that they have chops and offer a little more than the standard formula that you hear these days from bands of this genre. Good background vocals on the "ooohhhss" on the choruses that are in key. The guitars are in sync and have a punch that sometimes get lost in recording. The bass sounds almost happy and is tied in with the drums to mix it all together. The vocalist has a strong voice and can actually sing. Nothing more annoying to me is listening to a street punk band with a singer that can't sing in key. I haven't been listening to street punk that much lately, but this is a pleasant surprise. A good listen to shake a beer at. –don (BYO)


PINHEAD CIRCUS:
The Black Power of Romance: CD
There's something tricky about Pinhead Circus. Their songs have a way of creeping into my brain. More than once, I've been singing along with a Pinhead Circus song and someone has walked into the room and said, "What are you listening to?" and I was stumped. I'll wake up in the morning with a Pinhead Circus riff on auto-repeat in my head and I can't, for the life of me, place the song. Then, gradually, the album grows on me. It reaches high rotation and I have to be careful not to play it too often. It's strange. "The Black Power of Romance," like all their other albums, filled me with apathy at first, then wiggled itself up there with my favorite albums. I think it has something to do with the way that Pinhead Circus can put together a song that sounds like no other band, but is vaguely recognizable pieces - a riff that almost sounds like Good Riddance, a tempo change that's almost like Tiltwheel, drums filling in like Youth Brigade, and so on. Which isn't to say that they're completely referential. They're not. They're a pretty original band that write solid, catchy songs. You just have to give them a few listens to creep up on you. –sean (BYO)


PIMPS, THE:
Wicca Chicka: EP
A most enjoyable single from a most promising band. Tight lyrics, sloppy music - just the right garage punk rock blend. This single is for you if your name is Steve, Mike, Dave, Tom, or Chris (that alone should be about 3,000 guys in our readership.) –nam (Rapid Pulse)


PENNYWISE:
Land of The Free: CD
These guys are a real dividing line for a lot a people. Sure, they sound a lot like classic Bad Religion. Sure, they've got some of the most abhorrent fans in the world who'll beat one another senseless before Fletcher plugs in his guitar. Sure, they helped spearhead super clean, huge punk production that many claim to be the harbinger of "real punk's" death. I can see all that. But there are two real personal reasons I like Pennywise. First off, one summer I lived in a car. It was a big car with lots of room. It had a tape deck. I had about ten tapes. One was "Unknown Road." I must've listened to it 300 times in three months. I'd often just have it in for days on auto repeat. It was much better than the radio. Pennywise is seamless, much in the same way Funeral Oration is, except Jim's voice isn't as high. Second off, for reasons I can't explain, I can write really, really well when I have these guys on the stereo. It probably has to do with their seamlessness that does a good job of drowning out the sound of the neighbors fighting or kids crying. It's a solid record, right in line with "Straight Ahead" and "Full Circle." If you've heard 'em in the last five or six years, no surprises on this one, which is both a strength and a detriment. Solid. –todd (Epitaph)


PEACOCKS, THE:
Angel: CD
The Peacocks robustly blast through thick chunky slabs of unruly punkish rockabilly belligerence on this here skull-skewering platter of sonic stir fry! Hot damn daddy, it's all-at-once smooth, suave, raucous, cacophonous, and killer-cool! These swaggerin' spark-sizzlin' songs are aurally reminiscent of Social Distortion, The Screaming Blue Messiahs, Southern Backtones, Johnny Cash, and the devil-in-hell himself... and they salaciously conjure degenerate images of souped-up pavement-shreddin' '57 Chevys, switchblade-slashin' alleyway scuffles in the dead darkness of a crime-ridden metropolitan night, flamin' snake-eyed dice, grease-saturated brylcreem-encrusted ducktail coiffs, chug-a-chuggin' freight-train solitude along a vast moonlit sprawl of American "wild west" desert, Lady Luck lasciviously struttin' her stuff buck-ass naked and all in your face, pin-up girl tattoos, lawlessness, sin, decadence, debauchery, and rock'n'roll rebellion. Hell yeh, The Peacocks maliciously make Swiss cheese outta my ears, and I'm cretinously cravin' more, motherfuckers, more! –Guest Contributor (Asian Man)


PANIC STRIKES A CHORD:
I Can See Electricity at the Proper Distance: CD
A one man band. Occasionally the songs are way too long, and due to my bad attention span, I can't handle them and end up skipping forward. I'm such a bad reviewer. At times, gentle and emotional "boy and his guitar" rock, and then moves on to a unique brand of rock music - evil and dark, with samples of strings, people, and so forth. He has a nice voice and clever lyrics, but is just a little long winded at times. A more relaxed version of Bright Eyes at times. Reminds me a tad of United States Three as well. Pleasant overall. –Guest Contributor (Anechoic)


OPPRESSED, THE:
Oi! Singles & Rarities: CD
"Oi! Singles and Rarities" opens up with the song "White Flag" and finishes up some twenty-eight songs later with "Living with Unemployment." In between is pretty much everything the band ever released on Eps and splits. Though most of my favorite Oppressed stuff came off of "OI! OI! Music," their ten or so EP's are a great way to chart the band's political views as well their growth. From the played-to-death pub cover songs to one of my personal favorites "Do Anything You Wanna Do," this comp has got it all from one of the greatest oi bands around. –keith (Captain Oi)


OPERATION CLIFF CLAVIN:
Freedom of Choice: CD
O.C.C. spastically play hard-edged bursts of pop-punk liveliness that's fiery, volatile, fierce, and highly flammable. While intently listenin' to this heavy-hittin' gut-puncher of a disc, I just couldn't sit still, and my toes were frantically a-tappin' one million beats per minute, I shit you not! The snotty taunting schoolyard-bully vocals, furiously roarin' napalm-laden squadron of fighter-jet guitars, diabolical bone-rattlin' bass boomings, and frenzied pneumatic-drill jackhammer drumming mayhemically mesh together in an ear-pleasing blend of social-loathing sonic slashings that have me urgently pleadin' for more! Yep, I'm whorishly hooked on O.C.C., and I ain't gonna be a good boy no more, Ma... –Guest Contributor (Plan-It-X)


OHNO EXPRESS / SOON:
Split: CD
Ohno Express features former members of Hooton 3 Car and some Servo members. Soon hail from Tokyo, Japan and formed by a former member of the band Blew. Enough of the facts and let's go the important: my opinion. I personally like Soon better than Ohno Express. The music is raw and melodic. The fact is that Soon has a female singer and Ohno Express didn't grip me as much as Soon. Soon really didn't get my gonads all twisted like I was hoping for. More garage-like than maybe I would have preferred. I usually like most of what I hear from Japan. I'm biased that way. Maybe on another day I would appreciate this more, but I just did not connect. –don (Crackle)


ODD NUMBERS:
The Trials and Tribulations of: CD
Social Distortion turns into a Jam cover band. Includes a "secret" bonus cover of the Clash's "Julie's Been Working for the Drug Squad" that wasn't too painful. I remember seeing this band in Berkeley once years ago and thinking they were much better than this. Oh well. –jimmy (Coldfront)


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·Christ: The Dark Years
·RUDE BOYS, THE
·NUMBERS, THE
·WAX MUSEUMS
·GET IT TOGETHER
·MY LIFE WITH THE THRILL KILL KULT
·RED REACTION
·Razorcake Podcast #114
·Razorcake Podcast #185


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