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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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BEAUTY PILL:
Describes Things As They Are: 2 x LP
The big maximal electronic push and the prioritizing of ornamental sounds like power drills/fireflies/sandy beaches/general blorps and the use of a dog bowl make this album interesting (also the lyrics) and remind me of Juana Molina and Eno and jazz records I haven’t heard yet, and also I wish they were more of the rock band they used to be, and also how many bands take more than ten years between releases and come back as a living (emphasis on living) surround-sound experience and have roots in a corner of DC punk and cover Arto Lindsay? How many bands write a song about flirting that’s also about complicated racial history, that includes a section meant to reference Ornette Coleman? How many sing a song from the point of view of an aging, failed actor with children? This is more textural/layered than anything they’ve done before and is maybe more for the older crowd than the young, though the young crowd for this record are the shapers of tomorrow, obviously. That crowd will hopefully take BP’s cover of Lungfish’s “Ann the Word” and run with it. Or, fuck it, let’s hope BP themselves run with it. “Everybody with fingerprints make some noise” is my favorite sentence in years and I want to hear it chopped and screwed into infinity.  –Matt Werts (Butterscotch, butterscotchrecords.net)


BENNY THE JET RODRIGUEZ / MARTHA:
Split: EP
I have to admit that I’m a dofus. Before this review I had never heard a Benny The Jet Rodriguez song. There is just so much music out there that I can’t get to all of it and though they graced the cover of the last issue of Razorcake, sadly this beautiful group of musicians is no longer. At least they put out this last split to remember them by, and I sincerely hope they move on to other musical ventures. These tracks from BTJR are like sunshine-flavored bubble gum—so saccharine and warm. The first track is about being in love but not with you, and the second is about being in love with someone who doesn’t feel the same. Both sides of relationship woes are covered in the sweetest way. I’m kicking myself for sleeping on this band. Todd Congelliere plays keys in this band! How did I miss out? I’ve got a moment to rectify this situation because Martha is just as awesome, and hopefully not breaking up anytime soon. This incredible, robust, and driving bass breaks the silence of the flip side, and is met by a strong and full northern English accent. Fast guitar riffs join as a second vocalist chimes in and quick-fire lyrics pour out. Martha’s second song is a cover of the Swedish band Masshysteri. Looking forward to more from them while also seeking out the rest of BTJR’s catalog.  –Kayla Greet (Drunken Sailor, drunkensailorrecords.co.uk)


BETTY MACHETE & THE ANGRY COUGARS:
“Guts” b/w “Destroy You”: 7”
“I love you inside, I love you inside-out!” Betty Machete sings on “I Love Your Guts.” She is fucking angry. She’s got the perfect death rattle voice for these grimy, mean-spirited tunes. There are no frills on this record. No wanky guitar solos or self-important instrumental flourishes. This is no-nonsense, negative, knuckle-cracking punk rock’n’roll, and I’m way into it.  –mp (Dull-Fi)


BIG BUSINESS:
Battlefields Forever: LP
I would never consider myself a metal fan. My knowledge of the demonic art is next to nil, but Big Business tickle my fancy. Scott Martin’s guitar wails, drummer Coady Willis pummels, and singer/bassist Jared Warren conjures apocalyptic, battle-ravaged visions over his low-end gut-punch. Big Business are almost a parody of metal tropes (the cover is a colorful cut-and-paste menagerie of warrior lion men and the lyrics are pure fantasy), while steadfastly forging their unique brand of tongue-in-cheek, face-melting sludge metal epicness. Sonically, the power trio invokes Torche, early Baroness, and Melvins (since two members of Big Business are also members of Melvins’ current line up). If you’re like me and you’ve been searching for metal that isn’t self-serious or po-faced, then Battlefields Forever just might be your golden ticket into satan’s army. Also, I highly recommend searching for Big Business’ parody press release for their label Gold Metal Records, which features hilarious lines like “Members of the band are calling it their best album yet” and “Battlefields Forever was recorded Spring 2013 in the abandoned Beverly Hills mansion currently haunted by Jeff Goldblum.” Very funny stuff.  –Sean Arenas (Gold Metal, bigbigbusiness.com)


BIG CRUX:
We Got a Jam: CS
True story: I got into the Big Boys when I saw Félix Reyes of Los Angeles hardcore revivalists Lifes Halt wearing the “skate-anarchy” T-shirt. I needed to hear the band with the awesome shirt design and although I certainly wasn’t expecting the funk or the horn section, the fast skate punk songs reeled me in and eventually their entire catalog enamored me. After Lifes Halt broke up, I didn’t see much of Félix at shows anymore and it wasn’t until a few years later that I found out through a mutual acquaintance that he’d moved to Seattle. Even more years went by before Iron Lung records CEO Jensen Ward revealed to the world that he’d spotted Félix and he had some songs he’d been working on with a ragtag group of musicians in grunge city. The project was labeled “futuro,” Spanish for future, and now known as Big Crux. We Got a Jam compiles the band’s earliest material from their debut 7”, single-sided 12”EP, split 7” and a few compilation tracks. The Big Boys are certainly a jumping off point but you’ll want to dig a little deeper into the seven layer dip that is their sound. Yup, that’s some Plugz and Minutemen you’re tasting. Once you’re done savoring this appetizer you’re definitely ready for the Latin American flavors infused into the main course (or debut full length, if you will) that is their opus, the Ponchito LP. And yet, Big Crux we hardly knew ye: the band has recently called it quits. Some of us at Razorcake are fucking bummed. It’s like the time our favorite local lunch time Chinese food restaurant closed. It didn’t mean much to more than a handful of us. There was nothing we could do except lament and remember the deliciously good moments. B –Juan Espinosa (Not Normal / Bbigcrux.bandcamp.com)


BIGG BUTT:
Demo ‘15: CS
We’ve got Big Dick from Ontario (who’re amazing), Big Tits from Oakland (equally incredible) and now Bigg Butt. This power trio plays nasty punk rock’n’roll in the vein of Jesus Christ Superfly, that is if anyone remembers that band but me. It’s not over the top rawkeither, though. Dirty, yet still catchy. Solid debut and good package all around. –Steve Adamyk (biggbutt.bandcamp.com)


BIRD’S MILE HOME:
Here and Now: 7”
Bird’s Mile Home play country-fried, folk punk with fast tempos and clean guitars. It’s quite catchy, really, and not in a Nine Pound Hammer kind of way (not that I’d have a problem with that…). Not what I expected at all, to be honest; the artwork/layout could easily make you believe it’s a nineties-style hardcore/emo record. Thankfully, that’s not the case.  –Steve Adamyk (Minor Bird, minorbirdrecords.limitedrun.com)


BIRD’S MILE HOME:
Self-titled: LP
Warm, gritty, heartfelt, acoustic-driven songs that would complement a glass of Buffalo Trace nicely. Lucero came to mind while I was playing this record. There’s a bit of twang to the guitars that still have a punk edge, and the other half of the songs are a bit more folky and stark. The record has a nice flow from laid back porch jams like “Winona” to songs that sound like lost gems from the Flat Duo Jets like “White Cross Mile Markers.” The stand out for me was “Coffee Comes Cold.” Despite the title, it is a warm song. It’s stripped down to acoustic guitar, harmonica, and cello I believe. Heavily recommended to fans of Modest Mouse, Lucero, and Two Gallants.  –Ryan Nichols (Minor Bird, no address listed)


BITCH WITCH:
Self-titled: CD
If you dig crust punk, you will love this album. If you do not dig crust punk, you will not. I happen to not dig it. So, as much as I want to like all-girl punk rock bands with lyrics that contain slight feminist overtones, I just can’t get into these seven songs. The blatant Black Flag cover art rip off and oversaturation of satanic imagery are too contrived. I will leave you with this gem from the last track—”Sorry bitch, if I cut your head off / sorry guests, I’m gonna kill you all / sorry god, you’ll always be alone.”  –Nicole Madden (Los Discos Mas Peligrosos, no address listed)


BITCH’N’DUDES:
Self-titled: CD
Punk, American style: fast-paced, snotty, and with loads of attitude. Not surprising Bitch’N’Dudes are from Vegas. I’m inclined to compare them to later Dayglo Abortions or Common Enemy, but with the odd ska breakdown. There isn’t a shortage of bands playing this subgenre, but Bitch’N’Dudes do it well.  –Steve Adamyk (bitchndudes.bandcamp.com)


BLACK HOLE KIDS:
Easy Masks: LP
Black Hole Kids play with darkness. Shrieking growls akin to black metal are woven into a mellifluous hardcore tapestry. What sets BHK apart is the ease with which they weave what should be so ugly-sounding into art (lyrically, visually, and sonically). Recorded in a bombed-out old firehouse, Easy Maskscan be felt from inception to ingestion, like you’ve been living with it before you even knew it existed. If you like your clothes black and you might spend too much time in dark rooms trapped in introspection, Black Hole Kids are knocking at your door.  –Matt Seward (Social Cancer, socialcancer.net)


BLACK TIME:
Aerial Gobs of Love: LP
Note to self: turn the volume down before listening to something on headphones. I think I just accidentally blew out my midrange hearing spectrum. Anyway, lotta wild garage rockin’ here. Shit’s veryraw sound-wise and, at points, it gets downright psychedelic (check their “Aerial Dub” track). Nothing is really new or inventive here, but they do have a certain level of charm which pushes this a lot further along than others might get.  –jimmy (Förbjudna Lund, forbjudnaljud.bandcamp.com)


BLANK PAGES:
No Reception: 7”
Two doses of potent minor chord garage pop in the vein of Sonic Avenues, with a bit less propulsion and more Wipers. Cover art is gorgeous.  –jimmy (Dirt Cult)


BLASTMAT:
Broke Life, Working Class: CD
I was an immediate fan of Blastmat’s music. Featuring members of Forced Reality, their songs included plenty of aggressive but catchy riffs, with plenty of parts to make you want to bedroom mosh or circle pit around your living room couch. Some sweet guitar leads and a solid rhythm section completed the musical package. Blastmat have a strong NYHC vibe that I was very into. (Their singer even sounds a tad like Sick Of It All’s Lou Koller at times.) With the album title I thought I had a good idea what Blastmat’s lyrics were going to be about before I even listened to them. While working class pride and the struggle to survive are themes I can easily get down with, I found the nationalist tones of some of Blastmat’s lyrics a bit problematic. I’m no Berkman or Bakunin, but calling out that, “I’m an American, born and raised,” in the track “Yup,” and saying “America gives too much charity, it’s time to take it back,” at the end of the track “Uprising” to make your point, doesn’t reflect working class solidarity as I understand it. I hope that Blastmat will develop a more pluralist understanding of working class pride (might I suggest reading What Is Anarchism? by Alexander Berkman, or Anarcho-Syndicalismby Rudolf Rocker), but, overall, I ended up with some mixed feelings about this.  –Paul J. Comeau (United Riot, reitano@sbcglobal.net, unitedriotrecords.com)


BLAXXX:
For No Apparent Reason: LP
Lo-fi supergroup featuring Lamont Thomas of Obnox and two OBN IIIs. It sounds like a plane taking off over an MC5 concert. The songs run long, but some hooks shine through, and the result is surprisingly cathartic, considering the record is more static than song.  –Chris Terry (12XU)


BOBBY PERU:
Double A-Side: CS
Six songs of mid-tempo punk with a nice garagey feel to it. The music and vocals are pretty together, but, overall, this kinda suffers from the lack of a) anything resembling a standout song, and b) any real differentiation between this and the last third of a century of our planet’s punkly output. The pink cassette housing is a nice touch. BEST SONG: “(Now I Wanna Be a) White Collar Criminal” BEST SONG TITLE: “Triple Six” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: My J-card has the number 48 on it, but the cassette itself says “32.” Multiples of sixteen represent!  –norb (Self-released)


BOY SCOUTS:
Self-titled: CS
Somewhere between Raincoats post-punk and a more structured no wave (if that’s possible?) and ‘90s indie pop. I literally saw them play earlier today at Girls Rock! Rochester and they seemed like the happiest band in the world playing to girls age eight to sixteen, eating lunch before heading off to band practice. Kind of a short cassette, but it’s clear they’re one of the better, smarter, realer minimalist punk trios out there.  –Matt Werts (Drug Party, drugparty.org)


BRAIN TRAPS:
Teen Trash Series: 7” EP
Volume three of Alien Snatch Records’ Teen Trash Series presents four tracks from the early career of Germany’s Brain Traps. The mastering is done by Jim Kuckowski of Rip Off Records and did a lot to make the EP listenable, stripping away the mud that often accompanies basement recordings while preserving the grit that gives lo-fi garage punk its charm. Side B was what sold me on Brain Traps. The side B opener “Radical Bongo” tears into the ears with squealing feedback. When the band rips into the track itself, they don’t let up. The intensity continues straight into the closing song and leaves you wanting more.  –Paul J. Comeau (Alien Snatch, braintraps@gmx.de)


BURN BURN BURN:
Have Fun: EP
Full disclosure, I have been friends with Burn Burn Burn for a long time. Parts of this record were recorded in my living room. I really don’t have a problem telling friends I don’t like their music if that’s the case, but with these dudes it’s not. This is their seventh release and the songwriting has gotten stronger and stronger. This is the kind of record you write when you’re locked in a room with a twelve pack and The Menzingers’ Rented World on repeat. It runs from American Steel to Trial and meets somewhere around Off With Their Heads. These are the songs that you scream in your bedroom as the walls close in. Lyrics like, “Just when I thought that all this is over / Repeating mistakes only much less sober,” and “Sometimes I can’t compete / Dead thoughts so full in me / Can’t ever let it get the best of fucking me,” turn into mantras for maintaining a grip on your own personal mania. “For Whodie” is a terror of a song that pummels you for about two minutes, with trademark “whoa-ohs” coming in towards the end. They are a band that sings about the cycle of anger, drunken mistakes, and remorse, and they do it with a background of sweet harmonies, anthemic guitars, and a strong rhythm section in their corner.  –Kayla Greet (Self-released, burnburnburn.bandcamp.com)


CANADIAN RIFLE:
“Sexually Fucked” b/w “You Are My Junk”: 7”
A two-track single might not seem like value for money to the cost-conscious punter but these new songs by Canadian Rifle are the musical equivalent of a pair of gold ingots. The lead song features a gruff male vocal nicely offset by a female voice exhibiting a lighter quality. The flipside surges into life, dropping a huge double verse/chorus ahead of the song’s halfway point then just hammers away instrumentally for the remaining one minute and forty seconds. This record will only ever increase in value—making it more predictable than any precious metal—so just buy it.  –Rich Cocksedge (Dirt Cult, dirtcultrecords@gmail, dirtcultrecords.com)


CAR CRASH:
Bright Future: 7”
All right, now we’re talking! This is some amazing, fast, power poppy, garagey stuff from a Japanese band on the mighty Mangrove label. Car Crash basically split the difference between Firestarter and Teengenerate (or both eras of the Registrators). It has frantic energy that bands from Japan manage to have that hardly anybody else can capture; the song just jumps off the record. Car Crash reminds me of the mighty Have Nots in spots as well, with the punky energy and untamed madness of the recording. Highest possible recommendation for this single and the other stuff on Secret Mission and Mangrove records.  –frame (Secret Mission, secretmissionrecords.com / Mangrove)


CHACHI ON ACID:
Well I Guess That’s Why I’ve Always Got the Blues: CD
This full length is boring. It’s boring because far too many musicians have been in a band like this in high school right after they first heard Dead Kennedys. I have no idea how old the members of Chachi On Acid are, but they certainly should be able to write better lyrics than, “I don’t wanna be alone but I don’t wanna be with you” that are just repeated for two full minutes. Even the title of the album is rife with grammatical errors. No thanks.  –Nicole Madden (Self-released, no address listed)


CHAINSAW:
See-Saw: 7”
Sticker on the front proclaims this the “first punk 7” from Belgium,” originally released on Romantik Records in 1977, and I ain’t gonna argue with it. What ye get is—surprise!—über-sloppy, bass-outta-tune primal punk rockin’, short on technical prowess and long on chutzpah. If this is indeed the first Belgian punk record, things could’ve started off much, much worse.  –jimmy (No Good, nogoodrecords.com)


CHARLES ALBRIGHT:
“Short Skirt” b/w “Territorial Pissings”: 7”
Juvenile and fun, it’s straightforward, no-frills garage with something-something about a short skirt. Works for me. One of the two songs included on this EP is a Nirvana cover, and love it or hate it, you can tell they had a damn good time recording it. One of the best bands out of Sacramento right now.  –Camylle Reynolds (Sacramento)


CHARLES ALBRIGHT:
“Short Skirt” b/w “Territorial Pissings”: 7”
New Charles Albright single with more spurts of raging, noisy punk in the vein of Bl’ast, but with a better sense of humor. A mere three-hundred copies, so you’d better move quick. Wouldn’t be surprised at all if members of Mayyors are in Charles’ band. So, yeah, it sounds like them, too. Don’t sleep on it.  –Steve Adamyk (Sacramento)


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