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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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STUNTMEN:
Small Time: CD
Got a copy of their EP on Junk to review back when I was writin’ for that other mag a couple o’ years ago and fell completely in love with it, so this is a welcome addition to the collection. Straight up, no bullshit, driving punk rock‘n’roll here. The best comparison I can seem to muster is Cheap Trick with more bite. Sue me if you buy this and don’t agree. –jimmy (Steel Cage)


STRYCHNINE:
Born Too Loose: CD
Rocking punk rock a la Dwarves or Zeke (not quite that rocking, though), busting a formulaic but enjoyable move. Covers include Poison Idea, KISS, the Sonics (“Strychnine,” what else?), and something by Willie Nelson and Charlie Daniels that I’d never heard before and it’s all about drinking. Drinking liquor, I mean. –Cuss Baxter (Industrial Strength)


STRONG INTENTION:
What Else Can We Do But Fight Back: CD
Perfect follow-up to their astounding EP. Blazing, in-your-face hardcore that goes for broke every song. Choppy and fast paced on every song, and it doesn’t get tiring. Which is a feat! Yeah, okay so they may slow down a little, as in “Dry Socket” but damn, they pretty much keep the needle in the red. Easily one of the best hardcore records of the year. –Matt Average (Six Weeks)


STRIKE ANYWHERE:
Change Is a Sound: CD
Mark my words. Barring breakups or universal armageddon, Strike Anywhere is the future of melodic hardcore. There’s nothing to complain about: unrelenting power, catchy choruses, swelling guitars, smart-as-fuck lyrics and if conviction was green paint every cop station in America would be the color of forests. They ooze the stuff. On first listen - in comparison to their scorching “Chorus of One” EP - the vocalist is very much more in the front of the mix and there’s more melody. After the third listen, I didn’t even notice. They work as a unit. Songs, at times, breathe, and in those glimpses are tiny barbs and they allow you to see how the faster songs rip along with big hooks - not only constructing a wall, but nets, swinging bats, and huge embraces of sound. How smart can their lyrics be? Take this and take close notice of the breaks: “I wish the good cops/ if they exist/ the very best/ and a bullet for all the/ complications injustice deliberations what’s the deal.” It’s not necessarily anti-cop. It’s definitely not pro-cop, but it sets up the extremely logical argument that there is a possibility of a good cop (yet to be met, but you only need one example to topple a supposition) and that’s juxtaposed against putting a bullet - not in the cop, but in what the cop’s a defender and signifier of. Again, fuckin’ smart. Another thing that impresses the hell out of me about Strike Anywhere is that they’re doing this with open arms - directly offering inclusion of all races, creeds, and both sexes, and not limiting themselves to the usually narrowly-defined topicality and nutritionally obsessed posi-core of yesteryear. –todd (Jade Tree)


STRETCH ARMSTRONG:
A Revolution Transmission: CD
Modern metallic moshcore that alternates between a full-throttle assault and mellow melodicism. It ain’t exactly my cup o’ tea, but it wasn’t as painful as some of the other crap I’ve heard lately. Fuck, at least the singer sounds pissed off about something. –jimmy (Solid State)


START, THE:
Shakedown!: CD
Complete crap. I usually don’t review the dreck Geffen sends me, but when the press kit describes the title track as a “punk rock anthem for our time” and it is anything but, I get pissed. The Start has less edge then most car commercials, and less appeal than a Berlin cover band. Maybe if they work really, really hard and catch a few breaks they’ll land a guest appearance as the house band on a 90210 reunion show and go away forever. –jim (Geffen)


STANDING FLAT:
Self-titled: CD
Standing Flat can be correctly categorized as acoustic-tinged highway-travellin’ alternative rock... and there ain’t a damn thing wrong with that, ‘cause this trio of sonically lucid Texans cohesively create pure soul-stirrin’ musical magic that’s intricate, spiritual, and structurally tight... sometimes grungey, somewhat trippy, and forever folksy... robust, ballsy, melancholic, and emotionally straightforward. The vocals are gravelly, powerful, and passionately delivered... the guitars swirl, shimmer, shine, and sparkle with an illustrious otherworldly glow... the soft and lilting orchestral stirrings of the keyboard damn near brought tears to my eyes... the solid well-structured interplay between the bass and drums rhythmically flows together in an impeccable display of tranquil unity. Man, this pristinely produced disc has stimulated and altered my mind to the point of no return... –Guest Contributor (www.standingflat.com)


STACK:
Konkret Lichtgesschwindigkeit!: CD
Dry your eyes my good friends. Stack are not broken up, like those dirty little rumors that were floating around said. Well, they were split for a while, but saw the error of their ways and are back full force. Perhaps even better than before. Essentially the same as when they first gelled, but sounding tighter and angrier. This disc is sort of a discography to catch you up from past to present. The first 18 songs are from the latest release, the title of the disc (Konkret Lichtgesschwindigkeit!), while the remaining 26 are from various splits, comps, and EPs. All quality nonetheless. I remember being totally floored the first time I heard them years ago, and they still pack that devastating punch. This stuff is so good it’s unreal. Pulverizing hardcore that owes no allegiance to the past or present. They exist in their own realm of sound really. The attack is full-on, over the top, and in your face. As it should be. Recommended? This collection is necessary! –Matt Average (Six Weeks)


SPLODGENESSABOUNDS:
The Artful Splodger: CD
Twenty-plus years on and Max still has it, thanks in no small part to a great backing band and a seemingly endless well of humor. He’s a favorite with the oi boy crowd, but I can’t remember a time when he didn’t have a good mop of hair on his head. There’s 16 tracks here, one of which is a remake of his classic “Two Pints of Lager,” which originally appeared on one of those old oi comps way back when. Also of note is “667, Neighbor of the Beast,” which, although being the millionth time I’ve heard that joke, is a great, dead-on parody of Iron Maiden. Good listening to be found here, kids. –jimmy (Captain Oi)


SPITS, THE:
Self-titled: CD
Take everything you like about the Ramones and Devo, fuse them together and you’ve got the Spits. The songs are head down, fist forward, three-chord assaults laced with keyboards (that’s right, keyboards) that saturate the songs with runny-nosed nostalgia. There is nothing bouncy about these keyboards. On the contrary, it’s like air coming out of a hot air balloon mid-transit. The keyboards are there to make the song heavier. In the course of a song you might hear five, six different notes, tops. And we’re talking whole notes, as in the finger comes down on the key and doesn’t come off again for a full measure. Then it fulfills the loop and repeats itself, again and again and again, building momentum and tearing it apart. Like a train wreck. Like a robot’s brainwaves. Like a fucked-up punk rocker who “can’t get high offa alcohol no more.” The keyboards turns songs like “Saturday Nite,” “Remote Kontrol” and “Tired & Lonely” into dirges. The progressions may be predictable but The Spits are a brutal reminder that just because you know the train is coming doesn’t make it hurt any less when it runs over your sorry ass. –jim (Nickel and Dime)


SPEEDEALER/SOCIAL LEPERS:
Trans-Atlantic Speed Trials: 7"
Speedealer: Two doses of that high-octane thrash rock we all know and love. Shit, I’d almost forgotten how friggin’ cool they were. Lepers: Considering that I loathed their first EP, this was a bit of a surprise. They still sound like a cheap Dwarves rip off, but I can actually say that I liked this stuff. Although a little short, this is a solid EP, of which there are 600 and all of ‘em are on white vinyl. –jimmy (Bronx Cheer)


SPACE COSSACKS, THE:
Tsar Wars: CD
Now that the trend of surf guitar punk has been dead for about five years, only the bands who were truly inspired by guitar legends like Link Wray and Dick Dale still play it. That’s a good thing. No more of everyone and their brother trying to knock of the Ventures. Only the strong have survived. Only the dedicated will dare dip their feet into the surf. Among that short list of daring surf-guitar rockers are the Space Cossacks. They play uptempo, instrumental surf music along the line of Satan’s Pilgrims. There’s not a lot of flash or tricks to this album, but it’s solid rock’n’roll. Perfect for cruising along with the windows down. This CD is supposed to come with a bunch of pictures of band photos and a novella if you stick it in your CD-ROM, but I was too lazy to try to figure that out. It doesn’t matter. The music is enough. –sean (MuSick)


SPACE COSSACKS, THE / THE HYPNOMEN:
Split: 7"EP
The Space Cossacks: their name sums it up. Imagine ‘60s surf being played in that space station the Ruskies made that’s currently in an ever-deteriorating orbit. Somber, yet uplifting in a desperate future, we’ve got some kickass vodka sort of way. Great mood music - not background music. The Hypnomen: More snapping drums than your average surf band and more frenetic than the other side. Kind of like if Starsky and Hutch had a beach episode and they’re following a suspected bank robber and the scene gets progressively more and more frenetic. Bubbling builds on suspense with a swelling climax that ends in a PG-rated, bloodless beatdown and freeze-frame extended smiles. Cool fucking 7”. Nice change of pace. –todd (MuSick)


SMOGTOWN:
Domesticviolenceland: CDEP
The terroristic trio of tunes contained herein violently assaulted, pillaged, and plundered my inner ears like a raging out-of-control maelstrom of mayhem and destruction. It’s been many moons since the punkrock hooliganistic spirit within me has been so viciously shaken and so vigorously throttled... hell yes indeed, I’m overwhelmingly awed by the short bursts of frenzied energy generated by Smogtown (surging with uncontrollable sonic chaos and indescribably comparable to a well-blended bombardment of The Adolescents, Circle Jerks, Middle Class, and early Suicidal Tendencies!). They wildly wail, screech, and scream with enraged contempt against society’s complacent ethical blandness, and they take no prisoners whatsoever along the way. This is punker than all-out fuck... so do yourself an ever appreciative favor and aurally overdose on Smogtown today! –Guest Contributor (Disaster)


SMOGTOWN:
domesticviolenceland: CDEP
Whenever I get a new Smogtown CD I go through four distinct phases: 1) Denial. I pop it in give it a listen and think “nope, it’s not as good as the last one.” 2) Infiltration. I keep listening. A hook, the ferocity of the rhythm section, a bit of lyrics infested with sneering sarcasm worms its way into my subconscious, forcing me to listen to same disc, the same songs, the same section of a song over an over again. I memorize the lyrics. I make sure my disc player goes with me everywhere I go. 3) Conversion. I accept the error of my ways, and am fulfilled by the truth: this is the best fucking record I’ve ever heard. I anticipate the next one, in this case the full length, the way a four-year-old awaits Christmas. 4) Thanksgiving. I’m glad Smogtown is only a punk rock band and not a cult, otherwise I’d probably be down at LAX right now, passing out pamphlets, hustling for jack. –jim (Disaster)


SMD:
Pissing Beer: CD
Yogi said that one of the guys in the band gave this to him at Al’s Bar recently to, in turn, pass to me to review. Drunken speedcore here from the breweries of East Los Angeles. Pico Rivera to be exact. They chug along, sounding like a sloppy, pissed MDC, singing the praises of drinking, being drunk, anger, assault and battery, and even take nearly a minute to cover GG Allin. Musically, they’ve got the goods, but it’s hard to distinguish them lyrically from the thousands of oi bands that sing the same kinds of things. Hell, Gang Green made a career out of this exact thing 10-20 years ago. In short, I like the songs, but the beer’s getting a little stale. –jimmy (www.kingofdrunk.com)


SLUMBER PARTY:
Psychedelicate: CD
This band is sweet. I can imagine Alice listening to this on her walkman through her adventures in Wonderland, pulling out some of those pastries she picked up at the white rabbit's house now and again, and I know she would turn this up after hanging out with that caterpillar, while sitting on the magic mushroom. It’s almost Mazzy Star-esque. Chilling and soothing. Like it should, the title suggests its sound. –Guest Contributor (Kill Rock Stars)


SLIKMIG:
Jesus Online: CD
A German pop punk band that sucks like all the rest. –jimmy (Mad Butcher)


SLIGHT SLAPPERS:
A Selfish World Called Freedom: CD
Definitely better than their split with Short Hate Temper a while back. This has all the energy and intensity you imagined. Full throttle hardcore that doesn’t know when to quit. They charge into each song with a fury that’s unreal! It’s great, and there are some catchy moments to all this, which is even better. Helps the songs to stick in your head! –Matt Average (HG Fact)


SLACKERS, THE:
Wasted Days: LP
Let me start out by saying that I hate ska. True, there was a time waaaaaay back when that I needed at least a daily dose of the Specials, Selecter, Desmond Dekker, Toots and the Maytals, Skatalites and a host of others, but that love affair came to a screeching halt after the late, great Operation Ivy unwittingly unleashed the last generation of ska punk knockoff bands all looking to “pick it up” and cash it in on at least one KROQ hit. These days, rude boys/girls, parkas, Vespas, checkerboard patterns, crombies, Fred Perry shirts and moonstomping make me want to violently expel this morning’s breakfast from my stomach. That said, let me now say that this is one great album. It leans more toward the “traditional” side of things instead of the hyped up, three-chord, ska-tinged wonder punk of late, relying more on reggae, soul and rocksteady than ska. I’m a little thrown, because I unexpectedly found a diamond buried under all the crap. This will hold a sacred spot in my closet next to the last Hepcat LP. –jimmy (Hellcat)


SKULLS/BETTER DEAD THAN RED:
Nations of Pride: CD
I’ve got a little secret to share with you: Ever wonder why skins are so pissed off? It’s because no one ever took the time to tell them that keeping all your hair off for prolonged periods of time causes your dick to shrivel up until it’s no larger than a cherry pit. It’s true. Just ask your doctor if you don’t believe me. This is the very reason they go around beating people up, engage in blind, patriotic flag-waving and eventually join the Marines to fight in wars started by the rich people they so often profess to despise. Hey, they’ve got to find some way to alleviate all the sexual frustration they’re feeling. Why do you think they call ‘em “boneheads”? Because they’re always thinkin’ about sex. See, bands like the Cockney Rejects, 4 Skins and the Templars are well aware of the dangers of cropping the coif too often and that’s why you’ll see them with follicle noodles on their noggin every now and then. So what’s all this have to do with the bands on this disc, you ask? Well, Better Dead than Red apparently have plenty to be angry about, if you know what I mean, and the Skulls make it patently clear that the problem thrives in Brazil as well. Pity them. –jimmy (Pro Am)


SKALARIAK:
Klub Ska: CD
Spanish ska notable only because some of the songs are sung in Basque. –jimmy (Mad Butcher)


Sick Pleasure:
Destroy the Human Race: 7"
Long has it been since I dusted off my copies of the vinyl releases from whence this came. This was one of my favorite groups back when I was a kid. Many a day was spent cranking “Three Seconds of Pleasure” and “Disintegration” from a shitty stereo and jumping around with my guitar, pretending I was in the band. Nikki Sikki’s voice was so obnoxious and the songs were so crude that you had to love ‘em. Interestingly enough, I’d never noticed it before, but it seems that Nikki pretty much took the lyrics from many of these songs and reused them for his stint in the equally brilliant Verbal Abuse. Anyway, what you get here is four songs from the split LP they did with Code of Honor (who were basically the same band as Sick Pleasure, only with a different singer) and most of the first side of their 7” EP. Thanks are due to the guy responsible for this. Now every record I listen to for the next month ain’t gonna sound too hot. –jimmy (None)


SHOCK:
This Generation’s on Vacation: 7"
My pet peeves first. I work a shitty job so I got really good at talking shit. Why is it that the record label’s logo is bigger than the band name on the record itself? I thought the band name was Impact because the font was a bit bigger. Second, why didn’t I get one of those cheap ass white sleeves to protect my precious red vinyl. Music fans or record collector geeks cherish to the point of obsession on how well a record can rate and how immaculate it is. Third, the sleeve shows a group of ‘60s garage dudes and what do I hear? I hear a vocalist who either hasn’t reached puberty or is a transsexual. Pet peeves aside, a very good garage punk release that is not only catchy, but raw enough to make it worth while. The title track is the most amusing track and hums along long after it ends. The look is there, the sound is there, and I want to see and hear more! –don (Impact)


SHIFTERS, THE:
Mix it Up: 7"
I guess this warranted a second pressing. A punk band that has melody and rawness with a lead singer that has hints of Billie Joe from Green Day. Average. –don (Radio)


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