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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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SCREWS, THE:
Shake Your Monkey: CD
Considering where this comes from, I thought that it might be the old OC punk band of the same name, but Todd says it ain’t, and seeing as he’s more in a position to know, I believe him. Some sloppy music here (that’s meant as a compliment) that alternates between blues, '60s pop and minimalist trash rock. Kinda cool in the same way that the first Gun Club record was cool. –jimmy (In the Red)


SCREAMING FAT RAT:
Idiomatic Breakdown: CD
Picture Husker Du and sushi and meaty hooks. Then splice in The Clash (especially “White Man in Hammersmith Palais”) and California rolls and shimmering guitars. Cut with immaculate harmonies. Rising suns with snap, crackle, and pop. The lead vocalists sings in a clipped, almost Big Drill Car delivery with humming and driving melodies. The band’s from Tokyo. Their execution’s perfect. Undeniably to their credit, they do make original pop punk (a genre that - as a whole - is as robust and exciting as an uninflated fuck doll right now). I’ll be honest. There’re right up to the teeter totter of being too perfect. Not in a calculated way, but in a way that they studied it very hard and have it down too pat. They’re almost too proficient. They make it sound almost too easy. And maybe because I’m a fan of barely contained rage when I’m served a bowl of punk rock without songs about girlfriends and bubblegum, but I was expecting more of a raw charge. The last song is a loungey dubbed-to-English version of the aforementioned Clash’s “I’m Not Down.” Drop me a line in six months to see if it’s still in my CD rotation. It’s definitely not bad. It just didn’t bomb my head or bowl a strike. –todd (Snuffy Smile)


SAVES THE DAY:
Stay What You Are: CD
Saves the Day is one of those bands that people tend to namedrop, i.e. “Oh, I just got the new Saves the Day record.” Perhaps the name doesn’t come up as often as Modest Mouse, but it still floats around hopelessly boring conversational exchanges. Despite their reputation, I’ve never actually heard Saves the Day. So, when Stay What You Are arrived in my mailbox, I was struck by an odd curiosity. The next day, I slip the disc into my CD player while driving to work and react like so: “ACK!”… car swerves while attempting not to lose my breakfast… Think pop-punk guitars meet whiny emo vocals spouting the chorus, “At your funeral, I’d sing the requiem/I’d offer you my hand/It hurts too much to see you die.” Perhaps it is wrong to judge an album on the first song, particularly one as insipid as “At Your Funeral.” So, I fight the urge to fling the CD out of my car window and continue the listen. The second and third songs pass without a second thought as it is just sort of the same thing with less annoying lyrics. By the eleventh song, “Firefly,” the album has faded to background music, with the only notable exceptions being “Freakish”-a sweet little melodic ballad and “As Your Ghost Takes Flight,” which is basically the same as the other up-tempo tracks on the album but, for some odd reason or other, comes across as less annoying. –liz (Vagrant)


SADO-NATION:
The Teal Project: CDEP
Holy moly. It’s the original Portland Sado-Nation from 1978. Well, sorta. The first and last songs are Sado-Nation (with three original members, excluding the drummer Chuck) and the middle two are a band called Those Powerful Pheromones, which share singer/guitarist, David Corboy. My favorite track of the quartet is the first. “Nuke Up Now!”’s got that loose, chargey female-fronted wickedness. It’s a re-recording more off the We’re Not Equal LP from ‘82 that’s a lot less shrill (Mish Bondage’s voice is deeper, more powerful), less flirting with metal, more straight ahead, and more powerfully recorded. Pretty darn cool. Didn’t much care for the second track, “Insomnia Insomniac,” which overlapped with what I’ve been exposed to Jethro Tull a tad too much for my liking. “When the Sun Stops” picks it up with a bouncy beat and toe tappability. “16 Again” - I just really like the tension that Sado-Nation is capable of. They capture the vibe of sirens going off and people running by you and getting caught in a fun riot. Not sure why it’s not a clean split (two songs then two songs) between to the two projects. –todd (Cordical Music Co.)


S.T.P., THEE/ BINGO:
Action: Split 7"EP
Hoo, doggie! Some crankin’ punk rock‘n’roll from two bands I initially thought were one, both of which are apparently vying for the title of Italy’s answer to the Candysnatchers. Some wild shit here that ranges in tempo from overdrive to nitro-injected full-throttle. After being stuck in traffic for more than three hours today, this is exactly what I need. –jimmy (Rapid Pulse)


RUBBER CITY REBELS:
Re-Tired: CD
Lesson learned today that I shoulda figured out 20 years ago: never assume. Seem to remember these guys playing around L.A. back in the early '80s. I always thought they were some sort of power pop band back then and, following the nauseating overkill of the Knack’s “My Sharona,” never paid much attention to them as a result. My loss. As evidenced here, they were adept purveyors of trashy punk rock, and it’s a shame that they haven’t gotten their propers like neighbors Devo and Pere Ubu have. Submitted for your listening pleasure are their tracks from the “From Akron” split LP and a raw but enjoyable live set from Akron’s Crypt club circa 1977/'78. –jimmy (White Noise)


ROVO:
Imago: CD
Techno experimentation that has an almost jazzy quality to it, courtesy of at least one of the guys in the Boredoms. It’s not exactly something that makes me want to jump off the walls, but it is interesting to hear someone try to create something new out of a genre that stagnated as soon as it came into prominence. –jimmy (Sony)


RONDELLES, THE:
Shined Nickels and Loose Change: CD
Awe... Should I go into the drama I went through just to obtain this CD? No. I suppose I shouldn’t in hopes that it would not distract away from how amazing this band is. I love the Rondelles. They have been one of my favorites for a while now. They have a killer pop-rock sound that is distinctly their own. They are both talented songwriters (kickass pop tunes that make you want to get up and dance) and musicians (which is a combination worthy of my admiration and respect). Stand-up drums, fuzz guitar and a keyboard keep my booty shakin’ and my toes a tappin’! Shined Nickels and Loose change is their first full length on K Records, following a few 7” singles. This album is a combination of some of the same songs from those singles as well as some new tracks, including a cover of “Like a Prayer,” by the Material Girl herself. This CD was well worth the long six-week wait. –Guest Contributor (K)


RICHMOND SLUTS, THE:
Self-titled: CD
This is ballsy cranked-to-the-max garagerock swagger at its most volatile, potent, and explosively uncontrollable! The Richmond Sluts cacophonously combine the most raucously loud and energetically frenzied elements of The Sonics, The Stooges, New York Dolls, The Saints, and The Heartbreakers and then crazedly kick out the jams like a destructively catastrophic full-force hurricane. The taunting attitude-drenched vocals (snottily similar to “Raw Power”-era Iggy Pop!), the over-amped psycho-distorted guitars, the savage rockin’-and-rollin’ piano pummellings, the swirlin’ out-of-control maddaddy organ riffings, and the lively skull-fracturing interplay between the bass and drums all make this a frenetically intense listening experience. Motherfuckin’ yeh, my ears are irreversibly addicted to the concussive sonic fury of The Richmond Sluts! –Guest Contributor (Disaster)


RESISTANCE 77:
Retaliate First: CD
It says in the booklet that this was recorded in March-April of this year, but fuck if it doesn’t sound like it came out in '78-'79. Sounding like a cross between the Undertones and the Boys, these guys have got tunes that are very catchy, solid and anthemic in all the right ways. Jeez, just when I hit another low in my exasperation with the crap being passed off as punk these days, these guys pick me up, dust me off and make me smile and believe again. This comes as highly recommended as I could possibly muster. –jimmy (Captain Oi)


Refused:
Refused: CDEP
I'll try to explain the difference between real punk and its MTV equivalence. That while both types have screaming vocals, you can hear the anger in a good punk song scream, while Korn or whatnot just go through motions. Another example is that while many Bush songs sound like Nirvana, you can tell Kurt was actually feeling something at the time that made his voice sound like that, while the Bush guy is going through the motions. That being said, this is decent. Another situation where I am not so much into what I am hearing right now as I would be hearing it live. I can be critical and cynical when I have the time to think about this, but I bet I would merely bob my head to this if they played for me. Kind of an intro to screamo for the “extreme music” sect. Also, if you put fancy computer stuff on your CD, do it in a way that most computers can actually use it. I have a fancy pants Mac at work, fully tricked out, and couldn’t see the pictures. Maybe it’s a Mac thing, but that would bear mentioning when you tell me to “put this CD in your computer.” I could see the videos at least. I liked the part when the singer fixes his mod hairdo. –rich (Burning Heart)


REDUCERS SF:
Crappy Clubs and Smelly Pubs: CD
After waiting three years for them to follow up their incredible debut album, Backing the Longshot, the Reducers are finally back with Crappy Clubs and Smelly Pubs. Listening to it is like running into an old friend in a bar and realizing that you’ve actually been missing him, so it’s exciting to down a few beers with him and hear all the new stories and go on to have new adventures. Crappy Clubs and Smelly Pubs still has all the catchy hooks and singalong anthems as the Reducers’ first album, but the songs seem to have grown. They don’t rely on the fist-in-the-air choruses quite as much, and the songs are a little bit more complex, but they still float into your brain and stay there like a shot of whiskey. The lyrics are a bit more political and a bit more intelligent, but they still stick close to their oi/street punk roots. It’s a really good follow up and a really good album. On the insert of the album, too, they’ve included pictures of their twelve favorite bars. Twelve. You have to love any band who has twelve favorite bars. –sean (TKO)


RED REACTION:
Welcome to the Warzone: LP
Hyper-speed hardcore from a bunch of guys pissed off at everything from bad reviews to backseat singers to the lack of quality violence in post-'80s movies. Oh, to be 15 again... –jimmy (Red Reaction)


RAPTURE, THE:
Out of the Races and Onto the Tracks: CD
For their first record on Sub Pop, The Rapture craft a collection of engaging post-punk dance songs that are naked and lean. Out of the Races... has plenty of the muscling lo-fi bass and drum groove that has turned heads and won acclaim for these three boys. They make me think of early Gang of Four, Television, and PIL, but with a lot less polish and tuning of their guitars. The recording is primitively harsh and hard-panned, but it is a document that is hard to ignore. The Rapture seem to revel in their badly grounded guitars and clanging drums in a way that makes for a very liberating listen. Their abrasively bright guitars cascade over a backdrop of minimal bass and hustling drums and are worth the price of admission. What is the biggest compromise of this record is its weakly sung vocal content. Like the rest of the recording, it is flat and unrehearsed, but hints at an improvement in execution that will undoubtedly come with the next recording. –Guest Contributor (Sub Pop)


RANDY:
The Human Atom Bombs: CD
Donofthedead is right. There’s something about bands from Scandanavia and Japan. They seem to play their instruments a little better and play the songs a little tighter and wait until they’re ready to go into the studio to record. That’s the case with this album by the Swedish band, Randy. More than most releases, The Human Atom Bombs is a whole album. All the songs fit together well and sound different and seem to work together as a unit. There’s a lot of diversity, but all of the songs are heavily influenced by fifties rock’n’roll – Little Richard and Eddie Cochran and Buddy Holly. Below the really tight rock’n’roll, though, are very intelligent lyrics sang in clear English. It’s hard not to sing along, and I don’t even try to resist. Randy sings a lot about anarchy (an intelligent government system anarchy, not chaos at a punk show anarchy) and the downfall of the global economy, but they make it really fun. There’s an anger hidden underneath, but it is hidden. It’s not preachy and it’s not shoved down your throat. Instead, it creeps into your blood like (to use Randy’s term) the punk rock flu. I highly recommend this album. –sean (Burning Heart)


RANCID VAT/HAMMERLOCK:
Split: 7"
Rancid Vat: A loud, rude, swaggering punk rock anthem for every schmo who’s ever had to work a shitty job. Hammerlock: An equally rockin’ homage to Thee Whiskey Rebel, who happens to be the bass player for the former. One hot piece of wax. –jimmy (Steel Cage)


RADIO VAGO:
Self-titled: CDEP
What these five ladies have done in the first year of their existence, most bands can’t do in a lifetime: make a sound all their own that’s engaging, fun, driving, distinctive and introspective (without drool-in-the-shoe boringness). They capture a loose, striking, moody, sometimes jarring, sometimes melodious sound. The over-riding vibe is the art-affected (as opposed to solely arty or art damaged), keyboard-friendly early LA punk. They probably didn’t have the slightest inclination towards these bands, but I hear the keyboard subtle aggression of mellower Screamers, the sparse-yet-full, spanking arrangements of The Bags, and the eeire we’re-all-gonna-die-but-don’t-be-sad-for-me undertow of Joy Division. And it rocks and swivels your hips. For some reason, they keep on making me think of a color: purple. It’s the traditional color of royalty. Exalted. It’s also the color of the deepest bruises - the feel that this EP is the result of previous musical accidents (so they knew what not to play) and Radio Vago definitely benefits from it. Really, really cool. Distinctive and instantly appealing. –todd (www.radiovago.com)


RADIO BIRDMAN:
The Essential Radio Birdman (1974-1978): CD
Hell yeh, it’s a cacophonously glorious crampacked collection of rock’n’roll roguery from the formidable aurally blazin’ force known the world over as Radio Birdman. Surely you’ve heard the rowdy robust well-structured tune-blastin’ fierceness of the Birdmen at least once in your well-oiled life, and hopefully you’re somewhat familiar with their occasional forays into topsy-turvy surf-style savagery... if not, then ya must be as dead as Bob Dole’s dick, by gawd! The fast’n’frenzied musical mastery contained herein is nothin’ short of spirited, rugged, wild, crazed, awe-inspiring, and vigorously high-strung. It’s no small wonder that numerous bands today frantically attempt to reproduce the ferocious sonic splendor of Radio Birdman, but failing miserably, none of ‘em even come close! Yep, sure as shit, I’m gonna sit right here all day long, cool a few frothy beverages, and appreciatively absorb the audial madness of the unique and mighty Birdmen... –Guest Contributor (Sub Pop)


QUASI:
The Sword of God: CD
Someone from Sleater-Kinney was in this band. Big deal. Yawn. –jimmy (Touch and Go)


PURE RUBBISH:
Self-titled: CDEP
Good, honest Texas rawk from a group of guys young enough to get tossed outta the local honky tonks. The band’s overall vibe reminds me of early AC/DC, with the cover of “Let There Be Rock” especially driving the point home. The remaining three originals hold their own quite well, as there’s not a dog in the bunch. So until their full-length comes out next spring, you’ve got this little puppy to crank up in your minitruck. Good stuff from this Houston outfit. –tim (Divine Recordings/Priority)


PSYCHOTIC REACTION:
Red Alert: 7"EP
The first track is weird. It starts off sounding like one of those '80s English post-punk bands, then BOOM - thrash part, and then it alternates between the two for the remainder of the song. The same goes for the first track on side two. The other two tracks are a cover of the Subs’ “Warhead” and a song that sounds like it just climbed out of a time machine that just came back from a Los Angeles hardcore gig circa 1985. Weird, but pretty fucking good. –jimmy (www.psychoticreaction.com)


PRICKS, THE:
Self-titled: 12"EP
Before American, before Def Jam, before the Beasties or Slayer, before all that, Rick Rubin was strummin’ away in a combo called the Pricks. F’n hell, Rubin even produced this record, which sounds live with the hollow-sounding vocals and drums. The NY sound of the time owed a lot to Richard Hell and Junkie Thunders, and the Pricks wore those influences proudly on their sleeve. There’s even a bit of the No Wave thing goin’ on in the funkified “Whole Lotta Love” (t’aint the Led Zep song, bro!) –Matt Average (None)


PLEASURE FOREVER:
Self-titled: CD
Pleasure Forever offer for their debut full length a first-hand listen to a world steeped in lives gone wrong and scenes of sinister occult. Like Nick Cave’s often violently demented lyrics, the songs on this record are equal parts urban tragedy and circus sideshow morality play. Instrumentally they offer a simple piano, guitar, and drum three piece, but with each player’s wide range of quietly atmospheric jazz to grinding rock, Pleasure Forever manages to defy categorization. I think within that quality lies their greatest power over the listener. Often on this record they musically turn on a dime. They hold the listener suspended over the railing with one thick forearm, only to pull them back onto solid footing with a smirk. I left this record feeling a fondness for their bitterly dark mood and the almost vaudevillian originality of their sound. –Guest Contributor (GSL)


PIRX THE PILOT:
Self-titled: CDEP
As I listen to this, I think about what later Government Issue would’ve sounded like if they’d stuck to the thrash beats and stopped taking the anti-depressants. No, I didn’t think it was all that pretty a thought, either. –jimmy (New Disorder)


PINKOS, THE:
Self-titled: CD
Political punk that goes far beyond the empty slogans parroted by many. Instead, the Pinkos present their ideas with an informed background, and it shows in the lyrics as they read like stories and conversations. Think of the Dead Kennedys in this aspect. Musically they keep it simple with only two instruments: guitar and drums. They’re catchy, solid, and interesting, as they stay away from the usual stimulus. As you may have gathered, the Pinkos are not your typical punk band. Which works in their favor, and yours, all the more. Have a listen. –Matt Average (Empty)


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