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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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PHANTOM LIMBS:
Applied Ignorance: CD
Wild, psychotic, goth merry-go-round calliope punk. I realize that doesn’t sound like a particularly attractive description, but I dare anyone one of you reading this to listen to this and honestly tell me that it doesn’t sound just like that. It rocks in ways not heard too often since the Screamers called it a day 20 years ago, to boot. If I had the feria, I’d buy and mail copies to every punker in the US who has ever even entertained the idea of starting a band. See, this is how original, creative and flat-out good things can get with a little imagination and a desire not to sound like everyone else. Beyond recommended. –jimmy (Alternative Tentacles)


PERFECT DAZE:
Five Year Search: CD
Think back to the radio friendly sound of The Replacements or early Soul Asylum. Guitar driven rock that is catchy as hell without being sappy or cheesy. Pretty damn good stuff (though nothing original like the liner notes allude to). Then as now, this sort of thing was a nice relief from what was happening out there on the radio waves. This disc collects all the recorded output from this English outfit from the late ‘80s. And while it does sound dated, it ages well. “Bubble gum” is the catchiest of the bunch, and sure to hook most listeners quick, but the emotion of “Death By Smiling” can not be denied. –Matt Average (Boss Tuneage)


PAVERS:
Beautiful: CD
He may have been All’s second singer, but his voice is pretty goddamned flat here and the band sure ain’t All. –jimmy (Boss Tuneage)


PARTISANS:
So Neat: CDEP
This sounds like old English punk rock, which makes perfect sense considering that that is exactly what the band is. While the sound is not as desperation-fueled as I would’ve liked, this is nowhere near as terrible as the more recent efforts of some of their contemporaries, and that is a definite relief. –jimmy (TKO)


PANICS, THE:
1980-1981: I Wanna Kill My Mom: CD
I’ve spent well over ten years living in Bloomington, Indiana over the course of my life, and honestly, at this point I feel I’ve gotten as much out that town as there is to get. Despite having the basis for what could be a decent creative environment for music, it’s hard for me to avoid an assessment of Bloomington’s music scene as basically one huge exercise in squandered potential. The few good bands that got going tended to die out quickly from lack of support; the long-lived bands were cursed with lack of vision or spineless commercial careerism or terminal media drought; and then, of course, there’s the fact that the town is and always has been choking on its collegiate hick love for cover bands. Okay, you don’t know whether I’m telling the truth or pushing my own agenda or what, maybe you have your own opinion and you disagree with me, whatever. Makes no difference to me. Just take this simple test: think of a town, say Chapel Hill, NC, or Austin, TX, or Athens, GA (which is very, very similar to Bloomington in many ways). Being the kind of person you are, reading this sort of thing, you probably can think of at least three or four nationally-recognized bands from Chapel Hill, or Austin, or Athens. Now think Bloomington. What springs to mind? That’s right, John Cougar Mellencamp. If you’re well-read in terms of music "literature," maybe the Gizmos. Oh, and David Lee Roth was born in Bloomington, but moved away almost immediately. That’s about it, and all those things happened well over twenty years ago. Of course, there are always a few bright spots amidst the waste, the main two being Virginia’s Scraping (the various bands of Phil Traicoff, and a review for another day), and the bands formed by the partnership John Barge and Ian Brewer: The Panics and the Walking Ruins. I personally witnessed the Walking Ruins blow other bands out the doors of various clubs around Bloomington more times than I can remember – they were real punk rock, unleavened by hyphenated bastardization (i.e. ska-, folk-, whatever-punk): the last true unknown unspoiled punk band. Frankly, they could have stood to be a little more spoiled in their time – I don’t know how many times I’d be reading about some supposedly great new punk band in Maximum Rocknroll and then when I’d check them out I’d think ‘Geez, the Walking Ruins could crush these guys without even trying.’ So, from my perspective, The Panics were essentially the proto-Walking Ruins, and The Panics’ newish CD 1980-1981: I Wanna Kill My Mom!!! is merely the first chapter in a long and tangled tale – but an essential chapter, and one that’s been almost wholly unavailable for far too long. The Panics’ sole Gulcher 45 (recorded August 1980) is augmented with a surprisingly clear-sounding live show recorded about a week after the single, plus a couple of post-Panics cuts and four songs from the one-shot night in 2000 that featured a reunited Panics playing with a reunited lineup of the Gizmos. Barge’s detailed and informative liner notes puts the story in perspective, and there’s even a Quicktime movie included on the disc for you computer-savvy punx. It’s a great snapshot of a time when the idea of punk was clearer, or maybe it just seemed that way. There weren’t ten million punk bands yet, there certainly weren’t ten million punk records yet, and no one thought it was a way to have a career in music. If you’re the kind of person who bought, say, the book collections Search & Destroy or Punk magazine, or the Germs CD anthology, or Clint Heylin’s book From The Velvets to the Voidoids, you really need to add this CD to your collection. Otherwise, frankly, you’re missing a relatively important chapter in punk rock history, and you wouldn’t want that, would you? –Guest Contributor (Gulcher)


OWLS:
Self-titled: CD
Poppy in the way of Braid and Dismemberment Plan. Guitar driven in the sense that the six strings dominate with swirling and fluid sounds over solid percussion and slightly scratchy vocals. It took me a couple listens to enjoy the finer qualities of the music. But once you start to latch on it’s pleasant. “I Want the Blindingly Cute to Confide in Me” is the cut. The guitar that bubbles around the singer proclaiming “There are secrets, there are secrets” is the ingredient to send the song over. This is the kind of music you play on a hot Sunday afternoon while in the throes of mid summer in deep contemplation. –Matt Average (Jade Tree)


OROBOROS:
Self-titled: CD
They’re touting themselves as some neo-tribal melding of world music, electronic and “organic” instrumentation, but this sounds like yer average post-Cocteau goth rock. Not that they’re bad or anything. They’re really good at what they’re doing and I like this a lot. I just don’t get how they’re all that different. Maybe it’s one o’ those things where you gotta go see ‘em. –jimmy (www.crosswinds.net/~oroboros33/)


OOZZIES:
Nation Out of Hand: CD
The Oozzies aggressively unleash a barbaric blast of “old school” hardcore unruliness... they’re defiant, unmanageable, and full of rage-fuelled insolence... they’re a mad-as-hell havoc-wreaking collective of musical malcontents chaotically creating a full-force flurry of insurgent anti-social sounds. This is the sort of nonconformist sonic chaos that frenetically inspired me to run rampant and free through the garbage-strewn streets of my hellhole hometown when I was a belligerent lil’ teen-aged hooligan... an angst-ridden era when I would carelessly careen across the pavement on my skateboard, recklessly rocket down the sunbaked sidewalks (all the while furiously flailing like a crazed maniac possessed!), and then daredevilishly bunnyhop the curb and wildly glide along its treacherous rugged surface as if my very life depended upon it (fists tightly clenched, teeth fitfully grittin’, and an impenetrable level of concentration so thick a chainsaw could cut through it)... damn, one precariously misplaced movement, and it’s all over in mere freezeframed seconds... SPLAT! Flesh and asphalt abruptly meet. Profusely sweating, bleeding, and cussin’ a meanstreak, I recover my dishevelled senses and quickly inspect my battered, bruised, and torn physique... yep, everything appears to be intact and still workin’. The youthful propensity for perseverance is pumpin’ strong, so it’s time for yet another futile attempt to conquer that damned perilous curb. Alley-oop! Ah, thanks for the memories, Oozzies... –Guest Contributor (Industrial Strength)


ONE TIME ANGELS:
Sound of a Restless City: CD
Post-Husker punky pop that was pleasant enough to stay on the player for its duration. –jimmy (Adeline)


NOVADRIVER:
Void: CD
This is heavy on the Hawkwind tip, maybe with a little touch of mid-'70s Sabbath thrown in for good measure. Dude, pass the bong, stoner rock lives! –jimmy (Small Stone)


NOTA:
Live At The Crystal Pistol: LP
On a personal level, NOTA are the most important band ever. Growing up in Oklahoma, where these guys hailed from, it proved that you could be in a punk and accomplish something, despite the rednecks and religious assholes that surrounded you. These guys were my piece of sanity in that fucked up time. They made it easier to deal with getting beer gutted assholes in Camaros throwing shit at you and calling you “faggot” as they sped by, or when the jocks would death threat you over the phone. And the classic, “Get a hair cut!” despite having a shaven head. Anyway, this is the vinyl edition of the long out of print classic tape from 1983, not to mention some stuff that never saw the light of day outside of live shows, such as “Carolina,” Apathy,” and “Dumb Shit.” As well as “Nightstick Justice” and “Riot Kids,” which are taken from a practice recording. The recording quality is pretty damn good and captures their raw and urgent attack well. A seamless blending of hardcore punk with street punk and the ‘77 sound, not to mention political and social commentary as well as personal vision. Nearly 20 years later and this band still strikes a chord within. –Matt Average (Prank)


NO SIDE:
Comp: 95-98: 7"
5 song reissue of (duh) comp tracks, solid golf-club-meets-forehead thrash with no fruity trimmings. Includes the delightful “Peckerhead Kill Kill." –Cuss Baxter (Acme)


NO ONE’S VICTIM:
Just Another Young Punk Band: 7"
I usually like to start on the second side of any release that has two sides. It gives me a good impression of what a band sounds like on the average. You figure that most bands will put their strongest song as the first track. My theory being that it is your only chance to catch the listener’s attention. These guys started off well with their cover of Infa Riot’s “Emergency.” It was true to the original and was not a disgrace. The second track on side two was a bit formulaic, new decade street punk with the over used “Oi, Oi...” Hearing Americans chant “Oi” has not grasped me as being genuine. It is a English working class anthem and slang that doesn’t belong being sung by Americans who don’t go through the same struggles because our culture is different. Also, it doesn’t sound right without the Cockney accent. Now off to side one. It’s time to talk a little shit. I am experienced at it since I shit everyday like clock work and have been doing it for more than 30 years. If I don’t take a shit at least once during the day, I know my body is fucked up. Based on the title and the title of the first track, there is a contradiction already in place. The title of the song is “77.” If they are truly just another young punk band or at least 24 years of age they were born around the year of the title. So how can they sing about it? Are they really old enough to have experienced it? Plagiarize what others have wrote? Second track, “Working Class Hero.” Based on their age, who are their heroes. Mom and Dad? Their relatives or friends’ parents? I don’t know if their intentions are right. It just doesn’t come off as original or sincere to me. I say go back to the garage and create something new that will excite the rest of us, but don’t come and try to recreate a sound that you really can’t understand because you haven’t lived it. To end this, they aren’t half bad. –don (Radio)


NIKKI & THE CORVETTES:
Self-titled: CD
Nikki and her curvaceously spectacular Corvettes playfully (but passionately!) belt-out a dizzying dose of crunchy power-pop cheerfulness... it’s fun, frolicking, and full of youthful zeal for life! The giddy virginal schoolgirl vocals and shimmering upbeat instrumentation sound incredibly like The Shirelles, The Shangri-Las, the original animated Josie & The Pussycats, Blondie, and Fuzzbox all lightheartedly bashin’ skulls with The Beach Boys, Ramones, Buzzcocks, The Knack, and The Romantics... hell yeh, it’s joyously sweet summertime rock’n’roll exhilaration about boys, cars, cruisin’, and flirtatious puppylove crushes. Although all of these tunefully titillating tracks date from the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, they’re as exuberantly relevant today as they were 20 years ago. This is the most fun my ears have ever had, by golly gosh! –Guest Contributor (Bomp!)


NEIGHBORS, THE:
Negative Reaction: CD
Gawd damn! The Neighbors kick up a bad ass racket that hits hard and heavy like Felix Trinidad! Lickety split tempos, heavy guitars, and ragin’ vocals combine like Wonder Twins to shape up a bulldozer with one ton pick axes attached for extra measure. These guys are pretty much godhead. –Matt Average (Six Weeks)


NEGATIVE STEP/REDRUM:
Split: 7"
Redrum: Remarkably strong hardcore here, despite the hackneyed band name. Five tracks of blistering power, completely devoid of any metal, from one kick-ass band. Negative Step: They sound like the missing link in Negative Approach’s career between their first EP and the Tied Down LP. The sound quality is a little muffled, but their songs are cool. –jimmy (Satan's Pimp)


NAILGUN:
Black Amphetamine Dissonance: CD
Low budget metallic hardcore that did zilch for me. –jimmy (www.angelfire.com/indie/nailgun)


MUTANTS:
Fun Terminal: CD
This is one o’ those bands that was pretty popular on the west coast back when they were active, but only seem to be remembered these days by collectors. They were from San Francisco, dressed really weird for their equally weird sets, trashed many a stage from the Gay Bay to Lost Angeles, were friends of the DKs and did not play hardcore. Au contraire, they sound poppy in a quirky, punky kinda way, somewhere between the B-52s and the Police’s edgier moments. I remember taping many of their songs off of long dead radio shows and I always liked that arty new wave sound they had. Presented here is their only album, an EP, a demo and live tracks from a couple o’ comps, including their tracks from “Live from the Deaf Club.” It’s kinda sad hearing this stuff after so many years because this style was a pretty damn good listen when played right and it’s rare that one hears it anymore. I imagine that most will say that this sounds dated, doesn’t hold up well, blah blah blah, but for me it brought back memories of days when one could see Black Flag, the Go Gos, the Suburban Lawns and Los Lobos on the same bill; a time when punk rock was still more a concept than a set of marginalized pigeonholes that one should force themselves into and never deviate. –jimmy (White Noise)


MURDER CITY DEVILS, THE:
Thelma: CDEP
I’m liking the MCDs better all the time. Early releases seemed really shouty and separated. Like there was music and then there was a guy shouting from the other side of the parking lot. It never quite meshed for me, but with this EP and In Name and Blood, I’ve become a fan. Although if I zone out to the instrumental parts, I’ve caught myself thinking, “I don’t own any Doors. How’d that get in there?,” those incidents are becoming less and less. So, if you’re down with the dirty, hurt seagull in barbed wire vibe they’ve flown into, this EP’s further exploration of the type of drowning, dark sea swell hinted at before. It’s most evident with the use of languid organ, but the whole band’s finding their own sound, infusing the best ether whippits of Bauhaus, early death rock, and The Waterboys, chaining it to the rusty barge of punk rock, and sailing uncharted, dark oceans. On a completely different tip, imagine my surprise when this comes with a full computer video of a songs that’s not on the audio CD (“Idle Hands”) and lyrics to all the songs (which I wish were all printed on the insert because a lot folks don’t have computers). Fancy. –todd (Sub Pop)


Molehill:
Thousand Mile Regret: 12"EP
The Eyehategod influence is painfully obvious, which ain’t necessarily a bad thing. I imagine a double bill featuring the two of ‘em would lead to a sudden increase in the suicide rate, though. Screamy-guy sludge metal that is just as good as their last album and, seeing as I dig this shit, I’m stoked. Sabbath who? –jimmy (Satan's Pimp)


Misconduct:
One Last Try: CD
Continually improving with every album. They sound a little heavier and darker now, but that adds to the impact. Early ‘90s youth crew that brings to mind Mouthpiece, but more intense musically. Tempos range from mid to rapid fire, such as on the chorus of “I Believe.” As always, good stuff from these guys. –Matt Average (Bad Taste Records)


MICROPHONES, THE:
The Glow, pt. 2: CD
I thought I had never heard the Microphones before, but I’m sure they must have slipped into my ears through the college radio soundwaves. They are the mixture of Bright Eyes, Belle and Sebastian, a little bit of Radiohead, and a pinch of one of those bands you might have seen play at a coffee house in the early nineties (you know, the ones with all the feedback and acoustic guitar). Very poetic. Very sincere. Very intriguing. –Guest Contributor (K)


MENSEN:
Delusions of Grandeur: CD
I think “mensen” is the Norwegian word for “girls who rock.” At least it will be. Mensen dish out fast and fun rock’n’roll songs. The singer sounds a bit like Penelope from the Avengers, but the music behind her is trashy and tight, more like the Hives or the Burnouts or a lot of the punk rock coming out of Scandanavia these days. The lyrics are sung in English with a heavy accent and I can understand them about half of the time, but it doesn’t matter. I keep listening to this album and enjoying it. It puts me in a good mood. The only caveat is that they cover a Rolling Stones song, and that’s really, really annoying. Luckily, though, it’s the last song, so you can just stop the album when that song comes on. Other than that, it’s a really good CD. –sean (Gearhead)


MANU CHAO:
…Proxima Estacion…Esperanza: CD
Manu Chao’s Clandestino was one of those totally unique, knock-you-out-of-your-seat albums that just blew me away – I’d never heard anything like it before, nor have I since – so I was very curious to see what he’d do for the followup: where would he develop the one-of-a-kind sound he established on his first solo album? Well, I have to admit to some disappointment with …Proxima EstacionEsperanza as a followup – the sound actually hasn’t developed much at all, because in a few cases it’s exactly the same music! That’s right, a few tracks from Clandestino have had new lyrics and vocals slapped on them, and the result is, well, still pretty good, honestly, but it’s still a letdown to me. Essentially rather than a totally new album I see this as Clandestino Vol. 2, which is still cool with me but not what I was hoping for at all. –Guest Contributor (Virgin)


MENACE:
Crisis: CD
The Menace were kind of a second tier oi band, never really getting as popular as Cocksparrer or the Business, but they did have a hit song in the mid-seventies with “GLC” (which is a killer song and I imagine it probably means more in England now, if I can trust the news I read about England and Tony Blair these days). Anyway, rather than falling into the metal trap that so many oi bands fell into in the eighties, Menace broke up and went back to work. With the renewed popularity of oi, Menace came back, re-releasing their big songs, “GLC” and “Society’s Insane,” and some new ones, like “Society’s Still Insane.” So they weren’t really growing and expanding musically, but it’s solid, sincere music. The songs are really cool working class anthems, smart and simple politics, and thick Cockney accented vocals. I’ve actually got a couple of these songs on seven inches from Europe, but most of these songs are new to me and would probably be new to you. And believe me when I say that this Menace album kicks ass all over the newest Business and Cocksparrer releases. –sean (Captain Oi)


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