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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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PINHEAD GUNPOWDER:
Compulsive Disclosure: CD
I actually jumped around when I saw this, and I can be a pretty lazy fuck. I seriously can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t love Pinhead Gunpowder. They’re still poppy, still simple, still just so catchy. It’s only nine songs, which leads me to play it a minimum of two times every listen. It’s the kind of album that your favorite song is always the one that you’re listening to for each song throughout the whole album. Perfect for mix tapes, car rides, and dancing around. –megan (Lookout)


PINK SWORDS:
One Night High: CD
What do you get when you take the dirt out of trash rock? This. I don’t know if it’s in the recording, but it just comes across so clean. There could be something there, but I lose it in the sterility. This makes me think of office girls going out for a night on the town and so they trade in their suit-dress for a mini skirt and a spiked bracelet thinking that they’re so bad. However they do thank some awesome bands that you should check out if you haven’t yet: Riverboat Gamblers, The Ends, and the Motards. –megan (Mortville)


OZOMATLI:
Coming Up: CDEP
I have been on a Latin kick for a few years now and I still haven’t learned the language. Right at the point when I need a change from the usual, Ozo puts out a new teaser EP. Excited like a little girl getting her first Barbie, I rushed out to get this. After self-releasing their debut EP and recording two full lengths on Interscope’s Almo label, they jump ship and sign to a jazz label. From what I hear on this six-song release, nothing has changed from the label transfer. In fact, the songs seem more focused. The songs still have that party vibe that has lured thousands into their fan base. The mixture of funk and Latin makes for the horrifying sight of this Asian man trying to dance. At least I do it in the privacy of my home so I won’t leave mental scars when people see me at shows. They may not be punk but they are more politically active than most. –don (Concord)


OSCURO:
Self-titled: CD
Moody, atmospheric instrumental music that would no doubt compliment your average indie film quite nicely. –jimmy (Pascal)


OPERATORS 780, THE:
Power Version: CD
Yet another ska/rocksteady record to wholly ignore for the derivative umpteenth-generation, played-out pilf it is. Can’t wait ‘til punta-core is the next big thing, ‘cause, much as I love the original stuff, this focus on only one Caribbean rhythmic style is beyond ridiculous. Fuck, even the Skatalites branched out now and then. –jimmy (Power Version)


PANSY DIVISION:
Total Entertainment: CD
PD shouldn’t need an introduction, but it’s been awhile since Jon Ginoli and company have released a new LP. I fell for PD in 1994 when they put out the Jack U Off 7” and it’s nice to hear that not much has changed in the ten-plus years since they started. The song writing has a formula and the words have always been more shocking and ground breaking than the music, but they have something charming about them that is still fresh even after a five year break. –Guest Contributor (Alternative Tentacles)


PEELANDER-Z:
P-Bone Steak: CD
Self-described as “The Japanese Noodle Samurai Punk Band,” Peelander-Z is one weird bunch. Three Japanese guys from New York get some costumes together and decide to rock out. Vocals remind me of a cross of Biafra mixed with the guy from F.O.D. who’s name escapes me. The songs have that late ‘70s, early ‘80s punk sound. The lyrics are either in broken English or Japanese. If you want something silly and has that garage feel, this is your new favorite band. –don (Swell)


OI POLLOI:
Fuaim Catha: CD
Oi Polloi are a long-time, multi- and-shifting member band out of Scotland. Politically, they take a stance similar to Crass (anarchism), while incorporating many of the same ethics and politics: anti-police, pro-animal, anti-industrialist, gay-friendly, pro-everyone’s-land, anti-capitalist. Musically, one can really hear the influence these guys have had on the US band, Toxic Narcotic. Aside from the drum-circle monologue poem that opens this long CD up, the two bands can both play convincing, primitive thrash. Then they can switch effortlessly to into slower folkloric, traditional numbers without betraying either approach to music. It’s a lot to chew on in one large bite and the politics are extremely blunt, but after repeated listens, this has grown on me. There’s surprising bits all over it. –todd (Combat Rock Industry)


NO RETREAT:
Pray for Peace: CD
Even with anti-war lyrics, cookie monster metal sucks ass. –jimmy (Da Core)


NO DECENCY:
This Is the Reason: CD
I almost always wince when people I sorta know hand me a piece of music. It’s not that I don’t wish them well, I’m just not so big on having to tell bands that I think their music sucks. One of the axioms to reviewing music is that so many really nice people make really bad music. That all said, No Decency has quickly become one of my current favorite punk/hardcore bands in the LA area. Not only is lead singer/guitarist Aaron able to spawn a stage-diving session of four, with a running start from the kitchen at a house show, these three guys have learned their lessons well. And fast. They’re young and ultra-excited/ borderline retarded (in the best ways, I assure you). The music’s a great blend of Hot Water Music (for the slower, anthemic, fist-in-the-air parts), Strike Anywhere (for the house-is-on-fire, keep-playing bits), those hidden broken-back melodies in Panthro UK United 13 that most bands keep missing, and they bring a couple extra rounds of ammo of their own to the fight. So it’s catchy, smart, rebellious, and shoots up the goddamn place. Not only are their hearts in the right place, they can play in a way that’ll make you care about what they’re singing, too. On their website, they’re promising to have hats you can drink beer out of for sale really soon. –todd (Destroy All Records)


NICOTINE:
School of Liberty: CD
Here is a band going strong for ten years now. This Japanese band is supposedly described as the Japanese NOFX. I don’t hear it. I hear a little Pennywise mixed with the Swedish band Venerea and a little Snuff thrown in for flavor. There’s seventeen tracks total and I was able to listen to all of them. That is no small feat when this music junkie listens to a ton of shit. The songs are super tight and infectious. The lyrics might not make sense but they sure follow the music. The musicians are as tight as the production. The band seems to be able to stop on a dime. It sounds like they really worked hard on the songs. They let them mature before recording. All in all, these guys take the whole melodicore thing and keep the bar raised. They know that the melody is the hook and I’m hooked. There are so many bands that try to play this style of music and so many who don’t get it. –don (Asian Man)


NEW MEXICAN DISASTER SQUAD:
Self-titled: CD
I’ve been searching really hard to find a melodic hardcore band that can pick up where Kid Dynamite left off, but more and more, I’m seeing what a tough thing that is. When I first popped in this New Mexican Disaster Squad, I thought I had a candidate for a carrier of the Kid Dynamite torch. The singer has the ability to switch from singing to screaming and still sound good, and to race through lyrics really quickly without completely losing coherence. The guitars blend some nice hooks into the songs, and the drummer keeps things moving. The songs start and finish pretty quickly. Still, after a few songs, my attention starts to wane. I start to feel like I’m listening to a three-song seven inch four times in a row, not one, twelve-song album. If this had been a three-song seven inch, I would’ve been really stoked on it. As it stands, this album is good background music, but I was hoping for more. –sean (A-F)


NEW BOMB TURKS:
Switchblade Tongues, Butterknife Brains: CD
Bear with me. The New Bomb Turks are the Dunkin’ Donuts of garage rock. For awhile they seemed to be everywhere. Almost everybody with an ounce of musical taste agreed that they were a high water mark for the game, neck and neck with the Devil Dogs and the Mummies. They appeared to be on a long, constant tour and seemed to have a release every month for five years straight. I can remember a stint when I saw them three times in four months without really even trying. From Eric’s often imitated overdrive vocals to the adrenal stab to the heart guitars, to the almost supernatural songwriting sense, to their rock solid, no-earthquake-can-break-it rhythm section, there was no chink in the armor. There’ve been no bad New Bomb Turks songs. Sure, some are better than others, but none of them slurped shit. Donuts. People, such as myself, who appreciate the fine art of deep frying and cheap, plentiful coffee realize there are far too many pale imitators, far too many ways to fuck up the seemingly simple ingredients. In LA, there are no Dunkin’ Donuts. I get an acute pain every time I take a chance on mom and pop donut shop and the apple fritter crumbles like a stale dough turd and the coffee tastes like used oil. New Bomb Turks. I get an acute pain every time I take a chance on some pouty motherfucker who screams “brothers and sisters” or “Hallelujah” while their designer corporate garage rock sounds like acid poured in my ear (or a publicist spewing in my ear). I can’t fault Dunkin’ Donuts or the New Bomb Turks institutions for perfecting the game and delivering what I’ve been asking for the entire time. Long, strained metaphors aside, this cover-heavy album of outtakes, a lost EP, and harder-to-find international releases proves the continued power of band that can make odds and ends sound like a fully realized album that’s sweet and fuckin’ smokes. –todd (Gearhead)


NETWORK, THE:
Money Money 2020: CD/DVD
Looks like the new wave revival is in full swing over at Adeline. There’s hints of Berlin, Men Without Hats, Bow Wow Wow, some other ones I can’t instantly recall (lotta one-hitters back then, you know), but mostly it’s redolent of Freedom of Choice Devo, which I’d be an asshole to even try to deny as a cultural touchstone (nay, milestone). Honestly, I was pretty ambivalent at first, but after a few forced listens, it’s started to grow on me. They obviously know what they’re working with and what to do with it (they all have funny names, like Snoo and Fink, and underpants on their heads, so you can’t tell who they are – I suspect that Billy Joel fellow from Green Day is one but I’m no authority) and have access to probably the same instruments the original new wavers used (like those keyboards with the handle so you would wear it like a guitar) and, a couple duds aside, the whole package comes off sort of like listening to MTV circa 1983. I only watched the DVD part once because the video gave me a swelling, itching brain, and I don’t really know how DVDs work so I probably missed some parts, but I’ll tell you this: there’s naked ladies on there. –Cuss Baxter (Adeline)


MURDER CITY DEVILS:
RIP: CD
This is a recording of the Murder City Devils final show, after keyboardist Leslie Hardy had already left the band. It was also recorded at the end of their final tour, so even though one member was missing, her replacement had gotten pretty good at playing the songs, and the songs on this recording are tighter than I’d normally expect from a live recording. The recording quality on this is okay. When I listen to it in my truck, a lot of the cooler parts of the songs get absorbed by freeway traffic. Sitting at home, listening to this through a good stereo, though, I actually appreciate the added fuzz of the recording. It makes the CD sound like I’m hearing it bouncing off the concrete walls of a club while my ears are ringing. The Murder City Devils play a solid set here, too, including a pretty even mix of songs from their five-year career. I guess it’s a shame that these guys broke up, but all in all, RIP is a pretty good parting shot. –sean (Sub Pop)


MUTILATED MANNEQUINS:
Lordship and Bondage: CD
Low-rent goth trying desperately to sound inventive, but ending up sounding trite and rather silly instead. –jimmy (Mutilated Mannequins)


MOTORPSYCHOS:
Self-titled: CD
Note to all aspiring bands: If you feel the need to add the word “rock” to your web address, the odds are it’s because you don’t. One needs look no further than this release for proof. –jimmy (www.motorpsychosrock.com)


MORSE CODE HEARTBEAT:
Self-titled: 7"
Very arty cover, but the music contained therein was uninspiring metal-cum-hardcore. Purty pink marbled vinyl, though. –jimmy (Grey Sky)


MORSE CODE HEARTBEAT:
Paper Cuts: CD
I know absolutely nothing about hardcore with the exception of what hardcore sounded like in the 1980s and, other than liking Los Crudos and Teen Cthulhu, I missed the whole thing. I honestly didn’t even know that hardcore started to sound like Slayer until the ‘90s. With that said, I really liked the entire CD, but my lack of knowledge is holding me back from lengthy comparisons. –Wanda Spragg –Guest Contributor (Suburban Justice)


MONKEY POWER TRIO, THE:
Almost Clean: 7” EP
The eighth release from a “band” that is apparently comprised of a group of friends who get together for one afternoon every year to record a bunch of songs, then release the crème de la crème from the session. This year’s results are at times giddy, at times moody, at times more arty than is good for ‘em, and interesting overall in a late-night college radio sorta way. Limited edition, clear vinyl, handmade covers and opaque packaging. Not bad overall, although I probably won’t listen to this more than twice. –jimmy (Pocahontas Swamp Machine)


MOTOCHRIST:
Greetings from the Bonneville Salt Flats: CD
Suck it, Motochrist. I got pissed by the cover, which has a picture of a dragster, yet the title makes a salt flats reference. Call me picky, but top fuel dragsters with wide-open carburetor intakes and mushy, over-sized back wheels are for the quarter mile on paved roads. If the rig doesn’t automatically die on the Bonneville Salt Flats from salt being sucked into the engine, it’d run about as a fast as a senior citizen pushing a grocery cart up a steep incline. Perhaps the cover image is cool? Dunno. But the dude wearing a Valvoline shirt on the back cover should have it ripped off his chest. Motochrist sound like leather-panted, past middle-aged Guitar Center hair rock. No, not good. –todd (Heat Slick)


MONDO TOPLESS:
Go Fast!: CD
Ack! I have a problem! I can’t tell if I either 1.) do not like any new garage rock because it’s bad or 2.) do not like any new garage rock because I no longer like garage rock! Oh, the turmoil! I mean, I’m in no danger of relinquishing my membership in the Rip Offs fan club, but, whereas there was once a time when I liked about thirty percent of all new garage, the numbers have since plummeted to a measly five percent – at best! Anyway, this CD does not resolve my confusion. It sounds like all garage rock sounds. You know, organ, bass, drums, guitar. They cover The Stooges. They’re not bad, but until I figure out my dilemma, I just can’t say if they’re any GOOD! I could be the new Kruschev, with old garage being, of course, Leninism and new garage rock being the new Stalinism! Give me a little time! I can’t decide if I should take off my shoe and bang it on the table or not! Stupid? Yes! Is this Stalin-Os? I don’t know! –Maddy (Get Hip)


MOLOTONIC:
Self-titled: CD
Here’s something genuinely different. It’s not really country, but the banjo fits in just right. There’s a saxophone in all the songs, which you wouldn’t think would fit in well at the hoe-down, but it actually fills out the songs perfectly. There’s male and female vocals that run the gamut from singing pretty to yelling angry. The drums sound like a freight train chugging up and racing down hills. And, when the songs get under your skin and you have to sing along, the lyrics are worth singing along to. I don’t know how to classify this or what buzzwords to use, and they really don’t sound like any bands I’ve heard, so the only frame of reference I can give is this: if you like This Bike Is a Pipe Bomb and Against Me, you’ll probably like Molotonic. I can’t stop listening to it. –sean (Molotonic)


MODEY LEMON:
Thunder and Lightning: CD
Two-man trash punk. My, how inventive and original. –jimmy (Birdman)


MODERN MACHINES:
Thwap!: CD
Well, here’s an interesting change of pace: here’s a punk band apparently influenced by Sorry Ma-era Replacements. You don’t hear that much these days. Sure, they ultimately bored me to tears, but they garner massive points for thinking outside of the standardized pop-punk box. –jimmy (New Disorder)


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