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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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MIDWEST VOLTAGE:
Demo: CDEP
Three songs named “Song One,” “Song Two,” and “Song Three,” from these La Crosse, Wisconsin nerds. Instrumental jams with a little spaced-out synth. It sounds like it was recorded in a basement because it was recorded in a practice space. The band suggests the listener “Turn it up loud.” I concur. I love Rush, and now admit it freely. It took a few years to come to terms with my love. Fuck you, Rush rules! So, I am allowed to dig this. Go ahead, give yourself permission. –Jackie Rusted (self-released, midwestvoltage.bandcamp.com)


MIKE ADAMS AT HIS HONEST WEIGHT:
Casino Drone: CD/LP
Mike Adams is a musician who has always been on the periphery of my musical spectrum. That’s changed with his latest album, Casino Drone. He is now squarely in my sights. Despite the odd band name, Mike Adams At His Honest Weight plays totally serious, blessed-out indie pop. The biggest influence I hear is Starflyer 59, but there’s also a healthy dose of Beach Boys and the Cars. Adams is great at throwing down some legit melodies and grooves. Most of the album is cool, genuine, and relaxed, but not boring. The wailing, pleading guitars on “Underneath the Door” are killer, while the chugga-chugga guitar riff on “Diem Be” sounds like it might’ve been taken from a hardcore song (although this is surely the heaviest the band gets). This is certainly the band’s best album, and should be in the collection of anyone who likes strong melodies and music made for driving around in the summer with the windows rolled down. –Kurt Morris (Joyful Noise)


MISCHIEF BREW:
Smash the Windows: LP
Mischief Brew has been kicking around their folk-circus-gypsy-punk long enough to see this, a beautiful 180 gram, well-packaged reissue of their first LP. Petersen’s Brew crew has been kicking around the scene, bouncing from involvement in Food Not Bombs and other protest movements to supporting rags (such as this one) through consistent advertising, as often and reliably as they change genres musically. Scattered and not for the myopic at worst; expansive, idealistic, and a grand musical journey well deserving of a fresh look after too long out of print at best. –Matt Seward (Fistolo, fistolo.com)


MITYLION:
Nite Flite: LP
Chilled-out dance rock brought to you by Lifetime vocalist Ari Katz. Boy, do I feel outclassed by the music. Is it well written? I certainly don’t have any complaints. How many Lifetime fans will be willing to brave this transition? Probably a sizeable enough number. I can’t really recommend this on a personal level, but if you’re a diehard Lifetime fan it’s interesting to see a well-known voice stretch their legs in a different direction. Where would we be as a species if we didn’t know that Greg Graffin from Bad Religion liked to folk rock out sometimes? –Bryan Static (Don Giovanni, dongiovannirecords.com)


MIZZERABLES, THE:
As I Am: CD
As I Amfrom Chicago’s The Mizzerables feels like the musical incarnation of a shitty boyfriend. It reels you in with some low-hanging social awareness, but offers only Peter Pan fantasies, self-righteous defensiveness, arrested development ennui, you’re-crying-but-let’s-talk-about-my-feelings narcissism, equivocation and condescension, femme fatale reductionism, and… I don’t even know, you guys, things got really weird around “Second Hand Lover,” and I didn’t feel safe, so I spent the night at a friend’s house. Adhering to pop punk tradition, women are omnipresent on As I Am, but exist only as dehumanized bodies crammed inside wicker men and set ablaze to appease emotionally stunted gods. Musically, while all twelve tracks show potential, when grouped together, they sound like the product of a band trying to meet their quotas: pop punk, check; folk punk, check; ska punk, check; good time rock’n’roll, check; radio-friendly monster ballad, unfortunately, check. The whole endeavor feels suspiciously self-serving, promising listeners genre-bending and big ideas and compelling human emotion, only to decide it wants to “keep its options open” and navel-gaze. To be frank, I’m reticent to be this critical of it. I almost expect the digipak to look up at me, call me a “crazy bitter bitch” who just doesn’t understand it, and storm out of the room. –Kelley O’Death (Whoa!, info@whoarecords.net, store.whoarecords.net)


MIZZERABLES, THE:
Every Last Stitch: CD
You’ve got a dilemma. You want to listen to loud and angry punk rock. But when you do, your mom gets worried that you’re going to hell. Well, have I got a solution for you: It’s the Mizzerables! This disc has just enough sneer so you can still tell your friends that you listen to punk, but it’s clean, friendly, and catchy enough to get mom on board. No more child-parent shouting matches for you. The only shouting you and mom will do is when you sing along to the Mizzerables together! –MP Johnson (Whoa!)


MONEY SHOT, THEE:
Hard Roc: CD
Porn reference band name, ironic lame-o cover art, and song titles like “Raw Dog” and “My Cock”—things are not off to a good start. The music is dull and the kinda thing anyone who goes to shows regularly has suffered through many times. Their label says they are “loud, obnoxious, and offensive.” I say they are dull and boring punk-by-numbers. –Mike Frame (Killing Horse, killinghorserecords.com)


MURDERLAND:
Splitsville: LP
Splitsville is a long-awaited release from Southern California band Murderland. Murderland is somewhat thrashy, horror pop punk, with a heavy emphasis on pop punk. I say this because, while the lyrics often mention things like massacres and spooky things following people in the shadows, massacres don’t seem as frequent as hangovers and that person being followed is an ex-girlfriend. I actually think the lyrics are super silly and fun, but if you don’t like really clean-sounding vocals, you might not be into it. Two of my favorite lines are, “When we’re together every day is Halloween,” from “Gerianne” and, “How the hell did I get here, there’s way too much cocaine and beer… this place might be the death of me but I don’t ever want to leave,” from “Whatever Happened.” Overall the seven-track release is energetic and frenetic, and I dig it. Extra points for the record itself because it is pressed in a beautiful blue and transparent haze; the Futuramasoundbite (“Your music’s bad and you should feel bad”); the soundbite on the title track from a 1945 movie that took me at least five minutes to find on Google; and the record sleeve itself, mostly because it features photobooth-style photos of all five band members and an awfully random thank you to the “kind people of Salmon, VA.” -Madeline –Guest Contributor (Murderland, murderland.bandcamp.com)


MY MAN MIKE:
I’m Pregnant: LP
“What the hell is this?” That’s what I immediately said to myself once I put this record on. It started like some methamphetamine punk rock and then the vocals came in. The vocals are mixed in really low and juggle between a guttural yell and a high-pitched squeal. After a little research, I found out that these guys are from Seoul, South Korea. If you’re a fan of thrashcore and want to branch out of the U.S., these are your guys. –Ryan Nichols (5 Feet Under, jpescarres@gmail.com)


NAILS:
You Will Never Be One of Us: CD/LP
The third album from Nails is their most brutal (and their lengthiest—clocking in at an impressive twenty-two minutes). Most of the songs are under two minutes, but the three-piece has expanded their sound with the grinding, sludgy closer, “They Come Crawling Back.” It’s more than a third of the entire album length. For the majority of these ten songs, however, Nails play ferocious, short bursts of hardcore. They obliterate, they pummel, they burn, and then they’re done—on to the next one. The sound is concise, ferocious, and filled with one emotion: anger. If you can get behind all that (and I certainly can) this is the album for you. –Kurt Morris (Nuclear Blast)


NATURE BOYS:
Self-titled: CS
Kansas City, Mo.’s Nature Boys are a study in contradictions. The recording quality and production on their untitled cassette release are lo-lo-lo-fi, but their sonic vision feels full and immersive. Their loose, emotional playing style possesses an immediacy that makes it feel like every decision is being made in the moment, but their song structures are deceptively precise and absolutely airtight. They exude all the messy viciousness of great punk, while maintaining a laid-back groove reminiscent of classic garage rock. This contrast extends beyond the music: tucked behind the simple, clean black and white album art and cheerful yellow tape is a small folded page, photocopied at least once and covered in tiny hand-scribbled lyrics, the different songs haphazardly arranged and bleeding into one another. It’s difficult to know what any of these words mean to the band’s members, but the images presented are stark and evocative, almost expressionistic. And maybe this contradictory condition is contagious, because this review sounds really pedantic, but Nature Boys will wreck your fucking face, no strings attached. –Kelley O’Death (Self-released, natureboysrocknroll@yahoo.com, natureboysrocknroll.com)


NATURE BOYS:
Self-titled: CS
There’s something so jarringly off-kilter and feral about this, and I love it. The warbling melodies somehow sound perfectly natural, but they’re weird as hell. There’s a twangy eerieness in this, like something out of a gothic Western. It’s like X’s lonesome highway desolation at breakneck speeds. Or maybe it’s a more dangerous, unpredictable take on The Marked Men’s raw-nerve pop. I said it was weird. Under the lo-fi murk of the recording, the performances are impeccably tight, just rollicking along like barely bridled chaos. Am I out of the loop or should more people be talking about this band? Nature Boys are bringing something strange and new to the table, and I’m in. –Indiana Laub (Self-released, natureboysrocknroll.com)


NEUTRON RATS / ROTTEN U.K.:
Fathers Shite out the Sons Arse a Country Fit for Wanker Cunts: Split: Flexi 7” EP

Two very fun streetpunk bands deliver one cover each on this cool split flexi on Gremlin Pogo Records. Neutron Rats deliver a killer rendition of Mau Mau’s “Society Rejects” and Rotten U.K. perform Undead’s “Sanctuary.” The flexi is imprinted with the slogan “ONLY UK82 IS REAL,” which isn’t necessarily an untrue statement. Extremely pretty packaging makes this record a must, and both bands’ covers are a blast. 

–Art Ettinger (Gremlin Pogo, gremlinpogorecords@gmail.com)


NEUTRON RATS / ROTTEN U.K.:
Fathers Shite out the Sons Arse a Country Fit for Wanker Cunts: Split: Flexi 7” EP
Fun little flexi with two solid covers of UK82 bands, the Mau Maus and Undead. Neutron Rats blast out an unrecognizable, maniacal hardcore take on “Society’s Rejects.” And Rotten U.K. covers the Undead’s “Sanctuary,” and you know what, I think it’s better than the original. –Camylle Reynolds (Gremlin Pogo)


NIGHTMEN:
Fifteen Minutes of Pain: LP/CD
This is Swedish garage rock’n’roll with hints of power pop and glam which carries a strong 1970s vibe both musically and visually, the latter being highlighted by the picture of the band on the cover. I’ll admit that on the first run through I was unmoved by this as it all seemed a bit messy, but when I was able to give it a more considered listen I was gradually won over. There are plenty of good hooks and tunes to be found—and with three vocalists there is plenty of variety in that respect—helping to add a few different flavors to a fairly basic musical approach. There is one blot on the landscape, though, in the form of some truly dire vocals on “I Need You,” which ruin the song completely. –Rich Cocksedge (Lövely, info@llyrecords.com, llyrecords.com)


NO SIDE:
Self-titled: CS single
Imagine the feeling you get as you walk to the car after spending a day at the beach. You’re a little sunburnt, and OrangeCounty’s No Side cassette is playing as you’re shaking sand out of your shoes, feeling the warmth of the sun disappearing at sunset. No Side’s sound is tough to describe, as it is layered in dimensions. The band mixes melodic guitar riffs, clean supporting drums, and deep rhythmic bass that work synergistically to produce a ‘90s sound with a hint of angst and nod to Southern California surf—like mixing a tinge of early Smashing Pumpkins and No Age, with a heavy saturation of Dinosaur Jr. The limited run of cassettes was recorded and mixed by Media Jeweler/Half Goon OC recording engineer Colin Knight (who has also recorded Bellhaunts and YAAWN). Trabajo Press’s Felipe Flores designed the matte O-card sleeve, with artwork showcasing a based-on-a-true-story Peanuts-style drawing. The image depicts bassist Erik Varho and lead guitarist and vocalist Andy Paniagua wheeling dizzy-eyed drummer Jessica Gonzales through Knott’s Berry Farm during a cheerleading convention occurring in the middle of the park. For claiming to have no side, No Side’s first release is multidimensional. –Cynthia Pinedo (Self-released, nosideno.bandcamp.com)


NOTCHES:
Huge: 7"
Hey, this is pretty good! Pop punk by means of first wave emo and ‘90s indie rock. Think along the lines of Summer Vacation or Salinas Records’ catalog. There’s a dual vocal underlining to the songs that lets the vocals swim and shine a little. Hell, if there were a little more dreamy haze to the production, this might almost be a shoegaze record. Thankfully, we live in a universe where Notches knew to use some restraint and gave us this little gem. I want an album now. –Bryan Static (Hip Kid, hipkidrecords.blogspot.com / Young Modern, youngmodern.storenvy.com / Cat Dead Details Later, catdeadrecs.org)


NOTHING BAND:
Infinity Style: CS

A cassette fulla noisy, blown-out avant punk. They probably like the Screamers and Electric Eels a whole lot and do a good job with the style in general. Not the kinda thing I would sit around and listen to, but would probably be quite good in a live setting. The recording has the feel of the early, pre-LP era of the A Frames as well, so if you like your punk weird and noisy, you would probably really like this.

–Mike Frame (24/7 Tapes, nothing-band.bandcamp.com)


NOTHING OF MERIT:
Well Oiled Machine: 10" EP
These guys have an early L.A. power pop sound, reminiscent of the Plimsouls with trashy, punk vocals. Essentially, the band is a two-piece with a saxophone player, which is the instrument that really gives their songs some dynamics. Limited to three hundred.  –Ryan Nichols (Self-released, no address listed)


OAF:
Self-titled: 7" EP
Screechy, fucked up, and loud, these cats are doing to hardcore what Step Dads did for trash punk. Songs never get too fast or two slow, sound is blown out but not unlistenable, and the tunes themselves are riff-oriented, but know when to make a graceful exit. Thumbs way up.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Deranged)


OIL WAVE SURFERS:
Oil Wave Surfers II: CS
Originally recorded in 2006, this is an instrumental collage of sounds that range from industrial feedback to jazzy—at times grating and at times groovy—and consistently driven by sludgy, eerie riffs that make me think of nominally malevolent nightbreeds prowling the gutter. I don’t listen to a lot of stuff like this, so it’s difficult for me to come up with an adequate description or even an appropriate comparison. I guess the closest I can get is that it’s like a more experimental version of the Tunnel Of Love, sans lyrics. –The Lord Kveldulfr (C/Site Recordings)


PEARS:
Green Star: CD
NOLA’s Pears are still a baby band—having formed in 2014, they are now in their “terrible twos”—but they’ve quickly become the unofficial darlings of the punk rock world. Well, maybe it’s official now that they’ve signed to Fat Wreck Chords and delivered Green Star, their most Pears-y release yet. The sixteen blink-and-you-might-miss-’em tracks on Green Star are rife with catchy riffage, crushing metallic breakdowns, wonderfully weird interludes that would make Mike Patton proud, and existential musings so hard, they would break your hand if you punched them—just ask frontman Zach Quinn! It is difficult not to be seduced by the band’s off-kilter humor, insanely frenetic live show, and charming shitbag personas, but those who submit to their siren call will be rewarded, not punished. Pears may be the “hot new band on the rise,” but sometimes, the hype machine don’t lie. –Kelley O’Death (Fat Wreck Chords, mailorder@fatwreck.com, fatwreck.com)


PEARS:
Green Star: LP
Pears have refined their songwriting, melding their fast hardcore and melodic skate punk parts into something insanely high energy and stop-on-a-dime tight. It’s too spazzy for my taste, but if the idea of playing an old Propagandhi LP on 45 appeals to you, you’re gonna wanna snap this one up.  –Chris Terry (Fat, fatwreck.com)


PELUQUERÍA CANINA:
Jovenes Promesas: LP
For the most part, these Spanish (label’s outta Bakersfield, but the band’s Facebook page says they hail from Madrid) punkers are grooving on a clean-channel guitar, slyly arty U.S. punk vibe straight outta 1979. Think Generación Suicida with a little less grit. Right around the middle, though, they drop the tune “Hilda Zaude,” which is easily the hottest track here—haunting, hypnotic, feral. While the proceedings on the whole are quite good, that one tune alone is worth the price of admission, friends. –Jimmy Alvarado (Going Underground)


PETERLEES, THE:
Self-titled: 7"
Dutch dudes playing boring hardcore with quiet drums. If they included a lyric sheet, I could tell you how sexist it is, but I suppose that the tits on the cover and the song called “Perky Little Titties” speak for themselves. Not seeing the point here. Porn’s free online, and the music’s usually better than this. –Chris Terry (Self-released)


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