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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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DOS HERMANOS, LOS:
Bourbon, Blood and Seafood: LP
To start, this is the best cover art I have seen in a while. I can’t stop staring at it. Imagine a scene from the French Revolution with the ominous guillotine taking center stage. Only in this scene, everyone has lost their head. Literally. The mob of peasants, the nobility, the general, the general’s horse; there are heads, eyes open and in a panic, flying everywhere. Even the dove, a universal symbol of peace, flies over the guillotine sans skull and face. Now imagine a rowdy, reverby, hellish sort of ‘60s-style garage band from Bordeaux, France coming out of the speakers as you stare at this beautiful nightmare of a scene. Great tunes. Great album. Great job.  –John Mule (Howlin’ Banana, howlinbananarecords.com)


DOWNTOWN BOYS:
Full Communism: LP
When’s the last time you’ve listened to a punk band—ska doesn’t count—with dueling saxophones? Can’t recall? Well, these Rhode Islanders are here to fill the gaping hole you didn’t even know you had. They rage with the ferocity of Generacion Suicida and Libyans, but the saxophones create an uplifting, totally danceable noise-scape for vocalist Victoria Ruiz’s no-holds-barred lyrics. Ruiz sings in both English and Spanish and tackles topics like privileged males at punk shows who ruin the pit (“Touch my hip? / I’ll cut your cock off / Fuck you tall boys”) and the empowerment of women of color (“We are brown! / We are smart!”). All at once, Downtown Boys sound like punk’s past by being youthful, aggressive, and minimal, but are simultaneously forward-thinking, conceptualizing a future where punks live the things they say and strive for the inclusiveness of all people: “I can’t hear maybes / Necessity / Not one step back / On the wave of history.” Full Communism represents a huge step forward. The message etched in the vinyl can’t be denied and needs to be heard.  –Sean Arenas (Don Giovanni, dongiovannirecords.com)


DRAKULAS:
Owowowowowowow: 7”
Sometimes fate just works in your favor. I was about to order this 7” when it arrived in my review pile. You gotta love when that happens. The only thing better is when the record is absolutely amazing, which, in this case, I am going two for two! I was trying to come up with a term for what Drakulas sounds like to me. Dirty, catchy, stripped-down punk rock. I think it would fit nicely with the likes of The Spits or Video. Bands that seamlessly keep it simple and complex at the same time yet never let you stop bobbing your head or shaking your ass. The term I came up with was raw wave. Drakulas is definitely a raw wave band. They would have been the coolest gang in The Warriors. They are coming to take you out and take your turf and your girl. Be warned, Drakulas are coming.  –ty (Red Scare)


DUMB LUCK:
Tides: CS
I love shit like this. Big-hearted, earnest, thoughtful punk along the lines of New Junk City, Defiance, Ohio, and fellow Oregonians Hi Ho Silver, Away. Ragged melodies, male/female vocals, and smart lyrics that stand firmly within the realm of the personal without being mercilessly obtuse. While the half dozen songs here aren’t quite as jaw-dropping as stuff from the previously mentioned folks, it’s still rad, and they’re still, I believe, a youngish band. Tides suffers just a bit from Bad Religion Syndrome (many of the songs sounding pretty similar), so I’d love to hear some more discrepancies the next time around. And, yeah, I’m wholly convinced that their next outing is gonna be pretty stellar, because like I said, this is still really good, and deserving of repeated listens. Check it out.  –keith (Dumb Luck)


EARWORMS:
Self-titled: LP
Anthemic, melodic hardcore with great musicianship. They throw in the occasional guitar noodle or odd time signature, but never to the detriment of the rockness. And, rock this does. I’m hearing some Avail chest-pounding, some Kid Dynamite smart-guy-pile-ons at the mic, and maybe even some prime All in the complicated parts. Earworms are a three-piece band from Brooklyn. If I was riding shotgun and this came on, I’d do some crazy dashboard to glove compartment to window roller drumming. –Chris Terry (Dead Broke, deadbrokerecords.com / MoneyFireRecords.com)


EMPTY PALACE:
The Serpent Between the Stars: CS
Styx was bad enough the first time around.  –Michael T. Fournier (Snappy Little Numbers)


EPIC PROBLEM / HOLIDAY :
Split: 7”
Let’s get right to the meat and potatoes of it all. First up is Epic Problem. Raspy street punk vocals over upbeat music that falls some place between Leatherface and Face To Face. That really looks weird on paper but it sounds great. Two songs weren’t enough for me. Holiday is a little more on the Razorcake-y tip with their first song reminiscent of maybe Muhammadali or Canadian Rifle. The second song was a little more sing-songy but was also pretty cool. There is nothing like getting a split 7” where you end up wanting to check out both bands afterwards. Score!  –ty (Brassneck, brassneckrecords.bandcamp.com)


EVERYDAY OBJECTS:
Self-titled: CS
Basement punk with discordant melodies with the herky-jerk of early ‘80s Urinals, Devo, and newbies The Coneheads. Vocals are nasal and almost childish, but I like it. The lyrics are ironic and dark: “Betray every idea you can get your trembling hands on / And when you start losing friends then you’ll know you’re doing it right.” They are most def doing something right.  –Camylle Reynolds (Self-released, mincemaim@gmail.com)


EX-CRAW:
Extant/Extinct: CD
Okay guys, it’s time for a band meeting. You’re clearly not on the same page. Judging by your lyrics, you’re a crust band (“War, famine, a final solution!”). But then, when you’re in the midst of some epic crustitude, in drops a guitar solo straight out of a ‘90s Epitaph record. Then you get all thrashy and spazzy. I mean, is that thrash or is that some grindcore noise thing at the end of “No Asylum?” “Servants” is a total mosh party. Are you a mosh party band? Can you just decide what you want to be, so I can classify you and file your CD away instead of listening to it repeatedly trying to figure it out and understand why it works so well?  –mp (Cubo De Sangre)


EXORCISMS:
“Scripted Lines” b/w “This Might Hurt a Bit”: 7”
I feel like the members of this band own Drive Like Jehu records and really good soul 45s, which means I would hang out with them for sure. There’s also something garage-y about them, too. Is this post-garage? I don’t know how to describe the guitar work at the end of “Scripted Lines” so I will say it’s “like cool sparkly lasers,” a term you will learn if you study serious music at prestigious places. “Solid/driving/cool guitar sounds” is one of the great micro-genres, and Exorcisms do that micro-genre justice.  –Matt Werts (Self-released, exorcisms.bandcamp.com)


FALCON ARROW:
Anti-Matter: CD
My P.I.C. Cheetah convinced me to head downtown on a Wednesday night, shattering my plans to once again celebrate my #domesticbliss. So I got on my bike. It’s true; I needed to get out of the house. We rode downtown and caught the last couple songs of our buddy’s band. I was about one sheet in the breeze when Falcon Arrow started their set. They took me from daydream to revelation in about one minute. I dunno, maybe it’s because I’m getting old. Maybe these aren’t actually wrinkles, but new facets of this little gem becoming visible. Some years back I probably would have been bored to tears by a two-piece instrumental band. But Falcon Arrow fuckin’ moved me, y’all! It was an amazing set. Anti-Matter has definitely lived up to the emotion and power of that live performance. Effortlessly brilliant.  –Jackie Rusted (Self-released, falconarrow.bandcamp.com)


FALL:
Sub Lingual Tablet: CD
The Fall is less a band than an experience. A taste to be acquired, loved, and coveted. How do you rate a band led by one Mark E Smith, fifty ex-members, and thirty previous studio albums? On their thirty-first, there has been criticism that Smith has become complacent with his longest-running line up of eight years. Was the Fall’s last outing rougher and more acerbic? Sure. Is the new album just as difficult and hypnotizing? Yes. This new LP channels moments of krautrock mixed with African rhythms and sharp post-punk. The Fall is timeless. This could be its tenth or twenty-seventh album. You cannot judge a new Fall album by what has come before. It’s another part of the machine; always the same and yet different. The late, great John Peel once said, “If anyone tells me they know which are the five best Fall albums, I’ll tell them they have missed the point. You need to own them all.” That’s how I feel about the Fall. This is just another testament to the genius Mark E Smith.  –Tim Brooks (Cherry Red, cherryred.co.uk)


FAR OUT:
Universe: LP
I’m a complete sucker for a hook, and this LP by Houston’s Far Out has so many catchy hooks that I don’t think I could possibly dislike this if I tried. These guys blend straight-up pop mixed with punk sensibilities in a way most bands don’t get right... but Far Out got it right. Any comparison I make will not do this record justice, but imagine a less crooning and slightly more punk Smoking Popes with a depreciated sense of self worth and a worldview so gently dismal and narcissistic that it paints a sugary yet bleak picture of hopelessness for the future without forcefully ramming it down your throat. Not exactly being a ray-of-eternal-sunshine kind of guy myself, I can relate to this, and therefore I immediately connected with this record. Aesthetically inconspicuous in that the record doesn’t have the band’s name (or any text for that matter) anywhere on the cover, I predict this will be inadvertently overlooked, which is a damn shame because it’s really, really fucking good. Recommended.  –Mark Twistworthy (Honeygold, faroutuniverse.bandcamp.com)


FLATLINERS, THE:
“Resuscitation of the Year” b/w “Fangs”: 7”
Listening to The Flatliners recalls memories of music I listened to my freshman year of high school. The two songs on this 7” are just abrasive enough to make parents hate it, but are overloaded with slick production and the kind of poppy hooks that I can imagine hearing it on the local rock radio station. My fourteen-year-old self would have fist-pumped and sang along to this. My present-day self thought this was a bit too slick for my tastes, and it didn’t do much to hold my attention.  –Paul J. Comeau (Fat Wreck)


FLEABITE:
T.T.Y.L: 7” EP
What a great little record we have here. Aesthetically speaking, it’s the nicest release I’ve seen in a while. The quality of the packing and the layout choices are second to none. The tunes are awesome grungy, dream pop punk from Boston—that hits the nail right on the head. It’s extremely catchy with excellent female vox. My wife loves it, too. Great job, gals (and guy).  –Steve Adamyk (Puzzle Pieces, puzzlepiecesrecords.bigcartel.com)


FLESH WORLD:
The Wild Animals in My Life: LP
A heady mix of dream pop, punk aggression, and a little of the Velvet Underground’s dark, deceptive simplicity in evidence here. The guitars churn and grind over vaguely dancey rhythms with everything tied together by soft, occasionally monotone vocals. Good stuff.  –jimmy (Iron Lung)


FUCK OFF AND DIES, THE:
Dear Liver: CD
I really wanted to hate this. It’s got that Fat Wreck pro-punk sound with the obnoxious kick and snare all over it (in point of fact, they have a line that goes “remember when partying used to be fun / we listened to NOFX ‘til the night was done,” eeesh, the horror!), a paradigm which has never done much for me. With the exception of two short betrayals of their core formula—”Motherfucker” and “Get Fucked”—EVERY SONG IS ABOUT PARTYING (that’s not entirely true. When the band is feeling introspective, they just sing about drinking, not partying), like Andrew W.K. fronting Masked Intruder or something. I was like, what the fuck, give review shit like this to someone who’s actually been to Warped Tour, not me, ya know? However, about four songs in, I decided I needed to kind of sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up and just tip my cap to these guys, as they have executed their vision to perfection. The sound is flawless, if that’s what you’re into, and the energy level is top notch. If you really want to hear a twenty-five minute album of perfect Fat Wrecky-sounding songs about partying, drinking, and more partying, this is the archetype, now and forever, and may god have mercy on your soul and liver. Amen. BEST SONG: I dunno, I kind of liked the one about partying, myself. BEST SONG TITLE: “Dear Liver” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: I really don’t ever remember seeing Busch cans on an album cover before. Ugh.  –norb (Encapsulated)


GAS CHAMBER:
Stained Hand: 7” EP
From the long, haunting instrumental intro to the A side (“Always Coming Home”) it is clear these cats are more than proficient with their instruments and are thinking at deeper levels than merely “how fast can we play?” “Epic” is a good adjective to use in relation to what they’re doing on the tracks here and, though it doesn’t quite fall within my personal tastes, I can say without reservation they’re quite adept at their chosen take on the genre. Kudos to ‘em.  –jimmy (SPHC, sphc.bigcartel.com)


GENTLEMEN PREFER BLOOD:
Used Books and Guns: LP/CD
If I had any kind of religious bone in my body, on first hearing this record I would have thrown myself to the ground, clasped my hands together, and given thanks to whichever deity presided over my chosen faith. Simply put, this brings together all the required elements that I look for in melodic punk rock and doesn’t falter from start to finish. The guitar crunches and punches away, the rhythm section is as solid as a rock, and while the lead vocal is distinctive in its own right, at times it reminds me of Trevor Keith and Ben Weasel. As an added bonus there are some sweet harmonies that have a Green Day 39/Smooth quality to them. These songs are so well-written that even after a single play they’re repeating in my head with ease. Sheer genius.  –Rich Cocksedge (It’s Alive, info@itsaliverecords.com, itsaliverecords.com / La Escalera, will@laescalerarecords.com, laescalerarecords.com)


GENTLEMEN PREFER BLOOD:
Used Books and Guns: LP/CD
If I had any kind of religious bone in my body, on first hearing this record I would have thrown myself to the ground, clasped my hands together, and given thanks to whichever deity presided over my chosen faith. Simply put, this brings together all the required elements that I look for in melodic punk rock and doesn’t falter from start to finish. The guitar crunches and punches away, the rhythm section is as solid as a rock, and while the lead vocal is distinctive in its own right, at times it reminds me of Trevor Keith and Ben Weasel. As an added bonus there are some sweet harmonies that have a Green Day 39/Smooth quality to them. These songs are so well-written that even after a single play they’re repeating in my head with ease. Sheer genius.  –Rich Cocksedge (It’s Alive, info@itsaliverecords.com, itsaliverecords.com / La Escalera, will@laescalerarecords.com, laescalerarecords.com)


GEOFFERY OI!COTT:
Sticky Wickets: CD
Who would’ve thought that the combination of the sedate sport of Cricket and some gritty street punk would have proved so appealing that these punks would get to a third LP without being dismissed as a novelty act? It is certainly an odd concept and is a bit hit or miss for me, with lyrics ranging from downright hilarious to those taking on a more smutty approach. Knowledge of the game does help in appreciating the humor within the songs, which (apart from a few tracks dedicated to the “sport” of darts) are exclusively related to stumps, red balls, and streakers. Unfortunately, this doesn’t knock me for six.  –Rich Cocksedge (Boss Tuneage, bosstuneage.com)


GIRL TEARS:
Tension: EP
Aesthetic really comes to mind with these guys. They have a clear artistic direction, song formula, and a look. There is a lot of black and white with no bullshit. The songs are short, all clocking in at about one minute. They are quick and to the point with lo-fi, crooner vocals and a straightforward punk sound. I can’t help but think of a more refined version of the Spits. The vinyl is one-sided, the reverse comes with leather jacket etching, and the insert has a booklet full of illustrations by their bassist Tristan Ellis. While their art direction is some of the best I’ve seen in a while, the songs are also rad and they playing constantly. Get into these guys now while they still belong to us.  –Ryan Nichols (Sinderlyn, no address listed)


GOOD COP:
Self-titled: CS
After you solve the puzzle box packaging and get to the cassette inside, you will be rewarded with tunes that alternate between awkward, all-elbows rockers and the sort of indie rock lullabies that make you want to lay down in a field somewhere and stare up at the sky while thinking romantic thoughts for hours and hours. You are not obligated to replace the cassette in the puzzle box when finished. You can listen again.  –mp (Eternal Laser, eternallaser.tumblr.com)


GRANDMA’S BOYFRIEND:
Let Me Let You Go: CD
Seems to me the dead horse that is power pop has been beaten, liquefied, and molded into something as unique as a Teddy Graham... but wait, what’s this? Is it the heat? Is it the gin? Is my tape deck fucking busted? Sickeningly sweet, warbling, and lo-fi-as-fuck tunes of love, loss, and moving on. Typically not my scene, but Grandma’s Boyfriend got me there. Turns out ya gotta leave it to some Minnesotans to change my mind. If you hate power pop, you may actually enjoy Grandma’s Boyfriend. He’s pretty cool and he tells the best stories, but if he asks you to pull his finger...  –Jackie Rusted (Dirty Rabbit, dirtyrabbitrecords.tumblr.com)


HEALERS:
Time Is a Vulture That Is Always Circling: CS
Quality stuff here: tom-heavy and spooky, with echoey vocals and garage guitar sensibilities. Maybe a little goth, but with none of the cartoonish sensibilities I associate with the genre. MurderCity Devils come to mind, especially during the band’s heaviest bits. A hell of a cassette.  –Michael T. Fournier (healers.bandcamp.com)


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