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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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SYSTEM OF A DOWN:
Toxicity: CD
I hate to say it, but I have to. This is my favorite CD at the moment. I usually don’t follow what the kids are listening to. I try to find something exciting that the mass media is not pushing down your throats. That is my general theory. But my complacency got the best of me. Sitting at home watching videos on MTV X with my wife passing time, I got a whiff of the new single. Blown away, my wife ran out and bought it. I confiscated said item and immediately put it in my car. I had three other brand new CDs to listen to, but they did not get a chance. I was hooked! What blasted through my carefully crafted sound system was a mixture of controlled mayhem and sheer beauty that engulfed all my emotions at once. The first thoughts that ran across my mind was an intricate mixture of Primus meets the power or early Metallica cum Slayer with the ideology and structure of the Beatles during their Sgt. Peppers period. The songs have a collision of tempos that mimic almost a circus setting that thrust forward into a hardcore punk mayhem, converts to a period of toned-down, painful serenity and powers on in a metallic vein. Some of the songs have the basics for four to six songs for the common band. Things break down in many ways that it are sometimes hard to analyze. The lyrics range from cryptic, to silly, to thought-provoking questions of modern society. The vocals are sung with sheer rage and then are sung with so much pain that the mind becomes confused. Added touches of grindcore belches accent many songs while the guitarist accents his vocals. I’ve read elsewhere that there are elements of Armenian folk music infused here. I would agree there is a native element that is preeminent in the music at points, but I am naive to verify it. I do love when a band adds different parts from different genres of music to change the generic. No band at the moment that is labeled “metal” has moved me like this in awhile. From start to finish, this is one of the best releases that have passed into my possession in sometime. –don (American)


SWAMPASS:
No Means Go: CD
More post-AC/DC-cum-Motorhead rock punk that’ll make all those Nashville Pussy fans pee in their pants. Me, I’m getting a little bored with the overkill in this genre as well. They’re damn good, but fuck if they don’t sound like nearly any one of the other bands treading down this road. –jimmy (Reptilian)


STUPOR STARS, THE:
3 Song: 7"
Three chunks of non-terrible Dead Boys type rock’n’roll that is good. –Cuss Baxter (Pelado)


STILETTO BOYS:
A Company of Wolves: CD
Very nice power pop, not far afield of the Fastbacks, though without the sweet girlvox. –Cuss Baxter (Pelado)


STAYGOLD:
Self-titled: EP
I guess this is more of the “modern-hardcore” thing. I say this because the playing is not as urgent or desperate and pissed as the more traditional hardcore bands are. Really clean sounding, and it seems these guys really know how to play their instruments. Sort of like a more tuneful Undertow, with a slight rock edge. It’s a wonder these guys haven’t been picked up by Revelation or Bridge Nine yet. –Matt Average (Anchor)


SPITS, THE:
Self-titled: CD
Mid-tempo, primal and funny punk rock that flat-out stomps much of the competition into the ground. I’m particularly impressed with the fact that they are able to remind me of the Ramones without sounding like a Ramones rip off. Now that takes some doing, and for that alone, I send this along to you with the highest of recommendations. - –jimmy (Nickel & Dime)


SOUTHPORT / LONGBALL TO NO-ONE:
Split : 7"
Southport: Reminded me of Snuff. Enjoyable and melodic with a raw production that added to the feel. Longball to No-One has an emo sound to it with cryptic English lyrics. I’m assuming this is the Japanese band of the two because the lyrics make no sense to me. –don (Snuffy Smile)


SOLEDAD BROTHERS:
Self-titled: CD
Word has it that one of these guys is a phrenologist. Maybe a mind reader. A somnambulant perhaps? Regardless of their mysterious chosen occupations these fellas be a tight as hell two-piece act. Which brings about the obvious question…. What is it with two-piece bands? Is this some type of anti-bass player revolt? Bring out Rob Bass. He’ll settle the score! I’d like to see a battle, not with some bass player, but with another band of the two-piece variety, the Immortal Lee County Killers el numero dos. I’d like to see it…. I’d like to see it. –Brad (Estrus)


SMOGTOWN:
domesticviolenceland: CD
Smogtown are the most sonically crazed crew of loud’n’lively louts to ever put the punk in the rock! They savagely unleash an A-bomb’s roar of California beachpunk chaos furiously raging with snotty ‘77-style lawlessness. It’s disruptive, unrelenting, hostile, angry, combative, and merciless! The vocalist pugnaciously growls as if his throat has been aggressively dragged across a cheese-grater; the guitar rhythms are explosively similar to the frenetic fretboard flash of Steve Jones with thick, meaty leads sporadically burstin’ forth like the flames of Hell lickin’ the wounded emptiness of a condemned man’s soul; the thunderous torrents of the rumbling out-of-control bass fractured my vertabrae and split my skull straight down the middle; the drums sound like a whirlwind of crumbling bricks smashing to the pavement in the war-torn streets of Nazi Germany. And then there’s the wry lyrical commentary about nightmarish suburban uniformity, an intolerant neighborhood’s violent rejection of leather-clad spikey-haired punk freaks (ala the storyline in “Suburbia”!), obnoxious slamdancing boneheads and the havoc they wreak, a Midwest couple’s cursed quest for the American Dream in California (awww shucks, they only make it as far as Denver, Colorado), fascistic surfer racists, drugs, renegade toiletpaper-tossin’ vandals, and lots more narrative misadventures of the dimwitted, downtrodden, and depraved. Fuck yeh, Smogtown have detonated the ultimate resounding blast of snarlin’ punkrock fury! It just doesn’t develop bigger balls than this. –Guest Contributor (Disaster)


SMOGTOWN:
domesticviolenceland: CD
There are days and there are foot-stomping, pin-your-ears-back, wake-up-wanting-to-run-through-walls, need-something-to-blow-the-top-off-your-skull days. Those are Smogtown days. Domesticviolenceland is a brutal record. What it lacks in the narrative finesse characteristic of Führer's of the New Wave it makes up for in ferocity. Guitardo doesn't do walls of sound, he cuts a swath through the silence, stabbing at the empty spaces. My favorite track-of-the-minute, "Dead Actors," is their fastest song yet. It starts like a siren. Wailing guitar. Terminal bass loop. Relentless drum beat. Chavez spits non sequitors like shotgun Da-Da inoculated with instamatic irony. It's an ambush. A sneak attack on the abstract phoniness of the television programming that tries hardest to convince us of its replication of reality. But is it really just a satire, a silly spoof? Forget Holden Caulfield. Forget Homer Simpson. The final line "violence is celebrity" is a 100% accurate, non-ironic reflection of the present state of the media in this country. That's so fucked-up. –jim (Disaster)


SLAYER:
God Hates Us All: CD
If there is a God, the title implies my feeling towards life. A much anticipated release that was delayed two months because the band decided to remix the whole thing. Here is a band that I have been listening to and purchasing since I was in high school. I have seen them only once and that was before their first record came out. I think that has to be 17 or 18 years ago. Man, I am getting old. At least something from my childhood has kept up with me. If you have read my previous reviews of this band in another publication, I will keep referring to their ultimate album Reign in Blood. That is their best record and the record I use as their high point. Well, after that record, the producer, Rick Rubin pushed them in another direction and they have slowly been coming back to that point. Point made, this is the closest that Slayer has come to making a record with that intensity. The trademark sound is there. The vocals are screamed and yelled more as opposed to singing. The songs are faster and better utilizing Paul Bostaph, the replacement drummer for the last few records. Paul is a much better drummer than the original drummer, Dave Lombardo. The traditional riffage and solo attack of Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman are here. The lyrics are as evil or more so than previously releases. More spiteful and questioning that it is almost calming in comparison to an average day’s problems. A no lose situation when it comes to Slayer. You know you are getting something good and a surprise or two is in store. –don (American)


SLASH CITY DAGGERS, THE:
Backstabber Blues: CD
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you this, the latest group of Dolls clones to get a release out. This group of Xerox, junkie-chic rock’n’rollers got a set of tunes that ain’t too shabby (I can even hear a trace of early Kiss in there somewhere), although the fact that the lead vocals are buried so deep in the mix that the backup vocals are actually louder doesn’t actually complement things. I imagine that won’t make a damn bit of difference when you’re busy nodding off, though. –jimmy (Unity Squad)


SLASH CITY DAGGERS, THE:
Backstabber Blues: CD
Well I’ll be a soused-silly sappin’-at-the-gills sonuvabitch, these bad-ass backalley boys define rock’n’roll at its trashiest, sleaziest, and sluttiest! If the New York Dolls hadn’t prematurely fragmented, Backstabber Blues would’ve been their next highly anticipated release. The Slash City Daggers have the sassy seal of Johnny Thunders and crew shamelessly stamped all over ‘em (toss in a bit of The Stooges and Exile on Main Street-era Rolling Stones for full fucked-up boogie effect, and there ya have it!). With such salacious song titles as “T.V. & Pills,” “Backstabber Blues,” “Fucking You,” “Jailhouse Lover,” “Dead Drunk,” and “Backstreet Baby,” it’s a given that this is purebred rock’n’roll raunchiness at its most rebellious and saucey. The Slash City Daggers have dug deep into my heart and sonically carved me up somethin’ fierce. That’s the true power of rock’n’roll for ya! –Guest Contributor (Unity Squad)


SKIDS:
Days in Europa: CD
What is the deal with this label? Captain Oi! is probably the worst and most misleading name for this label based on my first to exposures to them. Another reissue from 1979. This one not as terrible as the first one I got (Penetration). This is still pretty bad. Reminds me of bad ‘80s European pop, like The Fixx, for instance. Definitely a dated sound. I have no problem with reissues. There are plenty of bands that stand the test of time. This one couldn’t even sit for the test. Captain Crap seems more a more appropriate moniker for this label. I think I’m going to so listen to Black Flag’s Damaged and get my head on straight. –toby (Captain Oi)


SKABS, THE:
Aged to Perfection: CD
Upon first initial listen, I abruptly concluded that this is nothin’ more than insipid goth/electronic idiocy. Halfway through my second and final audial excursion into this never-ending swirl of sonic sludge, I drunkenly decided I’ll have not one minute more of it. Although a couple of the dark’n’decadent ditties contained herein gradually grew on me like a cancerous pus-oozing lesion, I found the overwhelming majority of this dastardly disc to be absolutely tedious. An aurally torturous endeavor, indeed! It sickeningly sounds like the unmitigated worst of dance-mix Siouxsie & The Banshees with shrill ear-splittin’ Dinah Cancer-style vocals and cartoonish Halloween Bauhaus overtones (actually, the devilish vixen vocalist is at times eerily reminiscent of a transvestite PIL-era John Lydon, angrily pronunciating the lyrics with venomously impassioned sarcasm). I dunno, maybe my ears just aren’t accustomed to such demonic non-musical sadism. Next stop, Hades Au-Go-Go... –Guest Contributor (Mad at the World)


SHINER:
The Egg: CD
About eight years ago these guys could have been all over the radio. “Alterna-rock” for lack of a better term. Sort of like Juno crossed with Foo Fighters. Not bad, but nothing to go crazy over. –Matt Average (DeSoto)


SHANNONWRIGHT:
Dyed in the Wool: CD
This is a soft, lilting, well-orchestrated musical marvel that’s celestial and brightly sparkling but dark, pained, and morosely dismal as well. It’s sonically sparse, yet intricately detailed, a soul-soothing, spiritually moving collage of sweet swirling-in-the-breeze songs richly laden with the deepest of heart-wrenching emotion. ShannonWright is a uniquely gifted vocalist/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist who’s illustriously comparable to PJ Harvey, an all-acoustic Siouxsie, and a female impersonator Nick Drake. She’s absolutely the most articulate composer since Ludwig van Beethoven or, at the very least, Lennon and McCartney. Damn, I’m gettin’ all gooey and fuzzy on the inside, ‘cause my ears are irreversibly transfixed, dazzled, hypnotized, and deeply in love with the seductively bewitching sounds of Dyed In The Wool. –Guest Contributor (Quarterstick)


SELDOM:
Places I Haven: CD
Ugh. This is easily a narcoleptic’s worst nightmare. Mellow college pop dreck at its most annoyingly arty and introspective. Seeing as the label is based in Seattle, my initial reaction is to suggest that someone take the initiative of tossing all remaining copies of this into Puget Sound, but there’s gotta be a law there that prohibits polluting. –jimmy (Casa)


RIVER CITY HIGH / PIEBALD:
Split : CDEP sampler
What a stinker! River City Rebels play the sort of “rock” that you’d hear on the soundtrack of a modern teen flick. The kind where the good looking football player wishes he could fit into his circle of friends and get the hot girl to notice him. Blah... Piebald, boring. So boring I get a headache. This is what they call “emo” today. I call it shit. –Matt Average (Big Wheel Recreation / Doghouse)


RIFFS, THE:
Underground Kicks: CD
This is extreme down’n’dirty punkrock restlessness. Sex Pistolish in spots with cockney Charlie Harper-style vocals and big meaty New York Dolls subway-train riffs. The sick’n’sordid subject matter of the ear-sizzlin’ songs on here include the monstrous misery of junkie hell, confrontational drunken fisticuffs with cops, fucked-up despair, harrowing hopelessness, and relentless nihilistic tendencies. The music is savage, straightforward, catchy, captivating, and raw as fuck. It’s the Never Mind The Bollocks of the 21st Century. Anarchic rock’n’roll with all of the rage, passion, primality, and balls-out attitude that’s needed to make this one of the most outstanding punkrock releases of the past 25 years! So liven things up and stuff this into your lame lackluster list, ya mindless corporate twits at fashionably predictable Spin rag HQ! –Guest Contributor (Pelado)


REMOTES, THE:
Bitch Bitch Bitch: CDEP
Pretty cool little band here. Nothing original by any means but just good pop punk with a big Ramones influence. Very catchy songs written from a teen’s point of view about the usual: not wanting to grow up, not wanting to work, not wanting to hear your girlfriend bitch all the time and just wanting to rock in general. Stuff I continue to feel strong about even at 30. Eight songs you won’t regret spending your money on, especially if you are as immature as me. –toby (Mutant Pop)


REDUCERS SF:
Crappy Clubs and Smelly Pubs: CD
Wild, wild, motherfuckin’ wild! This is aurally the ultimate in unrelenting punkrock ferocity! The Reducers SF have so severely pummeled my skull with their incendiary sonic savagery, an ungodly amount of blood is now profusely gushing outta my ears and nose. Yep, I just might very well fuckin’ bleed to death before I ever have the opportunity to complete this rant of a review. Whooooo-weee, this is pure unbridled aural energy at its most crisp, crushing, crafty, and crazed! The Reducers SF expertly reinvent the pub-punk sounds of the golden days of yore, and they’re uncannily similar, songstructure-wise, to an atom bomb’s roar of The Business, Cockney Rejects, Sham 69, Peter & The Test Tube Babies, and even a bombastic bit of The Adicts. If the aimless complacent youth of today ever conjure the courage to raucously run amok through the streets in a disruptive show of unity while destructively rioting against the egotistical political powers that be, I’m sure the Reducers SF will proudly provide the chaos-fuelled soundtrack for such an insurrective uprising. This is the angry hostile noise of a dangerous new generation. Parents and politicians, beware! –Guest Contributor (TKO)


REAL McKENZIES, THE:
Loch: CD
I really am impressed and have enjoyed listening to this disc every time I put it on. My wife seems to enjoy it, too. I catch her listening to it in her car and sometimes at home. This Vancouver, B.C. band plays punk with a Scottish flair and is accented with two bagpipe players. Now, that is bitchin’! It rocks along with a great place and sometimes you feel like you need to kick your legs high in the air. Some might think that the bagpipes might become annoying, but they don’t. I like when a band adds a new element to the music and makes it original. These guys have put their heritage on their sleeves (and kilts!) and produced something that might interest not only the punks but also those outside of the scene. For those into Flogging Molly, Irish drinking songs, or the Pogues, have a good, stiff whiskey and listen! –don (Honest Don’s)


RATOS DE PORAO:
Guerra Civil Canibal: CD
More loud‘n’fast hardcore from this long running Brazilian band. They’ve picked up a slight tinge of metal over the course of the last 15-plus years, but the songs go by in such a blur that you barely notice. As with damn near anything else this band has put out, this is guaranteed to peel pieces off of your face at first listen if you’re not careful to make sure it’s not too loud. Purty cover with a guy eating another guy’s leg, too. –jimmy (Alternative Tentacles)


RANDY:
Self-titled: 7" EP
Sweden’s Randy has the knack of melding Chuck Berry riffs, serious leftist politics and slathering it with infectious pop and catchy choruses while updating the themes to keep them entirely relevant in the now. That’s a tough gig because a.) most leftist politics is as boring as watching your tire tread slowly wear away b.) most leftist politic bands have a kindergartener level of comprehension or are near-impenetrable pretentious assholes. Randy avoid all that. In fact, if they were an instrumental band, I’d still dig ‘em. Turn of the century anarchist, Emma Goldman flatly rejected the idea of joining a revolution that she couldn’t dance to. She’d dig Randy. Revolution with a circle pit. Revolution that makes you want to read books along to. Two of these songs are on their new album (slightly different versions), Human Atom Bombs, which I highly suggest. Cool piece of butterscotch colored wax. –todd (Fat Wreck Chords)


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