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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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LAST BURNING EMBERS:
Distress Call: 3-song CDEP
Super-smart, borderline mathy rock, ala Jawbox. As a matter of fact, Last Burning Embers Jawboxian trappings are so complete, that it sounds like a hybrid cross between the albums Grippe and For Your Own Special Sweetheart – in song speed and spread, lead vocalist timbre (David Burokas’ voice signature is so close to Jay Robbins’, it’s disarming), and volume (hushed but loud, if that makes sense). I happen to like Jawbox. I also happen to know that Jawbox has broken up and will never make another song, so this is pretty good. On a related note, if you’ve ever wondered what Jack Rabid of The Big Takeover magazine sounds like as a drummer, wonder no longer. He definitely holds his own. Pleasant overall. –todd (Last Burning Embers)


LA MANCHA:
Choose Your Own Adventure: CD
Mostly mellow, mostly instrumental art rock. The majority of it is pretty, but the songs go on for way too long (many of them 10+ minutes) and get boring rather quickly. –jimmy (Sit-N-Spin)


KLASSE KRIMINALE:
Stai vivendo o stai sopravivendo? (Are You Living Or Just Surviving?): CD
Italian skinhead-sounding band. Not bad, however, everything is sung in Italian so I can’t really appreciate what they are saying. If you speak Italian and like skinhead style music, check this out. They sound pretty solid musically. Nothing new, though. I just wish I understood them. (I am not positive this is Italian. It’s just a guess.[It ain’t English]) –toby (Mad Butcher)


JOHN BROWN:
Split: 7"
John Brown’s Army are from Albany, New York. I picture a male-dominated crowd supporting this band with no hair or males shaving their hair because they are balding. I see football and basketball jerseys that have been adorned on those east coast punk rock icons. I see the women of the crowd in fear to enter the domain of the pit due to the high testosterone level. That is the picture that I draw. I don’t want to give the impression that they are a skinhead band because that is not the type of music that they play. The music is tough as nails and gives off the tough guy appearance. Intense east coast hardcore that pulls back no punches. Reagan SS: Happy faces at the Razorcake HQ. Matt Average (contributor extraordinaire, publisher of EngineFanzine and father to the Razorcake icon Henry) has a new endeavor and new outlet for his rage. He is the vocalist for this thrash unit. I also know Danny the guitarist and met Apeface, the bass player, because I jammed with him a couple of times. So I have a few nuggets of knowledge of this band. Seven straight-up thrash numbers that expresses Matt’s perspective of life. Saw them live recently and they are even more powerful live than what was captured here. Collectors alert: Half yellow, half black vinyl. –don (Gloom)


JFK JR. ROYAL AIRFORCE:
Ridicule: CDEP
This mind-swirler of a disc is a hallucinatory audial freak-out from beginning to end and all of its stoned immaculate points in between. It’s a multi-colored musical mishmash of trippy space-rock strangeness orbiting through galactic psychedelic otherworldliness while ultimately being dipped into a big ol’ boiling vat of psychotic acid-drenched sonic dementia... almost as if Hawkwind, MC5, The Amboy Dukes, “Are You Experienced?”-era Jimi Hendrix, and the Butthole Surfers were musically battling it out with distortion-heavy laser beams and blaring raygun guitars on one of the moons of Jupiter during a violently roaring sandstorm. I ain’t no fuckin’ hippie, but, son, I highly recommend that you indulge your ears with these fragrant floral sounds ASAP. So fire-up a coyote-turd sized joint and then listen to the rainbows scream as the sky melts in an explosive array of tye-dyed hues and glittery day-glo wax drippings... –Guest Contributor (Slutfish)


JERSEY:
Definition: CD
Post-emo rock‘n’roll that’s trying desperately to have that “anthemic” quality that’s missing from so much of what’s passing for punk rock these days. Shoulda come with a complimentary barf bag instead. –jimmy (Fueled by Ramen)


JAMIROQUAI:
A Funk Odyssey: CD
Why the fuck is this getting reviewed in a punk zine? I don’t care because this makes me shake my ass like a Tourettes victim with no rhythm. A good dose of funk (not punk) and disco with a mixture of Stevie Wonder and KC & the Sunshine band. Actually, you can hear elements of all different bands from the ‘70s and ‘80s here. Now go get this and shake your ass till the break of dawn! –don (Sony)


JAKE AND THE STIFFS:
If It Ain: CDEP
Very mediocre pop punk by this trio. It’s very simple and repetitive. It’s got somewhat whiney/snotty vocals but not too rough. Their poppy sound sounds a little garagey (if that’s a word), too. They also do too many cover songs, none of which are worth mentioning with one exception, The Ejected’s “Gonna Get a Gun.” This track is easily the best on the CD. This CD is supposed to have a movie but it doesn’t work on my piece of shit computer. Don’t bother spending your money on this one. It should go to something better like Toby’s trying-to-buy-a-new-computer fund. –toby (Mutant Pop)


J CHURCH:
Meaty, Beaty, Shitty Sounding: CD
Nope. No matter how hard I try, no matter how much I may want to, I just can’t get into this band. The covers of ELO, Jesus and Mary Chain and others are pleasant enough but the originals only succeed in making me cringe. Sorry. –jimmy (www.hbrecords.org)


(INTERNATIONAL) NOISE CONSPIRACY, THE:
A New Morning, Changing Weather: CD
If this dastardly doodoo of a disc had audibly existed in the early 1990s, the effeminate English VJ lout, Dave Kendall, would’ve slavishly showcased this group constantly on MTV’s 120 Minutes. They repetitiously possess all of the unexceptional markings of classic late-night musical muddiness: Michael Hutchence/Trent Reznor-style vocals, hot’n’heavy discotheque guitar sputterings, bohiney-twistin’ bass thumpings, hollow tribal drumming, heartburn-ridden synthesizer burps, and sporadic fruity spurts of spazzed-out horns. Damnit, damn you, and damn me. This is the INXS (and Midnight Oil and Duran Duran) of Epitaph. I’m gonna go chew on an empty beercan now and hopefully choke on it. Thank you. –Guest Contributor (Epitaph)


INSPECTION 12:
In Recovery: CD
Inspection 12 have redundantly released a predictable squeaky clean collection of pop-punk splooge that caused me to contemplate hacking my ears off with a big ol’ Outback steak knife. So after less than one listen, I quickly ejected this atrociously annoying disc and violently flung it to the floor. I then proceeded to brutally stomp it into a thousand jagged little pieces before drunkenly defacing its shattered remains with a steady stream of brew-saturated whizz. The overly whiney tear-jerkin’ vocals and flat, lackluster instrumentation disgusted and irritated me to no end. Inspection 12 severely lack energy, creativity, sparkle, and drive. They’re the Barry Manilow of a mediocre musical genre. A complete waste of time! Amen and, yes, I will go to hell. –Guest Contributor (Honest Don's)


HOT ROD HONEYS, THE:
Kill Me Now: LP
High energy Dwarvesy business that veers occasionally into ‘77-style and Queers territory, with denim! –Cuss Baxter (Demolition Derby)


HI-STANDARD:
Love Is a Battlefield: CDEP
I was very scared when I saw this because I thought I was going to have to listen to a cover of that terrible Pat Benetar song. To my relief, it wasn’t on this disc. Hi-Standard is what I like to describe as a Fat Wreck band with the typical Fat Wreck sound. You all know what I’m talking about. Thank goodness they are starting to change that. However, Hi-Standard is not. Very Fat pop punk here. Not bad, but not good either. Kinda okay for background music. Why does everyone insist on covering “Can’t Help Falling in Love”? Jesus Christ! –toby (Fat Wreck)


HAYMARKET RIOT:
Bloodshot Eyes: CD
Emo. Do I really need to say any more? Okay, it started off nice and discordant and got progressively worse. Happy? –jimmy (www.thickrecords.com)


HAMMERLOCK:
Barefoot and Pregnant: CD
WOO HOO! More redneck punk! I’m not a redneck (at least I don’t think so), so I’m not sure why I like this style of music so much. Maybe it reminds me of growing up in a small Florida town where the parties we went to had things going on such as pig guttin’, turtle fryin’, gator killin’, bon-fire jumpin’, hunting dog tree trimmin’, 4x4in’ and dog jerkin’ (yes, that’s correct. I knew a guy who would jerk his dog off for fun at parties). How could I not enjoy having something to listen to to bring me back to those times? Hammerlock is one of the better redneck/punk/country/rock’n’roll bands I have heard. They have a great ability to combine the songwritin’/storytellin’ style of old school country artists with the hard driven punk rock’n’roll of today. They even pay tribute to some country greats by covering Willie Nelson and Waylon Jenning’s “Good Hearted Woman” and Charlie Daniel’s “Long Haired Country Boy.” Their first track also has samples of Willie and Kris Kristofferson reading samples of old west writer Louis Lamour’s Riding for the Brand. Although you can tell they have deep roots in country, they have a hard rock’n’roll influence as well. This makes for some great foot stompin’ and head bangin’ music. The cover has a great pic of a pregnant girl in the kitchen wearing a half-shirt, holding a frying pan in one hand and a shotgun in the other. Very sexy. (Maybe I’m a redneck in denial.) If this stuff appeals to you, check them out. If you like them, contact me and we’ll have to drink Milwaukee’s Best and go mud boggin’. But I ain’t jerkin’off no dog. –toby (Steel Cage)


HALFWAY TO GONE:
High Five: CD
Enough of stupid cock rock glorification! The cover of this CD features a vulture destroying a guitar. Stupid, stupid, stupid! And it sounds like fucking stupid metal hard rock! Maybe there are hipsters who eat up all of this crap, but not this tight-panted girl! Since when have we regressed to the point of liking the same crap that punks used to wanna destroy? Who knows. If this were a cereal, it would be soggy oatmeal with metal filings in it. Soggy=old and boring. Metal filings=metal, dude. –Maddy (Small Stone)


GUNMOLL:
Anger Management in Four Chords or Less: CD
This gritty Gainsville three-piece debut with a clear and forceful album that already feels well worn and comfortable without sounding tired or contrived. It’s melodic without being able to see the easy hooks; tuneful without resorting to over-sweetness, poetic without being whiny sweater champs. They have the sense to let their songs breathe and beat and expand without boring the listener. I’ve got the feeling they’ve listened to a bunch of Husker Du (circa New Day Rising or Zen Arcade) – it’s not like they’re sitting their asses the carbon copier of that band, but they’ve got the inherent feel of what makes a song both satisfyingly punk and well written without getting lame or shitty or too arty about it. Down home without being hayseed, if that makes any sense. Entirely listenable, very infectious. Sounds honest as all hell. Very recommended. My only complaint is there’s no lyrics sheet. I like those. –todd (No Idea)


GRIEFBIRDS:
Paper Radio: CD
Man, I think I’ve done died and gone straight to flower-puff hippy hell. The Griefbirds sappily sound like that atrocious acoustic-tinged shit David Bowie was biliously blowin’ out his effeminate lily-white ass in the 1960s before he stumbled into the big-time corporate cosmos. Or this could very well be the 30-year follow-up to the vomituously twee Wings Wild Life album. Either way, it’s blandly unoriginal la-dee-da hippy music with folky sugary-sweet inflections of vile ordinariness. Does The Beatles “Rocky Raccoon” ring a bell?! I’m gonna save this though and burn it as kindling come winter. I might as well get some use out of this horrendously lackluster disc since it torturously irritated my ears for several minutes on end. –Guest Contributor (Planetary)


GAMEFACE:
Feels a Lot Better: CDEP
Anyone miss the Gin Blossoms? Neither do I. Gameface by all rights should be on easy listening rock radio, alongside Phil Collins and Live. They slaughter covers of Elvis Costello and Morrisey, as well as three milquetoast originals. –Matt Average (Firefly Recordings)


FUGAZI:
Furniture + 2: CDEP
At first, I didn’t understand why Fugazi released an EP and a full-length album at the same time. Especially since there are no overlapping songs. When I listened to the full-length and the EP in order, it made perfect sense to me. While The Argument breaks off into new musical directions, Furniture + 2 is more reminiscent of Fugazi’s earliest stuff. All three songs have the driving rhythm section, the perfect melodies, and the moments when everything explodes that made 13 Songs such a great album. Listening to these new songs more than a decade after the first Fugazi album, it’s easy for me to see how I was so blown away by Fugazi in the first place. And I try to avoid talking about the lyrics because, well, if I go around quoting Fugazi lyrics, Jimmy Alvarado is gonna make fun of me. But when Ian asks “how many times have you felt like a bookcase… full of thoughts already written?” I actually do feel a connection. The tough thing about Fugazi is that so many bands have done such a bad job of ripping them off that it’s almost given Fugazi themselves a bad name. Then, this EP comes along and makes them impossible to discount. –sean (Dischord)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Nice Guys Finish Last: CD
A non-inspiring compilation. The highlight tracks were from Strike Anywhere, The Lawrence Arms, Rise Against and Against Me!, but those tracks are available elsewhere. In fact, twenty out of the twenty-four tracks are available elsewhere. The rest of the bands on this comp that I didn’t mention seemed to be all from the same genre of pop punk/melodicore. It felt like listening to a bunch of bands cut from the same mold. The variety wasn’t varied enough to sustain my interest level. –don (Nice Guy)


VAZ:
Dying to Meet You: CD
Sounds like pre-MTV Alternative Nation alternative music. I hear a strong influence from Depeche Mode and the Cure in it at times. At other points it gets more experimental and almost prog rockish. Interesting, but none for me, thanks. –megan (GSL)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Contaminated 5.0: 2X CD
A two-disc label sampler of bands on the Relapse label. The first disc has a healthy dose of bands that I guess would fall under the “stoner rock” and “hardcore” (read: “metal”) banner, the second has all the grind and black metal bands and I could find precious little on either disc to keep my interest piqued. –jimmy (Relapse)


VACANCY, THE:
self-titled: CDEP
Uninspired pop-punk with very little punk. Songs so similar you can hardly tell one from the next. Not that I tried. –megan (A-F)


UNEARTHLY TRANCE:
Season of Séance, Science of Silence: CD
Sludgy doom rock fueled by Sabbath worship and executed with 1/32 the talent of Iommi and the boys. –jimmy (The Music Cartel, address illegible)


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·NASHVILLE PUSSY
·VARIOUS ARTISTS
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