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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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FIXTURES, THE:
Forward: 12-song 10"
Kevin, the lead singer and drummer for The Fixtures, has been banging and making a racket in LA, for, fuck, going on fourteen years (Dangerous Music, their first album, was released in 1987). Fast enough for hardcore kids with assflaps to churn, they’re a lot more than just that. The uniqueness comes from Kevin. Two things. He’s the drummer and lead singer. The only other band I can think of with that set up is The Carpenters, and, thankfully, the similarities end there. I don’t think Kevin’s bulimic and The Fixtures have nothing to do with bubblegum pop. The other thing is that Kevin is punk rock’s answer to an operatic overlord. The closest comparison I can come up with is Jello Biafra; his voice can trill, sound gloomy doomy, and he sings all the way through (Kevin’s been at this way too long to be clumped to being a Dead Kennedys clone). It throws some people off on first listen, but believe me, it doesn’t take long and you won’t even notice it. The result: ultra-tight, satisfying, drum-driven, smart punk rock. Another strong outing. –todd (The Fixtures, Gate to Hell)


WHY NOT:
Caution Wet Floor: CD
It sounds like demo recordings by a South Florida band steeped in mid-’80s hardcore. While there really ain’t much new or inspiring goin’ on, a healthy dose of humor keeps the proceedings fun at the very least. –jimmy (SoFla)


FIVE FOOT NOTHING:
Pretty Nuclear: CD
You get me on a wrong day and you might expect the reaction that you read. What I hear is very poppy and almost emo sounding rock mixed with punk. I’m not in the mood to be charitable. I’m not going to continue to listen to this. It made me sour and I did not enjoy the experience, like my first prostate exam. –don (Boss Tuneage)


WHAT THE KIDS WANT:
Inside Jokes Explained : 7”
What the fuck DO kids want these days? Records with whiny girl vocals and goofy bass lines? How the hell would I know? I’m probably old enough to be the singer’s father. Gotta give ‘em credit though. “Fast and Reckless” is a cute song about delivering pizza, which I do know something about. The band has that naïve-but-full-of-beans attitude which is alternately endearing and nerve wracking. Their lefty sentiments are encouraging but a little more rage and a little less pep would go a long way. –eric (Talking Dog)


WEAKERTHANS, THE:
Reconstruction Site: CD
People keep asking me if I like the Weakerthans. Now I have an answer – a definitive no. Mellow whine-rock. Oh yeah, and if you mention Foucault, you’re an asshole. –megan (Epitaph)


FIREBALLS OF FREEDOM:
Welcome to the Octagon: CD
Their last CD, Total Fuckn’ Blowout, was a damn-fine recording. I’ve only got to hear their first release The New Professionals a few times, but I’ve heard most the songs off it at one time or another. And now this thing called Welcome to the Octagon. Jesus Christ! Recorded in Texas at the Sweatshop right after Garage Shock and with a new bass player (Dr. Multilingual Love) this might be my favorite so far. With songs titled “Panties Off” and “Swamp Wolf,” in my humble opinion, you can not go wrong, my friends. But the thing that puzzled me—better yet intrigued me, is the title of the record itself. One word, especially…. Octagon. I see this and I think Octopussy (007). I think Dr. Octagynecologist. Stop signs. It brings up thoughts of eight-armed ju-ju spirits. This needs more research. Peoples of the sonic rumbles, listen at it! –brian (Estrus)


FEDERATION X:
American Folk Horror: CD
If you go with the abbreviated title of their name it becomes Fed X, which brings to mind FedEx (Federal Express) the Memphis-based global delivery service whose plane caused Tom Hanks to be stranded on an island. That movie was perfect for the fans of Survivor. Came out just at the right time. A sort-of supplemental point of reference for the identification of crap TV. Tom Hanks is no Tenacious D. And Tenacious D is nothing like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Speaking of which whatever happened to Conan? This is an important issue that should be reviewed in length at a later time. Back to the matter at hand—the new Fed X CD. This one is for the Graveyard Soup lover in us all. –Brad (Estrus)


FALL OUT:
Demo: CD
must.... reach.... out..... and........ turn........ stereo......... off..................................... wretched............. music.......... draining........ life.... energy................................................ –jimmy (www.falloutonline.com)


WE TALKED ABOUT MURDER:
Expecting the Explosion: CD
Seems like most bands with sentences for names are pretty cool. Most of ‘em. –Cuss Baxter (Has Anyone Ever Told You?)


FACTORY INCIDENT, THE:
Helmshore: CDEP
I’ve gotta be one of the only people on the planet that absolutely loathed Government Issue’s later recordings. I’d read all these glowing reviews of each record they put out after Joyride, praising the sheer genius of John Stabb and his merry pranksters, and secretly wonder what the hell was wrong with me ‘cause I thought it was crap. No matter how many times I listened to each album, how hard I tried to “get it,” the only thing I was ever able to glean from each musical experience was complete boredom. It wasn’t just GI in particular, either. Damn near all of what came outta DC from, say, 1985 on absolutely bored me to tears. All of those bands that formed the nucleus of the fledgling “emocore” thang, Beefeater, Rites of Spring, Egghunt, et al., collectively seemed like one big vacuum intent on sucking all the excitement from the only other scene outside of Los Angeles that I gave two shits about and putting in its stead the very same arty, self-centered pretentiousness that so many of us hated about bands like Yes and ELP. It’s not that I wanted all that was coming outta there to sound like Minor Threat or even United Mutations, but I did (and still) miss the intensity of emotion that seemed so integral to that early scene and, frankly, Jawbox just don’t do it for me. I’m able to experience more intense feelings these days trying to put together a futon. But I digress. This is an EP courtesy of Stabb (now apparently going by his given name of John Shroeder) and his latest band that, although not particularly energetic, is thankfully interesting enough to warrant more than a casual listen. The sound is not unlike very mellow, post-Sonic Youth pop with guitars eschewing the standard barre chord (the punker’s fave) for more complex fingerings, and John gently crooning along. It’s also loads better than what GI ended up being, which alone is a definite plus. As this played, I found myself thinking of a boat ride on a lake, which I guess means that there’s also a certain nonverbal picturesque quality to what they’re doing that is effective. This disc certainly ain’t exactly gonna win them any punker points, but at this point in time, I don’t think they care much about such things anymore. I woulda loved to hear them do “Sheer Terror” with this sound, though. Hee hee. –jimmy (Post/Fact)


VON ZIPPERS, THE:
The Crime Is Now!: CD
Lo-fi garage sounds from Estrus? Whoudda thunk? I’d heard of the Von Zippers before, but never actually listened to these boys from the great white north. Political themes but pulled off in a pretty rockin’ manner, which started me thinking: has there ever been a political garage band? I thought about it on and off for a few days, couldn’t come up with anything, and then asked Todd if he knew of any. We sat around the office for a while, but neither of us could come up with any. Not my favorite Estrus release lately, but I’ll definitively hold on to it and let it grow on me more. I’m pretty sure it will. –megan (Estrus)


EPOXIES, THE:
Self-titled: 7" EP
Oh… my… gawd…. Nicholas Cage, pre-steroid enhancement, even pre-Raising Arizona was in a so fucking awful it was fucking great movie, one that sparked a world-wide movement of gagging on household utensils, mall abuse, skinny ties, and suburban misunderstanding. Valley Girl. It even had a soundtrack so influential that there’s already been a full-on punk tribute to it. The Epoxies. Two words: new wave. Androids. Male eyeliner. Slashy sun glasses. Androgynous voices (there’s both male and female voices, but they’re real similar), unabashed, up-in-front synthesizers. Word on the street (Not on my street. Ranchero music is ruling supreme, almost drowning out the cock fighting training) is that new wave’s the Next Big Thing. That, I could give two shits about. However, the Epoxies have sniffed the early ‘80s glue that nutted up Devo and they’ve huffed up a lot of Human League to know their chops, lay a beat, and whip up some catchy songs with Casio-esque flourishes. The punk rocker in me wishes for a tad more drive (a la Servotron), but this is far from ass. –todd (Dirtnap)


VON BONDIES:
Raw and Rare: CD
A live set, some BBC sessions (I believe) and a couple of other live tunes from a band that apparently wields a certain amount of respect in some circles, and it’s apparent here why: there’s some flat-out rockin’ trash rock here. With the exception of the last two tracks, the sound quality is great, the performance is inspired across the board and the songs themselves are great. Some mighty impressive work is in evidence here, and one hell of a listen, to boot. –jimmy (Dim Mak)


END ON END:
Self-titled: 7"
The name’s from a Rites of Spring album. The vocals sound like non-shit (pre-Field Day) Dag Nasty, mostly sung, sometimes shouted. Some of them have facial growth like “Finding the Rhythms”-era Hot Water Music. Speaking of, many of the breakdowns could be easily placed in earlier HWM’s repertoire And so End On End follows suit, almost down to a tee. The lyrics are fair (i.e. “we’ve missed the mark and fallen short of where we’ve aimed”). I really want to like this more than I do. Great intentions. Fair execution. Their predecessors have such long shadows and without fire of their own, they shed no new light. Sorry. –todd (Headline)


EGGNOGS, THE:
You Are Special: CD
Weird, college pop music for complete spastics. It’s actually pretty damn cool. –jimmy (Tyros)


VIRUS NINE:
Blastin’ Away!: CD
Punk Rock Listenin’ Lesson #1,247: If a band has a song called “Stay Proud! Stay True! Stay Punk!” or any derivation thereof, the odds are that any song they are responsible for is gonna suck some serious turtle testicles. Like your average Casualties record, I’d dismiss this piece of shit as a joke, but I have no urge to laugh. –jimmy (A-F)


VINNY JACK AND THE JABS:
Self-titled: CDEP
When I got the Blacklist Brigade CDs from No Front Teeth, I couldn’t imagine British streetpunk sounding any more raw. Then, some of the guys from Blacklist Brigade started Vinny Jack and the Jabs, and they got more raw. These songs sound like they were recorded on someone’s boom box as the guys were getting drunk, but before they could go out and get in a fight. It’s tough and fucked up and sounds damn good through the fuzz. I’d recommend picking up any of the Blacklist Brigade CDs first. Once you’ve been indoctrinated into the No Front Teeth school of street punk, though, Vinny Jack and the Jabs will be your next logical step. –sean (No Front Teeth)


DS 13:
Killed by the Kids: CD
Imagine, for a second, if Minor Threat didn’t break up. I’m not speaking ill of Minor Threat and I’m still a huge Fugazi fan, but for the sake of argument, imagine what could have been done if a whole batch of songs never got released and they explored new avenues within Out of Step. Wonder no longer. Umea, Sweden’s DS 13 play like a cattle prod to the soft and tenders; pure thrash, pure attack, pure attitude and it’s so forceful, it’s hard to think of them as any sort of throwback. And unlike Charles Bronson (another fave), these guys haven’t broken up. What’s amazing is that there’s no traces of metal, no traces of jockcore, no tiring, repetitive songs, just stab after glorious thrash stab without turning to blurry mush. Two minutes into it, you’re four songs on. I love it. Pushead did the cool kung-fu over skulls cover and if my sources are correct, the artwork cost almost as much as the rest of the CD, from recording, mastering, and manufacturing. If you like hard punk, you’ll have to be deaf not to dig DS 13. –todd (Havoc)


VIBROLAS:
Vista Bruiser: CD EP
Punk rock’n’roll, heavy on the rock, with a healthy dose of stoner rock thrown in for good measure. Included is a song called “Bitchin’ Camaro” that, sadly, wasn’t a cover of the Dead Milkmen classic. –jimmy (Vibrolas)


VERY APE:
Kosher Boogie: CD
First off, I’m giving this a very sympathetic review. One of the guys in this band looks like the bastard offspring of Barbara Streisand and Green Arrow. That guy’s life probably sucks enough without some smartass like me making fun of his band. This is kind of like a less good version of the Humpers, with vocals that sometimes sound kinda like Rob Halford. Sorry, dude. –Not Josh –Guest Contributor (Alive)


DMZ:
Live at the Rat: CD
This is one o’ those bands that I’ve heard bits and pieces of over the years, liked, but nothing ever got picked up. That’s my loss in the end, ‘cause this was one damn fine band. Consisting of two live shows recorded at the Rat in Boston nearly seventeen years apart, the whole thing is blessed both with some pretty inspired playing and good recording quality. Also included are some pretty funny liner notes by Monoman and, count ‘em, three different versions of “Boy from Nowhere,” which makes this worth the green alone. –jimmy (Bomp!)


DMZ:
Live at the Rat: CD
The legendary, incendiary DMZ (in conjunction with the highly esteemed musicologists at Bomp Records) have raucously released a skull-crackin’ platter of live material culled from one of their early performances in September of 1976 and then a “reunion” gig in May of ‘93. Although I personally prefer the first set due to its energetic youthfulness and frenzied brashness, the entire disc is quite simply the ultimate in pure rampagin’ rock’n’roll swagger. It’s sloppy, insolent, abrasive, and musically caustic – a robust and dangerous explosion of some of the most primal sounds man has ever unleashed! If ya need a drunkenly incoherent comparison of sorts, all I can say is Chuck Berry, The Stooges, and the New York Dolls are each sonically spraypainted into DMZ’s bloodstream with huge globs of snottiness profusely oozing outta their sweat glands. In the CD-insert liner notes, DMZ’s guitarist, J.J. Rassler, bluntly states the obvious, “The band was difficult to deny, easy to hate, and hard to love. A lotta people thought we’d just self-combust. We did kinda...”. Now that’s what I call straightforward balls-out attitude! Just one listen to Live at the Rat, and you’ll wholeheartedly agree. –Guest Contributor (Bomp!)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Warped Tour 2003 Tour Compilation: 2xCD

Another excuse for me to not go to the Warped Tour. I heard most of the bands right here.

–don (Side One Dummy)


DISMEMBERMENT PLAN, THE:
Change: CD
Perhaps their best yet. While retaining everything that separates them from every other band in existence, this record seems to move smoother than the others. That’s not to say this outing is entirely easy sailing, as they throw a wrench of chaos in the mix with songs like “Pay for the Piano.” But it works in the scheme of things. An atmospheric record that brings in many moods. From the (musically) upbeat opening track, “Sentimental Man,” to the urgency of “Secret Curse,” to the reflective “Automatic,” and on to the brilliant “The Other Side.” –Matt Average (DeSoto)


DISCARDED, THE:
I Won: CD
On first glance, I just though this was an Unseen/ Casualties ripoff. Spiky hair, bad lighting, faces of constipation, tons of patches, safety pin abuse. But something didn’t sit right. I recognized none of the patches. I don’t claim to know every punk band’s logo, but then the irony struck me like a nail through the scrote. These crusty anarcho punks aren’t. They’re Punks for Christ (with funny names like Ratty, Monkey, and Zipper). Fuckin’ weird. All their patches are wiggly, charged crosses that look like they’ve been put through the Rudimentary Peni filter. Using the crusty look, they extol the virtues of a clean mouth (no swearing), how god is good (in every song), and how anarchy’s not the way (“don’t get me wrong, our government sucks, but we can’t destroy it. We can fix it!”) Fuckin’ weird. I know I just said that. I have to ask. Why rip off the crusty look? They look like a bunch of kids you’d split a 40oz with or bat away when they’re spare changing instead of splitting wafer and juice-as-the-blood-of-christ with. The music? If you think a bad carbon copy of The Sex Pistols, cross bred with Jerry Falwell Ministries, cross bred with the fucks from the ‘80s TV show Fame sounds like a good idea, you’re no friend of mine. Awful intent, awful execution. I feel dirty. –todd (Fucking Christ)


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