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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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WHIPS AND FURS:
We Are Legs on Wheels: CD
On the corner of Art Avenue and Rock Street, Whips and Furs haven’t quite figured out which path to take as a band. Instead of inspiring the best out of both genres (For art—early Gang of Four’s a nice way to go. For the rock, I thought they’d of learned some from The Vibrators’ catalog, since they’re named after one of The Vibrators’ songs). It’s a classic torn-at-the-middle dilemma. When it’s about to rock, it often slows for no real good reason. On the converse, it never gets super weird or damaged, so all the art is well within the lines. Although full of promise, this record just comes out as mostly tedious, well-trained, and far too restrained. Kinda like the musical equivalent of Shrinky Dinks version of a classic punk record. –todd (Slab O Wax)


WEAKLINGS, THE:
Rock N Roll Owes Me: LP
Have always heard that these guys were hot shit punk rock, but what I’m hearin’ here is just yer average rock band. No big whoop. –jimmy (Dead Beat)


VODKA JUNIORS:
Suburban Core: CD
Strung Out meets Bad Town Boys with a dash of Youth of Today. It’s positive, skate boarder friendly, derivative, excellently executed, professionally tight, and didn’t do anything for me. If we were still in the mid-’90s, they’d fit opening a bill for No Use For A Name and Lagwagon. Melodicore is like this fifty-foot long sheet cake. The first few slices can be awesome, but if you have to try to eat the whole thing, that’s a fuckin’ chore. Sorry. It came all the way from Greece, too. –todd (Playfalse/Cannonball 666)


VIBRATORS:
V2: CD
Although album number two for these guys was an attempt at a more “studio” feel, the proceedings are strangely more “punk” in sound than some of the stuff on Pure Mania. The pub rock undercurrent is still evident, but it is a tad more muted, with the boys opting to nudge thing just a tad closer to the edge. Nonetheless, the hits just keep on a-comin’ over the course of this second effort—”Automatic Lover,” “Pure Mania,” “Nazi Baby,” “Troops of Tomorrow,” and they’ve even thrown in the “Judy Says” single as a bonus. –jimmy (Captain Oi)


VIBRATORS:
Pure Mania: CD
This, the boys’ first full-length, features much of their “classic” repertoire, including, “Whips and Furs,” “London Girls,” “Stiff Little Fingers” and, of course, “Baby Baby,” which L.A. punkers Shattered Faith covered way back when, and there are bonus live and singles cuts as well, including “We Vibrate.” Considerably more nuanced and prone to openly dancing on the fine line between punk and pub rock than many of their peers, these guys still delivered the goods with the best of ‘em. Rumor has it they’re still out and about. Hopefully they’ll do us the courtesy of cranking out an album of new “classics” rather than rest on their past efforts. –jimmy (Captain Oi)


VENOMOUS CONCEPT:
Retroactive Abortion: CD
A supergroup, of sorts, featuring members of the Melvins, Brutal Truth and Napalm Death. These guys do justice to their admitted Poison Idea influence by keeping things short, straightforward, and heavy. The vocals get a little too death metal growly in places, and it’s obvious that those involved have played more than their share of chugga-chugga riffs, but they keep the metal to the point of virtual nonexistence. All in all, this is some pretty solid hardcore. –jimmy (Ipecac)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Warped Tour 2004 Compilation: CD
Here is a quick summary: fifty bands, fifty songs from the bands on the tour. Who’s on the comp? Everybody. –jimmy (One Side Dummy)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Volume Two Instant Singles Collection: CD
Great idea, a bunch of bands each contributing an EP’s worth of music all in a neatly packaged CD that looks just like a 7”. This second singles collection from Boss Tuneage is a mixture of international pop punk talent with bands from Japan, Belgium, and even Scotland. There were six bands to choose from, but only Rope (British power pop punk) stood out with their infectious pop-melodic sound and a rhythmic bass groove that really stood out. Innerface from Belgium make a splash with a great cover of “Hanging on the Telephone” by Blondie. –Guest Contributor (Boss Tuneage)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Toronto City Omnibus: LP
Toronto is one of the hot scenes on the planet right now in punk rock. Here is a great sampler that shows why people are currently going gaga over the music coming out that region. First off are the Class Assassins, who play real catchy street punk that is equally tough and melodic. Their first 7” is on Soap and Spike Records and a full length is on TKO. Not sure if they put out anything else. Haymaker is another band that has put out a good amount of material. Angry-as-fuck punk that is not pretty to the ears. They even throw in a Reagan Youth cover for good measure. Legion 666 is equal parts black metal mixed with crust. The name alone evokes heaviness. Career Suicide is a fave at the Razorcake HQ. See the interview in issue 21. Pure old school punk purity. Riot 99 has put out a couple of CDs in the last few years and put their name on the map. You’ve probably heard the current punks on a pedestal, Fucked Up. Just like a scene report, this record has some heavy hitters. Scare Tactic, Murder Squad T.O. and the Blue Demons round this out. In a time when comps are usually really bad, it’s surprising to get one that is actually good. –don (Schizophrenic)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
To the Bitter End: CD
Crispy Nuts! In all honesty, the song on here by Crispy Nuts is the only reason I picked this up. At one point in my life they were my favorite Japanese punk band, and they continue to rule in a Supersnazz-covering-Flag-of-Democracy way. The rest of this international compilation (including two bands from Estonia and one from Slovakia) is mostly either shouty Stiff Little Fingers stuff or crusty metal in the vein of Totalitar. Nothing on here is bad or anything, but very little stands out. –Josh (Vinehell)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Shakin: CD
Assorted ‘60s slop, lo-fi and surfy instrumentals to turn out your next party. Features the Golden Boys, the Crack Pipes, the Deadites, The Ugly Beats, White Heat, and others, many of which feature Mr. Hank Tosh on drums, who seems to get around quite a bit. –jimmy (Licorice Tree)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Scumrock: CD
I listened to the original soundtrack for Jon Moritsugu’s new film on the way to work this morning. Most of the drive, I stared slightly into the blue sky, focusing half my eyes on the telephone company truck in front of me, locked onto the ladders and metal doodads on its roof as the trees, poles, wires and clouds zoomed by. Got a cup of coffee and despite waking up, the soundtrack was still a perfect morning buddy. Good times. Overall, the CD made me think of the term “indie rock,” but that’s selling it short, as I will listen to it much more than once. Songs by Casiotone for the Painfully Alone (different mixes), Mel Davis (original themes from the movie), J-Church (cool demo version of “Stars Are Exploding”), Toni Ann (one unreleased song), The Molly Bolts and Camelot (one unreleased song). –mike (New City)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Saved by Punk Rock: CD
It’s odd how a compilation from Texas sounds like an overview of prime OC beach punk. I’m no expert, but I’d wager that most of these bands could go toe-to-toe with many of the bands on Hostage Records and hold their own. It’s good stuff. –Josh (Rezist)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
CD/DVD: Rock Against Bush Vol. II
Thumbs up to Punkvoter.com. They’ve mobilized the punks like no other force in punk rock’s history. To show that we’re not blowing cheap publicity smoke up their asses, both Jimmy Alvarado and I go a little bit more in depth about them in our columns and articles in this issue. To tell you the truth, with the notable exception of the blazing new Dillinger Four song, “Like Sprewells on a Wheelchair,” Green Day’s surprisingly good “Favorite Son,” and The Dwarves “Kids Today,” there is very little new on this comp that twisted my ear up and glued me to the stereo. (I like but already have the Bad Religion, Flogging Molly, Hot Water Music, Operation Ivy, and Jawbreaker cuts.) I honestly feel dirty and shameful listening to such built-in-the-laboratory-for-the-Warped-Tour bands as Autopilot Off and Yellowcard. Ick. Really. Fuck your violin and your sugar-voiced slime. But that’s such a small quibble when I know that hundreds of thousands of kids are going to take this home, sit in their front rooms with their parents, and pop in the DVD. To know non-punks will hear why Patton Oswalt thinks it’d be fuckin’ cool to die in the Apocalypse sidled next to a great dissection of the importance of independent media in a time of war, featuring Amy Goodman, makes my heart warm. People on the fence will get at least a dollop of information from a non-conservative viewpoint. The packaging is informative, rational, and well aware of its audience. –todd (Fat)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Radio Clamor: CD
In the interest of full disclosure, I will offer that I, like some other Razorcake folks, periodically write for Clamor and am one of the proofreaders for each issue. With that said, this isn’t typical fare because it’s much closer to an audio collage of life than it is to the records that most of us listen to. Spoken word, the most analogous genre, doesn’t even come close because these are clearly stories that cleave fairly closely to radio journalism. In theory, this is an hour-long program suitable for broadcasting in its entirety by a radio station. In that sense, the content is much like listening to NPR’s Morning Edition or All Things Considered, only much farther off the beaten path. As one example, one of the most affecting stories focuses on a young man who died after being struck by lightning while dancing on a rooftop in a storm. However, it also makes for an interesting listen outside of radio’s context if you approach it as listening to sound portraits of different lives and stories that fall outside typical media outlets. –scott (Clamor)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Montreal Spirite: A Dare to Care Records Family Compilation: CD
Look, I know there’s nothing I can say about this that’s going to make you want to buy it. I have never met anyone who actively seeks out comp CDs, especially when the mix tape serves the same purpose with much greater flexibility and much less cost. Making no sense! Anyway, there are some great bands on here—Fifth Hour Hero, Speakeasy, the Insurgent, and Suck La Marde—who sound like a weirded-out Dillinger Four. Good stuff! Unfortunately, one band, La Descente du Coude, starts out with a rockin’ old Lemonheads sound, and then… becomes ska! Oh, the shame! Oh, the horror! This CD is one of those cereal packs with one-serving boxes, including everything from Speakeasy (Corn Pops!) to ska rockers The Planet Smashers (Berry Berry Kix! No thanks!). Except for the ska, good! –Maddy (Dare to Care)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Mixo de Punko!: CD
You know, I can overlook the asinine, vaguely racist title, I can ignore the lame “new school” punk pilf that comprises the bulk of the music on here, but I cannot stand it when a compilation comes with no band info whatsoever. On that alone, I say that this comp sucks ass. In the spirit of bilingualism shown by the aforementioned asinine, vaguely racist title, I offer up a hearty “chingate” to those responsible. Have fun looking that up in your dictionary, babosos. –jimmy (www.lterecords)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Let: CD
Thanks for throwing me for a fuckin’ loop, Joey! I honestly don’t know what to say about this, “an electronic tribute to DOA.” With the exception of DOA opening the collection with “Just Say No to the WTO,” every other track on here is a cover of a DOA song rendered wholly unrecognizable by a slew of techno DJs. Is it good? Well, speaking from a purely “electronic fan” viewpoint, there’s some mighty interesting things to be heard here, with a lot of the perpetrators veering off into the “total noise” camp, although a few opt to keep things moody and relatively mellow. It is, by far, vastly superior to the crappy Dead Kennedys “electronic” tribute of a few years back, in that the “hardcore” approach remains intact, even if the original song structures themselves do not. Is it a good DOA covers comp? Not if yer lookin’ to sing along to “Fuck You” or “The Prisoner,” it ain’t. I give it a thumbs up just ‘cause it gave me one fucker of a headache. –jimmy (Sudden Death)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
If it Plays...: CD
The Great Redneck Hope is characteristically scorching and brutal. Everything else is probably tremendously interesting to people who still think The Get Up Kids say something significant to them about their lives. –scott (Thinker Thought)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Dealth by Salt: 3XCD
Subtitled “A Slug Magazine Compilation,” it’s a massive package with a beautifully letterpress-printed box, a booklet the size of my ham collection, with photos and short writeups for most or all of the probably fifty-nine bands (I can’t count high enough or for long enough to check that fact), and three CDs full of what I’d imagine to be just about everything going on in Salt Lake City, which, of course, brings up a problem almost universal to scene comps: they can be really hard to listen to, even when some of the stuff is good, when you have to switch gears from sweet pop to chunk metal to folk to white rap to screamo every three minutes and forty seconds. (For what it’s worth, I had the same problem with the only Victim’s Family record I ever owned.) It’s hard work, and I can’t be the only one lazy enough not to want to do it. And I’m not even saying I want the stuff grouped better so I can skip genres; I guess I just like to cultivate a mood, and that’s impossible when you’re bounced out of Cosm’s ambient techno into Bob Moss’ weird and somber murder ballad, and then back up into the Vexations’ French new wave and so forth. In fact, I probably actually dislike less than ten songs (mostly of the singer/songwriter or post-Pearl Jam variety), and really like quite a few, including: Red Bennies (Who-ey rock), Purr Bats (techno, and featuring Paul Butterfield who I think is a bigshot in some circle or other), the Cronies (Melvins-style), Dead in the Womb (death metal), Mental Midgets (thrashy hardcore), Switch (stoner), Form of Rocket (energetic treble punk), Debonnairs, Books About UFOs, Stilleto and the above-mentioned Bob Moss. Nice package, nice roster, knock down the editor. –Cuss Baxter (Eighteen Percent Gray)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Buddyhead Suicide: CD
While the songs on this comp range from the merely rocking to the outright awesome (see: Your Enemies Friends, Dillinger Escape Plan and Radio Vago), the primary reason to get this comp is the wide variety of piss-yourself-laughing funny prank calls to many people—some of whom might have even deserved it. Some of them, as is the case with every prank, miss (the Burning Brides call seemed more like filler). Most of them… suffice it to say that the thirteen minutes of hell that a caller posing as the Sex Pistols’ manager put The Explosion’s manager through is almost worth the entire price of admission alone. And the prank call to Tenacious D’s management firm about ice cream is worth the price. And then some. Come on—pony up with an album of the calls already. –scott (Buddyhead)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Advanced Calculus: CD
First of all, the last time I saw packaging this gorgeous was when Independent Project Records was still around. If you remember any of the 10” releases that label did, you know exactly how this looks and, by proxy, how incredible it looks. Honestly, I can’t remember the bands that were on IPR—I just remember that the records all looked incredible. The music is what you might expect from a good free-form college radio station at the turn of the millennium—mathy, complex, noisy. For the most part, it’s challenging, like a good college station should be. There are, of course, low points—generic hardcore which sounds like someone who so worshipped Kevin Seconds that they stole his life outright. Generic ska-metal which managed to crib from both Voodoo Glow Skulls and Hot Water Music. Generic pop punk which borrows liberally (if you can use liberal borrowing to mean robbing at gunpoint) from All. You get the idea. Despite these shortcomings, there’s still a lot here to enjoy. –scott (These Bricks Are Mine)


VALENTINOS, THE:
Aerosol Dream b/w Tell Me That It’s Over: 7"
Couple nice laid-back power-poppers with a little bit of early Bowie or something going on. –Cuss Baxter (Tom Perkins Entertainment)


V.P.R.:
Aural Assault: CD
The cover reminded me of a cross between Green Day and the classic Peter Sellers movie Dr. Strangelove. But it’s nowhere near as good as that. I imagine that they had a checklist of punk cliches in the studio with them: Tattoos? Check. Mohawks? Check. Nihilistic lyrics? Check. Fast guitars and faster drums? Check. Multiple piercings? Check. They only forgot one thing: Songs. Not a good one to be found. –brian (Squirrel Heart)


UNLOVABLES, THE:
Crush, Boyfriend, Heartbreak: CD
It’s getting to the point where I know I’ve got to make a conscious effort not to listen to this CD any more, at least not for a few days. At first, I thought, What harm would come of me listening to it twice in a row? It’s not a bad CD. The songs are definitely more pop than punk, but the lyrics are catchy and you can’t help but tap your toe a bit in time with the music, bop your head, maybe shimmy and jiggle your shoulders a little. You start listening to the album at least once every day. Pretty soon, at random moments you find yourself absentmindedly humming a little tune, singing a couple of lyrics. In no time, you’re waking up with an Unlovables song in your head, every morning, seven days in a row, and you know you’re hooked. There’s something addictive about this album, I swear. Don’t start listening to it unless you’re perfectly immune to infectious girl-fronted, pop punk rock. –felizon (Whoah Oh)


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