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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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ORNERYS:
“Wanna Get Dead” b/w “Keep on Dancin’”:
One reason to keep searching out new music and doing reviews is the hope you find the mother lode, that golden slice of money amidst all the trash. As music becomes more commercial and easier to replicate and remake, it becomes harder to find the true vein: the purity. The cocaine you sniff at the party has been cut with fucking rat poison and baking soda; all the way from Columbia to your fucking dorm room. Imagine hiking through the jungle and getting your white-bread nostrils into some pure shit. One hundred percent uncut, straight from the cooker shit. Well, fuck ya’ll I’ve found it. This one-sided 7” turns up on my doorstep as a white label, white sleeved 7” with a hand-drawn picture over the dust sleeve and inner circle. The two songs bring to mind a more unhinged Jay Reatard back in his teenage days. The internet superhighway shows almost nothing, literally Bermuda triangle shit. Wisconsin maybe? Sometimes I think that music can hit a perfect frequency for one person’s ears. Pure noise to one is perfection to another. Thanks Todd, I needed that. –Tim Brooks (No address listed)


PARANOID VISIONS:
Cryptic Cross Words: CD
These U.K. anarcho punk stalwarts put in some good work on this latest effort. True to form, there is a bit of noodling with conventions and styles while keeping enough “punk” in the mix to keep the kids happy, with intelligent, substantive, and topical lyrics belted out via (mostly) guttural vocals.  –jimmy (Overground, overgroundrecords.co.uk)


PETER BLACK:
Clearly You Didn’t Like the Show: CD
Peter Black is better known as Blackie, one third of The Hard-Ons. My first impression of his fourth solo record was a positive one due to the vivid and striking artwork featured on the cover. However, once the music started my heart sank. The lightweight songs contained absolutely nothing I could get into. It’s not that I don’t like one person with a guitar but when both the vocals and guitar are this wishy-washy it leaves me ready to move onto something else—and quickly. Now where’s that Tim Barry album?  –Rich Cocksedge (Boss Tuneage, bosstuneage.com)


PIERRE & BASTIEN:
Greatest Hits: CS
Close your eyes. I want you to think back... back... alllllll the way back to that party at that one dude’s gross apartment. You remember him. He’d let all the kids come hang out at his place and probably even buy the beer so he wouldn’t feel so alone. A few beers in, you are feeling like pure magic. But one too many “pussy!”‘s in your direction and you give into the peer pressure. Remember specifically the first few breathes you took after the last fateful exhale of that Devil’s Lettuce. Think about how you sank down into that beer-soaked couch all warm and fuzzy. Stale cigarette smoke and BO in the air. Think hard, What is that music playing in the background? Can you hear it? Almost, right? Like it’s in a distant room? Rippling, fading in and out, unintelligible, like it’s in another language—the intensity of the music waxing and waning, super slow in the blink of an eye. Now close your eyes and smile. Sink just a little deeper into that romantical and oh-so-fragrant couch. Then it hits you all at once... yer gonna barf! The urgency! No time for a Plan B here. Take immediate action and everyone makes it out of this situation safely. There’s no wounded pride if no one sees you spew! This is the kind of wild ride you are in for if you give these French punkers a chance. These tracks are recorded over some years and range from drum machine to live drummer to just one dude fucking around in his bedroom. I don’t know what they are singing about, but I like it.  –Jackie Rusted (Frantic City, franticcity.bandcamp.com)


PLAN 37:
Space Junk: 7”
These Canadians offer up four tracks of 1990s-esque pop punk with vocals that are at times not dissimilar to Blag Dahlia of The Dwarves. It is all quite upbeat and I was not surprised that Mass Giorgini mixed it, given his predilection for working with bands of that ilk. The masterstroke for me is the guitar, which reminds me of The Badtown Boys, with a thick, rich quality to it, helping to drive the songs along. Definitely a band I’ll look out for in the future.  –Rich Cocksedge (My Fingers! My Brain!, myfingersmybrain.com)


PLASTIC PINKS:
“FUI” b/w “Kelly”: 7”
Miami garage five-piece Plastic Pinks play delightfully dirty pop rock’n’roll. The sunny melodies and summery sensibility of side A’s “FUI” clash against the track’s slightly fuzzy production and messy gang vocals like a Hypercolor shirt paired with an acid wash denim fanny pack—they shouldn’t work together, but they totally do. The slightly longer B side, “Kelly,” is heavier, slower, and adds a little psych to Plastic Pinks’ surf aesthetic, but the song stays on message with an extended breakdown that is somehow both chuggy and reminiscent of Dick Dale. The powder blue single’s artwork—courtesy of “party animal” and frequent collaborator Mimi Starr—looks like Fear and Loathing had a fever dream acid baby with Spring Breakers. All that’s missing is Spuds MacKenzie on a Sea-Doo…  –Kelley O’Death (Die Slaughterhaus, dieslaughterhaus@yahoo.com, dieslaughterhausrecords.com)


PLAYOFF BEARD:
Self-titled: 7”
Playoff Beard isn’t afraid to play pop punk despite the backlash mounted against pop punk since it gained commercial success in the 1990s. Comprised of members of legendary Pittsburgh-area bands including Tommy Gutless, Remainders, The Radio Beats, and The Shutouts, Playoff Beard borrows from other subgenres, including garage and streetpunk. They play earnest, heartfelt songs about growing up in subculture, doing the right thing, and finding balance in life. Decidedly non-trite, this isn’t “la la” pop punk, despite its catchiness. All five of the tracks on this fantastic 7” are instantly lovable and each deals with relatable themes. “First Day of Summer (Pt. 2),” for example, is about hanging out with friends and listening to Screeching Weasel. The vocals are expressive, with a slight, poignant gruffness, keeping the proceedings from becoming corny. The production perfectly captures how tremendous Playoff Beard sounds live, which isn’t an easy feat given how kick-ass their live shows are. A must-have 7” for anyone into melodic punk, Playoff Beard’s new release is easily one of 2015’s best records so far. Seek it out now!  –Art Ettinger (Between The Days)


PLEISTOCENE:
Space Trap: 7”
RochesterNew York’s Pleistocene provides four dreamy, light, intriguing songs on this 7”. Not prototypical shoegaze, but definitely influenced by that movement, these tracks are best in the faster-paced sections. I appreciate the lo-fi recording, and they’d likely be a blast live. I think some of the weirder instrumentations are actually just synthesizer versions of other things, but the net effect is a practically orchestral experience at times. This unassuming little record works on all levels. Plus, there’s a goofy band photo on the back of the sleeve, with the members covered in foil and/or saran wrap. Oh, the antics.  –Art Ettinger (Cherish, pleistoceneband.bandcamp.com)


POISON IDEA / RÖSVETT:
Split: 7” EP
Poison Idea: The original tune here, “Something Better,” is a seething bit of virulence—slow, yet you can feel the power they’re known for coiled up and waiting to unload. Also included is a live recording of them running through the 13th Floor Elevators’ “You’re Gonna Miss Me.” Rösvett: Two thrashers that showcase the power they’re known for—fast, but weighted with more heft and rage than the usual lot who rely on speedy parlor tricks. The cover of P.I.’s “Die on Your Knees” is serviceable, if wholly unnecessary. Good split.  –jimmy (Just 4 Fun, j4f.dk)


PLURALS, THE:
An Onion Tied to My Belt: CD
Nich, Hattie, and Tommy make up The Plurals, bringing really good songwriting and tight musicianship from Lansing, Michigan. They immediately remind me of another Midwest band, The Replacements. The back of the CD announces, “For fans of Hüsker Dü, Pixies, Dinosaur Jr.” Like all those bands, there is no compelling need here to be any genre, any thing, any level of cool. This is just sonic pleasure with a teaspoon of dry, center-of-the-country sense of humor thrown in. Standout track: “Fine.”  –John Mule (Diet Pop, dietpoprecords.com, GTG, gtgrecords.net)


POLYON:
Three Songs: CS
Pedal rock: a din of guitar effects enveloping the ears on these three songs, creating texture throughout over the rhythm section’s bashing. With that said, there’s not much in the way of ideas to cut through the curtain of sound or make this stand above other bands of their ilk, and the singer’s voice has enough Perry Farrell-style whine and dude from Coldplay in it to rub me the wrong way.  –Michael T. Fournier (polyonmusic.com)


PRESSING ON:
Self-titled: CS
Bare bones hardcore that would have fit nicely on the No Way records roster ten years ago. A little Scandi-core, a little early NYHC (Sick Of It All, Bold), and ferocity all the way through makes for a decent effort. –Juan Espinosa (Self-released, no address listed)


PSYCHIC BAOS:
“Society’s Lien on Piece of Mind” b/w “Can’t Keep Us Down”: 7”
Way too many wild garage party bands trying way too hard out there, which makes Psychic Baos a godsend. They find the exact perfect mid-pace beat, lay some organ on top, have a guy with Mick Farren-level weariness sing some words. He doesn’t have Farren’s gravelly, “Half Price Drinks” voice or his Brit accent, but he sounds tired and I can relate. Who gives a fuck about energy? Anybody can be young. Try being old. –Matt Werts (Magnetic South, magneticsouthrecordings.org)


PURPLE 7:
Gulf of the Afterglow: LP
Excellently balanced lo-fi indie punk. Kind of like if Pavement recorded in basements instead of earning money. My favorite kind of DIY music: earnest, recorded cheaply, and brilliantly played. Didn’t I just review a record by these guys? Either way, if they keep up this release schedule, I’ll gladly review their third record. And I’ll love it! And there’s nothing any of you can do to stop me! Grade: A-.  –Bryan Static (Dead Broke, deadbrokerecords.com)


RADIOACTIVITY:
Silent Kill: LP
Rock solid second outing from this band and it seems to be turning some heads their way. Having just seen them live again recently, I can attest that there is no studio trickery here. What you hear on the disc is what you get live. Insistent rhythms, straight ahead backbeats, and thrash and burn guitars is the name of the game. You don’t need a hazmat suit to rock out to this one.  –koepenick (Dirtnap, mail@dirtnaprecs.com)


RADIOACTIVITY:
Silent Kill: LP
This has to be one of the most anticipated records of the year (for me anyway). Radioactivity’s self-titled debut left little doubt in the mad genius of Jeff Burke, and almost from the moment I heard that record, I was clamoring for more. Silent Kill delivers the goods and then some. The songwriting is on some kind of magical level that few can hope to attain. I have often (usually drunkenly) purported that Jeff Burke and Mark Ryan are America’s Lennon and McCartney and I will (mostly soberly) maintain that in writing right now. There is just something there that can be found nowhere else. The hair on the back of my neck stands up from start to finish of this album. Did my eyes water up a couple of times during the first listen? Maybe… I guess what I am getting at is this is an easy contender for album of the year. If you don’t have it, please get it. If I had the money, I would buy a copy for everyone I know.  –ty (Dirtnap)


RATS REST:
Hedonite: 7”EP
Full-hearted, alternative-sounding gruff punk with thoughtful lyrics. It’s a little like Jawbreaker with more straightforward drumming, unsettling gruff vocals, and a dark rock sound. Straight out of Kansas City with that dirty and distorted Midwest sound. I dig it.  –Camylle Reynolds (Starcleaner)


RÄTTENS KRATER:
Nordvästpassagen: 7” EP
Punky post-punk from Sweden. There is a catchy, danceable quality underneath the attack, and I can hear the buzz of what sounds suspiciously like a synth buried in the mix. The kinda stuff that makes me wish I had one o’ them late-night punk radio shows so’s I could play something off this every weekend for the cool, with-it kids.  –jimmy (Rättens Krater, rättenskrater.se)


RAW PONY:
Demo: CS
Five songs by a three-piece girl group that totally rocks. These ladies out of Columbus, Ohio are pretty rad. There are some screechy vocals, à la Poly Styrene, and melodic harmonies. The recording quality is gritty, lo-fi, and garagey—exactly what one should expect in a demo. If I close my eyes, I feel like I can see them explode on a makeshift stage in someone’s basement and it’s awesome. Cassettes are self-released and limited to a hundred. Grab it quick.  –Kayla Greet (Self-released, rawponyoh@gmail.com)


RED DEATH:
Permanent Exile: LP
This album is that ultimate crossover you hope you’ll hear when you pick up bigger bands’ lesser, late-’80s albums. Red Death thrashes with the abandon of Kill ‘Em Alland the urgency of DRI. This album will gratify the discerning metalhead along with the most hardheaded, hardcore punk. It’s one everyone in the van can agree on. I can’t believe a time in life has arrived where I can say this again, but there are loads of good mosh riffs. A lot of modern “crossover” bands spoof metal without playing metal. There’s no spoofing here: these guys get it without dressing it up in a costume. If you’ve ever had the urge to argue that Motörhead is a punk band, this album is necessary.  –Billups Allen (Grave Mistake)


REPAIRS:
Decay: 7”
Both tracks of gloomy synth here evince a bit more Suicide influence than one usually finds in this end of the pool these days, with the title track being the more aggressive of the two and “Cycle” being a bit more brooding and hypnotic. Makes me pine for the glory days of labels like Subterranean, which means this be a cracker of a release.  –jimmy (HoZac, hozacrecords.com)


REPUBLIC OF DREAMS / AUTARKEIA:
Split: 7”
Did not realize I still liked Orchid and Usurp Synapse until I listened to Republic Of Dreams (I mean Chaos Is Me, Jeromes Dream split Orchid, not awkward Situationist pre-Panthers Orchid). Short, spazzy, overwhelming dread still works, FYI. Autarkeia does one slow-burner with many peaks and valleys, glides between time signatures, and sings about anxiety, which I appreciate. Actually had to google this to see if it came out this year or sometime in the late ‘90s. Actually travelled back in time and posted on a Skylab board, actually went to a Honeywell show and asked around.  –Matt Werts (IFB, ifbrecords.com / Moment Of Collapse, momentofcollapse.com / React With Protest, reactwithprotest.org / Suspended Soul, suspendedsoul.storenvy.com / Zegema Beach, zegemabeachrecords.com)


REVOLT REVOLT:
Wild Unraveling: CDEP
A pleasant jumble of genre-friendly angles—bits of Velvet Underground, Sonic Youth, a little Sigur Ros ambience and maybe a less desert-damaged Calexico (based solely on my memory of what Calexico sounded like some fifteen years after I last listened to ‘em). They also often employ the tension-release song structure making for big, crashing buildups between laid-back waves of soporific grooves. Not something I often come across in the review bins, so it was a nice palette cleanser as well as a general listen.  –jimmy (20 Sided, 20sidedrecords.com)


RIKK AGNEW BAND, THE / SYMBOL SIX:
Split: EP
As much as I like to think that there is no age limit in playing punk bands, I have this creeping feeling that once you reach a certain age, somewhere in your mid-thirties, you’re pushing it. This record increases that feeling. Rikk Agnew, obviously, is one of the greatest guitar players ever in punk. No one sounds like him, and he often saves bands from mediocrity. That’s not the case here, unfortunately. These two songs don’t have that energy that’s needed to make a punk song good, let alone great. It sounds like they’re just running through the songs without any real goal other than to get it finished. The cover of “Screaming Fist” is lukewarm, and comes nowhere close to matching the intensity of the original. Symbol Six, who were around way back when, today sound like a bunch of old dudes flailing around trying to play music, but instead play bad bar band rock. Pass this one by, and get a record from a band of new and hungry folks who are bringing it as though it’s their last moment on earth, like the people on this record used to.  –Matt Average (ailhouse, jailhouserecords.com)


SCARECROW SONIC BOOMBOX:
We Are the (United): LP
Muddy, fuzzed-out, and wholly threaded with anxiety. Similar, oddly enough, to the Germs for its sense of a spring too tightly wound and constantly about ready to let go, like the whole sonic shebang is about to go careening off some cliff side—and it certainly helps that the dude at times sounds passably like Darby, if his vocals were strained through the gas rag of dirty New Orleans garage punk. Limited to three hundred, nicely die-cut and spray-painted cover, marbled red vinyl.  –keith (SS Boombox)


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