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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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SCOURGE OF IANS:
E.P.: CS
Mid-tempo melodic punk rock with a singer who sounds like the guy from the A.G’s (a reference I don’t get to pull out often, that). Like New Hampshire’s finest, these cats don’t take themselves too seriously. The result is an effort which coheres nicely—greater than the sum of its parts.  –Michael T. Fournier (scourgeofians.bandcamp.com)


SEASONAL MEN’S WEAR:
9xTOx5xCORE: CS
Full disclosure: I do not know Seasonal Men’s Wear, but this is my third review of one of their releases and I’m beaming like a proud big brother. The anthems and hooks have always been at the core, but the previously reviewed CDs had fluctuating mixes or production that were holding SMW back. This cassette sets it all right. Four new tracks and a re-recording of “Theme Song for a Quarter-Life Crisis” mix Midwest punk with leads that will tickle your Thin Lizzy-loving fancy. Full fruition of the SMW sound that I fully back and can say again (maybe a bit more loudly), “Put it on vinyl, guys!”  –Matt Seward (Brown Bear, seasonalmenswear.bandcamp.com)


SHAYNA RAIN AND THE PART TIME MODELS:
Aiming for the Sun: CD
The ten songs on Aiming for the Sun feature Shayna Rain, a woman who is obviously influenced by Janis Joplin who refrains from sounding exactly like her. It helps that her music, while bluesy, also can venture into folk territory. None of the songs are rockers, but they’re steady and competent. When Rain and her band go really mellow, such as on “You’ll Never Leave” and the reprise of that same song, is when they truly shine. It sounds like a woman was doing vocals for an emo pop band when they decided to do the one acoustic song on their album. That’s not meant to be a critique; it is actually a welcome change. The reprise of “You’ll Never Leave” is the album’s finale and the best track. It’s got power and emotion and a nice build. It actually made me feel feelings, which is pretty rare for a random album I review for Razorcake.Good job, Shayna, this emotional robot is not dried up yet!  –kurt (G.C.)


SHEARING PINX:
Poison Hands: LP
Originally released in 2006, this album is now available for the first time in the long player format. Poison Hands is a loose, exposed wire of art-damaged skronking—flopping around on the ground, sparks terrifyingly shooting out in utter unpredictability. Chaos is in charge and she’s making up for lost time. If you were feeling like the eight songs on side A were too conventional, get ready for “Whitemud,” which takes up the entire span of side B and clocks in at a mere twenty-one minutes. A third of an hour of improvisational noise and about a minute of coordinated music, conveniently contained on a single, encroaching groove. Definitely not a release that everyone is gonna be able to get something meaningful out of, but I guarantee you it’s better than a lot of the records you have in your collection.  –Daryl Gussin (Gilgongo)


SHIFKA CHIEFS:
It Burns Twice: CS
Super-charged two-piece power pop group from Tel-Aviv that is now based in Berlin. There are only four songs on this cassette but they’re all party anthems. This music is extremely commanding and danceable. It reminds me of a mix of King Khan And The Shrines meets The Marked Men. They put together some of the best cassette packaging I’ve seen in a while, which gives off an attitude of, “If we have to release on cassette, let’s make it look awesome.” On the first track, “When Will I See You Again,” the guitar solos are so good. The melodies are clear and sharp with blown-out vocals. The lyrics are all simple and to the point in a really great way, which is more than I can say about most American bands. The second song “Naked” bursts through with lines like, “Woooahm! Bahm! Blood on the sand / naked as on the day of my birth / Wham! Wham! Stuck in Sudan / in the desert and it’s burning hot.” It’s a rock’n’rollercoaster of a demo and worth checking out. Limited to one hundred copies on red cassettes.  –Kayla Greet (Twin Toe Records, twintoe.blogspot.de / Huge Major Label, hugemajorlabel.com)


SHITTY FRIENDS:
Self-titled: EP
Wanna know the way to my heart for record reviews? Cheap novelty toys like Fortune Teller Fish and a personalized message. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt when your band totally rips. At first glance, I thought this might be a Masked Intruder release, as the cover is a ski mask with gradients of pink, orange, and blue ink. I’m pretty happy to find out I was wrong. The singer of Shitty Friends spits concentrated venom out with every belted word. It’s hardcore with a strong punk lean, backed with provocative and eerie guitar leads. The opening chords ring out in this chilling tone that puts you on edge the same way a shitty horror movie does. Bass and drums hold their own, too. In the majority of the songs they are the binding thread for this ball of chaos, with a classic hardcore breakdown sprinkled here and there. My favorite lines on this record are: “Did I speak or was it just in my brain? / Because it’s getting harder to relate / the words in my brain between the lies that my fucking mouth make.” This band is angry, fast, and talented. With limited edition white vinyl and colored silkscreened covers, the record is beautiful. And there is a Nation Of Ulysses reference etched into the trail off. Good stuff.  –Kayla Greet (Self-released, akidwhotellsonanotherkidisadeadkid.com)


SLOTHS, THE:
Back from the Grave: CS
Many people are skeptical of reunion albums. I try to cut them slack, especially if I inexplicably want to like them for no reason. It’s natural. Judge not. The Sloths’ long lost garage single “Makin’ Love” appeared on Back from the Grave Volume 4. I assumed the cassette was an unknown album or collection of demos or something, the sort of thing I’m predisposed to like without thinking about it much. But as it turns out, this isa reunion album. Of sorts. The Sloths recorded this album recently: a half century after the single was completed. That information puts a few clicks in the brain of the discerning rock consumer. Fifty years? You’d never know. The opening track, “Never Enough Girls” is Real Kids catchy. And if they say, “There will never be enough girls in the world,” they know because the recorded their debut single fifty years ago. This has all the wrench and screws of ‘60s Back from the Grave jangling with interludes of thoughtful rocking. It’s hard to tell if the album was fifty years in the making or if this was a rollicking swing night with the gang, but these songs are bulletproof. There’s a little in this cassette for everyone, including catchy powerpopness, rocking rock riffs, and harmonica. I really like this album, but I’ll warn you, I really wanted to like this album.  –Billups Allen (Burger)


SLURS:
Demo 2014: CS
Energetic mid-tempo three-piece pop punk with high-pitched, shouted vocals. Someone get the singer a lozenge.  –Michael T. Fournier (slurs.bandcamp.com)


SNÄGGLETOOTH:
Self-titled: 7”
Well, the ümlaüts through me off. Snäggletooth hails from Singapore, and their sound is a weird mix of Motörhead, ‘80s metal and scorching d-beat hardcore. The guitar on this 7” is undeniably ‘80s Ozzy metal over the crushing slew of raw d-beat insanity. Atonal guttural vocals are tough as nails. It’s primal and intense; just an onslaught of sick, weird hardcore.  –Camylle Reynolds (4490, 4490records@gmail.com)


SNARE AND THE IDIOTS:
Resuscitation: CD
This three-song album starts with “Baby U A Freak.” So, the guy met this girl in “Sunday school” and she wears “a one-piece bathing suit to the pool.” She went to college. Good for her. Education is important. She avoids fried foods and takes plenty of vitamin C. The singer would like to take her to a salad bar. No joke. These are the lyrics. He also says, quote, “I want dat booty so bad, I just wanna shout! I got my hand on my wee-wee and my drawlz hangin out.” You might be wondering, “Well, maybe the music is good?” You would be wrong to think that. It’s not good at all, really. I am happy that Snare And The Idiots are making music and I think that if it makes them happy then they should keep on keepin’ on. However, being an existentialist and being a reviewer are two separate things. Why? Because I have to comment on and critique what others have done with their freedom and that’s not necessarily fair. I have certainly made bad music. Van Halen made a career out of playing shitty songs. Don’t be afraid to make bad music: start bands, host singalongs, drum on pots and pans, belt it out in your car, explore a new genre, whatever. But, seriously, “Baby U A Freak?” Is this thing on?! Hey, maybe “idiot” is a Dostoevsky reference –John Mule (Mincey, no address listed)


SNOOZER:
Cottage Cheese: CS
I’m a complete sucker for stuff like this that looks to late ‘90s emo for inspiration (Sunny Day Real Estate and Mineral, specifically), but often it’s reduced down to a few clichés which suck out all the fun. The quiet/loud dichotomy employed by bands of the genre can render the music to a formula, and I’m not looking for formula—I want music that’s heartfelt and can’t get out of its own urgent way. Snoozer, from Philly, wear their hearts on their sleeves and cook up a convincing batch of tunes here. The singer’s voice Venn diagram, in terms of delivery and urgency, includes Jeremy Enigk, Mac from Superchunk, and Geddy Lee (not a knock). Requisite waves of guitar ebb and flow tidally, with weird Modest Mouse-y lines keeping the kilter off and mathy: never is anything rendered to checking off a flowchart. Unexpected twists and turns abound. Awesome.  –Michael T. Fournier (snewzer.bandcamp.com)


SOAP OPERA, THE:
Self-titled: CS
Well-crafted and sun-soaked jangly kinda surf-y pop music from France.  –Michael T. Fournier (thesopaopera.bandcamp.com)


SOFT LIONS:
Spell Breaker: CDEP
This opens up with a kickin’ garage stomper tinged by a dark undertow and laid-back vocals. Things get a bit more subdued tempo-wise from there, but the darkness is laid on a bit thicker and by the end of the last tune they’ve slipped into Velvet Underground territory. Nice, diverse sound showcased over the four tracks.  –jimmy (Velvet Blue, velvetbluemusic.com)


SOFT SHOULDER:
“Stair”: 7”
The noisy, disjointed no-wave of Tempe, AZ’s Soft Shoulder is deceptively complex: simultaneously experimental and familiar. Side A could just be called “Stair,” but instead earns itself the moniker “Stair (YOBS) Junk Interlude (Repeat #2.5) Stair (Gilgongo HQ)” in an effort to differentiate each of its three-tracks-in-one based on where and when it was recorded and by whom. The sounds on display are lo-fi and crunchy as fuck, but production is clearly king for Soft Shoulder, and every discordant moment feels intentional. Side B shrugs off some of the pretense in favor of apparent sentiment. It features a version of the riffy, driving “Wyld Parrots,” a song originally written by the band’s Gilgongo labelmates Wounded Lion for a 2009 release that was bogged down by drama with their previous label. Soft Shoulder rounds out their Side B love letter with a silly, spacey birthday song for their friend Iggy—who was turning five at the time of recording—and it’s just as adorable as it sounds. What Stairlacks in cohesion, it more than compensates for with its undeniable depth of approach.  –Kelley O’Death (Gilgongo, jamesfella@hotmail.com, gilgongorecords.com)


SOFT SHOULDER:
Von Guts: 7”
Let’s start by saying Von Guts is a good name for anything. And that these two tracks from Tempe, AZ’s Soft Shoulder, both titled “Von Guts” have jolts, clanks, crunches, rips, splits, and clatters. They are like sounds arranged into song form, or unsongs. And here’s an easy in: the lyrics are “borrowed from the late Kurt Vonnegut.” But you can’t tell. It’s like they maybe locked Vonnegut in a kettle, put that over a high flame, and shook the pot when the water boiled, recorded that. Soft Shoulder has a half-dozen other 7”s, which boosts their weirdo points in my book. For fans of the older stuff, more great wildness is here; for the uninitiated—the shit is strange, but it feels right.  –Jim Joyce (Gilgongo, gilgongorecords.com)


SONNY VINCENT AND ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT:
Vintage Piss: LP
Back in 2003, Swami reissued a discography collection from The Testors, the great ‘70s power pop rock’n’roll band fronted by Sonny Vincent. To promote this release, Sonny and Rocket From The Crypt went on tour together, and three of the members of Rocket From The Crypt served as Sonny’s backup band during the tour. This record was recorded later that same year as a result of that tour. The material consisted of all new songs, largely made up in the studio, and it’s all fucking great, smokin’ rock’n’roll. At times this almost sounds like a high-octane version of Hot Snakes or Night Marchers (which is to be expected, based on the involvement of John Reis), except with a different vocalist. After the recording session, these master tapes sat unfinished and unmixed until Swami Records decided to get back in the ring and get this released. I’m very glad they did. There had previously been a version of this released in Europe with a different mix and two less songs (one of which Reis sings lead), technically making this a reissue. One would never know this was recorded over ten years ago, as the songs don’t come across as dated at all and, in fact, sound as fresh as ever. Recommended.  –Mark Twistworthy (Swami, swamirecords.com, info@swamirecords.com)


SONNY VINCENT AND ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT:
Vintage Piss: LP
Some of my favorite movies growing up were the Universal monster crossover flicks like Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man and House of Dracula. How could you not love Frankenstein’s monster and the Wolf Man duking it out in a dilapidated castle? Vintage Piss is similarly a match made in heaven—or possibly concocted by the seductive forces of hell. The merging of Sonny Vincent’s irrepressible swagger and John “Speedo” Reis’s blistering down-picked guitar chords is a guaranteed pleasure lobotomy. The LP is comprised of songs written and recorded in a flurry over a decade ago. Given the recent reunion of Rocket From The Crypt and the vampire-like immortality of Sonny Vincent, this record is right on time. Tunes like “Sharp Knife” and “Vintage Piss” are memorable contributions to the catalogs of both of these luminaries, ensuring that this an LP not just for diehard RFTC and Sonny Vincent fans, but for all lovers of attitude-drunk rock’n’roll punk.  –Sean Arenas (Swami, swamirecords.com)


SPACE IS HAUNTED:
Demo 2015: CS
Basically the same distorto riffs and bang-bang-bang drumbeat played over and over for five tracks. I can’t understand a word that’s being sung. Not because this is particularly fast, but because there’s a layer of gunk over everything that is nearly impenetrable. Either that, or the singer needs to work on her enunciation.  –mp (Bitch-Face, spaceishaunted.bandcamp.com)


SPECIAL DUTIES:
‘77 One More Time Volume One: LP
A collection of tracks from their first go-’round circa 1982, remastered and cut on wax. Fans of that period of British punk know full well what to expect here: oompah-oompah rhythms up the yin-yang, hollered vocals, diatribes on how fucked life on the island was then and, yes, their arguably best known track, “Bullshit Crass,” is included. Good, stompin’ Brit-punk as feral as it ever was.  –jimmy (Jailhouse, jailhouserecords.com)


SPENT FLESH:
Deviant Burial Customs: 7”
All over the place hardcore that moves at breakneck speed and thrashes and screams and melodically sings. Seriously, guys: there’s a blank panel on your psychedelically ugly Photoshop job of a record cover, and you can’t include lyrics so I know what “Cutest Death Ever” and “Final Swedish Step-Dad Rage” are about? Way to leave a brother hangin’.  –Chris Terry (ptrashrecords.com)


SPENT FLESH:
Deviant Burial Customs: 7”
This Philly threesome return with nine tracks of weirdo hardcore noise. Like a tow truck barreling down a windy mountain road— it’s clumsy, it’s reckless, and goddamn if it doesn’t feel like it’s going really fucking fast. But as proficient as Spent Flesh are at blastbeat hardcore they also slow it down, both with dirgey, culminating intros and cacophatastic interludes of sheer demented indulgence. Coming off like a garagier Guyana Punch Line or a druggier Combatwoundedveteran, Spent Flesh continue to make all the genre bands look like the total duds that they are.  –Daryl Gussin (Rockstar / P. Trash)


SPIT:
Poison in Your Head: LP
Listening to Tel Aviv’s Spit scream and rage their way through eighteen blistering tracks, undeniably influenced by the likes of Minor Threat and Circle Jerks, is a liberating experience. The album exudes boundless energy and makes me want to revisit my younger days when I could take my place in the sweating, heaving mass of a pit. This is simple, straightforward, and well-executed.  –Rich Cocksedge (Crapoulet, cool@crapoulet.fr, crapoulet.fr / Defiant Hearts, defianthearts@hotmail.de, defiant-hearts.com)


SPLITS, THE:
II: MLP
If Kim Shattuck of The Muffs sang for Mrs. Magician, then you’d have Helsinki’s The Splits. The songs are moody and somber and mostly forgettable with the exception of “Melody” and “Death Song.” Overall, the record is a nearly successful trepanning; the songs pierce my scalp and crack my skull, but they can’t find their way into my head.  –Sean Arenas (Dirtnap, dirtnaprecs.com)


SPOILERS:
Stay Afloat: LP
Since the early 1990s, when bearded Floridians and Californians co-opted the Leatherface sound and based an entire American punk genre on it, I’ve been waiting for the Brits to re-appropriate something from our shores and turn it around on us. Twenty-five years later and that time has come. Spoilers join the ranks of Bear Trade (who unsurprisingly make the Spoilers “Thank You” list) and the Murderburgers showing us Yanks how it’s done. If you’re digging on currents like Success! and Western Settings, but also have a huge affection for pints from the pub, soccer, and Snuff, the six songs on Stay Afloat will not be nearly enough. Wicked sea and foam (blue and white) splatter vinyl. Highly recommended.  –Matt Seward (Boss Tuneage, bosstuneage.com)


SPRAYNARD:
Cut and Paste: LP
“One more night to scream at the top of your lungs.” Spraynard’s out of print debut LP gets that one more chance via Dead Broke and Square Of Opposition in anticipation of their regrouping and a new LP. Three-piece bands that play this well and sound so emotionally bombastic make the heart swell. There’s less room for covering up mistakes as a three-piece and the players really have to be dialed in to each other, technically as well as instinctually. Cut and Paste is a great reminder why you loved Latterman and why Iron Chic feels so good to scream along to. Also, “poopy wieners.” Get this.  –Matt Seward (Dead Broke, deadbrokerecords.com / Square Of Opposition, squareofopposition.com)


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