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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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DIRT BIKE ANNIE/THE POPSTERS:
The Ellis Island Rendezvous: Split CD
I’m a sucker for Dirt Bike Annie. Their songs are so poppy and infectious and fun that, even when they sing about being afraid of dying, it puts me in a good mood. DBA have eight new songs on this split (at least I think the songs are new. I haven’t seen them on any other release, with the exception of the live versions of “Next Time” and “Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things,” which are on Sweatin’ to the Oldies), and they’re every bit as cool as I’d hope. I’ve been listening to their half of the split a lot. To be honest, though, I keep turning the CD off when The Popsters come on. Not that The Popsters are bad. I usually get two or three songs into their half of this split before I think to myself, why am I listening to generic pop punk? Then, I get up and start looking for a new album to play. –sean (Stardumb)


DIE ZORROS:
History of Rock Vol. 7: CD
Part surf, part rockabilly, part, cheesy wedding music. The cover of “Stairway to Heaven” would be a perfect fit for the Endless Summer soundtrack. One strange listen here, boy. –jimmy (Voodoo Rhythm)


DESPOT HUT:
Self-titled: CDR
I’m usually cool with these bass/drum hardcore duos, but in this case they need a guitar player just to round out a potentially dangerous sound. They’ve got some pretty danged good songs going for them here, but they’d be so much stronger with some good, old fashioned distorto-guitar thrown in to ensure some eardrums are gonna bleed. –jimmy (Despot Hut)


DEROZER:
144: CD
Decent enough melodic Italian punk originally released as an EP in 1993. There’re at least three other releases out there and, based solely on this listen alone, I can think of worse things to waste your money on. –jimmy (Derotten)


DEFACTO OPPRESSION:
Screen Symphony Suicide: CD
This is a band that is hard to pigeon hole but seems to play with the thrash set. The songs are brutal with blast beats, thrash, metal and some progressive stuff in between. The vocals are expressed with an emotional wail of anger and rage and they accomplish the hard task of making each song sound unique from one another. I didn’t know that Wisconsin was such a breeding ground for over-the-top music. Live, they must be incredible! –don (Hungry Ghosts)


DEATH BY STEREO:
Into the Valley of Death: CD
I don’t know if it’s just me but the singer’s voice gets annoying after awhile. It’s like being pinned down on the ground and having your captor drop sand in your eye one grain at a time. –don (Epitaph)


DEADLINE / BRASSKNUCKLE BOYS:
Split: CDEP
Two bands, three songs each. England’s Deadline: I’m a sucker for female-fronted punk bands with a vocalist who can go from a Faye Fife of the Rezillos to an Eve Libertine of Crass to Penetration from song to song without missing a step. Liz’s vocals are so clear and powerful that they make Brodie from The Distillers seem like she’s still in grade school singing about fuzzy slippers. It doesn’t hurt that the entire band doesn’t rely on a great voice but plays along like they’re lit on classic pub rock while sounding like it’s still on fire. I’m surprised how good they are. Brassknuckle Boys: Don’t let the thuggish name fool you, these guys have undeniable power, like the GC5. They artfully tease the fine lines between oi, pride, and old fashioned kick-ass songwriting and turn Tom Petty’s “American Girl” into a rough anthem, which is the power to all their songs. What’s sobering, after being a big fan of their LP American Bastard, is that two of their members are dead. Weird. Great split. –todd (Haunted Town)


DEAD END KIDS:
Demo #1: CD
I weep openly in joy for your generation: You now have a Mad Society to call your very own. BEST SONG TITLE: "Captain Pickle (slow)." BEST SONG: Three-way tie between "Captain Pickle (slow)," "Captain Pickle (fast)" and "Captain Pickle (live)." FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: By all contextual indications, one of the members of this band appears to be the offspring of ex-DKs/TSOL manager Mike Vraney, whom i met once at a Dead Kennedys show about twenty years ago, and only remember as being quite tall and wearing a really cheesy leisure suit. –norb (Dead End Kids)


DEAD CELEBRITIES:
Cleanup on Aisle 3: CD
Jeez, I had such high hopes for this release, based almost entirely on the band name. What I expected was some pretty crudely executed, gloriously obnoxious punk rock. What was delivered sounded vaguely like Darlington with 1/9th the catchiness and none of the humor. What a waste of a perfectly decent punk band name. –jimmy (Fat Fish)


DAMNATION:
The Unholy Sounds of: CD
Driving music that skirts a fine line between punk’n’roll and modern OC hardcore. The lyrics ain’t spectacular, but at least the proceedings are rockin’. –jimmy (RAFR)


CURSIVE:
The Ugly Organ: CD
Since Saddle Creek can’t afford to send an actual copy with liner notes and the tray card, I can’t afford to spend any time on this advance copy. –scott (Saddle Creek)


CURSED:
One: CD
You’ve got yourself some pretty heavy, pretty dark hardcore here. It can get a bit epic (one song is about six minutes), but they can actually pull it off pretty well. It’s decent. –megan (Deathwish)


CRITICS, THE:
Self-titled: 7"
Holy moly. From the cover, I wasn’t expecting much. It’s a pink and black bitmap of four band members without faces. Ho hum. But, as soon as it got played, who went ahead and turned Leatherface into a straight-ahead pop band from Australia with tons of power? I wasn’t so up on their CDEP, but these three songs are complexly layered as some sort of a fancy Greek desert and as unpredictable as fireworks with questionable fuses. Maybe it’s my ass talking, but I also hear some of the undeniable songwriting and prowess of The Replacements: wall of warm shimming guitars, stinging belt choruses, rising welt bass lines, and strong-piped vocals that are a notch below yelling. It all sounds so loud but clear and confident as fuck. I was wholly surprised by how good this was. Well worth seeking out. –todd (Rabbit / Out of the Loop)


CRASH AND BURN:
Sick Again: CD
I wanted to like this. I thought it would be easy – so many people I know love them. I just can’t get into it. It’s that ‘70s influenced rock with a bit more power, but it just comes off as frat bar rock to me. People keep saying they hear Black Flag. I hear Bon Jovi, sorry. –megan (Crash and Burn)


CRAMPS, THE:
Fiends of Dope Island: CD
This is the first CD from the Vengeance Label, fronted by the only two people who should be in charge of The Cramps – Lux and Ivy. After disastrous stints with IRS and Epitaph and various other shady record companies that wouldn’t know what to do with good music even if they had it shoved up their assholes, The Cramps became the boss of The Cramps. This is good news for all you record collectors out there because this means you will be guaranteed better packaging, better attention to detail, and most importantly full creative control by the artist! Yes! Okay, enough of the celebrations. The Cramps forge on against Father Time’s vicious scythe with the greatest of ease and deliver one of the most entertaining new CDs to come blaring out like a drunken drag queen karaoke contest. It’s hard to imagine that The Cramps have been around over twenty years; giving a listen to this album would contest any naysayer, who obviously do not know the legend of this prolific band. The CD starts off with the commanding stomp of “Big Black Witchcraft Rock,” which hollers the intro by lead vocalist extraordinaire, Liberace reincarnate, Lux Interior, who growls a frightening sexy, “Satan baby, Satan!” This CD packs in more of the campy sinister B- Movie infused Cramps ideology, which confronts your little puny, pseudo-intellectual, Celine and Camus reading minds with such familiar Cramps themes like African witchcraft, and Satan. It’s all generously slathered with their invention, psychobilly, switchblade wit and tough girl and boy sashaying into their oblivion of fast cars, alcohol and cannibus smoking doom. Of course, you hear more Link Wray, Sun Records country, real black rhythm and blues, Elvis, exotica and all the cool influences that made The Cramps what they are today – pure fucking legends. So, you wanna know who the new bass player is? It’s Chopper Franklin, from local LA act Mr. Badwrench, who got the coveted position and supplying the big beats is Mr. Big Daddy NASCAR himself, Harry Drumdini. Miss Poison Ivy twangs like Duane Eddy’s demonic sister and makes black leather look even hotter than ever possible on a woman’s body! Whatcha waitin’ for? Go get this album and make out with a bunch of sluts. Okay, don’t get this album and go fuck yourself on a pinhole on the wall where your little dick will fit. –nam (No address supplied)


CRACKHEADS, THE:
Drunk with Power: 7" EP
I liked this for fifteen seconds. It starts off very Chicago meat and potatoes punk until the singer mopes in front and center and asses the place up with some terribly cliché lyrics that, by the sounds of it, rips off Timbuk 3. Not a good choice. Pink slip the singer and writer, and give it another go. –todd (Dylaramma)


CONSUMED:
Pistols at Dawn: CD
Hey, they jumped ship! Once Fat Wreck staples, they come down the coast to LA’s BYO. It’s kind of the same network anyway. It’s their third release after the debut album Breakfast at Pappa’s and the sophomore release, Hit for Six. Consistency has been the key for this band. This release shows that they have continued to grow. The songs are catchy yet strong. The production has always been used to their advantage. Not coming off bubble gum, they tear forward using a palatable aggression that won’t turn off many. The musicianship is not overboard, but interesting enough to keep their identity. They’ve got a good mix of loud guitars, strong vocals and solid rhythm section as a backbone to mix melody with rocking riffs. I was kind of wondering where these guys have been. A definite highlight in what’s coming out in the UK. –don (BYO)


COMMUNIQUÉ:
A Crescent Honeymoon: CD
Egads, this is awful! Synth and attempting to be somewhere between Supergrass and Weezer adds up to suckin’ ass. –megan (Lookout)


COLUMBIAN NECKTIES:
Why Changes Your Moves: CD
Album number three from these kids and they’re still rockin’ like mad muhfuggas. No deviation from previous work or “progression,” per se, to be found here, just straight up, balls-out rock and roll. Great shit no matter which way your tastes sway. Rip Off Records should’ve long ago been all over these guys like Sub Pop lusting after the Mummies. –jimmy (Sound of Subterrania)


COFFIN CHEATERS, THE:
Porno Serial Killers: CD

One of the things successful writers always say is that you never want to write about something you don't truly know about. But I'm going to break that rule right here and state that I think the Coffin Cheaters' music is the aural equivalent of a blumpkin. The word "blumpkin" is a slang term for the scato-sexual act of receiving a blowjob while sitting on the toilet taking a shit. Now, I'm not just saying this because I'm afraid my Mom might read this someday, but I have, in truth, never experienced a blumpkin. So I'm sticking my neck out here a bit, comparing the Coffin Cheaters to a blumpkin. But I think it's a safe gamble. In fact, I probably wouldn't be too much off the mark to spice it up even more by saying it's like GG Allin getting a blumpkin from El Duce. The fact that those two guys are now rotting corpses has nothing to do with the simile – the Coffin Cheaters' music is anything but dead (or homosexual, come to think of it...) This is macho, meaty, bruising porno-thug punk complete with missing teeth, b.o., and a loutish insensitivity to anything even remotely politically correct. This is the kind of music that has patches of bristly body hair in spots that have no business being hairy. Porno Serial Killers, unlike their previous 7" offerings, captures the full metallic wallop of their live sound, which is something like a cross between Nine Pound Hammer and the Meatmen. Be forewarned: this disc is oozing with an indelicate sense of humor that's bound to leave prissy tight-asses seething. Fundamentalist punks who find things like the Exploited off-putting will choke on their lattes when Porno Serial Killers enters a room.The Coffin Cheaters play scum-humping blumpkin rock deserving of all the white trashy, pit-stained perks that go along with inclusion in the Confederacy of Scum. Antiseen take note.

–aphid (Sell Your Soul)


COCKNEY REJECTS:
Out of the Gutter: CD
Some bands should just be content to sit and collect the royalties from their early recordings and never revisit music again. This is one such band. If I wanted to listen to bad metal, I’d shell out some dough for the last Metallica album. As a fan of their earliest work, I’m horrified. –jimmy (Captain Oi)


CLUSTERFUX:
Thrash Mongrel: CD
Metal with some hardcore mixed in, or vice versa, depending on how you wanna look at it. The boneheaded macho quotient that accompanies similar sounding bands isn’t readily apparent, and that is a big thumbs up for ’em, but they still don’t blow up my skirt in the least. –jimmy (Rodent Popsicle)


CLUSTERFUX:
Thrash Mongrel: CD
Clusterfux have dual female/male vocals screamed to the extreme over metallic crust. The guitars are a little thin in the production but that doesn’t take away the power there are trying to achieve, which is heavy on the riffing to power through each song. The bass has the right amount of distortion to accent and fill what deficiencies the guitars lack. The guitar solos might discourage some punk purists, but metal heads will see it as an added bonus. Reminds me of the crossover period of the mid-to-late ‘80s. –don (Rodent Popsicle)


CINCH, THE:
Self-titled: CDEP
I am hacking out a special wing of my brain to house data regarding a seemingly newly emerging subgenre as we speak: I dunno what i call it yet, but The Cinch (from Vancouver?), the Rotten Apples (from Seattle), and the Lovelies (from Milwaukee) are in it, and inclusion seems to mandate an almost-continually midtempo pace, slightly breathy female lead and backing vocals, disillusionment with failed relationships as the only allowable lyrical subject matter, and musical genetic coding apparently evolved from both ‘90s 120 Minutes era alt-rock bands and pert ‘80s girl groups such as the Go-Go's, without ever actually sounding like anything either slightly truly Go-Go-esque or adamant about publicly attempting to push its ROCKING-ness (in the most ROCK sense of the term) as being crucial to the end result. The Rock is insistent, yet the songs are clearly not designed to blow up white mice in the Rock-O-Meter™. The songs (the "hits," anyway) have a blatantly well-crafted form to them, yet are never cute or overly poppy (e.g., the "hit" here – "Once a Week" [money shot line: "I've been waiting for you for a while / I've been staring at those pretty tiles"] – utilizes both maracas and tambourine in the ongoing textural structure of the song, not as mere bells and whistles and/or ear candy); end result (for entire subgenre) leaving me, Al Franken, with the sensation that these songs are deserving light-rotation phantom MTV demi-hits from a bygone (maybe?) era which may or may not have ever existed to begin with. MTV-rock as Pop? Alt-pop as Rock? Would i understand this better if i just broke down and got cable? My major grievance with this whole newly-minted and as-yet-unnamed subgenre is that the "hits," as they were, in their stern-jawed mission to be neither "cute" nor overly "poppy," yet "hits" nonetheless, lack sufficient spectacularness-above-and-beyond-the-call-of-duty to float the more rank-and-file (note: not the band) numbers in their wake (by contrast, Elastica's big smasheroo [to me], "Stutter," was so overwhelmingly genius that the rest of their material more or less had to do nothing but mop up after it), although most of the material herein is admirably well done and crafted. That said, in case you're wondering how they made out on the Modern Lovers cover, it doesn't really put over the depth and texture of the original, but does achieve a nice, thin, trebly, Saints-first-album character by song's end. Further, the (female) vocalist's non-switching of the song's gender is, apparently by some heretofore undocumented law of physics, counter-balanced by her juxtaposing the words "shit" and "garbage" in the classic line "She / eat garbage / eat shit / get stoned." Rock & roll is a beautiful thing. BEST SONG: "Once a Week" BEST SONG TITLE: "French Maid," mais naturellement! FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: The band's website is given as "www.thecinchrocks.com." Memo to bands who find that "www.bandname.com" is taken: Going with "www.bandnamerocks.com" is fucking GAY with a capital A. FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT WAITING TO HAPPEN: One of the guitar players is named Mark Epp. Might he possibly be related to the guy from Mr. Epp & The Calculations??? ("Mohawk Man" was their big hit) –norb (Dirtnap)


CHROMATICS:
Chrome Rats vs. Basement Rutz: CD
Arty noise rock, not unlike a punier Birthday Party. It took me two listens, but I’m gettin’ pretty into this. It may be noisy and atonal, but at least it’s creative and it doesn’t sound anything like Blink 182. –jimmy (GSL)


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