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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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ADVENTURES OF JET, THE:
Muscle: CD
They still sound like an unholy alliance between the Cars, Elvis Costello and ELO, this album’s not as “rockin’” as their first album, Coping with Insignificance, and the hooks are a little more subtle than on that release, but there’s still enough going on here to warrant many listens. They remain one of my favorite guilty pleasures. –jimmy (Suburban Home)


9 SHOCKS TERROR:
Zen and the Art of Beating Your Ass: CD
This is the long out-of-print reissue of their first LP that was originally released by Devour out of Japan. Having taken their name from a Lip Cream LP, these maniacs take the principals of Japanese punk and call it their own. Controlled chaos is their cup of tea and they belt out song after song of sheer energy. If you enjoy the fast fury and angry noise of a DS-13 or old school Negative Approach or the above mentioned Lip Cream, you should love this. I have seen this band live when they came through LA and was floored by the sheer power of their music. Also included as a special bonus for your hard-earned dollar are songs off of a couple of EPs, splits, comp tracks and a live recording, which is noted that the band hates. That makes for a total of thirty-four friggin’ tracks! They’re one of today’s important punk bands that should not be ignored. –don (Havoc)


5IVE:
Continuum Research Project: CD
Track 1: Twenty-four minutes of ambient stoner rock that periodically rises from sleep-inducing quietude to sleep-induced monster riffage. No vocals. Track 2: Thirteen minute “remix” of track 1 that sounds like they dragged a CD of track 1 behind the go-cart for a while and then dubbed a new copy from that. –Cuss Baxter (Tortuga)


TORPEDO MONKEYS:
Lunchtime with…: CD
I’ll admit I didn’t play this right away. I was put off by the psychedelic cover with pompadoured monkeys, Planet of the Apes masks, and ‘60s-era fonts and colors. I’ll also admit that was a mistake. This record is flat-out near great and has made my daily commute through Detroit less dreary. Reverently part Cramps, Johnny Thunders, Humpers, Devil Dogs, and more, these Germans blast through fifteen fresh trash-inspired rockers. The best track is “I Was a Cannibal for the FBI,” which is as catchy as Kent 3’s “Ointment Endeavor.” The covers of the Cramps’ “Like a Bad Girl Should,” Dead Kennedys’ “Let’s Lynch the Landlord,” and the Spark Plugs’ “Chicken” aren’t sloppy or patronizing; they’re great takes on what are now classics. Some of my faves all rolled into one apparent powerhouse. Now… what’s behind the mask? –thiringer (Zodiac Killer)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
We Just Call It Roulette Vol. 2: CD
First off, kudos for some wicked nice packaging—damn thing looks like someone decorated a giant matchbook with a Spirograph then attached a couple of small magnets so you could close it. The music contained inside is a nice enough mix of alt-rock, world music, off-kilter rock, and punk. Sure, there are moments when things get a wee bit pretentious, but it’s pretty clear that some intelligence and serious effort was put into every aspect of this compilation. Besides, it’s not every day one runs into a comp with Sump Pumps, Medusa, Child Bite (whose track sounds like a Latin Playboys outtake with Pere Ubu’s David Thomas on vocals), and a group that sounds like they employ a phalanx of Mbira (thumb piano) players. –jimmy (Russian Recording)


DANIEL JAMES GANG, THE:
In This City: CD-R
These two songs are poorly recorded anthem rock demos. They sound like equal parts Kiss and early Van Halen with sloppy blues riffs abounding and guitar noodles ensuing. If you’re looking for some butt rock ‘80s DIY nostalgia, then this band fits your niche. –N.L. Dewart (myspace.com/danieljamesgang)


WORLD WAR IX:
Portrait of Sobriety: CD
Wasn’t all that impressed with an earlier album I reviewed, and I’m not sure if this ain’t just the same one repackaged and retitled ‘cause I remember a tune or two from the previous disc. That said, if it is the same disc with a different handle, I must be in a better mood or something ‘cause they weren’t quite as dull this time around. The highlight again is the tune “Thank God It’s Monday” (here titled “TGIM”), but the rest are decent bits of dopey thud-punk. I ain’t gonna shout their praises from the rooftops, but I’ll gladly admit they ain’t quite as bad as I initially surmised. –jimmy (Zodiac Killer)


TIME TO ESCAPE:
Cost of Living: EP
I hate to say it but I just might be getting a bit jaded with contemporary hardcore. It’s not to say I won’t still give it a chance. There isn’t anything groundbreaking about Time To Escape. But I’m pretty sure they know that. It’s melody free, shorter than your attention span hardcore. This band shares a member with Government Warning. If you’re into that scene, you might dig this (hopefully more than I did). –Juan Espinosa (Grave Mistake)


SPIRES:
Flowers and Fireworks: LP
Like some post-rock, metal (to a point), and screamo, it must be done well for me to care at all. That said, though I would call this a screamo album overall, there is enough variance on that theme with the post-rock and metal bits to keep Flowers interesting. In fact, it seems that Spires owe more to bands like Explosions In The Sky than any band from the screamo genre. Spires earlier work was more grinding metalcore than anything else; much of that is abandoned on this album for a more melodic screamo bent. The weakest part of this album comes from the group vocals. They aren’t often, which is nice, but one of the few instances in which they do occur, they are rather off-putting. The music settles to a calm point. It seems as though the vocalist is about to make a confession or breakdown into a mania—something that expresses solitude and loneliness—but instead come these other voices joining him, which seem inconsistent with what is actually at hand. Let those who feel the same join in live, but the album is for the band. Still, it’s not enough to detract from the album’s overall worth. Pretty all right. –Vincent Battilana (Hive, Inkblot, no address)


ZAO:
Awake?: CD
Awake? is Zao’s ninth album (or tenth—they re-recorded their debut eight years after its release) in their over fifteen-year existence. I think I’ve been following them for most of that and while I’ve not always been a huge Zao fan, I do recall using their music to get pumped up before intramural flag football games in college, over ten years ago. So we have a history. Their last album, the Steve Albini-recorded The Fear Is What Keeps Us Here, was a great album. The dirty, live sound made for a lot of energy and a raw feel that matched the sound of the band. Awake? on the other hand, was recorded by As I Lay Dying’s Tim Lambesis and while it sounds solid in a production sense, it’s not a sound that Zao necessarily should be pushing. After having been a forerunner of much of the metal-core sound, the latest album of ten songs sound like most of the artists who were trying to rip off Zao in the first place, including the played-out singing/screaming metal vocals. On past albums Dan Weyandt has shown he has some of the sickest vocals in metal, but here they seem boring and as though they’re going through the motions. My belief is that they were most likely eaten up in an attempt to go for a cleaner sound. If Zao were going to get back on the road and tour a ton (since 2007 they’ve become a studio band), I’d say this might be an album to help them really get noticed. It’s simple, straightforward, and has some fairly catchy riffs and choruses while still keeping a hard sound. Unfortunately, it’s that dialing down of any sense of wicked creativity that was evident at times on their former albums that causes Awake? to be an adequate, uninspired listen. And for a band that only exists in the studio that seems to be a killer. I’d say that they should call it a day, but with all the drama and line-up changes this band has produced, who knows what might happen in another two years? –kurt (Ferret)


DEAD GHOSTS:
Bad Vibes: 7”
It can be hard for me to get too into some of these extremely lo-fi garage bands—the production is very thin and the vocals are often buried in the mix. I just can’t really find anything to latch onto. I have those issues with the first song on this disk, “Bad Vibes.” It’s just too muddy for me. The second song, however, does capture a bit of atmosphere and feeling that I dug, and brings to mind a band like The Gories or Vivian Girls. Kind of jangly, kind of bluesy. Worth a listen for the second track. Would have been nice if the lyrics were included though, because I have no goddamn idea what the singer’s saying. –Evan Katz (Yakisakana)


COFFINBERRY:
Self-titled: CD
I’m usually a little leery when well-recorded indie music states that it’s tracked on a Tascam Portastudio. Though I respect DIY 8-track endeavors, usually what the audience is not told is what silly expensive outboard gear the group used, if any, or the accolades of the mixer or master person. With that written, Coffinberry has a honed indie style of rock music. They know how to explore different sounds from modern influenced altcountry a la “Celebrate the Holy Innocents” to textural guitar pop, i.e. Lorena. This is a well-crafted indie effort that sounds experimental without being pretentious and it’s recorded on an 8-track…well done. –N.L. Dewart (Collectible Escalators)


AUTOPILOT IS FOR LOVERS:
To the Wolves: CD
This is dark alt-country interwoven with the hand of gypsy styling, leading the listener into some murky waters. These tunes rest on the laurels of Adrienne Hatkin’s haunting vocal vibrato, crashing the moods to some forlorn places. These twelve tracks have all the ingredients for that instant indie darlings welcome recipe: sparse piano, unsettling guitar riffs turned noise, banjo, accordion, and glockenspiel. That is if you’re serving up some spiked punch. Autopilot Is For Lovers touch lyrically where many don’t dare to tread with topics such as the apocalypse (“Come Now”) and the reckless nature of capitalism (“PineBoxTown”). “Shadows” seems to be the band’s poetic “fuck you” to the administration with lyrics: “He is giving you strychnine to cure the disease.” Musically daring and lyrically poetic, this is a ship I recommend you jump on before it takes off. –N.L. Dewart (Bladen County, bladencountyrecords.com)


MOSTLY DEAD, THE:
Slightly: 7”
Hardcore with a poppy undertone? Melodic punk with some serious “don’t touch” quills on it? I don’t know. The Mostly Dead’s couched somewhere right in between the two. They sound something like the Riverboat Gamblers doing hardcore—there’s that bit of straight rock and roll swagger coursing through their veins, but the songs are still enmeshed in a fine coating of venom. Or maybe something like early Flatliners material with some ‘80s rock sped up and sprinkled on the surface. But again, there’s just a little something that’s keeping the rock and the hardcore elements at arm’s distance from each other. It’s definitely a decent record, but there’s just something about it (and that’s the shitty part, both for the band and whoever reads this: as a reviewer I can’t put my finger on what it is, what that little missing bit might be) that makes this 7” come across as cold and a little too clinical and distant, when this kind of punk sounds best when it’s blistering, lava-hot. A good record (and accompanying CD-R) that doesn’t quite make it into “awesome” territory. –keith (Mighty Science)


WRECK OF THE HESPERUS / DE NOVISSIMIS:
Split: 10”
Both of these artsy, crusty bands play indecipherable, annoying, and maddening doom from Dublin. Each artist lays down one bizarre track, with Wreck Of The Hesperus being slower and crazier than De Novissimis. De Novissimis features not one, but two wacky “singers,” one of whom had a creature-like tenor to his voice reminiscent of voices on the soundtrack of the film Ghoulies III: Ghoulies Go to College. This record is the musical equivalent of setting one’s pubes on fire, and I do not mean that as any sort of compliment. –Art Ettinger (Stitchy Press)


WILD MOCCASINS:
Microscopic Metronome: CDEP
Wild Moccasins have a knack for interesting transitions that they actually pull off. Their first track begins outside around a crackling campfire and builds up, bringing the listener back into the studio. Though the music is thoughtful, their sound is tied up in whimsical indie fodder: cutesy girl and guy sung stuff bouncing with “oohs” and “ahhs.” It’s modern, shiny-produced throwback pop music sung with the jest of teenage nostalgia. If your wardrobe is season up to date with American Eagle, I have a feeling you’ll love this band. –N.L. Dewart (www.myspace.com/thewildmoccasins)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
We Went and Recorded It Anyway: CD
I’m still obsessed with any comp with what I consider the “right dates” on it. This is a solid collection of obscure sloppy punk and power pop singles from ‘77 to ‘84 a la the Bloodstains series. Highlights include The Excerpts “Will I Ever See You Again,” a power pop anthem in the vein of The Records. The Rentals “New York” is snottier style punk that sounds as if it could be a lost Dangerhouse track. Some of the songs get as fast as X. The liner notes contain band histories; the bands are from all over the world. It isn’t mind melting, but it’s solid as hell if you love the sound. There are no clunkers. You know whether or not you would like this. –Billups Allen (Brutarian Quarterly)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Rocky Mountain Low: CD
If not for Denver, my hometown I dub a big city on training wheels, there would be no Dead Kennedys. It goes to show that although like many unhip places, Denver may be overshadowed by bigger cities with more vibrant music scenes. However, my town will never be completely overlooked by the punk scene. This is but a few of the historical and cultural nuggets unveiled in The Colorado Rocky Mountain Low. This effort of Joseph Pope and Dalton Lawrence is one part fanzine, one part music compilation, and one part painstaking labor-intensive love. And of the fine features of those endeavors showcased gracefully here, the authors contextually preserve the underground music scene and its contributing members of the RockyMountain region during the late ‘70s. Pope best summarizes what this zine is about: “What you are holding is an overview and recorded document of every band that was playing and performing underground music in Colorado in the late 1970s. Good? Maybe. Bad? Definitely. Ugly? You bet.” That’s what’s so appealing about The Colorado Rocky Mountain Low. It’s not some superficial “Best Of” punk re-hash music compilation limited in style and often flagellating in cultural do’s, don’ts and is and isn’t. This gives the reader an unabashedly honest and objective guidebook to this palpable music scene. Rasmussen encourages readers to capture their respective scenes in much the same way he and Pope have. Such artistic independence is a common motif. “I find it particularly interesting that most of the songs presented here were non-live (i.e., not recorded at a gig).” Rasmussen wrote. “Many of the bands exemplified a true do-it-yourself ethic, either recording themselves or having a friend with proper equipment record them, while a few of the bands were ambitious enough to pay for actual studio time.” For some, this compilation may be too much of an intellectual leap because of the apparent differences from band to band presented here and the whole historical duty may be lost on them. But for true music fans, this is a refreshing approach to learning about music because, beyond being stylistically segregated, this compilation is truly eclectic. This gives fans a chance to think for themselves in terms of what they like from that scene or not. With three hundred of these made, this is a wise investment and for Pope and Rasmussen. Bravo. –N.L. Dewart (www.rockymountainlow.com)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Drink, Fight, Fuck: 2 x 12”
A strong compilation of bands on the Zodiac Killer label. Double album with thirty-two songs. A lot of good-but-not-great punk rock songs with a handful of countrified tunes. –Jim Ruland (Zodiac Killer)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Drink. Fight. Fuck. III: CD
Whether you’re gynophobic or a freshly on-the-wagon meth addict, I have a feeling you’ll get just what you’re looking for out of Drink. Fight. Fuck. III. –Andrew Flanagan (Zodiac Killer)


UNDER A NIGHTMARE:
Cemetery Getaway: CD
Basic punk-a-billy with a heavy reliance on “whoa-oh-oh-ohs” and narrow-range, and strained, screaming vocals. Fast-paced, muddy and dark. Closest in style to the Demon City Wreckers, but neither executed as cleanly nor as psychologically disturbing. –thiringer (Self-released, myspace.com/underanightmare)


TWO LEFT FEET:
Self-titled: CD
Two Left Feet has something interesting going on, yet something is missing. Big rock guitars mixed with poppy synth lines and occasional brass sound like they’re reaching for something but not quite making it. They’re almost there, and I feel like they could be really good if they finally nailed it (and maybe got a different vocalist. Sorry, but that’s a deal breaker for me). Imagine a harder-rocking and less-whiny Ozma with horns (I bet a shiny nickel they’re ex-rude boys). Hey, at least you get a lot of bang for your buck—this self-titled album has seventeen tracks, and the songs don’t fall into the trap of all sounding alike. All said, I think this could grow on me. –Sarah Shay (Skilletone, no address)


TRITES, THE:
Demo: Cassette
It’s probably not by accident but these guys completely live up to their name. Just when I thought three-chord pop couldn’t be feasibly reduced anymore and still be fun a band has to come out of nowhere and include four songs on a ninety-minute Maxwell tape prove me wrong. This sounds like some homemade recording experiment gone right with an ear-pleasing blend of garage rock and pop punk. Their last tune, “A Dirty Word,” is approximately twenty-nine words long and The Trites still manage to milk it for every worthwhile moment. This tape just schooled me in the less is more aesthetic. –N.L. Dewart (www.myspace.com/thetrites)


TRANSGRESSIONS, THE:
Waste my Time: CDEP
The six-song debut by one of the best punk bands to come out of Wisconsin in recent memory. Pop genius with no songs over 1:30 and two of them under a minute. If there could be any criticism, it seems like these guys are aping Off With Their Heads to some degree with joyous, catchy punk songs with lyrics dwelling on nihilism, substance abuse, and self-loathing. But fuck if I care. All is I know is that I can’t stop listening to this EP and can’t wait to hear more songs by this band. –Jake Shut –Guest Contributor (Self-released, www.myspace.com/thetransgressionshaveamyspacepage)


TOE TAG / WORLD OF LIES:
Split: CD
Toe Tag: Blaine from the Fartz/Accused heads the lineup, but they sounded like Blanks 77 with a slight yen for metal. By the time they began pilfering from the Plasmatics’ “Butcher Baby,” I was pondering how quantum physics relates to my kneecap or something equally scintillating. World Of Lies: Thrashy stuff with no small amount of speed metal in the mix. They won this mano a mano handily. –jimmy (Self-released, www.worldoflies.com)


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·PSYCHIC TEENS
·SPITS, THE
·DIRECT FROM HOLLYWOOD CEMETERY
·REEL BIG FISH
·SMOKE
·P.R.O.B.L.E.M.S.
·MORAL DILEMMA
·Razorcake Issue #27 from 2005, Featuring The Observers
·ABNER TRIO/ MAN AT ARMS


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