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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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TIM VERSION, THE:
Decline of the Southern Gentleman: CD
I don’t like to throw around terms like “near perfect record” too often for fear of cheapening them, but that’s damn well what you get here with Decline of the Southern Gentleman. Heartfelt, perfectly executed workingman’s punk rock without pretension. I had previously heard various tracks by The Tim Version on compilations that I found solid, but not mind-blowing. However, the band has elevated their game tremendously with this new release or I simply did not give The Tim Version their due attention on my earlier exposures. The standout track undoubtedly has to be the second song, “Murder,” a passionate and catchy tune about the human temptation to seek simple, messy solutions to the outrage-inducing injustices flaunted in front of all of our eyes by the world we live in. Overall, the lyrics are strong and range more towards the personal than political, but overlap within both spheres. In addition to having the lyrics printed in the CD booklet, they also have brief written introductions and explanations for all twelve songs—which I always appreciate—particularly with a release of exceptional quality that I fully anticipate listening to dozens of times in the weeks and months to come. –Jake Shut –Guest Contributor (No Idea)


THURNEMAN:
Luggsliten Evnad: CD
Swedish hardcore from a band named after a Swedish cult figure and murderer from the 1930s. (Thurneman is an anagram for manhunter.) I have no earthy idea what these cats are singing about but they sure go after it. Kind of like the Regulations, except for that whole Swedish lyrics thing and maybe a little rougher around the edges. Love how the last song slows it down, lets you catch your breath, reload for another listen. –Jim Ruland (DMC, myspace.com/dmc_rec)


THISISATRAINWRECK:
Self-titled: CD
A four song EP by a duo from Nevada. The first track starts with harmonic guitar wankery reminiscent about what I don’t like about U2, but it quickly dispenses with that in favor of driving, punked-up indie rock maybe somewhere in the neighborhood of Hot Snakes and the Toadies. The second track stays in the classic indie rock mode borrowing heavily, but well, from classic Mission Of Burma and Wire and a bouncing bassline that sounds like the most dance friendly extremes of Joy Division’s catalog all backed up by a catchy chorus. The third song has a lot of the sonic trademarks of the first two, but weirder, more dynamic and complicated, which makes this song a mess, albeit a somewhat intriguing one. The fourth track takes a turn for the downtempo and sullen, bringing in a violin and cello and more overly complicated songwriting that caused my interest to wane entirely. –Jake Shut –Guest Contributor (Devil’s Tower, no address listed)


SUNSHINE:
Peach Love and Sunshine: Tape
This is a steady paced lo-fi hardcore tape. The lyrics aren’t sung or screamed but rather spoken fast and loudly. The recording is vocal- and guitar-heavy but the band produces well-crafted, drum-thumping songs. Sunshine is using irony, I’m assuming, in terms of their peace, love, and sunshine art in their lyric sheets and with the hearts hand painted on the tape. I say this because the songs are all written from the gloomy perspective of life’s annoying events such as work, growing up, and being pathetic. –N.L. Dewart (Sunshine)


[SUB]VERSO:
Self-titled: CD
I don’t know how to describe this band. It’s kind of like if you breed a beatnik poet and a shitty coffee shop band. There are some worthy guitar riffs in there, but they are masked behind the unpolished vocals and stupid, trippy sounds of someone’s acid days. I will not be following up with this band in any way because, quite frankly, I would imagine that seeing them in person would be the biggest bullshit night ever. –Corinne (Self-released, myspace.com/thesubverso)


STUCK LUCKY:
Possum Soul: CD
I really wanted to like this album. I looked up information on the label’s website about the band before I listened to it and saw they were a ska band. And I thought, “Maybe this will be a really unique take on ska! Maybe this band will inject some creativity into the genre.” And, yet, I am so torn right now by possible things to write, both smart-ass and sincerely critical. But all that seems like it might be too easy. Instead, I will say that the album is fifteen songs in about thirty-two minutes and if you are familiar with the most recent wave of ska, then this will sound familiar. I know ska isn’t just a fad but a real style of music and I respect that some people want to create music using that genre. But I think that with a few exceptions, I am entirely burnt out on the genre and probably will be for the rest of my life. And the singer also sounded a little like the singer from Smashmouth. Take from that what you will. –kurt (Community)


STORMSTRIKE:
Make Total Destroy: CD
The quatro out of Wisconsin, offers up an interesting set of garage punk jams. The anomaly is oddball track, “Trollkiller” which would feel more at home in a RPG Xbox game. For a sec, it almost sounds like Bradley Nowell was resurrected and made the lead singer, but the vocals don’t have the same punch, nor the range the chords do. At times, the vocals are strained and detract from the melody, but your mileage may vary. –Kristen K (Mad Cook, www.myspace.com/madcookrecords)


STIMULATOR:
2: CD
Pretty trippy. I reviewed a CD of this band a few years ago and remember them being sort of new wave pop, so I was expecting more of the same. First thing that comes out of the speakers is the track, “Holiday,” that starts off with a straight-up Bee Gees-sounding guitar with keyboards riff that sounded like the song “More than a Woman.” My mouth dropped and was fascinated by how good this captures the disco sound. I can close my eyes and visually picture a dance floor of full of people with a disco ball spraying the room with bits of reflected light. Nothing like their previous release. This band has really reinvented themselves. The majority of this release falls into the pop rock category, which I would believe would do very well on adult contemporary radio. The Captain and Tennille classic “Love Will Keep Us Together” is attempted, but I was rather let down that it was so true to the original. –don (Self-released, www.stimulatortheband.com )


STANDARD AND POOR:
Filthy Basement Secrets: CDEP
You got some street punk mixed with a pinch of rockabilly here. The first track, “Born Bad,” ditches the punches and goes straight for something sharper: “Born bad your gonna get my knife.” Standard And Poor takes well-traveled ground by writing tunes about liars (“Liar”) and broken hearts (“Heart Crusher Baby”) but put their spin on those topics and, let me tell you, there’s never a dull moment. I’ve already written about three of the six tracks on this EP. Needless to say, it’s going to be on repeat. Get your hands on these Filthy Basement Secrets! –N.L. Dewart (De Ville Basement Music, www.myspace.com/standardandpoor)


MERI ST. MARY:
I’m Back: CD
A mostly acoustic release here from a longtime SF punk scenester, Housecoat Project members, and the former wife of Flipper’s Bruce Loose. I can’t say it’s my bag of worms, but it’s clear she’s into what she’s doin’, which is more than I can say of about half of the stuff I get for review in any given cycle. –jimmy (Subterranean)


SMITTENS, THE:
The Coolest Thing about Love: CD
This band is very doo wop. And they are very clear with the album artwork, lyrics, and song titles that they are all about “love.” It’s not hippy music, though, so don’t misunderstand. It’s more like cutesy ‘50s music. It’s kind of adorable to a point of being disgusting. But I like it nonetheless, even though listening to it is the equivalence of me puking in my mouth after the sight of an adorable couple riding a tandem bike. It reminds me a lot of The Magnetic Fields with the types of instruments they use, the tone of voice, and the song pace. I like that about it. –Corinne (Happy Happy Birthday To Me)


SHOWER WITH GOATS:
Getting Lucky!/Reflection: CD
One “greatest hits” collection plus one new album from this newly reformed New Jersey pop punk band. Admittedly, I never really left the house until the late ‘90s, but I’d never heard of them, ever. There’s pretty comprehensive liner notes (including “god” in the thank you list, and pictures of the dudes wearing Deicide shirts), and, overall, the whole thing reminds me of Boogada-era Screeching Weasel. Best of luck to ‘em. (Trivia: the old lady in hipster sunglasses sitting next to me on the subway shook her head disapprovingly when she looked down and saw one of these). –joe (SP/Poor Boy, no address)


ROYAL HEADACHE:
Self-titled: Tape
Trite band names deserve trite words. Well, this Royal Headache tape manages to be some really good yet horribly difficult music to listen to, especially the loud and fast beginning song “Girls,” where the recording levels peak all over the place, making it hard to focus on any particular instrument in what sounds like a live recording done with one microphone. Yet underneath that rough lo-fi exterior is some damn fun, foot-thumping garage rock pop tunes. I’m happy with this tape in the way I’m happy listening to people having a really fun and engaging party next door that I’m not invited to. Oh, how I long to hear The Royal Headache in person. –N.L. Dewart (www.myspace.com/royalheadache)


ROGUE NATIONS, THE:
Be Your Own Rogue Nation: LP
This band from Charlotte, NC has a feel for early ‘80s punk: mid tempo songs that veer into the melodic, poppy area, but with guitars that veer away with jarring and jerking riffs. The vocals add the majority of the melody and are what stands out on the songs. This recording has a very live feel, like you are right there at a bar show. It’s not really my cup of tea but I can find no faults. This is definitely one of those bands you have to check out first to see how it rates on your taste meter. –don (Suicide Watch)


RIVERBOAT GAMBLERS:
Underneath the Owl: CD
I’m not terribly familiar with the Riverboat Gamblers, so I can’t rightly say if this CD is a major departure from their previous recordings or where it stands in comparison to prior albums, etc., but what you do get here is an album of varied songs with big, clean rock production. The first track “Dissdisskisskiss,” featuring the opening verse sung by Todd Congelliere, is a high energy, fist-pumping jam. Dynamic guitars rule with nonsensical lyrics, the kind that you inexplicably tap your toes and bob your head and point your finger to, despite any real sense of coherence to them. “A Choppy Yet Sincere Apology” and “Alexandria” sound a lot like a big budget Statues, as if someone gave the Ottowans fifty grand to let loose in the studio and create an album. “Robots May Break Your Heart” features DJ Bonebrake playing vibraphone, which adds a bit of jazzy coolness to the song. I appreciate the line “Binary code breaking, zeros and ones all I see now.” You gotta love someone who sings about binary; a nice touch of nerdiness. “The Tearjerker” is a swinging country ballad, replete with pedal steel. The song is a metaphor that relates a dissolving relationship to a film. “Our friends will say that our film, while ok, wasn’t safe, was too strange, difficult to talk about.” Great lyrics for a novel allegory. The closing track “Victory Lap” is a raging tour diary and a terrific ending to the record. “Swing Ding in Tucson, I sing along, I don’t speak Spanish, but I know the song.” Ain’t that the truth? The only real clunker on the album is “Sleepless” which sounds awfully commercial, primed for ring tone sales and heavy rotation on KROQ and other commercial alternative radio stations across the dial with its heavily affected vocals and big sing-a-long chorus. The kids at the Warped Tour are gonna eat this one up this summer. For those with say, a more mature palette, if you can overlook that bit of entry level punk bait, then you should find the rest of the album an enjoyable experience. –Jeff Proctor (Volcom)


RICH WHITE MALES:
We’ve Come to Kick Ass and Play Bubblegum: CD
At the intersection of Ramones Road, Queers Avenue, and Sloppy Seconds Lane, these guys are sitting on the curb, taking notes. The results, while not staggeringly original, are nonetheless well executed and definitely listenable if stuff in this vein is your bag. –jimmy (Cheapskate)


QUEERS, THE:
Alive in Hollyweird: CD/DVD
I can’t help but feel like this is the same as reviewing an issue of MRR. Do I really need to explain this? Does anyone not know what to expect? Because there isn’t really anything unexpected from this live album, unless you count that it comes with an okay DVD as well. –joe (Punk Rock Social, www.punkrocksocial.com)


PULLING TEETH:
Paranoid Delusions: CDEP
I was surprised to see that this band is from my home state. Musically, these dudes pack a solid metal punch, but I just couldn’t get past the Cookie Monster vocals. Even with actual printed lyrics in the insert, this isn’t enough for me to hit play again. Nice freaky artwork for the cover though. –koepenick (Self-released, www.myspace.com/pullingteethmd)


PLEXI 3:
Tides of Change: LP

Plexi 3 play garagey power pop with female vocals and some girl group dramatics. Power pop requires a fine balance of, well, power and pop. The main problem with this album is that it needs more of both. It’s just not quite catchy enough to make up for how little it rocks. I’d like to see this band live. I bet they’re more energetic on stage, and they probably play in places with shitty PAs that mute the grating vocals. This sounds like the work of a band that is not quite ready to do a full-length, so I’m giving Plexi 3 a vote of confidence. The songs that the drummer wrote are fucking catchy, and they covered the Everly Brothers. Let’s hope that they stick around long enough to capitalize on the potential shown.

–CT Terry (Bachelor)


PARENTS:
Songs of Passion: CD-R
In ten songs, Parents manage to come across as a half-assed and goofy Ween, a swaggering Hives soundalike, and a dead ringer for a way more awkward Metropolitan. Pretty sure it’s a home recording and is apparently one of those “one guy dicking around in his studio” kind of jobs. Apart from the track listing and a Myspace page, there’s no info. The lack of information or musical focus lends this one to a pretty middle of the road kinda feeling. Sorry, dude. –keith (Parents)


ONETHIRTYEIGHT:
London Transmissions: CD
Spooky loops, mad scientists, surf riffs, spider babies, floating tea cups, disembodied organs, creaking doors, lost transmissions, and a whole lot of weird shit from this English band that’s really into making videos overloaded with creeped-out kitsch. –Jim Ruland –Jim Ruland (Self-released, onethirtyeight.co.uk)


NUCLEAR TOMORROW:
Self-titled: CD
Mid-tempo, ‘80s styled SoCal punk rock via San Diego in the vein of the Bad Samaritans. Not bad, but nothing that I haven’t heard before. –don (Self-released, www.myspace.com/nucleartomorrow)


NOFX:
Coaster: CD
Twenty-six years is a long fucking time to still be releasing records, touring, and binging on drugs and alcohol. I will be the first to admit that I wouldn’t be at all be surprised if this wasn’t the last NOFX record. I took the title of “So Long and Thanks for All the Shoes” literally when it came out and was sure they were calling it quits. Now it seems that I’d be surprised if they didn’t release anything new. I use the term “new” loosely because there really isn’t anything new going on here. Fast songs: check. Songs about being loaded: check. Songs with horns: check. If anything, one of the only things that I don’t remember from previous albums is the excessive name dropping of friends’ bands. It gets pretty annoying. Also included are pictures of the band members as kids that leads me to believe that they all had pretty normal, happy childhoods. Man, what happened? –Juan Espinosa (Fat)


NIGHT SIEGE:
Quest for Life: CD
Intense mid-tempo to speedy hardcore punk from a Texas quartet. Night Siege is mostly mining the early-to-mid ‘80s hardcore which appeals to this reviewer as it’s the music I grew up on. It sort of reminds me of F Minus without any female vocals. Solid songs and an above average sense of melody, which could appeal to folks who normally don’t embrace the genre. –Jake Shut –Guest Contributor (Self-released, www.myspace.com/nightsiege)


NIGHT EYES:
Self-titled: CD
I’m so happy that I got the 489th copy of this limited album. I was thirteen away from not having one of these 502 pressings. One thing my collection is missing is limited dance techno music that makes no sense and is sung by a man with a falsetto. And let me tell you, he’s not afraid to use it. Well, I just dropped some ecstasy and I feel like letting this CD’s programmed dance beats bump me into a salivating coma…gotta go. –N.L. Dewart (Seed)


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