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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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VAASKA:
Todos Contra Todos: LP
Wicked brutal hardcore en español from Austin here. They grab you by the boo-boo from go and flail your scrawny body around like a ragdoll, thrashing in wild abandon one minute, then slowing it down to savor the beatdown the next. This is gonna get played lots.  –jimmy (Beach Impediment)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Bubbling up from Underground: CD
A collection of tunes courtesy of The Shades, Chrome, Tripp Kulture, Trashbeat, Japan Sound Ensemble, and Major Collective, with bassist Steve Fishman as the connecting linchpin between them. The music is diverse—Trashbeat have a heavy mid-’70s Bowie streak going, Japan Sound Ensemble are into noises, Major Collective are on a groove trip, Tripp Kulture sounds like Chrome on a dance bender, and Chrome sound like… well, Chrome—and the proceedings seem more interested in showcasing bands than lauding the credit on one cat. Good stuff all ‘round.  –jimmy (Major, majortalent.org)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Fettkakao Sampler: CD
There is a lot of weird, random stuff on these twelve songs. I was familiar with Mile Me Deaf, but all the other bands on this Austrian label sampler were new to me. With names like Crazy Bitch In A Cave, I was intrigued. Beach Girls And The Monster, Bad Weed, and Dot Dash are the acts that are most easily placed into the punk camp. Beach Girls And The Monster are a surf punk group, Bad Weed sounds like they’re heavily influenced by Ramones and the Clash, and Dot Dash are simple, lo-fi garage punk. There is also a lot of keyboard/electronic-influenced material on the sampler (Les Trucs, Brooke’s Bedroom, Armin Lorenz, and Crazy Bitch In A Cave). The other acts fall everywhere in between. I’m not insanely excited about any of this, but none of it is really bad, and the diversity of the label is impressive. If any of this sounds up your alley, I’d recommend checking it out.  –kurt (Fettkakao, fettkakao.com)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Frequency of the Truewave: CS
Oakland darlings Street Eaters have put this comp together to showcase some of their favorite current bands, and it’s a winner. The track list is studded with well-known DIY stalwarts like Dogjaw, Arctic Flowers, and Martha, with plenty of new-to-me bands to round things out (damn, Babe Quest is good). These nineteen songs span across a few styles of punk and its sister genres, with a tendency toward dark, melodic, post-punky stuff. Lots of American bands, especially from the curators’ native Bay Area, but a good helping of German and other European bands make an appearance as well. Most or all of these bands are fronted by women, and it is awesome to be able to check out so much of what’s going on in DIY punk right now on one cassette. This is one of those rare compilations that can boast both variety and cohesion. It never gets repetitive, but if you dig one track, you’re likely to dig most of them. The cool silvery color scheme makes this feel like a retro-futuristic artifact, maybe some sort of capsule that includes coded instructions for a secret punk mission.  –Indiana Laub (Nervous Intent, nervousintent.com)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Guide to Permanent Oblivion III: LP
A compilation offering a sample of some of the bands currently making noise in the dank corners of Reno’s underground music scene. The bands here—Plastic Caves, Spitting Image, Teen Creature, The Indoors, Ghost Friends Ltd., Cathedral Ghost, Postwar, Marion Walker, Alphabet Cult, Pelvis Wrestles, Short Hair, Elephant Rifle, d6, and Yesir, respectively—start off in a bit of a post-punk bent, move into more alt-rock territory, then things get more rambunctious with some broad experimentation within the context of punk, hardcore, and skronk. Nice, well-rounded selection that showcases some of the diverse talent a local scene contains, which is exactly what a regional comp shouldbe. High fives for those responsible for this.  –jimmy (Dsix, dsix.bandcamp.com)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Hardcore Gimme Some More: 7” EP
Used to be a time I didn’t wince when I put on something with “hardcore” in the title. That, of course, was years before that term became synonymous with (mostly) crappy metal subgenres, meathead assholes trying to “rule” the pit, and morons inexplicably trying to rewrite history by extricating hardcore from punk. Turns out that wincing was unnecessary ‘cause the tunes here—courtesy of S.H.I.T., Impalers, Peacebreakers, Violent End, Mercenary, and Ajax—are fuckin’ aces, each one a gem of thrashin’ hardcore (fuck you, dirthead term-stealers!) with not even a wisp of metal to be found. Though my personal pick to click here is Mercenary’s “Dreams Reality,” a particularly vicious piece of caustic noise that’ll make you gleefully trash your room, there seriously isn’t a shitty tune in the bunch.  –jimmy (Beach Impediment)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Puke & Destroy Vol. 2: 7”
Snuffy Smile Records out of Japan has consistently been putting out the best melodic punk that Japan (and the rest of the world) has to offer for what seems to be the last twenty years. This compilation pairs two of Japan’s finest melodic punk bands against two equally great bands from the U.S., with two songs from each band; all songs clocking in under a minute. Japan’s GleamGarden and What-A-Nights are paired on side A against the U.S. bands Tenement and Holy Shit! on side B, all pumping out thirty- to forty-five-second long songs, resulting in a release that is quite varied yet still a lot of fun.  –Mark Twistworthy (Snuffy Smiles)


VEXX:
Self-titled: 7”
Olympia’s Vexx return with their sophomore release and, holy shit, is it a winner. Dangerhouse aesthetic with scorching guitar leads and attitude to spare. In true original punk spirit this record contains very little information to go on other than the awesome artwork, so the music demands your utmost attention. Get yourself a frosty beverage and set aside some time to spend with this disc on your stereo. I guarantee it will be time well spent.  –Juan Espinosa (Katorga Works, no address listed)


VHS:
Choking on the Fruit: 7”
I just saw these guys play recently and they killed it live. I bought the record and I think I’ve already worn it out. This is my favorite record right now. The stand out is the song on the B side. “Behind the Wall” is post-punk at its finest. Catchy lyrics, driving and moody bass, great guitar arrangements, and tight drums that all complement each other perfectly. The members of VHS have been in a handful of amazing bands—Big Eyes, Criminal Code, and Thee Indoors to name a few. But it’s this band that you need to focus on, because this record will not disappoint you. Buy this record. See this band.  –Ryan Nichols (Casino Trash, casinotrashrecords@gmail.com)


VIOLENCE CREEPS:
On My Turf: 7”
Violence Creeps are obnoxious and gleefully so, in the very best ways imaginable. Outputting absolutely fabulous, noisy, in-your-face, creative madness with female vocals, they’re slowly gaining the reputation they deserve. A fair musical comparison musically is early Crucifucks, but with screamed female vocals. Simultaneously good humored and brutal, this is for fans of aggressive, yet quirky, punk. Hailing from Oakland, they’re known for on-stage silliness. There’s a music video for one of these songs already, and it’s as wonderfully weird as the record. The best creeps everywhere need to find Violence Creeps. They’re fucking brilliant.  –Art Ettinger (Veecee, violencecreeps.bandcamp.com)


VOLAGE:
Heart Healing: LP
This French band offers a batch of hippy-influenced poppy garage rock songs with psyche influences that comes off not unlike a French version of Ty Segall. Actually, you’d never really know this band was from France at all since all of the songs are sung in English with no noticeable accents. Much like a good portion of the contemporary garage of the last few years, this record lacks a certain something and never really grabs my attention. It definitely has come cool fuzzed-out moments, and it’s certainly not bad, but I keep on waiting and hoping that it would knock me off my feet. Unfortunately, I’m still waiting.  –Mark Twistworthy (Howlin’ Banana, howlinbanana.bigcartel.com)


VUKARI:
En to Pan: LP
Uneven ambient metal. Some aspects and songs work, others, not so much. The whole growly death metal/grindcore grunting does not work well with atmospheric and moody music of the opener “Din of Consciousness.” Granted, Lurker of Chalice, with his ambient black metal and vocals that are typical of that genre worked quite well, but instances of that are very few and very far between. The growly vocals in the abyss on “Riddle with Fear and Doubt” comes off better, and that’s probably due to the faster tempo and more straight forward approach in the song composition. There’s a change up riff, akin to something like what Tragedy would do, in the middle of the song that’s pretty damn good that eventually gives way to the colder, repetitive black metal guitar riff. The title track opens with some great music that would fit perfectly in a late 1970s/early 1980s horror film. It’s a combination of foreboding doom, yet is hopeful. The music picks up pace, goes into full-on death metal style, then switches mood here and there with some post-rock meandering bridges. The vocals work okay, but they also step all over the music at the same time. There’s a part where the song begins to build tempo after the bridge, and as it starts the vocals come in growl over the music, dampening any strength that is being generated. Might work wonders to sometimes step back and let the music do its thing.  –Matt Average (1859, 1859records.storenvy.com)


VVHILE:
More: LP
This Serbian duo offers up some hazy, shoegazing indie on their first full-length. The vocals in the opener “Nobody Knows” are so buried and washed out that it is easy at times to mistake them for another soaring layer of guitar noise; shimmery and almost syllable-less. However, “VVhile Things” follows up with a relatively straightforward jangly power pop jam. For the rest of its duration, More continues to dive easily back and forth between the atmospheric and poppy areas of the shoegaze spectrum, channeling Joy Division, Cloud Nothings, and Broken Social Scene as often as Ride. Whatever comparisons I saddle them with, VVhile aim to pile layer upon layer of blissful noise deep enough to sink into, and the results are supremely chill.  –Indiana Laub (Dirt Cult, dirtcultrecords@gmail.com, dirtcultrecords.com / Pop Depresija, popdepresija@gmail.com, popdepression.com / Numavi, numavi@gmx.at, numavi@bandcamp.com / Twintoe, twintoerecords@gmail.com, twintoe.blogspot.com / Jazz Chairs, vvhile@gmail.com, vvhile.net)


WALK PROUD:
Too Much Is Never Enough: LP
Back then they sounded like a mid-’80s NYHC band, but were from Southern California. That was a couple decades and some change back. Today is a bit different. Now they sound like a blend of their former selves mixed with bar punk. For example, the song “Represent.” It has a metallic edge that could be a little more and dark sinister than it is, and deserves better lyrics than the atrocious ones they have for it. Musically, they can write decent songs, but there’s something missing in the playing. Maybe too polished? Not as inspired as they once were? A lot more grit and dirt in their sound would be an improvement. The backing vocals are on the corny side at times, like in “Regret” and “Crazy.” There are a lot of throwaway tracks that should have been left in the practice room. A lot of “What if?” and “What could’ve been” on here.  –Matt Average (Know, knowrecords.com)


WARHEAD:
Self-titled: LP
Ohmergawwd! This is so insanely great that I am speechless. Bear with me as I stumble around for the elusive words to convince you that you need this over that one record you really thought you just had to have. Nope, you don’t need that one. You need this Warhead record first and foremost. Warhead gets a lot of respect and accolades, and listening to this scorcher of a record it’s easy to understand why. They crank it up to twelve and go for it non-stop like this is their last few minutes on earth. They don’t just play music; they attack it with a vengeance. Their fast and crazy tempos and hammering percussion sound like they’re about to topple over at any second. Their bass and guitar assault churns and grinds with no quarter. The vocalist sounds like his vocal chords are roasted. As soon as you hear the bass at the beginning of the opener “What Is You Should Believe?” you know you’re in for a cranker of an album. Each of these nine songs is like an explosion and everyone within earshot is running amok. The closer, “Don’t Give’n to Any Pressure!” is chaos personified, especially the harsh noisy ending. Classic hardcore punk from Japan today. An absolute must.  –Matt Average (540, fivefourzerorecords@gmail.com, chaosintejas.com/540)


WARWOUND:
A Huge Black Cloud (The Demos 1983): CD
Ripping d-beat, UK82 from the region and era that started it all. These “demos” are of surprisingly superior quality, considering they’re rough takes from over thirty years ago. I’m not sure I’d heard of them before getting my hands on this, but it’s top-notch stuff. Fans of Discharge and The Varukers should take note.  –Steve Adamyk (Boss Tuneage, bosstunage.com)


WILD RACCOON:
Mount Break: CS
Clearly the steaming seed of Mark Sultan has been spread far and wide across the PQ, as Wild Raccoon is another Quebecois one-man band with which the world must contend. More poppy than bluesy, Mr. Raton Sauvage is not above jamming with himself, which can occasionally lead to odd mental glimpses of the Bare Wires trying to play the fast part in “Iron Man” and other such exercises. Mr. Sauvage also has a charming French Canadian accent, best enjoyed in his spoken lines such as “they’re taking all the rocks, ‘cause we act like fucking cocks.” If I told you that this was the best cassette I’ve heard all year, I would not be lying. BEST SONG: “Next Summer” BEST SONG TITLE: “Pfuck Fuck the Bankers” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Includes a cover of “True Love Will Find You in the End” by Daniel Johnston.  –norb (Howlin’ Banana)


WULFEN RAG:
L.A. River: CD
Stompin’ down-stroke punk. Their bassist is a hippie. Nice racket, boyos. –jimmy (Wulfen Rag, facebook.com/WulfenRag)


WYCH ELM, THE:
Mother Bark Spit: LP
After eight spins I’m still not sure how I feel about this record. The Wych Elm are a three-piece out of Des Moines, Iowa who incorporate keyboard elements into their music. I wouldn’t say there is anything really “punk” about their record per say; there are songs about an Egyptian deity, being upset when someone interrupts you, and an anthropologist? My favorite thing about the whole album is their song “Strawberry.” It is a great summer anthem: bright and poppy with images of bare knees, sugar, and a soft breeze in the wind. This is one of the records where I find myself enjoying the parts individually more than as a whole. Tyler has a great singing voice, the keys are pretty and a nice change of pace, and the drumming is simple and digestible. For me, this is a perfect background noise record to zone out to.  –Kayla Greet (Self-released, jason@thewychelm.com)


X-PULSION / STREETS :
Split: 7”
A repress here of an early Belgian punk split, originally released on Romantik Records in 1978. X-Pulsions: First salvo is a serviceable punked-up cover of the Partridge Family’s “Heaven Only Knows,” followed by a two-fer: the raw, stompin’ “Schmucks” right into proto-thrasher “Castration.” Those two alone make this worth the price of admission. Streets: Their sole contribution to this party is “Police Control,” a slow, reggae inflected bit of not-near-as-interesting. X-Pulsions are the clear winners here. –jimmy (No Good, nogoodrecords.com)


YHTEISKUNNAN MUTANTIT:
Self-titled: CD
Could swear I reviewed something by these cats a good while back, but can’t seem to find any evidence to back that up. No matter. Ye get spazzed-out Finnish punk here, short on the almost requisite Discharge template and long on injecting a shit-ton o’ weird into the hardcore. It doesn’t groove so much as clamor along, more Butthole Surfers than Appendix. Dunno if the black-clad back patch crew will dig it, but it’s aces nonetheless. –jimmy (YhteiskunnanMutantit, facebook.com/YhteiskunnanMutantit)


YOUR PEST BAND / INVISIBLE TEARDROPS, THE: Split: 7” :
Split: 7”
Another winner of a split 7” has appeared in my reviewables. This time around we have Tokyo’s Your Pest Band and The Invisible Teardrops from Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Your Pest Band plays some impeccably catchy garage pop and The Teardrops… well, they do too, but a different style. It’s got some organ thrown in the mix that has me thinking of End of the Century but with haunted, ‘50s crooning. Killer! Both sides of this record made me smile and sway back and forth.  –ty (Snuffy Smiles, facebook.com/theinvisibleteardrops)


YOUR PEST BAND:
Time to Go: LP
I have no idea what I was expecting given this band’s name and packaging, but it sure the hell wasn’t a heavier version of the friggin’ Tweezers, for cripes sake! Japanese power pop occasionally straying into Japanese pop punk—at their best they’re a bit reminiscent of Sixteen Wires-era Registrators; at their worst they just sound like they’re trying to play “Crocodile Rock” too slowly. I stand baffled and corrected. BEST SONG: “You Were the Rebel” BEST SONG TITLE: “Don’t Leave Me Alone,” because it’s also the name of a Teengenerate song (which it isn’t). FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Sung in English, with lyrics provided in English and Japanese. I think just Japanese lyrics would have worked just fine.  –norb (Snuffy Smiles)


ZAO:
“Xenophobe” b/w “Fear Itself”: 7”
This is the first new material from this five-piece metal act in six years and if this is any indication of the material they are working on for their next album, it is going to be pretty great. “Xenophobe” is the better song of the two, reminiscent of The Dillinger Escape Plan in its frenetic bursts that draw back into a more mesmerizing sonic journey. “Fear Itself” isn’t bad—it is more of a doomy, trudging number, more similar to what the band would’ve done in the past. Overall, this isn’t a bad offering. I’m looking forward to seeing what the full-length sounds like. –kurt (Self-released, officialzao.bandcamp.com)


ABIGAILS, THE:
Tundra: CD
Blind Rorschach Mr. Potato Head testing. Close eyes, press “Play,” construct MPH accordingly. At the end of The Abigails’ Tundra, my be-speckled, mustachioed Potato Head was wearing tight jeans and a fringe jacket, smoking a corncob pipe and tipping his floppy hat like Dylan on the cover of Nashville Skyline. Sonically, The Abigails throws Waylon outlaw slides, Dylan shuffle, and Cohen delivery into palatable three-minute joints that would be graciously passed around at early 1970s L.A. country rock parties. Songs about medication and jail wrapped up in packaging reminiscent of Exene’s doodles on X’s lyric sheets. Slackers and dirt bags take heed, The Abigails has your lazy summer jams covered.  –Matt Seward (Burger)


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·HALFWAY TO GONE
·VARIOUS ARTISTS
·FUNCTIONAL BLACKOUTS
·MARKED MEN, THE
·TATTOOED MOTHER FUCKERS
·HICKOIDS
·SUSPECT PARTS
·EVENS, THE
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