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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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DEEP SLEEP:
Paranoid Futures: EP
Tuneful hardcore with the obvious early ‘80s influence from bands like Jerrys Kids and Descendents, as well as more current bands like Dillinger 4 (especially the chorus to “Static Void”). This isn’t bad, but, at the same time, this lacks the edge to make it stand out and be memorable. The songs tend to blend into one another with largely the same tempo, and there’s no real spark in any of the songs. Maybe live they’re a different beast? –Matt Average (Grave Mistake, www.gravemistakerecords.com)


FRIENDLY FIRE / BOUND TO BOLT:
Dog Years: Split cassette
Friendly Fire’s side is filled with four high-energy emo pop numbers, in the vein of Jawbreaker. This is by no means corporate music and their side of the tape is entertaining but…all the over-dramatic heart-on-your-sleeve-isms did get tiring by the final track. Bound To Bolt’s side of the tape is hook-laced indie rock. It’s full of quirky, free-spirited sing-a-longs the last of which, “Springfield,” makes me smile every time I listen to it. It’s just silly, stupid, lighthearted, fun. –N.L. Dewart (myspace.com/friendlyfireva / www.myspace.com/boundtobolt)


FOREVER:
Self-titled: CDEP
This is an alt-country EP. It starts out slow with the song “Oh Distant Heart,” but things speed up by the fourth and fifth tracks. “Who?s Haunting Me?” (note: the question marks are intentional) is my personal favorite song for its pounding drums and catchy chorus. If you’re into girl-fronted indie scenester music à la The Vivian Girls, then you’ll probably like this. –N.L. Dewart (HHBTM)


FLINK:
Feel My Feeling: CD
No. I will not feel your feeling. I barely even want to review this CD—it’s that shitty. And not shitty as in poor production but shitty as in that this is a great example of that generic, jangly indie pop band you had to suffer through before you could hear your friend’s band play. Compound that with vocals that are often off-key (and not in an endearing fashion) and I’ve already started sharpening the chopsticks so that I can puncture my eardrums. –kurt (http://myspace.com/flinkband)


FIRST OFFENSE:
The Faith to Stand Your Ground: CD
I remember liking a single by this band that I was given to review. Straight up oi stuff, with no frills or gimmicks. What you see is what you get. Same deal with this full length. Good tunes for the most part, although I’m getting pretty tired of the same old themes (“Fallen Soldiers,” “The Fight Must Go On,” and “Laced for Battle ’07,” for instance). It would be nice to change it up once and a while. –ty (http://www.stepupoi.com/)


DEEP SHIT / HAVE FUN:
Split: 7”
A brutal tag team of Midwestern powerviolence by Have Fun from northern Illinois and Deep Shit from Madison, Wisconsin. Of the two, Deep Shit is the harsher of the acts with crude and confrontational songs and production values, which works for them. Have Fun dishes up the powerviolence at a more conventional midtempo pace and is not ashamed to reveal their solid melodic instincts. Not essential, but thirteen above average songs of basement hardcore for the kids. –Jake Shut –Guest Contributor (Give Praise)


FINAL FIGHT:
Half Head, Full Shred: CD
“Full Shred” was the last thing I was thinking when the first song started. Melodic guitars not unlike Leatherface, while great sounding, didn’t bring to mind a hardcore onslaught. Ten seconds or so later, that all changed. Final Fight exploded into the shrapnel of some kind of hardcore pipe bomb. Heavy, fast and melodic, these guys brought to mind Goat Boy or I Spy (I know, I know always with the Canadian band references). I really got into this record for a few songs before the screamy vocals became too much for me. Great in small doses, though. –ty (Gobias Industries)


FATTER THAN ALBERT:
The Last Minute: CD
Ska punk. By the time they tried to push through a variant of “Armagideon Time” under the title of “Panda King,” including a thrash breakdown right in the middle, I was again cursing Operation Ivy for unleashing this scourge upon the world. –jimmy (http://www.communityrecords.com/)


FAILTHLESS SAINTS:
Sweet Sacrilege: CD
Sweet Crispy Christus, what kind of world do we live in where a kid can’t even gauge the potential quality of a goddamned disc by the upside-down cross on the back cover? First tune was ska punk, remainder firmly footed in pop punk. You can bet your boots I’m gonna write a strongly worded letter to the quality control folks over at the Satanic Musicians Union about this. –jimmy (http://www.myspace.com/faithlesssaints)


DEATH IN THE PARK:
Self-titled: CD
This sounds like radio music to me. That’s right, Death In The Park, I’m on to you. Very produced recording and seems like a band you could find off a comp put in your bag from some skate/surf shop in the mall. This CD is only five songs and you folks who like that top forty kind of rock can look forward to the full-length coming out in ‘09 sometime. In the meantime, I’m probably just going to drop this off at the nearest middle school for some teenager to dote over. –Corinne (End Sounds)


DANGERBONER:
Enter the Bonerzone: CD
Dumb band name, dumber album title, kinda “eh” sleaze rock stuff with a grunting vocalist. –jimmy (Devil’s Tower, www.devilstowerrecords.com)


EXPLOITED, THE:
Punk’s Not Dead/Onstage, Troops of Tomorrow/Apocalypse Tour 1981: 2 x CD, 2 x CD
These perennial punk releases get yet another reissuing, this time in two-CD sets. I’m figuring there are few reading this not well acquainted with this long-standing buncha Scottish punkers, but just in case, spread on these two releases are their first two LPs plus assorted singles cuts, and two early live albums. The music remains as angry and fresh as when it was first unleashed, and it’s clear how and why so many of the current crop of parrot punks have drawn influence from them. While it’s been some time since I’ve found much of anything by Wattie and crew interesting or particularly pointed, this stuff still sounds plenty mean and gets the blood boiling in all the right ways. –jimmy (http://www.cherryred.co.uk/)


EXCUSE THE BLOOD:
Self-titled: CD
Fairly faceless hardcore with a bit o’ chugga in the geetars. Though no one’s quite achieving Al Barile-like gymnastics, some nice pics of the band members jumping around are included. –jimmy (http://www.excusetheblood.com/)


EUDEMON:
Self-titled: CDEP
There are some interesting things to be found here and there on this—odd rhythms, dissonant guitars, stop/go breaks—and they are definitely able to play their instruments, but nothing’s really catching and sticking to the ribs, and there isn’t much punch to the delivery. This’ll no doubt garner them some attention, though, and maybe even signed to a major’s “alternative” imprint, although I’m not sure all the interesting bits would survive such an event. –jimmy (http://myspace.com/eudemon)


CUTDOWN:
Self-titled: CD
I haven’t listened to hardcore like this since my days in middle school. But to the best of my memory, this band sounds exactly like what at the time new band Terror was doing. This stuff is just a bit too brutal for me. Maybe I am just getting older, but if I was back in middle school you’d see me in the pit during one of this band’s set. –Noah W. K. –Guest Contributor (Full House)


ERUPTORS, THE:
Microwave Massacre: CD
Fairly meat and potatoes rock/punk here, one part trashy rock, one part Misfits, and not a whole lotta effort put into it. –jimmy (mail@fixingahole.sakura.ne.jp)


ERGS, THE:
That’s It… Bye: 12”EP
At first, I was thinking, “What hubris. What excess.” I mean, I like improved sound quality as much as the next person who values records over clothing and I’m a huge fan of the 12” 45 format, but a three-song 12” that isn’t Tarkus-inspired jams? C’mon, dudes, I know it’s impressive that you played back-to-back sets at the Fest to thousands of people, but that’s no reason to slap your vinyl/dongs in other bands’ faces. These three songs could have handily fit on a 7” 45. It wouldn’t even have to go to 33. Think about the whales, Sally Struthers, dolphins and Al Gore, man. Then, before uncorking my bile-sprayer, I found out that the 7” machine at the plant that was pressing the record had broken. The only solution to getting this swan song out on time was to press the biggest (in size) 7” in history. I’m still not comfortable in this post-Ergs! world. It kinda sucks, but thanks for three more songs. I hope none of you join Guns’n’Roses. –todd (Don Giovanni, www.dongiovannirecords.com)


CROCODILES:
Summer of Hate: CD
I was really expecting to like this band since the only two members were both in The Prayers and the Plot To Blow Up The Eiffel Tower. Those were really great bands that I felt were awesome and underappreciated. This is a really lame band that is not awesome and is over appreciated. Rolling Stone says you should “buy it now,” which is something you shouldn’t do at all. If you’ve never heard Echo & the Bunnymen or Jesus And Mary Chain this might be new, but, unlike those bands, it’s not exciting. –Rene Navarro (Fat Possum)


ERGS!, THE:
Hindsight Is 20/20, My Friend: 2 X LP
I call bullshit on the title. The Ergs!, to me, always had better eyesight (musically, not optically) than most bands. From the first time I heard the Ben Kweller EP, it was obvious that these guys were doing far more than just flaunting the bare minimum of pop punk flair. And to borrow a Maddy cereal analogy, as a vast aisle of pop punk had found its boxes open and its marshmallow bits stale from overexposure and passing their “please open by” date, the Ergs! skirted that dusty crumble of a career path by stretching to SST and New Alliance, and were unafraid to uncork a hardcore blast then lay back into a country groove. And they did this while never losing their own identity as a band or sounding like an absolutely shitty joke everyone’s waiting to end. At the time they found themselves on Razorcake #23’s cover, few folks on the West Coast had heard of them. When Megan Pants interviewed them, they were sorta baffled why someone three thousand miles away from New Jersey would even care about a nerdy trio. So, I feel sick to my stomach. Because—wrong or right—I still consider the Ergs! a new band, a band that held up one of the torches of a new vanguard of punk’s possibilities. I mean, I should be happy for them, blow a paper horn, like at a retirement party. They’re going out with a bang of a collection of their widely scattered vinyl offerings in a handy and attractive gatefold, in a Grand Funk Railroad-style double LP. But I’m not ready to be rememberin’. I’m ready for the next full length. I’m ready for an Ergs!-themed cereal (probably on the lines of Cröonchy Stars). I’m ready for a line of Ergs!-inspired poorly fitting eyeglasses. One of the foolish pitfalls of being a music reviewer is transposing one’s own will and wishes as a serious directive to a band, especially a band that I’ve learned from and listened to so much. So, besides suggesting the title should have been Foresight Is 20/10, I wish them all the best and hope this knot in my stomach lessens up soon. I feel like shit. –todd (Dirtnap)


ERGS!, THE:
Ben Kweller: 12”EP
I’m not going to deny that The Ergs are easily one of, if not my favorite, band over the past few years, so getting a copy of this reissue (it was previously only available on CD), I was a different kind of excited, because I knew I love this record, but it’s still kind of like listening to it for the first time. To me, this is great because it’s got so much of the trademark Erg-isms that made me love them in the first place: the dorky “here’s music we love” references (title track/“When Your Squeeze”), quick, thrashy songs (“Million Perfect Days”/ “Nambla Grey Area”), and straight-up great pop punk songs like “Ashley Sugarnotch.” Yeah, this rules. –joe (Freedom School)


CRAWLERS, THE:
Level the Forest: LP
The Crawlers play old school-flavored hardcore punk infused with pop tinge and lyrics that are—or at least should be—tongue in cheek (see the album title). It’s pretty solid stuff. However, it seems as though they have, as what I will call, “opening band sound.” Opening band sound is not necessarily a bad thing, and not just opening bands fall under this categorization of sound. In fact, it can be rather cool under the right circumstances. Anyhow, opening band sound is a solid sound that can definitely keep you in the bar/basement/club if you are in the mood for a live band. The opening band sound is not a bad sound, but it isn’t what you came to see. It is what you have heard before by someone—someone that you probably can’t remember—but you don’t mind hearing again. The problem with opening band sound is that—though it is solid and reliable—after you hear the band that you came to see, nothing sticks out to you about the band. Though you might not remember anything extraordinary about the band, you’ll still be down to check them out again. –Vincent Battilana (Blind Spot)


EPIDEMICS :
Waking up the Dead: LP
They have a definite retro sound, somewhere around the whole ‘77 thing, without being a cartoon caricature of the style. Mid tempo, poppy, and roots in rock’n’roll. These guys can write a well-crafted song, are adept at their instruments, and the singer can really sing. It’s crazy. Makes one wonder why they’re trying their hand at the whole punk thing. Yeah, the answer is obvious, but still... I hear influences from the Undertones and the Buzzcocks in their sound: upbeat, driving, and unbelievably catchy. The song “City Of Desire” is instantly memorable. Hauntingly familiar and the chorus will burn into your memory in seconds. Just like the Buzzcocks, the Epidemics sing songs of loss and yearning in a style that is oddly happy. With few exceptions, I prefer punk to be on the slash and burn end of things, something these guys are definitely not, and the thing is, this is pretty f’n good. You really can’t go wrong with this album. A definite keeper. –Matt Average (Ny Vag / Thrashbastard, www.nyvag.com, thrashxbastard@yahoo.de)


ENVIRONMENTAL YOUTH CRUNCH:
Vicious Fishes: Cassette
Apparently, this Florida outfit has now changed their name to the title of this release. The first three songs kick this puppy into overdrive. But then, a cover song which can only be filed under “bad career move”: a cover of the Friends theme song, Ugh! I’m not able to get visions of that goofball Ross out of my head until “Hobo’s Lullaby” slides on and saves this record. Might want to leave that one off the repress, dudes. –koepenick (People’s Republic)


CORPSE DONOR:
Open Reduction: Cassette
Usually I don’t dig much on cassettes, however when they are done well it is hard not to love them. Corpse Donor play a style of hardcore akin to that of a majority of the Bridge 9 lineup. What is most enjoyable about these songs is that they are very straight forward; no solos, no breakdowns, no nonsense. Just straight-up hardcore. Another cool thing about this release is that it contains a download code so you can have these songs on your iPod, because there isn’t a cassette player everywhere you go anymore. –Noah W. K. –Guest Contributor (Self-released, www.myspace.com/xstonedx)


ENVIRONMENTAL YOUTH CRUNCH:
Let’s Ride: CD
They apparently hail from Florida, but this sounds like a Midwestern attempt at resurrecting that late ‘80s Bay Area sloppy punk sound. –jimmy (Bakery Outlet)


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