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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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COBRA SKULLS:
Draw Muhammad: CDEP
I’d never actually heard this band, despite hearing the name over and over again. “Like Against Me! but with more ska punk,” was also what I’d heard, and I have to say, that’s pretty dead on. Come to think about it, they kind of remind me of Against All Authority without the horns. It didn’t immediately grab me at the first listen, but I do have a feeling I’ll want to go back to it later. Also, apparently Craigums from Love Songs/Conquest For Death recorded this, which scores bonus points in my book. –joe (Red Scare, myspace.com/redscarepunk)


CLOAK DAGGER:
“Surf Song” b/w “Concentration Camps”: 7”
A kickin’ intersection of melodic hardcore and streetpunk. I bet they rip it live. The A-side is quite a feat—it’s not a song so much as a collection of hooks in rapid succession. On the downside, I’m getting a “style over substance” vibe here, like maybe these guys shop at Urban Outfitters and “just wanna rock.” It’s on Jade Tree and there’re only two songs. The lack of a lyric sheet doesn’t help, neither does the fact that the B-side is called “Concentration Camps” and, from what I can make out, it’s about girls. That’s in really poor taste, dudes. –CT Terry (Jade Tree)


CIVIL VICTIM:
Mehr Kreig: 7” EP
Some pretty good hardcore from a band calling Germany home. Was a little apprehensive when I saw the lyrics were in English, but they managed to make their point(s) clearly. Fast, tempo changes abound; all around solid stuff here. –Jimmy Alvarado –jimmy (Loud Punk)


CHRIS WOLLARD AND THE SHIP THIEVES:
Self-titled: CD
This album is a departure from both Hot Water Music and Rumbleseat, i.e., not what I have come to expect from Chris Wollard. The vocal delivery is more relaxed and, at first, I feared this change. Car listening seemed eh, home listening seemed eh, but when I popped it in whilst at the beach, it instantly fit. This album is for the sunny, lazy, beach time with friends when you don’t want to listen to music by people you fear may suck. Now, if you are not looking for a kicked back time, there may be better selections for you. But if chill is what you’re after, all you have to do is throw on this bad boy and you got it. –Jeremy Jones –Guest Contributor (No Idea)


3 WAY SWITCH:
Self-titled: CDEP
Pretty cool mid-tempo punk rock out of Seattle. Didn’t really grab a hold of me but didn’t grate on my nerves either. –Jim Ruland (Self-released, myspace.com/threewayswitch)


YOUNG GOVERNOR:
“Virginia Creeper” b/w “I’m a Mess”: 7”
Let’s see a show of hands of folks who think The Tranzmitors and The Statues are pretty great. Now, imagine if their power pop propensities were roughed up a little bit, and not in a ProTools-$1,000-a-day-studio-intentionally-fucked-up way, but a Jay Reatard Bedroom Disasters, sort of way, like this dude just can’t help himself. It sounds like he’s playing this shit by himself, standing on his futon in his dirty chones, singing to his cat. And that’s said in the most positive of lights. He’s just got to get the catchy jams out but only has this dinky little machine to capture these raw pustules of sweetness. (I don’t know if “sugar zit” is a genre of music, but I’m ™ ing it right now.) That’s what I get from this 7”. What makes sense, too, is that the Governor sang backup on the single version of Fucked Up’s “Dance of Death” and is a primary member of Marvelous Darlings (and I’m highly recommending The Swords, The Streets 7”s, too right now). –todd (Plastic Idol, plasticidol.com)


YO MAN GO:
LIFE LESSONS: 7”
Two rollicking, honest, emotional blasts of pop punk/hardcore crossover, akin to Promise of an Uncertain Future-era Digger and Watch It Burn, with bits of Avail chugga chugga and Hot Water Music whoa-oh’s. In other words, it’s great! One hundred pressed on grey vinyl, one hundred on black. Screened covers with cutesy polar bears. Wish there was more than two songs here, because these songs are a lot of fun. –Jeff Proctor (Square Of Opposition)


WITCH HUNT:: :
Burning Bridges to Nowhere: CD
Haven’t listened to first two records in awhile now and it’s been a few years since I’ve seen them live. Never did get around to burning them on to the computer to get them into the rotation of listening on the iPod, either. But I do have good recollection that I liked them a lot. So I had no apprehension getting this little slab of plastic for review. Since this was on CD, I imported the music right away without a listen. Had that gut feeling that I was not going to be disappointed. After I downloaded the songs, it was time for a sample of what was in store. The first song, “Blind Eyes, Blind Lives,” leads off the bunch with some hard-charged energy. But the second track, “Everyday,” sparked my interest up to a new level. Right off the bat, I noticed the texturing and layers of the dual guitar mixture. Adding the male/female vocal delivery added another element of perfection. The dreariness of the mood of the song made this an instant favorite. This song alone shows the maturity and growth of this band. But it did not end there. The entire release is consistent and, surprisingly, I did not find one track that put me off. A combination of not having an overtly raw production, excellent song structures, and tight musicianship makes this an enjoyable listening experience. The music is ambitious and it shows why this band is heralded. –don (Alternative Tentacles)


WARCRY:
Maniacs on Pedestals: CD
This album is the fucking shit. This band’s live performance is brutal; they’re so intense the crowd surges forward to be closer, but is kept away by the ferocity of their movements. The lyrics are as clear and intense as the message they transmit. This album is about oppression and its resistance. The rhythm section is very tight while the guitar fuzzes and slashes away on its own. Holding the sonic assault down are vocals that seem to cry out from the darkest part of yourself, screaming what the world refuses to hear –Rene Navarro (Feral Ward, feralward.com)


WAR PIGS:
Degeneration: CD
This has stayed in heavy rotation since I got it in the mail. It manages to get me pumped up, without making me overexcited or anxious. The Black Sabbath inspiration isn’t just in the name, Tony Iommi’s riffs are clearly audible in a few songs. Yet, this album is nowhere near metal as we know it today; it’s hardcore rife with tension and strength that only beautifully basic chords and perfect timing can deliver. My only complaint would be the two instrumental tracks which make this nine song album longer than it has to be.

 

 

 

–Rene Navarro (Staggered Works Music, staggeredworks.org)


VARIOUS ARTISTS :
We Went and Recorded It Anyway: CD
Modestly subtitled “The Best of Pop-Punk and Power Pop 1977-84,” the glory of this comp resides primarily in the fact that 1) it has been assembled with seemingly no rhyme nor reason—no geographic nor overly obvious aesthetic connections really exist between the bands, as far as i can tell; and 2) the biggest band on here is what, the Nervebreakers? Rudi? The Crap Detectors? The Automatics ((UK, not Portland))? Benedict Arnold & The Traitors? Twenty neat tracks of varying degrees of obscurity from an era that has thus far held up to seemingly infinite stripmining. It kinda reminds me of those Teen Beat CD-R’s of a few years ago, except that 3) it’s not a CD-R; 4) the bands aren’t in alphabetical order; and 5) they used black AND red ink on the cover. I really enjoyed those “D.I.Y.” CDs that Rhino® released fifteen or so years ago; the liner notes in the CD booklet kinda remind me of a low budget version thereof. Maybe we all need to hijack that particular radio and start making comp CDs for each other, mixtape style. My gawd, i think i’m starting to feel the first pangs of CD nostalgia. Needless to say, this review is over! BEST SONG: The Excerpts, “Will I Ever See You Again?” BEST SONG TITLE: Terminal Sunglasses, “Fear Of People Who Look Insane.” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Liner notes refer to the Nervebreakers as “the Ejectors.” –norb (Brutarian Quarterly)


VARIOUS ARTISTS: No Idea Presents:
#1 Reason to Move to Gainesville: LP
Since you’re reading Razorcake or Razorcake online, you’ve probably already heard of this comp since it’s on No Idea. If your mind is anything like mine, you probably saw this comp and thought that it was some label sampler disguised as a comp like there was a lot of in the ‘90s. Don’t let your prejudices fool you. This is definitely not some b.s. Punkorama comp made simply to advertise albums for No Idea. I think that only one of these bands has a (deliberate) release on No Idea. This compilation has eleven bands from Gainesville doing one song each. The bands don’t all sound the same and the sequencing of the record is good. Stand out tracks are by Averkiou, Hometeam (who contribute a track that has the same title as the comp), Nervous Dogs, and The Jammy Dodgers. Bummer tracks are by two of the bands. Pretty all right tracks are by five of the bands. You get a lot of punk, a country track, a more melodic hardcore track, and a couple of really solid alternative tracks. I don’t know if any of the tracks are exclusive to this comp, as I’m rather unfamiliar with all eleven bands on here. Even if none of ‘em are, this comp is still worth checking out if you’re in the same position of unfamiliarity as I am. You’ll most likely find something you wanna hear more of. And that’s the point of comps anyhow, right? –Vincent Battilana (No Idea)


VARIOUS ARTISTS :
Live Fast, Die Drunk: CD
Four Perth area punk bands here for your enjoyment. The Lungs: Meld Sick Pleasure with early DOA and set on “annihilate.” Yeah, they’re that good. Zxspecky: A bit more rock in the mix, but “rock” in the same vein as some of the wilder, take-no-prisoners bands that were comin’ out of Scandinavia earlier in the decade. New Husseins: What the fuck are they using for guitars, a chainsaw with a Harley motor attached? They sound fuckin’ monstrous. Surprise Sex Attack: After a vaguely ska-like initial tune, they quickly ratchet things up to full-tilt thrash and bore wide holes through the ol’ eardrums. Four bands, not a loser in the lot, and all of it adds up to one of the best regional punk comps I’ve heard in a while. –jimmy (Live Fast Die Drunk)


VEE DEE:
Public Mental Health System: CD
Man, I was definitely the wrong guy to review this. Thirteen songs and around seventy minutes long, it comes across as nothing more than the singer from Gas Huffer fronting a relentlessly long-winded stoner rock band. Hate to bag on this three-piece or their label, but I remember reviewing their first full-length Further back in 2004 and not being too captivated then, either. Five years later and it’s crystal clear this band’s slow, drawn-out wah-wah-laced jams are just not for me. –keith (Criminal I.Q.)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Drink Fight Fuck Vol. 3: CD
Like Epitaph has done with pop punk, the Zodiac seems intent on trying to corner a corner of the punk playing field. An abundance (well, thirty-two tracks anyway) of sleazy rock and psychobilly stuff can be found here, courtesy of a number of “name” and lesser known bands, including the Hip Priests, the Loaded Nuns, Flat Tires, the Bible Beaters, Blag Dahlia (who turns in a quasi-hillbilly ditty endearingly entitled “Bitch I Love You”), Eddie Spaghetti, Candy Snatchers, GG Elvis, Antiseen, and tons more. Can’t say I was down with everything here, but it is surprisingly consistent and some of it is flat-out good, which is pretty much all one can ask for, I guess. –jimmy (Zodiac Killer)


VAGINASORE, JR :
This Here Peninsula: CD
Heartfelt tunes from TampaTown. They hit you with a bunch of silly song titles that—like the band name—dare you to dismiss them, and then come back with songs that are strangely earnest and sincere. “Nice Blinker, Asshole” ends with forty-five hilarious seconds of “No Fucking Way!” howled with the sound of fury and of someone who has endured ten thousand illegal lane changes. –Jim Ruland (ADD)


URBAN UNREST:
On a String: 7”
This is a hardcore punk record with no trace of heavy metal. I think that paints an accurate picture. –Bryan Static (Rabbit’s Foot)


UNKNOWN INSTRUCTIONS:
Funland: CD
Unknown Instructions is comprised of some heavy hitters: the rhythm section is Watt and Hurley (both of Minutemen and firehose); Joe Biaza (Saccharine Trust) plays guitar (and doubles as producer of Funland); and artist Raymond Pettibon, Dan McGuire, and the big guy from Pere Ubu switch off on vocals. Funland includes a cover of “Frownland,” a track which originally appeared on Captain Beefheart’s highly unorthodox Trout Mask Replica. The Beefheart selection is appropriate—it’s really emblematic of how “out there” Funland is. And while the guitar playing and the rhythm section is nothing short of amazing (Watt and Hurley—enough said), occasional vocalist Dan McGuire’s beatnik rap gets old quick. It’s actually infuriating considering the levels Biaza, Watt, and Hurley take Unknown Instructions’ music (“Those Were the Days” has a fucking instrument playing—it has to be Biaza’s guitar—that sounds like John Cale’s electric viola). Unknown Instructions really comes together on “Later that Night,” a track combining the group with David Thomas on vocals. As much as I don’t care to admit it, David Thomas is right up there with Beefheart as one of the most erudite and innovative vocalists of the rock’n’roll era. With the exception of Beefheart, there really seems to be no precedent for David Thomas—the man’s voice doubles as an uncontrollable instrument; his ideas on “The Geography of Sound” would probably pique Henri Lefebvre’s interest. Unfortunately, Thomas only appears on three tracks—one of which is only half realized (“Last Waltz”). Fans of Watt, Hurley, and David Thomas (at their most experimental) will find this album rewarding. Everyone else will want my fucking head for even mentioning this record. –ryan (Smog Veil, smogveil.com)


TIMMY’S ORGANISM:
Self-titled: 7”
Unique packaging here for a unique product: this self-titled EP contains five songs on two 45s. Timmy’s Organism is essentially one guy (Timmy Lampinen), putting tracks down on cheap recording devices like two of his potential influences—Jay Reatard and Alex Chilton. Some of the tracks sound like ‘76-style punk (think Adverts), others like mid-‘60s garage rock. The more adventurous songs on the album are the slower, far gone tracks—which sound similar to the late-’60s eccentric stylings of the Chocolate Watch Band and the Head Shop. These records are great in the sense that it’s weird without being self-consciously weird. –ryan (Sacred Bones, sacredbonesrecords.com)


TIM VERSION, THE:
Prohibition Starts Tomorrow: LP
Since this is a re-issue and I reviewed the CD format of this record prior, since I placed it on my 2003 top ten list, and since you can sift through roughly twenty pages of reviews of their entire catalog, interviews, and live reviews on razorcake.org (use the “search archives” function) if you want to read about my perpetual touchdown stance that I take with The Tim Version, let’s talk about format. I started seriously getting into punk in the mid-’80s when the most pushed format was cassette. I lived in the desert. My cassettes experienced a ninety-eight percent failure rate. Of the hundreds I played, only several dozen remain today (and many of those are warped or are tenuously spliced together with transparent tape). Then came CDs, a format I’ve always been ambivalent to. They’re utilitarian when working (no getting up and flipping over the record) and driving around. But I give the format—not necessarily the music on them—as much thought as pieces of shiny scrap paper. Some of the first CDs I ever purchased are now starting to flake and fail. Prohibition Starts Tomorrow, when it was first released in 2003, never got the vinyl treatment. Now, I’m not one to say, “If it’s not on vinyl, it doesn’t exist in my musical world.” But, as I write this, to my left and behind me are hundreds upon hundreds of vinyl records; organized, cared for, and regardless of their monetary value, cherished. Their legacy is as immediate as putting the needle down on the acetate and having the room fill up with music. And it’s this legacy—one that can last over a hundred years—check out the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization site run by UC Santa Barbara for a working example—that I think that bands like The Tim Version are worthy of. So, fuck yeah, I’m stoked that Prohibition’s on vinyl. Dudes deserve it and it’s totally worth picking up, even if you have the CD already. –todd (Attention Deficit Disorder)


THURNEMAN:
Luggsliten Levnad: 7”
When I was informed that Svartenbrandt had broken up, I was pissed. I loved that band. Their songs went by in a flash and left a deep impression on me. Luckily, before they disbanded, they turned me onto another contemporary Swedish band that approached layered, hardcore punk with the same innovation and intensity: Thurneman. They’re great. And of all the record labels in the world, one that resides no further than an hour away from my home put this out. You can see Thurneman shirts pretty frequently around Razorcake HQ, ‘cause when they sent distro copies of the DMC Comp., they packaged them with test screens. This band slays hardcore punk with a dagger cut from very strong ore. –Daryl Gussin (Puke N Vomit)


THRASH OHOOII:
Blasting Your Silly Head: Cassette
This band explodes in a cacophony of drums but knows how to keep the thrash pounding right along without a self-defeating glitch. This is just hardcore done right. These guys have the call and response verse and choruses scream songcraft down. These were just thirteen good songs that went by too fast, but that’s okay because the B-side of the tape repeats it all again. –N.L. Dewart (Cactus / Revulsion, myspace.com/revulsionrecords)


THRASH OHOOI:
Blasting Your Silly Head: Cassette
Although the cover is fairly amusing, I wish I could say the same about the music. Or that it was even halfway decent. So devoid of an originality or variation, I would rather eat cow’s brain than listen to this again. –koepenick (Cactus)


THIS MOMENT IN BLACK HISTORY:
Raw Black Power: 7”
Power doesn’t have to be advertised. Yet it does your health and future good to be aware when a badass motherfucker has just walked into your immediate vicinity. TMIBH are that badass motherfucker. Wielding locomotion akin to Mick Collins of the Dirtbombs and the dynamite Midwestern punk of the Pagans, fused to end of a nun chuck in Bruce Lee’s hands, it’s part soul, part full-on brawl, and undeniably “go ahead and hit me in the face; it’s the last thing you’ll remember” powerful. It’s an excellent two-songer with a Tim Kerr-drawn cover. –todd (Insect)


TENEMENT / FRIENDLY FIRE: : :
Split: 7”
Tenement: Let’s hear it for some bands that chose punk, as in, “Dude, you’re way too talented. Are you going to waste it in a shitty punk band? You could be the next Johnny Cougar (or modern day equivalent that I happily remain ignorant of).” I’m just glad to have Tenement on the DIY punk team, much like the dearly departed Carrie Nations and the dearly here The Bananas. At the core is fuckin’ awesome songwriting, but it works even better when played at higher voltage and with plenty of amperage. Tenement is a go. Friendly Fire: Really like Dag Nasty and Hot Water Music. The good news is they picked up on Wig Out at Denko’s and Fuel for the Hate Game and not Field Day and The New What’s Next. So, it’s almost-breathless, ultra-posi, clean-and-tight East Coast punk rock with some extra atmosphere that’s easy to sing along to. Not bad. –todd (Forcefield, forcefieldrecords.org)


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