DISGUSTER: Not So Sweet: CD
The hit here is “Bloodbath,” with its catchy chorus and vaguely Stones-gone-punk feel. The rest is all rock’n’punk swagger executed well enough to warrant more than one spin
–jimmy (Zodiac Killer)
DETOURNEMENT: Screaming Response: CDEP
Has members of Lifetime. I’m sorry, did you need me to go on? HAS MEMBERS OF FUCKING LIFETIME. Okay, well, no, it’s not a Dan Yemin project or anything, it’s the drummer Scott. The music is a bit everywhere: the first two tracks made this seem like a youth crew-esque release, but later tracks show more of a Swingin’ Utters kind of sound, then some other songs are closer to an older Bouncing Souls sound. It’s cool, if you like your music schizophrenia flavored.
–Bryan Static (Chunksaah/Pirate Press)
DESGUACE: Yo Me Se Cuidar: LP
You know what’s great about punk? Well, there’s a lot, but one thing is the fact that there really are a ton of awesome records out there by bands you’ve never heard of. Take Desguace, for example. You’ve never heard of them, right? I hadn’t before I got this record. I never would have known they existed. Still, this record is some killer shit. Its awesomeness is not subject to debate. This is vicious and fast. All of the lyrics are in Spanish, but that doesn’t matter. It’s the definition of punk. You could buy it and share it with your friends—none of whom have heard of this band either—and they’d all agree that this is the real deal. Or you could buy it and it could be your little secret. Your call.
DEEP SLEEP: Three Things at Once: CD
I’d heard this name from a bunch of my other friends, but never really checked them out, for whatever reason. Modern dudes taking a strong influence from ‘80s hardcore (Circle Jerks, Adolescents, etc.) that extended from the Descendents to more of the Cruz records roster (See: Title of this). I also like the convenience of having a bunch of other records in one nice little package. Neat.
–joe (Grave Mistake/Wallride)
DEAD GHOSTS / SMITH WESTERNS: Split: 7”
The Dead Ghosts’ “She Likes It” is a low-fi droner in the vein of the Cramps playing Ricky Nelson covers. The vocals are swimming in effects to the point of being inaudible. I like it, but I hope it isn’t all they do. The Smith Westerns have the same dynamic in “Tonight.” Both songs have a warped take on simple ‘50s pop riffs.
–Billups Allen (Bachelor)
DAYLIGHT ROBBERY: Red Tape EP: 7”
Chicago rootsy rock with a thick, oozing film of gritty punk rock and dual male/female vocals. Reminiscent of early X but with a guitar that fancies the hardcore kids and not the country dweebs. The single song on the B side follows through at a much slower pace yet attacks with the same heart and blunt emotion, still retaining the kiss-and-kill promise.
–Daryl Gussin (Residue, firstname.lastname@example.org)
CROSS STICHED EYES: Coranach: CD
Think Rudimentary Peni on a heavy Killing Joke bender and you’re on the right track with this one. Normally, a band attempting such an endeavor would be begging to have their ears slapped back ‘cause, let’s be honest here, those are some King Kong-sized Underoos to attempt to fill, but they more than manage to hold their own. Maybe it’s ‘cause the lineup includes some folks who were actual contemporaries of those bands (current drummer is the Subhumans’ Trotsky, for instance), maybe it’s because they’ve somehow managed to tap into the same secret formula Peni and Killing Joke have been jealously guarding for three decades. Whatever it is, not only are Cross Stitched Eyes nudging a comfortable space for themselves on a very narrow shelf, they do it by owning, instead of aping, the sound. Put more succinctly, this is the best gloomy anarcho-punk inspired band I’ve heard in a good while.
–jimmy (Alternative Tentacles)
CRIMSON GHOSTS: Earth EP: CDEP
Boston’s Crimson Ghosts’ shtick is all-instrumental surf covers of Misfits songs. In less capable hands, it’d merely be amusing, yet crumble on repeated listens. But in wizened punk rockers’ hands who can play their instruments incredibly, it’s addictive and oddly soothing. I think there’s a great opportunity for subversion with the Crimson Ghosts. Say the band played a state fair or an art in the park show with kids in strollers in attendance. They could totally get away with “Skulls.” I mean, they’re not the ones screaming “Collect the heads of little girls and put ‘em on my wall!” it’d be the Misfits fans in the audience. And the suburban parents would tap along in reverb-drenched delight none the wiser. Thankfully, I recently got to see these dudes play live and it further cemented my appreciation of them. Two things: 1.) Everyone in the band was singing, loudly, along to the songs, but none of them were mic’d, so it gave everyone in attendance the opportunity to channel their own inner Danzig. And I’ll take a room of one hundred Danzig lovers over the Danzig Danzig any day. 2.) With the absence of a microphone and both the band and the audience getting their “Whoa Oh!”s on, there were several almost-full-mouth, carp-like kisses. Let’s hear it for breaking down the barriers! Highly recommended.
–todd (Self-released, Necro-Tone, myspace.com/crimsonghosts)
COUNTERCLOCK WISE, THE: Wind ‘Em Up to Shut ‘Em Down: LP
With co-ed harmonies and lightning speed licks of the banjo, Counterclock Wise delivers a consistent record of folk punk and blues. The male vocals remind me of the Pine Hill Haints and transport me to a porch in the backwoods, while “Jo Jo Song” takes it down a notch with softer female lead vocals. The result of their harmonizing sounds like X but with a banjo. The chorus of “A Ghost of Future’s Past” is a great example of that. The female vocals become eerie ghost calls invoking a spooky element like a rural graveyard at midnight. Some of the best stuff I’ve heard this year. Recommended.
–Kristen K (Arkam, myspace.com/arkamrecords)
COCKSPARRER: Guilty as Charged 2009 and Two Monkeys 2009: CD
I wanna call these reissues of two Cocksparrer albums originally released back in the mid-‘90s, but according to the press sheet, they’re both “remastered and rerecorded,” which makes explaining them a bit more problematic and no doubt why they have the “2009” addendum in their titles. Not owning either’s previous incarnation, I do have a number of the tunes on the Bloody Minded best-of disc that came out about the same time and they do sound a bit better mixed here. I guess it doesn’t really matter what they are so long as they are good, and they are that. Across both one will find numerous now-hits—“A.U.,” “Because You’re Young,” “Tough Guys,” “I Feel a Death Coming On,” and more—plus the usual odds and sods the Captain tacks on to make the discs that much more crucial. Good stuff all around from one of the finest and most consistent punk bands ever, however the discs are ultimately classified.
–jimmy (Captain Oi)
CLOCK HANDS STRANGLE : Distaccati: CD
I really liked this album because it’s bouncy with gloom, Walt Whitman references, and random trumpets. Think Dramarama, early Modest Mouse, and Delta Spirit, which is a great band from San Diego. The lyrics are really good little stories with a very well-recorded soundtrack. This album is easy and fun to get lost in, creating an audible space in which to hide from your recurrent reality.
–Rene Navarro (Chocolate Lab)
CHINESE: The Conquest of Tomorrow Today: CD
The tricky thing about instrumentals is you’re working at a deficit when you subtract an integral part to—for lack of a better term—the pop song template, in this case vocals/lyrics. By doing so, you have to find some way to compensate by making sure some other part is picking up the slack. The most obvious way is to write a song that is so compelling, so outstanding, so goddamned good that the audience won’t notice the missing pieces. This is no small feat when you’re talking about a single, but if you’re gonna try and tackle a full-length, you better have Charlie friggin’ Parker in your band. Sadly, these guys have no Parker equivalent, nor, it appears, anything to compensate for the aforementioned deficits. What they do have is a collection of tunes that sound like up-tempo quasi-stoner/space rock anthems that never quite get off the ground.
–jimmy (Whoa! Boat)
CHARLIE & THE MOONHEARTS / TEEN ANGER: split : 12”
Charlie & the Moonhearts make no bones about playing ‘60s-inspired rock’n’roll from the same local scene that has produced acts such as Ty Segall/Tradional Fools, Audacity, Thee Makeout Party, and many, many more. Lots of soul, lots of rhythm. It’s garagey, it’s surfy, and it’s time-tested rock’n’roll that’s produced for pool parties and other assorted good times. Teen Anger hail from Toronto and the music is much more frigid. While still heavy on the ‘60s influence, they twist the sound into a damaged, curdled knot. Not as abrasive as some, less approachable than most. Still good, reverbed-to-hell rock.
–Daryl Gussin (Telephone Explosion)
CAPITAL: Blind Faith: 7”
More times than not when I read a review that describes something as “melodic hardcore” it doesn’t end up sounding what I expected. The first thing I think is Kid Dynamite. Jason had melody. And it definitely was hardcore. Capital follow suit. Hardcore without a doubt, and melody with enough of a presence to not sound too whiny. Two originals and a Dag Nasty cover.
–Daryl Gussin (Iron Pier / Just A Audial)
CANADIAN RIFLE: Visibility Zero: LP
Hang in with this one. Friends and I just finished silk screening 150 posters and we’re in the process of hand-stamping two thousand record labels. In the middle of those processes, you, as the stamper or ink-puller, can see the little imperfections, especially when directly compared to a particularly nice screen print or stamp impression. But the person who’s going to get a copy of what we’re making only sees one, maybe two copies of what was made by hand. The maker sees the entire landscape and can have a better eye for separating the runts from the studs. The receiver gets a snapshot, a freeze frame of a larger motion. On to band fandom. I do believe I own every piece of vinyl that Canadian Rifle’s released. The very first 7” had two guitars: one sad, one happy. Since Canadian Rifle are from Chicago, the instant comparison for me would be Ben Weasel’s perma-whine counterbalanced with Jughead’s ray-of-sunshine guitar work. And that’s what I thought was particularly nice about Canadian Rifle’s first 7”. “You dipped your happy into my sad! Take your smile out of my frown! I know, let’s celebrate melancholia and ennui! (The sound of a missed high five. Charlie Brown zig-zag mouth.)” But, let’s suppose this was Canadian Rifle’s first piece of released music and it changes a bit. From the topicality of the lyrics (microbes in sponges, swallowing landfill, sickness), the gruffness of the voice, and, well, the handwriting, Off With Their Heads comparisons wouldn’t be too far off the mark, except that OWTH have equal numbers of claymores pointed at themselves and the audience and Canadian Rifle seem content with the existential fact that we’re all fucked regardless. And so I took the LP around the track several more times. Oh, you sneaky Petes. On several songs (if not all; I’m not a sound engineer), there are multiple guitar tracks—lead and rhythm—and sometimes, they weave, bob, and buzz around like bees in flight. Really nice; it works great in “Live Infected.” As talented as guitarist Jake Levee is, I don’t think he has four arms, and Canadian Rifle is a three piece so, in the studio, two guitars it is. Makes me wonder how it’d come across live… Synopsis: Knowing their legacy, this LP is not as instantly blinding as the interrogation light of the first 7”, but it has plenty of warmth, heat, and charms of its own.
–todd (Residue/Squirrel Heart)
BURNING IMAGE: Fantasma: CD
Off of Jello Biafra’s label, Burning Image has awoken from a twenty-plus year slumber. Fantasma is a puree of early Christian Death, 45 Grave, and Frankenstein’s blues stagger. “The Chosen Ones” and “I’ve Been Waiting” are my favorite tracks because they showcase Moe’s vocals and their spindly goth guitar structures. According to Moe, Fantasma is just the beginning. Recommended to Batcave followers and nu gravers.
–Kristen K (Alternative Tentacles)
BRIMSTONE HOWL: We Came in Peace: CD
Brimstone Howl’s We Came in Peace is a solid record. It’s also an interesting album because its influences are those late ‘70s/early ‘80s blues-punk and sleaze rock bands that are often overlooked; groups like Australia’s the Saints and the Scientists and California’s The Joneses. There’s also a Paisley Underground feel in some of Brimstone Howl’s guitar playing (check “Shangri-La,” a standout track on the album). Brimstone Howl made a smart choice in working with Jim Diamond—a producer known for banging out records in two days and getting great results (see the Compulsive Gamblers’ sublime Crystal Gazing/Luck Amazing and Miss Alex White’s eponymous debut). Pretty top-notch stuff—fans of the aforementioned bands and the Born Bad comps will likely be into We Came in Peace.
–ryan (Alive Natural Sound, alivenergy.com)
BRAINWORMS II: Swear to Me: LP
I’m having a hard time reading this band. One moment, they’re completely off-kilter and dangerously close to cacophony. The next, they’re bright and almost jazzy. Then they quote Dag Nasty and somehow sound like a band that would do that sort of thing. This is music that requires the listener to invest some mind power. The band’s name is completely appropriate.
BOUNCING SOULS: 20th Anniversary Series Vol. 1: 7”
It’s been awhile since I have heard anything new from the Bouncing Souls. I think the last thing I heard was The Gold Record. Was that the last thing they released? I know that one wasn’t a favorite of mine. Haven’t listened to it since I got it. Don’t know what turned me off, but whatever I didn’t like before was rectified here. The formula is the same but what is tried and true is what works. The singalong choruses, the hook-laden melodic music, great production, and general feel of fun in their songs all seem to have returned. It’s good to hear after twenty years that they can keep cranking them out instead of being a horrible caricature of themselves.
BOTOX PARTY / ZHENIA GOLOV: Split: 7"
Let’s not beat around the bush… I love this 7”. It encapsulates the spirit releasing music this way should include. First, it has meaningful music. Zhenia Golov slams out some furious social political hardcore about TV and advertisements; the influences of the likes of Black Flag and Propahgandhi are apparent. Second, these two bands are different: Botox Party takes up the rough and tumble pop punk band on the split by offering three of the five tracks found here. Botox Party puts out guitar-heavy pop tunes backed up by a precise rhythm section. Lastly, this release has some individual quirkiness. The cover art for this vinyl is a Spy vs. Spy comic with Shania Golov vying against Botox Party. Did I mention I love this 7”. –N.L. Dewart
–Guest Contributor (www.myspace.com/xrailroadedrecordsx, www.myspace.com/botoxpartyva)
BONECRUSHER: Our Nations Burning: 10”
Bonecrusher is one of those bands that keeps plugging away year after year, defying whatever is trendy at the time. All four of these mid-tempo, anthemic, passionate, oi/streetpunk tracks are extraordinarily catchy and potent. I typically prefer Bonecrusher’s earlier material to most of what followed, but this terrific release is a true return to form. The vivacious shout-outs and sing-a-longs, led by uncommonly melancholy vocals set Bonecrusher apart from the booted masses. The first pressing is on gorgeous swirled silver and black marbled vinyl, so now is the time to check this killer record out. The fans shall not be crushed.
–Art Ettinger (Longshot)
BOMBS, THE: Black Butterfly: CD
While I fully believe that the idea of rock’n’roll should never be confined to simply one form (How fucking dull would that be?), I subscribe to the notion that scuzzy, distortion-heavy garage is the most unfiltered form you can find under its umbrella. L.A. two-piece The Bombs attempt to rile things up with this primitive and grimy throwback but the attempt feels more defanged than nervy. Bearing some resemblances to another garage punk band with a similar moniker (the winning guess would be The Dirtbombs), the energetic duo should take creative cues from the Detroit troupe’s coursing vocals, contorted verve, and confrontational volume levels. Keep this effort’s off-kilter lyrics (which include a chorus leading in with “I’m not from Nova Scotia”), consider ditching the Ramones-esque repetitive titles (both “Shake Me” and “The Shakes” are here), and let the rock fester and mutate before picking it back up.
–Reyan Ali (Self-released, myspace.com/thebombsmusic)
BLANK DOGS: Under and Under: 12”
Blank Dogs is the moniker for a Brooklyn bedroom rocker who, for the last few years, has been compulsively releasing records through a slew of Brooklyn indie labels. Under and Under is Blank Dogs most ambitious effort yet. The CD has fifteen tracks; the double album has twenty and the extra songs are slower and more somber sounding. Both releases feature heavy synth, massive amounts of feedback and distortion, and vocals that come at you as if from a diving bell on the ocean floor. It’s the rudiments of post-punk, Britpop, and new wave fused together by an artist with a keen sense of style. This record doesn’t just flat out rock, at times it’s achingly beautiful. The brains behind Blank Dogs has said he wanted to make music he would have liked when he was fifteen. That’s the age when your heart gets ripped out on the regular. If you’re not careful, Under and Under will do the same.
–Jim Ruland (In The Red )
BLACK TUSK / HOLY MOUNTAIN, THE: Split: EP
Two songs from The Holy Mountain that were recorded in 2007 that eventually found their way onto vinyl two years later. Apparently, these are also their swan songs as they’ve since broken up. As someone who likes Japanese hardcore, I appreciate the Burning Spirits-style guitar noodling on the first song. These aren’t The Holy Mountain’s best songs (the Entrails album is amazing) but they aren’t throwaways either. Black Tusk keep things interesting with more of a metal approach on their side. I detect a hint of Hell Awaits-era Slayer. Kylesa immediately come to mind as a comparison but I don’t want to dismiss Black Tusk as a clone or knock off. They only have one song on here but it was enough to keep me interested in any future releases they might have.
–Juan Espinosa (No Idea)
BLACK HOUSES: Fury: CD
Okay, full disclosure time: I have been listening to the members of Black Houses in various bands for almost ten years. I’m friends with them, and I actually work with two of the members. Quite frankly, sometimes it’s kind of weird. I hang out with these guys, work with them, ride the bus with them... and then I go to one of their shows, and the dynamic totally changes. I am a fan through and through, rocking the fuck out and thinking this band could not get any more awesome. I know some of you know what I’m talking about. The same goes for when I listen to their recordings, particularly their most recent album, Fury. Through different band names and line-up changes, there’s always been something intangible at the core that has never changed. Perhaps it’s the songwriting, primarily by guitarist/vocalist Christiaan Morris. After leaving the vocals to former bandmate Christen Shaw in their last band, Morris is back at the mic, singing his cutting lyrics in a trademark melodic shout. Big themes are loneliness, desensitization, dependency, and societal failures, but with nary a trace of whine. With the new band comes new writing and a new sound; more focused and more technical, the songs now feature intricate guitar solos and heavy riffs that give the band a darkly metallic sound, expanding on their garage punk background and giving it greater depth while making it a bit more accessible, to boot. The musicianship has been upped a notch all around. What hasn’t changed is the intensity, energy, and severe honesty of their songs. I know I’m biased, but I think this is their best and most complex release to date. If you don’t at least give it a try, you’re cheating yourself.
–Sarah Shay (Self-released, www.myspace.com/blackhousesmusic)
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