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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Smash up Derby: CD
Of the twenty bands on this CD, one plays power-pop (the Pinkz), one sounds like the Gories (the Maggots), one sounds like country music (the Dukes of Hamburg), and the others listen to too much KISS. For the most part I was asking myself, “Why is this band so popular?” except during the New Bomb Turks, when I asked myself, “Man, what the hell happened to the New Bomb Turks?” –Not Josh –Guest Contributor (Gearhead)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
The International Language of Love: CD
Wow, this music is like a cross between (get this) THE BEACH BOYS and THE RAMONES! Holy shit! Who would’ve thought that you could mix those two polar opposites, huh? Certainly not the Ramones, that’s for sure. Fuck no, the Ramones were punk as fuck and they only listened to punk fucking rock bands like Crass and the Exploited, not shitty pop music crap like the Beach Boys! The Ramones were complete visionaries who invented punk rock without any outside influence or inspiration whatsoever and any real punk knows that! Man, I can’t even discuss this shit anymore. Pop punk should be obliterated. –Not Josh –Guest Contributor (Whoa Oh)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
The Cretins Wanna Dance: LP
Eight bands play sixteen tunes and try to sound all snotty and punk rock, but too often end up sounding like another batch of Queers clones. I dug the Cave 4’s “Surf Beat,” and the Backwood Creatures’ “Goo Goo” was just ginchy, but that was about all that moved me. –jimmy (Swindlebra)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Stripped Down, Fueled Up!: CD
Electric Frankenstein! Jed Whitey! The Puppies! Ironboss! Remember their names, you'll be screaming (for) them (to stop) all night long!!! Yawn-Rock extravaganza. BEST SONG: Electric Frankenstein, "Who's Watching You" BEST SONG TITLE: Jed Whitey, "Hands Up If You Think I'm Cool" FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Metal Matt Crocco of Ironboss is credited with playing "stun guitar," the first such specialized position player since Gregg Turner of the Angry Samoans (he also is depicted wearing a UFO t-shirt, which was a less-than-encouraging sign when it started happening on Cockney Rejects albums). Also, Jed Whitey thanks no fuckers except Ray & Al. –norb (Out Of The Loop)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Let’s Get Killed: LP
I’m assuming from the title and the kinds of bands compiled here that this is a modern attempt to capture the feel of a Killed by Death compilation, and for the most part they succeed. While all of the bands here easily fall under the punk banner, there’s some diversity in sound and the bands are in top form. Good sampler of the some “traditional” sounding bands that don’t pander to the stereotypical “‘77 sound.” Featured are Kill the Hippies, Radar Secret Service, Sweaty Weapons, CD Truth, Nowhere Squares and more. –jimmy (Cockpunch)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
L.A. Shakedown 2003 Compilation: 2 X CD
I was always a big fan of attending the Las Vegas Shakedown, even though every other time i went i had one of the worst experiences of my life (for completely non-music-related reasons), but i (apparently sagely) passed on attending the relocated Shakedown this year, even though, by the math, i was due for nothing but metaphorical blue skies and hopefully-not-so-metaphorical orgiastic revelry this time. Apart from the fact that, as i understand it, one could have more fun playing this compilation at home whilst watching PBS with the sound down and ramming lard up one's own ass than one would have had had one actually attended the event, this comp serves as a fairly functional sampler (and/or souvenir of what you might have seen if they would've let you in), and includes both a surprisingly cool Nashville Pussy track and a mirth-makingly woeful Supersuckers song. Also, were i local muttonchop heartthrobs the Mystery Girls, i would be prostrating myself before and/or greasing the palms of the almighty Comp Gods, because some kind soul put their track on right before the Nebula song, and, obviously, that's where i or anyone else with half a grain of musical taste take it off in disgust. BEST SONG: Nashville Pussy, "Hitchhike Down to Cincinnati" BEST SONG TITLE: Nekromantics, "Gargoyles Over Copenhagen" FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: There are no fantastic amazing trivia facts to speak of, as this whole extended family of bands has now hit and surpassed the same Permanent Glut Threshold that pop-punk did about five or six years ago, and anything fantastic or amazing that might occur can just be written off as statistical aberration, the exception that proves the rule, or, in the case of the Nashville Pussy song, rather overdue. –norb (Acetate)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
High Energy High Voltage: CD
Pretty accurate title for this comp, ’cause what you get for your buck is some brain-melting tuneage from Allergic to Whores, Uncurbed, Flag of Democracy, Krigshot, Assuck, Y, Nine Shocks Terror, Hellnation, Romantic Gorilla, Gaia and a truckload of others. While the common ground covered here is hardcore, there is enough diversity in approach and style to keep the proceedings from getting boring. This is gonna garner lotsa airplay in this house. –jimmy (Sound Pollution)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Midwest Rules – No Coast Punk Rock: CD
Working man punk rock from the Heartland that covers several different subgenres all sharing a cornfed no-bullshit approach. Whip yourself up a big tater tot hotdish, break open a case of cold PBRs, throw in a video of the Crusher versus Bruiser Brody and crank up the likes of Dogfight, the Brasstacks, the Bump N Uglies, the Inmates, the Murder City Wrecks and the Gordonsolie Motherfuckers and get a taste of the Good Life here in the Midwest. –aphid (Haunted Town)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Fruit Cocktail vs. Hellcat: CD
This is something different. Apparently, a British band called Fruit Cocktail recorded some songs, then conned some Hellcat artists into singing those songs when those bands toured England. There are nine songs. All of the music is by Fruit Cocktail, but the vocals are by Al Barr (Dropkick Murphys), Duane Peters (US Bombs), Greg Lee (Hepcat), Dave Hillyard (Slackers, Dave Hillyard and the Rocksteady 7), Tim Armstrong (Rancid), and so on. The songs are pretty slow, and it really forces the singers to show their true vocal abilities. Some singers fair better than others. The high point, for me, is the song with Brad and Jen from F-Minus. Overall, it’s not a bad CD. –sean (No Front Teeth)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Dirtnap Across the Northwest: CD
After all the hype, after all the glowing reviews I read, after looking at the lineup, I really wanted to call this the best compilation ever. Really. And don’t get me wrong, the good songs on here are fantastic, and there are a lot of good songs. But some songs really aren’t that good. It seems like some of these bands are trying so hard to fall under the category of new wave that they either forget the hooks (like the Intelligence) or get really repetitive (like the Cinch). Some of the bands on here that aren’t really new wave are still good, like Mea Culpa, and some still suck, like Midnight Thunder Express. And don’t get me started on how the “new” Briefs song is from their new album. All in all, the good outweighs the bad and this is still a great comp. It just doesn’t live up to its considerable hype. –Not Josh –Guest Contributor (Dirtnap)


VANISHING, THE:
Songs for Psychotic Children: CD
Synth-driven, first-wave sounding death rock/goth with a girl who sounds a little like Dinah Cancer handling the vocal duties. The lyrics are a little forced and hokey, but musically they ain’t all that bad. Worth a spin. –jimmy (GSL)


TURN PALE:
Kill the Lights: CD
Bauhaus team up with Sex Gang Children and decide to immerse themselves in Flowers of Romance-era PIL. Don’t know if this is gonna go over well with today’s Anne Rice readin’, black dress wearin’, Marilyn Manson and bad gloomy techno lovin’ group of gloomy Gusses, but this is easily the best death rock-inspired disc I’ve come across in one hell of a long time. Compared to some of the crap that has claimed the goth tag in recent decades, this is pretty goddamned original sounding. –jimmy (What Else)


TURBONEGRO:
Scandinavian Leather: CD
Goddamn, this is hard. I put these guys on the cover. I waited five years to do an interview with them. They’ve been a top favorite of mine going on eight years, right after Ass Cobra pinned my ears back. When Apocalypse Dudes first came out, I didn’t like it. Turbonegro deals in dramatic shifts that only become obvious after a little bit of perspective. Three months after first getting it, Apocalypse Dudes became attached to the record player for a year straight, and, to this day, is permanently on the high rotation shelf. Put it this way, as you many give faith to sports, religion, or youth crews for guidance, I have faith in Turbonegro to be the band that cracks my ear open. Who knew that they’d be my gateway to no-suck arena rock that I’d dismissed as purely cock posturing? They did. And so when I first heard Scandinavian Leather, I listened without judgement because when they played these songs live, they pretty much ruled. When I popped in the CD, I was ready for a continuation of the trajectory away from Negative Approach towards The Sweet. Yet, there were things I associate with the band that I full-heartedly expected. Deathpunk. The genre they invented. Granted, I’m talking from only thirty spins, but I’m sort of disappointed. There seems to be a shaving off of some of the snarl, of the danger, of the over-the-top erections and ripped anuses. In those emptied places are David Bowie-like flourishes that are more pretty and radio-friendly than aggressive or stupefyingly great. (The “Intro: The Blizzard of Flames” sounds like something Peter Gabriel wrote.) I find myself singing along less. But, I’m not giving up. Turbonegro has this microscopic spore-like quality. All they need is one vulnerable cell to infect, then it’s all over. My fingers are still crossed that my ears get split wide open once again. –todd (Epitaph)


TURBO A.C.’S, THE:
Automatic: CD
Gee, I never expected Gearhead records to release a big sounding rock album, did you? Not much here other than really bad Motorhead plagiary and terrible vocals. –Not Josh –Guest Contributor (Gearhead)


TRAKES, THE:
Circa 3172: CD
Decent enough punk band who would do well to ditch their occasional tendency to veer into Queers-aping-the-Ramones territory and just allow themselves to just kick out the punk rock jams instead. Much more impressive to do your own thang than merely copy your influences. –jimmy (Amp)


TRAGEDY:
Vengeance: LP
If you are looking for the future of DIY hardcore. If you want to hear a band that has re-set the standard. If you wondered how a band could be ultra-heavy, melodic, and quick without compromising any element. If you think it’s all been done before, and better. If you want to hear anger expressed without a filter. If you want to hear music that is simultaneously as ugly and beautiful as the culture in which we live. If you ever wondered what opera would sound like if it was made for people in the gutter or kicked to the curb. If you have ever thought that the entire world was a concentration camp, surrounded by barbed wire. This is the album, the soundtrack. It’s utterly amazing. It’s sounds so big, all-encompassing, like you’re entering their world. I’ll end with the quote that’s in the middle of the booklet, by Utah Phillips. “The earth isn’t dying. It’s been killed and those who are killing it have homes and addresses.” –todd (Tragedy)


TOYS THAT KILL:
Control the Sun: CD
Anyone who knows me knows I love TTK. I’ve seen them damn near a hundred times. I really liked the new stuff that they’d been slowly adding to their set lists, which is why my initial thoughts on Control surprised me. I definitely thought it was decent, but not as good as The Citizen Abortion. It didn’t have the immediate hooks and is almost all mid-tempo. Upon more listens, it finally hit me. I was hooked. The mid-tempo-ness makes me think of Replacements and Husker Du, where the music may be slower, but it sure as hell still rocks out. By about the tenth listen, I began thinking that not only was this as good as Citizen, but I full-heartedly think that it surpasses it (which is tough since The Citizen Abortion hasn’t left the closest stack to the stereo since its release). I think it’s even more addictive. I find myself singing part of a song (usually “Just One Jump” or “The World United Against Breeding”) several times throughout the day. Everything sounds so big and full and intentional. Every note, every vocal, every quirk seems to have a specific purpose and need. Not in an epic way – this ain’t no fuckin’ opera. It just fits so perfectly together. Topics range from political to personal to procreation to some guy named Jed who wanted a song about himself, poor bastard. More than highly recommended with the advice to give it the chance of a few listens to win you over. Believe me, it will. –megan (Recess)


TOMMY & THE TERRORS:
13 the Hard Way: CD
Thirteen songs of the street punk influence. Lots of sing-along parts and choruses. Even a hardcore song or two as well. Most of the lyrics dealt with life and the passing of time and events. It’s on Rodent Popsicle, so you know its good. (Bill doesn’t put out crap.) Now go out and buy it. You won’t be sorry. –Mike Beer –Guest Contributor (Rodent Popsicle)


TOKYOSEXDESTRUCTION:
Le Red Soul Comunnitte: CD
Yet another band invokes the holy name MC5 and flirts with pseudo-radical politics. This one’s from Spain. Thankfully, they rock like mad muthafuckas. GodDAMN, this is one monster of a platter. This bad boy is gonna get cranked to eleven with a considerable amount of frequency. –jimmy (Dim Mak)


TIMVERSION, THE:
Floribraska: 10"
First rule: any kind of music can be done well, even if it usually isn’t. I’m sure, somewhere in this world, there’s a polka band that fucking rips. So I try not to immediately dismiss any kind of genre crossovers. I’m not a fan of acoustic music and I’m not a fan of country music, but some musicians have made me a believer. Shit, a few decades ago, country music was amazing. Listen to Hank Williams, Sr. Listen to Jimmy Rodgers. Listen to Johnny Cash. If you want to get up-to-date, listen to Slim Cessna. And if you think a band can’t fuse country into punk, listen to This Bike Is a Pipe Bomb. Check out Against Me’s seven inches. Anything can be done well. So, when I gave this new Timversion 10” its first spin, I was surprised to hear that it’s mostly acoustic and countrified as all get out. Which is okay. On their full length and on their split with Super Chinchilla Rescue Mission, The Timversion sneak in countrified tunes. So I gave this a listen, and there’s a lot going on here. It’s easy to hear the Replacements influence. It’s also easy to hear some Uncle Tupelo in here (and, I can’t believe I’m saying this in writing, but early Uncle Tupelo was pretty good. Every time I go to sell back my Uncle Tupelo album, I end up giving it one last listen and deciding to keep it). Mostly, though, this is a lot of The Timversion, just stripped down. The songs are kinda sad and redeeming. The first four listens are a race to learn the words so I can sing along. And, slow or not, it’s never boring. They claim to have been drunk when they recorded this, but the musicianship is spot on. Even the harmonica is cool. Hell, there’s even a drinking song for Davey (Tiltwheel) Quinn called, appropriately enough, “Drinkin’ Song for Davey Quinn.” This isn’t a match for The Timversion’s full length, Creating Forces that Don’t Exist, or for their split with the Chinchillas, but then again, I don’t hear too many records at all that are a match for those two. And, to be honest, I’ve listened to this album every day since I got it. On some days, I break down and listen to it two or three times. –sean (Soooo Intense)


THUMBS UP!:
Building an Army: 7"
You’ve got your New England hardcore sound here, done well. I fully endorse the music. I’m not completely sold on the vocals. They’re not awful by any means. I think that they’d probably be fine live, and maybe they’ll grow on me, but for now they’re the only down point of the record for me. Best song is “Where Did the Fire Go?” which for some reason makes me think of “Manipulation” by the Big Boys, but it’s tons faster. –megan (Rodent Popsicle)


THROW RAG:
Desert Shores: CD
“Stellar.” Look up that word in a dictionary and you’ll see a pencil drawing of this band right next to it. Over the years, Throw Rag have gone on to win over the most dirt-ridden of hearts by kicking it out onstage as well as digging themselves into the brains of the most jaded music fuck with what they’ve procreated in the studio, turning these listeners into full-blown r’n’r junkies. Originally recorded and slated to be released as
2nd Place
the band went back and re-recorded the whole shebang, and DesertShores is what they finally ended up taking to the pressing plant. Being a true believer of the ‘Rag, I can’t help but wonder if the original version of this album would’ve knocked more dicks in the dirt, ‘cause I’ve heard the live versions of most of this release, and the live versions absolutely smoke the versions here. And let me add that that’s saying a whole hell of a lot, as the songs on this record make me flop around like a paraplegic chicken with fucking epilepsy every time I put this disc on. With songs like “Hollywood” (LOVE this fucking song!), “Bag of Glue,” “Hang Up,” “Reno,” and “Demons in a Row,” this is Throw Rag doing what they’ve consistently done time and time again – writing and recording great songs, plain and simple. Sounds easy, don’t it? Sure it does. If it’s so damned easy, everyone can do it, right? Wrong. There’s only one Throw Rag. Anyone reading this should also seek out their 1st full-length, Tee-Tot, if you already haven’t. Crucial listening, to say the least. But if you want to see one of the best damn things making music and doing their thang live, go see the almighty Throw Rag. You’ll be converted quicker than Sean of The Skulls can say, “Carnitas burrito – and HURRY THE FUCK UP!” at Alberto’s. Trust me. –dale (BYO)


THREATS:
Demos and Rarities: CD
Primal Scottish punk ranting recorded 1979-82 by a band that has apparently decided to give it another go. It’s absolutely mind-boggling that these guys aren’t as well known as the Exploited, Subhumans and all them other ‘80s UK punk bands, ’cause it’s painfully obvious they had the chops to be huge back then. No small amount of gratitude is due to Dr. Strange for making these tunes available again. –jimmy (Dr. Strange)


THIS MOMENT IN BLACK HISTORY:
The Cleveland Finger: EP
Black by popular demand, indeed. Yellin’, stompin’, resurrectin’ scronk that Jon Spencer would sell his soul and hot wife for. Dirty, greasy-fingered cat call vocals. Mystery liquid-slippery guitars. Appalachian venom snakes of salvational bass. Bricks of firecrackers in the drums. Includes current and ex members of Neon King Kong, The Chargers Street Gang, and the Bassholes, so you know it’s dick in live socket, herky jerky smasho fun punk. James Brown’s illegitimate kids hooked to Pabst IVs who developed great reflexes for ducking dear old dad’s gun shots? It’s real fun to make believe it so. –todd (Exit Stencil)


TESTORS:
Complete Recordings 1976-1979: 2 X CD
The Testors were a New York City punk rock band when it meant a lot to be one. They were contemporaries of great bands like the Ramones, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, and the Heartbreakers, and Sonny Vincent was the guitarist and vocalist. They had that late seventies New York sound with a lot of rock’n’roll and a lot of skinny-city-kid attitude, and they left the overall impression that they were on heavy drugs (though I don’t know if they really were). It fits right in with early stuff by The Cramps or stuff from the Dead Boys’ Young Loud and Snotty. As the name would imply, these two CDs have every song that the Testors recorded, both in the studio and live. It’s pretty fucking awesome. –sean (Swami)


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