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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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KNOCKOUT PILLS, THE:
Self-titled: LP
Sometimes, it’s hard for me to let go. I know, I know, The Weird Lovemakers are done. They’ve fractured: one guy actually getting a girlfriend, the Radio Reelers, and The Knockout Pills. Whereas the Weird Lovemakers were, gloriously, all over the map, the Knockout Pills have their feet steadfastly planted in harmony-rich ‘60s rock, like The Zombies and The Animals. While these guys have a healthy dose of respect to give the songs a true charge, they aren’t so respectful that it seems like a merely coloring in of existing musical shapes. Nuts get kicked. Instruments get whacked. So, yeah, there’s some understandable similarity to the New Bomb Turks, but not too much to think these guys don't have brains and extensive record collections of their own. Ultimately, what’s pleasant about this LP is how listenable it is. When it gets mellow and a harmonica gets broken out in “Confused,” it burns slowly without getting sleepy. When they pick it up, your ear gets humped. Not to sound like Leonard Nimoy narrating In Search Of…, but as a dawn that casts long shadows slowly gives away to mid day, when a band has to stand up by themselves regardless of their predecessors, The Knockout Pills pull out their own revolvers, and prove themselves. Although the album didn’t stun me right off the bat, with each successive listen, it gets deeper and stronger. Enthusiastic thumbs up. –todd (Dead Beat)


KNUCKLEHEAD:
Little Boots: CD
About five or six years ago, I got a Knucklehead 7” to review for Flipside. I loved that 7”. I taped it and some other new seven-inchers that I’d gotten at the time (Dillinger Four’s More Songs about Girlfriends and Bubblegum, the Chubbies, and Boris the Sprinkler). I listened to that tape all the time, and never heard about Knucklehead again after it. I knew they were from Canada and on Far Out Records, which went belly-up shortly after that. I just figured that Knucklehead had vanished. Then, I saw this in the recent review pile and snatched it up. On my first listen, I was surprised to hear two of the four songs from that long ago 7”. I looked closer and saw that this was a re-release of their first album (which had originally been released by Far Out). Man, I wish I’d found this album five years ago. A lot of the territory Knucklehead cover here has been covered and overdone since this album was originally released. I’m kinda tired of anthemic street punk and anything that shows a Rancid influence, and that’s pretty much what this Knucklehead album is, but damn it, these guys still do it well. It’s fun to sing along with. There’s a lot of hooks. And, really, they’ve gone beyond being about their influences and forged their own sound. It’s good stuff. If I’d reviewed it when it originally came out, though, I’d’ve been going nuts. –sean (Longshot)


LAGUARDIA:
Self-titled: CD
Just when I thought navel-gazing, no self-esteem indie pop couldn’t get worse, it did. This is the sound of whining set to something that might be called music by assholes who wear tight sweaters and beat their chests in time with off-tempo drumbeats. To say that this insipid pop is utterly forgettable would mean that I remember having actually listened to it at some point. –scott (Minimalist)


IPANEMA:
Je Suis un Baseball Bat Vs. Skull: 7"
Sped-up stoner rock on a wicked thick slab of vinyl. –megan (Boss Tuneage)


HEMI CUDA:
Classics for Lovers: CD-R
It starts off nicely with the lead track, then gets a flat and pulls off to the side. The bad news for Hemi Cuda is that there are quite a few female-fronted pop punk bands who blow them off the track, no matter how many different color wigs they have in the closet. Neither of these ladies have the loud, blaring pipes of Chica Baby of the Beautys or Cinder of Tilt, the instrumental dexterity of the Eyeliners live, or the sealed four-play-as-one-power of the Soviettes. Although they far from suck, they get stuck in bar rock mode for vast stretches, where the riffs get more tired than Jerry Lewis walking up a set of stairs. Sorry, shin-high leopard print boots and boss cars don’t pull it through for me. –todd (No address)


HEINOUS BIENFANG:
Makin’ It Nice for the People: CD
Louis Armstrong fronts an indie-rock band. Results are about as exciting as that description would imply. –jimmy (Moodswing)


HAYMAKER:
Fuck America: 7"
Musically, this is good. Solid, fast hardcore. But I looked at the lyrics. I’m no big fan of all governmental policy by any means, but this just pushes it too far. One of the problems is that they never specify anything. It’s just fuck America, government is big brother, blabitty blah. Nothing solid, no examples, no reason for this hatred. To top it off, the solution offered is violent (and grammatically incorrect): “We’ll attack with knife/cut out your eyes/slit your throats/and hang you by your string of lies,/your a politician/a fucking liar.” Plus, in the liner notes it says, “In God we trust, all others we kill!!!” That scares me. –megan (www.haymaker.ca)


HENRY FIAT’S OPEN SORE:
Patmos or Bust: 7"
I was really surprised when this came in the mail. See, I’d written to Wrench, trying to get a review copy. Instead, I got a pretty cold email saying that they DID NOT put out this EP. I shrugged my shoulders, scratched my head, and just assumed that I must have read something wrong somewhere along the line. Then it came in. I looked at the label. I got pissed. I put it on. I got happy. Man, HFOS are so damn good! I was lucky enough to pick up their full-length, Idiotia Hyperactiva, on the recommendation of Mr. Aphid Peewit. They’re kind of a newer version of the Mummies, with tight black ski masks in place of wrappings. I also hear Dwarves and the Weirdos in there, just great stuff. Four songs make for a pretty beefy 7”, but still leaves me wanting more. –megan (Wrench)


HEROINE SHEIKS:
Siamese Pipe: CD
If you knew and loved the Cows (and if you could know and not love them, you’ve got some kinda aberration up in your skull), the Sheiks are like a cold forty after eight weeks on the wagon. The Cows were my favorite band for longer than any other band ever held that title; they were the perfect thing to find and grab with both fists when hardcore started to lose its sheen for me, and I’ll suggest the same of the Heroine Sheiks: plenty of noise, a little velocity, and shovels full of retardation, assembled in a tricky and masterful way that nobody else can touch and that will take any comer. Norman Westberg’s guitar is refined, often minimal and everywhere it needs to be, but Shannon’s lyrics and delivery are the real edge on the blade: “went in the back room with my Coors Light” becomes in a later verse “went in the bathroom and clogged the pipe.” In “Little Schoolgirl” he croons “I don’t want to hurt your feelings/ I just want to lay down on top of you” (did Sonny Boy Williamson write it that way?). And if he isn’t spitting some poetic gem, he’s whistling or hooting or blowing his venerable trumpet. If you think your musical diet is lacking something, it’s probably this. –Cuss Baxter (Rubric)


HIPBONE SLIM AND THE KNEE-TREMBLERS:
Snake Pit: CD
The drummer from the Headcoats is what caught my attention. The sound convinced me to hang on to this one. Blues with a voodoo feel meets early rock. The vocals have a distant sound to them. There’s a very mellow feel to the whole sound, but the guitars are what keep it strong. Vocals make me think of Ricky (not the later Rick) Nelson if he’d been a very dirty boy growing up. Lately, this has been the perfect wind-down music after a long day for me. –megan (Voodoo Rhythm)


HOBART:
Sorry I Asked: CD
Ever wonder what would happen if Leatherface put out an instrumental album? It would probably sound a lot like Sorry I Asked. This Hobart album is full of songs that build with tension and explode and build up the tension again. And there is some singing. The vocals aren’t bad. They don’t sound anything like Frankie Stubbs (only the music sounds like Leatherface). It’s just that the vocals are one of the least important parts of the songs here. The focus is more on the musicianship, which is excellent. These guys can play. And it doesn’t do them justice to compare them only to Leatherface. On top of that tension, explosion, more tension, Hobart also can mix in arty parts, not unlike Drive Like Jehu or the Hot Snakes. Overall, this is a nice little lost treasure. It’s definitely worth hunting down. –sean (Sumo Agnew)


HORROR, THE:
First Blood: CDEP
Hyper-speed English hardcore courtesy of most of what were the Voorhees and a new singer. Vicious in sound and attack, as it should be. This copy of the disc’s gonna get worn out soon. –jimmy (Chainsawsafety)


HORRORS, THE:
Vent: CD
More bluesy rock from In The Red, this lot being a grungy and bombastic ride through the noisier side of the garage rock of the ‘60s, with shades of the Stones, the Gun Club and the Gossip (though not augmented with that lady’s ferocious growl or almost-glimpsed boobies), and one of the guys is named Greg Cartwright. What the hell kind of name is that? –Cuss Baxter (In The Red)


INVERSIONS, THE:
Hung by the Phone b/w Domestic Disturbance: 7"
What else would you expect from Rapid Pulse? Fast rock and roll punk with influences from the Dead Boys to the Rip Offs on these two 45s! “Hung by the Phone” is the better of the two. The lead song sounds like a forgotten ‘70s punk hit! The B-side has one catchy song and another not as catchy song – but with handclaps! Coming in second place, “Domestic Disturbance” is still good, and reminds me of Wisconsin’s own Catholic Boys at times. Plus, both records have a super minimal old school layout – just black with some neon stripes. Punk! This is Fruit Loops. Sure, Fruit Loops/RNR Punk has been around forever, but they’re still, uh, yummy! –Maddy (Rapid Pulse)


HARD-ONS:
Very Exciting: CD
After a few clunkers, these Aussie legends have come back with a vengeance, leveling both barrels and blasting an unsuspecting public with yet another unholy melange of Ramones-and-Slayer-cover-the-Descendents goodness. These guys have not sounded this consistently good to these ears since their Love is a Battlefield of Wounded Hearts album more than a decade ago. Wisenheimer punk, sick with some of the tastiest pop hooks you’ll hear anywhere, coupled with Marshall overdrive and the occasional grindcore rhythm to throw you completely off track just when you think you’ve got ’em pegged. Easily my favorite release this review cycle. Pick up a copy so’s you can tell your kids you owned a copy of this soon-to-be-classic back when it came out. Oh, and while you’re at it, toss them Blink 182 wastes of plastic away to make some room in your collection for some true greatness. –jimmy (Bad Taste)


HABIT OF MINE:
Self-titled: CD
It says that they sound like Jeff Buckley, the Nuge, and Jane’s Addiction thrown in a blender. It sounds like my friend KJ’s one-show Soundgarden meets Alice in Chains type band in high school. Surprise! I don’t like it. –megan (Sean Healy)


GUTS, THE:
Say Goodbye to Fun: CD
Another suck-ass pop band sporting Queers shirts for punk credibility vies for the chance to ride a gravy train that left the station nearly a decade ago. Your shot at major stardom is long gone, boys. Time to donate them Hot Topic-approved accoutrements to the local Salvation Army and go back to listening to your N’Sync collections, wishing for the day when you will be the next big thing. –jimmy (Spider Bite)


GUFF: The Guff Is a Disaster EP: CDEP:
The Guff Is a Disaster: CDEP
If you take the nice innocuous little name of this nice innocuous little pop punk band and dropped one of the “Fs” and then turned it around, you wind up with the word “Fug.” When Norman Mailer’s famous war novel The Naked and the Dead came out in the ‘40s, the publisher substituted the nonsense word “fug” for the word “fuck” – a word used frequently by the GIs in the novel. They did this so as not to risk offending any readers with a gentle constitution. In that same spirit, I think you could say that Guff is the “fug” of punk. Guff is nutlessly inoffensive. Fug Guff. May the rest of their days be spent stuck in a never-ending interview with the clod prince of banality, Carson Daley. –aphid (Go Kart)


GROODIES, THE:
Self-titled: CD
This is punk that’s too hardcore to be poppy, but has too many hooks to be hardcore. It’s tight and full of energy and not unlike the Lunachicks, but they manage to mix up their song tempos a bit more and rock a little harder. A pretty good first effort. They’re awfully talented for how young they are (I don’t think any of them are old enough to drink), and they show a lot of promise. Keep your eyes open for these ladies. –sean (Failed Experiment)


GRAFTON:
Blind Horse Campaign: CD
The Cows rock out to Nashville Pussy. Loud, raucous, and definitely worth a spin. –jimmy (Dead Canary)


GOVERNMENT ISSUE:
Strange Wine/Live at CBGB: CD
Primarily a live set from this legendary band blessed with good sound and a nice mix of tunes spanning their entire career. The last three songs are studio reworkings of some of their older tunes, the best being a pretty thrashin’ take of “I’m James Dean” and the worst being a sub-par version of “Teenager in a Box,” which has none of the intensity of the original version. Serves as a nice, concise overview of their career for those who want to know what all the fuss is about but aren’t willing or aren’t financially able to invest in their two-volume discography. –jimmy (Dr. Strange)


GOOD RIDDANCE:
Bound by the Ties of Blood and Affection: CD
Consistency is this band’s trait. From heart-pounding hardcore numbers to melodic, pop ballads, GR full lengths are always a good listen for me. They keep the tempos varied and play with conviction. The songcraft has developed stronger from release to release as they continue to be a solid unit over time. Singer, Russ Rankin, puts his beliefs right on the table and is not afraid to put forth his opinion. The production is as tight and powerful as ever with the added benefit of recording once again at the Blasting Room with Bill Stevenson on the controls. Luke Pabich’s guitars are crunchy and distorted enough to sustain its energy. Chuck Platt’s bass sound is nice and punchy, mixed evenly to add that solid tone. David Wagenschutz’s drumming is more forceful this time around and a new level of confidence seems to be achieved since he has been with the band some time now. Overall, another great release that will probably stay in my CD changer for a long time. –don (Fat)


GOGOAIRHEART:
Love My Life…Hate My Friends: CD
Part improvisation, part angular art-pop, this has got enough disparate sounds going to keep things interesting. While some experiments might not quite hit the mark, the desire to do something different is greatly appreciated. –jimmy (GSL)


GLOBAL THREAT, A:
Earache/Pass the Time: CDEP

It’s been a long time since I heard these guys. In that time they have put out a ton of stuff. When I last heard them they were way more hardcore and slightly more political. This, I believe, is their latest offering. It’s a good mix of fast punk music with some good lyrics. The lyrics focus more on everyday type issues and social matters. If you’re a fan of A Global Threat, get this! You won’t be disappointed. –Mike Beer

–Guest Contributor (Rodent Popsicle)


GEOGRAPHY/FOXHOLE:
Split: CD
Geography: Emo blessed with a tone deaf singer. Foxhole: Emo with a guy who sounds like Springa from SSD rockin’ the mic. The joy emanating from the pits of my stomach overfloweth and hits the toilet bowl with a resounding thud. More succinctly, sometimes I wish I was deaf. –jimmy (Chumpire 154)


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·Razorcake Podcast #159
·INTRODUCTION TO THE SITUATIONS, AN
·TEENAGE WHORE MOANS
·NASHVILLE PUSSY
·SEROTONIN
·SON OF A GUN
·FILTH
·FRESH MEAT
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