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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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SKIDS, THE:
The Absolute Game: CD
The Captain’s website says this was their best selling album to date, and you can hear why. The Skids managed a feat here that so few of their contemporaries ever matched, namely cleaning up their sound and making it more marketable without losing a bit of their punk edge. The songs here are catchy as hell, bounce from one style to another to keep things from falling into one-dimensional stagnation, are matched with top-notch lyrics, and feature some seriously impressive guitar work by a guy who went on to greater fame in Big Country. Alex Ogg’s liner notes detail the band’s history and the back stories pertaining to this recording. As can be expected, a solid reissue. –jimmy (Captain Oi)


SIXLIP:
Know Who You Are: CD
Part of me wants to like this because Kiwis made it, but when the vocalist shouts, they sound like any American hardcore band. I think this would have been better if it was a hardcore record about native New Zealand topics like being a Shepard or zorbing. Or at least mentioned Wellington once in a while or something. Jeez. –Bryan Static (Broken Hill, no address)


SIX TO EIGHT MATHMEMATICS:
High Heels, Whisky & Mayhem: CDEP
Another band from New Jersey I’ve never heard of (kind of my neck of the woods, even), which means it’s another reminder that I sleep on my friends’ couches more often than I’m home. Anyway, this band reminds me of Fabulous Disaster from a couple years ago, but a little more rock than punk. –joe (Self-released)


SIDE PROJECT, THE:
New Brain: 7”
This record has one great song! In fact, the song was so good (classic pop punk!), that it took me until about halfway through the next song to realize that the second song wasn’t that great! Deception! If this were a cereal, it’d be Apple Jacks! Close your eyes, and it almost tastes like Froot Loops! –Maddy (Traffic Street)


SIDE PROJECT, THE:
New Brain: 7”
Simple, goofy, and fun pop punk from these Midwesterners. It’s straightforward stuff, but I don’t consider it just one of the million cookie cutter bands. Also, I hate to be the guy who talks about what a band looks or dresses like, but there’s a song called “That’s What She Said,” which, I’m assuming, is an Office reference, and one of the dudes in this band is a dead fucking ringer for Ethan Suplee from My Name Is Earl. Let’s chalk it up to the fact these guys seem pretty funny. –joe (Traffic Street)


SHRED SAVAGE:
Self-titled: 7”
Do you remember when I said these guys sounded like the Adolescents? (No, you don’t.) When I got this, I noticed on the back it said Frank Agnew was on vocals and I got really confused, thinking it to be some joke. I did some research and Frank Jr. is the vocalist in this here band. Anyway, the Adolescents vibe isn’t as strong on this release and it’s for the better. They are beginning to sound like their own band and it sounds great: punk rock with just a twist of metal, but not overwhelmingly so. I can’t wait to see a full-length from these guys. –Bryan Static (Small Pool)


SHIRKS, THE:
“D.C Is Doomed / Long Time” b/w “China” : 7”
The Shirks are a good band who excel at speeding up standard rock’n’roll riffs. D.C. Is Doomed is the highlight of the band so far; a catchy rocker filling a hole in the very punk scene for which they raise a gripe. All three songs are first-class for fans of fast-paced ‘70s punk, particularly those with a penchant for the Australians. –Billups Allen (no address)


SHARP TEETH:
Self-titled: CD
These songs are dark, slow to mid-tempo haunts delivered from front women/guitarist Erica Krumm’s deadpan vocals. This three-piece from Minneapolis may take a minimalist approach on this album, but they manage to clamor the far edges of grunge distortion within a moody soundscape. I’d place this CD amid the vocal styling of Liz Phair circa 1993 and musical deliverance of a tempered Slant 6 song, minus any riot grrrl connotations that that comparison may invoke. All the songs here are cut from the same cloth without any standing out from the rest of the album. This is an interesting full length from Sharp Teeth, but I hope their next release will pack a little more punch. –N.L. Dewart –Guest Contributor (myspace.com/sharpteethmpls)


SHANG-A-LANG / TURKISH TECHNO:
: Split 7”
Turkish Techno: In this post Hot Water Music world, it’s difficult to tread water in that band’s wake. But, Turkish Techno pulls it off by casting their net into good, old-fashioned hardcore aggression’s waters. While it sounds like several contemporary bands are deep frying frozen fishsticked of parts of HWM’s catalog in an attempt to recreate previous magic while ultimately sounding greasy and clogged, Turkish Techno adds the acidic lime of bands like early Black Flag to “cook” the raw fish. A ceviche, if you will. A delicious one. Shang-a-Lang: Still choke me up more than just a little when I listen to them or see them live. They play with an earnestness usually reserved to musicians ten or fifteen years younger, the music is the perfect sloppy tightness, and, having personally put all of their songs onto a more versatile digital format, I can support the thesis that even their anti-work songs made a day of pick axing all the more tolerable, bordering on pleasurable. Duct tapedly awesome. –todd ((Muy Autentico, myspace.com/totallyofficial)


SHAKING HANDS, THE:
Self-titled: CD
Two of the dudes from The Young Livers put together The Shaking Hands, a melodic streetpunk band that’s more hit than miss. At their best, The Shaking Hands strike a chord in the vein of Reducers SF, but some of the songs are awfully bland. Overall, I’m falling for it and am considering picking up the vinyl version. This simplistic, 1990s street sound is in jeopardy, after snoots turned their backs on it. Yet most people would need to be strapped to a chair to not want to get up and hop around while The Shaking Hands play. Count me in with the unashamed. I’d shake their fucking hands any day. –Art Ettinger (ADD/Kiss Of Death)


SHAKING HANDS, THE:
Self-title: CD
The lyrics here are substantive and well thought out, and the music is new millennium anthemic punk, kinda reminiscent of bands like Anti-Flag. The fact they don’t sound like some cheap Blink-182 or Rancid knockoff is a definite plus, but they ultimately just ain’t my thang. –jimmy (Kiss Of Death)


SHADOWCOPS, THE:
A Big Pot of Hot: CD
Raucous rock music with a punk afterburn. Heard better, heard worse. –jimmy (www.tnsrecords.co.uk)


SEX ROBOTS / BUNNYGRUNTS:
Tribute to St. Louis: 7”
Two songs by a couple of old St. Louis bands are covered by newer St. Louis bands. Having never heard the originals, I can say the Sex Robots’ version of “Crazy (On You)” is a nice bit of catchy poppy punk, and Bunnygrunts’ take on “Frankie Is a Killer” is a nice bit of rock-informed punk. Good split single on the whole, and it kinda made me wish I knew the originals. –jimmy (Bert Dax Cavalcade Of Stars)


SEVEN DIRTY WORDS:
Hard Boiled and Dirty: CDEP
The band’s name is a George Carlin reference, the EP’s cover places the CD’s title, Hard Boiled and Dirty, next to a picture of Dirty Harry and the music is a meaningless copy attempt at Motörhead. With all this low-grade rehashing, it’s hard to find a shred of anything creative here. Sure, all the EP’s production standards pass quality control, but as for the music inside?...All the references to fast cars, drugs, and sex make me want to snort lines of creatine and try out for the football team. Don’t waste your time on this. –N.L. Dewart –Guest Contributor (Loaded Bomb)


SETTING SON, THE:
Spring of Hate: CD
The first two songs on this album did not really grab me. The album got better on the third song, “Soulmate,” which is a catchy song with the heavy psych-pop sound that is indicative of what is coming out of Denmark pretty regularly. Then song four and five were also very good and I decided I was listening to the album wrong, so I started over. I still didn’t like the first two that much. Then I listened from track five on down to the end and the album held up its quality, so I tried songs one and two again. I was still not moved. The Setting Son play on the pop side of psychedelic music that is prevalent among retro psych bands right now, and they do it well, mixing their catchier Love-style riffs with bass heavy breaks over jangly, Byrds-style guitar playing. They also turn up the bass, which is key to me with this type of music. The recording is lo-fi; that is always a plus with me. This album is well worthwhile for fans of pop-psych, so hang in if the first two songs don’t do it for you. –Billups Allen (Bad Afro)


SCUTCHES, THE:
Self-titled : CD
This music sort of has that post-Weezer college rock feel. It reminds me of Matt Sharp’s first solo album with new wave-y female back up vocals mixed with old school Beach Boy aesthetics. These are eleven finger-snapping, chorus-hooky melodic pop songs. The album exhibits modern doo wop rock, stretching one song, “Cherry Cherry Coupe,” to include those deep vocal harmonies. This is one unabashedly fun album. It just lacks punk edge. If you’re in the need to blast tunes suitable for an eight-year-old to an eighty-year-old then ten out of the eleven tracks are perfect. There is some cussing on the tune “DSA,” so you just might take that out of the mix, but the cover of “Will You Still Love Me” is a smiley classic your dad—or maybe by now your grandpa—would love. –N.L. Dewart –Guest Contributor (PAF!, www.pafdisques.com)


SCATTERBOX :
Enemies: CD
Meat and potatoes hardcore here—pissed off, straight, no chaser. The demo quality of the recording gives it an early ‘80s feel. Would’ve been bowled over if a wee bit more oomph was put into the delivery, but the results still ain’t bad at all. –jimmy (Blackhouse)


SATYRASIS:
Creation of Failure : CD
Decent metal from Michigan here. The music is solid and the playing is tight. Matt Trzcinski’s solo in the song “Stench of the Earth” is a rager. The vocals are mixed weird to me. They sound flat, despite the singer’s growly hardcore punk style. I could see these guys playing at the Relax Bar. When they hit their stride, they do quite well; the songs are dynamic and steeped in energy. The guitarists are really good, and have the classic metal sound. That alone is worth checking these guys out for. They hit some flat spots here and there, but on the whole, not bad. –Matt Average (Satyrasis, www.satyrasis.net)


SASS DRAGONS / BROKEDOWNS:
: Split 7”
Try this out on a new person or a jaded fuck with easy-to-push buttons. “Dude, have you heard that Black Flag/Dwarves split 7”? Then put this on without letting them see the label or cover. If any eyebrows of incredulity are raised, go, “From ’84. They were playing that Slip It In bullshit and decided to stop wanking around for a couple of songs. The Dwarves were just starting out. Super rare.” If that still doesn’t work, go, “Oh, it was members of Youth Of Today when they lost their edge. The non-Buddhist dudes who didn’t go into Shelter.” But what it really is, is just two great Chicago bands losing their shit in the best possible way, and one of them throws in a Breeders cover that’s mangled like a slow possum on an unrelenting freeway with its dead, popping eye following your every movement. –todd (Let’s Pretend, myspace.com/letspretendrecs / Cassette Deck, cassettedeckmedia.com)


SANITY ASSASSINS :
Speed of Death: LP
I don’t have any recollection of what this band sounds like anymore. I know my old band was on a French comp with them. I initially thought this band was from the U.K. because some of their releases were released in Europe. I came to find out they are from Connecticut. They have had a number of releases put out through the last couple of decades—not just in Europe and the U.S.—but all over, including Japan, Mexico, and Brazil. Boy, these guys got their music listened to around the world. This LP compiles their 2000 demo and live recordings from that year. From reading the back cover, the band had various sounds through the years. This LP focuses on their more straight-up early ‘80s punk sound: snotty with three chord, middle finger in the air attitude. Thoughts of Litmus Green meets Stukas Over Bedrock come to mind. –don (Tornado Ride)


1090 Club:
Natural Selection: CD
Languid male/female-fronted alt-rock stuff, complete with strings. Not a bad listen per se, but they never really seem to get off the ground and let fly. –jimmy (Sidecho)


12XU:
Self-titled: Cassette
This band initially threw me off. Given their name, I was expecting one of two things: a mediocre Wire circa Pink Flag or sub par Minor Threat. Since I already mentioned that I was thrown off, it should be obvious that neither of my expectations was fulfilled. Is that a bad thing? Uh, well, maybe… that’s up to you. To me, this French three-piece sounds like a ‘90s emotional hardcore band in the middle of the bridge whenever they don’t sound like a ‘90s melodic hardcore punk band in the middle of a bridge—the one exception is their cover of “Ha Ha Ha” (Flipper), which lacks the threat and insanity of the original. As uninteresting as I found it to be, it really sounded like they coulda done better; I’m left wondering why they didn’t… –Vincent Battilana (Self-released)


A FINE BOAT, THAT COFFIN!:
Morse Zeichen: CD
Yeah, yeah, they’re German, but they remind me quite a bit of Portland’s own They Found My Naked Corpse Face Down In The Snow: it’s some brutal, manic, screamy shit that pretty much ditches any sort of Blood Brother-esque hair-waving sassiness and goes right for the jugular. Stuff like this has never translated that well to record for me, but I feel pretty comfortable in assuming these guys would weaken the foundation of any basement they happen to be playing in. Four songs seems a bit thin, but at least they’re keeping it in the red the whole time without running the risk of getting repetitive. The lyrics are in German but they’ve got some liner notes for each song in English—they come off as pretty precious at times (“Most brightly of all burned the hair of my evening loved one: to her I send the coffin of lightest wood.”) but maybe some of that’s due to the rough translations. Overall, a nice attack. –keith (Tor Johnson)


ABADDON:
Life Out of Balance: 12” EP
Metalcore with a definite ‘90s influence. Reminds me of bands like Acme, Congress, and Systral to more recent bands like Thou. Heavy, pummeling music, and dual throat shredding grindcore vocals. It does get a bit tedious at times with the technical breaks and constant hammering, but when they let loose and just go for it, it’s not too bad. Better than all this acoustic punk stuff happening these days. I know, apples and oranges, but c’mon.... –Matt Average (Sacred Plague)


ABRADE:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Noisy, grindy, thrashy, and occasionally sludgy. My initial reaction was this ain’t really breaking any new ground, but they gleefully keep bouncing from one tempo to the next that it keeps you on yer toes the whole way through, which makes for something that stands out from the pack. The little paper wrapped around the cover says this is limited to one hundred copies, so those who like their hardcore fast and barely in control better start scramblin’ for it. –jimmy (Southkore)


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