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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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ACCELERATORS:
Self-titled: CD
At this point, I’ve stopped both counting how many Accelerators there are making the rounds these days and figuring out which is which. For those still keeping track, though, this is the Netherlands Accelerators. Vocals snotty, music not particularly challenging or threatening—end result: serviceable, thoroughly unmemorable poppy punk. –jimmy (www.stardumbrecords.com)


AFTER THE FALL / TRANSITIONS:
Split: 7”
After The Fall: I’m not quite sure what to make of this band. The first song is melodic hardcore straight outta the late ‘90s/early ‘00s. It reminded me of Reach The Sky with a tap on the shoulder from Fat Wreck. Anyhow, the second track is hardcore, nothing melodic. It has a pretty driving intro that doesn’t seem like it’s going to let up, but then it goes into some youth crew revival complete with breakdown. The two tracks sound like they could have come from separate bands, but they were recorded at the same time and space. Transitions: Three short blasts of late ‘90s East Coast youth crew revival played excellently appear on this side. Do you miss Floorpunch and In My Eyes? Did you never really get the big deal with American Nightmare? Well, if you answered both of those questions affirmatively, then this is a definite for you. It comes complete with rad bass line intros, breakdowns, gang vocals, and a song about friendship. I’m a total sucker for this kinda shit. Fucking awesome! –Vincent Battilana (Raise Your Fist, raiseyourfistrecords.com)


AKUPUNKTIO:
Dis Manibum Sacrum: EP
Akupunktio play traditional Finnish hardcore with some current influences thrown in. The songs are driving, though never full-on speedy or thrashy. The rhythm section definitely hammers away, but there are a lot of tempo changes in the songs to keep it from being one long blur. “Koira” is the standout track of the four. The guitar dominates and sets the mood with ringing notes over a din of distortion and a somewhat pummeling mid tempo. –Matt Average (Havoc)


ALARM:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Not by any stretch a new single by the old Welsh band of the same name—the opening tune here sounds like a Brujeria outtake with English lyrics. The rest alternates between the same and down-tuned thrash stuff that dances on the hardcore and metal borderline. –jimmy (Inkblot, no address)


ALBERT SQUARE, THE / HARD GIRLS:
Split: CD
Upon first putting this CD into the stereo, I was struck by how much the Albert Square’s vocalist reminded me of... somebody. I couldn’t place it, and this bothered me. I kept listening, hoping I’d figure it out. I probably paid more attention to this than anything else I was supposed to be reviewing this go-round. It finally dawned on me. In his inflection, his timing, and in a lot of ways, his voice, he’s a dead ringer for Dan Adriano on that Tuesday record. (Maybe without the lisp, which I still swear is contrived.) This isn’t a bad thing; I liked that record. The Albert Square write pretty catchy little songs to accompany their singer’s Adriano-like vocals. They aren’t anything special, but it’s not bad either. Certainly worth a listen. The Hard Girls play gruff-voiced punk that’s all over the map stylistically. It’s not bad either. But it certainly didn’t send me on a weeks-long search to figure out who the vocalist sounded like. –Ryan Horky (Silver Sprocket, www.silversprocket.net)


ALBERT SQUARE, THE / HARD GIRLS:
Split: CD
The Albert Square: When the drums kicked in at first, it reminded me of a band of high school kids trying to sound like Fugazi (which I’m not knockin—I mean it in the sense that it had that youthful energy to it, just without the “How are they even playing that?” thoughts I usually have when listening to Fugazi). Then the vocals came in, and I realized, “Oh, this is clearly Dan Andriano from Alkaline Trio singing”. I mean, “supposedly it’s not”, but I’m convinced they’re lying. I mean, I thought the dude was going to start singing about his sore back. So basically, Albert Square: Young Fugazi, fronted by Dan Andriano. Hard Girls: They reminded me of Hot Water Music a lot, but without vocals of anyone who’s sang for Alkaline Trio at any point. –joe (Silver Sprocket, silversprocket.net)


ALEX AND THE IMAGINARY FRIENDS:
…It Never Ends: CD
The packaging that this CD came in is pretty sweet. It’s like a little zine, with the CD put in a plastic sleeve and stapled onto the last page. The drawing on the front is nice, and I would have liked to see more drawings on the other pages. Instead, the other pages had lyrics and then a short explanation of the impetus behind the song. On a couple of the copied pages the words go off the bottom of the page a little, so a bit more attention could have been paid to that, but, overall, it’s a nice little package. The music is kind of folk or anarcho folk or something like that, and, usually, Alex Loeb was on his own, singing and playing guitar. Not that he stinks or anything of the sort, but I preferred it when there were gang vocals and when Sara Mann sang with him. The CD wasn’t bad, but it just didn’t do it for me. This is not my favorite genre of music, so I think it has to be quite compelling or fresh for me to get into it. As it was, I think Mr. Loeb is very sincere and earnest and I get the feeling he really hopes to contribute to making the world a better place, which is excellent. I think his songs will make certain fans of the genre feel excited and touched. For me though, it just didn’t thrill. Favorite song is called “Money Can’t Buy You Clean Drinking Water,” even though, unfortunately, it sure enough can, sometimes. –Jennifer Federico (Raise Your Fist)


ALIEN SEX FIEND:
R.I.P.—A 12” Collection: 2 x CD
Alien Sex Fiend is one of those rare bands so unique that one has a helluva time trying to describe with words what they sound like. Death Rock? Punk? Rockabilly? Synthy art damage? Brooding psychoses set to a dance beat? You get all the above in spades, plus bizarre lyrics and a visual presentation that someone must’ve dreamed up while watching The Munsters with a head full of some kick-ass acid. As the title suggests, this is a collection of tracks culled from various 12” singles and EPs, but it would serve just as well as a “best of” initiation for anyone interested in dipping their toes in what the band has to offer. A good dose of their prime material—“Dead and Buried,” “Now I’m Feeling Zombified,” “I Walk the Line,” “Hurricane Fighter Plane,” “Inferno,” “Smells Like...” and a fistful of others—are here for the listening, so those interested in tuneage from a band that yowls with the best of ‘em yet refuses to be easily plopped into any one category would do well to pick this up. –jimmy (www.cherryred.co.uk)


ALL THROUGH A LIFE:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Angular, discordant stuff that would’ve been huge had they come outta DC in the late ‘80s and had been affiliated with a certain label that still resides in that area. –jimmy (Clue #2)


ALLIGATOR:
Prehistoric Reptilians: Cassette
Thrashing cymbal crashes offset with treble-kicking guitar parts to scatter the magnetic ions on this tape-recorded gem. This group is made up of various members of other bands and this effort feels and seems like a Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band of sorts. (The urban legend: The Beatles invented alter egos to forget being The Beatles and just make music made from a fresh state of mind without expectations.) But instead of dressing like cashiers at Long John Silvers, the members of Alligator don alligator attire at shows and this tape, previously released as an LP and CD, includes track names such as “Iguana Tooth,” “Anacondas,” and “Rattlesnakes,” to name a few. These songs mix yelling vocals with dance-y tight rhythms, which makes the music feel like a less experimental Q And Not U. In line with Dischord ten-dollar credos, “Pay no more than $5” is printed in the tape notes. But more line with their very own Prehistoric Reptilians credos this recording you can get on an old school cassette tape. My only qualm with this release is the eight tracks go by so fast that they leave me wanting for more. –N.L. Dewart –Guest Contributor (People’s Republic Of Rock And Roll)


ALTARBOYS, THE:
Wolves for Brothers: CD
It’s always the people who try the hardest to come off as tough and rebellious that end up looking fake. There’s artwork that looks like it came straight off a Metal Mulisha T-shirt, a picture of them under layers of makeup, which fails to make them look straight out of a fight, and music that sounds more like speed metal without solos than hardcore. These songs are all about hurting people: stabbing and shooting them, beating them with bats and breaking their fingers. It’s a downer that this even exists. Maybe if they lived in a city in which these things actually happened outside their weak imaginations they would see the reality of violence and stop glorifying it. –Rene Navarro (Horns Up, no address)


AMERICAN DRAFT:
Hawk: CD
The Fucking Champs are back and they’re called American Draft. Wow. This shit is amazing and totally righteous. Perhaps it’s just because I’ve been listening to Crack the Skye lately, but American Draft remind me of Mastodon, as far as the metal guitars and how tight they are. However, American Draft is entirely instrumental save for one song, “Dragon,” and, frankly, the screamy vocals don’t seem to fit in with the music. Comprised of members from Volta Do Mar (another instrumental, albeit much different band), the sound is very reminiscent of the Champs, too, but does enough to stand on its own. It isn’t all brutalizing, as the track “Wind” shows an electronic and acoustic side to the band, but soon thereafter American Draft is back to kicking ass and taking names. I didn’t know what to expect, based on the cover photo of a hawk perched on the hand of an elderly man with a white beard, but this rocked pretty hard. If you belong to a gym, when you’re there and no one is looking, switch the music on the sound system from the shitty pop radio they’re playing to this and watch everyone get super strong in no time. –kurt (Coachhouse Collective, coachhousecollective.com)


AMERICANS, THE:
The Devouring: CD
A little bit o’ metal, a little bit o’ hardcore, add a dude one throat lozenge away from throat cancer grumbling about man’s perpetual destruction of the planet, and you’ve go the makings of this band. –jimmy (www.americanshardcore.com)


ANAL THUNDER:
4 AM Illusion: CD
The first track is a metamusicial tirade about how first tracks are stupid and they started ranting about music critics and how they’re stupid. I laughed. Then I realized I’m a music critic. A brief look of irony slapped my face as I fell into existential mind trip about the human condition. That’s the dangers of metafiction. The music sounds like the Dwarves mixed with Swingin’ Utters. Not bad, but nothing I’d go out of my way for. –Bryan Static (Fullhouse, no address)


ANCESTORS:
Nightfall: 7”
This Canadian quartet cranks out seven driving, thunderous, arty jams. Maintaining the presence of a hardcore band, and stepping up the freak factor by way of weirder, more techy Dischord bands, Ancestors’ output is definitely interesting. If This Moment In Black History were more focused on creating a wall of sound, it could possibly sound like this. Any band that thinks naming a song “;” is a good idea is alright in my book. –Daryl Gussin (Self-released, www.ancestors.tv)


ANCHOR ARMS:
Cold Blooded: CD
This album is good. Definitely. And probably if I didn’t have a full stable of bands of this ilk that I already listen to regularly, I think I’d be significantly more enthusiastic about it. I actually really dug the Milligrams 7”, and while this is good, catchy, melodic, undeniably Gainesville-bred punk rock, I started to lose interest about halfway through. I’m not writing this off by any means. I imagine a live viewing might do well to sway my opinion. It’s quite possible, even likely, that Anchor Arms will work their way into my steady rotation, but I just wasn’t floored right off the bat. –Dave Williams (Fail Safe)


ARGENTINUM ASTRUM:
Self-titled: CD
A single, looooong track of sludgy metal. In a fit of sheer masochism, I managed to make it to the twenty-five-minute mark before sending it sailing out the window. –jimmy (Anti-Corporate Music)


ASHTRAY:
The Power of Positive Drinking: CD
The crust punk darlings of Santa Rosa deliver on their latest album. Their co-ed vocals, high octane chords, and drums kept me bouncing and singing along. They also made me thirsty with all their songs about PBR and vodka. I bet they’re untamable live. –Kristen K (Silver Sprocket Bicycle Club, www.silversprocket.net)


ATTACK DISARM TAKEOVER:
Self-titled: CD
What we have here is Fresno’s answer to the Varukers. They sound plenty pissed off and, having been to Fresno a few times, I can totally understand why. Pretty good stuff, all told. –jimmy (www.messmeuprecords.com)


AUDACITY / PTERODACDUDES:
Split: 7"
Fantastically paired 7”. Both bands play a frantic, spastic, trashy, and psyched out, freaked out mélange of pop, punk, rock’n’roll, metal, and hardcore. Both bands sound like they spend a fair amount of time sharing vans, stages, and chemical substances with the likes of Toys That Kill, Killer Dreamer, and Drinker’s Purgatory, which I guess shouldn’t really come as a surprise, seeing as this record is being put out by Small Pool Records. Comes with a lyric sheet to Ice Cube’s “Today Was a Good Day,” and, to top it off, there’s a picture of Matty Awesome on the back cover. Check this shit out, dudes and chicks. –Jeff Proctor –Jeff (Small Pool, myspace.com/smallpoolrecords)


AUSTIN LUCAS:
Somebody Loves You: CD
Man, Suburban Home is really moving down the alt country highway. Don’t get me wrong, they are making great choices and Austin Lucas is no exception. Really solid songwriting and good vocals over very mellow folk/roots sounds is the ticket here. Joining labelmates Drag The River, Tim Barry, Two Cow Garage, this is a sound that lives and dies by songwriting. I say Austin Lucas is up to the challenge and I am interested in hearing more. –frame (Suburban Home)


AUTUMN PICTURE:
The Field: CD
We can talk all we want about CDs being an absolutely dead format—that it’s all about vinyl or digital downloads these days. That’s fine. At the same time, I’ve always been about five years behind the curve—technologically and otherwise—and I pretty much adore every goddamn thing about this disc. From a purely aesthetic standpoint, it’s hand-numbered to 500 and comes in a beautiful chipboard package with black and blue silk-screens all over it. The booklet’s inlaid with vellum, and, not to get too corny, that kind of dreamlike obfuscation of the photos and lyrics absolutely matches the ethereal quality of the music. Again, this is coming from a dude who still thinks tapes rule, but there’s something admirable about the amount of stubborn care that was put into the physicality of this release. As far as the music itself, it’s absolutely gorgeous. Think of the solemnity of Iron And Wine colliding with the dark but somehow joyous angles of Arcade Fire. Throw in some cello, farfisa, and trumpet, take note that at their lyrical core, these are intensely personal protest songs that any punk band would probably be stoked to belt out, throw in the fact that they’re a DIY band, and you’re looking at a terrific pop record with a stunning but subtle melancholic undercurrent. I don’t know if this thing just hit me at the right time, but it’s one of the best things I’ve ever received for review. –keith (Hillbilly Stew)


AVENUE ROSE / LET’S DANCE:
All That Matters in Motion: 7” EP
Avenue Rose: A decent double dose of modern power pop-influenced stuff. Let’s Dance: These guys tread similar terra as the Briefs, sans that band’s sense of immediacy or charm. –jimmy (Provincial State, no address)


AVENUE ROSE:
Electric: 7”
I liked this record because of all of its glammy goodness. Included are three tunes that are straight-up catchy rock’n’roll, complete with syncopated hand claps and clean-not-ponderous riffing. All in all, good stuff that effectively carries on the storied tradition of rocking out in the Pacific Northwest. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Slab-O-Wax)


AX, THE:
Our Queen of Dirt: CD
Subtract twenty years and add overdriven Marshall stacks and this would’ve been massive with the proto-grunge Sub Pop crowd. Might not sound like a compliment in these post-Soundgarden days, but a compliment it was intended to be. –jimmy (Whoa! Boat)


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