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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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PETER AND THE TEST TUBE BABIES:
Loud Blaring Punk Rock: CD
Their third album sees PTTB taking a step backward from the complexity of “Mating Sounds of South American Frogs” and instead nicking another band’s set and adding some of their oldies, all in an apparent attempt to ride the wave of good press surrounding them at the time by keeping the releases coming. The results are for the most part good, with some classic tracks that live up to the album’s title and only a few clunkers. Although it was recorded later, the stuff here is more akin to Banned from the Pubs than The Jinx, so if you’re looking for their more poppy stuff, you’re better off picking up the next in the series of reissues, Soberphobia. For those of you who don’t give a toss about dynamics and hooks and just want some good, old-fashioned punk rock, you couldn’t ask for more. –jimmy (Captain Oi)


PAYBACKS, THE:
Knock Loud: CD
Loud, raucous rock’n’roll steeped in Detroit hooks. Kinda reminds me a teeny bit of old Cheap Trick every now and then. –jimmy (Get Hip)


PANIC:
Get Well: CD
From one of the premier labels in the UK comes another great pop punk release. I hear great melody that puts me into pop bliss. What I love about Crackle releases are that they do not have overblown production and yet sound recorded in a garage. A mixture of, I would say, a stronger sounding Queers, Groovie Ghoolies and Screeching Weasel. In fact, I’m blown away by hearing some slight British accent in the vocals; it makes the music more appealing to me. With that, it blows away so many bands here in the states that play the same genre of music. I think this is the perfect moment to check out this band since this is their third release and you don’t have to go through the growing pains. Also, the covers geek in me really appreciated the Men at Work cover of "Overkill!" –don (13$ ppd to Crackle!)


OZMA:
The Double Donkey Disc: CD
Caca poo-poo college rock. Kinda punky, mostly poopy. –jimmy (Kung Fu)


OXYMORON:
Best Before 2000: CD
Re-released for those without a turntable or plain missed out, are tracks from early 7"s, splits, and comp tracks. These long-running
German street
punks know how to make a great bunch of music. Melodic and tight, they carry the oi flag with pride. Everything that I have heard from them in the past has been really good. This is no exception. I would highly recommend this because you get to hear the progression of talent. It also includes a video clip! –don (GMM)


OUT TO WIN:
Persist and Destroy: CD
I’m older than a lot of you and I don’t consider this hardcore. This is straight up metal that is similar to having a wrestler bash a steel folding chair on your head. The riffs are heavy and the double bass drums drop low tones into the chest. The vocals are so harsh that a blood vessel broke in my own eye. My only complaint I have of this release is that it only has six songs. The metal in me went into withdrawals after this ended. Might not be your cup of tea, but the hair on my head wanted to grow for this one. –don (Triple Crown)


OUR WAR:
If You’re Not Already: CD
Pretty decent straight edge crew-core with some lyrics that are pretty fuckin’ lame. –jimmy (Deranged)


NO GOOD HEROES:
Radio Rebelde: CD
You know, in another world I would probably adore Rancid, as so much of what they do is right up my alley. As things have turned out, however, I wish they’d break up so all their lame clones would fuck off and quit polluting the planet with twenty-third generation Clash posing. –jimmy (Insurgence)


NEUROTIC SWINGERS:
What’s Your Definition of Underground?: CD
Another new band tries to recapture that old punk rock energy and sound and fail miserably. Let’s have a hand for consistency! –jimmy (Lollipop)


NERF HERDER:
American Cheese: CD
Sometimes you want to write off something before you hear it. I was ready to shoot this to the moon. I put this on with hesitation and was overwhelmed by how poppy and infectious this was. My punkness was destroyed and formed into a pool of goo on the floor next to the hairball that my cat left a week ago. I keep losing punk points and I don’t know how I can reclaim them. I try to look mean but a stupid grin overwhelms my face as I listen to this. I want to slam dance but my body uncontrollably wants to pogo up and down to the point I have bloodshot eyes. Don’t tell my friends that I like this. –don (Honest Don's)


NEGATIVE FX:
Discography: CD
Here is what I know. I heard that Taang! Records initially released this and did not repress this once it went out of press. I’m thinking, what the fuck are they thinking? This is one of those records that would keep selling slowly because it influenced so many. I hear elements of NFX in a lot of modern day fastcore bands. This, from a band from the early ‘80s, that only played five shows live. That is fucking amazing, to influence so many people years later. Luckily, a Belgium label saw the potential to reintroduce to the masses that this band was influential. You may be thinking, “This is 2002 and I’m reading an old guy’s jaded review.” History has a habit of repeating itself and every style of punk from the past has been replicated, so you need the balance of finding out what bands came from the past and getting kicked in the ass with all the new bands. These recordings have stood the test of time and are equal to what is put out now. So go out and pick up a piece of history while it’s still affordable. –don (Reflex)


MUNG:
Off the Mark (A 7 Year Boil 1991-1998): CD
Rodent Popsicle put out this posthumous release that scans the musical history of this Boston based band. While not breaking any new ground, Mung played solid punk reminiscent of Naked Raygun and a few of the Epitaph bands. There a few songs that have deja vu effect, but no complete ripoffs. Good release. –Mike Dunn –Guest Contributor (Rodent Popsicle)


MUNG:
Off the Mark (A 7 Year Boil 1991-1998): CD
Decent enough modern punk/hardcore from a band that broke up four years ago. Although by no means my cup of tea, this definitely has some things going for it, not the least being a few damn snappy tunes. The Beastie Boys cover, while an inspired idea, leaves a lot to be desired in execution. –jimmy (Rodent Popsicle)


MOURNINGSIDE / BRANDO:
Split: 7"
Mourningside: modern day hardcore with sinister, dark lyrics. Brando: fastcore that is raw and abrasive like using sandpaper for butt wipes. –don (Rodent Popsicle)


MISTER CALIFORNIA AND THE STATE POLICE:
Self-titled: CD
Either these guys are geniuses or blithering idiots. Fifty-two tracks here, the longest clocking in at a little more than a minute. Although there are some truly inspired moments (“Disco Jesus,” “The Duck Song,” and “Poser”), most of it comes off like a series of punk rock brain farts committed to tape to keep friends in shits and giggles, but not much more than that. If distilled down to the best tracks, this would make one hell of a 7” EP heavy on diversity, humor and unmitigated gall. As it stands, though, it’s pretty much a mess. –jimmy (Proud To Be Idiot)


MIGHTY MIGHTY BOSSTONES, THE:
A Jackknife to a Swan: CD
Familiarity is comforting. I think I missed a few of their releases through the years but their music remains consistent. I pop this on and it feels like an old friend. Dicky’s vocals are raspy but continue to improve with age. I had heard some members have changed through the years, but I’m not one to notice too much. After the influx of ska bands in the ‘90s that overburdened most people, I am finally able to listen to that style more often. MMB always had their own identity amongst the copycats. They have an identifiable sound that they could call their own – mixture of their punk roots integrated with their love for ska, reggae, and melody. Fans who have strayed will enjoy this as much as their loyal ones who will have this on the day it comes out. I know I did. It’s a good sign when I can listen to a release straight through and not pass over any songs. –don (Side One Dummy)


MEXICAN CHEERLEADER:
Self-titled: CD
Loud, guitar-heavy rawk with lotsa heart, but something is getting lost in the translation for me. No offense is meant here, as there is nothing tangibly wrong, per se, with this release, but some bands come across better live and I think these guys are one of those bands. –jimmy (Government Music)


MAN WILL DESTROY HIMSELF:
Consume…Be Silent…Die: CD
Figured from the packaging that I would get a good dose of politically charged hardcore when I picked this up. I got shitty metal instead. Ahh, well, whattayagonnadoo? –jimmy (www.mwdh.net)


MAKERS, THE:
Strangest Parade: CD
The Doors presented the world with their Strange Parade, a cheap poet's pastiche of psychedelic space junk, swirling organ-filled, emotion-tugging melodies and lines upon lines of a soon-to-be-dead man's brain fart stanzas. Meanwhile, into our latter days of numbskull nostalgia-mania, The Makers march forth on their very own Strangest Parade with a surprisingly charming outcome. Hey rocker boy, look around you; the world is swimming with shags and feathers, bell bottoms, hip-hugger, Euro-trash, glam, light imported beer revivalism. The more intelligent of the species will look back upon our times and proclaim only two great and redeeming qualities: The Makers and the way those pants make anybody's ass look J.Lo-cious. While every other band's homage to this particular time frame of music history looms somewhere over deadpan plagiarism of the MC5 and the oft hilarious, self mockery-inducing antics of trying to out-stooge The Stooges (nobody can ever be the Stooges – end of story!), The Makers style themselves after a more genteel mood and a general feeling of "groovy" (if your idea of groovy is dead hippies strewn across the highway... insert your own Morrison-ism here). Why do fat men grow beards? Why do the Makers live in the past? Why? Because both parties can do it so well. Michael Shelley is a majorette of mayhem along with his fellow neo-Romanticists cohorts who dash and sway into a thirteen song journey down the parade route of gypsies, dead rockers, suicidal thoughts, self-inflicted wounds of desire and other such Byronic themes interspersed with a heavy dose of punk rock's untamed spirit. Ah, to be young and dream forever in a day... –nam (Sub Pop)


LOS OLVIDADOS:
Listen to This!!!: CD
Listen to This!!! is on par with the release of the Cheifs' Hollywest Crisis several years back. Los Olvidados were an insanely talented, visceral and dead-on spastic Sacramento band that was – shamefully – all but forgotten except by old fans, bands that played with them (like Black Flag), record collectors, and folks who remember their track on All's Quiet on the Western Front. Like the Cheifs, at the band's creative peak, they never released an LP, just a smattering of comp tracks. (And this becomes curiouser, due to the fact that all of these songs were recorded in solely two different studios from '81-'83. It's never explained why there's been a two decade lapse in putting these thirteen songs together in one bunch.) Make no mistake, this isn't just a worn out ticket to establish you, or them, some cred. The music's amazing. It's diverse and tries many tacks, but never looses intensity and power. It's a charging prototype that melds the eastern punk fuck and sleaze of the Dead Boys and Heartbreakers (especially in the vocals and guitar) transitioning against early Bad Religion and JFA (especially in the bass and drums). They don't avoid fast bits but they don't live and die by 'em, either, which gives them more depth. I'll be the last to say there's nothing good coming out today, but sometimes it's nice to look back and realize, woah, fuck, that's some excellent shit from the early '80s that still stands tall today. Complaints? Yeah, with the booklet, put in the lyrics, list the comps they were on (like the Thrasher SkateRock, vols. 1 and 2, and that's the top of my head), and it'd also be nice to know what connection they have to skating, since it's labeled as Skate Punk, Volume Two. From what I can get, they seem like punks who were skate-friendly, not pro skaters, like The Faction, who started a punk band. –todd (Alternative Tentacles)


LOGAN’S LOSS:
Riot Like: CD
I have never been to a Warped Tour, but I can picture the third stage at 10:30 am with this band trying their mightiest to attract the attention of the sparse crowd. Formula. They play within the numbers. –don (Sinister Label)


LOBOS, LOS:
Good Morning Aztlán: CD
You know, I often find myself in arguments with people as to whether Los Lobos could be considered a punk rock band. Sure, it’s no secret how they went from being a wedding band playing assorted sones and "Sabor a Mi" a gazillion times to sharing bills in Hollywood with the likes of the Blasters and Black Flag, but does that make them “punk”? Well, when the conversation rolls around (and, me being me, it inevitably does), this is what I say: Punk to me has always been about taking from “the rules” what you can and tossing the rest out with the garbage. Put more in a musical sense, either come up with something all your own, or rape and pillage what already exists and mix and match until you find a way to make it all your own, and never compromise quality for the sake of popularity. All of the “big names” in punk rock, from Dead Kennedys to Suicide to Black Flag to the Ramones to the Germs are perfect examples of that mentality. And so are Los Lobos. From their beginnings, Los Lobos have done exactly what they wanted, no matter the trend, no matter what style was “in” at any given moment. They have dipped into damn near every musical genre available to them, from son huasteco to cumbia to psychedelia, to soul to zydeco to punk to rockabilly to jazz, to hard rock to blues to norteño to art damage, becoming both an ethnomusicologist’s wet dream and worst nightmare. They are the living embodiment of the term “American music.” They have had a noble career that has spanned nearly thirty years, have released a body of work that exceeds in quality the works of all of rock’s luminaries and they’ve defiantly done it all on their own terms. They even throw their fans a curve now and then, as some will no doubt perceive this album. After years of melding and blending often disparate styles together, Los Lobos takes another look back at their roots (the last time being the phenomenal La Pistola y el Corazón [The Pistol and the Heart]) and give us twelve tracks of groove music steeped in soul, R&B, rock, and maybe a touch of cumbia to keep the boys in the ’hood happy. In most cases, a look back would be considered a regression, but with Los Lobos, it means an opportunity to plunder and revel once again in what was put away for a while, like favorite old toys picked up and put to new uses. Once again, they are dead-on in their explorations and while the initial reaction from the listener might be a resounding “huh?” after years of pushing the musical envelope, the party vibe will open ’em up and the strong, sometimes unorthodox hooks and great lyrics will keep ’em coming back for more. Good Morning Aztlán is a fine addition to an already mind-bogglingly good discography and proof positive that Los Lobos continue to follow their own path and create a few new niches along the way. In my book, you can’t get any more punk than that. –jimmy (Mammoth)


LIARS:
They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top: CD
I'm going to start a cult for this band. When this CD made its way through the hands of various Indiana kids, we knew we had something hot in our hands. The show was booked, the show happened, the show destroyed, and we were all left tossing and turning in our beds, dancing in our sleep to Liars songs. Throw everything you knew about by Gang of Four, Wire, etc. out the door. Who needs them? Who needs obvious politics? We want the Liars. We want to dance and a destructive party-atmosphere. Its opens with the hip-thrusting "Grown Men Don't Fall in the River, Just Like That," where they claim to "have their fingers on the pulse of America." Perfectly placed hand claps are coupled with the stunning vocals, talky and loud, crooned and screamy by way of the too tall (but in the best way possible) Angus. His extra cute vocals, backed by the rest of the extra cute boys, make the girls swoon with his Australian accent. The boys swoon too. They just won't admit it. One will not be ashamed to sing the lyrics to the now infamous (in our city) "Loose Nuts on the Veladrome" with its heart-stopping bass lines, pogo-inspiring drums, and totally chaotic monster of guitars, screams, and madness. You don't care what they say, as long as the words you make up sound good. Now you get a beer. My favorite two tracks have got to be "Tumbling Walls Buried Me in the Debris With ESG" and "We live NE of Compton." Two drastically different songs – the first being a bit more relaxed, the latter not so much. "ESG," is perfect daytime driving music, intimate too. It leads you with witty and tight-as-fuck drums (yes, drums can be witty, damn it) thanks to Ron (ex-Mercy Rule), and a funk-hay bass line by Pat (ex-Opium Taylor, Midwest yah!). The lyrics, "Leave your work at home, put down your briefcase," will brainwash you enough to do just that. See, it is like a cult! "We LiveNE of Compton," is what disco should have been. If Aaron's guitar doesn't cut you like a knife, the bass will make you dance like Lisa Simpson's tap-dancing shoes. We end with "This Dust Makes That Mud," an epic masterpiece of zombification rock. This is the Liars own "Didn't We Deserve a Look at You the Way You Really Are" (by Shellac). You have to listen to the whole damn thing, or you just won't get the whole experience. In the end it all makes sense. Not only do the Liars and the Locust write the best song titles on earth, the Liars are the epitome of everything you want –Guest Contributor (Gern Blandsten)


LAMA:
Self-titled: CD
I’m guessing this a discography of sorts for this legendary Finland band that I only heard of from my brother’s record collection. Like many bands that have grown in popularity after they had broken up, Lama influenced generations of punks down the road. They were together from 1979 and disbanded at the end of 1982. Hearing bands like Lama from that time period, I get excited like I’m hearing punk from other countries for the first time. Not fast, but blistering and raw in its own right. I have no idea what the lyrical content is because they are sung in Finnish. The music is early ‘80s punk that had that unique Finnish sound. To give reference, I hear a mixture of the Germs mixed with early UK punk like the UK Subs and how it got translated in Finland. I'm sure glad that this graced the palms of my hand. With collector prices these days, it would cost a fortune to compile these songs from the original releases. –don (Stupido Twins)


KNOCKOUT PILLS:
Demo: CD
The Knockout Pills are comprised of former or current members of the Weird Lovemakers and Los Federales. They’re every bit as energetic and fun as the Weird Lovemakers or Los Federales (or any of those great Tucson bands like the Fells or the Okmoniks), but the Knockout Pills also have a dose of clean rock’n’roll that sets them apart. There’s four songs on this demo. All total, it’s about eight minutes long, and, as far as I’m concerned, that’s about an hour too short. Damn, I hope they record a full-length and someone puts it out. They’re fucking awesome live, too. –sean (Knockout Pills)


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·STITCHES, THE
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·BURNING HEADS
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·SPEAKERFIRE


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