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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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ADICTS, THE:
Fifth Overture: CD
Egads! A re-issue of the Adicts fifth album, and it appears that the ‘80s hit the boys mighty hard. Synths, that '80s pop band mix, a decidedly tamer sound…. this is pretty scary. As a pop record, it ain’t too shabby, but as a punk-related release, this is pretty danged bad. Jeez, I had no memory of this sounding this tame. –jimmy (Captain Oi)


ADICTS, THE:
Sound of Music: CD
A re-release of this punk rock institution’s second album. Expanding the sound a little, yet continuing down the path begun on their first album, Songs of Praise, Sound of Music is a fine slab of English punk rock, replete with Clockwork Orange imagery, a healthy dose of humor, and some damn fine songwriting. Many of the tracks here are now considered classics, including “Chinese Takeaway,” “Joker in the Pack,” “My Baby Got Run Over By a Steamroller,” and “Shake Rattle Bang Your Head.” Also included are some B-sides, including their take on the Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Sedated.” –jimmy (Captain Oi)


ADICTS, THE:
Smart Alex: CD
Album number three for these boys gets re-released with extra tracks, lyrics and liner notes that, among other things, explain why they changed their named to ADX for a short period in the 1980s. The formula remains the same as their previous releases: take punk rock and bash it over the head with pop sensibility and a sense of humor. Standout tracks include the title tracks, “Crazy,” “Bad Boy,” “Tokyo,” “Rockin’ Wrecker” and “The Odd Couple.” Be sure to thank Captain Oi for providing another gem from the old days on which to plunk your green. –jimmy (Captain Oi)


ABNORMI:
Normien Vastainen: CD
This punk outfit from Finland reminded me of two bands right off the top of my head: Disorder and Chaos UK. It's something about the din of noise they produce which seems to be almost out of control but calculated that way. I don’t know if they follow the same values of "Noise, not music," but I would agree that some of those bands’ music might have crossed their path by virtue of some degree of separation, while taking from many early Finnish bands. Guitars are buzz-saw, the bass thuds along to the beat, while the drums bash at a spastic rate, and the vocals are droning and strained. I wouldn’t want to listen to this after a night of binge drinking. –don (Abnormi)


78 RPM:
Pulsator: CD
Kinda perplexing…. Here’s one o’ them bands playing up the “old school” thing, with ties, weird sunglasses, keyboards, and Paul Collins covers, but something’s definitely missing that I can’t quite put my finger on. Their songs are well crafted and their cover of “Walking Out on Love” is easily the highlight of this disc, but it’s just rubbing me the wrong way. Maybe it’s the lack of conviction in their delivery. Maybe it’s the overly clean sound. Maybe it’s because of the general air of professionalism so thick around this release. Either way, this just doesn’t quite cut the mustard for me. –jimmy (Shrunken Head)


4-SKINS:
The Good, the Bad, and the 4-Skins: CD
A re-release of the 4-Skins’ first album, all digipacked nice and purty with five bonus tracks and an “album sized” poster. While most of the songs on this never quite captured the volatility of their tracks on the first Oi! compilation, this was actually a fairly strong debut from one of Britain’s most reviled skin bands. Panther may not have been the most convincing singer in the world, but he did a decent job when he put his mind to it, and the lyrics are as far removed as possible from the “WE ARE SKINS! LET’S GET DRUNK! LET’S FIGHT! OI OI OI!” bullshit that seems to permeate that crap passing itself off as “street punk” these days. Quite a few “hits” can be found here, including “Jack the Lad,” “Plastic Gangsters,” “Low Life,” and “Yesterday’s Heroes,” as well as live versions of “ACAB,” “Chaos” and others. If you’re a longhair, I highly recommend picking this up and playing it around a bunch of baldies just to confuse the shit outta ’em. –jimmy (Captain Oi)


SAFES, THE:
Sight of All Light: CDEP
This is good power pop! The songs are highly original and punchy, with loud guitars and awesome vocals. The songs are original in a genre not known for originality, but stay anchored to the classic sound that they capture very well in five quick songs. This is worth finding. –Will Kwiatkowski (O’Brothers, no address)


RVIVR:
Life Moves: 7”EP
I’m not religious, but I believe there are forces greater than ourselves that we cannot control nor fully understand. Color me a dark shade of purpley bummed when the Shorebirds broke up. When I heard that member(s) of the Shorebirds went on to RVIVR, I sorta shrugged, still rooting for a past favorite instead of caring about their musical present. Well, turn that slouchy shrug into a touchdown stance. RVIVR flat-out rule, too, although it’s a different gig. Apparently, California’s EastBay has shifted up to Olympia, Washington. And what you get is ragged, scrappy, catchy, co-ed DIY punk that has more than a passing blush in the vocal department to Annie of This Is My Fist and Ambition Mission. Songs about fought-hard-for optimism, the sand-choking passage of time, and the ultimate question: What’s next? RVIVR brings it. –todd (Rumbletowne)


ROCKET REDUCERS:
Self-titled: LP
1-2-3-4 fuckin-A rock. Oh yeah. I like it. Power pop speed and feeling, but more rough around the vocals and the edges. They might play later in the party, after the band that coordinated their clothes, but before The Spits show up and break the windows. A good record overall, but noticed on the insert that side A was from August ‘08 while side B was recorded a year before that. Might be why side A rips twice as much? I’d hate to think they practiced. –mike (myspace.com/rocketreducers)


ROCK’N’ROLL MONKEY AND THE ROBOTS:
Back to Beatsville: CD
A bit more garagy than I remember their last, Detroit Trauma, being. The sonic edges have been sanded down and the Cramps influence is pumped up, but they have the good sense to pepper the proceedings with enough arty weirdness to keep this from being another faceless fish in a polluted pond. I do miss the abrasiveness of Trauma’s “chopgratewhipgrind,” but this could be much, much worse. –jimmy (www.rocknrollmonkey.com)


RISE UP HOWLIN’ WEREWOLF:
Escape for Kool-Aid Island: LP
Different wiring. That’s what brings so many of us together. And those wiring harnesses aren’t simple. They aren’t even the same from person to person. Rise Up Howlin’ Werewolf play an honest form of sparse, roiling rock’n’roll that, if the world made any sort of sense to me, would be embraced far and wide. I hear deep, muddied water strains of the never-played-on-the-radio tracks of Southern rock bands from the ‘60s and ‘70s like The Allman Brothers, .wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynyrd_Skynyrd">Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Black Oak Arkansas performed without irony or puckered-lipped pretense; played with fire in the more modern Quadrajets, Wednesdays, Bob Log III, Pine Hill Haints, High Tension Wires tradition. More great stuff from Arkam. –todd (Arkam)


REVOLUTIONARY YOUTH:
Bleed/Decay: LP
Epically DIY and exquisitely packaged, Revolutionary Youth’s Bleed/Decay, released on Atlanta’s No Breaks Records, comes hand-numbered (short run of two hundred pressed) and hand-screened on the inside of an old, deconstructed record sleeve (in my case, an old Pretenders record). Pressed on grey-marble colored vinyl, it includes an insert on how to fix your bike yourself and tips on dumpster diving, as well as a lyric sheet that is sewn together. Taken all together, it is really remarkable how much heart was put into creating this thing. Musically, it is genuinely emotional, technical, beastly, gut-wrenching hardcore. Big, bombastic, epic thrashing prevails. Dual vocalists, one screeches and squeals, the other (and this is where it loses me) barks and growls, borrowing from the Cookie Monster school of vocals. Speaking for myself, it’s hard to take the Cookie Monster thing seriously. But, for those of you into that style of hardcore, you’ve struck gold with this record. –Jeff (No Breaks)


REVENGINE:
Promo CD II: CD-R
Boy, I’m so lucky! I get to review their second promo! If the first one wasn’t bad enough that I had to hear their take on commercial hard rock like the Disturbed, I get to hear it again. More power to these dudes from Finland. If you send another one, please put on the envelope “Please do not give to Donofthedead.” –don (Revengine)


RED PHONE DISPATCH:
Safety In Numbers: CD
I picked this up after I booked a show for these guys in New York City. In promoting the show, I described them as “like if Screeching Weasel was fronted by a used car salesman, and fun,” and I don’t think I can come up with anything better than that. After a self-released EP, this is a full album’s worth of pop punk, with light-hearted songs that have vocals that come at you a mile a minute. If you’re into pop punk, you should check these guys out. –joe (Rally)


REBEL DEAD, THE:
Self-titled: CD
There’s this dude named Wolf (Just “Wolf.”—it says so on his work shirt) that comes into the record store that I work at every week. He’s a blue collar dude who loves working-class punk rock and he’s always asking me to order CDs by obscure Australian bands in that genre. This CD is right up his alley. It’s too bad it’s not up mine, because these guys write catchy enough songs and seem like they believe in what they’re doing. It’s just not for me. –Ryan Horky (Motherbox, myspace.com/motherboxrecords)


RANDOM CONFLICT:
Invisible City: CD
Exploited-influenced oom-pah-oom-pah punk from a band that has been around a while, if memory serves, and this isn’t another case of thirty bands with the same name. That said, few things warm the heart more than a circle A in the band’s name on the front of the disc and a copyright on the back. Almost as good as wearing a “Meat Is Murder” shirt while lunching at McDonalds. –jimmy (www.randomconflict.com)


RADIO FACES, THE:
Party at the Bushwick Hotel: LP
Occasionally clever and catchy, but not essential as the bands from which they came, listening to The Radio Faces is an inconsistent affair. It alternates between “this is really great” from “get on with it,” from second to second. It’s sorta like wrestling a bear with a live fish in your back pocket. If all you had to do was wrestle the bear without distraction, you could single focus on that bear. (And probably get your ass handed to you, even if it was a cub, but you could get some licks in before the bear mauled you.) Yet with that fish in your back pocket, distracting you with a paroxysm of wiggles against a part of your body that isn’t used to such wigglin’, how in the fuck can you grapple with that bear undistractedly? You’d be lucky to get in any karate moves before dying. With The Radio Faces, replace the bear with classic rock’n’roll fronted by singer songwriterly men like Bruce Springsteen, Chuck Berry, and Tom Petty. Replace the fish with an ADD approach to music, where song-to-song (even within songs) seems to be flapping around too much for a cohesive album. But you don’t have to believe me or follow far-fetched analogies. If you’re fans of Nate (Modern Machines), Jamie (Bent Outta Shape), Mikey (Ergs!), and Skip (Ringers, I believe), and feel like giving The Radio Faces, give it a go. I won’t stop you. –todd (Art Of The Underground)


QUICK FIX:
Rat Race: 7”
Quick Fix have a traditional low-fi hardcore sound, and they do a great job within the somewhat limiting constraints of that genre. Good record. –The Lord Kveldulfr (No address listed)


QUATRE TETE:
Art of the State: CD
Arty, dissonant rock with lotsa odd stops to keep you on yer toes. Found the instrumental tracks the most effective, but, on the whole, this seemed to be lacking any sort of heft to go along with the precision and proficiency in evidence, resulting in a disc that was occasionally interesting but ultimately a bit of a letdown. –jimmy (Sick Room)


PUNK AS A DOORNAIL:
Flogging the Punk Horse: CD
Punk As A Doornail is an incredible, two-piece joke band from OrangeCounty that performs goofy, stupid, brilliant, crass, punk as hell gems like “Bloody Gumballs” and “Dead as a Sad Snail.” The guitarist supposedly plays a guitar converted from an old skateboard, which goes beyond funny and into the realm of honestly awesome. Most thirteen-year-olds in bands write more mature lyrics than these guys, but there’s nothing more enduring than aging rockers singing about giving mothers a break on Mother’s Day by not raping or punching them in the face. I’m in love with this timeless folly. –Art Ettinger (Zodiac Killer)


PSYCHO NUBS:
Alley of the Ignots: CD
I love singers who sound like cartoon characters. All the songs on this disc seem like they are sung by some colorful Saturday morning mischief maker with whammy bars attached to his vocal cords. More importantly, the songs are catchy. When I listen to “Zombie Hill,” I can clearly picture an animated scene in which a punk rock band is running down the middle of a city street, their legs spinning wildly, getting nowhere while a mob of corpses with gnarled teeth chase them. Even after this image has passed, I’ve still got the song in my head. Listen to this and see what cartoons it makes in your brain! –mp (Self-released, www.myspace.com/thepsychonubs)


PSYCHED TO DIE:
Sterile Walls: 7”EP
Tootsie Pop hardcore with a chewy pop sensibility underneath the thick shell. Think along the lineage of Minor Threat to Kid Dynamite to Western Addiction. Featuring Mike Erg on drums, it, thankfully, doesn’t sound like a band dalliance into hardcore (“Next week, funk!”), but a genuine article. Desperate, tightly wound, anxious-sounding stuff that veers away from simple monkey beats or a blur to cover up any shortcomings. Thumbs up. –todd (Grave Mistake / Firestarter)


PROPAGANDHI:
Supporting Caste: CD
I honestly thought I was done with Propagandhi after 2005’s Potemkin City Limits. They just seemed to be going through the motions on that one. Less anger and more pleading didn’t look good on them, and I never listened to the record again. I almost didn’t listen to this one either, but I would have been kicking myself in the nuts for that one (is that even possible?). Supporting Caste is the best thing the band has put out since Less Talk More Rock. First off, it’s heavy, and I mean fuckin’ heavy! Becoming a four piece really adds a new dimension to the sound. It bugs your eyes right out of your head. The lyrical content is, as always, anti- bigotry, homophobia, corporation, and carnivore (but pro cannibal!). They’re even pissed off again! Anarchy never sounded so good! –ty (G7 Welcoming Committee)


PREGNANT:
Wanna See My Gun?: 7” EP
Despite the press material’s ridiculously hyperbolic claims that these kids are the new millennium’s answer to Black Flag, the Melvins, Flipper, Gang of Four, and “Void on Quaaludes,” they’re not-as-noisy-as-all-that rock nevertheless has enough oddness pumped into it to make it interesting at worst, catchy and pleasantly Stooges-inflected at best. Also says they’re working on a full-length, and if they pump that up with a bit more righteous fury, they might have something truly of note on their hands. –jimmy (Don Giovanni)


POLICE & THIEVES:
Amor y Guerra: CD
Some D.C. residents vibe heavy on their Revolution Summer predecessors, right down to the Ian-esque vocals. Though not as sonically diverse as some of those mid-‘80s bands could be, the results here could easily be put in that space between, say, Second Wind and Embrace and no one would cry foul. –jimmy (Youngblood)


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