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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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VÖETSEK:
Infernal Command: LP
Tight as fuck speed metal/hardcore crossover-type stuff from a band featuring Athena Dread on bass. They don’t whip up the maelstrom that Slayer can on a good day, but they definitely can hold their own with most treading on this path. The lyrics are a nice balance between the angry and silly, and they get bonus kudos for snatching the title of “oddest cover of ‘Strange Fruit’” away from the previous titleholders, Cocteau Twins. –jimmy (Tankcrimes)


VIRGINS, THE:
Miscarriage: CD
This band has Sam Johnson formerly of New Mexican Disaster Squad. This band, not too shockingly, sounds almost exactly like NMDS with dirtier production. The best way to describe the Virgins is modern hardcore that takes its cues more from bands like early 7 Seconds and Dag Nasty than the more metal-influenced path a lot of contemporary hardcore bands follow. I really liked NMDS and this is okay, but I wanted to like this more. There’s a lack of urgency that drags things down too often. The songs are a little too straight-forward to maintain a high level of excitement at the mid-tempo pace most of them are played. Also, the production is too boomy on the drums or something and it dulls the impact on a lot of the songs. That said, there is a lot of promise here, especially on songs like “Guitarmageddon” and “War Choppers.” If the Virgin’s hone their edge a little more sharply on the next go around, they can drop a pretty potent dose of classically inspired hardcore punk rock that could sit up there with Kid Dynamite and Strike Anywhere’s finer moments. –Adrian (Kiss Of Death)


VILLAGE IDIOT, THE:
Prima Materia: LP
Not to be outdone by the Filipino hip hop I heard a couple of issues ago, Denmark has unleashed this gloomy country-influenced acoustic scorcher. Can’t say I was all that impressed, but I think I’m inching closer into the dreaded land of Now I’ve Truly Heard Everything. –jimmy (www.myspace.com/rabalderrecords)


VEE DEE:
Public Mental Health System: CD
Another band who takes from the sound of the Stooges and Radio Birdman. Proto-punk with some psych influences. This has its moments, but, on the whole, it gets pretty indulgent and goes on way too long for its own good. Nor do they do anything to separate themselves from all the other bands playing with the same sound. –Matt Average (Criminal IQ, www.criminaliq.com)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Toronto’s Burning: LP
As both snapshots in time and documenting a particular period, Toronto’s Burning is the perfect follow-up to the previously released Toronto City Omnibus that the same label put out a few years ago. It’s a grouping of current bands from Toronto, Canada, that are not Fucked Up or Career Suicide. Included are a wide variety of punk and metal influenced bands. Black Spokes start things off with a real bang with their angry-edged punk. Madmen give one track of tribal-like drumming and a dirge of dirty noise that sounds circa ‘79. Living Darkness pull out the Kylesa meets D-Beat card that darkens the mood for their time slot. U.T.I. have a vocalist that shrills so high that it seems it can break glass. The band backs it up with some rawly recorded mid-tempo to fast punk. Urban Blight ends things by blasting through two short and fast numbers that felt like two quick kicks in the nads. The Reprobates start off the flipside with their personal flavor of raw-sounding punk that sounds like it easily could have been on Mystic Records. The Dangerloves slow and soften the moment with some female-led indie pop. Rammer—some on the East Coast might remember as the backing band for Toxic Holocaust for one tour—bring back the energy with some fuckin’ metal. Hazardous Waste, who I thought would be thrash metal, surprises me with their Career Suicide-like punk. School Jerks finished off the whole shebang sounding to me like Nervous Breakdown-era Black Flag. –don (Schizophrenic)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Sverige Mangel: CD
Big noisy comp of big noisy anarcho-punk bands, including Rosvett, Human Waste, M:40, Edd Sista Andetag, Von Bööm, and Not Enough Hate, to name a few—most of which appear to hail from Sweden. Most of the tunes veer towards the crusty end of the hardcore spectrum, and the bulk of ‘em are worth the price of admission if this kinda stuff is your bag. –jimmy (www.myspace.com/anarkopunxrec)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
No Lip Volume 2: CD
There is something telling about this comp in that, on the back, the label wishes the bands “the best of luck and financial success.” It doesn’t come across as if they are very invested in the bands, does it? No commitment to the music implied. Maybe they were not looking for anything long term. Maybe it’s just me, but I find it suspect to wish bands on a “punk” compilation “financial success.” This collection of songs is entertaining in that it is a smorgasbord of what I hate about what is happening to music. The date on the comp is 2009, but this CD sounds like a collection of songs from a music industry convention sampler during “the year that punk broke.” The dominant styles range from overproduced pop punk with no soul to updated emo garbage and hard rock power chord bands that feel compelled to incorporate a pop riff in order to “expand their sound.” It is impossible to remember anything from the top of the list when you reach the bottom. The whole thing is bland. I am pretty cynical, but I still find it hard to listen to fourteen bands in a row without finding something redeeming about at least one of them. In that respect, it is a pretty amazing comp. –Billups Allen (Mohawk Bomb, mohawkbomb.com)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Haunted Town Records Sampler: CD
The heyday of the label sampler seems to be gone. I remember about ten years ago, it was the prime way to get some songs by a bunch of bands on the cheap, not to mention discover some new bands without having to commit to a full length (for the kids out there, this was before downloading on the net). Well it’s time to party like it’s 1997! There are some good bands on Haunted Town Records. Naked Raygun(!), Norman Bates & The Showerheads, Deadline, 7 Shot Screamers and more. Some punk rock, oi, rockabilly… Good times all around. –ty (Haunted Town)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
20th Anniversary Comp: LP
At the core of every scene is a tightly knit cluster of people whose dedication and love for music far surpasses any other motivation. Bill, Dr. Strange, is one of those folks. People not from the L.A. bombing area (the area that would be directly affected by a nuclear bomb blast), may think that there are hundreds and hundreds of dedicated punks in L.A. all working together for a united tomorrow (sorta sounds like a skinhead pamphlet), but it’s not. L.A. and the outlying areas are more like three hundred towns that have grown into one another and communication between all the different sorts of punks is scattered and imperfect. And don’t get me started on all the scumbags, rip-off artists, and bluster-filled short-timers who are bent on telling people how to act, and then disappear who have come through L.A. in the past twenty years. But amidst this long-raging storm, Bill has fairly, honestly, and even-handedly run an ethical world-class punk record distro., opened a record store in Alta Loma, and in 1989, started a record company that, to date, has close to 120 releases. I’m always happy to hear from folks living a little East of L.A., how much of a lifeline and an outpost Dr. Strange was for them in finding punk that wasn’t on a corporately sponsored tour or the punk de jour of the moment (ska, emo, mohawked butt hair with violins or whatever’s next). What’s really cool about this picture disk comp is that it reclaims a bit of the ground lost in the glut of label samplers over the past decade. Bill has always had a great ear and if you’re just getting into punk or are interested in more than just one tiny subgenre endlessly repackaged and re-released, this is a great capsule of music, featuring bands spanning Bill’s twenty years of direct involvement. High fives, Bill. Next tube of lube is on me, buddy. –todd (Dr. Strange)


VALINA:
A Tempo! A Tempo!: CD
Mathrock trio from Vienna here. They sort of remind me of June ‘44 with instrumentation that can be complicated and serene at the same time. The vocalist sings in a slight sea shanty style, with an upbeat tone and the rhythm and pacing of his delivery. “Dogged” is a standout track. A nice instrumental, this is a little dark and introspective with a saxophone periodically appearing to guide things along. They tend to lose steam on songs like “Per Sonare,” “Phantom of My Longest Day,” and on until they hit “Delivery Man (Duane! Duane!),” which is atmospheric and cold, while being a well-crafted pop song. –Matt Average (Joyful Noise)


VAGINASORE JR.:
This Here Peninsula: LP
This is the best record I have heard so far in 2009. Most bands are not able to make two good records in a row. With their latest recording, Vaginasore Jr. (VSJR) did just that. VSJR is a continuation of a lot of good indie rock and punk from the south, like Panthro UK United 13, Against Me!, and Superchunk. The songs take the things you’ve been frustrated with lately and set them into killer melodies that the listener can scream at an unsuspecting passerby. Some bands use this frustration as a formula, others spin it into gold. It’s always a good feeling to know that someone can still do it the way it’s supposed to be done. Best of all, the songs have incredible, melodic verses that take you deeper into the band. The song that stands out to me is track five, “The Pace and Stupidity of Survival.” The confidence and attitude are right on. It’s a three-minute song but it extends into your life for another three hours as it replays in your head and sing along, “All these self righteous motherfuckers are taking over the world / So heavenly minded, so full of their own self-worth / So judgmental in their bastard ideals / They’re no good here on earth.” This is the second time that Richie Lawler (singer) has gotten into my head. I spent the latter part of 2007 yelling a line from the last album (Strikes and Gutters) at people. And it takes me back to a time when the same thing happened with “Slack Motherfucker” by Superchunk in the ‘90s. Another standout song is “Nice Blinker Asshole.” The lyrics from this song come from the bumper stickers seen on a truck rolling by then stretches them out and pokes holes in them. “So opinionated at 60 miles an hour; sometimes you ask yourself ‘What the fuck would Jesus do?’ / ‘Heritage not Hate,’ that’s one hell of a stance / Dropped at 12 years old / home-schooled by the Klan.” There are pop gems on this record too, like “Drunk Therapist,” and “Livin Life,” a cover of a Daniel Johnston song. This is an unlikely cover song for a band that runs in the punk rock circles of Florida, but makes total sense when you hear it. One song, “The Disembodied Reflections of Lester Burnham” takes a speech from the movie American Beauty and sets it up in a song. The speech comes from the final minute of the movie where Kevin Spacey’s character gets shot and his life flashes before his eyes. The band captures it in a long-verse melody that does it justice. Inspiration is what good songs are made of and this song is inspired… period. These songs work on me the same way that the film American Beauty does. It takes a dull, familiar scene and turns it into brilliance. In the movie, they show a garage with a weight bench… or a plastic bag whipping in the wind (or Thora Birch’s massive rack) and turn your attention on them to give you a new way to see them. The supporting cast of the band brings these songs into three dimensions. The drums propel the songs and never let them slack. The lead guitar scribbles at will in a way that only Dave Decker (Watson) can. And the deep bass runs freely (Russ Van Cleave, The Tim Version). It’s like sacrilege, but I have to say it... I like VSJR better than DSJR. –Dave Rohm –Guest Contributor (ADD)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Fear Power God: CD
Long ago, punk rock was just as much about exchanging ideas as it was about getting drunk and singing about getting drunk. Oftentimes, these ideas came from places that weren’t popular, or danced around the extreme edges of countercultural thought, but the prevailing line of thought was that one was intelligent enough to make one’s own decisions on what one believed and what one thought was total bullshit—in effect, think for yourself—rather than pick a side and refuse to listen to, read, or intelligently assess anything that might upset one’s personal intellectual status quo. Originally released twenty-one years ago by Whipping Boy’s (now Oxbow’s) front man Eugene Robinson as an audio accompaniment to his Birth of Tragedy magazine, this compilation is a collection of mostly spoken word pieces from various corners of the underground circa-1988—Lydia Lunch, Allen Ginsberg, Anton LaVey, Charles Manson, Henry Rollins, Mr. V.O. Real, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Matt Heckert, and Whipping Boy—addressing the concepts behind the three words in the title. Some of the material is a bit dated, some is dubiously recorded at best, some of it reeks of pomposity, but all of it is worth at least a listen and will no doubt offend someone’s sensitivities in some way, just as it should. –jimmy (Blackhouse)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Dangerous Intersections: 7” EP
Four bands—Rational Anthem, Iron Chic, Amen And The Hell Yeahs, and Unwelcome Guests—deliver four tracks of poppy punk rock. –jimmy (Traffic Street)


VAGINASORE JR. :
This Here Peninsula: CD
I can’t decide if I’m just over this kind of music or if it’s just that this record isn’t so hot. It really does pain me to say that. Nothing but sweethearts involved with this record all the way down the line. There has been one constant in my musical taste throughout my life. I thrive on hooks. I need melody. I can get in to things like power violence or grind in short bursts, but to make it in to the repeat play file there has to be hooks. Not that this record is a grind record. It’s solidly Florida “beard” punk, even though I hate that term. I just know you’ll know what I mean if I say it. Anyway… hooks. This record doesn’t have them. It sort of plods along in that Tampa Tiltwheel-loving style but with a little less flare than I’m accustomed to from the guys in this band. I will say that they retain the title of “greatest ‘band name parody’ band name ever.” Sorry, guys. Maybe it’s this dreary SF bay area weather that’s not allowing me to tap in to that TampaBay style this time out. –Steveo (ADD)


UNWELCOME GUESTS:
The Painter: 7”
Catchy, poppy punk more along the lines of bands like the Replacements. Lyrics seem thought out, the songs have some good hooks, the band is on-point throughout, and the printing of the cover is top-notch, making for a release that bears the markings of folks who put some effort into this. –jimmy (Feral Kid)


UNWELCOME GUESTS / SAINT SWEETHEART:
Split: 7”
While I like that Unwelcome Guests get compared to two of my hometown’s bands (Hüsker Dü and The Replacements) and seem to make everyone miss the ‘80s, they aren’t really tied to that sound and are actually a different beast all together. A sort of amalgam of early or mid-Lookout! and the drama that I suppose we have “indie” to thank for. They are kinda rocking, as much as I think they’re wanting to at least, and I think worth keeping half an eye on. Sleeve-hearted lyrics, heavy doses of pop, mediumy vocals, and some decent hooks: they’ve put forth a solidly scratchy EP. Judging by their packed release history, they’re probably going to be doing a lot of that. Saint Sweetheart, if nothing else, deserves the name they’ve given themselves. Depending on your taste, their side of this split could be considered adorable or as listenable as nails on a chalkboard (maybe less, if you’re into that noise shit). These guys are obviously not ashamed to be overtly confessional in a post-confessional world, so I guess props for that. –Andrew Flanagan (Traffic Street)


UNITED MUTATION:
Fugitive Family/Rainbow Person: CD
2009 reissue from the archives of this underground DC label. Loud, abrasive, and in your face. The first EP goes full tilt, with “Passout” a particular highlight. “Fat Louie” and “Zone” from the second EP will give you the creeps in a totally cool way. ‘80s hardcore updated for the digital age. You need this. No excuses. –koepenick (DSI)


UNDERGROUND RAILROAD TO CANDYLAND:
Bird Roughs: Cassette
At the exact moment I was reviewing this record, my kid was actually playing Candyland in the next room! I swear this is fucking true! Okay, I’ve calmed down. Spry, lo-fi release from this San Pedro outfit that shows a lot of promise. ‘Livin’ in a Straw” is a cool song with some sweet fills. “Don’t Expect Me to Sleep” could be a theme song for any band out on the road for long stretches at a time. Maybe the band will allow me to upgrade to a CD at Insubordination Fest 2009. We shall see my friends, we shall see. –koepenick (People’s Republic)


TVEES, THE:
Self-titled: CD
The TVees are trying to recapture the sound of early 1960s garage rock. Most of the garage punk bands of today are influenced by those older sounds, but still show hints of influence from the punk rock that followed. Not so with The TVees, who convincingly sound like the soundtrack for an old exploitation film. While still firmly a gimmick band, this is a very rocking, very genuine release. It’s making me want to don funny pants and pretend like it is 1967. –Art Ettinger (Trendsetter)


TUBERS:
Shell Out: CD
I hear little touches of the Minutemen’s artier moments and maybe a breath of mid-‘60s psychedelia here and there, but the bulk of this is pandering in mid-‘80s DC emo dreckery. –jimmy (Bakery Outlet)


TRUNKS & TALES:
Tour: CDEP
I wish I could say I like this. I don’t like writing negative reviews, but this is another folk punk band wailing on about past relationships, faith, and solitude. The vocals aren’t strong enough or compelling and neither is the instrumentation. It’s overwritten poetry set to acoustic guitars. Steer clear. –Kristen K (Beard Party, www.myspace.com/trunkstales)


TRUNKS & TALES:
Tour: CDEP
I wish I could say I like this. I don’t like writing negative reviews, but this is another folk punk band wailing on about past relationships, faith, and solitude. The vocals aren’t strong enough or compelling and neither is the instrumentation. It’s overwritten poetry set to acoustic guitars. Steer clear. –Kristen K (Beard Party, www.myspace.com/trunkstales)


TONGUES:
Self-titled: LP
Former members of Joan Of Arc and a myriad of other notable bands (Apocalypse Hoboken, Mexican Cheerleader) that make up Tongues should know better. Obnoxious vocal affectations, mimicking such over-the-top front man windbags like Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam) and Layne Staley (Alice In Chains) really push this over the top into unlistenable territory. The hollow drumming and grunge meets Sunset Strip metal don’t help things out any, either. –Jeff (Self-released)


TO WHAT END? / WITCH HUNT:
Split : 7”
This hard-hitting 7” combines the musings of crust groups To What End? from Sweden and Witch Hunt from Philadelphia. These bands both unleash their mayhem with a tag-team mantra that highlights their female/male dynamic lineups with both sexes offering biting vocal exchanges. In Witch Hunt’s “Punk by Numbers,” guitarist Nicole takes the verses while guitarist Rob belts out the choruses and Janine supplies backup. Gotta love bands that play as bands. Witch Hunt’s cover of Rudimentary Peni’s “Cosmetic Plague” makes for a pleasant ending track to their side of the split. To What End? brews up metallic riffs in a stew of social/political lyrics. Words to their song “Common Reject” read like direct affront against our war with Iraq: “A bullet with a chaser, so easily embraced. When served without fine points.” This fine example of Swedish hardcore makes this split worth getting. –N.L. Dewart –Guest Contributor (Witch Hunt, Final Attempt, Fight for Your Mind)


TROPIEZO:
Humor Negro: CD
The cover says this is not a discography, but nonetheless it is packed with seventy-two tracks of full-throttle, off-kilter thrash from one of the best hardcore bands to come out of anywhere in the past two decades, if not ever. This is one of those must-haves that make yer jaw drop from the first track and have your friends wondering aloud how it’s humanly possible a band can change gears mid-song on a dime like that. Buy this now or pay hundreds for it later, kids, ’cause it’s that fuggin’ good. –jimmy (www.discosdehoy.com)


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