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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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LOVED ONES, THE:
Distracted: CDEP
I was pretty into this band around the time of their first EP, but stopped following them shortly after their first full length, for no reason in particular. I’d heard they’d taken on a really huge Bruce Springsteen influence since then (which seems like it’s a popular thing to do now), but it’s a lot more subtle than I was expecting, though maybe it’s just this EP. I’m actually a little curious what younger kids have to think. I know, as a younger teenager, with my first exposure to punk rock, I gravitated towards a lot of loud/fast/profane Epi-Fat bands, and is this the kind of thing that kid would like? I think they could still get into it. –joe (Fat Wreck)


LOST BOYS:
Self-titled: 7”
There’s a drawing of this dude on the cover who is running while clutching records from the ‘80s (Angry Samoans’ Back…, The Freeze’s Land…, for example) tightly against his chest. The dude’s got a panicked-as-fuck look on his face. As he looks back, the city is under attack behind him. I’ve never been in such a situation, but I still feel like I can empathize. The music ain’t bad, either. This French band comes through with four tracks of ‘80s American hardcore (think more in the vein of the above-mentioned) with a melodic touch. It’s nothing you haven’t heard before, but it’s not anything you wouldn’t want to hear again. –Vincent Battilana (Trabuc)


LONERS, THE:
Revolution!: LP
This is some energetic blues rock. It sounds like The Mooney Suzuki trying to be the next Black Keys. It’s fun if you’re into up-tempo bluesy rock. “Breakdown Blues” has got a fun vocal hook and the riffs resonate with what you’d expect from typical music in this genre. It’s good but not something that’s got me repeating listens. –N.L. Dewart –Guest Contributor (Churchkey, www.churchkeyrecords.com)


LKN:
Phratry: CDEP
Blustery modern alt-rock stuff from a band wholly consisting of one Lauren K. Newman. According to the notes, all but two of the eight songs here were made up on the spot while tracking, which, apparently, in this case, was an experiment that worked better during conceptualization than execution. –jimmy (www.phratry.com)


LIVING WITH LIONS:
Dude Manor: CDEP
After thirty seconds of listening, I was sure I was going to hate this. I immediately leaned toward a whole slew of mall punk, white-belted comparisons, but I’m glad I didn’t jump the gun. Living With Lions have a lot more in common with Hey Mercedes and Moneen than they do that phony baloney haircut stuff. Take the quirky melodies of those two bands and add some early Saves the Day-esque fast parts and breakdowns and you’d be pretty close. It’s obvious that these guys are no strangers to the late ‘90s/early 2000s emo school, but they put a refreshingly upbeat spin on things. I’m actually way into this. –Dave Williams (Black Box)


LITTLE LUNGS:
Hoist Me Up!: 7”
New York/New Jersey three-piece with shared female vocals (occasionally sung together, which is my favorite. They’ll likely disagree with me, because they seem like they’re probably tough chicks, but it sounds kind of like a cheer and I think that’s really neat). There are echoes of ‘90s college rock acts like Archers Of Loaf and Superchunk, with touches of modern basement punk. Brilliantly catchy, instantly loveable. Effortless strumming, personal and soulful lyrics, and somewhat off-kilter but heartfelt vocals always hit their mark. Would likely pair well with fellow lady-fronted New York popsters, the Besties. This comes highly recommended. –Jeff (Salinas)


LIGHTS OUT!:
Destroy/Create: CD
While this isn’t the second the coming of Black Flag like the press sheet stuff implies, it does sound a lot like Ron Reyes fronting a really hyper German garage band (especially because of that weird ‘60s overdriven-but-not-really-distorted guitar tone). This is pretty damn good actually, and everything on here is really short and sweet. I also like the singer’s slurred yet somehow over-enunciated bark and the extremely sweet-sounding bass. The more I sit with this, the more I like it. I think people with short attention spans everywhere would really like this band. –Adrian (Dead Beat)


LIBYANS:
Crash Course: 7”
I do really like the Libyans and think that Welcome to the Neighborhood is an excellent EP. They occupied the musical land between Dangerhouse (the label, not Dangerfield, the dude) and Charles Bronson (the band, not the dude), eliciting great ’77 punk chops while adding a definite power and violent crunch to their music’s bloodstream. The title track to this single, I wish I could play it at 48 or 49 instead of 45 as an experiment because it sounds more lurching, plodding, and restrained than running, leaping, and capturing. There are even a couple times when the song just sounds off. The b-side, at one-third the length of the title track, speeds the affair back up, but doesn’t quite capture the previous magic. And I want it to, so badly. –todd (Headcount / Too Circle / Shock To The System, thelibyans@gmail.com)


LHS:
Fiji: LP
LHS is Libyan Hit Squad, and they’re from Orlando. Seeing that Josh Dobbs from the Runnamucks helped produce this and everything, I was expecting something pretty good. Instead, what we have here is a record that sounds aimless and all over the place. No bite, no punch, nothing. Sounds more like an opening band that plays and plays and plays, despite killing any energy in the room. I guess this is the sort of band that you could call “party punk” or something, given their light and free approach. But where’s the fun, or even the interesting time when the product is so pointless? –Matt Average (Ripping, myspace.com/rippingrecords)


LE VOLUME ETAIT AU MAXIMUM:
Les Vacances: CD
Here is some ultra sugary power pop from Quebec sung mostly in French. You know what? I really love it. I know many in the scene may be shocked and controversy will surely ensue. I can hear it now: “But, Adrian, you can’t even mosh to this! Where’s your hardcore pride?! NYHC!” I’ll have to dismiss these detractors, because sometimes even the most brutal of the brutal (like me) need something lighter and infectiously sunshiny in their life. Le Volume definitely plays their pop from the really big end of the spectrum. Think some huge-sounding classics like Cheap Trick’s “Dream Police,” the Car’s “Magic,” and nearly anything off the Ramones’ End of the Century. In fact, I’m pretty sure that the song “Amanda” is completely ripping off Pete Townsend’s riff from “Let My Love Open the Door,” but Le Volume use it well, so I’m fine with the plagiarizing. All the big synthesizers, layered vocals, and giant-sounding guitars and drums are what I imagine the French-Canadian Brian Wilson would have sounded like had he hung with the Ramones and Ric Ocasek. I also imagine he would have worn a sweater since he was French-Canadian. I think this is the most flat-out fun-sounding record I’ve heard in a while. It gets my highest recommendation. Hell, there are even two songs on here under thirty seconds, so all my hardcore bros should like this (one’s called “Rollercoasting.” Rollercoasters are pretty NYHC!). –Adrian (PAF! Disques)


LANTERNS, THE:
Postcard Picture: CDEP
Not quite pop punk nor power pop, but it is definitely lady fronted. For some reason, I want to say there’s a noticeable Cheap Trick influence to them. The only complaint I have is that it felt like some of the songs ran too long, when it seemed like they could’ve been broken into two songs, but, other than that, it’s not bad. –joe (Cheapskate)


LANDLORD:
Lifers: LP
Lazy basement punk from this Bloomington, IN, three-piece, which features members of Defiance, Ohio. Fourteen tracks on this album, released on the Pink Razors’ Houseplant Records. Sounds like a party where you stand on the front porch, sharing drinks and stories with old friends while your favorite band plays inside the house. Cult of Mascis slackerdom infests the guitars and the vocals meet Toys That Kill head-on in a pop-smothered jam. –Jeff (Houseplant)


LANDLORD:
A Box Uh Rocks: Cassette
This originally felt like a lot to digest: twenty-four tracks of music comprised of two full-length albums (Lifers and No Matter Where You Live) on one cassette. Yet, the more I listened to it, the shorter it got; to the point that what once felt overwhelming now feels just right. This is some seriously great punk music with heavy pop elements. It’s got great trembly vocals that pierce through the surrounding music to deliver some captivating lyrics. Without a lyric sheet, I’m left to pick up random lines as I go, which, in a way, accentuates the songs. They become a great phrase wrapped in sonic beauty and lyrical mystery. This music makes me want to be at a crowded house show, where everything is too hot save the beer in my hand, restlessly waiting for my chance to scream along, “I’m not a callous man, I just have shallow tastes.” –Rene Navarro (The People’s Republic Of Rock And Roll)


KVAERN:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Was a little wary of this after listening to some of the other stuff on this label, but this is a nice bit of raunchy-sounding Danish punk rock. –jimmy (www.myspace.com/rabalderrecords)


KUNG FU KILLERS:
1 through 5 of 5 Singles!: 7”
Ten tracks of punk rock with varying tempos spread over five singles. The music ain’t all that bad and it’s snotty enough that it’s clear they don’t take themselves too seriously; no surprise considering the folks allegedly responsible for this mystery band. The artwork is top-notch, with each cover connecting to the next to make a larger picture. Limited to 300, too. –jimmy (Zodiac Killer)


KRUPSKAYA / BLACK SISTER:
Thrash Until You Puke: 7” EP
Krupskaya: They’ve got that classic ‘80s speed metal sound with singer who opts for fetus scream instead of Cookie Monster growl. Black Sister: Ditto for these guys, though they put more metal and less noise into what they’re puttin’ down. –jimmy (www.myspace.com/problemrecordsuk)


KOROVA:
Another Happy Customer: CD
Remember thinkin’ the 45 they put out was a nice bit of hardcore in its “we recorded this in the living room” glory, and that assessment would fit nicely here as well. The songs are infused with a bit more Black Flag thud than few others seem to bother with, giving the loose delivery here a bit more heft, and what I can make of the lyrics, they don’t seem overly dopey, which is a blessing unto itself. –jimmy (Korova)


KNUCKLEHEAD / HOSTAGE LIFE:
Split: 7”
The first song, “Hearts on Fire,” by Knucklehead starts straight into a sing along in the vein of Social Distortion and Rancid. It deals with the political situation in Burma, is pretty catchy, and definitely carries a solid beat. The second song, “Sense and Politics” is about politics, and makes no sense. “I don’t know what the issue is, there ain’t no sense in politics.” When you don’t know about something, it makes no sense. I’m enlightened. Hostage Life first presents us with “ratlines,” which is very reminiscent of pre-Al Barr Dropkick Murphys. It had me all pumped up, which cause me to read ahead through the lyrics of “Young Aryans,” a track about vanity and plastic surgery. Major letdown. A cheesy pop punk song. If there is a unifying trait on this 7” it’s that the first track on both sides is solid, but both of the second tracks lack substance. –Rene Navarro (Longshot)


KNUCKLEHEAD / HOSTAGE LIFE:
Split: 7”
The first song, “Hearts on Fire,” by Knucklehead starts straight into a sing along in the vein of Social Distortion and Rancid. It deals with the political situation in Burma, is pretty catchy, and definitely carries a solid beat. The second song, “Sense and Politics” is about politics, and makes no sense. “I don’t know what the issue is, there ain’t no sense in politics.” When you don’t know about something, it makes no sense. I’m enlightened. Hostage Life first presents us with “ratlines,” which is very reminiscent of pre-Al Barr Dropkick Murphys. It had me all pumped up, which cause me to read ahead through the lyrics of “Young Aryans,” a track about vanity and plastic surgery. Major letdown. A cheesy pop punk song. If there is a unifying trait on this 7” it’s that the first track on both sides is solid, but both of the second tracks lack substance. –Rene Navarro (Longshot)


KNIFE THE SYMPHONY:
Crawler: CD
Guessed by the centipede on the cover this was gonna be some sorta noise rock dealie, but crapped out with emo instead. My inner optimist in me is sayin’, “Well, at least the singer’s mostly screamin,” while my inner pessimist is bellowing “Ya fuckin’ ninny!” at me. –jimmy (www.phratryrecords.com)


KIM PHUC :
Wormwood Star: 7”
An interesting mix of arty sludge and thuddy punk delivered with a nice ladling of attitude. Trying to find a comparison, and one’s right on the tip of my brain, but I can’t quite pull it from the depths, which I guess is a good enough way of sayin’ what these guys are peddlin’ ain’t as easily pigeonholed as others. –jimmy (Criminal IQ)


JUVENTUD CRASA:
Amor en el Zafancón: CD
Another disc of punk rock rife with that classic Latin American punk sound: a little hardcore, a little U.K. punk. Spanish lyrics. The songs are catchy and anthemic, with the closer, “No Funciona,” standing out as the strongest track. –jimmy (www.discosdehoy.com)


JUVENTED CRASA:
Amor en el Zafacón: CD
Great little record with an awesome early ‘80s hardcore sound. Unfortunately, the lyrical content was beyond me since I don’t know Spanish, which I would guess is the right and proper lingua punka if you’re from Puerto Rico like J.C. are. But the lyrics are translated in the notes in English and Japanese (nice!), so you can get a feel for what the tunes are about—an ‘80s feel there, too. Some of the tunes were straight-on mindblowing hardcore, and some are hardcore with some swirly vocal harmonies the likes of 7 Seconds or later MIA. I have no complaints with this record. Six tunes that are at the very least good, and some are downright grenade-in-my-brain-ish. Huzzah! –The Lord Kveldulfr (Persona Unknown)


JUKEBOX ZEROS:
Rock N Roll Ronin: CDEP

I have been waiting for this record for too damn long. The first EP and full length by this band are two of the very best records of this decade and still get regular spins round my house. I am glad to say that this new six-songer stacks up right along the others. Released by the king of all tastemakers, Mr. Pat Todd, this new disc sounds right at home on Rank Outsider Records. There are elements here of many the greats: hints of Dictators, Radio Birdman, Ramones, Zeros, and Saints can be heard. Not actively attempting to ape anyone, the Jukebox Zeros bring to mind those great bands because they are themselves an amazing band. Fans of the Humpers, Lazy Cowgirls, Jeff Dahl, Joneses, and other rockers are going to want to be all over this.

–frame (Rank Outsider, www.rankoutsiderrecords.com)


JOHNNY THROTTLE:
Stukas Über Shoreditch: 7”
Now this is what I’m talking about! Rockin’ punk that brings to mind the likes of Smut Peddlers, The Fakes, Broken Bottles, or any number of the Hostage Records types of bands. Gang back ups, a touch of piano here and there, and a helping of hand claps in the mix and you get the idea. I can’t get enough of this! That’s it Johnny Throttle, you’re on my list. I want more! –ty (Wrench)


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