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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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PINK BOLTS:
“Sex Gym” b/w “I Just Called to Say I Love Me”: CS
Mike Judge’s TV show King of the Hill once proclaimed: people gave up on the cassingle way too soon. Being into records, it’s hard for me to take this stance, but I think it’s obscene how bands are shelling out money to get expensive records pressed. Nobody wins in this scenario. Many are selling their half-baked band to their friends for inflated prices. It’s just true in a lot of cases. Your band might not even suck; it doesn’t mean you’re ready to put out a record. 7”s pushed punk forward in a time when it was cheap to press a single and make it look relevant. It’s a shame so many bands write a few songs and rush to be validated by spending too much money on expensive record pressing. I understand the desire. The excitement. But part of the excitement should be finding new ways to get music out. I’m convinced it’s a problem and it doesn’t seem to be going away. The punk thing to do is to fix it. Here is a band that put together a really nice cassingle. This is a great looking cassingle. The music is Devo-inspired with sarcastic-sounding vocals similar to Jello Biafra imitating other people. It’s a fine cassingle. If you’re into Devo, you should check it out. And you won’t spend nineteen dollars. I guess. Unless this cassingle is nineteen dollars. In that case, I wouldn’t spend nineteen dollars on it. Otherwise, pull the trigger on this if you’re a fan of solid, retro electronica. It’s a fun listen. –Billups Allen (Jigsaw, http://jigsaw-records.com)


POISON BOYS:
Headed for Disaster: 7"

Rock and roll punk is something that I can be incredibly picky with. I think the main reason is that I don’t really care about the majority about it. I don’t really care all that much about all of the New York Dolls and Dead Boys clones out there in the world. Hell, I can barely be bothered to put on the originals so why would I bother with some wannabes? Well, the good news is that Poison Boys are actually really fucking good—stripped-down rock’n’roll with a bit of a mean streak and no overtly cartoonish personas to be heard. I could see these guys fitting in with what was going on with Junk Records back in the 00s. No Front Teeth is still bringing the quality after all these years! 

–Ty Stranglehold (No Front Teeth)


PRESSING ON:
No Defeat No Capitulation: 12"
Fuck! I’m trying to review this, but I keep flipping over my kitchen table and slam-dancing when a new song starts! Pressing On are gnarly looking older dudes who get right to the point with eight songs of marauding hardcore. From the lyrics to the riffs to the song lengths, everything is streamlined for maximum impact. I think those are d-beat drums, and some of it reminds me of Deathreat or Copout. Pressing On are from Portland and feature members of Talk Is Poison, From Ashes Rise, and Raw Nerve. If you like those bands, or feel like rearranging your apartment, you’d be a fool not to throw this on. This is a remastered, vinyl version of their recent cassette.  –Chris Terry (Deranged, derangedrecords.com)


PRIVATE ROOM:
“Life Com” b/w “Gourmet Pez”: 7"
Remember Walls? This is what they’re doing now. Is it as good as Walls? No, it’s better. They still bring aggression, noise, and fury, but Private Room leans more towards the hardcore punk end of the spectrum—the vocals even have a slight youth crew revival bent. “Life Com” is an original, which, after reading the lyrics, appears to be about smartphone/social media dependency. A definite ripper. The backside is a cover of Man Is The Bastard. Not only does Private Room do MITB justice, they may even show them up. This 7” appears to a teaser for a forthcoming full-length. Again, this features most of Walls and is on Iron Lung. You know what you’d be getting yourself into if ya pick this one up: good stuff. –Vincent Battilana (Iron Lung)


PSYCHIC TEENS:
“Everything” b/w “Nerve”: 7"
This is one of two 7” singles from Philadelphia’s trio of morose musicians’ full length, Nerve. The best word I can use to describe them is “haunting.” On first listen, the A side took a little while to warm up to me. It’s droning and repetitive, with gritty bass and sharp guitar, and the vocals sort of drag on. However, the last third of the song really comes into its own and pulls out a real catchy melody. On the flip side there is an exclusive track that could easily be on the soundtrack of a David Lynch film. Guest vocals from Miranda Taylor really lift this track into the realm of trance-like, and are a refreshing dichotomy to the monotone of Psychic Teens’ vocalist. It manages to be pretty and gloomy at the same time.  –Kayla Greet (SRA, srarecords@gmail.com)


PSYCHIC TEENS:
End: 7"
Psychic Teens are a purportedly post-punk act from Philadelphia, and this record features two tracks from their forthcoming full-length, Nerve. “End” is a spacey, almost surfy song with guitars that remind me of ‘90s alternative groups like Polaris and weird, froggy vocals. The B-side, “TV,” features a shoegazey reverb, driving drums, and plenty of distortion. Both tracks are catchy as hell. These are chill songs for weirdos.  –Lyle (SRA, srarecords.com)


PSYCHIC TEENS:
Never: LP
Mix of sounds from different regions of the underground’s darker corners coupled in spots with poppier elements. Echoes of the brutal post-punk of The Mark Of Cain, Snake Corps’ loud-guitar goth pop, My Bloody Valentine’s howl, and even a bit of Iggy in the vocals can be heard clinging to the spine. I definitely can dig it.  –Jimmy Alvarado (SRA, srarecords.com)


PU$$Y-COW:
A Photograph of the Time We Laughed: 7"
I absolutely adore this record! Razorcake’s own Joe Dana provides the vocals on these four new, hilarious Pu$$y-Cow tunes about key topical issues like drinking at a straight edge wedding. Comedic, jokey bands can be hard to stomach when the music accompanying the chuckles can’t carry its own weight, but that’s never an issue for Pu$$y-Cow. Hopefully they’ll put out another full-length soon, as these are some of the best songs they’ve delivered thus far. Catchy and spastic, this record might be brief, but it’s long on talent. Plus, the packaging is beautiful, from the colored vinyl on down. It’s definitely one of my favorite 7”s of the year. Do yourself a favor and check it out.  –Art Ettinger (Chorizo Bonito, pussycow.bandcamp.com)


QUITTER:
Self-titled: 7"
A Baltimore five-piece, Quitter is a loud, unrefined, and just plain old obnoxious post-punk synthesized nightmare. It’s the type of ruckus that makes it impossible to think; even the liner notes look like a bad dream. I like it. Just not while trying to review it. Great stuff, so I think that’ll do, pig.  –Jackie Rusted (Blow Blood, blow-blood.bandcamp.com)


RALPH WHITE & THOR HARRIS:
Tossing Pebbles on the Sleeping Beast: CD
“I’m sitting here thinking of a cure for my insanity,” Ralph White sings on this album he’s done with Swans percussionist Thor Harris. It’s a tough listen and more likely to drive one to insanity than being any sort of cure. White (formerly of Bad Livers) has an off-key yodel that accompanies his accordion and off-beat banjo playing. It’s only when Harris is allowed to take front stage on the percussion (such as on the closer, “Canoe”) that I was able to stomach this album. His marimba and vibes playing can be mesmerizing and serves as a welcome relief to the abrasive sound of White’s banjo and voice. Not my thing but perhaps fans of the unique stylings of Bad Livers might dig this.  –Kurt Morris (Self-Sabotage, facebook.com/selfsabotagerecords)


RAT TRAP:
Constant Fear: 7"
Blistering, thrashy, political hardcore from Boston. Despite evident metallic influences, the songs are short and sweet, with lyrics explicitly decrying racism, religious fundamentalism, and governmental authority. Rat Trap seems like they’d be sick live but their Bandcamp page indicates that the group is now defunct, which is a shame. A choice lyric: “This nation is a nightmare ruled by a corpse.” So true. This EP is tight.  –Lyle (Pine Hill, pinehillrecords.com)


RAVI SHAVI:
Self-titled: CD
Garage rock’n’roll with a bit of swagger to it, but nothing here quite manages to stick to the walls. –Jimmy Alvarado (Almost Ready, almostreadyrecords.com)


RAYDIOS, THE:
Craps: 7"
A-side is a rockin’, trashy slice o’ punk that could’ve likely secured ‘em a place among the Rip Off stable of sonic malcontents. Flip is a slower number, just as catchy, with “woo-ooo-ooo” backing vocals to drive the hook in deeper.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Secret Mission, secretmissionrecords.com)


RED KATE:
Unamerican Activities: LP
The first thing that struck me about this release was Shaun Hamontree’s cover art depicting three children using a bomb as a piñata, an image which is immediately striking and thought provoking. That alone allowed me to enter the fray of Red Kate’s sophomore album with high hopes. The opener “You Don’t Speak for Me” didn’t disappoint, with plenty of vigor angrily highlighting the gap between those in power and the majority of the population. Although some songs lean towards a more rock’n’roll sound, there’s no lack of punch from start to finish either lyrically or musically. The final track is a really good version of “Heart of the City,” originally a Nick Lowe B side from the first record released on Stiff Records back in 1976.  –Rich Cocksedge (Black Site, blacksiterecords@gmail.com, black-site.org)


RED MASS:
EP Rouge N.2: CD
This CD starts out on an old school industrial trip—the good stuff, before the sound got co-opted by metal in the ‘90s. Then it moves into more organic garage-y punk stuff. Soon it devolves into a bunch of banging and beeping and sexy French growling. That’s when I realize that I’m staring at the guy on the cover who is painted silver and wearing an all-over-print tiger shirt while standing in front of a pentagram, and I’m totally hypnotized and the music doesn’t even matter anymore.  –MP Johnson (Mondo Mongo)


RED SQUARES:
Modern Roll: 7"
A repress of the only single by an obscure Phoenix punk band, originally released in 1981 on Nanxiety. Both songs have subsequently appeared on different KBD installments, so I imagine an original copy is probably going for the same rate as a down payment on a Tesla these days. The title track is a mid-tempo punker typical of the time, and the flip, “Time Change,” is a tad zippier with more attitude, and definitely the pick of the two. Limited to five hundred copies, red vinyl, and a nice edition for those who care more about paying for the tunes than for status symbols collecting dust.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Slope)


REPOS:
Poser: LP
It’s really hard for a hardcore band to put out a solid LP, and the odds are certainly stacked against being able to do it twice. I mean, if you really sit and think about it, the number of hardcore bands that put down two solid LPs is probably just a couple dozens, and it’s not a list that’s growing very fast. So, it’s pretty crazy that the Repos are on their fourth full-length (if you count 2013’s Lost Still Losing) and still seem fresh, relevant, and full of ideas. The last couple of years have seen the band put out several cassette releases and a couple of EPs that have all somehow consistently topped each other. I don’t know how not to gush about this band, but their sound is constantly evolving and every release sees them playing with new ideas while still retaining the unique qualities that make them the Repos. Poser finds the band working within the riffs of mid-’80s USHC (think a little Poison Idea, a little early JFA, White Cross, and SSD) with some Japanese influence (Gauze), but not really sounding like anyone. It’s clear they are fans of their genre and constantly learning from it instead of aping it. They clean up ideas people had in the past and make them their own. The guitar on this record scorches through with a few frills on each song that pop in and out of the mix organically. The vocal phrasing, something I’ve always appreciated about the band, is top-notch here and accomplishes making the bleak, poetic verses that would otherwise feel pretentious or out of place sit right at home. The progression of ideas—both sonically and poetically—they’ve reached since just the last couple of 7”s is mind-blowing. Essential modern hardcore.  –Ian Wise (Youth Attack, ihateyouthattack.com)


RIVERBOAT GAMBLERS:
Massive Fraud: 7"
I have been a huge Gamblers fan for a long time. I have both my old pals on the Total Punk Radio message boards as well as this very magazine to thank for turning me onto what would become one of the most important bands in my life. Cheers, dudes! Here we are, more than a decade and stacks of records later. The boys have decided to do a 7” series this year with each one featuring an original tune and a cover on the B-side. This record is the third in the series. “Massive Fraud” is classic Gamblers. It’s an up-tempo rocker with the hooks and leads that we’ve come to expect. It’s very much in line with what was going on with their last LP, The Wolf You Feed. The cover this time out is none other than “Hate the Police” by The Dicks. Not only is this one of the most legendary Texas punk songs, but it has also been covered near perfectly by Mudhoney in the past. Does the Gamblers’ version measure up? Like you need to ask. Their downright beautiful take on the song made all hair on my arms and the back of my neck stand up. It may be weird to hear from a Canadian like me, but Texas punk is the best punk. GFFG!  –Ty Stranglehold (End Sounds)


RIXE:
Les Nerfs a Vif: 7"
Four gritty foot stompers from this French outfit following on from last year’s single released on the same label. There’s a definite oi influence both musically and sartorially from this trio and despite a fairly straightforward approach, this record exudes anger and bile whilst remaining catchy and melodic. One of the best singles I’ve heard in a while –Rich Cocksedge (La Vida Es Un Mus, lavidaesunmus.com)


SCENICS, THE:
In the Summer: CD/LP
This is a collection of songs by the Toronto band, The Scenics, recorded in 1977 and ‘78. This was the kind of new wave/punk sound coming out of New York City at the same time but it appears it made its way to Toronto. These twelve songs haven’t been released until now, and are an eclectic mix of what could be described as Canada’s version of Talking Heads meets Television. The vocals are very reminiscent of David Byrne. I mean, like, really reminiscent. The music is kind of quirky but simple—it’s as though Talking Heads had a little more aggressive sound. If you have exhausted your collection of 1970s punk music, here’s something new (so to speak) that would fit the bill.  –Kurt Morris (Dream Tower, dreamtowerrecords.com)


SCORPION VS TARANTULA:
Self-titled: 10"
This record starts off with a bang, offering two quick songs reminiscent of late-’90s Man’s Ruin or Gearhead Records-style garage rock, bringing to mind something like the Hellacopters. That’s where this record takes me after the first couple songs. Unfortunately, things get much worse with later songs regressing into an unwelcomed, mid-tempo bar rock territory that really emphasizes the “rock” side of the band causing me to lose any potential interest I might have in this release. The last song on the record almost reels me back in with its stereotypically garagy Farfisa organ which appeals to my deeply rooted “budget rock” leanings, but ultimately it’s a case of “too little, too late” as the bad taste left in my mouth after listening to the previous trio of horrible bar rock songs is too strong to overcome. The three shortest and fastest songs on this release could make a killer 7”, but we have an underwhelming six-song 10” record instead.  –Mark Twistworthy (Slope, sloperecords.com)


SCULPTURE CLUB:
A Place to Stand: CS
First the plug: if you are into DIY punk and indie music and you have not downloaded Razorcake’s Tear A Cognita series (for free!) then you are really missing out. I first heard Salt Lake City’s Sculpture Club when they called themselves JAWWZZ!! and opened TAC #1 with their track, “Is Blooming Not a Sickness?” I like that track very much with its fuzzy bass lines, jangly guitars, and garage-goth appeal. Now I get to hear the full length under the band’s new name and it does not disappoint. Great songwriting, solid musicianship, and thoroughly dark vibes make for one hell of a late night listening party. A Place to Stand is also the initial release (001) for Deli Boy Records whose online presence can be found on Facebook. Since when is Salt Lake City cool?  –Jon Mule (Deli Boy)


SHADOW IN THE CRACKS:
Self-titled: LP
Stompy, four-to-the-floor fuzz rock. A little Jay Reatard, a little King Khan and BBQ Show, a whole lot of swamp rock. It grows hypnotizing after a while. The beats dig into your brain and follow a simple melody. Time begins to lose meaning as the songs sprawl onwards. There’s a bit too much echo in the mix for my taste, but, in general, the sounds resonate pretty well against each other. In the end, it’s a minor nitpick, since the album as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Overall, worth a look –Bryan Static (Goner, goner-records.com)


SHEER ATTACK:
Self-titled: 7"
Sheer Attack has that great early-’80s pre-hardcore sound when punk was starting to get fast, but hadn’t yet become an orgy of power chords and lightning-quick drumming. The lyrical content is rather conventional; titles such as “Bitter Seed” and “I Am the Nihilist” pretty much tell you what you’re in for, but such conventionality was by no means a problem. Sheer Attack has the chops—my measure for bands such as this is whether or not they make me want to get into fights and/or break shit, and that’s what Sheer Attack did. My only complaint is that one of the channels was recorded at a much lower level, so some stuff is almost impossible to hear without turning the volume way up. Which is fine, but then the rest of the mix kicks in and destroys what is left of my ancient, crotchety eardrums. Nonetheless, a good record—it grabs the gonads and doesn’t let go.  –The Lord Kveldulfr (Arkam)


SICK WARD:
Into the Future: CS
This is the kind of street punk I like. Not the “We have to get more hair dye and hair spray so our mohawks looks precise for the show tonight” kind of street punk, but the “Our hands are calloused and we’ve got holes in our jeans because we can’t afford new ones” brand. There’s a little more depth between the riffs. Yes, there are songs about “the pigs” and “the bastards,” but the finger is also pointed inward in songs like “Two Worlds”: “Your teenage years have passed. Your rebellion did not last. The protests that you make, are against your own mistakes.” I’ll raise a fist for that.  –MP Johnson (Self-released, Sickward.bandcamp.com)


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