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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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THRETNING VERSE:
Time for War: 7” EP
I remember seeing these guys a few years back and not thinking much about them, other than they were just your average backyard hardcore band providing the perfect music to get drunk by. Well, that assessment’s changed thanks to this smokin’ piece of wax. The sounds are steeped in the hardcore sounds found east of the LA river, fast and furious with no bullshit delivery. This sounds like it could’ve easily come out in the mid-’80s, thanks in no small part to the efforts of Messrs. Jake Smith (TV git-twanger and former Crucifix punk hero) and Mike Vallejo (ex-Circle One guitarist and current Decry babe magnet), who do a great job with the producing and engineering, respectively, and getting this to achieve maximum rage. You like it loud, raw and fast? Look no further. –jimmy (Puke ‘n’ Vomit)


THOUGHT RIOT:
Sketches of the Undying Will: CD
Another sophomore release to review. This band has progressed smoothly to this release. The song writing and musicianship is much stronger. This is much more enjoyable than their previous release. Equal parts Anti-Flag, Rise Against, and AFI is what comes to mind while I listen. Social/political lyrics are a continuing theme. My highlight would be the stronger use of choral background vocals and using more subtle ambient guitar notes to electrify their songs. I might actually leave my house the next time the band comes to town to play a show.  –don (A-F)


TEXAS THIEVES:
Forced Vacation: CD
Mid-to-gallop-tempo punk here, mining the old OC stuff as well as Northern Cali skater punk sound of bands like the Faction. I really wasn’t expecting much from this, but it’s actually pretty danged good, and “Crucifixes Are for Kids” is just flat-out great. –jimmy (Super Speedway)


TEAR IT UP:
Taking You Down with Me: LP
From the title track, which is basically Black Flag’s “Scream” tweaked and regurgitated as an instrumental, to their blazing tears through tunes that sound like they were plundered from Hüsker Dü’s thrashy back catalog, it’s obvious that these guys have a firm grasp of the history of the music they play, and they wear it on their sleeves. This is not meant as a dismissal, an attempt to lump them in with the hordes of lesser hacks who think that four chords played fast constitute good hardcore. To the contrary, it is obvious that bands like this and like-minded powerhouse Out Cold have a firm grasp and respect for the past and they allow it to influence, rather than dominate, their present musical output. These guys are far from a rehash band. Sure, all requisite hardcore identifiers are met with ease, meaning the songs are short, fast, and the boys play ‘em like they are royally pissed, but there’s enough original spark and, more importantly, a sense that their efforts are genuine in intent to allow them to stand tall over the teeming masses of generic cactus heads and nouveau metal merchants. It is wholly gratifying to hear others of like mind who revere rather than debase the music. I recommend that you buy a copy of this and indulge in a little smashism while it blares in the background. –jimmy (Havoc)


TAMION 12 INCH:
Let’s Suffer: CD
Listening to Tamion 12 Inch’s latest full-length, Let’s Suffer, is like being trapped inside a fever dream, escalated by too much Codiene—a vivid terror you just can’t, or perhaps don’t want to, escape. When the dream breaks with the fever, you wake up sweat drenched and compelled to write down every grotesque detail. The album’s first song “The Devil was Right (part 1),” is a sinister nursery rhyme setting the mood for the album like the childhood chant before the kill that marks so many horror movies. Tamion 12 Inch continues to drag listeners further into the void with sharp electronic precision, blistering noise, ominous basslines, guitars creating a death grunt, and a singer reminiscent of Siouxsie Sioux howling her way through “The Lord’s Prayer.” This is some seriously haunted electronic punk. I may not be able to sleep with the lights off after listening to this, but it is worth it.  –liz (Ersatz Audio)


TALK, THE:
It’s Like Magic in Reverse: CD
Punky power pop in a Vapors vein. I’m willing to bet there were a lotta high-fives and smiles around the room the first time they heard the final mix, ‘cause they’ve just about nailed a perfect combination of good hooks and edgy delivery. A very good, very welcome surprise.  –jimmy (MoRisen)


SYZSLAK:
I Am Misery: 7” EP
No, your music is misery. You’re just the sadistic bastard responsible for it.  –jimmy (World Eater)


SULTANS, THE:
Shipwrecked: CD
I don’t understand how John Reis can be so prolific and still have so many tricks up his sleeve. After about a million Rocket From the Crypt records, a few Drive Like Jehu records, a couple of Hot Snakes records, and the first Sultans album, you’d think that maybe he might be running out of ideas. Apparently, that’s not the case, as this whole album pretty much rules. It’s a lot different from the first one, Ghost Ship, which is more fuzzed out and garagey-sounding, but it’s still really, really good in a slightly laid back kind of way. It really is amazing how these songs don’t sound like castoffs from a RFTC album. No artsy motives or pretensions, they merely rock. Totally recommended.  –Josh (Swami)


STRUGGLE, THE:
Hopeless Nights: 7"
These guys are from the east coast and play a combination of hardcore and punk. Out of the four songs, three of them are fast hardcore. One is mid-paced. They are all good. The lyrics are about perseverance and sticking things out and doing what you want regardless of what others think. These guys are scheduled to tour the east coast this spring and the west coast in late summer. So if they are coming to your area, check them out. –Mike Beer –Guest Contributor (FNS)


STRONG COME ONS:
Yell a Lot and Suck: 7"
More like Yell a Lot and Rock. That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever said in a review. Loud, fast, and catchy as hell. –megan (Big Neck)


STREET TRASH:
Self-titled: 12” EP
I haven’t a clue who they are or where they come from, but this is by far the punkest record I’ve heard in a while. Amped up hardcore is the order of the day here, with lyrics covering incest, child abuse, drug abuse, isolation and other topics. Sounds like more of the same ol’ same ol’? Well, imagine those topics addressed by Feederz or the Child Molesters fronted by someone who is easily as annoying as the guy who fronted the Crucifucks and it’ll be quite clear to you that this is not another boring meander through self-righteous sloganeering. I’ll be quite surprised if they don’t find themselves with an FBI file or two on them in short order, considering the current political climate we find ourselves living in. Dude, this is soooo recommended. –jimmy (Kapow)


SPITTING TEETH/1-2-GO! CREW:
Fear of a Mosh Planet: split 7”
Too many splits attempt to make seductive Siamese twins out of bands that are just too damn similar to make it really interesting. Admittedly, Siamese twins are in and of themselves naturally interesting and these similar-band pairings sometimes do work. But too often you wind up with a two-headed beast of the “Jessica Simpson/Nick Whatever-his-name-is” variety and crushing blandness is the inevitable result. When you have truly divergent personalities smushed up together, it just makes it that much more interesting and pleasantly jarring. Fear of a Mosh Planet is a case in point. You will have no trouble telling the two groups on this split apart. Now, with 1-2-GO! Crew, I must confess to being far from ideally suited to throw any kind of meaningful critical light on these guys. The idea of someone like me reviewing something rap/hip-hop is probably like having Paris Hilton try to say something insightful about a Mentors show. In fact, the Fat Boys are about the only hip-hop group who, by virtue of the sheer heft of their awesomeness, ever broke through the walls of my sheltered little world and started punk-slapping me around. So though my couple Fat Boys tapes hardly afford me the “street cred” to be mouthing off on such things – I’ll go ahead and say simply that I like this posi-core sXe rap music the 1-2-GO! Crew serves up. It even has a rap remake of Damage Deposit’s “Ninjas to the Back” and some human beat boxing that helped me to feel a little bit more at home. Spitting Teeth, on the other hand, is more familiar territory for me; they lunge at you and smack you around the room with feisty, thrashy hardcore that has a slight southern-fried Confederacy of Scum undercurrent at times. Each side of this record stands on its own, but taken all together, this is one refreshing one-two punch of a split 7 incher. –aphid (1-2-3-4-GO!)


SMUT PEDDLERS:
Exit Plan: 7"
In the spirit of full disclosure, Julia, the drummer for the Smut Peddlers, helps us out with making sure our covers are correctly prepped for print, so there may be some favoritism. That said, I was a fan of the band prior knowing her. In true punk OC, the land where few bands last beyond two records, I can honestly say that the Smut Peddlers are putting together the best songs of their decade-long career. John’s vocals and lyrics are still simultaneously hilarious, kooky, sad, angry, and oddly insightful. The only thing a veteran Smut Peddlers fan might wrinkle an eyebrow over is that his vocals seem more intentionally tattered and roughed-up on this 7” than before. But his lyrics are a fascinating glimpse into the inner workings of a frontman with bad balance. If you ever want to see how paranoia, love of older ways of life in a beach culture, and an obsession with skating pools works out in punk songs, look no further. Although I always liked Roger Ramjet’s single guitar work when he was in the band, the addition of Sean and Scott, both at guitar, really ratchets up the melodies and anxiety. Almost secretly, behind all the obvious stuff, Julia’s drumming cements these three songs, like a perfectly poured and groomed transition in a deep bowl, giving them the perfect, pumping material to carve through song after song. Recorded, engineered, and produced by X’s Billy Zoom. Thumbs up. –todd (Ransom)


SMOGTOWN:
All Wiped Out: CD
The first couple of times I listened to this, my basic reaction was, yep, this is Smogtown. Nothing new. Nothing unexpected. It rocks hard enough to knock my dick in the dirt, but I expected that. Then something happened the third time I listened to this. I started to notice Chip’s chaotic bass. Tim’s drum fills started to burrow into my ears. Little things just beneath the fuzz came to me more clearly. Yes, I thought, this is Smogtown. Everything new. Everything unexpected. As far as I know, they’re still broken up, though rumors of new Smogtown shows are surfacing. Supposedly, they played a big show down in southern Orange County in March. Who knows if they’ll keep it together. Who knows if this is one last, great slab of music from Smogtown or if there’s more to come. Either way, it’s another fine, fine CD.  –sean (TKO)


SMACKMADAM:
Self-titled: 7"
The little propaganda sheet that came with this record compares Smackmadam to a “head-on collision” between Social Distortion and the Supersuckers. I guess I can kind of see that, but to my waxy ears they sound more like the Quadrajets or maybe a low-carb version of the Midnight Evils. Either way, this is the type of grubby, white trash, snoose-drooling race-car rawk that seems to irk the orthodox ‘77-style punk constituency to no end these days. For me, well, it makes me want to drink beer naked in the front yard with a farmer tan for all the neighborhood to see. And that’s a good thing.  –aphid (Fonzie Town)


SKIT SYSTEM:
Gra Varld/Svarta Tankar: CD
Hoo, doggy, was the cranial scrubbing this vicious little monkey gave me ever necessary. Few bands can unleash this brand of musical madness the way Skit System can, with their down-tuned crunch and general menace, all fjordcore fury steeped in, but not totally reliant upon, Discharge influence. It never seems to amaze me how Scandinavian bands have taken the basic template laid down by Cal and the boys and managed to remain unique in sound from each other. But I digress. If it’s a grade-A hardcore onslaught you’re lookin’ to punish your ears with, Skit System always deliver the goods. –jimmy (Havoc)


SO FOX:
self-titled: 7"
It was a shitty time when the Selby Tigers called it a day in the Spring of 2002. They were one of the first two bands I interviewed for Razorcake and were equal parts rock’n’roll showmanship, sweat and shake new wave, all wrapped in a world of fireworks. My hesitation to plop this 7”er down was unwarranted. There are definitely remnants of the Selby sound from the weird but kept-in-check guitaring and the pound the sky drums. But the most obvious overlap is Arzu’s voice, still strong and resonant. These four songs are definitely not throwbacks or rip offs. If anything, So Fox is more of a constant straight-ahead push forward than the Selbys. The first, “Teen Beat,” is my favorite. Effects and intricacies are replaced by a more sleeves-rolled-up, non-ass rock’n’rolling. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes…  –todd (Nice and Neat)


SNAGS, THE:
self-titled: CD
Another UK three-piece with a jones for that ‘60s garage rock. While there may be zillions of bands doing this these days, I gotta admit these guys’ repertoire was catchy enough to warrant several listens. Not bad.  –jimmy (www.thesnags.co.uk)


SOME GIRLS:
All My Friends Are Going Death: CD
First of all, this isn’t the Juliana Hatfield group. Second, you probably already know that this includes members of Give Up The Ghost, Unbroken, The Locust, Over My Dead Body, Swing Kids and Holy Molar. Third, this disc collects existing and unreleased material (the two EPs released to date plus demo tracks and more fun). Fourth, it’s fucking brilliant. This isn’t hardcore so much as it is aggravated assault – it’s pulverizing, punishing and astonishingly accomplished (not surprising, considering who’s involved). Sure, there are straight-forward hardcore parts, breakdowns, mosh parts and everything else you’d expect from a hardcore record, but – like most things which I’ve heard from Deathwish lately – it’s also strikingly experimental, primarily in the lyrical content but also in the sound (equal parts noise, spastic hardcore like Melt-Banana and The Blood Brothers, and seemingly chaotic rhythm). The mix leaves these songs sounding raw and feral (as if covering The Stooges’ “No Fun” wouldn’t do that by itself), while Wes’ lyrics seem like picking scabs off self-inflicted knife wounds. However, I really wouldn’t expect anything less challenging from the people involved with this album. –scott (Deathwish)


SOLABEAT ALLIANCE:
Island Fire: CD
This brand of ska punk ceased to be a viable creative style the minute Operation Ivy called it a day nearly a decade and a half ago and nine billion less talented bands decided they were the ones who could carry the torch. Uh, make that nine billion and one.  –jimmy (www.moonskaeurope.com)


SISSIES:
Everything in the World: CDEP
It took a little while for this to grow on me, but it did – about three years too late. The Sissies broke up about two years ago. This is their discography, more than thirty tracks all wrapped up in the fanciest looking Plan-It-X packaging I’ve seen. It’s campy in that way that makes you want to share it with a close friend and then every mix tape to them from now on will have one of their songs on it. –megan (Plan-it-x)


SILVER:
Intimate Crossing: CDEP
Bad Hollywood rock that you would hear at a pay-to-play gig on a Wednesday night.  –don (VME, another label too stupid to put their address on the package)


SEX POSITIONS:
Self-titled: CD
Okay, so I hate damn near everything I hear these days. So I hate on pretty much everything with equal (and, I might add, well deserved and honestly earned) malice and loathing. So I’d as soon flay most bands as listen to even one song on their shitty fucking records. So what? There are some albums that are so gleefully destructive that I forget that I hate almost everything and, for my money, Deathwish is well on its way to being my favorite label of the year. I’ll spare you the bullshit about saving hardcore and punk from itself, but in 2004, Deathwish seems to be bringing Molotov cocktails to a switchblade fight. Sex Positions, as one example, features traditional elements of modern hardcore (think about bands like Give Up The Ghost and The Suicide File for a starting point) and quickly veers off into experimental territories not unlike those mapped by Black Dice, Arab On Radar and other bands that venture into the more extreme realms of noise. It’s loud, fucked up and sounds like a car wired with about 200 pounds of C-4 in a demolition derby. When I listened to this on headphones, it was even better because it features panning effects, lots of frequencies which elicit feelings of nausea, and bits of stuff that really won’t be audible on speakers, no matter how good they are. While I can’t yet say that this will be one of my favorite records of the year, I can say that this collection of songs reminds me that punk and hardcore were once aggressive, confrontational, defiant, and uncompromising, and that some bands make it a point to embed those qualities in everything they do. –scott (Deathwish)


SCRAWL, LE:
Eager to Please: CDEP
I had the pleasure of experiencing this band in a live setting here in jolly old LA recently. I can’t believe this band from Germany is playing in LA! They have been around for ten years and I believe they are stepping on these shores for the first time. I’m wasn’t going to miss it for the world! It’s truly amazing to see a band play with so much precision and pull off what is produced in a studio. I purposely waited until after the gig to listen to this CD. I wanted to be charged when I got to preview the new songs. I was not disappointed. Thirteen songs of Cookie Monster-induced grindcore mixed with acid jazz, keyboard, sax, and sheerly ingenious song structures. Who knows what the hell these guys actually sing about? The singer could be mumbling about how he got his cat to toss his salad. No one would know. But the songs are infectious and truly outside the box in design. It almost sounds like nursery rhymes. I grin like a flatulent man after a good round of expelling fumes of unknown digestive nature while listening to their music. I highly recommend this band when you need to be challenged or want to see what a commercial band like System of a Down would sound like if they took their weirdness to a level of LSD-induced Disney reality. I do have to make my whiney cry, though. Why did I have to get a CD-R instead of the real thing? The label sent the real packaging. –don (Life is Abuse)


SBV/ FEELIN’ FINE:
Split: 7” EP
SBV: Imagine Uniform Choice minus the straight edge pose and sped way the hell up. Better than I expected, actually. Feelin’ Fine: Grunt, grunt, bleat, grunt, bleat, yawn, yawn, yawn. –jimmy (www.retardedrecords.com)


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