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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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BREAK EVENS, THE:
Self-titled: CD
I always appreciate folks out there banging away to make some music, but I was just not into this at all. Uninspired punk in the vein of Social Distortion. Although some songs were better than others, overall, I found it to be pretty dull. Even the artwork was unoriginal—a smiley face (wearing a frown) against a black background, live shot on the back, no lyrics or other artwork save for the smiley face again on the inside (but on a white background this time) with some kind of bullet hole blood smear. Or something. At least one of the singers is really pretty bad, and I like plenty of bad singers. The seven songs on this CD did not hold my interest whatsoever. Branch out, guys. –J. Federico (Dust Waltz)


BORN TO LOSE:
Saints Gone Wrong: CD
Although the band pays homage to Johnny Thunders with their namesake, I’m hearing more of a Dropkick Murphys influence from this Austin five piece. Tight song structures, mass backing vocals that add quite a bit of texture, and overall catchy tunes make this a winner. The title track and “My Mortality” are my favorites from this one. They will be on Warped this summer so don’t pass them by and go see some emo shit instead. These guys should be in the next “Drinkability” commercial without a doubt.  –koepenick (Altercation)


DEPT OF ENERGY:
Faster: CD
This album sounds like preppy coffee shop music in the vein of Ben Folds. It’s got quirky lyrics like, “Mind over matter but what if matter wins?” It’s got cello, banjo, slide guitar and organ for the hi-brow intellectual musician. However, I think the band inserted the organ instrument into the album to substitute for what these songs lack in the real organ department… “That’s what she said.” –N.L. Dewart  –Guest Contributor (Roam)


DEREK LYN PLASTIC:
She’s Got a U.T.I.: 7"
Finally, a musician willing to tackle everyday medical problems! Of course, there are some historical precedents (Screeching Weasel’s “Jeannie’s Got a Problem with Her Uterus” and the Quincy Punx’s “Dumpster Diving at the Abortion Clinic”), but hopefully this will spur a renaissance of medical themes. Could This Is My Fist record a song about herpes? Or maybe Teenage Bottlerocket could tackle the difficult issues posed by Type 2 Diabetes? The possibilities are endless! If this were a cereal, it’d be Honey Nut Cheerios! Sorta The Dickies mixed with Jay Reatard, but, unfortunately, this one’s a little bit more on the general rock end of things. But if you haven’t checked out Sir Plastic and you like music, you should! –Maddy (NMG)


CARS CAN BE BLUE:
Doubly Unbeatable: CD
Upbeat pop punk with some truly mean-spirited, venomous lyrics. The sixteen tracks fly by, but pretty much all of them are solid. The band comes off like a faster Lemuria, with a punk rock Sarah Silverman as a vocalist. I think they’ve even opened up for some comedy acts, which makes sense, because some of the lyrics are just completely fucking hilarious. Probably one of my favorite discs this month. –Evan Katz (HHBTM)


DILLINGER FOUR:
Civil War: CD
Completely takes me back to the bands that saved me from puberty in the ‘80s when I finally realized that regular dudes who don’t look like idiot rock stars and don’t live on a coast can make rock’n’roll greatness. To share that with the world, I have put Paddy half-naked in print ads at the place I work for. –mike (Fat)


CARPATHIAN:
Isolation: CD
Modern day moshcore. The songs are heavy with a solid wall of sound. I read this did well in the independent charts in Australia. Hmmm... I’ve listened to this a few times, and can’t remember any of the songs on here. –Matt Average (Resist)


BULLDOZER:
The Hammers: CD
Jokey punk rock in the vein of Guttermouth, or a less musically tight Face To Face. Honestly, I wasn’t crazy about this. For the most part, the songs tend to bleed into each other and the songwriting isn’t anything special. The best song is “Guido Beach,” a hilarious ode to Jersey Shore meatheads. If the rest of the songs on the disk were able to reach that level of quality, the album would be a keeper. –Evan Katz (Motherbox)


CANDY SNATCHERS, THE:
Self-titled: 7"
The A-side is “Doin’ Time,” which is a good, steady, rocking song, the kind the Candy Snatchers have mastered. But the B-side is the reason to pick this up. “Dead Wrong” has more swagger and fuck-all attitude. Even has a harmonica in it! Another great record, yet again! –Matt Average (Zodiac Killer)


DISCO ASSAULT:
Saturday Night Bleeder: 7"
Since trends seem to go full circle, there has been a resurgence of early ‘80s-influenced hardcore bands in the last few years. Some have been brilliant, some mediocre. This band from Windsor, Canada seems to be doing it right. Nice, raw production and songs that charge forth but also have an infectious melody to them. The vocals have an Ian MacKaye delivery that punches through the music. This is straight-up punk rock with no fluff or overproduction. Good stuff. Funny note: I thought my record was messed up because it kept slowing down. I turn around to look at the turntable and my youngest cat kept putting his paw on the spinning slip mat that the record was on. Cats are so easily entertained.  –don (Schizophrenic)


BUGS, THE:
Self-titled: CD
For full disclosure, I’ll start by saying that I’m friends or at least friendly with the people who are in this band. And those people have been in some of the most important bands in my musical development. The Bugs are made up of Dangerous Dave (the Queers, Jon Cougar Concentration Camp) on bass and vocals, Russell of the Rich White Males on guitar and Chris Fields (the Dwarves, the Queers, and Jon Cougar Concentration Camp) on drums. So, what you have here is one-half to two-thirds of the Queers and Jon Cougar Concentration Camp, depending on which lineup we’re talking about. And while the Queers and Jon Cougar Concentration camp are both recognized for their poppy, occasionally sophomoric punk rock, they both have also recorded some of the sharpest, wittiest songs in the pop punk reservoir. With the Bugs, however, you get what amounts to an album of all of the Queers dumbest material. As an example, the first three songs on the album are titled “Lesbo! Lesbo!,” “Never Went Gay,” and “Back on the Weed.” Musically, it is very solid and follows in the tradition of the Queers: extraordinarily tight, perfectly played pop and punk rock songs. Chris Fields’ drumming marches along as if being conducted by a drill sergeant. Russell’s guitar style finely balances between Johnny Ramone style buzz saw rhythms and Thunders-esque flourishes. All of the songs will catch you tapping your toes and bobbing your head, despite the lyrical matter, though the highlight, in my opinion, is “Dopefiend,” which recalls some of the sweeter Beach Boys-inspired Queers material. If you like your punk rock offensive, or if you realize that, like the Queers and Angry Samoans and others before them, the lyrics are clearly satirical, then what you will have here is one of the better (and dumber) punk albums in your collection.  –Jeff (World)


DILLINGER FOUR:
Civil War: CD
I like the fact that they write lyrics that make you think. You could probably guess that just by looking at the song titles. But dig deeper and you’ll see that the topics should hit home with just about anyone. Heartbreak, depression, and failure all pop up from their sullen heads. However, there always seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel. This is music that will make you mull over the passage of time—“and it feels like summer in October” and “December drags on—it’s thirty one days too long.” But I also nominate this band for best song title of the year: “Minimum Wage Is a Gateway Drug.” This a mature, solid, rollicking good time from these Minneapolis boys. Brave the elements if they come to your town. Paddy will thank you and then ask you to buy him a shot. Why wouldn’t you? –koepenick (Fat)


CONNIE DUNGS, THE:
I Hate This Town!: 7"
Yay! Yay! Yay! This is one of the best 7”s of all time! This is so good that not even my traditional overuse of exclamation marks can do it justice! Ack! Ack! Ack! Prose fails me! Since 1996, at least one of these gloriously perfect pop punk songs has magically entered into my brain, unannounced, at a rate of no less than once per month! Plus, it’s brought to you by Mutant Pop, one of the best (the best? Would it win a fight against Superteem?) record labels of all time! This is a reissue of the original 7”, however: POP PUNK NERD ALERT! If you bought the original 7” and, like me, missed the repressing in 1999, you need to buy this again because it contains a bonus song that was supposed to go on the original but, for various reasons, did not! If this were a cereal, it’d be Lucky Charms, the highest honor I can bestow! If you do not own this, you are the gastronomic equivalent of someone who’s never tried pizza! –Maddy (Mutant Pop)


CONNIPTION FITTS:
Shart Sandwich: 7"
Able-bodied rock’n’roll. I just wish there were a few fingers missing. Cover of the Sonics here, but can’t hear the influence on the original songs.  –todd (Let's Pretend)


COLD SHOULDER:
The Patriot: 7" EP
Seven-song 45 of killer hardcore punk with both fast and slow parts. The pacing of this record is near perfect. It’s unrelenting, making the sides go by quick as hell, considering how many songs are on each of them (three and four). The release is angry and alienated alà Out Cold, while still politically conscience, yet un-preachy. This Hammond, IN (Pop. 83,048) five-piece has got its hands on something good. A debut 7” that is definitely making me want to hear more. –Daryl Gussin (Cowabunga)


DISGUSTER / HITCHHIKERS:
Split: CD
This apparent debut release for both bands, on Zodiac Killer Records (who seem to primarily put forth bicep-flexed bar punk…their flagship comp is titled Drink. Fight. Fuck.), comes, goes; is decent and boring in turn. Disguster put forth eight well-written, well-played, and ultimately flat songs. The blame is, in large part, on the production—crisp and mixed well, but lacking for it. It needs some gut, but the variety of gut they offer up isn’t exactly palatable. The sexual chauvinism/misogyny of the lyrics in Disguster’s half was the nail in the coffin for me. Choice cuts: “domestic violence means nothing to me,” “meet me on the other side of the glory hole,” “the more you try, the worse I treat you,” blah blah blah. I’ve got a younger brother, too. Summations later. Onward. Hitchhikers retain some dirt and gristle compared to Disguster and is less prone to chucking out Crüe-style pussy declaratives. Plus these guys have “Neckbone Stomp” on their half, the most bare bones song on the album, and rockingest for it. Sure, singer Jorge E. Disguster’s voice grates my brain-cheese; too much pruned strut for my taste, but my delicate sensibilities vis-à-vis objectification weren’t affected either. Ignoring everything I’ve said so far, ultimately, this split just doesn’t really stretch. Nothing is moved forward, tweaked, expounded, or refracted. It’s an album equivalent to horse blinders. –Andrew Flanagan (Zodiac Killer)


BLUEBERRY FIST:
Demo: CD
Dance-y indie rock played with punk sincerity, speed, and nervous energy. Six catchy songs with interesting shit like acoustic breaks, reggae beats, and Joy Division synths mixed in seamlessly. The Cars’s first LP used to be known as the new wave album that punks liked, and the punk record owned by the normals. Blueberry Fist could build a similar bridge between the DIY scene and bourgie indie fans. I bet that if these guys came to your town, they’d get the crowd to boogie, then hang out afterwards and make friends with everybody. –CT Terry (Self-released)


BLATZ / FILTH:
The Shit Split: CD
Wow! Reviewing this in 2009 is a little strange, but it’s been re-released on Alternative Tentacles, leading to the only logical conclusion: Blatz and Filth desperately wanted me to review this and this was the only possible way! Thank you Anna Joy, Jesse, and the rest of the gang! First, the Filth side. Let’s be honest. I can’t get into Filth. I mean it would be strange if I liked Filth, but that’s okay because a lot of people do, so there’s no reason for Filth to sit around in a squat and cry. Blatz, on the other hand, well, there’s not much to say except that: I love, love, love this band! A good portion of my high school years were spent singing along to “Cockroach Café” while contemplating how much I hated ninety-eight percent of the people I knew! Screamy yet poppy! Screamy in the most amazing way! Punk rock! If the Blatz side were a split, it’d be Frosted Mini-Wheats, rough around the edges, but with sugar on top! Filth would be regular Mini-Wheats, of course! If you don’t own this, you know what you need to do. –Maddy (Alternative Tentacles)


BLACKENED:
This Means War: CD
Very metallic hardcore. The riffs are strong and the rhythm section is unbelievable. Chris Beattie and Dave Russo, from Hatebreed, are in this band, as well as Chris Legg from Fastbreak. The music is strong and takes over the room when this is on the stereo. The vocals took me a little getting used to. They work, but are not as heavy as the music. A little high pitched (not much, but a little), but what makes them work is that they’re strained. The way this album starts off, with “Tirade” is great. It’s raging and spastic without losing any of the heaviness. “This Burden off My Back” is the standout track here; really catchy tempo and memorable lyrics. –Matt Average (Think Fast!)


BLACK TIME:
Double Negative: CD
Considering Black Time’s Lemmy Caution never saw Crime in San Francisco or scored a bump of speed for Peter Laughner—the legitimacy of his group’s catalog is something of a mystery.Double Negative—Black Time’s third release—is more musical dissonance, yet a bit more refined. The Monks and Rocket From The Tombs are still there in the music. But there’s more experimentation, like phasers, sirens, and music played backwards (Fucking check “Backwards in Blacks”—really close to the genius of a Metal Box track!). I’m constantly tickled fucking pink by these Black Time kids; they’re refusing to produce music that’s irrelevant. But, I mean, what do you expect from a band that puts Ulrike Meinhof on its flyers and writes manifestos like they’re Situationists? –ryan (In The Red)


BITTER TEARS, THE:
Jam Tarts in the Jakehouse: CD
Apparently, these guys have an incredible live show: they wear bizarre costumes, intimidate the audience, and just generally raise some hell. I wish that same atmosphere was captured a bit more on the record though. We get some quirky, sort of country-influenced, sort of cabaret-influenced indie rock. I don’t dislike it but it’s a bit too sedate for my tastes. A couple of the songs do carry a genuinely eerie edge though, and whenever they kick up the guitars and the aggression, as on the menacing track “The Companion,” the record really comes to life. 
–Evan Katz (Carrot Top)


BE MY DOPPLEGANGER:
Sonic Annihilation: 7"
Decent pop punk, but, sadly, not as good as their Convertible Girls” 7. This sounds like one of the lesser-known Mutant Pop bands of the late ‘90s, with a little more rock and a little better production. If this were a cereal, it’d be Frosted Flakes. Decent, but not super exciting. –Maddy (It's Alive)


BESTIES, THE:
Home Free: CD
I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s been in this situation; you hear about a band, happen to see them randomly at a show, hear a song or two, and think “Man, this is great,” only never following up for whatever reason. Such is the case here. They play indie pop with duel keyboards and lady vocals, with a decent-ish pop punk edge to it (“What Would Tim Armstrong Do?” reminds me of one of my favorite Green Day songs). Recommended if you like poppier stuff. –joe (Hugpatch)


BAD LUCK #13:
The Rocky Road to Ruin: 7"
Name reminds me of Good Luck, title reminds me of the Ramones and ice cream, music reminds me of Street Dogs if Mike would stop singing like he’s got a fist in his mouth. Anyway, not bad for something I thought was going to be a shitty horror punk release, but made me think these guys are local legends and diddly squat anywhere else.  –Bryan Static (Buy Canadian/Disques NIM)


AUDACITY:
Power Drowning: LP
I definitely wasn’t as instantly won over by this release as I was with their split 7” with Thee Makeout Party. I’m thinking it could be one of the following reasons: the cover art is pretty dumb, the vocals are much more fuzzed out, and the sequencing of the album isn’t very fluid. But in lieu of those flaws, by the fourth listen I was completely won over. This record is crammed with beautifully epic pop melodies that come and go and punch ya and kiss ya and roll around in the mud with ya. And kinda why I appreciate technical metallic hardcore bands like Curl Up And Die and Genghis Tron I also hear in Audacity. They’re completely unafraid to mix it up and throw some completely new part into a song that’s high enough quality to be the chorus and yet only play it once. And it slays! But Audacity is, of course, not playing tech metal, they’re playing rock’n’roll in that way that only scrawny DIY punks can play it. A bag of sugar from Thee Makeout Party for the poppy ‘60s rhythms and a flying scissor kick from the Pterodacdudes (both bands they’ve played and done splits with) for the finely executed power-rock kamikaze attack. There are no bones about it, Audacity has the heart to make this music in a genuine way and, on top of that, they make it sound fucking good.  –Daryl Gussin (Burger/Recess)


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