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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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RAZOR BOIS:
Self-titled: CD
Very good oi from Russia with great lyrics and a really tight sound. While the music itself isn’t that surprising, the approach is, and it really brings the album to life. Original cover art, a worthy cause, and a very surprising final track make this a must have for fans of street punk that colors outside the lines. –Rene Navarro (Boycott the Fencewalkers!, daddydamage@gmail.com)


RATS, THE:
Self-titled: LP
Much light has been shed on The Rats since the Unknown Passage: The Dead Moon Story. For fans of garage and punk music, the footage of The Rats is the highlight of the film. Fred Cole has been outside the music business, playing for many years. While his playing has spanned a Spinal Tap range of styles, his DIY ethic is impressive. The Rats is his most punk rock outing from the early ‘80s. This re-issue of the first album proves their relevance. The Rats’ dry, lo-fi recordings and repetitive, driving drumming is similar in style to The Urinals. The Rats lyrics are perfect trash melodic: simple vocal melodies with a high-pitched yell for backups. Simpler songs like “World War III” and “Teenagers” are perfect, straightforward, angst-ridden art punk songs. The song “Flash Dogs” features a punchy, Farfisa-sounding organ, giving the song a budget-rock 1960s feel. Fred Cole was in a psych pop band in the ‘60s called The Lollypop Shoppe. This sparse brand of ‘60s influence is most prevalent in the vocal melodies. Sloppy, drum-driven ‘80s punk is always appreciated, and The Rats do not disappoint. This album, along with a recent collection of songs by Florida’s The Eat, proves that there are plenty of forgotten punk bands to unearth. –Guest Contributor (Mississippi)


PUSH-PULL / PRIZZY PRIZZY PLEASE:
PPPPPEP: Split 7”
Prizzy Prizzy Please is a strange but cool mix of synth, peppy drums, fuzz bass, and surprising sax—maybe even accordion or something else weird in there. Vocals are speedy and gruff then pop up to high pitches, too. For a split second, I thought of the noodling of Joe Satriani. No shit. It’s fun but a little too produced for me. Could be more dirty. Gotta have some mistakes in there to keep it exciting. Push-Pull have the same strange effect on me—not as fast but a weird mix of produced electronics, slap fuzzy bass, some jazz prog rock noodling—I swear I heard Dinosaur Jr. on this side. If you are in the mood for all this, you’ll be thrilled. –mike (Joyful Noise)


POINT JUNCTURE WA:
Heart to Elk: CD
How this came to Razorcake, I’m not sure. This sounds very coffee shop to me. I mean that it’s something that one of your local baristas would probably enjoy, but it’s not anything that would scare off the morning rush who are there only to get their coffee (or whatever) on the way to the office. It’s kinda drone-y and ambient indie rock while not forgetting to have some aim at pop. Nothing on here gets out of control, but nothing gets too accessible, either. –Vincent Battilana (Self-released)


PLATES:
The Garth Butcher: 7” EP
Plates, by way of Buffalo, NY provide us with three songs on this here 7” titled The Garth Butcher EP (in an earlier incarnation, the band apparently went by the moniker Garth Butcher, named after a retired professional hockey player), released on Feral Kid Records. Side one’s track, “Sentimental Jenny Jones Fodder Has Been Around for Fucking Ever,” has a taut, tense feel to it, observing the quiet/loud sensibilities of big fuzz forebears Dinosaur Jr and Sonic Youth, though here like a heavier bit of shoegaze, not quite as heavy as say, Tad or the Melvins but fuzzy, heavy shoegaze nonetheless. Second side takes a dip, in my opinion. “Pop Country Blowjobs” with its hollow drumming and “It’s all Billy Joel to me, motherfucker” chorus could have probably been left off of the record and no one would have missed it. Things pick up a little with the next song, “Romanian Rich,” which, despite its bleating vocals, brings to mind Poison Idea, ‘80s hardcore where the rock and roll is still evident. I’d like to hear more “Sentimental Jenny Jones…” and less punk-by-numbers, and I think Plates has it in them to do it. –Jeff (Feral Kid)


PIST, THE:
Input Equals Output Albums 1 & 2: LP
Double, but separately packaged and sold, set of material from the long gone, late, great Pist. Essentially, this is their discography of EPs, splits, comp tracks, demos, and live recordings from 1993 to 1996 (Ideas Are Bulletproof is reissued now as well). I remember seeing these guys open for Rorschach at Your Place Too in Oakland in 1993. A friend and I were totally surprised to hear a band like this at that time. When just about everyone else was delving into metal, or emo, or limp pop, these guys were playing pure punk, and their stage presence was honest, free of shallow posturing and played-out fashion. The music was well played, but it had this raw and gritty quality about it as well. They could thrash it out then play it slightly slower and never lose any momentum. These guys didn’t play punk to be cool, they played it because they meant it. I thought I had everything they put out, but seeing these two albums and all that is in here, there was quite a bit I was missing. Never knew they had a split with Malachi Krunch, which has the great song, “Mutual.” Then there were the comps I passed over back then; now it’s all here and easily accessible. This stuff holds up quite well twelve years later. Maybe it’s even better now than it was then. Like a fine wine. –Matt Average (Havoc)


PIST, THE:
Ideas Are Bulletproof: LP
Does The Pist still hold up in a post-Fucked Up world? Coming from someone who’s spent very little time actually listening to The Pist and has absolutely no fond memories of the ‘90s hardcore scene, I’d say this record has its moments. Angry, oi-inspired, hardcore punk that tells tales of angry, hardcore punk life. “Street punks in the city / And street punks at the show / The kids are here and the kids are pissed / Yeah, the kids are ready to go.” Yeah like gang vocals? –Daryl Gussin (Havoc)


PIRATE LOVE:
Black Vodoun Space Blues: CD
This self-described black punk band from Oslo, Norway comes correct on their debut album. Tracks range from ragged Birthday Party-influenced grooves to more surf’n’roll oriented tracks. It never falls victim to outright homage or camp; there’s an authentically dangerous vibe here. Lyrics deal with love gone murderously bad, to outright insanity. If this band was stateside, there’s no doubt that they would be huge right now. Seek this out! Evan Katz –Guest Contributor (Voodoo Rhythm)


PARTY BY THE SLICE:
Self-titled: Cassette
When Ben Crew, the singer of Minneapolis hardcore band In Defence, told me there was a war going on between those who champion pizza as the ultimate party food and those who believe tacos should truly be bestowed that honor, I didn’t entirely believe him. I didn’t understand why In Defence was so adamant about proclaiming the power of tacos. Then I got this tape. Freshly baked from the streets of Milwaukee, Party By The Slice has obviously picked its side in the pizza vs. tacos battle. Not only is this tape dripping with sizzling mozzarella and robust red sauce, the picture of the band members shows them all wearing anti-taco T-shirts. Through rough, pizza-centric thrash songs like “Zombie Food Fight,” they take a stand, really the only stand that a proud Wisconsinite could take: That pizzas beat tacos hands down every time. They had better step up the guitar solos and make sure they aren’t getting that bullshit fat-free cheese on their pies, because they’ve got a hell of a battle in front of them. –mp (Self-released)


PANGEA / HARVEST MOON SOCIETY:
Split: 7”
Pangea and Harvest Moon Society share both sides of the split, with one song by each band on both sides. Both bands share more than the sides of the record, in that both play indie folk/folk pop/folk punk and various other genre-splitting variations thereof. And though no details are included, both also seem to adhere to strict lo-fi recording techniques. I would venture that both bands recorded onto a 4-track in somebody’s living room, possibly live, as well. Pangea provides the big hit for this summer’s punk rock mix tape, with the incredibly catchy sing-a-long “Golden Arches,” with its chorus of “You are what you eat so/I ain’t no god damn golden arches,” while Harvest Moon Society brings a perhaps, slightly more mature sound on “Boat Song,” with it’s use of non-traditional (in the punk rock sense) instruments (mandolin? ukulele?) and a simple, straightforward, lazy laidback strum-a-long. While bedroom recordings are often just as ear pleasing as fancy pants studio productions and are often symbols of the artists’ labors and love for music (not to mention the whole DIY aspect), I still wouldn’t mind hearing what these songs could be if someone were willing to invest some time and money into the recording of these songs. I think what is here now could possibly represent the frame to a much larger, richer, fuller sound that maintains all of the heart displayed here. –Jeff (Stress Domain/Griznar Music)


PHENOMENAUTS, THE:
For All Mankind: CD
This CD comes in complicatedly folded cardboard sleeve that turns into a rocket ship. It’s pretty cool, but a major pain in the ass to fold back together afterwards. I recommend you slip the CD into a spare jewel case or something. There was also a cool die cut Phenomenauts pin that came with the CD. Musically, the Phenomenauts are best described as “space cadet rockabilly pop punk.” This could be a mess, except that the Phenomenauts actually write great, catchy, songs, continuing the excellence of their previous album Re-Entry. Having also seen them live several times, I can say that they are a genuinely mind blowing experience that shouldn’t be missed. This is the perfect music for cruising your ‘50s-era spaceship to the malt shop and flirting with cute aliens. Since the Groovie Ghoulies are no more (although Kepi is still going strong solo), I would say that the Phenomenauts are tied with Gogol Bordello for the best pure fun punk band around right now. –Adrian (Silver Sprocket)


PANGEA / HARVEST MOON SOCIETY:
SPLIT: 7”
Both bands are acoustic in the general Plan-It-X way, but at this point, I really can’t deal with folk punk, other than certain bands that fall under the grandfather clause (This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb, Carrie Nations, et al). Disclaimer time! If you’re still into folk punk, then you’d probably like this. If this were a cereal, it’d be Corn Flakes. –Maddy (Stress Domain/Griznar Music)


MISS, THE:
No Radio: CD
Noisy rock band mines the gray area between 100 Flowers and Jesus Lizard. Results aren’t too bad. –jimmy (Morphius)


MILES BETWEEN US:
self-titled: 7”
Hardcore, straight edge style. It even says so on the disc label. Straight edge… don’t you need a straight edge to chop and line up healthy gaggers of cocaine and/or speed? Hmm, I suppose not in this case. I’m guessing it means the X’s-on-your-hands, singers-pointing-to-the-sky-while-singing kind of straight edge. How silly of me to think of honkers initially. And I hope that those are tofu burgers sizzling on the barbecue grill as pictured on the other side of this disc label, because if they ain’t, some pissed-off bovines are gonna come down and violently mule-kick all your doors in until they find the offending parties… straight edge… good GAWD… –dale (Blatherskyte)


MIDNIGHT THUNDER EXPRESS :
self-titled: CD
Some very unabashed Thunders worship here. Sounds like every song could’ve made the LAMF final cut. For what they are, this ain’t too shabby. –jimmy (Empty)


MERMA, LA:
Saludos al Tirano: CD
Kinda weird listen here: Mexican punk rock with shades of spaghetti western music that, for some bizarre reason, reminds me of the Pogues even though they sound nothing like them. Although it was a good listen, I’ve definitely got to get more sleep. –jimmy (Cochebomba)


MELVINS, THE:
Hostile Ambient Takeover: CD
Jeezusss!! The fuggin’ Melvins are a bomb in the subway. Total sonic destruction, ear splitting guitars and drums to turn your brain to mush. The best thing they’ve done lately, and obliterates all the bands trying to stand in their shadow. My year-old son can’t get enough of this disc. The future looks bright. –Matt Average (Ipecac)


MDC:
Now More Than Ever: CD
I may be wrong, but I think a version of this CD was released a couple years back but it was extremely hard to get, they didn’t include “Missile Destroyed Civilization,” and the packaging was half as good. MDC are one of the undisputed progenitors of PC punk/hardcore. Looking back, they seem a little blunt – “Corporate Deathburger,” “Henry Kissmtassinger,” and their name – going mostly by Millions of Dead Cops and sometimes Millions of Damn Christians. But, it was this blunt force trauma that worked and was needed right out of the gate when Reagan was still in the White House. Absolutely to their credit, MDC were one of the first punk bands to devote almost their entire career to what may seem old hat right now but was ground breaking at the time: discussing immigrant rights, vegetarianism, the abuses of the CIA, police brutality, and the degradation of the environment, to name a few. Quite a few of the songs musically hold up, regardless if you don’t remember Kissinger being Nixon’s Secretary of State who openly proclaimed “The illegal we can do right now; the unconstitutional will take a little longer.” I think a lot of people gloss over the fact that some of the slower, acoustic, and country-tinged songs like “Skinhead” and “Chicken Squawk” are just as good, if not better from a point of view that the straight-ahead hardcore blasts, which tended to get the drums trapped at the same tempo. A welcome re-issue. –todd (Beer City)


MDC:
Now More Than Ever: CD
The title says it all. In a time when self-appointed messenger from God, John Ashcroft wants to rip our civil liberties to shreds, Dick Cheney keeps trying to pad his bank account with the spoils of Alaska, and TomRidge’s color-coded homeland security system tells us if it’s orange we’re totally fucked, we need MDC. BeerCity presents thirty-one hardcore anarcho-protest songs from the dark days of the evil empire that spawned the New New World Order. Think of it as a hardcore time capsule from the ‘80s. But it’s not all “smash the state” and “kill the cop in yourself,” songs like “Deep in the Heart,” “Skinhead” and “Nazis Shouldn’t Drive” demonstrate a sense of humor that MDC’s contemporaries couldn’t match, paving the way for bands like NOFX and Anti-Flag. MDC is one of the few politically aware bands that insist you take them seriously and reward those who do with passion, intelligence, and humor. –jim (Beer City)


MDC:
Now More than Ever: CD
A greatest hits package that spans from 1980-2000. Once formerly the Stains based out of Texas, they changed their name when they found out there was a band with the same name in
East LA.
When they (with name changed) and DRI moved to SF, they became one of the bands of the scene that broke out throughout the world. They were at the forefront in the early eighties with their politically charged lyrics and brash hardcore attack. Their first album, Millions of Dead Cops, and the EP, Multi Death Corporations, was a must have at the time. I still pull those records out to this day. It’s nice to hear many of the same songs here without the cracks and pops. My copies are pretty worn from being played so much. It was probably hard to compile all these songs because everybody has their favorites. I appreciate the effort and I think this is a good listen. Now kids, go buy this before you waste your money on Ebay on the originals. –don (Beer City)


MC5:
Human Being Lawnmower: CD
Studio outtakes and assorted live tracks from this essential group. If you’ve heard ‘em before, you know what to expect and this sure delivers. If you happen to be one of the five people on the planet who hasn’t heard anything by these guys, you really should get out more often. –jimmy (Bomp/Disaster/Alive/Total Energy)


MATCHEADS:
Backtracks 1980-1982: CD
This is a disc of what I assume are garage demo recordings of this band, apparently made famous by an appearance on a Killed By Death comp. Not quite sure why they were included on one of those comps, as the songs on this disc are pretty much middle-of-the-road garage rock in sound and not particularly interesting to boot. –jimmy (dcgarcia_96826@yahoo.com)


MASTER CONTROL:
self-titled: CD
A self-described “combination of old-school hip hop aesthetic, classic rock (which I personally hear zilch of, thankfully), and new wave blended with the methods of modern electronic production.” What that translates to is bass drum-driven new wave that would be thoroughly boring were it not for the use of robot voices throughout the entire disc. Don’t quite get the whole “fall of American culture” stuff, but the robot voices sure are cool. I’m a total sucker for robot voices. –jimmy (www.hsarecords.com)


MANIFESTO JUKEBOX:
Remedy: CD
People mention Husker Du and Leatherface when bringing up Manifesto Jukebox. I’d huck in a splot of Jawbox. Someone even name dropped, Mush, Leatherface’s masterpiece. Fellow Razorcake creator, Sean, walked in when I was giving this one of many listens and without making a joke, asked, “Is this Hot Water Music?” Hmmm. Maybe me ears aren’t hearing things right. Yeah, the vocalist sounds like he’s sandpapered on vinyl. The guitars can glisten and slice, but the tempos all seem to be in the same range. All the songs fold into one another without a whole bunch of distinction. Sure, it’s well played and they do a decent job of sounding desperate and taking a couple twists and turns, but it just doesn’t grab me, shake me, make me want to sing along, or make me want drink gasoline from a bottle or lend a closer ear. To me, it’s the difference between sterility and organic explosion. Manifesto Jukebox seem to be playing inside the craters that previous, better bands – bands that I’ve listened to and enjoyed for years on end – have cleared out. To check my ears’ calibration, I listened to this ten times over two weeks, steeled my nerves, scrunched my face, and listened to Remedy from tip to tail. Nope. Didn’t stick. –todd (BYO)


MANIFESTO JUKEBOX:
Remedy: CD
I hate to sound redundant and cliched, but the first word that comes to mind when listening to Manifesto Jukebox is intense (as defined by Webster: “Having or exhibiting a distinctive feature to an extreme degree” and also “Deeply felt; profound.”). Manifesto Jukebox’s distinctive feature is their undeniable aural rage that’s all-at-once passionate, precise, and, yes, profound. It’s most definitely pure punkrock kineticism in attitude, emotion, and delivery (but thankfully without all of the stylish and predictable bullshit antics that routinely permeate the punkrock airwaves today!). With this sonically endearing CD, my ears are appreciatively basking in an arousing assortment of sound that’s entirely riveting, uniquely original, and powerfully uplifting. Gravelly, anger-tinged vocals, jangly and urgent distortion-heavy guitars, power-surge undercurrents of bass-thumping splendor, and sporadic deafening bursts of volcanic percussion all intricately intermingle into one immense explosion of unstoppable energy (think Husker Du, Leatherface, and an entire regiment of Molotov cocktail-tossing seditionists). I swear to you, this is one of the most life-altering auditory experiences I’ve ever endured. So rise-up and meet the Manifesto Jukebox challenge as soon as humanly possible. Your ears will be eternally grateful! –Roger Moser, Jr. –Guest Contributor (BYO)


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