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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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MUMZEES:
Heavy Desert: Cassette
Sometimes I’m just so jaded. Just wasn’t expecting to like this tape for whatever cynical reason, but, damn, this put me in such a good mood. First off, it has a bratty Blur sound—yes, I said Blur—with a heavy dose of Coachwhips. Mumzees recorded its thrashy drums and bass just tragically fuzzed out, but this effect works to their advantage. It brings the sweet, melodic surf guitar and spacey, distorted, super bratty Damon Albarn vocals to the forefront, which seems to float on the fluffy fuzz of bass and drums with a dreamlike effect. Fresh take on the tried and true lo-fi garage formula.  –Camylle Reynolds (Broken Hip)


MY FICTIONS:
I Want Nothing: 10”
Emotive hardcore from Massachusetts, with some early-aughts screamo proclivities.  –Jeff Proctor (Flannel Gurl)


NASTY RUMOURS:
“Girls in Love” b/w “Barbwire Heart”: 7” Single
Foot-tapping, head-bopping, steady-as-she-goes Swiss power pop punk rock. Think the brighter side of The Wipers. This is good... this is really good. A stellar two-song tease. Not much more to say about it; just go get it already! Oh yeah, one more thing to mention—the cover art. The band name is printed on the plastic sleeve. Pretty neat-o.  –Jackie Rusted (Wanda)


NATURE BOYS:
“Pissy Wind” b/w “Coast to Coast": 7”
Aesthetically, these folks might be punk as fuck, but the sound is more a driving rock’n’roll on “Pissy Wind,” with echoey production and some surf twang here and there. It’s an ode to someone who’s full of shit, their mouth just stirring up a pissy wind. “Coast to Coast” is about running around living life, trying to find answers and figure shit out. It’s written as if the singer is talking to a friend about “all the time we waste/ all the thrills we chase.” A solid couple of rock songs. I’d like to hear a full-length.  –Craven Rock (Replay)


NEEDS:
Needs: LP/CD
These Vancouver punks come across like if Single Mothers veered slightly off its demented rock/hardcore path to include a chunk of angular post-punk in its attack. Needs combines both of these aspects with aplomb, leading to a rage-fuelled explosion with Sean Orr shredding his throat as he demands—and gets—my attention. The one curio on the album comes in the form of “Nag Champion (Smoke Break)”, a two minute piece of ambient music with the noise of someone smoking, which provides a brief contrast to the fury before returning to the more prevalent frenzied offerings.  –Rich Cocksedge (File Under: Music)


NERVOUS, THE:
Demo Tape 2015: Cassette
There are great people and great bands, and sometimes you come across both at the same time. The Nervous from Denver, CO is one of those instances. Some of the nicest people you will ever meet, and they happen to bust out some amazing, scrappy, take-no-prisoners punk rock. This tape sports four new songs that continue to build on their amazing first 7”. Jennie belts the lyrics out with a level of force and conviction that makes me wonder how she has any voice left at all after a show. They are definitely one of my favorite bands going right now.  –ty (toonervous.bandcamp.com)


NEWISH STAR:
How Soon We Forget: Cassette
Buffalo, NY, trio Newish Star crams a whole lot of disparate influences into each of the ten super short tracks on their second self-released cassette. While the music itself recalls everything from ‘90s radio alternative to emo to pop punk, guitarist Jordan’s talky, staccato vocals evoke arty indie lo-fi. Tracks such as “Crooked Road” and “Great Scott” venture into more easily digestible melodic territory. As if by some dark magic, this complex album ultimately feels cohesive and conceptual. Let’s just call it “pinballcore,” as the band’s love for the sport—is pinball a sport?—is expressed both on their social media and How Soon We Forget’s cover art. High Score awarded for the sly Addam’s Familyreference in the packaging and the aesthetic of the tape itself, which is the same pink and grey as the horse stable Lego set I had as a kid. Points deducted for getting my hopes up that “Girl, You Know It’s True” would be a legit Milli Vanilli cover.  –Kelley O’Death (Self-released)


NEWISH STAR:
Look Both Ways: Cassette
It looks like this outfit is from Buffalo. That said, Newish Star plays no-frills, lo-fi punk rock with a hint of garage jangling out my speakers. It makes me think of The Horribly Wrong (music-wise) meets Wingnut Dishwashers Union (vocal-wise). For all I know, it could be the dude from W.D.U., but no info was included with the tape and my requisite two minutes of internet investigation did not confirm this possibility. Nevertheless, if stripped-down rock’n’roll is your thing, check this out. (If you’re irked by cassettes, it looks as though Look Both Ways can be streamed on bandcamp.)  –The Lord Kveldulfr (No address listed)


NO BUSINESS:
Self-titled: Cassette
In the vein of X’s album Los Angeles, No Business really straddles the line between hard rock and punk. Songs are written with complex and layered melodies with straight-up rock hooks and dark surf guitar. Tough girl vocals and the swift throb of menacing bass sets the tone. They aren’t taking any shit. A true standout on this cassette, by far, is “Mind Machine.” It has the most incredible tough-as-nails riff. Brainworm for days!  –Camylle Reynolds (Self-released)


NO HANDS:
“Conquerors” / “Dirty Water”: Cassette
I was really disappointed to be graced by only two songs from No Hands—they play modern hardcore that leaves me wanting more. “Conquerors” is an up-tempo leg-breaker in the vein of the Bad Vibes, and “Dirty Water” is slower, more sonically chaotic, and more desperate in its affect, kind of like some of Born Against’s less immediately accessible songs. This is a solid one-two punch.  –The Lord Kveldulfr (Urban Scandal)


NO MORE SAINTS:
Consume: LP
Pretty ferocious political punk out of OrangeCounty from some veterans of the old school California sound. This is some pound-a-40-and-attempt-to-drop-into-an-empty-pool-for-the-first-time-in-at-least-a-decade kind of music. This was a fun listen. Comes on pink and black marbled vinyl.  –Jeff Proctor (nomoresaints.com)


NO OMEGA:
Occupants: 12” EP
For lack of a better term, I would call this millennial-core: the type of hardcore that makes the kids go bananas despite the music itself being relatively non-threatening and watered down with sky high production, triggered drums, and down-tuned octaves galore. Someone book these guys at Chain Reaction, posthaste. The kids with the Xs on their hands are waiting to buy a beanie.  –Juan Espinosa (Dog Knights, Protagonist, dogknightsproductions.com)


NO PARENTS:
Self-titled: Cassette
No Parents plays class-less, slimy garage pop punk in the vein of Cum Stain and Pookie & The Poodlez. With song titles like “I’m a Dildo,” “DickCity,” and “Piss for Lube,” their tongue is planted firmly in cheek—among other places. This is addictive trash, like Del Taco after 1 AM. After multiple listens, I need to sanitize my ears. Recommended for the masochist in you.  –Sean Arenas (Burger)


NO TOMORROW BOYS:
Who Killed Johnny: 7”
Another single of rock’n’roll punk from this Portland, OR band featuring Matt Mayhem of Young People With Faces. There is a pretty good Junk Records style tune on the A side. Sounds a bit like the Weaklings or maybe the more amped-up Dragons stuff. B side is a way too fast cover of the Bob Seger classic “Get out of Denver,” which shaves all the edges off and rocks less because of it.  –frame (Hound Dawg!)


NO///SÉ:
Lower Berth: LP
Oakland’s No///sè has crafted the most refreshing genre-warping punk LP I’ve heard in ages. Each song departs from the previous tone and engages a different facet of punk, lighting up synapses in my brain and making me numb with joy. Everything is inspired, curating familiar sounds without repackaging nostalgia. “One Step Behind” opens with a raging Spits-like chant of the song title, then detours into “The Little Things You Love to Hate,” which recalls melodic punk like Libyans and No Problem. The haggard vocals are positioned equally alongside the razor sharp guitars, masking—but not burying—the infectious melodies behind a wall of distortion. But surprises abound. “Buried Alive” is pure power pop with enunciated singing and a driving bassline that plunges into “Neglect,” one of Lower Berth’s harshest songs. These tonal shifts demonstrate that listeners don’t need to be repeatedly spoon-fed the same song in new clothing. On “Wiped Out,” the chorus repeats “no point / no cure” as a nihilist mantra, followed by “Given Up,” a solo song that’s less fatalistic and more empowering: “I’ve given up on your stupid lie... because it’s always wrong.” No///sè reassures me that the rusty frame of punk and hardcore can be constantly spit-shined and polished into a pedaling beast. Bonus: If you listen to the LP on its Bandcamp, No///sè also shares a tasty, sped-up cover of Tom Waits’s “Dirt in the Ground” and a stripped-down version of “Buried Alive.”  –Sean Arenas (Man In Decline, manindeclinerecords.com / 1859, 1859records.bandcamp.com)


NUDITY:
Astronomicon: LP
Whoah, fun. Nudity from Olympia plays bright and exciting psyche punk that isn’t dopey or pretentious. Between the soaring guitarmonies, propulsive Thee Oh Sees space freakouts, and general air of cock rock bombast, there’s a lot going on. Nudity pulls it all together with a smile. It’d be easy for them to ruin it with tongue-in-cheek jokiness, but one listen convinced me that they are dead serious about good times.  –Chris Terry (Iron Lung)


OUAIS / SECRET PAPER MOON:
Split: Cassette
On the one side, Ouais has sweet, warm guitars, soft drumming, ‘90s indie rock feel with moody, and droney vocals that build into a crescendo of shouts. It’s a two piece from Pittsburgh whose name means “yeah” in French and is pronounced like “way.” I was definitely more interested in the Ouais’ side of this split, as Secret Paper Moons is lead by rather warbled vocal stylings that are often off key, and that is not my jam. The vocals actually make it pretty unlistenable for me, which is unfortunate since the rest of the band has this cool shoegaze-y, indie vibe going on. I’d say that the two tracks from Ouais, versus three from Secret Paper Moon, more than make up for my feelings of the latter. Tapes are a limited run and spooled on lavender cassettes with a rather brief insert.  –Kayla Greet (Dot Dot Dash / Richard Magnelli)


OUTCASTS, THE:
Frustration (The Best of 1977-85): LP
As the title implies, this is a “best of” collection of tunes from one of Belfast’s earliest punk bands. Much of their finest work is here—although it is a bit odd that the track for which the album is named is not here—for the punters to pogo to their hearts’ content, including “Justa Nother Teenage Rebel,” “Love Is for Sops,” “You’re a Disease,” and so on. Included are extensive liner notes to keep inquisitive bastards like me happy. If you ain’t got this shit elsewhere, it’s essential listening, natch.  –jimmy (Wanda)


PETER PAN SPEEDROCK:
Buckle Up and Shove It: CD
Zeke without the meth flameout being a constant threat? Motörhead with a bit more AC/DC wiggle in the tail? Yes to both, actually. These Dutch demolitionists deliver over-the-top rock that swaggers, snarls, and howls with the best of ‘em across the thirteen scorchers—including covers of the Damned’s “New Rose” and Yardbirds’ “Heart Full of Soul,”—contained herein. Plop it on, point the speakers outward, and watch it scorch your lawn.  –jimmy (Self Destructo)


PITY:
The Struggle II: 7”
Six songs of frantic garage stuff that leans pretty heavily towards hardcore, if that makes sense. I’d be surprised if each side makes it to the two-minute mark. Pretty minimal packaging—I’d like to know the lyrics to songs like “How to Be a Better Ally” and “No God Can Judge Me”—but they smoke pretty good. File somewhere between Cut The Shit and Go Sell Drugs, yes?  –keith (Pity)


PLATINUM BOYS:
Future Hits: LP
Future Hitsopens up with a fiery little power pop number about smoking, drinking, cocaine, and cars and trucks. That is essentially the extent of Platinum Boys’ subject matter and interests, making for a rather redundant-sounding record. I do detect a Southern-fried influence in the guitar hooks and overall attitude (the words “punk sucks” printed on the album insert) which explains the disconnect I have with the record. I wish I could say that I relate to a rock’n’roll lifestyle of boozin’, cruisin’, and one night stands, but I have enough problems as it is. The truth is that while this brand of Southern-influenced power pop is lost on me, I do see these guys appealing to the Goner Fest type of crowd of handle bar mustachioed, tattooed, jean vest-wearing anti-punk rockers.  –Juan Espinosa (Dusty Medical)


PLOW UNITED:
Self-titled: LP
This is a loving reissue of Plow United’s 1994 debut LP. I can understand why this was a formative record for a lot of people who heard it when it first came out —it’s personal, fun, fast as shit, and indicative of the great stuff they would go on to do later. That said, I think their best work was years in the future—their most recent full length, Marching Band, was phenomenal. This? This is just okay. Quick, endearingly awkward pop punk songs that rely less on melody and more on a stuttering, veering kind of song structuring, frequent blitzkrieg lyrical passages, vocal interplay, and the occasional stroke of musical brilliance. I don’t think it’s held up amazingly well twenty years later, but it’s irrefutably better than the shit I was making in 1994, so there’s that.  –keith (It’s Alive)


POOL PARTY:
Number One: LP
This band sounds like if NOFX and the Dwarves had a surf punk baby. Then that baby was raised on the Ramones in California. The vocals are sloppy and snotty, which sound great over the poppy instrumentals. Every track seems to be almost separate from the flow of the album—like different looking houses in a neighborhood all different colors, but all the same place. It’s a strength to pull that off. The lyrics are somewhat gritty and funny. Most songs are about drinking by pools, doing drugs, and making out with all the girls. –Monique Greig  –Guest Contributor (It’s Alive)


PORN STARS OF HORROR, THE:
Sex, Drugs, Violence and Sodomy: 7”
The Porn Stars Of Horror continues to perplex me. I hate them and I love them. Thematically, they have two sides. The side I love is the rad, anthemic songs about horror flicks. On this particular record, they do a super fast jam about the movie Child’s Play. The combo of throat-ripping female vocals and deeper, more sing-songy dude voice is used to perfect effect. I’m way into this kind of thing. But then there’s the thematic side of this band that I hate: the puerile, porn side. I’m not against sex songs, I just require that they either make me laugh or arouse me or outrage me or something, not just make me groan, which is what the song “Touch” did. It’s about butthole touching. To make matters more complicated, the band also has two sides musically: the straight-up punk rock side and the acoustic side. I really wish someone would steal their acoustic guitar.  –mp (1332)


PRETTY FLOWERS, THE:
My Alchemist: 7”
The first seconds of the title track lay it all out there: this is some jangly, post-punky, lighthearted indie rock, the kind of thing you might start calling a summer jam but end up keeping in rotation through the colder, duller seasons. This lands somewhere between Grandaddy and The Thermals, with a little more shimmery guitar. Noah Green’s vocals are clear and clean in front of everything. That kind of production doesn’t always work, but Green has just the right kind of voice for it, open and earnest and artless. The record concludes with a pleasantly laid-back cover of J Church’s “Panama,” something you may not have known you wanted but can almost certainly find a place for in your heart. Just three quick songs, but a pretty promising debut. My Alchemist does what indie rock should—it’s thoughtful, it’s punchy, it’s poppy, and then it’s over.  –Indiana Laub (Clear As Mud)


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