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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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CIVIC MINDED FIVE/ SWING DING AMIGOS:
Split: 7"
I’d like to start off by saying that I really like the Civic Minded Five. Their Trackin’ the Bacon Train is a milestone of good timey retardation, and their split with the Blacks is a flat out great punk record. That said, these two songs aren’t exactly their best material. I like them a lot more when they raise a ruckus, like “Let’s Get Civic Minded, Motherfucker,” rather than when they get more goofy. I can’t really describe the Swing Ding Amigos, but for some reason they really make me want to listen to Servotron. I don’t know if that’s a subliminal thing or what, but I applaud them for that. –Josh (Recess)


CIVIC MINDED FIVE / SWING DING AMIGOS:
Split : 7"
Live, the CM5 kill. On record, I don’t know what it is, but they’ll have a perfectly good song and then do something “funny,” like add chicken sounds or say “ickyickyicky” over and over again. It’s okay on first listen, but it gets irritating. I understand the need to mix things up, and bend two poles together that aren’t usually touching – much like the Fleshies do with classic rock riffs and Cows-like weirdness – but I’d really just like a CM5 record to blast me all the way through, just once. It’s even harder to say because I know these dudes, they’re really nice and they’re talented as fuck. Swing Ding Amigos: although I’ve never seen them live, I’ve heard great things about them, and met a couple of them in person but when they go for the falsetto, singing “Slowride,” I wish they’d just keep on kicking the hell out of massive jams instead of pushing the weird button or relying on the chemical imbalance that seems to by a byproduct of living in the high desert. That all said, no, I don’t really recommend this 7”, but I’ll definitely listen to what both bands come up with next. –todd (Recess)


CIRCLE TAKES SQUARE:
As the Roots Undo: CD
First off is the cool packaging, great artwork, and the fear that I will truly hate this. At first glance, I’m truly scared that this is going to be emo. My fears are somewhat correct. This band, to me, has emo overtones. But the music alters from the blueprint and dives into other places. There are dual male and female vocals. The music goes from progressive rock to full blast beats of rage. Will I listen to this again? I don’t know. –don (Robotic Empire)


CHINA WHITE:
Live Cheap: CD
Another total surprise this time around, and one that is more than welcomed. For those not in the know, China White was one of the original Southern California punk/hardcore bands, who managed to release a couple of comp tracks and an absolutely crucial EP, Dangerzone, before imploding. Collected here are mostly live cuts from various places, both from the band’s original incarnation back in 1981 and the recent incarnation playing “reunion” shows not too long ago. Live versions of most, if not all, of the tunes from the EP are here, and the sound quality and performances are great. Extra special treats include the two tracks from their original demo that were previously only available on the Life Is Ugly So Why Not Kill Yourself comp, and two live videos for those of us lucky enough to have computers. Limited to 500 copies, so you might wanna think about selling off your sister in order to procure your copy or something and, trust me, it’ll be worth it. –jimmy (Malt Soda)


CHEIFS, THE:
Holly-West Crisis: CD
I love the Cheifs. They were a defining moment in punk music for me. Not very widely known, they were Hollywood punks who played in LA and OC punk’s initial waves in ‘80 and ‘81, gigging with the Germs and X and, later on, the Adolescents, Angry Samoans, and TSOL. The Cheifs were great in that they took the newness, nihilism, and swinging of Southern California’s first wave – from the Gears and the Plugz – but weren’t scared to put a bit more spastic speed into the mix. The perfect bridge between two short-lived eras. The thing that gets me, when I mention them to the populace at large, I get shrugs. It may be that they didn’t have a cool logo for t-shirts or that, not until ‘97, when Flipside released the entire Cheifs output (including stuff that’d never been been put out) that you could find any of their music for less than a $300 7” on Ebay. However, I remember mentioning the Cheifs to Bill Stevenson of the Descendents and before I could get the question out, he was pounding out the drums to “Riot Squad” on the arm of a couch. When I was working at Flipside, too, I remember Henry Rollins writing in, on the back of a postcard, “Thanks for releasing the Cheifs. You made the world a better place.” Absolutely admired by their contemporaries. Here’s a bit of trivia. One of them got a shitload of Xanadu (the movie with Olivia Newton John) t-shirts, turned them inside out, and spray painted of them (If you look closely to the picture of George, you can see there’s a sticker over his Xanadu shirt). The problem? They spelled “chiefs” wrong. It’s stayed “incorrect” ever since. Since Flipside went under, Dr. Strange has the good taste and sense to give this excellent slice of punk a re-issue. –todd (Dr. Strange)


CAVE 4:
Sheena Was Right: CD
A potent potpourri of punk, garage rock, and surf instrumentals. The singer sometimes sounds like Javier Escovedo’s German love child. Some solid tunes sure to spice up your summer bash quite nicely. –jimmy (Swindlebra)


CAUSTIC CHRIST:
Can’t Relate: LP
I was really feelin’ their gallop-speed, pissed off hardcore sound, and would venture to say that I would easily consider myself a fan, but covering Flipper’s “Ha Ha Ha” was a mistake. What’s next, a cover of “Xanadu”? You simply should not mess with perfection, kids, ‘cause you never know what’ll happen. Next thing you know, the earth shifts on its axis, chaos ensues, and Bush gets a second term. In short, my friends, buy, play loud, play often, but never, NEVER play the last song on side two. –jimmy (Havoc)


CASUALTIES, THE:
On The Front Line: CD
Members of The Casualties, we need to talk about your flair. We want you to express yourself. Now you know that it is up to you whether you want to just wear the bare minimum of buttons, patches, colored hair, mohawks, liberty spikes, chains, spiked studs and leather or not. Now if you feel that the bare minimum is enough, then, OK, but some bands choose to wear more. We encourage that. People can listen to music anywhere, they listen to punk for the atmosphere and the attitude. That’s what flair’s about. It’s about fun. You want to express yourself, don’t you?  OK, great. That is all I ask.  And for those of you paying attention, if you have heard one Casualties album, you have heard them all. –toby (Side One Dummy)


BURY THE LIVING:
Burn This Fucking Nightmare: LP
Wow, I could’ve sworn I heard that these guys had called it quits, but here’s another album from ‘em. Same drill as on previous releases, meaning you get super-fast, super-pissed hardcore and oodles of tunes spread over both sides of this disc. Does it rock? You know it, daddy-o. –jimmy (Soul Is Cheap)


BROKEN BOTTLES:
In the Bottles: CD
Broken Bottles is one of my favorite bands right now. I love to see them live, and I can’t listen to their seven inches and EP enough. So I was really excited to get this, their first full album. Now that I have it, I have to say, it’s pretty cool, but I’m not blown away. I think this is probably one of the best albums of the year, but it’s not as impressive as Broken Bottles’ previous releases. They’ve included some of their best songs from the EPs on this, like “Gothic Chicks,” “Kelly Osbourne,” and “Bloody Mary,” but the new versions of these songs are a little slower and a little cleaner. To be honest, though, I prefer them faster and dirtier. Some of the new songs are really cool, too, like “Drinking in the Rain” and “Sixteen Forever.” And “Pink Swastika” is pretty funny. As a whole, these guys have taken the best of Southern California bands like Social Distortion, TSOL, and the US Bombs and developed a rad new sound with it. I highly recommend this album. I just know that these guys have more punk rock in them than this album shows. –sean (TKO)


BREAK THE SILENCE:
Near Life Experience: CD
It’s not that this predictable, metallic, Fat-styled punk featuring former members of Rise Against and 88 Fingers Louie is bad – it just isn’t interesting. Sure, it’s melodic. Sure, it sounds like No Use For A Name and Lagwagon (so much so that I wondered if Boss had started making a Fat effects stompbox). Sure, it has an At The Gates cover. However, there is very little here to distinguish this album as something new, to fix it at any point in time other than the mid-1990s and at any place other than Southern California. If you’re young and want to reminisce about how mainstream punk sounded ten years ago while still purchasing something new, this album is perfect. If you’re anything like me, you should skip to the next review which, for the record, is exactly what I’m doing. –scott (Hopeless)


BONA ROBA:
Cunningham Park: 7"
Garage rock that, while it isn’t bad per se, just never quite goes over the edge, making it safe for Hives fans to dig. The B-side was much better. –jimmy (www.sonico.de)


BOLIDES, THE:
Science under Pressure: CD
Sixties-inspired trash rock, with maybe the slightest dash of Devo thrown in for color. The songs go on a bit longer than maybe they should, but otherwise the ride is relatively rockin’. –jimmy (Dionysus)


BLACK COUGAR SHOCK UNIT:
Self-titled: CDEP
Another tough review. I know this band’s pedigree. The core is Alex Ulloa – Panthro UK United 13 and House on Fire (if you need barns to burn, or do a lineup of who your best friends are, put Sound of a Gun on. Whoever remains has passed that test properly). It’s Alex’s dominant voice and guitar work that punctuate this CD. That’s the good news. The voice is still commanding. The lyrics still penetrate like the smell of gas and the flinting sound of a lighter (“bring out the dead who fill your head”). The bad news is that gone are the intricate rumblings inside the volcano. Gone are Jimmy the Truth’s bass troublings. Gone are the Didjits by way of Florida swamps drumming. It almost sounds like a band that hasn’t gelled completely yet, or is structured completely around Alex, by design. It’s definitely not ass, but it’s also not the carpet bombing similar to the Plane of Jars I was crossing my fingers for. Perhaps it’s because the musicians play more as soloists instead of in gang tackles. Perhaps “I Claim This One in the Name of France” sounds unfinished, when I’ve come to expect complete universes with the folks involved with this CD. I’m still listening to it. Maybe it’ll crack wide open later. –todd (Newest Industry)


BIZARROS:
Can’t Fight Your Way Up Town from Here: CD
A new release here from one of Akron’s more obscure proto-punk bands. Nearly thirty years after they first plugged in, the tunes they slang still sound like a product of that time, yet also seem more like an expansion of the sounds they began mining back in the days when they were playing songs like “Lady Dubonette” and “Laser Boys.” There’s still that schizophrenic quality to their set list, swinging back and forth from arty bar rock to growling rockers with ease. If you have no preconceived notions of what “punk” should sound like, are musically adventurous, and can appreciate when a band has obviously put in some good work, this is recommended ‘cause these guys remain at the top of their game. –jimmy (Clone)


BEFORE BRAILLE:
Cattle Punching on a Jack Rabbit: CD
Some really cool cover art of a cowboy wranglin’ dogies while riding a jack rabbit (and you though it was just a clever album title), all of which is totally wasted on bad post-emo art rock. It’s criminal, I tell you. –jimmy (Sunset Alliance)


BBQ:
Self-titled: CD
As a fan of both the Spaceshits and one man bands, I can’t even begin to tell you how let down I was by this. The guitars have a pretty cool sixties garage sound to them, but then the guy goes and fucks it all up by opening his mouth. No matter how open-minded I may be about music, I cannot and will not embrace sock hop music. Ever. –Josh (Alien Snatch)


BANG! BANG!:
Do You Like It?: CD
Did you know that back in the ‘70s the Alice Cooper Band were forced at gunpoint by Mick Jagger to write and record an album with the lippy Glimmer Twin? I didn’t either. But here it is. And if one listen isn’t enough to convince you of the verity of this recently come-to-light factoid, then just check out the lead vox on this disc who coyly goes by the moniker “Jack Flash.” Like that isn’t a total give away. But wait a minute... now he sounds like Richard Hell. Man, after that first song I was certain it was Mick Jagger. I guess it doesn’t matter ‘cause I never liked either one of those over-cherished suckwads. So to answer the original question, no, I guess I don’t like it. But the hot blond chick bass player on the other hand... –aphid (Heads Up)


AXES OF EVIL:
Married to America: CD
A politically astute punk band mired in a bog of clichéd metal riffage. Really, really wanted to like this, but overt headbangin’ fodder makes me stomach churn. –jimmy (New Regard Media)


AWAY FROM NOW:
Sic Semper Tyrannis: CD
Mixture of Hot Water Music and Thursday meets tough guy hardcore from Australia. Fit your profile? Do you need this? –don (Pee)


AVSKUM:
Punkista: CD
This band is from Sweden and has been playing on and off since the early ‘80s. It’s fast and furious, like Discharge, but some of the songs are a little slow, too. There are a total of fifteen songs on here. These guys are not happy with all the war, capitalism, and injustice in the world. Although the lyrics are in broken English, you know exactly where they are coming from. If you are a fan of Prank, you will love this CD. –Mike Beer –Guest Contributor (Prank)


AUTOMATIC:
Black Ink Rising: CD
Had a real tough time with this release, ‘cause there’s something buried in their sound that I really like. It’s almost like they’ve taken a nugget of Hüsker Dü drone, wrapped it in sandpaper and lodged it firmly somewhere behind the guitars. The problem is there’s all this emo sludge surrounding it and keeping it just out of reach. Look, you don’t have to front, guys. Drop any and all arty pretenses and just rock the fuck out. –jimmy (soautomatic@yahoo.com)


ATOM AND HIS PACKAGE:
Hair: Debatable: CD/DVD
Final show from the outsider artist (and certified high school teacher), who sings and plays guitar to songs he wrote on sequencers. The current Atari-Nintendo restructure dance scene probably owes him some credit. Catchy, hilarious, and – as evidenced in the bonus DVD – entirely humble. With songs about friends, street hockey, parties at the North Pole, how stupid the team name of the Washington Redskins is, the efficiency of the metric system, and moving, Atom is the high-pitched bedroom nerd who makes punk anthems through his own tight universe. It’s infectious. I challenge you to not sing along to “Happy Birthday, Ralph, I love you, even though you are fucking disgusting.” High quality DVD also includes a couple of documentaries and a music video. –mike (Hopeless)


ASS:
Self-titled: LP
Slow to mid-tempo hardcore that was embarrassingly generic, right down their co-opting of one of Crass’s logos. –jimmy (Ass)


ARROGANT SONS OF BITCHES:
All the Little Ones Are Rotting: CD
Just your run-of-the-mill ska-punk outfit. What points they may have earned by maintaining their DIY status they lost the moment the first song started. There was an “enhanced” portion to this disc, but I wasn’t feeling masochistic enough to subject myself to it. –jimmy (www.asobrock.com)


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·APACHE DROPOUT / THREE MAN BAND
·Coming Together
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·HITCHHIKERS, THE
·FUN TIME COMICS #5
·BURY THE LIVING
·NOSE KNOWS, THE, Vol. 1 # 40


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