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Record Reviews

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Can’t Go Home: CDEP
Straight edge hardcore that plays like a soundtrack to a panic attack or going through the day with a high level of anxiety. Metallic riffing and the screamy vocals keep things aggressive. If you have little penis syndrome, like me, bands like this are a good remedy. Weird name for a label. Unique. –don (Happy Couples Never Last)

Weigh Your Conscience: CDEP
I really should recuse myself from reviewing this record, but since Antonin Scalia doesn’t have a problem adjudicating his conflicts of interest and his decisions have far-reaching implications which substantially affect the lives of myself and others, I’ll happily assess the virtues and merits of these seven songs, especially since I became friends with these people largely because I’m a fan of the band. First of all, certain bits of Southern California and Florida punk are so similar that the regions sound like they’re separated by a county, not a country. I’m not talking about the bro hymns from HB or combat-wounded grindcore; I’m thinking of the drunken, anthemic, heroic gestures of defiance offered by bands which live in vans, don’t bother to replace broken strings in the middle of the set because they didn’t need that one anyway and simply strive to do something that most horse race handicappers would put beyond their reach. It’s quixotic and noble, something more realistic than futile but far less practical than most people will ever be capable of understanding. Sure, people used to more polished and less nourishing fare may find it rough around the edges, but this is the shit that always has me dancing, that makes me forget about the small and large insults and indignities that tomorrow will inevitably bring because, at least for these moments, anything seems possible all over again. –scott (ADD)

The Old Testament: CD
Pseudo-satanic grind that manages to invoke the memories of both Intense Mutilation and early Cryptic Slaughter, which means it isn’t particularly accomplished and the joke ran out of steam somewhere around the middle. –jimmy (Intolerant Messiah)

As the Eternal Cowboy: CD
I’m poorly ripping off Replay Dave (Grabass Charlestons) right here. We talked about this album at length. This is, secretly, Against Me!s third album. Zig and zag as you may, there are certain inevitable mistakes on a band’s second album. Everything from growing self-consciousness, “improved” playing technique, and the availability of a better studio can distract bands (“What does that knob do?” “Can we do solos?” “You got a theramin?”), especially if the bands had a modicum of success with their first full-length. (Against Me! had, well, much more than a modicum.) I’m not suggesting that there’s a wholly unreleased, in-the-vaults Against Me! album, I’m just floored at how much different yet the same this album is compared to Reinventing Axl Rose. The mistakes I’m so used to hearing in sophomore jinx albums just aren’t there. Here’s the unmolested template for Against Me! Acoustics are the core, wrapped around voices, strings, and poundables. Basically, what could be done at a punk barbecue, all revved up and written impeccably. Anthems that you’re not ashamed to sing, that sort of thing. Differences: overt politics are redirected to powerful personal policies and inflection. Rally cries seem to be coming from the inside, not just part of a small group. There’s a lot more singing on the Eternal Cowboy. Fuckin’-a Tom and Andrew can sing and I’m glad they’re given more of a chance. There are a lot of subtle differences in the music, too. Although there’s been some minor backlash with Against Me!, This Bike Is a Pipebomb, and the Hair Beard Combo as being jamboree punk, picking up the Young Pioneers banner that some wish would have remained buried, I just hear a great band, not afraid to listen to a broad swath of music. They let it ripple the waters just a little bit. In the corners, of all things, in the guitars I hear early ‘80s underground pop, especially the Cure. Hats off. –todd (Fat)

Hate Generator: CD
A solid street/oi style CD without anything original or new but enough energy to keep me briefly interested. Kinda the way I feel about their live shows. –toby (TKO)

Live at the House of Blues: DVD & CD
I saw this at the record store and almost bought it. I had seen the band last year and this year and the shows were absolutely incredible. The songs are twenty-plus years old and they stand the test of time. I never tire of hearing them. The Adolescents were one of the first punk bands I got into and saw live. My expectation level for this DVD with accompanying CD was not too high, but I would buy it for sheer sentimental value. My expectations were surpassed. Taped using seven cameras and having all original members, minus one, Casey Royer, the sound and footage is amazing. On drums is Derek O’Brien, who many of you might recognize from Social Distortion. This is definitely addition by subtraction. His drumming is more precise and he brings up the tempo of the songs compared to Casey playing recently. Songs performed are from the infamous and classic blue LP, Welcome to Reality 7”, Brats in Battalions LP and new songs from their upcoming LP. For many of you who didn’t get to see the original line-up within the last year, you will miss out. Casey has pulled out again to focus on D.I. and Rikk Agnew just plain fell out. Replacing Rikk in the current incarnation is another Social Distortion alumni, Johnny Two Bags. I have seen this line-up and it’s every bit as good or better. If you watch closely on the video, Rikk no longer plays many of the solos he used to play. His brother Frank has basically taken on all the lead guitarist duties. Great band and great release. I watched this more than a few times and that says a lot. It just makes me want to go out and see them again. –don (Kung Fu)

Yard Sale: CD
This stinks. Imagine the worst possible outcome of combining early Queers with Sloppy Seconds. Not funny. Not even dumb. Just boring. If this were a cereal, it’d be regular Alpha Bits. Yawn. –Maddy (Big Neck)

Trash Deluxe: CD
Uneventful trash rock from the Netherlands that runs high on adrenaline, but never quite mustering the momentum to break away from the pack. –jimmy (Stardumb)

Across the Black Wings: CDEP
If you are a fan of the grind band Terrorizer, this is in your ballpark. Listed as a three-song EP, there actually is a fourth song. Once a three piece, 324 now has expanded to four. Singer Masao no longer handles bass duties and focuses strictly in the yelling. Sakata, the drummer, is the other remaining solid piece of this confusing puzzle. He provides intricate drumming that sometimes seems so out of control but well-calculated. It seems like every release the band has a new guitarist. It is true once again here. With the addition of Shinji, the band takes their Terrorizer worship and infuses hardcore and crust to the mix. The tempos are more varied but do not sacrifice the intensity. If you are not a fan of metal, you need to walk away here. This band leaves tire marks like a bad ass muscle car with a turbocharger. Aggression, speed, and power is the cocktail of rage that is released. One of Japan’s little treasures that I hope one day will make it to these shores to corrupt the anger in us. –don (HG Fact)

Turn of the Screw: CD
Sophomore effort from this young SoCal band. Punk used to be one unified scene but it has fragmented and subdivided. Subgenres do not cross, so this band is only going to appeal to a certain subset. I don’t remember what the first release sounded like, but I have it filed somewhere in my music room. But going off the first listen here, the first thought that crosses my mind is the singer sounds exactly like Scott Radinsky and the band sounds like Pulley. In fact, if this CD was in the case of the new Pulley CD, I would not have questioned it. The songs are competent and well-produced. I don’t think the band needs my recommendation. By seeing the included video, the band will fit in well with the Warped Tour kids. They fit the profile of what kind of crowd a band like this attracts that bums out us jaded, old punks. Sort of jock-ish and popular kids who wear the name brands and look beautiful, not the outcasts who became punk because they wanted to show the ugliness they felt on the inside to the world on the outside. I’m being grumpy and shallow. The music here is top notch and the melody keeps me interested. More power to them. –don (Epitaph)

Down on Today: 7”EP
Rough-and-tumble demo versions of four Observers tracks (three of which showed up on So What’s Left Now (one of 2004’s best records). These four songs from 2003 are very 4-track bedroom recording-y, yet showcase the cocoon which The Observers would quickly emerge from. What these are are rough sketches and under paintings of really great songs. I wouldn’t say that this is just for completists—as it’s a bit more interesting than a mere mile marker—but it’s not as essential as any of their proper releases when they were an active band. Silk-screened covers, limited to 1,000.– –todd (Taken By Surprise, myspace.com/takenbysurpriserecords)

Mina Tankar: 7”
One-sided single of sheer power. Their Ilbland KamMan... LP is a killer, and this is a rager as well. A bit looser and belligerent, but it’s what you need. The title track is fast and tight like the other material. My favorite track is the second, “Bla Bla Bla,” which reminds me of the Lewd, musically and vocally. A lot of swagger and attitude. Enough to warrant hovering over the turntable to place the stylus back at the beginning. The third and final song is “Dum I Huvudet,” which is a fast and spastic number. Nitad. Get familiar with the name. They’re going to be your new favorite band within the next year. Also, there are only two hundred of this diamond in existence, hand numbered, and only available direct from the label. Get on it!! –Matt Average (Kranium)

Ibland Kam Man Inte Hindra Sig Sjalv: CD
Crank this up and kick some furniture over. Raging hardcore from Sweden with a massive dose of rock to make this blaze out of control. Nitad are loud, in your face, and it’s a great thing. The songs are fast paced, the rhythm section rumbles, guitars are loud, slightly jangly, and the singer bellows. Nitad are easily one of the best bands going these days, and this collection is a must-have. Think I’m kidding? Get this and hear for yourself. Then send me a thank you note care of Razorcake for hepping you to this chunk of auditory awesomeness. This disc also collects their Varlden Måsten Do EP, material from the split with Kvoteringen, Ge Oss Mer EP, a comp track, and the 2006 demo. –Matt Average (Kranium)

All Rise: LP
There’s something about the way so many of their songs start in the middle and extrapolate outwards that will always make them both interesting and inspiring. I think this is important because it signifies that there was already a conversation going that they were dead set on continuing with an urgency that can’t be understated. Disclaimer: I went to see Naked Raygun for the first time last year with a friend, but the Arrivals and Tiltwheel opened up for them and by the time Naked Raygun took the stage I was about ten thousand light years beyond wasted and streaking toward darkness. Six months later, my friend put this gorgeous milky vinyl reissue in my hands. Holy Fucking Shit. –Jim Ruland (Haunted)

Self-titled: 7”
I’m not sure if Sweden’s Murder By Guitar has ever given England’s Gordan Gano’s Army a listen, but they both seem to share an effortlessness approach to their songs. Not like they wish they were doing something else, but it sounds like they could be doing ten other tasks while they belt ‘em out and no one would be any wiser. Maybe it’s the fact that the songs, musicianship, and recording are top notch or maybe they actually are playing with their tongue and I am none the wiser. Either way, this is some splendid, jangly ‘60s pop rock that has as many hooks and soul-melting guitar leads as you can fit on a three-song 7”. –Daryl Gussin (Alien Snatch)

Self-titled: CD
Yes, a reissue of one of the best albums on the 1990s! A long-lost classic from one of the most overlooked bands of the past coupla decades. Most of that is due to the glam punk tag and the fact this was produced by Sylvain of the New York Dolls. This would lead most to believe that this sounds like something that it is not. For the most part, this disc is chock fulla Cramps/Beasts Of Bourbon/Gun Club/Scientists style rock and is as good as any of those bands. There is the occasional nod to Johnny and Syl and the odd veer into solo Iggy territory, but, for the most part, this is killer bluesy garage rock at its finest. This reissue includes nine bonus tracks, including the ripping first single. There is also a bonus DVD of live and studio performances. This is an impressive package. Highest possible recommendation! –frame (Nickel And Dime)

Split: 7"
Delay: The only band I know of that makes me wish I was young. And I don’t mean quasi-college years young, or even high school young. I mean like thirteen. When you first started to realize the world was fucked up, and you wanted to do something about it. Songs about snow days and how fucked up movies are, and how love was supposed to be something new that would save you from your generic state and give you real meaning. And then looking back at it, and realizing how wrong and sad we ended up making it all. These are easily the three best songs Delay has done, and that says a lot. Monikers: While Delay makes every word count, Monikers contribute an overall feeling that gives these songs a tone of helplessness and hope at the same time. Every time I hear a new Monikers song I’m shocked, because their songs are so simple and catchy, but they somehow manage not to retread any ground. My only complaint would be the group yelling in the background of these songs. I’m glad that they had fun with the recording, and it could have come out totally fun if done right, but, particularly on the last song, it’s a bit distracting. I wish they would have exercised a bit of restraint in that area, because I really want to love these songs, too. –Nick Toerner –Guest Contributor (Kiss Of Death)

Sludgemouth: CD
I puked a little bit in the back of my mouth and I swear my testicle tried to climb back up into my body when this came on. It’s that bad, as in mentally and physically painful, to listen to. –ty (www.mdub.com)

Songs about People… and Fruit n’ Shit: 12”EP
Sometimes, I feel like crying at the overwhelming beauty that’s capable of showing itself amongst so much bleakness. Songs have been helping dissolve some of the sandbags in my stomach lately; have shored up my faith that I’m not going to drown in the landslide I feel I’m caught up in. It’s a measure of faith, and I have a ton in The Measure [SA]. They’re like a bunch of friends all coming over at once, unexpectedly, all with their own forms of good advice, all with fun and interesting things on their minds, playing songs with more and more confidence in who they are, separately and together as a group. I’ve been a fan of the band from the get-go and they keep on getting better and better. If you like songs about romance that cover people, places, DIY culture, ideas, and times, a romance that goes beyond simply plotted story lines or beyond solely between two people, I suggest you play this 12” so you can feel the bass through your feet, read along to lyrics, and soak it all in. –todd (Don Giovanni)

Vår Del Av Stan: LP
For anyone who’s unaware, Sweden’s Masshysteri rose from the rubble of one of the best punk rock bands of the last few years, The Vicious. A bit of an instrument shuffle, an even heartier helping of Robert and Sara’s dual vocals, and a debut 7” later and we’ve arrived at Masshyteri’s first full length offering. This record is, pretty simply, fucking amazing. The obvious Wipers/Misfits worship of The Vicious is much less apparent in Masshysteri’s songs. The tracks on Vår Del Av Stan are of a more stripped down pop formula while incorporating a wider array of styles and influences into the approach. The choruses are incredibly memorable and have me singing along constantly in my best (read: terrible) syllabic attempt at Swedish. Essentially, what you’ve got here are eleven dark-yet-upbeat pop punk rockers that I really feel should appeal to basement dwellers worldwide, regardless of which subgenre you might call home. The songwriting and sincerity in these songs is universal, a characteristic you’ll find is a constant in the Ny Vag collective. There’s something truly special going on there. –Dave Williams (Ny Vag, www.nyvag.com)

“Fortune” b/w “Like Robots”: 7”
When so much rightness is staring you in the face for years on end, one reaction may to be to take a band for granted. Thankfully, for those of us who find a true solace in great, current music, I’ve not only looked forward to, but then have cherished the Marked Men’s output over the years. Their sound has developed from a “sounds like great band X mixed with great band Z,” to rising up to one of the bands at the top of the pyramid. They defined one of the best possible scenarios for DIY punk. Musically, the Marked Men change the weather around them; their songs aren’t going anywhere, except round and round on turntables the globe over. And they broke up. There’s a forthcoming record, and it’s my suggestion that—if it’s within your means—to seek out their entire catalog. Here are two more great songs in a long, threaded string of firecrackers that’ve pop-pop-popped without a dud in the bunch. This is my gold fever. This is what gives me irrational behavior. It’s so good and I’m so stoked that I have it my possession so I can listen to it whenever the mood hits. –todd (Dirtnap)

Holemole: LP w/CD
First off, it’s pronounced “O-lay Mole-ay” and the album title is pronounced “Hole-ay Mole-ay”. Kind of stupid, I know, but, thankfully, the music makes up for it. Their sound is a mix of Hot Water Music and Red Animal War (especially on the vocals). It includes members of Burial Year and the Ghost and was recorded by one of the dudes from American Steel. The LP (in your choice of white or clear red) comes with the CD. The first track, “Gatekeeper,” isn’t necessarily the best song to start out with, as the singing vocals just sound silly after the fierce yelling with which it contrasts. And “Treble Hook” has a really annoying guitar part that it keeps coming back to. But beyond those two weaker tracks, there’s a good intensity and passion that comes from this band, the kind where you can tell they’re excited to be doing what they’re doing and believe in it. It’s been hard to figure the lyrics out. They require some thinking and I get a feel here and there about where they stand on things. From what I can tell, they like to question the traditional order of authority and the traditional order of things, and as someone who has been doing that a lot in my life lately, I can totally get behind that. –kurt (Underground Communique)

Jeg Kendte Dem Ikke: 7” EP
Armed with the switchblade knife he holds on the record sleeve, and, I’m assuming, an enormous bottle of Gammel Dansk, P.J. Bonneman slashes through three great-sounding home recordings on this debut, solo, 33 rpm 7” EP. “Fri Kaerlighed” is a lively piece of aggressive, lo-fi, Rezillos power pop sung in Danglish. I’m not exactly sure what the song is about—I don’t understand Danish and there’s not a whole lot of English to be heard—but I definitely hear a “fuckin’ hippy” in there towards the end of the song and that’s a sentiment that everyone should be able to get behind. “Hey Ronni” is the musical equivalent of taking a stroll through the countryside with your sweetheart on a Sunday afternoon. Clad in a leather jacket and shod with black Chuck Taylors, of course. The melody could have easily been written by King Louie for the Exploding Hearts and the lazy guitar riff will linger in your head long after the song is over. This tune could brighten the day of even the most stoic, hard-assed Scandinavian. While the A-side will appeal to popsters, the flip side is ass-kickingly TOUGH!”Jeg Kendte Dem Ikke” has an unrelenting beat and lyrics that are snarled more than sung. Bonneman has a real knack for writing a tune and moves between genres effortlessly. –benke (Spild Af Vinyl, www.spildafvinyl.dk)

Livin’ at the Surf Motel: 7” EP
If the Beach Boys had listened to what the voices in their heads and the drugs had been telling them to do, rather than their manager/father and record label they would still have to pray to be as good as The Pegs. Southern California surf punk that oozes attitude problems and reckless behavior while sweeping the floor with tightly wound songs full of razor-sharp hooks and punch-your-face-in guitar playing. This 7” could have fit in nicely on Hostage Records. –Daryl Gussin (No Front Teeth)

A Waste of Time and Space: CD
I really love this CD. It strikes me as an intersection of the jerky white guy art funk of the Minutemen, the more frantic tunes from Nomeansno, and the sparse/loud dynamics of I Hate Myself. All this is topped off with lyrical input that could very well come from all the aforementioned bands. When tightly wound art punk like this is pulled off right, there is nothing better to me, and these guys fucking nail it. All the more impressive is that this is a two piece. Bands like the Minutemen, Nomeansno, Devo, and the Urninals get me really excited, because they make the type of odd and offbeat but punk as fuck music that I wish I was playing. To me, this band gets the same facilities all worked up as those bands do, which is rare. There’s a lot of music I love, but bands that are both challenging, genuinely enjoyable, and somehow oddly different are a rare breed, but these guys do it for me. Plus you gotta admire a band that has the balls to name one of their songs “The Best Song Ever.” –Adrian (Joyful Noise)

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