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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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HOWIE AND THE HOTKNIVES:
“Shut-up & Dance” b/w “Kids Are Kids”: 7"

Howie And The Hotknives from Portland continue their goofy plunge into garage tomfoolery. With distorted guitars, keyboards, dual male/female vocals, and an ass-load of attitude in tow, these clowns definitely know how to get us all dancing. A single is almost too much of a tease from this band, especially since “Kids Are Kids” is a Dead Moon cover. But sometimes you’ve gotta take what you can get, no?

–Art Ettinger (Felony Fidelity, www.felonyfidelity.com)


HOT NEW MEXICANS:
Well… Um… Er… Uh…: 7”EP
The same goes for Ninja Gun. From the outside looking in, this case could be made: “Dude, so totally not punk rock.” And if you were just listening to the music, weren’t reading along to the lyrics, and you didn’t know the band’s intentions, you’d have a point. Hot New Mexicans sound almost straight-up like a band from the late ‘60s, early ‘70s who appreciated The Beatles as much as Credence Clearwater Revival, Tom Petty, and Elvis Costello. It’s well-produced rock’n’roll that’s equally serious and playful… and in this day and age, on stages large and small, that’s a fuckin’ anomaly. So while this has few outward trappings of punk—there are no conceptual safety pins, middle fingers holding their music in place, or dumpster dives mentioned—it’s celebratory, it’s made by and directed to the disenfranchised, and it’s just great music to get behind. If you’re a fan of The Carrie Nations and haven’t checked these guys out yet, it’d be a good idea to. –todd (Fast Crowd / Little Deputy)


HOSPITAL GRADE:
Secrets & Sawdust: CD
Interesting bit of work here: dissonant guitar playin’ reminiscent of mid-‘80s college rock stuff mixed in with enough rock and pop influences for them to give the tunes both a heavier edge and some effective hooks. Any occasional nods towards emo yuckiness are tempered by sharp left turns you didn’t see coming. While I can’t say I’d listen to this more than two or three times, I give them their due propers for puttin’ in some obvious effort to separate themselves a bit from the herd. Keeps you on your toes, this does, and that is never, ever, a bad thing. –jimmy (www.bbqrecords.net)


HOMOSTUPIDS:
Cat Music: 7”EP
Mysterious. I can’t quite get a reading on the Homostupids beyond: 1) I like them. 2) They (sorta) remind me of The Feelers’ take on music, disregarding any imagined division line between hardcore and garage rock. But then add cryptic lyrics, cat noise intros, horn instrument out-tros. 3) The mastering job sounds a lot like Supercharger’s Go Way Out! (meaning that it sounds like it was recorded in someone’s kitchen and adjacent hall), yet it—again, mysteriously—works and works well. –todd (Fashionable Idiots)


HOLOCAUST IN YOUR HEAD / MOTOR BREATH:
Split: LP
Holocaust In Your Head (from Barcelona) crank out some heavy crust with a moderate dose of speed, as well as rock mixed in. They never veer off into blur or incoherent grunting into the mic. Instead, these guys demonstrate their power through well-structured songs that have depth. The vocals, though dry and raspy, carry their message over quite well. They can certainly pummel, but there’s a strong melody here as well. Motor Breath (Sweden) are a bit thrashier and chaotic. Definite Japanese influence, especially in the rhythm section. Starts off pretty good, but soon deteriorates into a redundant mess. If anything, pick this up for the Holocaust In Your Head side. Red vinyl as well. –Matt Average (Trabuc)


GRUK:
Waiting for the Rapture: CD
Manic and spastic punk rock that is definitely fuckin’ pissed off to the core. Frothing at the mouth with spit-spraying female vocals is what catches your attention right off the bat. Her vocals jerk and sway during the screaming and express a picture of insanity unleashed. The production on this release has a very live feel to it; almost what you would imagine if you saw the band playing live in your living room. The band plays a garage-y punk sound at one moment and then they push forward with their thrash attack. It reminded me of a few bands that I saw in the mid ‘80s. If you get a chance to see this band live, you have to experience the mayhem and see the vocalist at work. Over the summer I did catch them and I was truly impressed. –don (Gruk)


GRUK / THE WOBBLIES:
Split: 7"
Gruk: I really liked these tracks even more than the full length CD I reviewed for this issue. Two manic punk numbers that jerk and pull while feeling like spit is splattering your face. The Wobblies: First thought that came into my head was, “Is this a long lost demo of Against Me! or Mischief Brew?” on their first track. The second track with different vocals sounded like late ‘90s pop punk. –don (Gruk)


GRIM FANDAGO:
IV. Eat Not the Heart: CD
Despite the low-rent heavy metal cover, these guys are more interested in treading the well-worn emo path, with a bit more punk in their delivery than others. Thought this kinda stuff had finally died a quiet death and was replaced by post-Gang Of Four new wave as the hip style to run into the ground, but apparently I was mistaken. –jimmy (www.myspace.com/rabbitrecords)


GHUNDI:
3196ep: CD
Remember when there was no need to break punk down into tiny subgenres like fastcore or crust or straight-edge glam disco? Remember when punk rock was just punk rock? Yeah, me neither. Anyway, Ghundi are just punk rock. Their singer has one of those old school voices that sounds like he’s thought a lot about the words he’s singing, thought about them so much that they’ve stewed around in his insides getting soaked in bile and hate so that they’re dripping in the stuff as they flow out if his mouth. You can’t help but pay attention as these seething sentiments shoot out of your speakers. And any punk rock that doesn’t demand attention isn’t punk rock. –mp (Fake Your Own Death)


FUTURE PHONES:
Self-titled: 7"
Goddamn, some sweet damage going on here. Couple the yowls and howls of the Tyrades with the more restrained, bouncy approach of the Estranged or maybe Wire and that’s what you’re looking at with Future Phones. It’s plodding while also danceable, catchy while still coming across as mean as shit. Some pretty neat work, though I don’t have a clue what they’re bellowing about. Includes a cute little 3” CD-R of the songs on the 7”, too. Come and play Portland sometime. –keith (Future Phones)


FUSE AND:
Maps of Past Events: CD
I guess you could call what they do electronica, but it’s so sedate and boring that it works better as a sleep aid than anything else. –jimmy (www.f-spin.de)


FUNERAL SHOCK:
Paint Thinner: EP
Perhaps the best record from Funeral Shock yet. The songs are more urgent and all around solid. “Autopilot” is a Black Flag style instrumental, with “Let’s Fight” and “Messed It Up” being the speedier and amped up songs. “Good Intentions” slows it down, recalling Fang and Sick Pleasure. A great record the whole way through. –Matt Average (Cowabunga)


FUNERAL SHOCK:
III: EP
Jason from Agents Of Satan is no longer in the band. I guess that’s old news for some, but... Negative Tom, from Case Of Emergency, is now the front person. Seems to be a good fit. Three mid-tempo numbers that have roots in the past, but aren’t some hollow retro act. The opener, “Some Kind of Bullshit” is the most energetic of the three, with a good bass line. “Locked” is the most manic, and “Fucked Up Kid” mixes it up fast and slow. This stuff is legit. –Matt Average (Cowabunga)


FRANKLIN FOR SHORT:
Swell: CD
First off, horrible band name. Secondly, this is boring: Americana mixed with pop music and some surf. I’d like to think that could be really cool, but all I can picture when I listen to Franklin For Short is some TV show where there’s a scene on the beach and a beach bar nearby with a band playing while the main characters are either dancing or there’s a moment of drawn out sexual tension between the two leads. Franklin For Short would be that band. And the show would be on FOX or the CW and would go off the air after one season. –kurt (Bee House)


FOUR EYES, THE:
Secret Center Sessions Volume 3: 2x CDR
Here’s a reissued collection of various previous “SecretCenter” sessions, where this long-running Sacramento nerd-core band takes a break from writing songs about D&D and trying to woo Ms. Pac Man, and screws around with various covers. For the unfamiliar, they’re kind of like if the Bananas (especially since these are fairly lo-fi recordings, with a lot of biting trebly guitar sound that only helps it sound great) were a little more Chuck Berry style rock’n’roll, dare I say, even a little soulful at times (however, there’s a whole bunch of different songs in here, and they manage to pretty much tap in and nail it every time, even when they’re goofing on them—or are they?). I’ll say this much; I was in such a bad mood that I was literally punching the ground in frustration that my hand hurt, and then put this on, and started cracking up out of enjoyment, thinking “This rules.” Also, I feel compelled to point out that I’m pretty sure this was a thank you gift for explaining Pokémon to one of these guys via a message board. Who’s the nerd now? Oh, right… –joe (Self-released)


FARAQUET:
Anthology 1997-98: CD
The musician in me says, “Jeezly crow, these guys can play the fuck outta their instruments.” All sortsa noodling, time signature changes, dynamics and such are smooshed into every song. The punker in me says, “Jeezly crow, I wish there was some fuggin’ ‘edge’ to their delivery.” I kept expecting the songs to build and then kick into overdrive, but that sadly never happened. In the end, I felt pretty much the same way I do about most prog rock: impressive playin’, but the end result makes me drift off in contemplation of my shoes and their place in the universe. –jimmy (Dischord)


FALCON ARROW:
Demo: CD-R
Cheap CD-R filled with tediously boring drum and bass loops. No dancing, just snoozing. I don’t think it would be possible for this band to put in any less effort. –mp (Self-released)


EXTREME ANIMALS:
: CD
I challenge you to go to the MySpace page for Extreme Animals (www.myspace.com/extremeanimals) and not have a seizure. That page pretty much summarizes what their album is like. It’s a clusterfuck of Lite-Brites, Casio keyboards, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a Colecovision, troll dolls, mannequins, UFO conspirators, dance beats, that episode of TheSimpsons where they go to Australia, and a child who has vomited Skittles, all turned into music. Vaguely reminiscent of Soul-Junk’s later material but with more of a dance beat, Extreme Animals is comprised of a Professor of Art at Carnegie Mellon and Ph.D. candidate in music at UC-San Diego (I’m not kidding). This is insane shit and, moreover, it’s fairly infectious. I want to host a dance party just to see how people react to me playing this. I know I’d be dancing like a crazy white guy. –kurt (Vicious Pop)


EVICTION PARTY:
Forward, Always: CD
I believe I reviewed some split tape release this band did a while back; I don’t remember it being as nearly as awkward or jangly as what I’m hearing here. Forward, Always reminds me of Jeff Ott’s earlier solo output, but only if he lived in a weird half-lit world where his stuff wasn’t quite acoustic but he wasn’t quite ready to kick the distortion pedal on yet either. The end result is an odd mish-mash of great “take flight from the things that bum you out and embrace the things you enjoy” styled lyrics unfortunately set to some pretty bland folk punk with a wincingly bright high-end and nary a hook in sight. I like the stark packaging, I like the down to earth sentiments they’re throwing around, but the gravity of the vocals coupled with the lack of musical impact just isn’t grabbing me this time around. –keith (Sharpie Fumes)


ERGS!, THE:
Hindsight Is 20/20 My Friend: CD
By the time this goes to print, The Ergs! will have played their “last show.” Bummer, on account that I found them to be one of the most inspiring bands in the American underground today. This singles collection is a reminder why. Musically speaking, they weren’t afraid to just do whatever the hell they wanted. “Thrash about the monotony of touring? We’ll record it on our day off. Alt country? Bring it on, we’ll do a 7.” Call me an asshole, but that’s a lot more exciting than a lot of other formulaic bands I’ve seen get big these days. Then again, these guys still wrote some of the best, straight-up poppy punk rock songs about girls and being backstage at NOFX concerts in a long time. I hope more bands down the line take a lesson from these guys, because, at this point, I feel like if you don’t like The Ergs!, you’re an asshole. –joe (Dirtnap)


ENDLESS MIKE AND THE BEAGLE CLUB:
We Are Still at War: CD
I can totally get behind the indie rock vibe when they plug in their instruments. Hell, some of the songs are plenty catchy when they do. The minute they put the amps away and tread down that acoustic road to hippieland, though, I’m outta the room faster than it takes the stench of patchouli to profane the air. –jimmy (www.craftyrecords.net)


EMPTY VESSEL:
The Haunt Demos: CD-R
Ultra-pissed, dual vocal, punk blastitude. Imagine if your favorite bullet belt punk band only sang one verse and one chorus of a song and didn't repeat it, so the whole song ended up being anywhere from twenty to fifty seconds long. It’s not bad, it’s even pretty interesting, but it’s just not very memorable. –Daryl Gussin (Self-released)


DUSTHEADS:
Little Pieces: 12"EP
Wound-up and, at times, speedy hardcore that has more of an eye on today and tomorrow, instead of yesterday and a couple decades before. They throw in a stoner rock riff on the opening of “Passive Aggressive,” but for the rest they keep the needle in the red and charge forward. “Jailbird III” is an awesome song of disgust and the desire to escape. Rapid pace gives way to a slowed down tromp to eventual static. –Matt Average (Don Giovanni)


DUCHESSES:
Estupet: CD
Lightning-fast tribal drums, shrieking vocals, and swerving melodic instruments that are either guitars or keys make Duchesses come off like art-warehouse dwellers doing a Locust-y thing. A word from the wise: if you’re going to have two parts to your song, and each part has two notes, then the song needs to be less than a minute long. Not pushing three minutes. There are a bunch of remixes at the end to keep things going, like the cokehead who won’t leave the loft party at 4 AM. Go home, Duchesses. –CT Terry (APOP, apoprecords.com)


DROWNING WITH OUR ANCHORS:
Breathing Lessons: 7”
Due to his encyclopedic knowledge and cyborg-like retrieval capacity regarding all things emo, I decided to consult David the Brit on this one. He said that the high/low vocal arrangements were very similar to Yaphet Kotto (with one of the vocalists apparently being a dead ringer for one of the dudes from Under A Dying Sun) while the record as a whole was very colored with a Funeral Diner flavor. Me, I just thought it was a decent, if a bit long-winded, seven inch—the quiet guitar buildups were nice, but by the time they got to the vocal duelings and instrumental gunfights I’d felt like I’d swam in this particular pool plenty of times before. Features members of Bullets In and Burial Year. –keith (Commodity Fetish)


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Razorcake Podcast Player


·CONTINENTAL
·HENRY FIAT’S OPEN SORE
·PERENNIALS, THE
·NARCOLEPTIC YOUTH
·PISS TEST
·FIRST TIME, THE
·SPACE CRETINS
·DIVEBOMB HONEY, THE
·WHISKEY DAREDEVILS


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