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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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VENA CAVA:
Weapons of Mass Communication: CDEP
Yay! If I were an ‘80s skater reviewing this CD, I’d call this totally dudical, awesome to the max, radical, and killer! (Note: I’d also have one of those cool skater “flip” haircuts!) A bunch of my friends compare Vena Cava to X, but other than the boy/girl vocals and the fact that they apparently cover X in a non-poser fashion while playing live, this really sounded more like just bombdiggity punk rock that you could picture playing a super show with the Chinese Telephones, Black Rainbow, and the Hidden Spots! Totally catchy poppy punk, but not pop punk, ya know? This CD doesn’t eat shit! I’d totally kickflip to this anytime! –Maddy (ADD)


WEIRDLORDS:
Zizlore's Mansion: CD
From the crappy drawing of I don’t know what on the cover to a boring rehash of the art punk/post punk sound, everything about this screams “blowout bin.”  –Vincent Battilana (Self-released?, no address)


VENA CAVA:
Weapons of Mass Communication: CDEP
Vena Cava accomplishes something great; they manage to take the weird, quirky, yet interesting musicianship often found in post punk bands (like Hot Snakes, for a quick example) and put it into some damn creative DIY punk. This EP is another perfect example. 
–joe (ADD)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
The Right to Assemble, Vol. Two: LP
While I’ve got a hard time calling The Ergs! or The Measure [SA] hardcore bands—this one’s got the “hardcore” subtitle plastered all over the sleeve—I’ll admit that as far as regional comps go, it’s not a half bad piece of work. Actually, it’s falling pretty decently within the spectrum of “damn good.” Focusing on the New Brunswick, New Jersey scene, you get tracks from long-running bands like Ensign and Fanshen, as well as younger groups like the Flash Attacks and Static Radio NJ. Other standouts are The Degenerics, Seasick, and Killin It. The quality’s generally pretty consistent throughout, which seems to be a rarity for comps based off of locale, and with over twenty bands featured, that’s a feat within itself. Again, regional comps—despite whether the bands themselves suck or not—are pretty much the textbook example of a labor of love and the very definition of “supporting your scene.” This is true for both the label and the person buying the record. So when you get something like The Right to Assemble, with its snazzy transparent vinyl, thick booklet, a download card that features mp3s of all the songs here, as well as unreleased tracks and the songs from the first volume, the care becomes even more apparent and visible. Damn nice work all around.  –keith (Soul Rebel)


VEE DEE:
Glimpses of Another World: 7"
Three song serving (one long, two shorter) of dark, psychedelic garage rock that this Chicago three-piece has been known to unleash upon the unsuspecting world from time to time. The Further full-length has been in my regular rotation since I first came across it a couple years ago and I can’t see this 7” being any different. Vee Dee is definitely one of my favorite bands—if not my favorite band—playing this style of music, and this 7” is just another example why.  –Daryl Gussin (Criminal IQ)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
To Live A Lie: Three Year Sampler: CD
Massive collection of music the To Live A Lie label has released so far in a short span of time. Fifty-one songs total, but many bands on here get more than one track. Grindcore, powerviolence, hardcore, and thrash are represented to the fullest. Standouts are: Final Draft, Bloody Phoenix, Mehkago N.T., ANS, Rat Byte, and Rhino Charge, to name but a few. Pretty solid collection. –Matt Average (To Live A Lie)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Thanks for the Floor: CD
A tribute to the punk rock community’s support for touring bands and punks! And this comes at a perfect time for me because I’ve recently been mulling over how, as much as I love the Ramones, the Clash, et al., I really need to give credit to the early ‘80s hardcore scene for really creating the DIY punk networks and structures that we now take for granted. Think about how different it would be if we were still looking for Sire Records to sign our bands! And if every band had a manager, even if that manager was Tommy Ramone! This CD features songs by Captain Chaos, the Steinways, Max Levine Ensemble, and more! And, ironically enough, a Ramones medley by Two ThErgs (two of the Ergs in acoustic form!), including “I Want You Around,” “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend,” and “I Wanna Be Well!” I’m not into everything on here, but there’s plenty of good stuff! If this were a cereal, it’d be one of those single-serving box sets, including, amongst others, Froot Loops (ThErgs)! –Maddy (Crafty)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Solid: 7"
A great little grouping of Citizen Fish, MDC, Mouth Sewn Shut, and Embrace The Kill who contribute one track each. Citizen Fish: Always is a winner for me and could do no wrong, provide a mid-tempo number of their brand of ska punk. Mouth Sewn Shut: Great live band that really gets the crowd going also contributes a ska punk number that has a bottom heavy hardcore vibe. MDC: I don’t think I really liked anything after the Millions of Dead Cops LP and the Multi-Death Corporations EP, but I have to say that this is the best track from the band I have heard since then. Same energy and feel with better production. Embrace The Kill: The one band I have never heard of. For their offering, this band sounds like Citizen Fish on the slower ska tempos due to Dick Lucas’s guest vocals on the track. But when the band speeds up, they come to their own: aggressive street punk with spastic, screamed vocals. The interplay of Dick and the vocalists when they sing together compliment each other well. 
–don (Rodent Popsicle)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
I Don't Want to Be the One to Say It: CD
The person who chose this track listing has very interesting tastes. Some of the bands on here are amazing (Tiltwheel, the Urchin). And on the other hand, some sound like Saves The Day back when they wrote fast songs. In any case, I don’t really know the names of the bands because the song list on the back is riddled with inaccuracies and I don’t know who did what. Also, red text on a red background? Hindsight is 20/20, I suppose. –Bryan Static (Rabbit, www.myspace.com/rabbitrecords)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Death by Salt III: LP
This compilation is a little too hard rock for me. It reminds me of the bands that used to rehearse next to me in the San Fernando Valley, only all of these bands are from Utah. –ryan (8ctopus)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Comp #2: CD
Plan-It-X rocks! There are so many great bands on this that it makes me want to purchase a trampoline and jump on said trampoline while shoving fistfuls of Lucky Charms in my mouth! Songs by the Carrie Nations, This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb, Matty Pop Chart, the Bananas, Paul Baribeau, the Devil Is Electric, the Dauntless Elite, and much more! Plus some bands I’d never heard before who are super awesome, like Delay, Four Eyes, and Soophie Nun Squad. (Note: Am I living under a candy-filled rock? What is wrong with me?) I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again! Plan-It-X is clearly experiencing a resurgence equivalent to communism in the 1930s! If this were a cereal, it’d be one of those single-serving box sets, including Lucky Charms (the Bananas), Cinnamon Toast Crunch (Carrie Nations), and more! Yum! –Maddy (Plan-It-X)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
And You’ll Spin: A Tribute to Big Drill Car: CD
All. Chemical People. Big Drill Car. When I made the leap from classic rock to punk rock, these bands seemed tailor made for people like me. They had hooks and humor, and they could play well without yielding to classic rock clichés. But of the three pivotal Cruz Records bands, only All seems to get their due, at least in my neck of the woods, so I’m glad to see this Big Drill Car tribute disc. Most of the seventeen bands on And You’ll Spin took the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach, doing straight forward covers. Newcomers will get a pretty accurate sense of the originals. For converts, it’s mostly a mixed bag of well-rendered renditions that stray a little bit and others that fall short—at the very least you’ll want to pull out your old Big Drill Car records. The best versions come from Social Classics, Groucho Marxists, Sad Days Indeed, and The Tank. The most interesting was Jeff Caudill and the Good Time Band’s version of “Swanson,” though I wish they’d made it even more country.  –Mike Faloon (Itchy Korean)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
And You’ll Spin: A Tribute to Big Drill Car: CD
I’ll be honest, I’m not the most knowledgeable guy about Big Drill Car, but I love me some Descendents, ALL, and similar stuff (often jazzy, etc.). Not to mention I already know of two of the bands on here that are local to me (Amber Jets and Groucho Marxists) that go nuts over all that stuff. For a compilation, it flows pretty smoothly, as all the covers are pretty straight forward, which is impressive since some of these recordings are a few years old. I’m going to say if you haven’t checked them out yet, this isn’t a bad way to get into Big Drill Car.  –joe (Itchy Korean)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
And You’ll Spin: A Tribute to Big Drill Car: CD
I’m probably the worst person here at the magazine to review this, since my first exposure to this band will be when I see them live this weekend. But I really like Chemical People, so maybe the boys will give me a free hall pass? All the tunes are quite rocking, but, of course, a few stick out like a broken femur. Cynical, The Tank, and Dead Lazlo’s Place bring the noise and add their own spin to the proceedings. Inspiring enough to want me to pick up some Big Drill Car merch ASAP. I think this is the point of tribute records, eh? –koepenick (Itchy Korean)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
And You’ll Spin: A Tribute to Big Drill Car: CD
The long wait is finally over for this holy offering tribute to veteran power rockers Big Drill Car from Itchy Korean Records. Glenn and Kevin (neither Korean, and will go Bruce Lee on your Adam’s apple if called Korean) over at IKR have been painstakingly assembling this seventeen-song testament to BDC for over the last coupla years, and the result is a killer collection of ‘Car tunes from a cross-section of bands from around the globe. Some of my favorites include The Bultacos (Spain) ripping out their version of “Ick,” Dead Lazlo’s Place busting out “Nothing At All,” and Jeff Caudill’s (USA) roadhouse/folk-tastic (trust me, it works!) take on one of my all-time fave BDC tunes, “Swanson.” I must note here that I’d be a lying mofo if I said I wasn’t particularly fond (and proud!) of Cynical’s version of “Take Away”—that track was actually taken from my old band’s fourth and final record released back in 2001, some years before this tribute got shifted high into production gear. Let’s make it clear that I’m in no way tooting my own horn—a helluva lotta other bands brought the rock to this tribute, as well. If you happen to partake of smoking the weed (you know who you are), put on Valve Drive’s (Japan) version of “In Green Fields” and prepare to have a good time. A coupla of the BDC guys themselves were involved with the making of this rekkid, with the cover art by Bob Thomson and Mark Arnold pitching in his producing skills for The Tank’s take on “No Worse for the Wear.” Even long-time Descendent Stephen Egerton had a hand in the process with mastering this disc, so cut the shit and get some while the gettin’s good, holmes. In fact, get this and grab any and all BDC records and 7 inchers you can get your hands on. Why? Because all in all, everyone on this tribute did a pretty damn good job of paying homage to one of the greatest bands that the music industry missed the fucking boat on at the time, and I mean BIG time. This especially rings true with the CD liner notes that some person named “anonymous” wrote. Turns out that I happen to know “anonymous,” and believe me you, he knows exactly what the fuck he’s talking about. Do you?  –dale (Itchy Korean, www.itchykorean.com)


VALIENT THORR:
Immortalizer: CD
Fourth full-length from these intense hard rockers from Venus. Yes, they are not of this earth, my friends. This platter was produced by Jack Endino, who gives this a spit polish that does the songs right. Head to the web if you don’t know who Jack is. Double guitars played in tandem not heard this good since Buck Dharma and company did it back in the day. “I Hope the Ghosts of the Dead Haunt Yr Soul Forever” and “Parable of Daedalus” rock with utter abandon. Some may want this for the cover art alone, but trust me; there is more than meets the eye on this one.  –koepenick (Volcom)


UNWELCOME GUESTS / ORPHAN CHOIR:
Self-titled: 7"
Above average—not anything I would tell my friends about in an excitement of new discovery—but it’s agreeable to my ears. I keep playing it repeatedly, trying to listen to it thoroughly, but I kept missing it. I would be distracted and talk over it or zone out, but that’s a good thing because it means that it didn’t annoy me. I finally sat down in silence to pay attention and I was glad with how it reminded me of Archers Of Loaf, strangely, on both sides even though it was a split. The slow music that would suddenly speed up and then back down is a style that is a fingerprint to Archers Of Loaf for me. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a huge compliment to both bands because I love that band. –Corinne  –Guest Contributor (Salinas, www.unshadowed.com/salinas)


UH OH:
Underneath the Stupid Sun: 7"
Yeah, I’m pretty sure this was recorded in a cyborg’s armpit. Somebody must have shrunk the whole band, instruments and all, and just shoved them into that dank mechanical crevice with some recording equipment and said, “Go to town!” And that’s exactly what they did. Despite the bizarre recording environment, this record wins because of the band’s completely unpretentious, sometimes angsty, poppy punk and roll tunes. This is a loud reminder that music doesn’t need to be coated with studio gloss to be catchy, doesn’t need to be vapid to make you want to dance. 
–mp (Repulsion)


UGLY LAW:
Self-titled: 7”EP
Off-kilter hardcore with a singer that sounds a little like Springa from SS Decontrol. The beats steer clear of über-thrash land for the most part, but the odd selection of chord progressions make for tunes that keep you interested in where they’re goin’. 
–jimmy (www.myspace.com/uglylaw)


TWO MAN ADVANTAGE:
South of Canada: CD
Pentagram made out of hockey sticks? Check. Fixation on the number 69? Check. Seven band members? Check. Loud punk hardcore with some occasional cringe-worthy melodic vocals? Check. Not too original or groundbreaking by any means, with some cool moments, and if I knew any hockey lingo I’d drop a reference like, “The soundtrackto checking some weak motherfucker into the boards,” but since I know nothing about hockey I won’t bother. A big ol’ lump of ice-themed hardcore. –Will Kwiatkowski (Rodent Popsicle)


TRUCKSTOP LOVECHILD / THE LOOKIES:
Split: 7”
Truckstop: Heavy-duty wallet-chain rock’n’roll stuff with a catchy riff and a nice, drivin’ beat. Lookies: More of the same, though they ain’t quite as catchy as their cohorts on the flip.  –jimmy (www.myspace.com/zodiackillerrecords)


TRANZMITORS:
Self-titled: 12”EP
It’s pretty well documented that I very much like the Tranzmitors. (See the cover of issue #42.) Imagine the best of powerpop—Jam to Buzzcocks to Exploding Hearts—and rearrange those delicate, perishable elements so they don’t collapse, break, or tear. The Tranzmitors have figured out how to do that. It’s sort of like watching scientists make microchips; although you can observe them in the process, you still can’t really see how the magic is made. Yet the results, in the Tranzmitors’ capable hands, are more than apparent when the needle hits the vinyl. That said, these four songs are “on the couch.” I could easily see these songs being played by the band, not once getting off of the couch. (You know, like in a video, or sitting in the studio jamming.) These tracks are all pretty laid back. Not bad at all; just a warning if you’re expecting some “can’t stop shaking my ass” numbers. 
–todd (Deranged)


TOUCHERS:
Blithe: CD
Dunno why, but I didn’t really expect to think much of this, so I was a bit surprised at what I got—well above-average ‘90s type alt-rock from a buncha cats that sound like they take their cues from the same puddle of influences that spawned both Nirvana and the Pixies. The songs are catchy, well structured and diverse, and delivered with much less morose moodiness than Mr. Cobain’s crew and less arty snootiness than Mr. Francis and friends. Apparently, the vato responsible for said tuneage is no longer with us, which gives the proceedings an air of unrealized potential ‘cause given the right amount of payola backing ’em, these kids could’ve had quite a career with enough hits to buy a small island for each.  –jimmy (Mental)


TOTALLY FUCKED:
Self-titled: CD-R
Loud’n’heavy hardcore with a wee touch o’ that metalhead-friendly crusty sound, but not so much that I’m picturing ’em with bullet belts and shit like that. Pretty good.  –jimmy (Dead Broke)


TIMEBOMBS, THE:
Nuke Everything: 7” EP
The Xeroxed sheet with handwritten lyrics has “WE DON’T GIVE A SHIT” scrawled across it, rendering it wholly illegible. While that may be true, they do lay down some mean fuggin’ hardcore here, heavily reminiscent of RKL’s first Mystic seven-inch EP, right down to the “Hi, we crammed all our gear into one of the bathroom stalls of the largest restroom we could find and let the tape roll.”  –jimmy (Cowabunga, no address)


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