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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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BUTT:
It’s Butt!: CDEP
Butt comes at you like a sonic attack, or so they say. I happen to agree. Best lyrics ever: “Somethin’ somethin’ ‘bout the pride we lack.” I want them to play my birthday party. –megan (Butt)


BUSINESS, THE:
Hardcore Hooligan: CD
I have a world of respect for The Business. Along with Cocksparrer, they pioneered street punk. You can’t compare The Business to other bands. They’re the hallmark. Nonetheless, nearly thirty years after The Business started off, you have to be a little hesitant about a new album by them. What can they do to stay interesting this many years into the game? Well, how about an album comprised solely of songs about football (or soccer, as we Americans call it)? That’s what Hardcore Hooligan is, and, for a closet soccer fanatic, it works for me. There’s a song about Gareth Southgate, the English national team player who missed the penalty kick that would’ve gotten England into the finals of the 1996 European Cup. There’s “Viva Bobby Moore,” a song about England’s all-time best player (I’ve watched films of Bobby Moore, and the guy was amazing; he’s the only player I’ve ever seen who could legitimately be compared to Pele). They sing the praises of Michael Owen, the most promising English soccer player since Bobby Moore (that’s my opinion, not everyone else’s, but you should’ve seen him against Argentina in the ‘98 World Cup, when he decided to take the game into his own hands, dribble past the entire defense, and score one of the all time greatest World Cup goals). They curse Argentinean national team player Diego Maradona in two separate songs, first with the basic, “Maradona, you’re shit,” and second with a re-recording of “Handball,” which starts out, “3000 miles is a long way to go/ to be beaten by a dwarf in Mexico.” Not only was Maradona one of the shiftiest players to ever make it to the national soccer stage, but, in 1986, he got away with smacking a ball into the goal with his hand, which effectively eliminated England from the Cup, so, yeah, he deserves two songs cursing him. I hated that fucker when he played. I’m not standing by The Business, though, when they sing about Maradona and Argentina beating England in that Cup and finishing up by singing, “Everyone knows the final score/ but who won the Falklands war.” The coolest thing about this version of “Handball” is that it was originally on their Welcome to the Real World album, which was a recorded right around the time when The Business’s popularity was waning fast and New Wave was picking up, so all the songs – which were written to be street punk songs – were recorded like someone was trying to make a Thompson Twins album. And every time I listen to Welcome to the Real World, I think that it would be one of punk’s greatest albums if they just re-recorded it to sound like The Business is supposed to sound. This version of “Handball” supports that theory. Beyond the direct attacks or songs of praise about professional athletes, there’s a bunch of songs on Hardcore Hooligan that are just about drinking and going to soccer games. It makes me wish that I could get together with the guys from The Business, go to a English First Division soccer game, drink beer, sing songs, and root like hell for whoever The Business root for. –sean (BYO)


BRONX, THE:
Self-titled: CD
Attention all hipsters: Scandinavian punk rock’n’roll has hit Hollywood. Please head in an orderly fashion to your nearest trendy shirt shop on Melrose to buy your officially sanctioned Turbonegro T-shirts, and take all of your friends along with you. Anyone caught on the Strip not wearing the aforementioned officially sanctioned Turbonegro T-shirt will be considered, like, totally lame. –jimmy (White Drugs)


BROKEN BOTTLES:
Not Pretty: CDEP
I wonder about the future of the Broken Bottles. The way I see it, in ten years I may say, “Yeah, I saw those guys at the Doll Hut with Smogtown,” and people will be amazed and say that they read about that show in such-and-such book and hundreds of people will claim to have been there when, in reality, only about thirty people were. Either that, or I’ll say, “Man, Broken Bottles could’ve been the biggest OC punk band since Social Distortion, but they self-destructed,” and people will say, “Who?” One thing’s for sure, I’ve passed on Broken Bottles CDs and played Broken Bottles seven inches for dozens of people, and everyone has instantly become a fan. Not Pretty is a perfect introduction to them, too. It’s melodic and catchy and a little disturbed (they sing about killing cats and starring in a porn with Kelly Osbourne) and, if radio stations got their hands on “Gothic Chicks,” Broken Bottles would be an overnight sensation. Before that happens, pick up this awesome EP, and pick up their Radioactive San Onofre and Bloody Mary seven inches, while you’re at it. –sean (Finger)


BROADZILLA:
Lady Luck: CD
They look like they raided Cherie Currie’s closet circa 1976 and sound like some lost L7 demo with EG Daily handling vocal duties. Yes, it’s that bad. –jimmy (Diamond Star)


BROADCAST:
Pendulum: CD EP
My friend Andrew calls Broadcast the band that Stereolab always wanted to be. I don’t mind Stereolab, but Broadcast has always held my heart. Stereolab was always the more French-pop sixties group when Broadcast was the evil, moody-as-fuck and romantically bitter sixties pop group. But, of course, it’s 2003, and not 1966. This is sort of a sneakpeak at their next full length – featuring one track, “Pendulum,” that will appear on it – this song opens this EP – a tripped-out psychedelic, raw electronic single, my favorite song. Vocalist Trish Kennans has a delicate and amazing voice that counteracts the harsh raw tones of their recordings. Their music is a soundtrack – it’s like a dream. This is the music that causes out of body experiences. “Small Song IV” is a rough and spacey vocal track that almost comes off more like an improv session. I just love the sound of their recordings. I keep using the term raw, but you can just hear a pin drop in the room. It’s great. Broadcast is also known for their moody instrumentals, which shines on the tripped-out “Violent Playground” (no, not a Nitzer Ebb cover), and “One Hour Empire.” These are the four tracks that truly standout, compared to the more unexciting vocal track “Still Feels Like Tears,” and the noisy, chaotic closer instrumental “Minus Two.” I am anxious to hear their upcoming full length. Their last LP, The Noise Made By People, from 2000 was one of my favorites of the year. –Sarah Shay (Warp)


BOUNCING SOULS, THE:
Anchors Aweigh: CD
There will be no fans lost by the Bouncing Souls. They follow the formula that has made them popular. The songs have that hint of familiarity that makes it easy to flow right into a new release. The only drawback is more on a musician’s note. It sounds like the drummer, in the recording, used the same snare drum that he would normally use for a show. It sounds like one of those really deep snares that people like to use because the sound projects in a live setting. In most cases, I noticed, in a studio setting the snare drum sounds like someone hitting a tin can or garbage can. That is the sound on the record and that’s my sore spot while I’m listening to this. –don (Epitaph)


BOTCH:
An Anthology of Dead Ends: CD EP
Yay, metalcore. Oddly enough, I’ve been getting into shit like Converge lately so I suspect I should like this grinding, pulverizing, heavy-as-shit riffage more than I do. Maybe this just suffers in comparison to the new Weakerthans album. While I realize that a reviewer is supposed to be able to objectively evaluate the merits and downfalls of an album independent of anything else said reviewer may be reviewing or listening to, I long ago realized that reviewing a record is subjective as fuck and that I might love grindy shit one moment and wake up three days later wondering what I was thinking because there is no objective checklist to use for evaluating the artistic merits of a release. With all that gibberish out of the way, this is well done headbangist rock and on any other day, I probably would have turned it up to show all of my neighbors the error of their ways. –scott (Hydra Head)


BOILS, THE:
Pride and Persecution: CD
Okay, I am going to give them the benefit of the doubt about the Eagle and Iron Cross motif because I see Al Quint of Suburban Voice in a photo on the inside, otherwise I would be a bit concerned of dodginess. That said, this is good straight forward punk/ hardcore that is more energetic than fast, more raucous than loud, more cathartic than angry. Venting frustration can be a good time. –rich (TKO)


BOB HOOKS AND THE SWAMP RATS:
Disco Still Sucks: CD
A retrospective of an obscure ‘60s garage band. Although they hailed from Pittsburgh, these boys were apparently more sonically aligned with northwestern bands like the Wailers and the Sonics, even covering two songs by the latter and giving them a run for the money when it comes to wild, over-the-top rawk. Rather than being content to be a one-trick pony, though, these guys often switched things up by cranking out some sweet beat versions of obscure Stones and Kinks tracks, not to mention a disarmingly pretty cover of the Beatles’ “Here, There and Everywhere.” Good tuneage to be found throughout, although it’s worth the price of admission for the pounding version of “Louie Louie” alone. –jimmy (Get Hip)


BLIND SOCIETY:
Contrary to Popular Belief: CD
Imagine early MDC, with less of both the free jazz and the political influences, crossed with early Hogan’s Heroes and maybe a pinch of early Union 13. Good for what it is, which is essentially hyper-speed hardcore. –jimmy (Blackout)


BLACKTOP CADENCE, THE:
Chemistry for Changing Times: CD
Whereas Hot Water Music works on a volcanic structure of pressure blowing out hot lava, The Blacktop Cadence deals with cooling, slow-moving mantle. With two members of HWM – Chris on vocals and guitar, and George on drums – this effort from ’97 will be instantly recognizable to their fans: structured and sweeping melancholy.  And although The Blacktop Cadence is governed by a slow pace, measured steps, and almost whispered screams, it doesn’t fit into a neat, prefigured little musical box. (No emo here.) Nor is it merely sleepy. For me, it’s perfect hangover music. Man, those dudes (and lady) are talented. –todd (No Idea)


BLACK SOUL CHOIR:
Cardinal: CD EP
So far as I can tell, they ain’t Black, they ain’t a choir and they sure as hell ain’t playin’ no soul. Their brand of noise rock ain’t all that good, either. –jimmy (Init)


BERENICE BEACH:
Runaway: CD
Dudes, Rancid is soooo passe, and the latter period Social Distortion added here for flavor didn’t help matters much. –jimmy (Mad Butcher)


BENNY/BABY LITTLE TABLETS:
Self-titled: split 7”
Baby Little Tablets are an earnest, sqawking band who sing about midlife crises before they’ve even turned thirty. Benny, for some reason, enjoy holding hands like they’re in a prayer circle. While I admire people who are in touch with their emotional side, displaying it like a badge is kinda goofy. Their song, “The Right True End” has a nice Hüsker Dü feel to it that makes it worth repeated listening. –eric (Boss Tuneage)


BEEHIVE & THE BARRACUDAS:
In Dark Love: CD
Arty, punky stuff that was interesting for approximately two songs. When I found myself pondering the potential of rocks having some semblance of consciousness, I knew I was in deep doo doo. –jimmy (Swami)


BALZAC:
Beyond the Darkness: CD
If you didn’t make it out to Fiend Fest to see Balzac on their first US tour, you missed out. Let me tell you, they were fuckin’ incredible. I saw kids seeing and hearing them for the first time get blown away by their set. I even got to hang with them for a bit each night that I went. Here is a little history for you. The band originated in 1992 and are from Osaka, Japan. The band is a Misfits-influenced band that has taken everything that is to be loved of the band and improved on it. They play original songs that are catchy and can compete against the Misfits catalog. This release is a collection of songs from their past catalog that they re-recorded for their North American introduction. Some of the songs on this recording were released earlier this year in Japan as the Beware of Darkness EP. On that EP, the song “The Pain (Is All Around)” and three live tracks did not end up on the American release. But the American release is chock full’o songs. Seventeen studio and three live tracks fill the disc. In addition, you get a bonus DVD of videos that were only available in Japan. The differences I hear in this recording session, compared to the past versions, are the vocals are a little up front in the mix, the guitar is a little pushed back, and the tempo is a hair slower, I believe. The songs are still great though! I look at it as just a different version of a great thing. Fans of the Misfits, Samhain, AFI or Danzig, here is your next favorite band! –don (Misfits)


BATON ROUGE, LES:
Chloe Yurtz: CDEP
...after listening to this all the way through, my Chloe Yurtz a bit as well. BEST SONG: “My Body-The Pistol” BEST SONG TITLE: “Velvet Barbed Wire” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: The first four songs reminded me of Penetration, the Lunachicks, SIN 34, Red Scare, the Cinch (infrequently) and Bikini Kill. Mostly of their shortcomings. The fifth song – “My Body-The Pistol” – was a complete about-face: Male vocals and a fuzzed-out robo-approach which either reminded me of PilgrimState or No Scene (i forget which). And the last song – “Parish Priest” – sounded like one of those weird, soft tunes somewhere between the “real” songs (such as they are) on Jefferson Airplane’s Surrealistic Pillow album: Echoey guitar and female murmuring sounding like it’s coming from somewhere down the hall whilst the listener sits crumpled in a heap in another room, wondering whether the floor is really made out of water or not and if the toilet is working again. If someone would care to explain the Portuguese punk rock aesthetic to me at this point, i’d be all ears. –norb (Elevator Music)


AWAY FROM NOW:
Shadows Allude Invade: CD
This is a strange little album from Australia. The vocals sound a bit like Frankie Stubbs from Leatherface, and some of the songs on this album do have Leatherface breakdowns and those hard, fast, chaotic melodies. When the songs have these parts, I really like this CD a lot. Sometimes, though, they pull out of the breakdowns with some tough guy metal bits, which, at its best, reminds me of Sick of it All, but usually, the tough guy metal parts don’t sound as good as Sick of it All. It’s strange because the two elements don’t match. The combination of the two elements also makes for really long songs. I wish that they would cut out everything that doesn’t sound like Leatherface. Of course, I realize that this would probably make them sound less original, but that’s a chance I’m willing to take. –sean (Pee)


ASTERISK*:
Dogma: CD
Superior grindcore from this Swedish trio that leaves the medicine to the doctors and goes straight for the intellect. Well, I guess so, as there’s no lyric transcription, but from the song titles (“Adding Milk to DNA,” “Another Dane Law Carved in French”) to the quirky weirdness (a la Locust) that pops up here and there (and the dedication of one track to minimalist composer Arnold Dreyblatt) this blasts in the general direction of the thinking grinder. Forty-one tracks, including a cover of Queen’s “Ogre Battle,” in as many minutes (apparently their entire recorded body), and you’ve got probably the forty-one most frantic heavy minutes you’ll see this year. –Cuss Baxter (31G)


ARAKI:
Ikara: CD
What starts off with sappy minimal piano practice progresses into sappy sleepy interminable dance music that sounds like Depeche Mode dying of chronic diarrhea. I looked at Scene Police’s website and it seems like they got some great shit; I hope I never find out why the fuck they put this out. –Cuss Baxter (Scene Police)


ANN BERETTA:
The Other Side of the Coin: CD
After To All Our Fallen Heroes and New Union, Old Glory, I need another Ann Beretta record like I need a box set collecting the complete oeuvre of Jimmy Buffett with outtakes, especially when it’s acoustic versions of songs from the first record. I’ve had it. If we’re going to be honest, we need to acknowledge that Ann Beretta had one good album in them but kept tilling and seeding the same creative soil, never letting it lie fallow. And what it all boils down to is this – Bitter Tongues is a damn fine record. It is also the only Ann Beretta album you need. –scott (Thrown Brick)


ANCHORMEN, THE:
Nation of Interns:: CD
They rhyme woozy with Vespucci. That’s seriously the highlight of the album. –megan (Unstoppable )


ALLERGIC TO WHORES:
Chaos Before Death: CDEP
This one’s a bit slower than their usual thrash gallop pace, but the level of quality hasn’t diminished accordingly and the singer still sounds like he’s about to burst a vein at any moment. Good stuff –jimmy (Dark Front)


ACID REIGN:
Ready Yet?: CD
Like its punk rock cousin, much of what passes itself off as “rap” these days is pretty dismal, to say the least. Just as punk has had to learn to live with oodles of boy-band-in-training pop-punk poseur fops whoring for fame, clueless fashion slaves trying to relive the glory days of 1977/1982/1994, and whiny emo buttercups taking PC-isms to new ridiculous extremes, so has hip hop had to endure both the rise of gangsta wannabes flooding the racks and airwaves with odes to guns, bitches and the ever-ludicrous worship of the bling-bling, and the corporate raiders sucking the genre dry and trying their damnedest to prevent anything new or inventive from leading the cash cow astray. If you do a little digging under the surface of either genre, however, a whole host of amazing sounds can be found just waiting to blow your mind. Such is the case with Acid Reign’s debut. The three rappers here (Beond, Gajah, and Slowrider vocalist Olmeca) have apparently drawn inspiration from the Freestyle Fellowship/Project Blowed school of stream-of-consciousness delivery and married it to a level of hyper-speed delivery not seen since Chip Fu in his prime, resulting with one hell of a ride more often akin in tone to the jazz vernacular of Coleman or Coltrane than to your average purveyor of “street knowledge.” Taken on a purely literary level, the rhymes and rhythmic structure of the songs contained here are impeccable, fusing social commentary with an impressive experimentation with meter – these are guys who obviously paid attention during the poetry component in English class, and it shows. For those that just wanna hear some really good music, this doesn’t disappoint on that level, either. The beats and backing tracks here are strong and wildly varied, and the furious alliteration utilized by the rappers lends even more level percussive counter rhythms to the tracks, giving you even more to sonically digest. In short, this is one mind-bogglingly good record. If there were any justice in the world, these guys would rule the airwaves. –jimmy (Nomadic Sound System)


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