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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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SHADES OF GREY / MASSMORD:
Split: CD
Don’t know if it’s always the best choice to put two bands who sound very similar to one another on a split. There really isn’t too much difference between either band. Shades Of Grey drink deep from the well of From Ashes Rise. Even their style of lyrics sticks close to the F.A.R. style. Shades of Grey are definitely adept musicians. The songs are solid and sonic, but they need to inject a bit more individuality into their sound if they want to stand out. Otherwise they will sink in the mess of a zillion bands who have the Tragedy / F.A.R. sound. Massmord have a bit more going for them. The songs are more dynamic and explosive. They mix From Ashes Rise with some Tragedy. Not much difference, really. But it’s there if you listen closely. If they, too, were to inject more of their own personality into their sound, Massmord could be a force to reckon with. Until then... –Matt Average (Profane Existence)


SESS. THE:
Agendumb: CD
The Sess (pronounced sesh) kick out some over-amped, garage, rock’n’roll that would be right at home on In The Red or Swami Records. The press sheet says these guys are San Diego’s version of the Black Lips, which is a pretty apt description. There are little bits all over this record that tend to stand out, such as the Beach Boys vocal harmonies that suddenly pop out in the circusy “Silly for Sirius,” or the song “Don’t Look Back” which sounds like it has a chorus melody borrowed from AM radio pop rock, like Three Dog Night. It’s an interesting album which grows on repeated listening. I don’t think this CD will change the garage rock landscape, but it keeps things interesting and is really worth a listen. –Adrian (Single Screen)


SESS, THE:
Agendumb: CD
This one’s all over the map—one minute you’re on a trip with a band that seems to be suffering through serious bouts of schizophrenic art punk ADD, the next you’re zipping through the fringes of the land of soul with a trash rock band. These guys are better than they’re willing to let on, preferring to throw a wrench in your expectations just when you think you have ‘em pegged. I rather like that. –jimmy (Single Screen, no address)


SEGER LIBERATION ARMY:
Down Home: CD
This album is pretty good. The band sounds a bit like (International) Noise Conspiracy, but with a whole lot more soul and old-time rock’n’roll influence tucked in under the belts. I can almost see the seedy ‘70s car chase movie this stuff could be the soundtrack for, and that’s a compliment! –mrz (Big Neck)


SEE YOU IN HELL:
2003-2007: CD
CD discography of 7”s and their full-length released in the last five years. Awesome stuff. Fast, angry, and abrasive like a wolverine that’s been poked with sticks. A blood-boiler. A rager. I want to desecrate graveyards. Random acts of mayhem. Go blow up cars and throw watermelons randomly. See You In Hell have made me twenty years old again. I will destroy dutifully with them as my soundtrack. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Not Very Nice)


SEA DOG:
Wizards of the Coast: LP
The titles really tell the story: What do you call a technically proficient metal song with a lo-fi bottom end? “Cave Mustaine”! If you like old school metal but hate the super douche posturing that comes with it, then this six-song instrumental onslaught from Ireland is for you. –Jim Ruland (Stitchy Press, www.stichypresshq.com)


SCARY CRICK:
Some Low Glow: CD
This debut from The Rubes’ side project hasn’t left my CD player since I got it. The melody for the traditional song “Blackberry Blossom/Cooley’s Reel” has been stuck in my head for days. This afternoon I caught myself doing a little jig to my imagined version. Labeled as folk punk, these boys display solid, complex finger work on the mandolin, banjo, and guitar. The bluegrass tablatures and group vocals is what this genre is all about. Some of my favorites are “…And Then I Pissed My Parachute Pants” and “So Long,” but the whole album deserves a listen. Recommended. –Kristen K (Rube)


ROWDY TOWDY:
Self-titled: CDEP
This EP is a bit of an anomaly. They’re essentially country punk, but most country punk bands go in for a gravely or deep-voiced country-style vocalist, whereas here, singer David Groves is rocking the nasally punk rock sound. Each of the four tracks on the record are fairly different; “I Know” is a bass-heavy, traveling, “Ghost Riders in the Sky”-esque tune about running from the cops and making out in abandoned cars, while track two, “The Forest,” seems to be from the perspective of a man who has been turned into a tree. Overall, I’m liking it; hell, I have respect for any band with an upright bass. I’d definitely check out a full-length if they release one. –Guest Contributor (For Documentation Only)


SACRED SHOCK:
Self-titled: 7"
Hailing from Austin, Texas and featuring members of Army Of Jesus, this new band impressed me quickly. It hits you right in the gonads as soon as the sound pours out of the speakers. I was overtaken by the energy and felt like I was in the comfort of an old friend. It’s hardcore that is tough as nails, but still retains bits and pieces of melody to add character to the charging music. For a modern day reference, this band reminds me a lot of the Swedish band, Victims. The bands share the same intensity and show a genuine drive. Some bands try to sound like they are trying to play U.S. ‘80s-style hardcore and not quite pull it off. Some bands do it right and sound like a band that came from that time period. I classify this band as the latter. –don (Schizophrenic)


RUNS, THE:
Piss & Shit: CDR
If the Spits were totally retarded, blind, and deaf they might sound like the Runs. I know, how can you make fun of tards? It’s easy for me. But it’s hard to rip a band that includes their own biographies and I can tell you, the reader, it’s an even more daunting task to berate a self-proclaimed “experienced punk rocker” or “punk rock juggernaut from nowhere.” Do punk rock juggernaut’s use drum machines? I’ll lend one more kind word and then end this nonsensical diatribe. I like the cartoons of people pissin’ and shittin’. Potty humor, the highest common denominator. –Dave Disorder (Puking Baby, matliiolec@hotmail.com)


SAY BOK GWAI:
Chink in the Armor: CD
An erratic affair from this duo that melds punk, thrash, metal and everything in-between. For some weird reason, the music puts me on edge and a rush of anxiety washes over me. It’s a level of aural discomfort that is disturbing in a way. Vocals that reach an extreme level of snottiness is what stands out here. The music has that recorded live in the studio feel. This band reminds me of a cross of Stukas Over Bedrock and the Dead Kennedys on a bag of mushrooms in the hot desert sun. This band definitely is not playing it safe and trying to fit inside the box. –don (Edgetone)


ROT SHIT:
The Worst Kids: 7"
Apparently these guys got together to write the “fastest, most retarded punk songs ever.” I’ve heard faster; I’ve heard more retarded; and, I’ve definitely heard both done much, much better. –megan (Big Neck)


ROT SHIT:
Have You Scene: 7"
Does anyone know if there’s any truth to the rumor that these guys once threw a live electric eel at their audience? Punk? Have You Scene? I don’t even know anymore, man. I’ve heard, not seen, this type of punk band ad nauseam. It all takes place in this horrible, reoccurring nightmare where I think it’ll be fun to write record reviews for this punk magazine. Seriously though, I love my work. I woke up this morning and felt compelled to write something about this Rot Shit record, so rather than ending this now, I will forge on. This band doesn’t take itself seriously. “Drive Fucked Up,” “Fuck Yer DJ Night,” funny song titles that incorporate a solid amount of fuck you’s. Musically: crude, loud, primitive, scrawling that’s scathing with sarcastic commentary. Which leads me to: punk? Electric eel? Have You Scene? Does anyone know? –Dave Disorder (Fashionable Idiots)


RIPTIDES, THE:
Mental Therapy: 7”
Considering the severe rarity of finding a pop punk band creating any kind of primarily instrumental work, it’s always worth taking notice when a group like The Riptides comes along to make an effort to do something new in a genre that generally suffers from an overdose of clichés, simplicities, and rehashed concepts (even if it does often produce incredibly fun music). In five tracks, the EP cuts through charged surf rhythms, warm, slow dance grooves, smooth throwback guitars, and a Western-esque tune about death with a spoken intro by who appears to be Blag Dahlia of the Dwarves (the only voice found anywhere here). As a quick fix, it’s a short and enjoyable listen that doesn’t leave much of an impression on you after the music has stopped, but a whole album of this stuff cranked up a few notches louder could potentially crack its own niche in a genre that desperately needs more than the same old teenage kicks. –Reyan Ali (Rally)


RIPPING HEADACHE:
Self-titled: 7” EP
These guys thrash things up nice and noisy-like, delivering the goods tight as hell and giving bands like DS-13 a run for their money. In all, it made me wanna pelt the nearest slam pit with aebleskiver, which is one heckuva compliment, considering how much I dig those spherical gobs of goodness. –jimmy (www.adult-crash.com)


RESIST:
Resistography: 2 x CD
I remember when I first heard their demo in 1989 or so. I was completely stoked. No frills punk rock, which, at the time, was becoming scarce. Shit was either pop, straight-edge, metal, Fugazi clone bands, and what became later known as “grunge.” So yeah, this was nice to hear. PE has compiled fifty tracks total, and fourteen videos on to two discs; everything that was pressed on vinyl: The Only Solution… LP, self-titled EP, splits with Deprived, and Disrupt, and their Ignorance Is Bliss LP. Video footage is from live shows in Portland and Seattle, as well as a public access appearance in 1991, and a snippet of a nearly practice session in 1989. Members went on to play in Defiance, Severed Head Of State, and Detestation, among many more. If you’re unfamiliar with Resist, think of anarcho punk but Americanized. Or think of the Pist, or a more tuneful Final Conflict. Good stuff really. –Matt Average (Profane Existence)


RED AND BLUE / TRAFFIC & WEATHER:
Split: LP
Red And Blue: Pretty decent poppy punk. It has a mid–late ‘80s Bay Area sound (RAB is from New York, though), but it also kinda reminds me of Shotwell in a way. The vocals are hella clean and annunciated. Still, RAB is pretty catchy—totally makes me wanna sing along. Traffic & Weather: This is some pretty raw, stripped-down melodic stuff from one of The Gibbons and the dude who does Salinas Records (and two others not mentioned in the “one-sheet,” Jeff and Alex), who seems to be their main vocalist, who has a rather desperate yell, steps aside for one track to let a gruffer member take the mic. All together, T&W’s sound strikes a melancholy chord, and the rawness of it makes it seem fresh in a progressively bland genre of melodic punk. –Vincent Battilana (Los Diaper / Mandible)


REAL DEAL!, THE:
Hungover, But Dead Sober: CD
No, seriously, I get it. Songs about “dream girls” and wishing someone would buy you booze, all set to the backdrop of the kind of ska/punk-lite mergings that flooded the scene back in the mid-to-late ‘90s. Closest comparison I could come up with is a sweeter-sounding, more innocent version of Link 80, though they were pretty manic most of the time and The Real Deal very rarely get super fast and never get past three on the Toughometer. The snotty vocals do work in their favor, and on songs like “Bushido’s Way,” where they really start spitting lyrics out quickly, they begin running the risk of treading into Against All Authority-land, which isn’t necessarily a bad place to visit. Unfortunately it’s a rare stop, and said vocals are discounted and eventually rendered null by the cute little cartoon monsters all over the packaging that look like they were culled from some kid’s cereal box. And there are no lyrics, they’re apparently sponsored by a videogame company, and the whole thing eventually blends into one long “kind of punk-sounding song with a ska part.” I’m not saying I need everything all rough-hewn and brutal all the time, but there’s just too much saccharine and too many plasticine edges here. I would’ve probably loved this sixteen or seventeen years ago, but simple youthful exuberance will only carry my sagging ass so far these days. –keith (Union)


RAPID ADAPTER:
Live the Lie: 7”
Oh man, this is a tough one. For some reason, it totally makes me think of the Grumpies, but without female vocals (bye, Amy) and pop (bye, most everything that is Grumpies). Take whatever is left of that, make it a bit artier and a little more lo-fi, and in my mind, that adds up to Rapid Adapter. And, that adds up to something I like quite a bit. Also, cover art by Matt Chicorel, awesome dude and artist. –megan (Frame Of Reference)


RANDY THUNDERBIRD:
Good Enough: 7”
Randy Thunderbird is a four piece from Michigan, and they sound like it. Hard hitting, political punk probably formed from the ruins of The Broadways and some of the heavier Fat bands. This release is pretty unmotivating for me, but I think they have the tools to make their next one a bit more their own, and consequently more interesting. –Nick Toerner –Guest Contributor (Bermuda Mohawk Productions, no address listed)


RADIO WAR:
The Rising of the Talentless: 7"
The first thing I get excited about is the color of the seven inch. (Yellow pastel!) That probably says something about the music, right? Maybe it just says something about hardcore music. When the needle hits the vinyl, I come upon the realization that snare drums and screaming will infinitely sound great together. They merge souls like prescription medication and wine. Simply put, Radio War is hardcore. Thrash. Screamo? Whatever the fuck you want to call it, they don’t try to overcompensate for the boring state of hardcore. The sounds from their debut 7” are both cacophonous and melodic. Even when the rhetorical chorus breaks on “Gizmo Duck,” yelling “smile and laugh” over and over, I still don’t cast them aside because every other track on this EP makes up for the poor choice of redundancy. Four stars out of? –Gabe Rock (Copper Lung)


PYRITE:
Back Pain: CD
Pyrite kinda noodle, but they rock. They’re spazzy, but controlled. They come off as good-hearted guys who are just full of wiseass bile. They play squeally, manic post punk that you can dance to if you don’t mind changing up your moves every few bars. This posthumous fourteen-song CD will appeal to fans of both The Minutemen and Shellac, and it’s too bad these guys broke up, because I bet they brought it live. –CT Terry (www.belgian-style.com)


PYGMY LUSH:
Mount Hope: CD
Pygmy Lush has two very different sounds. They play noisy hardcore, then cool things down with haunted acoustic music. Mount Hope is an entire album of the quiet stuff; eerie, melancholy acoustic indie that sounds like Black Heart Procession with the precious lilt of early Iron And Wine. Usually it’s a reviewer copout to mention a couple of bands that influence the band being reviewed, but I’ve got nowhere else to go here, because Pygmy Lush don’t sound like themselves, they sound like these other bands. They’re doing a very good job of it, but here’s to hoping that they come into their own on their next record. Before I go, the PC police are forcing me to ask, “Isn’t the word ‘Pygmy’ considered derogatory? What the fuck gives?” –CT Terry (Lovitt)


PROHIBITION:
Sorry for the Inconvenience: 7” EP
One of the latest in the ongoing series of punk bands coming out of Milwaukee that seems like it’ll never end, ever. First thing that comes to my mind when listening to this is that there’s a fairly heavy late ‘80s/EastBay influence to it. I’ll even say that the vocals remind me of really early Screeching Weasel, before everyone lost their shit over them. So basically what I’m saying is, this sounds like the first thing to go on The First 7”s Volume II comp on Lookout! Also, there’s a zine/comic book instead of a plain insert, like they’re fuckin’ Gas Huffer or Less Than Jake or something. –joe (Repulsion)


PRETTY BOY THORSON AND THE FALLEN ANGELS / CORTEZ THE KILLER:
Split: 7” EP
Pretty Boy Thorson: They’re a sleeper. It took me awhile to get comfortable with the idea that a plugged-in band featured an acoustic guitar. But the earnest delivery, the self-effacement, and whiskey-true lyrics won me over. The band’s not flashy, but tenacious, like a weed growing through the seam between asphalt and the sidewalk, thriving on neglect, growing in a hostile place. I’ll say it again. If rockabilly didn’t off ramp into Fonzie-ville years back and empty out into a cul-de-sac of retro consumerism, these dudes would have been embraced far and wide by now. Cortez The Killer: A little bit of British Top of the Pops from the ‘60s, via cardboard and masking tape. The mastering’s a little rough, sounding like was recorded through massive fuzzy ear muffs (and with a more clean, pop-leaning band, it’s noticeable), but far from dismissible. With some more fidelity, they could be reminiscent of Bent Outta Shape. Nice split. Silk-screened covers. –todd (ADD)


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