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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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13TH VICTIM, THE:
Broken Bottles & Razor Blades: CD
Lyrics dumb for even high school kids, with music that’s been done thousands of times before. The only good thing here is the Riverboat Gamblers shirt one dude’s wearing. Then again, that probably sucks for the Gamblers. –megan (Hairball8: www.hairball8.com)


HAND GRENADE SERENADE:
A Black Market Band: CD
This makes me remember what it was like to be in my early twenties: kinda melodramatic where everything had a life or death desperation. The message on some of the songs is right on, but the screechy emo vocals combined with limp guitars didn’t really do it for me. Plus, getting wasted and fucking in graveyards is sung about like it’s a taboo novelty, rather than juvenile. –Kristen K (Son Of Bronson)


INNER TERRESTRIALS:
X: CD
Released in 2004, about half of the album is previously released material like “War” with its ska guitar line, the folk punk “Barry Horne,” and thrashy “Off with Their Heads.” Their cover of an Ewan Mcoll song, “Movin on Song,” is damn fine, too. These U.K. punkers spit articulate lyrics on their ideas of anarchy, freedom/oppression, and media. This comp of old and new songs is just enough to whet my appetite for their new album Tales of Terror. –Kristen K (Rodent Popsicle)


ZHENIA GOLOV:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Angry hardcore that sounds heavily influenced by mid-‘80s straight edge stuff (although thankfully devoid of all the metal riffage) and maybe some earlier Midwest hardcore. While they didn’t get my skirt in a bunch, they weren’t terrible, either. –jimmy (Railroaded)


YOUTH OF TOGAY:
Tossed Salad Days: LP
Nothing makes me smile more than a band hell-bent on taking the piss out of a subgenre as uptight as the straight edge wing of hardcore. As their name and the album title imply, these kids reinterpret some straight edge standards as gay anthems and add them to a batch of solidly delivered originals, all featuring lyrics that detail the joys of man-lovin’ with enough descriptiveness to totally flummox the average hardcore kid (I can hear it now: “I mean, I really like the music, but the lyrics are so, you know, gay. Are they serious about all this goo slurpin’ stuff?”). Though not as incendiary in sound as Limp Wrist, these guys have a charm all their own and are more than worthy of a place next to your Crucial Youth albums. –jimmy (www.fnsrecords.com)


YOUNG MEN, THE:
Fuck You, We’re the Young Men: 7” EP
Sometimes, having a memory fuckin’ blows. Memory #1: most (if not all) of these dudes, in one incarnation or another, were in Bent Outta Shape. Memory #2: StrayDogTown is a fantastic album. Memory #3: Bent Outta Shape “space shuttle”ed: they blew up on the ascent and disbanded. Memory #4: Bummed. Memory #5: Whenever I meet Jamie, the lead singer, he tells me all these ideas on how to make Razorcake better (“put a joke on every page”) and he’s never once pulled through, even though I’ve said, “Don’t tell me about it. Do it.” Problem #1: This is no Bent Outta Shape. Prime Replacements is given up for so-so period Paul Westerberg solo albums. But. It’s. The. Same. Dudes. As. Bent. Outta. Shape. (With longer hair.) I probably wouldn’t be so bored if there was no expectation, no memory. Shitty, I know. –todd (Plate of Shrimp, no address)


YOUNG KNIVES:
Superabundance: CD
Somewhere between the Futureheads and Franz Ferdinand you can find the Young Knives. Poppy rock with a post punk influence. The first four songs are potential hits, with “Light Switch” the most interesting of the entire album. After that, they lose steam and fill the rest of the album with far less charismatic material. –Matt Average (Rykodisc)


YOLKS, THE:
Wandering: 7”
Chicago hit makers, The Yolks, return with a follow-up to their heralded debut 7” that is every bit as good and, at times, exceeds the simple brilliance of the first record. Along with the Fevers and fellow Chicagoans, the Bold Ones and Headache City, they must have access to a piece of the garage pop collective unconscious that remains inaccessible to ninety-nine percent of the bands playing and recording music today. “Wandering” is an effortless, uncomplicated, one-and-a-half minute piece of sullied, lyrically existential genius that finishes far too early. Like a character in a Jim Jarmusch film, the person in the song rambles from place to place, taking in what he can and moving on to the next destination when he feels the need. In a perfect world, “Wandering (Part II)” would extend to the B-side for seven-plus minutes of absolute perfection. Not to knock the other two songs, ‘cause they rule with the same nonchalance as “Wandering.” “Don’t Blame Me” crashes its way through a couple minutes of “whoa-whoas” and the B-side is a ripping instrumental. As with all the other Bachelor releases I’ve reviewed or purchased, the jacket sleeve is maddeningly small, making it next to impossible to put the record away. Luckily, this record will spend most of its time out of its jacket, sitting on my turntables, spinning at 45 RPM. –benke (Bachelor)


YOKOHAMA HOOKS:
Turn On: 7” EP
This may be hitting me completely wrong, but I hear icy hipster art rock, like more time has been spent in their lives shopping for clothes than working on songs. Perhaps it’s the shrill trilling of the vocalist that’s making me squint, and even though I’m sitting in my room listening to this, my first impulse is just to turn around and leave my house. That can’t be good. Maybe it’s the dismantling of Agent Orange’s “Bloodstains” that’s got me all pissy. Three songs. –todd (Tic Tac Totally)


YOKOHAMA HOOKS:
Turn On: 7” EP
Art school minimalism in the rhythm section (think early Wire) but with more aggression in the guitars (think Tyrades) and topped off with vibrato in the vocals (think Sleater Kinney). That’s where things get dicey because there’s little room for error whenever vibrato seeps into the singing. It’s like tuning in an AM station on a small radio, the whole AM band compressed into a display window only a couple of inches wide. When it’s dialed in, the vocals and guitars synch up, like on “Bloodstains.” But a millimeter in either direction, and I tune out because the noise masks the melodies. –Mike Faloon (Tic Tac Totally)


WENDOL:
Self-titled: EP
Metal with the dual vocal thing happening. One dry throat, the other a deep, wet, burping sound. The strongest song of the five is “Mercy Killing.” Though nothing groundbreaking, this song has a decent amount of energy and moves at a decent pace. Other than that, this is just okay on the whole. –Matt Average (Pyrate Punx)


WACO FUCK:
Paranoia Is Total Awareness: CD
I know most people complain “I like their earlier stuff better” when critiquing a band’s progression, but in this case I gotta say I like them more as their sound progressed from grindy, über-speedy hardcore to something a smidge slower with more groove, more anger and less bludgeoning. Thankfully, they start off with their latest stuff, then work their way backwards, with an earlier EP’s worth of tracks and ending with an even earlier EP’s worth of tracks, for a total of twenty-two in all. Good stuff. –jimmy (Life’s A Rape)


VIVIAN GIRLS:
Wild Eyes: 7”
Not even thirty seconds into the first track, I swore that this Brooklyn band of girls listened to a lot of Black Tambourine. Hell, I thought they could be Black Tambourine. They have soft, female vocals that glide perfectly with their blend of minimalist shoegaze and twee pop on the title track. The b-side is more minimalist shoegaze stuff, but more ambient and less pop than the a-side. Seriously, I don’t know what else to say except that I think it’s rad that I finally heard a band that has a distinct Black Tambourine influence. I recommend keeping your ear to the ground for more from this band. –Vincent Battilana (Plays With Dolls)


VICTIMS:
Killer: CD
F’in’ incredible! I have listened to this disc well over fifty times, and each time I am amazed at how great this album is. Victims have released one scorcher after another, and I believe this surpasses everything they have done so far. Even more impressive is they pulled this off as a three piece. Also, they are entering a realm of music that defies easy categorization. The hardcore elements are still there, but the rock’n’roll side that has been lurking underneath is more obvious now, and actually enhances the overall effect. Every song blasts away with intensity without resorting to blinding thrash. Instead, the songs are actual songs played with the right amount of speed mixed with time changes and a tunefulness that lodges them deep into your memory. Johan’s voice still has that punch as well. Not one bad song in the bunch. A solid record the whole way through. This is definitely one of my “desert island discs.” –Matt Average (Combat Rock Industry)


VICE PIRATE:
Discovering the Origin of Language: CDEP
These guys sound a lot like Rise Against, which would be okay in my book, but add in some more technical bits (à la latter day Strung Out) and it can start to lurch precariously between being good, like Smoke or Fire, or bad, like Paramore. My main problem with the band lies in the fact that I can’t get into the vocalist, who has too much of the nü-emo forced angst, bordering-on-whiny sound going on for my taste. I guess, given the right circle, these guys could get big, but I’m not feeling it too much. –Adrian (Pee)


VENUS VERSE:
Phazes: CD
This puppy is stone new wave, as in “We really like Depeche Mode” new wave. They do it so well you could probably throw this on at an ‘80s party and no one would even notice. Gloomy, detached, and yet very catchy. –jimmy (www.myspace.com/venusverse)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
World’s Lousy with Ideas Vol. 4: 7”
This is the fourth volume in a series that I’ve never heard of. It features Touched, Coconut Coolouts, El Vicio, and Fag Cop—four bands that I’ve never heard of. They all play garage-y stuff. Touched and Coconut Coolouts both have a KBD punk thing happening for their garage-y rock. It’s typically not my thing, and I probably wouldn’t have listened to ‘em if I were told that’s what they were, but I actually think they’re pretty decent. The other side of the 7” with El Vicio and Fag Cop starts at bad, then quickly travels over to worse. They are both pretty garage, and I don’t care for too much garage. However, because of the screeching vocals, Fag Cop bothers me so much that I almost like El Vicio. –Vincent Battilana (Almost Ready)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Sick of Fun: 7” EP
Dude, if pressed, I probably can’t remember what I ate three days ago for lunch, so bands going back to 1982 for musical inspiration don’t bother me too much. (Okay, and maybe they weren’t alive in 1982, and that’s shitty to harsh on people over something they had no control over, like when two people fucked and a lady got pregnant.) Oh, with two caveats. That the bands themselves don’t suffer from “Back in the day”-itis, and that they sound like they’re having a good time for themselves. Let’s check the pudding. Bands unhappy with current political policies? Check. Picture of a gasmask? Check. Someone getting shot? Check? Birthing shot (Technically a crowning.)? Check. Hardcore that veers into thrash? Check. Fifteen songs on a 7”? Check. An actual band or two from the early ‘80s? Ribzy? Check. Coke Bust, Valoids, and Broken Needle were my favorites, and noticeable mention to Doghart Trio for being the folk Flipper (band, not TV dolphin) of the bunch. Nice. –todd (Stress Domain, myspace.com/stressdomainrecords)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Loves in Heat Records: CD
This is a sampler from indie label Loves In Heat Records. Lots of art rock. And some hardcore-type stuff too. The stand out track for me was “The Resisted” by a band called Birds Fled From Me, which is a haunting and lovely piano-driven ballad sung by a lady with a killer voice. It is pretty much the opposite of everything else in this collection, which probably means that the sampler was not exactly directed at people with my non-art-rock musical taste. –jennifer (Loves In Heat, www.lovesinheatrecords.com)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Funhouse Comp Thing II: 2X CD
Let me put this as plainly as possible: this collection, and its predecessor, gives me hope for the world. It’s no secret that the compilation disc, once an essential piece of the punk rock arsenal that provided a snapshot of the efforts of entire punk communities the world over, has been systematically co-opted and rendered wretched by labels who found it was a nice ’n’ cost-effective way to peddle their wares by featuring crap songs by crap bands. These days, the lion’s share of compilations is a chore, at best, to slog through. These Funhouse comps are different. Put together by someone who either remembers or rediscovered the compilation’s original intent, they feature bands that have played a little club across from Seattle’s Space Needle called, interestingly enough, The Funhouse. Due to its location in the Pacific Northwest, the bulk of bands representing are from that area (with a few nods to California, Canada, and other continents) and this time ’round you get two discs with fifty bands serving up Hurricane omelet-sized helpings of grade-A punk rock in myriad form, courtesy of the Spits, Bill Collectors, A-Frames, Cute Lepers, The Heels, TacocaT, Paper Dolls, Teenage Harlets, Reptilian Civilian, and oodles of others. One is hard-pressed to find a lousy track in here anywhere, and if punk rock ain’t a staple of your local radio station, this serves as a faboo alternate means of punishing your speakers. A hoot, this is, through and through. –jimmy (www.thefunhouseseattle.com)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Drink Fight Fuck: CD
A nice twenty-four-song comp of bands that find common ground in the sleazier rock’n’roll fringes of the punk, hardcore, and psychobilly subgenres. Most of this stuff—courtesy of the Dwarves, Black River Mafia, The Hitchhikers, Kansas City Faggots, Funhouse Strippers, and more—sounds like it comes from recent stock, but they keep the punk swagger and attitude at maximum, giving it a bit of an edge over the competition by not sinking into some pretentious quasi-glam metalfest. Good stuff. –jimmy (www.myspace.com/zodiackillerrecords)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Drink Fight Fuck Vol. 2: CD
When you pick up a compilation with a cover featuring a zombified GG Allin getting fondled by a couple drunk and tattooed punk chicks on it, you know what to expect. You know that you’re going to hear a bunch of scumpunk bands doing sloppy tunes about pooping on faces, sticking dicks into mud puddles and that sort of thing. However, when you put this disc in, your expectations will not be met. It’s filled with straight-forward punk’n’roll. You will be baffled by its uniform excellence. You will be amazed by the general lack of throwaway tunes that tend to plague compilations (There is one glaring exception—“Emo Fag” by DMF—which is made all the uglier by the fact that it follows “Watch Your Back” by the Sonic Negroes, which could be the best on the disc). You may want to play it again. –mp (Zodiac Killer)


VACATION:
Self-titled: 7”EP
Crass spoken word bits, mixed with the occasional folky ambience of Defiance, Ohio. I was thinking, “Maybe Surrender has a contender!” Unfortunately, Vacation hug the hardest-to-listen-to bits of their predecessors. They seem philosophically and literarily involved—Baudrilliard, Pynchon, and a whole host of heavy thinkers are invoked—but, I enjoyed reading the lyrics without the music playing much more. That’s bad news for a band. For fans of late-period Fifteen, who really get wet when Jeff Off recites how to clean the syringe before sharing a needle for the duration of a song? I admire the driving ideals, not the execution. –todd (Helloasshole)


VACATION:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Barely competent stuff that skirts the fine line between political punk and the DIY tape stuff that proliferated in the underground in the late ‘80s. The kids over at KXLU will no doubt be all over this. –jimmy (Hello Asshole)


USED KIDS:
Hoovercraft: 7”
These cats’ first release since a name change and a bit of a lineup shuffle (you may have heard them in their previous incarnation: the Modern Machines!) sounds just how we all expected and hoped it would. There’s that same undeniable songwriting with a bit more Westerberg at times and a hint more Mellencamp at others. Stick-in-your-head gems that fly by way too fast. We need an LP from the Used Kids ASAP, so get on it guys and gal. –Dave Williams (Salinas)


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