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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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STEINWAYS, THE / VARSITY WEIRDOS:
Split: 7”
The Steinways come forth with one of their best songs ever on this split with the Varsity Weirdos that was put out as a limited release intended to go out as thank you gifts to those who made it out to Adam and Jenna Alive’s wedding in 2007. Super cute layout work by Stefan of Stardumb records, too! Only 150 or so of these were made, so if you absolutely need to hear this, I might be willing to rip it and send it your way… for a price. –mrz (It’s Alive)


STEAKNIVES, THE:
We Can’t Stand This World: 7” EP
The Italian kids responsible for the music here offer up four hellafied tight and catchy punk ditties that could’ve easily held their own against the Dangerhouse stuff back in the late ‘70s. Seems like Zodiac Killer is trying to make an end run on and corner the market on the catchy, rock end of the punk spectrum, and it seems to my they might be succeeding. –jimmy (www.myspace.com/zodiackillerrecords)


STATUES:
Broken Hands: 7” EP
Much like I inadvertently learned quite a bit about the day-to-day working class Britain from listening to Jam songs over and over again, Statues are power popping me through a short history of middle class troubles of modern day Canada. It works on two levels. 1.) The music is airtight, happy, bright, and bouncy—all hallmarks of great power pop. 2.) The lyrics belie some grave misgivings they have of their lot in life and the songs themselves work as both temporary salve and, hopefully, the antidote. It’s that unresolved tension and a Pointed Sticks cover that make this a great 7”. –todd (Plastic Idol)


STATELY GENTLEMEN, THE:
The Hyperion Sessions: CD
I had high hopes for these Reno lads when I slipped in the CD and let it spin. These hopes were instantly dashed when the first song, a jazzy Ben Folds-type number, started. The second song had the stench of the Black Crowes and Buckcherry smeared all over it. The next three songs ranged from subdued, heartfelt ballads to bluesy adult contemporary rock. Bands, know the kind of music that gets reviewed in a magazine before submitting your 7”, LP, EP, or CD. No way this should have been sent to Razorcake. –benke (Enigma Proper, myspace.com/thestatelygentlemenofreno)


STATE OF THE UNION:
To the Bitter End... A Discography: CD
The nineties were a peculiar time in music, and most certainly in what embodied the punk scene of that era. State Of The Union were/are of that time. It made sense then, but now it’s a bit foreign. Musically, they were akin to math metal, somewhere in the world of bands like Ambush, Damnation A.D., and Neurosis, though not as urgent or heavy. These guys weren’t bad, but, at the same time, there was nothing in their music that made them entirely memorable. On this disc you get their LP, two EPs, and five new songs (meant for an LP in 2000). –Matt Average (Profane Existence)


STAJNAS LOBOS / VACANT CHURCHES:
Self-titled: Split 7”
This split features two very like-minded bands. Both use horror imagery as a jumping off point to comment on modern culture. Stajnas Lobos opens with “The Hammer,” in which they draw school shootings in the form of slasher films, all blood-soaked and focused on the killer. The shaky vocals keep you off balance as you watch the events unfold and even begin to understand the murderer’s point of view. In “Wake up the Dead,” Vacant Churches paint a post-apocalyptic scene of “meathead monsters and plastic ladies.” The keyboards pick at your nerves until you realize the scene isn’t post-apocalyptic at all. This is a good example of how strong the split 7” format can be. –mp (Vinehell)


SOMETHING’S WRONG / SHOREBIRDS:
Split: 7”
Two songs. One per each side. Each a mini-epic. Something’s Wrong: “See You Never” is a long distance love song, full of train yards, backs to dumpsters, and buses; a DIY punk “Fairytale of New York” with a more ambiguous, less “you killed both me and my dreams” ending. If you’re a sucker for stabbed-speaker, ragged-voice singing akin to Allergic To Bullshit, and the great male/female voice interplay of The Measure [SA] as I am, this song’s a treat. Great stuff. Shorebirds: Restraint is a funny thing. Too much restraint and the train never gets out of the station and people start looking at their shoes, wishing you’d just leave. But if the train has a rocket attached, too much, too soon, then you get a two-word situation that starts with “premature” and ends with a noun of disappointment. The Shorebirds squeeze that restraint in “The Movie’s Almost Over” like a huge grapefruit. You know it’s gonna burst because the fingertips are penetrating the flesh. Wait for it. Squeeze harder. A little mist as the rind’s giving out. Then splow! Seeds, pulp, juice everywhere, the sky crashes, and then spent silence. In one song. Via early ‘90s EastBay pop punk music lexicon, but very much using present time and experience. Excellent. –todd (Rumbletowne / Cookout)


SLINGSHOT DAKOTA:
Their Dreams Are Dead, But Ours Is the Golden Ghost: CD
Thankfully, this long and slightly bonkers album title does not equal pretentious crap. Slingshot Dakota is a New York duo making upbeat songs that are both poppy and complex. Keyboardist Carly Comando handles all the singing and she has my favorite kind of voice: tough and talented. And after a few listens the title of the album almost begins to make sense. The songs are hopeful and passionate without being overly earnest or dull. Listening through the whole thing over and over again is like watching a series of bright, cheerful, explosions. I’m smitten. –jennifer (Self-released)


SINGULARS, THE:
Pet Sounds (for Alexia): 2 x 7”
Fucking awesome. This is comic gold. Pure comedic genious. With lyrics like “I can’t find my dick in this shit in my pants at the dog park” and a song about fucking a pastry, how could I not laugh? (Well, I guess I could “grow up.”) The music that accompanies these irreverent lyrics sounds somewhere between a group of people coincidentally banging out patterns on their instruments and songs written five minutes before they were recorded. There’s even a track that has some semblance of a rap song. Though I really enjoy listening to this myself, I think that the greatest joy I get from these couple of 7”s is the thought of trapping somebody in a room and making him or her listen to this clusterfuck over and over. I’m filing this one under schadenfreude. –Vincent Battilana (Self-released?)


SHYBOY / CRUMP, THE:
Split: 7”
It’s been well established that everything from Japan is pretty awesome, right? So when I realized this was on Snuffy Smiles, I was pretty stoked for it, even though I’ve never heard of either of these bands. Shyboy: To me they sounded like if Social Distortion were good. Did I just say that? Yeah, I did. The Crump: They sounded like One Man Army, if they were better. Japan: Taking things from America and making them sound better, since for a long time now. –joe (Snuffy Smiles)


SHOTWELL:
Patriot: LP
Recently I made my first visit to San Francisco’s Thrillhouse Records, which I discovered to be totally awesome in every aspect. While I was there, I picked up some great 7”s from the bins and Thrillhouse’s most recent release, Shotwell’s Patriot. This is a release that the band, the label, and the city should be proud of. Like a more positive Onion Flavored Rings, or more subdued Tulsa, Shotwell’s music has embodied the SF scene for many a release. With those crisp but warm guitar tones and the perfect combination of optimism, skepticism, and probably some other -isms, this LP is an obvious win for fans of the bands mentioned above, long-running Bay Area zines, and DIY anything. –Daryl Gussin (Thrillhouse)


SHORT CHANGED:
Burn Down Wagon Town: 7”
I can smell the stale beer and garlicy body odor in the air when this record is on. EastBay punk (not pop!) that moves at a moderately fast pace. Nothing really stands out about the music though. It’s just “there.” Plus the vocals, main and back up, sound a bit tired, or uninspired. Ehhhh... Nice split green and gray vinyl though. –Matt Average (Goat Power Recreation / Pyrate Punx)


SHOOT IT UP:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Sloppy punk stuff with enough snottiness pumped into what they’re doing to keep ’em interesting. What seals the deal, though, is they manage to cover of the Consumers’ “Teen Love Song” without looking like total ninnies. No easy feat, my friends. –jimmy (Criminal IQ)


SHIT EAGLE:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Heavy Reatards influence here, with enough weirdness of its own in evidence to keep it from sounding like some sorta rehash, and a recording quality sure to lay waste to yer eardrums if you play it loud enough. –jimmy (www.floridasdying.com)


SERVICE INDUSTRY:
Limited Coverage: CD
It’s a chore climbing over Service Industry’s questionable claims—“for the first time life in the service industry is the concept behind a band”—because every band I’ve ever known has slugged their way through life with name tags, and those jobs have played a pivotal role in shaping their songs. And, just for one example beyond my own experiences, the streets of Nashville are littered with songwriters trying to strike the “work sucks” motherlode. I don’t doubt that the members of The Service Industry have ample experience in the minimum wage trenches but their lyrics rarely rise above cliché. I wish they’d sing about the things they think about when they’ve had those crummy jobs, because I kind of like their country rock, especially when Curt Kirkwood of the Meat Puppets guests. –Mike Faloon (Wee Rock)


SEA, THE:
Love, Love, Love: 7”
Definitely a White Stripes influence here. Especially obvious on the flipside, “My Brother Blues.” Not to mention the vocal style is similar. Not bad, but nothing to seek out. –Matt Average (Lusty, www.theseasounds.co.uk)


SCREAM HELLO:
Smart & Stupid!: CDEP
I guess this is a good sign as any that there’s still a degree of segregation between all these little different “scenester/sub-genre/whatever you want to call it,” because I think I see a fair amount of shows in New Brunswick NJ, where these dudes are from, and I’ve only heard their name come up on the internet. This particular EP looks like a teaser for an upcoming full length, with four songs that kind of sound like that “emo”/pop punk that you used to see come out on Jade Tree, in the sense that it’s really polished, and gets kind of arty, for lack of a better word—I kind of prefer New End Original. It’s not bad, but to have four songs last almost twenty minutes just seems way overkill, in my opinion. –joe (Red Leader)


SASS DRAGONS:
Bonkaroo!: CD
The “kitchen sink” approach to punk has been the death knoll of many a band. “Endless experimentation” gets tedious because it seems like the band is testing the waters of musical escape routes. (Lesser Fishbone and Bad Brains records come to mind.) Sometimes, you just want to be rocked instead of diddled by a wet noodle in your ear. (I’m all for “experimentation.” Just do it without hitting record. Hit record when the experiment was a success.) Yet, with the Sass Dragons, they’re all over the fuckin’ place—from sounding like Weezer and The Dwarves simultaneously in the same song, to a track that sounds like an STD’d Sesame Street stoop jam—and it works. Much like The Weird Lovemakers (seek out Electric Chump and Back 20 for more evidence) could go from straight-ahead scorchers to ranchero to Doo Wop without losing momentum, the Sass Dragons have hot glued and belt fought something into submission that could have been a big, fuckin’ stupendous mess into a fuckin’ glorious mess. (With a staunch anti-Alan Thicke message.) Lesser bands, just listen and enjoy. Don’t try to copy ‘em, because you’ll sound like dill weeds diarrheaing into your fans’ ears. Awesome in the original biblical sense, not the Kirk Cameron, just-found-god sense. –todd (Johann’s Face/Let’s Pretend)


SASS DRAGONS:
Bonkaroo!: CD
I don’t like getting caught up with labels. It seems like too many people get caught up in having, “Well, I’m only into [insert whatever little sub-scene/genre here]” attitudes. What’s great about this record is that the Sass Dragons are clearly not those kind of dudes. At its core, this plays like a crass pop punk record, in the sense that it’s catchy as hell, and switches the ever popular “why don’t girls like me” sentiment with “I WANNA TOUCH YOUR BOOBS, GIRL” approach, which make me crack up while bobbing my head as I listen. But here’s the clincher; these guys are good musicians—like, really good. They know what they’re capable of, and come up with some really creative stuff (like the blues number). Dare I say; I think if The Dwarves did that last album of theirs with the main collaborators being The Beatles (both remaining and non), the output would sound like this. And it sounds great. –joe (Johann’s Face/Let’s Pretend)


RUNNING FOR COVER:
Dark Well: LP
Defunct Buffalo, NY, powerviolence band from recent years who sound like they existed in the WestBay circa 1995: MITB mixed with Spazz and ran through a blender at lightning speed. They throw in some quirky guitar squonking here and there to keep it interesting, and the instrumental at the end is totally out of left field, but it’s good to hear a band take risks in a codified genre. Good stuff all around. Too bad they called it a day. –Matt Average (625 / Unholy Thrash / Art Of The Underground)


ROD MITCHELL:
Cheesecake: CD
Musical comedy is a tough row to hoe and Rod Mitchell is swerving all over that field with reckless abandon. One song sounds like he’s swiped Eddie Van Halen’s “1984” keyboard and strapped it to a Weird Al song, while another sounds like a cut from the children’s record Robyn Hitchcock never wrote. There are humorous bits here and there—”The Dying Squirrel” is cruel but funny—but Cheesecake needs a concept to justify putting the lyrical horse before the musical cart and make the trip worthwhile. –Mike Faloon (Orange Knight)


RIPSHIT / OFFSIDES:
Self-titled: 7”
Hardcore. Like the kind your friend’s band played in high school. Next. –ryan (Spicy Soup)


RIBZY:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Jeez, I dunno if these SanJo legends are back together or they’re just trying to purge their archives, but it’s nice to have some “new” music from ’em. The A-side is comprised of three tunes apparently recorded for a San Jose punk reunion show, the B-side has some circa-2006 recordings of older tunes that weren’t included on the retrospective CD that came out a few years ago. All of it is, of course, gloriously obnoxious in a way that is often rare in these times of punk-as-career-move. Good to hear more from ’em and here’s hoping more is in the works. –jimmy (Vinehell)


RHINO-39:
Self-titled: 2 x CD
As a certified non-West-Coast-grower-upper, the totality of my Rhino-39 knowledge was obtained from four discrete sources: 1. Their song on the Hell Comes To Your House compilation; 2. Their song on the American Youth Report compilation; 3. Their name being plastered across miscellaneous flyers which i had managed to inveigle from kindred West-Coast-grower-uppers; and 4.The fine print on the sides of various commercial aerosol disinfectant cans. It is perhaps not a mark in the band’s favor that the thing that always struck me as the most interesting thing about them was that they named themselves after a germ with a cool name ((and, if you think about that for a while, shouldn’t most of the resultant Cool Points™ be awarded to the germ itself, not the band who merely hitched their wagons to that germ’s mighty star?)). Based on the two songs of theirs that i knew, i always sort of thought that they were kind of in with the less weighty elements of the SST/New Alliance crowd ((i.e., perhaps they didn’t completely hate jazz- and art- rock, and wouldn’t sound out of place on a record with Raymond Pettibon cover art)). However, now that my square-ass ass has been set hip to their initial three-song Dangerhouse release, it is apparent that i was completely oblivious to their status as early entrants in the “first ever hardcore band, maybe” sweepstakes, which, in any rational nut’s taxonomy, puts them more in line with Middle Class, than, say, Saccharine Trust or Overkill ((what’s also amazing is how much the chord progression in “Prolixin Stomp” sounds like that last song on the first Leg Hounds CD, which technically makes Rhino-39 the earliest known Devil Dogs clones—so early on the bandwagon, in fact, as to predate the formation of the band by whom they were influenced by well over a decade. Now THAT’S early adoption!)). Further, the band’s ratty little breakneck guitar solo in “Xerox 12” reminds me of Tommy Hawk’s zany thrash-pop fretboard butchering from the early stages of Cleveland’s Offbeats ((whose existence was still a good three years away at the time of “Xerox 12”s recording)), and even the occasional goofy keyboard solos herein might have predated the similar spaz-out in the Dead Kennedys’ “Stealing People’s Mail” by a few calendar months, so obviously this band, to their great credit, was clearly out ahead of numerous curves. That said, the sort of not-really-in-my-face guitar sound, coupled with their kinda echoey vocal treatment, kinda puts the bulk of this band’s work more in line with the whole The Last/Urinals crowd ((more Last than Urinals, to be sure)) than any of those other bands i mentioned ((except maybe for Middle Class. Yes, i am vacillating. I can’t help it, it’s that time of the month)). But, THAT said, I’ve listened to the Hell Comes to Your House album moderately extensively over the course of the last quarter-century, and when “Marry It” rolled around, it barely registered as a song that i should theoretically be familiar with. My conclusion, after thorough inspection, is that the coolest thing about this band is their three songs from the Dangerhouse single, and the second coolest thing about this band is still that they named themselves after a germ. Take that as thou wilt. BEST SONG: “Prolixin Stomp” BEST SONG TITLE: “Xerox 12,” but only because the band name is “Rhino-39.” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Longing to hear what the band sounded like live, i copped a squint at the video footage on Disk 2, and was amazed that the band pretty much sounded exactly like they did on record. It took me until the video was halfway over to realize that the footage was shot without audio, and that they did, in fact, dub songs from their record over the top of it. Doi. –norb (Nickel and Dime)


RESTARTS:
Outsider: CD
Okay, right off the bat, the opener, “Outsider,” had me singing along. It is about as good a punk rock anthem as I’ve heard in a while. My attention’s all theirs. As soon as the ska riffage introduced itself, however, I immediately checked out, only to be lured back in when they went back to the thrashin’ and yellin’. Truth be told, their ska punk here ain’t as miserable as some I’ve heard, even on their previous releases, but a virtual zero tolerance policy is in place when it comes to that stuff, so much time was spent skipping to the next track. All told, a good chunk of this was faboo, and the remainder was Operation Ivy-culled chaff they neglected to slough off. –jimmy (Rodent Popsicle)


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·NEVER KNEEL
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·WILLIS, THE
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·Razorcake Podcast #109
·BOSTON PUNK FLYERS SURVIVING THE POST-RAT ERA
·MIKE KROL
·BANANAS, THE


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