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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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RED I CLAN:
Killohead: CD
Sometimes an unfortunate side effect of formal musical training is that while one becomes a proficient player, somehow the ability to actually create compelling music from scratch is difficult. That seems to be the case here. While years of training is in evidence in the musicianship, and it’s clear that may a mix of rock, techno, and quasi-industrial dance was a good idea on paper, the execution is sorely lacking in good sound structure, passion, and remotely compelling songs. What you end up with here is an album that sounds like it was made by people who knew how to play but really weren’t all that interested in what they were doing. –jimmy (www.myspace.com/rediclan)


RATIONAL ANTHEM:
Self-titled: CD-R EP
Sounds like it’s played with a sorrowful heart trying to be an uplifting spirit. The lyrics seem to reflect that and that age where you realize that you aren’t going to be young forever. It also sounds like a melodic hardcore band trying to come into their own. I hope that they do because I think they could be pretty good. –Vincent Battilana (Self-released, rationalanthem@gmail.com)


RAGER:
Feculent Emesis: 7”
A witty, co-ed, power-thrash band is a dangerous weapon in my mind. If the people of the world shared my brain, Rager would be appointed to the position of all-things-awesome. But let’s be serious for a moment—if the idea of a politically charged, church-hating, smart band that can bring the crucial, often melodic, female and male vocaled, thrashin’ hardcore punk makes your day; Rager is the 7” to go with. –Daryl Gussin (Hewhocorrupts, Inc.)


QUAN AND THE CHINESE TAKE-OUTS:
“Crazy Pills” b/w “Poorman St”: 7”
First they sent a demo in, it was good, and we would listen to it often. Then they took two of the songs off it and made this 45 on blue vinyl and limited to 100. Motherfuckers, they officially won me over. Quan And The Chinese Takeouts are a band that mixes early New York punk with ‘90s alternative radio; plus they have a synthesizer. I hate two of those three things, but they pull it off. –Daryl Gussin (Self-released, benpablo@yahoo.com)


PROTESTANT:
The Hate. The Hollow: LP
Okay, right off the bat, lemme just say that the vinyl—sorta plum colored with a neat design marbled into it—is fuckin’ gorgeous. The music is heavy, fast, and pissed-off hardcore that sounds like they have more than a passing interest in some of the more rambunctious hardcore bands coming out of Scandinavia. Nine tunes total, and totally worth your time. –jimmy (Halo of Flies)


PROSTHETICS, THE:
Count It: 7”
When things started swirling around the global drain at the dawn of the Bush Regime, I was among those who thought that, at the very least, we’d get some great searing, political hardcore records coming out a la the early days of Reagan. Well, in the last eight (?!) years, nothing has really blown my mind on that front until now. Upon slapping The Prosthetics’ EP on the turntable I was taken back to an angry time in my youth. The music is simple yet brutally hard. No chugga-chugga metal here, just hardcore in the truest sense of the word. The lyrics aren’t growled; they’re very clear and delivered in a tone that is dripping with an urgency that more of us should be instilled with. The cover art is a black and white drawing of their local crooked sheriff getting curb stomped. This is the real deal here, people. I want more! –ty (Organized Crime)


PROLETARIAN ART THREAT:
The Long Process of Quitting: CD
This is the discography of the Cleveland, Ohio, band. This band does frantic rock’n’roll with sort of off-kilter sensibilities that lands it right in between The Bronx and Drive Like Jehu. This is pretty great stuff that probably would have been right at home on Amphetamine Reptile or ‘90s-era Touch and Go. There’s a mix of studio and live recordings on this CD, which I had reservations about at first, but, amazingly, the live stuff actually sounds good. The band had two singers over the course of its three years, and I have to say that the first half of the CD is the stronger half, because first singer Jack Shit really gave the band an extra manic edge over later singer Stephe. This album (especially the first half) is my favorite of the current review batch, especially after spending a little time with it so that I could pick through the franticness and noisy diversions in it, like the odd noise jam/spoken word song “Dub Arrest.” –Adrian (Shandi Records and Tapes)


PRETTY BOY THORSON AND THE F’’N A’S:
Take It Easy: CD
You gotta hand it to any music that can comfort you in your sorrow and invigorate you in your merriment. Take It Easy is the ultimate fall back album for those diagnosed with manic depression. It’s also great for parties, alone time, and road trips. Not many albums can say that. –Daryl Gussin (ADD)


POTENTIAL CASKETS:
Nunns & Heroin: 7”
Folk punk doesn’t get any more awesome than this seriously addictive two-piece band from the Midwest. They sound like an angrier Ghost Mice or This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb, the latter of which influenced the hilarious title of their previously released demo, This Bike Is a Crack Pipe. Four angry songs are included on this instant classic 7”, including the anthematic “You Fucking Left Me” and “Sinners Unite.” This is easily one of the best acoustic punk records ever. It’s that fucking good. –Art Ettinger (sXe Cat, www.myspace.com/sxecatrecords)


POPULATION REDUCTION:
Each Birth a New Disaster: LP
If you haven’t heard the magic of this guitar and drums duo in person or on recording and you are a fan of metal, grind, death and such, you are missing out. This is the band’s first full-length, showcasing their brand of death metal, grindcore, and thrash attack which continues on the greatness of their At the Throats of Man Forever EP that came out a year or two back. Heavy riffs, blast beats, and everything in between are thrown out at you. There is no lack of heaviness and speed from these two men from the Bay area. The music will make you bang your head, mosh, slam, and, for stoner types, maybe smoke one. It makes you feel like they are taking you for a ride; first going slow, then fast, and finally even faster, about to crash but still in control. Interested yet? But on top of all that, they have humor. Make fun of the Amish? Old people? SUV owners? Black metal fans? All of the above. They don’t seem to narrow themselves to what topics they cover in their lyrics. Overall, this LP has shown me how much I really do like this band. After seeing them live and hearing them recorded before, they surely raised the bar on this one. –don (Tankcrimes)


PIZZAS, THE:
Self-titled: 7” EP
These guys have been keeping up with the Rip Off Records catalog, and it shows. Three tunes here, all in that trashy punk vein that seems to be such hot shit up there in Northern California. They ain’t too bad at it, either. –jimmy (Daggerman)


PEDESTRIANS:
Killing Season: 7”EP
Mid-paced, blunt punk thud that knows exactly what it’s doing and how to do it. Ulcerated vocals, slicey guitars, steam roller bass, cement mixer drums. It’s almost like The Pedestrians are construction workers, maintaining the structural integrity of certain DIY punk onramp, making sure everyone can get on board as easily and safely as possible, which is usually tough, thankless work. (When’s the last time you high fived a freeway worker?) Looking at it another way, The Pedestrians are making their own small, pragmatic monuments that are hooked into a much larger, world-wide system. Effective. –todd (Residue)


PAYOFF, THE:
Riders of the Dead Horse: CD
Musically, Birmingham’s The Payoff brings together a bunch of post punk and hardcore influences, with the overly whiny vocals making the already odd songs even less accessible. Fans of artier strains of hardcore will appreciate the undeniable creativity, whereas the rest of us would probably rather attend a scrapbooking or papier-mâché party to get our creative fix. Does anyone know what time the fabric store closes? –Art Ettinger (House of Love, www.houseofloverecords.net)


PAPERDOLLS:
The Question Is, What Color?: CD
This album got on my nerves a bit right from the beginning, given that the vocals don’t begin until halfway through the first song and overall the production is pretty shoddy (and not in a good bootleggy kind of way). The vocals are kind of buried under acoustic guitars for the entire CD. Both vocalists (male and female) have good voices, but when they sing in unison it just doesn’t sound smooth or compelling. More like two strangers who happen to know the same song at a campfire than two people in a band together. This album takes itself too seriously to be fun, but the talent isn’t there to make the brooding worth it. –jennifer (www.paperdollsmusic.net)


ORIGINAL THREE, THE:
Self-title: 7”
Loud, heavy, overdriven stuff relying heavily on a brooding, trashy ‘60s vibe, though approached with hardcore fervor, right along the lines of bands like We March, Lost Sounds, and The Reatards. The inverted cross on the cover makes this a mandatory Christmas gift for your fave Jesus freak. –jimmy (www.savage.se)


OKMONIKS, THE:
Party Fever!!!: CD
My middle-time memory is awful. I’ll say stuff like, “A couple years back,” when it was over five, over a decade. The Okmoniks remind me of the best of Crypt and Estrus Records—bands that simultaneously plunged a direct heart shunt into the first beatings of rock’n’roll, yet didn’t fully ignore the ever-evolving now. You get a comforting bit of nostalgia in a nice, attitude-filled wrapper, so it didn’t seem like you were merely raiding musical mausoleums, but stumbling onto something undiscovered, cool, and not past its expiration date. Channeling the spirit of the Devil Dogs, Mummies, and the Trashwomen, the Okmoniks Farfisa-jump right into good company. Except much of that company stopped making music over a decade ago. I’m a sucker for this. If technology gets to the point where you can download songs and that activates a pizza being delivered to your door at the same time, man, that’s about the only thing I could think of that’d make this record even better. Crank it. –todd (Slovenly)


NORTHLESS:
Self-titled: CD
As a reviewer, I take it as my job to see all material with an unbiased view. I failed. When I saw this DVD case with a CD inside by a band called Northless with the cover art dark and brooding, I thought immediately “Oh god, it’s a metal EP.” I was dead on. Five songs, thirty minutes, half of it slow and boring. I do not feel guilty. I have a bias against crap and that’s one bias that I think everyone has. –Bryan Static (Self-released, no address)


NOAH’S APATHY:
Something to Divide: CD
It seems these guys can’t decide whether to be a low-rent rock band, a low-rent metal band, or a low-rent punk band. –jimmy (www.fordocumentationonly.com)


NO USE FOR A NAME:
The Feel Good Record of the Year: CD
Wow! This band has been around now for over twenty years? That is a rarity. Not sure how many releases this band has put out, but it has to be a lot. I believe the longevity of the band is their talent to write songs that are catchy. Either being fast or mid-tempo, the songs have a memorable quality that is pleasing to the ear. Sonically, this is one of their best recorded albums due to it being recorded at the Blasting Room by Bill Stevenson and Jason Livermore. They have been responsible for many recordings that I like from this genre. If you throw out band names to describe a good pop punk, melodicore band, NUFAN is a band that has to be included in that list. They consistently have been putting out music that has matured through the years, but they never forget the formula that put them on the map. Longtime fans will not even need to read a review to make them purchase this release. –don (Fat)


NO USE FOR A NAME:
The Feel Good Record of the Year: CD
I want to like it, but I’ll be damned if I can ever remember anything off this album. I even got excited when I heard a song from this album played on Joe Sibb’s punk show on the radio, but then realized I thought the song he played was like four different songs from the CD. It has melody, it’s well produced, and it has some great vocals, but for the most part, it sounds like one good song repeated fourteen times to me. (Actually, I guess, one good song repeated thirteen times, and then once in an acoustic version). I think the best way to describe this album is that if you pick it up, you won’t be disappointed if you’re looking for some solid Fat-style pop punk, but you’ll probably quickly forget you own it after some initial spins. –Adrian (Fat)


NICOTINE FITS, THE:
Like the Curse: CD
Direct, no-frills meat and potatoes punk rock, emphasis on “rock.” They do it well –jimmy (www.myspace.com/zodiackillerrecords)


MICROTIA:
Distance Is Oval: CD

Evidently the band really wants people to know that their sound is what would happen if hardcore kids started smoking pot and listening to Led Zeppelin. Actually, I think there’s a number of them who already do that and don’t sound anything like this. Sometimes I hear a bit of the Deftones and there’s more of a melodic sound than a hard sound, that’s for sure. The primary fault of Microtia is the vocalist’s singing just doesn’t seem to match up well with the music. It seems a bit weak. I’d be interested in hearing the band hit the music part a bit harder and really bring out some power in the mix with a different singer. If they keep the vocalist, they should tone it down and have it be part of a style in which his vocals make for a better fit.

–kurt (Exigent, www.myspace.com/exigentrecords)


NARCOLEPTIC YOUTH:
Barbi in Bondage: 7” EP
Okay, no bullshit, “Barbi in Bondage” is easily one of the greatest punk songs of the past ten years, if not of all time—obnoxious, raw, rude, and funny. The remaining tracks on this reissue—“Mini-Van Soccer Mom,” “My Neighbor Hates Me” and a version of the Ramones’ “Havana Affair” are just as swell, which means that if you manage to get your grubby little paws on one of these (only 1,000 of ’em making the rounds, of those only 500 on colored vinyl), it’ll be well worth the effort and the money you spent to acquire a copy. Bless the good Doctor for having the sense to put this back in circulation. –jimmy (Dr. Strange)


MR. PLOW:
Apocalypse Plow: CD
Mr. Plow is back with his rude, crude, laugh-out-loud songs. This one is a little different though. Instead of the solo acoustic thing, Plow has got himself a band. This isn’t just any band either. It’s chock full of celebrities, including metal drum god Gene Hoglan, Rocky George (ex-Suicidal Tendencies), Oderus and Flattus (GWAR), Angelo Moore (Fishbone), Mr. Chi Pig (SNFU) and plenty more… If you know what Plow is all about, then you know what to expect: dirty songs about farting, tits, handjobs, and food. This time out, it’s more of a traveling folk band kind of feel. I like it, but I think I prefer the solo act myself. Worth grabbing. –ty (Crusty)


MOUTHBREATHER:
Thank You for Your Patience: CD
Named after a Jesus Lizard song (always an excellent thing), Richmond, VA’s Mouthbreather deliver earnestly aggressive punk laced with an anxious hue of raw early ‘90s emo. In light of the album’s relatively unrefined production, the sound is remarkably accessible, and the vocals have a cool effect that makes them sound like they are being sung by two singers simultaneously. However, this makes the words surprisingly lucid, which is awesome when the lyrics are so deftly written. You will be chanting “Back to the abyss, back to the abyss!” in no time. –Reyan Ali (Tick Tock/Kiss of Death)


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