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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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IMPULSE INT’L, THE:
Arm the Girls: 7”
Straight to the point, this is a great single. I mean a really great single! Both sides are absolute brilliance. Two songs that perfectly illustrate why singles rule. “Arm the Girls” and “Run and Hide” will make you feel completely alive. So catchy it’s unreal. Power pop done right. Sounds like something Bomp! would have released thirty years ago, and yet this is in the here and now, fresh and with a shelf life longer than a box of Twinkies. –Matt Average (Deranged)


IDEAL CLEANERS:
Muchacho: CDEP
Punk bands who play their instruments well are a double edged sword. Swing it one way and you have bands like the Minutemen and Meat Puppets, weird but cool and grounded. Swing it the other way and you’ve got the likes of Soundgarden guys who study their abs daily and aspire to bring their hair stylists on tour—maybe a little odd at times—but always striving for commercial success. Read the Ideal Cleaners’ one-sheet and they come across like the former. Listen to Muchacho and the latter springs to mind. Too glossy for my tastes. –Mike Faloon (Ideal Cleaners, myspace.com/idealcleaners)


I DON’T CARES, THE:
Self-titled: CD
Neither do I, frankly. –jimmy (www.myspace.com/zodiackillerrecords)


HUNCHBACK:
Pray for Scars: LP
A friend of mine once said “I don’t like Hunchback—it’s just noise.” Sure enough, that’s exactly why I like Hunchback (in theory). There’re days where I want to listen to something really poppy, or jazz, and sometimes I’m just in the mood for weird, crazy noise. Then again, I can understand Hunchback isn’t for everyone. I like that. It’s easy to give them a listen and assume that they’re just another weird noise band, but I feel like as chaotic as this record can be at times, everything was planned out to a T (I mean, shit, they tracked down Michael Gerald to sing on this, so they’ve obviously got a clear vision on just what they want to do). I’m sure this one will make even the biggest weirdo/art punks scratch their head, from the lengthy/black metal-ish (in an atmospheric way, in my opinion) opener, to when the record actually lightens up a bit—kind of. Mark my words, Hunchback is a band with a plan, and this record is keeping them on the right track. –joe (Don Giovanni)


HOUR OF THE WOLF / LEWD ACTS:
Split: CD
After hearing some of Hour Of The Wolf’s previous stuff, I thought they were all bark and no bite. I’m taking this disc as their retort. The first track on this split, “Overload,” fakes like it’s coming at your leg before leaping at your throat and digging its fangs in. Lyrics express feelings of numbness and pressure as youth fades away. The way these words are sung, however, makes it clear that anger is the real emotion. That emotion fuels the band’s remaining two tracks as well. Lewd Acts take over from there, trying valiantly, though futilely, to carry on with the same level of intensity. –mp (Think Fast)


HOTCHACHA:
Rifle, I Knew You When You Were Just a Pistol: CD
The press stuff says these kids have been together all of a year, but it was apparently a year well spent, judging from the songs here. Four tunes, a supposed teaser for their upcoming album, and not a stinker in the lot. Heavy art/noise vibe with enough pop thrown into the mix to keep things catchy, a little Sonic Youth here, a little K Records feel there, and a lotta their own vibe over the other parts. Really good stuff. –jimmy (Exit Stencil)


HOLY SHIT / TURD HUNGRY CHRIST:
You Are What You Eat: Split 7” EP
Holy Shit: Spastic hardcore in the tradition of Siege and Charles Bronson. Holy shit, indeed. Turd Hungry Christ: A bit slower, but no less frantic in their delivery. Good stuff all around. –jimmy (Scattered, Smothered and Covered)


HIP PRIESTS, THE / SONIC NEGROS:
Dogfight: Split CD
Hip Priests: Loud rock’n’roll delivered with more than a dab of punk furor, much in line with the non-Discharge sounding stuff that was coming out of Scandinavia some years back. Sonic Negros: More of the same. On the whole, this was some mighty fine tuneage. –jimmy (www.myspace.com/zodiackillerrecords)


HIDDEN SPOTS:
Secret Noise: 7” EP
Part of the Chattanooga DIY punk brain trust, The Hidden Spots are an earnest, gruff, smiling, hard-working, deep-thinking force of a band. Think along the line of line cooks who know not only the overwhelming weight of being and how to make excellent things out of basic ingredients, but also harness the power of being a decent human being. Think along the lines of The Grabass Charlestons and Tim Version; golden statuettes could be made of all these dudes on their day-to-day awesomeness and even smaller golden statuettes should be given them to all of them for making consistently honest, self-examining, self-challenging music in a relative musical vacuum. (Beyond friends, dedicated fans, and family.) I read a lot of music books, and fans of great bands like the Minutemen and The Replacements lament how overlooked they were during their time; how the years have just proven how great the music was, aside from prevailing tastes and big stage novelty, and I can’t help but think it’s happening in the present tense with these dudes and folks like The Future Virgins. Celebrate this shit now. –todd (Plan-It-X South)


HEX DISPENSERS:
“My Love Is a Bat” b/w “Cloak and Dagger Complication”: 7”
Although this description may sound like ass, I promise it’s not: The Marked Men meets the Mistfits. Drain any Glenn Danzig delusional weightlifting ego out of the jar, leaving only the beefy, dark melody jiggling around in the glass. Forefront the musical anxiety of the Marked Men—tightly wound guitars and voices that sound on the verge of a breakdown (that you’re more than willing to sing along to as they’re driving you off of a cliff)—and you’ve got the right mad scientist glasses on when looking at what makes the Hex Dispensers tick. Two more great songs from a band I haven’t heard one bad track from yet. One to keep an eye peeled for. This was a tour 7”. Five hundred made. –todd (Alien Snatch)


HELPER MONKEYS, THE:
Self-titled: CD
Had high hopes for this, and they do deliver in some sectors: catchy hooks and tight musicianship. Ultimately, though, the triple threat it attempts fails to push itself over the top. The post-Ramones veneer and the reliance on the same old rock trappings did it in. –jimmy (Green Door)


HEARTBURNS, THE:
Fixin’ to Die: CD
Loud, raucous, and rockin’, like the Dead Boys as interpreted by the Marked Men. The lyrics ain’t nothin’ to write home about, but the music here is top notch. –jimmy (www.fireinsidemusic.com)


HATEWAVE:
Free Ringtones: CD
On the back, right after the “recorded in 1995” info, are the words “Fuck Metal.” This seems a bit oxymoronic since the cover would be the ultimate stereotype of metal misogyny—a naked girl, spread-eagle and on her back, covered in bloody handprints impaled on a guitar neck. On the back of the booklet is what looks like a four-year-old’s interpretation of the picture on the front. The music is utterly incompetent grindy hardcore stuff with someone rockin’ a Casio SK-5. Gonna hafta to pass on this shit, and I mean that last Saxon word with all the sincerity I can muster. –jimmy (Apop)


HARBOUR 81:
Live Your Dreams: CD
“Don’t read the press release.” No matter how many times I say this, I still read the fucking press release. This band’s music is a good dose of hardcore à la Gorilla Biscuits and early Agnostic Front with a little pop punk thrown in. And then I look at the press release. Any self-respecting punk band should not have to have “selling points.” –Bryan Static (Warbird)


HANNA HIRSCH:
Live in Space: CD
Contrary to what this is titled, it’s not actually recorded in space. I know, I was disappointed too. And even though I feel let down, at least the music is totally good. Think if the Measure [SA] was fronted by Nina Hagen and they had a keyboard player who knew his limits. Just what I needed, another Swedish band to pay too much attention to. –Daryl Gussin (hh@hannahirsch.com)


HAMMER BROS.:
The Vitality: LP
Decent NYHC via Boston from this outfit. Thick sound, tuneful, and heavy without being metal. Somewhere between the likes of Madball and Breakdown. They should have left the Cro-Mags cover (“Don’t Tread on Me”) off this though, as it’s a tepid attempt and detracts from the overall impact of the originals. Which, as said at the beginning, aren’t half bad. –Matt Average (F.N.S.)


HALO FAUNA:
Durak: CD
There was something instantly familiar about this album, but not in a been-there-done-that way. More on the comforting side, like a blanket a friend knit you. It could be because the music is the sweet blend of folk punk and indie rock that reminds me why I always like Plan-It-X releases. As is my wont, I liked the poppy, sentimental tracks the best. “Exposure, Processing, and Recording” won me over with its catchy verses and cleaning-out-my-old-bedroom storyline. “Infamous Apology” also struck a we’re-screwing-everything-up-for-future-generations chord with me. I generally like to avoid the “this band sounds like that band” style of reviewing, but I spent my whole first listen of this album trying to figure out who they reminded me of. Finally it hit me. The Weakerthans. Which is another possible reason for the home-made blanket familiarity of this album. That said, this band stands on its own. Consider my heartstrings tugged. –jennifer (Plan-It-X)


H2O:
Nothing to Prove: CD
Back in my XL Strife hoodie and winter-camo pants days, I admittedly took issue with H2O’s accessibility and the resulting gateway to my beloved New York hardcore for Warped Tour kids. These were dudes who actually grew up in New York City alongside the classic NYHC bands that I worshipped and emulated to no end and—quite typically, I should add—I was sitting in my hick-town basement bedroom criticizing H2O’s “real”ness. Kids are stupid. Toby and co’s first record in seven years really sounds no different than their (undeniably killer) debut, still conjuring the spirits of Warzone and Token Entry while just radiating sincerity, walking that fine line between “hard” and sensitive. Tear-jerking-yet-fist-pumping lyrics, insanely catchy choruses, and the requisite guest vocalists all over the record still get me going like nobody’s beeswax. Teenage me would’ve loved this shit and pretended not to. Luckily, current me has been finished pretending for quite a while and can unabashedly run around my apartment singing along, all smiles with a finger in the air. This is just like, the best. –Dave Williams (Bridge Nine)


GUITAR GANGSTERS:
Razor Cuts—The Best of (So Far): CD
If you have any affection for the post-Slade poppy punk of bands like Cocksparrer, the post-Pistols explorations of the Professionals, or the mid-career high points of the Ramones and you haven’t heard these guys, you’ve been missing the boat. These guys hit all those markers with ease, yet still keep themselves firmly rooted in whatever present in which they find themselves and put enough of their own spin on the punk template to not sound like a tribute band. Their songs are intelligent, deftly executed and, most importantly, hellafied catchy, and this collection culled from their body of work shows they’ve been fairly consistent on all fronts over the course of their long life. This’ll get some good wear ’n’ tear on yer stereo. –jimmy (Captain Oi)


GUANA BATZ:
Loan Sharks: CD
Long has it been since I last heard this album, so it was nice to revisit it again with fresh ears. This is one of the more celebrated ‘80s English psychobilly bands and this album deftly illustrates why: by keeping the “psycho” a bit more restrained than some of their contemporaries, they managed to come up with tunes that were catchy enough to sing along to yet were delivered with enough swing to make a floor move. While this is yet another genre that’s being beaten into the ground by countless bands with nary a whit of originality, it’s nice to hear what made it so special once. –jimmy (www.cherryred.co.uk)


GLEAMGARDEN / BROWNTROUT:
Split: 7”
Yes! How did I get so many good records for review this time around? I don’t know! But never mind that! Time for a basic lesson in logic. Take Premise A: Every record on Snuffy Smiles is at least good, and often totally awesome. Take Premise B: This record is on Snuffy Smiles. Ergo? Yes, this rules! Total No-Idea-ish punk rock in the vein of Tiltwheel, Dan Padilla, and (a better) Hot Water Music. And I fully support taking a good formula (say, melodic punk rock, or Ramones-style garage rock) and creating record after record that all sound pretty similar, but all are, well, the equivalent of yummy Trix! Yes, we all know. There’s Trix and there’s Froot Loops. And, yes, they’re similar, but do you hear me saying, “Gee, that Trix rabbit is just totally copying the Froot Loops toucan. I mean, I can hardly eat this stuff. It all tastes the same!”? Nay! Sugar is sugar! And punk rock is punk rock! And this record rules, even if both bands sound basically the same! –Maddy (Snuffy Smiles)


GLASS HEROES:
“Get Out Alive” b/w “Kick Down the Doors”:
Straight-ahead punk rock, gang vocals, chants, nothing amazing. The band they remind me the most of is Pistol Grip. Do you like other bands on TKO? Great, here’s there next big hit. –Bryan Static (7”)


GIVE UP ALL HOPE / VAE VICTUS: ::
Split: 7”
Give Up All Hope: This U.K. band starts things off strong with a searing metallic crust attack with a d-beat drive. They have the power and the metallic edge of a band like Hellshock and brutally pound through the chords to showcase their energy. I really like the fact that the vocals were not super low in a cookie monster delivery. They are more yelled and remind me of the U.K. bands from the late ‘80s to the early ‘90s doing this type of music. Two ace tracks in my book. Vae Victus: Hailing from Sydney, Australia, this female-led band also plays metallic crust that has more straight forward punk moments. Musically, they are epic in delivery with good uses of tempo changes and guitar layering to make the sound bold. Vocals are the key here, though. From yelling to guttural lows and to actual singing, the delivery matches up to the energy and mood of the music. If you follow this genre, this is a great sampling from two bands that we should hear more from in the future. –don (Trujaca Fala)


GING NANG BOYZ: ::
Libido E.P.: 12”EP
I was attracted to this by the cover art, which has a drawing of some guy lighting a mouthful of cigarettes while kind of headlocking some boy who’s pissing on his leg. I thought it was kinda odd, though surely not as odd as it would be if the EP were titled Fetish. Still, I’m all about a mouthful of cigarettes. I didn’t notice it initially, but the back cover is a drawing of some people in a classroom; one of the guys has an erection that lifts his desk all the way up to the ceiling. The note accompanying this 12” also attracted me. It said something along the lines of this band being fans of EastBay punk and Weezer. I took that as an implication that they meld the two sounds together. Since I like EastBay punk and don’t like Weezer, I wanted to hear what this Japanese band did with their influences. Well, it sounds like what I would imagine a Ramones cover by Weezer would sound like. Take what you love about the Ramones (everything, I’m sure), drag it out so it’s between four and fives minutes or so in length, then completely ruin it by Weezering up with their annoying brand of pop. –Vincent Battilana (Phat ‘n’ Phunky Phonics)


G.G. ELVIS AND THE T.C.P. BAND:
Back from the Dead: CD
Oxnard band of roughnecks give us an all covers record of Elvis Presley treats. I like that the “Fat Elvis” is the singer. Members of Bad Samaritans, NOFX, and Ill Repute. Keep in ear open for the ‘80s hardcore snippets chucked in for kicks. I don’t know how many more times I would listen to this, but it did bring a smile to my face a few times. –koepenick (Mental)


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