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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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TRICLOPS!:
Out of Africa: CD
This sounds exactly like The Mars Volta. I’ve never “got” the whole Mars Volta prog-rock trip.  –Adrian (Alternative Tentacles)


TRUTHDEALER:
Self-titled: 7"
This is the kind of slightly experimental Schlong/Inbred type stuff that I normally give a mixed review to. But I like this one a lot, even though I don’t really know why. It’s sort of like the musical equivalent of the weighty and rewarding strain of pushing out a big turd. It sounds like it was recorded through a wool scarf—oppressive and warming while being pleasurably scratchy. There’s something addictive to the sound that Truthdealer has; I found myself always slightly mesmerized by this record as if I were watching the Rhythmically Swaying Gorilla playing a cello with a two-by-four.  –The Lord Kveldulfr (F&S)


TROPIEZO:
¿El Manual de la Perfecta Cabrona?: CD
Okay, aside from the fact that the packaging will pretty much fuck up the orderly aesthetic of any shelves you may have for your CDs, these Puerto Rican punkers have delivered one seriously good release. You get hardcore that changes tempos and rhythms on a dime, delivered by a band that loves the wild, spastic end of that genre’s spectrum. Get it while you can, kids, ’cause it’s sure to become a classic the second it’s outta print.  –jimmy (www.southkore.com)


THINGS, THE:
Wild Psychotic Sounds: 12"EP
Ireland’s The Things are gaining quite the reputation through putting out one kick-ass garage rock record after the other. This six-song colored vinyl 12” EP is even catchier than their prior material with a high danceability factor and near-perfect production. By the time this issue hits stands, collector assholes will have probably already bought these suckers up. So hit up the label or your hip local record store immediately if you want one of these.  –Art Ettinger (Big Neck)


SILVER MT. ZION MEMORIAL ORCHESTRA AND TRA-LA-LA BAND, THEE:
13 Blues for Thirteen Moons: CD
There’s an account of a Bukowski reading somewhere where some fan shouts from the audience, “Give us more blood!” There’s a lot more blood than I was expecting in this newest Silver Mt. Zion project. While I figured they’d follow their powerful-but-mournful Horses in the Sky with something more depressed and depressing, being gradually worn down by the evils of the world, the idealistic Montreal septet (a vocal offshoot of the legendary post-rock Godspeed You! Black Emperor) has instead dug deep into their entrails and tugged them out for all to see. This is their toughest, angriest recording ever, verging at times on—I shit you not—early Sabbath territory, musically, except with strings and passionate, punk-poetic lyrics: dig the repeated refrain of “I.E.D.—S.U.V.—M.P.3” during “1,000,000 Died to Make This Sound,” which rages at the shallowness of our popular culture and media/ public complicity in the Iraq conflict... or try “Blackout at the terror trials/ It’s the sixth year of their wars/ I’m pacing shotgun hallways/ While my fucking neighbour snores.” Whether you feel inspired and uplifted in your own angry indignation, or castigated in your apathy and meaningless contented consumerism, I guess depends on you; I know that some folks find the hairshirt-and-flagellation quality to their politic a bit off-putting. Personally, I find it inspiring and nourishing, in a kind of dark way. More blood! Give us more blood! WE’RE HUNGRRRRRRRYY... –Allan MacInnis  –Guest Contributor (Constellation)


TERRIBLE TWOS:
Self-titled: CD
Either it’s a big month for noise releases or I just happened to luck out by randomly picking the lion’s share of the stuff out of the piles. Spastic, all-over-the-place noise rock here that’s, in a word, glorious. The guys responsible come from a few other like-minded bands prior—none of which I can remember off the top of my head right now—but all in all, this ain’t a bad bit of bombast.  –jimmy (www.x-recs.com)


TERRIBLE TWOS:
Radical Tadpoles: 7"
Screamy punk with keyboards, playing with total urgency. A little bit Lost Sounds, a little bit late Black Flag; gravely vocals, great shit. Some of the songs feel like they are slowing down to end and then ramp back up. I imagine they are furious live. I already ordered their new full-length… –mike (X!, x-recordings.com)


TEENAGE PRAYERS, THE:
Everyone Thinks You’re the Best: CD
Some solid, straight-ahead rock music like you haven’t heard since, oh, 1978 here, courtesy of a band that knows how to diversify their sound. While they do delve into the garage punk corner that the faboo Dream Syndicate, whose singer, Steve Wynn, produced this, frequented, they also make nods in many other directions, all of which have a layer of soul dabbled on top. Dunno if the average “thrash ’til I die” type would find much of value here, and I’m figuring the “musician” quality of this ain’t gonna exactly send these guys burning up the charts of a world that seems incapable of getting its fill of fake, faceless, pre-packaged pop these days, but if you dig yer mainstream music with retro qualities like creativity and variety, this should hit you right where it should.  –jimmy (www.teenageprayers.com)


TEENAGE COOL KIDS:
Queer Salutations: CD
I’m liking this album. It has that raggedy, almost sloppy (but not quite), slacker punk feel like Pavement’s Slanted and Enchanted or Dinosaur Jr’s. You’re Living All Over Me. Lyrically and musically, this is a lot more straight forward than either of those two albums, but it’s fun to listen to when in a mellower mood. That’s not to say that this is a slow and ethereal shoegaze, but this isn’t exactly going to satisfy anyone’s need for a hardcore fix. I especially like the lyrics to “Write Back Soon” and its great line directed at hipsters: “‘Hold my Pabst?’ Kiss my ass. Move to Brooklyn or Vermont.” This album is worth picking up, and ironically enough, I think this has enough of an indie rock appeal that hipsters would probably actually dig it.  –Adrian (Protagonist Music)


TEACHERS PET:
Self-titled: CD
Catchy, poppy punk from a now-obscure Midwestern band that has no business being obscure. Had to take a look at the liner notes and make sure they weren’t contemporary, as they sound like they could easily be one of them modern retro synth-friendly punk bands that are on the high end of said genre. Good stuff. –jimmy (www.smogveil.com)


TAXPAYERS, THE:
Exhilarating News: CD
When I say this, I mean it in the best way possible: this band sounds like a cartoon. If punk rock ever decided to start a cartoon show to convert impressionable young kids into the next era’s punk rockers, this band would fit the bill perfectly as the show’s mascots. The sound is folk punk with vocals between Chris from Ghost Mice (except on key more often) and This Bike Is A Pipebomb. All around, an equation that equals awesome. (Available for somewhere free on the Internet! Get it now!)  –Bryan Static (myspace.com/thetaxpayers)


TAGGART:
Pink Pig Stink: CD
Subtitled “10 Years of Taggart Covers, Demos and Z-Sides: 1997-2007,” this is a whopping twenty-four song collection from this Philly band. The band’s originals stand proud next to covers of The Who and The Replacements. Noisy, frenzied, and full tilt, there’s not a wilting flower in the bunch. “Deep End” is a great song, but I’m sure you’ll find a lot more on here that will have you knocking your stereo speakers over.  –koepenick (Self-released)


SUNGLASSES AFTER DARK:
Self-titled: CD
This is a nearly complete discography from an ultra obscure U.K. goth band circa 1983. Discs like this make me happy. I like knowing there are people out there doing their best to make sure awesome music like this doesn’t disappear. It’s reckless, wild goth with touches of rockabilly. There’s an impending sense of dread in the screaming guitars and off-kilter vocals, but a kind of fun dread, like when you’re being chased by a zombie and you know that your life might end, but you just made out with a super hot girl so you still feel like things are going okay for you. You figure there’s really no better time to have your brains eaten.  –mp (Cherry Red)


SUMP PUMPS:
Revenge of: CD
The first track, a short, trashy raver called “Space Camp,” is summarily followed by what can only be described as a speed-addled Braniac paying a visit to Servotron so they can listen to Devo together on a shitty old record player. While there are occasional nods to gloomy new wave and techno-pop, the aggressiveness they infuse their songs with will handily make them worthwhile listening to even the most snooty punk rocker.  –jimmy (www.8bitrecords.com)


SUBWASTE / TOMMY GUSTAFSSON AND THE IDIOTS:
Split: CD
Wow, total sleeper hit of this issue. Wasn’t expecting much at all from this, and then both bands just blew me away. Terrific stuff: catchy and anthemic. Owing heavy nods to their fellow countrymen in Bombshell Rocks and Smalltown, every song is so goddamn bright and hook-laden, I was singing along by the second time I ran through this, and that’s saying something. Using the framework and template of, say, the first few Stiff Little Fingers records but updating and modernizing it; goddamn, what’s not to like, right? Subwaste’s the more jagged of the two, if only because of the fact that the vocalist’s got that extra ounce of snarl in his pipes. TG&TI are swimming through similar (rad) waters, but they’ve got a very slight rock/rockabilly thread buoying up their end of things. It’s albums like this, ones that totally come out of left field, that make me so stoked to review for yon ‘Cake. –keith (Warbird)


STRANGER, THE:
Prison Called Life: 7"
A serendipitous collage of rock, garage, rockabilly, blues, punk, and more influences that resonate with me. The hard-rockin Prison Called Life backed with the dirgeful Missing Link and a great mussed-up version of Nick Cave’s “Thirsty Dog.” Pick this up for “Thirsty Dog.” Then do yourself a favor and pick up their self-titled CD. The band’s influences are given their proper due, like New Bomb Turks, Rev. HH, Gun Club, Smiths, Amazing Crowns, Thin Lizzy, and Nick Cave, as well as classic R&Band country artists. Think SWiG, Black Keys, Girl Trouble, Gas Huffer, et al. It’ll make you shaky, achy, and fevered.  –thiringer (Haunted Town)


SUNSET RIDERS:
Self-titled: 7"
There are essentially two different types of straight edge songs. The first type is all about how positive and how important the good ol’ X has been to the songwriter. The second type is the rant about how someone else sucks because they either aren’t straight edge or they have turned their back on their edge beliefs. I’m all about the first type, but the second type can get a little tedious. Sunset Riders play some nice moshable hardcore, but throw in one of those type two edge songs. Even worse, it’s not about an old edger getting drunk or crunk or skunk, it’s about a straight edge friend neglecting the third X. What’s the third X? Well, let’s count ‘em down, Minor Threat style: “Don’t smoke/Don’t drink/Don’t fuck/At least I can fuckin’ think!” So the third X must be fucking. Sure enough, the lyrics go on to detail how someone found a new girl and the edge went out of sight, thus all the words they lived by turned out to be a fucking lie… Well, either that or the dude was horny. Cut him some slack, bro.  –mp (Suburban Waste)


STOCKYARD STOICS / THE FILAMENTS:
The Special Relationship E.P.: Split 7”
The press release for this claims it’s all “no bullshit DIY punk rock.” No argument there. This is good, good stuff. The Stockyard Stoics are certainly more street punk oriented, but it’s not the hyper-aggressive, meathead type stuff; their offerings are earnest yet thoughtful and, musically, the band is muscular and powerful but still catchy. The Filaments have more of a classic hardcore sound to them, but there are moments at which the ska monster tastefully rears its fun-loving head. They remind me a lot of Snuff. The songs are fast, tight, and anthemic. All in all, this is a great little package: six tunes that got me reinvigorated and sent me bouncing down the street. It comes with a sticker and a mini-zine, too. Recommended.  –The Lord Kveldulfr (Fistolo)


STEVIE TOMBSTONE:
Devil’s Game: CD
A man sings melancholy country rock songs, accompanied by his guitar. Not a bad thing… if you’re Steve Earle.  –thiringer (Saustex)


STEINWAYS, THE:
Unoriginal Recipe: EP
This ‘lil EP is leaps and bounds ahead of the band’s debut CD. The songs are more complex and layered and, quite frankly, catchier. Wow…what a punch. I’m real bummed though. Why, you ask? This EP came to me as CD-only. The 7” and all of its re-presses sold out the day they arrived from the plant. Nothing but evidence. This band will be huge in zee pop punk world. –mrz (It’s Alive)


STRAIT A’S, THE:
Detention Span: 7"
I’m pretty glad that I listened to this, considering the fact that I really didn’t want to because of the one sheet. It made mention of the current drummer (the band’s ninth) also playing with a pretty big indie hip-hop group. The thought alone of combining rap and punk makes me cringe. Punk and hip-hop are not like sodium and chloride. They aren’t poisonous on their own, and they don’t make a season enjoyed by almost everyone when merged together. That is, never write anything on a one sheet that may be taken as an insinuation that they are mixed unless it’s true, in which case it would be shameful to withhold such information. (However, it is okay to mention that one of the old drummers plays in Sass Dragons and that the female vocalist is in the God Damn Doo Wop Band.) Anyway, the Strait A’s don’t make punk rap; they make pop punk. Damn fine pop punk, in fact. It really reminds me of the Teen Idols, but with a bit of the sloppiness and attitude prevalent in early ‘90s Queers’ albums (one track reminds me of “Ursula” musically). There are both male and female vocals, but the female vox only take the lead on one track. Overall, the band’s moniker is pretty damn right on. –Vincent Battilana (Johann’s Face)


STRANGER KIDS:
3 Song Demo: CD-R
Number one: If you’re gonna co-opt a grade school pic of Darby Crash, you better have some worthwhile tunes to back it up. Number two: You need to include them on the CD upon which you put the picture. –jimmy (www.myspace.com/strangerbsg)


STATUES:
Same Bodies, Same Faces: 7”
This band’s last record, 2006’s New People Make Us Nervous, left me completely speechless. I hadn’t heard a knack for combining near-perfect pop songs and goose bump-inducing lyrics since hearing “The Science of Myth” for the first time. It was upsettingly good. The Same Bodies, Same Faces 7” continues in the same vein, just oozing catchiness and sincerity. Folks are quick to make Buzzcocks comparisons or plaster on the power pop label whenever a pop punk band doesn’t reek of Ramones influence, but I really think that Statues rises above the completely obvious. With a once-over, one can find elements of all of the above stuff in Statues’ sound, but there’s just something indescribable going on here; something that gives me the shivers. I’m hard-pressed to think of a current band that I like more. Incredible. –Dave Williams  –Guest Contributor (Deranged)


STATUES:
Same Bodies, Same Faces: 7”EP
I’m sure these guys are sick of the Tranzmitors comparison because they’re Canadian, pour their hearts out into power pop, have releases on the same label, and, basically, kick a ton of ass, but we go with what we’ve got. Lyrically, this comes across like the movie Brazil and the black sheep bolting in the opposite direction of the flock on the cover of Minor Threat’s Out of Step. Work suuuuucks people into fluorescent-tinged, lock-step, grey-raced bean pushers. Music’s a beautiful fuckin’ rainbow in the darkness. And if a band holds up Elvis Costello in a chalice to make your butt shake, more the better. They make the GG Allin cover sound like it was originally released by The Jam. I’m a goddamn sucker for this stuff. –todd (Deranged)


STARK RAVING MAD:
Amerika: CD
Long has it been since I heard these guys—so long, in fact, that I’d completely forgotten what they sound like. You get two albums’ worth of stuff here for your buck, their self-titled debut and the Amerika LP, both of which feature fine thrashy hardcore and vocals that fall somewhere between Jello Biafra and Rodney Anonymous from the Dead Milkmen. Songs are nice ‘n’ short and have the requisite spazz quality, and the only major complaint is that the spaces between the tunes—we’re talking some ten to twelve seconds here—are way too goddamn long. Outside of that, it was good hearing these kids again.  –jimmy (Just For Fun)


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