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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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SPEAR OF DESTINY:
Grapes of Wrath / One Eyed Jacks / World Service: CD / CD / CD
Sometimes listening to a band’s recorded output in one sitting is like reading a Dickens novel, in that you hear their earliest—and usually happiest—period, followed by their brush with fame and its corrupting influence, which of course leads to their inevitable downfall. SOD’s first here, Grapes of Wrath, is easily the most interesting of the three: less aggressive and angry than previous bands some members had staffed, specifically The Pack (whose “St. Teresa” remains a great song, but I digress) and the always swell Theatre of Hate, yet still retaining the post-punk fascination with tribal rhythms and adding an almost disembodied saxophone, a singer with a strong, rich voice, and even some gospel tinges around the edges. By the middle of the tale, however, more obvious pop overtures had begun to creep in, which led them to a bonafide hit song and, no doubt, all that it brings. One Eyed Jacks is not a bad album, and it even is singled as the band’s best by their fans. As history has shown repeatedly, any intentional pandering to the mainstream carries a heavy price, and by their final album, World Service, they were in a full-blown ‘80s British pop morass, sucking six ways from Sunday. By the end of the last note on the last album, you’re looking around, wondering where that crazy old lady in the flambé-style wedding dress popped off to and why she didn’t take the band with her.  –jimmy (Cherry Red)


STAKES, THE:
Real Tigers: CD
Sporty straight-edgey stuff with two vocalists yelling in sort-of harmony. My wife hates this shit. Some days I do, too, but, for the most part, I’m okay with this record since I haven’t been drinking much of late and I can finally understand the need for all the yelling in straight edge music: yelling till yer face turns purple takes away the desire for a drink. Still, the Stakes’ focus seems to be kind of like a former smoker policing his friends’ smoking. And I’m pretty much done with titles like “Benchwarmers” and “Victory” and lyrics such as “wake up/stand hard.” Pfft. In the end, this is a lot more like drinking a creatine milkshake of music than rocking out in any significant way; but there are times when such puffery and power are welcome.  –The Lord Kveldulfr (High Fidelity)


SOULSHAKE EXPRESS, THE:
Self-titled: CD

Fuck! “Can you feel it?! CAN YOU FEEL IT?!....” “NO!” This shit is as whack as Wolfmother. Motherfuckers just ripping the shit out of Hendrix and the MC5… wearing their hair long… playing Rickenbackers and hollow body guitars. Man, it’s like all these fools I know who think that drinking alone will get you writing like Raymond Chandler or Hunter S. Thompson…. These guys have the imaginations of a rock. 

–ryan (Beatville, www.beatville.com)


SONIC CHICKEN 4:
Self-titled: LP
Already one for the top ten of the year! Solid rock from France’s Nasty Product trash scene, and all the best facets possible. Swings from great echoes of the past like The Monks, Jonathan Richman, and girl groups, feels fond of later greats The Fells and The Gories, while not sounding like a ‘60s karaoke rip off. No, you will pop up and down to this pureness and cry because it seems so simple to be so good the way seeing a band in someone’s house is a thousand times stronger than going to a thousand-person club with stage lighting. Leave it to In The Red to unleash another new band on the U.S. that gives you faith in rock. LP doesn’t have liner notes, but does have a CD inside.  –mike (In The Red)


SNAKES / 1-800-BAND:
Split: 7"
Snakes: Imagine the Strokes on heroin. 1-800-BAND: Mellow-groovy-remembrance-of-things-past-sipping-beer-on-a-Saturday-afternoon rock. The record is all right at any point, but borders on good when I’m in kind of an introspective and, dare I say it, peaceful mood. Nothing earth-shattering here, but nothing worth pitching in the trash, either.  –The Lord Kveldulfr (Slow Gold Zebra)


SOULSHAKE EXPRESS, THE:
Heavy Music: CD
See above review. Formulaic, late-’60s garage shit from some dudes who refuse to give it up. Donate your instruments to charity.  –ryan (Beatville, www.beatville.com)


SMOKE OR FIRE:
This Sinking Ship: CD
Second full-length from this four-piece. Does it beat the stellar Above the City? It comes pretty fucking close, my friends. Songs about loss, family, pain, and just getting through the day. Solid arrangements backed my actual melodies? This is getting to be a real rarity in punk rock. Play this one over and over again—I doubt you will ever get tired of it. Seriously.  –koepenick (Fat)


SLOW POISONER:
Roadside Altar: CD
Gee, I like the first album so much that it’s only natural I would be afforded the pleasure of reviewing the next gem. This time—it’s a singular, not plural—Poisoner making all this Edward Gorey-like, Edwardian, La Belle Epoche aurally illustrated noise. A one-man band of hexes, roosters, eye hands, and roadside altars. Still campy, theatrical, and melodramatic—although this album is more structured, but with the same early 1900s aesthetic. Words escape me, but visualization doesn’t. And “Faded Love” is a flat-out good song.  –thiringer (Zodiac Killer)


SKINNY JIM & THE NUMBER 9 BLACKTOPS:
Horsepower! Horsepower!: CD
Eager Illinois three-piece knocks out a dozen floor-stomping, elbow-greasing roadhouse rock tracks. Exemplary technical skill produces a full, big sound will make you toss a couple beers down your gullet and hit the dance floor. Reminds me of Hi-Fi & The Roadburners. Produced by Rick Miller of SCOTS and would be right at home on Yep Roc.  –thiringer (Self-released, www.skinnyjimrocks.com)


SIL VETH:
The Elemental: CD
Top three things that the members of hard-charging and tuneful, but way-too-tinnily recorded death metal act Sil Veth can change their matching band logo tattoos into when their band dissolves in acrimony after years of not realizing their dream of playing Ozzfest and “European Festivals” (thanks, lengthy band bio): 1) Sil Vethter, with a picture of the popular cartoon cat; 2) BaSil HaVeth, with actor Basil T. Rathbone holding a cornucopia, 3) Tupac’s ghost peeing on Dale Earnhardt’s grave (Why not, right?). –CT Terry  –Guest Contributor (8th Sphere, www.8th-sphere.com)


SIDEWALK CRACKS:
Pitfalls EP: CD-R
This band from Elgin, Illinois, a shitty town on the outskirts of Chicago, has really gotten to me more and more with each listen. They call themselves punk rock, which is fair, but to give you a little more, it has those kind of longer breakdowns, comparable to that Gainesville sound. However, me saying that would probably piss them off. Their lyrics are quality and of a socio/personal-political nature. The music gives off a sort of frustrated, yearning feel that fills the listener with a sense of longing for something that this society can’t offer. Good stuff. I haven’t been writing music reviews for very long, but for as long as I have, those stupid promo one-sheeter things with all the name dropping and bad band description have been mandatory. So, I thought it was cool as hell that Sidewalk Cracks’ version of one was just handwritten on notebook paper and photocopied. Now that’s just cute.  –Craven (Self-released, no address)


SIDEKICKS, THE:
So Long, Soggy Dog: CDEP
It seems like the hype is slowly building up around these guys, which I can understand, since this plays like a cross between Reinventing Axl Rose-era Against Me! And Latterman’s more pop punk moments. This looks to be a self-released copy, but it’s already been reissued by Red Scare on CD, and soon on LP by Team Science, so you can tell there’s a bit of truth behind the talk.  –joe (Self-released)


SHECKIES, THE:
Go On a Diet: CDEP
I’m usually a bit concerned any time I get something that looks like it’s going to be by-the-1-2-3-4 Ramonescore pop punk, but this was okay. Think Ramonescore that lays on the Weasel vocals pretty heavy. A bit geeky at points, but I was impressed by the Ultraman shirt (not the band, the series), so who am I to judge?  –joe (Cabana One)


SHANKS, THE:
Big Feelin: 7"
Blown-out garage punk from this Nebraska band. Seems like the type of thing that any fan of In the Red Records or the review page at Terminal Boredom would love. If you have got a lotta P.Trash or Solid Sexie Lovie Doll singles in your collection, you will wanna be all over this. As good as most of those bands and from the Midwest, to boot.  –frame (Boom Chick)


SHANG-A-LANG:
Summertime: 7”EP
I’ve said this before with Tulsa. A bit of me is worried that I’m just way too predisposed to liking what they’re dishing out. It’s like I’ve stopped thinking and worrying and classifying; like band members could come poop on my porch and I’d slap ‘em on the back and say, “Thanks for ‘Caught In Between.’ Great song.” Shang-A-Lang makes music I like instantly. All four songs on Summertime are “perfectly” executed. It’s DIY punk with charm bounding to self-doubt, musical chops that never stray from melody, yet retain a comforting sloppiness, and it’s all taped together in a rough yet clear recording. Much to like. –todd (Dirt Cult / Let’s Pretend)


SHANG-A-LANG / SEX ADVICE:
Split: 7”EP
Shang-a-Lang: Dudes are bummed, but somehow turn songs of bummerdom and “I’m-about-to-crack” into these finger-snapping, duct tape anthems of basement salvation. Don’t know if I want them to get happier since their pain is my gain. Any sort of life-issue resolution may make their songs suck… Anyhow, I may be committing some sort of sin here, but I think if they took a sock or two off the microphones and took the sleeping bag out of the bass drum when they recorded, it’d punch up the recording a bit. The songs shine through, though. Sex Advice: Don’t want to force them in a place they’d find uncomfortable, but I think they’re the missing link between high-quality Queers (Love Songs for the Retarded) and Black Flag (all the way up to the B-side of Damaged). Bubble gum with jagged edges that wants to kill you. Nice split.  –todd (Repulsion)


SERIOUS GENIUSES, THE / JEAN CLAUDE JAM BAND:
Split: 7”
A screen printed cover. Lyrics and artwork on a fancy screen printed card. Nice. Punk’n’rollers JCJB represent with two songs off their 2006 demo: “Two Dollar Headache” and “Rattlesnake Love.” Of these two Massachusetts bands, I gravitated toward the Geniuses. “Hoffstra” is probably my favorite off this record with its head nodding guitar line and closed eyed screaming. –Kristen K  –Guest Contributor (Kiss of Death)


SECTION 802:
Last Call for Wishful Thinking: CD
Standard hardcore fare, but it sounds like it was recorded on a boombox in a basement. This is one of those bands which need a bit of production value to bring everything together. The tunes are good, but it sounds like the instruments and vocals are compartmentalized; if they were to blend together a bit more, Section 802 could have a much fuller sound that would kick me in the gut. “El Carajo” was really neat, though; it sounded like hardcore done over a Bach fugue. And it sells for four bucks on the label’s website, certainly a plus.  –The Lord Kveldulfr (Incest, www.incestrecords.org)


SCOURGE OF RIVER CITY, THE:
Self-titled: CD
When I saw the band name, I kinda half-hoped this would be the latest from a Dwarves-affiliated band called the River City Rapists, but no, just some kids with a stand-up bass fiddle listening to too much Misfits and daydreaming of hitting it big like the Living End. Ah, well.  –jimmy (Cherry Red)


SCIENTISTS:
Swampland: CD
To totally jack the always quotable Mr. Jake Smith, America has room for only two Australian rock bands, AC/DC and Air Supply, which leaves quite a few bands truly worthy of some attention sorely lacking any. Such is the case with the Scientists. Hailing from the land of Bon Scott and the Hard-Ons, these guys sound like the missing link between the primal punk of the Saints and the psychosis of the Birthday Party, but also manage to throw a wrench in the gears by distilling the rockabilly out of the Cramps to get at their best, most minimal essence. This is some really good stuff here, stuff that should be played loud and often, and yet at the same time, it’s something that the corporate formats calling themselves “indie” anymore would never drop into regular rotation. Stupid Americans.  –jimmy (Cherry Red)


SATELLITERS, THE:
Where Do We Go?: CD
Fuck, this is surprisingly good. I was really ready to slaughter this record. I typically really hate neo-’60s folk-rock/psychedelic bands. They’re usually unimaginative, affecting a style of music that died nearly forty years ago. But The Satelliters have a lot going for them: a singer who can sing, great musicianship, and a considerable knowledge of mid ‘60s rock‘n’roll (Love, early Byrds, Kinks, etc.). I mean, a lot of the Satelliters’ shit is directly stolen from Kingsmen records (dubbing crowd noises on a studio LP) and Byrds albums (guitar effects taken from Notorious Byrd Brothers); and I’m sure the Satelliters are quite proud of it. So, while the Satelliters are not raising the bar on garage revival (like Greg Cartwright), they’re certainly fun and “authentic” enough to throw onto your turntable.  –ryan (Dionysus)


RUNEMAGICK:
Dawn of the End: CD
Sludgy metal; more Celtic Frost than Black Sabbath. And songs that have no business being ten minutes long.  –jimmy (Enucleation, no address)


RUINING, THE:
This Is an Ambush: CDEP
This is the first release from a fairly new band from Trenton, NJ. If you’re from that area, you may remember a band that based their sound off of the ‘90s Lookout! Records catalog called The Checkers. Well, this band exhibits the progression of the musical tastes and abilities of Nick, Andy (who goes by “Ace” in this band), and Matt from The Checkers. The three songs on this possess a sound akin to Hot Water Music and Latterman. There’s an ever-increasing number of bands doing this sort of thing nowadays, but this is, without a doubt, towards the top of the pile. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for more releases from these guys. –Dave Dillon  –Guest Contributor (Self-released)


RUINER:
Prepare to Be Let Down: LP
The problem with being a music nut is that the more you hear, the harder and harder it gets for something new to make you smile. If I had heard this band way back when, I may have been crazy about them. Now, I’ve heard so much hardcore that sounds just like theirs that I can’t really get that jazzed about it. From the sound of them, I can guess that they’re crazy in a live setting, which is something I never get sick of. If only they had put just a touch more of the crazy into their recording, maybe I would have been jumping off the walls. –mp (Bridge Nine)


RÖSVETT:
Sorgedödaren: CD
Scandinavian hardcore here, as one might’ve guessed by the title. Not quite as crucial, frenzied, or sick with Discharge influences as many of their peers, but this does the job well enough.  –jimmy (Six Weeks)


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