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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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ROB SAFFI & THE ODD BREED:
Self-titled: CD
That old cliché, “birds of a feather, flock together,” came to my suspicious mind when I read that New York’s Rob Saffi & The Odd Breed shared a stage with the lead singer of ‘90s group The Spin Doctors and acoustic guitar playing Howie Day. Having forged his way from Providence, Rhode Island, composed songs under street lamps, and busked at subways, Saffi’s sound, nevertheless, falls under the indeterminate category of adult contemporary rather than folk punk. His vocals on this debut album are weathered, but fall short of genuine, time-honored wear that could be heard from legendary bluesman, Charlie Patton or even Tom Waits. Your mileage may vary, but if you’re into Hootie & The Blowfish or mid to late ‘90s rock, this one’s for you. –Kristen K –Guest Contributor (Odd Breed)


RIVER CITY TANLINES:
Modern Friction: 7”
More rock from the Tanlines, who are consistently good, but this feels a level lower than previous 45s. Alicja’s most straight project, less moody than Lost Sounds and not as punk as the Fitts—this will still get ya going, but try an earlier single if you need an introduction to the group. –mike (Savage, www.savagemagazine.com)


RISE UP HOWLIN’ WEREWOLF:
The Indian Curse Will Bring You Back to Me: 7"
Stitched together from other local bands like Frankenstein’s monster, these five from Alabama, put together more of a garage sound with distorted, fuzzy guitars than usually expected from folk punky Arkam Records. Of the two songs, the title track packs more of a punch. –Kristen K  –Guest Contributor (Arkam, www.myspace.com/arkamrecords)


RISE UP HOWLIN’ WEREWOLF:
The Indian Curse Will Bring You Back to Me: 7"
I’m old enough to remember past last year. In many the same ways that folk and punk are in a group hug right now, in the late nineties and early zeros, punk and the blues (via Estrus and Crypt Records among other fine purveyors) were squaloring and swapping whiskey flasks. Some of the best shit came from the South: The Wednesdays, Quadrajets, Immortal Lee County Killers, Porch Ghouls. Rise Up Howlin’ Werewolf play two cigarette-burning to-the-filter slow rollers that are cinematically pristine, like you can see the badasses filling the dimly lit bar with smoke by a long fuse to a bomb about to explode. That’s the good sort of tension, my friends. Silk-screened and spray painted covers. –todd (Arkam)


RETICENTS, THE:
Self-titled: CD-R EP
Five-song street punk blast from this Baltimore, MD, band. If you like your punk raw and in your face, this is the band for you. “Gainer” and “World of Extremes” had me hitting the repeat button. But now that the band has new recruit Shaffer (ex-Porch Mob) on bass, look for a splinter producing debut to come.  –koepenick (Self-released)


RHINO-39:
Self-titled: 2 x CD
This has what must be everything Rhino-39 released from 1979 through 1986. To me, Rhino-39 is a “flyer punk” band. That means they’re one of those bands that I see on a lot of old flyers, but never really heard anything about them or any of their songs. The Alley Kats, China White, Suburban Lawns, and Castration Squad are some other names that fall into that category just off the top of my head. Having finally heard Rhino-39, I can’t say I feel like I missed out on too much. They’re not bad, but with these “before my time bands,” I feel like there are several categories. There are the bands that are just flat-out essential, which includes a lot of the usual suspects like Black Flag, The Weirdos, and The Dickies. Next, there are those bands and albums which I need to take a little time to get to know, but once I do I love them. For instance, it took me a couple of listens to “get it,” but I really like The Plugz Better Luck now. Then there’s the third category of bands which aren’t bad, but don’t feel particularly amazing or revelatory either. Basically, they’re a real “you had to be there” type thing to appreciate, and that’s how I feel about this collection. It’s decent enough pre-hardcore L.A. punk, but it never really gets me going like stuff from bands like The Urinals or The Germs or The Last does. Also, there are four different versions of the song “J. Alfred,” which is overkill for what is, at best, a forgettable song. This compilation of Rhino-39’s stuff feels like more of a mildly interesting curiosity for punk historians and completists, rather than some lost Holy Grail of Los Angeles punk.  –Adrian (Nickel and Dime)


REVEREND BEAT-MAN:
Surreal Folk Blues Gospel Trash Vol 2: CD
The album title can’t explain it any better, unless it added the words, “Transferred from Analog Recording from 2008.” The Rev knows what he likes, he knows how to do it, and he kicks ass at it. The IT is swampy, one-man band (with occasional bluegrass friends) folk rock. Sometimes peppy and rambunctious, sometime moody and lumbering. Always diiiirty. It’s good to have staples to depend on. Reverend Beat-Man is the mashed potatoes of trash.  –mike (Voodoo Rhythm, www.voodoorhythm.com)


RETARDOS DE LA MOUR:
Self-titled: CD
These could easily be the tapes from the back of Robyn Hitchcock’s vault that he doesn’t want anyone to hear.  –jimmy (retardos@gmail.com)


RETARDOS DE LA MOUR:
Self-titled: CD
Important Note to Bands: If you are putting racist/homophobic phrases in your lyrics (and, in this case, in your song titles), it tends to rub people the wrong way, even if the person is not ultra-PC. It tends to distract the listener. I know the usage is for ironic purposes, and the Dead Kennedys did it, and X did it, and Reagan Youth took it to absurd heights, and so on, but the fact that I can instantly remember those bands as examples shows what an effect (negatively, I might add) it has on a listener. These guys’ music is garage rock with occasional horns. The music actually sounds pretty good. If I feel uncomfortable typing your song titles on my computer, I probably won’t recommend your album, though. Of course, if you’re titling your songs like that you probably don’t care what I think anyway... –Will Kwiatkowski  –Guest Contributor (The Olive Loaf Recording Corporation, no address)


REMEMBERS, THE:
It’s: 7”
A three-man band from Marseille, France, with such distant vocals that they sound like they were recorded from across the room with a dust-encrusted microphone. With only three songs on the record, it’s reminiscent of Velvet Underground, but a lot dirtier, faster, and more on the garage punk side of the spectrum, if that makes any sense. –Corinne  –Guest Contributor (Plastic Idol, www.plasticidolrecords.com)


RED CAVALRY:
The Geography of Nowhere: CD
Actual line from the one-sheet: “This CD was sent to you because we felt that you were someone who needed to hear us.” I needed to hear this about as much as I needed to hear 80 of the god-awful shit I review for Razorcake. It’s the 20 quality stuff that makes it worth it, but this album sure ain’t part of that camp. Alterna-pop that seems excessively interested in radio play (at least according to their one-sheet and website). I wonder if someone forgot to tell them that radio is dead. Much like their sound. The ‘90s are over, dudes.  –kurt (www.redcavalry.com)


RAW RADAR WAR:
= =: CD
Raw, loud, and fast hardcore that mixes just the right amount of Reign in Blood-era Slayer, Is This My World?-era Jerry’s Kids (whose “Crucify” they cover here), and the Melvins to make for one helluva listen. This is definitely a keeper. –jimmy (www.rawradarwar.com)


PYRAMIDS:
Through the Hourglass: CD
Philadelphia, PA, is home to this self-coined “emotional hardcore” band. Through the Hourglass is a theme album based on time travel. Life, rebirth, and the passage of time in a vacuum are all addressed in guttural screams that came off as Neurosis stylistically. Most of the songs have a droney, heavy drive to them while the guitar echoes in the distance. The indie rock kids could get into this as well as the hardcore kids. Segue it with These Arms are Snakes, Neurosis, Prize Country, or City Of Caterpillar. Worth a spin! –Buttertooth (Protagonist, www.myspace.com/protagonistmusic)


PUMPERS, THE:
Untitled: 7”
I must admit that my expectations for this disc were quite low before I actually listened to the disc. A silly band name, bland cover “art” (the eyes of the four band members cut out of their faces over a black background, with the rest of the snapshot on the other side), and trite track titles (hasn’t “Let Go” already been used a dozen times before, including as an Avril Lavigne album?) do not produce much potential for success. However, I was pleasantly surprised once the needle met the grooves: discordant and raw garage punk with mangy vocals that appears to have been recorded five feet away from the equipment in an echoing room. This means that the band has to play as loudly and energetically as possible to compensate for the physical gap between the band and the equipment. Aside from the background caterwauling that sounds like a frantic siren, there are also a few hints of surf rock here and there in the songs. Those minor flourishes are enough to separate this work from similar sounding efforts. Plus, extra points for the brown vinyl of my copy, which has the finish of a classy coffee table. It makes me want to invest in a nice lamp and some oversized art books.  –Guest Contributor (Wallride)


PUMPERS, THE:
Let Go: 7”
It’s a mystery band! A 7” slab of wax with no information other than band name, song titles, members names, and label. In a way, it helps because you’re not given any leads to what this is going to sound like. I’m instantly thinking Texas. The title track has a kind of Motards meets the Marked Men thing going that pretty much rules. On the flip, I immediately got an early Riverboat Gamblers vibe. I guess I’ll have to find out more about them if I’m going to get more music… Okay, I just went and found their myspace. Denton, TX, USA! –ty (Wall Ride)


PTERODACDUDES / SHRED SAVAGE:
Split: 7"
Those are some great band names, and fitting ones, too. The Pterodacdudes play a sort of prehistoric-sounding hardcore with little breaks for musical goofing around. Shred Savage are snotty and, at least in their first tune, squeeze in some raw guitar shredding. If you want to do the dino-mosh, this is probably the record to do it to.  –mp (Small Pool)


PSYCHO-PATH:
The Ass-Soul of Psycho-Path: CD
The front cover is a naked woman on her stomach, shown from the side from her upper back on down. She’s tied up in rope, causing her feet to come back towards her butt. She also has a tattoo on her right hip, black stiletto heels on her feet, and a knife shoved up her ass. And there is a pool of blood coming from underneath her. I’m really at a loss as to what else to say that might be of any interest after that description. Beyond that cover, though, the packaging is really nice, with good color photos in a glossy, two paneled booklet. As for the sound, it really doesn’t live up to anything you might expect based on the front cover. Sultry, sexy female vocals (à la Amy Adoyzie) front a band sounding a lot like Girls Against Boys with songs ranging from three to eleven minutes. They’re perfectly fine; I just can’t help but feel as though after witnessing the results of an ass-raping with a knife displayed on the front cover, everything else about the band seems “meh.”  –kurt (Moonlee)


PRETTY WHORES OF MANHATTAN:
Self-titled: CD
Off-kilter rock/punk colliding with a borderline arty aesthetic. Was much better than their name would suggest.  –jimmy (pretty.whores.of.manhattan@hotmail.com)


PRESS, THE:
The Compete Press—1984-1994: CD
I’ve got to admit that, although I do consider myself a fan of “oi” punk (though the reviews I write may not always reflect that), I’ve never heard The Press. I’ve been missing out for a lot of years! As the title states, this is a retrospective disc, and right from the start, it rocks in the same vein as Cock Sparrer, Sham, and the like. Simple and catchy, I found myself humming and singing along almost instantly. Even the obligatory ska track is good! I have no idea if their claim of being “America’s first Oi band” is true or not, but they’re great and it’s easy to see how they’d be influential on plenty of today’s bands. –ty (Insurgence)


PRESS CORPS:
Urban Truth Rural Myth: CD
Seattle band made up of members of Mudhoney, The Fluid, and Mother Love Bone. The music is heavy rock with melodic leanings. There is an indie rock feel to it, but it still sounds very much like the past bands in other parts.  –frame (Flotation)


POWERSOLO:
It’s Raceday and Your Pussy Is GUT!!!: CD
Swampy, stripped down, and distorted Danish release. Clearly influenced by SCOTS, Supersuckers, Andre Williams, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Flatlanders, garage, Appalachian folk, and honky tonk. There’s even a corrido! Surprisingly good, indeed. However, is “gut” missing an umlaut or am I missing something? –thiringer (Crunchy Frog, www.crunchy.dk)


POLAR BEAR CLUB:
Sometimes Things Just Disappear: CD
This record has a different kind of icing for everyone, but I can’t help feeling like they forgot the cake.Sometimes Things Just Disappear is gruff, yet brooding, atmospheric, yet aggressive, lyrically pointed, yet blurry, and that’s gonna work for some people. To me, it just feels safe. Drenched in the early twenties spirit of wanting the post and the punk, I don’t think they’ve mastered either. In the end, I’m really left wondering where the hooks are. Maybe they come out more with repeated listens, but it’s not gonna get that far. –Nick Toerner  –Guest Contributor (Red Leader)


PERIOD THREE:
Self-titled: 7"
The four tracks found here lean towards pop punk, but they aren’t too poppy or too snotty—somewhere between Lefty Loosie and Stun Gun’s “T.V. Tan” (without SG’s guitar soloing). The muddy recording almost makes it seem like the band lacks severe energy (they don’t), but it actually compliments Period Three quite nicely. It’s like the band is at the end of the rope, too tired from all the frustration and disappointment. It’s as though they’ve tried everything else to find any sort of solace, and this is their last effort to find it. The vocals never cease to be anything but grave. The music has a melody doing its damnedest to stay upbeat. These parts combine to create a dynamic that gives the songs a charm that is comforting in its ostensible despondency. En somme, it’s really catchy and really good.  –Vincent Battilana (DNH)


PEELANDER-Z / BIRTHDAY SUITS:
Split: 7”
Fun, fun, fun. Two noisy, chaotic, and spazzy tracks by two Japanese ex-pat bands living in America, soaking in a light-hearted darkness. Peelander-Z: The weird thing about these dudes? No, not that they’re comic book characters or the “from another planet” thing, but a good portion of their songs seem to begin in the middle and end where you’d usually start a song. If the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers had no special powers and Gummi Bear mouths (they could just gum you fiercely but look athletic doing it)... Birthday Suits: sound nothing like the following bands, but would fit perfectly on the bill: Scratch Acid, Shark Pants, The Causey Way, Japanther. When I say arty and noisy in this context, it’s not code for “shitty,” but tension and release, big-ass dynamics, a wall-of-sound that sounds much bigger than two humble dudes. Neat, neat, neat.  –todd (Crustacean)


PEAWEES:
Walking the Walk: CD
These guys meet at the intersection of Saints Street and Devil Dogs Avenue, and then head over to catch a Muffs show. The songs are hellafied strong and they milk the best out of every clichéd riff in the rock’n’roll songbook, making this, strangely, the most refreshing album of its style I’ve heard in years. Would’ve much preferred them to sing in their native Italian rather than English, though.  –jimmy (www.thepeawees.com)


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·PANSY DIVISION
·BORN LOOSE
·DAGGERPLAY
·PRETTY WHORES
·Sick On The Bus, Final Conflict, Sin Remedio, And Doomsday Hour
·Leatherface, March 5, 2010, Knitting Factory, Brooklyn
·D BERRY ROOTH
·OVERNIGHT LOWS, THE
·WEAKERTHANS, THE


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