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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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FRIENDLY FIRE:
Demo 2008: CD-R
Punk rock from D.C. that will remind one a bit of the Minutemen and Hüsker Dü. I’ve been listening to these six songs a few times a day since I got this for review, and I recommend that you do the same. The quality is decent, as far as CD-R demos go, remaining raw enough to not let you forget that it’s a demo but not raw enough to appear to lose anything in the translation. I’ll definitely be making a trip down to see these guys in action next time I get chance. –Dave Dillon  –Guest Contributor (Self-released)


FREEZE, THE:
Rabid Reaction: LP
Who is one of the biggest Freeze fans you know? I say Schizophrenic Records because they are digging deep into their pockets to re-release another Freeze release on vinyl. If you have ever gone through the process of pressing a record, you definitely know it’s not cheap. It is even more expensive if you do multi-colored like this one I have in my hands, which is a green and red mix. So, this time around, they give a vinyl release of the second album which originally was released on Modern Method Records. It’s punk rock from Boston that was different from many of their contemporaries in the area. They didn’t embrace hardcore like so many bands did. They continued to play straight up with melody and more of a rocking vibe, like they were having fun, acting silly, and trying to give people a genuine good time. Listening now and not hearing these songs after many, many years, I can truly say these songs stood the test of time. This release should never go out of print so people from years to come get to hear this like Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Fear, or the Adolescents. It’s a great gateway release for someone getting into punk or just going back in history. –don (Schizophrenic)


FRANCINE:
King for a Day: CD
Finnish rock’n’roll with a full-bodied, highly produced and tenured pop rock sound. Distributed in the U.S. on Cargo, Francine has “Exported for Cargo” stamped all over their shipping crate (think Inch, Heavy Vegetable, and fluf). Has the look, feel, and sound of a borderline mainstream rock act that would be signed to an imprint and spun on KROQ to gauge reaction before releasing their sophomore effort on a major. Then they would stall because mega A&R guy misjudged the market and they sold 10,000 records to local college guys instead of 1,000,000 to a nation of screaming consumer units.  –thiringer (Wolverine)


FKENAL:
Self-titled: 12” single
These amazing San Diego instrumental soundscapers finally released a 12” single. It’s a single-sided with two songs at 45 rpm. This stuff is in a league all its own! Tempos change, drones turn to hyper active poundings that still remain reminiscent of jazz chord progressions. Samples and loops build in the background then, out of nowhere, there’s manic hardcore of the Discord variety. True purveyors of a wide variety of otherworldly rock. I think 31G should put this shit out!  –Buttertooth (Self-released)


FILTHY FEW:
Wealth & Hell-Being: CD
Man, I get all the ultra-PC stuff, don’t I? I kid, of course, as this thing is laden with paintings of strippers and potentially alienating lyrics. The music is loud and hard punk in a Candy Snatchers vein, with a slight sprinkle of rockabilly, and isn’t half bad. I wish I could recommend it, but the content is too annoying to get me stoked. When you’re naming your songs “Gonna Buy Me a Girl,” what do you expect a reviewer to say? –Will Kwiatkowski  –Guest Contributor (Ass End)


FEW AND THE PROUD:
Stampede: LP
The preachy, self-righteous, downright serious tone of the message the Few And The Proud are delivering turned me off of this release immediately. Straight edge is fine as a lifestyle choice, but the narcissistic attitude that oozes through the lyrics of this album is a drag, and, frankly, nobody gives a shit what any of these guys do or do not put in their bodies. The generic hardcore music didn’t help much, either.  –benke (Underground Communiqué)


FACTUMS:
Spells and Charms: CD
These guys really don’t put up any pretense of being a “rock” band and just go balls out into skronking it up. What makes ‘em special, though, is rather than just pummel you with eighty minutes of static patterns, they are very conscious of dynamics and use ‘em well to break up the onset of any monotony. Sometimes, this reminds me of stuff like the Swans’ Body to Body Job to Job record with its little bits of noisy loopy stuff followed by something that resembles, at least in structure, a song. Good stuff if yer feelin’ adventurous.  –jimmy (Kill Shaman)


F.L.A.K.:
Fearing Lost Apocalyptic Knowledge: LP
I was expecting epic power metal or Norwegian death metal from the cover of this LP. Ended up with fast, fairly standard thrash. The band is from Pittsburgh and play blown-out thrash for fans of Mob 47, Anti Cimex, and the like. Limited edition of 300 copies, so move fast if this is your style.  –frame (Hashshashinrecords@gmail.com)


EYE FOR AN EYE:
Gra: LP
Not the tough guy hardcore band from Boston, but a band from Poland. This female-led band bridges a fine line between punk, hardcore, and metal while still maintaining melody. The production on this recording is in league with many releases I have heard from major label bands. With that, the band really shines and the power comes through. The vocals that are sung in Polish are yelled forcefully and are controlled in delivery but also have an almost sung quality to them. The guitars are bright and chunky, giving them a powerful metal sound that many people fail to achieve. Drums pound through the speakers, wailing bass into your ears and the crash of the cymbals slap you in the face. Bass guitar ties it all in with it a well-rounded tone. In the past, I only dabbled here and there with bands from that region. But lately, every release I have received has been excellent. It definitely has become one of my new favorite countries to get music from. If I was writing this review one day earlier, I definitely would have put this on my Top 5 for this issue. Now the quest is on for the first LP that I just heard about.  –don (Pasazer)


EVANGELISTA:
Hello, Voyager: CD
Back in 2006, I interviewed Carla Bozulich about Evangelista, her first record on Montreal’s Constellation label, produced by Efrim Menuck of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and A Silver Mt. Zion, and featuring members of same. We’d discussed how the album was (mis)taken by various listeners for “torment,” “an attack on the senses,” or an “exorcism.” Bozulich’s own intent was to produce something that acknowledged pain, but to a healing end; it was “for people that can respond to sound and love the way other people respond to God,” for people who use musicto lift themselves up and rise up above things that might normally kick their ass.” Her new album, now under the band name Evangelista (and again on Constellation with Efrim and Co. on board, along with Shazad Ismaily and Tara Barnes) continues in the same vein—and, at-times, painful exaltation with cathartic stabs at transcendence and an emotional range that contains melancholy at one end and a violent, rapturous release at the other. A few tracks (“Smooth Jazz,” “Truth Is Dark Like Outer Space,” and “Hello, Voyager” itself, which scares me a bit) are even tougher than anything on the previous album—“The Blue Mask” tough, “Radio Ethiopia” tough, Kim Gordon doing “I Wanna Be Your Dog” tough—while a sassy, streetwise, fuck-you playfulness peeks in elsewhere (“Lucky Lucky Luck”). The one track that I can’t quite hook onto yet is the mournful, gentle “The Blue Room,” with fellow former Geraldine Fibbers member Nels Cline contributing winsome acoustic twelve-string work. It’s pretty and the lyrics are moving, but it’s a bit too sonically nice for the rough-and-tumble forcefulness of the rest of the disc, and makes the album just a tad less cohesive than the previous. Still, this is one strong-as-fuck rock record, and it’d be nice if more people realized how great Bozulich was. –Allan MacInnis  –Guest Contributor (Constellation)


ESTROGEN HIGHS:
E Major D Construction: 7”
Minimalist, lo-fi, garage that walks the boundaries of the genre. Occasional growling vocals and operatic feedback outros really fly the freak flag on an otherwise standard rock’n’rollin 7”. But on top of the freaky garage rock, the cover art contains both stencil art and stamper lettering, which are two classic forms of DIY art that are skillfully executed. –Daryl Gussin (Self-released)


ESTRANGED, THE:
Self-titled: “Fast Train” b/w “The Masses” / Sacred Decay: 7” / 45 7”
Cold, grey, distant, and discordant, but undeniably powerful, The Estranged isn’t happy face music. It’s not easy-gloom music either (which tends to break out the Misfits copy machine and fingers into skeleton gloves). Think along the lines of the darkness and intensity of Articles Of Faith. (After thirteen years of reviewing, I can’t think of another band that’s been more equal or suited to that comparison.) Medium-paced, gripping, hand-wringing music that takes its time, and makes sure you know that you’re in a place of their making. Don’t be expecting the post-nuclear d-beat holocaust of From Ashes Rise or Hellshock (of which members come from), go into this with the feeling that you’re about to be stalked and hunted musically, on a personal level, through a scope. This shit’s intense in an awesome (in the original meaning of the word) way. It’s well worth your time.  –todd (Self-titled: Black Water / Sacred Decay: Green Noise)


ERUPTÖRS, THE:
Bad Time to Be Having a Good Time: CD
Sometimes you hear a band that you just can’t figure out. The Eruptörs are one of those bands. As far as I can tell, they’re a British sleaze rock band with some faint garage and rockabilly undercurrents. That’s all fine and good. Now add some crazy science fiction themes and a singer who sounds like the spawn of David Yow and Eric Davidson of New Bomb Turks with some extra Jon Spencer thrown in for good measure. It’s an off-kilter mix that kind of grew on me. –ty (Maniac Squat, myspace.com/eruptors)


ENVIRONMENTAL YOUTH CRUNCH:
Let’s Ride: LP

At first, I was all like, “If EYC says, ‘Let’s ride,’ I’m there!” because I was pretty sure they’d be going to some awesome place. Then I started thinking that they might wanna ride out to a campfire; so, I was thinking that I’d just stay home. Then I was like, “Wait, do they wanna go to a bar? It doesn’t sound like a bar I wanna go to, but maybe it is… ” At the end, I was thinking that they wanted to go Xmas caroling, and I was like, “Yeah, it’s cool. I think I see my bus coming.” Let me reiterate. When they’re on, they’re pretty all right. It kinda reminds me of Tulsa. A less zany, cleaner, more structured Tulsa. They have some rockin’ guitar leads that came at me like a curve ball, but they don’t ruin the tracks. There are two acoustic songs that are sequenced near the middle of each side. One has a sing-along feel; the other has more of a story time sound. Neither of them is that bad, they just hurt the album’s flow. Then there’s the last track. Well, um, it sounds like a goddamn Xmas carol. I don’t understand why it’s on here, but I’m glad it’s at the end.

–Vincent Battilana (Bring Back The Magic / Dead Tank)


DYSLEXTASY:
Live. Die. Repeat: CD
I really wanted to like these guys, and there is much to like here. They’re catchy, quirky, and slyly astute with a diverse set of influences melded into their pop/rock/punk base. In the end, though, nothing really caught fire, though they are by no means lousy –jimmy (www.urbancheese.com)


DRY COUNTY, THE:
Self-titled: 7”
Limited screen printed cover? Dope. Multi-colored baby faces with birds and brains that look like yarn coming out of their noses? I dunno. The babies are growing on me. This trio out of Florida breeds a peculiar mix of indie rock and pop. Of the three tracks, “With Friends” is the song that makes me wince. Carson’s nasally pop star vocals are such a contrast to the riffy guitar solo that it makes me think he belongs in a different band. “With Friends (Part 2)” is a lo-fi acoustic extension that, in my opinion, works a lot better. –Kristen K  –Guest Contributor (Kiss Of Death)


DRIZZLE:
Self-titled: CD
The cover art screams Flogging Molly-loving pirates! The music contained within, however, sounds more like dirty Pabst-stained basement show punk rock. These guys would be at home playing shows with Scared Of Chaka, Dillinger Four, Witches With Dicks and the like. Not too shabby for a band that’s been around for over nine years (per the website).  –mrz (Moresmartthanyou)


DOUBLE DAGGER:
Self-titled: CD
Double Dagger sure loves Pailhead, Drive Like Jehu, and polysyllable words… Effects on the bass guitar… emphasis on dynamics… odd time signatures. Sometimes complexity is really boring. After four songs, I had enough Double Dagger to last me a lifetime.  –ryan (Stationary Heart)


DIRTY SISTER:
Self-titled: LP
Raw garage punk with a dirty grit and a slight cow punk edge that is delivered with female vocals. Not half bad, but a sound I have heard and seen so many times through the years by many participants and in many incarnations. Recording has very live feel to it. There is a perceived brightness to the sound. A Runaways and GG Allin cover are performed for those who might get excited. Will this get multiple listens? No. But I do see an audience for this band. It just will not include me.  –don (Cock Energy)


DIRTBOMBS, THE:
We Have You Surrounded: CD
The Dirtbombs have big brushes. They’re painting whole sides of buildings in broad swaths, not just doing detail work on a dirty toilet in the garage rock ghetto. Nick Collins is my generation’s underground answer to Otis Redding with a more ambitious selection of cover songs (Sparks, Dead Moon, a song intended for Bauhaus this time around). It’s soulful music played with such force, taste, and restraint that the one true shame is that the rest of the world is asleep at the wheel when it comes to The Dirtbombs (in a time when Stax is getting some of the notoriety it so richly deserves). Has it really been nearly twenty years since that first Gories LP? Damn, it’s a long journey from House Rockin’, and I have to say I like both of these book-ending records equally as well for completely different reasons. How many artists can you say that about? If you haven’t already checked out the Dirtbombs, the double CD of singles that In The Red released a couple years back is a good, hearty view of this band, too.  –todd (In The Red, www.inthered.com)


DIRT MALL:
Got the Goat by the Horns: CD
Boy, these dudes wanna be rockers. They sure are trying to convince everyone, but it just ain’t workin’. This is pseudo hard rock with no guts and no grit—squeaky-clean vocals and wimpy guitars that just has to be made by current or ex-indie rockers. Ironic band name and ironic record title ought to be enough to give this one away. Not rock, not roll, just dull clean wallpaper.  –frame (www.daykamprecords.com)


DEMENTED ARE GO:
The Day the Earth Spat Blood: CD
This band sounds insane. The singer growls and cackles over drums that sound like they’re coming from some cobweb-covered tomb somewhere. The guitar is a bearded hydra breathing fire into every shadowy corner that the bass rumbles around in. Unnerving asylum laughter and multi-personality ramblings ebb and flow out of songs at random points. At times, it sounds like it’s standing behind you, just waiting for an opportunity to put its thick hands on your head and crush your skull, not even understanding how serious the crime it’s committing really is. The reissue of this psychobilly album from ‘89 comes with a bonus live set that was previously released in ‘90. –mp (Cherry Red)


DEMENTED ARE GO:
In Sickness & In Health/Kicked out of Hell: CD/CD
Most known musically for their scratching vocals, deliberate and twangy guitar, and disciplined bass control, DAG are one of the founding members of British psychobilly. Mark Philips’ heavily partied, panty-creaming, baritone voice is one of the most imitated today. They pushed the envelope on gory and perverse lyrical content and perplexed audiences with their often gender-bending appearance. In Sickness & In Health is their first long-player, released in 1986 on ID Records. It includes favorites like “Pervy in the Park,” “(I Was Born A) Busted Hymen,” “Holy Hack Jack,” “Rubber Love,” and “Don’t Go in the Woods.” Kicked out of Hell is a reissue of their second full-length album, originally released in 1988, also on ID. Includes standards like “Satan’s Rejects,” “Cripple in the Woods,” and “Cast Iron Arm,” and some of my own favorites, “Shadow Crypt,” “Old Black Joe,” and “Vietnam.” Both albums are excellent reminders that psychobilly is a culmination of a decades of influences and musical talent beyond merely sick, sloppy, fast, and out of control.  –thiringer (Anagram/Cherry Red)


DEATH BECOMES EVEN THE MAIDEN:
The Arrangement: CD
Nice mix of arty punk and new wavy pop here. Tunes are diverse enough not to blend into one long drag and you can hear the work the band put into this.  –jimmy (www.viedevantsoi.com)


DEATH RAY, THE:
Twelve Gauge Blues: CD
Monotone punky rock music. The vocalist basically sings the same note through the entire twelve tracks. Yeesh. It’s a bad sign when you’re checking the tracklist to see when the album ends. –Guest Contributor (DTK)


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