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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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SICKS, THE:
Cutbait: 7"
I like this band. A whole lot. Catchy and caustic, the brief but memorable Cutbait 7” will leave you feeling feverish and ready to fight or fuck. With hooks sharp as tacks and a thudding, brash rhythm section, this EP is sure to leave a bruise. If this is what being sick feels like, I don’t ever wanna get better.  –Simone Carter (Mind Cure, thesicks.bandcamp.com)


SLACKERS, THE:
Self-titled : CD-R
Do you like ska? Then you probably like this CD already. I don’t like ska, but the Slackers do, since this is their fifteenth ska record. It does not sound like Op Ivy or Reel Big Fish; it sounds, appropriately, like grown-up ska, with pianos and choral backup vocals. Great for aging punks managing their transition into full-time rockabillyism, or people who like one of their other fourteen records.  –Lyle (Rarebreed, rarebreedrecordingco.com)


SLICK:
Self-titled: LP
There are a lot of bands coming from the San Francisco area using a variety of classic rock’n’roll tropes. I’m getting weary of the ones that “woo woo” as a party device. Not that I have anything directly against it, but it can get lost in the wash. Slick is tasteful. It’s a slab of punk’n’roll with the best of glam sensibilities. It’s a good record for both crowds. Are there crowds? “Dead in the Road” stands out with a catchy chorus and a solid guitar solo. “Your Band Sucks” is as funny as the title. “Telephone Tough Girl” has a rocking piano. The vocals are snotty and the album moves. There’s some Chuck Berry-style guitar chording. It isn’t afraid to be competent. It has everything I like.  –Billups Allen (King Rocker)


SODA BOYS:
Self-titled: 7"
Two tracks from a 4-track demo; I’m guessing of recent origin. The tunes are more on the “rock” end of punk rock, but the lo-fi sound gives the tunes a sheen that is sometimes reminiscent of Texas’s old school darlings the Hates.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Total Punk, floridasdying.com)


SOGGY CREEP:
Drag the Well: CS
Relatively slow tempos don’t prevent this dark, brooding band from Olympia from keeping things aggressive. This is the kind of release that helps create a buzz for a decidedly uncommercial group that nonetheless has a way of hooking listeners instantly. Drag the Well is anything but a drag. It’s not catchy in the conventional sense of the concept, but it’s utterly and completely engrossing. I’m glad I scored one of these cassettes, as there are only one hundred in existence. What are you waiting for?  –Art Ettinger (Self-released, soggycreep.bandcamp.com)


SON OF A GUN:
Self-titled: 7"
Son Of A Gun play punk music that you could dance to. Not run around and practice American football blocking techniques to, but actually walk up to someone and ask if they would like to cut a rug. Picture the party scenes in the 1979 film, Quadrophenia. Jangly guitars and howling backing vocals set the backdrop for really great, garage punk songwriting. This will be on heavy rotation for me.  –Jon Mule (Lo-Fi Supply)


SORESPOT:
Sewerage: CS
Weirdo “alt punk” from Chicago. I get the impression that these folks came of age in the early ‘90s because the songs have a lot of influence from early Weezer, Nirvana, and maybe a little Smashing Pumpkins. Lots of buzz on the guitars, slightly out-of-key vocals (doubled up on some parts), and pop hooks maintained in the instrumentation rather than the vocal melodies. They really win me over in sparse moments of outsider expressionism (“AM UFO Sighting”), but I’m assuming more people will find affinity in the melodic elements of the band. Recommended for fans of Pygmy Lush, Turboslut, and Torche.  –Ian Wise (HeWhoCorrupts Inc., hewhocorruptsinc.com)


SOUPCANS:
Soft Party: LP
Oddly inventive hardcore with a penchant for being a tad too noisy. Now, I’m no wimp when it comes to my noise levels, but there’s a certain point where my ears start to hurt. My complaint is only a functional complaint, because I find the actual content of the music to be quite interesting. If only all hardcore could be this diverse, maybe I could give a shit. It’s almost genreless, experimental at times in the way that the fringes of the ‘70s punk scene used to hit, but with dirtier production sensibilities. I wholeheartedly approve this weirdness, even if it physically hurts slightly.  –Bryan Static (Telephone Explosion, telephoneexplosion.com)


SPAZZ:
Sweatin’ to the Oldies (All the Out of Print Stuff ‘93-’96): CD
A reissue of a long out of print CD compiling all or most of the Bay Area powerviolence band’s earliest recordings originally released by Slap A Ham Records in 1997. Spazz arose from the ashes of the first powerviolence wave and immediately reinvigorated it with a sense of humor (both about themselves and the underground music scene) not typically associated with the genre’s previous political and nihilistically charged themes. This collection includes songs from their debut 7” and a multitude of splits and compilations. Song lengths are usually anywhere from ten seconds to a minute, so naturally this disc features a whopping sixty-four tracks of their brand of “Satanic goofcore.” Speaking of which, the lyrical matter was most definitely lighthearted, with themes ranging from disdain for ravers (“Droppin’ Many Ravers”), emo bullshit (“Hug Yourself”), skateboarding (“Donger”), kung-fu and Asian action films (“Spazz Vs. Mother Nature”, “Hard Boiled”) and taking jabs at their friends (“Hot Dog Water Popsicle in the Hand of Eric Wood”). It’s song after song of powerviolence savagery with the occasional sludgy rager thrown in to perplex the purists. Subsequently, a few more albums, a barrage of even more splits, and an insane amount of compilation songs were later compiled onto even more CDs. The legend continued until 2000 when the band finally played their final show at 924 Gilman in Berkeley, CA, which also marked my first pilgrimage to the Bay Area. My bias to Spazz is well known and my allegiance to them is forever, but it’s very nice indeed to be able to have this CD back in print so that future generations may too lick the cloven hoof of the masters of unholy Hong Kong core!  –Juan Espinosa (Tankcrimes, tankcrimes.com)


SPENCER MOODY:
Gothic Jazz for Shelley: 7"
Spencer Moody is best-known for doing vocals in the Seattle garage group Murder City Devils, and more recently, singing in the experimental/noise act Triumph Of Lethargy Skinned Alive to Death. Moody joins saxophonist and Constant Lovers frontman Joel Cuplin on this two-song EP, which doesn’t sound like any of the aforementioned bands except to the extent that it meanders across genres, with one side sounding like a poppier free jazz Tom Waits, and the other like a fragment of an idea with some shouted lyrics and a soft sax part. Neither goth nor jazz nor Shelley-related, but not at all bad –Lyle (Let’s Pretend)


SPIT PINK:
Night of the Lizard: LP
Yikes! There’s nothing gutsy about Spit Pink’s brand of “punk.” Night of the Lizard is silly and sarcastic at best, and at worst it’s jockish and downright offensive. Here’s a smidgen of “Jenny & Jim:” “Oh that girl is a guy / you fell in love with her / and you don’t know why / …now you’re wearing your high heels and a sequin dress / you always thought being gay was sick / and now her pubes tickle your chin while you suck her dick.” Although Spit Pink’s sound is a throwback to ‘70s-era Stooges, they didn’t need to appropriate outdated meatheadedness as well. –Sean Arenas (Wanda, mailorder.wandarecords.de)


SPIT VITRIOL:
The Blood It Takes to Make the Breaks: EP
Do you want a record that’s fast and heavy hardcore/d-beat with a hint of rock’n’roll vibe? How about produced and recorded by Toxic Holocaust’s Joel Grind? If you answered yes to these questions, look no further. This four-song rager opens with a long-ish intro into the ripping track “Shallow Grave.” Confession time: I really dig long intros with lots of buildup, especially when the song they lead into packs a solid punch. “Shallow Grave” is like a Muhammad Ali right hook to the eardrums (I mean that in the best way possible), and the band doesn’t let up from there. Featuring member(s) of Resist, Spit Vitriol is a rad new project and I’m looking forward to future recordings. –Paul J. Comeau  –Paul J. Comeau (Insurgent, insurgentrecords.bandcamp.com, spitvitriolpdx@gmail.com)


SPLIT SECONDS, THE:
Self-titled: CD
New power punk outfit formed in the nation’s capital. It appears that Drew Champion handled most of the instruments on this recording except drums. Tight harmonies and lock-step guitars. Now there is a full-fledged four piece in place. They list their influences as The Buzzcocks and The Heartbreakers. That doesn’t seem to be too far off the mark. A promising start, gentlemen.  –Sean Koepenick (Self-released, thesplitsecondsband@gmail.com)


SPOKENEST:
Gone, Gone, Gone: LP
Gone, Gone, Gone is the first full length from L.A. two-piece Spokenest. I was so fucking excited to get this in the mail that my shaky hand slipped when I saw the screen printed insert, scratching the marble LP’s surface (and causing a mini nerd meltdown) before ever touching my turntable. Despite a few extra crackles and pops on side A, the record still sounds great. Imagine if early Descendents and Grass Widow met up in some cramped basement space in North L.A. to craft a record that was tough and delicate, letting angst and shimmer grapple it out—smart, sweaty, scrappy, and urgent. Spokenest is serving those vibes. Definitely both late ‘70s L.A. punk and pop punk influences heavily peering through, with co-ed vocals that sound classic and new. Frenetic but driving guitar with that rad tone you can pretty much only get by being punk playing out of a keyboard amp for at least a year of your life, not giving any fucks about posturing. Drums are tight and exciting. I can’t believe Adrian can carry vocal melodies while hammering out fast sixteenth stroke notes flawlessly—it’s not a studio trick, I’ve seen it, scouts honor! No overproduction bananas here, just straightforward melodic punk carried by intentional songwriting and performance. –Candace Hansen (Self-released in US, spokenest.org / Available through Drunken Sailor in Europe)


SPOKENEST:
Gone, Gone, Gone: LP
I have a lot of love and respect for Daryl and Adrian, the fearless masterminds behind Spokenest. I remember being gobsmacked when watching Adrian wail on the drums for Together Pangea (formerly Pangea), while simultaneously belting jubilant vocal harmonies. Daryl used to play a two string bass in God Equals Genocide; that about sums up his playing style—economical, no frills. Hell, you can write a thousand songs with only the E and A string, anyway. In Spokenest, she provides the bangs and booms and he brings the distortion. It’s is a literal and figurative marriage of their two distinct but complementary sensibilities: Daryl’s hardcore-influenced yells and jagged strumming and Adrian’s confident and dreamy vocal melodies. There’s an addictive balance of fuzz-drenched noise and heartfelt vocals on songs like “Kind,” “Whisper,” and “TellMe.” Other times, Spokenest angrily charges forward (“Listen” and “Other Way”). It’s Superchunk and hardcore. Gone, Gone, Gone is easily one of favorite records of 2016. –Sean Arenas (Self-released in US, spokenest.org / Available through Drunken Sailor in Europe)


STEPHAN CHRISTENSEN:
Empty Continents: CS
Starts off with a psychedelic Doors jam-out, and had me thinking, “Oh shit, this is going to be painful one.” But each consecutive song slowly drifts into utter obscurity—strange, spacey industrial noise that’s more art-house than punk. I found myself drifting in and out of focus with this cassette. It is always a good sign when you can get lost in something. Good stuff.  –Camylle Reynolds (C/Site Recordings)


SUB K AND THE SAVAGE:
Coffin Jukebox: CD
These eclectic covers seem to have been percolating inside The Destructors vocalist Allen Adams for some time. When it became clear his bandmates would never be as interested in them as he was, he struck off on his own and—with the aid of Tom Savage—created Coffin Jukebox, a collection of sixteen songs that he calls “a musical journey of my life.” Traversing terrain ranging from garage to glam to goth to indie, the record is slickly produced both sonically and aesthetically, including twenty-eight pages of full-color liner notes overflowing with back story and original artwork. While every song on the record has been tenderly chopped and screwed, whether these covers are worthwhile tributes to—or even improvements on—the originals will ultimately be up to the listener’s individual taste. For my money, Sub K And The Savage’s take on Devo’s plea for Jimmy Carter to “Whip It” stands out as especially successful, while their choice to revive Slade’s ode to gas lighting, date rape, and terrible spelling, “Skweeze Me, Pleeze Me,” is even less excusable than the original was in 1973. If nothing else, Coffin Jukebox is clearly a labor of love from Adams, an echo of your own favorite high school mixtape that served as a soundtrack to your life… just with more creative control and a much higher budget.  –Kelley O’Death (Rowdy Farrago)


SUBTERRANEANS, THE:
Lost: CD
Dunno much about this group other than that they’re not the old U.K. band of the same name, but a NY group apparently active in the ‘90s and that this is their first album in quite a spell. The sound is a mix of indie rock and power pop influences. One can hear a bit of Velvet Underground mixed in there now and again as well. The songs are well structured and do the genre justice, but in the end it really ain’t my bag, man.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Pyrrhic Victory)


SUBTRACTIONS:
It’s Exposed: 7"
Just when you thought the carcass of punk’s past had been picked bare, HoZac comes along, again, with yet another find. Contained herein are four tracks from an aborted vinyl effort by none other than Fresno’s alleged first punk band (“alleged” just in case, ‘cause there always seems to be a band that pops up outta nowhere when one makes proclamations about a “first” anything), active between fall 1979 and fall 1980. Tunes are mid-tempo proto-hardcore crunchers with buzzing guitars and teenage attitude to spare, not unlike their contemporaries residing further down the West Coast. Good stuff, as per usual from this label.  –Jimmy Alvarado (HoZac, hozacrecords.com)


SUN CHILDREN SUN: :
Self Fucking Titled: LP
Sun Children Sun is an absolutely insane, crazy, wild, bizarre, goofy, nutso Japanese band. This LP is ultra-fast and ultra-silly, with high pitched kazoo-like noises permeating most of the tracks. I don’t know what to make of any of it other than the fact that it’s making me laugh thinking about what the neighbors must be going through as a result of it blaring from my speakers. Incredibly out there, there’s a lot to enjoy on this wild, one-of-a-kind release.  –Art Ettinger (SPHC, sphc.bigcartel.com)


SUN VALLEY GUN CLUB:
Self-titled: CD
Four-piece band from Oakland, Calif. that makes me think of Evan Dando guesting with Dinosaur Jr.: noisy guitars, lumbering rhythms, and obtuse lyrics make this an intriguing listen. It’s not punk but I still dig it. There are eight songs on this album, but two songs are over six minutes. So time-wise I think we will consider this a full length. Captivating and worth exploring.  –Sean Koepenick (Transplant Sound, sunvalleygunclub.com)


SUN VALLEY GUN CLUB:
Self-titled: CS
I really miss Superdrag. Sure, they probably had more misses than hits, but there are about fifteen perfect songs in there. Oakland’s Sun Valley Gun Club is a little reminiscent of that band, in a loud, poppy indie rock sort of vein. They’re undeniably American-sounding. It’s tough to find accurate comparisons for this type of stuff—maybe Midwestern emotive punk sounding, or at least what I consider Midwestern emotive punk. The slower songs have some great build up. –Steve Adamyk (wienerrecords.com)


SURFBORT:
Self-titled: 7"
I learned a few things while looking up information about Brooklyn’s Surfbort. Apparently, that is how Beyoncé pronounces the word “surfboard,” and that is what they named the band after. They also don’t believe in Google and like to barf on things. It is refreshing to hear anger and humor being used simultaneously in punk rock. It has always been one of my favorite things and it isn’t all that common these days. I am usually wary of bands with no bass, but the two guitars work together to make sure the sound is still full. Surfbort is scrappy, mean, and fun. The first two bands I thought of were Hickey and Lunachicks. Two bands I absolutely love. Surfbort doesn’t really sound like either of them, but they kind of feel the same way. It works for me.  –Ty Stranglehold (Slope)


SUSPICIOUS BEASTS:
Might Die Tomorrow: LP
Okay, let’s get real here for a sec. The past forty-five years has seen no shortage of bands attempting a musical time travel back to the groovy psychedelic sounds of the mid-’60s, so it should come as no surprise that these Japanese kids are the latest in a very long line. To their credit, they are one of the better bands making said attempt. One reason is that they aren’t wallowing in piss-poor attempts to replicate the same sonic conditions and output. Another is that they have the sense to filter later genres also influenced by the era back into their sound—later era Beatles, hippie-dippy country rock, even a bit of shoegazy dream pop. The main reason, though, is that the songs they’re coming up with are goddamned good, which, when we get down to brass tacks, is the only thing that really matters. Fans of the genre, and its related progeny, will find much to love here, and I’m glad I can count myself among them –Jimmy Alvarado (Alien Snatch)


TAXPAYERS, THE:
Delusion Factory: CD
Glory be The Taxpayers, who have, for what ever reason, added a heavy pop-rock (ala Huey Lewis) element to their already unique sound. And somehow, despite all inherent logic: come out on top of it all. It’s very good! It’s a concept album about the trauma and healing a city must go through together after experiencing a large-scale disaster—the personal issues, systematic oppression, how it’s connected, and how it divides us. It’s a goddamn rollercoaster. It’s music that’s unsuspecting, is unexpected, and executed with unmitigated wingnut triumph. Taxpayers are the salt of the earth, while never dulling their vision or stifling themselves to fit into a pre-determined idea of what their band should sound like—or even more basically—what is acceptable for a punk band. I recently listened to this album in a house that had construction going on in the other room, and I felt like I was in the album. It’s not a necessary experience to enjoy it, but if you’re a super-fan like me: you might wanna give it a shot.  –Daryl Gussin (Useless State, thetaxpayers.net)


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