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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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MAXIES, THE:
Greenland Is Melting: LP
Erroneously viewed as a joke/gimmick band by their detractors, OrangeCounty’s Maxies have been forging on with their fun, pop punk/power pop antics. Until now, their debut album was only available on CD. This vinyl reissue is long overdue. Purporting to be from Greenland, they sing about love, dancing, snow, and, of course, Greenland. Just because they wear costumes and have a sense of humor doesn’t mean that they can’t write good songs. It’s been almost a decade since they started their shenanigans, but there’s still freshness to their joyful goofiness. The breakdown into Cheap Trick’s “Surrender” in the title track is pure genius. The kids are melting for the Maxies for good reason.  –Art Ettinger (It’s Alive)


MCRACKINS / NUCLEAR SANTA CLAUST:
Split: 7”
I was surprised to see that McRackins have been putting stuff out again since 2009 or so. I hadn’t heard anything from the solid pop punk band since about ‘98 and did not expect a reunion of such a weird ‘90s novelty band. Glad to report that the songwriting is still top notch and that the dress up aspect still takes second place to good songs. On the flip is the oddly named Nuclear Santa Claust, who sound a whole lot like the Spits. Pretty solid split and I now find myself hoping for a new McRackins full length. It’s nice when a coupla eggs and a dog can write some great songs and still be kicking around twenty years later.  –frame (Don Giovanni)


MIDWIVES:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Recording this EP on a 4-track or a boombox leaned up against a wall would have been a smart move. As it is, the full, clear production casts an unflattering light, either on what the songs lack or on the fact that Midwives never go beyond a lukewarm idea of dark, jaded, Midwest punk. Reminds me of the post-screamo bands of the early 2000s—all the disaffection and weird chords without any of the actual mania.  –Matt Werts (Direct Current, directcurrentrecords.com)


MIDWIVES:
Self-titled: LP
Was a might concerned at the beginning of the “The Tourist” opener, ‘cause it sounded like they were gonna make a foolhardy stab at the Black Flag brass ring, but they wisely backed off the precipice. There is definitely some Flag influence in evidence, especially when they slow things down to a crawl and let the guitars howl, but they try to find their own footing rather than ape, resulting in some fine noisemongering that varies between punchy mid-tempo rockers with some interesting rhythmic changes, dirgy indulgences, and full-on thrashing. The songs are short, taut, and cathartic without being melodramatic. Thumbs up.  –jimmy (Direct Current, directcurrentrecords.com)


MIKE HUDSON AND THE PAGANS:
Hollywood High: LP
A new Pagans album? This took me more by surprise than when The Real Kids dropped their latest record in late 2014. As far as I know, Mike Hudson is The Pagans, but why is this “Mike Hudson And...”? I did some internet research and found some interviews with Hudson (mid-to-late 2014, when this album was coming out) and it looks like Hudson had not just the blessings of—but the insistence of—his former band mates to use The Pagans moniker. Classy touch from a guy who doesn’t come across in the best light in his own memoir (Diary of a Punk.) These interviews also reveal that Hudson had been writing songs for a country-styled album, which may account for the slow to mid-tempo feel, and possibly the unnecessarily long “Fame Whore.” Hudson’s voice has held up remarkably. One would think his punk bark-snarl would have permanently damaged it in his younger days. The backing band is solid, with great guitar tone. The recordings are better quality than The Pagans’ early releases, due simply to the band having access to better recording equipment. The sound of Hollywood High evokes the late ‘90s rock’n’roll punk bands that were likely influenced by The Pagans. I will always love The Pagans, and when I think of what punk rock should sound like, I think of The Pagans (Crime being a close second.) My only real complaint is that the cover is pixilated. The image evokes what Hudson is shooting for, but the way the photo looks when enlarged to LP cover size makes the artwork look blown-out. Bonus points to the band and label for selling the LP (plus download) for remarkably cheap through their Bandcamp page.  –Sal Lucci (Ruin Discos, ruindiscos.com)


MISCALCULATIONS:
A View for Glass Eyes: LP
Fronted by No Front Teeth Records honcho Marco Palumbo-Rodrigues; if you’re familiar with the label you know the territory. Top-notch, snarling, snotty punk with a heavy late ‘70s influence. But this isn’t a throwback sound. A View for Glass Eyes definitely appeals to fans of current bands like Hurula, Blank Pages, or Red Dons, but with a much punker, classic, serrated sound. Dangerous, menacing, ready for anything. Killer stuff.  –Daryl Gussin (Rock Star)


MISSING MONUMENTS:
Too Many People: 7”
The poppy, catchy, fun, and upbeat everything of this EP has got my toes tingling, heart racing, skin crawling, body swaying, and head bopping. Guitars twinkle between riffs and solos, a steady drumbeat repeats itself, and vocals reminiscent of Joey Ramone (circa Rocket to Russia) blare through my speakers. For fans of The Spits, Ramones, and Exploding Hearts. I cannot stress enough how absolutely taken I am with this release, and want to desperately urge every single person I come across to listen to this immediately. Hailing from New Orleans, LA, this foursome, featuring King Louie (of Persuaders, Royal Pendletons), slaughter and revive power pop; slaughter and revive me, everything I know, everything I thought I knew. My brain feels melted, my senses heightened, my body moving, blood flowing. The sudden end of this EP has me on my knees, pleading for more, but alas, I will just have to spin it again, and again, and again, until my record needle wears thin and betrays me.  –Genevieve Armstrong (Ghost Highway, ghosthighwayrecordings@gmail.com / Blondes Must Die, blondesmustdierecords.com, blondesmustdie@gmail.com / KOTJ, kotjrecords.bandcamp.com)


MOTORMOUTH MABEL:
Permanent Vacation: 7”
Dunno a thing about ‘em, but ye get two tunes here, a punky garage ditty—or vice-versa—in the title track and a slower jam along the same lines in the flip, “Stop + Chat.” Recording sounds like it was done in someone’s living room, but it’s clear and not painful to sit through.  –jimmy (Tick Tack, no address listed)


MYSTERY DATE:
New Noir: LP
Finally, a full-length of clean-channel skinny tie mod punk from these kids. In a world up to its eyeballs in overproduction, autotune, and ideas battered into faceless, interchangeable commodities, a recording of a band basically plugging in and playing pop songs is a bit refreshing. They deliver their tunes straight ahead, with the nasal, vaguely Elvis Costello-ish vocals laying back a bit, and letting the instruments do a lot of the heavy lifting of pushing the hooks forward. The two singles I’d previously come across were faboo and promised what this album delivers. Kudos to ‘em.  –jimmy (Piñata, pinatarecords.blogspot.com)


NAPALM DEATH:
Apex Predator – Easy Meat: CD/LP
Until recently, my interactions with Napalm Death had been fairly limited. I own Scum,their debut album known for inspiring many a grindcore band. I’ve seen the band perform live, but hadn’t gotten into their more recent work. I’m glad I finally got off my ass and did so. Apex Predator – Easy Meat is a brutal forty minutes that shows that the British act is more than just a grindcore band. The album starts out with the Swans-like title track before rolling into their more well-known fast grindcore. The fourth track, “How the Years Condemn,” is, without a doubt, one of the best songs I’ve heard in many years. The thrash guitar riffs combine with lead singer Barney Greenway’s growls of the song title, as the music takes on a big hardcore influence. Nothing on here is as rough as anything they originally did on Scum, rather, there’s a great mix of hardcore, punk riffs, grindcore, and metal. There are even moments when Greenway comes close to singing—amazing, I know. Still, the material is generally fast, heavy, and fierce. If you are into hardcore, grindcore, or metal, this will be right up your alley. As a band that’s been around for over thirty years now, Apex Predator is further proof that life doesn’t end when band members turn forty. It can remain just as intense and angry as ever.  –kurt (Century Media)


NASTY RUMOURS:
Girls in Love: 7” Single
Tonight I find myself, arms at my sides, staring blankly at a fire, bopping my head in agreement with Swiss power pop punkers, Nasty Rumours. Two songs is a tease; almost not enough to form a real opinion of the band. Nothing earth-shattering about it, nothing audibly offensive either. It’s a solid release. These are talented people, but I’m still on the fence, I guess.  –Jackie Rusted (Wanda, mailorder.wandarecords.de)


NERVOUS ASSISTANT:
Demo tape: Cassette
This is my third listen of Nervous Assistant’s demo tape, and each time it sounds a bit less punk and bit more New Wave of British Heavy Metal to me. Maybe it’s the heavy guitar riffs or the way the singer phrases every thing like he is Judas Priest’s Rob Halford doing an impression of George C. Scott in Patton. Is this thrash metal? Punk metal? I give up. You decide.  –John Mule (Sabotage, sabotagerecords.net)


NEW GODS:
What Did I Say?: 7” EP
First song feels like a fuzzed-out take on early Fugazi. The remaining three tunes take a driving and dissonant approach more in line with what was making the rounds in the ‘90s. Not bad, all told.  –jimmy (Painter Man)


NEW REGRETS:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Ladies, gentleman, and folks who do not abide to the gender binary: Dayton, Ohio strikes yet again with another great band, New Regrets. With a distorted and slightly gruff sound, backed with a steadily fast pace from start to finish, this is nothing but straight-to-the-point punk rock. Negative Approach meets Fear, packed with deep, cutthroat, and growling vocals. I can say with confidence that this record fucking delivers. The cherry on top? Perfection held in a 7”, neatly topped with badass artwork on the original, and an alternative cover on limited pressings for red vinyl.  –Genevieve Armstrong (Clearview, crvwrecords.com, crvwrecords@gmail.com)


NO FRAUD:
Revolt! – 1984 Demos: LP
No Fraud were/are a hardcore band from Venice, Florida. Though they’ve apparently been around for quite a spell and penned quite a few releases, I freely admit that my only exposure to them prior to this was their 1985 debut EP, which was a blistering, glorious slab of spastic thrash. That sound is all over the tracks here, recorded in a “party like” atmosphere, according to the included brief liner notes. The tunes zip right on by nice ‘n’ tight, only occasionally slowing down before zipping off on another tear. Why this stuff wasn’t issued back then is a question for the ages. I know record distribution was tight back then, but this shit is so fuggin’ great it would’ve easily burned a path through the tape trader circuit in short order. One can only be glad it’s making the rounds now, and a little sad, I guess, that so much of its lyrical content remains painfully relevant thirty-one years later. Crucial listening most definitely found here.  –jimmy (Six Weeks, twitter.com/sixweeksrecords)


NO OTHER:
Option C: 7”
What we have here’s another slab of vinyl from Negative Fun’s single subscription series. Similar format—uniform 7” jacket with singles club labels. No Other are a newer group from Philly that veer close to post-punk, but with much catchier female vocals that really capture melody—no screaming on their tunes. A three-piece group that appears to be quite competent at their craft. “Option C” is the hit, yet both tunes hold their own. A solid A/B-side record with enough flare to make you want more.  –Steve Adamyk (Negative Fun, negativefun.com)


NOFX & FRIENDS: Home Street Home:
Original Songs from the Shit Musical: CD/LP
An admission that may exclude me from some punk circles: I like musicals. I like Les Misérables, Jesus Christ Superstar, Godspell, and Phantom of the Opera, and have seen a number of others in my life. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t own soundtracks or go see them every month, but the mixture of music and acting can really pack an emotional punch. (Yes, I cry during Les Misérables. Fuck you.) There’s a good chance I might be the foremost expert of musicals amongst the Razorcake writers. That being said, it seems fitting that I was the one sent to review a copy of the Fat Mike-penned musical, Home Street Home. Yeah, Green Day did the “punk musical” first, but from what I’ve read and watched and listened to, Home Street Home is much different. There’s talk about cutting, drugs, BDSM, and prostitution. It’s the story of street punks trying to figure out how to make it on the streets. The music is done by a bunch of different people, including members of NOFX, Descendents, Alkaline Trio, Dropkick Murphys, No Use For A Name, and so many more. Obviously, the vocals are done by the cast, with a distinguished mix of women and men whose voices complement one another (and one who sounds like a young Tim from Rancid). Obviously, if I had already seen Home Street Home, I’d probably think a lot differently about these songs. As it stands, these eighteen tracks are what Fat Mike calls “demos” for the musical. There are actually twenty-eight songs in the musical and everything is subject to change over time (until there’s an official “cast” album). So this is what you get for now. A lot of the songs have the typical NOFX sense of humor in the lyrics, but there’s more wit than normal, which is probably due in part to the fact that one of the other people behind the musical is Jeff Marx, who worked on Avenue Q. The music has a wide range of instruments including banjo, piano, ukulele, vibraphone, and the standard rock lineup. It’s catchy and fun, and serves a wide range of styles. After listening to this, I have to admit that I’m surprised. I really didn’t think Fat Mike could pull off something so mature and accessible to so many people beyond the typical NOFX fan. But this is pretty solid stuff that, like any good musical, can pack an emotional punch. I’d definitely check out the musical if it comes to where I live.  –kurt (Fat)


NOTHING BAND:
True Refrigerator: Cassette
Annoying, discordant home recordings of a guy whining over pan-banging and flute-fluting and out-of-tune guitar plinking. The most insufferable, indulgent turd I’ve listened to in some time. NOT EVERYTHING NEEDS TO BE RELEASED, right? Goddamn. I mean, I’m no tastemaker, but sheesh, this cassette’s giving home recordings a bad name. I’m sure there are avenues in which genius such as this can finallybe recognized, but Razorcake—and my speakers—are almost assuredly not it.  –keith (24/7)


NOTS:
We Are Nots: CD
Rough and raw punk rock that’s as art damaged as much as it is aggro. A synthesizer goes “screeeeee!” then bubbles, and chirps like birds, as a guitar clangs and churns over tumbling and teetering percussion. The singer mostly speaks instead of singing. She’s sometimes droll, matter of fact, and then sometimes animated. They remind me of the Ausmuteants, though I think both bands have been around for about the same amount of time. Where the Ausmuteants are more up, and in your face, and humorous, Nots are more direct, and a little darker. Not exactly an earth-shaking record, but not bad just the same. One that has to grow on you with repeated listens.  –Matt Average (Goner, goner-records.com)


NOTS:
We Are Nots: LP
Not quite sure why these kids get lumped in with the garage crowd, ‘cause, outside of a raw production, I ain’t hearing that. No, what’s currently being directly uploaded to my brain is more akin to some rather aggressively delivered post-punk—primal drumming, simple yet effective structures, chanted monotone vocals, cutting guitar work, and a synth wielded more for noise than melody. The repetitiveness of the proceedings do feel in need of a marked shift in tactics after a while, but ain’t no denying they’re onto something muy interesting and I can’t wait to hear where they take it, or where it takes them.  –jimmy (Goner)


NOVEL:
Discrete Noise: Cassette
Gothy, warbly post-punk with an occasional melodic bent that comes out as a sort of demented surf pop. Stuff as weird as that sounds often falls victim to its own quirkiness, but the various noises of Discrete Noiseactually work to effect this atmospheric paranoia that seeps in and settles over the whole tape. This band lays the reverb on thick over muttering vocals and jangly, dissonant guitar, a lot like Foster Body’s brand of ominous post-hardcore. I can’t imagine listening to this on anything but cassette, except maybe live in a warehouse with all the lights turned off.  –Indiana Laub (Shake!, records@experienceshake.com, experienceshake.com)


NUCLEAR SANTA CLAUST:
Je Ne Sais Claust: LP
Is this a new Spits record? Because all I’m hearing is Sean Wood’s trademark Cro-Magnon grunt and Ramones downpicking, except the mix on the vocals renders them into an indecipherable bark. In fact, until I read the lyric sheet, I wasn’t positive if they were singing in English! However, the lyrics are a redeeming quality. “One tour in Iraq / You’ll never want me back” is tragically succinct, and the trio is sometimes cleverly satirical: “I got an expired MTA card / I got no plans to go real far / I got a girl, doesn’t wanna talk to me / Modern problems.” Nuclear Santa Claust’s gonzo edge and paranoid insights time warp these songs out of throwback territory and into relevancy, but the same ol’, same ol’ music leaves me unsatisfied.  –Sean Arenas (Don Giovanni, dongiovannirecords.com)


NÜ-KLĒ-ӘR BLAST SUNTAN:
Prophetic Visions: LP
Prophetic Visions is an inventive, awesome blend of crust with experimental, ambient noise. Shockingly accessible given the high-end complexity of the mix, records like this are proof positive that underground hardcore breeds unique talent. The female vocals are fierce and in-your-face, with ultra-fast tempos pushing things along. Fascinating on all levels, I am not sure what’s going on half the time as far as what instruments are doing what, but the end result kicks ass!  –Art Ettinger (SPHC, nbst.bandcamp.com)


ON THE CINDER:
Caustic: 7”
The two songs on the first side are pretty solid nineties-influenced hardcore. I hear a lot of Avail. The third song on the second side gets a little bit too metal with all the corny guitar licks—not enough for me not to dis it—except to say it’s the weakest of the three, musically. It’s unfortunate because, lyrically, it’s pretty spot-on—a song about a mother and her child trying to escape an abusive slimeball. I don’t know the inspiration for this song, but I respect the band taking a chance, using storytelling in lyricism. It sounds a little too clean for me, but melodic hardcore usually is. Still pretty damn good. I’ll probably hold on to this one for a while.  –Craven Rock (Between The Days)


OPPOSITION RISING:
Aftermathematics LP + Get off Your Ass Get off Your Knees EP: CD
You can call this a mini-comp or sorts with this latest release on Profane Existence and Opposition Records. Opposition Rising’sAftermathematics LP and Get off Your Ass Get off Your Knees EP are on this CD. It’s a punishing mix of hardcore, crust punk, street, and even a bit of ska crust. Their message is intelligent, angry-as-fuck, and laser-focused. Those familiar with Boston hardcore bands Mouth Sewn Shut and Toxic Narcotic, which they share members with, will find this crucial. –Camylle Reynolds (Profane Existence / Opposition)


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