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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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ANGRY 4 LIFE / ULICZNY OPRYSZEK:
Split: 7”
Reviews like this are sometimes the hardest to write. This split just isn’t terribly arresting, but at no point did I feel the urge to throw my record player out the window. It’s just one of those cases where there are some punk songs on a little piece of vinyl that spins around when you put the needle on it. Uliczny Opryszek is a Polish band that sings songs in their native tongue (with English translations) about religion being dumb and staying punk forever, complete with namedrops of the Exploited and Conflict. Angry 4 Life’s from San Jose and are generous enough to include the chord progressions to one of their songs. It’s recorded well (always good to see Bart Thurber and House of Faith are still around) and both bands seem to be shooting for that anthemic, songalong kind of streetpunk thing, but again, there’s just nothing to really grab onto and lurch around with while the record spins. Sorry, guys. –keith (Cat Food Money)


APE CITY R&B:
Firestarter: 7”
The gas can and cheesy orange flames on the cover of the Ape City R&B 7” aren’t nearly foreboding enough for the scorching garage blues contained on the wax. “Firestarter” has a guitar lick nastier than the ones your girlfriend gives you “back there” when passions explode in the heat of the moment, and the drums gallop along loosely, a thumping invitation to shake the stiffness from your hips and move. The lyrics are as menacing as Big Black’s “Kerosene” and delivered with an abject snotty vitriol generally reserved for the face of someone into which you are about to spit. “Wot I Say” could be a variation of the A-side with rapid-fire drum fills and similarly executed guitar leads. I put this in league with the Golden Boys stellar “Whiskey Before Sleep” from a couple years ago. Their Slovenly single was pretty great, but Ape City R&B shows us their next level shit on this release.  –benke (La-Ti-Da)


APATIA:
Uleglosc: CD
Melodic hardcore from this band from Poland. Fifteen tunes that sound similar enough all the way through. Not bad.  Fans of Strike Anywhere, early Strung Out, or other lead guitar-oriented melodic HC will find a lot to like here.  –frame (Trujaca Fala)


ALLEY DUKES:
…Go Back to College: CD
Lighthearted, loose, tongue-in-cheek fun from Montreal from a band that doesn’t take itself too seriously, allowing for an honest, man’s perspective release about the importance of a lady keeping her trim, well, trimmed, jailbait, hymens, flat chests, and the nostalgia of carefree college days. Overall, Alley Dukes have a mature, smooth-yet-jangled sound similar to Robert Gordon. Best ever is their cover of “American Nightmare,” not included on this release.  –thiringer (Flying Saucer, www.flyingsaucerrecords.com)


AL BURIAN:
Ill Eagle Live at the White House: 7”
Al Burian (of Milemarker and various punk zines) recorded this tortured, bizarre record live in D.C. at the start of the current Iraq War. He heckles his audience as he plays noisy, weird semi-covers and tries to talk to the crowd about politics. This is a very unique record, but hardly anyone without multiple Axis I mental health diagnoses will want to listen to it more than once.  –Art Ettinger (Hello Asshole)


AGAINST EMPIRE:
Destructive Systems Collapse: 7”
A band that I have kept track of now for a few years. Starting with their first release, a split 7” with Holokaust, followed by their LP The One Who Bear the Scars Remember. They did another split after that I have yet to pick up with Iskra from Canada. I have also seen the band live through the years, so it is great to see firsthand this Los Angeles crust band grow and develop. On their latest release, a two-songer, they focus more on the music instead of just blasting it out. With songs in the four to five minute range, the band is showing more cohesion and displaying greater musicianship. That doesn’t mean this band is getting soft. They continue to play metallic crust that charges forward like a pack of bulls on a rampage. You get the drive to rock out to, hearing the chunky guitars force their way out the speakers. Growled, guttural, yelled vocals ensure that nothing pretty is going on. Drumming that is tight and pounded out with force. On this recording, I like how the bass was recorded: punchy and bright while still bringing forth the bottom end. If bands like Hellshock, Bolt Thrower, or Amebix fit your musical palate, I would believe this band would slide right into your tastes.  –don (Threat To Existence)


50 MILLION:
Broad Side of a Barn and Shit on a Single: CD
This is the type of album, err, retrospective (of sorts) that makes me hate myself for doing whatever it was that I was doing to miss this when it first came out. This is a CD compiling an EP, some singles, comp tracks, unreleased stuff, and a recording done with Hickey called Hickey Million all spanning the late nineties—and the it came out in 2005. The tracks on here, up until the Hickey stuff, sounds like what might’ve happened if Steve Albini or Thurston Moore tried to produce a Sebadoh album. Still, 50 Million totally makes it their own. They go from acoustic bits to hectic indie noise to small doses of dingy, poppy punk. (If it helps, Shell of Shellshag is in the band, and Jen is included under “Other performers.”) The Hickey Million recording is awesome. It has the swirls of a cassette that has been listened to beyond its expected life span, giving it a sense of familiarity and down home goodness. Take that and add a tiny hint of indie (à la above-mentioned) to Hickey, and there you have it. Also, the two bands made an outrageously fantastic cover of Billy Bragg’s “A New England” together. –Vincent Battilana (Starcleaner, www.starcleaner.com)


ABLE BAKER FOX:
Voices: CD
So this is the new Small Brown Bike/Casket Lottery band, huh? Well, that’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Take The River Bed, add some Casket Lottery mellowness, toss in some Fire Theft-esque “progressive” songwriting and rhythm section lock-up and you’ll have the idea. Don’t get me wrong, this record is killer, it’s just not particularly surprising. It’s almost what would’ve been the next logical step for Small Brown Bike with a bit of quirkiness thrown in the mix. I can’t imagine any of the Bike’s rabid fans being disappointed, that’s for sure. Glad you’re back, lads. –Dave Williams –Guest Contributor (Second Nature)


ACURSED:
Tunneln I Ljusets Slut: CD
This is some great d-beat from Sweden. I don’t really listen to a lot of crust/d-beat because it usually gets really boring after the initial energy rush of the first song (I’m looking at you, Discharge’s Never Again), but this gets it right. Like Tragedy, these guys know how to throw in just a little bit of a frantic or desperate-feeling melodic edge to keep the 1,000 mile-per-hour drums and bloody murder screams fresh. There’s actually some damn sweet dynamics with the guitar playing. Gasp, there’s even some acoustic strumming on here! I also like how the bass has that distorted but not inaudible tone that I love so. There are several spoken interludes thrown in, but since there’s no lyric sheet and everything is in Swedish anyway, I have no idea what they’re talking about. I’d like to assume that some of the topics that are being covered in the interludes and songs include filing tax returns, dealing with post office clerks, and running out of toilet paper while on the can. This isn’t happy music by any means, but it ranks near the top of my list of music to usher in the apocalypse with. –Adrian (Prank)


ACTION ANDY:
Sings Haunted Honky Tonk & Other Cryptic Tales of Life, Love and Woe: LP
Fourteen excellent, saloon-fueled honky tonk and crackling western tracks with a purposefully primitive roots, rock’n’roll, and spookshow bent. Best enjoyed in rum rooms and fleshpots, where reckless abandon and rawness roam unhampered. Completely appreciated, fresh and new, yet reminiscent of bands like the Readymen, Embers, and The Runabouts, and newer incarnations like the Flat Duo Jets.  –thiringer (Relampago-go)


26 BEERS:
Self-titled: CD
Tightly wound riffs of death and screaming crust-metal-something-core. I’m not the best judge of music like this because I find it aggravating and aurally assaulting, which is most likely the point. So, good job?  –thiringer (Rodent Popsicle)


2,000 DIRTY SQUATTERS:
K-137 Live Music: LP
Would anyone be surprised that a band called 2,000 Dirty Squatters would be a U.K. peace punk band? Very much what you would expect of a band with this name; this is exactly what a gutter punk would want. It adheres to the style perfectly and never varies. Fans will love it.  –frame (Scrap)


12 CENT:
For the Win: CD
First song is really articulate with lyrics like “One, two, three, four!” They do have something original going for them and that’s a piano. Punk music with a piano is not a horrible idea. I like when bands mix it up. There is something about this band that reminds me of high school, though, and I can’t put my finger on it. It may be because they kind of remind me of Bouncing Souls… I think… and NOFX. Definitely more mainstream sounding. I think they’re actually trying to make it. Their band name is stupid, by the way. –Corinne  –Guest Contributor (Olde Tyme, www.oldetyme.com)


PREACHER GONE TO TEXAS:
self-titled: CD
Oh, goody, my two favorite music genres (tough-guy neo-metal and emo) mooshed together all nice and purty. Listening to this has given me a whole new reason to pop off and whack myself. Thanks.  –jimmy (Sinister)


POPULAR SHAPES / THE INTELLIGENCE:
Split: 7"
The Popular Shapes: These guys are starting to grow on me and I think the lower dosage of only two songs serves as a bit of an inoculation to their full-length. You know how the Tasmanian Devil, when he’s moving really quickly, his body is just swirls with the occasional limb poking out? That’s what the Popular Shapes sound like to me. They seem to spin songs so quickly and in such a tight circle that it’s sometimes hard to hear what’s really going on. I can easily imagine them great live – if they’re the whirlwind counterpart to these two cuts – sharing the stage with The Tyrades. The Intelligence: Very Dieter-rock and Teutonic-sounding. Fronted by an android-voiced dude and framed by iceberg-y and cold knife guitars, metronomic drumming, and jutting angularity, it’s a wee bit too arty and a wee not as rocking for my tastes. “Cold Calling” reminds me of the song on the Repo Man soundtrack, the one that kept on repeating “Pablo Picasso was never called an asshole,” just not as catchy –todd (Dirtnap)


PEARLENE:
Murder Blues And Prayer: CD
Combine garage rockers like the Count Five with the Rolling Stones and update it through the Cramps and the Crypt catalog and you’d get… well, pretty much everything like this and the White Stripes and all these other fucking bands that attempt some recidivist, reductionist version of two-chord neo-trash rawk. This was tired when the Oblivians and Guitar Wolf and the rest of the Crypt and Estrus catalogs did it. After this album, it’s so exhausted that it’s practically (and hopefully) dead on its feet.  –scott (Dim Mak)


PARADISE ISLAND:
Get Up: CD EP
This EP is short – like seven minutes short. In that sense, it’s more than three times better than a male stereotype. In the sense of the music that’s on it, I’d prefer to hear more. Erase Errata’s Jenny Hoyston put three highly interesting songs on this, ranging from Black Dice noise to old roots and blues-inflected guitars, filled with murmured vocals and sounding like the Young People have at least one comrade in updating older musical styles. Sure, it requires an appreciation of the noisier forms of indie (liking Erase Errata might make for a good starting point), but there’s a fair bit here to like.  –scott (Dim Mak)


PAPERBACKS, THE:
An Episode Of Sparrows: CD
The first song – all gentle, lilting emo melodies (think Buffalo Tom without guts) and crooning – has a chorus of “I suffer this like a dream.” Me too, dude, me too.  –scott (Pshaw!)


ORPHANS, THE:
Everybody Loves You When You’re Dead: CD
Rock and roll is at a weird place right now. It’s kind of disheartening to know that there are bands out there that cite Led Zeppelin and Nirvana as major influences. I don’t get it. Those bands sucked the first time, so why would I want to hear some hipster fop in vintage jeans regurgitate some half-assed ripoff? I don’t know. All I know is that this Orphans album will kick you in the dick and you’ll ask for seconds. Rock and roll hasn’t sounded this vital in a long time. It kind of sounds like an old Dangerhouse punk band like the Avengers spliced in with the whoopass-o-rama of the Motards, but mostly it just sounds like the Orphans. Blood, sweat, and barbecue vomit, all rolled up in one neat little package.  –Josh (Unity Squad)


ONE REASON:
All Rivers Run South; All Roads Lead Home: CD
I picked this up only because it’s on Plan-It-X, and they’re the label that introduced me to Against Me! and This Bike Is a Pipe Bomb. One Reason is kinda what you hope for out of this label – there’s a tinge of Woodie Guthrie, an attitude of Joe Hill, and enough rock’n’roll to keep you interested. This band is wedged so well between Hot Water Music and Against Me! that you’d expect No Idea to put out this album, but that’s not to say it’s too derivative. One Reason definitely are hashing out their own sound, and the female vocals on this are flat-out tough. The high point is “Rest Stop,” a dazzling, intelligent song about stopping at the Trail of Tears Rest Stop in Illinois (“do you really have to commemorate 500 years of oppression with a building full of human waste?”). The low point is the Bruce Springsteen cover. In between the highs and lows is a lot of good shit.  –sean (Plan-It-X)


ON THE MIGHT OF PRINCES:
Sirens: CD
It reminds me of what might occur if Thursday and Cursive collaborated. If that sounds appealing, you should stop reading now because this album is unimaginative, uninspiring, and almost completely uninteresting. Stop. Start. Scream. Croon. Melody. Mosh. Yawn. Go play drums on your chest and stare at your shoes some more. Find something to yearn over and don’t come back until you’ve either fought your way out of a paper bag or moved past the same stupid fucking trend that’s drowning the creativity of all the other bands like you.  –scott (Revelation)


OI POLLOI:
Carson?: 7"
What else could make my punk life better than knowing that Oi Polloi has put out another release? I had to hear about it from a friend in another country asking me to get him a copy. He is better informed than I. Here are three anarcho-punk anthems that are sung in their native Gaelic language. Apparently only one percent of the population of Scotland still speak the language. That is a shame, looking from the outside. The Gaelic language sounds forceful when used alongside punk. It also helps that the band is intense and passionate. This band, to me, has always been protesting and alerting many people to topics that should be addressed. I have always appreciated this band for their lyrical content and the ferocity of their music. From the translations of the lyrics, they are angry and speaking out about the problems of Scotland that most people do not hear about. I, for one, have heard nothing in the news presented by the North American media. But the DIY network comes through again to make light of things that I wouldn’t have learned through mainstream channels. If you liked the last record, Fuaim Catha, this release is even heavier. The production, across the board, is near perfection. As usual, I was not disappointed. One of my all-time favorite long-running bands.  –don (Nikt Nic Nie Wie)


ODDBALLS:
Oddballs’ Shit Explosion ‘94-’99: CD
Please tell me this is some kind of fucked up prank. More three-chord (if that many) trash rawk for fans of whatever garage band is the most recent flavor of the week. I would say that there’s nothing here, but that’s giving this godawful piece of shit far more credit than it deserves.  –scott (Scene Police)


NORTH OF AMERICA:
Brothers, Sisters: CD
It’s getting tough for me to care whether I’ve described this or that emo band as embodying this, that, or the other quality. It’s getting harder for me to care that so and so said such and such about a record; usually they’re wrong and their comments mark them as an idiot to boot. With that noted, this record – and the rest of the records like it that I’ve reviewed lately – will likely define the sound of college rock in the nothings. Before you react by arguing that I couldn’t possibly know what I’m talking about, I’m well-versed in post-core, having listened to and sold more of the seminal works in this vein. However, I would rather have opened that vein up and let every last bit of creative blood drain out, but that’s an impractical solution for such a geographically dispersed scene. Much like R.E.M., New Order, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and Depeche Mode created an entire style of music which could be dismissed with two derisive words (which could also be desperately held on to as a shred of identity by people who had nothing else going for them besides fucked up haircuts and worse fashion sense – much like most fans of emo, as it turns out), bands like North Of America will in turn provide stupid fucking shit-talking assholes with ammunition to ignore and deride otherwise good music just because it happens to be surrounded by whatever the fuck this dissonant, angular noise is and other bands that sound just like them. Someday, we’ll look back on this and it will all seem funny. Until then, I’ll sell this, buy another six pack and listen to Gunmoll while I wait for them to start playing mid-sized venues to bros of frat boys.  –scott (Level Plane)


NO CASH:
Run Your Pockets: CD
Run-of-the-mill anarcho-hardcore with a tad more pop in the tunes than is usual. A lot of the song intros are drawn out considerably longer than is good for ‘em, too.  –jimmy (Morphius)


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