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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Bastard Radio #16: CD-R
It looks like bands and labels send music in and Bastard Records picks one track (more if they like them) and makes a mix CD. This one has forty-three tracks, and I’d only heard a couple of the bands before. It starts off with the label-sent tracks, which were mostly thrash/grind/hardcore. The individual band tracks were a bit more of a grab bag. Overall, a great comp to introduce you to a large chunk of what might be slipping by your radar. Oh, and it’s only three bucks, and they also accept trades. I’ll look for future releases. –megan (Bastard Radio)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Babyhead: LP
A trip through punk’s fringy recesses, with a host of styles and sounds coming outta the dark to serve as soundtrack to your worst nightmares, from the percussion/sax instrumentation of Klondike & York, to ‘60s-influenced tuneage of Blutt to the skronk of the A-Heads to the bizarre spasms of the Piranhas, and this is just scratching the surface of the aural psychoses to be found on this hunk of white wax. This could easily have degenerated into an exercise in arty pretentiousness and the compilers should be commended for instead coming up with one of the best compilations of the year.  –jimmy (www.s-srecords.com)


VALENTINOS, THE:
Aerosol Dream: 7"
Awful. Not even a cereal. Seriously. –Maddy (Tom Perkins Entertainment)


USURP SYNAPSE:
Disinformation Fix: 2 x CD
Looks like a discography of sorts. Sixty songs in total, from fourteen releases, that were from splits, comps, and a CDEP. Too much to take in at one sitting. A lot of screamo mixed with blast beats, emo, metal, and electronics. Discomforting to the ears and not something to talk yourself out of suicide. –don (Alone)


V.P.R.:
Aural Assault: CD
Washington, DC area band that plays the hardcore. A mixture of Sick of it All, Strife, and some old-school Negative Approach. Throat-shredding vocals over metallic riffs. Only drawback is the cartoon artwork on the cover. It made me believe that I was going to be listening to a pop punk band. I have no idea what “V.P.R.” stands for. –don (Squirrel Heart)


UNSACRED HEARTS:
Self-titled: CD
Big-city take on southern rock. Blech. –megan (Serious Business)


TWISTED ROOTS:
Self-titled: CD
The late ‘70s/early ‘80s was an interesting time for the first wave of Hollywood punkers, fraught with more than its share of growing pains. Some of the scene’s staunchest cheerleaders, disgusted by the wave of violent jocks coming from the beaches and high schools (some no doubt inspired to tear shit up by Penelope Spheeris’ execrable Slash-Records-promo-cum-exploitation-flick, The Decline of Western Civilization), began looking elsewhere for their kicks, like roots music, new romantic or, in this case, art school. The culprits here are a Germ, a Screamer, an Ozihare, a future Black Flagger and a future Celebrity Skin. Showcased here are their efforts from their first year (give or take) of existence, a cross between punk rock and demented circus music. While most fans of their more “traditional” sounding previous bands might be put off by their left-of-center take on punk, it nonetheless is a potent reminder of how wildly divergent the punk sound could be back before all the lines in the sand were drawn and people decided that it was much easier to copy what the other guy was doing rather than consciously stick out like a sore thumb. –jimmy (Dionysus)


TRUE NORTH:
Somewhat Similar: CD
True North owes a lot to Fugazi and Rites of Spring. The songs build up tension and release it in arty breakdowns. There’s heavy feedback in just the right places. There’s a lot of Guy Picciotto-style screaming and singing. The lyrics are vague and poetic in that punk-rock-lyric sense. This is more than just somewhat similar to Fugazi and Rites of Spring. It’s close enough to those bands that you could probably play Somewhat Similar to a Rites of Spring fan and convince him that this was actually a new side project from Guy and Brendan Canty. Still, what sets True North apart from the other Fugazi/Rites of Spring influenced bands is that they actually pull it off. The songs are original enough and interesting enough and fresh enough to let you forget the influences and just enjoy the music. Also, True North brings with them a lot of energy and rock, and those are the most important things. –sean (No Idea)


TRIGGERS, THE:
Bad Dream b/w Cut Open, Lost Soul: 7" EP
Maybe I’m making this comparison because it’s so fresh in my mind. I just got a best-of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts CD for free and it was okay. Joan Jett can sing – it sometimes sounds like she’s having sex, smoking, and kicking ass at the same time when she sings, which is all right by me – but her backup band’s fucking awful. I guess it’s all played “well.” It’s all Guitar Center licks and no soul. And I guess I can comprehend why. Joan Jett’s voice is the centerpiece, and major labels do that – forefront the featured artist – but I still want to hear her backed by a punk band. Perfection is a death in and of itself. Man, the Triggers kick ass. They made me realize that, maybe even subliminally, when I was growing up – starting around thirteen – that there were elements to songs played on the radio that were pretty alright, but I’d fill it in with dirty guitars and screaming and puking and fuzz and distortion. And maybe that’s why I keep on listening to bands for almost twenty years straight that are new to me, to fill in that big radio station in my brain with more and more songs. The Triggers have a lady singing and it’s careening and warty punk rock accented by terrifying mustaches, alcoholism, pants shitting, and missing teeth. More great stuff from the Pacific Northwest. It’s like garage rock, where a van has crashed through the side of the garage, and nobody complains. Fans of the Orphans would find much to like with the Triggers. –todd (Dirtnap)


TRANSPLANTS, THE:
Police State: CD
...okay, i completely understand the urge these long-kaput bands have to – at long last! – issue an album in their own hallowed names: Hey, we were doing this shit twenty-five years ago, man, when hardly anybody got to put out albums! Now these fuckin’ kids come along, and they got a whole frickin’ catalog out before they’re even old enough t’goddamn drive! We paid our dues! We put in our time! We demonstrated adequate sweat equity! We want our album! FUCK YOU! ... which is, you know, fair enough. However, from a consumer’s standpoint, it’s kinda hard to pop a boner over records that are cobbled together haphazardly from live tapes, practice tapes, and a handful of studio recordings – often using multiple versions of the same songs. I mean, i understand why it’s gotta be like that, it’s just hard to get all lathered up over the results. The Transplants (“early Boston punk, 1976-1979!”) do have some pretty great songs. “Suicidal Tendencies” is surely indicative of some manner of parallel evolution (devolution?) whereby an Atlantic Division version of “Inside My Brain”-era Angry Samoans slithered from the primordial ooze contemporaneously with their Californian doppelgangers. But, i mean, fuckin-a, “Suicidal Tendencies” is on here FOUR DIFFERENT TIMES. “I’ve Had My Fill” and “It’s Your Own Fault” are on here thrice. Even The Haunted’s ‘60s punque chestnut “1-2-5” merited multiple inclusions! I mean, enough! Maybe instead o’ one band plundering every decomposing archival recording of theirs still in existence to fill up one CD with material of which much might be fairly referred to as “a stretch,” maybe three bands or something could gang up and release one CD with just their top shit on it. Then again, why deprive the older generation of the lifetime of joy having a bunch of boxes of unsold compact discs stacked up in their shed for years on end has given us young ‘uns? BEST SONG: “Braincase” BEST SONG TITLE: “Vegetable Stew,” although i don’t like vegetables. FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Their song called “Police State” is the first song so titled that i can think of. –norb (Dionysus)


TRAMPS, THE:
Self-titled: CD
The Tramps are columnist Ayn Imperato’s band. This album came out over a year ago, but for some reason, was never reviewed in Razorcake. Since its release, the band has survived a move down the California coast and a couple of personnel changes. I’m not sure how the changes have affected them, but this album is pretty cool. It’s fourteen songs of solid punk and roll. Ayn sounds tough when she sings, belting out vocals that are similar to Chica Baby’s from the Beautys or Pia Zadora’s from The Gits. In fact, this album sounds a lot like what I imagine the The Gits could’ve become if Pia Zadora had lived. It’s good stuff. –sean (Broken Rekids)


TRAITORS:
Bring Me the Head of Matt Skiba: 7"
The title track, a mid-tempo, anthemic ditty, appears to be a jab at a former drummer, and the flip has two ADD-inspired thrashers, the latter of which I am more partial to. Hey, my old friend, and former East LA punk rat, Pat Houdek took the band pics. Neato. –jimmy (Johanns Face)


TRAILER PARK QUEEN:
Wrong Side of the 4 Track: CD-R
When most folks think of famous Minnesotans they conjure up images of the woebegone Lutheran raconteur Garrison Keillor, or the wizened folkie Bob Dylan, or (shudder) the ghastly purple disco pixie Prince Rogers Nelson. I, for one, would like to see at least one of those regional icons replaced with a true local treasure, Berni the Trailer Park Queen, who is soon to be a famous Minnesotan, I am quite sure. She is the female, punk rock version of Weird Al, but is outfitted with a giant brassiere packed with a dangerous arsenal of cutting wit and in-yer-face bluntness that makes Weird Alfred look like Ronald McDonald by comparison. Highlights: a hilarious dildo-love version of Boston’s “More Than a Feeling” called “More Than a Penis,” a re-take of the DK’s “Holiday in Cambodia” called “Holiday in Waconia,” and a groinal paean to Crispin Glover set to the music of “Crimson and Clover.” You can take all yer Ashton Kutcher trucker hats and yer faux thrift store wardrobes and pitch ‘em in whatever stupid lake Prince made famous in Purple Rain – true White Trashiness gets no finer than the Trailer Park Queen. Long live the Queen. This is funny shit. 
–aphid (www.trailerparkqueen.cjb.net)


TRAGEDY ANDY:
It’s Never Too Late to Start Over: CD
If you didn’t get enough with Jimmy Eat World and want out-of-tune harmonies, today is your lucky day. Quite possibly the worst band name ever, too. –megan (Pop Smear)


TOYS THAT KILL:
Flys: 7"
Ack! No! Say it ain’t so! Buried in the rubble of crap that I got to review lurked this gem, but then I realized, it’s messed up! I don’t know if this is a problem with all of ‘em, but I asked a few people and the word on the streets seems to be that this is a defective pressing. So, I couldn’t even listen. But if I could, I’m sure it was AT LEAST Cinnamon Toast Crunch! 
–Maddy (Asian Man)


TOXIC NARCOTIC:
Beer in the Shower: 7"
An interesting release to put out on picture disc. Toxic Narcotic is a band that has the patch punk kids sew patches of their band on their sweatshirts, pants, shorts, jackets and backpacks. An interesting fashion statement in its own right since I don’t really like it. But that’s the grumpy old fat guy talking. Well, the thrash punk band with a grindcore sound at times puts out an instrumental EP that is Irish in flavor. At first, hearing the bagpipes felt like a cheap sell to capture some of the audience of Flogging Molly and the Dropkick Murphys. Like another wave of ska punk or pop punk. But listening to this a couple of times, I grew to appreciate it more. I like that the band did not clean up the production and continued to play with a heavy edge. The bagpipe became the singer or the lead guitarist. It defined itself as an alternative and an angrier expression of an Irish pub band. If these two songs are mixed into their normal live set, it would set them apart by showing that they are not one dimensional as a band. I raise my glass. –don (Rodent Popsicle)


TOXIC NARCOTIC:
89-99: LP
This is a reissue, on picture disc no less, of a collection of tunes originally put out a number of years ago. Don’t remember how the story goes, whether this is a collection of tracks recorded over the course of a decade or a reworking of songs a decade old, but, either way, you still get a sound pummeling from one of Massachusetts’ finest hardcore bands. If you’ve never heard anything by them, this is the best place to start. –jimmy (Rodent Popsicle)


TOKYO DRIFTERS, THE:
Demos Project, Vol. 3: one-sided LP
STOP THE FUCKING PRESSES, I FINALLY HEARD A VERSION OF “I’M A MAN” THAT DOESN’T SUCK. BO DIDDLEY INCLUDED! Sounds a bit like what i imagine the Dirtbombs would sound like if all of them were Caucasian but none of them were overweight and they knew people who could get them a really good deal down at the harmonica store. I debate the functional utility of my mentioning how the second song reminds me a bit of “Hoochie” off the second Moby Grape album, thus i shall conclude my review leaving that last line unsaid. Certainly kicks ass on The Statics, if anyone would care to hear my opinion on that matter. BEST SONG: Since the powers-that-be did not feel it necessary to equip this release with track listings, i’ll say it’s one of the two covers i recognize: “I’m a Man” or the Rolling Stones’ “Stoned” BEST SONG TITLE: I’ll say “Stoned.” Boy, that Nanker Phelge had a way with words. FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: It said “ /200” on the back cover of my copy. I didn’t much like the looks of that, so now it says “201/200.” –norb (Rockin' Bones)


TIGER SHOVEL NOSE:
Cappuccino Twist b/w Stupid Stupid: 7"
This is some super sugary pop punk. It’s sweet like eating watermelon until you get a stomach ache. Tiger Shovel Nose play two songs here that are very much reminiscent of early ‘60s female rock and roll but with an edge. Like a sped up Holly Golightly, or a band you would expect to be playing in a Quentin Tarantino movie: the singer in a poodle skirt and the guitarist with hair slicked into a pompadour and the protagonist tapping along in a way that let’s you know that sooner or later, someone’s gonna die a bloody death. Luckily, though, the seven inch ends while we’re all still alive. –sean (I Don't Feel A Thing)


THREE MINUTE MOVIE / THE MILES APART:
Split: 7"
Three Minute Movie: man, these guys are tight. They lay down melodies that should bring a tear to Frankie Stubbs’ eyes, Hisashi can really sing (and not just in a punk rock way), and it makes for that weird combo where I want to sing along (even though the Japanese lyrics translated into and sung in English make no sense to me) but really, the songs are way better if I just shut up and listen. This seven inch has two really cool tracks from one of my favorite Japanese bands. The Miles Apart: they have a tough act to follow. You should really listen to their side first. Let them work as the opening act for Three Minute Movie. The Miles Apart temper their punk rock with a lot of Psychedelic Furs/Smiths influence. It makes the songs a little too self-consciously sad. –sean (Snuffy Smile)


TEXAS THIEVES:
Killer on Craig's List: CD
Wow, these guys are apparently mighty prolific. This is the second full-length in as many months I’ve heard from these San Franciscans, and I gotta say, they’ve managed to keep the quality high. Ten more tracks here of skate punk that sounds like it could’ve come outta Orange County circa 1983, which is not to say they sound dated or anything, because they don’t. If you’re looking for some grade-A tunes from the MIA/DI school of hardcore, you’d be hard pressed to find a band doing it better than these boyos, ‘cept maybe Smogtown, but they’re broken up so even mentioning them is a moot exercise. I think I founds me a new favorite band and I’m friggin’ stoked. –jimmy (Dr. Strange)


TEXAS TERRI BOMB!:
Your Lips... My Ass!: CD
Fuck a duck if this don’t rock! Think of the most brutal version of “I Got a Right” you know, then make yourself hear a lady sing it and you’re hearing this record. With help from Wayne Kramer and guys from the Dwarves, the Dickies, Alice Cooper’s band and others, Terri tears all asses with snotty confidence and attitude and decibels to spare. Fuck yeah. –Cuss Baxter (TKO)


THUNDERTRAIN:
Teenage Suicide: LP
A reissue of a an album by an old post glam/proto punk band, which means this is up to its eyeballs in Dolls reference and bad fashion selections. It ain’t all that bad, and the inclusion of a DMZ member in the ranks is an interesting trivia bit, but I just ain’t feelin’ that crucial-tuneage-gotta-have-it feeling I should be getting’ from this. –jimmy (Rockin' Bones)


TEXAS TERRI BOMB!:
Your Lips... My Ass!: CD
Here is Texas Terri popping back up on the radar again with a new incarnation and a host of notable guests to play on her new record. I’ve seen her in one form or another in last couple of decades. Can’t say that I’m a fan. Here, she plays that punk and roll, Hollywood bar rock sound: nasty and dirty with some straight-up guitar wrecking to boot. Her vocals have that trashy, drunk sound yet they’re strong, and that puts her in the same league as a Courtney or Brody. Very similar in many ways, I think. I give her much props for lasting and playing this long. –don (TKO)


TEN THOUSAND TONGUES:
Self-titled: CD-R
If moo cows, wind chimes, and didgeridoos are art, then maybe this is art-core. –megan ((small) Noisemaker)


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