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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Insubordination Fest 2007: CD/DVD
Twenty-seven tunes by bands that played this Baltimore, MD, blowout last year. Great cuts from the Riptides, the Ergs!, Banner Pilot, the Parasites, Teenage Bottlerocket, and the Copyrights. Plus the same track by each band on a DVD too. The one unforgivable omission: no Methadones? WTF? Rev. Nørb will have a fit, but I’m sure there’s a good reason! –koepenick (Insubordination)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
A Fistful of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Volume 13, Parts 2 & 3: 2 x CD
The long-running garage rock compilation series A Fistful of Rock ‘n’ Roll finds its way to Steel Cage Records after prior volumes were released on TeePee, Victory, and Devil Doll. Like the other volumes, this new double CD features a healthy mix of known and unknown garage bands from around the world. I can’t imagine too many people wanting to listen to both CDs in a row, but there are tons of really great tracks from the likes of the Makers and Hot Dogs to make this compilation worthwhile. It’s infinitely more fun than the boatloads of shitty label samplers piling up in the world’s dumpsters. –Art Ettinger (Steel Cage)


UTOPIA:
Self-titled: CD
This the second release this issue that I get something great from Poland! First thought that comes to mind is of their country mates Post Regiment mixed with La Fraction. This band’s style is highly comparable to both. They’re a female-fronted band that plays straight-forward melodic punk that is no bullshit and all fun with enthusiastic energy: vocals that are sung with a pretty tone but comes with some grit you can sink your teeth into; driving guitars that propel the music forward and takes you for a rip roaring ride; and drumming that drives the back beat that makes your heart pound. A great listen from start to finish make this a great candidate for repeated listens. Now if I could read the Polish language, I could figure out what was being sung and what the song titles are. Regardless, I know now that I have found a new favorite band to add to the list. –don (Trujaca Fala)


URGENCIES:
Present Their Manifesto: CD
These guys appear to love to dance on the fine line between power pop and rock. They’re at their best on the power pop side of the fence, where the little bit of muscle they add to the sound goes a long way and makes for a much more interesting listen, like a beefier Quick, you know? The more “rock” stuff I’m not too, uh, into, man. –jimmy (www.myspace.com/kriticschoicerecordsrecords)


UNKIND:
Hangen Sylin: CD
A former bandmate of mine once declared that the quintessential punk chord was E, and proceeded to try write a number of tunes utilizing said chord to maximum effect. These guys apparently disagree, opting instead for downtuned D and lotsa metal influence. –jimmy (www.combatrockindustry.net)


ULICZNY OPRYSZEK / ANGRY 4 LIFE:
Split: 7”
On the A-side: Polish hardcore! I love Polish hardcore. I imagine every song being about one of three topics: 1) Lech Walesa, 2) kielbasa, or 3) repelling the German hordes. If only Uliczny Opryskzek would cut back on the double kick drum. On the B-side: American hardcore…with a twist. The first two songs have these strangely sweeping melodies, like they rise out of the fog on a Scottish moor, like a Big Country song. –Mike Faloon (Cat Food Money, www.catfoodmoney.org)


TSUNAMI RISING:
The Exploration for an Explanation: CD
It’s good to hear that the kids are still mad and putting out political albums and stuff. But this, unfortunately, is just bad third wave-sounding ska core. The vocals are really annoying and the riffs are really boring. This is coming from someone who still listens to ska, too. So I’m not just another ska hater, I just don’t like this. –Craven (Self-released)


TRYSTERO:
A Scrapyard of Fallen Empires: LP
A downright dark and heavy instrumental record. A mixture of sludge, doom, stoner rock, and crust. Dirty, buzzsaw sounding guitars that meander in and out of spacey riffs into hard driving powerchords. Cello player adds an eerie tone of melancholy that takes the songs down to a sadder level. Drumming creates a chaos of beats that drives forth the weird angular songs and carries them along on their long journeys. The bass player adds his spastic touch with erratic and down beaten song compositions. More of a soundtrack to a bad day than a record you put on to celebrate a good day. –don (Feral Kid)


TROUBLEMAKE:
Feral: CD-R
NOTE TO BANDS: Dude, you guys. Please do not tape stuff to the top of your CD-Rs. In the majority of CD players, this can often render said items unplayable, forcing the reviewer to write you an email and ask that you please send another one to Razorcake HQ, this time without taping band names or addresses to the top of the goddamn thing. Troublemake juuuust squeezed by in this matter, as all CD players I came across simply laughed at me when I tried to play Feral. However, the computer grudgingly accepted it. And here’s what came out: Bittersweet and tinged with self-loathing, these guys play dirty pop punk with a nice, simple, melancholic early ‘90s feel, reminding me a lot of bands like the Larry Brrrds, The Kidz, and Jon Cougar Concentration Camp. Four songs, with only one of ‘em topping the two-minute mark; back when Dead Beat was putting out J Church and Whatever records, they’d have been all over this band. As a listener, I’d suggest waiting to see with what they hit us with next (even as a demo, this one comes across a little rough-hewn), but they’re definitely smacking me in the ear with the right kind of gloves. –keith (Sam)


TROUBLEMAKE:
Feral: CDEP
Second CDEP by this fun punk band, proving punk rock is timeless—‘75, ‘79, ‘84, whatever, you can always be a loser to your parents, high school is always stupid, and girls don’t care. As long as you are making music in your bedroom, everything will be just fine. As Troublemake say, “High Fives to My Life Coach.” –mike (Self-released, stnorth@mail.usf.edu)


TRENCH PARTY:
Thanks: CD-R
Indie acoustic bedroom balladry from the less whiny sect of the church of Conor Oberst. Still reading? I’ll let ya in on a little secret. If you ever wanna see this guy live, just go to the closet suburban café that has live music. Well, it might not be this exact guy, but you won’t be able to tell the difference. Just look for the large group of high school kids who think they’re staring at the baby Jesus. –Vincent Battilana (Self-released, www.myspace.com/jakesmusic1)


TRAGICS, THE:
Mommi I’m a Misfit: 7”
How could you not like this: “Recorded live in a near comatose state, MCE Recording Studios, Schenectady, NY, Sept 81.” Full of that mid-‘70s punk feel when a female singer brought the heartfelt wail of 1950s girl groups to the updated punk sound, à la X-Ray Spex. They were called the Misfits then changed to the Tragics for your obvious punk world reasons. Fun reissue. –mike (Loud Blaring Punk Rock)


TOUCH MY RASH:
Doomed from the Start: CD
By all rights I should dig the minimalist thud-punk these guys are dishin’ out, but something is lacking from the finished product—Conviction? Hunger? Desperation?—resulting in more style than substance. –jimmy (Bittersick, address illegible)


TOUCH ME NOTS, THE:
Chris Owen Said It, We Believe It...: LP
A two-member band that doesn’t wield the edge of the White Stripes or the songsmithery of early House Of Freaks. Did appreciate the inclusion of the paper doll, though. –jimmy (Roach And Squirrel)


TOTAL ABUSE:
Sex Pig EP: 7”
I assume this review will go straight to the website since someone else already reviewed this jam. So I feel safe admitting to you in the quiet recesses of the internet that my affair with “hardcore” was brief and ended years ago. Yes, even the really good brutal ‘80s stuff. I guess I still like Negative Approach and that first Agnostic Front record, but honestly I never listen to them any more. That being said, I can say that this is a really good 7” pretty much in the style of Negative Approach and super early Agnostic Front, but I can’t ever see myself putting this on again. It’s just not the type of thing I put on to listen to for pleasure. Oh, I read some reviews of this on the Derranged site and my absolute favorite thing said about it was, “Riffs shoot diagonally to the skies, vocals jam the measures with pained yowling, rhythm section rides completely off the rails.” That was from Dusted Magazine. How fitting is that? I think “Vocals Jam The Measures” would be a really cool band name. Someone start that band with me. I’ve been listening to a lot of Cock Sparrer and Built to Spill. Talk about two great flavors just waiting to be put together. Look out Reeses… “Vocals Jam The Measures” is coming for you. –Steveo (Deranged)


TOKYO NITES:
Self-titled: 7”
There is something to be said for quick and out the door songs. Singer P. Fix was in the great Dirty Sweets, who exploded under two minutes each time. Tokyo Nites have some fun hooks, but man—four minutes just wipes out the fun. –mike (Super Secret)


TOILET BOYS:
Sex Music: CD
Most of us have a favorite style of music that we are just a sucker for. For me, that style is glam punk. I love it, and as long as it is reasonably well done I will be all over it. For some reason this band has just never grabbed me. From the first 10” on through the split with the Donnas to their first full length, I have checked them out and been let down. Somehow they seem to combine all the least good elements of glam punk and glam metal into a combination that just doesn’t work for me. This disc should be a no brainer; sadly it falls flat once again. Fans of the style might wanna check out Chinatown or White Demons instead. –frame (Dead City, www.deadcityrecordsamerica.com)


TIM VERSION, THE:
Decline of the Southern Gentleman: LP
This is one way I consider myself lucky: not taking The Tim Version for granted. Pound for pound, note for note, they’re one of my favorite bands in existence. I’ll be honest, I’m a busy dude, but when I was asked to write the one-sheet for this record and the liner notes for another collection within a week by two different people, it wasn’t a question of doing it, it was a question of if I could do a good enough job. There’s always the risk of douchebaggery writing how great a band is for the sole exercise of trying to convince people who’ve never heard of them to buy their record. Yet, I wanted to repay my debt to the band without the exchange of money. I’ve spent hundreds of hours listening to, writing along to, and flat-out feeling that my day got better by listening to Tim Version records—all of them—from their two previous full-lengths, to their split with Super Chinchilla Rescue Mission, to the country-soaked Floribraska 10”. They could wrap themselves up in so many cheap flags of easy identification, but they don’t. They’re, at their core, just great dudes who play in what I think is a largely overlooked band. And I don’t think they care about that. They all work hard (bartender for a bar located in front of a trailer park, an insurance estimator, a self-employed Ebay/Yahoo-er, and a rocket scientist) and examine life, death, and the living dead. They’re a band who are operating equally on the three levels: of heart (there’s a ton of compassion, even in their disgust and dismay), head (listening to the album is one thing, listening to it while reading the lyrics, adds a novel-like dimension mixed with razor-sharp political commentary), and body (there’s no denying that all of these guys can play their instruments in Hacksaw Jim Duggan / Bob Stinston ways, not Yngwie Malmsteen / Blues Hammer ways)). It all leads to one conclusion: one of the best records of 2008. –todd (No Idea)


TILTWHEEL / DOWN IN THE DUMPS:
Split: 7”
I fucking love Tiltwheel! Awesome melodic punk rock from both bands battling on this record! Down In The Dumps are clearly influenced by the better No Idea releases. Gruff vocals, power chords, melodic punk rock! For fans of Off With Their Heads and the Chinese Telephones. Definitely in the mid-cereal tier range. (Apple Jacks?) Tiltwheel, of course, rules! If they were a cereal, they’d be Cracklin’ Oat Bran, which I know sounds bad, but actually, it’s kinda gritty, but/and (really, truly) totally awesome. More gruff, melodic amazing punk rock! Lots of songs about being depressed and drinking. If you like punk rock, buy this record. –Maddy (ADD)


THOMAS FUNCTION:
“My Empire” b/w “Earthworms”: 7”
The distinction between liking and not liking something can often be razor-thin. With minimal changes, the Thomas Function could be in the same camp as the Starvations or the Pine Hill Haints for me: passionate, hearty rootsy rock (but with electronic keyboards in the mix). But there’s something I can’t put my finger on that makes me ambivalent to this band, that, by all rights, I’m preconditioned to liking and many people dig. Personal taste can be a curious animal, and even with repeated listens over a couple of months, nothing budged them into either the distinctly “good” or “bad” category. Huh. –todd (Arkam)


TERRIBLE TWOS:
a + a: 7”
Noisy, arty punk by Detroit folks from Piranhas and Clone Defects. I guess this is what the scenesters are calling “weird punk.” It’s about time someone came up with a name for it. It’s not really garage, not really art punk, not really noise; that is what you get here. Anyone who is following this scene will love it. This copy is on purple vinyl. –frame (Big Neck)


TEENAGE REHAB:
Goodbye Sanity: CDEP
They say on their one sheet that they’re here to save punk from the myriad of crap that has sullied its good name (or something to that effect), and damn if their effort to do so ain’t a valiant one. Five tunes—two up-tempo, three mid-tempo—recalling a lot of the finer moments of punk’s “glory days” while keeping their feet planted firmly in present terra. A rock-solid release that makes me wanna hear more, which is about the best compliment I could possibly level these days. –jimmy (www.jailhouserecords.com)


SUPERBUICK:
Self-titled: CD
Beefy hardcore in the vein of Death By Stereo. The big difference here is that they add a good dose of that rock’n’roll guitar wank that is all the rage these days. Do we really need another hardcore band out there trying to be Thin Lizzy at the same time? I don’t think so. The songs where they just go straight forward are so much better. They save the best for last with the song “Skater to the Grave.” I’m 50/50 on this. –ty (Mother Box)


SUMFUX:
: CD-R
Good ‘n’ terrible hardcore from Buffalo, New York. Crusty, unpolished, ‘80s era influenced, hardcore punk that’s injected with some venom. The kind of punk that conjures up images of circle pits and trips to the hospital. This recording is bad in a good way. Classic, like a crackled out record spinning on a turntable. Yet it’s a CD-R. –Dave Disorder (Self-released, 29 Custer, Buffalo, NY 14214)


STEVE LIEBERMAN THE GANGSTA RABBI:
Shake the Missile Base: CD
With his quasi-innocent and simple, direct lyrics that sometimes bound over the “too much information” line, it’s hard not to find easy comparisons to Wild Man Fischer and Wesley Willis. While those two relied on Casio keyboard accompaniment or none whatsoever, Lieberman utilizes flute, steel drum, beat machines, and other instruments—usually doing all the playin’ hisself—to make his songs. Whether one likes his efforts is a matter of personal taste; some will undoubtedly see it as much ballyhooin’ and little talent, others will find a uniquely genius quality in the unpolished delivery of songs like “Skinheads in My Yard Oy Vey,” “Love @ Defcon 5,” and “Rubbin’ One Out for My Baby.” Me, I’m just wonderin’ how Roger and the rest of Pink Floyd feel about his cover of “Wish You Were Here.” –jimmy (stevelieberman@gangstarabbi.com)


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