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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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HEARTATTACKS, THE:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Could take or leave the a-side tune, “Stay/Go,” and the b-side closer, “That Girl,” but “Nothing Better to Do” is one catchy bit of up-tempo, trashy punk. –jimmy (www.plasticidoldrecords.com)


HEART BEATZ:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Loud, overblown Reatards worship. Could be worse, I guess—they could be fascinated with Piebald. –jimmy (Going Underground)


HAUNTED GEORGE / HEX DISPENSERS:
Forest Ray Colson’s Pile O’Meat: 7” EP
I like the concept. Two songs each. Both bands do the same songs: an original and a cover of the other band. Haunted George: Really? I can’t figure out if the joke’s on the listener or George. The first song’s a reverby, in-a-pool recording of a one man band that, I’m guessing, is supposed to be coming across as a paranoid stomp through a destroyed wasteland via a serial killer, but it comes across more as ooky-spooky camp that’d be playing in the background of a Munsters episode. Hex Dispensers: That’s more like it. Their version turns George’s “Pile O’ Meat” into an Undertones Vs. Marked Men powerpop raver that makes the song sound like a Winston Smith collage come to life: cocained-up, teeth-baring consumers thinly butchering the things that are truly ingesting them. Totally worth it for the Hex Dispensers side. I love danceable destruction. –todd (Hook Or Crook)


HARRINGTON SAINTS:
Sounds of the Street: 7”
It’s been a bit of a skinhead kind of month for reviews. I’ll try to keep from repeating myself too much, but the same things can be said for so many of these bands. Harrington Saints are good. They’re tight and the songs really get you going. Lyrically, they’re not really exciting at all, but you can’t win them all. A lot of the typical catch phrases being thrown around. “Boots,” “Working Class,” “Hoist our pints,”… You get the idea. I’m just glad that it sounds good enough to forget about all of that. –ty (Pirate’s Press)


HAPPY ANARCHY:
Reset: CD
Picked this outta the pile ‘cause I figured with the name as delightfully lame as “Happy Anarchy,” it would be good for a laugh. As a result, I was wholly unprepared for how appropriate the use of the term “anarchy” is in reference to their music: these guys literally throw everything, including the kitchen sink—swirling shoegazer atmospherics, ELO over-the-top bluster, Beatle/Beach Boy-damaged backing vocals, reggae, rock en Español, keyboards, horns—into a pop-coated blender and let it fly, and that’s only over the course of the first four songs. Most impressive, however, is that it’s good, fucking gloriously so, which, frankly, is a pretty rare thing for a rock band these days. Their musicianship is top-notch, the songwriting is really strong, the lyrics are intelligent—everything about this band shows they really put some quality work into what they’re doing—and the anarchic genre melding is reminiscent (if only in attitude) of bands like Argentina’s Bersuit Vergarabat. This is one of those bands you wish would hit the mainstream with a vengeance, but either get lost in the cracks or promptly lose their way if/when they do. I know I’m gonna catch a lotta shit with the fuckwits who are upset because I’ll find little memorable in an nth-generation carbon copy of Youth Of Today yet champion a decidedly unpunk band like this, but fuck ‘em. These guys may not be “punk,” but they sure as hell ain’t afraid to take the same kinda risks that made bands like Big Boys, Butthole Surfers, MIA, Wire, early Dead Kennedys, Fugazi, and a host of others truly great. –jimmy (Highlark)


HANDS OF DEATH / MANKILLSMAN:
Self-titled: Split CD
Hands of Death: Napalm Death kind o’ metal, which is usually hit or miss with me, and this one sort of falls between the crack of hit and miss. If you like that sound, you’ll like Hands of Death, I’m sure. Mankillsman: Neurosis/Mammoth kind o’ stuff. Not normally the cup of tea that sends me off into my day. If you like that sound, you’ll like Mankillsman, I’m sure. Transmission complete. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Laklika)


HAMMERHEAD:
Stay Where the Pepper Grows: LP
A reissue of what the liner notes intimate is one of the most important German hardcore releases of the ‘90s. Sound is very much along the lines of later, slower Poison Idea, which was never my favorite period of that band, so this ain’t exactly eliciting a “FUCK YEAH!” the way their countrymen Inferno continue to do some twenty years down the line. On the whole, this is loud, and if that’s pretty much all yer lookin’ for, this is indeed “classic.” –jimmy (www.x-mist.de)


HALF ACRE DAY:
Fourteen Trips around the Sun: CD
Fourteen Trips around the Sun is nearly an hour of dreamy, synth-laced, slightly folky, vaguely psychedelic indie-pop. The Seattle quintet’s music holds a certain off-kilter strangeness, particularly in the lyrics, that draws comparisons to Ween’s tamer work, but with a less aggressive approach, perhaps more like the Flaming Lips. And they really like the word “bionic.” –Sarah Shay –Guest Contributor (Hidden Peak, www.hiddenpeakrecords.com)


GORDON GANO’S ARMY:
Fifty Hours: 7”EP
Great debut release from an English DIY punk band. Gordon Gano’s Army has the cleanly polished, hard-gemlike quality of early Jam raveups: anthemic but not in “dudebroyeah” or soundtrack-to-sporting-events ways. Four tight, thoughtful, and tasteful pop-leaning punk rock tunes that’re chockfull of good advice, much like Smalltown and The Tranzmitors. Although corporations and their collusion with governments across the world is a horrible practice and there’s ample evidence that the world sucks, you’ve got to make the best of what you’ve got, even if it’s your stale bread and bad milk making it into the lyrics of uplifting songs. –todd (AARBR)


GOOD TIMES CRISIS BAND:
Select a Gather Point: CD
Sounds like ‘70s rock as played by a bloodless UK postpunk unit like Wire or Gang Of Four, but from Austin, meaning that they actually sound like a version of Wire or Gang Of Four that you could sit down and have a beer with, and was recorded somewhere wooden and humid. This kinda seems like the type of thing where if it was your friend’s band, you’d listen to the CD and pick out a few interesting things about it that you could tell them that you enjoyed about the record, even though you wouldn’t have bought it or listened to it if it wasn’t your friend’s band—WHICH JUST GOES TO SHOW US ALL THAT THERE ARE NO STRANGERS IN PUNK ROCK, JUST FRIENDS WE HAVEN’T MET, AMEN. I think i saw that on a plaque behind a bar in Howard, Wisconsin once. BEST SONG: “Nose and Chin” BEST SONG TITLE: “Z.Z.Zephyr” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Band’s press kit compares them to Gang Of Four, OK Go, Nomeansno and the Knack. Seriously. –norb (Australian Cattle God)


GOD DAMN DOO WOP BAND, THE:
“I’ll Always Be Your Girl” b/w “Young and Dumb” / Broken Hearts: 7” / CD
I’ve been hearing the name for awhile, but didn’t take the name literally, thinking it was sort of a Teen Idols trip, where the look was ‘50s-tough, but the music was distinctly ‘90s pop punk. Nope. This is a bunch of DIY punks playing straight-ahead Doo Wop. No tongues in cheek. No crunching guitars. No nyuck-nyuck, look at us, ain’t we clever? And it’s totally got me: heart-felt, incredibly well sung female harmonies, in-the-pocket, tasteful rhythm arrangements, bubbling guitars, non-hot dog sax, and music that avoids being kitschy. It just happens to be Doo Wop without the reek of dumbasses dressed in matching lettermen jackets, underscoring the safety of dead-era, didn’t-really-happen-like-that nostalgia that this could have easily fallen into. Here’s how I see it. Turn on the radio: ninety-eight percent of it is a shitstorm of robots pantomiming music. I’m not even talking punk music. I’m talking music that’s good, that hasn’t been played to absolute death, that hasn’t been infected and denatured by industry, bloated egos, or spreadsheets. So I’m totally backing DIYers taking up the abandoned musical from decades past—Stax-style soul, Sun-style country, whatever-style Doo Wop—and making great music that’s got a beat and you can dance to. Just by considering their name, I’ve got to assume they’re in it for all the right reasons and that just sweetens my feelings for ‘em. –todd (7” Self-released / CD: Afternoon)


GOAT BELL / POOL PARTY:
Split: 7”
Goat Bell: This band must be awesome live. I can’t think of any other explanation for why somebody would release this. I mean, there are a lot of bands that I say suck. Usually, this boils down to it being my opinion. But when I say that Goat Bell sucks, I am stating this as an objective fact. Pool Party: They sound so familiar that I thought I might be able to yell the lyrics out while I was listening to ‘em to the first time around. Can’t put my finger on it. Definite ‘90s influence. It’s all right, but the raspy vocals seem really forced. It sounds like something that coulda been on Go Kart vs. the Corporate Giant or some similar comp or sampler. –Vincent Battilana (www.hipkidrecords.com)


GET RAD:
Bastards United: 7” EP
Remind me—is this the band that’s STONERS doing STRAIGHT EDGE hardcore, or vice versa? Or a little of both? Either way, this sounds like if Minor Threat was on something—what I’m not entirely sure—but whatever it is, it’s the right stuff, because this is some pretty great thrash that’s fun to listen to. –joe (Level Plane)


GAYE BLADES:
I’d Brave Anything for You: 7”
Good time, bathhouse rock’n’roll from the sexy, shirtless, and unshaven Gaye Blades, Jared Swilley of the Black Lips (holding an appropriately phallic sawed off shotgun on the record sleeve), and Bobby Ubangi of the Lids. The song titles are winningly hysterical—“Whore Hunt,” “Treat Me Like a Man,” “Pulling Out,” and “Keep Your Hands (Off of My Baby)”—and any one of them could have appeared on Swilley’s and Ubangi’s other musical projects’ albums. “Treat Me Like a Man” is in the same vein as the Black Lips “Dirty Hands,” and “Pulling Out” could have been a hidden track on the Lids Rip Off album. The homoerotic shtick is carried through to full effect with both band members writing the other a love letter, but it doesn’t overshadow the simple catchiness of the tunes. –benke (Rob’s House / Die Slaughterhaus, www.robshouserecords.com / www.dislaughterhausrecords.com)


GAGFACTORS, THE:
We Rock You Suck: 7”
Pretty good Italian pop punk on this record; reminds me a bit of the Crumbs side project, the Basicks, from a few years back. A little like their fellow Italians the Manges and Canada’s The Vapids, as well. Loved the liner notes where they say the reasons to love their band are “Jay Reatard is not in involved in the project” and “there isn’t any ex-Oblivian in the line-up,” amongst other gems. The liners are hilarious and the record is decent, as good as any other pop punkers around for the most part. –frame (Rockin Bones)


FY FAN:
Self-titled: 7”EP
Sometimes—and this is one of those times—it’s nice to get stabbed in a vital area musically by a Discharge-influenced band from Scandinavia. You know the shape of the knife when it’s unsheathed, you know the moves they take before they plunge the blade, but it’s still sweet if they hit a major artery dead-on on the first stab. (To me, it’s like watching a great knife fight sequence (a la Under Siege). Or, for you pacifists, a gnarly pillow fight.) No surprises, but that doesn’t take away from the execution. For some reference points, think DS 13 and Amde Petersens Arme. Nice. –todd (Feral Ward)


FUNERAL CRASHERS, THE:
La Fin Absolue Du Monde: CD
I’m going to be the first to admit I’m not a goth music expert. Not that I don’t like my share of dark and depressing stuff, but usually my first choice is going to be something more along the lines of the Sass Dragons. However, I still like this. It’s dark and eerie, but it’s different from song to song, not just the same old shit over and over again, kinda like Suicide one minute, then Interpol the next. I thought this was pretty cool. –joe (Self-released)


FUNCTIONAL BLACKOUTS:
The Very Best of the Monkees: CD
Apparently, these guys threw in the towel when I wasn’t lookin’, which is a fuggin’ shame ‘cause as this collection of odds ‘n’ sods illustrates, they was somethin’ special. Take the aggression and thud of early hardcore, marry it to the dissonance of no wave, add enough pop savvy to make the songs catchy, and give the whole thing a trashy sheen and you’ve pretty much got yerself a racket that’ll stick in yer noggin’ and inflict as much damage as peanut butter ‘n’ asbestos flambé. A tip of the hat to ye, kids, for you will be missed. –jimmy (Deadbeat)


FRIGHTENER:
Guillotine: CD
Heavy U.K. band here with influences from Ringworm and Integrity, veering into Terrorizer and older Entombed. Basically, this is a killer sound for most any metal/grind head. Not my favorite style, but this band does as good a job of it as any other I have heard. Fans of this style will want to be all over this. –frame (Chainsaw Safety)


FOUNDATION:
Self-titled: 7”
I’d never heard of Eightfold Path Records prior to hearing this record, but it seems to me that they’re picking up where Equal Vision left off in their early Shelter/108/Prema days, featuring plenty of thought-provoking hardcore bands with borderline “spiritual” undertones. Atlanta’s Foundation also picks up right where bands like Trial and Outspoken stopped, delivering that heavy-yet-emotional brand of hardcore that dominated the mid-to-late ‘90s. Fast, heavy and breakdown-laden yet without even a hint of brutish posturing with lots of those great talking-to-yelling vocal buildups that completely characterized the subgenre they so obviously worship. I thought I’d grown way past getting into new bands of this particular persuasion, but Foundation has officially proven me wrong. Straight edge hardcore, who knew? –Dave Williams –Guest Contributor (Eightfold Path, www.eightfoldpathrecords.com)


FORBIDDEN DIMENSION:
A Cool Sound Outta Hell: LP
It’s been a long ten years since this band shambled into a studio to lay the evil down. I had pretty much given up all hope of seeing these old corpses reanimate for another go. I’m shocked, horrified, and can’t wipe the smile off of my face to save my life! In case there are a couple of you out there who aren’t aware of the mighty Forbidden Dimension, I’ll give you the briefest of summaries. They are the best horror rock band there is. PERIOD! So does this slab of blood red vinyl match up to the legendary output of yore? Does an angry mob chase monsters with torches? Of course it does! It has everything that is necessary for an FD record. Catchy riffs, primal beats, macabre lyrics, and creepy TOMB artwork. It’s all here kids, so hunt it down and slap it on for your next ritualistic blood orgy. –ty (Saved By Vinyl, www.savedbyvinyl.com)


FOR SCIENCE:
Tomorrow’s Just Another Day: LP
For Science conjures the same feeling as the first time I heard bands like Brown Lobster Tank or the Bollweevils or Sinkhole (or really any of the classic Dr. Strange or Mutant Pop records) after gorging myself on a steady diet of Lookout! releases—the realization that maybe pop punk isn’t just for young’uns and that it can be a vehicle for heartbreak and introspection as well as fun and silliness. I recognize that this notion is pretty commonplace now, but For Science hearkens an era when this sound was fresh and exciting and consequently find themselves atop a massive heap of incredibly creative new pop punk bands. Coming so quickly after their killer Way Out of Control EP, Tomorrow’s Just another Day is another giant leap forward for a band that just gets better and better. The absence of Mikey Erg and Chris Pierce (Sinkhole/Doc Hopper) seems to have brought this band even further into its own and has made for a painful-yet-hopeful, near-perfect record. Arguably my favorite release of 2007. –Dave Williams –Guest Contributor (Don Giovanni)


FOR SCIENCE:
Tomorrow’s Just Another Day: CD
Rockin’ pop punk with slower, thoughtful moments. The vocals are what really sell me, though; they have an air of desperation mixed with tones of bitter humor. There are some really good two-part harmonies tossed in as well, and the vocal package works really well with the music. There is an overall air of melancholy to the record that provides a juicy bit of irony to the music, sort of like mixing blood and milk. This rocked me a whole lot more than I expected it would when I first put it on. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Insubordination)


FOR SCIENCE:
Tomorrow’s Just Another Day: CD
I guess I’m just a fickle little lady. I know I liked their last album (Revenge for Hire), but I was in a happy, listening-to-pop-punk-all-the-time mood then. Lately, I just can’t handle all that much pop. This is a decent album, and it is a bit more aggressive than the earlier album, which I like. Maybe when summer comes around I’ll be eating these words, but I just can’t get into this right now. –megan (Insubordination)


FLETCH CADILLAC / DESTRUCTORS 666:
Biberati Ut Gothi: Split CD
The front cover of this disc features three scummy dudes in leather jackets, capes, and sunglasses. Two of them have swords. One has a machine gun. They’re standing in the middle of a desert, where they’re under attack by some spider monster. The dorkiness is toxic. I expected the music to have an equal level of dorkiness. Instead, it’s frantic straight-ahead punk rock. It’s pogo-ready. Fletch Cadillac are my faves. They sound a little nuttier, like they may have been standing upside down and hurling snowballs at each other while recording. Destructors 666 are more of the fist-in-the-air, almost oi-ish stuff. Also rad. –mp (Rowdy Farrago)


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