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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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FIRST OFFENSE:
The Faith to Stand Your Ground: CD
Straightforward oi/street punk from Akron. Nothing flashy, nothing unexpected, and nothing that disappoints. At some points First Offense sound a bit formulaic with their give-’em-the-boot kind of tuneage, but they’ve got the formula down very well so that didn’t bother me in the least. This is a very solid record, not earth-shattering, but I’m glad to have heard it. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Step Up!, www.stepupoi.com)


FINAL SOLUTION:
Warsaw Uprise: 7”
Musically, this ain’t too bad—up-tempo hardcore with loud guitars—but lyrically I’m a little puzzled. The title track appears to be an ode to America’s war for oil, but the lyrics are cryptic enough to kinda make a feller scratch his head in confusion. What, pray tell, does “Domination oil frustration” and “This nation locks me in” have to do with Warsaw uprising? The flip, “Whore,” is even more perplexing. Either there’s something being lost in the translation or I’m hellafied more obtuse than I’ve previously given myself credit for, which ain’t out of the realm of possibility. –jimmy (No Front Teeth)


FEVERS, THE:
Get on Again: 7”
Modern stab at power pop, which rapidly seems to be well on the way to becoming the new emo. Lucky for them, and me, their tunes ain’t too bad, especially the flip, which sees ‘em ditchin’ the electric for an acoustic and not sounding like shit. On purty bubblegum pink vinyl, too. –jimmy (www.plasticidoldrecords.com)


FEAR OF LIPSTICK:
Indie Band: 7”
See Rev. Nørb’s review in the previous issue for the best review possible of this band. For those of you without that ready reference, this is your standard punk rock with a picture of pink lipstick on the cover. I can’t help but reference the same bad lyrics Nørb did, “Your college boy brand of rock is doing mighty well for you and that’s just fine/You’re packing your shows, making more than a dime.” Yikes. One of the songs sorta (?) sounds like one of the lesser late-period Green Day songs, oddly enough. One of the members is wearing a Teenage Bottlerocket shirt in the insert, which is interesting and all, but this is mediocre stuff. If this were a cereal, it’d be Cheerios. Standard stuff. –Maddy (It’s Alive)


FALCON MOHAWK:
Self-titled: CDEP-R
Four songs of poppy country rock. The only thing to which I can compare this is a Blues Traveler tape I had when I was nine, or maybe a non-layered version of radio-friendly country. Gonna pass on this one. –Will Kwiatkowski –Guest Contributor (Self-released, www.myspace.com/falconmohawk)


FAILURES’ UNION, THE:
Sinker: CD
The Failures’ Union is a three-piece from Buffalo, NY. Their music is a cross between the Lemonheads, Jawbreaker, and maybe some Buffalo Tom. The sixteen tracks run a broad range from country-fied to pop punk, with song lengths anywhere from under a minute to one tune that is over five minutes. There are some tracks on here that are really good, passionate, alternative rock songs with nice hooks and catchy choruses, but others that seem like they should have been tossed out due to not fitting in with that style which was predominant—more than anything else—on the album. A little more focus would’ve been great; still, it’s a helluva lot better than most of the things I get to review. Consider that a compliment, guys. –kurt (One Percent Press)


FABIO VAN MESS:
It’s a VAN’s World: CD-R
In a perfect world, bands like U2 and Metallica would sell as many albums as Cleveland Bound Death Sentence and there would be fewer Jack Johnson rip-offs and more Fabio Van Messes. This is not the greatest music ever made, and probably not even the best thing I’ve heard today. It is what it is, which is bare-bones folk music, performed with an English accent (he’s Italian), and it is not bad at all. I’m sure the locals all love Fabio Van Mess, and I can guarantee you that’s more than enough for him. Music for enjoyment’s sake. –Will Kwiatkowski –Guest Contributor (No Flags, www.noflagsrecords.com)


F:
Four from `84: 7”
The only thing I really remember of this band is their great track, “Attack,” from the first Flipside comp. I don’t recall what the You Are an E.P. 12” sounds like anymore. It’s been a couple of decades since I last heard it, and I think my brother has it. I think it was still basically hardcore. I’m guessing this recording session would fall right after those two releases. It sounds like the period when a lot of punk bands either went metal or rock. F went the rock route. This release has that early glam-meets-rock sound: a mixture of Iggy Pop meets Redd Kross, a loose expression of having fun, being obnoxious, and not caring if you like it or not. A band that didn’t float in my radar back then, but it is an interesting thing to be unearthed for people to hear. –don (Burrito)


EVIL QUEENS:
Lovesong Werewolves: CD
This is the sound of a lumberjack mechanically chopping down a tree with his axe. This is the sound of a lumberjack tearing off his flannel and banging on his muscular chest. This is the sound of a lumberjack getting angry and telling off his boss. This is the sound of a lumberjack grunting and taking a dump while regretting what he did earlier in the day. This is all of these sounds at once. Wait, did I just describe grunge? Maybe I did. Maybe I didn’t. –mp (Sunken Treasure)


EVIL BEAVER:
Enlightening Without Dazzling: CD
Heavy rock with melodic vocals is the vibe happening here. I am sure, given the sound and the line up, that this band gets compared to Jucifer quite often, but they never get as heavy or as poppy as that band—at least not on this disc. It seems that the new drummer is in Eagles Of Death Metal and that sound is a good reference point here as well. –frame (E. Lago, www.evilbeaver.us)


EVAPORATORS, THE:
Gassy Jack and Other Tales: CD
I’ll admit it, as much as I love Nardwuar’s interviews, and as intrigued as I was in his musical output, I’d never heard The Evaporators before. But GODDAMN, this is awesome. I was expecting mid-tempo, jangly power pop, and it starts off like a more eccentric version of Regulations. Then it quickly turns into some wacky, funny, way-danceable jams. To back it up, I received this at one of the most depressed points I’ve been in a while, and upon first listen I was jumping around, making the decision I shall travel to Vancouver to see them during the winter Olympics. Added bonuses are the videos on the CD version, plus an encounter with Courtney Love. This rules! –joe (Mint)


EPO-555:
Mafia: CD
The My Bloody Valentine and other dreamy pop band influences are readily apparent here. Where MBV tempered the sicky-sweet melodies and soft boy/girl vocals with a sonic bombast that would make Motörhead jealous, these kids temper the noise, push the sweetness factor front and center, and occasionally toss in some electro beats to boot. Its effectiveness depends on how one feels about ethereal-sounding pop with all the edges smoothed out. The songs are on the whole catchy and pretty, but one can’t help but wish they’d just kick into overdrive more often to keep things interesting. –jimmy (www.epo-555.dk)


ENDSTAND:
Spark: CD
It’s a shame that this influential 1980s Finnish hardcore band ended up making such a bland record. The taste buds didn’t make it with the band to the studio when this one was recorded. Endstand went on an unexpected hiatus early in 2008, canceling announced shows after an anticipated comeback. It’s no surprise the band was in flux because this album really doesn’t live up to their classic material. Spark has much more in common with boring fourth wave NYHC than it does with the dynamic sounds hailing from Finland in the ‘80s and ‘90s. –Art Ettinger (Combat Rock)


EFFIGIES, THE:
Reside: CD
Reunions—they’re a dangerous slope indeed. Some bands come back and tour year after year, but don’t put out any new music (Circle Jerks and Agent Orange—I’m looking at you!), while other bands release new material that actually surpasses their original run. In that file I would add The Effigies who rival Mission Of Burma for “king of the mountain” bragging rights. Fierce, unrelenting, but thoughtful punk music from this band. John Kezdy’s lyrics are extremely insightful on what seems to be a political bent. Steve Economou pounds the skins like nobody’s business. Paul Zamost provides inventive bass riff-olas. And “newcomer” Robert McNaughton ties it all together with his guitar chokeholds. “Cold Plate” and “The Guv’ner” are good for appetizers, but the whole record will be like a prime rib entree: red and juicy. –koepenick (Criminal I.Q.)


DUKES UP:
Self-Titled: CD
Neo-hardcore stuff rife with the requisite bludgeon-metal undertow that makes things sound more contrived than angry. Maybe it’s just the generation gap kicking in, but this kinda stuff does fuckall for me. –jimmy (www.myspace.com/sillygirlrecords)


DUKES OF HILLSBOROUGH / THE MERCURY LEAGUE:
Split: 7”
It’s always tough being a reviewer who goes out to shows and likes bands, not a disconnected critic searching for a “brilliant” stab at a band. It’s double-tough for bands that I’m ambivalent to. I think that Travis Duke is one of the nicest, more forthright people I’ve met. And it pains me that I’m not a huge fan of the Dukes. To me, something sounds buried underneath the burlap with their songs; like they’re covering up structures more interesting, more formed. There are traces of Tiltwheel-like expansion and glimpses of lyrical breakthroughs in their songs and I don’t find them onerous or anything. They’re just not my thing when they should be. I just don’t get that excited about their music and it pains me to say that. Damn. This sounds like an unrequited love letter or something. The Mercury League: I have to credit Daryl for the term “post-Epitaph hardcore.” Since melodicore isn’t filling stadiums, bands that would’ve fit that genre to a tee in the mid-’90s are looking for a slightly different way to go about things. They come across as a band suffering a post-Hot Water Music malaise propelled by latter-day Stung Out guitaring on top, and it’s just not grabbing me. I feel like a dick. –todd (Accident Prone)


DRIVE BY TRUCKERS:
Brighter Than Creation’s Dark: CD
Shonna Tucker, where have you been? How could a songwriter and singer this great have taken this long to get some songs on a DBT record? Her songs on this record are simply phenomenal and add a strong new element to a band that is already an embarrassment of riches in the songwriting department. I have said for years that this is a band with three members who could easily lead their own amazing band and that continues to be the case, even with the departure of the incredible Jason Isbell. This band is such a great mix of the entire history of rock, country, roots and everything that is good about music. I want to address any concerns someone may have about this being a jam band. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have never heard a band that is as song-oriented as DBT. They are simply masters of the three-to-four minute song. This is their seventh full-length and any of you who are into the sounds of Lucero, Neko Case, Drag The River, or Whiskey & Co. will find a whole hell of a lot to like here. –frame (New West)


DRAG THE RIVER:
You Can’t Live This Way: CD
I’m not too well versed in the alt-country scene, but this seems to be a pretty solid release. I’ve tried a few times to develop a taste for this type of stuff, but it hasn’t happened enough to make me want to go out and purchase a bunch of records. Maybe this will be my gateway into it. Anyway, Drag The River hails from Colorado and plays country that reminds me of Lucero and Tim Barry’s solo work. The lineup includes Chad Price from ALL and JJ Nobody of the Nobodys and the Queers fame, as well as a revolving cast of characters with plenty of punk rock background. The last track on this record is the entire album repeated over again, apparently so fans can pay once and hear the entire album in case they find it on a jukebox in a bar. If this is your bag, then I recommend picking it up. I can see myself listening to this while driving down an empty highway on a sunny day. –Dave Dillon –Guest Contributor (Suburban Home)


DRAG THE RIVER:
You Can’t Live This Way: CD
Drag The River may or may not be breaking/broken up, and, either way, they’ve recorded their magnum opus. Admittedly, I’ve never totally got into one of their records before, but I can tell that if you’re looking for a place to start, this is it. The songs are generally melancholy, and, occasionally, chilling slices of small town life. It’s arranged really well; every song stands out. My only complaint on repeated listens is that they wait until the last couple songs to really turn up the rock, and I’m left wishing there was a bit more of that. But the slower stuff is done pretty well, making it a solid album. And as they do on all their records, the last track is reserved for a replay of the entire album, a trick so that the whole thing can be played on a jukebox for just one credit, which is pretty awesome. So, for the next time you’re at a bar with one of those digital jukeboxes, I give you my solemn word that it is worth a buck. –Nick Toerner –Guest Contributor (Suburban Home)


DORY TOURETTE AND THE SKIRTHEADS:
Rock Immortal: LP
The band was apparently a Mission staple in the early ‘90s (or at least that’s what the one sheet says.) Anyway, when I put Rock Immortal (featuring a future Future Virgin and recorded by Matty Luv) on the turntable, the last thing I was expecting was a filthy and horrendously catchy ‘50s rock record with the occasional nod to old (as in fifty years or so) country. I don’t know, consider Buddy Holly on crank with a gigantic, fake horse cock falling out of his pants and you’re on the right track. It’s tongue-in-cheek and almost offensively tuneful, but still, with songs like “I’m Too Young to Be a Pedophile,” “Sperm Comes out of My Eyes,” and “The Lord Said ‘Ejaculate,’” chances are good it’s probably not one you’re gonna want to play for your mom. Good record. –keith (Thrillhouse)


DISGRUNTLED:
Hopeless World: LP
First impression I got was this band could have and should have been around the early ‘90s in Long Beach playing with Know Records’ bands Das Klown and The Fixtures. Something inside me tells me that they would have been on many of the same shows. They seem to fit that sound and era for me: aggressive hardcore punk but with a SoCal punk sound. Their three chords of anger also reminded me of the band the Nihilistics. The recording is raw and live-sounding—giving it a genuine sound—with vocals that are yelled but understandable, so you can clearly make out the lyrics. So it kinda surprised me that this band hails from Portland, OR. Tragically, right before the release of this LP, the drummer died in a work accident. Not sure if the band is done. But if they continue on, I would like to see if the band can progress into more of their own. –don (Deadend)


DISFEAR:
Live the Storm: CD
I was incredibly stoked when I found out that Swedish d-beat machines Disfear had recruited the insanely prolific Tomas Lindberg of At The Gates/Skitsystem/The Crown/The Great Deceiver as the vocalist for their 2003 Relapse Records debut Misanthropic Generation. Admittedly, I was somewhat let down by the direction the record took, abandoning the brutal crust assault of Disfear’s earlier output in favor of a decidedly Entombed-influenced “death & roll” offering. The band’s newest release, Live the Storm, featuring one of Converge mastermind Kurt Ballou’s best production jobs to date, reverts to the Scandinavian thrash sound of Disfear’s earlier material while taking cues from some of their more melodic crusty brethren in the process. The result is not only the band’s strongest record to date, but also one of Relapse Records most memorable releases of the past few years. Devastating. –Dave Williams –Guest Contributor (Relapse)


DISCO LEPERS / KERMIT’S FINGER:
Split: 7” EP
It’s too bad, really: I generally love this label. Sure, not all of their bands are exactly espousing the most progressive, thought-provoking stuff, but you simply cannot beat No Front Teeth’s sheer sassitude and spot-on visual and sonic ‘77 punk aesthetic. That’s why this one was such a bummer. The day-glo snot and scabies and scent of unwashed pits just wasn’t there on this one. I’ve got an old split Kermit’s Finger did with Zippo Raid from years back; I remember being pretty meh towards them at the time, and it turns out that the years have not warmed me to them. Granted, at times they sound almost like the Motards, or a band trying to cover the Motards, but lackluster lyrics and songwriting that’s just a tad too generic doesn’t put ye up in the same league. In the meantime, Disco Lepers claim their stuff was “not mastered, not produced, not engineered.” However, it apparently was recorded down the hall from where they actually played the songs, because the sound is, uh, thin, to say the least. They have eight songs on their side of the split and no lyrics printed at all. Then again, with song titles like “Nazi Pop,” “Puke on the Youth,” and “Feces Party,” I’m probably much better off anyway. Good label, but I’m gonna have to pass on this record. –keith (No Front Teeth)


DISCO LEPERS / KERMIT’S FINGER:
Split: 7” EP
Disco Lepers: Sounds like it was mixed in a shoebox by someone with tinnitus, but their short, spazzy punk—which reminds me of a thrashy, inept version of the S’Nots—ain’t too painful. Kermit’s Finger: Jeez, haven’t heard from these guys in ages. Still peddlin’ the same snotty hardcore keen on pointing out life’s hypocrisies, I see, which is just fine by me. Best tune here, hands down, is “Take Your Shot,” which illustrates how much things have changed in the intervening years between Suicidal Tendencies’ “I Shot the Devil” and the post-9/11 world we find ourselves in by commenting in the second verse about what could be the government’s reaction to what they’re singing in the first verse. –jimmy (No Front Teeth)


DISAPPEARED, THE:
A Realization of Hope: 7”
Man, reviews like this one are hard—where you can totally appreciate what the band’s doing, but their music fails to cause a reaction. The fact that this is a two-song 7” is offset by the fact that a) the packaging is really nice, b) the vinyl itself is a gorgeous purple with turquoise splatters, and c) there’s a fully packaged CD (not CD-R, so it might last more than eight seconds before getting scratched to shit) with the 7” songs and three more. Nice work there. And they’re totally on-point with their awesome, pro-DIY lyrics. But the music fell a bit flat for me, sounding somewhat like Davey Havok or a Misfits-era Danzig who croons and sometimes shrieks through some spastic screamo stuff. I appreciate their politics and the sentiments expressed, but the music itself just wasn’t my thing. –keith (I Hate Punk Rock)


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·Punk USA: The Rise and Fall of Lookout! Records
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