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Record Reviews

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ARRIVALS / BROKEDOWNS:
Split: 7”
The Arrivals have a T-shirt that claims them the future of classic rock; and in the world I live in, they couldn’t be more right. Popular music is so far off any track I care to follow and I can’t help picture robots trying to sell me toothpaste when I hear anything near the Top 40. Who better than an outfit of great-natured misfits who just wanna rock away from cliché in the present tense to fill my quota of rockin’? Much in the same vein of a band like Rocket From The Crypt, punks are lucky to have ‘em because everyone else is too busy buying that toothpaste from Short Circuit, being told that that’s music. The Brokedowns: Bravo, gentlemen. I was expecting you to get annihilated by The Arrivals (we all can be defined by our prejudices) but they more than held up their side of the bargain. Blunter and more direct, they celebrate the Pegboy side of things more than Naked Raygun, and are able to slide in some totally catchy sneaky bits in the pockets. (I hear bits sniped from Big Black, Bhopal Stiffs, and The Effigies, in only three songs, no less.) Multi-depth, multi-decade-grabbing Chicago punk. Hell yeah. I think they’re from Illinois. –todd (1234 Go!)


APE-SHITS, THE:
La Pollution Cuturelle: CD
Sonically, these guys come from the Reatards school of hardcore/trash fusion. Like the Reatards, there’s more going on songwriting-wise underneath all the noise, and they deliver the tunes with enough chutzpah to keep things interesting, but ultimately this never quite attained the “mind blowing” promise I was hoping it would. –jimmy (Super Secret)


APERS, THE:
Reanimate My Heart: CD
Another release from these prolific Netherlands-based punk rockers. Sadly, I can’t get into this. I can’t help it. Sure, they’re a pop punk band. Sure, they have a pretty awesome guitar sound. Sure, one of their songs sounds like the Groovie Ghoulies. Sure, they’re clearly influenced by the best Ramones stuff. But something about them just comes across as too... professional, somehow. Maybe (it’s likely) I’m insane, but if this were a cereal, it’d have to be regular (non-Marshmallows) Alpha-Bits. It almost rocks, but it’s not quite there. –Maddy (Insubordination)


APE CITY R&B:
“Firestarter” b/w “Wot I Say”: 7”
My main concern with garage—like bands of Ape City R&B’s ilk—is that it can be in-the-red and pushing so hard the entire time that they sound like they’re choking the listener. With the strained vocalist, chummeling guitars, and beat-battered drums, it seems easier to sidestep the whole ordeal all at once, like if you zone out just a little bit, it becomes one solid asteroidal mass that can be as likely hit or miss you. Fortunately, Ape City R&B do take some short breaths (tambourine, organ (?)) amongst it all, and they’re not without their Chuck Berry charms and the Monomen’s burned rubber, “shit-just-got-done” feel. Let’s see if they develop their own personality outside of the constriction of the genre. –todd (La-Ti-Da)


ANTIQUE CURTAINS:
Dressed in Vertigo: CD
Another band that ain’t afraid to think outside the box. These guys marry Wire-like art punk, vocals that alternate between channeling psychosis and recalling David Thomas at his most falsetto, skronk, and punk to surfy guitar to come up with a consistently interesting listen. While one wishes the person who produced the proceeding was a wee bit more conscious of the dynamics in the band’s tunes—sad to say, but sometimes oodles of reverb is too much of a good thing—the songs manage to be singular enough to stand on their own. –jimmy (www.myspace.com/okstarsrecords)


ANATOMIC BOMB:
Partial Rudity: CD
I really like the fact that these kids aren’t afraid to comment on more than how much fun it is to fart in public and equally innocuous subject matter. They articulate their feelings well enough that the lyrics don’t come off as trite, and they perform their tunes with a tightness that takes some time to acquire. That said, I really wish they’d shitcan the Rancid-derived ska/punk thing and try to come up with something that sets them apart from the herd. Seriously, if you really like Caribbean rhythms, how about opting for a chutney-punk hybrid? Ragga-punk? Calypso-core? If there’s some reason for a strictly punk-derived musical diet, may I suggest gleaning a little more influence from SavageRepublic, Butthole Surfers, Big Boys, Killing Joke, The Pop Group, or early Public Image Ltd. instead? The possibilities of coming up with something truly unique are limitless with a little creativity and some poking into stuff you haven’t listened to before, you know? I really don’t mean this all as a slag-off or a sermon, but I hear the seeds of some good ideas being wasted on a subgenre that’s just been way too strip-mined to be of much value at this point. Besides, ain’t trying to transcend—and one-up—rather than ape one’s influences the point to being a punk, let alone a musician? –jimmy (Anatomic Bomb)


ANALINGUS / SHOOT IT UP:
Split: 7” 45
Words generally fail me when i attempt to explain what it was like hearing that first Void demo in 1982. It was sort of a mixture of exhilaration and confusion, which, after the dust settled, kinda ended up being just plain confusion— “I know exactly what they’re doing! Waitaminnit, no i don’t! Yes! Yes i do! Wait, no! No i don’t!” Analingus are a lot like that, but more like the Furious Fighting Car Thieves ((or, hell, the Fuckin’ Flyin’ A-Heads for all i care)). Shoot It Up are more like a bunch of guys who kind of sound like Scumfuc-era GG Allin. Both sides of the split 45 feature art so crude as to make John Wayne Gacy’s Bloody Mess & The Skabs appear veritably Ditko-esque by comparison. Curiously, nowhere near the worst record i was given to review this issue. BEST SONG: Analingus, “McDonaldLand.” BEST SONG TITLE: Shoot It Up, “Undercover Queer.” Yes, “Undercover Queer” is the best song title of the seven songs on this record. I mean, with world-class competition like “Anti Straight Edge,” it was a brutally tough call, but, yes, “Undercover Queer” it is. FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: “Analingus are: He Who Licks Ass—He Who Kicks Ass—He Who Sticks Ass.” –norb (Riff Raff)


AMBITIONS:
Stranger: LP
Frustrating. If I had one word to sum up Stranger, that’d be it. The packaging is beautiful (wonderfully colorful and ambiguous artwork and some of the prettiest, multicolored splatter vinyl I’ve ever seen), the production is glossy and full, the lyrics are well written, and yet… it resounds with the impact of a band that’s restraining themselves. Firmly rooted in modern, smart hardcore but with enough variance in tone that a listener’s either gonna think a) “Mein Gott! They perform such brilliant and disquieting pretty parts before they go all chunka-chunka! And what a beautiful set of pipes the vocalist has, while other members of the band utilize their more rough-hewn voices to provide fist-pumping singalongs and choruses! Stranger is a true raison d’art!” Or, like me, you may think b), which is, “They sound like they’re a super-talented band that’s obviously good at songcraft. A band that’s totally got it within them to just go the fuck off every once in a while. I wish they would; chances are they’d lay waste to all around them and I’d like this record a lot more if I just heard one specific instance where they went flat out with the speed and shrieks and energy. But they don’t, and therefore I’m forced to flip the record over and over again, trying to hear it in a new way, searching for that moment.” There are bands that display passion and intent with breakdowns and well-placed pickslides and fairly tuneful melodies that cascade into midtempo hardcore songs that are trying like hell to become anthems but don’t quite make it. Then there are bands that just fucking go for the throat and everything’s at full tilt all the time, from start to finish. Ambitions has a lot of one and not quite enough of the other: the result is a band that sounds like they’re continually holding themselves back and, ultimately, the record falls short of being memorable because of it. –keith (Bridge 9)


ALTERNATE ACTION:
Self-titled: 7”
It’s time to lace up your boots and get down with Alternate Action. The thing about oi or street punk or whatever you want to call it is that the majority of it is lyrically empty, but the energy of the music will overshadow that if a band is good. Alternate Action is really good. The songs aren’t saying much but they feel vital. Menace is a band that comes to mind when listening to this. I’ll listen to more. –ty (Longshot)


ALCOHOLICS UNANIMOUS:
20 Years of Tanked Up Tunes: CD
Okay, right off the bat, these guys get points for covering Jimmy Liggins’ “Drunk.” A mighty fine tune, that one, as is his equally coverable “I Ain’t Drunk, I’m Just Drinkin’.” Gotta love a band that knows their drinkin’ songs and, based on the selection here, these guys have made a career out of bein’ well versed in the classics. While normally such single-minded attention to one subject, especially when we’re talking a span of two decades, would be the kiss of death for such an endeavor, and things do wear a bit thin the closer one gets to the end, the fact that they are wise enough to pluck covers from a wide variety of styles—not to mention penning a few of their own, including the beloved punk holiday anthem “Santa Claus DWI”— to get the most mileage out of what is essentially a one-trick pony. Although I’m most partial to the earliest stuff here, courtesy of the band’s late ‘80s-early ‘90s lineup(s), all here are delivered with enough joyously sloppy abandon that one can’t help but smile. Definitely one to toss onto the player at the next straight edge club meeting. –jimmy (Steel Cage)


AGNOSTIC FRONT:
For My Family: 7”
What a coup for Bridge 9 to finally get a chance to release an Agnostic Front record. I am sure both they and their fanbase are stoked. This version here is on red splatter vinyl and limited to 1000 copies. There are two songs here from the new full length and one exclusive track. If you have liked the recent AF releases, this one will be right up your alley. –frame (Bridge 9)


ACTS OF SEDITION:
Crown Victoria: 7”
If the cover leaves a little to be desired (a watercolor of a smoking cop car resting in some bushes, Dukes of Hazzard-style), they generally make up for it with what’s captured in the grooves. Admittedly, it’s hardcore (and yes, I’ve lately found myself bored to tears by 95 percent of the hardcore that comes my way these days), but there are interesting little sections, creative dips and curves in this road they’re paving that sets them apart from the thousands of other bands that’re just following the verse-chorus-verse-breakdown-chorus formula. Couple that with the whipsmart lyrics and spot-on politics that are stitched up and down the sides of this thing, and you could do much worse than Crown Victoria. –keith (Bloodtown)


ACTIONIER:
Mathlete: CDEP
At some points they’re trying to be a punk band, at other points they’re trying to be a complicated post-hardcore band, and still at other points it seems they want to be post-rock. Think of it like a man coming up to you and quoting Bill Hicks, Shakespeare, and Nietzsche in a random, disjointed fashion. Despite the fact that the latter would amuse me, its musical counterpart leaves much to be desired. –Bryan Static (Remedy, no address)


86 MENTALITY:
Final Exit: 7”
Holy crap, did I ever like this one. This is one of those records that I like so much that I don’t have much to say; I just sit mouth agape for a few minutes and then coil into a ball of punk rock fury and explode out of my chair and through the unopened door. Imagine an angrier version of Negative Approach. Loved it. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Deranged)


24 REASONS WHY:
Start It All Again: CD
Pop punk from Minneapolis with duel male/female vocals. There are brief moments on this recording where I hear elements of bands like Discount, This Is My Fist, and the Measure [SA]. Not bad at all, but not really worth seeking out either. I just think the songwriting is not quite up to the par with any of the aforementioned bands. –Dave Disorder (myspace.com/24reasonswhy)


13 GHOSTS:
The Strangest Colored Lights: CD
The nicest things about this release are a) the diversity of styles—folky, acoustic stuff, neo-psychedelia, spaghetti western-tinged rock—and b) the effort put into crafting the songs is evident. Unfortunately, neither of these pluses can hide the fact that nothing here is all that memorable, mind blowing, or even remotely engaging. –jimmy (Skybucket)


GRABASS CHARLESTONS:
The Greatest Story Ever Hula’d: CD
Sounds more or less like a punk-basement version of the first Rites of Spring album (which, now that i think about it, is the only Rites of Spring album) (and which is curious, as one would have previously assumed that the Rites of Spring album was its own punk-basement version), with a few scattered punk-basement Hüsker Jünior (“Hüsker Jü?”)-isms as some manner of yeomanly garnish. And, while there are a couple of cool lyrical moments here and there (“Breaking bottles in the streets/’til the coppers bring the heats,” from “Youth”), overall things are are pretty much in that same muddled and cryptic “i-am-working-out-some-emotional-issues-here” vein as latter-period Connie Dungs, but minus the precision elements that occasionally led me to give Brandon Dung the benefit of the doubt that he was actually singing about something of relevance. The occasional lapses into the merely trite (“Suicide at $8 an Hour” – like every 20-year-old mop jockey in the world hasn’t written this song in their head at one point in time [except for those of us who were 20 year old mop jockeys in the Reagan era, in which case the song was called “Suicide at $4 an Hour”]) don’t affect things much either way. I dunno. When i listen to punk rock, i’m looking for a tribal war-whoop so mighty that the forces of my oppression, including but not limited to the mundanity of my daily existence, are rendered, at least for a time, inert. This CD is more like an annex of additional mundanity. What, i re-boot from this disc in case my existing mundanity files crash? BEST SONG: “Youth” BEST SONG TITLE: “Beer Exile” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Appearing on the cover of Razorcake is no guarantee your album won’t be routed to a fucking prick like myself for review!  –norb (No Idea)


GOGOGO AIRHEART:
self-titled: CD
Fuck genres. This is as much Fela Anikulapo Kuti as it is James Chance, and as much Negativland as it is Wire or Gang Of Four. In my estimation, the key to this reissue is understanding that it’s a playful record – it explores and stretches musical boundaries, combining seemingly disparate sounds and styles to excellent, if a bit confusing at first, effect. It’s funky and danceable; it has a beat and even I can move my feet to it.  –scott (GSL)


GIRLUSH FIGURE:
Rotten to the Core: CD
This runs along the lines of very early Hole, although more Babes in Toyland in their delivery, right down to the handwritten lyric sheet.  –jimmy (Rodent Popsicle)


GAMMA RAYS/HIGH SCHOOL HELLCATS:
Split Personality: Split CD
This is apparently a girls vs. guys split and the girls kicked the guy’s asses on this one. Both bands are pop punk and sound like many other bands that I would be able to name right now if I wasn’t high. The Gamma Rays are the males and they just seem to be a bit too slow to really get my attention. The High School Hellcats are just the right tempo and a little bit snotty as well. There is no contest here. –toby (Beatville)


FUNCTIONAL BLACKOUTS, THE:
self-titled: LP
Crazy, noisy, zingy shit out of Chicago that seems to be forever detonating miniature nuclear bombs in hidden pockets of the vinyl. The guitar sounds like it’s powered by a metal blade attached to a blender and the vocalist seems like he’s in a perpetual state of strangulation with feet skittering to get traction back on the top of the chair in order to loosen the noose. Nice. I’d put this in league with the Tyrades – for pure shoelace-holding-it-together wreck-the-place-fantastic gumption – and the Lost Sounds for the ability to make a form of garage music that’s otherworldly, atmospheric, and simultaneously caustic and catchy.  –todd (Criminal I.Q.)


FUCKED UP:
Dance of Death: 7"
This is no fill-by-numbers, easy-to-shatter Shrinky Dink punk. I’d put Fucked Up on current hardcore’s top shelf with Out Cold. The excellence is in the inobvious details. The basic elements are there for any hardcore band to pick up on. Yes, they’ve got seething hatred, the type that oozed out of Negative Approach like a toxic sweat. But then they go and do something unexpected like add handclaps. In the same song. And it works. Instead of rifling through the song as fast as possible in a blur, they play equally as fast as they play catchy. No easy feat. They’ve also nailed the tightly wrought and well-articulated rage of early Articles of Faith, where you can hear that they’ve got anger, not only with their limbs when they’re bashing their instruments, but with their brains, which is an important distinction. (It’s the distinction between being a malcontented misfit and a meathead, really.) The title song is in the first person, from the perspective of Death’s own house band (where they continually bring the house down and kill themselves), which is a pretty fuckin’ cool twist. Incredibly recommended.  –todd (Deranged)


FUCK YEAHS, THE:
self-titled: 7”
Pop hardcore that’s nicely dented and sparking, like a muffler about to drop out of rusted-out Malibu, driving by a chemical plant that’s very vapors probably cause cancer and definitely cause stupidity. It’s “they had to have been kicked in the womb” punk. As with the Vindictives (instead of taking cues from the Beach Boys, they’re cribbing Pegboy and Effigies), The Fuck Yeahs leave an effect not unlike an over-the-counter medicine overdoses. Short songs, mood swings, and volatility. Beyond the huffing Testors ‘til your eyes bleed, living-with-your-mom-and-digging-it, shit-your-pants-and-smile flags they’re flying, this 7” is all welded and riveted together incredibly strong, like it was overseen by greater Midwestern forces of snow banks and subzero temperature. Takashi from Sweet JAP’s in it, too. (And, for some reason when listening to this band, I just realized if you add more letters to his name, it becomes Tak(e) A Shi(t).) Highly recommended.  –todd (Learning Curve)


FRONT, THE:
Self-titled: CD
If Pat Benatar was young again and morphed into Brody from the Distillers and played in a punk’n’roll band, this is what I would picture.  –don (The Front)


FROM MONUMENT TO MASSES:
The Impossible Leap in One Hundred Single Steps: CD
Medio-core. It’s angular, edgy, dissonant, sometimes melodic – hell, it’s even downright pretty at times (“The Quiet Before”). It seems political; the liner notes contain about as many slogans as a Manic Street Preachers album. It features samples from news broadcasts (about the attack on the World Trade Center, from George W. Bush) and movies (including Pump up the Volume) which seem to offer a critique of the existing power structures and policies in place today, but mostly it’s just musical meandering with little effect and, honestly, why the fuck does a band which is as musically articulate and talented as this need to create a pastiche of samples to convey political intent or speech? There’s not much difference between this and prog rock, although this does have more in common with At The Drive-In than Yes.  –scott (Dim Mak)


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·DAY AND AGE
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·Top 5s from Issue #88


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