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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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EX-GIRL:
Endangered Species: CD
If you were ever looking for a reason to avoid a threesome of hot Asian chicks with funky colored hair and matching silvery outfits (apart from reasons of maintaining your own health and well-being, that is), this oughtta ‘bout do it. I mean, the CD cover and i have a hot date tonight, but the disc within somehow manages to crystallize and display the most opprobrious elements of Rush, Queen, Zappa, the Boredoms, the Flying Lizards, and maybe even Klaus Fucking Nomi, god forbid. I should begin to wonder if these ladies are perhaps being held against their will? BEST SONG: I think it would be the one that goes “KS coming down to earth with flash, shooting green and silver beams of gastric medicine at us.” BEST SONG TITLE: “Letter From Mr. Triscuits” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: 1) Hoppy Kamiyama makes a guest appearance on “Digital President,” “Ass Hole Box,” “Slide Geisha,” “Scum Tape-from the Garbage,” “Okama Belcanto,” and “Gram Pot”; 2) Were the guitarist “Zorek” and i to marry, her name would be “Zorek Rozek.” Presumably we would have sons named “Ozker” and “Kerzo.” –norb (Alternative Tentacles)


ESOTERIC, THE:
1336: CD EP
It’s amazing how easily suckass jock metal passing itself off as hardcore can ruin one’s day. –jimmy (Black Noise)


ERGS, THE:
Dorkrockcorkrod: CD
There’s no delicate way to say this. I think The Ergs are geniuses. I adored their Ben Kweller EP, but missed something. I loved it as a simple pop album. On Dorkrockcorkrod (it’s a palindrome!) it’s easier to hear a lot of the complexities that are going on behind the guise of pop. It’s like Rivethead, where I just thought it was the hooks that had me listening to it all the time, but then I began to pay closer attention. They’re all proficient players, and when you listen to what’s going on in the background of the songs you hear some interesting things. I actually hear a strong jazz influence, but it never overrides the pop (which has a lot more power in the pop than the EP) and don’t worry, it never even steps close to fusion. Broken-hearted lyrics prevail from their Carpenter-style set-up (you know, the drummer sings). Incredibly infectious – I listened to it fourteen times yesterday. –megan (Whoa Oh)


EPIDEMIC, THE:
Self-titled: CD
The guys at Rodent Popsicle serve up a reissue of an album that apparently first saw the light of day in the very recent past. Some pretty rockin’ hardcore is dished up here, with a lyrical emphasis on war, which makes perfect sense considering what’s been going on in this country under Herr Bush’s regime, as well as a couple of ditties about police oppression and sadomasochism to break up the monotony. Some good work is put down here that should satisfy the jones of any thrash fiend. –jimmy (Rodent Popsicle)


ENSIGN:
Love the Music, Hate the Kids: CD
Another all-covers record of songs the band loved at one point or another. From the intro of Bad Brains to songs of Insted, Killing Time, Descendents, Misfits, Hüsker Dü, Infest, and others. I would have liked this much more if the production was better. The guitars are real twangy and thin. It has almost a live sound that just doesn’t have enough oomph for me. Probably more fun for them than me. –don (Blackout!)


ELECTRIC FRANKENSTEIN:
We Will Bury You!: 2 x CD
There was a golden time back in the late ‘90s when I thought Electric Frankenstein was King Shit. I really believed that their music could kill hippies. I thought they were the new Dead Boys, only heavier and with a few more chins – not just sonically speaking, but heavier in the physical sense as well (as anyone can plainly see that it would take about 3.5 Stiv Bators to make one Steve Miller.) And while Steve Miller’s no Gap underpants model, he’s a got a great punk rock voice – greasy and gritty and slimey like a wet paper bag full of rancid dog food and worms. Back then I was listening to their live discs, How I Rose From the Dead, I Was a Teenage Shutdown and Me No Like You constantly. And when I did an interview with the Hookers and they slagged on E.F. for being old and fat and having too many chins, I liked E.F. even better. What could be more truly cool than being the farthest thing from MTV pretty people? And their old choppers weren’t exactly floating in a glass of water next to their bed; E.F. had a sound that spit in your eye right before it tore your adam’s apple out with its teeth. Or at least the live recordings did. I soon found out that the studio offerings didn’t quite have that same bite. And right about the time I made that discovery, they started squirting records out like bunny turds; these boys definitely don’t suffer from Axl Rose Reluctancy Syndrome when it comes to cranking new stuff out. Soon, for me, a new E.F. release became nothing to get excited about. They seemed hell bent to show everyone and Axl Rose that it really is quantity over quality. On top of that, they further bogged down their fans – or me at least – with their preachy “Fight the Anti-Rock Conspiracy” twaddle. I generally don’t get an itchy reaction to “preaching to the choir” type stuff, but this particular campaign seemed as ponderous as their recorded output was prolific. So it was with some trepidation that I approached reviewing this new double E.F. CD of nothing but cover tunes. To their credit, they are all over the map here. They go from covers of the Circle Jerks to AC/DC to the Supersuckers to Crime, the Dead Kennedys, Blue Oyster Cult, the Misfits, F-Word, Fleetwood Mac, Johnny Cash and Pink Floyd. All in all, very admirable attempts. But when you get to the stuff you’d like to re-listen to – not as interesting. What it comes down to for me, is that the covers of “arena rock” tunes tend to show that slower, softish mid-tempo side of E.F. that seems to have been more and more prevalent on their more recent releases – while the more “punk” covers have more snot and teeth and bile. Which I like. Sorry, I’m biased. “Ace’s High” by Iron Maiden is a cool/cheesy tune, but E.F.’s relaxed remake makes the original sound more “punk” than the E.F. version. And personally, for me, if you’re going around with a comic book-inspired band logo that says “Electric Frankenstein – Punk Rock” and you’re showing up on the monitor as “less punk” than a fencing doofus like Bruce Dickenson, you better take a step back and rethink things. Like most recent E.F. releases, I find this one to be a mixed bag of really good and really uninteresting. The good stuff is good, though. As usual, I wish I could have gone into the studio and trimmed the fat for them, using my razor sharp music critic scalpels. Because this is, perhaps, the most “Frankenstein-ish” of all their releases and, while it doesn’t come anywhere near to totally sucking, it doesn’t have the over-all power and ignorance to drown sweet little innocent girls in sun dresses either. A lurching hit-and-miss patchwork of random parts sewn together with cheap yarn. Your call. –aphid (TKO)


EGAN’S RATS:
Shanghaied: 7” EP
I see a bunch of a number of skin-oriented t-shirts in the xeroxed photos on the back of the lyric sheet, but the mid-tempo punk stuff I’m hearin’ is more akin to late ‘80s bands like Crimpshrine. This ain’t a bad thang, but I found it kinda interesting. If they’re shootin’ for the whole skin trip, the lyrics are way above average for that scene, with virtually no references to drinking and fighting, and their sense of not fitting into the greater society is interestingly optimistic. Not too shabby on the whole. –jimmy (www.geocities.com/egansrats)


DUVALL:
Volume & Density: CD
If a label sent liner notes along with the CD, they might get something approximating a review. Can you guess what they sent? –scott (Asian Man)


DUKES OF HILLSBOROUGH, THE/ ALTAIRA:
Sometimes You Eat the Bar, Sometimes the Bar Eats You: CD
The Dukes of Hillsborough play a heavy blend of melodic hardcore. It’s the kind of thing you’d expect from a band opening for Hot Water Music. A few people whose musical taste I respect have recommended the Dukes of Hillsborough to me, and I notice that, whenever they make the recommendation, they add that the Dukes are really good guys. After listening to the four songs on the split, I think that I’d probably like the Dukes a lot better if they were my friends and I was watching them live and I was drunk. With nothing but this recording to go on, I’m not wild over it. The Altaira half of the split picks things up considerably. I’ve been listening to these guys since their guitar player, J., sent me their demo to review. I liked the demo and things just keep getting better. They owe a lot to Tiltwheel, musically speaking, but they’ve branched out enough on their own to avoid being a Tiltwheel clone. Still, they get Davey to sing a song on this split, and Altaira lay down five solid songs that make this split worth it for their half, alone. –sean (A.D.D.)


DRUGS, THE/DRUGS, THE:
Split: 7”
One’s from Brazil, and the other one’s from Holland. They’re both essentially lo-fi, hi-energy garage punk, but the Brazil one sounds more like the Mad (!) or something from Back from the Grave, while the Holland one has one that sounds like the Fartz (!!), and one that’s more bluesy, with a laid-back part and a rave-up part. Guess which one has funnier personnel names. Funniest name from Brazil is Fred, but Holland has Peter Alias Mr. Boogie-Woogie and Hotdog Teade. Hotdog Teade! –Cuss Baxter (Rockin’ Bones)


DOWN AND AWAY:
Set to Blow!: CD
(Shout the intro.) I blew my wad on Down and Away’s split with Smalltown, but this full-length leaves me disappointed. Standardization’s the problem. Most of these songs could pass for b-sides to Dropkick Murphys songs. (Raise fist. Mention the streets.) The production’s squeaky clean. (Chorus.) The chops are there. The anthems are all in place (“Hey, ho, come on, let’s go.”), but it all seems so pat, so by the numbers. (Short solo here.) No chills. No fire. (Vague lyrics about us vs. them. Us good. Them, they don’t understand us.) No sparks. Nothing’s embarrassing about this CD, it’s just that so many boots have trampled these same musical avenues, you gotta have new bombs to huck – or, I know it’s a stretch – songs that sound like they haven’t been played a thousand times. That’s the disappointment. Everything on this record’s been done before, and better – like the DKM’s Do or Die – and that leaves us standing around in a big, ol’ streetpunk/oi thought ghetto in very tight pants and careful bootlace selection, staring at one another. (Grab the cymbal so it stops vibrating.) –todd (Rockstar)


DIVISION OF LAURA LEE:
Das Not Compute: CD
Yay. Despite the Fugazi comparisons and claims that this band is somehow something more than a Hives clone which listened to too many Sonic Youth and Mudhoney albums, this still just sounds like a shitty garage rock rip-off of the Spacemen 3 to me. –scott (Burning Heart)


DISCIPLINE/ARGY BARGY:
100% Thug Rock Split: CD
Discipline: Think the Vanilla Muffins with a gruffer singer. They were better than I remember them being. Argy Bargy: More of the same with an even gruffer singer than the one fronting Discipline. Nothing really blew my skirt up on here or anything, but listening to either band wasn’t exactly a painful experience, either. –jimmy (Captain Oi)


DIMLAIA:
Self-titled: CD
Should’ve been titled Screamo: The Soundtrack to Jimmy Alvarado’s Worst Nightmares. Nothing like piss-poor attempts at being all arty ‘n’ shit PLUS a fucker screeching in your ear to aggravate already raging neuroses. –jimmy (www.lifeisabuse.com)


DIE PRINCESS DIE:
self-titled: CD
Bright pink cover with a mustache. How can that be bad, right? Wrong-o. Is this what the kids call “ambient”? –megan (Cut Lips)


DESTRUCTION UNIT:
Self-titled: CD
Overblown synthpunk from one or two ex-Reatards that goes from desperate and creepy to frantic and bright, all over the exhilarating place like tusslin’ with a spastic waving a couple razor knives – knives so sharp you’re never sure whether they cut you until you see the blood. –Cuss Baxter (Empty)


DESPISTADO:
The Emergency Response: CD EP
Is it really so hard to send out the actual release? Even if I wanted to review this promo, I don’t have any liner notes. I can’t tell you what any of the song titles are – about all I can say is that this reminds me of Braid, Cap’n Jazz in their more musically competent (and far less interesting) moments and Hey Mercedes. And with that said, since I have to pull this disc out of the CD player to read the title, I think I’ve wasted enough words and time on this. –scott (Jade Tree)


DESCENDENTS:
Cool to Be You: CD
Jeez, where does one begin when speaking of the Descendents? These guys have been a personal favorite of mine since White Morgan lent me the Fat EP back in junior high school, and while they may not have always managed to consistently deliver the goods over the years (the ALL album, which admittedly has some of their best work, is uneven at best), their “comeback” record, Everything Sucks, was a nice return to form, and this, their latest, is a fine extension on that album. There may be a dearth of obligatory thrashers here, but it is nonetheless chock full of some of the finest pop a punk band ever mustered – taut, tight as hell, melancholy and tough as nails all at once. More amazingly, with the explosion of tenth-rate pop-punk bands inundating the airwaves, these boys still manage to somehow set themselves apart from the pack simply by playing with a level of honesty most of the new jack bands lack. When Milo sings an anthem to being a glasses-wearing nerd, he ain’t just whistling Dixie, kid. My only gripe is that seven years is TOO FUCKING LONG to make us wait between albums. There’s got to be torture laws they’re violatin’ by having us sit and wait year after year after year for the next fix. The copy of this I happen to be reviewing is destined to be played until it disintegrates, and then replaced numerous times over the course of my lifetime. –jimmy (Fat)


DERRINGER:
A Rock and Roll Tragedy: CD
Well, this ain’t the latest disc by Rick Derringer’s new band, that’s for sure. –jimmy (www.zerovelocityrecords.com)


DEPTH CHARGE REVOLT:
The Inaudible Growl: CD
This is pretty strange. The music is like when Bill and Ted get to the future and Rufus shows them the music they created. Then there’s someone screaming on top of that really mellow, guitar-driven stuff, but the levels are all the same so the yelling is all muted and soft. It’s pretty arty. –megan (Drama Destroyed)


DEERHOOF:
Milk Man: CD
Weirded-out avant-pop – Deerhoof is an acquired musical taste with lots of blips, twitters, and odd sound textures that put them right in line with incidental music from cartoons and the sonic portraits of labelmates Xiu Xiu, Young People, and Hella. In some ways, it sounds tremendously Japanese – waifish vocals, skewed melodies and offbeat sensibilities which veer from playful to ominous. Frankly, I’m still torn on this album and haven’t yet listened to it enough times to determine whether it’s utterly brilliant or something that will wind up being passed on to someone else. What I know at this point is that this indie-pop is interesting enough to warrant the time necessary to make that judgment. –scott (5 Rue Christine)


DECLARATION OF WAR:
4-song: CD-R
Pretty bad, aimless, tuneless hardcore. If this were a cereal, it’d be “If-You’re-In-High-School-Don’t-Worry-I-Produced-Much-Worse-Punk-Rock-Items-In-My-Youth-Than-This Ohs.” –Maddy (self-released?)


DECAHEDRON:
Disconnection Imminent: CD
I freely admit that I am annoyed and have a headache at the moment, and I will also admit that reviews frequently say more about the reviewer and the reviewer’s tastes than they do about the music which is the alleged subject (and that is something worth remembering as you read this review), but I will make two key points about this release. The first is that the vocals remind me of Perry Farrell. That is not what I consider a good thing. The second is that the presence of Fugazi’s Joe Lally doesn’t make this disc any better. I like grindy, spazzy, blisteringly intense music. However, while I love Fugazi, I never really liked Frodus. I suppose my primary issue with this release at this moment is that it’s like angular, disjointed prog rock. It’s like what I imagine would have happened if the Blood Brothers had grown up aspiring to play King Crimson songs in double-time. That might sound like a good thing, but in this case, I really don’t think it is. –scott (Lovitt)


DEADLY WEAPONS:
Get Right in There: CD
...the ‘90s Bay Area Garage Mafia have a pretty lackluster track record when it comes to pulling off the “shorter, faster, louder!” thing (case in point being Greg “Midas Touch” Lowery’s Zodiac Killers needing three attempts [and who knows how many lineups?] before going relatively yard with an album); i would be hard-pressed to understand why Tina Lucchesi (you know...from the Bobby/Trash/Total/Whatever It Is This Week Women/Teens/Babes/Whatever It Is This Week) felt compelled to take a similarly futile whack at this type of record as well, but i can’t imagine it’s ‘cause she thinks she ain’t in enough bands. Maybe she’s trying to spread herself too thin for health reasons or something? Beats me. If i’m supposed to appreciate this on the grounds of it being all FAST and VICIOUS and CRAZED and VILE, it’s nowhere near FAST and VICIOUS and CRAZED and VILE enough to work for me. If i’m supposed to appreciate it because it’s well-crafted, catchy Tina Stuff (as, admittedly, most Tina Stuff tends to be), it ain’t anywhere well-crafted nor catchy enough, and it all comes off either as a shrill, pointless version of something she did previously (presumably of a less shrill, pointless nature) or a day-late, dollar-short attempt at something the Loudmouths already did far more successfully like five years ago or something. The one redeeming feature is the cool Greg Ginn knockoff guitar runs; presumably, given a few years of practice and seasoning to properly hone their craft, they might well aspire to be the next Dick Army. Congratufuckinlations. BEST SONG: As no one saw fit to include a track listing with the review copy, i’ll say the one with the “Rise Above” rip-off leads. BEST SONG TITLE: I guess i’ll have to say “What a Way to Die,” because said Pleasure Seekers cover is the only song i know to actually HAVE a title. FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: According to the press release, 200 copies of the album are on “invisable” wax. I kinda wish this CD was “invisable,” actually. –norb (Jonny Cat)


DEAD END KIDS:
I’m So Bored With the U.K.: CD
Pretty generic ‘70s influenced punk. The promo sheet says they are an “incredibly important band.” What does that even mean? Maybe Paul Robeson or Woody Guthrie or Minor Threat were “incredibly important,” helping create and sustain political culture and build community, but this? This is just music, dumb and fun, the way this kind of music should be. Unfortunately, this just isn’t fun or catchy enough. If this were a cereal, it’d be unfrosted Mini-Wheats. Yawn. –Maddy (No Front Teeth)


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·ROCK MANIA #1
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·VARIOUS ARTISTS
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