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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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GAMMITS MW, THE / MEMBERS OF THE YELLOW PRESS:
Teetering on the Edge of Destruction: Split CD
Apparently, it’s important to note that this band has a similar name (with a slightly different spelling) as another band in Colorado. I can only hope the band from Denver isn’t this boring and generic. These songs are simply punk by numbers, possessing all the creativity, vitality and insight of the second Lars Frederiksen album, but played at half the speed. Sure, there’s a sort of burgeoning political consciousness here, but it’s rudimentary, consisting of little more than run-of-the-mill kvetching about TV and the ubiquitous “they” lying to the people and resisting the media’s indoctrination and shit (but it’s a significant dumbing down of an overly simplified summary of an overview offered in passing of Ben Bagdikian’s Media Monopoly). While I wouldn’t presume to assign an ideology to this, it offers about the same level of analysis as your average Fox News commentator. Members Of The Yellow Press are different in that they seem to take their cues from post-punk, screamo and spastic instrumentals. That doesn’t mean that they’re any more interesting. –scott (Big Action)


GAMITS, THE:
Antidote: CD
This wins the official Worst Album of the Reviewing Cycle award! Over-produced, nasal vocals, sung like the way MTV punk bands sing, “poetic” lyrics like, “I’ll invite you all to my pity party/I’m the host tonight/ Serving up my pride.” For real! Luckily, I had my friend and music critic extraordinaire Nate Paisano helping me out with reviews this time, or I would have either killed myself or OD’ed on Lucky Charms in a panic of confusion and ear death! I heard these guys threatened legal action against another Gamits from Madison, Wisconsin. Interesting, because I think Grant Hart could go after ‘em for stealing the “Pink Turns to Blue” riff on one of their tunes. In fact, given the circumstances, I would encourage it! If this were a cereal, it’d be Lucky Charms with no marshmallows. –Maddy (Suburban Home)


FUNERAL DRESS:
A Way of Life: CD
The Belgian equivalent of parrot punk bands like The Casualties and Total Chaos. –jimmy (SOS)


FUCKED UP/HAYMAKER:
Split: 7”
People deal with anger differently. Most people will let loose at the drop of a hat, and whether it’s because they’re stuck in traffic or because their toast is burnt, it rings kind of hollow. If they’re yelling about something meaningless, they probably get pissed off about all kinds of meaningless crap. But have you ever seen people who, instead of just flailing in frustration, just clench their teeth and hold it all back? You can see their eyes bulging and their blood boiling just beneath the surface, steam coming out of their ears just like in the cartoons. What’s my point? This is what drives Fucked Up’s music. It’s not particularly fast or “fuck the system”-y, but what they lack in speed and stereotypical punk rhetoric, they more than make up for in seething anger. It seems to pour out of them like sweat. Reference points are meaningless; they play the music that I’ve always wanted punk rock bands to play without actually realizing that I wanted punk rock bands to sound like this, if that makes any sense. And I don’t mean to slight Haymaker. They’re really good, more of a thrash band than Fucked Up, but I’d be lying if I said I was going to listen to them as much as Fucked Up. –Josh (Deep Six)


FROM FIRST TO LAST:
Dear Diary, My Teen Angst Has a Body Count: CD
As you would expect from an Epitaph release, this record is very well produced. If you go for overblown, pretentious nu-metal posing as punk, this record’s for you. –brian (Epitaph)


FROM ASHES RISE:
Nightmares: LP
In no small way, Nightmares reminds me of a condensed version of Through Silver in Blood by Neurosis. Both albums have the same apocalyptic worldview, the same kind of epic heaviness, and the same complex landscapes of sound. But where Neurosis just kind of plods along, pausing for bong hits along the way, From Ashes Rise is constantly on the attack, occasionally relenting, but always menacing. This whole album sounds like the world is ending right outside your window, mushroom clouds blooming, shock waves leveling everything around you. From Ashes Rise has the ability to make music that is simultaneously awe-inspiringly beautiful, uncompromising, and knife-at-your-throat dangerous, a rare thing indeed. –Josh (Havoc/Jade Tree)


FRENETICS, THE:
Grey Veins to the Parking Lot: CD
Falling somewhere in the gray area between arty punk pop and arty college pop, this rang about as hollow as Jessica Simpson’s noggin. –jimmy (Union Label Group)


FREEZE, THE:
Freak Show/Crawling Blind: CD
A reissue of two later albums by the best Boston hardcore band ever. While most of their contemporaries were slowing down to play bad bar rock complete with hair-shaking guitar solos (SSD, Gang Green, Jerry’s Kids, DYS), the Freeze kept plugging away with albums full of paranoia and frustration. I’m not saying they were devoid of metal; the guitars were always very prevalent, more so than most other bands of that era. By the time they recorded these two albums, the solos had become longer and more technical, but this stuff will never be confused with ass like How We Rock or Older… Bud-Weiser, or even a band like Propagandhi. If you’ve never heard them, imagine a more intense, drug-addled Adolescents. –Josh (Dr. Strange)


FOUR:
Discography: CD
Pop punk as it was done back in the day. Every song sounds like a cranked-up cover of a particularly snotty Grimple or Screeching Weasel song; as I listen to them, all I really hear is Ben Weasel screaming. This takes me back to the early 1990s, cops shutting down house parties, bar shows that only lasted until the bar owner started screaming at the band to get out… in 1991, this probably would have been on Allied and I would have been in love. As it is, it’s a nice reminder of cramming fifty people into a show space built for twenty and then fitting a band into the room to play fifteen songs in ten minutes. Sometimes, nostalgia ain’t so bad. –scott (Paco Garden)


FOUR DEADLY QUESTIONS:
Self-titled: 7”
I can’t say enough good things about Dick Army. Yeah, maybe they were just a cheap, goofy Black Flag knockoff, but damnit, they had that underdog charm and you’ve just gotta love that. Matt from Dick Army started this band, and to say that I was looking forward to it would be a huge understatement. It lived up to my expectations. Where Dick Army mostly played simple, sloppy three-chord punk, Four Deadly Questions sound a lot more original and hard-to-pin-down. It’s still fun and scrappy, to be sure, and it’s not like they turned into Hawkwind or anything, but the choppy rhythms and female backups make this stand out a whole lot. Me likey. –Josh (Geykido Comet)


FLUX:
Uncarved Block: CD
This is Flux of Pink Indians back in 1986 when they dropped their punk stylings and went more to a modern rock electronic sound and shortened their name. It’s quite interesting in the same light as latter-period Chumbawumba or the Talking Heads. Male and female vocal interplay is always an interesting combination. The music feels more like jamming than actual mechanical songwriting. It is a mash of different elements—jazz, dub, and ambient. I totally ignored this when it first came out. To listen to this now, they were probably way ahead of their time and too late for the present. –don (One Little Indian)


FLESH, THE:
Sweet Defeat: CD
Faceless music reminiscent of any number of faceless, vaguely new wave bands from the ‘80s. –jimmy (Gern Blandsten)


FLAKES, THE:
Straight Jacket: 7”
Out of Sweden, Cheap Trick in one hand, Elvis Costello in the other, The Flakes play guitar-driven power pop with an organ. It’s a no brainer to enjoy because it’s pulled off with natural finesse, warm ease, and true-aim hooks. To place them amongst their contemporaries, they also have a ton in common with another Swedish band, Psychotic Youth, where the melodies almost sound telepathic and bubble over with oodles of enthusiasm. It’s something I imagine Rodney Bingenheimer losing his shit over in the early ‘80s that would stand the test of time today. I’d place this right at peak top of this hard-to-conquer genre. –todd (Evergreen Terrace)


FIYA:
Make Joy, Make Strength: CD
Intensely personal, emo-tinged hardcore with enough of a spiritual undercurrent to have me grabbing for the “thank you” list to see if the late JC was at the top of the list. Not that I’ve got anything against Jesus or anything, but unless the person singing has dreadlocks, is wearing a feathered headdress or is named Mahalia, spirituality in my tuneage makes my patented “dogma-meter” go haywire. A cursory run through reveals not even so much as a Jesus, Maria or Jose on the list, which means nothing, I know, but at least they ain’t goin’ the Stryper route or anything. “But are they any good?” you ask. Well, the fact that the dreaded word “emo” was invoked earlier in this very review should tell you that, Jesus or no Jesus, this has about as much chance of being played in this house again as a water buffalo has of crawling unscathed out of my large intestine. –jimmy (www.deadtankdistro.com)


FIRESTARTER:
Livin’ on the Heat: CD
Here’s the rumor and I think it’s true. When Japan’s Teengenerate, arguably one of the best garage, trash bands ever to grace our planet, finished Get Action! for Crypt in ‘94, it was too clean, too poppy. They were told to re-record it in its all lo-fi, scratchy sock, ripped jean, tight shirt deviant glory. Years passed. Members splintered off, then got back together. This time, they kept the initial recording direction. Melodies and harmonies reign supreme. Livin’ on the Heat is a genuinely stellar power pop album of the highest magnitude. This proves two things. These dudes are no one-trick ponies and they’re in it for the right reasons. Why start all over again with a new name when the fanbase is there? Because the music itself is important. Good is good, no matter what the style. Fifi, Fink, Sammy, and Jimbo’ve gotta protect the rock, you know what I mean? Don’t let the kindergarten hymn book-looking cover, the dubious name of the band, or the fifteen dollars you’ll have to spend since it’s currently only available on import sway you. Think of all the time it’s going to be spinning in your player. Brilliance for pennies on the dollar. Definitely in my top twenty for the year. It may even rise higher. It’s one of those albums that reveals itself slowly. –todd (Mangrove, in the US, get it via Nice and Neat)


FICTION, THE/BIRTHDAY BOYS:
Split: 7”
The Fiction: This is emotional hardcore without emotion. Oh wait, is screaming an emotion? Birthday Boys: It’s a song about Michael Jordan. C’mon now, what year is this? You know what is a good basketball song? That Red Hot Chili Pepper’s song off of Uplift Mofo Party Plan. And no, I’m not kidding. You know the one. “LA Lakers/fast break makers/kings on the court/shake’n’bake all takers.” –megan (McCarthyism)


FEELERS, THE:
Fuhrer’s New Miniskirt b/w Special/Next Boy: 7”
Great, raw 1980-style lo-fi punk that makes me think of the Zero Boys, but that’s probably because the Feelers are from Ohio, and I haven’t heard the Zero Boys in a really long time. –Cuss Baxter (Death by Noise)


FALLOUT, THE:
Turning Revolution Into Money: CD
This band has the speed and energy of good ‘80s punk. They do have a hint of oi to them but I don’t think they can be classified as such. The oi shows up in just the right spots, keeping the energy going and making me want to jump around my apartment like the dork I am. Check ‘em out. Very cool. –toby (Longshot)


FAGHAGS, THE:
Self-titled: CDEP
I’m sure these fine So. Cal. folks were doing dog wheelies inside that big Mickey Mouse head-shaped flowerbed at Di$neyland before giving the finger to their Anaheim home and shoving off to Long Beach, God bless ‘em. Creepy, sleazy, stumbling rockin’ and rollin’ spinning ‘round on this EP, the same way that first Humpers LP, My Machine made you feel, but with more of a Darby Crash kick in the pants. From what I’m gathering, the Faghags seem to be a side-gig for members of Lisafer, Throttle, Whiskey Dick, and the Lipstick Pickups. That said, if you’re moving your ass to go see these bands, you need to get that ass moving some more and go buy the ‘Hags a round at their next show. Better yet, make it a double. –dale (Booking/Info: (714) 222-9240)


EXTINCTION OF MANKIND:
The Nightmare Seconds...: LP
I read that this is the second full-length from this band. I thought they had put out more records since their first LP because of all the patches I see on the kids. I think the first LP was Baptised in Shit that Skuld out of Germany put out. I have that record and I believe it came out in 1995 or 1996. That is an eight or nine year gap between full lengths. Hiatus? Break-up? Looking at the lineups of the two records, the only remaining members are Ste on vocals and Ginny on bass. I haven’t listened to previous record in sometime. The new record is absolutely incredible. I don’t know if they have reformed, but they sound like they have continued to write and get stronger. It’s only fitting that this band does a cover of “Arise” by Amebix. A mighty damn good one to boot. It’s crust that is heavy on the metallic guitars and is a natural progression of what Amebix started—music that is dark and has the power of a bulldozer. This record should become one that many will refer to as a classic in the future. –don (Profane Existence)


EXPLOITED, THE:
Horror Epics: CD
This album marks the point when Wattie and I parted ways, he going on to be exploited by New York metal labels, and I to my next band of choice. There’s still quite a bit of the old fire to be found on this album, with the anti-authoritarian/anti-war slant to the lyrics and hardcore overdrive still intact, and the vast majority of the songs are mighty swell, but something felt like they were on the cusp of change, and listening to this nearly twenty years after my first listen, I still get that feeling. It’s there, buried somewhere in the electronic-sounding drums. They were losing focus and, after listening recently to their most recent effort, it seems that Wattie has, in the ensuing years, chosen to tilt at vague windmills rather than resort to pointed attacks at those in power as he did in days of yore. Damn shame, ‘cause when they were at the top of their game, as evidenced here on thrashers like “Maggie” and “Don’t Forget the Chaos,” and on the title tack, an interesting foray into the world of post-punk, few could touch ‘em. With so much of the current generation of parrot punks mired in style, a misguided glorification of poverty and bland, safe and pointless sloganeering, one of their heroes illustrating how to use their moment on stage to lob bombs at the power structure instead of wasting it on singing odes to beer and screaming “fuck you” would be essential. Sadly, it looks like it ain’t gonna come from the current incarnation of this band. –jimmy (Captain Oi)


EXIT CONDITION:
1988-1994: CD
For your buck, you get to listen to what was once a pretty good English hardcore unit slide down the slippery slope into ‘80s/’90s alt-pop facelessness. A sad tale it is. –jimmy (Boss Tuneage)


ESCAPED, THE:
Rose City Hardcore: CD
Thuggish hardcore with the subtlety of a slab of concrete falling fifteen stories. Sorry, but I prefer my ‘core to be just a smidge wittier. –jimmy (www.blackoutrecords.com)


ESCAPED, THE:
Rose City Hardcore: CD
I’ve heard of New York City Hardcore, D.C. Hardcore, and even Mid-West Hardcore, but Rose City Hard Core? Cute. Good to see the Northwest represent. Standard old-fashioned kick-in-your-teeth hardcore from a Portland punk band, The Escaped. The dual-singer approach was original, but unfortunately the songs were uninspiring. At least give me a decent mosh, for christ’s sake! –Jason K –Guest Contributor (Blackout)


DRAGONS:
Rocknroll Kamikaze: CD
Raucous, rough and tumble punk rock’n’roll on this reissue from San Diego’s answer to Radio Birdman. Originally released on Junk back in 2001 but lost in the shuffle of lost distribution deals and planes crashing into buildings, this melding of Thunders damage, Birdman hooks and AC/DC swagger gets a second shot at legendary status, with five additional tracks tacked onto the end to sweeten the deal. Having not been all that impressed with the Sin Salvation album, I could never quite figure what all the buzz was about, but this swell little piece of plastic succinctly puts it all in perspective. No matter your musical predilections, there’s no denying this is a good album, one worthy of much attention, and I suggest you give it some. –jimmy (Gearhead)


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