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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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COMPLETE CONTROL:
Reaction: CD/ LP
I’m always a little suspicious of bands named after classic punk songs (“Complete Control” was the Clash’s fourth single), but hot damn, these guys unabashedly rip. They have less in common with ‘77 punk and more of a mix between the ball-bearing tight musicianship of Funeral Oration mixed in with the force, the non-nonsense charge of The Effigies, and the undeniable energy of the Bodies. It’s almost as if the pop punk flag has been expertly folded into what would be usually considered a street punk box and then the whole deal is burned. New, dangerous flames jumping from old ideas. The lead singer’s voice makes it easy for the speed to digest when he sings about rotting flesh and America’s foreign policy woes. He doesn’t seem in a hurry, can carry a note, and there are guitar melodies dancing and weaving all over the place. For a debut LP, this is absolutely incredible. This sounds like a band that’s been playing for over five years. I’d put them on par with The Boils and Wednesday Night Heroes. –todd (TKO: CD, Slab-o-Wax: LP)


CODE, THE:
Rhetoric of Reason: CDEP
In the same school of Anti Flag and actually on that band’s A-F Records, this band plays politically charged melodicore and ska punk. It’s a four-songer that includes a cover of “Unity” by Operation Ivy. So is that enough to make you buy? –don (Jump Start)


CINCH, THE:
Shake If You Got It: CD
Mid-tempo bar punk with monotone vocal delivery. It’s all right, I guess, but I guess I was expecting more considering the label responsible. –jimmy (Dirtnap)


CINCH, THE:
Shake If You Got It: CD
I liked the EP fine, but the formerly impending full-length is so meandering and ethereal that i’m pretty sure you could conjure up a more Gripping Rock Experience by listening thru the walls to the chick who lives in the apartment above you singing along to her Dream Syndicate album. Only thing shaking here is my head, and that’s due to the veritable Parkinson’s Disease of disdain i have just now been stricken with. BEST SONG: “Forwards & Backwards” BEST SONG TITLE: “I Feel Strange” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: “Mystery Train” is not the Sun-era Elvis number of identical nomenclature. Also, the “A” in “FAde Out” is capitalized. –norb (Dirtnap/Stutter)


CHEVAL DE FRISE:
Self-titled: CD
Some musical rapscallions impress us with their musical prowess by raising a big, arty, instrumental cacophony with drums, bass and ACOUSTIC GUITARS. Boy, oh boy, I for one am impressed, you hellions you. –jimmy (Sickroom)


CHERRY LANE:
30: CDEP
Reviewing this record is little more than influence trainspotting—Hot Water Music. Small Brown Bike. You get the idea. –scott (Thinker Thought)


CHASMA:
Kathe for a Pou Allos Ginome: CDEP
When I think of world music that isn’t merely a soundtrack for yuppies to feng shui their apartments to, a band like Chasma is what comes to mind. They’re Russian. Although their musical approach from song to song takes a little bit of getting used to, they explore ska, metal, rock, art, and roadhouse blues, all under the loose, huge umbrella of punk. The good news is that they somehow fearlessly pull it all together. It’s interesting, listenable, and not easily scrunched into a tiny pigeonhole. Other bands which come to mind that are similarly unclassifiable would be Scotland’s Oi Polloi, Italy’s I Refuse It!, or America’s Tchkung! All collective amalgamations that come across as pan-world and otherworldly. Chasma’s lyrics are in Cyrillic, so I have no idea what they’re singing about. The paintings in the album artwork are dark, broad-stroked, and filled with barbed wire, which fits the music very well. Obscure yet very satisfying. –todd (xasma@punk.gr)


CENTRAL CITY TRANSMISSION:
Incommunicado: CDEP
Whoa, what the fuck is this, Modest Mouse? Eek. Jangly, airy college radio rock with hand wringing, poetaster lyrics that sound like they were penned by Jewel during a break-up-inspired fudge brownie/crying binge. Oof. Oscar Wilde’s ascotted corpse must be spinning in it’s grave. After each horrid song I expected to hear some dorky college kid D.J. with a pimply voice that hasn’t dropped yet. I’ll admit this: the very last song actually didn’t seem so bad, but that might just be because the previous four songs had all the zing and kapow of a couple of grandma boobs. Kids: This CD is an example of why art classes can be dangerous. –aphid (Kapow)


CARI CLARA:
Miniature American Model Society: CD
Odd, shambling, quirky indie rock which veers from flanged distortion to gentle melodies. To get an idea of the kind of broad, sweeping musical spectrum this record covers, it incorporates elements of psychedelia, power pop, rock, electronica—and that’s literally the tip of this iceberg. I can hear Big Star, Primal Scream, the Butthole Surfers, Pavement… this list could go on, but what it boils down to is that there are only a handful of contemporary artists that are this ambitious and diverse (two that spring to mind are The Beta Band and Simian). When most songs start, I haven’t the slightest clue where they’re going because, as Cari Clara proves in “We’re the Pollution,” they can transform a song that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on a lo-fi Guided By Voices record to a soothing, droning, indie rock gem which reminds me of Radiohead in one beat. I won’t even bother with classifications (except to tell you that this isn’t even close to punk or emo or anything like them), because the only way I can really explain this is noting that it’s perfect for a long summer drive through the desert with the top down and the radio up when no other cars are around. It’s expansive enough to fill that space. Chalk this disc up as a hugely unexpected surprise, which is surprisingly good. –scott (Tiberius)


CAREER SUICIDE/ JED WHITEY:
Split: LP
Career Suicide have a savant-like intuition around classic hardcore. They know which buttons to push to keep it flying and running smoothly without resorting to auto pilot and solely flying over well-covered ground. It’s manic, gnashing, vital, exciting stuff that I can say, without reservation, stands shoulder to shoulder with not only DS-13 and Fucked Up, but Minor Threat and Negative Approach. If you like your hardcore with teeth and smarts, look no further. Jackhammers of songs. Jed Whitey, an Australian band who have a ton in common with the Supersuckers’ most straight forward, driving songs, crunch out six songs of non-suck punk rock’n’roll on par with “Born with a Tail.” Toss in some Lazy Cowgirls for good measure. On the cover, if you just see the two names, it’s kind of an enigma. “How does this work?” In the end, it just shows that punk’s a much bigger tribe than many of the uptight scene police would like to admit. Bitchin’ split. –todd (Deranged)


CALIFORNIA REDEMPTION:
This Time It’s for the Money: CD
I hear the potential for a good band buried in there somewhere, but the mix kinda zaps what power they’re able to muster right out of some songs that are pretty overwrought and underwhelming to begin with. My suggestion is to sack anyone in the band who is able to play their instrument with any proficiency, get real pissed off at the world, and then unleash that rage on the world via your punk band. Need some inspiration? Listen to Ill Repute’s Oxnard, Land of No Toilets EP, paying special attention to “Fuck with My Head.” That should set you in the right direction. –jimmy (www.caredemption.com)


C.AARME:
Self-titled: CD
I wish I knew the names of more bands that are doing this sound right now, because I know there are a lot, but the only one I can think of is the Mean Reds. Punk that’s loud without being harsh. Swedish without being thrash. Fun without being stupid. Makes you want to dance without punching. Loaded with energy that you can tell comes from exuberance rather than a can. Real great stuff. –Cuss Baxter (Burning Heart)


BURNING IMAGE:
1983-87: CD
I kept looking at this and wondering why I knew the band name, and when I pressed play they sounded so goddamned familiar, but I just couldn’t place ‘em. And then “Hives” came on and the memories came flooding in. The aforementioned “Hives” was one of the better tracks on Mystic Record’s would-be death rock comp, Let’s Die. Lots of gloominess and weird time changes, with enough punk pumped into the sound to keep things edgy. That also pretty much sums up the sound here as well. There’s a lot of diversity in the music, but they managed to keep everything pretty well amped up to prevent it all from dissolving into one big arty mess of pretentious sludge. Nice to finally hear more from these guys than their single and that lone comp track, and word is they’re out playing again, which hopefully means they’ll be back in the studio soon. –jimmy (Alternative Tentacles)


BROKEN BONES:
No-One Survives: 7”
On these three songs, “Dead Inside, “No One Survives,” and “Systematic Abuse,” Broken Bones deliver serious hardcore with screaming guitars and screamed vocals. No melody to speak of, and if it weren’t for the fact that I had to flip the disc over, I probably wouldn’t have noticed the change from one song to the next. Still, very powerful. Also, if you’re interested in packaging, this one is very nice. A fold out sleeve with lyrics and band photos, and the disc itself is white vinyl. –brian (Dr. Strange)


BRIEFS, THE:
Sex Objects: CD
One of the hundreds of cool things about the Briefs is that even through they have a sound that’s unmistakably their own, their songs don’t sound the same. Maybe it’s because there’s no true frontman, and Lance, Daniel, Steve E and Chris all share in the fun. Although Hit After Hit is still the album I foist on Briefs virgins, this release is a damn sight better than the last one. Fans will recognize songs from their live set and seven inches. What I love best about this band is they write and record music as if it was 1978 and they need a song that will knock the Undertones off the top of the charts. Mission accomplished. –Jim Ruland (BYO)


BONELESS CHILDREN FOUNDATION, THE:
Self-titled: CD
Quirky college alt-rock. Club owners might find it a very useful tool when they want to clear the club out after a show. –jimmy (www.bonelesschildren.com)


BONECRUSHER:
Tomorrow Is Too Late: CD
I never thought I’d put the word “subtlety” and Bonecrusher in the same sentence. For a blue collar, simple and heavy-as-concrete band that bases its reputation on hard work for little pay and gigs for beer, it’s the little things that make this CD stand head and shoulders above the street punk and oi throngs. Usually, this type of music doesn’t age gracefully (see current day Cock Sparrer). To avoid being a parody of their former selves, they’ve mixed things up ever so slightly. There are some songs about loneliness and despair on this record. This works well for them. Bonecrusher’s still got the blunt force power of a band like the Anti-Heroes, the prison-strong muscling of the debut Discontent’s Who Killed Vinyl? 7”, and they could probably take any other band down in a no-holds-barred belt fight. That’s been established, but it’s the guitar work and drumming on Tomorrow Is Too Late that’s keeping me reaching back to this CD. I can’t help but snap my fingers along to the songs. For some reason, this record’s much better than their last effort, The Good Life, and on par with their best work, circa Working for a Living. Happily surprised. –todd (Knock Out)


BONDS, THE:
Not a Phase: CDEP
Canadian hardcore outfit that could easily say they are from New York. They definitely have the NYHC sound down. The music and lyrics are interchangeable with most of the bands from that genre. Decent band, just nothing I haven’t heard over and over before. –toby (Tuned To You)


BOMBSHELLS, THE:
Self-titled: CD
Overproduced rock and roll by people who clearly like Johnny Thunders. Sneered lyrics, affected boredom, striped shirts and studded belts. You get the idea. This is Los Angeles O’s because I’m guessing they are from there, and, you know, it just makes sense, The Germs notwithstanding. –Maddy (self-released?)


BOMBSHELLS, THE:
Self-titled: CD
Oh my god, so punk rock that one wears his belt—get this—sideways! I know, unbelievable. Then I put this on and they sing about doing dirty things with sluts. And fights in bathrooms. Of course, one wears stripes too. I read a review that said that this is a must-have if you live in Silverlake (the over-priced, hipster-haven of LA) I can’t agree more. –megan (Bombshells)


BLACK TIME:
Blackout: LP
Garagey/arty lo-fi punk. Picked it up ‘cause it name-checked Black Randy (Where is he now, you ask? AIDS-via-drugs killed him off back in the ‘80s) and Kickboy Face, but what I’m hearin’ ain’t anywhere near that one-of-a-kind. –jimmy (therhythmhive@hotmail.com)


BLACK MARKET FETUS/ DISCIDER:
Split: CD
Black Market Fetus: Politically oriented grind here. Found it difficult not to laugh out loud after reading the line, “Resources are running out/the sky is turning grey/so use something twice before throwing it away.” Just doesn’t seem to fit in the context of a band with a drawing of a rotting corpse accompanying their half of the lyric sheet. Discider: Hardcore punk with apocalyptic lyrics and cookie monster vocals. –jimmy (First Blood Family)


BLACK FURIES:
Self-titled: CD
I instantly liked this CD, from the stuttering drum intro and insistent one-note piano of the opening track, “Offer Resistance,” right through ‘til the closing “Handout,” with its almost Social Distortion-worthy blues melody. Thirteen songs in just over thirty minutes of hard rockin’ punk fun that’ll leave you begging for more. There was something familiar about the sound of this record which I couldn’t quite place at first, until I turned it off and found myself singing Deep Purple’s “Woman from Tokyo.” Not that the Black Furies sound like Deep Purple—there are no twenty-minute guitar solos, for instance—but there is something similar in the way they reinterpret three-chord rock’n’roll for the 21st century. The singer delivers with plenty of testosterone-powered passion, without trying to sound like he’s been gargling with gravel. He actually sings. What a concept. The guitar playing is both slithering and powerful, and works with the pounding rhythm of the drums to force you to get up out of your seat and start shaking. Highly recommended. –brian (Take Root)


BLACK DICE:
Miles of Smiles/ Creature Comforts/ Wolf Eyes Split: CDEP/CD/CD
Black Dice is an unusual entity—it doesn’t make music so much as shapes noise, as it guides seemingly random sounds into something resembling order and structure. It has more in common with avant-garde composers like Philip Glass and Steve Reich than it does with indie or punk, although most of the people who listen to Black Dice likely wouldn’t bother with listening to the band’s predecessors. These songs bubble, pulse, throb and sometime squawk with noise; usually they sound like modulated whale songs with arpeggiated guitar notes played in reverse. You get the idea. It’s noisy shit that isn’t always easy to listen to. The Miles of Smiles EP is almost thirty minutes long and consists of two songs. The Creature Comforts full-length is less soothing than Beaches and Canyons, but still utterly fascinating. The Wolf Eyes split (honestly, with the lack of liner notes, it’s tough to tell who does what or is involved with it) is more of the same, with more thrashing noise in the vein of Black Dice’s earlier work, as well as audio terrorists like John Zorn. –scott (DFA; <dfaweb@dfarecords.com> / Fusetron)


BATHTUB SHITTER:
Fertilizer: 7”
Bathtub Shitter shits high-intensity grind (though their leaden Sore Throat cover on the Murderous Grind Attack comp is the only song on that record that I consistently skip), and here’s some of said shit from 1999, both studio and live: seven pieces of not-letting-up that does not let down. And lyrics, thank god: “The fly is to be crazy for the smell of my excrement/The insect is to roll it/I may be sort of a creator,” then some stuff that makes even less sense, and then, “In short, they may call you ‘BROWN FINGER’/Be fine.” Long live non-sequitur scat metal! –Cuss Baxter (First Blood Family)


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