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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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VIOLENT ARREST:
: 7”
So, picture this: Violent Arrest walk into a bar… No, no, that’s not right. Violent Arrest walk into a VFW Hall, or a community center, or a basement, or, hell, maybe even a bar, sure. They then proceed to lay waste to the entire place with their relentless worship and emulation of ‘80s hardcore, and you can take that for what it is. I mean, they’re not reinventing the wheel by any stretch, but the wheel they’ve created is big (great recording quality), rolling very fast (ten songs in maybe ten minutes), and covered in sharp, scary spikes (as there’s no lyric sheet, I’ve got no idea what they’re singing about, but the titles don’t exactly denote glee or contentment, and by jumped-up Christ, they sound like they mean it). So it’s probably best if you get out of the way. Another solid one for this label. –keith (Deranged)


VERSE UNSUNG, A:
The Autumn EP: CD
The name scared me from the start. These guys from Minneapolis need to take a good listen to Dillinger 4. I think they want to be pop rock stars that sound a little hard. You know the type: shopping at the mall and rubbing elbows with Grammy-award winning producers for crossover success. This is a punk rock magazine and when there is a blatant lack of understanding of DIY culture, ideology, ethics, and a simultaneous affection for mass popular culture, all you get from me is a big fat, “This sucks!” –Buttertooth (Somnio Artist Group)


VARUKERS:
The Punk Singles 1981-85: CD
I’m all for reissues and “best of” discs, especially when it’s an obscure band or a long gone great whose output has been wallowing in “out of print” land for far too long, but at this point, another Varukers retrospective is about as necessary as a Sex Pistols retrospective. I mean, seriously, how many are there now with the same tracks? How many more times can you squeeze blood from a stone? No one can deny they were a good, even important, band. Inhabiting that fuzzy territory between Discharge and the Exploited, they were fast, topical, pissed off and yet oddly catchy in a way most of their peers weren’t. They are easily deserving of much adulation, but wouldn’t it be much better if a definitive overview—or better yet, a full-on reissue of all their material—were embarked upon and all attempts were made to keep them perpetually available instead of shuffling the same tracks around and slapping a new cover on them? –jimmy (www.cherryred.co.uk)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
We Just Call It Roulette, Vol 1: CD
Russian Recording is a sound studio in Indiana making records for independent bands for the past four years. This disc is a one-time pressing of 500 copies. Most the bands are obscure Midwest bands. I appreciate the underground factor of this disc. The musical styles vary from folksy to indie rock to hardcore. From Billy Bragg ideas to Slint’s and Jesus Lizard’s musical twists. The hardcore tracks include WastelandDC and Racebannon. There are a plenty of good acts on here including: Lucky Pineapple, Beltane Fire, Turn Pale, and Abner Trio, among others. Diversity is punk rock. Russian does decent recordings as well. Check ‘em out if you are in Indiana. –Buttertooth (Russian Recordings)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
The Black Garfield Comp: CD
Four bands: Part Man Part Horse, The Old Timerz, Coconut Cool Outs, Unnatural Helpers, all of which I’ve never heard of. No track listing, so I have no idea who’s doing what. Those tracks that have that spastic dance feel of the Trashies or the Sneaky Pinks are awesome. Those few songs with the dude who sings like he’s got a healthy stash of Lifter Puller and Hold Steady records on his shelf are pretty great. The rest of it varies from ignorably annoying to full-on shit-tastic. Lots of weird dick joke humor going on in there inside this sweet three-color hand screened cover, which was a little off-putting, even though I love me a good dick joke. –megan (Haunted Horse)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Retro Is Poison: LP
An interesting four-way with Ciril, Karnvapen Attack (Spain), I Object, and Active Minds (U.K.) who I didn’t know were still an active band. Starting things off is one my favorite bands to go see live. Their mixture of death rock and punk ala Rudimentary Peni is challenging and interesting. A band you have to see live once in your lifetime to really see what their madness truly is. Karnvapen Attack from Spain takes their name from a Mob 47 song, but that is not their primary influence. They take the early ‘80s Scandinavian sound and meld it with pieces of early American hardcore. With the pieces together, they bring forth a forceful attack. I Object has been flying past my radar. I have a couple of their releases I never got around to listening to. I know they tour extensively but I have missed them the few times they have come around my way. Now sitting here listening to them, I am the one who has truly missed out. Straight-ahead, female-fronted hardcore that keeps the songs short and to the point. A ferocious delivery of rage, but they change it up to keep songs from becoming monotonous and generic. They play with the tempo and are not afraid to play with the sounds and notes. But, in the end, their thrashing is what is going to slap you in the ass. Closing the comp is U.K.’s Active Minds. A perfect blend of anarcho punk meets thrash. They have been at it for quite some time now but they have not become complacent. They still question the realities of life and spew it forth with abrasive aggression. Comps are not always my favorites these days, but this one stands out amongst the comps out there that feel like they are full of filler. –don (Punks Before Profit)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
He Put the Bomp! in the Bomp-Greg Shaw: CD
Incredible compilation of bands paying tribute to the late Shaw, founder of Bomp Records. It starts out with the one-two sucker punch of The Plimsouls doing “Good Times” and The Briefs tackling “She’s Just a Girl on the Block.” Other groups cover The Zeros, The Dead Boys, and Roky Erickson too. Captain Sensible even contributes to Nikki Sudden’s take on “KillCity.” Twenty-three killer songs, this also came with a book and T-shirt in a hundred run package. But at least get this CD to find out about Bomp Records and the man that made it so fucking cool. –koepenick (Bomp!)


UNDERTHINGS, THE:
“Shake Me Just a Little Bit More” b/w “It’s All About Me”: 7”
The Underthings, who bill themselves as “Brooklyn’s Oldest Hit Makers,” feature members of the Sea Monkeys, Little Killers, Plungers, and Vacant Lot, and they haven’t just been around the block, they were there when the block was paved. This has been a great year for singles—Ergs, Primate 5, Coconut Coolouts, Tuff Bananas, Catholic Boys—and my most recent mix tape is already dragging from overuse (Maxell’s R&D budget ain’t what it used to be. They’ve even cut back on the amount of leader tape in each cassette.)—and “Shake Me Just a Little Bit More” is the best song on that mix. Don’t be led astray by the lyric’s modest request there’s big action. Enough pop, punk, and garage to please the Chocolate Watchband fan as much as the All fanatic—that’s what great guitar hooks and simple yet adhesive melodies will get you in this world. The b-side is okay, same great band at the helm, but suffers in the arrangement department (the last line of each verse is repeated in every chorus and it’s overkill). Worth it for the a-side. –Mike Faloon (www.myspace.com/heyheyitstheunderthings)


UNDER PRESSURE:
Black Bile: LP
These guys keep the thrash-o-matic drum beats to a bare minimum and opt instead for some driving, blunt force beats to propel some solid tuneage. It’s probably not wholly intentional, but the singer is sometimes reminiscent of Snake from Voivod. Not bad. –jimmy (Fashionable Idiots)


UNDER PRESSURE:
Black Bile: CD
Musical tastes are so subjective. Reviewing music, even more so. I’ve had records I’ve played on, songs I’ve written, compared to bands I’ve never heard of before, much less listened to or ripped off, intentionally or not. So, for all I know, Under Pressure has no idea who Fucked Up is, or if they do, it’s entirely possible the similarities I hear are in no way intentional. But again, reviewing music is mired in subjectivity—we’re all at the mercy of limitations, both the band’s the reviewer’s. And I’m hearing a heavy, heavy tip of the hat to that band on this album; the vocalist sounds remarkably like Pink Eye (or whatever stupid moniker the dude’s going by these days) and the music itself sounds like discarded outtakes from the Epics In Minutes collection, until the final track, “The Last,” which is a slow, simmering dirge remarkably similar to something from Hidden World. I hate to compare one band so rigidly to another (because Under Pressure doesn’t come close to giving me the same spiritual piss-shivers that Fucked Up does) but after listening to Black Bile multiple times, that comparison’s the only one that keeps springing to mind. –keith (Escape Artist)


TYVEK:
Fast Metabolism: CD
Compilation CD of all their singles, each song a winner, putting faith in true garage rock is still replacing the void of The Gories. Yes, I said that band. Highly recommended. –mike (Burned CD bought from the band at their awesome show.)


TRIP DADDYS, THE:
Too Much, Too Fast: CD
The Trip Daddys have been one of my favorite bands for a while. They’re best described as psychobilly, but their energetic shows also draw fans of punk and garage. They remind me of Hasil Adkins, the Reverend Horton Heat, and Link Wray. Too Much, Too Fast has stronger country and blues notes than the band’s earlier efforts, and it continues the band’s habit of creating potent mixes of styles within the same song. “Don’t Wanna Know” is an addictive tune, with a rapid-fire chorus that pulls you along whether you want to go or not. Many of the tracks deal with women who are trouble, and the best of these is “All the Above.” “By the Heart,” a love song with bassist Jamey Almond singing lead, is the most purely country track on the album. It’s upbeat and romantic, but the lyrics also conjure powerful images of loneliness and despair amid “the cold walls and the sweating pipes.” Craig Straubinger’s guitar playing forms the core of the group’s intense, unpredictable sound. Doublewide is still the Daddys’ best album, but this one is a great introduction to the band. –Chris Pepus (www.tripdaddys.com)


TRADITIONAL FOOLS, THE:
I Got a Baby: 7”
Rip Off records-ish punk rock, heavy on the garage rock side of the equation. Decent, but not amazing, although the last song was very danceable! If this were a cereal, it’d be Honey Nut Cheerios. Better than regular Cheerios, but it still needs more sugar! –Maddy (aaron@chocolatecoveredrecords.com)


TRABANT:
Young, Reckless, and Debonaire:: CD
These guys are straightforward, raw punk rock. They aren’t so young or debonair but they seem to have their ethics intact. I have a feeling these folks are from a rural land rather irritated by their local brethren. Lyrically, they are over the top and I’m not really a fan of the music, but these guys are sure to keep on trucking regardless of my petty opinion, and that’s definitely something I can respect! –Buttertooth (www.newdisorder.com)


TOY DOLLS:
Treasured Toy Dolls Tracks: CD
There ain’t any info with regards to when or where this was recorded, and the audience strangely sounds like they’re not quite aware the band is playing despite all the shouting and cheering, but this is ostensibly a live recording of Olga and company playing from their nearly three-decades’ deep back catalog of tunes. Most of what’s here comes from their later albums (and if this indeed a collection of “treasured” tracks, one can’t help but ask where the hell bona fide hits like “Nellie the Elephant” or “I’ve Got Asthma” are), and are delivered with all the oomph (if not always the tightness) one expects from these guys. While it probably ain’t essential to the collection, it is a hoot of a listen. –jimmy (www.sosrecords.us)


TOWN BIKE:
When Good Kids Go Bad: 7”
Poppy punk from Liverpool. The lead vocalist could probably use a little more conviction in her delivery, but otherwise these kids ain’t bad. –jimmy (www.myspace.com/townbike)


TOUGH:
Fast/Faster: LP
I don’t have much info to go off of here, but it looks like, at the core, this is a Ramones/Queers influenced pop punk band, with a bit more edge to it. I was a little curious why they put all the songs on one side of the record and then some crazy etching on the other side. Also I tried looking them up online, and they had the whole thing up for download, with a message like, “Vinyl for the elitists, online for the masses.” Pretty good and enjoyable if you like this sort of stuff. –joe (El Topo)


TOO MANY DAVES:
Self-titled: 7”
Party punk (I’m pretty sure we can call this a sub-genre these days) super group, where the uniting factor is in the name. Now, as you might imagine, the general topics at hand here involve partying, so at the risk of sounding like a dick, I’m going to say that I wish the songs were fleshed out, just a little, especially lyrically speaking. I say that with the reasoning that I’m probably the least-partying/nerdiest dude you’ll find, and not only did I enjoy this, but upon listening to “Honkey Lips,” I wanted to personally thank Todd for sending it to me as it pretty much summed up my life at the moment (“Getting bored of the shit you do all day is better than getting yelled at for the shit you do all day”). –joe (ADD)


TIME FLIES, THE:
The In Crowd: 7”
This band would fit into a genre that I would like to call “plural rock.” Plural rock is music made by bands with names like The Stinkies or The Greasies or The Porknobs or The Toilets or something that always ends in “s.” You can be pretty much assured by the sound of the band name that they are or going to be an umpteenth generation retread of a rock’n’roll, punk, or garage rock band. I usually write bands like this off based on their name alone. Hell, if I miss out on a good band in the process, my loss right? But from my understanding, the cream rises to the top and I’ll find out about the good shit eventually. Anyway, this isn’t really that bad of a record or anything, it’s just... plural rock. –Craven (Douchemaster)


TIGERSHARK / THANK GOD:
Split: 12”

Thank God: Hey, let’s walk down the hall of this practice studio. Behind the first door, we’ll hear pummeling, violent hardcore. What’s this down the hall? A guy practicing Iron Maiden bass lines? Okay…Then his neighbor is doing creaky, country moans over some Blind Joe Death guitars? Rad. And at the end of the hall is someone blasting that old Southeast Hardcore Fuck Yeah comp and crying over it. Cool. I’d be happy to take that walk again. Tigershark: What if you and your buds got all hyped up and decided “No, we really can push through this concrete wall?” Then when the cinderblocks fell on your head and didn’t hurt, someone yelled “I just thought of the song title of a lifetime! ‘He’s Not a Bartender, He’s an Artist!’” and everyone went “Too true, man. Too true.”

Terrific cover art from Ryan MacLennan. One gripe: A 10” on 45? Come on guys. Just do a 7”. Al Gore is pissed. –CT Terry –Guest Contributor (Molsook)


THOMAS FUNCTION:
My Empire: 7”
The best band you’re currently sleeping on. Off kilter, somewhat dancey, garagey rock that recalls the best parts of ‘70s, Lou Reed, and Brian Eno. They’re able to toss all that in a blender and actually pour out something worth while and relevant. I’ve been going relatively crazy over this band for the last year or so and it makes me feel like I’m jumping up and down on a chair in the middle of a crowded room and no one is fucking paying attention. Wake up motherfuckers. Alabama has birthed something you’d never expect to rise from its back woods. I’m thinking this situation is going to change in 2008. These guys have a full length coming out on Alive Records at some point. –Steveo (Black Owl Radio)


THIS MOMENT IN BLACK HISTORY:
It Takes a Nation of Assholes to Hold Us Back: LP
TMIBH has the versatility and intensity of Rites Of Spring, the political/social conscience of Dillinger Four, and have the ability to just bring it harder than 99.9 percent of the entire world’s population (Sweden included). If Trial By Fire’s Ringing in the Dawn had been recorded by Steve Albini and they really wanted to stir things up it—might have been this album. It Takes A Nation… is an adventure of an LP traveling through the American Midwest with heavy, yet fluid, guitars as your guides and the occasional sound effect just making the trip even more interesting. If there ever was the perfect combination of passionate DC hardcore with Midwest garage-punk, this could probably be it. This record came out last year and is now available on vinyl through X-Mist Records. –Daryl Gussin (X-Mist)


TEENERS, THE:
Self-titled: 7”
The oddest experience I’ve had is getting a body cast taken off. Since its fiberglass, they use a saw that is insanely loud and terrifying yet doesn’t cut your skin—wtf? Who made that and why can’t every saw do that? Strange. Time came to get it off, and, of course, the epitome of hot nurse is assigned to do it. So I’m naked in a body cast that goes from chest to waist and down one leg, otherwise I’m hanging free. Sadly, my Dad insisted on being part of the fascinating process. Gotta see everything, huh Dad? How else will you learn? So Dad sat there quietly as said hot nurse pushes a saw all over my body cast and frees me in what should have been my learning experience alone. Weird. The buzzsaw, the awkwardness, The Teeners understand. –mike (Super Secret)


SWANN DANGER:
Deep North: CD
I wish I could tell you that this is a very good impression of a Siouxsie And The Banshees record. Unfortunately, it’s not. –koepenick (Custody Night School)


SUZANNE’SILVER:
The Crying Mary: CD
Remember that time when the members of Shellac, Slint, and Battles all got together and had that big sex orgy? Well, someone wasn’t using protection because a bastard child has been found; named Suzanne’Silver. For some reason, it’s Italian but, thankfully, it’s speaking in English just like its parents, thus making it a little easier for me to understand, although all it does is yell most of the time, so it’s still somewhat hard to interpret. I think it’s safe to say that even if none of the parents take responsibility, Suzanne’Silver is still a child that any of them should be proud to call their own. –kurt (Radio Is Down)


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