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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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SUPREME COMMANDER / ALIVE AT LAST:
Split: CD
This full-length split CD from the New Jersey punk and hardcore scene presents Supreme Commander and Alive At Last as an antidote to the egos and attitudes of pretentious, posturing “false punk.” Supreme Commander claims the first six tracks with the kind of straightforward, no-nonsense hardcore that begs for a circle pit and lots of shouting-along. Alive At Last brings up the rear with six more tracks of we-mean-business hardcore, but fear not: their business is fun. The bands are well matched and the split is definitely worth the listen. –Sarah Shay –Guest Contributor (Bishop19)


STUKAS OVER BEDROCK:
Back to the Stone Age: LP
L.A.’s punk scene has definitely had its share of quirky punk bands. Sure, there was that whole art-punk scene in Pasadena that included Human Hands, Monitor, BPeople and the Child Molesters, but I’m talking more about the out-and-out punk bands who delivered tuneage just a little more off-kilter than, say, Black Flag, specifically bands like Detox, Artistic Decline, Love Canal, and the band currently under discussion. Stukas Over Bedrock scored a minor KROQ hit— way back when the station was still accessible to local bands and not the big, crappy corporate behemoth it is now—with “Life Like Yogi.” I remember Rodney, in particular, playing it quite often for a while there. “Yogi” leads off this disc, as do their EP’s other two tracks, “Sex Thing” and “Bedrock Bedlam,” and the remaining eleven tracks on this compendium of early recordings are filled with their unique brand of simple yet effective thud-punk beats, sarcastic wit, and sometimes odd lyrical images (“You buttfuck your muffler/and you breathe exhaust...”). Choice cuts: the Flipperesque “Four Bucks” and the thrash cover of Pink Floyd’s “Careful with That Axe, Eugene.” Was nice hearing these guys again. –jimmy (www.punkrecords.com)


STARLA! UBIQUITOUS:
A New Train of Thought: Cassette
“Ubiquitous” is defined, so says my battered copy of Webster’s 9th, as “existing or being everywhere at the same time.” While that sort of multifaceted quality may be true in, I don’t know, this woman’s personal life or her emotional canon or whatever, her sonic output exists firmly within the walls of folk music. I’m sure she’s just thrilled with what will probably be yet another Ani Difranco comparison to her stuff, but that’s a lot of what I’m hearing, I’d say somewhere around the first self-titled record and Not a Pretty Girl. Another reference would be Kaia’s stuff (mostly in the vocals), at least the live material I’ve heard. It’s very laid-back, very calm—I enjoyed the fact that there are a few moments of her and the engineer dude talking and laughing in between songs, giving it a very honest, “get it down in one take” feel. I’d say the one drawback (and this is where the ubiquity does more damage than help) is the song “Obsessive Compulsive Love Song”: it’s a sarcastic take on unhealthy relationships, and its cynicism clumsily flies in the face of the rest of the record’s hopeful, joyful, politics-are-personal tone. All in all though, rest of the album shines pretty nicely. –keith (Sharpie Fumes)


STAAGS!:
Robot: Cassette
Leave it to a pretentious Memphis garage rock band to put out a sloppy cassette single recorded on a 4-track in 2007. It’s comforting to find a band this intentionally un-tight allowing others to hear their home recordings. Lower than lo-fi, this tape has a retro appeal factor due to the old school demo format. This cassette is limited to just one hundred copies and the label’s other two releases are already long gone. Garage collectors will surely want to subject themselves to these shenanigans. –Art Ettinger (Don’t Hit Record!, http://www.myspace.com/dhrrecords)


SOUL MERCHANTS:
1985-1987: 2 x CD
What i have been given to review is actually a promo-only one disc redux of the actual two-disc retail release. By all applicable Razorcake by-laws, this technically disqualifies it for review. Under ordinary circumstances, i would be charitable and overlook this transgression. I can assure you these are not normal circumstances. BEST SONG: “Save My Soul” BEST SONG TITLE: “Cold Dark Bed” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: “In a day where neo goth bands and neo psych bands are doing well, it seems appropriate to revisit Denver’s only psychedelic death rock outfit.” Uh, if YOU say so, Stoney... –norb (Smooch)


SOMETHING FIERCE / HANGOUTS, THE:
Split: 7”
Both of these Houston bands play a once mainline brand of punk that recently has been relegated back to the underground. The end result is fun as hell. Not liking this fast, melodic punk record would be akin to not liking to smile. Niki S., who plays bass and does backing vocals for Something Fierce, provides killer female vocals for The Hangouts, who are harder than Something Fierce but just as catchy. It’s records like these that stomp the jaded right out of me and take me back to the basement show vitality that made me jump up and down for the first time back in the day. Easily one of the best fucking records of the year. –Art Ettinger (Manic Attack!!!)


SOCIETY HIGH:
Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli: CD
Punk rock out of upstate New York that has an early ‘80s punk sound. Reminds me of bands like Secret Hate or the Nip Drivers. Also taking sounds from bands like Screeching Weasel, H2O, or Bouncing Souls. Melodic, mid-tempo three fingers in the air punk rock with a feel of fun. –don (Whiskey Shot)


SMITH WESTERNS, THE:
Demo: CD-R
It’s that one local band that can’t figure out how to write a song without using some phrase that was hilariously clever when you were nine years old. (Underwear jokes? Hell yeah!) Of course, I can only really guess what they’re singing about. All I have to judge off is song titles. Now, I’m no genius, but my guess is that “Sticky Panties” isn’t a metaphor for the never-ending class war that plagues our world. One positive thing: hand drawn cover. Thumbs up for that! –Bryan Static (Self-released)


SLOW GUN SHOGUN:
Self-titled: CD-R
Slow Gun Shogun is a very ambitious one-man-band project from a Chicago-based musician and journalist listed here as “AJ.” AJ comes from a punk and sludge metal background, but in Slow Gun Shogun he plays rough, raw original country. This demo comes highly recommended, especially for fans of Southern fried punk in the vein of Hellstomper or Hammerlock. Listening to these killer tracks feels like driving home from a hardcore show in Memphis, then ending up in a country bar across the border in Arkansas. –Art Ettinger (www.myspace.com/slowgunshogun)


SILENCE IS SAFETY:
Self-titled: CDEP
Female-led band that kind of reminded me of a cross between Tsunami Bomb at times, then others, maybe the Dollyrots. More in the rock vein with hints of punk. Vocals are pushed a little too much for my liking. They come off too bright and piercing and, at times, either off-key or off-beat. With the vocals pulled back and rearranging how they are sung, it would be an easier listen. –don (Teeno)


SICK E’S:
Whispers: 7” EP
Gloomy death rock/punk stuff, emphasis on the “punk,” more along the lines of 45 Grave than Christian Death. –jimmy (Going Underground)


SHOT BAKER:
Awake: CD
Straight ahead punk rock from this Chicago four piece: great melodies, tight chops, and thoughtful songwriting. This band takes bits of what other bands from their city blazed a dark trail with but add their own identity into it. “Friendship” and “Bred to Be Perfectionists” stick on this platter, but all the songs have their strengths. Let’s put it this way kids—would Naked Raygun take this band out on tour unless they brought it? I think not. –koepenick (Underground Communique)


SHOREBIRDS:
Self-titled: 7”
Over the summer I set up a show for two Olympia bands who were touring with tapes that they had made. Tapes? I’m not a fan so I was pretty glad to see this DIY release come in from Olympia on vinyl. Shorebirds play melodic punk that’s less poppy than Delay, but poppier than Witches With Dicks. Think of a less smart-ass Bent Outta Shape. Contains ex-members of Jawbreaker and the Latterman, which could explain why it’s such a solid release. –Daryl Gussin (Shore Birds)


SHAM 69:
Hollywood Hero: CD
I ain’t gonna get into the semantics of whether this is or isn’t a release by the “real” Sham 69 ‘cause, frankly, I’m more interested in it being good than whether Jimmy Pursey’s singing or not. That said, it definitely sounds like Sham—the good Sham, mind you. Whoever Dave got to take Jimmy’s place does a fairly good impersonation of him, delivering the lyrics (the bulk of which were apparently written by Jimmy before he, um, departed) with just the right mixture of venom, conviction, and harmony. The rest of the band sound top notch, resulting in one of the better Sham releases I’ve heard since their “classic” period. If “I Want Glory” and “I Don’t Believe a Word” are any indication, they might actually do all right without Jimmy, as both tracks are quite solid in their own right. –jimmy (www.sosrecords.us)


SEVEN STOREY MOUNTAIN:
At the Poles: CD

Phoenix, Arizona produced this punchy, indie post punk band. They remind of the ‘90s-era stuff like Trenchmouth, Nation Of Ulysses (a bit), minus the spazzed-out vocals, and

with more solid driving tendencies like Jesus Lizard. Although this isn’t quite up to par with those bands, they definitely lean in that direction. It’s good to see that post punk is alive and well today, harnessing the intensity we all grew up with. –Buttertooth (Thick)


SERVICE GROUP:
Principals of Electronic Circuitry: CD
The first song has that riff The Cult built itself on. And so does the fourth or fifth song. Just can’t do it. –mike (Squid Vs Whale)


SERGEANT:
Midnight to Midnight: CD
I’m a bit of a sucker for spacey music with female vocals. I grew up digging PJ Harvey and admit to having a fondness to Opium Den and Midnight Movies’ music. This band reminds me a little of both those bands. This isn’t quite as original, though. These guys hail from S.F. I think they’re at their best when it leans to the darker and heavier side of their sound. More droning and dissonant chords, less Tori Amos and more Siouxie. Worth trying out, though. –Buttertooth (Self-released)


SCURVIES, THE:
Nightprowler: CD
I’m usually not privy to Alaskan punk rock—think the last bands I heard were Skate Death and the Clyng-Onz back in the ‘80s —so seeing this in the review pile was a bit of a surprise. Pretty solid meat and potatoes punk rock here, mostly mid-tempo with catchy chorus bits and loud guitars. While it took a while to grow on me, some flashes of greatness and the promise of future brilliance are in evidence. Hafta say that a little more chutzpah and audaciousness in both the writing and delivery would push ‘em onto the filet mignon tray, but in all, this ain’t too shabby. –jimmy (Boot to Head)


SASS DRAGONS / PARTY GARBAGE:
Split: 7”
First: I don’t know if it’s just my copy, but the labels were switched on my copy of this. Sass Dragons: Sweet merciful crap. Take the spastic energy, as well as the “no two songs sound alike” aspects of FYP, combined with the chaotic “we will fuck you up” attitude of the Dwarves and the tightness of The Ergs!, and you’ve got The Sass Dragons. Even for just three songs, I had to listen to it a few times in a row, as it’s further proof of some of the awesome stuff that’s going on in DIY punk today. Party Garbage: Speedy, melancholy songs about, well, partying (so to speak). Not as good as the Sass Dragons side (but I mean, come on), and while I wasn’t that into the earlier stuff I’d heard, this is probably my favorite output of theirs, so here’s hoping they keep doing stuff like this. Both bands: Yeah, way to look crazy with a picture of yourselves all naked, when it’s completely blurred out and pixilated to the point where you can’t really tell what’s going on anyway. Nerds! –joe (Lets Pretend)


REVISIONS, THE:
Revised Observations: CD
The Revisions seem to be drawing from the same jangly ‘60s pop well as The Shins, without sounding particularly like them. There’s a distinct folk vein as well, amongst echoing vocals, thrumming guitars, and distinct bass lines. I can’t exactly put my finger on what the Revisions are, but whatever it is, I like it. –Sarah Shay –Guest Contributor (Dirtnap)


RESONARS, THE:
Nonetheless Blue: CD
Poppy, perfectly rendered garage rock from the brilliant mind of Matt Rendon (also a driving force behind the way fab, sadly departed Knockout Pills). He has an uncanny knack for nicking sixties stylings—Kinks, Dylan, Zombies, Rubber Soul Beatles—but his ear for melody and knack for arranging songs, along with hints of punk rock energy, raise Nonetheless Blue above mere mimicry. Plus, I hear a lot of Knockout Pills in these songs—the way the “band” (the Resonars are a one-man combo) punches accents in unison, the sustained vowel sounds at the end of vocal lines. I’m drafting a research grant to fund a comparative analysis between the Resonars and the Knockout Pills. While that works its way through the proper channels (it would already be a done deal if the parties involved were Canadian), I’ll leave you with this analogy—The Resonars:Knockout Pills::Archiecomics:E.C. Comics. –Mike Faloon (Get Hip)


RESISTORS:
Damaged Ugly & Loud: CD
A first effort from some dudes who have been around for a while. I mention that, because there are some elements of mid-‘80s American hardcore (in the book sense of a definition), though this sounds a little slicker (not over-the-top by any means though, just as opposed to sounding like it was recorded on a boom box). I don’t know if I could put this up there with classic stuff like the Zero Boys, but it ain’t bad. –joe (Self-released)


REJECTED:
Fool for a Day-King for a Lifetime: CD
They guys are from Finland and their town sounds cold—Lappeenranta. But this release will leave you as warm as if you just drank hot cocoa with marshmallows.
Competent street
punk with a bite. Imagine Dicky Barrett fronting The Business and you get the idea. “Four Shots” and “Intoxicated” should be blasting from boom boxes in Siberia right now, if there was any justice in this world. –koepenick (Hell’s Tone)


RED VOICE CHOIR:
A Thousand Reflections: CD
While the lyrics are a bit abstract for my taste, I like this four-piece half-male, half-female band. It tends to have a melancholy, jagged feel to it. The bass is thick and the guitars stay on the dissonant chords. They retain a sense of urgency, steer clear of sounding contrived, and fit a keyboard in without sounding hokey. This doesn’t blow me away, but it’s worth a listen if you like dark indie rock. –Buttertooth (Atakra)


RED ROCKETS / TOUCH ME NOTS:
Split: 7”
Da da da da dada dad a—I’m a sucker for that. Who did it first? Reatards? Gene Vincent? Robert Johnson? These two bands sound nothing like any of them, but are good ol’ spirited rock. And then they add in a whoooooo. Not new ground but eager to see what else they do. –mike (www.myspace.com/goredrocket)


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·Building a Better Robot: 10 Years of the Mr. Roboto Project
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