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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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ERECTION KIDS:
Title Fight: CD
Oh Jeezus. Listen, just because I’ve been dead for over 10 years and my brain has rotted up into something that I imagine looks like a dusty raisin, that doesn’t mean I’m stupid enough to want to listen to cheesy high school pop punk bands. Damn. I think I saw these guys at the battle of the bands in High School back in 1994. Kids with wealthy parents who bought them instruments and studio time. They hung out at the mall. I threw an egg at them and they cried. – Tarantula Ted (translated by MP Johnson) –mp (Flight Plan)


DACTYL:
Teething: CD
As a zombie, I essentially have one important decision to make on a daily basis: Whose brains am I going to eat? Sometimes, I put a great deal of thought into the decision. For example, one thing that would make me want to eat your brains is if you have a really great, horror-looking CD cover featuring Daddy Dracula rocking a blue baby mutant in his arms, and yet you filled the disc with all sorts of feedback filled, noisy garage rock. As far as I’m concerned, that’s false advertising, which I’m pretty sure is a violation of some law. If I eat you, I will simply be dishing out justice. Unfortunately, most times I simply bite into whichever head is closest to me when I’m hungry. Dactyl, you lucked the fuck out. – Tarantula Ted (translated by MP Johnson) –mp (Reptilian)


ZOLAR X:
X Marks the Spot: CD
I’m going to get serious for a moment, because, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in all my years of being alive or dead, it’s that there are few things more deserving of the serious treatment than a CD cover photo of a bunch of Plutonian Elves staring at me all serious like. According to legend, this band dropped an album a few decades ago, and then disappeared off the face of the Earth. I’ve never heard that album, but I’ve heard this one, and it’s something else. Don’t expect all that woodsy Tolkien elf bullshit and don’t expect any cheesy laser blasts either. These guys refuse to let their space elfishness define them. They play brilliant power pop that is exemplary, regardless of their mythic heritage. Like all good rock, it transports the listener to another place. Just make sure it’s a round trip.– Tarantula Ted (translated by MP Johnson) –mp (Alternative Tentacles)


THRILLER:
Self-titled: CD
This music sounds very similar to the noises my butt makes after it disposes of the masses of brain matter that my dead guts have failed to digest, except less rocking. They have a song called “Fall Out Boy.” I read through the lyrics of that tune twice and I still couldn’t wrap my rotting mind around them. Something tells me it’s not because their intelligence is beyond me. – Tarantula Ted (translated by MP Johnson) –mp (Guevara)


FOR THE WORSE:
Blood, Guts, Going Nuts: CD
My buddy Mac posed for the cover of this disc, and it’s quite a sight. He’s a chainsaw-wielding skinhead with a cross scarred into his forehead. This particular picture has him covered with blood, which is really his look. He and I have spent many a night wandering by the waterfront looking for romantic couples to chase around and mutilate. Ahhh, the good times. This thrashy nonsense is a decent soundtrack for those sorts of nights, but the dudes lose about a million originality points for opening with that tired sound bite from Dracula: “Listen to them… Children of the night. What music they make.” Ha. You’re tellin’ me, buddy. – Tarantula Ted (translated by MP Johnson) –mp (Bridge 9)


SPOOKSHOW:
Psychosexual Chapter 2: CD
Now this is what I’m talking about. Some of my fellow corpses making the type of tunes I can really get into. They’ve got one called “Here Comes the Zombies.” It’s about going home after a long day of work and baking up a homemade pumpkin pie… filled with corpses! Well, at least that’s what I’m going to pretend it’s about. The lady carcass singing the tunes sounds a little bit too fresh. Her voice is all pretty and melodic. Most of my zombuddies tend to sound a bit more gruff, what with their rotten vocal cords and all. Oh well. – Tarantula Ted (translated by MP Johnson) –mp (Wolverine Records)


HYDEOUTS:
Self-titled: 7"
Oh man, if I had the energy that these crazy high-speed garage rockers had, I might have been able to outrun that car that turned me into the rotting corpse that I am today. These guys have so much raw power that I can’t help but shake and dance and bounce around until all of my disintegrating body parts fall to the floor in one big heap. That’s what rock is all about. – Tarantula Ted (translated by MP Johnson) –mp (Black Lung)


TARAKANY!:
Fear and Hatred / The Best is Enemy of the Good / Freedom Street:
Three albums (one a reissue of a 2002 album, one a “best of” and one apparently a recent release) from a Russian punk band. From what I can glean via the English explanations of some of the songs, their lyrics are of the substantive variety, and I give ’em much respect for trying to have a point deeper than “Look at me! I’m snotty and clever,” but I gotta admit their “modern” punk sound sounded about as uninteresting as most other bands mining similar territory. A little more edge to the sonic package and I’d be right on board with ’em. –jimmy (Zurich Chainsaw Massacre)


SHAM 69:
Tell Us the Truth / That’s Life / The Adventures of Hersham Boys / The Game: CDs
After the Ramones and the Clash, Sham is easily one of the most influential bands to come out of punk rock. From them one can trace most, if not all, strains of oi and what is now called “street punk.” Not only can those influential seeds can be heard scattered throughout their four original releases, one can also track the band’s progression from rudimentary musicians to more accomplished songsmiths. Their first, Tell Us the Truth, is pure minimalist thud-punk—angry, violent, outraged. A number of their better known songs—“Borstal Breakout,” “Hey Little Rich Boy,” “Ulster,” and “Rip Off” to name a few—can be found here, as well as their most direct working class attacks on a power structure that favors the more affluent, which is interesting to note considering the decidedly reactionary bent of many of the bands that followed in their wake. That’s Life, while essentially following along the same lines as its predecessor, experiments a little with the template, adding occasional keys to the songs and spoken bits between tracks. Hersham Boys, progresses things along even further, and by The Game—paradoxically the band’s worst selling album—the songs are finely honed missiles, providing the band’s unpretentious beginnings a fine craftsman’s sheen without sacrificing a whit of power or anger. Spread out over the four discs are twenty-nine bonus tracks culled from assorted demos, singles, and EPs for a more comprehensive collection of what remains Sham’s finest years. –jimmy (Captain Oi)


YOUTH GONE MAD/ONE WAY DOWN:
Split: 7"
Youth Gone Mad's side isn't very good. This band has been around for fuckin’ ever, so you gotta cut ‘em some slack. It's not good, but it's not totally shitty either. Pretty standard poppy punk that kinda sounds like it's trying to sound like the Vindictives, but not quite hitting the mark. One Way Down I've never heard of, and there's a reason why. Whew! This shit stinks like the toilet on a morning after Fifty Cent Wing Night with a pitcher of High Life. Crappy, wanky bar rock that sounds like a bunch of dudes hanging out in GuitarCenter. This record is bad. Avoid it. –Staff (Aboverecords.com)


WITH OR WITHOUT YOU:
Six Reasons to Drop Out: CD
“I don’t care/what you think/of this band or me/I’ve got a real life/friends and family.” Good. I hope they like pretty standard, in-your-face, non-impressive hardcore. Bonus: may or may not be named after a U2 song! –megan (Martyr)


WILLOWZ:
Are Coming: CD
At one point in time, this band interested me a great deal with their ability to seemingly supernaturally transport me back in time to the golden days of Beach Punk™, but, at this new, later point in time, they have managed to disinterest me a similarly great deal with their ability to put the same songs on like three records in a row. Would i feel this way if they weren't starting to remind me of Surrealistic Pillow-era Jefferson Airplane mooshed around with equal parts Redd Kross? Does it matter? As far as i’m concerned, they can change the album title to Have Gone and be done with it. BEST SONG: The one on the first single. BEST SONG TITLE: Band is hereby disqualified from having a best song title if it's going to be the same thing three records in a row. FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: This album contains drawings of naked ladies. –norb (Sympathy)


VOLT:
Self-titled: 12” single

Take three of the Splash Four and lock them in studio. Add copious amounts of industrial, proto, mechanized, lo-fi electronic musical equipment. Throw in some glamorized (Okay, I imagine them… maybe?) drugs, alcohol and sex. Volt is born. From the thirty-six chambers of Paris, France hail three musical misfits with a rap sheet long and impressive enough to send any hardened musical criminal packing their bags for their mother’s house in Toledo. This is a 12” EP tour de force of minimalism, confronting, and then copulating with rock’n’roll excess. Peel off your blinders and see the world as a corrupt and morally subjugated realm of pure filth and disease, just as Volt numbers like “Sex Five Nun” and “Testbild” might suggest. Suicide, Neu!, Einstürzende Neubaten, and Swans weigh heavy on this record.

–nam (In the Red)


VOID CONTROL/ THE SCARRED:
Split: 7”
Void Control: I like the strangulated, spitting quality of Void Control. They’re starting to understand and harness that sketchy, pop-hardcore, driven force that made the Zero Boys and The Freeze so great. They understand the benefit of keeping sharp edges on songs, where melody doesn’t get dulled by speed, yet keeping the middle gruff, interesting, and explosive. Cool stuff. The Scarred: Need to learn how to stop a song. There’s no need to repeat the chorus fifteen times on either of the songs. Studded belts and mohawks reign supreme, their love of the Sex Pistols is transparent, and although they have snatches of New Beach Alliance sounds (Smogtown, Crowd, Smut Peddlers), they’re not up to that standard. They sound too pat, lockstep, and repetitive. There’s no nihilism, no tumors, no glorious wipeouts, and no radiation in the songs themselves. Their hearts seem in the right places, but, sorry, no dice. –todd (Puke’n’ Vomit)


VIVISUK:
US Disastwhore: 7” EP
Crusty hardcore, dual female/male vocals, thrashy beats. You know the drill. Would’ve been considerably more impressed if they had gone for more originality by including a tuba player. –jimmy (Bacon Town)


VIS VIRES:
Inside the Hate: CD
Man, I just got taken back to the metal scene circa late ‘80s. Their singer has that operatic tone with a band that sounds like early Anthrax with the singer from the Darkness. If this guy could sing in key consistently, it would be a great gift to one of my metal dinosaur friends. –don (Vis Virus, <www.visvires.net)


VICIOUS CYCLE:
Self-titled: CD
A bar band that failed to make me rock but succeeded in making me want to drink. Heavily. –jimmy (www.viciouscyclerock.com)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Vancouver Complication: CD
The late ‘70s punk scene in and around Vancouver, British Columbia is my favorite regional scene from that time period. Along with Boston, MA, the Vancouver scene had a lot of different sounding bands and an incredible amount of activity for a city outside the big three of Los Angeles, London, and New York. The percentage of amazing bands is just phenomenal. Now, thanks to Joey Shithead and Sudden Death, you can hear it for yourself. This compilation is an absolute c-l-a-s-s-i-c! There is no better collection of songs from the 1977 to 1979 punk era. From the proto hardcore of Subhumans and D.O.A. (two songs apiece here) to the straight-ahead punk of the Dishrags and K-Tels (aka Young Canadians), to the new wave weirdness of U-J3RK5 (Ujerks), Private School, Exxotone, No Fun, and Shades, there is an astounding amount of great music here. While my beloved Modernettes were just a little late to make the cut (starting up in 1979 and not releasing anything until 1980) the power pop sounds are in abundance with the genius Pointed Sticks and the great Active Dog (featuring Buck Cherry of Modernettes on guitar). This reissue has included a reprint of the original booklet that came with the first pressing of the LP as well as some great liner notes and a listing of all band members. There are also five bonus tracks on the end, including a fantastic Dishrags tune. Now if Sudden Death would only reissue the Modernettes full length... actually, I heard there was a Modernettes collection CD in the works, so let’s hope. Get on the Vancouver punk train right here! –frame (Sudden Death)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
To Live and Die in Tampa Bay: CD
Let’s face facts. The day that bigger record companies fucked with the lexicon and crossed the wires of “label sampler” and “compilation,” the land of comps has been a dicey affair of aural piss, not-so-exclusive songs, and cast-offs from larger name bands to pad the roster. The three gleaming examples that buck that trend in recent years are the invaluable Hostage, Dirtnap, and Geykido comps. Remember the time of yore when you were looking to find a handful of good bands to check out all in one convenient package? ADD delivers. Like purgatory, there are many levels on which to judge a comp. The first, and lowest, is if it was on the radio, would you even to listen to it or would you rather just sit in silence? (These are called samplers. They are free or cheap for a reason.) The second level is like listening to the radio played by a DJ with their head up their ass, but lucks into one or two good songs an hour. You still have to suffer through commercials and musical moodswings that cover deathmetal, ska, and emo. The third level is going to an unfamiliar bar and a jukebox is playing. There aren’t blatant commercials, but you still run into Jimmy Buffet and The Steve Miller Band, although there might be a Clash or Ramones CD to chose from and squeak in when the locals let you. The fourth level is going into a bar you like, are familiar with, and a friend who knows the songs by heart has already fed the jukebox for an hour’s worth of music and you’re digging it eighty to ninety percent of the time. Songs you didn’t know grow on you. Bands you’ve never heard of kick some major ass. Bands you like submit A+ material. And this is where this Tampa comp resides. Excellent bands that I already like (The Tim Version, Vagina Sore Jr., Clairmel) provide exclusive tracks, bands I’ve never heard (Super Power Abuse, Flat Stanley, and The Rogue Set) don’t slack, and bands I haven’t been too up on the past (The Dukes of Hillsborough) sound right on track. If you’re in the mood for gruff, melodic, powerful punk that’s as sweaty as it is earnest and don’t know where to turn, give this one a listen. Oh, and there is a fifth level to comps, one that’ll never be topped: the one you make yourself and give to a friend. That’s how this idea started. –todd (ADD)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
The Pop Punk Circus is Back in Town: CD
Three-band comp here, with the Hunchbacks, the Waukees, and the Battledykes all vying for first place. Hailing from the UK, Italy, and Germany respectively, two points should be given to the label for giving us something that's at least geographically diverse. Unfortunately, that's where the diversity ends. The title of the comp is pretty telling. Three female fronted pop-punk bands singing songs about boys, cars, and more boys. For every lyrically smart, razor-sharp pop punk band (Discount, the Thumbs, and Rivethead come immediately to mind), there's four or five dozen fairly catchy but hopelessly vapid number-crunchers like these folks. I mean, "My Car Is So Cool"? "Gay Boyfriend"? Give me a break. It just gets to the point where the sweetness is cloying, you know? –keith (All-Nite)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
The Bastards Can’t Dance: A Tribute to Leatherface: CD
As a member of the USFC, it’s no secret that I love Leatherface. Broken heart? Things not right in the world? Completely happy and surrounded by friends? Leatherface is the perfect soundtrack to it all. Then you add Snuffy Smile to the mix. Yoichi is putting out some of the best stuff in the world right now, let alone Japan. With that said, I’m not fully excited about this. There are some great tracks on there (Spraypaint and The Because definitely surprised me), and I’m always happy to hear more from I Excuse. It isn’t as strong in the middle, and, in the end, I’d rather either listen to each band’s own stuff or to Leatherface. –megan (Snuffy Smile)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Redefining Scenes 2: CD
Here’s a spunky little comp with a lot of old and a little new. Stalwarts like DI, Channel 3, The Skulls, and Circle Jerks may be the glue that hold this together, but the newer bands are nothing to balk at either. In fact, Broken Bottles have got to be one of my favorite bands right now. All in all, a good label sampler that works well in the car on the way to the skatepark. –ty (Finger; www.fingerrecords.com)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Power for Passion: CD
This subheading on this states that it contains “power pop 1978-85.” Although by my reckoning most of the stuff is more punk than power pop, there are some real gems here sure to please fans from both camps, including tracks by The Reducers, Stratford Survivors, The Nips (not to be confused with the later Nipple Erectors lineup, who took the name whilst trying to garner more “respectability” before Shane went on to fame and cirrhosis with the Pogues), Matcheads, The Reactors, The Reducers, The Headaches, The Silencers (a post-Shock/pre-Legal Weapon band from LA who, in my LA-centric worldview, provide the best track here, “Boyfriends/Girlfriends”), The Ejectors, The Foreign Objects, Butch Minds the Baby, TV Neats (featuring future PBS-TV chef Ric Orando), and Dennis Most. In all, a good listen, although some better liner notes would’ve been icing on the cake. –jimmy (Dionysus)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Just Go Destroy Everything in Sight: CD
This is touted as the best of Japanese garage and punk. You like Japanese? You like the punk rock? Go buy something from Snuffy Smile instead. You seriously can’t go wrong. There is a cover of Radio Birdman’s “New Race,” but they credit it as a New Race song instead. Meh. –megan (Dionysus)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
How’s My Driving? Volume 2: CD
I really hate to review compilations now. I really don’t know why I picked this up. You have to go through track after track of songs that usually doesn’t represent the band at its best or like this comp, you get a bunch of already released songs. So what is here for you music fiends out there? Names I recognized are The Cliftons, The Eddie Haskells, China White (not Danger Zone period), Texas Thieves, The Lincolns, The Forgotten and The Faction. That’s a lot of “the’s” to deal with. If you have records by these bands, chances are you already have these tracks. –don (Super Speedway)


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