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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Winter Bloo: 7"
This is a two-band comp (since when is a two-band split a “comp”, huh?) that serves as an “aural companion” to the Side A graphic novel that’s reviewed elsewhere in this issue. The bands, Fight Fair and Get Back Loretta, are totally disparate and different than each other, which I thought was a nice idea, given the nature of the graphic novel, which consists of comics about people’s initial introduction to music and is also stylistically across the board. Anyway, Fight Fair are straight-up “modern” hardcore, which at this point in my life, I associate with good production and nasally, sung vocals colliding with the more typical guttural growling. They’d be right at home on Bridge Nine, if they’re not there already. Get Back Loretta is piano-laden indie rock; totally unthreatening but actually scoring over Fight Fair because their song’s actually shorter and kind of sweet. Limited to 1,000 copies on swirly-blue vinyl. –keith (Poseur Ink)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
The Bang! Bang! Recording Organization: 6 Mighty Shots: CD
What I wanna know is, how does a one man band play keyboards, drums, guitar, harmonica and sing at the same time? ‘Cause it seems like one would have his OMB status revoked if he couldn’t replicate live the sounds he gets in the studio, recording the instruments individually. Luckily, for King Automatica, he gets a pass because his song on this comp starts off with a dirty synth riff that, to paraphrase the Dude, really ties the tune together. Not to be outdone, Thundercrack kicks off “This Town Belongs to Me” with a monster slide guitar riff that slithers up next to you and sinks its deliciously poisonous fangs into your jugular. As scuzzily perfect as these songs are, the winner of this bunch of bruised and bizarre tunes is “L’Aveugle au Pistolet” by Monsieur Verdun. Imagine Tiny Tim and King Louie dropping acid, stripping naked, and deciding to play a banjo upside down while a fingerless stranger bangs in time on the highest keys of a piano. Impossibly, it’s even cooler than you think. The CD is rounded out with songs by Rich Deluxe, Hot Nuts, and Bang Bang Organization. –benke (Bang Bang)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Teriyaki Suplexxx!: CD
Twenty-two band Japanese comp compiled by one of the members of the band Peelander Z. Out of the twenty-two bands on here, I recognized one and that was Peelander Z. So if you are not heavily infatuated in Japanese bands that are basically underground, you probably won’t recognize a single band. The comp seems to focus primarily on pop punk, garage, and noise. A lot of bands here feature female vocalists. There is also a hip hop track on here. So, if you are looking for your new Japanese band to be obsessed with and the music presented here is one of interest, this comp is worth a purchase and a good, hard listen. –don (Geykido Comet)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Jukebox Year Book 2006: CD
A ten-track collection of generic punk rock. Next. –ryan (Last Chance)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Innocence Is Bliss: CD
This CD is subtitled “A Female Frenzy of Sensational Sounds” and has wicked-adorable cover art featuring a cartoon girl guitarist and a cat playing the drums, so I wasn’t sure. But damn it, as soon as the first track (“Boy Meets Girl” by The Portugal Japan) came blasting out of my speakers, I was feeling like I’d scored big when this arrived in my package of review materials. The rest of the disc did not disappoint, featuring track after track of riotous and catchy ladypunk, with most songs clocking in under three minutes. This CD does what “various artists” discs are supposed to do: makes you want to hunt down full-lengths by most of the featured artists. Hooray! –jennifer (Dionysus)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Essential Dub: CD
By my reckoning, dub, like reggae, is a little bit harder to pull off than it seems. On the surface, it’s easy to come to the decision that all one needs to make a dub record is a tune and a mixing board, but really good dub has this rare ability to grab you by the ears and drag you through some interesting places. It’s a kind of music where you can put it on in almost any situation and it just fits, be it washing the car to livening up a party to just sitting back with headphones on and eyes closed and just listening. Collected here are tracks from other assorted ROIR releases, featuring tracks by Bad Brains, Niney the Observer, Ras Michael, 10 ft. Ganja Plant, Dub Trio, and others, all of which are in fine form and deliver some great tunes. –jimmy (ROIR)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Cat Piss Studios Jukebox Year Book 2006: CD
A compilation of tunes recorded at Cat Piss Studios in Portland, Oregon, and my first thought is that the production sounds a little thin. This suits the mellower stuff, like Morgan Grace’s song, “Change,” and the indie rocker “Fuel,” which sounds like a cross between Slint and the Weakerthans, by Crack City Rockers. The punker the song, the less complimentary the production style. I do like the SliP iTS, “Frustrate Me” and Muddy River Nightmare Band’s “Go,” but there’s only one great song contained on this comp—Pure Country Gold’s “Setting Sun.” A nasty sounding bit of catchy garage rock that details a perverse, but heartwarming, sentiment. Probably worth picking up for this song alone. –benke (Last Chance)


UNDER PRESSURE:
Come Clean: CD
Gruff, tough guy metallic hardcore, yet somehow different from the heaps of bands like this out there. In both the music and lyrics, you get a sense of introspection and thoughtfulness that you rarely ever see in bands like this. It adds a dimension to them that makes them infinitely more interesting that the norm. Hell, I may even search out some more from these guys. –ty (Escape Artist)


TRUST:
Hardcore Girls: 7"
By looking at the cover of this release, I thought this was going to be a tough guy straight edge hardcore record with a stupid title, based on one of the shirts a band member was wearing. It is a Chain Of Strength shirt and the title is Hardcore Girls. So, to my surprise, the picture was a group of girls and not guys. So the title does make sense. I can take that my first impression was wrong. I pop the record on my turntable and go for a ride. Straight-ahead, in-your-face hardcore punk that is fast and furious. Short, fast, and loud. No metal disguised as hardcore. These ladies do not hold back. Coming from Buenos Aires, Argentina, you can hear the love of early American hardcore in their sound with their no fluff, all speed ahead approach. Would love to see this band live because I know they could hold their own with any band on any lineup. –don (Emancypunx)


TIGER ARMY:
Music From Regions Beyond: CD
It’s been eight years since I first reviewed Tiger Army, quite possibly in the very first print issue of these now-hallowed pages. Since then, they’ve gone from Gilman Street darlings to headlining the entire Warped Tour. With a highly matured and polished sound, in part due to unprecedented industry support, they’ve fused their melodramatic and understated psychobilly with the underpinnings of ‘80s Brit pop and nouveau Americana. Age and scene appropriate, I bet they killed at Warped. –thiringer (Hellcat)


THIRD MEMORY, THE:
Et De Cela Rien Ne Ressort: LP
The Third Memory is from France and plays brutal contemporary power violence with a dash of Heroin-era emo. This record adds in minor touches of other hardcore trends of the past twenty years, the end result being a markedly diverse and energizing album. Sadly, this split label release is one of the last for Nashville-based I’ve Come For Your Children, which recently announced that it was calling it quits. The Third Memory toured the U.S. in August of 2007, and I bet the kids lucky enough to be in attendance went totally ape-shit night after night. This record is definitely one to watch for, and comes packaged in a beautiful silk-screened cover. The CD is still in print in Europe, but this vinyl reissue is the one to seek out. Art Ettinger –Guest Contributor (I’ve Come For Your Children/Rok Lok)


TACHED OUT:
Self-Titled: 7"
This band has former members of some noteworthy punk bands of the past—Deformed Conscience, React, State of Fear, and Calloused to name a few. But this new collaboration is veering into new territory. The thought that comes to my mind is that they love Motörhead! The sound is distorted punk rock’n’roll with some of the metal chops and the bluesy guitar licks. It’s the perfect band to see on a night of heavy beer pitcher lifting, lighters in the air appreciation, and sweaty headbanging. Bust out the devil horns on this one! –don (Fight for Your Mind)


SURRENDER:
Last White Flag: 7"
This is so dead-on in every way. The art, music, and lyrics are such a breath of fresh air. And that feels like a really weird thing to say because there’s a lot of great music being made right now. If Crass blew your mind when you were fifteen and you’re looking to re-up on some arty/political punk that doesn’t contain cheap political anthems, it’s all about this record. –Daryl Gussin (Surrender)


SUNSET RIDERS:
Self-Titled: 7"
Open-ended question: is part of straight edge not having sex? That doesn’t make a lot of sense if it is, because then the Mormons and Catholics win because they make their fucking count and have more kids who grow into their belief system. (Ever heard of the Shakers? No? They’re almost all dead because they didn’t fuck. Great furniture, though.) Just asking, because Sunset Riders opine, “When you find a new girl, the edge is out of sight.” The music: well-played, following-the-prescription straight-edge hardcore that mixes Youth Of Today with more modern flavors like The Panic and is thankfully far away from the “wonka wonka chwee” in-need-of-anger-management metal that was clothing itself as hardcore for the ‘90s and early ‘00s. You know what you’re getting from the packaging, just like cupcakes—hell, man, if you can’t stop eating cupcakes, be my guest—but, unlike Out Cold’s Will Attack If Provoked or Career Suicide’s Attempted Suicide, not quite near the best cupcakes I’ve ever had. –todd (Suburban Waste)


STRUNG OUT:
Blackhawks over Los Angeles: CD
Has this band really put out seven albums? This is the eighth? I have four, not counting this one. This recording doesn’t sound what I remember them to sound like. On this recording, the band sounds like a more melodic Avenged Sevenfold. The guitars are metallic with a bright and clean sound. The drumming sounds almost mathematic. There are fills and double bass drumming that are stop-on-a-dime tight. The vocals are the only thing that sounds familiar to me. Overall: big production that could easily have been produced by a major label. In fact, I can’t believe they are not on a major. I’m guessing that the band’s popularity is on the high side at this point. I don’t follow the band, so I don’t know if they have been approached. One thing I know is that the kids will love this! –don (Fat)


STRANGER, THE:
Self-Titled: CD
Chicago four piece channels the back-to-basics, no-frills, clean guitar work and straightforward vocals of genre forerunners like the Cadillac Tramps and Twistin’ Tarantulas, as well as the layered depth of contemporaries like Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers. Worthwhile, attainable goodness for regular folk. –thiringer (Haunted Town)


START, THE:
Ciao, Baby: CD
This is the kind of slick pop rock that doesn’t really ever speak to me. At first, all I could think was that it sounded like Madonna or something, but I’ll give them credit for being a bit edgier than that. The songs are well recorded, well structured, energetic, but too perfect for me. Someone once told me that a certain female singer was great because she “sang like she knew she had a vagina.” As technically skilled as lead vocalist Aimee Echo is, I got through this whole disc without once thinking that she had a vagina. –jennifer (Metropolis)


SISSY DROPPED A SIX PACK:
Self-Titled: Cassette
Wow, a cassette. I’m all for revivals of supposedly dead mediums, but it took me a few minutes to actually remember how to work the damn thing. The music itself is apparently some kind of anarcho punk that isn’t executed well. The band has no bassist, but you can’t tell because the lo-fi recording boosts the bass too high anyway. Though I applaud the DIY effort, it’s hard to take any band seriously when they sing songs about cops, but spell tough with two f’s. Bryan Static –Guest Contributor (Sharpie Fumes Collective)


SICK FITS:
Self-Titled: LP
Is this really the same bunch of Stitches-sounding punks from a few years back? This record is much better than anything I have heard from Sick Fits in the past. It’s a real cool album filled with glam and punk influence; a little Velvets here, a dash of Thunders over there, some Mott licks. They have got some real playing and songwriting chops! Looking forward to hearing more from this band. Pick up this killer Gatefold LP. –frame (Full Breach Kicks)


SHELL SHAG:
Destroy Me I’m Yours: LP (comes with CD)
You know what’s great sometimes about DIY punk rock? For all the petty shit that can go down, it can be an open door which interesting, inventive bands are invited to play, even though they may not fit a recognizable pattern. Shell Shag’s a perfect example of that, as they remind me simultaneously of bands as far flung as Bongwater to the Pixies, from labels like AmRep to Merge, but it ultimately sounds like a big bang has exploded in these two folks’ heads and they’ve done a great job of worm-holing that unique universe down on vinyl. And they’re welcome to play backyards and basements, down with strumming This Bike Is A Pipebomb tunes when equipment malfunctions, and putting out a record that’s as challenging and ethereal as it is melodic, snappy-crunchy, and feisty. For those of you who don’t mind some mental stretching, via the naked cult of Hickey, to Fleshies, to Guided By Voices, to made-up lullabies, and who also want a rump-shaking payoff for all of that experimenting, look no further. Neat, neat, neat. –todd (Starcleaner)


SHANG-A-LANG: ERROR:
You Cannot Add Yourself as a Friend: 7" EP
Even though I’d never heard Shang-a-Lang before this 7”, I felt like saying, “Hello, old friend.” They come across as a comfortable quilt of bands I already enjoy muchly. The good news is that they don’t remind me too much of just one band, nor do I suspect they’ve got musical photocopy machines tucked away in their back pockets. Their music musical radar blips in the storm front populated by Scared of Chaka, The Bananas, ADD/C and Dead Things (and it’s a toss up if they’ve ever heard those bands). It’s not as straight ahead as initial listenings would indicate, easy-to-sing-along-to DIY punk, that’s as fun to listen to, I imagine, as it was fun to make. It’s also super easy to smile along to. 300 made. Hand numbered. Good news. –todd (Dirt Cult)


SETTING SON, THE:
Self-Titled: CD
Sounds like a thick pancake-thin ((that’s right. Thin as a thick pancake. Fuck you, it isn’t that hard a concept to get your brain around)) version of the Cynics ((keyboards! Fuzz guitar! Me oh my!)), but with the vocalist of Lancelot Link & The Evolution Revolution instead of the other guy. In their eminent punky/psychy/poppiness, i can imagine just about every one of these songs fitting perfectly into the Stiv Bators catalog circa “Disconnected,” although they’d sound a lot different because Stiv has throatiness and tendons and sweat and stuff. A small amount of these songs traipse off into legit Jefferson Airplane-style psych, but, all in all, you could spend a lot worse 32.5 minutes than this. BEST SONG: “I’m Down” BEST SONG TITLE: “I’m Down,” if you’re the Beatles. FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Actually, there are two songs on here that have the same titles as, but are not, Beatles songs: “I’m Down” and “I’m a Loser.” It would be three if “I Wanna Be Your Boy” was called “I Wanna Be Your Man” instead. –norb (Bad Afro)


SELF-ABUSE:
Self-Titled: 7"
How many good bands can Colin be in? Most people barely get away with one, but he pulls it off. If you’re a fan of Defect Defect, you’ll probably dig this too. It’s well-played hardcore punk but just rawer and a little more… primal? Four pissed-off punks playing songs about people they hate and what they’re gonna do to them. Full of old school guitar riffs and gang vocals; the only problem is my stereo can’t get as loud as I wanna blast this. –Daryl Gussin (Suburban Waste)


SELF-ABUSE:
Self-Titled: 7" EP
How can a band—who, obviously, understands hardcore’s first wave, and Black Flag surfing the face of that wave—tap right into the root of that powerful, swelling force and not suffer from neither nostalgia nor just be blowing dirty, foamy bubbles of admiration for a form of music that hit our shores over twenty years ago? I have no idea, but, much like Career Suicide, Out Cold, and Government Warning, Self-Abuse has made a record that feels like it couldn’t have been made at any other time, except in the now. Plus it sounds like it’s busy carving out all of the joining tissue between the listener’s skull and face. Powerful. –todd (Suburban Waste)


SEASICK:
Awakenings: 10"
When taking this record out of the sleeve I expected screamo or some generic straight edge band, however I got a pleasant surprise. The music is hardcore reminiscent of mid-‘80s bands with hints of metal but never really crossing the line. The lyrics were really good and contained words that may or may not be in the English language. I look forward to future releases from this band. It comes on pretty bumble bee-colored splattered vinyl. –Guest Contributor (BrainDrain)


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