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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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SEAN:
Bike Messengers Aren’t as Cool as They Think They Are: CD
Sean’s latest release should come with a bottle of Exedrin attached to it. It’s a jumble of fucked-up keyboards, jazzed-up powerviolence riffage, and insane drumming time changes that will shatter your skull into a million little pieces if you’re not prepared for it. I swear to god, my stomach makes the same noises as these songs after I’ve eaten at Burger King. Bike Messengers… is far too complicated for me to enjoy. One should have a Ph.D. in mathematics with a focus in chaos theory before attempting to listen to this. –benke (Blackhouse)


SCREAMING FEMALES:
What If Someone Is Watching Their T.V.?: CD
Here’s indie rock’s answer to basement punk (I guess making this basement rock). Youthful-sounding (hey, I look like I’m twelve. It’s not a dig), with a touch of New York City hipster to them—despite being from New Jersey—just enough that you get the idea they know what’s up. –joe (Self-released)


SAINT ALVIA CARTEL, THE:
Self-Titled: CD
This kind of threw me for a loop. I really had no idea what to expect other than the bio that came with the disc said something about some of these guys being from some known hardcore bands from days gone by (I’d name ‘em, but I forget, and I lost the bio). The last thing I was thinking I’d hear was what I can only equate with what Dillinger Four would sound like covering some lost Clash song that they happened to leave off of London Calling. And that was just the first song! The second song got caught up in some kind of reggae thing that I wasn’t really into, but by the third, they were right back at it. Did I mention the organ? No? Well, it makes them have a very Snuff-like quality to them as well. For all of the “sounds like” and “influenced by” I can toss at you, they still manage to sound fresh and original. This is a great record. –ty (Stomp)


ROCK, PAPER, STUPID:
Self-Titled: 7"
Please take this as constructive criticism. This should have been a demo, something handed out to friends on cassette or CD-R, songs to work on, ideas to flesh out. Because, at it stands, the recording’s real muddy (if I notice that your drums sometimes sound like bricks of tofu whacked with wooden spoons, it’s probably pretty bad), the songs are ehh (there are about five good places to end them before you do), and the whole thing’s real choppy and sorta faceless (but going for Crimpshrine and Allergic To Bullshit? Maybe.). I’m no proponent of “pro dude, pro attitudes,” but a little bit more attention to the details to let the good parts sparkle—they’re in there; I just don’t want to have to dig for ‘em—would do a world of good. –todd (Scattered, Smothered, and Covered)


RINGERS / AMPERE:
Split: 6"
As a format, the 6” is better than the 5”. It’s easier to load onto record players with automatic arm returns. It’s also a format that it’s just better not to sit down after putting a side on, especially if… Ampere: it’s screamo hardcore that lasts what seems like little more than thirty seconds, has five different parts going at once, sounds a little like the first Death By Stereo record mixed into double-speed Born Against; kinda like a metal approach without the metal wanktankery inside. Ringers: do yourself a favor. Get their latest, Detention Halls and do what voodoo you do to put this song at the end of that. Simultaneously Bent Outta Shape and Swingin’ Utters, in a way that denatures both to mere reference points and not transparent bags that suffocate either The Ringers or the listener. –todd (No Idea)


REID PALEY TRIO:
Approximate Hellbound: CD
Tom Waits and Dexter Romweber tussle with Pat Boone over open-collar shirts at Jet Rag’s $1 Sunday parking lot sales. –thiringer (Metaphor)


RANDY “BISCUIT” TURNER:
A Benefit EP: 7" EP
I felt a serious sense of loss when I’d heard that Biscuit had died. This feeling wasn’t fueled so much by my being an unabashed Big Boys fan—although no doubt there was much of that mixed in there as well—as it was by knowing that one of punk rock’s true originals was no longer around to stir some shit. To me, Biscuit, and the Big Boys, embodied all that was good about punk—the freedom to let your freak flag fly, the unabashed creativity, the desire to push the boundaries and not do the same old thing over and over, and, of course, the unleashing of some of the greatest music ever put to tape, the latter of which is in full evidence here. Collected for your listening pleasure are an unreleased Big Boys track (a live version of “Identity Crisis”), an track from Biscuit’s post-Big Boys band, Cargo Cult (a previously unreleased demo cut, “Computer Date Killer”), and two cuts by his last band, Texas Biscuit Bombs (live versions of Big Boys standards “Frat Cars” and “Baby Let’s Play God”). Although it seems a bit sparse as a retrospective for an individual so revered in the underground, it does serve as a nice reminder of and introduction to his life and music, and the fact that it’s a benefit single only makes it that much more indispensable. –jimmy (www.ratpatrolrecs.com)


PROZACS, THE:
Questions, Answers, and Things Never Found: CD
Super duper polished pop punk by a band that came out of the ashes of The Grandprixx. Not bad, but nothing too exciting either. The only two highlights for me, personally, were the fantastic Queers-esque love song “Never Knew,” and the title to the emo-bashing song: “Those Pants Would Look Better on Your Sister.” Personally, I liked the Grandprixx better. But that’s just me. –mrz (Cheapskate)


PROCESSION OF VULTURES:
Self-Titled: 7"
A record that could work on 33 or 45. Side A plods along for a good long while before applying your face to a belt sander. Side B gets to the point a lot faster and I think the pay off is better. Heavy, screaming, emotional, belt sander. Apparently recorded in 2000 but finally mixed last year and released recently. Features people from Skarp, State Of The Union, and Wormwood. If you like any of those bands, there’s something here for you. –Steveo (Inimical)


PRINCESS THUNDERSTORM:
Self-Titled: 7"
Sometimes when I’m on the bus I wonder about things—like what all the classic rock greats (Black Sabbath, AC/DC, CCR, etc.) would sound like if they had grown up listening to punk, hardcore, and other alternative rock in between the years of 1984 and 1994. It definitely would not sound like classic rock, but it might sound like Princess Thunderstorm. They play unapologetic guitar-driven rock that doesn’t wank at all, with anywhere from one to four people unleashing some extremely venomous vocals over it. It’s a mighty combo of fury, tongue-in-cheek humor, and relentless DIY rock. –Daryl Gussin (25th Hour)


PRETTYBOY THORSON & THE FALLING ANGELS:
Ain't It Funny: CD
This is that drunken kind of pop punk that was made famous in the Bay Area. It’s all about breaking up with girls and drinking about it, along with a few references to punk activities like being broke and sleeping on couches. This is the kind of band that every town has one of and they always have a huge local following. They’re a good band. Hell, if I were to start my first band, it might sound like this and hopefully we’d be good too. But, for me personally, in this over-accelerated, over-stimulated culture, I don’t get into bands on the basis of them being good, but on whether they stand out or not. Unfortunately, this band doesn’t do that for me. –Craven (ADD)


POTBOILER:
Izzy Alcantara: 7"
Hey, did you know Izzy Alcantara is a baseball player in the Red Sox minor league organization who kicked a catcher in the face karate style and then charged the pitchers mound? He was suspended for six games for starting the brawl. I Googled him, so I’m a pervert. I like to Google people. Didn’t find much on Potboiler though, not the band anyway. So I had to actually listen to the record, which totally was an effort on my part. So here’s my convoluted reviewer explanation. “Pop punk that reminds me of defunct North Eastern bands like Mid Carson July, El Secondhand, and Weston. There’s also a hint of Fay Wray in there for the dudes in the South.” I could say, “Mix ‘em all up in a pot, boil it, and you get Potboiler.” But that would just be stupid. But, if you think about it, music reviews are stupid. –Dave Disorder (Salinas)


POPSTERS, THE:
Two Minutes b/w Runaway: 7"
Yet another classic pop punk slab o’ wax from the infamous Kazakhstanian pop punk guru! No… not Borat… that’s an English comedian making an ass out of himself…I’m talking about the infamous Adam Alive from California! Side A of this 7” showcases the Popster’s songwriting ability: great guitar solos and sing-along lyrics to die for. Side B is a cover of Dee Dee Ramone’s song “Runaway,” and it’s done well. The recording quality and musicianship win on this 7”. I know it’s only two songs, but get it if you dig this kind of stuff. The pre-burned super slick CD-R of the 7” is another bonus, and your mp3 players and car stereos and CD Walkmen will be feeling as important as that record player. Everyone wins! –mrz (It’s Alive)


PONYS, THE:
So Sentimental: 7"
The Ponys are one of those bands that seem to tap into the vibe that goes across punk rock and indie hipster scenes, the way Hot Snakes, Le Shok, The Peechees, Black Lips, and others have. They don’t sound the same necessarily, yet all seem to have a pulse that brings everyone in, slipping equally into dirty punk hearts as much as emo soft centers. I swear it’s a drug vibe. Or maybe it’s that moody feeling of being lost, lost, lost that speaks to so many adult-sized teenagers. The Ponys play quick music but it’s not fast, and they play messy with a purpose. Harmonic vocals create solid anthems you can sink into. I haven’t heard their Matador release these days, but bless Alicja’s Contaminated Records for reissuing this older single. –mike (Contaminated)


PNEUMONIAS, THE:
Automatic Pistol: 7"EP
If you were wondering whether there are any French bands that strike a garagey midpoint between Les Hatepinks and the Four Slicks, there are, and these are they. I would jump around some, but my boss called and told me i have to work early tomorrow, so when this record is done i’m just going to go to bed. Maybe i’ll jump around some tomorrow. BEST SONG: “Computer Girl,” because no native English speaker could pronounce “computer” that way, even if they tried, which i did. BEST SONG TITLE: “Automatic Pistol.” Actually, that’s really stupid. FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: I had pneumonia when i was four. –norb (Frantic City)


PIG DESTROYER:
Phantom Limb: CD
The name conjures up images of a butcher slicing some bacon off a meaty hog’s ass, but in reality it’s code word for “Cop Killer.” So, somewhere Tracy Morrow, or Ice T, as he likes to be called, is happy his message wasn’t wasted. Even though he plays a cop on television... But, as ridiculous as that is, it still isn’t as ridiculous to me as grindcore. I know these guys are talented n’ shit, but goddamn, this music is for kids dressed up like wizards throwing twenty-sided dice. I could have maximum hit points and total charisma and I still wouldn’t know what the fuck this guy is saying. Probably something about cutting up his girlfriend, but I couldn’t care less. –Dave Disorder (Relapse)


OUT COLD / BILL BONDSMEN:
Split: 7"
Out Cold: I believe one of the most underrated punk bands out there. They should be as popular among the punks as Fucked Up. I think they are that good. I have yet heard a bad release from this band. I should see patches on every punk out there with their band name. Location might be a problem, since they live in Massachusetts. Another great set of songs from this veteran band: three songs of early-‘80s-inspired punk that can burn a hole in concrete. The music is tight and well crafted that it doesn’t sound generic. At the same time, you can feel the aggression in their output. Bill Bondsmen: A band that I haven’t heard before but I know they have some releases out there because I have seen the name around. If this is what the band sounds like, I want to hear more. The music is sort of unpredictable. They jerk and pull, go from tight and melodic to spastic on a dime. Slow, fast, medium, fast, slow—punk rock that is challenging, pushing the limits of the mediocre. Their two songs of organized chaos just boggled my mind. I just added this band to the shopping list. –don (Schizophrenic)


ORDER OF THE WHITE ROSE:
Ghosts on the Sidewalk: 7"
It’s really hard to find fault with a single that not only sports top-notch artwork by Brian Walsby and Keith Rosson, but is also a benefit for food banks in Maui and Oahu (seems that, contrary to a well-ingrained image of it being paradise for the affluent, Hawaii has homeless people, too). It’s even harder to find fault with said single when it sports two pop-edged punk tunes that not only know to eschew the “pop punk” but also know to get in there, rock the fuck out, and split before their welcome wanes. Kudos to all involved. –jimmy (Unitree)


ONWARD PILGRIM:
Get What You Wanted: 7"
Indie rock that brings to mind Sebadoh, Archers Of Loaf, early Lemonheads, and other bands from that time frame. I respect the effort here, but Onward Pilgrim, at least on this record, lack the tightness and originality needed to warrant repeated listens. A little more work on the song writing and less emphasis on the guitar wanking. There’s no need to wank this hard unless your name is J Mascis or you have your own pedal named after you. Until then, I’ll stick to Icky Mettle and You’re Living All Over Me. –Dave Disorder (Eugene)


NOTHINGSGOTNOPOWER / TODI STRONGHANDS:
Who Will Tell the Story of Us?: Cassette

A split between two acoustic artists. One can write, the other can sing. The one who writes doesn’t sing great, but he has his moments and vice versa. I propose that they form a super duo and add a drummer and they’ll have something going for them. Contains a very interesting cover of that song the rat from Charlotte’s Web sings at after the fair closes. Bryan Static

–Guest Contributor (Sharpie Fumes Collective)


NORTH LINCOLN / YOU ME AND THE ATOM BOMB:
Split: 7"
North Lincoln has a great take on gruff, melodic punk. It’s not too Gainesville or California. I thought their split with The Gibbons was great and their side of this record is just as good. What I don’t really enjoy is You Me And The Atom Bomb. It’s just too poppy, but if you like the Lawrence Arms you might not mind it so much. –Daryl Gussin (Yo Yo)


NO CONNECTION:
Demo 2007: Cassette
Barb from I Object has a new pop punk band. In that band, I think she sounds a lot like Taina from Antiproduct, but not in this one—vocally and musically, this is straight up pop punk worship. They do a cover of Discount’s “Half Fiction” that sounds so eerily like the original it could’ve been an outtake from the same recording session. I got #49/50, but I’m sure they’ve still got CD-R versions available. –keith (No Connection)


MYSTERY OF TWO:
Arrow Are All You Know: CD
Man, Ohio really pumps this shit out: Pere Ubu, Peter Laughner, Home And Garden; the proto-punk stylings of Rocket From The Tombs, Electric Eels. And now Mystery Of Two. Mystery Of Two is cerebral post punk from two members of Home And Garden. This is working class rock‘n’roll by three likely autodidactics, conscious of Tristan Tzara, Pere Ubu, and existentialism. In short: this record is D.O.A. to shops—too smart for pop and not flashy enough for the art school crowd. Their loss. Our gain. –ryan (Exit Stencil)


MUFF:
Horn Attack: CD
Dual-female-vocal-led band from Germany that goes for a radio friendly rock sound that is melodic and poppy with a slight punk edge. Big production that comes off clean but the songs have enough punch to make it sound tough. With multiple listens, the songs become infectious with their hook-laden licks. Kind of reminds me of the Dollyrots meets a cleaner, poppier Lunachicks. –don (Wolverine)


MOUTH SEWN SHUT:
Doomed Future Today: CD
When they thrash things up, I’m right there with ’em. When they bust out with the ska shit, however, no matter how much they dress up in hardcore delivery, I’m a-headin’ straight for the nearest exit. –jimmy (Rodent Popsicle)


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