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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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UP THE EMPIRE:
Light Rides the Super Major: CD
Up The Empire play modern power-pop that sounds like a lot of other stuff that seems popular on college radio nowadays.(Yerp, I guess I am an old fogey…) Some of it has that trendy retro ‘80s disco backbeat, and there are shades of indie rock about it. It’s not bad, but didn’t give me heart palpitations. –Jason Donnerparty (The Cougar Label)


UGLY BEATS, THE:
Take a Stand: CD
They’ve got this kind of modern take on the Mersey best, which isn’t usually my thing, but I like it here. Good music for dinner parties. –megan (Get Hip)


D.O.A.:
Punk Rock Singles 1978-99: CD
This release gathers thirteen singles (well, technically eleven singles and two EPs) totaling twenty-six tracks from Canada’s finest punk pioneers D.O.A. The CD progresses chronologically, from D.O.A.’s first release the Disco Sucks 7” from 1978 all the way up to a cover of Black Flag’s “Nervous Breakdown” from a 1999 split single. This is just as good a place to start as any when it comes to D.O.A., since it has most of their essential early classics on here like “The Enemy,” “The Prisoner” “World War III,” and “Fuck You” (which is actually a cover of fellow Vancouver band the Skulls). Many of the later songs (post 1983) are actually interesting enough too, if not quite as frantic and hook filled as the earlier releases. The only stumbling block is “Marijuana Motherfucker,” which sounds like an amped up filler track from a Cheech and Chong album. The fact that all the songs here are presented in remastered single versions makes this CD a worthy purchase for those without an obsessive vinyl collection of hard to get punk records, plus the liner notes about each release are really interesting. –Adrian (Sudden Death)


TULIPOMANIA:
Anamorphic: CD
Trippy-dippy stuff with a singer who manages to whisper and whine at the same time, which is quite an impressive feat. –jimmy (www.sursumcorda.com)


TOUCHERS, THE:
The Underwater Fascist: CD
Great song titles from this one band featuring Ben Spangler. “Not Right In The Head,” “Two Shit Icepack,” and “Do The New Plague, Babe.” One man band in that he is the only member who remains constant. Lot of distortion and some Frank Black influences as well. If you can get past the idea that the vocals sound a lot like Kurt Cobain, then this may get your juices flowin’. –koepenick (touchers@hotmail.com)


TOASTERS, THE:
One More Bullet: CD
Was a bit nervous about giving this a spin ’cause I haven’t heard these kids in nearly two decades and was afraid they’d opted to clutch at the same brass ring that led No Doubt astray. Luckily, they’re still firmly entrenched in the ska camp and, even more luckily, they remain on the more traditional tip than the ska-pop or ska-punk crap that’s resulted from the last wave that brought us Sublime and a billion lesser bands. Especially dug their take on Dave Clark Five’s “Bits and Pieces.” –jimmy (Stomp)


TEN VOLT SHOCK:
6NULL3: CD
Nice angular hardcore stuff here, kinda like a cross between early Wire and Jesus Lizard. Makes the ears hurt in all the right ways. –jimmy (Bakery Outlet)


TEENAGE ANGST / PIAZZA DROPOUT:
Split: 7" EP
Piazza Dropout: Eleven blink-and-you’ll-miss-’em thashers crammed onto their side of this, all of which go by in less time than it takes to form an opinion on them. Teenage Angst: They slow things down a teensy bit compared to their buddies on the other side of this, and take a little more time to get their point across, but they still serve up some strong hardcore. –jimmy (Grinse)


TAXPAYERS, THE:
Cats out of Pipe Cleaners: CD-ROM
Homemade hippy-sounding stuff. The kind of group that you’d see playing in a coffee house. Not bad, but certainly not remarkable. End of story. –The Lord Kveldulfr (www.myspace.com/thetaxpayers)


SUSPICIONS, THE:
First Love: 7"
If Ricky Nelson was a lady and the 2000s were the new ‘50s, you’d get The Suspicions. It is what it is, and many people will dig it: pristine, tastefully played, restraint-filled bubblegum pop with “ohh, ahh”s and “thanking the stars above.” –todd (Bachelor)


SUBSISTANCE:
Bleed, Sweat & Strive: CD
Dunno if it’s just me, or the current state of society or what, but it seems to me that so many punk bands big on proselytizing about revolution and change don’t really say anything specific. This has many of the same trappings of the anarcho-punk bands of yore, right down to its gasmask and crossed Billy clubs logo, and there is some talk in the lyrics about revolution, turning in blank votes, and living in a police state, but direct attacks on the power structure, the corporate money stream that funds it, the politicians who put a face to the system and the media that spreads its messages are largely absent. Is it out of fear that no mention of Bush, Blair, or Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper can be found, or that any corporation or media outlet is named outright as a problem? Really not trying to be facetious here—I really wanna know why the Dixie Chicks seem to be more “punk” and are more direct in voicing opposition than most of the spikes and leather set. The music? Polka-tempo hardcore, clean catchy and not particularly provocative. –jimmy (subsistanceband@hotmail.com)


STRUNG OUT:
Blackhawks Over Los Angeles: CD
This CD is quite technically accomplished in the guitar and drums department. My friend back home who’s into complicated metal stuff would love all the double bass drumming and super high gain guitar solos going on. For me this is like a Teflon coated pan; it’s so slick that nothing sticks. A lot of this sounds too much like all the other metallic hardcore out there right now, albeit with way better vocals courtesy of Jason Cruz (thank god there’s none of that annoying pained scream stuff going on). “All the Nations” and “A War Called Home” do hit the right balance of metallic influences and melodic So-Cal punk and are pretty great. The rest of the CD just leaves me pretty much indifferent and “meh.” –Adrian (Fat)


STREET SMART CYCLISTS:
Self-titled: 7"
I think Todd gave this to me because he knows I love bikes. Sadly this has more to do with ‘90s emo than bikes. Not that this is bad, and if you like the way bands such as Cap’n Jazz recorded songs with all their layers and layers of guitars and vocals you’d probably like this. DIY screen printed covers and blue vinyl are always cool, inserts from PR companies aren’t. –Daryl Gussin (Our Neighborhood, ourneighborhoodrecords.com)


STOLEN CARS:
Can't Stop Thee: CD
I’ll admit that my sixty-five year-old dad has grown a soul patch to rival every one worn by the dudes in this band. My dad, however, has never had the desire to punish me with psychobilly minus the roots of rockabilly and the horror of the psycho part. Dear lord, this is worse than the velvet pea coat worn by the guy in the forefront of all the pictures. –megan (Ammonia / Nicotine, www.myspace.com/theestolencars)


STERLING:
Cursed: CD
The CD starts off with a slow space-rocky metallic buildup, then goes…into more jamming. I was waiting for the hammer of Thor to come down on my head and bludgeon me, but it just turned into Pink Floyd. Two of the songs are at least thirteen minutes and the third is over nine minutes long. If you’re into this kind of wanking, you might like it. They sound like seasoned, well practiced musicians. For me it was a test of my patience to keep from turning it off after a minute. –Jason Donnerparty (File13)


STEPPIN’ RAZORS / DEADLY COMPANIONS:
Split: 7"
Two Texas bands, some ex-members of old favorite bands (The Fells, Cryin’ Out Louds), two songs I really like (one from each band) and other songs I forgot immediately. Expectations too high. Keeping the wheel turning here, but there’s worse out there. –mike (Self-released)


STATUES:
New People Make Us Nervous: LP
Intelligent lyricism, indie-rock sensibilities that don’t come off as lame, strong pop hooks and punk rawness make for an interesting listen in this case. This was pretty swell. –jimmy (www.radio81records.com)


STALKERS:
Yesterday is No Tomorrow: CD
The Stalkers have managed to pack their debut full length with well-crafted punk tunes with pop sensibilities that put them somewhere between the Misfits and Dictators on the Great Rock’N’Roll Sonic Spectrum. In fact, the opening song/title track of this CD sounds like Glen Danzig fronting a sped up Suspicions with a Scott “Top Ten” Kempner solo thrown in to keep things interesting. The album is top heavy, with the first five songs grabbing the listener by the ears and shaking them with killer hooks and pop swagger. The second half of the album lags slightly, but overall this is a great listen if you’re a fan of the Black Halos, Boys and Kidnappers. –benke (Dollar Record, www.dollarrecord.com)


SOUNDCITY HOLLIGANS:
We Live as Boys Should: CD
After the big wave of street punk bands from the late 90s to the early 00s, it went back down to a scene I no longer followed. I guess there are new bands still springing up because here is one from Canada. Average and paint by the numbers street punk. Probably very entertaining live, but does nothing for me in ‘07 sitting in my room by myself. –don (Longshot)


SOTHEN:
Lookatchurself Reggie Measuresworth: CD
For the most part this is quieter alternative rock, the kind of stuff that you listen to late at night or when you get dumped. It reminds me a lot of Ryan Adams’ Rock and Roll record. If that’s yer bag, I think that this is a good score for you. It’s good and all, but it never really did the trick for me. There is a rave-up or two that got me going near the end of the record, but the whole record clocks in at almost an hour and on a sunshiny spring day I didn’t want to wait that long for those songs. –The Lord Kveldulfr (www.sothenband.com)


SORRY DOGS:
The Rejection Years: LP
With its solid rock/vaguely punk sound, this offered up a painful reminder of the identity crisis underground music was going through in the eary/mid-90s. –jimmy (Under the Underground, no address)


SMITH, ERIC:
Rocky Road: CD
This made for a fascinating listen not so much because Smith is talented singer, which he is, as for two other things: 1) so much of the modern reggae I run into these days is of the ragga variety, which seems much more interested these days in being the Jamaican equivalent of gangsta rap or 2 Live Crew than imparting knowledge and consciousness, so it was a bit jarring, not to mention refreshing, to hear some honest-to-goodness roots reggae for a change; 2) he really loves his influences, man—the chorus of opening track, “Tour the World,” is a variation on Black Uhuru’s “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” and the backing track to “Freedom” sounds like it was lifted wholly from Bob Marley’s “Exodus.” In short, this is quite good, but hardly treading uncharted waters. –jimmy (http:/myspace.com/culturetalentagency)


SIXTH CHAMBER, THE:
Self-titled: CD
“I got the key to your magic box,” is the line from the first song on The Sixth Chamber’s first song called “Magic Box.” Wow. Pretty Clever. Because his key is…and her box is…This ‘70s-‘80s kind of retro rock is laughable, kind of like Spinal Tap. If only it was a joke… –Jason Donnerparty (www.thesixthchamber.com)


SICK-E’S:
Mankind: 7" EP
Methinks Reatards meets Screamers: Killed By Death boners, plenty screechy, dumb enough to thud, teensy bit arty, plenty bit pissed, terse, misanthropic synthesizer punk designed to irritate. Not bad at all. Guy with horse costume on the cover is in the “oh, the humanity” stance. –todd (Square Wave)


SHORT ATTENTION:
Clever, Maddening, Annoying: 7" EP
To make it short: New York City pop punk super group plays thirty second (and shorter) songs. I’m not going to say “THESE SONGS ARE SO DEEP AND PERSONAL TO ME”, but it’s a fun listen, and I’m interested to see if they keep going on, or if this just ends up being a one 7” of forty-some songs deal. Also, “Numbers” is a great song. –joe (Cold Feet)


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