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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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BLACK ICE:
Myopia: CD
To call Black Ice a death rock or, god forbid, a “goth” band seems a wee bit too pat. They pilfer a bit from both of those pigeonholes, surely, but there is so much more to them than just dressing like Edward Scissorhands extras and playing a piss-poor amalgamation of Bauhaus and bad disco. Smooshed in with all the gloomy-Gussin’ is some early Savage Republic-type industrial thrashin’ ‘n’ bashin’, some cabaret, a dab of psychedelia and more than a little Bay Area art damage. Their efforts are undeniably bleak in sound—these are tunes that might actually discourage suicidal behavior, ‘cause ultimately, why even bother with that, man?—but they’re smart enough to hard-wire enough catchiness into their sound and fury to encourage repeated listens. –jimmy (Hungry Eye)


BIG FUN:
Passing the Time b/w Hold On: 7"
The world doesn’t need any more songs called “Hold On.” You and I could drum up a list of two dozen “Hold Ons”s and nary a one of them would prompt us to pause compiling our list to listen to the “Hold On” in question. Until now. I can, in good conscience, recommend Big Fun’s “Hold On.” Likewise for “Passing the Time.” Power pop guitar lines reminiscent of the early Who and radiant vocals that remind me of Nikki Corvette or the Pinkz, songs where the verse and chorus blend together so well I don’t notice the transitions and wouldn’t care to. This single is the perfect soundtrack for mid-summer daydreaming (as well as a great record to have on hand for your next “originality is an overrated virtue” debate). Mike Faloon –Guest Contributor (Put On)


BEAT BEAT BEAT:
Living in the Future: CD
Okay, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and proclaim this my favorite record of the month. These guys are so clued into the whole early ‘80s OC punk sound that their cover of the Fun Things’ “When the Birdmen Fly” sounds like a Klan outtake. Nonetheless, the tunes showcased here are delivered with over-the-top enthusiasm and are sick with supremely catchy hooks and enough groove to keep your head bobbing for hours after it’s over and done. –jimmy (Dirtnap)


BE MY DOPPELGANGER:
Convertible Girls: 7" EP
Wait, don’t skip past this review merely because of the band’s “For the honor of signing to Jade Tree we would gladly part with all of our Pedro the Lion bootlegs” moniker. Be My Doppelganger are much better at writing and performing songs than they are naming bands. Sonically, they draw on pop punk like the Briefs (and visually the sleeve graphics seem to tip the cap to Rev. Nørb). “10 Seconds to Go” is the best cut, more aggressive than the others and catchier, too (reminds me of the Mighty John Waynes). It took me several listens to convince myself that they weren’t singing “On the goddamn radio” in the chorus. A little confusion never got in the way of a good time. Mike Faloon –Guest Contributor (Bitchin’ Riffage)


BE MY DOPPELGANGER:
Convertible Girls: 7"
Yay! Summertime punk rock! Totally silly and cool back-up vocals! Silly pop punk songs about shirtless girls, cutting your eyes out with a knife, and a show sans air conditioning! The back of their record looks like it was laid out by Rev. Nørb, but layout credit is given to a mysterious Mark, who must be familiar with the following fact: Having your record laid out by Rev. Nørb is, in 98.5 percent of cases, a guarantee that your record will rock. In fact, I think this connection is stronger than that between cool boys and boys who wear pink Converse shoes! Oh, the science! If this were a cereal, it’d be a super special summer edition of Froot Loops! Yum! –Maddy (Bitchin’ Riffage!)


AVENUE ROSE:
demo: CD-R
If a one trick pony is ridden over and over again, do you end up with an eight trick pony, or is it called something else since it’s the same trick, but a different pony? Bar rock’n’roll, not offensive enough to need the chicken wire and not good enough to be the reason to be at the bar. Forgettable at best. –megan (Avenue Rose)


ATTACK FORMATION:
We Are Alive and in Tune: CD
Oh me, oh my. I’m okay with admitting that this might just be beyond me. According to what I’ve deciphered from the enclosed illustration, some people use a vibraphone (or is that a marimba?), a trumpet, a drum set, about a dozen abacuses, and a tennis racket to come up with a sound that’s sort of like Japanther, but without the vocals filtered through telephone mics. There are definite parts I like, but there’s always one layer too much in each song that ends up ruining it all for me. –megan (Australian Cattle God)


ANTIBALAS:
Security: CD
Antibalas are sorta like the East Coast cousin of West Coast band Ozomatli. While the two share the same penchant for infusing politics into their tunes and find inspiration from much of the same music sources—including jazz, funk, and Latin percussion—Antibalas draw their primary influence not from Cuban son, like Ozomatli, but rather from “Afrobeat,” a hybrid style that takes equal parts of the above and adds musical strains from Nigeria and West Africa. The result is highly listenable music, heavy on the “jam.” Before you run away in anti-hippie horror, we’re talking more along the lines of Miles Davis than suffering through yet another helping of the Grateful Dead “Dark Star”—light on the lyrics and brimming with talent. It may not be something that easily fits within the confines of “Top 40” radio (and if that’s what you’re looking for, I’m frankly a little perplexed about why you’re reading this magazine, but I digress), but more often than not the best music doesn’t, and the groove this is built upon is so deep and so heavy that it’s hard not to pay attention. –jimmy (Epitaph/Anti)


ANTELOPE:
Reflector: CD
Dischord Records has always had a unique place in my life. Since getting into punk, I have always had an appreciation for the politics and camaraderie that was displayed amongst the Dischord bands. The music though…the music doesn’t so much lack my appreciation as it frustrates my repeated attempts to want to give Dischord the place I desire to give it, upon an almighty throne of what a true scene should be. No doubt there are problems with the company that I’m unaware of, but on the whole it seems like a great example of what many record labels can (and do) try to become. What about the music? Yeah, Minor Threat was great, as was Fugazi. Much of the rest of the catalog seems like hits and misses to me: Jawbox? Hell yeah. Q And Not U? Amazing. Marginal Man? Uh, never heard of them. Skewbald? What? Who are some of these bands? I’ll tell you who they are: the vast majority of them are bands who only put out one or maybe two albums on the label and then broke up, depriving fans of the fully mature musical. Antelope is a current Dischord band, one that is active and putting out music and could go either way on the list of Amazing/Who? This is the band’s first full length (with an EP and 7” under their belt) and it’s ten songs coming in at twenty-five minutes, which means a lot of quick action in that tangled, strange indie rock sound that one might have heard with some of the more recent Dischord bands. A lot of the material here is really catchy and borders on being fun at times. However, there are also tracks like “Wandering Ghost” which is somewhat annoying with its continuous monotone delivery of the song title. I want to hear more of Antelope, and with songs this short, maybe a longer album, too. I have a feeling there could be some good things in store for this band and with an ex-member of El Guapo, there certainly is a history of creativity within the band. It’s just a matter of time to see where they fit on the list of Dischord bands. –kurt (Dischord)


ANNIHILATION TIME:
Cosmic Unconsciousness: 7"
Liked the first LP. Was okay with the second one. Live, they are freakin’ awesome. This 7”, in my opinion, blows away what I have heard previously of their recorded material. The full-on Black Flag / Blast worship meets dirty stoner rock with a love for the almighty Black Sabbath is fully achieved on the opening track “Reality?” That one is a five-plus minute concoction that doesn’t seem as long as it really is. Starts with a head banging intro that makes you want to smoke a joint and put your lighter in the air and I haven’t smoked pot in over twenty years. The song struts forward like a slap in the face with its Greg Ginn-like guitar assault. Then the songs go for the slow, sludgy breakdown in the middle so you can catch your breath or light up a new one. Before you can finish what you are doing, they go for one last hurrah to end the madness. I can’t wait to hear this song live. Two songs fill the backside that rock just as hard. If you can imagine the MC5 as a modern day punk band, then you can get a small idea of what they are like. If you are fortunate enough to see the band live and don’t feel moved by the music, you must be stoned. –don (Tankcrimes)


ALMIGHTY HANDCLAPS, THEE:
Make You Mine: 7" EP
Sounds like what the Mummies would have sounded like if, instead of being real humans (or Russell Quan units) merely wrapped in Ace™ bandages, they were actual corpses from EC Comics that somehow gained life of their own and chose to try to sound like the Mummies trying to sound like the Sonics trying to play “Sixteen Tons” by Tennessee Ernie Ford. I got the fear, but didn’t really hear any handclaps. BEST SONG: “Full-Time!” BEST SONG TITLE: “The Handclap Shake” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: I would have incorporated Thee Almighty Handclaps data on “shaking” into my column this issue had I actually understood any lyrics other than “shake.” –norb (Thee Almighty Handclaps)


ZOLAR X:
Timeless: CD
Supremely (and not on purpose) goofy LA glam from the late ‘70s, that may be more interesting for the concept than for the Dickies-meet-Ziggy powerpop. Dudes went around with Spock haircuts, shaved-off eyebrows, shiny pantsuits and fake antennae ALL THE TIME. Even when they were not playing. In 1974 LA. Goofballs. Leave it to Jello to revive something this silly for all the universe’s enjoyment. –Cuss Baxter (Alternative Tentacles)


ZEKE:
'Til the Living End: CD
Fuckin’ Zeke—man, is there any band that has as much full-on, balls-out rock chops as these guys? That’s one of the reasons I was soooooo disappointed with their last (or was it the next to last?) studio album Dirty Sanchez, which pretty much blew. For awhile there, this mighty threesome seemed to be on the brink of self-destruction with cancelled shows and announcements of breaking up. It was a very sad day when I logged on to their website only to see the news that they were no more. Thankfully cooler, less strung out minds prevailed and the band reformed shortly thereafter to rock my world with their goofy Ramones cum Motörhead licks. ‘Til the Living End, produced by Jack Endino, is a return to their tried-and-true, high-octane formula. Actually getting through the whole album is mighty hard considering how many times you want to hit the replay button on the first five tracks. The junkies’ lament “Chinatown,” the neo-biker “All Through the Night,” and the opener “All Night Long” all sound like an unholy mix of Lemmy, Fast Eddie Clarke and the Supersuckers (when they still rocked). This is what speed metal should always sound like. –eric (Relapse)


YOUTH CLASS:
This Is What I Remember: CD
A college band that needs to lay off the Weezer and procure some strong anti-depressants. –jimmy (www.theyouthclass.com)


YEAR FUTURE:
The Hidden Hand: CDEP
Lotsa weird stuff I’m hearing in the mix here, most interesting of which are shades of a less satanic Mighty Sphincter (which would earn them hella bonus “cool” points if it was intentional) and other bands from the noisier end of the post-punk/proto-goth wing of the death rock hordes. This is not to say they’re all gloomy and shit, but they do have that “dark” tinge to their sound, even if they do try to hide it behind one mean racket. Do be sure to float a copy of any subsequent full-length this way, will you boys? –jimmy (GSL)


Y EQUALS, THE:
Consume Regurgitate Resume: CD
Dances the fine line between hardcore and screamo. Their pretentious aspirations failed to impress. –jimmy (www.theYequals.com)


WORKIN’ STIFFS, THE:
My Ghetto: 7"
Yeah, the Workin’ Stiffs are, in essence, a street punk band, but they’ve consistently overcome every pitfall of that microgenre. Slashing, spastic guitars, almost like the Baseball Furies. A relentless drummer who never relies on the bap-bap-bap monotony of lesser bands. No fake Cockney Accents and no “Time to polish our boots, brothers!” lyrical follies. One of the few great, non-clichéd street punk bands of the past decade. –Josh (Radio)


WOLFMOTHER:
Self-titled: CDEP
With a name like Wolfmother, I figured I’d be getting some form of stoner rock, and boy was I right. This might as well say Iron Butterfly on the cover. ‘60s hippie metal rather than ‘90s “live by the bong, die by the bong” riff merchants like Sleep or Earth. I prefer neither. –Josh (Modular)


WHISKEY SUNDAY:
Self-titled: CD
I loved this band. The first track, “Thanx 4 the Violence,” jumps into guitar melody reminiscent of some Flock of Seagulls, ‘80s-type shit (bad comparison) but the raspy vocals give it a badass run for Eddie Money. The band, especially the singer, sounds like the older (good) Descendents stuff. By looking at the CD, you would think they suck— with the Jack Daniel’s logo mimicking the band name and “quality punk rock”—but they definitely are some quality PFR. Gabe Rock –Guest Contributor (Ancestor)


WEAKLINGS, THE:
Rock-n-Roll Owes Me: CD
Standard bar rock. Yawn! If this were a cereal, it’d be Wheat Chex floating in a pool of warm Budweiser. Beer commercial music! –Maddy (Waxvaccine)


VOID CONTROL:
Self-titled: CD
This is a perfect example of enthusiasm being channeled extremely well. I get the feeling that these guys are young, and instead of looking toward the Unseen, the Casualties, and Anti-Flag for inspiration—like many of their contemporaries—they’re going to the wellspring and coming up with a bucket of cool, fun songs. In turns, they drum up flashes of the Adolescents, Blitz, Circle Jerks, and Social Distortion. On the whole, they’re still rough and they still need to find more of a voice and sound of their own, but they are on the right track and they do spark continuous flashes from classic punk rock lessons well learned. “Hallucinations of Romance” and “Let Go” are flat-out, uncorked scorchers. I really dig how they’re putting themselves together as a band and can’t wait to hear more in the future. Traditional punk’s getting another reconfiguration and, in Void Control’s hands, it’s definitely worth a listen. –todd (Void Control)


VARUKERS:
Murder: CD
It’s kind of funny that this is released now when the singer, Rat, is currently on tour with Discharge. Is the timing coincidental? Starting off this CD is the Murder LP which was released on Asylum Records here in the states. I’m not sure who originally released it in Europe. The bonus tracks come from the Nothing’s Changed 7” that was released on Weird Records. Both were released in the mid ‘90s after their reformation. For those who do not own one of the band’s patches, this band has been flying the flag of Discharge for many moons now. This is not one of their strong albums. I prefer Blood Suckers or One Struggle One Fight. On this release, the guitars are really thin and a bit too clean for my liking. The tracks from the 7” have a better mix but do not compare to their other output before these releases. Both releases have been out of print for awhile, so here is your chance to fill up the collection. –don (Rodent Popsicle)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
...Splitsville: CD
Co-ed pop punk compilation from bands Catfight and The Helgas. I liked the rock chick vocals and back-to-the-basics lo-fi sound of Catfight. The Helgas almost made me bust out my Social Distortion collection, but I enjoyed the last song, “2ndgradepunkrock.” A lot more of that, please. –Guest Contributor (True Love)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Rock Against Bush, Vol. 2: CD
I have read that certain PC punk rock types have been voicing their opinion against Fat Mike, Fat, and Punk Voter. I agree on many points that they make as much as I do about what Punk Voter is trying to do. Maybe I am an old man trying to hang on to his childhood. But I thought punk rock was a way to get information outside of the mainstream and process it to make your opinion. My opinion about anything is NOT going to be the same as yours. I see this as at least a tool to wake up people to a new ideology that might differ from one’s social circle or family. This is going to reach kids who are just starting their new life with punk rock. This in turn might lead people to volunteer for Food Not Bombs, protest, or at least continue to research in finding a concept of truth for themselves. I have been around long enough to realize that seventy to eighty percent of the people who get into punk do not stay for the long run. A person who really loves music stays for the long run. A person getting into the music for the fashion, crowd, or for the shock value does not have lasting power. But anything to effect their thought process in the future is a gain. My thought is vote or not vote. Vote for that fuckhead Bush or the lesser devil candidate in Kerry. Vote Nader to see if the country can create a third major party. At the very least, you are not being apathetic. Enough from the old guy who you will probably never meet or even notice. Let’s get back at my obsession. The music. Remember, you are reading a music publication. I’m only going to name my favorite tracks that were unreleased. I really liked the tracks by the Dropkick Murphys, Foo Fighters, Sleater-Kinney, Dillinger Four, Sick of it All and the (International) Noise Conspiracy. The rest of the bands supplied music that is available elsewhere. Bonus DVD has over an hour of music videos and shorts to further challenge your ideology. So, either this will affect you or not, at least someone will be intrigued by this. –don (Fat)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Rock Against Bush, Vol. 1: CD
My Grandpa Rife, god rest his soul, was a very kind and giving man who, during one of my typical, visceral anti-Reagan rants, told me, “Eric, don’t hate. You can dislike someone, but don’t hate them.” I’m sorry Grandpa, maybe I’m a lesser person for it, but my contempt for George W. Bush (not to mention the late, far-from-great Communicator) truly knows no bounds. I could go on and on, listing every war crime, class crime, and miscellaneous misdemeanor of our commander-in-chief but it probably wouldn’t be more interesting than Rock Against Bush Vol. 1, a 2-CD screed against the most dangerous puppet alive. And besides, the booklet presents a very impressive list of forty reasons to hate the man. Between the two discs is a hodgepodge of second, third and fourth generation punk bands including DOA, the Descendents, Social Distortion, NOFX, the Ataris, New Found Glory and Sum 41. Hey, where’s the obligatory Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn and Edward Said lectures?!?! None More Black’s “Nothing to Do When You’re Locked in a Vacancy” is a good opener with Rocket From the Crypt chug-a-luggin’ guitars and even Sum 41 takes off a little of their high production sheen to turn in “Moron,” a surprisingly strong effort. But as the liner notes say, the album isn’t “… about who’s a sellout and who’s more punk; it’s about uniting against a common enemy.” That’s a welcome and long overdue sentiment. –eric (Fat)


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