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VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Dance Hall Troops Vol. 1: CD
The days of the compilation have long been over. Gone are the days of Someone’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In and Let Them Eat Jellybeans. Other than a few standouts (Hostage fucking Records!), the compilation record has somehow morphed into the “label sampler.” Rather than put a kick ass bunch of songs, labels seem to opt for putting out a weak cross section of their tepid roster. As I noted that this was comp was sponsored by a record label and a clothing company, I was expecting the worst. BOY, WAS I FUCKING WRONG!!! Dancehall Troops just my be the savior of the Punk Rock Compilation (along with Hostage fucking Records!). Good Goddamn, this record rules. And the bands, THE BANDS!!! So many good bands, that I’m sure that I’ll miss mentioning some of the best ones. It’s all good, but here are the standouts. The Sleazies, Die Hunns, Smut Peddlers, Smogtown, Broken Bottles, my local (Victoria, BC) favorites Keg Killers, Curb Slappys… It goes on and on. This thing has been in the stereo since I got it. I’m waiting for Volume Two. –ty (No Front Teeth)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
80 Records and We’re Not Broke (Yet): 2 x CD
I’ll give Level Plane this (and little else): they did the right thing making this a double CD. The first disc is standard label sampler, with tracks from available product, but disc two is all unreleased material. Sadly, the majority of both parts is twisted up from everybody fiddling with high strings, so busy building tension with their weird keys and drone notes and breaking new ground (mm hm) they forget the Riff and Groove, thus neglecting what makes rock music rock music. There are exceptions: Bucket Full of Teeth, Transistor Transistor, Melt Banana, Newgenics, Avorza (eventually) and Nixon do remember to rock; and Air Conditioning and LickGoldenSky (on disc two only! The song on disc one is crap!) are so far from Rock to begin with they can’t really be said to be missing the boat; they’re on the train. –Cuss Baxter (Level Plane)


VAN ERMANS, THE:
Under the Gun: CD
Emo. What does that even mean? It was pretty funny when Screeching Weasel named a full-length Emo. –mrz (Broken Spoke)


URBAN RIOT:
Public Enemies: CD
If the music on this disc was food, I think it would be a meatloaf, with plenty of thick chest hairs baked in and broken teeth sprinkled over the top. With their stubborn, workmanlike attitude, you could say Urban Riot is “lunchbox” street punk, both because of its utilitarian approach and because these guys sound like they eat entire lunchboxes whole—and I mean the old-school metal kind with the glass-lined thermos inside. Though this is not very tuneful and I can’t imagine anything more insipid than people who exert this much effort trying to convince the world what tough-ass galoots they are, this is serviceable oi and it is not without its brutish charms. Pass the ketchup. –aphid (Headache)


UNDERHILLS, THE:
What Went Wrong: CDEP
When you’re in a band ready to release one of your recordings for the world to hear, you don’t say, Let’s not put our band name on the outer packaging! I really thought this band was called What Went Wrong. There was a symbol with a lower case “u” that was underlined inside a circle. Boy, that sure doesn’t say that this is an Underhills CD to a guy who has never heard or seen them before. If I hadn’t actually looked at the insert and seen in tiny print that was the band name, I would have never found out. Anyways, this band sounds like early Blink 182 meets the Queers to me. –don (Cabana 1)


TROPHY:
Made Out of Babies: CD
Face it, guys. No matter how many loud guitars, no matter how many goth/rock/punk riffs you fire off, no matter how much racket you make to try to hide it, your singer still sounds like Bjork. Only when you admit this can the healing truly begin. –jimmy (Neurot)


TRIGGERS/ SPITS:
Split: 7”
The Triggers are the kings and queens of dirt melody. They sound so sloppy and catchy at the same time. I’m a sucker for dual male/female vocals and for ripped-jean, piss-your-pants-and-continue-your-conversation-like-nothing-happened, alcoholic punk, and it’s hard to find a finer specimen than the Triggers. They’re the Avengers if the Avengers were more crumpled, surly, nihilistic, and toured in a shitty van with a muffler holding on by a guitar string. Spits: It’s too soon to put it in cement, but the Spits have the Ramones-height ability to make songs seem too simple, too easy to do, and are played in a way that’s obviously as heart-felt. Gloriously retarded and ill at ease. Even at their more fungal (the first track) and noise loopy synthesizery (the second one), I’m willing to follow them down many a dark alley and hear what they stumble over and kick back at. Not for geniuses or people who beat off to complexity, just a damn fine band. –todd (Puke)


TRI-FIVES, THE:
Won: CD
Decent stuff—think of a slowed-down Invalids with more garage swagger and less punk snarl. I'm pretty sure the Gotohells have a release or two on Fast Music as well, and the comparison could be made to them as well. Hell, even that first Stockyard Stoics full length, without the ska parts, would probably work. Or Jon Cougar Concentration Camp, when those background “whoa whoa”s come in. See—comparisons abound, and they're all decent bands. So, yeah, the wheel's already been invented here, but the Tri-Fives are doing their part to make sure the fucker's still rolling. –keith (Fast Music)


TRACTOR SEX FATALITY:
Tiny Parts & Love Ain: 7"
It eats Guitar Wolf, shits Voidit's Tractor Sex Fatality! Sounds like a bunch of guys armed with guitars and other bludgeons trying to teach an empty tuna can a hard lesson. Throw in the sax and you'll swear Lol Coxhill is back from the dead (or at least Music for Pleasure)! Surely, God fidgets uneasily even as we speak. BEST SONG: "Tiny Parts" BEST SONG TITLE: "Jungle Pam" FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: A forty-two-year-old Asian man was found hanging by the neck, suspended by a rope, attached to the raised shovel of a John Deer Model JD410, diesel powered backhoe tractor. –norb (Unscene Sounds)


TRACTOR SEX FATALITY:
Live It Down: 7”
Noise rock from a band that features former members of the Honeymoon Killers, the Gloryholes, and the Primate 5. Annoying in all the right ways, especially “Cagematch,” which just might be my favorite new song of the week. –jimmy (Big Neck)


TOYS THAT KILL:
Don’t Take My Clone b/w Breakin’ Out: 7”
The hyenas haven’t been tamed. The lions haven’t been declawed. The wheels on the TTK wagon rarely stop rotating. Secret muscles developed and cardiovascular fitness improved from continuous touring turns what could be a bunt situation into another crackin’ hit. Side A’s quintessential TTK: guitars and vocals battling it out like mannered vultures picking at the world’s carcass, pure outpourings of dragstripping energy that mess up electronic devices, octopusal drumming, and middle-eastern scaling that only I seem to hear. “Breakin’ Out” borrows a Clash riff, is wildly poppy, and may stump existing TTK fans if you don’t tell them who it is before playing it. But, man, do I like it. –todd (Dirtnap)


TOY DOLLS:
Our Last Album?: CD
Dunno whether the title is accurate and this is truly their swan song or they’re just having a laugh at our expense, but if it is, indeed, true, then we are the worse off for it. In recent years they’ve gotten into a groove, of sorts, cranking out LPs that, while not always as manic or inspired as their earliest work, were solid additions to their recorded legacy, and this is no exception. Olga’s guitar work is as jaw-droppingly good as ever, Tommy Goober and Dave the Nut provide the requisite precision backing, and the lyrical subject matter remains silly, as evidenced by titles like “No One Knew the Real Emu,” and “The Death of Barry the Roofer with Vertigo.” This album’s cover tune of the Boomtown Rats’ “She’s So Modern” is serviceable at worst, and there are a couple of “bonus” tracks as well, “Tony Talks Tripe” and a re-recording of “Yul Brynner Was a Skinhead.” These guys are/were one of punk’s truly original voices and will be missed if this is their last hurrah. –jimmy (SOS)


TORCHE:
Self-titled: CD
I don’t know anything about Cavity, in which as at least one Torche was, but last year’s Floor CD was a top-shelf favorite on the Baxter farm, and two Floors are in Torche, and you can hear it. I also don’t really know anything about Queens of the Stone Age, but I think that’s the general territory on which tread Torche: heavy on the heavy, but also on the smooth. Guitars are tuned so low you’re not sure whether you’re hearing them or feeling them, the vocals flow like Guinness and there’s hardly any bullshit to fuck with your enjoyment of the rolling of the thunder. The whole thing’s under thirty minutes, which is a shame, but you’ll find it only seems like about twelve. And, yes, I’m ignoring the hideous cover and middle school lines like, “war is beautiful.” That’s my right. –Cuss Baxter (Robotic Empire)


TIFF JIMBER:
Obstacles: CD
Yawn. There is nothing to this album. Boring songs, boring voice, boring music all together. It could put the world’s utmost insomniac to sleep. I’ve heard it all before: the singer-songwriter who can’t really sing or play, but thinks if she does both she’ll get some recognition. A pretty face doesn’t make up for lack of talent. This is what makes people want to commit suicide; it sucks your soul of all happiness and optimism. Her voice sounds sweet, but there’s no backbone to the songs. They just all tend to blend together into one big wreck. Hopefully, she’s not fooling anyone but herself. There is some beauty in this world; unfortunately, you won’t find it here. Pardon me while I bang my head on the bathroom wall about a couple million times, because it sure would sound better than this. –Guest Contributor (Cormac)


THROUGH YOU:
Silhouette: CD
This thing is absolutely amazing: a classic case of some record label PR dickhead just firing blind and sending out promos to every magazine with a glossy cover. Through You's got a mixture of "sweet riffs," chunka-chunka hard rock stuff, and acoustic ballads. The vocals alternate between rap rock and an eye-wateringly high, lilting singing. Three of the four members thank God in the liner notes. Includes the lyrical gem, "I see fire in your eyes controlled and molded into stars and God's given you His wonders to hold and blessed this love of ours and it is so unbelievable how beautiful this has become." I read the lyrics to Anna and she started vomiting everywhere. If I had to sum it up in a one-word review (and was allowed a hyphen), I'd say soul-killing. If Clear Channel and the CIA ever put their heads together and came up with a black-ops studio band meant to nullify the general populace's will to live, these boys'd be hired on the fucking spot. I predict a 7-Up commercial or two in their future. –keith (Parafora)


THOR:
Thor Against the World: CD
I thought there was a bad heavy metal band in the ‘80s that has used this name that sounded like Manowar. I don’t know if this is the same band, but, man, this is painful. This band has the Alice Cooper cheese theatrics to it while being backed by Quiet Riot. It’s probably more fun being on the other side making this music, but I’m not amused. –don (Smog Veil)


SLANDERIN, THE:
A Rhumba of Rattlesnakes, A Murder of Crows: 7"
What did the Reverend Horton Heat ever do to deserve this sort of disrespect? According to their press release, The Slanderin “bitch slap” the good Rev and send him into the kitchen to make them cheese hot pockets! Whoa! What the fuck is this? A punkabilly throwdown? C’mon fellas, lighten up. Doncha remember Biggie and Tupac? That shit just ain’t right. And for all the bravado, it’s hard to imagine these guys sounding like they do without the manic Gretsch pickin’ of the patron saint of punkabilly. ‘Nuff said. The Slanderin most definitely have the chops to back up their boasts which they wrap tightly around a non-stop horror show of dead men, werewolves, and zombies from another planet. Truth be told, this is among the best shockabilly, psychobilly, goreabilly or whatever the fuck the kids are calling it these days. Definitely on par with Tiger Army or the Nekromantix. Watch for them to play the opening slot when the Meteors tour later this year! –eric (Split 7)


SLACKERS, THE:
International War Criminal: CDEP
After ten years or so, the Slackers have gone from songs about romance to songs about politics. It’s been interesting to see how many bands and writers made the transition over the last few years. People were just pushed too far politically to let the anarcho-punks have the only political voice. The Slackers are possibly the most consistent ska band ever, continuing to tour and put out good records long before and after the pinnacle (or lowest point, depending on your view) of ska during the ‘90s. Their songwriting is impeccable. At worst, their songs are good, and when they’re on, you get some of the most soulful ska out there. At times, this EP ventures a little more into reggae than I’m used to, but it’s still a great CD. –megan (Thought Squad)


SIRENS:
Long Distance Calling: 7"
Man, I should really like this. It’s got all the road markers in punk that I’m a sucker for: multiple vocals, raspy singing, melodic guitars, and someone mentioning that they sound kinda like Kid Dynamite. But something’s missing. It’s like a model airplane with one sheet of parts not being in the box. All the parts, apart, look fine, “Oh, shit, this is gonna be rad,” but, in the end, with some pieces AWOL, it doesn’t fly. Each of these four songs has parts that I dig, but the song parts seem sloppily glued together. They don’t quite match up (and a consistently faster tempo wouldn’t hurt the proceedings one bit). The B-side’s opener, “Washington St.” is the breaker. I’m almost to the point in my life where I’m willing to give slack to bands that really like Bruce Springsteen and cite him as an unapologetic influence—if and only if they shake up the Boss’s jar of fireflies while heckling the E-Street band. You know, a quick flurry of kicks to the nads and some abuse to the dude with the scarf on his head. But punk bands that remind me of Bruce Springsteen almost immediately and foremost, that teetered this release into the “nice try, but no” category. –todd (1-2-3-4 Go!)


SINGAPORE SLING:
Life Is Killing My Rock’n’Roll: CD
MOM, THE KIDS ARE MAKING THEIR OWN JESUS & MARY CHAIN ALBUMS AFTER YOU LEAVE FOR WORK IN THE MORNING!!! What’s next, reusable maxi-pads??? Oh... wait... never mind. These songs sound virtually identical to what i remember the songs that weren’t “Sidewalking” on that sort of odds-and-ends J&MC album sounding like, but i lent that cassette to a girl in about 1988 and never got it back, so i’m kinda going on dim recollections and foggy notions here—be that as it may, i can state with reasonable assurance that this would be about the third-or-fourth best Jesus & Mary Chain album, were it, in fact, an album by the Jesus & Mary Chain. The most fun you can have with Iceland-related items without intentionally pronouncing the silent j’s! BEST SONG: “Life Is Killing My Rock’n’Roll” BEST SONG TITLE: “Curse Curse Curse” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: And, on tambourine and maracas, it’s Iggi Sniff! –norb (Stinky)


SHEMPS, THE:
Spazz Out: CD
With the demise of the New Bomb Turks, The Stupor Stars, and the Devil Dogs, America—okay, I—has been patiently waiting for a party garage rock to flick the switch to expose all that lame trust fund hipster rock for what it is: tomorrow’s single-ply toilet paper, the type where your finger pokes through, right to anus. What better band than the Shemps? This shit’s supposed to be fun, dirty, and barely competent. But with a beat you can dance to. It’s supposed to, you know, hit you in the ding ding or the vage really hard and make your feet skitter around. This music’s about slipping in puke, dirty taps, and faulty amps. It’s about being poor and fucked and being a perpetually second class citizen. Then providing the party-time escape for twenty or thirty minutes so you can forget that stuff for a bit. It’s reclamation time. Do it for James Brown. Do it for Chuck Berry. Do it for the Dirtbombs. It’s time to heave dirty underwear into the faces of the perpetually pouty designer rockers and say, “This injustice just won’t stand! You are from penthouses, not the gutter! Slum somewhere else, charlatan! Real garage is not a mere diversion for the effete!” Or just take my word for it. This is a great record. It’d behoove you to buy this instead of some manufactured, over-produced poo rock that’s going to be out of fashion quicker than ponchos. –todd (Reservation)


SCURVY DOGS:
It’s All Gonna End: CD
San Diego Hardcore, a la Battalion of Saints. These boys must have been drinking whiskey down in Davey Jones’ locker when they recorded this in-your-face album. Teetering right on the edge of being full-on thrash, the screaming vocals are right at home with the super-slick bass riffs and rapid tempo changes. Don’t expect any crucial breakdowns, just fast hardcore that makes no apologies. JasonK –Guest Contributor (Rodent Popsicle)


SCRAPY:
Unsteady Times: CD
In the past, I received a CD single from this band that was pretty good. So it’s good to see that I received a copy of their full length. Same stuff as before. A great mix of street punk meets ska and two-tone. The production is so much better on this release. It establishes a good groove that is not only smooth but silky. The street punk songs are pint-in-the-air fun. The ska stuff is the stuff that stands out here. It makes me want to put on a trenchcoat with a target on it or go shopping for a pork pie hat. It’s that good. Nine guys make music for a soundtrack for a good party. –don (Mad Butcher)


SCHEMERS:
Self-titled: CD
The Schemers remind me of just how fun it can be playing in a band—too bad they have too many other distractions. SoCal Beach Punk in the spirit of Agent Orange. A predictable EP that does manage to throw in a few morsels. JasonK –Guest Contributor (self-released, schemers13@hotmail.com)


RUM DIARY, THE:
Poisons That Save Lives: CD
When the Chinese sage Lao-Tzu said, “the five musical notes deafen the ears of man” he was surely imagining the exact configuration of those notes as arranged by the Rum Diary into the various songs on this CD. The drowzy, atmospheric nap-scapes offered here put my ears to sleep. Utter innocuousness is a poison that does not save lives. I don’t know exactly why, but for some reason I think listening to this is like having sex with a vacuum cleaner. –aphid (Substandard)


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