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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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VILLAINS, THE:
Crime of Life b/w Reflexive Paranoia: 7"
The Villains are Boston’s future-core punk kings, or so says the little flyer that accompanied this record. I have no idea what means. Future-core? Egad, they don’t mean sci-fi punk rock, do they? Ray Bradbury and hardcore don’t seem like that good a mix, to me. If by “future-core” they mean the sound of punk to come (to paraphrase a Refused album title) then the future’s gonna sound a lot like the past and much of the present. This is decent, fast-moving, energetic hardcore, but it isn’t anything new by any stretch of the imagination. But that look with the camo pants and the bullet belt and the locked chain necklace, now there you might be onto something.... –aphid (FNS)


VICTIMS:
…In Blood: CD
Some utterly vicious hardcore is dished up piping hot for ye, courtesy of this Swedish thrash powerhouse, who take Discharge’s lyrical sparseness and marry it to a sonic bulldozer that touches, but by no means relies, upon the aforementioned band’s sound. Yet another reason to love fjords and perpetual daylight. –jimmy (Havoc)


VESTIGES:
The Promised City: CDEP
Folks, I do believe an alt-pop renaissance is at hand. Hide the liquor, shut down the bars, and batten down the hatches, ‘cause it looks like it’s gonna be a mighty ugly storm. –jimmy (www.particleacceleratorrecords.com)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Ratas de Ciudad: CD
A corker of a collection of Latino hardcore bands from Chicago’s Southside, including Eske, Jodido, Tras de Nada, Non Fiktion Nois, PKDores, Reacción, and I Attack, respectively. Most of what’s on here speeds by at a nice clip, is lyrically split evenly between English and Spanish, and all of it is top notch. Included in the liner notes is an explanation as to why so many Southside bands play hardcore punk, an answer that, as the product of East L.A.’s punk scene, I can attest is pretty universal. I hope the label makes this an annual “state of the scene” report of sorts for the Southside, with maybe an expansion in the number of bands represented, ‘cause, as Los Crudos illustrated some time ago, the scene in Chicago’s barrios was apparently quite vibrant, indeed, and apparently remains so. –jimmy (Southkore)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Letters from the Landfill: LP
A four-way split featuring some of the best bands that the East Bay has to offer: This Is My Fist, Shotwell, Abandon, and the Peels. Not surprisingly, there’s a general aspiration of East Bay greats of the past (Jawbreaker, Crimpshrine, etc.), but the enthusiasm and excitement of the bands saves them from being tied down to their influences. This Is My Fist: Earnest. Gritty. Intelligent. I’m extremely fucking stoked that they have new songs out. Their first 7” is great, and these four songs are even better. It’s a hell of a nice way to kick off the album. Shotwell: There’s something so familiar about these guys. Maybe it’s the way they always sound hungover, like they want to play fast and yell but they never break out of their midtempo sneer. It’s much better than I make it sound. Abandon: Chunky hardcore that kinda falls into a rut too often for me. If I was at a show where they were playing, I wouldn’t leave, but it lacks that “oh shit, I need to hear that again” quality that the first two bands on this record have. The Peels: Starts off kinda jammy, kinda solo-y, which are two qualities that I very rarely enjoy, but then it settles into a nice, comfortable weirdness. All told, I’ll be listening to the first side a lot more than the second one, but I highly recommend seeking this one out. –Josh (Left Off the Dial)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
I Don’t Want to be the One to Say It: CD
Twenty-three rough and ready tracks from a bunch of bands that I guess have been hiding out “down under” for awhile. I guess since I don’t get to go to many shows there is a reason why I’ve never heard of them. 4 Ft Fingers belt out two songs that burn like fresh brats on the grill—quick and tasty. How could you not like a band called The Retardos? I couldn’t resist their “Second Best.” Love Camp 7 is tight as well—“Creature from the Black Latrine” is dark and scary. Tiltwheel reminds me of Automatic 7, but I loved that band so no problem there. Steadfast rounds out my faves on this slab ‘o’ rock but pick this up and you’ll probably find your own new favorite band. –koepenick (Rabbit)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Give ‘Em the Boot IV: CD
I picked up the first volume of this series back when it came out because its mixture of Caribbean-inspired bands and punk-inspired bands seemed an interesting mix. When all was said and done, the only stuff on it that remained remotely interesting was a live recording of the Skatalites’ “Latin Goes Ska” (which in turn was a ska take on Perez Prado’s “Pachito e-Che”) and a Heptones track. The “punk” rapidly degenerated into a mush of faceless faux-English fluff and the remaining ska tunes just weren’t that interesting. This has been pretty much the way things have been with these comps ever since. The standout tracks here come courtesy of Westbound Train and Chris Murray, the late Joe Strummer is repped by a live version of “Junco Partner,” and there is a pretty good punk track from the South Central Riot Squad, but the rest is pretty much disposable, courtesy of most of the bands that made previous installments about as interesting as watching cheese melt. –jimmy (Hellcat)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Eighteen California Bands You Won’t See on the Warped Tour: Golden Grouper, Vol.: CD
Essentially, GSL’s answer to those horrid Punk Rock Jukebox and said Warped Tour comps that seem to, ahem, represent the underground music scene these days. This comp from Los Angeles’ Gold Standard Laboratories (who brought you such fine acts as Arab on Radar, the Convocation of..., the Faint, Melt Banana, and Vaz) highlights the burgeoning California scene where punk rock is filtered through a noise rock-meets-acid rock double-chambered bong. Highlights include the keyboard-driven skronk und twang of New Collapse, the cosmic boogie rawk for drug-addled minds of Wires on Fire, the bass heavy P.I.L.-like post punk of Swann Danger and the Germs-meets-Alice Donut on an AmRep booze cruise (to Catalina!) of 400 Blows. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of the eighteen bands you won’t see on the Warped Tour. Do people still go see bands on the Warped Tour? If so, I guess we’ll have to suffer through the Battle of the Bands That Want To Be on the Warped Tour reality show real soon. God damn it, when will it end? I want my punk rock back and I want it now! –greg (GSL)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Collateral Damage: LP
My good friend Dustin Jak has done a lot of things for me over the years (drummed in one of my bands, been my tattoo artist) but one of the best things has to be turning me on to Hostage Records. It started with The Hostage Situation compilation. He gave me a tape of it for my car and that was it. I was hooked for life. Smut Peddlers, the Numbers, Smogtown, the Crowd… So many great bands all in one place! I was so taken that I wound up naming my new band after a Smut Peddlers song on the comp. The search was on for more. Finding the 7”s up here in the Great White North proved to be more than a little difficult, so I relied on the compilations to keep my fix going. The next compilation was Tower 13, which was damn near perfect. How could they follow it up? They did what all labels should, but never do. They went out and found a whole new crop of bands. I’m sure it wouldn’t have been too hard for them to wrangle a few tunes from their bread and butter bands (although most have broken up), but why not establish the next generation? I, for one, am sure glad they did. The record kicks off with a blast from The Bad Vibrations who let us know that beach punk is alive and well. Song after song, this comp. shows that the fertile grounds that sprouted such bands as Adolescents, DI, and Social Distortion among many others, is still producing the highest quality in punk rock. The highlights for me are aforementioned Bad Vibrations, Blood Soaked Hands, Code 4-15, Pharmacist’s Son, KBH, and the Pillz… The whole damn record is gold! The bottom line is this: GET THIS RECORD NOW! Hurry and you might get one with nifty camouflage wax. I guess I owe Dustin a tape. –ty (www.hostagerecords.com)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Bankshot! Mass Destruction: CD
A pox on Choking Victim for turning Cyndi Lauper’s “Money Changes Everything” into one of the worst ska-punk songs ever put to tape! May you all get bad skin rashes for such a heinous transgression! The Paybacks deserve a good, sound ignoring for giving the world yet another unnecessary cover of Cheap Trick’s “Surrender” instead of picking one of their other tunes to run into the ground (why doesn’t anyone ever cover “Elo Kiddies”? That one seems like such a no-brainer to me). The rest of the bands on here are hit and miss, with Kill Your Idols and GC5 providing some high points and the Lawrence Arms, Leftover Crack (with the Distillers) and the Virus providing some low points. In all, no big whoop here, but I’ve heard much, much worse. –jimmy (www.bankshotrecords.com)


VANISHING:
Still Lifes Are Failing: CD
Skronky no-wave death disco. While I’m not much of a fan of Glass Candy, this album echoes Ida No’s vocal stylings while also drawing links to Siouxsie and Romeo Void (both vocally and musically). While this may sound like a record which is little more than the sum of its parts, it’s substantially more—these eerie songs are filled with a creepy mood which is closer to the aesthetic sensibilities of gothic rock and early industrial music (think Bauhaus and, to a lesser extent, Throbbing Gristle in that band’s more melodic moments) as well as the edgy, brittle saxophone sound best exemplified in free jazz and by James Chance. I can’t help but feel that I should be dressed like a Droog, drinking laced milk in a bar lit only by black lights and filled with dry ice drifting across the floor while people wearing too much lace and velvet pull the flames down on the dance floor. –scott (GSL)


UPTOWNS, THE:
The Beast: CD
Just when I thought that ska was dead enough that Tazy Phillips could start to be forgiven, this showed up in my inbox. If you must know, think Reel Big Fish. And if that wasn’t bad enough, consider that most of this is a concept album, much like some fucked up two-tone version of Red-Headed Stranger. –scott (www.theuptowns.com)


UPSILON ACRUX:
Volueris Avis Dirae-Arum: CD
Ornette Coleman plays Pong with Beefheart’s Magic Band in Devo’s basement. Goblin doodlerock. –Cuss Baxter (Planaria)


TYRADES:
Incarcerated: 7"
For a band that laments that their instruments are “covered in failure,” and members feel like quitting because people they don’t know if they actually like their band, the Tyrades sound indestructible on vinyl. It’s not about finesse. It’s all about a snarling, gnashing, just-smart-enough, just-dumb-enough punk rock that’s pretty fuckin’ perfect for this dude right here. Brains + heart + genitals (there’s a lady present) + hard luck + amplification, go!—it’s an equation more often fucked up than not. The Tyrades tip the scales back. Everybody wins with Jenna’s tough and seductive snarl, Jimmy Hollywood’s “for saying you don’t know how to play, you sure get a lot out of it” guitaring, to Robert’s vulture picking through tough meat bass, and Frankie hitting the kit like a piece of trash “disciplining” a misbehaving kid in a checkout line at Wal-Mart. Great stuff. Four songs, including a slashy Wire cover. –todd (Die Slaughterhaüs)


TRIGGER HAPPY:
Petrograd: CD
Sometimes I think Todd floats me stuff like this just to see if anything vaguely emo in sound really WILL make my head explode. Should’ve known something was up when I saw they were responsible for half a split with J Church. –jimmy (Hungry Ghost)


TRAVOLTAS:
High School Reunion: CD
Music which sounds like the tragic result of not-particularly-spectacular carnal knowledge of Gary Numan by the Yum-Yums. Not entirely horrible, but yet so unbearably anemic that i should be given pause to wonder if this album was not raised since birth in a veal pen. BEST SONG: Although the “song composed of staged ‘answering machine messages’“ gimmick is one that pretty much ran the course of its fifteen minutes of fame about, oh, fifteen minutes ago, “Class of ‘88” kinda touched me because the jilted guy/condescending girl dialogue was, tragically, pretty much right on. BEST SONG TITLE: “Major Tom” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: I heard that “Major Tom” song for about the first time in like fifteen years this summer at an ice cream parlor, and i was thinking how cool it would be if someone covered it... then these guys cover it in their native tongue (whatever the hell it is), and, completely overthrowing my recent tirades on how European bands oughtta sing in their native language, i find myself wishing that they’d sung it in English instead. Huh. –norb (Fastmusic)


TOWER OF ROME:
All Is Lost, All Is Lost, All Is Yet to Be Found: CD
This looked so emo that I picked it up just to trash it. But things don’t always work out the way you want them to. What comes out of the speakers is far from sweaters, thick glasses, and Dashboard Confessional tour shirts. It’s a bombastic blend of power violence, blast beats, grindcore, and plain and simple screaming. The only emotion here is being pissed. The drummer bangs so fast, I almost mistook it for a drum machine. The guitar and bass chords are played so fast and fuzzed out with distortion that they melt into one and it becomes one big wall of white noise. The slow parts make you feel like you are being dragged in slow motion through a river of mud. You lose your equilibrium. Eleven songs in a little over nine minutes. A severe beating that you never saw coming and once it’s over, you can not identify the attackers. All you can think is, what just happened? –don (Hewhocorrupts Inc.)


TOILET BOYS:
The Early Years: CD
Snotty, shrill, loose, lo-fi and definitely New York, this retrospective covers the band’s ‘96-‘97 releases, live performances, and a novel cover of everyone’s glam favorite, “Talk to Dirty to Me.” The Toilet Boys demonstrate the sound that dominated the late ‘90s punk underbelly with scores and scores of fantastic bands like the Registrators, the Beaters, the Stitches, and the Stiletto Boys. Visually, it’s Dr. Frank N. Furter fronting the Strokes. Sonically well orchestrated but thank you, I’m full. –thiringer (Ozit Morpheus)


THINGS FALL APART:
Self-Titled: CD
Sounds like emocore in my book. A mixture of the new Only Crime output, The Bronx or Blood Brothers. –don (Crustacean)


THESE LIES:
More Than They’ll Ever Know: CDEP
Mid-tempo punk rock with a hardcore singer. Not mind-blowingly good, but it ain’t bad for what it is, either. –jimmy (Rodent Popsicle)


THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES:
The Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go Home: CD
Arty, discordant rock in the vein of Drive Like Jehu and Gang of Four. “Angela’s Secret” dissects a person who just works to exist and has no other purpose in life. “Greetings from the Great North Woods” shines a blinding light on the working class again with lines like “Daddy brought home the bacon/ the bacon was in the backyard baby.” “Darlings of New Midnight” is the standout song on here. It actually has shades of Fugazi tucked inside—definitely not a bad thing. This record may take a few spins to get inside your head but once it does it probably won’t crawl out anytime soon. –koepenick (Jade Tree)


THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES:
The Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go Home: CD
This review could alternately be called Fuck Me, They Put Out a Full Length?, or Sorry Ma, I’ve Got More Things to Shoot At. I could care less what bands these people used to be in; all I care about is the music. It’s angular, vaguely electro-clash, post-punk-inflected pseudo-dance-rock, and that’s a Dagwood of a sentence—what it boils down to is that this band plays noisy, groove-driven songs that people might dance to. Comparisons? Sure, but I didn’t like Girls Against Boys either. –scott (Jade Tree)


TAXI:
Who’s To Blame b/w Down By Love: CD-R version of a 7”
The more i listen to this the more i loathe it utterly: The a-side is the kind of pointless midtempo pseudopunk that used to be held up as a shimmering example of the genre by MTV™ and similar overground know-nothings when they tried to advance a theory that the Hair Metal Of The Day was merely “Punk plus X!” (buy into that at your own peril, kids); the b-side might fit somewhere onto the end of one of the first few UK Subs albums were it outfitted by Charlie Harper’s vocals, but, alas, it is merely outfitted with the presumably unintentionally goofy vocals of some Italian guy singing en Anglais, so cross that one off your Christmas list as well. Seriously, if this is what’s supposed to pass for good punkrok in this day and age, the enlightened consumer might wanna think about taking a few years off from punk-dom and using that time to explore previously unscratched itches involving exploration of the classical, jazz, or techno realms. I mean, there certainly ain’t nothin’ to see here. BEST SONG: “Down by Love” BEST SONG TITLE: “Stone Age Woo” by Nervous Norvus FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: As a final indignity, i didn’t even get the vinyl to review, just a CD-R. Are there not rules in place to keep me safe from such horrors??? –norb (Dead Beat)


TARANTULA HAWK:
Self-Titled: CD
For some weird reason, I’ve really been loving doomy prog metal lately (even though I’m still not too interested in Neurosis) and this is in the same dark vein. Epic, droning dirges that sound like marching orcs in the Lord of the Rings—yeah, that may have sounded kind of lame but these plodding songs are spooky, filled with keyboards that sound like they came straight out of Phantom of the Opera. They’re filled with dread, not the vague suspicion that something bad might happen sooner or later, but the absolute certainty that everything is going to be very fucked in short order. They have a tribal, almost jazz-like, groove at times, all syncopated drumbeats and what sounds like the metal equivalent of snare drum chatter. With all that said, this may actually be too well-produced for doom metal fans (the sound isn’t murky and this album doesn’t seem to have been recorded through a tin can) but may not sound clear enough for Dream Theater fans. However, to my ears, this sounds damned cool and I can’t wait to hear more. –scott (Life Is Abuse)


TAKEDOWNS, THE:
Self-Titled: 7" EP
I was gonna be a smartass and badmouth this just ‘cause they were local boys, and there’s nothing we punkers from the ‘hood like to do more than cap on each other for shits ‘n’ giggles, but I just can’t quite bring myself to do it. Not because I’m incapable of doing it, mind you, ‘cause I could swear a blue streak about damn near anything if I had the gumption, as evidenced numerous times over the course of this mag’s existence, but because it’s good. Really good. We’re talking “boy, them elitist Hollywood fucks would’ve been green with envy had this come out in ‘77” kinda good. The lyrics and hooks are kept simple, the THUD factor is upped exponentially and the attitude is cranked to eleven, resulting in some kick-ass tunes sure to spoil your mama’s quinceañera. Even more impressive is that they’ve managed to pack nine tunes on a seven-inch, and these are not short songs, mind you. Of course, I’m gonna call ‘em and tell ‘em this wasn’t bad for a group of tone-deaf amputees with more Justin Timberlake singles in their collection than most people should legally own, but, just between you and me, this is probably thee best record I’ve heard in quite a while. –jimmy (Bridgecityrockerrecords@yahoo.com)


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