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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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SWEETHEARTS, THE:
Looks Could Kill: CD
It sounds like The Sweethearts are trying to for a little more rock’n’roll with this album. Gone are the happy, poppy guitar bits, and the singer, Lynnette, seems to have traded in her bubble gum for liquor and cigarettes. I’m not sure how I feel about it. I kinda liked them better poppier. Looks Could Kill is still a pretty solid album. The Sweethearts are still catchy and fun. I’m sure this album will grow on me. It’s definitely a keeper. Still, I like it when they rock their Go-Go’s and Screeching Weasel influences more than their Runaways influences. –sean (Mortville)


SUMMERBIRDS IN THE CELLAR:
With the Hands of the Hunter it All Becomes Dead: CD
Note to band: If I really wanted to be bored, I can do it myself. –don (Slow January)


STRUNG UP:
Warfucked: 7"
The twenty-year reset button’s been pushed. In too many ways, 2004 and 1984 had bad things in common: threat of nuclear holocaust, “worst President ever, re-elected,” and picking fights with other countries for oil while putting bullets into innocent people. But on the up side, the thrash-a-holic golden age (that pube hair of time before crossover) of early DRI and Corrosion of Conformity and Plastic Surgery Disasters-era Dead Kennedys, where “shredding” could be applied to music and skating in equal measure, is being resurrected. In 2005, think Street Trash, Career Suicide, Caustic Christ, and Kangaroo Records. Strung Out stands true in that good company. My favorite track is their answer to the Beastie Boys’ “Fight for Your Right (to Party):” a fantasy of sessioning your parents house when they’re away on vacation that includes wallriding their big screen TV. –todd (Tankcrimes)


STRAY FROM THE PATH:
Our Oceania: CD
Them: Chuggachuggachugga. Howlhowlgrumblehowlgrumble. Doogadoogadoogadooga. Howlgrumblehowl. Chugggachuggachugga. Me: Yawn. –jimmy (Five Point)


STATE OF REVOLUTION:
Fight Forever: CD
I’m confused. The cover looks punk rock, with a bunch of show flyers with the Business and Blanks 77 listed in the background with a fist immersed in a star. Talk about false advertising. The music sounds like a poppy Warped Tour mess of bands like Strung Out and Bigwig. It even has a song, “Maybe One Day,” crying about a girl, which I have no qualms with, but the music and Blink 182 vocals create an instant response of nausea. The music sounds like it was made by a bunch of bros from San Diego or something. No offense to those from San Diego. I wonder if I could sue for false advertising? –jenny (SOS)


STARVATIONS, THE:
Gravity's a Bitch: CD
The Starvations were the first band that I went out of my way to listen to just because I had read about them in Razorcake. I remember reading the interview that they did and thinking that any band that could equate drinking with brushing your teeth was okay in my book. Don’t want to jinx them or anything, but so far, they’ve never let me down and I can’t completely put my finger on why I like them. They’re in a league with bands like the Gun Club and the Pogues: storytelling lyrics, similar instrumentation, and the ability to pull off both dirges and more uptempo songs. But the thing is that they don’t really sound like those bands, they just remind me of them. All three bands have a knack for taking inspiration from traditional roots music, but they never become slaves to convention; they weave in their own paranoia and make the music their own. –Josh (GSL)


SPITTING COBRAS:
Idle b/w Tickin: 7"
Two songs from a Brooklyn three-piece. Sounds like a mix of AC/DC and the Hunches, though these songs are more lackluster and tepid than that suggests. The band seems to be going for a straight-up garage rock approach, but tempering it here and there with the odd section of sonic fuckery or call-and-response interplay in the vocal department. Both songs are mid-tempo, and while they’re okay, it seems like the Spitting Cobras need to decide if they want to shoot for the genitalia-swinging sex-and-drugs rock approach (see: AC/DC) or all-out garage-noise spasticness (see: the Hunches). Otherwise they’re just toeing the line between the two, and the result is pretty forgettable. –keith (Wrecked Em)


SOVIETTES, THE:
LP III: CD
God damn! I knew something was going to be good when I heard the opening chords. The first track has me hooked! This one comes right off the starting line and has me at attention. Track after track, it keeps my toes a tapping. As usual, I’m coming into the know a little late. Here I am at LP III and I haven’t heard the first two. I know the guys at Razorcake HQ have shown their affection for this band for awhile, but coming in late sometimes is a good thing when band has developed and become more focused in their sound down the line. Also, in this case, going to a bigger label also gives them more room to experiment and stretch their sound outside the box. Without a preconceived bias of what the band should sound like, I am more open minded on the music. I think that is what is happening here. So the first two tracks (“Multiply and Divide” and “!Paranoia Cha Cha Cha!”) reminded me of taking the rocking aspects of the Lunachicks mixed with dreamy melodies of the Dancehall Crashers. Track three (“Middle of the Night”) threw me for a loop and came off as Berlin or the Motels meets Charlotte Caffey’s onetime band, the Graces. It’s strong and punchy in a straight-up rock approach. I wouldn’t be surprised hearing this song on the radio for years to come. The rest of the album continues on with consistency. Great pop melodies with some grit to get your teeth chipped and wonderful vocal melodies that make me melt. This is so going to be in rotation in my car for a long time. –don (Fat)


SONNETS, THE:
Mystery Girl: CD
Sounds a little bit like the Who in places, a little like the fifth and sixth Jam albums elsewhere, and, when the band’s at their best, a skitch like the Vapors. Ultimately, this comes off as an album of glum, hookless power pop with harder rock interludes that doesn’t seem to be helped much by a. an ill-defined feeling of ambient social consciousness, nor b. the lack of overdubs, which, while a nice thought, seems to prevent the band from successfully articulating their vision more than anything else. This record is both a benefit for a women’s shelter and about two songs too long, so if tonight, in Chicago, a battered woman is turned away from the Greenhouse Shelter due to lack of funds stemming from this record not selling enough copies because it should’ve contained only twelve songs and not fourteen, as well-established Power Pop Aesthetic Guidelines dictate, you guys have only yourselves to blame. That really wasn’t very nice to say, but i’m upset that they didn’t call the album Boom! and am lashing out reflexively. BEST SONG: “Anniversary” BEST SONG TITLE: “Mystery Girl” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Actually, the most fantastically amazing thing about this band (other than that it contains esteemed Chicago scenester Chuck Uchida) is that, for a little while during “Rockopera,” they actually sound like the Mystery Girls! –norb (Failed Experiment)


SLA:
Sonic Love Affair: CD
Nice enough post-MC5 fuzz rock, but I take exception to the sticker on the front of the case identifying “FCC UN-friendly tracks.” They should ALL be FCC unfriendly, bucko. If they aren’t, you’re just wasting your fuggin’ time. –jimmy (Dollar)


SIR HENRY FIAT’S BASTARD:
Your Mom Is a Fucking Mongo: 7"
Our Hero, Sir Henry, strikes off from the world of Open Sores for a side project with three chaps who, coincidentally enough, all share the somewhat unique surname of “Bastard”—and the results are cause for much rock’n’roll happiness. Though not as spastic and barky as early-era HFOS records like Gnarly, Headshots, and Makes Your Cock Big, this record has a sound more similar to those records than the more recent HFOS releases. “George W. Bush Is a Fucking Hippie” is my current favorite song and every time I hear it I want to pull my underpants up over my head and hurl myself down a well-peopled stairwell, over and over again. This Henry Fiat guy has tapped into some magical retardo rock elixir and, I for one, can’t seem to ever get tired of guzzling the shit. –aphid (Pandacide)


SHOP FRONTS:
Don’t Quit b/w Frustration & Just Don't Know: 7"
A-side reminds me of the Deadly Weapons: A bunch of people pointlessly attempting to play at speeds beyond their capabilities to achieve. The two songs on the B-side are cooler, and, curiously, either song on the B-side is longer than the one song on the A-side. I’m gonna give this band a Mulligan for this record, and suggest that the next time they commit tracks to 7” vinyl, they do so with a clearer idea of what constitutes a potentially viable A-side, because “Don’t Quit” is not the correct answer. That will be all. BEST SONG: “Frustration” BEST SONG TITLE: “Frustration,” i guess. FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: This record features esteemed NYC promoter Tom from Dot Dash on drums, so i probably should have given it a better review. –norb (Rapid Pulse)


SHOOT ‘EM DOWN:
Self-Titled: 7"
Aaaahh! The song “No Complaints” is awesome! I haven’t heard this sound since the first Goo Goo Dolls record. This is a very high compliment from me, even though people who don’t have any knowledge of early Goo Goo Dolls are now thinking I am a complete moron. You really have to trust me and give it a listen sometime. It’s called Jed. It rocks. I promise. As does the first song on the B-Side of this record. The sad part is that they totally ruin it by following up / finishing the record with some horrible attempt at hip hop. Ouch. This is not a cool thing to do. The first side of the record is more straight forward southern bar rock with a punk beat at times. Catchy, but entirely too overplayed here in the Northwest for my tastes. I do like the vocals a lot though. There was no insert for this 7”, so this is all I can tell you. –Guest Contributor (Arkam)


SCOTT “DELUXE” DRAKE:
The World's Strongest Man: CD
Fans that recognize Scott’s name will likely remember his tenure with his old band, the Humpers, one of America’s best bands to make spaced-out and fucked up rock‘n’roll accessible to loads of punk rock folk across the globe. Now on his own, Scott’s been tooling around with his love yet again on this disc, along with a few familiar faces from his old gang (Mark “Anarchy” Lee and Billy Burks). A large portion of this CD is in tune with what Scott was churning out with the Humpers, like “I Made a Mistake,” “The Girl with the Titanium Heart,” and “The Bolivian Mind Bender.” I even dug on the Stonesy, organ-speckled “The World’s Strongest Man,” but then there’s “A Boat Named Mischief,” which sounds a helluva lot like a ‘luded-up Jim Morrison singing Van Morrison’s “Moondance,” and the Pink Floyd-ish “Dementia.” As long as Scott doesn’t go and decide to put out a full-length of vocal standards and continues to put out the rawk, things are good. And Mr. Mark Lee: animal husbandry, fer crying out loud? Someone call Animal Planet. –dale (Dionysus)


SAW WHEEL:
The Next Train: CD
Though three people are listed as being part of Saw Wheel, this album sounds more like a one man band: acoustic guitar, some harmonica when no one’s singing, and very basic percussion. The vocals are gruff and heartfelt, singing lyrics about hopping trains, drinking too much, trying to find some kind of hope in life, and wallowing in a doomed working class. It’s kinda like an acoustic Avail album with one of the Hot Water Music guys singing. There’s even a cover of Avail’s “Lombardy Street.” Saw Wheel definitely wear their influences on their sleeve, but it’s still a solid album. –sean (Hill Billy Stew)


RUMBLESEAT:
Is Dead: CD
Ever have one of those nights where you’re heartbroken and depressed, so you call up your best friends and they come over with a couple of twelve packs and you all sit on the porch and drink and talk and laugh and by the end of the night you feel better about everything? That’s what Rumbleseat sounds like. This is an old (1998) side project from the dudes with the beards in Hot Water Music, Chuck and Chris, along with their friend Samantha. I might be wrong about this, but I think they might have been one of the first genre-defining “campfire punk” bands. It’s just acoustic guitars, two dudes, and a lady singing and a little bit of harmonica and accordion thrown in here and there. It’s mostly original songs with a few covers (including a stellar version of Johnny Cash’s “Jackson”). This is a complete discography of tracks that originally appeared on four different 7”s. This shit is great. I’m probably gonna listen to it a whole lot in the next few months. You should, too. –ben (No Idea)


ROOKIE:
A Lot to Live: CD
Although I’m not terribly fond of the band’s name, I am terribly fond of their record. It makes me think of Face to Face meets Electric Frankenstein, muscular and straightforward, a pop sensibility mixed in, and lyrical maturity that combines understandable cynicism with an upbeat attitude to spite it. All-around, a terrific record that combines power with intricacy, grace, and perceptivity. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Pickup)


ROCKETZ, THE:
Rise of the Undead: CD
Debut release from this band featuring Tony “Slash” Red Horse on lead guitar and vocals and Andrew “Mr. Pink” Martinez on drums. Two bassists on this record including “Angry” John Dimambro (ex-Down By Law) on three songs. The liner notes state he had to leave for another project. I’ll bet dollars to donuts it’s that new thing with Morrissey’s guitarist but I guess everyone has to let their soft side come out. Rise of the Undead is far from soft, however. It will come at your head like a detached cement mixer. The Rocketz call it psychobilly but it just seems like straight ahead rock. Songs that everyone can commiserate on: booze, chicks, and some more booze. Any CD that has four songs about death is okay in my book. Catch this band live with new bassist Don “Pony Boy Fraser” at a skuzzy dive bar near you. If you don’t have a cool nickname like the members of The Rocketz, you ain’t got nothin’! –koepenick (Hairball 8)


RIFU:
Dead End Street: CD
Political hardcore from Norway. This almost has a Rise Against feel to it, only with a more compelling and less melodic tone. Very raw and very angry! That’s always a good combo! –mrz (Go Kart)


RHYTHM CHICKEN, THE:
Official Motion Picture Soundtrack: Live at Koz's Mini Bowl/National Liquor Bar: 7"+DVD
As the beloved Chicken explains in his very low-fi insert: “It’s a Wisconsin thing.” If you’ve been blessed by the beauty and the glory of the Rhythm Chicken, this is a must-have. If you’ve not, then you might not understand the appeal of two “songs” that sound only like drumming, a hooting and hollering crowd, and a drunken rendition of “Happy Birthday.” Because that’s just what they are. While a recording can never truly do justice to the visual goulash that is the Rhythm Chicken, for those of us that miss His Fuzziness, this is our Charles Emerson Winchester audiotape letter from the stuttering sister. BUT WAIT!!!! We have a visual!!! Yes, for those whose lives have not been graced but the clucked musings of our Drummer Laureate, be it known that thine is the power, the glory, and the DVD! Find out how drunken Milwaukee ne’er-do-wells spend the fleeting hours of daylight in our northern clime huddled around a flopsey beat-maker! Now for the low, low price of money, you can take the Chicken home for your swilly anytime pleasure! ORDER NOW! –The Lord Kveldulfr (The Rhythm Chicken)


REPTOIDS:
Park a Tiger: CD
Female-led rock/punk that started off kinda arty in a cool way and ended up being plain ol’ rockin’ by the end. –jimmy (www.reptoids.net)


REGULATIONS, THE:
Self-Titled: LP
I’m not sure exactly why I like these guys so much. I have no idea what makes this band so good. Or why it is that everything they do passes my “this isn’t even close to sucking” litmus test. They don’t milk cheesy gimmicks from a dead teat or don funny outfits—any of the stuff that I oftentimes fall for in a band. They just play simple, catchy, unaffected ‘70s style punk that sometimes brings to mind a more cohesive sounding Germs—without Darby in a sputtering coma. The Regulations are just straight-up, no-bullshit real rock’n’roll and maybe—in this world where a plastic surgery disaster/boy fondler named Michael Jackson is considered rock’n’roll royalty—that’s more than enough. –aphid (Havoc)


REGULATIONS, THE:
Self-Titled: LP
Well, that settles it. I’m moving to Sweden. There have been so many bands that have tried to pull off the stripped-down approach of early L.A. punk rock and it usually just sounds boring and generic. With the Regulations, though, it’s so raw and so immediate and so inspired and so exciting… WHY CAN’T MORE BANDS PULL THIS OFF? I guess it just goes to show you that if you spend a little less time embracing the superficial aspects of ’77 punk rock, you can actually write a record blows away pretty much anything ever released. No, I’m not exaggerating; not only does this record sound like Jealous Again compared to some of the anemic shit that’s come out in the past ten years, it might as well be Jealous Again, period. I’ve said this before about bands like Career Suicide and Sweet JAP, but I think it holds even more true in the case of the Regulations: if you have any interest in punk rock at all, you will like this. Absolutely jaw-dropping. –Josh (Havoc)


RED ROSE GIRLS:
Self-Titled: CD
Definitely not a typical release from the record label that cut its teeth on bands like Gas Huffer and the Drags. The Red Rose Girls are three women doing traditional folk and bluegrass songs. That’s pretty much what you need to know. It’s really good and they have really nice voices, but if you don’t like traditional folk and bluegrass, good pickin’ and singin’ ain’t gonna matter much to you. For starters, you’d be better off blowing your allowance on the American Folk Music box set, but if you like, say, the Carter family (who the Red Rose Girls cover), this’ll work out nicely for you. –Josh (Empty)


REBEL, THE:
Kit: CD
While listening to this album, I came to the realization that many of my favorite musicians are completely out of their minds. Roky Erikson let the government perform medical experiments on him instead of going to jail. Tom Waits got married, and then after a week or so, decided that he didn’t like his wife, so he slept in his car (which was still parked in the driveway, mind you) until she moved out. And then there’s this: BR Wallers from the Country Teasers making an album all by himself. One of the things that I’ve always liked about the Teasers was that they don’t make very much effort to stay in tune or keep tempo or hit the right strings. That carries over into this album, but instead of sounding like an ungodly cross between the Fall and the Butthole Surfers, this sounds like what would happen if you locked a wino up in a closet and told him to write the incidental music for a David Lynch movie. Not sure how many people out there want to listen to forty-five minutes of this guy’s brain farts, but I kinda do. –Josh (Hook or Crook)


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