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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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TEEN COOL :
Reading You Yer Rock N Roll Rights Reissued: CD
One of the awesome things about punk rock is its ability to sometimes sound timeless. Take this CD, for example. Originally released in 1995, it sounds like it could have been released in 1985 or 2005. Tons of energy, terrible recording, and a classic punk’n’roll sound. This, folks, is really a blueprint for how it’s done—literally three chords and a lot of attitude. Funny how social attitudes change over time, though. An included extra track called “A Fag 4 a Friend” makes me wonder how this release would be taken if it were freshly released today –Garrett Barnwell (Self-released)


TELEVISIONARIES, THE / FOX SISTERS, THE:
Split: 7" Single
This untitled split between The Televisionaries and The Fox Sisters (yet another band of all dudes appropriating femininity in some surely aesthetic-driven, perplexing choice) does that part Burger, part Big Bopper thing really well. I’m not sure if these dudes are trying to please their grandparents, get wedding gigs, or just have a good time doing stuff that has already been done. Their music is tight, the record design and layout is clean, and their songs are danceable, but I don’t know how many more rock’n’rolly garage singles with tired tropes like “pretty baby,” I can take. But people love this stuff, and these kids do a damn good job recreating that ‘50s magic people can’t seem to get enough of these days –Candace Hansen (Reel Time, reeltimerecordss.bigcartel.com)


TENEMENT:
Bruised Music Vol. 2: LP
Having never seen Tenement’s apparently incredible live show, all I’ve got to go off of is this, their second collection of odds and ends. The band has long been lauded as amazing and as potent as the discovery of both pizza andbeer, and they certainly do seem competent and willing to test the murky waters of genre. Buuuuut, apart from a scattering of tracks where they play a kind of self-assured guitar-heavy pop, it’s just not quite clicking with me. I don’t quite get the allure. Extensive packaging—glossy poster, insert, download code—but not a single supposedly incredible lyric to be found anywhere, so I’m missing out on that element of it, and while they do have an interesting amalgam of genres sometimes going on (hints of soul, hardcore, pop, and punk all writhe in the structures), all told it’s just a little lacking in ferocity and cohesion for me. Admittedly, it’s a singles collection, maybe cohesion’s beside the point, and maybe Bruised Music Vol. 2 isn’t the best jumping-off point. Hell, you already know you’re getting this anyway, right?  –Keith Rosson (Toxic Pop)


THING-SLOTH:
Too Heavy for Motown: CD
Haven’t we reached the limit on bands whose shtick is wearing ski masks? I get it. When you were in fifth grade it was cool to slip one on and run around like you were a ninja or a cat burglar or a gas station hold-upper. But it’s been done. A lot. And it doesn’t make your band any more interesting. Anyway, this sounds exactly like you would expect a band of dudes wearing ski masks to sound.  –MP Johnson (Self-released, thingsloth1.bandcamp.com)


TODESKOMMANDO ATOMSTURM:
Hunger der Hyänen: LP/CD
This is quality melodic punk rock from Germany with some rough edges which give it a bit of a street punk vibe. Vocals are in the band’s native tongue—resulting in me being at a loss as to the subject matter—but a bit of time at my computer has enabled me to discover the themes of the songs range from issues of a personal nature to those affecting society in a negative way. Those vocals are gritty and strong, fitting perfectly alongside the guitars which propel the songs along with a similar combination. The band has found at least one new fan with this release.  –Rich Cocksedge (Twisted Chords, mailorder@twisted-chords.de, twisted-chords.de)


TONGUE PARTY:
Self Tilted : CS
This rips. The guitars are fuzzy, the vocals are faded, and the riffs are chunky and unrelenting. It got stuck in my head. It’s fuller and more cohesive than what I would call straight-up punk (also it has guitar solos), but it nonetheless manages to lend a hardcore sensibility to its hard-rocking and sludge metal tendencies. Like if the Damned only played riffs and was fronted by a stoned ghost. It’s tight.  –Lyle (Lawn Chair, lawnchairrecords.bandcamp.com)


TOTAL ABUSE:
Excluded: LP
My initial reaction to this not long after needle hit wax: “Hoooooooly shit.” I’m sticking by it. These cats have evolved from a particularly noisy, thrashy hardcore band to something much more feral and interesting. They keep the tunes mid-tempo throughout here, but ramp up the sonic virulence several notches above what would likely be considered healthy. The results recall the best parts of Black Flag’s “pain” period without sounding like a direct rip off—exclamations of outrage and agonized desperation that’ll likely become the soundtrack to many a fucked up kid. Right about now I wish I had extra thumbs to aim approvingly in the direction of this bad boy, ‘cause it’s more than deserving.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Deranged)


TOWERS:
Bel Air Highrise Plantation: CS
Harsh and atonal guitar parts cascading over plodding drums and multi-layered vocal beratement. The best features combine the heaviness of bands like Botch, the schizophrenic time changes of Gasp, and the ear-shattering, non-musical classification of Realicide. I’m a little troubled by the song titles to “Orange County Final Solution” and “The Southern California Hajj,” which offer no explanation, let alone lyrics, and appear to be surreptitious, so I’ll hold onto my reservations about Towers intentions for the time being –Juan Espinosa (Forward Fast / Sonic Mystics, sonicmystics.com)


TOXICS, THE:
Self-titled: 10"
Garage punk from Finland! Wailing vocals and grimy guitar. The whole thing is rockin’. I’d definitely go see them!  –Becky Rodriguez (Blast Of Silence, info@blastofsilence.org, blastofsilence.org / Kizmiaz, kizmiazrecords@gmail.com, kizmiazrecords.bandcamp.com)


TRANSISTORS:
Cuppa Jarra Brossa: CS
Garage rock can go either way for me, though in practice it usually goes the way of the thumbs-down. But Transistors really turn on the charm with this one—maybe it’s the New Zealand accents. This is dancey and cheeky in a way that calls to mind older U.K. bands on the jangly edge of new wave (I’m thinking The Jam and The Undertones) far more than the beer-soaked rock dude aesthetic I tend to associate with the genre now. It’s shouty and raucous without losing the melody, especially the easygoing pop of “On Cashel St.” Catchy, quick, and sensibly fuzzy.  –Indiana Laub (Forward Fast, forwardfast.storenvy.com)


TRASHIES, THE:
Space Jam: LP
Weirdo/outsider, art-damaged, garage-punk-noise of the highest order, courtesy of Max Nordile (of Uzi Rash) and Co., the Trashies are a band straight from the Island of Misfit Toys. Here on Space Jam they’ve concocted a joyous, wild, rambunctious symphony of screeching vocals, tribal drumming, psychedelic and soulful guitars, and impish keyboards. The Trashies channel their inspired lunacy from a deep well of like-minded mutants, recalling in particular the Fall, Jay Reatard, Billy Childish, and Butthole Surfers. It’s simultaneously delightfully silly, as well as challenging, puzzling, and rewarding. It all adds up to make an absolutely tremendous album.  –Jeff Proctor (Minor Bird)


TRINARY SYSTEM, THE:
Dave Davies: 7"
First official release from this new trio fronted by Roger Miller of Mission Of Burma. P. Andrew Willis handles bass while Larry Dersch pounds the skins. “This House,” the actual B side, is noisy, chaotic, and right up my alley. Purchase this limited run single from the band and gain access to three additional digital tracks. Of the second batch, “HOV-1 Violator” speaks to me the loudest. Damn those lawbreakers!  –Sean Koepenick (Fun World, trinarysystem.com)


T-TOPS / CYRUS GOLD:
Split: 10”
It’s not every day that my love of both the 10” record format and old baseball cards crosses paths, but that’s exactly what happened here with the “Topps” baseball card-inspired cover art on the T-Tops side of this 10”. Musically, T-tops immediately take the listener on a dark and grungy noise rock ride, with a sound not unlike what you might have found amongst records on Amphetamine Reptile or early Sub Pop Records releases from the late ‘80s or early ‘90s. Flipping the record over, the Cyrus Gold side of this split is more in the arty, angular post-hardcore vein, which at times almost reminds me of a noisier version of Refused, but without the pretentiousness. Overall, this odd pairing works, with the T-Tops side really speaking to me both musically as well as aesthetically –Mark Twistworthy (t-tops.bandcamp.com)


TYLER DANIEL BEAN / AU REVOIR:
Live at Dead Air: Split: 7”
The Tyler Daniel Bean side of this split features soft, atmospheric indie rock from Vermont. The Au Revoir side is more dynamic and less lyrically driven; it moves from plaintive, moody sections to louder, discordant parts with screamed but nearly inaudible mixed-down vocals. I like the Au Revoir side better (it reminds me a little of the quiet iteration of Pygmy Lush) but the other is nothing to sneeze at if you’re into that sort of singer-songwritery thing.  –Lyle (Tor Johnson with Orb Weaver Press, torjohnsonrecords.com)


U.K. Subs:
Ziezo: LP
The last letter in the alphabet means this is the last studio album from this band. Although I do think they will continue on as a live act, even though lead guitarist Jet split after this was released. It is on black and orange swirl wax, too, which is super-neat! This record sounds killer, due to Pat Collier (The Vibrators) manning the board. The songs live up to the hype. “Maid of Orleans” and “Polarisation” stayed lodged in my frontal lobe, but with sixteen songs to choose from, you will have time to get your own party favorites. –Sean Koepenick (Self-released, uksubs.co.uk)


UNDERTIPPER:
Barely Making Cents: CD
I have a bit of a unique perspective when it comes to ‘90s punk rock and how it seems to be a sound that is coming back all over the place. It seems like every review period there are a couple more bands doing the Fat Wreck or Fearless Records thing. I was really young when I first got into punk in the mid-’80s, and I love all the early punk and hardcore bands that I was exposed to at the time, but in the early ‘90s I was in my twenties and just starting to pass for what is legally an adult. The bands of that era also mean a lot to me. What does this all have to do with Undertipper? They play ‘90s punk really well. It brings back the feeling of being in my early twenties, listening to loud music, getting drunk, and doing dumb shit. It may not be what I am up to now (wait a minute; I still do all those things), but I can appreciate a trip down memory lane. Will I listen to it much? Probably not, but if you are looking for a nostalgia trip, you could do a lot worse –Ty Stranglehold (Undertipper, undertipper.bandcamp.com)


UNFUN:
Waterboarding: LP
The review I’ve been waiting for. I’ve wanted to try to tell any audience that would listen, just how important Unfun is to me. Unfun is the sound that bounces between my ears and rattles around in my brain constantly. As in, I don’t understand how some people whistle pretty notes into tunes or noise artists decide on the aural assaults they feel the need to produce, ‘cause inside my head, those two things belong together. Unfun is the “you put your peanut butter in my chocolate” Reese’s noise fuzz outer layer and sugar sweet pop center crushed into the Vitamix engine drone of my mind. “Death Majesty” indeed… sad that it’s over, but what a way to go out.  –Matt Seward (Debt Offensive, debtoffensiverecs.com)


USELESS I.D.:
We Don’t Want the Airwaves: 7"
I think this is the first time I have heard Useless I.D. unless it’s cropped up unknowingly on a compilation that I’ve listened to. “We Don’t Want the Airwaves” is hugely catchy with a melody that hangs around my head for an hour or so before moving on without causing me to mourn its departure, perhaps an indictment of its short term appeal. The other three songs don’t even maintain my interest whilst they are playing, so not a band I’m going to spend any more time on once I finish writing this review. Weirdly, despite not being a great experience, the title track did sound a bit like Chixdiggit, a band I do like.  –Rich Cocksedge (Fat Wreck, mailbag@fatwreck.com, fatwreck.com)


UZ JSME DOMA:
Jaskinie Caves Jeskyn: LP
Prog-punk from the CzechRepublic, with bits of ska, jazz, and traditional Eastern European folk styles mixed in. These folks have been around for decades, but this album is my first introduction to them. Listening here, my first thought is these guys sound like if Los Fabulosos Cadillacs met the Stranglers for pints in Prague and then started up a band with the locals they found in the pub. –Jeff Proctor  –Jeff Proctor (Cuneiform)


VAASKA:
Future Primitivo: EP
Originally a limited release for the band’s Japanese tour earlier this year, Future Primitivo is now available in a wider release through Beach Impediment Records. This was my first exposure to Vaaska, whose discography includes a previous LP, and some split recordings with Impalers and Japan’s Skizophrenia. Future Primitivo features fast, furious d-beat, with shredding lead guitar parts and Spanish language vocals. I was a big fan of the blistering leads. I was less of a fan of the echoey style of the overall recording. I dig when records have a gritty and raw live recording-esque style, but this had more of an “I can hear the band playing from outside the warehouse venue vibe.” Not terrible by any means, but a little less echo to the recording would surely have upped the intensity. Still thoroughly enjoyable, and it’s worth looking into Vaaska’s other recordings.  –Paul J. Comeau (Beach Impediment)


VÄISTÄ:
Mukaudu: LP
Slick modern HC from Finland that would be right at home with the Bridge9/Lockin’ Out crowd. Lyrics are in Finnish so I don’t really know what they’re saying besides the descriptions on the one-sheet (“‘Humalistonkatu’—that is of course a street name in Turku!”) but there is a really nice zine included with the record with lyrics and pictures of the band. The band isn’t treading any new ground but the riffs are good, the vocals are convincing, and the song structures are interesting. Fans of Righteous Jams, Folsom, guitar solos, and breakdowns should track this one down.  –Ian Wise (Blast Of Silence, info@blastofsilence.org)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Columbusblood: LP
According to a note taped to the cover, this is the third (?) annual installment of a comp series documenting some of the sounds coming outta Columbus, Ohio. Brat Cure, The Hail Bop Group, Raw Pony, (((reverbalines))), Mount Carmel, The American Jobs, EYE, Sex Tide, Kizzy Hall, Bloody Show, Good Shade, and Sin Nombre kick up dust across a number of different styles—punk, art damage, rock, indie rock, proggy synth, no-fi garage, and Cookie Monster metal. Like the best comps, the focus here appears to be more about documenting what’s happening in Columbus’ music scene Anno 2016 than about hyping some label’s sub-par acts. While not everything here may be grand slam material, at worst you get a few smacked deep into center for a quick on-base. Solid work put in here both behind the instruments and behind the scenes. Kudos to ‘em –Jimmy Alvarado (Break Up)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Danger! La France a Peur!: 7"
Since I got this comp I’ve been trying to think of the quintessential French punk song. The Dogs’ “Nineteen” seems to be the most ubiquitous French offering. Even Belgium has a stronger punk history on paper. Névralgies Particulières, Fuzzed Up Lost 60s French Punk!and the recent Danger! La France a Peur! shine light on what French teenagers were up to in the ‘60s and ‘70s. If you can find someone to translate the liner notes and the neat little folded interview included, you’d know a lot more. Danger! covers bands from ‘76-’80 and it’s a solid load of punk. Single Track’s “Here We Go Again” is catchy and, like a lot of the bands on this comp, walk the line between snotty punk and tough power pop. Telephone was a French band whose self-titled album rode that line and was distributed a bit more than others. If you like that record or want to bone up on your French, this is an excellent comp –Billups Allen (Danger)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Destroy All Art: LP
A friend of mine describes certain punk albums as having a “‘90s feel,” indicating to me I won’t like it. What are those reasons specifically? I can’t really say. Enough bad things happened to punk in the ‘90s for that statement to be relevant. But were there good bands? Good scenes? Good people? Yes. Is there still good unheard stuff out there? Destroy All Art is an emphatic yes. Your brother’s band didn’t blow if it ended up on this comp. If you enjoyed the recent We’re Loud comp pulling from ‘90s demos, Destroy All Art is a definite winner for you. The album starts off with a killer: “Self-Hate” by Epileptix. Snot vocals with guitar wrench, overdriven chords. There are a variety of retro sounds on this one as well. Several Species’ “Fight” frames tales of brawling with a melodic guitar intro and an infectious, Dictators-style chorus you should hear. Firewood fires a great cave beat with an awesomely inappropriate keyboard sound. Skuds delivers three-chord chaos with “Got Meth?” That’s the first four songs. And the album continues uphill. Pretty essential. You really can’t miss with this. There isn’t a KBD or Bloodstains moniker associated with good, obscure ‘90s punk yet, but I hope people keep working on it. ‘90s isn’t necessarily a bad word, but it doesn’t look great on an album cover yet –Billups Allen (Rock N' Roll Parasite)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Purity Control: 7"
This comp is a collection of work themed around The X-Files, including a surf version of the TV show’s iconic theme song and a conceptual poem by Adrienne Dodt, about Mulder and Scully’s beliefs. Generically, the comp covers ground from miraculously not-cloying folk punk (James Dean Death Cult) to scuzzy lo-fi noise (Lieutenant Dance) to plaintive folk and pop punk. It’s a fine subcultural meditation on the conspiracy dramedy, just in time for its return to the small screen early this year. The cover art is the cover of Goo/Mulder and Scully you never knew you needed. Great for TV freaks and anyone who wants to believe –Lyle (What’s For Breakfast?, wfbrecords@gmail.com / We Used To Drink Together)


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