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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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LOGAN GREENE ELECTRIC:
Dead Formats: CD
I heard Logan Greene acoustic long before I knew about Logan Greene Electric. The former is fine evidence of Logan’s thoughtful songwriting and talent, but I’m that sort of boorish philistine who wishes that ninety-nine percent of the solo acoustic guys in punk would just get a drummer and plug in already. Needless to say, my discovery of Logan Greene’s full-band incarnation was extremely gratifying. This latest batch of power pop punk songs recalls the best of poppy ‘90s emo without resorting to simple rehashing. They have their own thing going, but there’s no denying that “Cognitive Emissions,” with its unrelenting refrain of “Why can’t you feel this way about me?” would be at home over a bad-day montage in one of those millennial teen movies with inexplicably killer soundtracks (remember Jimmy Eat World in Never Been Kissed?). The next song, “Cognitive Remissions,” complements its companion with some Gin Blossoms jangle, something I could definitely stand making more of a comeback. There’s a change of pace in the brooding “New Life,” but Dead Formats is, for the most part, an expertly executed pop punk EP with just enough of the right references at the right times. Count me in for more like this.  –Indiana Laub (Diet Pop)


LOVESORES, THE:
Focke-Wulf vs. Spitfire: 10”
Boy, do I love it when people in bands realize what they do well and just focus on doing it. I have absolutely no problem with a one trick pony as long as the trick is a good one. Focus and mastering a style seem to be things that are underappreciated in music these days, in favor of being diverse or constantly evolving. The Lovesores are the new band from Humpers singer Scott “Deluxe” Drake and they sound a lot like the Humpers, which is to say they rock like fuck. Few singers can do this mid-tempo type of rock’n’roll this well without being embarrassing or a caricature, but Scott Drake pulls it off with ease. From Suicide Kings to Humpers to Vice Principals, and on through a couple of solo records and now the Lovesores, you cannot go wrong when looking for some damn fine rock’n’roll. I would prefer it not be delivered on a 10” record but on a 12” 45, but that is a minor quibble. I will now have to get on the stick and get the rest of the Lovesores discography, as I have been sleeping on this great RNR juggernaut.  –frame (Hound Gawd!)


LOW CULTURE / NEEDLES//PINS:
Split: 7”
Low Culture radiate hook-laden tunes like a punk pop supernova. Everything I have ever loved about Shang-A-Lang and Marked Men are scrambled together to formulate these two songs, “Reservations” and “Don’t TellMe.” Although the lively singing barely peaks over the rapidly strummed guitars and nearly lo-fi production, the vocals still support each song with their head-bobbing catchiness. The twists and turns of “Reservations” are brilliant, emphasizing the fact that Low Culture isn’t simply another garage punk band: They are crafting thoughtful punk music for those of us who have heard it all before. Needles//Pins are the ideal companion to Low Culture’s scrappiness as they are confident and awe-inducing. “Hateful” is an anthemic pop behemoth with more bravado and expressive crooning than a dozen other bands combined, while “Bored” is one of the best fuck-all garage songs I’ve heard in years. (“I’m bored, motherfucker, and I just want to go home” is the motto for disaffected Generation Y.) By definition, this is a perfect split. Both bands are genius pop songwriters, and what better way to enjoy them but to listen, back to back, to some of their best efforts yet.  –Sean Arenas (Dirtnap)


LOW FORMS:
Self-titled: 7”
Duluth, once a town famous for mummy doctors and iron-rich agate stones is now giving way to Low Forms—Sunday afternoon punk with gnarly bass throbs, steady beats, and no-frills buzz of a Scared Of Chaka or M.O.T.O. type. These are all a part of that vaporous Lake Superior mix that makes A side “Cherry Tigers” a beauty and the feel-good song of the spring for people who are high functioning but, I don’t know, think there is nothing wrong with drinking in alleys once in a while on the way to a show. Or maybe just folks who loved Rocket to Russia but also like the idea of a singer with the melodic range of a Motowner. The B side “Pendulum Swings” ain’t bad, but the other rollicker “They’re Trying to Get Their Hands on Me,” a track that Low Forms played on University of Minnesota’s Radio K, is the one that makes me want them to hurry it up and bring on the album.  –Jim Joyce (Tectonic Plates / Big Action )


LOWEST, THE:
Self-titled: CD
Oh my, oh my, it smells like Milwaukee, ca. 1993... stale beer, cheap cigarettes, and a basement show in the bowels of Riverwest, replete with gutter-bred punk rock mayhem. But I’m soooo wrong! These dudes are from Warsaw, Poland! I would not have guessed; this is much in the vein of early ‘90s Midwestern bottom-scrapers like Demise, F-, and Dis. This has got a good combination of mid-tempo fury and churning, sludgy desperation, all wrapped up in minor chords that lend an ominous and threatening quality to the whole thing. I’m a real sucker for this sound, but it’s not often that I come across an example of it that sounds completely new (as this does) within this tried-and-true genre. I was in the middle of some sort of important work-related shit listening to this and I had to stop what I was doing and just listen, which doesn’t happen as often as I’d like. Then I opened my eyes and I was standing in front of the stereo, screaming along with the songs, tasting my long-forgotten twenty-two-year-old’s angst in my mouth again. Nice.  –The Lord Kveldulfr (Pasazer)


M.O.T.O.:
Chinese Rocks (Or a Fistful of Maobacks): LP
Paul Caporino is more than the Master of the Obvious: He’s the Pop Prince of Playful Punk and the Shaman of Silly. (Need proof? Look no further than “Magic Words,” which has ricocheted in my head endlessly since the first time I heard it. Trust me. It’ll take residence inside of your skull.) He’s one of the hardest working songwriters in punk as he has been cutting gems for over three decades. However, in all that time, Caporino has remained a cult icon for garage punk connoisseurs; he’s well overdue for world domination. On Chinese Rocks, M.O.T.O. adds fourteen more irreverent jams, all of which were recorded in Shanghai, to their already extensive back catalog. Highlights include “Get the Message” with its sweet vocal harmony, which softens Caporino’s typically rambunctious yelp, accompanied by a pogo-inducing guitar hook. “Anxiety Comes and Goes” is an introspective sizzler with moody chords and Caporino singing, “You wanna seize the day in your head / The day is seizing you instead.” Shortly after, “Crystallize My Penis” exchanges self-examination for a callus-forming guitar solo and unabashed goofiness. On “Riding on a Bullet Train,” Caporino prophetically declares, “No one understands me here, so I feel right at home,” as if to acknowledge his cult status. Oh, if only more folks could get hip to M.O.T.O., then the world just might be a slightly cooler place. If only...  –Sean Arenas (Secret Mission)


MALE GAZE:
Cliffs of Madness: 7”EP
I was able to catch Male Gaze live not too long ago, with the Useless Eaters in the Mission, and I’m glad I did. Loud, sweaty fun. Male Gaze is a trio consisting of members of BlastedCanyons, Mayyors, and The Mall. Any of those names ring a bell? This single offers up two songs: “Cliffs of Madness” and “One More Time.” Both tunes have a sound that reminds me a bit of the Terry Malts, with dark, broody melodies and similar warped Bowie-style vocals. Male Gaze has more of a raw fuzz and scuzz garage feel, though, in “Cliffs of Madness,” and some seriously beautiful psych-surf guitar that rides the melodies of the post-punk riffs in “One More Time.”  –Camylle Reynolds (Mt. St. Mtn.)


MAMA:
Speed Trap: Cassette
I have a soft spot for super catchy-sounding power pop and Mama comes very close to completely satisfying those cravings. The first song on this five-song cassette is the weakest of the bunch, but once it’s out of the way, this tape opens up with some great punk-influenced pop jammers. “Open Secret” sounds like it could be an unreleased track by The Nils from the Sell Out Young era, while “White Hen” has some definite Cheap Trick moments (especially in the vocal melody). I also wouldn’t be too surprised to find the first two or three records by The Replacements in the record collections of the members of Mama. This is all high praise, and needless to say, I like this quite a bit.  –Mark Twistworthy (facebook.com/mamabandchicago)


MATT K. SHRUGG:
Let It Go: Cassette
I’ve only heard of Matt Shrugg through his release Matt Shrugg Goes Banana, which is a sweet little flexi of Shrugg covering The Bananas. But what I didn’t know was that he was part of the trio The Pizzas (SAC) and was once a member of the Zodiac Killers from SF as well. Oh the internet is just ripe with information, and can cure ignorance in a matter of seconds. Use it wisely, my friends. This tape features two songs: “Let It Go” and “No, Not the Sunrise,” which loop albeit imperfectly throughout the tape—sometimes with a false start, and even a complete cut off—but eventually has two unfettered recordings, both of which are quite good. “Let It Go” starts with a sweet little riff, cleanly recorded without effects, yet somehow warbled by the production and perhaps the fact it’s simply on tape (which is not a stellar medium). The vocals in both songs have been (I believe) harmonized similar to the Beatles “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” and both songs have a snappy, early Beatles ‘60s sound. It’s not all retro throwback here, though. Shrugg brings a freshness to it all, and keeps things pertinent to what he’s trying to do, which is just creating some sunny garage pop, with no frills, just skills.  –Camylle Reynolds (Charles Albright, mattkshrugg@gmail)


MEANS JEANS:
Singles: LP/CD
This is a twenty-track collection of singles, comp tracks, and covers from a band that believes music should be fun! In attempting to ensure that that is the case, Means Jeans has used the Ramones for much of its musical inspiration. However, it’s far from being a total rehash and the album follows the band over a plethora of releases from its inception as a duo to its current format as a trio, wisely applying that influence throughout. There’s no rocket science behind this, nor would I call it essential, but it does make for an enjoyable listen.  –Rich Cocksedge (Dirtnap)


MERCY KILLINGS:
Snuffed Out: 7” EP
Another corker of an EP here chock full o’ the kind of meaty hardcore that makes you just wanna go off and wreck shit up. Solid, driving, and just plain mean. Fans of Direct Control, Out Cold, and the like would do well to take note.  –jimmy (Beach Impediment)


MIDNITE SNAXXX:
“Don’t Wake Me Up” b/w “Pull Down the Shades”: 7”
Midnite Snaxxx is always a banker when it comes to Bobbyteens-style punk. This single is no exception. Raw punk’n’roll delivered with attitude. I find the band essential in all forms.  –Billups Allen (Total Punk)


MIKE REP AND THE QUOTAS:
Mama Was a Schitzo Daddy Was a Vegetable Man: 7”
A reissue of a single, originally out on Old Age/Sverige Age back in 2001, of a couple of tracks dating from the early years of this venerable Ohio band’s career. The sound is a bit muted—I’m guessing this was from a rehearsal recording—but the tunes themselves are along the lines of their rightly ballyhooed Rocket to Nowhere output. Nice archive piece and good listening.  –jimmy (HoZac)


MODERN WARFARE:
Delivered: 7” EP
Modern Warfare were an early L.A. County-based punk/hardcore group that managed two EPs and several comp tracks during its brief (1980-83) existence. A bit of a cult following has grown around the band over the years, and this reissue of their corker of a debut EP illustrates why. The three tunes here showcase three different sides to their sound: the title track is an art punk ditty with a hypnotic back-and-forth dual-guitar riff, driving yet off-kilter; “Dayglo” is the thrasher that portends things to come in their immediate future; “In the Shadows” is the more straightforward punk burner. The original is highly sought after, not to mention a bitch to find anymore, and this pressing looks to follow suit, with a whopping 550 out there, all but a hundred sporting a cardboard cover with a screened reproduction of the original cover art. I slept on picking up a copy way back when it first made the rounds, so I’m of course fuggin’ chuffed as hell to have a copy three decades-plus later. Can a reissue of their second EP and/or a full discography be forthcoming in the very near future? Dunno, but let’s hope the hell so.  –jimmy (Ut)


MODERNS, THE:
When She Gets Back: 7” EP
Nothing warms the ol’ cold, blackened heart than when a kick-ass obscurity pops outta the ether. Case in point, this release: originally recorded in 1979 and only now seeing release some thirty-five years later, this bad boy appears to be the only recorded evidence of a band featuring one Alec Bemis, who soon went on to found the respected L.A. punk/hardcore band Modern Warfare and the label Bemisbrain Records, best known for releasing the Hell Comes To Your House comp. The tracks bend towards the poppier sound of contemporaries like the Simpletones, or even Modern Warfare’s earliest output, with the title track bearing an almost power pop feel and other two packing a bit more punky punch, and all of ‘em being some righteous tuneage. I’m easily being conservative when I say this would be fetching some serious money had it been released back then, just as much for the quality of the tunes as for its rarity, but seein’ as it’s just seeing daylight now, folks have a chance to get in on the ground floor. Seein’ as there are a scant 550 in existence, I recommend you start huntin’ pronto.  –jimmy (Feral Kid)


MOUTH READER:
Self-titled: 7”
Just a touch of the floor tom bounce surrounded by a lot of that Audacity psych. I imagine Mouth Reader practices in a furnished basement that still sports its Brady charm, wood paneled walls and green bubble glass hanging lamps. There’s probably a readily available can of air freshener should mom open the stair doors and—judging from the corpse paint and swimwear sleeve art—there’s also quite a bit of tomfoolery that goes on down in that basement.  –Matt Seward (Pug Face)


MOVIE STAR JUNKIES:
Evil Moods: CD
This garage/punk/blues outfit from Torino, Italy are reminiscent of NickCave And The Bad Seeds with all the moodiness, poetry, and better-than-your-average-garage-band musical ability to almost give the Grinderman a run for his money. (Almost. Let’s not get crazy.) Someone get me an espresso and a cigarette. I want to find the smoky Roman catacomb where the Movie Star Junkies are playing next.  –John Mule (Voodoo Rhythm)


MURMURS:
Bound: LP
Fuckin’ Murmurs. The surprise of last year’s Awesome Fest. The schedule was off, I was a tad inebriated. I had no idea who I was watching, but I liked it. This is hangover opera—soaring, beautiful melodies being belted out in burly chaos. Epic, unforgiving, and dynamic. You’re always only a minute away from another mind-blowing part. When I listen to Bound,I hear more than the record. I swear there’s an orchestra tucked away in these grooves. It’s a sound that’s larger than itself. Bound by nothing, this record feels as free as the night air. Crisp and invigorating.  –Daryl Gussin (Dead Broke)


MUSTAT KALSARIT:
Maailma: 7”
Dark, gritty rock from Finland. I can’t properly describe their sound otherwise, but it’s solid, raw Scandinavian punk. The recording is nice and rough and the Finnish vocals set them aside from a lot of other records in your collection. Stock up on releases from this label.  –Steve Adamyk (Fuck CDs)


NARCOLEPTIC YOUTH:
One Nation under Nothing: LP
Narcoleptic Youth have managed to cement a solid following over the years and this full length is chock full of reasons why. Wielding a sound that takes equally from the past and present, theirs is a sound with a broad appeal—hints of oi’s anthemic qualities married to “classic” Southern California hardcore and backyard thrash, driving rhythms, song structures a bit more complex than they may seem at first blush, and a sagacious bent to lyrics that often approach their subject matter with liberal doses of sarcasm and humor. I’ve been a fan since I first stumbled across “Barbi in Bondage” and this only reinforces that.  –jimmy (Dr. Strange)


NARCOLEPTICS:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Disorder-styled hardcore—feedback, fuzz, howling, fast ‘n’ chaotic. The sound’s a bit muffled, but they manage to make their point.  –jimmy (Warthog Speak)


NEIGHBORHOOD BRATS:
Recovery: LP
Okay, must refrain from showy displays of geekdom. This is a legitimate, authoritative magazine and….HOLY SHIT, THIS FUGGIN’ THING SMOKES!!! Ahem. Sorry about that. As I was saying, there’s a certain level of politesse one must maintain or risk besmirching one’s reputation. Well above-average punk rock is embedded into both sides of this, their first proper full-length album, and…SWEET MINTY JESUS, I’VE DIED AND GONE TO PUNK ROCK HEAVEN!!! ‘Scuze me, there…. I’m hearing shades of prime-era Legal Weapon—tell me “Painted And Gutted” doesn’t hold its own against anything on Death of Innocence—mixed in with all the things that Off! is getting hyped to death over, and are delivering the latter at higher levels of sophistication and flat-out catchiness. Not to besmirch Keith ‘n’ his latest cabal of neo-retro-hardcore malcontents, but these kids are just on fire here AND I’M BOUNCING OFF THE WALLS IN GLEEFUL ABANDON TO THIS FUCKER REPUTATION BE DAMNED OH MY DEAR MAHFÜ THIS THING IS SOOOO GODDAMNED AWESOME!!! Heh. My apologies. Anyway, is this worth the time and green of Razorcake’s urbane, discerning readership? You bet yer sweet posterior it is, bucko.  –jimmy (Deranged)


NEKRO DRUNKZ:
Tyrants of Toilet Music: CD
Thirty songs featured on this grindcore record. The longest song is slightly over two minutes. Most of the song titles are of questionable content. Not that this magazine is owned by Disney but “Cottage Cheese Cunt” and “Cuntaminated Cum” probably won’t make it on the backyard BBQ playlist. I’m sure there is an audience for this somewhere, but this one is out of my wheelhouse. Pass.  –koepenick (Headsplit)


NEVERMORES, THE:
Lock Your Doors: LP
There seems to be a serious Edgar Allan Poe theme going on with this band and record, from the band name to the graphics. At this point, that is at least preferable to a David Allan Coe theme and the trappings that might come with that. Looking more closely, I am seeing that this seems to be a recording from 1991, that one of the band members is named Gretchen Holtz, and the band is from Indiana. There is something rattling around in my head about Gretchen from the band The Smears from that area. A little more research shows that it is the same person and this band appears to be pre-Smears. The sound is along the same lines—garage punk with rough vocals, but this band is more lo-fi and features prominent organ. Real, real lo-fi. Fans of labels like RatCity, Crypt, and Bag Of Hammers would probably find a whole lot to like here.  –frame (Magnetic South)


NEW FLESH, THE:
The Absurd: LP
Punchy death rock-type punk stuff from a Bay Area outfit, featuring cats involved at some point with Deskonocidos, Neon Piss, and Vaaska. The tunes are dark in tone and the soaring guitars are in evidence, but they approach the tunes with an aggressive punk edge, so things are more like Ian Curtis fronting early TSOL than a self-absorbed wash of morose navel-lint picking.  –jimmy (Deranged)


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