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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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OUT COLD:
Planned Accidents: 7
These guys continue to defy the law of diminishing returns by mining in Negative Approach-land and still managing to come up with gold nuggets the size of fucking meteors. You get five tunes this time out, all of them dripping with vitriol and up to their eyeballs in sheer muscle. You know, one day Out Cold will take its place as one of the greatest hardcore bands this country’s ever produced. I highly recommend you pay rapt attention to them now while they’re still around rather than waiting until they’re long gone and you’re paying, like, $400 bucks for this bad boy and feeling like you got a good deal. Put simply, Out Cold fucking rules, tough guy. –jimmy (Acme)


ORANGE:
Welcome to the World of...: CD
This CD is for those of you who are in love with Rancid and the American Idiot Green Day of today, but are now looking for something new to blast in your car. The CD showcases what you’ve come to expect from Hellcat: amazing production and catchy songs from beginning to end. From the looks of the pictures on the layout, these kids are still in high school. Yeah, still pink in the cheeks and all… oh wait, that’s blush and lipstick. Whose mane did they have to stroke in order to ride the Hellcat? That’s what I wanna know! Either way, I hope these kids have not become egomaniacs since signing to an Epitaph imprint. And I hope they understand what sort of privilege it is to have music they created at such a young age propelled to ninety percent of the music stores all over the world and that—despite what talent they might or might not have—someone has given them a huge fucking chance that not many people get. Orange, I expect to see more politics and more “doin’ it for the kids” on the next album, or it’ll be (in the unforgettable words of UHF’s Stanley Spadowski) tossed like a bag of moldy tangerines! –mrz (Hellcat)


ORANGE:
Welcome to the World of...: CD
It just feels wrong. Icky, really. Sure, the songs are as catchy as SARS and the production is top notch but none of that can hide the feeling of trying too hard. Sure, it has all the “plaid and zips” you could ever want on a record but it really lacks any kind of heart. You’d be much better off listening to the Briefs again. In fact, I’ll go do that. –ty (Hellcat)


ONION FLAVORED RINGS:
Two Minutes' Enlightenment: LP
That first Onion Flavored Rings album didn’t leave my turntable for a long, long time. There was something about the way that fuzzy, sloppy pop tumbled out of speakers on top of some of the most self-loathing lyrics I’ve ever heard. So right away, Two Minutes’ Enlightenment has a tough act to follow, but they pull through pretty well. I think I still like the first one better, if only for the rougher production and sloppier, more enthusiastic playing. All the elements of their old stuff are still there, just polished up a bit more—not a bad thing, but it’s like getting Eternally Yours when you’re expecting (I’m) Stranded, you know? Still, they’re one of the best bands to come out of the East Bay in recent years (you can practically smell the El Farolito burritos while this record is playing) and this is a really good album. –Josh (No Idea)


NOFX:
Leaving Jesusland b/w Benny Got Blowed Up and Teenage Punching Bag b/w One Way T: 7"
These are numbers six and seven of the twelve singles in a year for NOFX. What’s settling in is that NOFX, and in particular Fat Mike, has been able to quietly reinvent the band. They’ve realized their strengths—the music’s instantly NOFX, just more sophisticated and less metal—kept them, but are still growing in a completely different direction from where they started. All without alienating their core fans. For a band that started off with dick and fart jokes and midpointed with bestiality and the joys of vaginal fisting, they’ve evolved into becoming the musical equivalent of Al Franken. Equal parts humor and political commentary. You’d of been a boner to utter the words “astute political and sociological commentary” when listening to S & M Airlines, but now, it’s spot on, especially thinking this is going right into the headphones of kids who have a choice between this and, say, Korn. The other long-ranging theme? Dead friends or friends who make poor life decisions; something almost all of us can relate to. –todd (Fat)


NOAM CHOMSKY:
The Imperial Presidency: CD
Okay, look: I would never bag on AK Press (or Chomsky himself) for putting out discs like this. But I’ve always viewed political lectures and spoken word CDs the same way I view comedy albums: you listen to it once and then, if your friends are over and you’re drinking beer, you slap it on (though I can’t honestly see slapping this one in when we’re all drinking Pabst and shooting the shit). Point is, those types of albums generally garner a listen or two, and then I forget about ‘em. Chomsky, by now pretty much the godfather of the punk soundbite, is an experienced lecturer, obviously, and his presentations are complex. Guy’s a linguist; the stuff’s wordy, you know? For me, I’d rather have a book of the same material to pore over; I could take my time and decipher just what the hell he’s getting at, a line at a time. On this disc, I made it to the third track (“Rescinding the Geneva Convention”) and I was already lost, trying to decipher what he’d said four sentences before. Anyway, this disc is subtitled “Sovereignty, Terror, and the ‘Second Superpower’” and is Chomsky’s most recent dismantling of the War on Terror, the concept of “pre-emptive war” and a pointed comparison between the Bush Administration’s agenda regarding “terrorist threats” and what their underlying priorities actually are. I figure I’m probably just a bit slower than the average guy, but if you’re going to put this one in the CD player, sit close: you’re gonna want to hit the pause button and let certain statements sink in to the gray matter before you move ahead. Personally, if I had to choose a format, I’d take the print version of this thing any day. –keith (AK Press)


NEW BLACK:
Time Attack: CD
Synth-driven, artsy, and somewhat academically influenced post-punk. Depending on one’s mood or soberness, this could be deemed as fairly good or severely bad. Imagine Q and Not U meets electro. The Thick website says this CD is “what might just be the album the X-Ray Spex never wrote.” Uhm… I don’t see that at all. But I do agree with the rest of the release info that goes on to drop descriptions like new wave and no wave pop. That fits. –mrz (Thick)


NAUSEA:
The Punk Terrorist Anthology Vol. 2: CD
Assorted tracks culled from two unreleased records, demos, and live tunes from this influential political hardcore band. If you’re unfamiliar with them, they were responsible for some rough and tumble noise with a tangible English peace punk influence (especially Conflict) and dual male/female vocals, which was still a bit of a novelty back when they were doing it. As with most, they were much better than the vast majority of bands that followed in their wake. –jimmy (Alternative Tentacles)


MUCULORDS:
Carpe Diem: CD
Their sense of humor and brilliant grindcore covers of both the Magnum P.I. theme and that tune from Tetris doesn’t change the fact that they sound like Slayer falling down four flights of stairs with their instruments. –jimmy (Akom, no address)


MODEY LEMON:
The Curious City: CD
Goddamn. I literally sighed with relief once this thing was finished. The lame-ass, void-of-album-art promo this CD came packaged in claims this release finds the band “subtly shifting the shape of the psychedelic synth-rock that defined them” with their last album. Not, however, subtly enough, in this reviewer’s opinion. And apparently the NME says that they’re the “real deal” and that they “don’t even have to try.” Well, maybe they should try: they might come up with something better than these ten painfully slow, droning, wank-obsessed epics. Hey guys, here’s one for the next promo CD: “Listening to this record was akin to shooting rocks out of one’s dick.” I have spoken, thank you. –keith (Birdman)


MODEL DOWN:
Voicing the Circuit: CD
Three dudes kicking out a kind of sprawling and sparse rock that’s equal parts arrogance and sneering bravado of early Who, if you can believe that, and the “I’ve been gargling jet fuel for a decade but I finally figured out how to sing” quality of later-period Jawbreaker. It’s a formula that, written down like that, would never lead me to believe that I’d dig it, but I do. A lot. Model Down is using a combination of influences that has the potential to turn them into the most lackadaisical, self-indulgent, wanking shit-rock band ever, but somehow they manage to keep the rockometer up in the red the entire time. It’s a six-song EP, which was a good decision on their part. They’re one of those bands that would probably end up losing that wonderful sense of urgency on a full length, but as it stands now they’ve put out one sexy, snotty-but-subdued rock’n’roll record here. I’m down. –keith (Modern Radio)


MISS ALEX WHITE AND THE RED ORCHESTRA:
Self-Titled: CD
Wow, that Jim Diamond can truly make chicken salad out of chicken shit; that’s for damn sure. Big barnyard drums, high-pitched reverb-drenched vocals, and tinny slabs of guitar all work to make this seem like some improbably successful marriage of mid/late ‘70s NYC/Rhode Island art rock (Patti Smith, Television, Talking Heads [minus the lame stuff] [actually, if you subtract the lame stuff from the Talking Heads, what exactly is it that you would be left with???]) and those newfangled garage-reductionists that the kids dig so (“newfangled” in this case to be taken to mean “without a bass guitar for some inexplicable reason” a la the Reatards and/or Strite Whipes), and, against my better judgment, i am compelled to admit that the first fifty percent of this record does not suck—in fact, i would even go so far as to say it’s “kinda good,” although i’d just as soon not have that quote traced back this way if at all possible. After what, by all reasonable calculations, is the WORST friggin’ Teenage Head cover of all time (“Picture My Face” yet! How exactly does one fuck up “Picture My Face”??? Wait, don’t tell me, i’d just as soon use my imagination [although they did get the lead right]), the record descends into the bowels (at bare minimum, the renal ureters) of irreconcilable hogwash and yuck and i lose immersion. If you buy this, you’re definitely going to want it on vinyl, so you can play side A during parties and idly etch stuff into side B when you don’t feel like showering the next morning. BEST SONG: “Don’t Turn Me Up” BEST SONG TITLE: “Chainsaw” worked well for the Ramones FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: “Smash the Whites with the Red Wedge” is one of my favorite Constructivist artworks. ALTERNATE FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Worst liner notes EVER. –norb (In The Red)


MISFITS MEET THE NUTLEY BRASS:
Fiend Club Lounge: CD
Ahh, this is genius. If you’ve never heard the Nutley Brass, they do lounge-style covers of punk songs. It sounds like a stupid idea, I know, but when I first heard their Ramones tribute album a few years back, my mind was changed. Now they’re back with a Misfits tribute and boy is it fun! It’s all mid-period classics, with a few early hits (“Hybrid Moments,” “Some Kinda Hate”) and goes as far up as Die Die My Darling. I only wish they’d attempted something from the Earth AD thrash era (by far the best period in the Misfits’ career). Beautiful cover art painted by Basil Gogos (the guy that did all those rad Famous Monsters of Filmland covers in the ‘60s). This is a really cool, fun CD and a definite must for hardcore Misfits fans. –ben (www.misfits.com)


MISCHIEF BREW:
Smash the Windows: CD
Sub-Pogues pseudo Celtic style balladeering here. Seems to be made by gutter punks or something of the sort. Never really rocks out; it just plods along like a campfire singalong. A couple of the songs were good—I liked “Nomads Revolt” pretty well—but for the most part, this just kind of flew by. Chances are if you refer to yourself as a pirate punk, you’ll love it. –frame (Fistolo)


MINDS, THE:
We Got the Pop b/w Brain That Wouldn’t Die, Don’t Wanna Die in My Sleep Tonight: 7"
The Minds are cracking and looting a huge safe that few have been able to get inside of. They’re taking the danceability of non-ass, diamond-tipped new wave, coupling it to the raw snot of punk, and charging it all by the dynamite of pure pop. And they aren’t just sucking off a one trick pony and spitting its efforts into your ears again and again. Synthesizers go from gentle touch to jackhammering. The guitars buzz, rake, then soothe back, and Mike Mind, who can shift from tasteful to manic between stick clicks, is a far cry from a mere drum machine. The three songs on this 7” prove that the Minds are beginning to cast their own long shadow beyond the formidable Epoxies. –todd (Plastic Idol)


MERCY KILLERS, THE:
Self-Titled: CD
It always throws me for a loop that when an obscure but totally kickass band like the Weird Lovemakers has somehow entered the collective subconscious. I’d bet you a pound of gummi worms that the Mercy Killers, who are from New York and just released this disc, have never heard The Weird Lovemakers’ Electric Chump, which was released the better part of a decade ago in Tucson. I doubt that the Mercy Killers’ lead vocalist knows that he sounds almost exactly like Greg Pettix. But the similarities are uncanny. To think that they came to the same musical conclusions as the Lovemakers makes me smile. The Mercy Killers have that close-to-strangulated vocals and play not-too-fancy, but wonderfully effective punk rock that’s long on charm and short on trying to convince you that listening to them is in any way, shape, or form is cool. (It is, but in a way where you’ll reap the rewards of good music and little else. As it should be, in my humble opinion.) The only main difference between the Mercy Killers and the Lovemakers is the weirdness-o-meter is kept in check. There isn’t a ranchero song like “En Busca Dela Superfucie,” but if you put this on and said, “Look what I found. Weird Lovemakers demos!” I’d bet you another bag of gummi worms that you’d fool most people. I’ll be playing this a lot. –todd (The Mercy Killers, 15 Grandview Trail, Monroe, NY 10950)


MEN’S RECOVERY PROJECT:
The Very Best of…: CD
Listening to Men’s Recovery Project is like watching a couple of thalidomide babies poop on themselves and then give the poop funny names. It’s out of the ordinary, sure, but that doesn’t make it enjoyable. But hey, at least you don’t have to applaud. –Josh (5RC)


MARTYRDÖD:
In Extremis: LP
Punishing Swedish hardcore here, with more than a hint of black metal thrown in the mix. The closest comparison I can muster is Skitsystem with less Discharge influence (although they most certainly have that Scandinavian hardcore charm in full effect), which makes sense when you consider that one of the guitarists is in Skitsystem. Not for the faint of heart. –jimmy (Havoc)


MARKED MEN, THE:
Nothing's Changed/She Won’t Know: 7"
A year off didn’t dull the songwriting quality, with one each from Mark and Jeff. It’s not punk, it’s not pop, it’s not retro, it’s the best qualities of all three. “She Won’t Know” sounds like it could be on the 1960s radio while 1980s kids make out. “Nothing’s Changed” is a power popper in line with the faster previous Marked Men stuff. Easily one of the most consistently great bands playing today. Surprise, surprise, this musta been done while Jeff was in Japan—liner notes say he plays all the instruments on his song while the other three play on Mark’s song. Shit’s tight. –mike (Shit Sandwich)


MANNIKINS:
High School Goodboy: 10"
Raucous rock’n’roll in a non-Dolls ‘70s punk kinda way, with a big sound, anthemic choruses, and catchy hooks, not unlike the Briefs without the Voidoid weirdness. This’ll get played often. –jimmy (Lollipop)


MAKESHIFT3:
Fluorescent Black: CD
I knew it would eventually happen. I grab just about anything to review, but dammit, I got a Christian punk CD! I pop the thing in and think these guys sound like Avenged Sevenfold. Not half bad. Then I start looking at the credits and I see “Special Thanks: Lord & Savior Jesus Christ.” I pulled that fucker right out of the player and I am done. –don (New School)


MADELINE:
Kissing and Dancing: CD
Madeline is a solo female artist from Bloomington, Indiana, and is most definitely a step away from the normal material released by Plan-It-X. The sixteen songs on here come off as a cross between the Softies, Kimya Dawson, and the Carter Family. It’s not surprising to learn that Madeline’s roots are in the South (Athens, Georgia, to be exact) and it definitely comes across on this album. Many songs are just her and her guitar, but various percussion, some backing vocals (which is where the Softies reference comes in to play), and the occasional full band fill out the tunes to not make them feel so lonely. There are some heartfelt, honest ideas on this album and the breadth of the songs range from slow and sad to upbeat and happy. Some of the tunes are really quite beautiful and only a few rank as trying on one’s patience. Fans of female singer/songwriters (especially those influenced by K Records and Athens, Georgia) should be happy to hear Madeline’s debut. With sixteen tracks pushing fifty minutes of music, there’s definitely an overwhelming amount of positives here and a lot for Madeline to use to build upon. –kurt (Plan-It-X)


LATTERMAN:
No Matter Where We Go: CD
This New York band’s twelve-song, thirty-one minute album is right along the lines of Hot Water Music, old Recess Theory, and other hardcore and punk music with excessive pop influences. (The exception being that Latterman seems to utilize a trumpet from time to time.) The lyrics are occasionally political but also about supporting one another in the scene, while the music is upbeat and fun. It’s alright for what it is, but it just seems as though lots of other bands have covered this territory. I guess if you can’t get enough of this kind of music (pseudo-emo, hardcore punk pop music) then Latterman is for you. But come on, they ended a song with people cheering and clapping. Lame. –kurt (Deep Elm, www.deepelm.com)


LA DESCENTE DE COUDE:
L’ Indécence du Coup: CD
Goddamn, if bands like Weird War and (International) Noise Conspiracy were (in the first case) actually or (in the second) consistently this good, I’d have started pegging my trousers and getting bowl cuts years ago, man. Instead it took some French Canadian band I’ve never even heard of to prove that it’s actually possible to kick out catchy, smart dance punk that doesn’t leave the listener feeling like he’s been eating a bucket of Sweet Tarts and watching static on the television for six hours. A statement like that says something, considering the lyrics are exclusively in French and I have only the basest understanding of what it is they’re singing about. The accompanying catalog claims these guys are political as fuck; the anger’s certainly there, though it’s filtered through beats that make me want to shake my ass more than a bit, as frightening as that would be. I generally do enjoy bands like (I)NC and the Washdown quite a bit, but these guys, even with the language barrier, are blowing them right out of the water with this one. –keith (Dare to Care)


KOST, THE:
Self-Titled: CD
What we have here is some gruff vocal, tough guy hardcore from Australia. Normally, this type of thing would bore the hell out of me but I actually enjoyed this. The vocals aren’t so growly that they’re unintelligible and the music is as tight as can be. Nice work. –ty (www.thekost.com)


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