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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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DED BUGS:
Stop and Smell the Stinking Corpse Lillies: CD
Poppy punk in more of an ‘80s vein than the more modern connotation. There’s less overt Ramones influence this time ‘round, but they do have some wicked hooks that’ll imbed themselves in your noggin if you’re not careful. –jimmy (http://dedbugs.com)


DECONDITIONED:
Where Am I?: LP
Sloppy, trashy hardcore with lyrics that cut a wide path through some interesting topics—the homogenization of American culture, left-wing hypocrisy, societal double standards, jock-pampering, Catholic school and, of all things, male rape victims. What they lack in precision they make up for in charm. –jimmy (Banal Existence)


DEAR NORA/WHAT THE KIDS WANT:
Split: 7"
On their first song, What the Kids Want remind me of the female-led parts of Cleveland Bound Death Sentence and Astrid Oto. It’s excited, enthusiastic poppy punk with vocals that could be interpreted as either annoying or charming depending on how you want to look at it (I like ‘em). The second song mellows out and rides a nice early ‘90s indie pop vibe. They’re a solid band with some really good songs. Dear Nora, as far as I can tell, is one woman singing and playing guitar. That could also be interpreted as annoying, I’m sure, but I really liked it. I’ll probably get beat up for saying that, but it’s the truth. She has a really pretty voice and it doesn’t sound like a high school talent show. Cool split. –Josh (Shake Got the Beets)


DEADLY SNAKES, THE:
Porcella: CD
The Deadly Snakes will most definitely not appeal to the punk rock part of your brain. That’s okay, because they’re good enough to overcome that. It’s heavily influenced by bands like the Zombies and the Kinks, meaning that they can write mellow songs that don’t come close to rocking but are still able to hold your attention, which is quite an accomplishment with me. There’s no need to overanalyze it; they just have really good songs, and their previous records have been in pretty consistent rotation since I first heard them. If it helps, think along the lines of the Gun Club but less swampy and more influenced by the British Invasion. –Josh (In the Red)


DAMAGED GOODS:
Outta Here: 7"
Another thing that Hostage Records has an immaculate ear for is this: the first waves of English punk—Cock Sparrer, Sham 69, Sex Pistols, Clash, Damned, Cockney Rejects—seems to have generated from the Atlantic and crashed, undiluted on Southern California’s Pacific shore, drenching the brains and crashing into the instruments of so many of its punk bands. Santa Barbara’s Damaged Goods are a perfect example of that. Unaffected by greater trends that are mere ankle-sized ripples in music, they go right to punk’s initial driving forces: mid-tempo, hook-laden, snot-propelled great pop with snarl and bite. It’s always a puzzle as to what makes one band sound like clowns juggling fossilized dog turds of songs and another sound like a bunch of upstarts rifling through the knife drawer and come slashing out of the speakers like they just invented a new way to kill you with music. This is much better than it should be. –todd (Hostage)


CURLUPANDDIE:
The One Above All, the End of All That Is: CD
Heard of the band for years. Never listened to ‘em. Wrote ‘em off, aptly or not, as just another Revelation band. After listening to this album a few times I can see where I was right, but I can also see I may have fallen off the turnip truck a bit. The One Above All… is heavy, yeah, with some definite metal leanings and the requisite quiet/loud parts that seem so typical of this genre. (There’s not a whole lot of variance in the dude’s screamings and with a few exceptions the tempo generally doesn’t make it past the “we all just ate a shitload of Vicodin” level.) These are all things I generally associate with that label, and to me it’s frickin’ dullsville. But there is really something good and innovative that’s going on here. When Curl Up And Die speeds it up, the music’s technical but manages not to sound like a bunch of guys just slapping odd riffs together. For the most part, they’re managing to come across as both inventive and coherent. The lyrics are dark, introspective, and smart. The cover and interior art is hilariously weird and totally misleading, straying about as far away from the “obscure photo of industrial landscape that we’ve Photoshopped the fuck out of because we want it to look like Jacob Bannon designed it” that so many bands of this ilk seem to be shooting for nowadays. They’ve gotten the idea of “band dynamics” down pat, this incredible idea that one instrument is just as important as another and any one of said instruments are capable of spearheading the way throughout the song, and there are a good handful of moments here that are actually pretty incredible. The verdict’s still out, but I think this is one of those albums that’ll grow on me exponentially every time I play it and consciously keep my ears open. –keith (Revelation)


CULPRITS, THE:
Thursday Night Hardcore: 7"
Despite the title, this is not a straight hardcore record. While there is a little of that sound here, most of this reminds me of the type of stuff that was coming out on Scooch Pooch or Junk Records in the late ‘90s. This would fit right in there between Zeke and, say, the Jack Saints or something. Too fast for the garage punkers and too “rock” for the hardcores. Looks like a limited pressing of two hundred. –frame (Blind Spot)


CRYPTORCHID CHIPMUNK:
Brothel_Waffle.exe from the Past Returns Again… No, Seriously: CD
Imagine Fishbone and Berzerk being played at the same time, with an entire Dr. Demento show thrown in the mix for good measure. Some of the craziest stuff I’ve heard in quite some time. Still not sure whether I actually like it or not. Oh, and from working in a veterinary hospital, I know that cryptorchid means that the balls haven’t dropped yet, so this kept me giggling like a fourth-grader. –megan (www.Cchipmunk.8m.com)


CRIPPLES:
Culture: CD
Synth-driven punk rock here, owing much of their delivery to the Screamers and Devo, but not falling anywhere near the vicinity of rehash. I dug their first album quite a bit, and this one features more focused delivery, with little bits of Wire-y artiness added into the mix. Most of the stuff ain’t exactly something you can whistle on the bus without getting weird looks, but there is an undeniable catchiness to what they do. –jimmy (Dirtnap)


COVERED IN BEES:
Portland Death Punk Vol. 1: Portland Is for Lovers: CD
I know I’ve mentioned in reviews before that I am automatically swayed positively by bands that reference zombie and/or horror movies (and, yes there is a difference, but that’s a discussion for another time). It’s pretty safe to say that Covered In Bees is after my heart. Hell, they even have a secret ballad track that’s an ode to the bride of Swampman. On top of this, they happen to have one of my favorite frontmen (and person in general). Heavy on the rock with gravely vocals that melts my musical heart every time I throw it on. I need to make it back to Maine to see them live soon. –megan (Entertainment Experiment)


COUNT ME OUTS, THE:
Self-Titled: CD
Boston garage rock from some veterans from the music scene. The last time a garage band from Boston rocked this hard, it was the Standells singing about a “Riot on the Sunset Strip.” Anchored by Hilken Mancini (ex-Fuzzy) and Winston Braman (Consonant), the band also features Mike Savage and Mark Perretta. Tight, concise tunes about washed-up actors and growing old, this would be great to throw on at your next winter party. It will light things up quicker than a slug of peppermint Schnapps. “Take You to the Cleaners” kicks major ass, and if you don’t have this record in your stack you’ll be a no chump love sucker. Or some reasonable facsimile thereof. –koepenick (Punk Rock Aerobics)


CORETTA SCOTT:
Scream and Shout: CD
The only thing more pretentious than naming the band after Martin Luther King’s wife is the alt-pop music for which said band is responsible, which has all the snotty-yet-safe vocals and emo-boy band fashion sense one would expect and zero substance. –jimmy (Rise)


CONSTANTINES:
Tournament of Hearts: CD
It’s the drums on “Draw Us Lines,” the first track off of Toronto-based five-piece Constantines’ third album Tournament of Hearts, that will draw in listeners. It is a hard, firm beat that will wrap around you like the tight, warm grip of a friend dragging you toward the center of thick, dank crowd at a rock show. You aren’t sure that you want to go there. You think that it might be safer in your corner, away from the heat of the pit. But you follow regardless and you realize that this swarm of energy has just saved your night. Tournament of Hearts is that kind of album. At just under thirty-seven minutes, Tournament of Hearts is by no means epic in structure, but it packs more intensity than many bands will do in an entire career. Vocals play gravelly, as if sung while sucking down the last of a pack of cigarettes at 4:00 A.M. in the middle of a parking lot against January cold. There is a sense of studied precision in the guitar work, showing that Steve Lambke and Bryan Webb have an intimate understanding of their respective instruments but just aren’t willing to cross the line into public displays of guitar-solo affection. Add to this the occasional horn, keyboards, and bass work that delve into the sort of sound you might here on a Dusty Fingers rare groove compilation (most notably on “Hotline Operator” and “Thieves”) and the folk strum of “Windy Road” and you have an album that deftly draws from various sources without sounding jumbled or losing sight of its punk rock roots. –liz (Sub Pop)


CLOROX GIRLS:
This Dimension: CD
Late ‘70s, giving-Rodney Bingenheimer-a-boner punk. It’s the type of punk that took all that messy sausage of bloated, self-indulgent rock and turned it briskly inside out, revealing a new beautiful ugliness. Out sprung songs that last shorter than guitar solos. Pop with nails and claws spawned, all while celebrating barely being able to play an instrument, but without fear. L.A.’s Dangerhouse label comes to mind—especially the song structures of the Eyes and Weirdos. The Clorox Girls play songs that are terribly full of hooks, and are so bold, sure of themselves, and gamboling that it seems like 2005 came a year after 1978 for these three guys. Slot them in with some of the early bests and there’s no mold on the packaging. No small achievement. –todd (Smartguy)


CLEVELAND BOUND DEATH SENTENCE:
Gateway Handshake: 7"
Oh, don’t get me wrong, I like this 7”, but my pants and socks are still on after playing it. The first time I heard CBDS, they made me want to run around in half-naked pop punk celebration. It wasn’t only the ingredients (Paddy of Dillinger Four, Aaron Cometbus of Scooby Don’t, Emily of the Saltines, and pre-jailed Spitball of Oswald Armageddon), but the jaunty mix of these undeniably talented folks. It was four superballs bouncing around in this barely contained chaotic harmony that made me scream stuff like “fruit and vegetable stand!” and read up on foreign dictators. Gateway Handshake has the familiarity of a faded shirt, but the firecrackers don’t seem to be in the back pocket. Although good—and it comes with a killer children’s-book-for-adults lyric insert—it felt like four people getting together and playing out of some sort of obligation, or “Here, you play this part… no, do it like this,” instead of fun, spontaneity, and inspiration through and through. –todd (No Idea)


CLERGY, THE:
All Who Fly: CD
Took a look at the band bio on the label’s website to get a clearer understanding of where these guys are coming from, given their lyrical content. There’s lots of talk about how they’re “filled with driving rhythms and swells of distortion which build and climax into beautiful and complex layers of sound completed in perfection with emotive, sometimes gritty, punk-influenced female vocals.” What they don’t tell you is that virtually every song on here is in some way or another praising the might, power, and majesty of Jesus Christ. This, of course, means this is about as “punk,” “alternative” and edgy as an Amy Grant record. Peddle your brainwashin’ wares elsewhere, Jesus freaks. –jimmy (Boot to Head)


CHEVREUIL:
Sport: CD
A guitarist and a drummer get together for some pretentious, arty circle jerking. The results are about as exciting as waiting for dripping water to bore a hole through rock, which would make this mandatory listening for the average Taoist, but a phenomenal waste of time for the rest of us. –jimmy (Sickroom)


CHAZ MATTHEWS:
Amazing Graceless: CD
By track six, there are at least two references to hair being like rainbows and one to waterfall-like hair. He talks about a girl being his medicine, which makes it impossible for me to think of anything other than “Bad Medicine” and Bon Jovi in general for the rest of the album, wishing I was actually listening to those boys who get slippery when wet. –megan (Full Breach Kicks, www.fullbreach77.com)


CALL SIGN COBRA:
II: CD
Despite the atrocious cover art (they somehow manage to make a Frank Frazetta painting look crappy) this was a nice surprise. No-bullshit plain old rock and roll, with a little hint of garage, a little bit of Tight Bros/Cherry Valence good times, and a really heavy Rocket from the Crypt influence. I’m sure they’d argue back that I’m only comparing them to RFTC because they have a saxophone, but it’s more than just that: the sax doubles the guitar parts, just like RFTC or the Saints. The singer guy does a Murder City Devils kinda whine/yell thing, and the lyrics kinda suck, but fuck it, this shit rocks pretty fuckin’ hard. –ben (Not Bad)


BROKEN BONES:
Dem Bones: CD
This is a limited edition reissue of two of this legendary UK hardcore units early releases, both of which are fine examples of what Discharge would’ve sounded like if Cal had quit when the going was good and gone off to join Hanoi Rocks like he secretly wished and left the rest of the band to their own devices: thunderous beats, metallic (but not metal) guitars and much yelling. I’d almost forgotten what these guys sounded like back in their “prime.” Kinda puzzled by the “twenty-five year limited edition” in the corner of the front cover, though. These guys got together and released Dem Bones in 1983. It’s currently 2005. Now, I’ll be the first to admit I’m no math whiz, but I believe claiming this is some sort of twenty-five anniversary reissue is jumping the gun by at least three years. –jimmy (SOS)


BRIEFS, THE:
Steal Yer Heart: CD
This band is nauseatingly perfect. I can’t get enough of the Briefs, or their new album, Steal Yer Heart. I’ve been listening to this CD for a week straight, and despite seeing them perform twice within this week, the CD still remains in my stereo. The Briefs are so fun and the energy you gain from listening to their music and going to their shows makes you feel alive and remember why you fell in love with music in the first place. Steal Yer Heart features their new bass player, Kicks, replacing original member, Lance Romance. Don’t despair. Lance still has a small presence on the album as he sings additional backup vocals and took the photos for the insert. Listening to the record, the guys were lucky because Kicks fits right in and he even sings lead vocals on “Move Too Slow” and “Forty and Above,” which is about his love for older women. The best song on this record is undeniably “Getting Hit on at the Bank.” The song is catchy, and you won’t be able to get it out of your head. For the ladies, the vocals are also really sexy, sung by guitarist Steve E. Nix, as he talks about getting hit on at numerous places and being misunderstood. Overall, the record is an all-around hit. The songs that I can’t get off repeat are “Move Too Slow,” “Lint Fabrik,” “Getting Hit on at the Bank,” and “Stuck on You.” In short, it’s good. –jenny (BYO)


BRADY BASTARDS:
The Deep End: CD
I have a good friend named Sean Brady. He has about fifteen nicknames for me. He and his twin brother tend to address people as madam, as in “I apologize madam; it’s about to get awesome in here.” To a bartender at nine in the morning. And they live in a house called the Fat Cave, which is a very happy place for me to visit. Neither he, nor his two brothers are, to my knowledge, born out of wedlock. Which is fortunate, because I really like my friend Sean, and I really don’t like this band. –megan (www.bradybastards.com)


BOMB, THE:
Indecision: CD
The Bomb is the latest project from Jeff Pezzati of Naked Raygun. It also features ex-members of the Story So Far and the Methadones. The twelve songs on here were produced by J. Robbins of Jawbox and Burning Airlines fame. It was also recorded at Great Western Recording Company, which is run by one of the guys from Hum. One would think that would mean that the Bomb isn’t so much a punk band as they might be an emo or alternative rock act. But those people would be wrong. The songs on this album have lots of solid backing harmonies as well as slightly melodic guitar riffs, not to mention Pezzati’s vocals which seem to utter the phrase “Who Hey Ho” in great frequency. The lyrics aren’t all throwaways, though, and the songs are upbeat even if the combination of Pezzati’s vocals and the guitar tones leave off more of a melancholy feeling overall (which seems to be a consistent theme with J. Robbins-produced projects). As someone who has never been real impressed with Thick Records stuff, this caught me off guard and is by far the best thing I’ve ever heard from this label. For those who like their punk with a little more emotional edge or for those who are fans of Naked Raygun, the Bomb might be worth checking out. –kurt (Thick)


BLOTTO/ALTAIRA:
Split: 7"
Blotto is easily the best punk band in Japan, and a good contender for one of the best punk bands in the world. I mean, they pretty much sound like Crimpshrine, Fifteen, and Shotwell, but pushed ridiculously over the top, in classic Japanese style. Altaira broke up, unfortunately. This is a post-mortem release to support their post-mortem Japanese tour last summer, but like all zombies, the risen-from-the-grave Altaira is pretty damn cool. Hot Water Music/Avail style drunken front porch Florida punk. Along with Yusuke’s totally awesome cover art, this record makes you wanna spray paint your girlfriend’s name on a bridge. –todd (Snuffy Smile)


BLANK STARE:
Self-Titled: 7"
Being that I a.) drink, and very much like drinking and b.) am not really in the mood to go and kill pimps (as “Choice or Coercion” suggests the listener consider), I have to hand it to Blank Stare for nailing a.) some really impressive crew shouts b.) ratcheting tight-as-hell breakdowns c.) pounding out hardcore powerchords that scream like pterodactyls dragging chains all over the place and d.) seem to be thinking a bit outside of the box (“a cross is a cross, no matter which way you turn it.”). Tight, cranked, and occasionally sneaky hardcore in the best sense of the words. Fans of leave-’em-bloody-and-smiling music, like Vitamin X, Negative Approach, and Spasm 151 would do well to pick this self-released 7” up. –todd (Blank Stare)


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