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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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POTENTIAL LUNATICS, THE:
Dizzy Spells and Garden Talk: CD
From the handclaps to the noisy teenage freak-outs, Long Beach brother and sister duo The Potential Lunatics is fucking adorable. Emma Simons-Araya evokes an angrier, more contentious Bethany Cosentino (BestCoast). She delivers stunning vocals that travel effortlessly from breathy whispers, to angelic singing, to gritty, riot grrrl growls that don’t sound like a toddler having a temper tantrum—sorry Kathleen Hanna. If legend is to be believed, Emma coerced her brother Isaac into drumming, but he seems stoked about it now, choke slamming the rhythm section and backup vocals like a badass sass dragon. The real star of Dizzy Spells and Garden Talk is the youthful freshness of Emma’s witty, socially conscious lyrics. Her brand of feminism doesn’t posture or ask you nicely; it punches you in the throat and then laughs at you for crying.  –Kelley O’Death (Self-released)


PRETTY PRETTY:
Leather Weather: 7”
Pretty Pretty play retro doo wop-esque pop rock. With the lo-fi hum of the vinyl, the Midwestern band conveys a majorly West Coast vibe. However, their 7” Leather Weather escapes the tedious monotony so easy to fall into with that style of music. Instead, Pretty Pretty successfully injects variety into their approach, making for a really fun listening experience. The first song has a nineties, grungy, Cranberries sound—the type of song you might find on a Daria soundtrack—whereas the other songs were more twee and apt for a foot-tapping, head-bobbing good time.  –Ashley (Let’s Pretend, letspretendrecords.com / Mandible, mandiblerecords.com, mandiblerecords@gmail.com)


PRIMITIVE HEARTS:
High and Tight: LP
I take it the title of High and Tight isn’t just referring to the haircut being given to the youngster on the cover, but also to the state of mind of the barber and said youngster (drunk and, well, high). This album sits on the line of lo-fi-ish garage pop and pop punk. The singer does a good, bratty Nobunny vocal (if it isn’t actually Nobunny himself… hmm). Bands of this ilk these days seem to shoot for that Nobunny vocal sound, whereas many pop punk bands from the mid-late ‘90s heyday of pop punk tried too hard to sound like Ben Weasel. Songs are catchy, singalong-y, and have that power chord pinky tapping riff that I’ll always dig. This record was released by three different labels!  –Sal Lucci (Resurrection, getresurrected.com / P.Trash, ptrashrecords.com / FDH, fdhmusic.com)


PRINCE:
Self-titled: 7”
Second self-titled EP from Prince. I think one of 2014’s biggest upsets was this band not getting sued. We were all anxiously awaiting that debacle and, unfortunately, it never happened. Well, either way, this band fuckin’ kills live. And their records are pretty good, too. Strong-arm punk pop that sounds both haphazard and meticulously constructed. Another shining example of how one can write fun, bouncy songs about how goddamn miserable they are and have good time doing it!  –Daryl Gussin (Drunken Sailor / Dead Broke / No Breaks / A.D.D.)


PUSHIN’ IT 2 THE LIMIT:
Self-titled: Cassette
The band name and the tattoo cover art definitely gave me pause. But this is not a soundtrack to a film about athletic apparel directed by Fred Durst. That should be made clear. This is bouncy, charming, relentless pop punk with some dark, weird guitar-bass interplay and goofy humor, i.e. they introduce each song by shouting the name of the song in unison. Kind of a Shonen Knife-y thing to do. I feel like if you had a question about a cartoon, any cartoon, they could answer it. Check out “That’s All Murder She Wrote” for starters, and then go from there if you need to.  –Matt Werts (Self-released)


PUSRAD:
Errare Humanum Est: 12”
I’m always really stoked when heads from back in the day are still as involved and excited by the current DIY punk scene rather than trying to relive on some perceived “fame” from back in the day. These guys used to be in the Swedish powerhouse Raped Teenagers back in the early to mid-’80s, playing rippin’ hardcore nearly thirty years ago. Pusrad keep the uncompromising dream alive—crazy, eclectic songs, few reaching much past ninety seconds. The sound is pretty out there, like a hardcore Wire. Stops and starts, twists and turns. Too much for me, but I can see the appeal and am stoked for the dudes my age still ripping!  –Tim Brooks (Dead Beat)


RADIO HATE:
Main Nerve: CD-R
Mid-tempo, American oi-influenced singalong punk. The “whoas” and big choruses are in abundance, some flirtation here and there with straight rock, catchy, and will likely please those who think this sorta thang is nifty.  –jimmy (Urban Pirate)


RADIOACTIVITY:
“Danger” b/w “Why”: 7”
Few would argue with the fact that Marked Men are one of the greatest punk bands of all time, a band in which Jeff Burke and Mark Ryan are both alumni. Few would argue against the absolute brilliance of Radioactivity’s self-titled debut LP. Ultimately, new Radioactivity songs make me buzz with electricity. Well, here they are, and they are a step in a slightly different direction. The melodies are reserved, thoughtful, and succinct when compared with the sugar-y bombast of “Don’t Try” or “World of Pleasure.” None of this is to say that these gents have slowed down, mellowed out, or stopped wrecking their wrists with rapid down-picking. Rather, these two songs require listening on repeat and active engagement. You are forced to turn off the lights, turn up the volume, and ensure your headphones are on snug, as the choruses aren’t as obvious, but the payoff is just as gratifying. The layers of complexity reveal songs equally as brilliant as any by Marked Men. Especially “Why,” a languid and hypnotizing opus, which suggests the influence of Mind Spiders. These two songs potentially foreshadow a more textural Radioactivity on future LPs. If so, I welcome the change.  –Sean Arenas (Secret Mission)


RAMONES, THE:
WBUF FM Broadcast, Buffalo, NY, February 8th 1979: CD
Recently unearthed recording from the Road to Ruin tour. The packaging is nice but the quality control is a bit lacking. Right under the brief blurb on the back that states that Marky was on drums by the time this was recorded is a picture of the band with Tommy! There are four more pictures on the inside, which split the difference between Tommy and Marky. I am surprised there is not a Richie era picture inside. But fact-checking aside, the sound quality is top-notch. This album has been digitally remastered, although the details are again fuzzy on that count. There is a Rolling Stone article from 1979 that quotes Joey’s father, which was interesting from a historical context. Nothing really out of the ordinary in the set-list, but it is twenty-three songs. If you love The Ramones, I’m sure even Designated Dale would not be “against it!”  –koepenick (Keyhole UK)


RAVIN:
Self-titled: LP
Experimental noise/rock from France, Ravin has a lot going on. Definitely a band that falls into those super-specific subgenres like no wave, screamo, or post-punk. The guitar melodies are dirty and gruff. They’re placed over synthy keyboards, with fairly simple drumming patterns, and robust bass. The vocals, when they are present, are indiscernible, and that’s not just because they’re in French. I only took one year of French in the sixth grade, but I’m pretty sure that some of lyrics are gibberish. They are faint, with a lot of other sound collages thrown over them, to make them seem off in the distance. Sometimes it comes off as cool and atmospheric background noise, but most times it’s just off-putting. There are moments on this record that get poppy, others that get power violence-y, some anarcho, and lots of weird as hell. Track list is lettered, not numbered. Most titles are French, with few exceptions like track B which is in Chinese. Certainly an eclectic experience. Ravin is sure to stand out in a record collection.  –Kayla Greet (Self-released, ravinravin.bandcamp.com)


RDF:
Self-titled: 7”
This record is about as basic as it gets. You’ve heard all these songs before. Maybe not these exact songs, but something close, and possibly with the same titles (track list includes “Fight” and “Self Destruction”). It’s a strange déjà vu trip, leaning closer to the hardcore side of things with gruff vocals and shouted choruses, but with music that occasionally veers into more melodic territory, with quick guitar solos sprinkled throughout. There’s nothing particularly bad about it. They probably kill it live, but there’s really no point in getting this record. You’ve already got something similar and superior in your collection.  –mp (DirtFi)


REAL ENEMY:
Life with the Enemy: LP
Real Enemy was an early—some say the first—Pittsburgh hardcore band, active 198____. Though they never managed to release any vinyl, they did manage a cassette demo, and this is a vinyl reissue of that demo. The music here is a prime slice of early ‘80s Northeast hardcore that just smokes—tight, taut, zippy, and delivered with purpose and intent. The packaging here is flat-out gorgeous, with a faithful reproduction of the original demo’s cover on the front of the album, inserts, download card, and a fold out with a shit-ton of liner notes.  –jimmy (Mind Cure)


REAL KIDS, THE:
Shake… Outta Control: LP
The Real Kids is a legendary East Coast band; to say anything else would be blasphemous. John Felice was even in the Modern Lovers at one point. If you don’t own their self-titled debut long player, there’s a hole in your life. Now, Ugly Pop has been all over the reissue game for the last few years, but make no mistake: Shake… Outta Control is a full-length record of new material, by none other than Boston’s finest. Some folks may cringe at the concept of a band releasing material thirty (almost forty) years after their point of origin, but they needn’t worry. The first Real Kids LP in I-don’t-know-how-many-decades is—aside from being long overdue—a sign that you should never turn your back on a band that released records you love (okay, we’ll allow for some exceptions…). But, the point is, this album is really great. Even if they aren’t as young as they once were. See, the Real Kids is/was a punk band layered in fifties rock. Sure, the aggression was there, but these guys weren’t the Dead Boys, if you know what I’m getting at. In short, some people may find this album mellow, but that’s part of what the Real Kids has always emitted. Their comeback LP is a great listen from start to finish; excellent sequencing and overall flow from beginning to end. Punks who are fans of Reigning Sound should specifically take note—I can’t stress that enough. Hopefully, they’ll play some gigs outside of New England at some point. It would be great to finally catch them in the act.  –Steve Adamyk (Ugly Pop)


REAL KIDS:
Shake… Outta Control: LP
The first “real” Real Kids album since 1977? I always considered Norton Records’ No Place Fast a Real Kids album, but I guess it’s not, as it consists of Real Kids and Taxi Boys recordings. Some of the songs on Shake… have been floating around since Real Kids founder John Felice was planning the second album way back in the late ‘70s. Even before I heard this record was coming out, I would often wonder what happened to the album the Real Kids was working on in the late ‘90s/early ‘00s. So, what to say about Shake...? It doesn’t suck! But is that really something to say, when the first thought that came to my mind was “this doesn’t suck?” Really, it’s reductive and oafish of me to write that, but I did think those thoughts. The recordings are good and warm, a much better mix than on the Down to You EP from 1999 (something about the drums on those recordings will always bother me). John Felice’s voice has held up pretty well. He was never a good “singer,” but that’s not the point. It’s just that sometimes I feel he’s reaching for notes he can’t hit. What Felice really is is a good songwriter: the man can write a hook, he’s got a signature guitar sound that any Real Kids fan can pick up on immediately, and he does the heart-on-sleeves thing but doesn’t make it feel cheesy. There’s an updated version of “Common at Noon,” slowed down and with extra instruments that improves on the original. The back cover photo should really have been the front cover.  –Sal Lucci (Ugly Pop)


REMAMBRAN:
Drawing Out: Cassette
Mallory Watje is the singer/songwriter responsible for Remambran and you should thank her for it. With Indiana Laub on bass and Johnny Yugoslavia / Paul Rey on drums, each of these ten tracks puts forth a dreamy quality that floats around your head like a happy cloud. The songs are all very pretty—they have wonderful chord progressions and a rhythm section that can be either rapid fire force or soft and gentle while the wistful riffs carry you away. The vocal styling Watje has perfected is so unique and almost exotic from anything I’ve heard. In no way do I mean this negatively, but her voice is somewhat warped and warblely sounding, with a tinge of Bjork’s accent to it. As if the magnetic tape on the cassette got stretched out, but just on the vocals. It makes for this gorgeous cadence that guides the instruments through on this mystic journey of tunes about feelings and relationships. “Get Thru the Nite” is my favorite track on the album because it really runs the entire gamut of what this group is capable of in just three minutes. You’d be hard pressed to find another band like this. I don’t even know what to compare them to. Do yourself a favor and check out something new and refreshing.  –Kayla Greet (Secret Pennies)


ROBOT REPAIR:
Never Trust a Human: Cassette
Never trust a human, eh? Fair enough. One thing’s for sure—don’t trust Robot Repair because nothing about them is robotic. Nope. Too human, too heartfelt, and although far from sloppy, far too raw and uncalculated. What you get here is that sort of catchy punk rock that comes out of places like Chattanooga and Asheville: long, slow rock riffs and dorky vocals that build tension until breaking down into fast punk songs with lots of shouting. I love the blast beats at the beginning of the third track, “La Fin Du Monde.” Thinking I was going to hear a powerviolence song for those few seconds, I worried that maybe this band was still trying to figure out who they were and what their sound was—then... nope, they go right into the same awesome, fun sound they were shooting for the whole time. I’m keeping an eye out for these guys. One complaint: no label on the tape! Bands, next time this happens, I’m getting high and mixing your tape up with some goregrind tape I got to review—Pukerot or whoever—will get far more attention than they deserve and who’ll always be remembered as another shitty grind band! Sorry, to have to make an example of you, Robot Repair. Please carry on with the rockin’. The people need it!  –Craven Rock (Boomchok!)


ROUGHNECK RIOT:
Out of Anger: CD
Looking at this CD, I got the feeling that this might be a CD full of Samuel Adams beer commercial songs. Well, I was right. If the whole English/Irish/folk-punk thing is your bag, then drink deep my friend. Given the parameters of what they are trying to accomplish, this isn’t too bad. The lyrics are a little deeper than the familiar workingman themes, which tend to riddle most releases of this flavor, which I wholeheartedly welcome. Likewise, the songs sound like they were written as punk songs with the mandolin, accordion, and banjo used to flesh out the songs instead of the opposite, if that makes any sense.  –Garrett Barnwell (TNS)


S.H.I.T.:
Feeding Time: 7” EP
Heard good things about these cats, so I picked this up outta the piles. Was not disappointed. Two mid-tempo shocks of hardcore with a heavy, hypnotic undertow and a nice delicate balance between noise and order. Instant fan I be.  –jimmy (S.H.I.T.)


SBLC / BILL BONDSMEN:
Split: 7”
SBLC: Nice bit of driving, boogadaboogadaboogada-tempo hardcore. Singer has a nice higher-pitched rasp that compliments the proceedings. Bill Bondsmen: Still one of the best out there and their contribution here showcases why. They deliver a nice slow-burner here, with tastefully flangered guitars and little rhythmic stops accenting an already strong tune. Great single.  –jimmy (Rust On The Blade)


SCRAP DEALERS, THE:
Self-titled: LP
This is really good! Take elements of ‘80s alternative rock/psyche bands like Spacemen 3, add a touch of ‘90s shoegaze and a healthy mix of fuzzed-out garage rock, and you might have something close to The Scrap Dealers. It’s nearly flawless in its execution of mixing all of these elements while keeping the songs catchy enough to stick in your head. This is the type of sound that The Black Lips or Thee Oh Sees aspire to capture but can’t seem to get it right. I can’t stop listening to this, and actually I don’t really want to stop. Good stuff.  –Mark Twistworthy (Jaune Orange, jauneorange.be)


SECRET TOMBS:
Secret Tunes: LP
Another example of a Pittsburgh-area band doing its own thing, Secret Tombs play complicated, technically adept hits, roughly in the vein of Mission Of Burma. This is the type of release that makes record reviewers cringe at the challenge of quick descriptors, which is precisely the reason Secret Tombs is so interesting. Capturing well what they do so stunningly live, this record isn’t going be kept secret for very long, as those into complex post-punk-ish styles will gravitate to it quickly.  –Art Ettinger (Caesar Cuts)


SEE YOU IN HELL:
Jed: 12” EP
Everything I’ve heard from these guys so far has been pretty good. Live? Whoa! You must see them live! I made the trek down to Anaheim last year to catch them, and it was well worth the drive. They more than delivered on my expectations. From the very first song to the very last, they owned the room. All the touring they’ve done has turned them into a force to be reckoned with. Musically, they’re a mix of mid to quick tempos with solid musicianship that holds it all together. The drums thrash and bash, though never really letting things tip over into a mess of noise. The guitar buzzes with an abrasive, blistering roughness, the bass stomps and punches underneath, and the vocals are delivered in half-spoken, half-shouted urgency. The songs are focused and direct in their execution. They’ll race at a fast gait then hit these choruses that relentlessly bash you over the head. Check out “Necekei” for a good example. The title track brings in a mix of textures—from the distorted guitar opening to the tuneful leads that dominate and work their way into your memory—as well as allowing the song to run a bit longer than the rest, not to mention the grindcore style vocal that closes the song out. The lyrics are extremely well written. They look at the human condition in the present day, shaped by evasive technology, the seeming impossibility of a better life than what is foisted upon us, and more.  –Matt Average (SPHC)


SEMINARS:
Dreamcrusher: 10”
James Burns’ previous band, Police Teeth, frequently teetered between noise and melody and did so with great skill, but with his latest venture, it’s the latter characteristic that firmly takes centre stage. These eight tracks are built around a rock’n’roll-tinged punk sound that frequently reminds me of the Norwegian quartet, Bonk, albeit with an added lo-fi grit. The riffs are infectious and the tunes plentiful as the Seattle-based trio do nothing more than attempt to rock the listeners’ socks off. Seminars has the same effect on me as did Burns’ last outfit—I’m completely hooked.  –Rich Cocksedge (Self-released, seminars.booking@gmail.com, seminars.bandcamp.com)


SEX RAYS, THE:
She Thing: 7”
The A side, “He’s Trying To Work it out with His Girlfriend, and then the LSD Kicks in,” is a bit of free-form psychedelic skronk that you could drop in the midst of Pink Floyd’s Ummagumma and no one would bat a lash. The title track on the flip is a more traditional garage rock tune, delivered with just the right meld of smooth and swagger before it, too, devolves into noisemaking.  –jimmy (Big Action)


SGNLS:
II: LP
Proggy synth punk from Philadelphia, drawing from both Rush and Gary Newman with Ozzyish vocals. If you wanna get weeiiirrrrrddddd, this is the record to do it to. Engaging, but still goes way out there.  –Daryl Gussin (P. Trash / FDH)


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