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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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BUZZCOCKS:
Flat-Pack Philosophy: CD
Dear Santa Claus: Look here, you sneaky old man, I dunno what you’re trying to pull here. We both know that whole naughty/nice list thing hasn’t worked since I was, what, four? I’ve been tilting toward “naughty” for far too long to be easily swayed by most any tactic, but blindsiding me IN MARCH with a record by one of my favorite bands of all time that can be remotely considered “good” is low, even for you, round-boy. I’d all but given up hope for mankind when I put this on and WHAM, “Wish I Never Loved You” gave me a giddy, inspired feeling I haven’t felt in ages from a Buzzcocks record. Thirteen more songs and eighty-seven repeated listens in a two-day period later, I’m singing along again with Pete and Steve like in days of yore, happy as a clam and feeling like the universe has once again righted itself. Worse, I went back and listened to the previous release and decided THAT one was better than previously assessed. But, BUT I’m no dummy, Kringle. I’ve sussed your little maneuver—you think by giving me my most cherished Christmas present nine months early, I’m gonna straighten up and fly right now and this Christmas I won’t dress up your reindeer like mariachis again. You are a wicked bird, Santa Claus. Pull this stunt again and I just might hafta admit the error of my ways, and lord knows we can’t have that. –jimmy (Cooking Vinyl)


BRACKET:
Requiem: CD
I have to confess that this record is one of the most novel concepts that I’ve seen in a while. No real titles to the songs here; instead we have “Warren’s Song Pt. 16, Pt. 19, 14, 24, 11, 23, 17, 26, 18, 12, 21, 20, 10, 25, 15, 22, and 13.” As a result, there is a distinct lack of independence to these songs; on a normal record with songs individually titled, each tune maintains a level of musical autonomy within the overall package, like a short story as part of an anthology. By giving every song the same title, just variations in numbering, I was forced to listen to this as a whole rather than individual tunes specifically ordered on a record. And it worked. What we have here is a seventeen-movement rock’n’roll symphony. Musically, this is some pretty rockin’ pop punk along the lines of bands that show up on Honest Don’s; poppy and inventive, this opus never got dull. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Takeover)


BODIES LAY BROKEN:
Eximenious Execration of Exiguous Exequies: CD
Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. I love this: twenty-seven short blasts of Carcass-worshipping goregrind. With song titles like “Embrocate Indiscutient Hirudinea Poultice” and “Acedic Intransigent Bougienale Hordeolum,” I’m sure you can imagine what this sounds like. I wonder, when this band plays live, how do they write their set lists? It obviously takes longer to write out and correctly spell the song titles than it does to play (and probably even write) the songs, but it’s all a part of the charm of this. Not something I’d actually ever listen to, but it’s great to pull out one night while drinking with friends to play for a few minutes and laugh at the song titles. –ben (Deathvomit)


BODIES LAY BROKEN:
Discursive Decomposing Disquisitions of Moldered Malapropisms and Sedulous Solec: CD
I was shocked into silence by this. I mean, I knew full well that I was going to hate it, but DAMN! Seriously guys, twenty-three of twenty-seven songs are Latin names for diseases of one sort or another (but I’m glad you threw “Chudbot” in there for good measure!). The music? Well let’s just say that it’s grindcore of the most nonsensical degree. The vocals sound like a combination of the spit suction at the dentist and trying to hock up that elusive loogie that has been irritating your throat for the last half an hour. Granted, I might not be the right person to review this, but I am the right one to point out that if these guys had put as much effort into the English on the disc as the Latin, the spine might not have read “Bodies Lay Borken.” Painful. –ty (One Percent)


BLITZ:
Hits: CD
Dunno if most of what’s on here could be considered “hits” in the “units shifted” sense of the term, especially when we’re talking about embarrassing covers of “Suffragette City,” but any excuse to blast some crucial tunes from one of England’s greatest punk bands is a welcome one, and crucial tunes are in abundance here. The bulk of the tracks come from their first few singles and the Voice of a Generation album, so this is a great starting point if you’re unfamiliar with ‘em. Now excuse me while I go back to singing along to “4Q.” –jimmy (SOS)


BLIGHT:
Detroit: The Dream Is Dead: CD
A reissue by this Tesco Vee-led, post-Fix band’s sole 7” EP (plus outtakes, a four-track demo, and a live set), short on the hardcore thrashin’ that made all involved (in)famous and long on arty dirge-core. While I’ve always had a soft spot for Blight’s skronk (hell, I’m a sucker for almost any of Tesco’s projects that don’t involve piss poor heavy metal noodling), I’m completely at a loss as to why Touch and Go thought to release this and not a proper collection of the Fix’s recorded output. That band’s status and influence on Midwestern hardcore would lead one to believe they’d be first in line for a retrospective like those T&G have done for Die Kreuzen, Negative Approach, the Meatmen and now Blight, especially considering the fact that their output hasn’t been in print for many a moon. Go figure. –jimmy (Touch and Go)


BLANK ITS:
Happy Accidents: CD
Vocals-in-a-can and heavy on the guitar. Nothing bad, but I kept forgetting I was listening to anything. –megan (Empty)


BABOONZ, THE:
Too Much Is Not Enough: CD
Average ska out of Germany that sounds like it came out of the ska boom in the ‘90s: real radio friendly and almost too sterile and poppy. The lyrics are sung in English even though, in my opinion, it would have sounded better if it was in German. –don (Mad Butcher)


ARRIGT ANTRAEK:
Self-titled: 7”
By looking at the pictures, they’re a young punk band out of Denmark that sounds like they came from the same school of punk that Amdi Petersens Arme and No Hope For The Kids came from. Not as fast as the latter bands, but they have a definite snotty attitude that kind of sets this band apart. But they also have an early Swedish sound that reminded me a little of Asta Kask. I like the fact that they sing in their native language. What they are singing about, I don’t know. I liked the rawness of the songs and the simplicity. If they can keep it together, they will be a band we will be hearing about more on these shores. –don (Hjernespind)


ARAB STRAP:
The Last Romance: CD
Although Arab Strap may seem like a relative newcomer to many, this Scottish duo has actually been around for ten years. In fact, they were helping out Songs:Ohia on their Axxess and Ace album that came out back in 1999, so they’ve definitely been around the block a few times. Despite opening up for Bright Eyes last year and starting to achieve the early stages of what some might call “indie fame,” much of this doesn’t tread any new ground for the indie rock scene. It seems much like most other indie sounds with Scottish vocals attached. And while those Scottish vocals can be endearing, they do take a while to get used to for those of us used to hearing American or even British vocals. Some of the songs are acoustic, others seem more traditional lighter indie rock fare, but nothing seems too dangerous and the whole time I can’t help but think of the 1990s Scottish alternative band Whipping Boy that no one but my friend Jason or I seem to remember. –kurt (Transdreamer)


ANUSHKA POP:
Akathena: CD
One of the best things about listening to this album this time around was that for some reason, my computer is still recognizing it as the last CD that was played, which was the Bruce Springsteen Seeger album, so “Mrs. McGrath” (an anti-war song that hits pretty strongly) comes up while some pretty sappy pop song plays. I really like that Springsteen CD. –megan (Sassy Boy)


ANTSY PANTS:
Self-titled: CD
I don’t really know the story here. It seems like there’s an adult and a bunch of French kids playing songs on guitar and ukulele. I’m not the biggest fan of kids—they can’t reach high things, they’re hardly ever interested in records, they want to eat my candy and not share theirs—but, still there’s something endearing here. It kind of makes me feel like somehow I got to sit on that one special class where the kids are smart, well-behaved, and interested in learning. Very far from what I’d usually go for, but it’s found a way into the rotation. –megan (Plan-it-x)


ANTI-FLAG:
For Blood and Empire: picture disc LP
I know: major label sell-outs, boo hoo, and all that jazz. But based on their track record and the fact that the LP came out on their own label, I’m gonna review it anyway. First of all, this twelve inch rules big time. Their sound and politics have not been compromised or diluted. Even the late great John Candy’s son shows up to add some horns to the mix, and it works out beautifully. I hope this band can keep a firm grip on their ideals as well as continue to grow and mature from this point on. That would be a great thing to see. The songs “One Trillion Dollars”—that sounds like it could have started out as a Justin Sane acoustic solo song—”Hymn for the Dead,” and “Cities Burn” are the highlights with the best set of lyrics being: “One trillion dollars could buy a lot of bling... One trillion dollars buying all the nations of the world, one trillion dollars could make the fat lady sing, one trillion dollars what a bullshit useless thing!” Now, do I agree with their move to RCA? Does my opinion or your opinion even matter? No, not really. But one thing is for sure: in terms of mainstream get-you-to-think music, this LP beats the shit out of anything lyrically or musically ever put out by vague alternative rockers Rage Against The Machine. So raspberry from me to you! And if you’re really that much of an anti-capitalist, whiny punk you should refrain from buying the CD (because you were going to take the CD and upload the album to your ipod) and be a real punk rocker and buy it from a truly independent label on fine picture disc vinyl for your record player—hell the twelve inch even has one extra song than the CD. That said, this album has me wanting three things from the future. A) Anti-Flag to continue to do what they do best: whatever the hell they want. B) A-F to get tons of money for their non-profit goals as well as to grace the public with what we’ve been patiently waiting for: A NEW INTRO5PECT CD! and C) I hope and pray Against Me!’s major label debut next year will be a pleasant surprise by impressing me the same way this release has. –mrz (A-F)


ANTICS, THE:
Here We Go Again…: CD
Allow me if you will to call this by the cover. Three tattooed guys drinking lots of beer with porno mags and a blow-up doll. I’m thinking Nobodys. Well, I was close. Plenty of childish yet funny lyrics here, but I wasn’t expecting the oi Slant. Seriously, it sounds like a bunch of Nobodys’ songs covered by The Templars… And it works! It almost seems like they want to do some serious songs with titles like “Bring Back the Youth” and “Social Disease” but just couldn’t help but go with “Handjob Horrors” and “Blister-Bater.” Well played, catchy, and brought a smile to my face. –ty (Wounded Paw)


ANNA OXYGEN:
This is an Exercise: CD
I’ve seen Anna Oxygen play live. And I liked her. Even though I usually actively dislike music that uses computers instead of instruments. The thing about Anna Oxygen is that she has an incredible singing voice. It supercedes the electronic music that she surrounds it with. That said, I find this album very hard to get into. The title track is fairly catchy and aptly named since it makes me feel like I should be in an aerobics class, but the hooks and melodies of most of the songs are obscured by all the electronic affects that Ms. Oxygen has decided to play with. And holy crap, there is one track called “Mechanical Fish” which scares the shit out of me every time it comes on. An unexpected man-voice pouring out of my speakers? Yikes. I think I will take this album down the street and give it to my neighbor, Jessica, who likes to jog and work out and dance in bars full of cute girls. If you like to do those things too, then perhaps this is the perfect album for you. –jennifer (Kill Rock Stars)


ALTA MAY:
Take What You’ve Found Here: CD
You know what happens to a band with an emo sensibility and a hard edge to their guitars? They make a zillion dollars through “alternative” radio. There’s nothing terribly wrong with this record, but it sounds like so many other bands that I hear on such radio stations. I mean, EXACTLY like those types of bands. I feel like I’ve been hearing this same record for the last ten years. Yawn. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Flotation)


ALLIACEOUS:
Self-titled: 12”
This is the first time I’m hearing of this band, but what I’m hearing I like and like a lot. The energy and rough edges of the Crime as Forgiven By... Against Me! EP with lyric writing quality and successful country twang flavors of The Tim Version. The emotions I feel when I listen to this album are what I feel when I listen to anything put out by Bent Outta Shape. In fact, a house party with Alliaceous, Bent Outta Shape, and The Tim Version would be a dream come true now that I think about it. This LP is highly recommended for times of non-stop thinking and/or drinking. –mrz (Bitter Like the Bean)


ALICIA SMITH:
For Lovers, Dreamers and Me: CD
Although the press material says Smith “evokes influences” including Patti Labelle, Barbara Streisand, and Billie Holiday, she sounds nothing like these singing legends. What she does share with them, however, is an ability to transcend (or in her case wholly bypass) current popular trends in music and stake out a little place all her own. Marrying strong vocals to a concoction of jazz, psych-tinged pop and nouveau soul, Smith demonstrates some range and a desire to experiment outside the box. She eschews the heavy reliance on scales, 808-beats and self-demeaning lyrics so frequently found in modern soul/hip hop in favor of a more organic approach with what sounds like real, honest-to-goodness instruments. Dunno if it’ll garner massive radio airplay, but it should, and when it works, like on “Love Endeavor,” and the velvety “Secrets,” some mighty good listening is afoot. My requisite gripe? Where’s the cover of the Muppets’ “Rainbow Connection,” which features this album’s title in its lyrics? –jimmy (Heroes)


ALCOHOLIC WHITE TRASH:
Punk Rock Jihad: CD
They might not all be white or trash, but they sure have the alcoholic thing down pat. This is AWT’s second full length CD, and it was well worth the wait. Searing hardcore punk, with a hint of metal overtones and heavy on the scum humor, these boys fit right in with their Victoria luminaries Dayglo Abortions and Lummox. Musically, this is the best they’ve ever sounded. Period. The thing that really stood out to me was the vocals. Ratboy Roy has got a voice apart from drunken rambling! Who knew? In the end, I can do without the really over-the-top lyrics (is “I Shit My Cunt” really necessary?), but other than that it truly is a great record. –ty (Crusty)


ACTS OF SEDITION/BAFABEGIYA:
Split: 12"
When you get this 12”, be warned: due to an error at the pressing plant, the record labels were placed on the wrong sides of the record. So take note of whether you’re listening to Oakland-based Acts Of Sedition or Reno-based Bafabegiya. Acts Of Sedition sounds like warehouse DIY, dark and heavy punk in the vein of Logical Nonesense, with the rockin’ guitars and occasional crazy speed of Zeke. Bafabegiya reminds me of hardcore punk from Belgium or Holland, where they infuse political sing-along punk with growling vocals atop metal guitars and song structures. Pretty solid release. –mrz (Spacement)


ABUSE, THE:
Digging Your Own Grave: CD
Okay, I’ll try to refrain from commenting on the Colorforms, stereotypical punk/skin fashion sense evident here in order to address something I think is of more import: Why would a bunch of kids who look like they were born nowhere near 1977 wanna be the “next generation (of 77)”? My understanding of “punk” has always been to be yourself, to challenge the status quo and what has come before, so it seems to me that looking like punk stereotypes and sounding like so many other bands and singing about the same old tired, vague shit (“Lawless Streets,” “Violent Youth,” getting drunk, blah blah blah) that was pretty much run into the ground two decades ago is a far cry from a “punk and skin evolution.” Seems to me that acting like punk’s equivalent of the Republican Party (safe, longing for the “good ol’ days,” unwilling to accept change, and wholly obsolete) is more of a regression. Fuck the past, kids, ‘cause it’s deader than Rosie O’Donnell’s career. Instead of being the “new generation of 77,” you should be more concerned with being the new generation of 2007. Go out and find your own “punk” noise instead of trying to emulate long-dead media stereotypes. While you’re at it, please pick out specific targets for your ire. Even something as lame as a simplistic “Bush sucks” or “the Democrats are pansies” is a damn sight more “punk” than hollow faux-militancy that doesn’t take a stand on anything. –jimmy (Charged)


A GLOBAL THREAT:
Where the Sun Never Sets: CD
I’ve listened to this several times and keep coming up with conflicting results. On the one hand, it put a smile on my face because it reminds me of all the great hardcore bands over the years and does an excellent job of taking the listener from say Point A (Cro Mags) to Point B (Avail). So it’s obvious that the band’s inspiration is coming from all the right places for me to enjoy it. On the other hand, no matter how many times I’ve listened to it, it always comes across stale and soul-less. Something is missing and I’m not quite sure I can pinpoint it. –greg (BYO)


26:
The Messiah: CD
Wow. What a terrible record. Kind of like the Grateful Dead gone a bit metal with really awful, whiny-droning-nasal two-part vocal harmonies. Drove me batty. The music itself is okay at times, but it is too repetitive, and those vocals, THOSE VOCALS!!! ARRRGH! Oh, and regarding 26’s seeming hippy-dippy mentality, the record is replete with lyrics about our animal friends and worn-out clichéd tunes about the social injustice of the massacre at Wounded Knee. Don’t buy this record unless you’re into sado-masochism with hemp instead of leather. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Crustacean)


80’S GIRL:
Demo: CD-R
If you go to shows frequently enough, you meet people. You become friendly from the frequent interaction and conversations happen. One guy in particular, I meet from common friends and he tells me he has a band. So I get kicked down a demo from a guy who is genuinely nice. It’s a two-piece combo that consists of guitar and drums and two guys named Ryan. While I am four beers in listening to this, I am trying to get that thought off the tip of my tongue of what this sounds like to me. It sounds like the live 7 Seconds tracks from the We Got Power comp mixed with early Circle One and possibly another early ‘80s band like Disability. Boombox recording makes this even more appealing when they go from mid-tempo to almost thrash. ‘80s is definitely where these guys have pulled from. –don (80’s Girl)


TERI FALINI:
Sun Under Me: CD
Some people show up late. This is the case here. When the majors were jumping over themselves, snagging up every female rock singer during the ‘90s, this woman would have fit right in. But ten years later, this would be great at the local bar with a bunch thirty- to forty-year-olds in the audience. I personally feel that this does not reach a young demographic who are the major music purchasers. Good luck and more power to ya. –don (Radiostar, no address)


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