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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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SADDLE TRAMPS:
Nashville Swinger: CD
Wait'll the big guns get a whiff of this one. The Saddle Tramps are on par with legendary gold-standard groups like BR5-49, Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash, the Derailers, Shaver, the Paladins, and the Blasters—well-balanced and well-written country rock. Capable of pounding out spaghetti westerns, blistering psychobilly, and Mariachi/ Norteño-infused country (Tex-Mex), the band rounds out their sound with a light-hearted wit similar to Robbie Fulks and the swaggering confidence associated with Twistin' Tarantulas. Snicker-inducing titles include: "How Can I Say I Love You (with a Shotgun in My Mouth)?" "My Dick's Too Big," "Cotton Pony Express," and "(You Put the) Cunt in Country." They've also thrown in a surprising cover of the Vandals' "Susanville." Live with three studio tracks. –thiringer (Split 7)


RUBBERMIILK ORCHESTRA:
When in Rome (Revolution): CD
Quirky trampoline dorkcore with rubbery bass lines and space lab guitar noodling and post-modernistic vocal stylings. In other words: Primus junior. As it turns out, I found out a long time ago that my God-given allotment for liking this overly carbonated kind of rock music is one-album's-worth—and that was used up with Primus' Frizzle Fry album long, long ago. Now this stuff just mostly makes me dizzy and gives me gas. Sorry fellas, this just isn’t my cup of pork soda. –aphid (Chocolate Stain)


ROUE:
Upward Heroic Move: CD
Skronky art rock. No big whoop. –jimmy (Exit Stencil)


ROTTEN FRUITS, THE:
Abomination: 7”
Holy crap! Did The Evaporators move to Chicago to start a “homocore” band? Seriously, this singer sounds so much like our own beloved Nardwuar Thee Human Serviette, that it’s scary. Rather than sing about cheese addictions, rashes and obscure Canadian historical oddities, The Rotten Fruits sing about being gay, and having sex with skinhead boys. The record isn’t bad, but I just can get past how much it sounds like The ‘Vaps. –ty (Criminal IQ)


ROSEMARY’S BABIES:
Talking to the Dead: CD
Collected here are what I’m assuming constitute the complete sessions that resulted in the band’s 1983 Blood Lust 7” EP, plus some live tracks recorded at CBGB around the same time. What you get is twenty-five tracks of east coast hardcore that is very much of its time from a group whose biggest claims to fame is that they come from the same NJ scene that spawned the Misfits and that their drummer was none other than Eerie Von, who went on to play bass in Samhain and Danzig. While they sound nothing like their more famous neighbors, they do have a certain charm of their own, as evidenced by songs like “Let’s Molest 10-Year-Olds,” “Fake Babies,” “Alice in Murderland” and “Attack of the 50-Foot Cowboy.” Only downside to this is that, unlike the original EP, the cover of this ain’t hand colored. Bummer. –jimmy (Ghastly)


ROSA:
I Mississippi You: CD
Refreshing acoustic punk with a country twinge and a wink of an eye. –mrz (Plan-it-X)


RIISTETYT:
Valtion Vankina/Skitsofrenia: LP/12” EP
In a generous move akin to getting five hundred free boxes of peanut butter Girl Scout cookies, Havoc offers up reissues of this venerable band’s first album and 12” EP, both from 1983 and, frankly, the world is suddenly a better place. From its opening cover of the Varukers’ “Protest and Survive” to the closing “Kukaan El Välitä,” Valtion Vankina is Finnish thrash of the highest order, the aural equivalent of being slapped around for a few days by a four-thousand-pound gorilla with a toothache. Its unrelenting ferocity has withstood the test of time and could easily hold its own against damn near any hardcore band currently walking the planet. While it isn’t wound up quite as tight, Skitsofrenia is no less crucial a listen, with more than its share of wild, energetic thrashing, supplemented by the occasional slower-burning tune to stave off any potential eruptions of spontaneous combustion. I gotta remember to give Felix Havoc a hug and thank him profusely if ever I meet him for bringing these, and so many other fjordcore classics from the likes of Kaaos, back from obscurity, even if it is in this case for only five-hundred copies of each. Maybe I’ll send a couple of boxes of Girl Scout cookies instead. So mandatory for the collection that to even say so is a wasted effort. –jimmy (Havoc)


RIISTETYT:
Tuomiopäivä: 7”
A reissue of an EP by this highly respected Finnish band, first recorded back in 1984 and released in 1991. Not as metallic as some of their later stuff, this is just pure, undiluted hardcore, pissed off and taking no prisoners. The pressing is limited to 2550 copies, so start scrambling for it before it slips back into obscurity again. –jimmy (Havoc)


RIISTETYT:
Kahleet: 7”
The latest from these guys, who appear to have reshifted their focus back to playing the straight ahead hardcore that made ’em all those millions back in the ‘80s. There’s a bit more Discharge in the mix than I remember them having, but damn if it ain’t sweet as hell when you hear someone put that influence to good use. This is destined to be a classic, as well it should be. –jimmy (Havoc)


REASON OF INSANITY:
Self-titled: LP
This record is a wonderful time machine that will swoop you back to 1987 and drop you smack dab in the middle of the pit at a DRI/Cryptic Slaughter show. Everything is perfect, from the so-bad-it-rules Pushead-inspired study hall notebook doodle artwork to the badass, blown-out production and LOTS and LOTS of songs. Fuck this new-school shit of four songs on a seven inch. This monster has twenty-eight motherfucking songs on it. Lyrics about killing cops, fucking the man, nuclear war, you know how it goes. It even has one of those sweet collage inserts with show flyers and drunk fat dudes and wicked pits and the whole bit. This record is totally fun and if you like fun you will totally like this record. –ben (Psycho Wolf, no address)


REAL LOSERS, THE:
Gimme Action & Dum Dum Baby b/w Rejected at the High School Dance: 7”
Geez, by looking at the cover art—with the heads of this boy-girl-boy band pasted atop tiny cartoon character bodies—i'd expect something a little more malt shoppe oriented, like Junior Varsity; at bare minimum, sort of a barely competent Rock & Roll Adventure Kids type thing. Imagine the bedlam and tumult that erupted when the needle hit the vinyl and—after one brief delay when i checked to see if the needle had fuzz on it or something (always a good sign)—i was bombarded with a bunch o' fuzzed-out-to-fuck, needles-so-far-into-the-red-that-they're-now-going-the-other-way-on-the-color-circle-and-are-now-into-the-magenta pounding (and when i say "pounding," i don't speak metaphorically—the drummer only uses a snare, a cymbal, and a floor tom. That leaves little room for paradiddles and the like) that sounds like what The Go's crazy teenage siblings might let loose in the basement when they got home from their after-school jobs of picking up candy bar wrappers strewn along the roadsides where Stooges trod—with, of course, just enough Kennedy/Johnson-era kitsch flowing thru the proceedings to keep it reet. Thank you sir, may i have another? BEST SONG: "Rejected at the High School Dance" BEST SONG TITLE: "Dum Dum Baby" FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: This is the best sleeve AND the best record i got to review this issue, so whomever said that you can't judge a book by its cover can go fuck himself. –norb (High School Reject)


RAT BYTE:
Self-titled: 7”
These guys have a thing for early ‘80s hardcore and it shows in their songwriting—not too fast, no metal pollution in the guitars, and plenty of teenage pissed-offness to go around. Nice to see a song called “Fuck the Cops” on a punk record again. –jimmy (FNS)


PUG UGLIES, THE:
Minimum Wage: CD
I know I’m supposed to review the music, but the one-sheet that accompanied this CD soured the fuck outta me. It namedrops a bunch of Boston punk bands and has a section for “Sales Points,” none of which are “band writes great songs and kicks ass live.” Ain’t that what’s supposed to sell the music? I don’t run a label, so what the fuck do I know? Perhaps this is a necessary evil. According to the one-sheet, “The Pug Uglies added four brand new songs to the self-released Go for Broke EP and renaming (sic) it Minimum Wage,” so some of this has been available before. What you get is fairly generic working class street punk with some flashes of pop catchiness (“Jinx”) and lots of songs with too-long intros and lyrics about drinking, kicking people in the nuts, and whipping ass (“Taken Away,” “Another Round, and “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”). We’ve all heard the other band that sings about “walking along the boulevard.” No, not THAT band, but none other than fuckin’ Air Supply. These guys certainly are tougher than Air Supply, but, as the Missus said, “It’s just boring.” –benke (Rebellion)


PRINCESS:
Self-titled: CD
Their website claims that Princess “willfully pushes musical contradiction and confusion to its elegant limits,” and I can go along with that to a fair degree. It kinda reminds me of early Devo meeting hip-hop sensibility with some John Zorn thrown in for flavor. (Or, is that flava?) Those around me right now claim that its experimental nature gets annoying because they’re trying too hard to be clever, and at times that’s true. Intentional enjambment of at-odds musical stylings can be hit or miss; when this hits, I’m enraptured, and when it misses I go racing for the skip button. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Tony Chaos)


POTSHOT:
Dance to the Potshot Record: CD
This is their fifth full length? Where have I been? Not that I have been the biggest fan of ska lately, but this band from Tokyo plays some fun stuff that reminded me of Screeching Weasel, Beatnik Termites, and a little bit of the Queers if you added some horns. Catchy choruses of bad Engrish mixed with some solid fun. It really brings me back to the ‘90s when I really loved this kind of stuff. I really could dance to this record, but not in public. That would be embarrassing! –don (Asian Man)


POINTED STICKS:
Perfect Youth: CD
Don’t let the name fool you into thinking this is a hardcore band. This is the 25th anniversary re-issue of some of the best Canadian pop with punk sensibilities (spiky pop) ever released. I put this up on a pedestal with The Go-Go’s Beauty and the Beat, The Vapors New Clear Day, and Elvis Costello’s My Aim Is True. Non-sappy, exciting, timeless (well, two and half decades with no sign of obvious wear) pop that, if you’re in the mood to sing along to instead of shaking your fist to, you can’t go wrong with. Great for dates, also great as “ambassador music,” music you can introduce to people who “don’t really like punk,” so they’ll soften up a little bit before you turn up the heat. Geek notes: Dimwit, drummer of the Subhumans, joined them pretty early on and the songs off of their 7” are the bonus tracks. –todd (Sudden Death)


PLEASE MR. GRAVEDIGGER:
Throw a Beat: CDEP
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I fucking get it already. You scream a lot, play angular guitar lines and throw in some choogling keyboard lines for good measure. Slow it down a little and it sounds like electro-clash to me—the Numbers, maybe? Erase Errata? I’m sure there must be some bastardized new wave of no-wave connection that I’m missing, but this just sounds like jumping on the bandwagon of a trend that’s already over and wasn’t hugely interesting to begin with. –scott (Pluto)


PLEASE MR. GRAVEDIGGER:
Throw a Beat: CDEP
Arty skronk rock. Songs are short, vocals are screamed; you know the drill. –jimmy (Pluto)


PLAYERS CLUB:
Coextinction: CD
I think that when one picks up a CD by a group that calls themselves the Players Club, it’s perfectly valid to expect rap music and not post-Helmet/Unsane sludge metal. Shit, now I gotta put my Kangol and Adidas away, cuz these guys be bringin’ the wrong noise. –jimmy (Arclight)


PLATE-O-SHRIMP/THE UNSTUCK:
Split: 7”
Plate-o-Shrimp: Their website describes them as “high-energy punk-style/power-pop rock,” and I guess that’s accurate, based on what’s here. The one original and cover of DOA’s “Fuck You” here ain’t bad, but not quite memorable, either. The Unstuck: Punk rock, poppy in an un-bad way, catchy in a head-bobbing way. The Unstuck win this round. –jimmy (www.plate-o-shrimp.com)


PLASTIC CONSTELLATIONS, THE:
Mazatlan: CD
I realize that dissing this band is the equivalent, to some, of pissing napalm on one of Minnesota’s sacred indie cows, but this form of angular indie rock isn’t the one that does anything for me. The musical parts seem to change every half-second or so and there’s too much pointless noodling here (and frankly, the chops aren’t that technical); it’s basically the post-punk equivalent of prog rock. When combined with the vocals—which sometimes verge on rap and otherwise take their cues from all of post-core—there just isn’t much here for me to like. For fans of whatever post-core indie darling happens to be the rage right now. –scott (2024 Records)


PLANO:
Brigadoon: CD
Weird soundtrack music for B-movie films that span the time of the ‘60s through the ‘80s. –don (Mint)


YUKON:
Mortar: CD
After the dissolution of some Baltimore band you don’t care about, Yukon came to be. This four-piece plays forward-marching rock’n’roll inspired by a wide range of bands such as Nirvana, Genesis, and Captain Beefheart, but sounding like none of them. Rather, Yukon sounds much more akin to Shellac, Drive Like Jehu, and the Oxes (with vocals) than anything else. The first few tracks are kind of rough, but over time, the tracks start to grow in their ability to be appreciated, and the singer’s vocals aren’t quite as grating as they once might have been. In the midst of the disjointed riffs that seem to run asymmetrical to things at some points, some of the tracks actually display a knack for hiding a hook somewhere within. If you like your rock’n’roll with awkwardly screamed vocals and indie-prog guitars, then this should be right up your alley. –kurt (Terra Firma)


YAVINFIVE:
Breathe Melody, Bleed Dissonance: CD
A bit more restrained than, say, Combat Wounded Veteran, and they don’t inundate the listener with the same caliber of little annoying and cutesy noise moments like, oh, The Locust, and there’s not quite the same full-on “vocalist who rolls around on the floor and cries” emotive quality as bands like, uh, Indian Summer? Current? But if you roll all of that stuff up into one tortilla, dilute it with the fact that there’s only six songs on this thing, and simmer over a low flame for a while, you’ll probably find yourself admitting that there’s some cool parts here, that they’re probably a pretty rad band to see in the basement but, despite the fact that the guy’s screaming like his life depends on it, there’s ultimately nothing here that really, really sets Yavinfive apart from the pack. –keith (Tor Johnson)


WHITE BARONS, THE:
Up All Night with: CD
They look like yer average greaser rock band, but sound like a big-guitar rock band. Singer’s got a pretty good voice. –jimmy (Gearhead)


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