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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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SWEET ROT:
Drug Fiend…: 7”EP
Some 7”s are just plain odd and make me consider: “I don’t think this person can tie their own shoes. How’d they get a record out? I’m glad they did.” Sweet Rot seems like a one-not-so-stable-man-runs-the-band affair. (Hand-scrawled letter notes “5,000 pressed, 10 on gold sparkle,” then goes on to nuclear power and black holes.) Think miscreant melodies channeled from “La Bamba,” in an Angry Samoans mixed with Dr. Demento style; the ghost from Scooby Doo handles backup vocal duties… Yup, I think the world’s big enough to have two MOTOs in it. –todd (squarewaverecords@gmail.com)


SUPREME COMMANDER:
120 Years in the Business: 7” EP
This reminded me of some older NYC/ CBGB’s hardcore matinee band for some reason, only not as meatheaded or chugga chugga sounding. Pretty good stuff, the weird swirl vinyl looks badass. –joe (A389)


STATIC RADIO:
One for the Good Guys: 7” EP
Fast hardcore. How fast? So fast that I didn’t even realize that all five songs were on one side of this, until I turned the record over and noticed that a few minutes had gone by, and nothing happened. That’s how fast. –joe (Chunksaah)


STATIC OF THE GODS:
Cycles Follow Signs: CD
The helpful sticker on the cover tells me, the lazy reviewer, that I will like this record if I like Arcade Fire and The Cardigans. I like neither, yet I do like Static. How strange. “Swing and Sway” and “Eighty-Eights” are repeats on this release. If you like the guitar riffage of Velocity Girl, a dash of Siouxsie, and even some Letters To Cleo songwriting, then this record should be on your radar. –koepenick (Del Verano, info@staticofthegods.com)


SOUNDS LIKE VIOLENCE:
With Blood on My Hands: CD
I don’t like to give out bad reviews. It takes some courage to send in a CD to a magazine where it can be ravaged and possibly break any illusions someone has about themselves. And it is the reviewer’s personal taste that rules how they are going to review your CD or record. But I feel that it is my responsibility as a reviewer to tell you, the consumer, what is good or sucks, so you don’t spend your hard earned money on something you shouldn’t. That said, I think this totally blows. I guess you’d categorize it as emo, with the shrill, trebly voice that goes into screaming when the singer is trying to sound really intense. The vocals are really banal and self-pitying. The music is fairly generic power pop/alternative/emo whatever (I don’t really think it’s worth going into too much depth trying to dissect it) with no real hooks, just some forgettable guitar lines. I even hate the name, too. I wish the band luck and hope this review doesn’t make them slit their wrists. –Jason Donnerparty (Deep Elm)


SOUNDCITY HOOLIGANS / HOLLYWOOD GODS:
Split: 7”
Soundcity Hooligans: They sound eerily like the guy from the Beltones or Paddy from D4 singing about fighting and, uh, being a hooligan, backed by some mid-tempo, tuneful streetpunk stuff. Despite the somewhat meatheaded material, it was some catchy shit, indeed. Hollywood Gods: I think they’re shooting for a Dropkick Murphys/ Bouncing Souls, anthemic kind of vein, and while the music works and is hook-laden and all that, I think it was the vocalist’s somewhat leaden delivery that kept their songs tacked in the “so-so” spectrum. Probably just about the prettiest piece of colored vinyl I’ve ever seen. –keith (Longshot)


SMOKE OR FIRE:
This Sinking Ship: LP
It’s got some very good lyrics and the music is tight, but it’s basically disc two of their last album Above the City. If you were a fan last time around, this LP won’t disappoint. High points include the song “Patty Hearst Syndrome” and the title track. –Bryan Static –Guest Contributor (Fat)


SMOKE OR FIRE:
The Sinking Ship: CD
These guys are like the In-N-Out Burger of punk rock. Their really good, pretty satisfying, and definitely a lot better than a lot of the other stuff out there (I.E. Fall Out Boy = McDonalds, Hatebreed = Carl’s Jr.). The music’s speedy hardcore pop punk with plenty of harmonized vocals to sweeten the deal. In fact, they sound a lot like Rise Against but with a less scream-prone singer. Their topics tend to be both explicitly political and more personal, which strikes a nice balance (sometimes it gets tiring to have to fight the system without a little breather). This is a really good album, but also like In-N-Out Burger, it seems to lack that extra little bit that would make it really special, like a well-crafted burrito from that taco truck on Glencoe Ave. in Marina Del Rey. These guys have gobs of potential though, and I look forward to seeing what they can do live. –Adrian (Fat)


SMALLTOWN / THE CRUMP:
Split: 7”
Smalltown: Since I wasn’t out buying punk records when the Clash were active (I was digging Pac Man Fever), I didn’t experience that first-hand jolt between London Calling and Sandinista. It’s amazing to me how many expectations are heaped on bands—bands I like—and if they change in unexpected ways, it’s a reevaluation and the fear that they’ll never be as good as their first stuff. I have faith in Smalltown, so I listened to this several times before making a call. The songs are slower, taking their time, reflecting, with an organ in back. And it’s great stuff, much in line with how the Swingin’ Utters and Filthy Thieving Bastards still remain faithful to their first firecrackers but aren’t picking up the ashes and trying to convince themselves, nor their fans, that those’ll blow up in the same way again. The Crump: I’m now convinced that the Japanese have fully functional time machines and they’re not sharing the technology with us American slobs. The Crump, somehow, take mid-’90s Midwest pop punk and put it right at the feet of the altar of early Elvis Costello. Finger snapping, toe tapping good stuff. –todd (Snuffy Smiles)


SKUDZ:
Millions of Dead, Absurd: 7” EP, 7” EP
Judging from the full-on metallic thrash attack they employ, I think it’s a safe guess they have nothing to do with the old Texas punk band of the same name. Their fast, furious’n’political approach is just dandy, but I’m especially impressed with the packaging of both EPs. Unless you’ve got family in the printing business, that shit could not have been cheap, man. Choice shots of passed out and markered people, too. –jimmy (?)


SKINTONES, THE:
This Is Science: CD
When I first popped in this CD, I panicked a little: “Oh no,” I thought, “metal! A genre in which I have little knowledge and less interest.” I’m always afraid of reviewing albums in genres I’m ignorant of, for fear of not making any sense or doing anyone any good. I bet at least one person will laugh at me for even calling them “metal.” So maybe I’m crazy when I say this, but Skintones kind of sounds to me like a bunch of hardcore punk kids who grew up listening to ‘80s metal and like to work the Cookie Monster vocals. Take that as you will. I did kind of dig “Down South,” but maybe that’s just the country fan in me responding to the banjo and harmonica. –Sarah Shay –Guest Contributor (Crustacean)


SIR PRIZE FIGHTER:
Beat It to Live: CD
While I can say this band plays with energy and isn’t bad, I still don’t feel compelled to think they are inspired. This is kinda overdone stuff along the lines of what Hot Water Music was doing about ten years ago. I don’t hate it; I just keep thinking I’ve heard every riff somewhere else before. They also say that they sound kind of bluegrass and I don’t hear an inkling of banjo. Come on guys, what’s with the bluegrass reference? –Buttertooth (Barracuda Sound)


SHY GUYS, THE:
Breaking Up Is Hard to Do: CD
Decent rockin’ pop punk from a band that broke up in 2002. One really good song (“Cloudy Vertigo”) and some lesser Queers-esque songs. The coolest thing about this are the liner notes that say, “Through the years we were fortunate enough to meet other people who had the same ideas and convictions, people who also thought ranking Connie Dungs albums was not a waste of time.” I thought Milwaukee punks were the only ones who ranked Mutant Pop bands! I tried to get into this, but I think it’s really more suited to a basement show than to my apartment. If this were a cereal, it’d be regular Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, with sugar added on top by the consumer. In other words, they have the potential/ability to truly rock, but sometimes end up being regular corn flakes. –Maddy (myspace.com/theshyguys)


SHUDDERS, THE:
Self-titled: 7”EP
Starts off in step with the A Lines, Headcoatees, and early Mudhoney and, the longer it played, an alternate universe Bikini Kill (less anthemic, less hubris, more “this has no obvious immediate alignment”). Garage-infested proto grunge with lungs, squall, and poetic defiance. Think lipstick smears, crushed smokes, beaten instruments beat upon, hearts beating and beat upon, and rusty steamer with a crisp flag flying. Nice paint-stenciled cover, too. –todd (Compact, theshudders@hotmail.com)


SHUDDERS, THE:
Self-titled: 7”
The drummer of this band used to put on the best house shows in Santa Cruz, CA. I saw some great bands play there. The likes of: Carrie Nations (the good one), Hit Me Back, This Is My Fist, Fleshies, Abi Yoyos, Two Gallants, and the house band who she used to drum for, Spag. I could cut this record down cause she didn’t let my old band play at her house, but 1.) That’s not like me, and 2.) No one let us play anywhere, so she was only being consistent. The Shudders play glammed-out rock’n’roll somewhere between raw and minimalist. Distortion, make-up, and gin seem to be the active ingredients, and the white vinyl, photo booth pictures, and spray painted cover–hand numbered at three-hundred–are the spices that make it delicious. –Daryl Gussin (Compact, theshudders@hotmail.com)


SHACK SHAKERS, TH’:
Lower Broadway Lo-Fi: CD
We can talk about punk rock: dissect it, categorize and compartmentalize it. But the fact remains, for this reviewer, a lot of times what draws me to a band is something that’s absolutely unclassifiable: the energy involved: that intangible but immediately apparent thing that, frankly, you either got as a band or you don’t. That said, Th’ Shack Shakers aren’t punk in a sonic sense—this is country music, straight up. But goddamn, energy? Are you kidding me, here? Energy, they’ve got buckets of. Recording’s live and raw—busted speakers, tiny amps, and fuzzed-out as all hell—and all the better for it. LBLF is apparently the only existing recording of this band (culled from the one cassette copy they gave out) and it’s a story like that, that sense of bucking the odds, that can’t help but endear me to the music. It was recorded live but as a session, not in a show environment—but Jesus Christ, it sounds like a live show, like a crazed and chaotic stomp of a live show, full of frenetic bluegrass and the kind of translated energy that you so rarely get outside of the punk scene. Fans of everyone from rockabilly to country would dig this—if your record collection holds anything by The Pine Hill Haints to Reverend Horton Heat, you’ll be all over this. There’s something to be said for an album that could’ve come out last week or in 1955 and still makes you grin with the uncontained and relentless fury and joy of it. I rarely even listen to bands of this genre, but the sheer guts and sweat is so audible here that I’ve found myself putting it on long after I could’ve written a review and been done with it. –keith (Arkam)


SENIOR DISCOUNT:
There Were Four Who Tried: CD
This sucks worse than being stuck next to some blabbering, pretentious moron at a bar who says things like: “I haven’t heard it since it came out, but I like it.” And, “We’re driving in Brian’s hybrid car through all of these muscle cars, and there’s this fantastic bluegrass band that’s über good. They ask if there are any requests, and I yell out ‘Sweet Emotion.’ And he played it! It was great. It was fuckin’ rippin’.” –megan (www.seniordiscountmusic.com)


SEMI FOUR:
Boring and Endless: CDEP
They fit well within the family of sound formed by Blotto!, The Urchin, and The Because. This is one of many bands out of Japan right now that I’m keeping my eyes on. Super-catchy and super-good. –megan (Akinori Serizawa)


SAY WHEN:
I’m with the Band: CD
Reminiscent of something I’d hear on the late night “alternative” program on the local rock radio stations, where everything they played sounded just like all the stuff they normally do. This isn’t bad, just not my thing. –joe (Self-released)


SAVAGE CITY OUTLAWS:
Revenge My Rock‘n’Roll: 7” EP
Portuguese punky rock stuff here that ain’t too terrible, but no doubt would’ve been much stronger if they’d stuck to singing in Portuguese instead of English. Yellow vinyl, limited to 300. –jimmy (Wrecked ‘Em)


SAINTS, THE:
Cabaret at the Roundhouse, Live 1977: CD
The live record we have been waiting for. Rude, raw and in your face. The original line-up, playing their first show in London. “Do the Robot,” “I’m Stranded,” “Miss Understood” and “Perfect Day” spew fire and brimstone. Crank the unbridled fury of The Saints UP! Way UP! I’d put this up against any live official releases by The Clash, The Ramones, and even The Damned. Guess what—I’d win. Ed Kuepper—where are you? –koepenick (Swashbuckler)


RIFLES, THE:
No Love Lost: CD
Incredible debut from this London foursome. If you like The Buzzcocks, The Jam, or any outfit where melody and a full head of steam are all you need, this is your new band. “Hometown Blues,” “She’s Got Standards,” and “Peace And Quiet” simply churn with energy. Produced by Ian Broudie (Icicle Works, Echo & The Bunnymen) no less! Let’s hope record number two generates some U.S. buzz since I’m like to hear this album in a small, smelly club. –koepenick (Red Ink)


RETARDED:
Goes Louder: CD
Italian punk rockers with a sound somewhere between the Ramones, Turbonegro, and Motörhead. I’m too much of a dork to like Motörheadsy hard rock, but if you do, I bet you’d think this was amazing. If this were a cereal, it would be Apple Jacks. I’ll take ‘em, but I’d rather have Froot Loops. More color (Ramones), less apple (AC/DC)! –Maddy (Insubordination)


REAGAN SS:
Bon Apetit!: 7”EP
When Daryl comes over twice a week to Razorcake, we’ve come to some mutual conclusions about hardcore and thrash, and it’s become a “what side of the fence you on?” distinction. Both he and I think that the Government Warning’s No Moderation 12” kicks some serious ass. Speed is one thing. Powerviolence pushed it so fast that it seemed that the music was standing still, like spinning wheels before the traction. But speed only covers so much. Shit, almost-blind grandparents can drive a car in a straight line as fast as possible. The trick that sticks, for Daryl and me, is to somehow hide a sheet of melody under a song that’s barreling along at 120 MPH, while—to the outside world—it may sound like a wall of noise. Reagan SS: Man, these dudes have it dialed. The music sounds mean and nasty, can peg the tachometer, but where it’s the most interesting is how they use top speed as a dynamic that makes this 7”—to tuned ears—seem like the band’s playing on the top of a car (maybe like Teen Wolf) while in the middle of a race. That’s another trick entire. –todd (Rabid Dog)


RAY GRADYS, THE:
Die Mindless Fools: CDEP
Pretty standard metallic, melodic hardcore punk, with standard lyrics about hating the rich, the police, and yourself. Covers of the A-Team theme, “Tomorrow,” and “Chinese Rocks.” Are they trying to cross over to the Me First and the Gimme Gimmes’ audience with all the covers? In any case, it’s not enough to save this from being mediocre. –Jason Donnerparty (Grady Core)


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Razorcake Podcast Player


·Razorcake Podcast #140
·PHIBES
·Ua Mau Ke Ea: Sovereignty Endures: An Overview of the Political and Legal Histor
·Top 5s from Issue #81
·FAST MATTRESS
·UNNATURAL HELPERS RECORD RELEASE SHOW: PART ONE
·Dance of Days: Two Decades of Punk in the Nation’s Capitol
·Toxic Holocaust, Bludwulf, Progeria, and Destruction’s End
·NEGATIVE LIFESTYLE


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