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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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HAPPY BASTARDS:
Box of Hard Knocks: CD
Nice blend of hardcore and melody here. Singer alternately sounds like Penelope Houston and Belinda Carlisle, which makes one wonder what the Avengers would’ve sounded like had they thrashed it up a bit. Good stuff. –jimmy (Profane Existence )


HAMMERLOCK:
Forgotten Range: CD
I will be goddamned if Hammerlock don’t manage to win me over every time. I am sick to death of macho, shock value punk and rock but something about this band just seems to click. This is some more great country-influenced Southern rock with a punk edge to it. They write great songs and it is nice to hear Liza singing a little more here. Hope to see some more of that. My only complaint is that this is nineteen songs, which is just too much. I would rather hear ten tunes that I can play over and over again and then get another ten on the next record. I don’t have the stamina for a record this long, no matter who writes it. I will also admit I get a little tired of the complaints of how they hate PC liberals and yet continue to live in San Francisco. Seems like there are a lot of cheaper places to live where folks might be more up their alley. I guess it is a constant inspiration for lyrics and songs, though. Some real strong tunes on here and with Simon Stokes as a songwriting and vocal helper, you know this is top notch. I think that is what really locks this in for me; I am a huge Simon Stokes fan and I feel like Hammerlock are definitely taking the torch from him and running with it. That’s the thing; Hammerlock takes the time to write actual songs and not just bash you over the head with how badass they are or how “shocking” they are. I would love to hear Travis and Liza do up an album of country duets. That would be something to hear. Another pleasant surprise here. –frame (Steel Cage)


GUNSMOKE:
The Kitchen Sessions: CD
The band calls this Canadian country rockabilly punk, and that seems pretty accurate to me. It’s roots rock with a quick tempo, and thank ye gods it isn’t another Misfits-worshipping psychobilly band. There’s an upright bass and hollow body guitars all played without distortion, so you can hear the razor sharp guitar lines. The lyrics are good too, if a little hard to hear over the rest of the mix at times. –Jason Donnerparty (www.gunsmoke.ca)


GOVERNMENT WARNING:
No Moderation: LP
My friend Joe says he likes Government Warning because it makes him feel like he can listen to hardcore. I totally understand that. They’re easily accessible to people who don’t listen to all that much current hardcore because their sound isn’t new. It’s a sound that’s steeped in a tradition of pushing how fast it can get, but it never loses control. It’s fast with a reason, and not just fast for speed’s sake, so there’s still a well thought-out, well orchestrated song in there. Fantastic stuff. –megan (Feral Ward)


GET RAD:
Say Fuck No to Rules, Man: CD
Silly band name, silly art work, yet not silly music. Well, not completely silly at least. There are still times when this is pretty silly, but it definitely has its serious moments. Without personally knowing this band, I would say that they either have very serious opinions but don’t want be taken completely seriously, or they don’t take their serious opinions seriously. Anti-pit bull legislation is a serious problem and a lot of innocent pit bulls suffer because of it. This band approaches this issue with a song called “Stop the Puppy Holocaust.” Holocaust? This band walks a fine line, and they do it pretty well while playing pretty good fast hardcore, too. –Daryl Gussin (Hyperrealist)


GEISHA GIRLS:
In the Monotone b/w Last Touch: 7”
I’m encouraging the shit out of this latest crop of art rock, post new wave rock’n’roll that borrows not only from the usual suspects (early, pre-disco Wire and Gang Of Four), but brings in kung fu lessons learned from clenched fists and tightened vocal chords, like the Middle Class (who they cover) and Street Trash (the band that Mike, the drummer, was in), which lends a nice bit of knuckle to the suspected, angular flexibility. Nice, nice, nice. Fits right next their contemporary neighbors who I also admire muchly: The Fuses, Manikin, and Headache City. –todd (Project Infinity)


FUNERAL DRESS:
Hello from the Underground: CD
Another album by this long-running street punk band from Belgium. Fast punk with squealing leads, gruff vocals, and gang chorus vocals. As good as any, better than most bands of this style. Fans of the Adicts, Vice Squad, Varukers, and the Casualties can’t do much better than this. –frame (SOS)


FUCKED UP:
Year of the Dog: 12”EP
Okay, I admit, I was lured by the collectability and the packaging. It’s got a nice little paper ring around it, embossed in silver, a hand stamped label, and it’s Fucked Up, who I’m willing to go to great lengths to voice my support of. That’s the good news. The bad news? Two super-duper long, meandering songs recorded live (and not so well). (As opposed to the super long, but they pay off songs on Looking for Gold.) So, if you’ve got every single FU record except this one, knock yourself out. I ain’t stopping you. If you’re starting out, trying to get a grip on what to buy from their extensive catalog, there are many better places to start to really hear what force this band’s capable of. (I’m still real partial to the Baiting the Public 7”.) –todd (Blocks Recording Club)


FRIENDLY NEIGHBORS:
Better Live Than Demo: CD-R
I was thinking I’d be running across some more slop-crust punk stuff, judging by the fact that the cover has a skeleton, a Middle Class record, and a bottle of Thunderbird jumping out of Mr. Rogers’ head—actually, maybe the Middle Class record should’ve given me a hint—but they’re tilling some much older ground here. What I’m hearing is a kind of late ‘70s Agent Orange thing with a dash of, um, the Minutemen? thrown in. As in, it goes from really decent, fast, and tuneful punk with clean vocals to these weird, jazzy, massively slowed-down parts. Four songs on here (the last one being, you guessed it, a Middle Class cover), and it’s over in less than six minutes, so those few seconds when they turned into a frickin’ jazz band didn’t really bother me that much. I just wished they’d have kept up the speed a bit longer—when they do, it’s some pretty decent shit. –keith (Friendly Neighbors)


FORCED MARCH:
Wasted Existence: 7”
They seem to have changed gears just a bit since their full-length—as in, they’ve tempered that ceaseless go-straight-for-the-throat approach with some pretty rockin’, almost tuneful, moments here. The full-length eventually wore on me because of that relentlessness (it kind of felt like I was just hearing the same song over again), but these four songs have some mean breakdowns and, dare I say, catchy choruses, and I can actually tell the difference between songs. The vocals are still consistently gruff, but there are some nice backing vocals on the title track and, as a whole, they’ve remained tough as hell but are managing to find ways to expand on that oft-used Infest/hardcore template. Really nice work, guys: not a bad record at all. –keith (Forced March)


FOLSOM:
Self-titled: CD
This mixture of metal and hardcore is as serious as fuck. And that’s pretty fucking serious. Don’t joke about this shit. It’s well done and kicks all those emo CDs asses. Most of the songs are about being angry and hating people. How can you argue with that? It made me nod my head in a way that made me wish I had long hair to whip around. –Jason Donnerparty (Spook City)


FLESH, THE:
Fire Tower: CD
A nice potpourri of styles smooshed together here—a little gloomy pop, a little hip hop, a little fringy art punk—and some strong songwriting makes for a fairly unique, definitely engaging sound. The bulk of the songs here straddle a fine line between the musicians not being so busy pretentiously self-obsessed with their role as “artists” that the songs aren’t catchy and infusing the hooks with some serious edge. Ultimately, this is interesting in all the right ways. –jimmy (www.gernblandsten.com)


FLASH ATTACKS, THE:
Pray for Death: CD-R
You know the drill: the guitarist goes by the moniker Feces (you kiss your mother with that mouth, Feces? Gross!), song titles include “Worthless Wage Slave,” “Toxic Mind Pollution,” and “Terror TV,” the cover’s pixilated-as-hell, with the demo’s title spelled out in a bone font. What makes the Flash Attacks slightly above average is the fact that while the lyrics are still pretty simplistic, there are little lyrical jewels scattered throughout that says to me that with a bit more work, they could be busting out some really good, thought-provoking songs here pretty soon. Kind of reminds me how Forced March and/or Strung Up may have sounded when they first started out. Comes with a sweet patch. –keith (Circle F)


FINE LINES, THEE:
Set You Straight: CD
I would VOLUNTEER that Thee Fine Lines is the best band to come out of Missouri in the last ten years. (What’s that, you say? Tennessee is the VOLUNTEER state, not Mih-ZURR-uh!? Well, someone’s gonna have to SHOW ME proof! Aah-hahahahaha…ahem.) State slogan nonsense aside, my hypothesis from the first sentence remains. I’ve been meaning to check these guys out for a couple a years, but, lazy ass that I am, never got around to it. Their latest CD falls into my lap by the grace of Razorcake, and now I realize how much more fulfilling the last few years would’a been had I been officially hipped to Thee Fine Lines. Set You Straight is primitive in the same manner that the Jewws’ L’explosion du son de Maintenant! was—three band members, three instruments, one heart, one stripped-down now sound, baby! The moodier, atmospheric songs, “Midnight’s Fine” and “You’re So Fine,” would fit nicely on any of the Teenage Shutdown compilations, while the trashier, up tempo numbers sound like they could have come out of San Francisco’s garage rock heyday of the early- to mid-’90s. Just try to listen to Set You Straight and keep your legs from going into crazy, rock’n’roll induced spasms. –benke (Licorice Tree)


FILTHY THIEVING BASTARDS:
…I’m a Son of a Gun: CD
Say what you will about Irish-flavored punk music (from can’t get enough of it to can’t stand it), a greater measure in music is honesty. I have no doubt in my mind that the Filthy Thieving Bastards believe in the songs they’re writing and in that, there’s a lot to chew on. If you can, erase the expectations of the Swingin’ Utters. Erase the expectation to be frozen in time like a caveman, only to be de-thawed to play anthems of yore. I’m a Son of a Gun follows the path of their previous outing: sitting instead of standing, weaving ‘60s pop and acoustic sensibilities in and out of hard knocks and alcohol-soaked triumphs and tragedies with a wry sense of humor. I never thought there’d be a musical parallel with The Utters in that Minor Threat to Fugazi way, but there is, and there you go. It takes some real grapes for these guys to follow their guts. –todd (BYO)


ERGS!, THE:
Books about Miles Davis b/w Only Babies Cry: 7”
Released as a preview for their release, Upstairs / Downstairs on Dirtnap, you’ve got one original, the title track, which will be on the album (in a slightly different version), and “Only Babies Cry,” a Paul Baribeau cover, which won’t. I’m not sure how I first heard the song “Books about Miles Davis,” but I do know I liked it immediately. I’m not sure how they do it (but I’m convinced the secret’s got to be in that egg shaker), but The Ergs have managed to write a song that references books that would be one of the most annoying books for me to read. It’s suspense all the way through, with a quick payoff at the end, which would make for a terrible, awful book. Fortunately, it makes a damn fine song. It just keeps building up to some sort of explosion that you finally resign yourself to knowing it’s just not going to come. Then, the most blissful ten or so seconds of energy completely surprise and fulfill you simultaneously. And then the song ends. Dear lord, that song is amazing. –megan (Whoah Oh)


ERGS!, THE:
Books about Miles Davis b/w Only Babies Cry: 7”
I’m guessing that if you’re reading this, you already know who The Ergs! are, or will find out soon enough. Anyway, you know the song where Mike gets up from the drum set to sing towards the end of their set now? You know, the one that’s insanely good, even for them? Yeah, this is it (featuring more egg shaker here than on the LP), backed with a Paul Baribeau cover. I don’t think the pressing(s) were that large, so I’d pick this up ASAP if I were you. –joe (Whoah Oh)


EDDIE AND THE HOT RODS:
Teenage Depression: CD
For those not in the know, pub rock was a 1970s musical phenomenon in the U.K. that used R&B as its backbone and emphasized a “back-to-basics” approach to rock’n’roll. It was largely seen as a backlash to all the overblown, pretentious crap passing itself off as “rock” that permeated the airwaves at the time—bands like Emerson Lake and Palmer, and Led Zeppelin ruled the roost, and disco was just starting to take over. It’s also viewed as punk’s immediate antecedent and many key members of the U.K. punk’s first wave, including Joe Strummer, Ian Dury, and Nick Cash, had roots in pub rock. Eddie And The Hot Rods were one of the bands that kinda made the transition from pub rock to punk and this, their first album, illustrates why. Taking into consideration of the period when it was released, their frenetic beats, stripped-down tunes, and mounds of attitude manage to make rock‘n’roll sound fresh, vibrant, and alive again. Even their cover of “The Kids Are Alright” rocks in ways that The Who had apparently forgotten by the mid-’70s, and the title track shows the band’s willingness to roll with the punches and adopt punk’s tenets. Although it sounds a little dated in some places, tunes like “Horseplay” still manage to retain enough of their immediacy to get the blood bumpin’. –jimmy (Captain Oi)


DT’S, THE:
Filthy Habits: CD
The DT’s play bluesy Rawk music with a capital “R” similar to the Demolition Doll Rods, but Filthy Habits is produced with less of the dive bar, beer-soaked, over-sexed vibe found on There Is a Difference. Diana Young-Blanchard has one helluva set of pipes and belts out the songs with raunchy abandon that seems to channel Janis Joplin much of the time. Estrus Records honcho, Dave Crider, is on guitar and does a fine job. I’m guessing that the DT’s are a blast to see live, but this record falls flat to my ears. The recording is a little too clean for my taste, which snips away a good chunk of the album’s balls. And we all know that rock’n’roll is best when the nutsack is left completely intact. –benke (Get Hip)


DRATS!!!:
Welcome to New Granada: CD
A self-described “rock operetta” that’s inspired by the 1979 film Welcome to New Granada. Here’s where the problem arises: I’ve never seen it. Still, people must be onto something: I’ve heard so many references to this movie over the years, and Sound Virus actually put out a pretty good comp LP five or six years back with the same title in homage of the film. Anyway, the other problem is that I’ve since lost or recycled the one-sheet that came with this album, but I seem to remember terms like “art punk” and people like Frank Zappa being tossed around. While those references may ring true, and while Drats!!! are certainly good musicians and this album sounds fully realized and fleshed out, it winds up coming across as an icky merging of jazz-fusion and prog rock, with “wacky” vocals and a dash of funk thrown in, meaning jaded Portland hipsters with an irony fetish may enjoy it for its camp value, but I doubt the average Razorcake reader will. Sorry, guys. –keith (Drats!!!)


DOUBLE D’S, THE:
Dillybar: 7”
This rocks! Totally silly songs about fast food and grocery stores! And they wear fast food uniforms, too! If you like the Bobbyteens, the Flakes, and Candy Girl, you’ll love this. And if you don’t like those bands, then you’re lame! If this were a cereal, it’d be Quisp! Cartoonish greatness is go! –Maddy (www.myspace.com/theedoubleds)


DISRUPT:
Unrest, The Rest: CD, 2X CD
Both feature grindy hardcore stuff. Both will also fuck up your computer if you make copies of them. –jimmy (Relapse)


DICKS, THE:
Hungry Butt: CD
Bringing together two things that usually leave a lot to be desired—live albums and reunited bands—is usually a crapshoot. Add to that the fact that I never got a chance to see the band in question during their heyday, and I’m more than skeptical. But, from the opening notes, I’m impressed. They still can put on a hell of a show (I was lucky enough to catch them in New York this summer: a smile plastered on my face the entire time), and the recording, from a 2005 show in Houston, captures all the energy perfectly. All the hits are here, kiddos, and a bunch of great songs you might not have hard. –megan (hotboxreview@hotmail.com)


DIALOGUES / KIDS EXPLODE:
Split: 7”
This split 7”, released by new Seattle label Rome Plow Records, is one of the nicest I have ever seen in terms of production and design. The 7” itself is heavy 70 gram vinyl. The artwork by Myles Karr is simply gorgeous; I fully intend to hang it on my wall. One side features Virginia’s Dialogues, offering two tracks of despondent, shouty, slightly mathy Midwest-influenced hardcore. The other is just one song by Germany’s Kids Explode, slightly more solid than their neighbors but clearly in the same vein. The bands are well-paired: if you like one, you’ll like the other. Full disclosure: The owner of Rome Plow is the brother of one of my best friends. I still got the 7” through the appropriate Razorcake channels; it’s just a funny coincidence. –Sarah Shay –Guest Contributor (Rome Plow)


DELAY:
…Don’t Laugh: CD
This album has spunk, and it’s pretty possible that these guys are too young to catch the Mary Tyler Moore reference, so I won’t even bother (plus it’s not necessarily true). Aside from the overly dramatic lyrics, this is fun DIY pop punk. In the context of a crowded house show, I’m positive this band would be great, but when it comes to repeat listening, the lyrics and vocals really begin to annoy me. If the thought of a band somewhere between the Pink Razors and Defiance, OH really excites you, then you would probably dig this. –Daryl Gussin (Plan-It-X)


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