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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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RTX:
Western Xterminator: CD
The first track sounds like Perry Farrell singing for Jefferson Airplane, with a seven-year-old playing fanciful flute solos throughout. The rest of the songs sound like Marillion with a digitally enhanced lead singer; so digitally enhanced, in fact, that it starts to sound like a robot. At least the guitar playing sounds real, even if it is a bit over the top, in a Joe Satriani sort of way. All of which serves to almost completely obscure the fact that there are some really good, catchy, hard rock songs contained here. I’d be interested to hear what they sound like played by a real band of human beings. –brian (Drag City)


ROYAL PAINS:
Get Punched: 7”
This is catchy enough, but I just can’t get into it. On the title track, I can’t tell if it’s a joke (which isn’t sarcastic enough to work) or serious (where it’s kind of ridiculous and on the meathead side of things—“Goin’ out with the girls tonight/ You know there’s gonna be a figh./ Got my brass knuckles in my purse.”). I like the gruff male vocals, and the female’s can be nice but they tend to venture into squeaks in strange ways. I mean, I can love it when it sounds like a six-year-old girl is singing (I love the Grumpies), but here, she sings (and can sing well) at a lower range, but then, for no apparent reason, a mouse weasels its way out of her throat. This is especially true on “Pressure,” which, if not for that, may have been the strongest track. –megan (Jonnycat)


RIPCORDZ:
100,000 Watts of Power: CD
With twenty-five years under their belts, Montreal’s Ripcordz continue to pump out classic singalong punk albums with a quality and ease that is almost unnerving. The funny thing is that they remain more or less unknown outside of Canada, and I’m pretty sure they’re fine with that. 100,000 Watts of Power is an amazing record. Not only do they continue to play what they’ve always done best, but they’ve added some layers that I’ve never noticed before. This time around, the first thing I thought of was Leatherface. It shouldn’t be a far stretch, since Paul’s gravely voice is quite similar to that of Frankie Stubbs, but I never made the connection until now. It’s so damn good. Fans of stuff out there on labels like Hellcat and Sailor’s Grave should take note and search these guys out. –ty (Mayday, www.unionlabelgroup.com)


PHANTOM LIMBS:
Random Hymns: CDEP
Way too fuckin’ short for my taste, but any new material from one of the best punk/death rock bands on the planet is more than appreciated. Their sound is all mohawked clowns wreaking havoc in the midst of one truly wicked fucking carnival. Mr. Dark in Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes would no doubt be cranking this up to eleven. If by some fluke you’ve managed to miss hearing anything by these guys, I suggest you rectify the situation immediately. –jimmy (GSL)


PEPPERMINTS, THE:
Jesus Chryst: CD
I generally avoid bands that sound like they’re trying to be the Melvins, but when a band can sound sort of like the Melvins without sounding like they’re actually trying to do so, and when they’re seventy-five percent ladies to boot, I’m on board like Gord(on). Retarded record title notwithstanding (the last one was called Sweet Tooth Abortion—much better), the Peppermints’ bluntly sparkling exercise in thud power is a solid monolith of intention, and not inept, loose, noisy or shrill in any way. –Cuss Baxter (Paw Tracks)


PARTISANS, THE:
Self-titled: CD
Here’s another band I knew only from assorted compilations and never really thought much of, but I gotta say, this was some pretty good stuff. Fairly political English punk that thrashes along quite nicely and has enough attitude to appeal to cactus heads and baldies alike. This is a reissue of their first album, with assorted singles tracks tacked on and some really good liner notes to give you an idea where these guys and girl were coming from. All in all, a great introduction to a band I now wish I’d paid more attention prior to. –jimmy (Captain Oi)


OTHER GHOSTS:
Manfire: CD
Indie rock/punk stuff with college kid pretentiousness just steaming off of it. –jimmy (Radio Is Down)


ORPHANS, THE:
Raise the Youth: CD
Not to be confused with the L.A. Orphans, these guys, who are from Philly, I believe, play some mighty nice hardcore with intelligent lyrics and enough surprises thrown in to keep interest from waning. Wasn’t too hip on their forays into ska punk, and the production on a good chunk of the songs was kinda thin, but, on the whole, they put in some good work and it shows. –jimmy (Fistolo)


ORPHANS, THE:
Electric S b/w W.W.W.D.: 7”
Remember the time you drank so much cough syrup at that Oblivians show that you puked up cigarette butts onto the hood of somebody’s car and then you woke up the next morning on a pile of trash with a black eye and somebody else’s pants on? This is like two songs of that. –Josh (Vinyl Dog)


ORPHANS, THE:
Electric S b/w W.W.W.D.: 7”
Live, the Orphans dominate. Wade, the bass player, is unplugged half the time, busy on conking someone over the head with his stand and swinging his bass like a bat on a rope. Jenny can’t stand still, and is often cleaning the floor with her back as she slithers around, the arc of her prowling defined by the length of her mic cord. Brandon’s an absolute basher. Dann doesn’t move too much, but it’s really a mind trick because he gets so much sound out of what’s he’s playing, like he’s got a secret third hand that no one else can see. Live: awesome. On record: on par awesomeness. What’s sometimes not obvious live (via okay PA and the limitations of DIY) is that how layered their songs really are. Smart, hardcore leads are snuggled up to blunt garage. Tricky little bridges and intros tie them altogether, so there’s both considerable weight to the obvious “fuck-you-ity” and nimble movement to keep it far and away from being generic. Say, for purely hypothetical reasons, The Orphans came out in L.A. in ’77. They’d be neck and neck with The Bags, The Screamers, and The Weirdos. Being that it’s 2005 and L.A.’s fractured all to hell, punk’s getting dirty and neglected again, and not as many people are paying attention, do yourself a favor and pick up one of the finest 7”s this year will likely see and people will be seeking out for years to come. –todd (Vinyl Dog)


OPPRESSED, THE:
Won’t Say Sorry: 2 x CD
Long-running skinhead band that has been a favorite, compile some covers that run the gamut on this release. They pay homage to Jamaican legends Simaryp, the 4 Skins, the Clash, Eddie and the Hot Rods, Sham 69, Cockney Rejects, Slade, and others who came before them. I can’t believe how may covers this band has recorded. Makes me want to break out the hair clippers and shave the head, followed by cleaning things up with a razor and dusting off the fourteen-hole Doc Martins, grabbing a wife beater out of the dresser, pulling out the suspenders out of the box of clothes I haven’t worn in a couple of decades, and trying to squeeze into a tight pair of pegged jeans. There are so many classics covered with competency. Worthy of the price of purchase are the two versions of the oi classic, “Skinhead Girl. –don (Insurgence)


OPERATION CLIFF CLAVIN:
Out of Control (A Discography of the ‘90s): CD
I just can’t believe how often the Operation Cliff Clavin CDs go out of print and then warrant a repress. Now that’s a cult following! This time around, there are even MORE songs than before and a nifty li’l live DVD. I’m glad to have gotten this though, otherwise I never would have heard the anti-Star Wars song, called “C3PO Can Suck My Ass,” and the two amazing covers: one of the Misfits song “Astrozombies” and the other of the oldies hit “Blue Moon.” –mrz (Plan-it-X)


NRA:
Machine: CD
These seniors of the Amsterdam scene are back with a new record and distro through Gearhead in the USA. The music is great pop punk that carries the same feelings of later Ramones records and even reminds me at times of J Church with a touch of rock’n’roll. The choruses are all catchy. It’s one of those records that, at first listen, it just blends into punk homogeny, but after a few listens it really digs into your brain and, days later, some song will be playing in your head that you just can’t place. The tune you can’t get out of your head sounds like a bunch of bands, and you really dig the song, but you just can’t figure out what the hell it is. Then when you finally remember listening to this record it dawns on you that these guys are really good. –Guest Contributor (Gearhead)


NORTH LINCOLN:
Truth Is a Menace: CD
I’m sure these guys are so sick of hearing this by now (or entirely proud), but memories of hearing the first few Hot Water Music records come to mind right away. The driving, medium-tempo anthems do well as a follow up to a genre that ended before it began. I can picture a basement full of kids, fist pumping through every chorus. Even though I made a heavy comparison to a band that has left its roots far behind, North Lincoln still has a style that is their own. I’ve been listening to these guys for a few years via many review packages, and they continue to grow and better themselves. This is their strongest release and fans of the band or the genre should not be disappointed. –Guest Contributor (No Idea)


NOFX:
There’s No Fun in Fundamentalism b/w Fungus, I’m a Huge Fan of Bad Religion: 7”
I’ll admit it right off the bat that I’m prejudiced. I don’t like rich people. Pretty much hate ‘em. Class war. There’s a line you do not cross. That type of thing. Fat Mike’s probably the only millionaire I actually admire. Because he could take the easy route out. By some lucky horseshoe, NOFX has had the suburbs in the palm of their hands for over a decade. And instead of just going out and peddling some shoes at the Warped Tour, he makes it plain and simple (and funny, and catchy) on the A-side that dogmatism in religion is unequivocally fucked. (Priests molesting children and how many Middle Eastern religions treat women are two easy examples.) And if that shakes some kid up—who’s stuck in the stucco nightmare inside the bowels of a planned community to a new way of looking—awesome. The b-side’s a throwaway. Khaki-colored vinyl. –todd (Fat)


NOCTURNE:
Guide to Extinction: CD
Nu metal meets goth with a female singer that comes off catty and too cute for the music. A mixture of Lacuna Coil meets NIN. –don (Triple X)


NIX:
Down the Tubes: 7”
Punk rock with a Rip Off lean to it. Not bad. –jimmy (No address)


NIKMAT OLALIM:
Self-Devouring Land: 7” EP
Israeli hardcore with lyrics condemning the Israeli government, conscription, shitty jobs, and blindly following ideologies. The inside of the cover also includes two essays, one about how the concept of anti-Semitism is abused by Israeli hardliners and the government to justify its actions, and another entitled “Did You Ever Think What It’s Like to Shoot Somebody in the Head?” No doubt this release is sure to cause quite a stir in the band’s home country. Much respect to them for having the balls to be a political punk band in a place where having a point of view that doesn’t follow the party line could render a person very dead. –jimmy (Boshet)


NERVOUS PATTERNS:
Beautiful Brutal, You Can’t Change: one-sided 7”
The Nervous Patterns inhibit that tightly wound, anxious universe of the Lost Sounds (along with sharing members), where circuit boards in your brain rust and the sound of something big and strong breaking in wrong ways, leaking a mysterious fluid permeates the first song. Makes me think of androids made of meat, in revolt, working on Kraftwerk songs with their fists. The second song, “You Can’t Change” is what I wish they’d played at my prom instead of the theme song to “St. Elmo’s Fire.” It’s swelling, aching, tender, bats about bright Cure-like guitars, and twines them around mournful but hopeful female vocals. The second side is blank; needle just zipped right across it. –todd (Zaxxon Virile Action)


NEGATIVLAND:
No Business: CD
Negativland, if you don’t know, are a group of audio-collagists who have, for something like twenty-five years, assembled found sounds (from radio, old records, etc.) into their “compositions,” and gotten sued at least once along the way for copyright infringement or something to that effect. Negativland, if you DO know… well, you probably know more than I do, because they never did a whole lot for me other than the Weatherman’s spoken stuff whose voice I could listen to all dang day, even the longest day of the year. Due to their legal troubles, they’ve become champions of the idea that culture’s products should be available for later cultural workers (read: “artists” of various sorts) to use as building blocks. In other words (among other things), that sampling (specifically in music, as analogous processes in other disciplines are generally fair game and unregulated in the way music is) should not be a crime. No Business, as progression of that philosophy, is the first Negativland work to be COMPLETELY composed of components from other sources; nothing original to Negativland is on here. And it’s funny as hell. Ethel Merman blasting (I think that’s the word for sounds coming out of Ethel Merman) “There’s no business like stealing,” and Julie Andrews’ favorite things folded asunder (“crisp eyelashes,” “brown raindrops”) are highlights, but there’s a dense wall of this stuff for you to lean against. Also, there’s a fifty-page book (not to mention a special whoopee cushion) which explains very clearly Negativland’s position on copyright, the potential benefits and pitfalls of the internet regarding music distribution and intellectual property rights, and even what’s wrong with America’s corporate law that drives greed and bullshit from the top down. No Business may not be the best introduction to Negativland for the uninitiated (then again, it may; I’m no expert), but as a package, it’s going to be a worthy addition to any free-thinking person’s pile of stuff. –Cuss Baxter (Seeland)


NEED NEW BODY:
Where’s Black Ben?: CD
Funky white boy rap, sound bits, and improvisational noise jams abound, but it still wasn’t all that interesting. –jimmy (5RC)


NARRATOR, THE:
Such Triumph: CD
Seeing as 1) those responsible appear to be male; 2) there are drawings of kitties, doggies, and flowers on the cover, I think it’s patently clear what kind of music can be expected from this. Gonna hafta be extra diligent in cleaning my ears with a wire brush after listening to this. –jimmy (Flameshovel)


MUTINY:
Rum Rebellion: CD
The Irish sounds of the Pogues or Flogging Molly has now gone international. Out of Australia comes the pirate sounds of Mutiny. A combination of three women and two men, this band bangs out a mighty good time with their brand of Celtic punk. Vocal duties are handled by two of the women and the gent on drums, which is good to keep things fresh in a sound that can get overdone quickly. They expel a spirit of fun that makes me want to go to the refrigerator right now and crack open a cold one. Relying more on acoustic instruments gives the band a traditional feel and adds to the rawness of the recording. I wonder how hard it is to learn how to play a tin whistle. –don (Fistolo)


MURDER YOUR DARLINGS:
Self-titled: CD
Loud, brash rock’n’roll that would give some o’ them Scandinavian rocker types a run for their money. –jimmy (Reptilian)


MUMMIES OF THE INSANE:
Self-titled: CD
I’ll bet you these guys smoke a SHITLOAD of marijuana. I wish I was into smokin’ weed—it mighta made listening to this a little less tedious, though it is good for a few laughs. “Civilized Existence” boasts the line “Sit upright, you damn dirty ape!” and “Parasite” sounds like the music to a video game on the technologically cutting-edge Atari 2600. “Fuck Your Mummy,” despite the great title, is little more than R2D2 noises and a rhythm section too fucked up to play together. Lots of needless instrumental farting around, taking their cues from Sebadoh’s Freed Weed but without any of the redeeming indie qualities of that record. Avoid this stinker. –benke (Slutfish)


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