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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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CARRIE NATIONS:
Be Still: LP
As opposed to playing in an arena and hiding behind your pyrotechnics, I think it’s a lot harder to play shows in people’s living rooms or basements. It takes something out of the ordinary to be able to play just a few inches away from the audience, and it takes even more than that to make an avowed head-bobber like myself actually want to dance. Carrie Nations have that in spades. What do they sound like? Take a glob of sorta weird, sorta poppy indie rock, like a really good Guided by Voices song, and imagine that as your peanut butter. Smoosh it between two slices of gritty, dirty, sweat-and-beer-soaked DIY punk rock (let’s say the Jack Palance Band on one side and the Grabass Charlestons on the other). Grease the whole affair with a knack for subtle yet deep-sinking hooks (like Archers of Loaf), throw it on the stove (which I guess represents the record player in this strained metaphor), and you’ve got yourself a fine, fine sandwich (or record, whatever). It’s fun, it’s enjoyable, and it makes the world a little bit more tolerable. I’m hoping that the next time I see this band play, they’ll make it through more than five songs before the cops show up. –Josh (Bitter Like the Bean)


CAREER SUICIDE:
Signals E.P.: 7"
Every so often some asswipe spouts off about punk being dead and I can see why someone might say that; I have myself stacks of “punk” CDs and records that are deserving of shallow graves along with my old G.I. Joes in my neighbor’s backyard. But, of course, it isn’t that raw, unbridled force called “punk” that’s died. There’s too much vital music out there still kicking down doors and peeing on people’s lunches. What’s dead is the clumsy label “punk” and the definitions that go with it. Thankfully, bands like Career Suicide are around to show how clownishly ill-fitting most of those labels are—and they do it in a way that is totally unpretentious and very convincing. And catchy too. I’m tempted to label them a hardcore band, but the more I listen to this record, the more I start to think I’m listening to one of those late ‘70s /early ‘80s West Coast bands that used to play at the Masque—like the Skulls or the Dickies. But then again they also sound to me a little bit like Minor Threat but with a few shovelfuls of snot hanging off them in all the right places. It doesn’t matter how anyone tries to label these guys, what matters is that they continue on in their own bold way, kicking in doors and peeing on people’s lunches. This is one band you simply can’t go wrong with. –aphid (Slasher)


BURNIN’ THOUSANDS:
What’s Destined Shall Be: CD
Pseudo-emo hardcore. As if it couldn’t get worse. If the entire genre didn’t seem so fucking contrived, I might be inclined to be a little more fair. As it is, life isn’t fair and sympathy falls somewhere between suck it up and tough shit. –scott (Zero Velocity)


BUCK:
Former Child Actor: 7"
Lisa Marr has such a clear, powerful, and distinct voice. Buck was like the world’s biggest Jolly Rancher—sweet, good tasting, and worth savoring. Satisfying pop with a real knack for power and force. The B-side, “Only Friends,” is a mellow ditty about a relationship that really showcases how diverse Buck’s range could be. The bad news is that these two tracks are the last Buck ever recorded. These two little gems are like finding two quarters in a pocket after laundry; shiny and you found ‘em when you weren’t expecting anything –todd (Geykido Comet)


BRISTLE:
30 Blasts from the Past: CD
First saw these guys at an AA clubhouse in Tacoma in 1995 when we were on tour and secured an opening slot on said gig, which also featured the mighty DOA headlining. They were nice guys, politely enthusiastic of the jarocho/norteño/cumbia/hardcore punk we were peddlin’, and their set, comprised primarily of hardcore steeped in early to mid-‘80s influence, was pretty smokin’. They even gave me a free 7-inch EP, which naturally solidified my fandom. The music on here is a collection of tracks (including the ones from the aforementioned EP) they recorded in the time surrounding that magic year when our bands crossed paths. The sound is reminiscent of old-timers like Jackshit and the like, meaning this is no-frills hardcore that pays its respects to its elders, yet they are still good enough at what they’re doing to effectively inject some life into the old workhorse. A decade later and I gotta say, I still dig these guys a lot. –jimmy (Rodent Popsicle)


BRASSKNUCKLE BOYS:
American Bastard: LP
This album came out a few years back. It’s solid American streetpunk, full of hooks and anthems and one Johnny Cash cover to boot (“Sunday Morning Coming Down,” which is actually a Kris Kristofferson song, but Johnny Cash made it famous). I guess Haunted Town waited to see if the CD would catch on before they released it on vinyl, and I guess the CD did catch on because the LP has just recently been released. Some of the records are cool, swirly vinyl and some are just black. The music is good. I recommend it. I wish that these guys were releasing something new instead of just re-releasing the same songs in a different format, but what are you gonna do? –sean (Haunted Town)


BOOKS ON TAPE:
The Business End: CD
This looked cool when I picked it up. Wacky song titles like “I Will Straight Get You Arrested” and “What Satan Said to Me,” and of course the album title is clever, too. Don’t get me wrong—I like the electronic music the kids are digging today just as much as the next guy. I was hoping this would be as good as Voyager One’s latest record—or better. Sadly, I was dead wrong. The keyboards sound like they were mixed using a 1982 Commodore 64. The songs—there’s just nothing here that grabs me. By my third go-round (and believe me, it took many Beck’s to make it through the third go-round, my friends), I was hoping that the girl on the back cover would jump out with that pocketknife she had and stab me so I would be rendered unconscious. Unfortunately that did not happen either. –koepenick (Greyday Productions)


BONNIE PARKERS, THE:
Sweaty Shirts & Bloody Fingers: CD
Primal Roman thud punk/rock that works surprisingly well. –jimmy (www.benicetomommy.com)


BONECRUSHER:
Fractured: 2X CD
Bonecrusher has always been one o’ those bands I have mixed feelings about. They are one of the dismally few oi-influenced American bands that actually GET IT, and they do crank out a mean racket, but sometimes they fail to do it for me. I usually chalk it up to the mood I’m in at the time and await the next release and that’s usually turned out to be a good way of approaching things. Collected here on two discs are all their early singles and the Followers of a Brutal Calling LP, plus an unreleased gem. I must be in the perfect mood for ‘em, ‘cause this is just making my day. If you’re new to Bonecrusher or a fan wanting to catch up on their back catalog, look no further than this. –jimmy (www.knock-out.de)


BLOTTO:
Bang Up Your Chair: 7"
This is an uncharacteristically DIY-looking release from Snuffy Smile. The front and back covers are photocopied and glued onto an old Registrators seven-inch sleeve. It actually looks really cool. The four songs that come with this package, though, are the high quality that I’ve come to expect from Snuffy Smile. Imagine a Japanese version of the Replacements covering Clash songs, and you’re in the ballpark. A lot of hooks and a lot of tempo changes. Folky parts and hardcore parts all wrapped around a tight melody. To top it all off, one of the guitarist/singers shares a name with my favorite Japanese author: Murakami. Great stuff. –sean (Snuffy Smile)


BLOODSTAINS:
Self-titled: 7"
Bruising, meaty hardcore that swings a spiked 2x4 right at your soft and tenders and evokes some of the same heavy rage as bands like latter-day Exploited and Sweden’s Disfear. Absolutely no new twists here, this one wins on simple drag-you-by-the-hair-down-the-stairs, ass-kicking execution alone. Me like. Me want more. –aphid (FNS)


BLACKLIST BRIGADE/TORTURE GARDEN:
Split: CD
Blacklist: Despite the raw demo-quality of the sound, these kids have got some pretty good street punk, with just the slightest hint of Inflammable-era SLF, goin’ on here. Torture Garden: Some pretty straightforward punk with a vocal delivery reminiscent of Jesus and Mary Chain. Good, but strange. –jimmy (No Front Teeth)


BERZERK:
A.E.I.J.N.: 7"
At first I thought this sounded like a tighter version of Sin 34, but that was only one song. The other songs on this 7” had more of a Nardcore sound mixed with some d-beat aggression. The female vocals are yelled without going guttural, which keeps things pinpointed in the right direction. Band wise, they are tight and write some fine tuneage. Since this is my introduction to this band, I need to see if there is more. With this teaser, I’m sure that more is to be had. –don (Recess)


BEERZONE:
Punk Rock Since ‘97: CD
This is solid, very British sounding street punk with a nasty neat streak. Don’t get me wrong, it rocks—but it’s just that everything sounds nicely pleated and neatly tucked in. Especially for a band calling itself “Beerzone.” Maybe all these years of keeping their hairdos so neat and clean has gone to their heads. Sloppy things up a bit there boys and get back to me. –aphid (Beer City)


BEAR CLAW:
Find the Sun: CD
Dual bass and drums that often sounds like it doesn’t even not have a guitar and assumes a sort of angular approach that recalls the Jesus Lizard and Big Black. The singer kind of sounds like Dave Smalley, but I don’t think that’s relevant. –Cuss Baxter (Sickroom)


BATTLESHIP:
Self-titled: 12"EP
This is a pretty noisy record, but something underneath the noise sounded kinda familiar. I listened and listened, and then it hit me: Fugazi. I doubt that anyone involved with this record is going to take that as a compliment, but dude, they sound like early Fugazi. Not in an artsy way like so many other bands that sound like Fugazi, but structurally, the two bands are somewhat similar, the vocalist sounds a bit like Guy but with more force. And like I said, it’s noisy, so they kinda reminded me of the Blacks (Tucson, not Sweden) at the same time. Did I mention that it sounds like Fugazi? I like Fugazi and I like this record. –Josh (Raw Deluxe)


BAGS:
Survive: 7"
There were a handful of records I chanced upon when I was a kid, just getting into punk rock, that really struck a chord with me. Looking back, I was incredibly lucky with the records that just happened to be in the used bin of an independent record store in Vegas. Looking back, I was exposed to a tremendously mixed bag of punk and hardcore—from different scenes and different eras—stuff like the Necros, JFA, and the Bags, all in one trip. Gladly, listening to this 7” again years later (see the Alice interview in this issue as to why) neither song sounds dated. Commanding, snarling, and desperate female vocals, expert but not “pro” musicianship, an unquestionable angst and comet-like burning make it as great as ever. Word is that this re-issue is directly from the original 1978 Dangerhouse plates. Sounds awesome. An irreplaceable slice LA punk rock that’s neck and neck with the best that was ever released. –todd (Artifix)


BAFABEGIYA/ARABELLA:
Split: 7"
Bafabegiya: A hardcore band that ain’t particularly fast, but they manage to find a groove and exploit it for what it’s worth. Arabella: An arty hardcore contrast to the flip, not as immediately accessible, but not without its own charms, either. –jimmy (www.spacementreno.com)


BABYLAND:
The Finger: CD
Truth be told, I was always kinda leery of a lot of the music releases Flipside put out. Not that it was all bad, mind you, but there were enough clunkers in that catalog to warrant more than a few puzzled looks and scratched noggins. One needs look no further than the Motor Morons EP for proof. Babyland, however, were always a no-brainer to me. Their caustic “two men and a computer” techno-punk assault (not to be confused with “digital hardcore,” a German one-trick pony that faded faster than Paul Simon’s acting career), which successfully maintained a balance of human aggro and mechanical remoteness, always managed to keep me interested. More importantly, they always made an interesting racket and that’s usually most important when you really get down to it. Outside of those Flipside releases, however, I never really heard much else from ‘em, partially because I couldn’t find anything else for a while there, and partially because I had heard they had traded in the noise for dance floor accessibility. Seeing this in the music piles was a nice surprise. While I’m pleased to say that they have not, in fact, wimped out, there is definitely more of a sense of “musicality” to the tunes on here, the result being a sort of “death rocked new wave via Casio keyboard” hybrid, with homeboy still belting them vocals out, that stands up to any of their previous releases. Nice to see that, in their case, “progression” and “maturation” do not equal overt sucking. –jimmy (www.mattressrecords.com)


ATWAR/CELL BLOCK 5:
Live Cheap Split: CD
The first of this split is AtWar, which is one of the guys from English Dogs. And if that isn’t enough to make you buy the album, then you should know the guy from Social Unrest is in Cell Block 5. If you don’t know who either of those bands are, you probably don’t give a flying fuck about this album. AtWar reminds me of the kind of punk rock that is basically heavy metal but since they have mohawks and English accents you get to pogo unless you are stupid and confused, plus the drumbeat for almost every song is the same (you know the one) except when the chorus busts out and they’re all like, “Shoot your own head off!” Cell Block 5 is more of the, “Yeah, we’re fucking punk, why aren’t you dancing with your elbows flailing around and hurting people yet?” variety. Did I mention they are fast? The album is actually pretty good for a live album and the bands talk shit about other bands and get chicks on stage—all the shit you should expect for a live album. –Guest Contributor (Malt Soda)


ASSAILANT, THE:
Self-titled: CDEP
Assumptions can take a turn for the worst or give an unexpected surprise. Cover artwork does not always reveal what type of music will be represented. I was surprised here. Sometimes it’s hard to describe a band. Every person has a different list of influences. For me to describe this, I would list Dillinger Escape Plan, Damad, Discordance Axis for bands that start with “D.” For the other bands, I would guess some Napalm Death and maybe some Locust. But that could be all wrong when someone else listens. Eight songs in a little over eight minutes of pure pain. Metallic riffs over pounding drums create a chaotic landscape. When the band delves into grindcore blast beats, you feel like you are going to die from a thousand bee stings from the rapid attack. No artificial sweetener to make things happy. Anger and despair is what is being served. –don (Black Matter)


ARMEDALITE RIFLES:
Self-titled: 7" EP
Primitively delivered punk rock that vaguely reminds me of the old Minneapolis band Boy Elroy. Can’t say it made me all warm and fuzzy inside, but their hearts are clearly in the right place and sometimes, just sometimes, that can be enough to put them into the “cool” column. –jimmy (Wrinky Dink)


ARKHAM:
The Freak Power Candidate: CD
Long intros and intricate or repetitive guitar solos might drag out the songs and confuse you but it’s refreshing in a toothpaste kind of way. The progression in the music leads to some amazing tracks if you dig into the whole Steve Albini thing. A lot of the songs are hit or miss but I’m still giving it a gold star. –Guest Contributor (Volcom)


ANGRY FOR LIFE:
Sharks and Roaches: CD
If this spew of mediocre pop punk (think about early Bad Religion or early Screeching Weasel, only less musically competent and interesting), generic lyrics about individuality and, like, resistance and shit, bro, had come out twenty-five years ago, someone might have cared then. As it is, I don’t because this says nothing to me about my life or what I face. Hell, I doubt it says anything meaningful to someone in high school who really thinks that Yellowcard’s lyrics are profound. –scott (Vinehell)


AMERICAN SUICIDE:
Self-titled: CDEP-R
I’m reading though this band’s one sheet and I notice that this release was produced by Jim Pearlman of Blue Oyster Cult and The Clash fame. That’s fucking sweet. Oh, wait—that was Sandy Pearlman! Well, maybe it’s his cousin or something. Anyway, this crisp sounding demo starts off with “Coming Back” and I think they’re pouring an icy cold one into a glass at the beginning of the song to get thing revved up. Sounds like the best drinking song since “Drinking and Driving.” The band keeps the amps cranked for the whole deal and this sounds really good at high volume. They tend to remind me of a twisted concoction of Scream and Junkyard. All in all, probably the hottest rock to come out of Pensacola since the last NASCAR crash. But at four songs, this is a quick fix. I hope more is on the way. –koepenick (Self-released)


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