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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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BRAT PACK:
Demo: CD-R
Professional-sounding demo from a band from the Netherlands. It’s melodicore that is well performed and songs that are interesting and catchy. Kind of hard to pinpoint at the moment what they sound like to me. I’m guessing a mixture of Venerea, Pulley, and some elements of early Pennywise. If this is one of their first recordings, they are off to a good start. –don (Brat Pack)


BOXCAR SATAN/ GRAVES BROTHERS DELUXE:
Black Water Rising: Split CD
Both deal in swamp-crusted blues that sounds like it comes from a world populated by the unholy progeny of Tom Waits and the Butthole Surfers, with the Graves’ Brothers Deluxe edging out their discmates with a cover of Huey “Piano” Smith’s “Don’t You Just Know It” that straddles a fine line between genius and sacrilege. Proceeds from this go to Gulf region mental health charities. –jimmy (Dogfingers)


BOILS, THE:
The Orange and the Black: CDEP
Being Canadian, hockey has been a part of my life from day one and my team has always been the Philadelphia Flyers; the toughest of the tough. Now I have a six-song punk rock disc dedicated to my favorite hockey team! Musically, The Boils have the whole Dropkick Murphys thing going on without all the Irish in there, and the production is tight. Lots of singalong and chant type stuff that really works. I’d be very surprised if this wasn’t getting played on the loudspeakers at the arena on game night. This will also fit nicely alongside my Hanson Brothers and Two Man Advantage discs. Street punk: not just for soccer hooligans anymore! –ty (TKO)


BLOOD VESSELS:
Self-titled: CD
Skull art = punk rock. It’s the mathematical punk rock recipe for success, right? The tongue is bit off, the eyeballs are poppin’ out, the skull cap has exploded, leaving that big fluffy brain exposed. I take my cover art quite literally, so, to me, this means that listening to Blood Vessels’ new self titled CD on Teenage Heart Records will make your head explode, just like the dude in Scanners. It would seem that, upon further inspection of recorded material, I was sadly mistaken because all of my innards and skeletal features are intact. It’s a bummer for me to come to the realization that skull cover art doesn’t always equate to kick ass punk music. The whole system is breaking down. God damn you, Blood Vessels. –Dave Disorder (Teenage Heart)


BLAG DAHLIA:
Nina…and Other Delights: CD
This CD, described by one radio interviewer as “writings, ramblings and general punk rock nihilism of Blag Dahlia,” is something of a spoken-word companion disc to Blag’s recently released novel Nina. It is a companion much like a parasitic twin is a companion; while it is directly related, it is runtier and just plain weirder than its “host.” Along with readings from several chapters of the book, Uncle Blag includes bits from a radio interview (where he wisely asserts: “You haven’t really come to terms with anything if you can’t make fun of it”) and readings from a column he writes called “How to Write Good.” In one such column, he puts forth the proposition that hard drugs—not alcohol, as the cliché goes– are the true fuel that ignites the creative muse of the elite writers of the world. I’m not sure if I agree with that or not—the literary landscape is littered with gin-blossomed faces and crusted-up livers, going back for ages and ages. But then again, I don’t think it’s agreement that Blag is looking for here. His manner suggests something more disagreeable; he is snide, cocky, impudent, and diabolical. In other words, his usual charming self. And just so you don’t get any funny ideas that he’s turned feminist now that he’s written a book featuring a smart and empowered young woman as the main protagonist, Blag’s included an improvised piece entitled “This Old Whore” wherein he explores the black humor aspects of the objectification of the female body. It’s a piece that’s likely to be considered wildly insensitive by many and it’s bound to get some foreheads heated up to a surface temperature where a good number of eggs could be fried. But that’s what Blag does best. He is devilishly clever and he knows it. And he delights in tasering the most tender spots in what Wilhem Reich called people’s “character armor.” He is also, in my humble opinion, along with Tesco Vee, one the best and funniest writers in all of punk. What he does, in his own words, is “raise the flag for everything that’s foul,” and that’s a flag I can’t help but salute every time. –aphid (Greedy)


BLACK TIE DYNASTY:
Movements: CD
Eighties-influenced bands that bring to mind Echo & The Bunnymen, Joy Division, and A Flock Of Seagulls. That last one was not on the sticker that came with the record. Seriously, if you liked anything about those bands, this may be something that would catch your ear. “I Like U” and “Midnight Sun” are highlights from the disc for me. Skeletal guitar, distinctive vocals, and a pulsating rhythm section blend together to make a solid debut. Expect more good things from this outfit. –koepenick (Idol)


BLACK FAG:
Self-titled: CD
I love humor in my music. I think that parody is not only one of the most hilarious things ever, but also one of the most sincere forms of flattery. I live in a world where Weird Al is a master and Manic Hispanic are gods. Black Fag is funny. Imagine, if you will, all of your favorite Black Flag songs being played really well. That’s cool. Now imagine them so flamingly gay that to take it any further would be to make them into showtunes. Classic. My only complaint is that they didn’t change many of the lyrics, instead choosing just to rely on the inflection of the delivery. I was expecting full lyric changes like Manic does, but only had the amazing chant of “Oscar Party Tonight, Tony Party Tonight.” That’s the funny stuff right there. It should be also noted that proceeds from the sales of this CD go to various gay and lesbian charities and education funds. Nice work. –ty (Black Fag, no address)


BIRD FLU/ GET DEAD:
Self-titled Split: Mini CD
Nice package: little business card holder with tiny lyric and info sheets and the brutal grindcore encoded on a CD that’s like a 3” CD with some of the round parts cut off so it’s the size of a business card. Bird Flu from Athens, GA has two songs of over one minute each, and Get Dead from Athens, GA has nine songs of considerably under one minute each. Every one of the songs by both groups is literally exploding with spastic carnage. You’ll wish you were dead before you get through all four seconds of “Fury of the Neckbeard,” mark my words. –Cuss Baxter (Rally Point)


BIG D AND THE KIDS TABLE:
Strictly Rude: CD
It’s always a crapshoot with opening bands. There are three different types: the ones that are so terrible you show up late or stay outside during their set, the background music bands where you can listen if you want or complete zone it out, and the ones who completely blow you away. It seemed like every ska show in the Boston area in the ‘90s had either Big D And The Kids Table or Kicked In The Head opening. For me, they both fell into the middle group. I wouldn’t dislike them, but I’d never put in any effort to see them either. I feel the same with this CD. They’re sort of a third-wave take on second-wave ska; think Madness with more punk than pop, especially in the guitar. –megan (Side One Dummy)


BENEDICT ARNOLD AND THE TRAITORS:
Kill the Hostages: 7”
This little gem caused quite a stir back when it originally came out in 1980. Why, you ask? Well, at the time, a number of students took over the American embassy in Iran and held fifty-two people hostage for 444 days. It was a really big deal, not unlike September 11, 2001 would be today, and some would argue that then-President Carter’s handling of the crisis lost him the 1980 election to Ronald “Punk Rockers Love Me” Reagan. That said, a song proclaiming that we “Kill the Hostages” would be like a band singing “Fuck the World Trade Center” today. To understand why a band would say such a thing, one would need look back at much of what punk was founded on philosophically. Like the Yippie Party of the 1960s (an organization that counted both über-prankster Abbie Hoffman and Stephen Stink, lead singer of the band currently under discussion), one of the basic tenets of punk was to challenge, upset and/ or destroy the status quo on every level, be it through silly haircuts and funny clothes (mohawks, safety pins, and bondage gear), promoting unpopular political thought (e.g. Sidney’s swastika shirt, the Clash’s embracing the Sandinistas, Crass and their circle-As), obnoxious names and songs (the Childmolesters’ wanting to see some “Wholesale Murder,” The Rotters’ charming “Sit on My Face Stevie Nix”) et al. Taking that in mind, a song like this was inevitable given punk’s gadfly stance, but it was Benedict Arnold And The Traitors’ genius that the song was so fuckin’ good that nearly thirty years later, when its original intent has been muted by an American public too uninterested in its own history to even be bothered to look up what they were singing about, the song is still a nice bit of catchy obnoxiousness. Thanks to the Artifix’s generosity, you no longer have to shell out beaucoup bucks for a copy of one of the five hundred singles originally pressed way back when to enjoy it and the flip, “Red Alert,” which isn’t as lyrically incendiary, but no less catchy. Rumor is that the band is together again and making a racket. Hopefully they’re as hell-bent of offending and upsetting the social order as they were in days of yore, ’cause lord knows it could use it. –jimmy (Artifix)


BEAR PROOF SUIT:
Science Is Dead: 7”EP
Mid. West. Punk. Think more along the lines of Laughing Hyenas (RIP Larissa Strickland) than Negative Approach, celebrating sprawled-out crunchiness, a John Brannon-like, nasty you-just-nailed-my-foot-to-the-floor howl, and systematic dismemberment over tunefulness or hyper speed. That part I like: classic Midwest hardcore that’s smarter than it lets on and a little weird. Yet, like the Laughing Hyenas, I just wish the songs were a tad shorter and less repetitive because, while bearing their own weight and ripping plenty of flesh from bone, Bear Proof Suit still gets a tad tedious in parts. Points scored for a good job covering the Wipers’ “Upfront.” –todd (Criminal I.Q.)


BAYONETTES:
We’re Doomed: 7”EP
Not as stab-you-in-the-neck, hit-by-a-fire-truck X-Ray Spex as the first single; more in the pocket, looking for layers, finding their own way, and not afraid to sing and stay at mid tempo punk pop. There’s still a nice, serrated edge to Zoe’s voice (especially in the addicted-to-love song, “Hungry for You”), the playing’s in tune with early Jam’s jangling, tight guitars, and they’re zeroing in on that below-the-skin anxiety (focusing on prescription drugs, unrequited love, and the world being pretty fucked) which makes for compulsive flips when the record’s finished. Well played. –todd (Deranged)


BADAMPS, THE:
Two Face: 7” EP
This band spends most of their promo material worrying about being perceived as sounding too much like the Ramones; i kinda think their lead guitar riffs are quite un-Ramoney (maybe Rudi or someone like that?) so am not sure where all this Ramone-Clone-Guilt is coming from. Fine jumpin’ around music, this. Makes ya realize you weren’t insane to like the Queers at one point in your life. BEST SONG: “Two Face” BEST SONG TITLE: “Milkshake Murder” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: It still amazes me how Harvey “Two-Face” Dent was Billy Dee Williams in the first modern Batman movie and then he miraculously wound up being a white guy in the third one. What the hell, did Billy Dee go the Michael Jackson route or something? –norb (It’s Alive)


ATTIC TED, THE:
Land Suite: CD
Woozy outsider-pop that has something in common with the Country Teasers and Uberhund but tends to be noisier or more circusy, by turns, than those groups. Endearing, but a little annoying. –Cuss Baxter (Pecan Crazy)


ANSWER LIES, THE/ TULSA:
Split: 7”
The Answer Lies blast out four sloppy fast nuggets of sun-baked desert punk a la Scared of Chaka or the Weird Lovemakers. Keep an eye on Las Cruces, NM. It’s the next Asheville, for real. Tulsa sure does sound a lot like Hickey, not that that’s a bad thing. I hear they used to actually live in Tulsa, but now they’re in San Francisco. Both of these bands are great at what they do, but don’t really sound much like each other, which always makes for an excellent split. Get this or you’re a dumb turd. –ben (Repulsion)


ANSWER LIES, THE/ TULSA:
Split: 7”
I love bipolar splits that, on first listen, feel like there’s no way that these two bands should be put together. They work as three releases to suit your mood. Here, you can throw on The Answer Lies when you’re frustrated and need something fast and aggressive (think when hardcore was just starting to take on its own form). Or, if you’re feeling a bit more desperate, but are still able to laugh a bit at yourself (think Hickey), throw on the Tulsa side. But, if you’re feeling fine (or really mood swingy) and just want to listen to a pretty awesome slab of wax, go ahead and listen the whole way through. One of my favorite 7”s of the year yet. –megan (Repulsion/ Big Raccoon)


ANGEL CITY OUTCASTS:
Deadrose Junction: CD
Being on Sailor’s Grave and having the Wild West tattoo flash style graphics abound, I was sure that this was either going to be some kind of rockabilly or greaser rock or something… Let’s just say I wasn’t expecting what I got. No, I wasn’t prepared for the second coming of cock rock, and I’m not too sure that anyone should have to. Seriously, Angel City Outcasts sound like some ridiculous combination of Poison, Great White, and the rest of their ilk with the only distinction being that they may have slightly better production. I managed to listen to the first four songs in their entirety while walking to work. After that, I had to start skipping them after the first verse, and by the time I got to the shop I was hearing the melancholy strumming in the intro to what I can only guess was the token power ballad. My gag reflex forced me to turn it off. I hate the smell of denim and spandex in the morning… It smells of weakness.   –ty (Sailor’s Grave)


ABNER TRIO/ MAN AT ARMS:
Split: CD
Abner Trio: pretentious, wimpy emo. I hate it. “Thoughtful” guitars, “intelligent” and clearly enunciated vocals; AAARGH! Listening to this actually makes me mad. Man At Arms: Quirky, mathy, honky music with clearly enunciated vocals. I’m going to throw this CD in the garbage now. I’m not even gonna sell it to the used record store. Not even the crappy used record store. I don’t want anyone else to ever hear this; I hate it that much. –ben (Joyful Noise)


7000 DYING RATS:
Season in Hell: CD
I used to have a different 7000 Dying Rats CD that I bought when I was out of town because you always have to buy some kind of music when you go somewhere else, and the selection in Albuquerque was slim, and that looked like the best bet. I listened to it one time, so I can’t tell you what is sounded like, but probably kind of like this one except the metal parts probably weren’t as good. This one sounds like S.O.D. meets Mr. Bungle: competent but stylistically schizo jazz/ joke metal with rap (!) (!!) and between-song samples that clothesline any momentum the during-song songs occasion to develop. Sincerely yours, –Cuss Baxter (Hewhocorrupts)


20 BELOWS, THE:
Headaches and Moodswings: CD
Man, I thought I knew pop punk, but I guess I was wrong, because this came out of nowhere to me. Imagine if Cletus did another record, recorded it with Ryan Greene, invited Joe Queer and Jughead to play on some songs, and lost the “Hey, I’m drunk, again” songs. Here’s a reminder that Whoa Oh is one of the better pop punk labels going right now. –joe (Whoa Oh)


SCARRED, THE:
No Solution: CD
Young mohawky goodness, pure and simple. The Scarred somehow look and sound the part of punk from days gone by without going down the rehash road. It’s refreshing. The songs have an urgency and lack of hope that has me on the edge of my seat. I guess they kind of remind me of Broken Bottles (but not quite as good). –ty (Punkcore)


SATELLITERS:
Self-titled: CD EP
This long-standing beat/garage/psych unit from some country where they issue funny website addresses never truly connected with me; much like pretty much everything else on the Dionysus label, they always seemed like a slightly sterilized version of something that was supposed to be intrinsically rawer and cooler. Be that as it may, the band seems to have “progressed”—arguably for the better (gasp!)—mutating/evolving into something more akin to some of the less-horrible quote-college-rock-unquote units from the Southern Hemisphere ca. 1985 (Hoodoo Gurus… uh… shit, that’s all i can think of right now), and not at all un-Bigtime Records-ish, if you follow (and even if you don’t). What this means to the layman is that, although i still am not enervated in any meaningful way by this band, i am now somewhat more interested in the ways and means of how they go about not enervating me. BEST SONG: “It’s Not True” BEST SONG TITLE: “Your Stuff” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Band uses a Vox amp. Goodness. –norb (Dionysus)


SAM LOMBARDI:
Take Your Pic: CD
Picture if you will, Kelly Clarkson weaned on Johnny Thunders. Well, maybe not weaned, but told by some A&R weasel to dress that way because it’ll sell. Yep, this is pure teen pop crap. There’s quite the team of writers here. Some songs have up to five or six writers. Too bad Sam herself is only credited on four of them. The first song was kind of catchy (in an embarrassing, shameful kind of way), but I was redeemed when I couldn’t stand the rest of it. This should be standard mall fare in no time. –ty (Black Sea)


SAINTE CATHERINES, THE:
Dancing for Decadence: CD
Hey! Another band that flew under my radar and pops up out of nowhere! I see this band has already put out a couple of LPs, an EP and two splits. Where have I been? Clueless, as usual. A posse of six from Montreal, Canada is the culprit of creating this wall of noise. A mixture of small hints of Strike Anywhere, Hot Water Music, and maybe a double pinch of Strung Out. Melodic, but still hard driving. The production is top-notch in Fat fashion where every instrument is separate and identifiable, but melds as one. The vocal delivery is slightly gruff, but is in key and sung with conviction. The three guitars play a game of Twister with their intertwining harmonies and layers. There is no doubt these guys can play and show some anger in the process. A great introduction to another band I have never heard of before. –don (Fat)


SAINTE CATHERINES, THE:
Dancing for Decadence: CD
I remember in the summer of 1993, the big talk of the U.S. punk scene was Avail. They were awesome live, but all their records up until that point were pretty weak. Nothing they’d released had done a really good job of capturing their live energy. Then Dixie came out and Avail became the big shit of the ‘90’s. Dancing for Decadence is The Sainte Catherines’ Dixie. Finally, an album that is as dynamic and powerful as seeing them live. Imagine Tragedy playing Leatherface songs with catchy, anthemic choruses a la Strike Anywhere, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of where these six French-Canadians are coming from. Hugo’s lyrics straddle the line between personal emo-ish stuff and social statements calling the scene out on its shit, but always with enough intelligence to not sound cheesy. The three guitars are just different enough from one another to create a warm, dark melodic texture, but without losing their bite. I’m so glad The Sainte Catherines finally have a good recorded representation of how awesome they can sound. This band is gonna get fucking huge, so you might wanna get in on the ground floor and get this now. –ben (Fat)


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