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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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FUNCTIONAL BLACKOUTS:
Chemical Bath b/w Raw Dawg, Raw Deal + In My Vacuum: 7”
The a-side starts out with a chant, sprints into guitar-laden looptey loops, crashes at an intersection, unzips its pants, flops out a horn, goes back to the chant “Chem-i-cal, Chem-i-cal,” pauses again, and blasts for a third and last time. It’s part doses of the Clone Defects, the Tyrades, and the Thirteen Floor Elevators. My tolerance for “experimental rock” is limited, but the Blackouts succeed by the fact that they never forget to continue the “rock” part and keep pushing forward. The b-side is the more typical Functional Blackouts demolition derby. Lots of yellin’. Lots of bashin’. The feeling I get is that these folks would roll up a carpet after a show if there was enough beer to wring out of it, and drink in unhesitating, heavy gulps. Something definitely ain’t right with ‘em and that’s what makes ‘em so damn good. –todd (Wrench)


FUGUE, THE:
Mysterious Animals: CD
Straight up noise rock mongering going on here with no attempts whatsoever to sugarcoat it. Whether it’s good or not is dependent on your personal affection or aversion to this type of stuff, but if you’re of a mind to crank this kinda shit up, you could do much worse. Now excuse me as I render myself deaf. –jimmy (RIYL)


FRIED CHINESE DONALDS:
Declaration of Dependence: CD
Uninspiring rock with punk influences that follow the 4/4 too closely. The singer kinda sounds like Dicky Barrett. They may be a backyard or local favorite, but that does not motivate me to continue listening as a new listener. –don (Spastics)


FOLSOM:
If You’re a Viper: CDEP
First thing as this blasts out of the speakers is the thought, “My dick is bigger than your dick!” The machismo is rampant on this one. Like a fight about to break out and the bravado is flying as two males take off their shirts ready for a full-on brawl. No lyric sheet shows that someone is not the most proud. On the bright side, the music is powerful. It delves into rap metal at times, but the metal/hardcore makes up for it. –don (Spook City)


FLEAS AND LICE:
Recipes for Catastrophes: CD
It’s a repress of the LP that was originally released by Skuld in Germany in 2001 by a long-running band from Holland that started in 1993 who continues today flying the flag of crust punk and DIY. Male/female dual vocals are up front of the exchanging the message of what pisses them off. Musically, mid-tempo to fast Discharge meets Nausea punk rock that a lot of bands are playing today. Never really got around to buying their stuff, but it’s great to finally hear what they sound like after seeing so many of their patches on the kids these days. –don (Rodent Popsicle)


FLEAS AND LICE:
Early Years, Recipe for Catastrophe: CD
This is some pretty rote gutter punk fodder from Holland. Although they manage a mean racket, they ultimately ain’t anything to rave about, especially lyrically, and, as evidenced by the Early Years CD, a collection of tracks from old EPs and split releases, they never really were. –jimmy (Rodent Popsicle)


FLEAS AND LICE:
Early Years: CD
Collects their output from the early to mid-‘90s: their first EP and 12", and splits with Assrash and Bleeding Rectum. Dual-vocal crust punk with cookie-cutter lyrics that tackle the requisite topics: war, unity, anarchy, hangovers. All of this stuff was released on Skuld Records and much of it's ten years old or more—I presume these records are out of print now. So it's a nice CD for completists, I guess. –keith (Rodent Popsicle)


FLAMMING TSUNAMIS:
Zombies Vs. Robots: CD
This is essentially hardcore with horns and little bits of other styles thrown in to keep things interesting. Dunno, given the current “PC taken to reactionary extremes” state of much of the underground, how smart it is to lead off your CD with a tune called “Dead Girlfriends Can’t Break Up with You,” but I’ll give ’em chutzpah points for doing just that. –jimmy (Kill Normal)


FIVE OUTSIDERS, THE:
On the Run: CD
Soft and reverb-soaked cowpoke instrumental vistas as wide open as the high planes, drifting along like so many tumbleweeds. It’s kind of like having the Ventures play the theme songs from all your favorite spaghetti westerns while you sit in a warm bath tub, smoking a ratty cigar with your cowboy boots on. Surprisingly refreshing. I bet it would go good with a bottle of Mescal. –aphid (Acme)


FEDERATION X:
Rally Day: CD
Gritty rock with enough Sabbath-inspired sludginess smooshed in to give it a stoner sheen. Not bad. –jimmy (Estrus)


FATALS, THE:
Yeah Baby: 7”
Dunno what it is about this label, but everything I’ve ever heard has either been over the top, flat-out rockin’, or some combination thereof. Such is the case with these guys, who take the ‘60s trash thing, rip it to fucking shreds, and then piss all over the remains. If you’re into having your ears scrubbed with wire mesh while you rock out, this will more than do the trick. Good luck finding it, though, ’cause it’ll no doubt be long gone by the time you read this, but I highly recommend you put in some extra effort to seek it out. –jimmy (Zaxxon Virile Action)


GUTS, THE:
Sometimes You Just Can’t Win: CD
Maybe it’s because I had a lot of the Asian Man pop punk reissues in my review pile this rotation, and maybe I’ve just overdosed on pop punk, but I just don’t like this record. –megan (Cheapskate)


BLACK BEAUTIES, THE:
Catch a Beat: CD
Whine, whine, whine, guitar, guitar, the bass is lost in the mix, and the drums are only there to keep the beat. Live, I bet they’d be boring except I’d guarantee this guy prances a whole lot on stage, which would push it from simply ignorable into annoying. –megan (Full Breach Kicks)


FRANTIC, THE:
Self-titled: CDEP
If I see a big stereo on the cover, I’m going to immediately expect The Figgs (Lo-fi at Society High is well worth checking out). Those kinds of expectations make it pretty easy to be let down. It isn’t that this is necessarily bad, but if you can’t hold my interest through four songs, we’ve got a bit of a problem. –megan (www.the-frantic.com)


RIVERDALES:
Self-titled: CD
I probably have more friends who have a soft spot for anything that Ben Weasel (and for argument’s sake, I’ll throw Cometbus in there too) had anything to do with than those who don’t, and with good reason. He was incredibly influential on a whole strain of pop punk. The problem for me is that I’ve heard more of the bands who were influenced by his bands than of the original bands, and not all of those who drew their influences from it did something decent with that influence. Because of Ben, almost any pop punk band with whiny, nasal vocals (that I’m not all that particularly fond of in general) are given the “reminiscent of Screeching Weasel/ Riverdales” label.  I know it’s not necessarily fair to blame a band for all that comes after it, but it is hard after all the years to not connect their albums to those of their progeny. There’s twelve extra tracks (eight of them recorded live in 1995 and my favorite of this release, “No Sense”) here, and I’m sure this is essential for many a fan of pop punk fan, I just can’t see it getting much play on my stereo. –megan (Asian Man)


QUEERS, THE:
Love Songs for the Retarded: CD
This is kind of strange for me. I lived fifteen minutes from Portsmouth for years and never saw the Queers. I don’t think I can remember ever listening to them until some point in the past five years. So, now that Asian Man has re-released this, I was curious enough to pick it up. With pop punk, there are a lot of bands that I just somehow missed during the time when I was in the awkwardly pining stage that were eased by these song, thereby forever cementing those bands in many other people’s lives. As a first-time listener, I like it, but I can’t see it ever being an essential album for me. I just think that time passed for me. There are undeniably great songs on here (the ridiculously adorable “Debra Jean” and “Daydreaming” are probably the standouts for me). –megan (Asian Man)


VARIOUS ARTISITS:
Havoc: The First 15 Years: CD
I’ve never been the biggest fan of comps (and that is especially true of label-based comps), but there are definitely exceptions. The secret to a making a good comp is to make it feel more like a mix tape than a showcase. Pay attention to the pacing, the flow, and how everything fits together. With Havoc, they have the benefit of being able to throw on tracks by amazing bands like DS-13, Regulations, Kylesa, and Amdi Petersen’s Army. Aggressive, fast hardcore makes thirty-eight tracks fly by. Absolutely essential as an introduction to Havoc, and pretty crucial even if you’re well versed in their releases. –megan (Havoc)


TARTUFI:
Us Upon Buildings Upon Us: CD
The name reminds me of some sort of tofu ice cream, which leaves a similar bad taste in my mouth. Too arty to be indie/folk, but not arty enough to be all that interesting. –megan (Thread)


VIOLENT LOVES CLUB:
n.b.s.n.c.: LP
This Violent Lovers Club LP (n.b.s.n.c.) is a bit of let down, but not a complete disappointment. Harsh? Not sure. I mean, I’ve never heard Odie Furie’s stuff before (former figurehead of The Baseball Furies), but a lot of my homies (Todd Taylor sticks out) really loved them. So, yeah, I was expecting something—like—really good, but all I got was okay; again, this is taking into consideration the constant praises the Furies received. (I gotta say, having Wes from the Clone Defects on the album—currently playing with Miss Alex White—who’s self-titled In the Red Records release was arguably the best album of 2005—leads me to expect something big! And I mean really big!) And, yeah, the record’s all right. It has a mellow early ‘70s glam feel to it, with hints of retarded genius (see Jonathan Richman). It’s not blowing my pancreas out like Peter Laughner’s stuff, but it’s certainly better than ninety-five percent of the junk I receive. So what’s that mean? Look for it in the discount or used racks. And In Closing: If you want to squabble about “Oh, that’s not fair to compare his old stuff—which you haven’t heard—to his new stuff,” then go take a hike to your friend’s house or local record store and buy/steal/con this album outta them. You can write me a review and send it to my email address (just be sure not to give it out to people): cardcheat53@hotmail.com. Last Thought: Look, guys and gals, as a record reviewer for a magazine whose opinions are not dictated by record label interests, I gotta look out for you. I won’t recommend half-way there records. This album is an okay release for Big Neck Records (they released that Lost Sounds’ LP, which is not as good as Jay Reatard’s solo record which—as of November 28, 2006—is the best record of the year, so far). It’s like if you had an okay Fall or John Cale album. You know at the very worst it’s gonna be mediocre, and a lot of people at their best aren’t even close to tepid. I mean, just read Louis-Ferdinand Celine. –ryan (Big Neck)


HIPSHAKES, THE:
Not Oblivians E.P.: 7”
This 7” is called Not Oblivians E.P. cuz the two original songs on it (“Big Black Hole,” “Never Enough”) share the same name as (surprise!) Oblivians ones. Okay. To further the garage-punk link, the album’s on Goner Records (you know, the Memphis-based label that sometimes releases Jay Reatard’s records; the same one that put out the Reigning Sound live album—recorded at their storefront—last year). Anyway, yeah, this album sounds a lot like the Oblivians—with a bass guitar. In short: it’s really boring. Apparently the Hipshakes have forgotten it’s 2006, and simply rehashing Eric, Greg and Jack’s old shtick (you know—Swamp Rats mixed with the Misfits) is really redundant. (I mean, there are—like—thousands of bands currently doing the same thing.) And while I’m not debating the difficulty of replicating the Oblivians’ sound (it’s harder than one thinks), it’s time to move on (see the Reigning Sound’s last album, Miss Alex White and the Red Orchestra’s Self-titled record or the Deadly Snakes’ Porcella). Ultimately, the Hipshakes sound only slightly more informed than those campy bands replicating the “sound of ‘77.” –ryan (Goner)


GUITAR FUCKER:
Maximum Napalm Blues: CD
Songs off of this album include: “Porn Flakes,” “In Bed with Mickey Mouse,” “Peter Pan’s Toilet Boy,” “Fuck Me I’m Poor.” Pretty self-explanatory. I’d use this disc for skeet shooting, but my girlfriend took my shotgun away cuz she was afraid I’d end up shooting myself in the head. –ryan (Little Records, www.little.ch)


BRYCE AUBREY:
Boom Bang City: CD
Lou Reed and Paul Westerberg couldn’t sing. Fortunately for them, they were two of rock’s best lyricists. Like Papa Lou and Uncle Paul, Bryce Aubrey also cannot sing. The clincher: he can’t write a good song either. Bummer. –ryan (Self-released, www.bryceaubrey.com)


RADON:
Metric Buttloads of Rock: CD
At first, it’s strange to think of certain punk bands as “cult favorites.” Either people know ‘em and like ‘em or don’t. Punk (well, creative, DIY punk) is a small universe. But then, I got to thinking that Radon—who’ve been around for a long time—seemed to implode (as a band) every time they left the state of Florida when they were a full-time band. Much like California’s Crowd: their power lay in their home base, the fanaticism of their fans, and the undeniable quality of songwriting. The first contact I ever had with Radon was in a tiny record/clothing store in L.A. Chris Wollard of Hot Water Music was wearing their T-shirt. The next time I saw Hot Water, I asked him about the band. He couldn’t say enough good things. I eventually ordered their early singles, and slowly, but surely, got hooked. I don’t think I even more than kinda liked them at first—they reminded me of early Replacements with a fixations on penis (balls, length, elastic qualities of the scrote, boner-time, and more)—but they’re spore-like. Radon began to scratch a very specific itch and by the time I raised the flag into full-bore fandom, they’d broken up. Well, apparently, they’re making a “career” of the breakups and reunions. I think they’re on their tenth (?) “last show ever,” and have plans for more. Metric Buttloads of Rock is a bit of a misnomer, though. This outing is the most indie rock Radon so far. It’s not a diss; there’s more singing, less pounding, and more intricacy (the dick fixation is still there). What else is the same? Their ability to make songs that switch from completely absurd, to honest, to serious without the whole affair being a mess. This record has been slow on opening up to me, but I’m sure it eventually will. Every release so far has. –todd (No Idea)


DT’S, THE:
Hard Soul Hits! Vol. 1: CD
I just reviewed a band called the Paybacks, and it’s amazing that I have almost the same comments for the DT’s. The showcase here is Diana Young-Blanchard’s vocals. Even more so than Wendy Case, Diana sounds (almost pitch-perfect) like Janice Joplin (who they cover). The good news is that The DT’s sound unaffected; they don’t sound like they’re straining to be anything that they’re not: a firm, sure-playing rock band. This is underscored by the fact that most—if not all—of the songs are covers from a wide range rock’s greats (AC/DC, Roky Erikson, Booker T and the MGs). The playing’s immaculate. But here’s where I get 50/50. Unlike the Dirtbombs and The Detroit Cobras, who both do plenty of covers, I don’t think I hear enough of the DT’s poking their instruments through the thick veils of influence. Also, I loved, loved, loved the Monomen, and although I know it’s unfair to Dave Crider (Estrus Records honcho and member of the Monomen), to expect him to put his musical life on repeat for a single fan, I’m wishing for a little bit more dynamite in the monitors for me to start raving about the DT’s. –todd (Get Hip)


PAYBACKS, THE:
Love, Not Reason: CD
I’m of two minds with the Paybacks, much like I am with the Bellrays. On the definite plus side of the equation is glorious, soulful, strident female vocals over hard rock and punk. Songs like “Love Letter” are anthemic, arena-filling stompers that showcase a voice that’s in league with both Aretha Franklin and Janice Joplin. Bitchin’ and well worth the listen. On the negative side—and I know it’s me—I hate solos, wig outs, jams, freak outs, and anyone playing Jimi Hendrix-inspired guitar who isn’t Jimi Hendrix. And there’s a fair amount of that in the Paybacks, too. 50/50. –todd (Savage Jams, www.thepaybacks.com)


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·#239 with Jimmy Alvarado
·Webcomic Wednesdays #42
·VARIOUS ARTISTS
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·SHORTCUTS, THE
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·Webcomic Wednesdays #8
·QUINTRON & MISS PUSSYCAT
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