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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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ELECTRIC KISSES, THE:
Self-titled: LP
Here’s the disclaimer: Mike Frame, who’s in this band, does reviews and interviews for us. So take this how you will. The Electric Kisses are Nikki Corvette-style fun. Simple, stripped, direct, clear punk rock that’s poppy. They seem so internal and comfortable with punk rock: declaring a person’s love is stuck to B-side status, that friends are either dead or have stopped living, and it’s all wrapped around one of those honking big lollipops swirled with a rainbow of colors, with a carbon monoxide center. The one thing I wished on the initial listens: more immediate explosions and pock marks. But it’s weird—compared to, say, The Eyeliners or Riff Randles—where, at first, I was floored, and then, later, I wouldn’t have minded a little more (which I think those bands were capable of)—The Electric Kisses deliver in dosed drips. The details slowly pop out and splash a new clarity to the songs: “Oh shit, they totally ripped off The Kids cover (down to the tape on the edges),” and “for being lyrics about adolescent-type sounding stuff, they’re really seasoned. I don’t feel like a pedophile listening to this.” So, yup, count me as a fan, more and more with each successive listen. Cool stuff. –todd (Full Breach Kicks)


DUEL, THE:
Let’s Finish What We Started: CD
Band from London that would easily get lumped into a label as a ‘77 punk band. A lot of those characteristics are there, but so much more is put on the plate. They have the rock elements like many bands from that era, but they also infuse some new wave and death rock into the mix: like Siouxsie and the Banshees with the Bauhaus meets Gary Numan at a Vice Squad gig. They go beyond the punk rock standard of guitars and drums and add keyboards. What caught my attention right off the bat is the great vocal stylings of lead singer, Tara. She has a great voice that compleiments well with the music being played. With a different engineer or producer and a better equipped studio, I think they can better capture her true vocal capabilities and really improve upon what they have been building. Live recordings are not my cup of tea, but their cover of the Ramones’ “Pet Cemetery” that is on this disc shows that even in a raw situation they can sound good. If they had recorded it in the studio, I think it would have been fantastic. I’ll be interested to hear what this band accomplishes on their next release. –don (Ffruk)


DRI:
Dirty Rotten LP (on CD): CD
After numerous reissues with different mixes, different covers and assorted bonus tracks added, Beer City has released this, the Dirty Rotten EP, with its original track listing, original mix and original cover art (gotta say, I haven’t seen a “mange” cut in many a moon). Hard to believe it’s been twenty-three years since this monster was unleashed on an unsuspecting hardcore public. The thing to keep in mind is that when this was originally released as a 7” EP in 1983, precious few bands came close to the velocity these guys demonstrated on this record—and they were even faster live. By cramming twenty-two tracks onto a 7”, they also snatched the title of “We Crammed the Most Songs oOnto a A 45” champions from Canada’s The Neos, who only managed a paltry fourteen. Take that, back-bacon eaters! USA! USA! USA! Further, that speedy little slab of wax influenced a whole swath of bands, especially metalheads like Slayer and,  I’m figuring, Napalm Death, to up the ante a bit. Hell, I personally can remember my jaw hitting the floor when I first heard “Blockhead” on a late-night radio show back then and becoming an instant fan (although my brother buying the “LP” version and his insistence on playing it on 45 instead of 33 1/3 for the next decade because he thought it was “too slow” diminished its luster for me a bit). Although time, legions of apers, and the race to make music at ever greater velocity have conspired to reduce the impact of this a bit now for first-time listeners, it still remains a pummeling thing of wonder—twenty-two songs in eighteen minutes, all of it fast almost to the point of silliness, with nary a second wasted. It was a damn shame this remains their high point, as they degenerated into a bad speed metal band within three to four years of its release. Hopefully, Kurt and the boys ain’t trying to soak the hordes with full-LP prices for it, though, ‘cause no matter the format, this is still a 45’s worth of music and to pass it off as anything more is a bit disingenuous. –jimmy (www.beercity.com)


DOWN AND AWAY:
To Serve and Protect: CD
Swedish band that perfectly blends the middle ground between fellow countrymen Smalltown and Bombshell Rocks. Cool mid-tempo street punk with a real rock’n’roll undercurrent. Reminds me a little of the more recent Ducky Boys stuff, which is high praise. If you can’t get enough of that catchy sub Rancid sound, this is one of the best bands you can hope to find right now. –frame (Mad Butcher)


DOG ASSASSIN:
Imperial States of America: 7”EP
Sweet zombie Jesus, I don’t know where this came from, but I’m glad it got here. Five songs of awesome thrash that could probably be looked at oin the same level as anything on Havoc. To sweeten the deal, this came with free stuff, and the vinyl looks great (half black, half red). But the kicker—the cover has Darth Vader on it! This is too good to be true. At first, I thought I may have to donate this to the Star Wars bathroom in Hotel Astoria, but screw that, I’m not giving this away so easily. –joe (Spacement)


DIRTY PRETTY THINGS:
Waterloo to Anywhere: CD
My best friend was telling me about this relationship book she was reading. Apparently, different people “perceive love” in different ways: some perceive love through physical affection—PDAs and that sort of thing; some through gift-giving (well, gift-receiving); and some through good communication. We decided I fell into this last group. And since I perceive love verbally, naturally it explains why I love this record so goddamn much. Every song has some astonishing little lyrical moment (not just phrases here and there but entire verses) that leaves a verbally inclined listener in rock’n’roll heaven and absolutely feeling the love. Carl Barât, the man behind the pen and one of two guitars, was one of the two front men of The Libertines. That band re-made the musical landscape in the U.K. and then promptly self-immolated, mostly because of Pete Doherty’s colossal drug addiction. In the years since, Doherty has proved to be a determined drug addict, repeatedly flouting the law and rehab, and a popular subject for the scandal-hungry British tabloids. His band produced a great shambling mess of a record last year and Barât meanwhile formed DPTs with Gary Powell, also an ex-Libertine. They and their two cohorts have produced a glorious crop of fast, guitar-driven, irresistibly catchy, punkish melodies wrapped around a dark and layered lyrical core. Lyrics, which—Barât being a proper Brit—are oh so terribly clever. Songs that feel good right away but then give you something to think about on repeated listening (including the suspicion that Barât was the necessary piece that made the brilliance of The Libertines whole.). Some songs deal with his Libertines past (“Deadwood”; “Bang Bang You’re Dead”; “Blood Thirsty Bastards”), which obviously makes for fascinating between-the-lines listening for anybody who is a fan of that band. Others are introspective glimpses of a fertile mind at unrest (“The Enemy”; “Gin and Milk”) and still others are amazing chunks of weirdness: the pleading, near hysterical vocals on “If You Love a Woman,” or the teenage druggie prostitute protagonist of “You Fucking Love It.” (A mini show review digression: DPTs played in L.A. in August and I can’t remember a punk rock moment as satisfying as shrieking “You Fucking Love It,” loud and fast, sandwiched amongst similarly delirious people, while Barât jumps around madly on stage—despite an arm in a sling from a broken collar bone—and who, I might add, looks spectacularly hot in his tight little English rocker-boy pants.). But in case you’re not verbally inclined, you should listen to this collection of songs simply because they rock. Really, really hard. Then pass it on to your “perceives love through receiving gifts” friend and spread the love. –Sara –Staff (Mercury, UK)


DIE PRINCESS DIE:
Lions Eat Lions: CD
Jerky and loud dance-wave with some of your pugilistic Lightning Bolt action, a bit of your quavery Locust keyboard business, a little of your hyper rave synth that always comes out of convertibles (at least in San Diego), assorted bloops and squonks, a couple feedbacks and a very large number of carefully-arranged drum beats. –Cuss Baxter (Gold Standard Laboratories)


DEVIL’S CHAMPION:
Condemned Messiah: CD-R
Demo from a metal band that is a cross between Black Sabbath and Lamb Of God. Three songs that sounded like they were all in the same tempo. It’s a tad slow and the songs run a little long for my tastes. –don (Self Released)


DESTRUCTORS 666/THE 925s:
Sturm Unt Drang: Split CD
Destructors: Man, these guys are just crankin’ tunes out. Three more here, mid-tempo punk ditties sonically along the lines of the Insane or Blitz sans the rawness. Not near the manic tempos their ‘80s incarnation specialized in, but good nonetheless. 925s: First tune is kinda punk, kinda dancey, kinda death rocky, with a post-punk sheen that works in all the important ways. Same can pretty much be said about the other two tunes. Good stuff all around on this disc. –jimmy (www.destructors666.com)


DEMON’S CLAWS:
Live in Spring Branch, TX: 12” EP
Demon’s Claws spit out (I don’t think “play” is the right word) root slappy, slap happy slop-punk so raw it makes Billy Childish sound like the Engelbert Humperdinck. Like if Dan Melchior drank a gallon of Thunderbird and three pots of coffee. (At once, I mean, and then performed some songs—I don’t imagine he’d sound like this if he was just sitting around reading a book or preparing a tart.) Barely-tuned guitars sunk in reverb and a one-two drumkit that sounds to consist of just a kick, snare and a cymbal or two (drummer Skip Jensen also does a one-man-band thing and is, or was, in the Scat Rag Boosters, if that rings anyone’s bathtub) set up Royce Muckler’s mouthful-of-grubs gibber and wail (and, furthermore, shriek and moan). I don’t think the “Live” in the title means a public performance, but I have no doubt the recordings were done in one take, with the exception of “incidental noises” recorded in a cave (actual cave, not metaphor for heavy-handed reverb). Also, really nice black and blue marbled vinyl; possibly the most beautiful record I’ve ever seen. Beats pink and white marbled’s pansy ass to a pulp. –Cuss Baxter (Hook or Crook)


DEMOLITION DOLL RODS:
There Is a Difference: CD
Swamp-blues swagger that plods along at two miles an hour. I don’t know, like if the Muffs and/or the Detroit Cobras were collectively hit by semis, dragged along the freeway past a few exits, subsequently hurled into the ocean and hauled to the sea bottom by turtles? The point is: it’s slooow, damaged and, yeah, torturous. I’ve heard the name for years, and they’re on Swami, so there must be tons of kids who dig the slop-savant, I-could-walk-faster-than-this rock they’re peddling, but I’m not one of them. There are a few moments on here (“Lil’ Naked” resonates eerily like something from Horses-era Patti Smith), but the good just doesn’t come anywhere near outweighing the awful. –keith (Swami)


DEMOLITION DOLL RODS:
There Is a Difference: CD
Joyful, primitive sounds soaked in whiskey and sleaze. The drumming is so simple you’d think Mo Tucker’s mongoloid brother was thumping out beats behind the kit. Plenty of guitar fuzz and soulful, Joplin-esque vocals make this sound like a greasier version of the Subsonics. There is a Difference is a celebration of the carnal, a lusty, punk blues explosion of sex and rock’n’roll. Recommended. –benke (Swami)


DEJA MORT / TEKKEN:
Split: 7”
Two French punk bands. It’s oddly reassuring that—barring a shared language, over 5,000 miles of separation between France and L.A., and two different cultures—that punks can artfully gripe about essentially the same things (internet warriors flaming bands but having no real friends and the over-ubiquity of back patches are in the laundry list). Deja Mort is right at my speed. They wrap and warp cataclysm, sinewy keyboard, desperation, ‘80s punk, and misbehaving android background vocals around a French-sounding version of Ass Cobra-era Turbonego. Cool. Tekken: You can almost hear the bullet belts tinkle in the background. It’s world hardcore with a crust center and metal hinges. Thankfully, they’ve got more than one speed, so the drumming doesn’t sound like a direct feed into a metronomic cement mixer. Actually, they kept on making me think of infested rats playing dungeon music at hyper speed while being attacked by vultures made of poop, which is probably exactly what they were shooting for. Liked it. –todd (Trahison)


DEEP SLEEP:
You’re Screwed: 9-song 7”EP
I’ve got a shiny spot in my skull for straight-ahead hardcore. I’m talking hardcore that’s on this side of the fence of thrash where warp-speed melodies can sneak in and it’s not all a blur and a burp. I’m talking hardcore made by folks who aren’t a group of Sta-Puft Marshmallow Men of Muscles playing metal and punching themselves. I’m talking Out Cold, Career Suicide, Pedestrians, and Direct Control: the freaks, retards, and misfits who’re flat-out angry, articulate, and loud. I always find a space in my record collection for ‘em. I find them therapeutic. They’re simple and as effective as a nail; just the right amount of scraping edge when it’s shoved in your ear, and it helps etch out the rust that inevitably collects up there. Yup. There’s a lot to be said about a newly shiny skull. Excellent stuff. –todd (Grave Mistake)


DATELESS:
Everything Could Turn Out Right This Time: CD
I’m kind of looking forward to the forthcoming Screeching Weasel/Lillingtons/Queers style pop punk revival. I think we’ve learned a lot from the mistakes of the past and we’re ready to try this again. We’re going to have to be a lot more selective as to whom we hand out leather jackets to but I think we can make this work. Now Dateless, I’m issuing you all Members Only jackets. You’re in on a trial basis. You’ve got to prove yourself by working on your choruses and doing a drive by on a metalcore band. Bring me back a bloody bible from Underoath’s tour bus and we’ll get you a real leather jacket you can wear with pride. Weasel por vida esé. –Steveo (Self-released)


DAN PADILLA:
Self-titled: CD
J. Wang (lead singer of Dan Padilla) is one of the most earnest people I’ve ever met, and it shows through in his lyrics: “A simple life should stand for something/ Don’t ask me what because I don’t know.” The approach of questioning (whether the realm is personal or global) without preaching a solution is refreshing. With songs ranging from the serious and political (“Fear and Tera and Scarlett O’Hara” and “We Run”) to the less serious “Shit’s Tight (their version of the Misfits’ “We Bite”) and a sound like Tiltwheel and Altaira (there are members of both in Dan Padilla) birthed their love child on the western shores of Florida, I can’t see how someone couldn’t find something not to like on this one. It makes me long for summer, slow days, and fast friends. –megan (A.D.D.)


DAMAGE CASE:
Tyranny: CD
Mid-tempo hardcore stuff with enough UK82/metal influence to please fans of the Virus. While their efforts are in line with much of your average parrot-punk bands, they manage to be significantly catchier and more lyrically astute than the lion’s share of their contemporaries. –jimmy (Punkcore)


DAGGERS, THE:
Tear It to Pieces: CD
Regurgitated mid-to-late ‘90s L.A. punk, a la The Humpers (RIP), but from Canada—that explains everything. –thiringer (Sloth)


CROSSBRED:
Take off Your Fuckin’ Vanity: 3” CD
Twenty-minute mildly harsh racketscape with exciting surges, swelling rumbles, razory feedback spikes, crystalline oscillations, square waves, one vaguely rhythmic segment, machine noises, heavily-altered music samples, and a little yelling. Comes in a plastic petri dish with red stuff. –Cuss Baxter (Apop)


CRIMINAL CLASS USA:
Hush Hush Revolution: CD
Considering it was on Arkam, I had these vain hopes that CCUSA was going to be some sort of all-star lineup of Pine Hill Haints people doing straight-up punk songs or something. I mean, come on, what was I supposed to think? There’s the vaguely political title, the packaging’s got this red-black-white color scheme going on, there’s lot of rad pixellated images, and mildly incendiary song titles like “Freedom Hills” and “Many Weapons Many Men.” This, however, wasn’t the case. So you’ll pardon me if I was bit disappointed with this one—mostly due to, yeah, those preconceived expectations. Because there are moments where the, like, punkness shines through a bit on this one, but it’s not nearly as consistent or powerful as I was hoping it’d be. The tracks on Hush Hush Revolution are peppered throughout with pretty blasé instrumentals, the music as a whole is kind of lacking in hooks, and I’ve listened to the entire album multiple times, and unfortunately nothing really stands out besides the last song, a fiery, four-and-a-half minute barnstomper called “Run and Hide.” They’ve apparently toured with the Stockyard Stoics; their influences seem to be drawn equally between bands of that ilk and dark, rootsy country music. Like I said, it wasn’t a flop of an album by any means, just wasn’t as spectacular as I was hoping it’d be. –keith (Arkam)


CRACKJAW:
Giants from the Stereo: CD
A four-piece dare I say nü-metal band from Detroit that is clearly making an attempt to grasp the brass ring. Videos on MTV2 and hoodies at Hot Topic soon to follow I’m sure. Maybe even a Warped Tour date. –greg (I Scream)


CONFRONT:
Life, Death and Everything in Between: CD
You gotta give them credit for trying. I mean, what a title this CD has. Unfortunately, the result falls some what short of the ambition. A bit better than your typical Cookie Monster swallowing the microphone sort of neo-hardcore that I hear so much of, but only a bit. They love each other, they love you, and they hate everything else. Don’t spend too much time trying to figure that out. It’s really not worth it. –brian (Lude Boy)


CLOROX GIRLS:
This Dimension b/w Animal Eyes: 7”
This one’s all about the packaging—red, one-sided square vinyl with the b-side hand spray painted with the band’s name (try downloading that on MP3)—because both of these songs have been previously released. (“Animal Eyes” is a cover of lead singer, Justin’s, dad’s old L.A. band, the Defenders, who sung it when they played here.) All that said, the Clorox Girls are fungal. I didn’t find them insta-brilliant nor whoah-kill-me-great right from the start, but there was this nagging tickle that made me put their records back on over and over again. What could have been empty, calorie-free agitated pop has proven to be rattling, spastic punk in the vein of the Cheifs and Weirdos that gains weight and nutritional value the more it gets played. Real and really good. Recap: fuckin’ cool artifact—one that I’m keeping—but not essential if you’re in it just for the tunes. –todd (Jonny Cat)


CLOAK / DAGGER:
Piñata: 7” EP
Decent enough punk stuff here. None of it is by any means over the top, but they are solid in their delivery and the songs don’t suck. –jimmy (Grave Mistake)


CHORDS ARE DEAD:
The Siren: EP
So this came with a press sheet telling me how this band nerds out over all sounds of weird underground/indie rock, like Hüsker Dü, and The Wipers. I proceeded to put this on, expecting all sorts of crazy weird insane noise, I got weird, borderline psychedelic, but all in all mellow jams. It’s okay, and while I put it back on the shelf for now, knowing me I’ll come across it about a month from now and be all “Oh My God I Haven’t Listened To This In Forever!” –joe (Self-released)


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