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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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J CHURCH:
Seishun Zankoku Monogatari: CD
This is the San Francisco trio’s second Japan-only release. The title roughly translates to Cruel Story of Youth. Half of the songs are covers and half are originals that veer all over the map stylistically but somehow hold together. “Who Killed Pasolini?” laments the loss of the important Italian writer/poet—“Who took Pasolini’s life/a prostitute of the extremist right?/why has no one cared enough to take his spirit’s fight?” “Near 600 Pages” is another literary discussion that goes beyond your basic freshman English class concerns. The covers range from The Cars to Richard Hell. The Fall’s “Psycho Mafia” seems to be stuck in my skull the most. Cool guitar riffage and heartfelt vocals make this one to seek out—or even order as a pricey import. Makes me want to find out more about this band that has been deserving increased attention for far too long. –koepenick (Snuffy Smile)


INSAINTS, THE:
Sins of Saints: CD
The only things i really remember about the Insaints from back when was that they did a record with the Diesel Queens (turns out to be the only record they made), the singer was Tim Yohannan’s girlfriend, and something about a stage show involving lesbians, urine, and a banana (Stop! You had me at “urine!”). That said, in the cold hard light of 21st Century retrospection, i am shocked, grossed and mildly agog that this band was only represented by that one measly split double-45 in the product-happy ‘90s: This shit is pretty fuckin’ good. While i can honestly say that i have never understood the appeal of pierced nipples on any level, and that music which accompanies a noteworthily confrontational stage show is generally either funny once (if that) or abrasive-and-nothing-else (if that), to say that the Insaints sound kinda like one imagines the Avengers might have sounded like were they fronted by a dominatrix (but not in a cheesy way—in, like, a FOR REAL way) is not an untoward stretch of the imagination by any means. A few tracks here and there might bring glimpses of Lunachicksville to mind, but, all told, this stuff has got WAY more in common with the classical model of female-fronted West Coast punk bands (Avengers, UXA, VKTMS, DOA—er, never mind that last one) than i would have ever suspected. Singer Marian Anderson’s fatal OD in 2001 seems as wasteful and stupid as my sister-in-law’s SUV. Could people please stop doing that? BEST SONG: “Losers Club” BEST SONG TITLE: “Mikey Like It” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Record is co-dedicated to Tim Yohannan, whose name is misspelled “Yahannon” twice herein, which is interesting because 1. In Bob Dylan’s book Chronicles: Volume One, he misspells the Minneapolis street name “Hennepin” as “Hinnepen”—reversing the position of the first and last vowel just as was done with “Yahannon;” and 2. The reason why i am highly sensitized to the spelling of Tim’s last name is because i still have the yellow Post-It™ he sent me stating “If you’re gonna bitch slap me, at least spell my name right! It’s YOHANNAN!” –norb (Disaster)


IF MAN IS FIVE:
Blood Is the Ink, Hate Is the Story: CD
A sonically schizophrenic hodge-podge of metal, punk, faux-goth and arty tinges, the result of which, while not particularly enthralling, was well executed. The singer has a nice voice. I honestly don't mean to diss them, but they sound like so many gloomy "alternative metal" bands that populated the Sunset Strip clubs in the ‘90s. –jimmy (www.blackazul.com)


I:
The Nominonivore: CD
A very commercial sounding alt-rock album, recorded on Pro Tools. Should garner them much attention and inevitable fame if they know how to play the game. I (meaning me, not the band), however, will never listen to this again, 'cause intentionally mainstream tripe like this just makes my flesh do the boogaloo. –jimmy (Sling Slang)


HOTPIPES, THE:
The Deadly Poison: CD
Picture this. A Chris Cornell (Soundgarden/Audioslave) soundalike sings for a college rock band that sounds a little like Led Zeppelin. Woohoo! Find it now in a used bin near you! –don (Vacant Cage)


HOLY MOUNTAIN, THE:
Bloodstains Across Your Face in Decline...: CD
This is one of the dudes from Combatwoundedveteran, who I always liked but they seemed to kinda pigeonhole themselves. This new band is way more diverse. It's great hardcore that draws from a lot of stuff: there's some d-beat, some thrash, some gnarly blastbeats and even a little bit of dark melody to it. Their cover of Crass' "Big Hands" is really good. They do an excellent job of capturing the feel of what made the original good, and then take it up a notch to fit well with the rest of the songs on the record. If you're into stuff like the Sainte Catharines, you'll dig the Holy Mountain. I wish No Idea would put out more records like this. –ben (No Idea)


HOLY GHOST, THE:
Welcome to Ignore Us: CD
Rolling Stone says it “evokes a Tarantino-esque landscape populated by Yakuza and CIA.” I couldn’t agree more if I knew how in the hell that relates to music. Let’s just say I have a strong feeling they’ve got fans who wear ties and have haircuts like Rod Stewart had in the ‘70s. –megan (Clearly)


HOLLOW POINTS:
Annihilation: CDEP
Very solid debut by these street punks from Seattle. A teaser at only five songs, but more than enough to get your blood pumping. I now find myself waiting impatiently for their full-length due out in February on Disaster. –toby (Dirtnap)


HAVOC, THE:
Road Warrior: CDEP
While this record may be a bit contrived and even a bit clichéd at times (tunes about hard life, burning stuff down, and self-indulgent angst), what this record may lack in originality it more than makes up for in spirit. It’s kind of like throwing cans of beer at busses and parking meter checkers while careening downtown at ninety miles per hour in a ’69 Mustang GT—it’s been done before, but it’s still fun and demands notice. With three studio tracks, including a Partisans cover, and three live tracks, it’s a nifty little package that makes want to wreck stuff with glee. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Punk Core)


HATED PRINCIPLES:
MTA: 7”
Been a couple o’ moons since Don’s floated some new HP product this way, and it’s always a treat when he does. As can be expected, this one’s a gasser. Side one’s a couple of potent doses of L.A. hardcore circa ’83 (a different version of “Cops from Hell” was featured on the second We Got Power comp), and side two features Katz warblin’ (who knew he could sing???) on a mid-tempo, latter-day-White-Flagish punker tune, and a short thrasher about L.A.’s public transit system. Some good shit here, kids, the kind that can only come outta people who’ve been hangin’ around the block more than a few years. –jimmy (Gothic Gospel)


HARPOON GUNS:
Wage War on the Whale Eaters: Cassette tape demo
If a quartet of sub-20s are to be believed, these fired-up youngsters recorded this five song (3:38 minute) demo one month after formation and (I do not shit you here:) it sounds like the Teen Idles (not Idols) doing Battalion of Saints (not Pants)! The sounds sound like shit, but my ears—if not yours—learned long ago to cope with punk demo production values. The lyrics are kind of dumb, and I was a little disappointed to find out the song I thought went “Speed disease, let’s go!” really goes “Speed disease, it kills!”, but man they got some fierce punk going on, and apparently their friend’s label is issuing a ten-song 7", so I’m all spittled up and ready for more. And, hey! I like Coke (not coke) too! –Cuss Baxter (harpoonguns@gmail.com)


GRUDGES, THE:
Self-titled: 7”
Side A of this extra heavy (as in weight, not content) record has two songs done at breakneck speeds, reminiscent of extremely fast Minor Threat or Black Flag songs. Side B has slower, more mediocre punk. According to the insert, the record label made 109 pink, 110 blue, 99 lime, 221 heavy black vinyl, along with 25 alternate sleeves and 14 super secret special editions. This 7” isn’t bad, but to me it’s not groundbreaking enough to wow a record label into warranting the production of all of these different versions. Whatever floats your boat, I guess. –mrz (Delta Pop Music)


GIBBONS:
Hope Inc.: CD
Fuck yeah! These guys seem to be headed in the same direction that the Carrie Nations are, but via the Leatherface express. Very honest, very endearing tunes from three guys in Ferndale, MI. The feel of this record is oddly kinda summed up by the letter they included with the CD, written to us while "in class" by the guy that put it out. These kids are really putting their hearts into this and it shows. I bet they'd be great in a crowded basement on a summer night. –ben (Salinas)


GIANT DRAG:
Lemona: CDEP
What would love feel like if it hit me? Like a swift kick to my family jewels? Perhaps, but I don’t get the answer from the first song on this record—“This Isn’t It.” This Hollywood duo sometimes sounds like Johnette from Concrete Blonde (cool), but other times the overdubbed choruses sound like Lush (not so cool). “YFLMD” has a nice lock-step groove and “Jonah Ray is AOkay” has trace effects of Mazzy Star but with louder guitars. The video on the CD features the lead singer in bed with random dudes getting up, zipping up their pants and then leaving. What does this mean? Oh well. Hard to make a definitive judgment from five songs but there are certainly other CDs I would grab first to use as a drink coaster. –koepenick (Wichita)


GAY FOR JOHNNY DEPP:
Erotically Charged Dance Songs for the Desperate: CD
Nine short blasts of skronk, not unlike yer average Locust record, minus the cool titles and wicked fast drumbeats. Although I dug the band name and the title, I can't say I was all that impressed with the music itself. –jimmy (Firefly)


FURY OF A THOUSAND ZEUSES:
Habanero Enema: 7” EP
The cover’s drawn by someone of third-grade ability depicting Zeus (a bearded man holding a lightning bolt) giving an enema to another bearded man with really short arms. The music follows suit in an early Meatmen, covered-in-honey, standing-on-an-anthill spazzy way. It’s endearing, much like how pre-first-album Descendents sounded, where it’s too fast and abrasive to be considered poppy, but they’re just too dorky to be considered hardcore. Hopefully, coming to a basement or backyard BBQ near you soon. I like. –todd (Dinkus)


FUNERAL DRESS:
Party Political Bullshit: CD
“Safety pins through my nose/smelly combats around my toes...." Dunno when, dunno where, but somehow garbage like this, which would've elicited open ridicule and probably more than one serious ass-beating for the band twenty years ago, has become the punk rock norm in certain dank corners. It would be one thing if they were some sort of parody band, like Anarchy 6 or Crucial Youth, but these guys, along with all the other parrot punk hordes, appear intent on being living stereotypes, all spikes and crazy color with absolutely no substance whatsoever. I usually don't get all "back in my day" about things, but bands like this make me so glad I grew up when I did 'cause the last thing I would’ve wanted as a kid was to be openly associated with people and bands so intent on flaunting such vapid stupidity and so hell-bent on being the equivalent of a conformist’s Colorforms play set: all plastic and no depth whatsoever. –jimmy (SOS)


FUNERAL DRESS:
Come on Follow: CD
The fact that this band has eluded me since the mid-‘80s is no surprise. To see that they have put a large batch of releases from that time to the present shows that punk is too big for one person to understand. So I have to go with what I know. I don’t believe this band is from the UK but definitely not from the states. They play a strong brand of Britpunk and oi that is well studied and played with competence. The thing that puts this band ahead of the pack is their craft of melody that infects the music with the sense of fun. If I still drank at the pub, I would swing my pint of lager with a high salute. If I knew the lyrics like the back of my hand, I would be spitting out while I sang from the bottom of my gut. –don (S.O.S.)


FUCKED UP:
Generation: 7”
Fucked Up doesn’t even sound like a band anymore. They sound like a groundswell, some force of nature that just blindsides you. There are a lot of good bands out there, but this is a great band, a band whose music creeps into your consciousness when you’re doing whatever crap you do until you can’t listen to anything else. It’s music that really makes you see things in a different light, like Dillinger Four or Pegboy. For all their talk about not being able to play their instruments, they’re putting them to good use carving their name into music history. Seriously, everything this band has released is fucking unreal, and I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll like it. –Josh (Slasher)


FUCKED UP:
Dangerous Fumes: 7”
I think it’s healthy thinking—really thinking—about rioting. And I’m not just talking about WTO rioting or Presidential Inauguration rioting. I’m talking about day-to-day rioting. Shaving off the rot. Rearranging all the pieces in your head: work, life, food, sleep, fun. Putting a spark plug to the gasoline of your most combustible thoughts. Riot the fuck out of the next bowl of oatmeal you eat. Riot with kindness. Riot on your bed, when you’re about to sleep. Yeah, it’s sometimes dumb. Yeah, it’s imperfect. But it’s something, even with its flaws, to stave off complacency. For me, Fucked Up have provided a soundtrack of songs that make me want to not give in. I bought this 7” during their last tour. It’s the Baiting the Public 7” completely repackaged (new song name, new acetate, new cover, new label that’s glued over a 45 hole, the whole deal), but it’s the same song with a little more guitar accompanying the horn at the very end. And because I think Fucked Up are a great band, I think it’s funny instead of getting the slightest bit pissed that I just spent some money on a record I already own. I highly suggest finding bands that make you want to riot, to keep you on your toes. –todd (Test Pattern)


FREEVERSE:
Generator: CD
This is a three-piece, all-girl band from Seattle via Lawrence, Kansas. Musically, I’d say it’s a mix of indie rock, heavy rock, and riot grrl stuff. Some songs don’t work, but when they stick to the eclectic, quirky sound I like ‘em more. Lyrically, they lean on topics of current American despair. I can relate. In the ‘90s bands like Smut, Morsel, Dogfaced Hermans, and Kicking Giant mixed up female vocals and similar genres a little. If I was rating this record, I’d say they have a six here. They’re not your run of the mill formulaic band, but they’re still not killing it yet. Maybe next time. –Buttertooth (Rodent Popsicle/Buttermilk)


FLUID OUNCES:
The Whole Shebang: CD
Here is a CD that I was ready to dismiss right off the bat since it was not punk. But it caught me by surprise because it touched my inner child. The music had that Queen meets Supertramp mixed with Electric Light Orchestra ‘70s vibe going for it. That takes me back to elementary school. That’s a scary place to go. Now, if I had to wear the clothes from that period, that would be even worse. –Donofthedead –don (Vacant Cage)


FLORENCE NIGHTINGALES:
Self-titled: 7” EP
It’s sort of strange that an all-girl, young band from Alabama reminds me of a death rock band from early ‘80s L.A., but they do. The Florence Nightingales owe quite a bit to 45 Grave, if they’re aware of it or not, from the haunted vocals, the strong singing, the spooky subject matter (sleeping in spider beds and a song about a banshee), the sparse, mid-tempo arrangements, and dark, straight-ahead, playing-in-a-sarcophagus recording. Enjoyable. –todd (Arkam)


FINGERS CUT MEGAMACHINE:
Self-titled: CD
I’m confused. They say they don’t want to be grouped into the pseudo-folk revival, but are influenced by American folk from the ‘60s and the ‘70s. Wasn’t that the folk revival? It’s also described as punk. If anything it’s folk rock, but it’s mostly just pretty boring. Note: a purple-tinted picture of ducks on the cover is going to suck just as much as you would think it would. Surprise! –megan (Thick)


FINAL SOLUTIONS:
Self-titled: 7”
Call it caveman rock, where Oog get stick and bash, or call it Budget Rock, where it’s heart over fidelity. Either way, it’s so easy to like. Jay Reatard (Lost Sounds, Nervous Patterns, Destruction Unit, etc.) leads a first-rate charge in the spirit of the Urinals (think “Ack, Ack, Ack”). Tattered, catchy, and fun to flip over time and time again. Highly recommended. –todd (Shit Sandwich)


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