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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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RAVAGE FIX:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Fuuuuck, these cats are pissed. Four tracks of raw, feral hardcore delivered at varying tempos ranging from thrash to slow, caustic burn. The song structures are simple, but man, do they pack a punch. –jimmy (Rinderherz)


RATIONAL ANTHEM:
Emotionally Unavailable: LP
To me, it seems impossible to escape Rational Anthem’s name if you’re tapped into any kind of DIY punk community, but I haven’t followed them as closely as this record suggests I should have been. Eight tracks of irresistibly accessible pop punk that never stops bouncing off the walls from start to finish. It’s something like Dear Landlord or Lipstick Homicide, but scuffed up with some of that gangly, rough-and-tumble Plan-It-X-style scrappiness. Listen, if you’re trying to forcefully help your little cousin bridge the gap from saccharine corporate pop punk to Real Music, this record is the best possible next step for them to take. As for me, this will probably be in regular rotation once I get over the staggeringly awful artwork, which is of a terrifying scribble guy apparently getting shot down by a lady with Spongebob eyes. Nightmares. –Indiana Laub (Bloated Kat, bloatedkatrecords@gmail.com, bloatedkat.storenvy.com)


RAJOITUS / RATSTAB:
Split: 7” EP
Rajoitus: Five tracks of vicious Finnish fjordcore coming at you like a hail of angry hornets armed with jackhammers aiming for your forehead. Been a while since I’ve heard anything from ‘em, but based on this, it sounds like they’ve lost none of their charm. Ratstab: Blown-out, spastic hardcore that, at times, sounds like someone is howling while banging on the inside of a very heavy, lead barrel.  –jimmy (Patac)


RAJOITUS / RATSTAB:
Split: 7” EP
Rajoitus: Five tracks of vicious Finnish fjordcore coming at you like a hail of angry hornets armed with jackhammers aiming for your forehead. Been a while since I’ve heard anything from ‘em, but based on this, it sounds like they’ve lost none of their charm. Ratstab: Blown-out, spastic hardcore that, at times, sounds like someone is howling while banging on the inside of a very heavy, lead barrel.  –jimmy (Patac)


PULLING PUNCHES:
Former Friends: CD
These Philadelphia dudes have a sound that is a very natural complement to the Harsh Realms record I also got for this review cycle, but this one is a spawn of Off With Their Heads and Street Dogs. Pulling Punches are anthemic, angst-ridden, and feisty, with lots of power and melody. It’s the kind of music that inspires one just to blast through all the shit and all the burdens heaped upon us and get it done. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Universal Warning)


PROTES BENGT:
In Bengt We Trust: EP
Swedish hardcore re-release from ‘85. Crams thirty-two punchy hardcore jams on to a seven inch slab of vinyl. If you’ve ever craved a ‘script to Adderall, this gem is guaranteed to give ADD in just under fourteen minutes. –Jackie Rusted (Insane Society, insanesociety.net)


POSITIVE NO:
Automatic Cars: 7”
Odd change-ups keep you on your toes on this single. Positive No’s EP is a release off of Negative Fun’s Singles Club, a label out of North Carolina, in a series with Bad Daddies, Hot Dolphin, Midnight Plus One, and Positive No. The vocals undoubtedly sound like Björk, and even the song title and chorus (“Automatic Cars”) on Side A sounds like an oddball topic that Björk herself might sing about. With a bit of controlled chaos and noise here, a bit of a disco beat drumming there, and a whole lot of bass drumming all over, Positive No creates a unique sound all their own. B-sides “Slumber Sequence” is notably less odd and a bit sweeter. Keep it coming. –Camylle Reynolds (Negative Fun)


PONG:
Gone: CD
Seven tracks of smarty-pants funky rock in the vein of say, Gang Of Four meets Talking Heads. Nothing really sticks out from anything else other than the song “Fish Sauce,” which annoyed me and captivated me simultaneously. Any band that extols the virtues of fish sauce is ultimately okay in my book. Just don’t spill any on your pants, trust me. –Garrett Barnwell (Saustex, saustex.com)


PARTY DRESS, THE: :
Self-titled: 7”
This is some good, simple, lo-fi, garagey rock and roll. It appears to be the first release for Bonzer Records, which has no web presence other than Bandcamp. No sign of a lyrics sheet or band lineup included and the insert from the label advertises records that are coming out in “Srig 2014.” Seems like these guys were so eager to release, they forgot to cross their t’s and dot their i’s. The Party Dress has some solid bass lines and rhythm guitar over droney rock beats that are a lot like The Cramps but less nostalgic. I like what they’re going for, but I wish they’d put more effort into the record. Like: where are you from? Who is in the band? Did you record in a sewer? Cool album art and decent music. I’d be interested in what they put out from here. –Kayla Greet (Bonzer)


PANZERBASTARD:
Gods, Thugs & Madmen: 10”
Very metal, with Venom being their prime influence, PanzerBastard is popular in metal-friendly portions of crust hardcore circles, due to their undeniable hardcore influences. The lyrics are interesting, with a surprising degree of wit. The metal riffs aren’t as obnoxious as some, and the doomy vocals made me smile. Way above average for this musical style, it’s a decent foray into the longhair trenches.  –Art Ettinger (Patac)


PANIC BEATS, THE:
A Date with Death: CD
When I first heard the name of this band my eyes lit up. “Panic Beats? Like the Paul Naschy movie?” Yep. In case you don’t know, Paul Naschy was a Spanish horror movie icon. Then I saw the cover art by the great Bill Hauser depicting a hooded man standing on a woman’s doorstep handing her a bouquet of severed body parts. I looked at the track list. The word “kill” appears five times in twelve songs. I’m a horror nerd. I eat this shit up. Needless to say, my expectations were high before I even pushed play. And then… oh shit. This is a concept album that tells the story of a psychotic, knife-wielding stalker through a dozen tracks of melodic punk. There are some cool guitar parts. At first, I was turned off by the vocals. They are off key and, well, just off. But then on further listenings, it actually added to the creepiness of the experience. These painfully fucked up vocals trying to sing all heartfelt about slashing people up. It’s just wrong but it’s just so right. –mp (Midnight Jamboree, facebook.com/MJR916)


ORCHID:
Totality: LP
Always considered these guys part of the Holy Trinity of Screamo, alongside Reversal Of Man and Combat Wounded Veteran, or at least the grandpappies of said genre. Orchid, however, always seemed like the most serious of the three and, at times, the most self-conscious. Loved the music—the sheer ferocity and madness of it—but their lyrics, name-dropping Debord and Foucault and stuff, always seemed like they were trying a bit too hard to either impress or obfuscate. Regardless, they lay waste to all in their path on Totality, an LP’s worth of long out of print singles and comp tracks. Nice posthumous release for a band that split well over a decade ago. –keith (Clean Plate)


NUMBER ONES, THE:
Self-titled: LP
Great to finally get to hear this record that I’ve been hearing so many gush on and on about. Dublin’s the Number Ones have found the missing link between the proto-punk of the Nerves and the irresistible charm of the Exploding Hearts. Lending to their already stellar songwriting is the keen ability to keep shit nice and simple behind the control board in the recording studio. Quick! Someone get these lads on a plane to the states so they can eat something other than corned beef and so we can pour cheap, ironic American beer down their throats as they rock us back to the stone age. Great times await us all.  –Juan Espinosa (Deranged, derangedrecords.com)


NO MARKS, THE:
Light of One: LP/CD
I love it when I put on a new album and from the first few seconds I know it’s one I’m going to obsess over. Light of One is one of those records, as opening track “16 Questions” wastes no time in providing me with that instant reaction. There is no preamble as it hits full speed immediately with what sounds like a waterfall of guitars raining down around me and a melody that hooks me in with the promise of much enjoyment to follow. Light of One has a joie de vivre about it with The No Marks racing through fourteen songs, each one being led front and center by a twin guitar attack that doesn’t relent—all the time delivering a beautifully toned sound that, despite being loud, doesn’t get in the way of the rest of the band. All of those qualities remind me of The Senseless Things, Mega City Four, and The Cateran, a few of many bands that had the ability to knock me sideways with such an uplifting approach. At a minimum, this is the best debut album I’ve heard in 2014 but it might also just edge into my general top ten for the year. –Rich Cocksedge (Brassneck, brassneckrecords.bigcartel.com / Waterslide, info@watersliderecords.com, watersliderecords.com)


NO LOVE:
Tape # 2: Cassette
Four tracks of Dangerhouse meets U.K. anarcho punk and hardcore. Hookier than the average band who just picked up a Bags record and as volatile as an ‘80s Conflict gig in East L.A. A second demo isn’t necessary when you’ve already got the chops. No Love, the odds are all in your favor, so do us all a solid and drop some vinyl for the punx.  –Juan Espinosa (Sorry State, sorrystaterecords.com)


NICK OLIVERI’S UNCONTROLLABLE:
Leave Me Alone: CD
Ugh. Starts with the sound of a revving motorcycle and just gets shittier from there. Ex-Queens Of The Stone Age bassist creates one of the most painful, indulgent butt rock/metal hybrid albums I’ve ever heard. With or without the requisite guest appearances, this is just cringeworthy. I have no qualms about leaving you alone, Nicholas. –keith (Schnitzel)


NEW JUNK CITY:
Self-titled: LP
Have you ever wanted a soundtrack to a cocksure, fuck-off day? The type of day where everything seems to fall into place. You wake up and glance at the mirror and think, “Damn, I look halfway decent.” You receive too much change from the liquor store attendant while shoplifted trail mix is in your hoodie pocket. Your nagging coworker is out sick with mono so you have free rein over their office supplies. If so, here are seven confident punk songs from four Georgians who breathe life into tired power chords. The singer has refined strained punk shouts into soulful, gritty sincerity. When he pushes his voice to the limits, you’re compelled to do the same. All the while, the twangy, intricate guitars tango with hard-hitting percussive beats. New JunkCity strikes a balance between rawness (“I don’t love you like I used to”) and resiliency (“Trying to make it out of this one-horse town”). It’s been a while since I’ve felt this much heart in a record, let alone on a debut LP. Let’s hope these dudes can keep it up, because I’m anxiously anticipating their next release. Highly recommended. –Sean Arenas (No Breaks, order@nobreaksrecords.com)


NEIGHBORHOOD BRATS:
Recovery: LP
It’s a pretty amazing thing to see a band that you really like continue to grow and continue to sound rad while doing it. The day I received the first Neighborhood Brats EP in my review materials my life changed for the better. Angry, visceral, and barely in control, it dominated my stereo for a long time. Over the next few singles, the changes weren’t all that noticeable but with Recovery the Brats are showing some change. Don’t get me wrong, the seething temperament is still there. The feeling that everything could explode at any minute? Check. It’s in the delivery. The vitriol is laser pointed now. Everything is tightened up and focused. Is this the moment where a great band becomes one of the greatest bands? I believe it is. Easily a top record for 2014 for me.  –ty (Deranged)


NAPALMPOM:
The Unconditional Love of Napalmpom: LP
Teenage Rampage Records is really blasting off with a bang, considering the quality of its first few releases. Canada’s west coast has always been better than the rest of the country at this game. Think Von Zippers, The Black Halos, and pretty much every group from Vancouver. I’m not sure if it’s the crude oil from the tar sands in the water or what, but it’s undeniable. Napalmpom play rock and roll, the Calgarian way. Progressive, loud rock with hints of indulgence and maybe even indie rock, but I couldn’t mean that in a better way. It’s the many layers of parts musical slices that keep this record great. I’m sold. Sign me up for the long haul. –Steve Adamyk (Teenage Rampage, teenagerampagerecords.com)


MOTHER’S CHILDREN:
Lemon: LP
Although the first song sounds like some little glam fucks trying to work out long-standing issues regarding white guilt over “Talk Dirty to Me” Poison appreciation, everything else sounds like a glorious, full-bodied upturning of the Guitar Romantic applecart ((minus the tininess and the glue-sniffing)), a soaring, flannel-shirted revisiting of the Yum-Yums canon ((minus all the girls)), a savvy older brother handing down banned medical tracts to Ramma Lamma ((minus the cartooniness)), power pop and glam and punk and rock and roll and sometimes you just gotta tip your toque to the excellence of execution, ya know? Earth might have been a better planet if this was the second Generation X album instead of Valley of the Dolls, mightn’t it? I kind of can’t think of anything I don’t like about this record, except that all the lemons on the back cover are making me hungry for fish. As far as I’m concerned, this band is so good that they should make Ottawa the new capital of Canada! BEST SONG: “Helen Mustn’t Know,” maybe. BEST SONG TITLE: “Helen Mustn’t Know,” certainly. FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: This album appears to have been pressed up in a number of different countries, and the front cover art is grey and yellow for some countries and aqua and yellow for others. –norb (Taken By Surprise, takenbysurprise.net)


MOTHER OF SORROWS:
II: CD
When the weather in Boston is nice, sometimes there is an older, slightly disheveled street musician in front of the public library playing a keyboard. It often sounds futuristic and also has a steady, kickin’ beat. Almost all of it is pre-programmed and he just hits a few keys here and there. I kind of dig it, and if I weren’t always in such a hurry I’d stop and listen. There were times on this CD that I felt like I was listening to that guy play, except this is a two-person act (featuring Kronos and Jupiter Skab) with vocals and their sound is more goth than that dude in front of the library. I like hearing that guy jam, while in contrast some of the songs on II were so excruciating that I was convinced this almost had to be a joke. It wasn’t helped by the fact that the lyrics have something to do with someone named Zorgon: “Zorgon calls your soul,” “The loneliness of Zorgon,” and “Zorgon promised me the future.” This is a joke, right? –kurt (56th Street)


MONSIEURS, THE:
Self-titled: CD
All the pictures show a three-piece band: vocals, drums, and guitar. But I can only hear one instrument when I push play: fuzz. The Monsieurs are masters of fuzz. They manipulate it the way a sculptor manipulates clay. Perhaps that analogy isn’t quite accurate, because it makes it sound as if The Monsieurs are making fine art. While it’s true that they are fuzz-masters and are well versed in the nuances of fuzz, their intention seems to be stomping, fuzzed-out destruction. They don’t want you to hear their fuzz and say, “Oh, what nice fuzz!” They want to infect you with their fuzz. They want to shove their fuzz down your throat until your head explodes and their fuzz is glazed with your brain meat. And you will be thankful for it.  –mp (Black Gladiator / Slovenly)


MÖBIUS STRIP:
Palabras Podridas: 7” EP
From the chunky bass sound, to their sharply political but tongue-in-cheek lyrics, everything I loved about their previous 7” Step Down is present on this follow-up. On this outing, the DC-based trio brings four new tracks—great new additions to the band’s catalog—but the opening track “Chemicals,” is my favorite. Its strong hooks capture the witty lyricism of the band at their most biting and feature some of my favorite riffs of any of their songs. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the closing track, “IG-88,” is not only a rad instrumental track that allows the band to flex their musical chops, but the title is also a sweet Star Wars reference. Recorded at Inner Ear Studios with Don Zientara—possibly in the same recording session as their previous EP—these tracks have the pristine recording quality we’d expect from such a pedigree. It’s December as I’m writing this, and this 7” has definitely snuck into my top ten releases of the year.  –Paul J. Comeau (Crooked Beat, band@mobiusstripdc.com crookedbeat@crookedbeat.com)


MISS DESTINY:
House of Wax: 7”
Hozac (or Horizontal Action) has easily been one of the most-purchased record labels throughout my collection in the last five years. Now a complete staple of Chicago’s underground, Todd Novak knows what he’s doing. In walks Miss Destiny, a four piece from Australia, representing the love affair for bands Down Under in the past decade. Thankfully, this single landed in my lap before year-end lists have even been a twinkle in my eye, because this debut will likely be on it. The flipside, “The One,” is out-of-control good. Just open your web browser, Google all the above info, and check out a stream for this track. Seriously, just do it. Now. Great (mid range) female vox over upbeat garage pop. The guitar tone is perfect—gritty and dissident. Looking forward to hearing more.  –Steve Adamyk (Hozac, hozacrecords.com)


MISCALCULATIONS:
Self-titled: LP
Working from a taught thud-punk core that sometimes comes off like a cleaner sounding Spits (the guitars sound like they’re coming out of tiny, cheap practice amps), they make otherwise simple song structures a bit more nuanced by adding an almost new wavy sense of dislocation to the delivery. They keep the songs short ‘n’ to the point, punchy, and puissant.  –jimmy (Dead Beat)


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