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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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THIEVES AND ASSASSINS:
Self-titled: 7” EP
An extremely strong debut, much akin to Strike Anywhere’s Chorus of One. It’s word-heavy, melodic hardcore—ganged up vocals, the buzzy-hummy quality of mid-period Bad Religion, and incorporates the making-musical-nooses knack of songwriting of prime Good Riddance. Yet, as is sometimes the case with debuts, I think they’re trying to fit a bit too much into each song, and that lends a claustrophobic feeling to the EP as a whole, but it’s definitely a band to watch in the future. –todd (Iron Pier Recordings, www.mindsetoverhaul.com)


TERRIBLE TWOS:
Spitting Image: 7”
Imagine later Iggy and the Stooges (meaning longer songs with multiple parts, freak-outs, and proto punk that keeps its guitar licks equal with its sonic loopdey loops), rabid animals in noisy cages with bad locks, and the rusty car bodies and bald-tire desolation of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Then file it next to the Clone Defects and early Catholic Boys. Bits remind me of The Chargers Street Gang, too. I like it best when the pedal’s down and the Beefheart-isms are tossed out the window, but individual tastes may differ. Not bad at all. –todd (X!, www.x-recordings.com)


TERA MELOS:
Self-titled: CD
God, I really don’t know where to start. I think Refused was on this page when they recorded The Shape of Punk to Come, but this is jazzier and occasionally more melodic. This Sacramento band is four instruments, no vocals, no song titles, and still manages to make me think of Tortoise or avant-noise like Black Dice and Al Dimeola on speed and nitrous oxide. David Lynch might approve. If you enjoy being disoriented and thought nobody could even attempt to match The Shape of Punk to Come, give this a spin! –todd (Springman)


SWIMS:
Ride of the Blueberry Winter: CD
Neo-psych pop with more than an obvious nod toward their ‘60s predecessors, the result sometimes sounding like a weird Donovan/Elvis Costello hybrid, only sloppy. Not bad at all for what it is. The cover art is very “Yellow Submarine.” –jimmy (Prison Jazz)


SUZUKI SMITH:
Wife Beater: CD-R
There’s a bar in Seattle that sits beside the Space Needle that has changed hands many times and had many names. Many years ago that is where I was first introduced to “bar punk”: thirty-five to forty-year-old dudes obsessed with the Mentors, writing lyrics that a fifteen-year-old with Downs Syndrome would call retarded. Suzuki Smith is bar punk. I mean if your preferred lyrical content concerns the hotness of Jen Lindley from Dawson’s Creek (“Jen Lindley, cute blondie, you’re so hot, on that show… oh yeah, you know I’d do her!”) and you like a band with a “Hottie of the Month” contest on its website then this is your jam right here… and you’ve never really heard “Anarchy in the U.K.” until you’ve heard a fat dude from Boston belt it out from behind a goatee. –Steveo (www.suzukismith.net)


SUICIDE BID:
This Is the Generation: CD
Now that the ska-punk wave of the late ‘90s is long gone, the current wave of bands isn’t coming out from under every rock in the universe. This London band reminds me of a mix of, say, The Specials, The Clash, Bad Manners, and The Four Skins. Apparently, this band was formed from the ashes of many bands that I personally never heard of, but their collective experience shows on this recording. They pull off the sound with precision and not one member is dragging the band behind. This easily could have come out in the early ‘80s and would have fit right in. –don (Household Name)


DMBQ:
The Essential Sounds of the Far East: CD
Guitar Wolf meets Black Sabbath with a fistful of hallucinogens tossed into the salad. This record is dark and bluesy with hints of swamp rock malevolence and maintains the reckless abandon of an elephant—probably slower and more plodding than, say, a wild horse or a buffalo, but all the more destructive because of its sheer weight and volume. I could see smoking a lot of pot and enjoying this in even greater ways than what I do now. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Estrus)


DIVEBOMB HONEY, THE:
Sex Effects: 7”
Taking a step back, it’s odd that the words “new wave” come up in 2005, especially when those words aren’t preceded by “fuck.” When it first came out, by and large it was the record companies’ way of neutering punk and “safing it up” in an attempt to corral it and sell it to the masses. Don’t get me wrong. There were some great songs, and a couple of great bands (Devo, Vapors), but it was such slim pickings, that who’d think that the torch would be re-lit to start new and interesting fires over twenty years down the line? For better and for worse, The Divebomb Honey sound a shit-ton like The Epoxies. Sure, there are differences. Sheela’s voice has a lower register than Roxy Epoxy’s and Ben Crew’s backups are more hoarse than FM Static’s, but the elements they’re dealing with: keyboards up front, real drummer, fashion-forward sunglasses and stripes, guitar-driven new wave played by punk rockers is still in its pioneering stages, so I’m going to cut ‘em a little slack. Besides, the songs—especially the songwriting in both bands—is top notch. Shit, you can dance to it and it’s fun to listen to. –todd (Jilted)


DIVEBOMB HONEY, THE:
Sex Effects: 7”
The four songs on this record are quite delightful. The beginning of the first song, “Get Up,” has a beat and melody that is strikingly familiar to Andrew W.K.’s “Party Hard.” However, the song then goes into a more ‘80s aerobic-like song and reminded me of an ‘80s Jane Fonda workout video my mom had, with leg warmers and everything. When listening to this song you cannot help but bounce around and dance like Molly Ringwald, while strutting your most impressive aerobic steps. The music contains upbeat keyboards and an electroclash indie rock beat. The vocals are somewhat androgynous, but it is just singer Sheela and her low voice. The music is along the lines of the Epoxies and the Soviettes. The album is fun and worth a listen. It was also recorded on a four-track in the band’s bedroom. Overall: entertaining and enjoyable. –jenny (Jilted)


DIRTY SOUTH APOCALYPSE/ASTHMA ATTAQ:
Split: LP
The Dirty South Apocalypse side comes out swingin’: awesome spazzy hardcore with great vocals that remind me of Employer, Employee but with a raw, dirtier edge. You know how there are a few metalcore bands that started off good before they got lame? They kinda sound like one of those bands. But oh, the record's going all good and now the last song hits and it's this totally wimpy boring emo suckfest. What happened, guys? Asthma Attaq are really cool spacey hardcore with all kinds of cool, trippy parts that sound a bit like Tarantula Hawk or Yeti, and it even kinda sounds like Yes a little bit. It's really interesting and it held my attention throughout. This record is worth getting, for sure. –ben (Forever Escaping Boredom)


DIPLOMATS OF SOLID SOUND, THE:
Destination… Get Down!: CD
Iowa City is recanting the days of the lost art of instrumental dance music. If you’ve got a penchant for grooving and false eyelashes, step right up to this solid platter of sweet and soulful early ‘60s-inspired ditties. Immediately you notice the vibrating hum of vocalist (Can you call blurting out “Holdin’ All the Money!!!” vocals? Fuck yeah!)/organist, Nate “Count” Basinger’s Hammond B3 (not B2) organ and the masterwork of Doug Robertson’s jazz guitar gliding acrobatically across the thick and juicy steak-like bass lines supplied by Dustin Conner, although most of the bass you will hear on this record is provided by the organs (think Ray Manzarek). Drummer Jim Viner goes to work overtime by laying out a solid foundation of snazzy beats in the vein of Gene Krupa and Max Roach. Yeah, it’s a winner. Slap a medal on this sophomore effort and put on your dancing shoes. Oh yeah, smoke a few silk cut cigarettes too while you’re at it, baby. –nam (Estrus)


DELOREANS:
…Are Your Girlfriend’s Favorite Band: 7”
I had to call upon nearly all of my grit reserve to take this off the turntable. And that’s despite the moderately pedantic Kiss cover that opens the B-side. The other two tunes show that they’ve got the goods, though, and their jester mentality makes me take them all the more seriously—rocking tunes and jokes! It’s like having beer and deer jerky! –The Lord Kveldulfr (Sonico)


DEADMAN WALKING:
Can’t Stop the Dying: CD
Laguna Hills, CA—death, “evil,” bad OC hardcore punk, metal, and HP Lovecraft meets the Penthouse letters section. Get this thing off my stereo! That’s all I need to say. –nam (Living Dead Productions)


DAY AND AGE:
Via Moderna: CD
Emo gets a bad rap pretty consistently in Razorcake most of the time, and I can understand that. Day and Age, to their credit, are competent musicians; they also sound like they studied hard and got their degrees at Moss Icon University. To me, that particular band's influence is crisp and bright and obvious as hell here, right in your face: from the song structures to the lilting, off-key vocals, to the guitar meanderings and cryptic lyrics. Unfortunately, Day and Age lack what Moss Icon had in spades: the ability to draw you, the listener, in; to sonically grab you by the hand and then move that hand right to your throat and throttle you until you're just about ready to weep. We're talkin’ character development here, guys. Conflict, rising action, climax, resolution. Moss Icon killed because they brought you in and then lovingly chopped you off at the knees. Day and Age just go right for the throat, and as a result it's not nearly as effective or moving. What we end up with is a record that's passable and decent, like a weird, low-key amalgamation of Modest Mouse and the Ladderback or something. They do have their moments, and it's a decent record. Unfortunately, I play decent emo records about as much as I play awful ones. Sorry. –keith (North Park)


DASH RIP ROCK:
Recyclone: CD
Wait, wait, wait... ALTERNATIVE TENTACLES put out a Dash Rip Rock greatest hits album??? ALTERNATIVE FRICKING TENTACLES??? DASH FRICKING RIP ROCK??? IIII'M LIVING IN A WORLD INSAAAAAAAAAANE!!! (what’s next, Bob Dylan cover albums???) ...actually, i have nothing against Dash Rip Rock (other than having heard "Bumfuck Egypt" one too many times back when i was a college radio DJ [and that, my friends, was in the ‘80s])—i'll cop to owning the We Are Not of This Earth CD and putting "Rattletrap" on more than one comp tape—it's just hard for me to make the spiritual connection between their twangy, vaguely-outside-the-lines, white-lightnin’-gulping party rock and the label that gave us, i dunno, LARD or whatever. I mean, they're a decent enough band (and still together!)—kind of an ancestor of somewhat more radio-friendly contemporary acts like Southern Culture on the Skids, but with a bit more Elvis Hitler (or, at bare minimum, Al Perry & The Cattle) in 'em—but i'm not sure how much this band would appeal to the average punk dork these days (especially when taking into account the fact that, tinkered with or not, few things are aging less sonically gracefully than recordings from the ‘80s). However, if your idea of a good time is sneaking a bottle of Jack Daniels™ into the movies and taking a shot every time someone says "Winn-Dixie," you might have just found yourself a date. BEST SONG: "Rattletrap" BEST SONG TITLE: "Shootin' Up Signs" FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Back in the day, this band used to play at frickin' Lefty's! Now that's cred! –norb (Alternative Tentacles)


DAMAGE CASE:
A Battalion of Bombers in a Chorus of Fire: CD
This runs pretty much along the same “fashion punk” lines as bands like The Virus and Total Chaos, although they are considerably more interesting and accomplished musically, especially lyrically, than those bands. A little too derivative for my tastes, but I didn’t hate ’em or anything. –jimmy (Slab-O-Wax)


CURSED:
Hell Comes Home b/w Search & Destroy: 7”
The label on the record itself shows some Baphomet-type bearded Goat-Demon guy and this is pretty much the kind of music one would expect a deity like that to sit around and drink Blatz to on a Sunday morning while everyone else is at church. One new song and a balls-swinging version of the Stooges “Search & Destroy.” For some reason, it makes me think of a cross between Fucked Up and Antiseen with nice crusty edges. This is music to mutilate cattle by. –aphid (Hanging Hex)


CREEPING NOBODIES, THE:
Stop Movement Stop Loss: CD
Wrapped in a handsome and special package designed by one of Canada’s most innovative design teams, Serigraphie Populaire, is a sometimes dreamy, sometimes cacophonous swirl of Sonic Youth, Dim Stars and peers thereof. Good, not salivatory, but I’ll give them credit for putting the unlisted tracks in spots three and six rather than at the end. –Cuss Baxter (www.thecreepingnobodies.com)


COMMODES, THE:
Cursed from the Beginning: CD
Excuse me, Messrs Pop Punk Band Dudes. Allow me to introduce you to Mr. Garbage Heap. Mr. Heap, allow me to introduce you to one of the few things smellier than you. –jimmy (www.thecommodes.com)


LADIES, THE:
They Mean Us: CD
Sorry, Ladies. One of my most gigantic pet peeves is bands whose names make it sound like they are girls but—surprise—they’re dudes. So you can blame this crap review on that if you like, but honestly, your album just isn’t very good. All those weird, all-over-the-place tracks with seizure-inducing drums and whiny vocals just end up being really boring. Is your name supposed to be a joke? I get the feeling that it is. Maybe you think you seem kind of sensitive and wimpy and therefore you are lady-like. Really, most of the lady bands I listen to are way tougher than this. You guys? Ladies? You should be so lucky. –jennifer (Temporary Residence Limited)


LA PESTE:
Better Off La Peste: CD

…i actually never really thought “Better Off Dead” was all that hot shit; the lyrics are flat out stupid (“that girl’s only thirteen, she ain’t never given/givin’ head!”), and they’re sung in this sort of affected, pretentious, echoey art-poet tone—it just didn’t MOVE me. A couple songs into this primarily loft-tape retrospective, and i realized i was Wrong As Heck about this band—a good chunk of this ‘70s expose IS all that hot shit, and engaging as all get-out (i may have that backwards, but you’ve got the general tone of my vector). You can tell that this stuff directly precursed (if that’s even a word) bands like Mission Of Burma, but it’s also apparent that this stuff is punk with a capital UNK. If you, like me, have grown steadily less interested in obtaining posthumous retrospectives of “great, lost” punk bands with minimal studio recordings to their credit, i suggest for your own personal safety you rethink your life utterly and clasp this disc to your heaving bosom. CLASP IT I SAY!!! BEST SONG: “Kindness Invites Abuse” BEST SONG TITLE: “Kindness Invites Abuse” MOST VIVID TRUISM GLEANED FROM LYRICS OR SONG TITLE: “Kindness Invites Abuse” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: “Kindness Invites Abuse” Also, did Gang Green ever cover “Spymaster?” I think they did it on that live 10”, but i can’t remember now.

–norb (Dionysus)


KRUM BUMS:
The Sound: CD
Solid, energetic punk/hardcore, with a slight melodic undercurrent. No highs, but definitely no lows either. Vocals sound very similar to Articles Of Faith era Vic Bondi. I’m hearing some melodic Avail-influenced guitar and backing vocals in there as well. Overall, it’s good as it stands. In time, I think this band has potential to progress to something great. –ayn (TSOR)


KILLING MOON, THE:
A Message Through Your Teeth: CD
Oh, for SHAME! How dare you profane the name of a perfectly good Echo And The Bunnymen song with such paltry emo piffle! A pox—nay, a plague on all your houses! Fuckin’ heathens. –jimmy (Fearless)


KILL THE FALL/HELLEPHANTS:
Split: CD
Kill The Fall: Sounds like they’re trying really hard to be a stoner rock band, but end up sounding like a bad mid-tempo punk band with too many rock albums in their collection. Hellephant: Markedly better than Kill The Fall, but their mid-tempo hardcore/rock hybrid wasn’t all that much more interesting. –jimmy (Tragic End)


KIDS OF CARNAGE:
05 Demo: CD-R
Let it be documented: I’m a fucking nerd. Here’s how much of a nerd I’m capable of being: every great once in a while, I’ll pull out an old back issue of MRR or Heartattack and check out the demo sections. I find it absolutely fascinating reading which bands gets shitcanned or ripped on over their demos, but manage to stick with it and eventually put out actual records that a lot of people wind up listening to. I’ve read enough back issues of said zines to know that just because you get tapped in a demo review, it doesn’t really mean shit—at least a third of demo-smashed bands, seems like, wind up putting out a “legitimate” release that’s generally a lot better. That said, Kids Of Carnage, take whatever I have to say with a grain of salt: don’t let it dash out your hopes on the water-worn cliffs of futility or whatever. It’s called a demo, and that’s exactly what it is. So. The front and back covers are pieces of paper glued over some cardstock cover of some other CD promo single. The CD-R face has Sharpie written on it. Six songs—they manage to mix up the tempos a bit here and there, but it’s still something that I swear I’ve heard before. Many times. Sometimes it’s plodding, sometimes it’s fast, sometimes there’s a little metal in the frying pan, sometimes there’s a chugga chugga part or a pick scream. Can’t say I’ll be playing this thing very often once this review is done, but they might wind up surprising me and coming out with something decent in the future. –keith (Self-released)


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