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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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GHOST MICE:
Europe: CD
I’m a sucker for concept albums (here the concept is their trip to Europe—hence the album title—and is divided geographically). I’m also a sucker for extras (and when I switched this from my headphones to my laptop, I found out just how many extras there were. It’s a lot). And, I’m also a sucker for Ghost Mice who give me the impression of a bunch of honest, not-so-young kids who like to play folk. So, as you can probably guess, I’m a bit of a sucker for this album. –megan (Plan-It-X)


FREE DIAMONDS:
There Should Be More Dancing: CD
10.0pt; mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA">This sounds like the singers for the Residents hired Gang of Four as a back-up band. It’s dance-y, it’s post-punky and the vocals are just a tad annoying. –mrz (Deep Elm)


CIVET:
Massacre: CD
This female foursome is going to have a hard time getting away from the Distillers references. There are a lot of vocal similarities. That was the first thing that popped in my head when I dropped this disc in the player. But other references popped in my head, like Elastica, L7, and Fuzzbox when I started to soak in the music. The music is your basic 4/4 with a snottiness that always makes things interesting. For four kids barely out of high school, they belt out a lot of attitude and spite. They fit in well in the Duane Peters’ roster of bands. –don (Disaster)


CHROME PISTOLA:
Victimize Yourself: CDEP
Sup-par pseudo soul. Of the seven tracks on this, three are different from each other, with the remainder being instrumentals and alternate versions of those three songs, none of which were good enough to warrant so much attention. –jimmy (www.chromepistola.com)


CHIXDIGGIT!:
Pink Razors: CD
K.J.’s Pop Tarts and smoke voice, Chixdiggit’s unquestionable pop hooks, and the band’s Canadian stand-up comic routine are still strong as ever. I guess the never got the memo that pop punk bands were supposed to have all their best material in the first couple of years of existence, then resort to shit-talking and griping of their lack of recognition for at least a decade after. For personal born-in-a-thrift-store, living-in-band-t-shirt reasons, it’s hard for me to sing along to songs that prevalently namedrop the Gap and J. Crew, but songs like “You’re Pretty Good,” and “Koo Stark” (although the sing along is a direct rip from the Briefs “New Shoes”) fully redeem them. Tight, clean, non-embarrassing pop punk: what you’ve come to expect from Chixdiggit! year in, year out, and that’s a lot easier said than done. –todd (Fat)


CHINESE TELEPHONES:
Self-titled: 7”
I know this doesn’t mean much to more than twelve people, but this is the band that emerged from the ashes of Hot Carl, who had a horrible name, but were full of potential, doing a good job of emerging from the shadow of liking Screeching Weasel too much. Fast-forward a couple years. The Chinese Telephones are even better. Add dashes of ripped-sweater, beer-stained early Replacements, the smart, rough pop punk propulsion of Rivethead, and letting it rip in a Milwaukee basement, hoping that you don’t knock yourself on the ceiling from jumping around too much. It’s great duct-tape, stained shirts, stinky pants, smart DIY punk. –todd (Dingus)


CHEVREUIL:
Chateauvallon: CD
Hours and hours of complex monotony built layer on layer of repeated riffs in weird time signatures and no lyrics to make fun of, so I made some up: “A horse is a horse, or a mule or a donkey/My butt fell asleep; it rode the bus with Conky.” –Cuss Baxter (Sickroom)


CHARMING SNAKES, THE:
Ammunition: CD
It took awhile to get my ear around the Charming Snakes, and here’s my guess. Folks who really like(d) indie rock and pre-’95 alternative got sick of the drooling-into-a-shoe, preciousness that it’d morphed into (hello Shins! Viva Scared of Chaka!), circled back to its widespread roots. I hear, at times, Jesus and Mary Chain, Hüsker Dü, Love and Rockets, early Blues Explosion, Joy Division, Mudhoney, and Psychedelic Furs. I’ll admit, I was ehh on it for the first couple of spins. It took me a bit to get the lay of land. Thery’ve mapped out a jangley/raw force duality that works well. Their songs shimmer like pop gold, while being gray and gloomy as the inside of an empty refrigerator. Another way to put it is that Ammunition’s got muscles and sticks the adjective “progressive” into many of punk’s holes to satisfying result. The Charming Snakes reveal an odd-angled danceability that makes them spazzy-catchy, much like contemporary bands The Arm and Manikin. Plus, there aren’t many modern bands that can have a sax-heavy, eight-minute track blend right in with the shorter, snappier numbers. I sure don’t know how Ken Dirtnap keeps on finding bands of this caliber, but bless him for it. –todd (Dirtnap)


CASVERDE:
Looking God in the Eye: CD
A one-man band, he does everything including the songwriting. Maybe it would have been vetted by someone else there with a crap detector on. Producer DJ Ice Cream Spooky Cup must have been too busy flagging down the Good Humor truck. Generic, uninspired pop with no crackle, no snap. “If You Know Me You’ll Know” sounds like warmed over Matthew Sweet. “Talisman” is a song about not getting any action—maybe from playing to much D&D? You should be looking for warning signs when two song titles are borrowed from other artists (Morrissey and The Spencer Davis Group). Also, I would like to nominate the record company for most uninformative record company website of 2005. If you want good power pop from a one man band, check out Rich Creamy Paint’s debut, but stay away from this record like the bubonic plague. –koepenick (Radioactive Bodega)


CASEY NEILL:
Memory Against Forgetting: CD
Portland folk guy gone the way of New York, looks like. It's a bummer; I know a few kids who'd seen this guy at local watering holes back in the day, just him and his geetar, and to this day they still swear by him. So I was a bit disappointed by this album; I was hoping for something more akin to the emotive clang and sweat of early Against Me! or Rumbleseat. Instead, we've got thirteen songs of highly polished, straight-up folk ballads, oftentimes with a full backing band. At times, the songs bear an uncanny resemblance to Pete Krebs, once Hazel crashed and burned. I mean, whether he's playing traditional Irish immigrant songs or tunes of his own lamenting the deaths of heroin-overdosed crusty punks in Portland, it's obvious that Neill's politics are earnest and heartfelt; I just wanted to hear a record laden with a bit more blood and a little less bazouki. –keith (AK Press)


BUZZOV-EN:
Welcome to Violence: CD
Let’s not kid ourselves: Buzzov-en is slow, depressing, and metal. Those are three characteristics that I seldom look for in music, and it would take an extraordinary band to overcome that. And that’s exactly what Buzzov-en is: an extraordinary band. There’s plenty of dumb adjectives that you could use to describe them (sick, gnarly, brutal), but they all seem to fall short because this band really pulled from a deeper well. The vocals are some of the nastiest ever committed to tape; it’s like that movie Gremlins crossed with Sam McPheeters vomiting in an alley. The music… well, I already said it’s slow, depressing, and metal. I think that if you drew a straight line from Black Flag to His Hero Is Gone, Buzzov-en would be somewhere in the middle of that line. Anyway, this is a reissue of what appears to be their entire Allied Recordings output, an hour and fifteen minutes of it. In the interest of archiving, it would have been awesome if they had included some lyrics, more photos, or hell, maybe even a fucking list of who played what, but if you sit down and listen to Buzzov-en, you probably won’t be doing a whole lot of reading. –Josh (Alternative Tentacles)


BRAIN FAILURE:
American Dreamer: CD
Here is something that doesn’t come across your hand too often: street punk out of China! Not just some boombox or cheap studio recording, but recorded here in the states and produced by Ken Casey of the Dropkick Murphys. Most of the songs are sung in English, but the three that are in Chinese are the best. The delivery is more natural. You can tell that when they write in English, it is not their native tongue. The English is broken and is rough around the edges. But that adds to the flavor, like so many Asian bands that came before them. They pull off great sing-a-longs and really seemed to have really studied the early UK bands. Fun from start to finish, I should have made the effort to go see them when they were touring with the Unseen. –don (Thorp)


BRAHMAN:
A Forlorn Hope: CD
Hmm. This is on Revelation and looks like it might be stoner rock or something. Put the CD on. Huh? Is this the right disk? It's kinda emo-y and poppy, but weirder. What's going on? Look at the liner notes, they kinda look like preps, playing in a big arena… OH, WAIT!! I get it now, they're Japanese. Suddenly, I look at this record from a different perspective, and I like it. It's a little more polished than the Japanese punk I'm used to, but it's still good. It gets me to thinking, though. Do I only like it because it's Japanese? If they were Americans, I'd hate this and make fun of it. Is it right for me to let the lame shit slide just because of where they're from? I don't know how I feel about this record. –ben (Revelation)


BORN LOSERS, THE:
For Chicago Girls: 7”
Very solid tunes, but the mix seems a bit muted. I’m not terribly sure what to say on this one; it’s really quite good and all, but not truly notable in any way. This record is a solid performance, but were it an essay exam it would provide all the right answers without really developing any ideas of great significance or intellectual daring. Grade: B, and let’s make this a mid-term so The Born Losers can ace the final. This record at least shows that they have the potential. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Scarey)


BOILS, THE:
World Poison: CD
Hard-charging, balls to the wall rock from this three piece from West Chester, PA. I hear traces of Dropkick Murphys and The GC5—but that’s okay. “Police Me” and “Secret War” are the showcase songs on here. The liner notes say this stuff first came out in 1999, so I’m guessing this is some type of reissue. In any event, it doesn’t sound dated to my ears. The Boils’ strange concoction goes down like a cold adult beverage on a hot summer night. If you want to stick your head through the thin drywall of your apartment wall, this may very well be the best CD to provide the soundtrack for you. Good times. –koepenick (Thorp)


BLOOD OR WHISKEY:
Cashed Out on Culture: CD
What’s not to love about an Irish punk rock band that looks like Rancid and sounds like the Swingin’ Utters if Johnny had been born in Dublin? I love the traditional arrangements mashed together with boot-stomping beats. This is not a sentimental record. Cashed Out on Culture indicts the Republic for what its become since the massive economic infusion from the EU. With pockets stuffed with cash, there are more wankers in the streets of Dublin than ever before. Perfect time for pissed punks to pick up their instruments and play them as fast and as loud as they can. –Guest Contributor (Punk Core)


BLINDSIGHTED:
Injection: CD
I go through waves of obsession. I change what I like to listen to like how often I change out my dirt-streaked underwear. I would have loved this about five to seven years ago. I can’t really fault this band for what they play. They sound exactly like a blend of Pulley and 1208 playing Twister with each other. The production is on par with all the Fat bands, since Ryan Greene at Motor Studios recorded it. If you didn’t see the packaging, you would swear this was a Fat or Epitaph band. So, cheers to their future and maybe on a different listen further in time, this band will raise the hairs on the back of my neck. –don (Putalabelonit)


BLEEDING HICKEYS, THE:
Self-titled: 7”
Is a music critic’s objectivity contaminated once he allows his gonads to throw in their two cents? I suppose so. Well, fuck objectivity. Objectivity is for fictional dorks like John Galt and Howard Roarke and frigid old Russian wheeze-hags like Ayn Rand. I can’t help it—unless a female vocalist has a Mack truck voice like Andrea Dworkin, I tend to develop a crush on them (Wendy O. Williams being the lone exception to that rule.) I especially fall for female vocals if they’re coming out of the pipes of some edgy/smart-ass punk rock girls. The Bleeding Hickeys are fun and catchy and edgy and smartass and full of garage-rocky goodness—plus they have female vocals to boot, so me and my gonads like them just fine. –aphid (Jilted)


BLEEDING HICKEYS, THE:
Lovers & Haters, Unite!: CD
Angled, jangly, very-little-distortion-in-the-high-end spazz-punk. In the accompanying one-sheet that came with this, they say that people have compared them to everything from Blondie to Television, but I think that's kind of a crock, because what I'm hearing is a not-quite-as-frantic Tyrades kind of thing, like if the Tyrades decided they really needed to focus on being more decipherable and calm. The bummer being that that band's seeming inability to be decipherable or calm is what makes them so goddamned charming and rad. So what we wind up with is if the Tyrades all had really debilitating headcolds, drank a bunch of Nyquil to feel better, recorded a 12" 45 and then you bought it and wound up playing it at 33 1/3. I mean, it's not literally that slow, but it's missing that certain "Whaa! YEWEEEEEEEEROW! YeoWwowrar, rawrghyeah! Yeh, BLUGHYEAH!" to really kick it over the top. Know what I mean? –keith (Jilted)


BLEACH 03:
Self-titled: CD
Skronky, technically proficient noise-punk/metal courtesy of three Japanese women who know how to raise a racket with the best of ’em. My interest level piqued somewhere around the middle of the second song and dropped off rapidly thereafter, but there’s no denying they are definitely good at what they do. –jimmy (Australian Cattle God)


BLACKFIRE REVELATION, THE:
Gold and Guns on 51: CD
The first song, “Battle Hymn,” starts off strong for the first forty seconds and then the vocals come in and I think, “What I have gotten myself into?” Metal rock crap. The album contains muted screaming vocals, a double-kick drum, and a stoner rock sound. The songs run entirely too long at about four minutes apiece, are very repetitive, and the vocals are obnoxious. Think early Queens of the Stone Age plus monotonous, droning vocals and guitar to match. –jenny (Southern Reconstruction)


BEHIND ENEMY LINES:
Know Your Enemy: CD
A re-issue of the band’s debut LP that was originally released by Tribal War. Featuring former members of Aus-Rotten, The Pist, and React. This band plays the anarcho card with a mouthful of venom that draws a comparison to their predecessors like Conflict, Crass, or Icons of Filth lyrically. The music is pushed up more than a notch though. It is more in the crust vein with metallic licks that pushes the lyrics forward with added rage. The production is well balanced without being sterile, which adds to the sheer intensity of the music. I get the same feeling of being charged up as I did when I first heard Conflict’s Increase the Pressure. This is CD is definitely going to see a lot of playtime in the player. –don (Profane Existence)


BBQ:
Tie Your Noose: CD
About eight years ago, i said that BBQ—then dba Creepy of the Spaceshits—had the best sense of timing in rock 'n 'roll, and you can dig out whatever moldy ol' issue of MRR i said it in and look it up yourself if you feel the urge for verification. I bring this up because, in the light of the BBQ project—Mark Sultan's left foot plays the snare drum, his right foot plays the kick drum, both hands play the guitar and his mouth makes the singing noises (i don't even wanna get into what appendage he uses to work the tambourine)—surely—surely!—my amazing RIGHTNESS in making that statement is now clearly evident. I mean, how the hell can the guy split all those actions up and assign them to different body parts like that??? I'd like to borrow his brain for the day, just to see how he processes information. So, i mean, as a feat of engineering, this album (recorded, of course, LIVE) is monumental. On the down side, unlike, say, Hasil Adkins or somebody, for whom the one-man-band-ness of the performance is crucial for the interpretation of the songs (i mean, how much less effective would Hasil's "Chicken Flop" have been if it was performed by a four-piece?), a fair amount of this material seems like merely a stunningly valiant approximation of what these songs are "supposed" to sound like (that is to say, were they performed by a "real" band, implying a presumably less limited beat selection, etc.), which ain't a knock, just an observation—but many of the more doo-woppy numbers ("C'mon and Love Me," "Waddlin' Around") would probably fare worse with an entire band behind them, so i guess we'll call it a tie. YEAH, WE'LL CALL IT A TIE, BAY-BEE... AND THE SCORE IS LUUUUUUUVVVV!!! Er... i have no idea where that came from. BBQ today, for tomorrow we shall surely merely snack!!! BEST SONG: "Waddlin' Around" BEST SONG TITLE: "C'mon and Love Me" worked pretty well for KISS... FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: In 1998, Mark Sultan informed me that, for reasons quite unknown to him, he never perspired. –norb (Bomp!)


BASEBALL FURIES:
Let It Be: CD
Okay, I’ll admit it: I don’t get the name. Is it just some punk rock Dadaism that I shouldn’t try to read too much into? Maybe it’s all the news lately about baseball’s “Roid-gate,” but I keep picturing the chemically enhanced tantrums of millionaire ball players like Barry Bonds and Jose Canseco. Or Albert Belle when he tried to angrily squash some prank-playing kids like jack-o-lanterns under the wheels of his SUV one Halloween night several years back. Whatever. What matters, of course, is the music. And as the music goes, Let it Be continues on in the same blazing style of Greater Than Ever. Hard to put my finger on exactly what I hear here; at times I hear a sort modernized garagey Stones/Yardbirds hybrid—something akin to the Catheters, I suppose—and other times I hear a strong, gritty Dead Boys flavor. I even hear, every once in a while, a sort of less frenetic Henry Fiat’s Open Sore, sans the spastic idiocy and the masks. If any of those comparisons are even remotely (excuse the pun) in the ballpark, then the Baseball Furies in are damn good company. A solid twenty-seven-and-a-half minutes of pop-you-in-your-mouth rawk. You really can’t go wrong. –aphid (Big Neck)


BALLAST:
Sound Asleep: CD
I had seen this band from Montreal, Canada this past summer and was not too impressed. I felt that they were going through the motions. It was a tough night for them to be playing with Paintbox, Sunday Morning Einsteins, Artimus Pyle and Harto. I know bands have off nights and I believe they truly had one that night. So, I was glad that this showed up for review. Musically powerful and emotional at the same time, this band plays a dirge of despair. Having elements of crust and anarcho punk from the past, they developed a sound that seems genuine and heartfelt. Female-led vocals that, at times, waver in pitch, belt out lyrics that are intelligent and seem to touch her personally and expressed by her delivery. The music is top notch, using a variety of chords, breaks, and tempo changes so that each song is not a repeat of the previous. An effort was made to structure the songs like stories. They may be a little long for some who are in the short-and-fast school of preference. Hearing this band in a studio situation gives me greater appreciation. –don (Profane Existence)


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