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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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BULLETS IN:
Conceive: LP
Yeah, I’m thinkin’ there’s way too much screamo pretentiousness in the batter to pique my interest. Sounds like bad Jawbreaker-influenced hardcore with none of that band’s charm. Next. –jimmy (Waking)


BRUNT OF IT:
Certain Uncertainty: CD
One of those groups that have all the requisite parts to classify them as “punk”—chanty choruses, loud guitars, occasional speedy tempos—and who mix in enough ska to be annoying, but are skimpy enough on originality to seem destined for perpetual “opening band” status. –jimmy (www.bruntofit.com)


BROTHERHOOD OF ELECTRICITY, THE:
Invisible b/w The Hearse, Nothing: 7”
Hell yeah. Revved-up, Young Lion Conspiracy rock’n’roll. They don’t have to plead with the listener to boogie; it’s all on the vinyl. It’s hoppin’, cracklin’, slippery, bouncin’ like popcorn sizzling in a pan without a lid. Listen after listen, in crept the spirit of The Gories, Poison 13, and the most electric-mouthed Gun Club tracks. The Brotherhood includes three folks (and a lady—ladies can be brothers in my book, too) who are or have been in eleven different bands, including The Winks, This Damn Town, and Tractor Sex Fatality. As a side note, the choice of a more roots-activated bunch covering Negative Approach’s “Nothing” is excellent. Let’s bring this all around: at its very core, this is music and the difference—if hearts are in right places—between hardcore and more garagey-rootsy punk ain’t that big of a jump if folks are willing to look beyond the costumes and to gettin’ down. Great stuff. –todd (Super Secret)


BREAKS, THE:
Get Saved: 7”
Hardcore from Chicago that has all it needs to achieve future “classic release” status: fast beats, stop-on-a-dime breaks, pretty good lyrics, pissed vocals, and a band tighter than Bush’s grip on an oil-producing third world country. This is some seriously bad ass shit here. Be sure to send a full-length this way when it hit the streets, kids. –jimmy (Firestarter)


BPA:
Maybe Use My Knife (1980-1986): CD
Who knew that there was another art damaged weirdo band from Ohio in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s? Not me, but I’m sure glad I’ve been enlightened to the ways of BPA. This is a compilation of their output through the first half of the ‘80s and I’ve got to say that it stands up to any of the similar stuff from the era. I can hear a little bit of everything. A bit of Devo, a lot of early Butthole Surfers… Talking Heads melded with Big Boys… I absolutely LOVE this! The thought of jocks cringing at this makes me smile. The liner notes do a great job of outlining the history of the band and report that they still play to this day from time to time. The (hopefully true) story about a drugged-up Madonna partying all night and refusing to listen to anything but BPA was also great. Track this down now. –ty (Shake It)


BORN/DEAD:
Repetition b/w Fear: 7”
Decent outing from a band I’ve heard accolades about for years now. The problem with a guy like me reviewing this record is that you’ve really gotta be head and shoulders above your peers in the doom-and-gloom hardcore world in order for me to sit up and take notice, and while Born/Dead are obviously good, there’s just a little something that’s missing. It’s dark stuff for sure, with a decent blending of Tragedy’s sense of injustice and buried melody alongside pals Strung Up’s take-no-prisoners approach to hardcore; but it’s also just a little too (no pun intended, guys) repetitive and, well, simply executed. It’s not like I’m looking for insane fret board noodling and sixty parts to a song, but the two tunes here rang a bit more like unused tracks from an LP rather than something to be taken by itself. –keith (Prank)


BORIS WITH MERZBOW:
Sun Baked Snow Cave: CD
This is just kinda one long weird noise with some clicking. At least I think it’s clicking, or it might be my CD player fucking up, I can’t tell. This shit is weird. Who would listen to this? It’s like an hour long. –ben (Hydrahead)


BOMBSHELLS, THE:
Audio Wasteland: CD
Fun, fun, fun. Thirteen songs of snotty rock‘n’roll about drinking, fighting, and getting the stripper to go home with you and it never gets dull. I always find it thrilling when a band can create a familiar, raw, and uninhibited sound but still come off as sounding original. The Bombshells have done just that. In a lot of ways it sounds reminiscent of the Gotohells’ Burning Bridges record, but Audio Wasteland is miles beyond that relative dud. This could be the soundtrack for a Saturday night beerfest: insurgent and rebellious if only for its own sake with an uncontrolled, rollicking sound. –Guest Contributor (Bombshells Music)


BLÖÖDHAG:
Hellbent for Letters: Demo-version CD
The nutshell: Blöödhag play short heavy metal songs about science fiction authors. They play actual libraries (there’s a mini documentary—The Sooner You Go Deaf, The More Time You Have to Read—about them) and they continue to pull from the deep well of authors they celebrate. (Although I was really looking forward to R**d Like a Beast, where Jake promised to be wearing a bloody book codpiece on the cover.) Think Municipal Waste, except thickly spectacled, with a little less DRI, played by guys in ties with latent professional wrestling tendencies. Sure, they’re metal, but the solos are kept at bay and the doom and amplitude is stomping all over the place. Plus, you’re learning and shit by rockin’ out. It’s like a book on tape overdubbed with a more growly Slayer. The only mystery, for me, is since this is a demo, no song titles. I don’t know who they’re honoring, which is half the fun of learning. Another welcome Blöödhag addition to my card catalog. –todd (Alternative Tentacles)


BLACK MARKET BABY:
Coulda… Shoulda… Woulda—The Black Market Baby Collection: CD
Give thanks to the gods above ye seeking great punk rock (Okay, just thank Dr. Strange when you see him in the parking lot of Ralph’s) from the late great ‘80s. Black Market Baby were a DC band of roughnecks who played hard, partied harder, and along the way wrote some great anthems of our time. After having their recorded output languishing out of print since the mid-‘90s, music fans’ prayers have been answered. Twenty-six songs of hard driving, no-holds-barred punk rock. You get classics like “America’s Youth,” “World at War,” “Strike First,” and “Nobody Wanted Us.” Taking their cue from bands like Circle Jerks, TSOL, and Gang Green, the band molded a more melodic style to their tunes, but it still has plenty of fire and brimstone in the mix. Although they sported a few different line-ups, I’m guessing the definitive line-up of the group would be Mike Dolfi on bass, Tommy Carr on drums, Keith Campbell on guitar, and of course the irreplaceable Boyd Farrell on vocals. I’m making this broad assumption based on the fact that this was the line-up that played the farewell shows at the “old” 9:30 Club in DC in 1996. If this is wrong, send hate mail to the editor at Razorcake! But seriously, how can you not like a song like “Drunk and Disorderly” that features the classic line “they wanna punk me in the butt!” But get this CD—every track is a winner. The CD was remastered by Tom Lyle and the liner notes are by the one and only John “Stabb” Schroeder (Government Issue). That’s if my word is not enough! Black Market Baby = fantastic. –koepenick (Dr. Strange)


BLACK HATS, THE:
Hometown Nobodies: CD
The undisputedly good news with Against Me! gaining popularity is that the gap between punk and roots country (without it morphing into some sort of assy tag like alt-country or adult contemporary country) is less of a leap. The undisputedly good news about The Black Hats is that they’re unpretentious, play rock-solid, from-the-country (this time, Wisconsin) music that’s both intelligently written and tastefully played. In an alternate universe, like the one of The Blues Brothers, a band like this could play Bob’s Country Bunker to ten-gallon hat wearers, amped-up truck drivers, and road-weary punkers. They could all join, arm in arm, while smashing empty beer bottles against the chicken wire in joy. That’s a world I’d like to live in. Since that probably won’t ever happen, I’ll just sit back and savor my two favorite tunes: the title track and “Picture,” that get me thinking that, with so very slight a tweak here and there, could both fit right into the Replacements catalog –todd (The Black Hats)


BIFF TANNEN/PILGER:
Split: 7”
Biff Tannen: Fairly straightforward hardcore with a couple o’ tunes addressing racism. The band apparently hails from the Isle of Wight. Neato. Pilger: More straightforward hardcore with lyrics addressing spousal abuse and self abuse and featuring the first hardcore tribute to Phil Ochs I’ve ever heard. –jimmy (www.bifftannen.vze.com)


BETERCORE:
Youthcrust Discography: CD
Anyone have that Sugar Pie Koko 7”? It’s a fucking awesome record; Swedish punk stuff that sounds like a mix of Charles Bronson and forty-five second-long Fingerprint songs, if you can believe that. Brutal, but just snappy and catchy as shit. Betercore’s treading that same kind of beautiful and dangerous sea with this discography—there’s something about the trapped-bird vocals and song structures that allows this twenty-seven song discography to avoid becoming tedious or dull. Pissed off and fast as fuck, there’s a catchiness that keeps you bobbing your head even as the band tries their best to throttle your goddamn lights out. And I think a group like this is one of few who actually pull off the squawking, rat-in-a-legtrap vocal styles that so many fast bands gravitate towards. To sum it up: Betercore was a staunchly DIY political punk band from the Netherlands who sang the praises of a vegan, pro-choice, anti-fashion, punk-as-fuck lifestyle, and they did it with a verve and passion that few bands can consistently pull off. Albums like this document why discographies, especially for now-disbanded bands with limited press runs on their records, can sometimes be a very, very good idea. –keith (Refuse)


BELOW THE SOUND:
Three: CD
Imagine Big Black without the intensity and Unsane without the psychoses and you’ll find these guys somewhere in the middle. –jimmy (Crustacean)


BELLIGERENTS:
Suck on This: 7”
Drunk punk stuff that tries really hard to be obnoxious but only succeeds in being uneventful. Limited to three hundred copies. –jimmy (Blind Spot)


BEATINGS, THE:
Holding onto Hand Grenades: CD
This starts off sounding like Superchunk with Lance Hahn doing the vocals, which is pretty cool. About midway through it, the other guy starts singing or something and it becomes kinda bland, mediocre pop. Then it gets even worse, mutating into straight-up ‘90s alternative radio pop. It never really recovers. The rest of the record, which I might add is LO-O-O-ONG as shit (sixteen songs, most of which clock in at five minutes each), just drags on and on and it even seems like they added extra dicking-around-in-the-studio noises just to make it that much longer. By the end of it I wanted to kill myself. –ben (Midriff)


BASEBALL FURIES:
Lost Ones: 7”
Honestly, the two originals on this pretty much mop the floor with their earlier records, and that’s saying a lot. It’s just nasty, mean-sounding rock and roll, and it’s way the fuck better than anybody else out there. Get this—and all their other records while you’re at it—or keep drooling into that bucket, I guess. Easily one of the best punk bands of the past ten years. –Josh (Alien Snatch)


BAD WIZARD:
Sky High: CD
I was all excited to get this. I’ve been a fan of Bad Wizard’s brand of Tight Bros-style party rock for years, ever since I first heard them a few years ago, with the story of how they got their name from a Mexican bartender mispronouncing “Budweiser.” This album is a little different, the classic rock elements are still there, but with a little more of a maturing metal feel, this sounds like Stained Class-era Judas Priest or even a little like early Mötley Crüe, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. It seems weird saying that a band sounding like Mötley Crüe is a refreshing change, but in 2006 it really is…. –ben (Howler)


BAD VIBES, THE:
All the Right Ways to Do You Wrong: CD
When the first notes of this hit me, I cringed at the possibilities of another thug fest, the likes of Antiseen. There are some similarities, but the Bad Vibes are the much better band, and I liked this record more and more with every listen. It’s got the power of a baseball-bat-ass-whipping, but the tunes certainly do not come off as stale and derivative. There is a good deal of musical inventiveness displayed here within the thug-punk genre, and I found it lyrically satisfying, stuffed with attitude but still showing a wry sense of humor at times and verbal playfulness. A good record that makes me want to get into fights. –Guest Contributor (Steel Cage)


AXES OF EVIL / HOLLOWPOINTS:
Split: 7”
Both of these bands would have been perfect for early-‘90s Epitaph (especially pre-explosion Rancid), and I mean that in a good way, since there seems to be a dearth of non-parrot punk bands who hold older ideals nowadays. (Fashion’s fine, but fashion > heart + talent = nope.) Axes of Evil: Metal-tinged, full-throttle, mindful punk in the spirit of Today’s Empires…-era Propaghandi. Hollowpoints: Lead by a voice as ragged as a tattered flag, they’re a serious-politics, serious-partying punk. In a perfect world, these guys would be as big as Anti-Flag and have their patches on as many assflaps as the Casualties. Both these bands remind me of others who played in this general vein that never got their due, but I still regularly play, like Space Cookie and Mea Culpa. –todd (New Regard Media)


AVERSIONS, THE:
Black Alibi: 7” EP
You like the Hatepinks? You like the Jam? You like the Stitches? The Aversions have snotty voices, sneered and leering faces, crisp and bright guitar work, striped shirts, and a lot of effort in how they look and sound. It all points to this conclusion: if Hostage Records had a French Canadian branch, the Aversions would be the first signing. The World Beach Invasion is spreading. –todd (The Aversions/ In Style)


AUKTION:
D-Beat RNR Mayhem: CD
There’s a tad too much metal in the mix for these ears, but when they veer off from the chugga-chugga and go into full-on thrash mode, they can tear it up with the best of Swedish hardcore, past or present. The piss-take on the Guns’n’Roses cover was a hoot, too. –jimmy (Wasted Sounds)


AUBURN BIKINI:
Self-titled: CD
If you’ve ever lived in small town, one that you come to love, and not want to flee the confines of (not that you love your chains, but one in which you get all towned-out on) then you may relate to Auburn Bikini. You’ve maybe been there before, a place where there’s nothing going on but that which you make a reality through a homemade, hands-on kind of action. You may have even seen things and come to appreciate aspects of the life there which, to the outside world, seem like an abomination of what they consider true and to the heart. But you play house shows and do your best to make it with what you’ve got. Sure, Auburn Bikini play some songs about football. So what? I’ve seen punk rock soccer games, baseball games, hacky sack (yeah yew, right?), and, yes, football games, one of which was played at the Loveliest Village on the Plains. That’s Auburn, folks. Home to the Bikini. Let me say a couple more things about football, this band, and the town they’re from. There are about 45,000 people who live in Auburn. That’s a small town. There is a football stadium that seats somewhere around 85,000. That’s about double the population. At least a hundred thousand will show up five days out of the year for football games and start drinking in the streets. If you live there, it’s going to have an impact on your life. It doesn’t mean you’re a jock or some frat guy. Shit, there’s a song on here where the lyrics are, “I’m a barracuda/ you’re a barracuda/ five years of marriage/ five years of marriage.” What the hell? I don’t know, do you? Auburn Bikini is about a good time; moreover, the best time you could possibly have. If you needed a show down there in the steamy south, then these guys would be one of your best times. –Guest Contributor (Arkam)


ASHTRAY/THE RAPED:
Split: CD
This is the audio documentation of The Raped’s final show along with openers Ashtray. Judging by the cover (I know you’re not supposed to do that), both bands would be in the realm of scum punk or something like that. Astray kicks it off, and my presumptions ring true. Mid-tempo punkers with dual girl and boy singers. They’d probably be pretty fun to see at a show drunk but the vocals really started to get to me. Let’s move along to the headliners: The Raped. Holy shit! I was not expecting this. Imagine, if you will, Tesco Vee writing lyrics for Crass but with Joey Vindictive singing. I am not exaggerating! After the shock wore off, so did the novelty. –ty (We Are Going To Eat You)


ARMALITE:
Self-titled: CD
I like comedians covering dog shows because they make jokes about pedigrees while the judges—in all seriousness and concentration—cup a dog’s balls or stick their fingers in its mouth to reveal scary fangs. I sometimes feel like that when describing a new band formed from older ones, it’s like I’m comparing their muscle and chops against their previous efforts and doing a mental tally against the genre (or breed, to keep stretching an analogy) as a whole. For example: Dan Yemin’s on bass. Dan’s been (and is once again in the reformed) Lifetime, Kid Dynamite, and Paint It Black. His string work is like a whip with a bit of candy at the end: a sweet, stinging, distinctive laceration. Atom Goren’s on guitar and singing. Atom’s probably most known for his one-man band, Atom and His Package, but he was also in a hardcore band, Fracture. Atom can make a song about his pancreas and turn it into an urgent singalong. Not easy. Mike McKee was the guy screamer (as opposed to the lady screamer) in Kill The Man Who Questions and he’s the yin to Atom’s yang; a bit more Philly steel and concrete, and that provides a nice balance. Jeff Ziga’s also in Affirmative Action Jackson and he continues to be both tasteful and bashing drummer. So, Armalite, a probably-won’t-tour, Sunday-practicing supergroup doesn’t equal a mutt, and comes out as a barking, lean, evenly balanced, nicely coated, precisely-what-they-wanted band that put out a really good album. –todd (No Idea)


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·SKIP JENSEN AND HIS SHAKIN’ FEET
·RAISED FIST
·PULLMEN, THE
·The Musical Spectrum from Tony Basil to Crime
·TUFFIES, THE


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