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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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VIOLENT ARREST:
Authors of Our Own Demise: 7"
It might be a wise move to take cover when listening to this release, which comes free with the latest edition of the Artcore zine, as it contains some really ferocious hardcore. I swear, that as he settles into the role as the band’s new frontman, Welly’s vocals are becoming even more aggressive; the band is ramping up its intensity when compared to its recent album. The end result is some excellent throat-shredding, fist-shaking punk rock. One final point is that with Artcore being Welly’s baby—currently celebrating its thirtieth year—he doesn’t do things by halves and has enlisted both Brian Walsby and Vince Rancid to provide artwork for the record to make for an awesome package –Rich Cocksedge (Artcore, artcorefanzine.co.uk)


VISITORS:
Poets End: LP
Holy shit! In the world of shit landfill reissue records, there occasionally comes a release that actually makes sense and deserves a spot on my record shelf. This band hailed from Scotland in the late ‘70s, released a couple of singles that vaporized, but somehow they piqued the interest of Mr. John Peel. Peel had them do three sessions, all of which were magical but, alas, they disappeared back to obscurity and the nine to five. Mercifully, someone pulled the sessions out of the ether and stuck them on the a 12”. One part Wire, one part Joy Division, and the rest a mix of the darker side of Crass records like Lack Of Knowledge. What makes this disc shine is the faultless BBC recording. I can’t believe this has been wallowing in obscurity for so long. Absolutely mandatory for all the folk who like a little sour taste to their post-punk.  –Tim Brooks (Telephone Explosion, telephoneexplosion.com)


VIVISICK:
Nuked Identity: CD
Pure insanity! Think Toy Dolls on speed and LSD at the same time. And Japanese. This record is totally bonkers. Wild, over-the-top, speedy punk rock from the psych ward. All sung in Japanese—but with translated titles such as “Why Must I Grab My Penis?” and “Asia Is Burning,” it seems like the lyrics are just as scattered as the music. Fans of Hi-Standard and Love Songs will love this.  –Chad Williams (Vivisick, vivisick.shouten.jp / Tankcrimes, tankcrimes.com)


WAREHOUSE ONE:
Light It Up: CD
What is this, white guys who want to be 311, Sublime, some high-pitched, squealing metal band, Christian rock, or... Bad Religion? They always come back to the reggae. I fucking hate reggae. I have even been known to have relations with a certain smokable lil’ green plant. Yah! whut? Reggae just makes me tense— white-knuckled, body-shaking, pupil-enlarging, blood-pressure-spiking tense. That aside, Warehouse One is keeping me listening because they’re keeping me on my toes. They’re a musically talented bunch of dudes that likes a breakdown, praise the Lord, love to keep it irie, and end it with some Spanish guitar.  –Jackie Rusted (Warehouse One Music, warehouseonemusic.com)


WARRIOR TRIBES:
Self-titled: 7" EP
Muscular hardcore with a big, beefy sound whether they’re thrashing it up or opting for some mid-tempo stomp. The bassist’s vocals are reminiscent of Choke from Slapshot on the tunes he’s singin’ and there’s what sounds like a flanger or some similar effect on the guitar to add to the dissonance. Felt my hair try to revert to sixteen-year-old-Jimmy’s much-shorter-than-now coif as this played.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Warrior Tribes, warriortribes.bandcamp.com)


WATCHER’S WOODS:
Decay: CDEP
I went to bat for Watcher’s Woods before and I am continuing to bat for their radical eco goth thing, which I realize is not a great descriptor. They’re gloomy, catchy post-punks blocking the opening of an environmentally damaging open-pit taconite mine. They’re doing psychedelics in the woods, they’re quitting their jobs, and they love animals. And their EP comes inside a folded-up piece of paper. It feels like they passed it to me in study hall. They should be huge and playing with Merchandise or something, though maybe where we really need them is in the trees with binoculars saving the local hillside or valley from corporate death –Matt Werts (Self-released, watcherswoods.bandcamp.com)


WEREFOX:
Das Lied Der Maschinen: CD
Wow. Is there a top ten of worst records ever reviewed? This is what all the normal folk think gothic/alt rock is. Are you guys familiar with that act Skin? From Slovakia I can see this lot trudging around Europe’s rock clubs trying to get big. Next level terrible.  –Tim Brooks (Moonlee, moonleerecords.com)


WHITNEY HOUSTON’S CRYPT:
Self-titled: 7”EP
Whitney Houston’s Crypt is some freaky shit. The warbly guitar on “Twosome Threesome” will have you second and third guessing if you are playing it on the right speed, but when the guttural screamo vocals kick in, the reality of just how weird this noise punk is sets in. “Hatoful Boyfriend” is just as bizarre—super angular guitar and ambient noise with a slow-churning beat. Flip to “Michael Hotchips” on side B for some string-bending, tape-warping noise that is like an acid trip where everything and nothing makes sense all at the same time. Bona fide freaks, and I like it. –Camylle Reynolds (Vacant Valley, vacantvalley.bandcamp.comv)


WILD ANIMALS:
Basements: Music to Fight Hypocrisy: LP/CD/CS
It’s not that long since I first heard Wild Animals’ excellent debut record, so to have the follow up come along so quickly is a slice of good fortune. Ideally, I’d avoid hyperbole but it’s just not possible here as Basements is a fantastic piece of work with warm, scrappy songs built around a fuzzy melodicism that is infectious from the outset. The odd hints of early Samiam work magnificently with the male/female vocals and the blown-out-sounding bass, making me feel uplifted and elated. Hats off to this Madrid-based trio for referencing the television show Six Feet Under in the outstanding “Television Blows,” which has great significance to me, as without the programme I would never have met my wife. The album is out on a multitude of labels, so it’s worth doing some legwork on the internet to find what suits you best but I got mine from s-n-c-l in the U.K. A definite contender for best album of the year. –Rich Cocksedge (s-n-c-l, sncl@collective-zine.co.uk, sncl.collective-zine.co.uk)


WYCH ELM, THE:
Woodward: LP
Alternating bits of folky indie rock with brittle, distorted guitars and more experimental fare. While the former isn’t too terrible in a Vaselines sorta way, the latter is much more interesting the noisier and more off the rails it gets.  –Jimmy Alvarado (The Wych Elm, facebook.com/TheWychElm)


YEAR OF GLAD:
Self-titled: CS
Your standard third-rate Lemuria clone band.  –Juan Espinosa (Forward Fast, no address listed)


YEAR ZERO:
Year One: CD
Year Zero play anthemic, melodic punk with a nice mix of bombast and melody. I’m hearing thoughtful, emo-leaning ‘90s punk like Samiam and some of the pub rock/power pop pilfering post-Exploding Hearts bands. This was recorded in 2009 and 2010 and Razorcake has already reviewed and enjoyed this record, so I’m assuming this is a rerelease. If I were an A&R man in a Tom Petty song, I’d mention that I don’t hear a single, but I’m nearly at the end and have enjoyed every song so far… so maybe they’re all singles. Whooooah.  –Chris Terry (youngmodern.storenvy.com)


JUMP THE BLINDS:
Kill Kill Bangkok: CS
Some jittery ragers that might appeal to ‘90s underground freaks. When they go for more formal rock’n’roll structures, I lose interest. But every once in a while they hit on some Action Patrol/Jonathan Fire*Eater combo—nerd angst and slant rock and the right balance of love and contempt for the pop canon—and they seem larger than themselves. That I’m into. I hope they continue on the path of “93 Lumina,” or even better, “Pest” (from their Hooker Chemical record, included in its entirety on side B). I kind of hope they change their name, too, but that’s neither here nor there.  –Matt Werts (Drug Party, drugparty.storenvy.com)


ACID FAST:
Last Night on Earth: LP
Not immediately catching, but like the feeling you’re left with after your best friend goes home after a sleep over, you’ll flip it over and over, anticipating the needle drop as much as the next friendship overnighter. Open and warm, an LP to float through the window leading to the porch on a sun-beaten summer day. Not breezy tunes, but tight music made by and for tight friends. Harkens to early ‘90s Gainesville or Midwest basement shows. Unafraid to get weird, get dirty, or put their heart on the line. Take this album to your next grill and chill punk party.  –Matt Seward (Salinas, salinasrecords.com)


ACOUSMA:
2nd EP: 7"
Absolutely blistering hardcore from Nova Scotia. Hits me like a leaner, meaner Asshole Parade. All four tracks represented here sound as if someone snuck in the control room during recording and turned the knob labeled “brutal” up to ten. Also worthy of mention is the seriously wonderful art contained on the cover and included lyric poster. Top notch and highly recommended.  –Garrett Barnwell (High Fashion Industries)


ADVLTS:
Black Bile: 7" EP
This is grimy-sounding punk rock with echoes of late ‘70s punk. The songs include the requisite guitar feedback of that style—though I can still hear the drums and bass—and I enjoy that quite a lot. My one complaint is that there isn’t much variation in style—which, when I think about it, isn’t a true complaint because I like grimy-sounding punk rock. That being said, this EP comes with a digital download code, which is cool.  –Becky Rodriguez (Firestarter / Toxic Pop, toxicpoprecords@gmail.com, toxicpoprecords.com)


AH FUCK / RUSH AWESOME:
Split: CS
Ah Fuck: guitar and bass accompaniment to a dystopian future where technology has outsmarted itself. Agonized vocals echo in and sit down next to you to share in your frustration and to remind you that life is meaningless but beautiful. Rush Awesome: droplets of colorful sound bouncing off your brain before leading you into a labyrinth of perpetual ambient bliss. Expert use of tape looping reveals true artistic craftsmanship. Fucking brilliant through and through.  –Juan Espinosa (Gilgongo, gilgongorecords.com)


JAVIER ESCOVEDO:
Kicked out of Eden: CD
The latest solo effort by this Zero is a potent mix of raucous rock that reeks of late nights in Texas and New York bars, ‘60s pop, power pop, and the Dollsy punk he and his ol’ band cut their teeth on four (!) decades back. Grade-A soundtrack to drink way too much and dance way too long into the night. Never, ever dismiss the OGs out of hand, kids.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Saustex, saustex.com)


ALL BRIGHTS, THE:
...Are Wild for the Night: CD
“I just wanna girl with a coupla tits / and a sandwich in a hand basket.”Shakespeare? Lovecraft? Crass? No. It’s California’s All Bright’s. The music is tight, West Coast punk rock’n’roll, but the lyrics sound like the product of someone’s midlife crisis. This is essentially a concept album about life on the beach. It’s been done before and in much more interesting ways. Sorry to bust up the frat party, bros.  –Jon Mule (Red Scare Industries, redscare.net)


AMY O:
Arrow: CS
Amy O is the eponymous project of Brenda’s Friend collaborator and all-around adorable singer-songwriter Amy Oelsner. Featuring ten compositions that feel childlike without seeming naive, willowy without seeming insubstantial and familiar without seeming trite, Arrow tiptoes merrily along the border between top-secret diary entries and cheeky abstract poetry. Though the twee quality of Oelsner’s vocals may initially be a hard sell for some listeners, they never venture into the realm of affectation; her winning earnestness is likely to soften even the hardest of hearts. While the lead vocal is consistently strong, Oelsner’s voice paired with that of backing vocalist Madeline Robinson occasionally resembles slightly off-time double-tracking, especially when the two singers are echoing a single melody rather than harmonizing. However, when those distinct harmonies do emerge—such as on the sugary title track—they soar, improving even further with the addition of guitarist Chris Clements’ voice on the lazily wistful, twang-infused “Honeysuckle.” Overall, Arrow is another irresistible bittersweet treat from Amy O.  –Kelley O’Death (Let’s Pretend, letspretendrecs@gmail.com, letspretendrecords.com)


ANGRIES:
Hollowed Out: CS
Contrary to their name, rumors suggest that the Corvallis quartet Angries are actually really fucking nice people. Their eleven-song debut spends twenty minutes conveying well-curated rage through melodic punk rock with the barreling energy of a freight train. Moving between catchy hooks, ‘80s hardcore, and ‘90s riot grrrl vibes, Hollowed Out has something for everyone. Get your catchy gang vocals fix in “Hollow Days” and furious pit vibes from “Tolerance.” the closing track, “Raped Culture,” is my favorite and one of the most interesting tracks on the cassette. It opens with dark, disjuncted bass chords before dropping into fast, straight-ahead punk rock, eventually echoing the repetitive trope of The Exploited’s “Sex and Violence” in a punk feminist critique on American rape culture. Silver glitter cassettes, bold cover art, and a clean DIY insert make this self release feel exciting to listen to and easy to follow. While I wish the mix was a bit more bass- and drums-heavy, it will definitely stay in rotation. I’m stoked to see what these folks have up their sleeve for 2016.  –Candace Hansen (Self-released, ang-ries.bandcamp.com)


ANGRY COUGARS:
Self-titled: LP
About twenty years ago, I remember reading the liner notes to some album in which the writer related the story of how, when his uncle heard the Sonics for the first time back in the ‘60s, he jumped up, bonked a bookshelf with his head, and emphatically exclaimed “HOT DAMN! THIS SOUNDS LIKE A BUNCHA (N-WORDS)!” The writer continued by detailing that he had a similar reaction upon his first listen to whatever band it was for which he had written said liner notes, but, being a well-behaved lad, his emphatic exclamation was remiss the racial slur —his point (on which I am offering no opinion whatsoever) being something akin to, “White dudes who play raw, wild rock’n’roll don’t sound like white dudes. They sound like black dudes.” I had somewhat of a parallel experience with the Angry Cougars, although my experience was wholly devoid of real or imagined racial overtones: I had no fucking idea until I got to the second-to-the-last song that this band’s singer wasn’t a guy, and the only thing that tipped me off was a gender reference. Now, not to open up a vast and hugely boring can of worms, but, in my antediluvian reptilian forebrain, I just jumped up, bonked my head on a bookshelf, and yelled “HOT DAMN! THIS SOUNDS LIKE A DUDE!” and there was much rejoicing. Betty Machete rips shit UP, man! The drums go POUND POUND POUND and the guitar goes GNAW GNAW GNAW, and brother, you’ll have a bookshelf-shaped dent in your head right quick if you know what’s best for you. BEST SONG: “Beat Your Ass.” BEST SONG TITLE: “Bullet?” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: The vinyl has each song title etched in the wax before each song! Fucking brilliant!  –Rev. Norb (Breakup)


ATLANTIC THRILLS:
Vices: CD
Totally well-done mélange of garage, surf, and a sprinkling of psychedelia. Picture, if you will, 1967-era Brian Wilson and Syd Barrett jamming with the members of the Cramps, the Raveonettes, and the Ventures. This was just what I needed to drive away the Southern California marine-layer blues (yes, such a thing exists).  –Garrett Barnwell (Almost Ready, almostreadyrecords.com)


AUF BEWÄHRUNG:
Nachtschatten: LP
I first heard of Auf Bewährung (No Probation) earlier this year when it was announced as support to Night Birds in Frankfurt, a show I am due to attend. Internet searches resulted in me finding a gritty anti-fascist punk rock band which sounded pretty good, especially its cover of “Bonzo Goes to Bitburg.” I then get hold of the band’s new album Nachtschatten(Nightshade), and discovered that Auf Bewährung had clearly taken a couple of steps forward towards a more mature sound without losing any of its edge. The evolution is one which I definitely approve of, as the songs have better structures and have more longevity than anything else I’d heard from the group. I can’t comment on the lyrics, as my German is non-existent, but it does seem that the group has kept the leftist ideals previously espoused when checking out its social media presence. My inability to understand the lyrics hasn’t detracted from my enjoyment of this record one iota and I’m now excited at the prospect of seeing the band where I’ll be singing along as best as I phonetically can. –Rich Cocksedge (Twisted Chords, twisted-chords.de, mailorder@twisted-chords.de)


AVENUE Z:
Azimut: CD
Never in my life did I ever think I would become a fan of weirdo synthesizer music, yet here we are. Avenue Z is a French band that is predominately synth and trashy guitar-driven. If you are thinking of some unholy spawn of The Spits and Mind Spiders, you would be definitely on the right track. I am quickly becoming obsessed with this album. It is sung in French, but the lyric sheet is translated into English and Japanese. I love how the mood can switch up so quickly from track to track, from fuzz guitar spazz out to effects-laden groove trips and back again. I can’t get enough of this.  –Ty Stranglehold (Slovenly, slovenly.com)


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