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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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DARKBUSTER:
A Weakness for Spirits: CD
If you love catchy, drunk punk that’ll stick to the top of your brain and you’ll keep on singing along to for years, I highly suggest Darkbuster’s side of the their split with Tommy and the Terrors on Rodent Popsicle that came out several years ago. That shit fuckin’ smokes. I was stoked to get this. I was disappointed when I played it. Gone is the feeling of guys who are—in the form of songs—breaking full pitchers of beer over your head and you can’t stop smiling. Gone is the feeling—again, in the form of songs—of spilt beer in a full ashtray and they would gulp it up without a second thought; that liquid, dirty, sloppy, fun spirit. No judgement on the personalities behind the band, but this is just “pro” in all the wrong ways, where fun has been replaced by calculation. There’s their take writing a Rancid-esque song. There’s their take on a Social Distortion-esque song. There’s their take on writing a Dropkick Murphys-esque song. There’s their take on writing a song for armed forces recruitment. And it’s all polished to a high sheen, like a brand new guitar, covered in perfectly placed, highly deliberated, unscuffed stickers. Sounds untrue. And what I wanted was more Darkbuster playing Darkbuster. And getting hit in the head by a pitcher again. It pains me to say this, but I’m wholeheartedly disappointed, even after listening to it ten times over. Fuckin’ bummer. –todd (www.darkbuster.net)


DAREDIABLO:
Twenty Paces: CD
While formulaic alt-country in appearance (map of Texas, muddy boot, catchy name, and song titles like "Billy Got Worse" and "Nife Fite on Wife Nite"), I was quite perplexed when I read that the Village Voice called Darediablo a "jazz-funk prog-rock trio." I groaned audibly—what a nightmare. Surprisingly, this instrumental three-piece act is harmonious and well synchronized: a little metal, a little soul, and a little rock—with zero artsy pretentiousness (that's the best part). Constant attention is given to all emotions as they whisk up and down a river of pensive and perpetual moodiness. I almost tossed this one, but my affectation for excellent instrumental groups such as Pell Mell forbade me from doing so without at least giving it a listen. Not bad for what it is. –thiringer (Southern)


DAN MELCHIOR:
Hello, I’m Dan Melchior, aka Singer-Songranter: CD
It’s about what you’d expect when a guy makes a record with his wife instead of his ragged rock band; reduced volume and velocity, introspective lyrics set to contemplative arrangements (though pretty dense arrangements much of the time—while the sound isn’t really close, there are certain stylistic and conceptual similarities to Royal Trux), acoustic guitars and pianos, and the performer’s own visual art. I can’t quibble with most of it, and genuinely like a couple tracks (particularly the bouncy “Americana Strip Mall Rag”), but repeated listens draw attention to just that: repetition. Melchior, on this record, tends to beat certain lines into the ground, which puzzles me as he’s clearly smart enough to write a whole song’s worth of words. Ultimately that repetition will be the reason I won’t play this record much. –Cuss Baxter (Shake It)


DAN BAND, THE:
Live!: CD
When you find yourself holding a CD that features a guy in Jiffy Lube overalls singing covers of songs originally sung by women, it’s a safe assumption you are probably holding a CD by a “joke” band. Such is the case here. Dan and crew run through the formerly female-led hits of the ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s and ‘00s, including “I Am Woman,” “Genie in a Bottle” and “Flashdance/Fame,” sticking close to the original sound of the tunes and not changing the lyrics. He’s in fine voice, I gotta say, but ultimately this, unlike Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, was gut-busting hilarious for a grand total of one listen. After that, you’re just pushing the envelope. –jimmy (Sideonedummy)


DAN BAND, THE:
Live!: CD
In the day and age of American Idol and karaoke, it’s an easier sell when you hear someone covering a song that you have heard before. So add the gimmick that a man covers songs sung by women adds to the flair. Now picture going to Vegas and seeing a revue performed by Billy Joel of his favorite hits performed by women and this what you get. More fun actually being there, but I can picture myself pulling this out when I’m vacuuming the house. I have no shame. –don (Side One Dummy)


DEEMED USELESS:
Self-titled: CD-R
What are the odds of all of the songs on a pop punk demo breaking the three-minute mark? Seriously, one is a mind-crushing 4:49. That would be “Sweetheart,” which spends a full thirty-five seconds showing off Deemed Useless’ harmonizing skills acapella. No surprise then that the “punk” part of the equation goes in quotation marks, because this is total pop, and not the good kind. The singer sounds a lot like Milo Aukerman on “Donkey Show,” but after that it’s all harmonies and emotional choruses and a friggin’ POWER BALLAD. Also, the lead guitarist is clearly a frustrated metal shredder stuck in an emo-pop gig. –Guest Contributor (Self-released)


COMPULSIONS:
Laughter from Below: CD
Unsigned, the Compulsions put out like Mick Jagger on this sincere Stones-inspired six-song EP of roadhouse style rock. A rotating line up of musicians from the Patti Smith Group, Howlin’ Wolf Band, the Pissers, and more, belt out honest rock’n’roots, southern rock and down-home blues on both the up tempo and the melancholy tunes. Toss in a little New York Dolls, Joan Jett, and even some ‘70s-style reggae for good measure. The dearth of available information leads me to believe that I may eat my words later, but for now, this is very comfortable and homey. –thiringer (Self-released)


CHRONIC SEIZURE:
Brainsick: 7"
Are they copping outtakes from Marked for Life-era Cut The Shit? Did they cull their chops from the same school as Blood Spit Nights or Dog Soldier? Do they ever listen to DRI’s Violent Pacification 7”? I don’t know. It sounds like they’ve tried to harness little bits and pieces from all those bands (or possibly from other second-tier bands who are trying to sound like those bands) and didn’t quite pull it off. With a craaaazy drawing of a skull on the cover and titles like “No Escape” and “Violent Opposition,” you know what bed you’re gonna be sleeping in here: fast and frantic thrashola to be sure, appropriately pissed. But it’s somehow missing that little bit of juice that would’ve guaranteed my attention or repeated listens. –keith (Fashionable Idiots)


CHAOTIC ALLIANCE:
A New Breed of Terror: CD
When they get all their ducks in a row, these guys sometimes sound like old L.A. anarcho-punks Iconoclast without the nuclear war fixation, but most times they sound like a nondescript backyard hardcore band. A little more creativity in trying to differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack and a little less reliance on metal trappings and they might be a band to reckon with. –jimmy (Charged)


CAPTAIN CHAOS:
Self-titled: CD
All the songs on this CD are true stories and the liner notes tell us: “none of them are about God.” All right! I’m all for the secular folk-punk. The greatest thing about this CD, which is the solo project of a nice young man named Chris who usually plays in Operation Cliff Clavin, is that it is not meant to be taken seriously. And that makes it almost lethally charming. This guy wrote a whole bunch of super sweet, catchy, funny songs for a girl he likes and then got his friend, also named Chris, to put them out on a record label where one hundred percent of the profits go to a cause of the band’s choice (in this case Midwest Pages to Prisoners). Oh yeah, and the record label is in existence because Chris’s dad died and left him money and he wanted to do something to make his dad proud. So, basically, if you don’t like this album, you must be pure evil and probably eat tiny puppies on toast for breakfast. –jennifer (The Scientist and the Duke)


BLIGHT:
Detroit: The Dream Is Dead: CD
A reissue by this Tesco Vee-led, post-Fix band’s sole 7” EP (plus outtakes, a four-track demo, and a live set), short on the hardcore thrashin’ that made all involved (in)famous and long on arty dirge-core. While I’ve always had a soft spot for Blight’s skronk (hell, I’m a sucker for almost any of Tesco’s projects that don’t involve piss poor heavy metal noodling), I’m completely at a loss as to why Touch and Go thought to release this and not a proper collection of the Fix’s recorded output. That band’s status and influence on Midwestern hardcore would lead one to believe they’d be first in line for a retrospective like those T&G have done for Die Kreuzen, Negative Approach, the Meatmen and now Blight, especially considering the fact that their output hasn’t been in print for many a moon. Go figure. –jimmy (Touch and Go )


BLACK MARKET BABY:
Coulda...Shoulda...Woulda: CD
Though it may seem to the contrary, Washington D.C. had many bands that weren’t part of the whole hardcore/Revolution Summer thang, which enjoys the lion’s share of popularity. One of the best non-Dischord bands was Black Market Baby, who musically stood at another end of the punk rock spectrum from their younger contemporaries, opting to crank out solid, hook-filled stompers instead of thrashing in atonal abandon, and they continued pretty much along the same path for the bulk of their existence. Collected on this CD are twenty-six career-spanning examples of some of the finest punk rock you’re ever gonna hear, from the rockin’ “Back Seat Sally” to the jaw-dropping-good “Potential Suicide,” with not a crappy tune in sight. If the extent of your D.C. punk experience is limited to Minor Threat, Bad Brains, and Fugazi, then pick this up and consider yourself that much cooler. –jimmy (Dr. Strange)


BEOWULF:
The Re-Releases: CD
This is what I know. The Venice, CA based band was part of the Suicidal Tendencies circle which included the Neighborhood Watch, No Mercy, Rim Pests, Excel, and others. They even had a sub-gang of friends under that circle. Growing up in the area and into punk, I knew many who were affiliated with ST guys and even went to school with some of them. At one point, I was asked to play in one of the brother bands. I turned them down when the person I was supposed to replace got stabbed for claiming the band name. That was a little too much for me. The band first released two tracks on the Welcome to Venice comp that was put out by Suicidal Records. Soon after, they released their self-titled LP. I believe it was around ‘85-’86. I remember my brother giving that LP a favorable review in Flipside magazine and getting a ton of hate mail for it. I personally didn’t think much of it at the time when I first heard it. I do remember that it sounded like Motörhead to me. They released their second LP, Lost My Head... in ‘88 on Caroline. Maybe listened to the whole album a couple of times, but my favorite was the Smokey Robinson cover of “Cruisin’.” I loved that it was metal and it kind of got thrashy at the end. The first two LPs are compiled here. I believe this is a legit reissue. But I swear that I heard some record pops here and there on the tracks from the first LP. I guess the masters are gone. The music is what I remember, very Motörhead-ish. But what I might have been bugged by back then does not bug me now. The lyrics are very macho and misogynist in nature. That kind of stuff is what I was trying to get away from when I got into punk. So the lyrics, listening to them now, just rub me the wrong way. That’s a shame because the music they created was pretty kick-ass. –don (I Scream)


BENT OUTTA SHAPE / SNUGGLE:
Split: 7"
Bent Outta Shape have figured out that elusive lost gear that most bands don’t know exists. It’s pacing and it works for fucking, square dancing, skeet shooting, and punk rock (among other things). They know how to stagger, swagger, and rock while not neutering, compromising, or scrunching. A song’ll be all atmospheric, hangover-city, then, whap, duct tape celebration, Sparks held high, morals to the ground. I’ve said it many times: Bent Outta Shape take the best of the Replacements and make new, great songs twenty years later. Righteous three songs. Snuggle: It’s fun to blame Lookout! because they didn’t pay royalties to their golden calves and now they’re bankrupt (at least artistically, if not financially). Lookout! personified, deified, and fostered the East Bay pop punk scene, then wiped their hands clean of the whole affair for ironic hipster shitpop. Here’s the second coming. Snuggle: what nostalgia feels like when you don’t have any happy memories, but lots of hard lessons learned. I say this with admiration. They’d fit right on the bill between Op Ivy and Green Day when they were both awkward, gawky, and wondering where their next meal was coming from. Fun-sounding, yearning-yet-critical, ungulity pop punk. –todd (1234 Go!)


BENLAVIN:
Come on People: CD
There’s a chance that, had this come out in the ‘80s, they would’ve had a hit. Not that it’s that good, just that people’s tastes sucked back then. –megan (Self-released)


ARMALITE:
ARMALITE: CD
This is a Philly super group of sorts with Dan Yemin (Lifetime, Kid Dynamite, Paint It Black), Atom Goren (from Atom & His Package), Mike McKee (Kill The Man Who Questions) and Jeff Ziga (Affirmative Action Jackson). Goren and McKee alternate handling vocal duties with Goren’s songs, not straying too far from the Atom & His Package template (i.e. that patented talking singing) while McKee comes across in a vein similar to Milemarker/Challenger’s Al Burian. Textbook post-hardcore for the punk crowd is what it is my friends. Enjoy. –greg (No Idea)


ZEKE:
Tour 7”: 7”
So, one of these songs is supposed to be a cover. I’m not sure which. Supposedly, it’s the song “Kings and Queens” by Aerosmith…but I looked up the lyrics and they’re totally different. At any rate, I haven’t checked in with Zeke in a long, long, long time. I thought Kicked in the Teeth was the follow up to Blood, Guts and Pussy that the Dwarves should have recorded, and I fucking loved it. The follow up to that record was titled Dirty Sanchez which, at the time, was hilarious but the record itself was a let down. After that, I didn’t bother with anything else. The first track, “Die When You Die,” is the Zeke that I’m accustomed to. Fast, dirty, and a little fucked up. The other two are big, old badass ‘70s rockers with a little touch of stoner rock. I find myself putting on the rockers more than the “classic” Zeke lead-off track. I think I gave up on Zeke way, way, way too soon. If you’re interested, this is supposed to be a tour-only deal, but I think you can find it on a few mail order websites. Oh and Relapse… I’m sure you already noticed but you fucked up the inner labels. –Guest Contributor (Relapse)


YOUTH BRIGADE:
Songs from the Liza Minelli Songbook: CD
It’s been more than a decade, guys. Some of us rabid fans are getting a wee bit impatient for a new album and I, for one, would like to sing along with some new tuneage before I hafta do it from a rest home. –jimmy (BYO)


WHOREHOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:
Discography 1993 – 1999: CD
Having owned records by this Seattle crust punk band for over a decade, and having them sit unplayed in my 7” bins for nearly as long, I wasn’t exactly ripping my shorts off in excitement when I got this one. It’s quite possible that this was just sent to the wrong dude—the Profane people are probably crapping themselves over it. WOR played fast crust punk with female vocals ala Provoked, Disrespect, etc., with all the requisite thrash parts and A-B-A-B rhyme schemes. Unfortunately for the WOR folks, crust is synonymous with hip hop to me—filtered through my ears, ninety-five percent of it sounds exactly the same. It’s never been a genre that’s excited me enough to really explore. That said, I’m sure fans of the band will be totally stoked to have all the records gathered together in one format. There’s plenty of reproduced record covers, flyers and lyrics included; only real thing missing is a discography listing, what songs appeared where. So that’s about it—wasn’t my bag at all, but definitely a great document for a band that was productive for a long time. –keith (Inimical/Un-Yelliman)


WHISKEY & CO.:
Leaving the Nightlife: CD
I used to say bullshit to the idea that “tastes mature,” because it was usually some dickhead in a sweater vest trying to convince me that one day I’d convert over to the Republican party and realize how Rush (take your pick: the dude or the band) “kicks ass.” But, I have to admit, ten years ago, I probably wouldn’t have given Whiskey & Co. much thought. They play stripped-down, old-time country, pretty much. But, in the past ten years, many bad things have befallen me. Many times, the music that I took solace in at one time just wasn’t cutting it. Sometimes you have to whisper back to the world, not yell, to try to find your place in it and, man, Kim Helm’s voice just does that. It’s fiery, redemptive, and dripping sadness in much the same way as Patsy Cline’s (but Kim really does sound like Natalie Merchant), with a group of musicians who sound like they could be playing for a young Merle Haggard (but have played in Asshole Parade). It’s outlaw country punk in the best possible sense: tons of heart, artfully and achingly played, for the disposed and dispossessed. Excellent. –todd (No Idea)


WHIRLWIND HEAT:
Types of Wood: CD
So, apparently, this is another “next big thing” we should be paying attention to. Jack White thinks so. So does Beck. Me? I’m bored. Really sparse drums, keyboard, and bass limply encouraging you to dance and some almost funny lyrics about donating sperm, girls, and some other weird shit. Are we over “electro/dance-punk” yet? Is there anything I can do to speed up the process? I predict a tour with The Killers and We Are Scientists in the future. Maybe we can kill a few birds with one stone. –Guest Contributor (Brille, www.brillerecords.com)


WHILE I BREATH, I HOPE:
Long Live the King: CD
The name scared me off from the start. Phrases that evoke nothing. This style of music has become extremely overdone, not that its not decent, but just uninspired. Emo-core, wanna-be Hot Water Music style stuff. Punk rock is about being different. Two part vocal harmonies that lean towards pseudo-screams with down beat drums and dragging guitar and bass melodies. HWM broke up recently but I don’t think the world needs another copy of the original. Ho-hum. –Guest Contributor (Armada in Flames, www.armadainflames.com / Smith Seven, www.smithseven.com)


WEEGS, THE:
The Million Sounds of Black: CD
Herky-jerky punkwave stuff on this second album—lotsa structured skronk to keep the cynical dancing the night away and make their Bay area art-punk predecessors like Minimal Man and Snakefinger proud. By the by, the forty-plus minute bonus track sounds like an outtake of Pink Floyd’s “Interstellar Overdrive.” –jimmy (Hungry Eye)


WASTED TIME:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Another hardcore band that keeps the pace at a nice, thrashy clip, sounds good ’n’ pissed off and checks out before they wear out their welcome. Gotta love that. –jimmy (Grave Mistake)


WARNING, THE:
All Systems Dead: CD
Punk’s answer to a poppier, mohawkier Motörhead. –mrz (Punkcore)


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·Last Pogo Jumps Again: Punk’s Last Waltz, The: DVD
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