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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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TRANZMITORS:
Some Girls b/w Dancing in the Front Row: 7”
The image I get when listening to the Tranzmitors is an expert telephone switchboard operator—the type who would plug in lines by hand after the call’s placed—only with a time machine. So, you’re getting a call from 1977: Buzzcocks, Gang of Four, Undertones, Jam, all hanging on one line, but cross-switched to 2006 without losing clarity, without static. Your musical door, today, is kicked off the frame, and in comes a band, all instruments a-blazing, shooting you full of musical notes. Like the Exploding Hearts, there’s something vital to be said about freshly broken angles, bent and infected melodies, redirecting stray lines back to the master strokes to the likes of Elvis Costello—not to make a shrine—but to push older ideas further than they initially went. And, holy smokes, The Tranzmitors sound like they were born nailed to their instruments. Wow. –todd (La-Ti-Da)


TOYS THAT KILL:
Shanked!: CD
Toys That Kill’s music is simply spellbinding, catchy and well produced. Always. This new album is no exception. I must admit that other than the debut every time I get a new album it takes me a few listens to tune into their wavelength...but once I do, it’s there forever. It’s like getting hurt bad and getting prescribed 800mg Ibuprofen and being told you have to take two pills a couple times a day. The first time you open the bottle those two huge pills don’t seem to go down your throat so easy...but once they do, you feel oh sooo good. Be warned, you listen to this album stoned, drunk, wasted off something else or simply high on life it’ll become your best friend by track three. Now when’s that rumored split with D4 going to materialize? –mrz (Recess)


TOMMY GUN AND THE BULLETS::
Something New: 7”
Very good, but not holy-shit street punk that picks up a lot of its cues from early Swingin’ Utters, Beltones, and the Bodies. Their conviction seems real and the playing’s tight, but there’s no extra oomph, interesting bites, or added dimensions, like the three above-mentioned bands, to set them apart from the pack. –todd (Radio)


TOMMY GUN AND THE BULLETS:
Something New: 7”
Solid punk stuff with more than a passing aural similarity to the Bodies, which makes sense considering the label. Not bad. –jimmy (Radio)


TIME AGAIN:
The Stories Are True: CD
Bad mouthers always say that Hellcat just puts out ska and Rancid wannabes. Rancid-wannabe-shit-talk is one thing...but this is ridiculous. You sure the singer’s name ain’t Lint –mrz (Hellcat)


TIME AGAIN:
The Stories Are True: CD
As a fan of Rancid—yes, I’m a fan of Rancid—I have to say, I’m a little annoyed, and very confused. So confused that I had to listen to this CD several times to try and come up with a theory as to why this is okay. Why would Hellcat put out an album that sounds exactly like Rancid? Yes, there are several straightforward answers, like easy money, etc. But really…for some reason, I feel like a shitty makeshift computer: It does not compute. Let’s see, the CD displays a sticker that explains Tim Armstrong is featured on the track “The Stories are True.” Well, it sounds like the whole CD features Mr. Armstrong. The vocals are so identical that I even got into a silly debate on whether it was Tim or not. Although I know it is just the work of a very good clone, I couldn’t help but make a silly wager, just on the basis of pure disbelief. Honestly, you could spend a good amount of time trying to decipher Tim from the lead singer, Daniel but don’t be as lame as me. Needless to say, this album is very comparable to Rancid. And most of the lyrics cover the topic of living on the streets, being homeless, and being a “Streetwalker.” I guess kids will eat this up. Maybe if I was younger, I would too. Time will never tell. And my theory: If you get a tattoo of Tim’s initials—the singer has T.A. on his wrist—and then cleverly cover it up by naming your band with the same initials, your super love is rewarded with a record deal. –jenny (Hellcat)


TIDES:
From Silence: CD
I don’t know much about this band. They seem like they might be long hairs that love metal with a tendency towards electronica mixed in for good measure. This is a three song CD, but the tracks are so long it could be a full-length punk record. Although this isn’t my cup of whiskey, it is well done and could be the soundtrack to some artsy indie flick about shooting up and watching the oncoming apocalypse in slow motion. Instrumental gloom with noodle guitars. –Guest Contributor (Teenage Disco Bloodbath, www.tdbrecords.com)


THERMAN MERMAN:
Demo Delish: CD-R
Eight songs in under ten minutes. In those eight songs, they manage to cover “White Christmas," and I don’t hate it. It may have to do with the fact that I got it in June, when I’m not inundated with Christmas carols. They also cover topics such as love and Kurt Russel. They say they’re influenced by Crimpshrine, D4, and the Bouncing Souls, which makes sense. –megan (Therman Merman)


THANK GOD:
For Pregnant Virgins: CD
Very fast, very noisy, very skronky, but, strangely, not very interesting. Cool song titles, though –jimmy (Tick Tock, no address)


TENNESSEE TEARJERKERS, THE:
Dirty Nails: 7”
I want to open a truck stop and have a jukebox that only has 45s from Jack Oblivian Yarber. This good times rockin’ single (already out of print) has songs by Yarber and bandmate Margaret Garrett, and an Ian Hunter cover (“Original Mixed Up Kid”). Rock kids would sit next to the country truckers and hookers and everyone would get along great, share the sugar, tell stories, and the waitresses would actually live off their tips. –mike (Bancroft)


TEENAGE BOTTLEROCKET:
Total: CD
With former member(s) of the Lilingtons, there are no surprises here. Nasally whoa-oh pop punk. No one’s reinventing the wheel here, but they run that well-paved road so smoothly that I’ll be listening to it for some time to come. –megan (Red Scare)


STUPORHERO:
It Would Be Nice To Wake Up: CD
The first song on this album is called, “Cherry Blossom Cool.” What does that mean? Your guess is as good as mine. This is the kind of quirky, indie rock that I liked in the mid-nineties when I spent a lot of time driving around in my parents’ minivan listening to every Lemonheads album ever made. I’m happy to say my tastes have evolved, and I found this album fairly tiresome. I’m not sure why the male member of this band is the lead singer, since his voice is kind of whiny and grating. Four songs in, we are teased with a excellent track called “Get High School” where one of the band’s female members sings lead in a charming, unpretentious way. If the other songs on the album were more like that one, this might have a chance of landing in my heavy rotation pile. –jennifer (Basement Tape)


STRONGARM & THE BULLIES:
You Had It Coming: CD
I almost had these Dutch guys pegged. The tough sounding name and menacing disc cover did plenty to sway my guess and I was somewhat right. Street punk with plenty of sing along parts and good harmonies. The thing I wasn’t expecting was the uniqueness of the singer’s voice. It’s kind of a low growl that struck me as a mix between Lee Ving and Restless Spirit of Drunk Injuns. I like it. –ty (Rebellion, www.rebellionrecords.nl)


STARS & STRIPES:
One Man Army: CD
At first inclination, I thought this was an American version of Hard Skin. Really, really well played oi with really, really hilarious and deeply satirical lyrics. I guess I was part right because Stars & Stripes do play really good music with really hilarious lyrics. It turns out that it’s not so much a joke as it is a side project for Choke from Slapshot though. Here’s a quick run through. The first three songs are about beating the shit out of people. The next one is about realizing your dreams and life are too short to be mean (?!); follow that with a couple telling us to lighten up and “shut the fuck up.” Now we’ve got a soccer song (in North America it is called soccer. People who are from North America have no reason to call it anything else) and an ode to invading Europe. The disc closes with two songs that I can relate to: hockey and getting drunk. The getting drunk one quickly sinks into going out to beat up rival soccer hooligans though so I got lost again. If it turns out that this is a joke band, then kudos to them for pulling it off in such a way that it’s hard to tell. If it’s not, well, I was still entertained. Musically, I’m thinking in the neighborhood of Menace or Sham 69. A fun listen. –ty (I Scream)


SPOILERS, THE:
Under the Knife: CD
The Spoilers are one of my favorite bands, not just because they write catchy songs and play them with joyful aggression. And not just because the lead singer reminds me of one of my other favorites, Kitty Kowalski, in that sort of tough girl with brains kind of way. It’s also not just because the interplay of the bass and the guitars is somehow fluid and muscular, tough and melodic; or that the drumming is so furiously fast that it’s hard to imagine that it’s being played by the diminutive Cindy Lou Spoiler. The real reason The Spoilers are one of my favorite bands is their defiant optimism, their refusal to knuckle under to the ugliness and stupidity that fills our world. The Spoilers sing songs about being “alright” even when “your parents don’t know,” about “Groupie Whores” who make it hard for other girls to be taken seriously; about wondering why a friend who committed suicide didn’t want to “live for one more fucking day.” The Spoilers are not optimistic in the rose-colored glasses sort of Pollyanna way. They are fully aware of just what a shitty world this is, but refuse to give in, refuse to be defined by that shittiness, and repeatedly declare their determination to stay true to themselves despite it all. This is not light-hearted feel good music—but it will make you feel good. And it’s not mindless party music, although you could certainly dance to it (if you’re in good shape, that is—this shit is FAST). It is good old rock’n’roll, played at a break-neck speed. Like I said, The Spoilers are one of my favorite bands, and this is one of my favorite CDs to come out in some time. –brian (www.thespoilers.net)


SPEEDBUGGY USA:
The City That God Forgot: CD
Speedbuggy, once one of L.A.’s preeminent cowpunk bands, have transcended to successful alt country on this, their seventh full-length album. Infusing Bakersfield country, Delta blues, zydeco and brass band with non sequitur raucous Pogues irreverence and dreamy Mazzy Star-like instrumentations, Speedbuggy creates a mature and heterogeneous album. Heartfelt, sincere and overall upbeat, parts of this mellifluous album reflect the sadness and loss felt by survivors of Hurricane Katrina, which deeply affected the band. All profits from this album’s sales are being donated to Habitat for Humanity’s Katrina Relief Fund. Art, writing and other services were donated to the band to produce this album for charity. –thiringer (Split 7)


SPACE CRETINS:
Rocket Roll: CD
This is really good! Awesome high energy poppy glammy punk. Sounds like Zowie Fenderblast from the Lee Harvey Oswald band fronting the Groovie Ghoulies, oh yeah!! Songs just come marching at you one after another, although “Star Kiss” is a cool mid-tempo tune that breaks things up. Really cool glammy vocals and strong punk songs. Fans of the Dickies, Zolar X and Black Halos will wanna be all over this. –frame (Killing Pig)


SORE THUMBS, THE:
Listen Up!!: CD
I dig this album. And the epiphany of why I dig this band came while I was brushing my teeth listening to them one morning. Duh, they have a very similar sound to One Man Army. And I love One Man Army. And although the band is comparable to OMA and Swingin Utters, it’s not in that nauseating, get your own identity kind of way. It’s just good, solid punk rock that you can’t help but rock out to. (Even early in the morning, when you want to throw your alarm clock out the window.) Good melodies, scratchy-sexy vocals, good riffs, and interesting lyrics. These San Francisco/Oakland dudes have won me over. There album rocks. The vocals are infectious and it doesn’t hurt that the lyrics are poignant and come across very honest as they cover topics of heartbreak, failure, the love of music and touring, immaturity, and simply the strife of growing older. Personal favorites: “You or Me,” “Listen Up,” “Nowhere California,” “Flush,” and “True Hope.” –jenny (Radio)


SORE THUMBS, THE:
Listen Up!!: CD
First heard this band on the Pirates Press 7” box set a while back and thought they were pretty good. Two songs on that, fourteen on this, but there’s not a dull spot on the record. Think Hostage or TKO Records, wide-legged guitar stances, broad ties and dress shirts rolled up to show tat sleeves. At least, that’s what I get from it; it’s SoCal (does anyone use that term anymore without cringing?) 77 punk with a modern flair, with just a few jagged teeth around the edges to keep from getting a “power pop” reference. And don’t think I’m slagging it, because I’m not—this shit’s riddled with more hooks than my grandpa’s fucking tacklebox; they know how to craft a song, they make a hell of a sweet racket for a three piece, they grasp when to allow one instrument to take precedence over the others, and the lyrics are pretty articulate and sincere in a genre that relies maybe a little too much on the bland “rock’n’roll party” shtick. They make it to Portland anytime soon, I’ll be glad to drunken high-five em and blather on about how awesome the show was—if Listen Up!! is any indication at all, it would be. –keith (Radio)


SKITSYSTEM:
Stigmata: CD
From the first note on this release, you know you are going to get an ass kickin.’ The production is so big that it would make most bands out there sell off their little sister to get that kind of sound. Guitar sound that is crunchy, big, and bold. Bass that sounds punchy and bottom heavy with a light touch of distortion. Drums that have been tuned and miced well so that you can hear every item that is being punished. Vocals that are sung in the Swedish dialect with English translations provided for lyrical understanding of what is being sung in a throaty yelled delivery. This now long-running band continues to be one of the premier bands in the crust genre. Fast and strong songs with metallic overtones that are exciting and not one song is a throw away. Sweden produces a lot of bands that are good and this band epitomizes what is so good about the bands from that country. A seasoned band that clearly shows newcomers that they need to bring their “A” game if they have to play on the same bill with them. –don (Havoc)


SKIN DISORDER:
Scars and Stripes: 7” EP
Given the cover art, band name and song titles like “Soldier Skin,” I was kinda hopin’ for a “comedy” act. While their “traditional” NY skin slant is, indeed, funny, it’s not the kind of funny they intended or I was expecting. Pretty purple vinyl, though. –jimmy (Headache)


SEXY:
Boma Ye!: CD
I can’t describe how happy I was to see this when it came in. Por Vida is one of my favorite albums. But this walks a very different path than Por Vida. The instant infection of the songs, that immediate catchiness that made each track of Por Vida essential from first listen, just isn’t there. I’ve listened to this over and over trying to get it under my skin, and it has to a degree. It almost sounds as if this would be the album that precedes Por Vida, the album they would have grown from and built off of, so I almost see it as a regression rather than a new step for them. I was worried that it may have been my bias due to my adoration of Por Vida, so I got tricky. I’d put it on for people who loved the first album without telling them what it was. They would listen with half an ear and then by about the fourth song ask who was it was, and were always surprised that it was Sexy. With time, it’s grown on me, and I find some songs (like the run of “Choke the World” through “T.K.I.YT.”) that I play over and over again. It’s still a strong record; I just had really, really high expectations. –megan (Plan-it-x-south)


SCOUTS HONOR:
I Am the Dust: CD
From what I hear, this band is a touring machine. I haven’t seen them through San Diego, but I’m looking forward to it. Originally a two-piece band, they added a bassist to thicken things up. I hear the influences of 16 Horsepower and Murder City Devils in the vocals and dirges of the slide guitar lines. No Idea made a great choice to put this record out. Of course, many will assume these guys to be derivative of Against Me!, but the similarities are slight. A country feel is evident in some tracks, but the raspy vocals maintain some urgency. Albeit not exactly coefficient, this is worth looking into if you dig the Murder City Devils as much as I do. –Guest Contributor (No Idea)


SASS DRAGONS:
Mancandy: CD
I picked this up from the review pile, put it back, picked it up, put it back, decided I really did want to check it out (because truth be told, I’m a girl who’s a sucker for drawings like dudes with snakes where their cock should be), but Todd had already sent it off to Newtim (who gave it a glowing review last issue). Luckily, I had a friend hand this off to me while I was in Milwaukee as something he thought I’d be into. Holy shit was he right. Spastic, spastic, dance, dance, dance. –megan (Let’s Pretend)


RIVERBOAT GAMBLERS:
To The Confusion Of Our Enemies: CD
I wasn’t going to submit a review of this at all. I felt that Todd pretty much hit the nail square on the head with his review a couple of issues ago. I didn’t think that there was anything that I could really add that would explain just how good this disc is. A funny thing happened though. A few weeks past, and I suddenly realized that I had not listened to ANYTHING else. Nothing at all. I had it on my computer, in my car and on my mp3 player at work. I had been living and breathing this records for over two straight weeks and hadn’t noticed that it had become the soundtrack to my life. I’m the type of guy who changes things up fast. I wind up with a massive stack of discs in the car because I have to have something different to listen to every time I drive. The Riverboat Gamblers have changed that. I can’t remember the last time a disc has made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up like this one. I know right now that this will be one of my lifetime/all time favorites. Go get it now. –ty (Volcom)


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