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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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RIVERBOAT GAMBLERS:
To the Confusion of Our Enemies: CD
For quite awhile now, there has been a lot of buzz about the Riverboat Gamblers. For some reason, perhaps due to my cynicism, and pessimist attitude towards everything, I didn’t jump on the Gambler bandwagon—I didn’t take the time to listen to them and I was skeptical. So when I got this CD, I put a lot of listening time into it—I mean, is it really possible to be as good as everyone says? Quite frankly, yes. After a couple listens, this CD grew on me and grew on me fast. The opening song, “True Crime” totally hooked me and is by far one of the best songs on the album. The production on the CD is fantastic and you can’t help but feel the energy these guys exude in their music. Like always, I have a couple favorite songs on the CD that I treasure more than the rest, which I keep on repeat for days at a time. They are “True Crime,” “Don’t Bury Me…I’m Still Not Dead,” “Biz Loves Sluts” (although there is one part before he goes into his spiel about chocolate, cinnamon and whip cream where he sounds a little like Fred Durst), “The Song We Used to Call ‘Wasting Time,’” and “Rent is Due” (which has carved out a special place in my heart). –jenny (Volcom)


RIVERBOAT GAMBLERS:
Keep Me From Drinking: 7”
Words can’t describe how pissed I was when this showed up in the mail and it was warped to shit. I’m a wee bit obsessed with the Gamblers as of late and the thought of two new tracks coming in the mail was an exciting endeavor. Well, I managed to play the record and get the gist of the tunes between the warbling and skipping. Both are great tunes in their own right but I can see how they don’t quite fit into the perfection that is their latest full length. I’m going to have to track another copy of this down. –ty (Volcom)


RHINO BUCKET:
And Then It Got Ugly: CD
Okay let’s take a look at this. We’ve got a band name in stenciled letters? Check. Distressed yellow/orange picture of police beating on someone? Check. My official “book by the cover” call on this would be a SoCal angsty punk outfit with delusions of being the next Adolescents or Social Distortion. Let’s take a listen. “Wha..?” I didn’t see AC/DC coming, that’s for damn sure. I’m not talking about “rock’n’roll, so it reminds me of AC/DC.” I’m saying it sounds EXACTLY like fuckin’ AC/DC! The first time I listened to this was in the stereo at work. My ex-rocker manager comes out of the darkroom and demands to know what AC/DC record this is because he doesn’t recognize it. It’s that exact! It may be a compliment to those guys, but it ain’t working for me. I can appreciate the original Aussie powerhouse, but somewhere in the back of my mind I still say, “This is the music of the bastards that beat the shit outta me when I was a kid.” Even more so for these rip off artists. –ty (Acetate)


RESISTORS, THE:
Demo: CD-R
Average and generic mid-tempo punk out of the Los Angeles area. Vocals go out of key and out of time all over the place. The background vocals do the same. The guitar sound is a little buried in the mix and could have used more distortion or compression. Only thing that sounds good to me is the bass and the drums. The raw and sloppy sound might have excited me circa 1980, but in 2006 it sounds like I have heard thousands of bands like this and I don’t remember most of them. It’s like listening to a fourth generation band that sounds like the 4 Skins. More time together writing songs and being together will hopefully let the band grow and develop to where their songs might be memorable. –don (The Resistors)


REGULATIONS:
Electric Guitar: LP
Sometimes I wish that time machines were real. I would take these Swedes, drop ‘em in a late-‘70s Huntington Beach back yard and watch bands like the Slashers and China White shit themselves. Side one of this is their most recent recordings, and there is much to marvel at here, but the crème de la crème here is the two EPs collected on side two, which are fucking MONSTROUS examples of all that is good about punk rock—catchy tunes, overkill delivery and 110 percent attitude. Mind-blowingly good these kids are, and you’d have to be deaf and/or a Pat Boone fan not to flat-out adore ‘em. –jimmy (Havoc)


RECTANGLES:
Suspended Animation: 7” EP
They play like a single-finger-saluting, mean, fighting-side-of-me Devo. If that’s not so helpful, imagine new wave punk (more Triggers, less Epoxies) with rayguns that could provide the soundtrack to an episode of the Twilight Zone which ends unhappily and features dismemberment. At their best, they slither and shake mechanically—like a dancing cyborg with a noose around his neck—while the keyboard sounds like it’s being played by a brain floating in bubbling neon liquid. At their worst, well, they’re not too bad; just a little clonky like they’ve been in the morgue a little long and have started to stiffen. Definitely a band with promise. I’d like to have them toe up against that surly Servotron—in an epic battle of meat vs. metal—and watch the sparks fly. –todd (Discourage)


REATARD, JAY:
Hammer I Miss You: 7”
A love song to hammers that is straight forward cool (title track), a Reatards style rocker on the mild side (‘It’s So Useless’) and a real tight rocker (‘All Wasted’). Less trash than Reatards, more straight rock than Lost Sounds, nobody disappointed. –mike (Goner)


RAISED FIST:
Sound of the Republic: CD
Burning Heart put this out so I’m thinking maybe these guys are from some Scandinavian country. Heavy metal with screamed vocals. The drummer slaps the skins to the same beat every song. The vocals are sometimes screamed in a rap style, which always bugs the fuck out of me. Here’s my advice: If you are in a metal band, for God’s sake, at least appreciate the classics like Maiden or the filthy styles of Neurosis, Dead and Gone, Buzzoven, etc. The lyrics seem like they at least realize the world is fucked. That’s a plus, I just don’t like the music. –Guest Contributor (Epitaph/Burning Heart)


PUT-ONS, THE:
Schooldays in Disgrace: CD
I’m not sure if these guys are intentionally striving to be racist, but—giving them the benefit of the doubt—maybe equating having “a stable of foxy whores” (among other things) with being Black, or covering Cheech & Chong’s “Mexican Americans,” which was essentially an in-joke that really doesn’t come off the same way as a cover tune, are such good ideas. Hell, I’m surprised no one has handed them their own asses on a platter yet. Outside of that, this is vaguely snotty college-punk fodder. –jimmy (No Front Teeth)


PRETTY GIRLS MAKE GRAVES:
Elan Vital: CD
Simply put, this album is fucking incredible. Soaring, scorching, female vocals over layers of aggressive, intricate guitars and keyboards. These songs are experimental enough to fascinate, and yet there are also pop hooks so catchy I felt like I’d been hearing them for years. The vocals are truly the high point of the album as they waver between celebration and desperation. Rather than making an album where everything sounds the same, PGMG have created one where each song is distinctive and enthralling. This album avoids being derivative but it isn’t so bizarre as to be alienating either. I recommend listening to it on large headphones while you wander city streets and watch the seasons change. –jennifer (Matador)


POPSTERS, THE:
All of You: CD
Mid-tempo melodicore/pop punk from Italy that you would never believe is not an American band. I would have been all over this in the pop punk wave of the late ‘90s. But as too much of any one thing gets old, I really have to say that this band is average. Even the cover of Tom Petty’s “American Girl” is played straight up with nothing added. Was hoping for so much more since it was coming from outside the states and released here. –don (Incessant Drip)


POPSTERS, THE:
All Of You: CD
I’ve been sitting here trying to figure out why a band would call themselves The Popsters? Sure they play some of the best pop-punk stuff I’ve heard in ages, but why so literal? It started to dawn on me when I listened to the lyrics a little closer. Odd wording and backwards grammar. A check of the liner notes revealed my suspicions. Italians singing in English. There you have it. I cannot and will not fault these guys for their ridiculous band name because there has to be a translation error. Yeah, that’s it….Anyway, let’s talk about the music. If you can bear any more Canadian references from me, I think they sound a lot like Doughboys and Bum. Two of the best pop bands we Canucks ever had to offer. Yep, The Popst…I can’t even type it again...these guys are that good. Throw a Mass Giorgini mix on it and there you have it. The Tom Petty cover is pretty good too. –ty (Incessant Drip)


POLIDICKS:
No Peace? No Chance: CD
The problem I’ve always had with the crusty, political punk bands is that although I like the lyrics and the idea of what they’re doing, it often comes across as screechy and squelchy. Polidicks manage to avoid that trap for the most part. Hard, fast and loud is the order for the day and they serve it up in a palatable fashion. Add in the clever samples and movie clips and we’ve got us a winner. Wait, is does slide into that screech from time to time, but not enough to ruin the record. Good stuff. –ty (Wounded Paw)


PHANTOM ROCKERS:
On the Loose: CD
It’s the return of the Phantom Rockers. Twenty years of standard psycho fare and the song remains the same: schizophrenia, mutants, boogiemen, jungles, psychos and king rockers. The new line up includes musicians from Kim Lenz, Atomic Fiends and Sick City Daggers. Unfortunately, uninspiring and unremarkable. –thiringer (Split 7)


PERSUADERS:
Forced to Fuck: CD
One of the most p_r_i_m_i_t_i_v_e bands I’ve ever heard, dirty punk rock in the fuzz gutter like you wouldn’t believe. New Orleans total rejects King Louie, Jason “Panzer” Craft (who now make up Kajun SS) and Shaggy made a full-length and some 7”s in the 90s—they are all here, plus unreleased tracks. You can’t be this totally raw without some misses on the anthology. But there are incredible static classics like “Savage” and “Left for Dead” too. Hurry up and order from the label and you can get their “Live and Shattered” cd too, recorded live in Feb 1999. –mike (Shattered)


OSAKA POPSTAR:
...and the American Legends of Punk: CD
The line-up is impressive. A band that features the Misfits manager, John Cafiero on vocals with Jerry Only (Misfits), Dez Cadena (Black Flag, Misfits), Ivan Julian (Voidoids), and Marky Ramone (Ramones, duh). But the sum of it’s parts do not add up to anything other than a concept album of Japanese anime mixed with overly produced bubblegum pop punk with an early ‘70s feel to it with some covers thrown in. –don (Misfits)


ORDER OF THE VULTURE:
Self-titled: CD-R
And the award for “Best Kreator/ Sodom Impersonation by a So-Called ‘Hardcore Punk’ Band” goes to…. –jimmy (Aborted Society)


ONE AND ONLY TYPICALS:
Riot in My Head: CD
Album number two from these guys sees them continuing to tap the pop/punk vein, with a bit more emphasis on jangly Hüsker guitars, Midwestern hooks, and even a wee bit of country twang on “Lies.” A lot of what they do is good at worst, but when they latch onto a good riff, like on “Guided by Choices,” they can really run with it. –jimmy (www.theoaots.com)


OFF WITH THEIR HEADS:
Hospitals: 12” EP
This is some of the most amazingly miserable pop I’ve ever heard in that it layers some of the most misery-laden lyrics I’ve heard in some time over some of the catchiest, upbeat pop melodies. Lyrics like, “I’ll tie it tight around my neck and kick the chair out with my legs because I want to fucking die today.” and, “So night after night I’ll be staying up late. I’ll be fighting off the shakes and puking out the window repressing things you can never know.” make me want, on one hand, to give the guy a hug and make it all better. But, on the other hand, if it ever was all better, would they still be writing these amazing songs? I’d hope so, but, since I don’t know them, I’ll take the sorrow for the songs. The only thing I have negatively to say about it is something I realized the first time I saw them play: The song “Hospitals” is so close musically to Toys That Kill’s (who were also playing that night) “Two Billion Bastards” that I thought they were covering it in homage to them. –megan (Rock Bottom)


NONE MORE BLACK:
This is Satire: CD
You hear that? It’s the sound of the bar being raised. You see that over there? That’s the high water mark Kid Dynamite left before rolling back out to sea and out of sight. Those guys above that line are None More Black, and this is where they pull off what guys who come from such intense pedigrees rarely do. I like to call it the “Ian Mackaye” or “defying the musical black hole.” Allow me to most likely unnecessarily elaborate. Sometimes you’re in a band so intense it’s like a black hole. Anything else before and after just gets sucked in to it and all anyone can see is that one huge swirling awesome thing. Your new band can struggle all it wants but it’s going to get sucked right in to that hole. Sometimes though, you start another band with some guys and call it Fugazi or in this case None More Black and you can pull away. You can live along side that black hole and sometimes even out grow it. This is Satire is where None More Black effectively pulls away. This is where people will cease to predicate discussion of their band with Kid Dynamite ever after. This is also the first perfect record of 2006. Emotional but with a sense of humor. Pop punk but with enough long hairs to make it fucking rock. I’d go so far as to say Jason Shevchuk is right up there with Jeff Pezzati and Glenn Danzig in his mastery of the “whoa-oh” and he’s at the top of his game. Some people might consider the “whoa-oh” to be a cheap trick. A substitute for insightful lyrics. Those people are fucking cocks. I theorize that it would take a team of scientists at least twenty-five years to figure out the mechanics of how good this record is. It’s like they achieved the rock equivalent to perpetual motion or something. –Guest Contributor (Fat)


NONE MORE BLACK:
This is Satire: CD
One minute into this album, I felt the urge to thrust my fist into the air. So far so good, I thought. As the album wore on, though, I realized that it seems to suffer from Best-Song-First Disease. There are a lot of albums like this, where the first song is wildly good and immediately appealing, but it takes a few more listens to appreciate the rest of the collection. Luckily, I like my punk rock hooky and these dudes have hooks by the bucketful—especially in the aforementioned awesome first song (the somewhat emo-titled “We Dance on the Ruins of the Stupid Stage.”) I was also pleased to note the band’s lyrics aren’t of the generic, “she broke my heart/George Bush sucks” variety. A song with a first line like, “Hey Mr. Postman, quit bringing me lemons,” asks a bit more of its audience than some other standard punk fare. The low point of the album is a track called “I See London.” Its playground-taunt of a title is remarkably accurate because to me it sounds like a bad grade seven slow dance. But if you skip that track, I think you’ll find this album getting better and better with each listen. –jennifer (Fat)


NONE MORE BLACK:
This is Satire: CD
I was waiting for a wow factor. But I was not bowled over. I can’t find anything bad to really say. I was not moved. The songs are catchy and they are a great continuation from their last release File Under Black. As the wind changes direction, so does my interest meter. I feel it is a release that has to have multiple listens under my belt before I decide to write it off. There is variety and also familiarity. The vocals have the standard gravely growl. The production is top notch as with most of the Fat releases, with everything sounding bright and bold. Maybe speed and more aggression is what I needed. –don (Fat)


NOFX:
Wolves in Wolves’ Clothing: CD
I’m not going to blow air up your ass. I cannot say anything original that hasn’t already been said about this band. I have total respect for them. They stuck to their guns and do what they do. If you like them, you already own this. I would like to see Fat Mike grow his Misfits devil lock again like when he was in high school and he was just called Mike. Oh yeah! I like the CD. –don (Fat)


NEW BRUISES:
Transmit! Transmit!: CD
I saw these guys in St. Pete, FL the night before The Fest. They had eight hundred guitars until I sobered up momentarily to see they had three, which still seems like a lot to me. They continued to play every show every day of The Fest, or maybe it was only once or twice more, but it seemed like they were everywhere. Maybe I should have paid more attention because they sound like they’d be really fun live. –megan (Kiss of Death)


NEON MANIACS / TORCHA SHED:
Split: 7”
Neon Maniacs: Huh. The lead singer kinda lilts, like the lead singer of the Parasites. For a pop punk band like Parasites it’s not so weird, but for a punk band that claims to play “electric tones that will shake your bones,” while singing about zombies, the singer’s voice sounds so sunny. When they sing, “They’re going to eat you,” the result is more attacking a bowl of Count Chocula and less The Return of the Living Dead bad-ass chainsaw a zombie dog in half action. Not bad, just disarming. I was expecting more puss, ooze, and larvae. Torcha Shed: “Meet Me in the George Bar” starts off promising with warbly sirens of guitars veering into to the listener, cutting through pub noise, and providing a nice off-balance quality that’s woven through the entire song. It’s got a tension much in the vein of Cock Sparrer and the Partisans. Musically compelling, but the lyrics are ehhh. Punk rock about pubs: it’s musical territory that’s had more than its share of pint-scarred champions. (Youth Brigade’s “Old Man Bars” is a great example of a contemporary band hitting this subject right.) Chalk it up to a song that if it had different lyrics, it’d get played much more. –todd (Puke’n’vomit)


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