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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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MACHINEGUN BLUES:
Self-titled: CD
I like Kings Of Leon. Big deal! You wanna fight about it? I don’t know if Machinegun Blues like them too or if they coincidentally have the same ‘70s rock influences. Honestly, if someone told me this was a Kings Of Leon demo I’d fully believe them. I’ll be goddamned if the singer ain’t got a handlebar mustache too. None of this is not to be misconstrued as disparaging comments. This is only a four song EP and it’s doing its job…it’s making me want to hear a full length. The hand-sewn cover is a nice touch too. –Guest Contributor (Not Bad)


LOOSE FUR:
Born Again in the USA: CD
This album brought back bad memories of being a kid in the ‘70s and hearing singer-songwriter tunes on the radio during car rides. The CD has so much acoustic guitar and soft vocalizing that I began to wonder whether Gordon Lightfoot would make a guest appearance. (If you don’t know who Gordon Lightfoot is, good. I envy you.) –Chris Pepus (Drag City)


LONELY CHINA DAY:
Self-titled: CD
Wait, mellow electronic indie rock sucks in Chinese as much as it does in English? The language of craptastic has gone international. –megan (Tag Team)


LITTLE KILLERS:
A Real Good One: CD
I don’t recall you asking, but, had you, in fact, asked, i would have gladly informed you that the Little Killers’ debut LP has been my favorite album released in the past three or four years, easily. I mean, you got these taut Telecaster wig-outs pulling the left half of your brain left, this crazy militaristic bass going DENG-DENG-DENG-DENG-DENG at skull-crushing volume pulling the right half of your brain right, and these kinky-haired, leather-lunged vocals cracking your cranium right down the center; it is difficult to listen to the album without experiencing some delightfully incapacitating manner of potentially lethal head trauma. Needless to say, the release of the follow-up album was an event fraught with high levels of both anticipation and anxiety. My first impression, after spending about ten minutes trying to get the EQ right in my car (and nearly running multiple organisms off the road) was What the FUCK is Dean DOING???I mean, after doing such a whiz-bang job producing the first album, one would think that Dean Rispler® would know that, on any given Little Killers recording, the drums are the third dog in a three-dog race. Fourth dog in a four-dog race if you count the vocals. Fifth dog in a five-dog race if you count the lyrics. And here, wayward Dean has somehow lost his mind, and mixed the drums all front and center, like he’s mixing a Dirtbombs album or something! Quick scrutiny of the liner notes indicated the problem: The record was not produced by Dean Rispler®, but by superstar producer (and Dirtbombs drummer, ahem) Jim Diamond! Now, Jim Diamond is a cool dude, and a great producer in his own right, and i’m sure Jim Diamond producing the Little Killers sounded great in theory and looked superb on paper, but the harsh reality of the matter is that THIS RECORD SOUNDS WRONG, WRONG, WRONG (note clever Fastbacks reference)! I mean, i have to really strain to pick the guitar and bass out of the echoey sonic muck here; both those instruments should be battering my external occipital protruberences like crack-addled cherry-tree-chopping hatchets in the night! I mean, fuckin’ A, the BASS keeps the time in this band, not the drums. That’s important because the guitar and the vocals often get accentuated by being a little bit behind the beat, and the drums more or less ape the guitar/vocals. Therefore, if you want the Little Killers to sound like the Dirtbombs (in an abstract sense), you gotta beef up the BASS, not the drums. So, anyway, yeah, this record fails to effectively attack me in the manner to which i have been accustomed. And while, heck yeah, there are a number of decent blasts herein, their presence is somewhat offset by a ghastly amount of slow songs, which seem to get almost unbelievably slower as they plod along. I mean, “Been So Long” starts slow, and gets markedly slower at multiple instances in the song, to the point where i find it hard to believe that anyone could have left the studio in good conscience thinking the song was anything other than godawful, which it is, blatantly. I mean, when “Annie Can You Keep a Secret”—from the “Let’s Have Some Goddamn Fun” compilation—rolls around, it doesn’t sound like that song you already know (and are sick of) off the compilation, it sounds like THE MOST BRILLIANT THING EVER. I dunno, man. I’m still a big fan and all, but, two albums in, i have yet to be shown conclusive proof that this band is anything other than a one-album affair. “A Kind of Okay One” is a more fitting album title. Better yet, “An Okay One (While Dean’s Away).” Snicker. BEST SONG: “Annie Can You Keep a Secret” BEST SONG TITLE: “Annie Can You Keep a Secret” —whoops! I guess that song’s just called “Annie” now. Okay, “Finger Pie” then. FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: I know both Dean and Jim. –norb (Gern Blandsten)


LITTLE KILLERS, THE:
A Real Good One: CD
I keep hearing about a band that might be this band or some other Killer-named band. I don’t see what all the hype is about. It’s heavily influenced by blues-oriented rock and probably revered by people with some pretty important hair. Not bad, just not anything that grabs me. –megan (Gern Blandsten)


LILLINGTONS, THE:
Death by Television: CD
A remastered re-release of the Panic Button original. The Lillingtons were one of the few bands that Fat Mike openly laments he muffed up on not signing to Fat. It’s ball-bearing tight pop punk that works like some sort of flu-like, invisible infection of catchiness, and has some of the best spooky lyrics this side of the Misfits (chopping up humanoids, putting them in a sack, and running them over with a van, x-ray specs, phantom maggots {the titles are usually the chorus to the songs}). I loved this record when it first came out and am happy to report that it’s aged well. –todd (Red Scare)


LEATHER UPPERS, THE:
Bright Lights: CD
So many of my friends have the biggest hard-ons for this band, but I just don’t get it. I think it’s decent, but I can’t tell if it’s a shtick or not, and if it is, just what the hell is the shtick? They sing about wizards and wear ascots. I’m a little too off put to figure out if I even like it or not. –megan (Goner)


LAUGHIN’ DOGS:
The Death They’ll Give You: CDEP
Just when you thought you’d heard the last from any of Austin hardcore’s old guard, this bad boy rears its ugly head. The little note they included says the band features former members of The Offenders and Poison 13, and there is a definite nod to the former sound-wise, in that this is straightforward, rough ’n’ tumble hardcore with political lyrics. Good stuff. –jimmy (Ding Dong Ditch)


L.I.D.:
Still Hasn’t Gotten Weird Enough For Me: CD
Lower Island Dealers have been a Victoria mainstay going on thirteen years now. You’d think they’d have put out more than three records in that time, but hey, good things come to those who wait. It’s a solid collection of punk rock that’s reminiscent of something between Fear of a Punk Planet-era Vandals and Musical Monkey-era Guttermouth. Songs that simultaneously come off witty and somewhat retarded. Songs about beer, weed and food never sounded so good. –ty (Foam Cell)


KOFFIN KATS:
Straying From the Pack: CD
Widely known for their Damned and Misfits styled take on psychobilly, the three-piece Koffin Kats serve up another like-minded release on Hairball 8 imprint, Psychobilly US. Tight, cohesive ‘billy and gothically dreary, this album boasts eight heavy tracks with seedy titles like “Splatterhouse” and “Crack Rock.” –thiringer (Psychobilly US/Hairball8)


KNIGHTS OF THE NEW CRUSADE:
A Challenge to the Cowards of Christendom: CD
By now most of the underground knows this band is a piss-take on so-called Christian rock, and it is indeed a funny one. From the Chick Comics-inspired cover to songs like “Father Bingo,” “‘E’ Is Still Evil,” and “What Part of ‘Thou Shall Not Kill’ Don’t You Understand?” to the little Jesus fish included for the car bumper, these guys have their bases covered. Musically, it’s Bay Area garage rock, which means it’s loud and trashy. Can’t wait to see if they manage to get themselves a live spot on KTBN. –jimmy (Alternative Tentacles)


KITTY AND THE MANGES:
Joey’s Song: 7”
As the name implies, it’s a 7” from The Manges from Italy, with Kitty Kowalski singing. Three pop punk songs, including one song each from the band and Kitty, plus a Cindi Lauper cover. If you’re into pop punk, there’s no reason you wouldn’t like this, especially considering the effort It’s Alive puts into its records (this record alone came on colored vinyl, and included a free poster). Awesome. –joe (It’s Alive)


KILLING JOKE:
Hosanna’s from the Basements of Hell: CD
Nearly thirty years down the line, Killing Joke continues to kick ass and take names. On their latest, the band sticks to the basic formula that made them famous: a monstrous, grinding stew of punk, metal, industrial dance, heavy as fuck yet wholly danceable if one is so inclined. Although their diversions into other territories over the years have been interesting at worst, it is this aspect of Killing Joke—that booming behemoth that lilts melodies at you while threatening to devour you whole—that has always left one with a sense of awe and a realization that music can be a powerful thing, indeed. –jimmy (Cooking Vinyl)


K-9 CHAOS:
For the Good of the Nation: CD
Swedish, punk, and political? This has served me well in the past, really well. And something tells me that K-9 Chaos dig the same bands that I do, namely Randy and their classic You Can’t Keep a Good Band Down. The standard melodic pop punk is there, along with the overtly political lyrics. But the best part of this album is the sweet comic book cover, which shows the band backed up against a wall about to fight a mean lookin’ group of robots and monsters. The packaging and production of this album is extremely high quality, considering these guys released it themselves. I have the feeling that a fifteen year old would get a kick out of this album. –Guest Contributor (Dog Fight, www.k-9chaos.com)


JO & THE MUTHAFUCKERS:
Self-titled: CDEP
I believe this would have been better suited as a demo tape. But who am I to say what a band does. Three songs from a new band out of Boston featuring current members from the Dropkick Murphy’s, Tommy & The Terrors, and The Tampoffs. The singer, Jo, I read did backup vocals on the latest Dropkick Murphy’s release. If you are expecting any of those bands, you might be disappointed. First off, the vocals of Jo sound like she is dumbing down her vocals to sound more punk. Like she is singing in the wrong genre. The recording was not that desirable to these ears. The mix is weird as the vocals are a little too up front and dry. The guitar is played clean and comes off sounding twangy. The bass sounds the same, like it was recorded on a boombox. The drums sound flat and I imagine them being the kind of drums you get for a kid’s first set. More garage rock sounding than punk. If that is your thing, hit them up. –don (Email them at jo@jo234.com for a free copy)


JAPANESE SUNDAY:
Tap Taps Lights Out: CD
They play really long drawn-out songs with long, drawn-out instrumental intros, which makes Megan a very dull boy. –megan (Grayscale)


JACK OBLIVIAN:
Black Boots: 7”
The Memphis legend with Jeff Meier on bass and Mark Sultan on drums—two songs that show the soul beneath the rock continues. If you played this for me and said it was some cool old 45 you found from a geezer’s collection of lost, smooth, catchy rock that he used to pick up girls with, I would believe you and give you money for it. –mike (Shattered)


ITCH, THE:
The Courage To Be Hated: CD
Really cool picture on the cover. Really terrible music inside. Well, that’s not fair; it’s the vocals. I mean seriously, The Itch, have you not listened to him? He’s pretty awful. And the music’s decent without it (there’s actually an instrumental intro that’s decent). I’d say unless you’re practicing at his house, using his van, and borrowing his equipment, get yourselves a new singer. –megan (Wee Rock)


INVISIBLE SURFERS / LOS KAHUNAS:
Waves of Reverb, Sea of Fuzz: CD
An instrumental surf split CD featuring Greece’s Invisible Surfers and Argentina’s Los Kahunas. Los Kahunas take their textbook cues from the Ventures, while the Invisible Surfers are a bit more maverick like Dick Dale or the Trashmen. Good find overall. –thiringer (No Fun)


INTEGRITY:
Palm Sunday: CD/DVD
Is this live disc and DVD review really gonna change anyone’s mind about Integrity? This is a complete live show from 1992 along with a complete video of it on DVD. Sound quality is so-so and not much of a booklet. I remember not liking this band much...still don’t. –frame (Spook City)


I WALK THE LINE:
Desolation Street: LP
This is what happens when you judge a record by it’s cover—you look at it and prepare yourself for some Poison The Well or Thursday clone, which really isn’t that great of a thing, but also isn’t, like, anything to lay on a knife over. Then you play the record and realize you’ve been woefully, tragically misled—you’re now subjected to a full-length LP that’s drearily mired in a kind of Interpol-meets-the-Cure-in-a-country-bar half-lit kinda world, where everyone exclusively smokes cloves and vampires may actually exist. The title of the record’s pretty fitting; there’s definitely a sense of barrenness that permeates this album, but that doesn’t really excuse the fact that it’s also, well, terribly wimpy leaf-tumbling rock music. –keith (Combat Rock)


I OBJECT:
Teaching Revenge: CD
Female fronted female ‘80s-style hardcore, heavy on the messages. I’m guessing they’re coming from a vegan, straight-edge, anti-establishment stance, which is all well and good. I just have never been into being preached to. I’m from the camp that if you’re using your songs to get a message across, that’s fine. If you have to write an explanation as long as the song to explain that message (or if live you give an introduction the length of the song), then you’re really not using that song as a tool for the message. If you want to stand on a soapbox and preach, go ahead, I’ll walk by. If you put it in a song and let it stand on its own merits as such, I’ll probably listen. –megan (Alternative Tentacles)


I AM LOVED:
Self-titled: 12”
From what I understand, I Am Loved is a band that plays spastic, harsh music in between bands at shows. Their music, drums and guitar, is purely improv and features a singer who, while not singing any actual words, can make a wide variety of noises with his voice. I feel the insert sums it up best when it states, “Guess you’d have to be there.” I guess I would have. –Guest Contributor (Trigger-on-the-dutendoo)


HYDEOUTS, THE:
Self-titled: 7”
Low-fi garage that sounds like there’s something holding it back. I’d like to see them live to see if they’ve got the energy I’m assuming was lost in the recording. –megan (Black Lung)


HOWITZER:
Police State: CD
With military and “evil empire” type of imagery abound, it’s no surprise that Howitzer is some seriously beefy, tough guy hardcore of the Agnostic Front variety. The tunes are pretty good but the words are a little predictable. Lots of stuff about scene politics, the government sucks, the cops suck and “live for today” type of stuff…well, the song about a Viet Nam POW kinda came out of left field. Better than a lot of bands like this, but I don’t see myself returning to it too much. –ty (Hazard Hill)


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