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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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BLACK BEACH UNION:
Under the Sacred Palms: CD
After the blast and among the ruins in the rabble, there is no electricity, just shredded remains, radioactive seagulls, acoustic instruments, tattered voices, and songs of fights lost but spirits and traditions unbroken. That’s what I get from Black Beach Union: gypsy folk music that’s undeniably punk—gravelly, grave, simple—and I find myself lured to it. I want to sit down with ‘em around the burning barrel and sing along while drinking from a jar. For Starvations’ fans, too. –todd (No Front Teeth)


BILL BONDSMEN:
Self-titled: 7” EP
These guys continue to impress with seven more slabs of solid hardcore short on frills and long on attitude. When they really get a good groove going, like on “Down with the King,” they come close to rivaling new label mates Out Cold’s sheer power. Great stuff. –jimmy (Acme)


BERET!:
Une Tete Pour Deibler: CD
Some very angry French class malcontents make a very loud racket. Outside of a bass, there’s no guitar to be found here, although you hardly miss it. Lyrics are kinda silly—one title translates as “Saucier of Death” and another as “The Cow goes…Grr”—but on the whole, this is some pretty heavy stuff. –jimmy (www.angryfrenchmen.com)


BEAR PROOF SUIT:
: Demo CD-R EP
One way to get my attention for a review is to yell, “Hey L.A., did you get that CD yet?” when I walk into a party in a foreign city in the middle of a bender, which is how I met (although slightly disturbingly not for the first time) Ryan Poortenga, one of the singers and guitar players of Milwaukee’s Bear Proof Suit. The surest way to hold that attention is to back it up with good music, which Bear Proof Suit definitely does. Hardcore punk that’s tough without being meathead, fast without losing precision and tight without being sterile. Seven songs (two covers, but it is a demo). I’ll be looking for their upcoming 7” and hoping they play a basement near me soon. –megan (www.myspace.com/bearproofsuit)


BANNER PILOT:
Pass The Poison: CD
Sounds like the Methadones, or maybe even Sludgeworth. But with vomiting!!! BEST SONG: The presence of “Ever Fallen In Love” kind of can’t be negotiated around. BEST SONG TITLE: “Bender”—i mean, Bender was way cooler than Fry or Leila IMO. FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: I was just bitching last weekend about bands who put seven or so songs on a CD, my main point being that if bands want their fans to take them seriously (which, shockingly, many do), that kinda works both ways, requiring the bands to take the fans seriously as well, thusly precluding them from recording seven or so songs and attempting to pass it off as an “album” when everyone and their ma knows that an “album” is like twelve or fourteen songs (although it should likely be stated that experience has taught me that seven or so songs is the perfect amount of songs to record at one sitting—any more than that becomes a hideous cattle call; any less than that is not cost effective). Amazingly, i found this seven-or-so-song CD to be almost perfect in length; it pretty much seemed like i got a full dose of the band, yet it was only seventeen-eighteen minutes long. Huh. –norb (Arsenic)


BAND OF HORSES:
Everything All The Time: CD
Band Of Horses may not be entirely original and they may not be all together thrilling for most people, but any band that can showcase a wonderful mixture of soul-piercing vocals reminiscent of Brian Wilson meeting up with Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips has got something special going on. The music that backs these fine vocals is a mixture of verdant dream-pop and mopey shoegazer guitar riffs. The band can seemingly go from sounding akin to slowcore band Codeine on one tune and the next moment coming across like Built To Spill or The Shins. It’s a strong blend that works behind the piercing vocals and wistful lyrics of this Seattle duo, comprised of the core of the now defunct band, Carissa’s Wierd. This is great summer music that knows how to properly tread the ground between melancholic and triumphant and does a damn good job doing it. There are pleasant build-ups that are peaked and then find themselves falling back down, but never too far that they’re tragic. The ten songs on this album show Band Of Horses to be a band that is quite capable of handling the dynamics in music that so many bands fail to understand: loud and soft, fast and slow, intense and laid back, etc. At a pace like this, good things can only abound for this duo. –kurt (Sub Pop)


BAD ROBOTS, THE:
Self-titled: CD
At first I was worried. Worried that this band was from somewhere like Idaho, and so why was the lead singer singing with a British accent? But I did a bit of Nancy Drew internet searching and found out, thank heavens, they seem to be actually British. So now I can admit it: I like them. The Bad Robots are obviously influenced by The Clash and hey, there’s nothing wrong with that. The sound on this recording is not great, the drums sound tinny and under-whelming, but the songwriting is classic and strong and I can tell this band puts on an awesome live show. Although it’s in my nature to doubt bands whose promo material claims that they “have not yet failed to get even the quietest crowd dancing and yelling,” with these guys I actually believe it. –jennifer (info@thebadrobots.com)


AWESOME SNAKES, THE:
Stupid Demo: CD-R
I thought this was going to be a really bad demo. A CD-R with no artwork or song list. Wrapped around the case is a printout of a web page. Whoopee! So I read said literature and found out that this is Danny and Annie of The Soviettes side band. A real whoopee now! Now I am interested. A drum and bass combo that play low-fi garage punk that is poppy yet very psychedelic in a go-go kid way. Adding to this are songs about snakes and things that are awesome, samples of some instructional record and random noises while they play in the background on a few tracks. Vocal trade offs, as expected from these two, who share vocal duties in their other band. The last track throws everything out the window and basically sounds like a hip hop dub track. An actual release is planned—probably as this is going to print. I’m interested to hear what that might sound like. –don (The Awesome Snakes)


ANGRY ANGLES:
Apparent-Transparent: 7”
Oh man this band keeps delivering. Jay Reatard and Alix from The Lids, if you haven’t heard. Redefining new wave in good form: sometimes moody, sometimes fast sounds without pretentious goth or keyboards. They are all business without an inch of waste, from the poppy title track to the haunting “You Fell in” and a killer, cover of “The 15th” by Wire. All of their singles come highly recommended. –mike (Plastic Idol)


ANDRE WILLIAMS:
Aphrodisiac: CD
Pravda Records is still around??? I thought they went out of business like fifteen years ago! I wonder if they still have any copies of that Defoliants ep that Soul Asylum ripped the “Hang Time” cover idea off of. Well, anyway, let the record show that Andre Williams – surely the only human bean to have played both the Apollo Theatre and the Concert Café—has had a fifty year recording career; therefore, my opinion and/or potential endorsement does not and should not matter one pinch o’ poo in the grand scheme of things. That said, whilst i liked Mr. Williams output for Sympathy et al in the 90’s fair enough, 2006 finds me finding his voice wholly unremarkable at this late date in his larnyx’s history, and, worse yet, finds me finding him backed by some anemic white boy soul/r&b/funk outfit to whom WAR (ca. “Spill The Wine”) and Gladys Knight & The Pips appear to be some manner of holy grail. I didn’t much care for this type of music when it was on AM radio when i was a kid in the early ‘70s, and, to tell ya God’s honest truth, i still can’t stand the shit today. If this record still makes your white urbane ass feel like it’s been given an honorary Harlem knighthood, go nuts. Me, i’m still trying to figure out whether or not anyone in his backing band was ever in Too Nice For Nancy. Whoopee ding. BEST SONG: “Uptown Hustle” BEST SONG TITLE: “I Don’t Need Mary (Juana)” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: A few years ago, i played roulette at the same table as Andre Williams. He kept trying to take his chips with him, not realizing that roulette chips stay at the table under penalty of great censure. That’s actually not the fantastic amazing part, though: Later that weekend, i was riding in an elevator with Mr. Williams, and he took a fancy to my shirt. It was a standard Superman t-shirt, except that, instead of being royal blue, as these things tend to be, it was powder blue. Andre Williams kept telling me that my shirt was “the bomb!,” and attempted, several times, to literally purchase the shirt off my back. I wouldn’t sell, and, from that point forward, my powder blue Superman t-shirt was known to me as my “Andre Williams shirt.” Fast forward several years, and i am opening up this month’s package of reviewables from Razorcake, which included this CD. What shirt, might you guess, was i wearing as i opened it? Correct. My Andre Williams powder blue Superman shirt. Doo-DOO-doo-doo-Doo-DOO-doo-doo… –norb (Pravda)


ALOKE:
One Day We Will Kill You: CD
Fugazi copycats who recorded this demo with “no overdubs, no protocols, just balls and tape.” –mrz (Pretty Activity)


VENOM:
Metal Black: CD
Hmmm, a new Venom album, recorded in 2005 with one original member. Okay, look guys, I know that you coined the term “black metal” which has since become a very huge subgenre of heavy metal, and you guys were totally inspirational to all those church-burning murder-committing Norwegian bands and blah blah blah your street cred list is a mile long, but you know, Venom was never really that good. Remember the song, “Teacher’s Pet”? That shit’s not evil, it sounds like the name of a Van Halen song. Well anyway, this new record fucking sucks. Sure, it’s Cronos’ easily recognizable voice and everything, but the music is trite, uninspired nu metal with lots of those little harmonic dive-bomb guitar squeals that everyone seems to think is so heavy and shit. Yuck. This record is a sucky piece of crappy crap. Don’t buy it. –ben (Sanctuary Records Group, www.sanctuaryrecordsgroup.com)


BAYONETTES:
Self-titled: EP
Maddy Tightpants would love this band. They play awesome girly, garage power pop not too unlike Nikki And The Corvettes, Loli And The Chones, or even The Winks. Straight-ahead rocking with dirty production and minimalist art (granted, this was the tour-only DIY cover I got). This would be right at home on Rip Off or Teenacide. It seems like Toronto is blowing up with good bands lately, and these kids are surfing right on the crest of the wave. Excellent stuff. –ben (Deranged)


ARMY OF JESUS:
Prosperity Health Finance Wealth: EP
Kudos to these dudes for putting out their own record, even when other people offered to do it for them. This is a nice slab of pissed-off, mad at the world hardcore in the vein of DS13 and Tear It Up, without the bandana thrash gimmickry. These guys are unashamed of their opinions, and boy are there lots of them. They hate Christians, cops, lawyers, judges and all other rich white bad guys, almost to a fault. At times it seems like they’re trying to duplicate a classic hardcore feel that they might as well be a cover band. Still, it fuckin’ shreds and the next time I’m mad at somebody I’m gonna put this on. –ben (BSD)


ARMY OF JESUS:
Book Bomb: EP
This was recorded at the same time as the other 7” (Prosperity Health Finance Wealth) but this one sounds a million times better, (note to bands: go ahead and drop the extra hundred bucks on mastering your record, it’s worth it!) much more in-your-face, meaner and uglier than the last one. They’re still pissed at cops and bosses and rich honkies, but they take it a step further by unleashing their hatred on monetary systems (but you still gotta pay for the record), the music industry (but they still got the records pressed at United), and Myspace (how’d you book the tour, guys? On the phone? It’s 2006.) While it’s essentially the same band as their other two records, this particular release comes across as too preachy and complain-y. I think Doug should start smoking weed again. –ben (Criminal IQ)


STORM THE TOWER:
Four Songs: EP
It’s been a loooong time since Storm The Tower put a record out, and they’ve gone through a lot of changes during that time. This new 7” is a lot more punk and a lot less hardcore than their previous releases, with Chris’ vocals evoking the early ‘90s sound of Heroin or John Henry West. Tightly played and well recorded, these four songs pack quite a punch. –ben (Little Deputy)


MARKED MEN:
Fix My Brain: CD
The Marked Men are hands down, without a doubt, the best band in Texas. This new album is a bit of a departure from the first two, but not in a bad way. It’s much more along the lines of the “She Won’t Know” single released late last year. It’s still the good old Marked Men that we all know and love, with the nice mix of Jeff’s gooey melted-cheese vocals and Mark’s more angular voice. The only real difference here is the absence of the prominent sixteenth-note high hats that have become somewhat of a novelty in garage rock these days. Great production, minimalist artwork, expertly-crafted songs—just go fucking get this, it rules! –ben (Swami)


POPZILLAS, THE:
The Incredible Adventures of Pandora Pop: CD
This is really unique and interesting. As far as I can tell from the translated-from-German one sheet, this is a German band playing a concept album that I think is supposed to be a soundtrack to a Japanese manga story. It doesn’t make any sense, but I like it. It’s really pro-produced sounding pop with ethereal female vocals. It’s nice, I could listen to this a few times for sure, I just don’t really understand what they’re trying to do. –ben (Wolverine)


DEATHCYCLE:
Self-titled: CD
Heavy, preachy hardcore that sounds like Tragedy. It seems like they’re especially mad at “punx” that don’t think exactly the same way they do. Musically, it’s pretty contrived. Lyrically, it feels like my dad is yelling at me for getting a bad report card. –ben (Chainsaw Safety)


NOAH’S APATHY:
Something to Divide: CD
This sucks. At The Drive In/Queens Of The Stone Age type shit that kids in high school listen to, and then out of nowhere there’s some crazy wanky shredding guitar solo shit. I bet they met this guitar player guy while he was wanking away in Guitar Center and asked him to be in their band. The only excuse I would let these dudes slip on is if they were kinda young, which I think they are. –ben (www.fordocumentationonly.com)


AMERICAN CHEESEBURGER:
: Demo Tape
Yes, yes, yes, yes, this is the shit! This is the kind sugar papa likes. The dudes that used to be in Athens, Georgia’s No! have started a new band, American Cheeseburger, and boy is it fucking perfect. Fast-as-shit melodic-ish hardcore that reminds me of Spazz or Charles Bronson without all the blast beats, with super pissed-off vocals but also with a sense of humor! Nothing makes me happier than a band that doesn’t take themselves super-seriously all the time. I mean, there are some topical songs and issues addressed, but for the most part it’s all just rad fun. Come on, how can you not love lyrics like: “Playing Super Ghouls and Ghosts/Eat tofu and texas toast”? This shit is rad. If you run a record label, you should put out this band’s record! –ben (Demo)


HARAM:
Self-titled: CD
Oh shit, this is cool! A really nice surprise. Judging from the fact that this is on Lovitt and some of the dudes used to be in Page 99, I can only assume that this band is from NOVA (that’s Northern Virginia to you non east-coasters) and they definitely carry the Fugazi banner with pride. I hear some Drive Like Jehu in here too, but it’s total early ‘90s Dischord territory. These guys are talented musicians that work together well. The music is well written and multi-dimensional, and I’m definitely gonna listen to this a lot. Oh, and I read on the promo sheet that Jeff Kane is in this band now! Hi Jeff! –ben (Lovitt)


TOWER OF ROME:
World War I: CD
I suppose that live, this band is probably really good. The drummer is fast as shit and pretty solid, the guitars are loud and distorted, and the vocals are reeeeal screamy. I’m trying my best to be nice here…ah fuck it, this is boring, and it sucks. They didn’t put much thought into it, and I didn’t put much thought into this review. –ben (He Who Corrupts)


FLAMINGO 50:
Tear It Up: CD
I’m just gonna come out and say it. Louise Hanman from Flamingo 50 is my favorite singer in the whole world. Her adolescent-boyish shout, and thick Liverpool accent spread smoothly over her band’s noisy-guitar, Superchunky power pop to make this perfect little nugget, like Oliver Twist just after he eats a paper cone of French fries with mayonnaise. Seriously though, this album is awesome. It’s a little more polished than their last full length; not sonically, but from a songwriting perspective. The record is awash in layered guitars, Beach Boys-inspired backing vocals, and an incredible warmth that only some magic mixing board wizard knows how to attain. This CD is in ultra-heavy rotation in my player. I sure hope they fucking tour the states. –ben (Spank, www.spankrecords.com)


KILL YOUR IDOLS / MODERN LIFE IS WAR:
Live on WLUW: Split EP
Kill Your Idols: I’d never given this band a chance before because whenever I see people wearing their shirts they always look like jocks and date rapists, but damn if this isn’t some solid pissed-off melodic hardcore. Maybe I should stop judging bands by the way their fans dress, as I am definitely gonna check out some more Kill Your Idols stuff when I get a chance. Modern Life Is War: it’s weird because both sides of this record were recorded at the same show on the same radio station, but the MLIW recording sounds like shit. One ho-hum tough guy original and a crappy cover of “Nervous Breakdown.” Yawn. ATTENTION ALL BANDS! We’ve heard Black Flag before, you can’t do a cover of theirs that’s better than the original, so don’t try. –ben (Lifeline)


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