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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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AGOROPHOBIC NOSEBLEED:
PCP Torpedo/ANBRX: CD
This is a double CD, disc one being a re-issue of the previously vinyl-only PCP Torpedo EP, and disk two is a bunch of remixes of what I guess are the songs on disc one. If you’re familiar with Agorophobic Nosebleed, you can expect more of the same: really fast computerized grindcore. One of these dudes is in Pig Destroyer, and his input is really the only part of this album that resembles anything that was even once hardcore or punk about this. The remixes sound like a Donkey Kong game being run over by a train at their best, and Aphex Twin or Atari Teenage Riot at their worst. The way the whole thing comes together kinda sounds like what watching Tetsuo: The Iron Man looks like. It gave me acid flashbacks and made everything smell and taste like gasoline for an hour or so. This album is cool, if you’re in the mood for a bunch of fucked up noises. –ben (Hydra Head)


AGGROLITES,THE:
Self-titled: CD
It’s damned hard to take seriously a ska band where one of the dudes is brandishing a baseball bat on the cover (what are we supposed to assume, that they’re ruff and tuff? That they’re “hard hitting”? That they like the Dodgers? That they’ll beat down anyone who doesn’t like them? Puh-LEEZ), but these guys actually aren’t as lame as their cover would lead one to believe. The vibe is reggae filtered through a “traditional” ska band, with a little bit o’ soul music mooshed in. In a nutshell, better than expected. –jimmy (Hellcat)


AGGROLITES,THE:
Self-titled: CD
Yeah! Authentic rude boy, Jamaican reggae sounds with soul from this band, based in Los Angeles. The recording has the sounds of an old reggae record from the ‘70s or a Motown record from the ‘60s. If I wouldn’t have known better, I would have guessed that this was an old recording. The only give away is there are no pops and hisses. Boo! My review copy came with a generic Hellcat sleeve and a label stuck onto it to show what band and track listing it contained. Another thumbs down, a CD-R. Most reviewers around the world are music geeks. Why would we endure so much music? Not receiving a retail ready copy of a release sucks! Nothing to look at or read while listening. Isn’t that all part of the experience? –don (Hellcat)


AGAINST ALL AUTHORITY:
The Restoration of Chaos & Order: CD
The songs have clever breakdowns and catchy choruses and the CD has fun cover art but despite such positive aspects to this album I’m not liking it as much as I liked All Fall Down when that LP first came out. Another interesting point to make as well: kind of like how Hopeless Records’ Falling Sickness began life as a band playing straight up ska and then evolved into something of the hardcore variety, their label-mates seem to be going through the same progression. Save for some horns here and there (just because songs have horns doesn’t mean it’s ska) this album is more akin to AAA’s most recent offerings. Not sure if you read that as a good thing or a bad thing (because let’s face it, third wave ska was horrid), so take that info as you will and go with your first instincts. Always. –mrz (Hopeless)


ACROBRATS, THE:
Go Down Swinging: CD
Too mainstream and overdone for us older folks. Not snotty or threatening for the kiddies. In case you couldn’t pick out where they use the title in the lyrics, they write it out in ALL CAPS like they’re yelling because they’re so fucking excited. Bonus, brah! –megan (www.theacrobrats.com)


ACCELERATORS:
Nowhere Near Funny: 7” EP
Serviceable punk with a hardcore edge to it. Nice to hear a song about Jack Johnson, and the packaging was quite nice, but ultimately it really didn’t set the barn ablaze. –jimmy (Let’s Pretend)


A DEATH IN THE FAMILY:
This Microscopic War: CD
Frankie Stubbs produced this record and you can tell. They have the signature Leatherface sound without straying too far into copycat land. These Australians don’t carve out new territory but tread well on a sound that many have tried and failed. Samiam and Hot Water Music definitely get played in the van these guys drive around in. Although this recording has a big, polished sound, there is still the element of rawness in the guitar tones. Worth a listen if you like crunchy melodies but are tired of the suburban pseudo-angst that harmlessly swarm the music world today. –Guest Contributor (Poison City)


CUT CITY:
Self-titled: CD
No track names and zippo band information with this one, which is annoying, but no matter. This is a nice bit of indie pop with a smidge of lighter Sonic Youth fare in some places and a dash of ‘80s twee in others, neither of which become so overbearing as to overshadow the band’s own strengths. Charming enough to grab your attention and catchy enough to keep it. –jimmy (GSL)


CRANKED UP!:
This Is a Weapon: CD
A successful return to old. It’s been a long, long time since I came across an overtly politi-punk band that I found satisfying, but Cranked Up! fit the bill. The lyrics revolve around different metaphors and means of resisting authority/the state/the reactionary, etc., but don’t really come off as clichéd—a real danger in such situations—and they’re put to some truly energetic and catchy punk; all in all, a good package. The liner notes do provide little blurbs about the songs, though, and that irks me ‘cause as I see it, if you need to explain your lyrics then your lyrics haven’t done the job in the first place. I’ll let that go, though, since the rest of the record merits my approval. –Guest Contributor (Creep)


CONVERGE:
Petitioning the Empty Sky and When Forever Comes Crashing: CD
Re-mastered and re-issued, these Converge records—now more than seven years old—still destroy and still dominate the ham-fisted and fumbling attempts to create truly heavy music. These albums may not have been the genesis of metallic hardcore (depending on what you consider metallic hardcore) but they are undoubtedly essential flashpoints. These two records are pretty much crucial if you like punk, metal, hardcore or music. –scott (Equal Vision)


CONFLICT:
There Is No Power Without Control: CD
While I’ll be the first to admit (before my homies call me on it) I’ve never been much of a Conflict fan (based more on musical, rather than political, differences of opinion), I gotta say it’s mighty fine hearing these guys making a racket again. One of England’s premier anarcho punk bands that has been perplexingly lumped into the “street punk” ghetto for some reason in recent years, Conflict took the template laid out by contemporaries like Crass (with whom they shared a lead singer, although not at the same time), ratcheted up the intensity levels and tempos, and belched forth angry sheets of noisy punk that railed against the government, animal abusers, war, and corporations poised to take over the world. Given the fact that many of the very things they were attacking twenty years ago have, in some cases, become the norm, it will come as no surprise that their latest album is chock full of musical assaults on that very same power structure. Musically, they are just as harsh as they ever were, but after more than a decade of sugar-coated boy-pop preening and posturing as if it was somehow punk, their brand of sonic bludgeoning actually comes off as fresh and invigorating. Good stuff. –jimmy (SOS)


COMMANDANTES:
Lieber für Die Arbeiterhlasse: CD
Commie street punk from Germany. Can’t say I’m all that hip to the commie trip, but I do respect ’em for taking a road not often traveled in punklandia. –jimmy (Mad Butcher)


COMBAT WOUNDED VETERAN:
This Is Not an Erect, All-Red Neon Body: CD
The cover of this disc features an illustration of a ghastly naked humanoid, somewhat reminiscent of the famous figure in Edvard Munch’s “Scream,” doubled over and retching putrid piles of pink intestines everywhere. This gives you a very good idea of the aural confections contained within. It’s grindy and screamy and, for all I can tell, it’s “sung” in Swahili or something. When it slows down it reminds me a bit of Skin Chamber or Godflesh, but mostly it just whirs away like a blender full of leper parts, set on frappe for thirty-two minutes, with the cover off. The motif here, just in case they have to beat you over the head with it (and they do), is vomit and puss and spittle and bile and all the oozy, malodorous stuff that is normally hidden deep inside the human body. I oftentimes don’t mind when all the songs sound the same and I enjoy puking as much as the next guy, but this is bulimic and, worse, just plain tedious. I never imagined the Vomitorium could be such a bore. File under: Overwrought. –aphid (No Idea)


COLTRANE MOTION:
No Well OK Maybe Just a Little: CDEP
Four “tracks” of fairly enjoyable, fairly “mellow” electronic “music” which, if it hasn’t “happened” already, I’m sure I’ll “appreciate” as the perfect “soundtrack” when I hear it on a “Volkswagen” “commercial.” –Cuss Baxter (datawaslost)


CHROME PISTOLA:
Victimize Yourself: CDEP
Reminds me of those jerks that sang “The Bad Touch.” The singer’s (singers’?) delivery is flat (he/they rap the first song) and he has a range of about five notes. Funky soul music should have attitude and be brought to you with a heapin’ helpin’ of stank! Sadly, there is no stank to be found on this release. –benke (Mindless)


CHIXDIGGIT!:
Pink Razors: CD
I believe we all go through phases in life. I have been in the metal/thrash mode lately. But I’m not rigged. On the first track of this CD, I wrote this off as NOFX. But the second track, I Remember You, sucked me in. What a great pop song! I can hear this one getting popular on alternative radio and making me feel sick because others are discovering my dirty little secret. It’s a song that will live longer than the band, a song so perfect that it sticks in your cranium for hours because it’s so catchy. I really don’t have to listen to the rest of the CD because I found a song that I will listen to for the rest of my lifetime. I have become a believer of their abilities to write a great melody. Anyone who can put a smile on this old bitter guy’s face is a band you have to check out if you want something more on the pop tip. –don (Fat)


CHARIOTS:
Congratulations: CD
Even with the keyboards this sounds too screamo for my liking. –don (Troublemanunlimited)


CELEBRITY MURDERS:
The Island of Man-Eating Rats: one-sided, four-song 7” EP
Discomforting New York-based hardcore that takes its cues of loathing, pessimism, hatred (except of Mussolini, who’s thanked), from early Agnostic Front (barely tuneful, all energy’s in the attack, not putting on makeup) and early Sick Of It All (the shaved-down metal guitar, especially). It’s less tough guy and more miscreant/ bad attitude/ infected boil/ stuck-behind-a-bad-driver-their-entire-lives, about-to-kill-the-next-fucker-who-doesn’t-use-their-turn-signal vibe. Effective. Artie from the Shemps is singing, but it sounds nothing like the Shemps. –todd (Chainsaw Safety)


CATCH, THE:
Get Cool: CD
I sure have a soft spot for female vocals that are dreamy and pretty. The songs on this caught me right away. A little new wave, power pop, and some pop punk mixed together to make their brand of garage music. Reminded me what would happen if you put together Veruca Salt, Elastica, the Go Go’s and the Breeders and send them to the bubblegum factory. Infectious. –don (Made in Mexico)


CASUALTIES:
En la Linea del Frente: CD
Why this sad sack of a group manages to survive, let alone enjoy any modicum of popularity, is bound to be the subject of much future scientific research. I mean, c’mon kids, they are SUCH a piss poor joke, more the embodiment of every lame punk stereotype the media has invented thus far than an actual noteworthy band. Nothing, NOTHING about them is remotely creative, original, or interesting. Their music is a hackneyed, Nth-generation Xerox copy of what some middle-aged TV exec thinks punk looks and sounds like and, ultimately, they are about as much a symbol of rebellion against the status quo as Avril Lavigne or Backstreet Boys. They are the purveyors of zero style, zippo substance and, not being satisfied with making a mockery of the English language, they have decided to profane Spanish with their insipid attempts at songwriting. You’d get more from staring at television static than you would listening to this. –jimmy (Sideonedummy)


CASKET LIFE:
The Good Times Are Killing Me: CD
Heralded as a harbinger of the burgeoning (and long-suffering) Arizona punk scene, Casket Life is reminiscent of Filth, Minor Threat, and Egg Hunt. But don't call them emo. Or hardcore. And they're too clean looking to be street punx. They're just punks. And pretty darned good at it. It lacks some cohesion and I wasn't totally glued to it, but heck, they're young. It'll develop. Not bad at all. –thiringer (Stomping Ground)


CAREER SUICIDE:
Invisible Eyes: 12”
I don’t know how Career Suicide keeps putting out records like this, but HOLY FUCKING SHIT am I glad they’re around. Unlike many of the hardcore bands from the early ‘80s that they emulate, who usually only managed one or two good albums, Career Suicide has yet to let me down. And at this point, they’ve blown away their influences, to the point where saying “rad Freeze/Circle Jerks kinda stuff” doesn’t do them justice. As a matter of fact, I’ll go ahead and say that if your taste in music ever veers towards the faster, more aggressive side of things, you need this record. Christ, this is a complete smoker, through and through. –Josh (Feral Ward)


CAPITAL DEATH:
Carbon: 7”
In another review somewhere around here I said that I couldn’t handle that crusty, growly grind stuff. I stand by that, but this record brings up an interesting point (to me, anyways). How is it that I do like crusty, screamy political hardcore stuff? Both are, for the most part, annoying and unintelligible, yet the latter just seems more, you know, PUNK, I guess. At any rate, Capital Death play screamy, crust political punk that will suit me just fine when the mood strikes me. Somehow I knew these guys were Canadian just by hearing them. Confirmation came well hidden in the liner notes. Strange. –ty (Punks Before Profits)


CANDY SNATCHERS, THE:
Ugly on the Outside: CD
I start to sound like an annoying, skipping record whenever I speak of The Candy Snatchers, so I’m gonna keep it to a minimum and only speak of the few things these nutjobs have done oh-so-well over the years. One, they continue to make fantastic recordings, and two, when ripping it up live, they continue to make believers of those who think that rock and roll has gone off like an ailing cat to hide and die. These few things, by the way, are the only things that truly matter when being a band to begin with. Everything else is hot fucking air. This said, the disc here is a Hungry Man®-sized portion of singles, tribute LP cuts, and the like from their past offerings. Surefire cuts that’ll result with someone’s foot through the drywall at your next house party are “You Want What,” “Picture My Face,” and the rip-roaring cover of Mr. David Bowie’s “Suffragette City.” Like their r’n’r colleagues Motörhead, the Ramones, Throw Rag, or The Riverboat Gamblers, anything Candy Snatchers isn’t just a no-brainer, it’s essential. –dale (Roulettes)


CALABRESE:
13 Halloweens: CD
These guys get the spirit award, for sure. Since it's a "horror rock" release, the promo copy came to us wrapped in fake cobwebs with plastic spiders and severed fingers stuck to it. Awesome! I put the CD on and it starts with a sample from Monsters Crash the Pajama Party, which is a really cool cult horror movie worthy of being sampled by a band like this. But then, oops, the music starts. As you can tell by looking at the cover, this band sounds a lot like AFI and the new Misfits. Sigh. Something that AFI and the new Misfits (and Calabrese) don't get is that the OLD Misfits (whom all of these bands are trying to capture the spirit of) were good because they were so crappy. The production sucked, the songs were halfway written, and the band could barely play. The problem with this new stuff is that it's too overproduced, clean, and slick. It's not bad, it's just kind of generic; a lot of "whoa-ohs" a la Balzac, a couple of wimpy "thrash" songs a la Earth AD, lots of samples from obscure movies (always a plus), you know the drill. If you're into horror rock you'll probably dig this, but if you're looking for something new, you won't find it here. –ben (Spookshow)


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