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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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INTERNATIONAL ROBOT:
Self-titled: 7"
The band's got a split personality. When the guitarist, Brian, sings, the proceedings sound a little too close to Fred Snider of the B-52's hard rocking it. He extends words that don't need to be ex-ten-ten-ten-ded, yeah. It's a bit loosey goosey for my tastes. It's a strange amalgam of Mudhoney without the full arsenal of fireworks. It's really not that bad, but it's a tad too repetitive for me to endorse. When Danny, the drummer, takes the helm, I like the proceedings much more. The songs are closer shorn, fuzzier, snappier, and all around tighter. I find myself bopping along. 50/50. –todd (Pop Riot)


IKARA COLT:
Basic Instructions: CDEP
On some days, a jumbled, unfocused mess of vaguely electronic music mixed with edgy, angular guitar and vocals which are so slurred that they sound like they were recorded in a pub after last call might be appealing. However, this jumbled, unfocused mess jumps styles between bands like The Fall and Wire and their more modern reinterpretations by the upstarts over at GSL and 31G and, frankly, tries to light up a substantial amount of previously mined territory with a candle instead of Klieg lights. It may be unkind to say, but I sincerely hope that - while they're down the shaft, looking for diamonds in a thoroughly depleted hole - they get lost and don't come back. –scott (Epitaph)


GRAVELTRAP:
Concrete + Udder Chaos: CD
A band that reminds me a lot of the band Turtlehead. Not as strong as the latter band but melodic in the same way. –don (Moon Ska Europe)


GOODBYE BLUE MONDAY:
Next Time We Stop Breathing: CD
They take the rock out of indie rock, if that's even possible. –megan (Loud and Clear)


GITS, THE:
Frenching the Bully: CD
The Gits were an early-nineties punk band from Seattle. They released Frenching the Bully originally in 1992, but shortly after the release, the lead singer, Mia Zapata, was murdered. Recently, The Gits have been creeping back into the scene in the sense that a movie is being made about them, this album has been re-released, and it looks like the murderer has finally been found. The whole story is both interesting and sad, but I'm not going to tell it here. I'm just going to talk about the music. It's tighter and faster than what you would expect to come out of Seattle in the early nineties. Zapata's vocals and her lyrics are streetwise and tough. The guitars have a tendency to slip off into a solo, which is something I'm not fond of, but Steve Moriarty's drumming makes up for it. If you judge this album by 2003 standards, it's mediocre. There are a lot of bands taking punk rock fronted by a tough, female vocalist and driving it into directions far beyond what people were doing in 1992. But if you compare Frenching the Bully to some of its contemporaries like L7, Seven Year Bitch, or even male-fronted Seattle punkers Seaweed (whose song style sounds pretty similar to The Gits), The Gits blow them away. This re-release also has nine songs from a live recording of one of The Gits shows in 1993. It's a pretty good recording, but all of the songs that they played at their show are on Frenching the Bully, so it's kinda like hearing the album twice in a row with the songs in a different order. –sean (Broken Rekids)


FASTIDOS, LOS:
Ora Basta: CDEP
The only thing that sets this apart from any other non-spectacular street punk band is that they're Italian. Not enough for me. –megan (Mad Butcher)


EASTSIDE SUICIDES:
Self-titled: CD
Some serious Thunders damage is evident here, where every song could've easily found its way into the Dolls' repertoire. Way too derivative to be taken seriously, they are nonetheless good at what they do. –jimmy (Super Secret)


DIE TRYING:
Self-titled: CD
This sucks. In my last column I discussed how I didn't want to use the term "sucks" anymore, because it is sexist and homophobic and usually can be replaced with a more accurate term, but I am pulling it out for one last use because no other term really captures the feeling as well. Die Trying is basically the band for you if you can't handle the edginess of Good Charlotte, but still want to listen to a band you can talk about at Hot Topic. A fauxhawk and bleaching your jean jacket makes you punk, right? The guy who hired me to join the punk boy band told me so. –rich (Def Jam)


DEVILSKINS, THE:
Radio Zombie Rock: CD
Well-played oi from Italy that is actually quite enjoyable in some places. It's energetic and the guys in the bands sound like they're having a good time, but ultimately this is unmemorable. –Josh (Oi! Strike)


DARLINGTON/JOHNIE 3:
El Choppo: Split 7"
Two bands, four songs of Screeching Weasel worship. I just listened to this a few minutes ago, but strangely, I can't remember how any of the songs go. Either my memory is shot or these bands just plain suck. –Josh (Wide Stance)


BREAK, THE/ LET IT BURN:
Split: CD
The Break: Hmm, no. Cock rock (or uplifting metal, you decide) meets hardcore wasn't a good idea with Junkyard. (Shake that hair, Brian Baker, shake it, 'till you forget the words Minor Threat.) The idea hasn't improved with age. This is the second band this rotation that's resurrected something that should remain deader than dirt. Leave the power ballads to Whitesnake. It worked - marginally, but topically - with cocaine and hookers, not why you think war is bad. Let It Burn: Three mid-paced finger snappers that take the catchiness of early CIV, use sharp and clear like broken glass guitars, and a guy who can sing about the noose of nostalgia, straight-up romance, and the love of a specific city, all like his life depends on it. If I could only program the CD to skip the first three songs, a boner'd be popped. –todd (Doghouse)


BLACK REBELS, THE/ NEWLY DEADS:
Split: 7"
The Black Rebels: Hello, power duo Vom. Blunt. Traumatic. Simple. Funny. Desperate. Songs about AIDS, being frustrated, and leaving a baby at Goodwill, trading it in for some socks. Johnny Black then went on the Triggers. The Newlydeads: No, not the goth-rock Hollywood whathaveyou featuring Taime Downe, but the damaged, angry guitar/drums, male/female duo that sounds like if John Brannon (more Laughing Hyenas than Negative Approach) fronted a dirt rock, shit-outta-luck band. Loud, grating, and okay, but not outstanding. I'm going with the Black Rebels on this one. –todd (Johny Cat)


BLACK BOX:
Self-titled, Demo: CD
By-the-numbers hardcore with lyrics addressing racism, fashion punks, pigs, graffiti, suicide, etc. Nary a trace o' metal to be found, and well executed, although more songs start with fan-picked bass lines than's good for 'em. –jimmy (www.laidoffrecords.com)


ASS-END OFFEND:
Welcome to the Discomfort Zone: 7"
Pissed off hardcore reminiscent of the harder sounding stuff making the rounds in the late '80s. –jimmy (Poisoned Candy)


ZINC:
Old Mundo Punk: CD
Melodic, female fronted Spanish hardcore with more metal in the guitars than is good for 'em. A tad less Metallica and a tad more Negative Approach in their daily playlist would do wonders, I reckon. –jimmy (Soulforce)


WIRE:
Send: CD
Let's get things started by saying: If you don't own anything by Wire, get yourself to a record store and buy Pink Flag post-haste! And do not be tricked into buying most other Wire releases, unless you are, like, dude, totally into synthesizers and electronica. You have been warned. Surprisingly, this Wire CD does not stink! It even sounds a little bit like old school Wire at times, although not as good. In the end, this is Apple Toast Crunch - a lesser version of a great original cereal. –Maddy (Cargo)


WHISKEY REBELS:
Self-titled: CD
Oh, geez. Oi!/street punk with a big-time Motorhead influence. I really hate this shit and I don't care to elaborate. -Not Josh –Staff (GMM)


WEAVING THE DEATHBAG:
Self-titled: 7"
Decent enough hardcore here with songs that remain pretty much to the point. The dash of metal in the sound can get a tad annoying, but a strong showing overall. –jimmy (Hungry Ghosts)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
The Cretins Wanna Dance: LP
Eight bands play sixteen tunes and try to sound all snotty and punk rock, but too often end up sounding like another batch of Queers clones. I dug the Cave 4's "Surf Beat," and the Backwood Creatures' "Goo Goo" was just ginchy, but that was about all that moved me. –jimmy (Swindlebra)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Stripped Down, Fueled Up!: CD
Electric Frankenstein! Jed Whitey! The Puppies! Ironboss! Remember their names, you'll be screaming (for) them (to stop) all night long!!! Yawn-Rock extravaganza. BEST SONG: Electric Frankenstein, "Who's Watching You" BEST SONG TITLE: Jed Whitey, "Hands Up If You Think I'm Cool" FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Metal Matt Crocco of Ironboss is credited with playing "stun guitar," the first such specialized position player since Gregg Turner of the Angry Samoans (he also is depicted wearing a UFO t-shirt, which was a less-than-encouraging sign when it started happening on Cockney Rejects albums). Also, Jed Whitey thanks no fuckers except Ray & Al. –norb (Out Of The Loop)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Smash up Derby: CD
Of the twenty bands on this CD, one plays power-pop (the Pinkz), one sounds like the Gories (the Maggots), one sounds like country music (the Dukes of Hamburg), and the others listen to too much KISS. For the most part I was asking myself, "Why is this band so popular?" except during the New Bomb Turks, when I asked myself, "Man, what the hell happened to the New Bomb Turks?" -Not Josh –Staff (Gearhead)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Fruit Cocktail vs. Hellcat: CD
This is something different. Apparently, a British band called Fruit Cocktail recorded some songs, then conned some Hellcat artists into singing those songs when those bands toured England. There are nine songs. All of the music is by Fruit Cocktail, but the vocals are by Al Barr (Dropkick Murphys), Duane Peters (US Bombs), Greg Lee (Hepcat), Dave Hillyard (Slackers, Dave Hillyard and the Rocksteady 7), Tim Armstrong (Rancid), and so on. The songs are pretty slow, and it really forces the singers to show their true vocal abilities. Some singers fair better than others. The high point, for me, is the song with Brad and Jen from F-Minus. Overall, it's not a bad CD. –sean (No Front Teeth)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Dirtnap Across the Northwest: CD
After all the hype, after all the glowing reviews I read, after looking at the lineup, I really wanted to call this the best compilation ever. Really. And don't get me wrong, the good songs on here are fantastic, and there are a lot of good songs. But some songs really aren't that good. It seems like some of these bands are trying so hard to fall under the category of new wave that they either forget the hooks (like the Intelligence) or get really repetitive (like the Cinch). Some of the bands on here that aren't really new wave are still good, like Mea Culpa, and some still suck, like Midnight Thunder Express. And don't get me started on how the "new" Briefs song is from their new album. All in all, the good outweighs the bad and this is still a great comp. It just doesn't live up to its considerable hype. -Not Josh –Staff (Dirtnap)


VANISHING, THE:
Songs for Psychotic Children: CD
Synth-driven, first-wave sounding death rock/goth with a girl who sounds a little like Dinah Cancer handling the vocal duties. The lyrics are a little forced and hokey, but musically they ain't all that bad. Worth a spin. –jimmy (GSL)


TURBO A.C.'S, THE:
Automatic: CD
Gee, I never expected Gearhead records to release a big sounding rock album, did you? Not much here other than really bad Motorhead plagiary and terrible vocals. -Not Josh –Staff (Gearhead)


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