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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Skannibal Party 2: CD
This is the sophomore release of a new grouping of international ska bands. No ska-punk here. Just two tone and traditional that reaches back to its Jamaican origins. With this type of ska, I never seem to tire of it. Like reggae, ska can be a mellow ride to a peaceful place. It has twenty-one bands with twenty-one tracks that let you sample, like appetizers, what you may personally like. I’ve got my groove on! If you want some, go get you some. –don (Mad Butcher)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Cool Grrrls Kick Ass!: CD
Sixteen tracks, three good, an alright ratio. Manda and the Marbles, Riff Randells, and The Waulkees from Italy all gave great tracks. The rest just plain suck. –megan (CoolGrrrls.com)


VANILLA MUFFINS:
Sugar Oi Will Win: CD
A reissue of their first album here. You can hear the foundations of greatness already starting to bubble up from the bottom of the cup and see that the seeds of what would become “Sugar Oi” were already sown and starting to sprout. IF you’ve no clue as to who these guys are, just imagine the bastard child of the Undertones, Slade, Stiff Little Fingers and the Bay City Rollers growing up with an affinity for oi music and you get the picture. The proceedings are rife with good hooks and should please even the most discerning music connoisseur. –jimmy (Haunted Town)


UWHARRIA:
Fury in the Foothills: CD
Remember crossover? This reminds me when we were in the crossover period. It was the late ‘80s and punk bands were playing speed metal and speed metal bands were putting punk in their music – one big happy, violent and drunken family. This band reminds me of the period. –don (Slave)


U.S. BOMBS:
“Art Kills” b/w “Framed”: 7”
I like and respect TKO Records, but my main complaint about them is that they will often release a seven inch or EP with stuff that’s all previously released. Here we have two singles off of the new US Bombs album. They’re both good songs, but, for a few dollars more, you could buy the album and get eleven more songs. And, if you really want to support TKO, pick up the new album by The Boils. They’re fucking awesome. –sean (TKO)


UNPERSONS:
Self-titled: CD
Nice and noisy stuff dancing the fine line between hardcore and pain-metal. On the whole this is pretty good listenin’, but the songs do go on a bit long in places. –jimmy (Fish Fur)


TRAVOLTAS:
Endless Summer: CD
Okay, one of my favorite bands is Against Me!, who write about touring a lot. But they write about it on a conceptual level, not a descriptive one. Hell, even I am writing a book on touring, but it will be a how-to guide with specific anecdotes. But the first song on this album is such a by-the-numbers tour song it irks me. Do you form a band to write songs about being in the band you formed to write songs about being in a band? Sorry, just a pet peeve. I was listening to this CD in my car with two people. One thought these guys were Blink 182. The other thought they were Weezer. Personally, I think they remind me of Groovie Ghoulies, but the latter seem a lot sillier and artsier than these guys and in any case, I don’t know how many people know the Ghoulies enough to make the comparison worthwhile. But the Ghoulies’ concept seems more a product of the band’s evolution while this sounds more pre-determined. Actually, the more I think about it, these guys remind me more of the Beach Boys than anything. Maybe they’re a bit harder, what with the advance of time and all, but still, yeah, a rocking Beach Boys. By now it sounds like I probably didn’t like this CD, but I kinda did. It’s a fun album, the way that pizza is usually good and parties are usually fun, but having finished this review, I am not too sure it will be back on my radar again unless I wind up running into the band. –rich (Fast Music)


TOSSERS, THE:
Purgatory: CD
Since they conjure images of Dante from the title, it does seem like this band is on the ascension to something better (B- Pogues-inspired rock), but right now they’re on the hillside next to heaven and have fallen short by of their goal by not paying enough penance (sounding way too like Flogging Molly). Where’s the reckless abandon? Where’s the teeth flying out like a kick-in Chicklets dispenser? I was asked to drink a fucking ton before reviewing this. Done. Verdict: give me Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash. That’s brick throwing time. This is fine for what it is – an imitation that’s yet to improve on the template – but no better. –todd (Thick)


TARANTULADA:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Although i kind of miss the New Bomb Turks, my missing of their records is a bit less acute; were, however, i to find myself in some manner of anguished state whereby my only recourse for preserving my mental well-being was to ingest some form of useful placebo, Side A of this record would likely stave off any manner of withdrawal seizure i’d be likely to contract, and is slightly more soulful than the NBT in parts, but not to the annoying extent of requiring me to testify or similar foolishness. Side B starts with the much more Zeke-y “What’s the Point” – i.e., stoner speed rock (might be amusing to find out some day it’s actually a Zeke parody) – and concludes with “Oleo,” which is like vaguely competent R&B speedmetal or something, like someone who owns more than one Metallica record trying to adapt James Brown riffs for their own sinister purposes. The one truly transcendent moment here is the guitar solo in “Suck Mule,” where the backing tracks simply bang back and forth from high E to A (yes, i was actually motivated enough to figure out the chords) whilst the geetar man gets his wild freak on, evoking such gems of olde as the Dickies treatment of the guitar solo section in Led Zeppelin’s “Communication Breakdown” and the solo in DOA’s “Smash the State” (minus the timely “OH SHIIIIIITTTTTT!”). Promising, i guess. BEST SONG: “Suck Mule” BEST SONG TITLE: “Suck Mule” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Odd that i would mention the Dickies “Communication Breakdown” in the same breath as DOA’s “Smash the State,” as DOA cover “Communication Breakdown” on the same album with “Smash the State” on it. –norb (Get Some!)


STUPOR STARS:
Bernadette b/w Born to Run: 7”
Crunchy, satisfying, sweaty rock’n’roll. Sure, there are similarities with The Stallions, who Rick sung for also – like, they’re both excellent and they both seem to have the spark and charge that comes from excitement and not calculation. I can’t seem to put my finger on it. The rock machine’s been made for such a long time – having been perfected in different forms by the Dictators, the Gories, and the Mummies – and so many bands have drag stripped down many a well-traveled road. It’s nothing new, but The Stupor Stars sure as hell don’t disappoint. They make muscle car rock that truly rips ass and makes it glaringly obvious – to me, at least – when a bunch of well-financed hipsters jump in a grocery cart with a squeaky wheel who start playing the equivalent of oldies radio on a weak signal try to lie to the audience by saying “We are rock.” The B-side is a ripping version of Bruce Springstein’s “Born to Run.” Great 7”. –todd (Honeyhole)


STRAWBERRY MUD PIE:
You Sing! Me Play!: CD
I liked this CD the minute I saw the cover art and the name of the band. I like food names (Razorcake, Strawberry Mud Pie, Punch and Pie, and, uh, more that I can’t think of right now). And I love female-fronted Japanese punk bands. (Pear of the West and Thug Murder are high on my list, which needs lengthening. If you are in a rockin’ female-fronted Japanese punk band, send me stuff to review, care of Razorcake!) You Sing! Me Play! didn’t disappoint me, either. Strawberry Mud Pie’s songs are very catchy, with a happy, rock’n’roll feel without being too poppy. Within the first song, you are already singing along: “Woohoo, she used to run away.” (At least, I think those are the words. Sometimes it’s hard to get past the singer’s Japanese accent, but that’s okay. It’s fun making up words, too.) You can tell the band is influenced by fifties rock’n’roll, and in the case of You Sing! Me Play!, that’s a good thing. I want more of this kind of stuff! –felizon (1+2 Records)


STEVE CABALLERO:
Bandology Vol. 1: CD
If you don’t recognize the name, you don’t skate. Long time pro skateboarder has played in some bands through the years. Featured here are four tracks each by The Faction, Odd Man Out, Shovelhead and Soda. The Faction, probably the most popular band he played with, have been part of the skate rock scene during the early-to-mid ‘80s. Odd Man Out, the next band he played in, were more progressive rock. Shovelhead play grunge that was prevalent during the time period. Soda play a Tilt-ish, female-led pop punk that makes me think that I might actually keep this disc. Also provided are two extra tracks that Mr. Caballero has recorded as projects. I don’t know if people will run out of the house in a manic frenzy to purchase this, but the Soda tracks are pretty damn good and are the highlight for me. –don (Sessions)


STARVATIONS, THE:
Horrified Eyes: 7”
Whoa. Run-of-the-mill rockabilly this ain’t. The A-side is musically upbeat and the B-side is more bluesy, but both songs have a swampy Birthday Party kind of feeling to them and a really unique singer. Maybe the most original thing I’ve heard in a while; the only way I can describe this is fucked-up-in-a-good-way, but I’ve been listening to it a lot and I’m glad I own it. –Guest Contributor (GSL)


STAR STRANGLED BASTARDS:
Whose War Is It?: CD
Serious hardcore from a band that sounds like they could’ve been the house band at Fenders Ballroom circa 1986. Didn’t expect much, but I’m glad to say that they’re all that and a bowl of rare Final Conflict records –jimmy (Go Kart)


SPREAD EGO:
Micro-Manipulators: CDEP
There’s something in the recording of the CD that makes it sound like it was recorded in a tin tunnel where someone is constantly felling Christmas trees full of ornaments. It’s this weird, delayed metallic whispery sound that has me thinking that something got over processed on the computer (but that’s just a guess). They sorta sound like Black Flag smoked a lot of pot and it really got to them (okay, post Slip It In Black Flag, same thing), but not nearly as interesting, certainly less punchy, and more arty repetitive. Too jammy. Sorry. No thanks. –todd (spreadego@yahoo.com)


ROMEO’S DEAD:
It’s All Your Fault: CD
With their picture perfect looks, safe yet loud rock’n’roll and innocuous lyrics, these guys should rake in mounds of dough, which is what punk rock is all about anyway, innit? –jimmy (www.fastlanerecords.com)


RICKY WOLKING:
Honky Mofo: CD
Any record that leads off with redneck rap (that’s so ridiculous it embarrasses the listener) is lucky to get past track one, but Ricky turns out to be a man for all seasons: he’s equally adept at aping Korn, Weezer, Smashing Pumpkins, Prince, Beck, N’Sync and probably some other fabulous radio stars I don’t recognize. He doesn’t, however, seem to have much inclination toward punk, ska, (actual) metal or anything else that might suggest sending a copy to a mag like this. Note to Ricky: Honky Mofo is a demo CD. Send it to record labels, not us. –Cuss Baxter (Sick Pup)


PAVERS, THE:
Return to the Island of No Return: CD
Yar matey! This a fine CD be. You know how some CDs have bonus tracks? This thing has a whole bonus CD EP! Obviously, any review that I start with a pirate reference means I like the CD, but I do have to say, this album sets itself up by having the first song be really fast and catchy, then following it with slower, more complex songs. The mix of styles is good, but it got me all revved up and left me. The style is a mix of a bunch of things – parts remind me of Ramones, the non-hit-single Nirvana songs, the stronger Foo Fighter tunes, Queens of the Stone Age… hmm, what’s with me and the Dave Grohl kick? Basically, what seems to be going on here is some musicians are too “mature” to do simple three chord, straight ahead punk, but too amped and passionate to get wishy washy. Some songs remind me in structure of pop punk or even grunge songs if they were being covered by a good punk rock band. I find myself enjoying this a bit, despite the fact that it doesn’t really fall in any of the music subgenres I prefer. Although I do wish that the lyrics hit me more on some level. (A side note – why is it that the more meaningful lyrics are, the less coherent they are normally sung? I can understand every line in Janet Jackson’s “Nasty Boys” which means nothing, yet well thought out political lyrics of many crust bands sound like a seal gargling?) –rich (Ratchet / Boss Tunage)


ONE STEP SHIFT:
Chemical Burn: 7”
I’m at odds on this one. At times, I like it and at other times, I want to kick my own ass for liking it. When they slow down, it’s really soggy mathy rock that’s less intimidating than a second grader with bad eyesight. When it speeds up, like landscape seen from an accelerating car, all the angles seem to add up and get interesting, in a Jawbox, Nomeansno smartguy punk rock sort of way. Not abysmal, not an emo turd, but not fully endorsed, either. –todd (Loder Brock)


MOTORMAGS:
Simple Made Easy: CD
I have always hated Mötley Crüe and I lost interest in Judas Priest two decades ago. Seeing as these guys sound like a cross between the two, guess what I think about ’em. –jimmy (www.motormagsrock.com)


MILLOY/THE LEIF ERICSSON:
Split: CD
Milloy: I reviewed their Autodrivel CD a while back and I was an even split on this band. I feel the same way now. It’s recorded well and the songs are catchy and strong. I’m not really qualified to make too much of a judgement since I don’t really buy or listen to this type of punk. Off my previous review, I noted Hot Water Music, Leatherface and Samiam as the style of their music, based on the information that came with the latter disc. So my tip would be if you like the aforementioned bands, give this a try. The Leif Ericsson: This band I can relate to better. First thing I noticed on their opening track, Red with Nine, was the cool new wave sounding keyboards. They mix that with a cool, quenching dose of UK punk that is melodic, poppy and fun. The rest of their tracks lack the keyboards, but I was hooked, lined and sinkered like a trout in a fresh water lake. The songs had a raw edge to them and brought my ears to attention. This is my favorite band of the two. –don (Crackle)


MIDNIGHT EVILS, THE:
Straight Til Morning: CD
Rock’n’roll in the vein of the Dwarves with a strong garage feel. They’re probably great live, but this just doesn’t grab me. –megan (Estrus)


MATCHES, THE:
E. Von Dahl Killed the Locals: CD
This tries very hard to be Weezer, and even falls very short of that. Two of the guys did the artwork, which is way better than the album. Maybe they should stick to that. –megan (www.thematches.com)


MAD CADDIES:
Just One More: CD
Maybe it’s the mood I’ve been in lately, but this disc does not appeal to me right now. I’ve liked the band’s previous releases, but this time around they sound like Homegrown. –don (Fat)


KING ROCKER / BLACK MONDAY:
Split: 7”
“Mad About You” by King Rocker is a fairly undecorated stomp in the “Pipeline”/”Police Truck” type vein (avec le wah-wah), but “Invincible” is a work of sheerest genius, recalling the Ramones’ “Highest Trails Above” in its evocation of “today-i-am-a-superhero” imagery, and which, in my Odin-like omniscience, i have decided sounds like 2nd LP Generation X (note: i had this thought before consciously connecting it with where the band got their name) (which would be “from a song on the second Generation X album” for those of you who are context or record collection challenged) doing a Supernova cover of the “Beat on the Brat” rip-off variety (i.e., “Gumfighter”), but with Leonard Graves Phillips orchestrating the chorus (the chorus harmonies are very highly latter-day-Dickiesian in nature, but on a budget, and applied to a not-particularly-inherently-Dickiesian passage [“I WILL NOT DIE... I WILL NOT DIE!”]), followed immediately by dual-guitar interplay whereby left-channel guitar offers a superficially Screeching Weaselistic lead countered simultaneously by right-channel guitar playing a more traditional power-pop type lead. Which is, i’m sure, exactly what you’re looking for in a record. Black Monday fare worse: “Save Me” is almost some manner of country-core (that is, old-school hc beat w/neo-polka bassline yielding general feel of country two-step run punk rock amok) ditty that has whatever good points it may have racked up obliterated on account of the drummer speeds up every time he gets to the chorus; “The Same” is merely generic pop-punk of the variety where almost every chord gets played for exactly four measures before changing – my least favorite permutation of the genre, ever. Mr. Idol, who do you feel is the clear winner in this Battle Of The Bands? Billy Idol: “King Rocker...King Rocker... ROCK ROCK ROCK! King Kong! King Kong! King Kong! KING KONG!!!” BEST SONG: King Rocker, “Invincible” BEST SONG TITLE: King Rocker, “Mad About You” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: My copy is 631/1000, and the sleeves appear to be silkscreened on the same kinda cardboard they make shoeboxes outta. –norb (Split Seven)


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