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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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SHEMPS, THE:
On 45: 7”
Dirty garage with hot, crusty bubble gum stuck to the bottom of Converse and a lot of shimmy tuned into the guitars. The recording seems a little thin, like you can imagine the instruments punching you in the chest and doing some damage, but it just doesn’t come through the headphones. Apparently, this was a transitional time for the band – the vocalist and guitarist have been replaced since this was recorded. It’s okay. –todd (Weekend)


SANBOX ROCKS:
Self-titled: CD
Oh ick, another stab at Green Day superstardom. Where’s that bottle of Pepto? –jimmy (www.umbilicalrecords.com)


SAHARA HOT NIGHTS:
Jennie Bomb: CD
Being from Sweden, this all girl outfit has benefited from having a Hives connection. It’s interesting how other countries absorb American culture. There’s a definite Suzy Quatro influence here but also quite a bit of ‘80s arena pop/metal. The songs basically rock and have the kind of themes you’d expect to find on a Runaways record (or the earliest Donnas record, for that matter) such as “Alright Alright (Here’s My Fist Where’s the Fight?).” More of a garage influence may have made this more palatable. –Bob Cantu (Jetset)


RUNNING LIKE THIEVES:
Same Time Next Year: CD
This is a tough one for me. The music is pretty rockin’, but it loses me on the vocals. I don’t know if it’s just in the recording, because everything seems to be a bit cleaner than I hope they sound, but they just rub me the wrong way. It sounds like the vocals should blend in with the other instruments, but they’re pulled forward where they can’t really hold their own. It just seems to be lacking something – whether it’s balls, passion, anger, or a combination of other elements. Medio-core. –megan (Livewire)


REIGNING SOUND:
Time Bomb High School: CD
Hey now! It’s the first In The Red release I ever didn’t like. Utterly barren of the noise and energy I’ve always thought of as the label’s hallmarks, they remind me of the Lemonheads when they were even worse than before. –Cuss Baxter (In The Red)


ROCKETS RED GLARE:
Rockets Red Glare: CD
Snap judgment: more stop-and-go post-core emo (think dynamics) that seems to take its cue from bands like Fugazi and Rites of Spring, but dozed off in class before also remembering that those bands rock. –scott (Sickroom)


ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT:
Live from Camp X-Ray: CD
I really loved Rocket From The Crypt’s Circa Now album. I’ve had a copy of it for about eight years now. It spent a couple of years in my truck. It got stolen and I went out and bought another copy. That copy’s in my wife’s car right now. I still listen to it every month or so. I’ve also listened to the stuff they’ve released since then, but nothing compared to Circa Now. Mostly, I’d listen to their new releases and shrug them off as a band trying to chase too many trends or putting together a bunch of songs fit for the B-side of a forty-five without putting out any A-sides. Live from Camp X-Ray changes that. It takes RFTC back to their original sound, back to songs that can be at once melodic and haunting and infused with a good dose of straight ahead rock. But this album also blends together some of the elements that RFTC hasn’t been able to pull off too well over the past few albums – solid horns and pop-style catchiness – without letting those elements take over the sound. When you get down to it, this album is pretty exciting. I re-ignites my faith in RFTC, and, for the first time in years, one of their albums is back in heavy rotation around here. –sean (Swami)


RESCUE:
Volume Plus Volume: CD
These angular chords and strangled vocals might someday grow on me, but I’m not going to doze off for twenty years so it can happen. This is typical emo. Although the musicianship seems slightly elevated above the teeming masses, these lads actually seem to be able to include semblances of melody lines in their dissonance and dynamics which puts them approximately one tight sweater ahead of the rest of their ilk when tallying up their scene points. –scott (Dead Droid)


REIGNING SOUND:
Time Bomb High School: CD
This band definitely has a British Invasion influence. There’s a little bit of Beatles, Animals and Them in the structure of songs like “Stormy Weather,” “Straight Shooter,” and “Brown Paper Sack.” “I Don’t Believe” sounds a bit like the Troggs. Everything sounds catchy and familiar in an oldies station sort of way. With more production and a little polish they could sound like Bruce Springsteen. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen. –Bob Cantu (In The Red)


REAGAN SS:
Hail the New Dawn: 7”
No, hater, it’s not an interpretive 7” of the Skrewdriver album of the same name. It’s lights-out, anger-eyed, hammer-thrown-to-kneecap, ulcer-throated pugilist LA hardcore that seems to end mere seconds after it starts, wanting all yuppies and trust funders dead on contact. You get war on a both sides, but on the B-side, there’s a picture of cute kid, Henry, with a shampoo mohawk. Highly recommended. Not a wasted note, no fucking around, slowly reclaiming the word “hardcore” back to its original meaning. I picked up two copies. The special cover has a picture of Reagan sodomizing a hermaphrodite Thatcher. Sweet, sweet political blasphemy. –todd (625)


REACHING OUT:
Complete Discography 1998-2000: CD
Two years of youth crew stuff compiled on one disc so you won’t have to spend all your McDonalds money on the original releases. Might be the punk rock generation gap finally rearing its ugly head, but I thought this was pretty lame. Then again, me knowing me the way I do, I would no doubt feel the same if I were fifteen again. –jimmy (Martyr)


RANCID VAT:
The Cheesesteak Years: CD
Pretty typical redneck rock’n’roll here. A genre of music I’m akin to. However, this doesn’t do much for me. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just not that good. There is nothing to reel me in and make me start tapping my feet or bobbing my head. Sounds like a second rate Antiseen. –toby (Steel Cage)


PUGET SOUND:
Self-titled: CD
I commend their successful efforts to stand out from the hardcore hordes by striving for their own “sound,” but I’ve got to admit I ain’t too impressed with that sound as a potential fan. Not to say they aren’t any good or anything, they just don’t get my juices flowing. Put another way, I respect ’em, I applaud ’em, but I just don’t dig ’em. –jimmy (Rejected)


PUFFBALL:
Solid State: 10” EP
I know that I reviewed another Puffball release not too long ago and remember it being not half bad, kinda Hellacopters-ish, kinda Zeke-ish. This EP follows pretty much in the same vein, but I’m betting that the Backyard Babies would win in a street fight against these guys. Then again, Hollywood Hate would come barreling down that street, roaring violently over everyone, leaving both bands a flattened, bloodied afterbirth mess all over the pavement. Whaddya think about that, fuckers? –dale (puffball@malarnet.com)


PRETTY GIRLS, THE:
Self-titled: CD
I thought I was going to hate this when I picked it up, I mean c’mon there’s guys smellin’ flowers on the back! I really like it in doses though. It’s pretty much straightforward Brit pop (even though they’re out of Sacramento.) Heavily reminiscent of Supergrass’ I Should Coco. Definitely worth a listen for fans of Pulp and Blur and such. –megan (Trap Door)


PLANET FOR TEXAS, A:
Sprechen Sie Rock?: CD
This starts out mighty fine – a hopped-up Zeke/Motorhead singalong ditty about truckstop speed, with sweltering breakaparts and neat dynamics – along the lines of what The Reaction put out a couple months back. Pleasant and ferocious enough to warrant a smile. Then, song by song, the band takes bigger nibbles at a big chunk of dry bubblegum; No Use For A Name-reminiscent pop punk or like all Digger albums, except Powerbait. I understand it’s a trick to put toughness and grit into Beach Boys-derived pop punk – the Badtown Boys do exceptionally it well – but A Planet For Texas just don’t stick it. I don’t necessarily hate it, but songs like “The Day I Almost Died” – where the narrator almost ended his “kick ass life” by choking on a fry while driving – come off as too clever and cute and ruin it for me. It’s also a lame idea to have people go to your website for lyrics. That’s what the fuckin’ inside of the cover’s for. Am I wrong? –todd (Diaphragm)


ONE RIVER:
A Breathing Will: 7”
With my first look on the band name, I figured they would be a ‘90s grunge Sub Pop band or modern day emo. But while doing some shopping at Some Strange Music, I was told that I would really like this. I gave it a shot. If I wasn’t told about this, I would have never had bought it. Once the needle dropped, I got slapped back to reality with a burst of thrash that made my eyes water. I need to sit down for this one! The music is so intense from these Japanese masters. Songs blow past my ears like a quick gust of wind that suddenly disappears. The vocals are passionate and screamed to the breaking point. The music encourages and compliments their assault. And all this comes with a well put together package which includes a fold out cover, sticker and even a printed record sleeve. A big thanks to Matt Average for the tip! –don (Revive)


PATTERN, THE:
Real Feelness: CD
File under rock and roll, a la Strokes, Oranges Band, et. al. Not a la Stones, Stooges, etc. I just can’t get into this stuff. I think it’s probably because I’m a big dork and whenever I go to shows like this I always feel like a total punk dork, wearing my beat-up Converse shoes and dirty jeans in a sea of girls wearing lots of makeup and guys wearing expensive shoes. I’m sick of this stuff, big time. If this were a cereal, it’d be Product 19. Adult stuff. –Maddy (Lookout)


ONELINEDRAWING:
Visitor: CD
Basic math for the promotionally impaired: promo CD - liner notes = coaster. –scott (Jade Tree)


NEGATIVES, THE:
Self-titled: 7”
I’m not sure if the Negatives are from Orange County, or if they just sound like they are, but they play that drunken beach punk that fits in perfectly on a Hostage Records comps. They’d be a perfect band to play on a bill with Smogtown or the Smut Peddlers. They’ve learned good lessons from the Crowd, the Adolescents, and TSOL. And, if all this sounds good to you, this three-song seven inch is a good way to introduce yourself to the band. I recommend it. –sean (Noma Beach)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Rock-N-Roll-A-Go-Go Vol. 7: CD
Antiseen, Pulpit Red, Nova Express, and the Nutrajets contribute two songs each to this, which means you get eight tracks of punk-infused rock‘n’roll. –jimmy (Devil Doll)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Obey the Giant Rock’n’Roll Swindle: CD
I wonder what makes me grab something for review sometimes. I just grab stuff pretty blindly and hope I like it. But sometimes you pop something on and you know right away that you don’t want to review it. This is one of those cases. I can’t really justify in my head why I wouldn’t want to review this. The variety of bands are pretty diverse. As a sample, you get the Bouncing Souls, The Hives, The Lawrence Arms, The Suicide Machines, The (International) Noise Conspiracy and the rap/raunch of Peaches. There’s more, but these are the ones that will pull the people into the stores. This is a compilation of bands that is supposed to represent, in music, the street artwork of Shepard Fairey. You might have seen his posters, stickers or stencils spray painted around. I think I’ve seen his shirts. It’s the image of a head staring like Big Brother in 1984 with the word “Obey” at the bottom. From quickly glancing at the enhanced portion of this CD, he is into posting images to provoke thought. Cool stuff and I fully support him. But this just didn’t put my nuts into a twist and make me cry. Hey, I got a review out of this! –don (Fork in Hand)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Lookout! Freakout, Episode 3: CD
I found this sampler of current Lookout! and Panic Button bands to be boring. Sounds like a promo disc that is being sent to college radio programmers to have their bands put on rotation or some major label’s attempt to tell the masses what is going to be the next big thing. –don (Lookout!)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
A Fistful of Rock ‘n’ Roll Vol. 10: CD
Twenty-five bands (including Speedealer, Groovie Ghoulies, Bulemics and others) give you twenty-five tracks of stoner metal, Detroit-inspired Swede rawk, garage punk, and everything in between. Some tracks are pretty good, but on the whole I’m so burned out on the niche that I find it damn hard to even feign interest anymore. Cosmic Ballroom’s “You’re the Man” did get my toes tappin’, though. –jimmy (Devil Doll)


TEMPLARS:
Return of Jacques de Molay: CD
Can’t keep up with all the punk releases that have come out in the last fifteen years. Here is another re-release from another band that I knew was around but never followed. This was originally recorded between 1993-1994. It started out as their second demo, titled 1993. Then some of the tracks were released on Dim Records out of Germany as the original Return of Jacques de Molay. A cassette copy was released in Poland by Carry on Oi! Records. Now it resurfaces with additional tracks from the EP titled Two in One. Most of the tracks were recorded in a garage, but does not come off sounding too thin. I think when this was mastered, the sound was thickened to the maximum. The guitars are still a little thin, but the bass sound is slightly punchy but full to balance things out. You hear the potential, and the songwriting is entertaining to this reviewer. Their mastery of the street punk genre is evident in these recordings and bring to mind the original recordings of the UK oi scene in the early ‘80s. Not professional, but raw and genuine in their approach. I guess I need to see how they sound now and see how much they have progressed. –don (GMM)


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