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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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ICEPICK REVIVAL:
Distress Signal: CD
Three songs of noise/metal, maxing out at twenty minutes. Few bands are capable of pulling something like this off. This ain’t one of ‘em. –jimmy (At A Loss)


GRRRLSCOUTS, THE:
Tonight!: CD EP
Is this Screeching Weasel? All-boy band named the Grrrlscouts. You be the judge. –Miss Sarah A. Stierc (Mutant Pop)


GOOD RIDDANCE/KILL YOUR IDOLS:
Split: CD EP
Good Riddance: A band I normally loathe clocks in with some surprisingly good tunes. They’ve apparently toned down the “pop” quotient of their music and kicked up the “core” a notch, giving what usually sounded like watered down radio-friendly crap a good kick in the ass. Nice work. Kill Your Idols: Three pretty good tracks from a hardcore band I’d only heard of before. All tracks by both bands are exclusive to this release, so if you’re a fan, you might wanna pick this up –jimmy (Jade Tree)


FANTASY FOUR, THE/JULIA SETS:
The Bert Dax Cavalcade of Stars Travelling Road Show: Split CDEP
Each band gets three tracks to show their stuff: Maplewood, Missouri’s Fantasy Four is a dual-female vocal tuneful indie-pop guitar band whose “Hometown Rockstar” is the clear standout of their three raw tracks. Not too far off from a nascent Chubbies, or maybe Scrawl twenty years ago. A good start. St. Louis band Julia Sets’ cuts are more polished, smoother and prettier despite having male vocals – a bit more “mature,” I suppose, but less attractive in their drama and measured choices than Fantasy Four, who sound freer and definitely less pretentious. Kind of along the lines of Pinetop Seven, and I definitely get the feeling someone in this band has math-rock discs in their collection. I think Julia Sets kind of misses the spirit of the split release by having one of their three tracks last for over nine minutes – nearly as long as the other five songs put together! Between the two bands, I have to say I’d much rather see Fantasy Four, but neither band has anything to be ashamed of here. –Aaron J. Poehler (The Bert Dax Cavalcade of Stars)


EXPLOITED:
Troops of Tomorrow: CD
The group’s second album, considered by many to be their greatest, although I’ve always been more partial to their first, Punk’s Not Dead. Included with this pressing are tracks culled from various singles and a full color “poster” of the album’s artwork. Thankfully, Captain Oi! had the suss not to include lyric sheets with any of the three re-releases they’ve just put out. The Exploited were always one of those bands that were better musically rather than lyrically. –jimmy (Captain Oi!)


EXPLOITED:
Punk’s Not Dead: CD
A repress of this infamous band’s debut album, with a bunch of bonus tracks from assorted singles. 90% of their classic material can be found here, including the title track, “Blown to Bits,” “Sex & Violence,” “Cop Cars,” “Mucky Pup,” “Fuck the Mods,” and “Dead Cities,” to name a few. The fact that it’s been fourteen years since I last saw this band and nearly nineteen since I first heard this release are two very bitter pills for me to swallow, though their music still makes me feel like kicking someone’s teeth in. God, I feel fucking old and I haven’t even reached “middle age” yet. –jimmy (Captain Oi!)


ELECTRELANE:
Rock It to the Moon: CD
This is not techno. Nor could it technically be categorized as electronica. This is what I think might be playing if ever there was to ever be any sort of riot grrrl rave. It’s not always fast. Sometimes it sounds sort of French-electri-loungey, like Air. But more like a soundtrack to a foreign film. Sometimes reminiscent of Slant 6, but sometimes like ghastly surf rock electronica. Does that make sense? Well, as confusing as that may sound, it’s really good. A little mellow throughout, but it jumps around a little here and there. I would like to officially dub this music “Digi-girl”! –Harmonee (Mr. Lady)


DYNAMO SKA:
The Street Belongs to Us: CDEP
I’m glad that the last wave of ska has passed us now. It weeded out those who were only in it to make it. It got to the point that I couldn’t even listen to the genre. Now being away from it, I can listen to it again. I’m guessing that this band hails from Germany. The title track is their rant against stupid nazi skins and racism in general. A ska cover of “If the Kids are United” and another original. Pretty damn enjoyable in my book. –don (Black Butcher)


DREXEL:
Whatever Whenever: CD
More lame, poseur emo/pop/hardcore. Epitaph is gonna cream their jeans when they hear this. –jimmy (Drexel)


DOWNWAY:
Defeat Songs: CD
Envision what you would picture as the Fat or Epitaph sound. The overly generic sound that most people characterize with those labels. Picture in your head? Do you hear it? This is what you would picture hearing in the background of a snowboard, skate, wakeboarding or surfing video. Russ from Good Riddance produced this and, for me, it didn’t help. I skipped ahead to the Cheap Trick cover of “Surrender” and was saved for a moment. Still doesn’t top Big Drill Car’s cover of the same song but still is quite good for a cover. Average melodicore. –don (Sessions)


DISHES, THE:
1-2: CD
I can’t wait to see where these chicks end up. Four girls. Two guitars, bass and drums. Nothing too incredibly special, but the key word is yet. The music is happy and keeps up a good, steady rhythm. The melodies are sweet and the vocals are raw but not coarse. I could see them easily playing a show with the Pinkz and the Eyeliners. This is a good record to check out. You can hear their potential in every riff. Not to say that this is bad by any means. The energy and emotion is there. I look forward to picking up maybe two albums from this one. I’ll still dance around and clean my apartment to 1-2. –Harmonee (No. 89)


DISASTER STRIKES:
Self-titled: CD
Cross MDC with bands like Aus Rotten, React, and The Pist. Disaster Strikes crank out politically minded hardcore that draws from a variety of styles of the genre, from dual vocal delivery, Dead Kennedys-esque instrumentation on some songs, to Rollins style spoken/ vocal delivery. “Enter the Human Race” is my favorite song here with its wound-up, nervous pacing. –Matt Average (Rodent Popsicle)


DIESELBOY/DIVIT:
Double Letter Score: split CD
Good Christ! A cover of “Livin’La Vida Loca?” Is the apocalypse near? Should I even listen to this? What were they thinking? After I took a couple deep breaths and a few beers, I popped this in (being the dedicated and objective reviewer I am [aka: drunken fool]). Typical pop rock here. Nothing too interesting. The music just kinda maintains the same rhythm and never tries to change it up. This makes for a boring listen. The lyrics are fairly dull too. Diesel Boy was okay when they first started out. They had a little wit to them and had some catchy songs, but now they sound like they are just going through the motions. Not to mention starving for material. Ricky Martin?! Divit sounds pretty much like Diesel Boy. Pop this in and you won’t notice the band change. I haven’t heard Divit before this but if you like your punk very poppy, check out Diesel Boy’s Cock Rock CD. It’s a bit more palatable. –toby (Coldfront)


DESAPARECIDOS:
Read Music Speak Spanish: CD
Started off as emo-tinged college pop and got progressively more emo-tinged and progressively worse. You’d also figure that with a title like that, they’d at least do so, but no. –jimmy (Saddle Creek)


DEEP REDUCTION:
2: CD
Two former members of Radio Birdman deliver some solid punk rock, blues, and little psychedelia. The results are strong for the most part and the listener can definitely hear the Birdman’s glory shining through. Recommended. –jimmy (Get Hip)


DED BUGS:
Planet of Blood: CD
Ramonesy punk rock’n’roll that’s more like early Sloppy Seconds than the Queers. Their songs are catchy and fun to listen to, which is a definite plus and, at twenty-two minutes, the experience is relatively brief if it ain’t your bag. –jimmy (Ded Bugs)


DEAD EMPTY:
Blame Luck, Blame Fate: 10” EP
This limited-edition (mine’s #342 of 1000) 10-inch skull-rattler sonically screamed outta my stereo speakers like a hot-wired fully-revved car-crushin’ monster truck tearing through tons of tangled metal heaps of scrap-iron auto remains in an overly cluttered junkyard in Detroit. Whooo-doggy yeh, Dead Empty boisterously blaze along like a full-force musical hurricane unleashing a thundering torrent of all-out snarlin’ punk’n’roll ferocity. It’s a snotty, rampaging, flesh-scorchin’ cacophony somewhat comparable to the Nobodys brawling with Motorhead in a stench-filled, trash-strewn back-alley of Hell. Absolutely one of the most intense auditory experiences to ever violate my ears! –Roger Moser Jr. (Cyclone/ Reality Clash)


DEADBOLT:
One Day I Will Kill You b/w Rockabilly Funeral: 7”
Released on Denmark’s Ewing Records, this record includes “One Day I Will Kill You” (from the new Hobo Babylon CD) and a dark humor tale titled “Rockabilly Funeral.” On first listen, “Rockabilly Funeral” seems to be about an undertaker who consistently escorts a despondent Betty to her customized car on mornings he finds her crying at a grave, presumably that of her lover who probably died playing chicken. Yes, I imagined the chicken bit, but poking fun keeps me entertained. –RumbleStripper (Ewing)


CUT:
Will You Die 4 Me?: CD
An Italian band, playing rock’n’roll, both male and female vocals singing in not-too-accented English – they’ve got the spirit, derived from such touchstones as the MC5 and X (the obvious comparison). This is the kind of album that makes you say, “Damn, I bet they’d put on a great show” on the first listen, and hey, let’s face it, I know plenty of guys who’d pay the admission fee to see the band just to get an up-close-and-personal view of singer Elena Skoko, a photo of whose (clothed) crotch is prominently featured on the cover of Will You Die 4 Me. “Sugar Babe,” which was probably my favorite cut from the album is available as a free mp3 download at http://www.gammapop.com/listen.htm. If you’re into it, you should definitely consider the great foldout CD insert as incentive to pick up the whole CD. And, uh, the other tunes too. –Aaron J. Poehler (Gamma Pop)


CONCRETE BLONDE:
Group Therapy: CD
Here is something that I had great anticipation for and at the same time great apprehension for. They were favorites of my wife and I for a long time. Many times we went to go see them because they were an incredible band. They did their last hurrah with Mexican Moon that came out, I think, around 1993 and shortly thereafter broke up. My opinion was that the timing was right since that album was uneven and unfocused. It took me awhile to actually listen to this because I was ready to be disappointed. I had heard others tell me that this was not good. I waited ‘till now, as I write, to listen and hear for myself what this reunion would sound like. I’m glad I waited a while before listening because it took the biased opinion out of me. I disagree with the others on this release. I find this more of a mature recording; brooding and edgy as once before. It reminds me of the darker moments of 1990’s Bloodletting. Johnette Napolitano’s vocals are as strong as ever and still put chills down my spine at moments. James Mankey’s guitar playing has continued to improve while still painting a emotive aura around the music. If Harry Rushakoff was not included as the drummer, it would have made the whole reunion pointless. The magic the three have created here is a good sign that the infighting and turmoil no longer exists. The songs are focused and made me, as a fan of theirs, regain faith in them again. –don (Manifesto)


CHARGERS STREET GANG, THE:
Holy the Bop Apocalypse: CD
Snotty, trashy, little Stooges here, a little Dead Boys there, sloppy punk rock. Good, but nothing here really sets them apart from the pack. –jimmy (Get Hip)


CAVITY:
On the Lam: CD
More sludgy, strangled vocal Sabbath worship from Florida. Eyehategod fans rejoice. –jimmy (Hydrahead)


CANCER CONSPIRACY, THE:
The Audio Medium: CD
Instrumentals, some as long as twelve minutes and some as short as two minutes. I don’t get it or care to. –don (Big Wheel Recreation)


BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE, THE:
Braveryrepetitionandnoise: CD
I popped this into the player to give it another listen directly following listening to two discs worth of Syd Barrett bootlegs; ten minutes later I’d completely forgotten changing the disc and had to remind myself I was, in fact, now listening to the Brian Jonestown Massacre and not some long-lost early Pink Floyd rarities – that should give you some idea of the territory BJM traverses. A bit of the Cure creeps in, most prominently on “Open Heart Surgery,” but overall BJM seems to be getting slightly less derivative of their psychedelic forefathers and developing a bit more of an identifiable BJM sound that’s more than just “What if Brian Jones was in early Pink Floyd?” It’s still hard to resist characterizing them as the American version of Spiritualized, though: both “groups” (which are really collectives surrounding one person) pillage their sixties vinyl collections with mad abandon, crossbreeding different strains of the rock music of thirty years ago as if the intervening years had never happened, barring only the occasional jarring nod to some seventies or eighties band (or, in the case of this BJM CD, the sampled sound of a modem connecting). Usually when I’m in the mood for this kind of thing I tend to go back to my own old discs rather than their modern derivatives, but then music made by BJM shows there’s some life left in the genre. And hey, how many times can you listen to The Piper at the Gates of Dawn or The Madcap Laughs anyway? (Answer: it depends on how much acid you took and whether or not you left the CD player on “repeat play” beforehand.) –Aaron J. Poehler (Bomp)


BRAINDANCE:
Last Will: CD
This is their goodbye to the scene in which they say that they are tired of fighting to get gigs in the UK and letting others make money off of them. Our loss since they were one of the better street punk bands that were around. Ten years is pretty good for most bands. By looking at their discography, they put out many a release. I only have one other record by them and it was a keeper. Too bad. –don (Combat Rock)


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