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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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AMBITIOUS CAREER WOMEN:
3 song: CD
Complicated Seattle nerd rock so chock-full of dynamics that it’s a regular science fair, as judged by No Means No (if they had anger). –Cuss Baxter (www.ambitiouscareerwoman.com)


AMBITION MISSION:
Self-titled: CD
Hardcore punk that’s big and blustery in a Dillinger 4 kinda way, but just ain’t impressing me in the same way that band does. Their cover of “Amerikan in Me” was relatively painless. On the whole not sucky, just not particularly memorable. Maybe next time. –jimmy (Government Music)


4-SKINS:
The Secret Life of...: CD
A rarities collection with odds and ends and two new versions of old songs by a former singer’s new band. Aside from the fact that the radio sessions render deciphering what the hell’s being said possible, there’s really no point to this for anyone outside their more dedicated fans. –jimmy (Captain Oi!)


BEAUTYS, THE:
Thing of Beauty: CD
You have to love an album that starts with the line "Jesus hates you." The Beautys are so much more than that, though. Chica Baby has one of those all-too-rare-in-punk-rock voices that's tuneful and clear and would be kind of pretty if you didn't get the feeling that she'd kick your ass for calling her voice pretty. The same goes for her guitar - clean licks reminiscent of Buddy Holly and Link Wray that sound almost pretty while they kick your ass. The song-writing is tough and sometimes funny. The rhythm section is solid. The album even has two pretty cool instrumental songs. As a whole, the Beautys are still playing exactly the kind of rock'n'roll songs they started out playing in their first album, "Liquor Pig." They're just getting better at it. –sean (Cheetah's)


BEAUTYS, THE:
Thing of Beauty: CD
On their third CD release this Fort Wayne, Indiana trio bring us more mid-western tales of drunkenness and cruelty you can pogo to. As usual for this bunch, the titles say it all with modern punk masterpieces like "Hello Floor," "What Drugs?" and "All Fucked Down." Chica Baby has evolved into a really great punk rock singer/guitarist and her rhythm section is equal to the task. Thing of beauty, indeed. –Bob Cantu (Cheetah's)


FLAMIN:
Unreconstructed: Split CD
I think the first band was named after a medical condition you get after you eat Taco Bell with their packets of fire sauce (which, by the way, is well worth the pain). Flamin’ Anus sound an awful lot like old AFI. You know, the band that used to be a punk band till the lead singer had some identity crisis and did LSD while fucking a goth chick, or something like that. Well, this sounds like the good AFI from their first two albums with a touch more rock’n’roll to it. The singer, Charley Smith, sounds almost exactly like the confused Mr. Havok. Hell, they even have a song called “Identity Crisis.” My suggestion would be to have the singer from Anus and the musicians from AFI get together and pick up where Very Proud of Ya left off. Enough of that. The second band, Hybrid Mutants, are pretty different. They have a kinda southern rock’n’roll punk sound to them. Light on the southern but it’s there. Not a bad sound. Kinda like Nashville Pussy with a little Stool Sample mixed in. They are a little disappointing on their cover of “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” You can actually understand every single word clearly. Whatkindacrap?! Anyway, the two bands offer a decent contrast to each others sound. You get 7 songs a piece. It’s worth checking out for the Flamin’Anus/AFI comparison. –toby (Transparent)


HIVES, THE:
Hate To Say I Told You So: CDEP
This is simply a three-song CD. The first two are from The Hives latest full length, Veni Vidi Vicious. If you have not had the pleasure of listening to them, they are a retro rock’n’roll band. They remind me somewhat of The Stooges. The third song is a previously unreleased track. It is a forgettable instrumental with a synthesizer thrown in giving it a little ‘80s new wave feel. I wouldn’t waste your time with this three-song CD and go pick up one of The Hives’ full lengths. I’ve heard three other CDs from them and they are all worth getting. –toby (Gearhead)


SKABS, THE:
Aged to Perfection: CD
Upon first initial listen, I abruptly concluded that this is nothin’ more than insipid goth/electronic idiocy. Halfway through my second and final audial excursion into this never-ending swirl of sonic sludge, I drunkenly decided I’ll have not one minute more of it. Although a couple of the dark’n’decadent ditties contained herein gradually grew on me like a cancerous pus-oozing lesion, I found the overwhelming majority of this dastardly disc to be absolutely tedious. An aurally torturous endeavor, indeed! It sickeningly sounds like the unmitigated worst of dance-mix Siouxsie & The Banshees with shrill ear-splittin’ Dinah Cancer-style vocals and cartoonish Halloween Bauhaus overtones (actually, the devilish vixen vocalist is at times eerily reminiscent of a transvestite PIL-era John Lydon, angrily pronunciating the lyrics with venomously impassioned sarcasm). I dunno, maybe my ears just aren’t accustomed to such demonic non-musical sadism. Next stop, Hades Au-Go-Go... –Roger Moser Jr. (no address given)


UNSEEN, THE:
The Anger and the Truth: CD
Sometimes I think I’m just getting old, and this happens to be one of those times. See, this ain’t necessarily bad hardcore, per se, but it’s just doing jack shit for me. I feel no urge to get up outta my chair, let alone kick a cop’s teeth in, which is always the standard by which I measure things. More simply, if I wanna beat someone up seven seconds into the first song, it’s some pretty good stuff. If I actually get up and do it, it’s a keeper. As I said, this ain’t exactly bad, but comparing this to, say, early JFA or even the Stretchmarks is kinda like comparing Dokken to Motorhead, meaning there is no real comparison. The weak metal chugga chugga stuff didn’t help matters much, either. Now I gotta get up and break out my Spontaneous Disgust tuneage so I can shake off this age-onset jadedness and get back to feelin’ like myself again. –jimmy (BYO)


VIVISICK:
Punks Were Made Before Sounds: 7”
I love how the Japanese interpret the English language. When it gets translated it comes out all screwy. Besides that, this is a releases that you can count on. I have a strong belief that most Japanese bands practice more before they go into the studio. Everything is so tight even though they are trying to play sloppy. This bands hails from Tokyo, Japan and deliver eight fierce and heart-stopping tunes that is unrelenting in their attack. They mix it up but don’t slow down to keep the energy alive. Comparisons can be made from the large list of influential bands from Japan that were around in the ‘80s and ‘90s. This release and band can stand on their own here. If speed is in your blood and you are a fan of Japanese thrash, this is another item for your consumption. Someone slap me. I’ve been knocked out cold by this. –gary (Sound Pollution)


PULLEY:
Together Again for the First Time: CD
What is up with Epitaph? Have they gotten too big to send a promo that is a full packaged product? It’s bad enough that the postage rates around the world have gotten super expensive that many labels aren’t sending the releases in a jewel case. They sent me a release with a blank CD and a generic Epitaph cardstock cover that is labeled with a laser label. I hope that they know that most music reviewers for zines are regular fans and we like to have the total package. I don’t mind buying a jewel case, but when I can’t actually read something while I’m listening to it, it takes away from the experience. That point aside, I have a soft spot for Pulley. So far, the three previous releases I have enjoyed. I used to hang out with Scott, the singer, about 15 years ago when he sang for Scared Straight and was still in high school. But I slowed down on how often I would go to shows and he went to play major league baseball and went on to singing for Ten Foot Pole. My opinion on this is that this is more of a mature release for them. It is more mid-tempo and more focused on musicianship. I can’t tell you about the lyrics since I have nothing. But I know from the past that the lyrics are generally well thought out and come across the same here. For fans of Pulley, they will continue to support them. For those new to punk, this is good release to get if you are not into the more aggressive genres of the music. I like it, but what does that count for? –don (Epitaph)


DOOMBUGGY:
Blow Your Soul: CD
Doombuggy have flawlessly constructed the ultimate high-voltage power-rock release with the ear-crumplin’ audial wonder that is Blow Your Soul. It’s hard-rockin’ yet melodious, primal yet well-polished, aggressive and intimidating yet smooth, impeccable, and solidly structured. The boyish barroom-brawlin’ vocals, crunchy powerchord-driven guitar rhythms, solar flare eruptions of soaring skin-tinglin’ leads, monstrous spine-snappin’ bass rumblings, and thunder-hoofed herd of buckin’ bronco drum-bashin’ frenzy all add up to one helluva skull-crackin’ wallop of road-travellin’ rock’n’roll rowdiness. It’s as if The Who, MC5, Cheap Trick, D-Generation, and a meaner leaner Matthew Sweet were vigorously swallowed whole by Godzilla and then gruffly regurgitated in a fiery fit of full surround-sound fury. Man oh man, Doombuggy sure know how to plug it in, crank it up, and robustly blast the shingles off the roof! This is cacophonously beyond compare... –Roger Moser Jr. (P22/Atom Smash)


ARAB ON RADAR:
Yahweh or the Highway: CD
Noisy, exhaustive, caustic, and a sure way to piss off the neighbors, if it doesn’t piss off the listener first. Think Flipper, Suicide, Men’s Recovery Project; disjointed jangles that break off like knife points in a stiff corpse of songs; guitars that come like meteor showers and clang like empty cans or squeal like raped cats. It takes a special type of listener. When I’m so angry I can’t think, this stuff works very well. When I’m in traffic and can’t afford my mellow to be harshed, it’s a bad, bad idea to put on. The lyrics are a hoot, though, and are pretty much all about sex. (“Sometimes I just gotta jerk off/ my nuts are a pressure cooker” and “I told her I don’t like the way her pussy tastes and she said ‘sush’ as she sat on my face” are two random samples.) The album constantly made me grit my teeth and get my jaw all sore. Not for everybody. As a matter of fact, not for a lot of people, but if you like your music not necessarily pissed off, but will make you a fucking angry hornet, here you go. Have to give ‘em points for not being emo. –todd (Skin Graft)


HI-STANDARD:
Love Is a Battlefield: CDEP
I was very scared when I saw this because I thought I was going to have to listen to a cover of that terrible Pat Benetar song. To my relief, it wasn’t on this disc. Hi-Standard is what I like to describe as a Fat Wreck band with the typical Fat Wreck sound. You all know what I’m talking about. Thank goodness they are starting to change that. However, Hi-Standard is not. Very Fat pop punk here. Not bad, but not good either. Kinda okay for background music. Why does everyone insist on covering “Can’t Help Falling in Love”? Jesus Christ! –toby (Fat)


JERSEY:
Definition: CD
Post-emo rock‘n’roll that’s trying desperately to have that “anthemic” quality that’s missing from so much of what’s passing for punk rock these days. Shoulda come with a complimentary barf bag instead. –jimmy (Fueled by Ramen)


PCP ROADBLOCK:
Sporting Goods World War III: CD
Mid-tempo to dirge speed noisecore. If you really wanna get outta that long lease on your apartment, you can’t go wrong with this puppy blasting through your speakers. –jimmy (Wet Tail)


SHANNONWRIGHT:
Dyed in the Wool: CD
This is a soft, lilting, well-orchestrated musical marvel that’s celestial and brightly sparkling but dark, pained, and morosely dismal as well. It’s sonically sparse, yet intricately detailed, a soul-soothing, spiritually moving collage of sweet swirling-in-the-breeze songs richly laden with the deepest of heart-wrenching emotion. ShannonWright is a uniquely gifted vocalist/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist who’s illustriously comparable to PJ Harvey, an all-acoustic Siouxsie, and a female impersonator Nick Drake. She’s absolutely the most articulate composer since Ludwig van Beethoven or, at the very least, Lennon and McCartney. Damn, I’m gettin’ all gooey and fuzzy on the inside, ‘cause my ears are irreversibly transfixed, dazzled, hypnotized, and deeply in love with the seductively bewitching sounds of Dyed In The Wool. –Roger Moser Jr. (Quarterstick)


STILETTO BOYS:
A Company of Wolves: CD
Very nice power pop, not far afield of the Fastbacks, though without the sweet girlvox. –Cuss Baxter (Pelado)


STAYGOLD:
Self-titled: EP
I guess this is more of the “modern-hardcore” thing. I say this because the playing is not as urgent or desperate and pissed as the more traditional hardcore bands are. Really clean sounding, and it seems these guys really know how to play their instruments. Sort of like a more tuneful Undertow, with a slight rock edge. It’s a wonder these guys haven’t been picked up by Revelation or Bridge Nine yet. –Matt Average (Anchor)


CLAP, THE:
Don’t Say No: EP
Despite being from the US circa ‘81, they sound more like they were from England ‘78. This EP combines their two singles. Imagine a cross between 999 and The Vibrators. Good, but nothing special. –Matt Average (Bacchus Archives/Dionysus)


NUKE:
Your Romeo: CDEP
Yawn, yawn, yawn. This is meaningless pop-punk mundanity. It’s a bigtime sonic snooze-fest from start to finish. The vocals are flatter than a dried-up old strip of dirt in Death Valley, and the instrumentation is as cohesive as my next upcoming bout of strained flatulence. I’d rather drink my own piss than listen to a moment more of this moronic melody-mush mediocrity. Hell, at least my brew-saturated wee-wee has substance! –Roger Moser Jr. (Mutant Pop)


SHINER:
The Egg: CD
About eight years ago these guys could have been all over the radio. “Alterna-rock” for lack of a better term. Sort of like Juno crossed with Foo Fighters. Not bad, but nothing to go crazy over. –Matt Average (DeSoto)


SOUTHPORT / LONGBALL TO NO-ONE:
Split: 7”
Southport: Reminded me of Snuff. Enjoyable and melodic with a raw production that added to the feel. Longball to No-One has an emo sound to it with cryptic English lyrics. I’m assuming this is the Japanese band of the two because the lyrics make no sense to me. –don (Snuffy Smile)


STUPOR STARS, THE:
Self-titled: 3 song: 7”
Three chunks of non-terrible Dead Boys type rock’n’roll that is good. –Cuss Baxter (Pelado)


WATCH IT BURN:
Radio Pollution: CD
Although they could rightfully be accused of standing a wee bit too close to Hot Water Music’s ring of fire (the bass tone, the dual vocals, the massive hemorrhaging of instruments into break-off vistas), Watch It Burn tweak the nipples and knobs and make their own music react in slightly new and enjoyable ways. They play so well and deliver with such conviction, that I bet if they steered out of the deep ruts of their influences they’d discover a hugely powerful sound they could brand as their own. As it stands, this CD really is very listenable, enjoyable, the title track is downright amazing (Led can sing), and I pop it on quite a bit, but I wouldn’t call it essential. It’s close. Some songs like “Mid July,” you’d have to be dead not to have the feet a-tappin’. My suggestion is simple, yet difficult. They need to make their own claim, and pay attention to music that hasn’t recently been corralled. Then cattle prod the whole deal, and (nyuk, nyuk), watch it burn. –todd (Rise)


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