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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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MICROPHONES, THE:
The Glow, pt. 2: CD
I thought I had never heard the Microphones before, but I’m sure they must have slipped into my ears through the college radio soundwaves. They are the mixture of Bright Eyes, Belle and Sebastian, a little bit of Radiohead, and a pinch of one of those bands you might have seen play at a coffee house in the early nineties (you know, the ones with all the feedback and acoustic guitar). Very poetic. Very sincere. Very intriguing. –Harmonee (K)


PIRX THE PILOT:
Self-titled: CD EP
As I listen to this, I think about what later Government Issue would’ve sounded like if they’d stuck to the thrash beats and stopped taking the anti-depressants. No, I didn’t think it was all that pretty a thought, either. –jimmy (New Disorder)


PSYCHOTIC REACTION:
Red Alert: 7” EP
The first track is weird. It starts off sounding like one of those ‘80s English post-punk bands, then BOOM - thrash part, and then it alternates between the two for the remainder of the song. The same goes for the first track on side two. The other two tracks are a cover of the Subs’ “Warhead” and a song that sounds like it just climbed out of a time machine that just came back from a Los Angeles hardcore gig circa 1985. Weird, but pretty fucking good. –jimmy (www.psychoticreaction.com)


WASTED:
Suppress and Restrain: CD
Imagine Operation Ivy with more oi and no ska. –jimmy (Combat Rock Industry)


VICE SQUAD:
Lavender Hill Mob: CD EP
Never was a big Vice Squad fan, but Beki’s got a strong voice and a firm grasp on language. Unfortunately, these four songs are mostly a sort of post-’77 hard rock that I’ve heard plenty too many times before. –Cuss Baxter (Combat Rock)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Homework #6: US DIY 45s A & B: CD
Another in the series, this one also focuses on DIY “punk” recordings from the late ‘70s/early ‘80s. It features the Alcoholics, A Band, A-Moms, Alter Boys, Atila (known to old L.A. punkers as the hairdresser on Melrose responsible for the “international mohawk.” Who the hell knew he put out a record?), B Team, Basics, Aircuts, B-Lovers, Buddha Collection (a truly brilliant track courtesy of an organ player and an 11-year-old boy), Bizarros, Bunnydrums, Amps, Boom, Belle Star, Baby Flies, Beef People, Ambient Noise (the B-side to their “I Was There at the Texas Chainsaw Massacre” single), Adaptors, Aesthetics, B People, Broncs, American Gorilla (a Child Molesters side band) and Bump Cars. If you don’t find a new band to worship on this disc, there’s something really wrong with you. Maybe you should start listening to Mariah Carey or something. –jimmy (www.hyped2death.com)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Homework #2: DIY Punk 45s R to U: CD
Where the “Hyped to Death” comp series stops short in terms of punk rock genre bending, the label’s “Homework” series picks up and runs riot. Within the grooves (or whatever equivalent to grooves a CD has) of this release lies a hodge-podge of sounds from the US underground, from no wave noodling to pogo punk to “punkwave” to art pop to just plain weirdness, all courtesy of Red Asphalt, the Rentals, the Tracers, S’Nots, Tenant, the Tenants, Story of Failure, Simply Saucer, Tanks, Scientific Americans, Marc Thor, Urge, Skoings, Readymades, Standing Waves, Hugh Beaumont Experience, Realtors, Student Teachers, Social Climbers, Shrapnel, Tikis, Tuff Bunnies, Twilight People, Units, and Unit 3 with Venus, respectively. As with all the label’s other releases, the sound quality and selection are great and, if you like some creativity and variety in your punk, you’ll find more to love than hate here. I hear that other volumes of the series get even weirder, too. –jimmy (www.hyped2death.com)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Bad Teeth #1: UK Punk 77-82: R & S: CD
Ever wonder what the very first Toy Dolls single sounded like? What Billy Bragg was doing before he decided to become punk’s answer to Bob Dylan? What Rubella Ballet sounded like before the goth bug bit them? Well, look no further than this disc. The latest series from the folks at Hyped to Death, Bad Teeth focuses strictly on rare, obscure punk from the United Kingdom. In addition to the aforementioned conversation pieces, the listener is also treated to great tracks from Sema 4, Seize, Razar, Rivals, Surgeons, Russians, Reptiles, Shag Nasty, Rings, Satellites, School Ties, Roses are Red, Skunks, Squad, Stormtrooper, Ruefrex, Spelling Missteaks, Schoolgirl Bitch, Samples, Spitfire Boys, Sister Ray, Sinyx, Six Minute War, Stench, Suspects, Shapes, and Kid Rogers & the Henchmen. Sound quality is top-notch and, unlike so many of other comps covering the same scene and genre, the quality of songs selected is pretty high as well. Recommended. –jimmy (www.hyped2death.com)


STANDING FLAT:
Self-titled: CD
Standing Flat can be correctly categorized as acoustic-tinged highway-travellin’ alternative rock... and there ain’t a damn thing wrong with that, ‘cause this trio of sonically lucid Texans cohesively create pure soul-stirrin’ musical magic that’s intricate, spiritual, and structurally tight... sometimes grungey, somewhat trippy, and forever folksy... robust, ballsy, melancholic, and emotionally straightforward. The vocals are gravelly, powerful, and passionately delivered... the guitars swirl, shimmer, shine, and sparkle with an illustrious otherworldly glow... the soft and lilting orchestral stirrings of the keyboard damn near brought tears to my eyes... the solid well-structured interplay between the bass and drums rhythmically flows together in an impeccable display of tranquil unity. Man, this pristinely produced disc has stimulated and altered my mind to the point of no return... –Roger Moser Jr. (www.standingflat.com)


SKULLS/BETTER DEAD THAN RED:
Nations of Pride: CD
I’ve got a little secret to share with you: Ever wonder why skins are so pissed off? It’s because no one ever took the time to tell them that keeping all your hair off for prolonged periods of time causes your dick to shrivel up until it’s no larger than a cherry pit. It’s true. Just ask your doctor if you don’t believe me. This is the very reason they go around beating people up, engage in blind, patriotic flag-waving and eventually join the Marines to fight in wars started by the rich people they so often profess to despise. Hey, they’ve got to find some way to alleviate all the sexual frustration they’re feeling. Why do you think they call ‘em “boneheads”? Because they’re always thinkin’ about sex. See, bands like the Cockney Rejects, 4 Skins and the Templars are well aware of the dangers of cropping the coif too often and that’s why you’ll see them with follicle noodles on their noggin every now and then. So what’s all this have to do with the bands on this disc, you ask? Well, Better Dead than Red apparently have plenty to be angry about, if you know what I mean, and the Skulls make it patently clear that the problem thrives in Brazil as well. Pity them. –jimmy (Pro Am)


SCREAMING FAT RAT:
Idiomatic Breakdown: CD
Picture Husker Du and sushi and meaty hooks. Then splice in The Clash (especially “White Man in Hammersmith Palais”) and California rolls and shimmering guitars. Cut with immaculate harmonies. Rising suns with snap, crackle, and pop. The lead vocalists sings in a clipped, almost Big Drill Car delivery with humming and driving melodies. The band’s from Tokyo. Their execution’s perfect. Undeniably to their credit, they do make original pop punk (a genre that - as a whole - is as robust and exciting as an uninflated fuck doll right now). I’ll be honest. There’re right up to the teeter totter of being too perfect. Not in a calculated way, but in a way that they studied it very hard and have it down too pat. They’re almost too proficient. They make it sound almost too easy. And maybe because I’m a fan of barely contained rage when I’m served a bowl of punk rock without songs about girlfriends and bubblegum, but I was expecting more of a raw charge. The last song is a loungey dubbed-to-English version of the aforementioned Clash’s “I’m Not Down.” Drop me a line in six months to see if it’s still in my CD rotation. It’s definitely not bad. It just didn’t bomb my head or bowl a strike. –todd (Snuffy Smile)


RED REACTION:
Welcome to the Warzone: LP
Hyper-speed hardcore from a bunch of guys pissed off at everything from bad reviews to backseat singers to the lack of quality violence in post-’80s movies. Oh, to be 15 again... –jimmy (Red Reaction)


PRICKS, THE:
Self-titled: 12”” EP
Before American, before Def Jam, before the Beasties or Slayer, before all that, Rick Rubin was strummin’ away in a combo called the Pricks. F’n hell, Rubin even produced this record, which sounds live with the hollow-sounding vocals and drums. The NY sound of the time owed a lot to Richard Hell and Junkie Thunders, and the Pricks wore those influences proudly on their sleeve. There’s even a bit of the No Wave thing goin’ on in the funkified “Whole Lotta Love” (t’aint the Led Zep song, bro!). –Matt Average (no label, good luck)


OROBOROS:
Self-titled: CD
They’re touting themselves as some neo-tribal melding of world music, electronic and “organic” instrumentation, but this sounds like yer average post-Cocteau goth rock. Not that they’re bad or anything. They’re really good at what they’re doing and I like this a lot. I just don’t get how they’re all that different. Maybe it’s one o’ those things where you gotta go see ‘em. –jimmy (www.crosswinds.net/~oroboros33/)


NOVADRIVER:
Void: CD
This is heavy on the Hawkwind tip, maybe with a little touch of mid-’70s Sabbath thrown in for good measure. Dude, pass the bong, stoner rock lives! –jimmy (Small Stone)


NAILGUN:
Black Amphetamine Dissonance: CD
Low budget metallic hardcore that did zilch for me. –jimmy (www.angelfire.com/indie/nailgun)


MOLEHILL:
Thousand Mile Regret: 12”” EP
The Eyehategod influence is painfully obvious, which ain’t necessarily a bad thing. I imagine a double bill featuring the two of ‘em would lead to a sudden increase in the suicide rate, though. Screamy-guy sludge metal that is just as good as their last album and, seeing as I dig this shit, I’m stoked. Sabbath who? –jimmy (Satan’s Pimp)


MANU CHAO:
…Proxima Estacion…Esperanza: CD
Manu Chao’s Clandestino was one of those totally unique, knock-you-out-of-your-seat albums that just blew me away – I’d never heard anything like it before, nor have I since – so I was very curious to see what he’d do for the followup: where would he develop the one-of-a-kind sound he established on his first solo album? Well, I have to admit to some disappointment with …Proxima Estacion…Esperanza as a followup – the sound actually hasn’t developed much at all, because in a few cases it’s exactly the same music! That’s right, a few tracks from Clandestino have had new lyrics and vocals slapped on them, and the result is, well, still pretty good, honestly, but it’s still a letdown to me. Essentially rather than a totally new album I see this as Clandestino Vol. 2, which is still cool with me but not what I was hoping for at all. –Aaron J. Poehler (Virgin)


LOU REED:
Metal Machine Music: CD
Chances are that there’s less than .001% of you out there that are going to give a flying fuck about this release, but I’m gonna give it a shot anyway. This is a 25th anniversary reissue of the most hated/misunderstood/unlistenable (take your pick) album ever put out on a major label. Contains no hooks, no beat, no vocals, and no songs. Just sixty-plus minutes of layer upon layer of pure feedback mayhem creating an apocalyptic industrial roar. A seminal release that inspired such stalwarts as SPK, Throbbing Gristle, and damn near every artist in the Industrial Culture Handbook. An essential album that’s not for the faint-hearted. –Tim From Pomona (Buddha/BMG)


LEFTOVER CRACK:
Mediocre Generica: CD
Liked the first and 11th songs, but hated everything between and after. The ska crap was especially annoying. –jimmy (Hellcat)


KONTRAKLASSE:
Demo: Tape
This got passed to me from my brother and he told me that it was a mutual acquaintance’s new band. I get in snobby moods from time to time. Demo tapes, because of their mainly low quality recordings, I usually pass on. Since this is a guy I had partied and gone to gigs with over 10 years ago, I would give it a listen. I was blown away. I was really in the mood for some crusty dis-core. The formula that Discharge created over 20 years ago still holds its energy. The recording was full and powerful. Four pummeling, charged songs with thought-provoking lyrics. I want to join this band even though I can’t dress the part. Makes me want to go out and put soap or Knox gelatin in my hair to spike it up. I’m going to dig through my garage r my leather jacket and see if I can still fit in my bondage pants after all these years. –don (No address listed)


JUDAH JOHNSON:
Self-titled: CD
Reviewing rule number one: if the disc is covered with photos that are out of focus, the odds are that it blows goats. This disc is not an exception to that rule. –jimmy (www.flameshovel.com)


IGGY POP:
Beat Em Up: CD
There are some people who, when the subject of Iggy Pop is brought up, complain incessantly about how his old stuff was better, nothing since the Stooges is all that good, and blah, blah, blah (note “clever” rock journalist pun – that’s why they pay me the big bucks, kiddies) until you realize they haven’t actually listened to Iggy’s stuff for ten years and their copies of the Stooges’ records have a layer of dust an inch thick, while they spin some new pop-hip-hop dance-electronic bullshit. Y’know what? Fuck all those people. They can just die. Choke on that trendy bullshit. Iggy’s new album does it for me, and it’s one of his most flat-out hard rock’n’roll albums since… okay, yes, since the Stooges broke up, fine, and it definitely has a lot more of that Funhouse live-in-the-studio feel than say, Brick By Brick. Ever since seeing him play with Iggy on a live video, I’ve though Whitey Kirst could be Iggy’s Zakk Wylde (not his Randy Rhoads, that’d be James Williamson) – he’s a solid rock guitar player, and the track featuring him on “Naughty Little Doggie” was far and away the most rockin’. Here Whitey plays on the whole album and the result is some of the best straight-ahead guitar rock I’ve heard since the last Rollins Band album. This ain’t rocket science, it’s rock’n’roll, and thank fucking god someone’s around to show ‘em how it’s done. Otherwise they’ve got little alternative than to start thinking this techno-programmed shit is actually real music and then that’s the ballgame. –Aaron J. Poehler (Virgin)


GOVERNMENT SATIRE/DEFIANT TRESSPASS:
Split: CD
Government: run-of-the-mill peacenik crustcore that has all the necessary trappings (screamed male/female vocals, pc politics) yet still seems to ring a little...umm...fake. More succinctly, they sound about as real as any one of those Doors tribute bands. Defiant: More of the same, a little better, but cheesy lyrics bring ‘em right back down into the gutter. I guess this is the end result of the musical equivalent of taking an original and Xeroxing it over and over and over until the quality of your copies is so bad that you can no longer see what the original was about. Whatever. –jimmy (Square of Opposition)


DIOS HASTIO / THE FUTURES:
split: 7” EP
You can’t miss with the pairing on this split! We’re talking two scorching hardcore bands from Peru and Japan. I was totally floored with Dios Hastio from their split with Autonomia, and they continue to steamroll and destroy on this as well! No frills, politically charged hardcore that lays it on the line. The anger and passion comes through loud and clear in the recording. The Futures... Whew! Grab something and hold on tight when you play their records. The opening guitar screeches of “Body Solid” let you know you’re in for a great listen of reckless abandon. Quick blasts with discordant noises throughout and a catchy side mixed in with all the white knuckled speed. Easily one of the best bands around. Someone needs to bring these bands over here for the American audiences. –Matt Average (Answer)


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