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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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STRAIGHTFACED:
Pulling Teeth: CD
If I were in Helmet, I'd sue these guys back into the Stone Age. –jimmy (Epitaph, 2798 Sunset Blvd., LA, CA 90026)


SOLAR SATURDAY, THE:
The Solar Saturday: EP
Kinda garage/lounge/indie. The keyboardist from Papas Fritas is in the band so it does sound a bit like them. Definitely Silverlake lounge-able for those of you in the LA area and know where I'm talking about. If you're not fond of bands who bear tambourines, then you might not like Solar Saturday. –Harmonee (Nearby Music, PO Box 441448, Somerville, MA 02144)


SMUT PEDDLERS:
Bipolar Girl: 7" EP
Tickle me pink and tattoo a skull on my throat. This is good. When I'd cordoned off the Smut Peddlers to the playground of The Dwarves and GG Allin camp of white trash punk, comes this slab of wax. The playing has always been powerful (shit, with Roger Ramjet (X-Members, Pushers, ADZ) skinning his guitar, leading the attack) and with Julia's drumming and Gish's bass, the music's been as tight as a liposuctioned thigh on a soccer mom, but the lyrics seemed - well - a bit dumb. I'm not asking for "Masterpiece Theatre" or anything, but it seemed they were gonna get as complex and deep as shooting speed. Maybe I wasn't listening closely enough before. For example, with the song and main chorus "Let's Get (Fucked Up)" is the inverse of what you're thinking. It's about the travails of a sober guy drinking fizzy apple cider on New Years Eve. And the other two songs complete Polaroid snapshots of Orange County in decline - surfers with Hepatitis C, washed-up construction worker surfers, and being in love with a girl with a bona fide psychological disorder. I'd even go far to say that "Surfer's Grave" is an epic. A surprise. What separates this release from the rest of the Hostage pack? The band's actually smiling on the picture on the insert. –todd (Hostage, PO Box 7736, Huntington Beach, CA 92615)


SMOGTOWN:
Audiophile: 7" EP
The question I find myself presented with is this: How or what makes Smogtown the best at what they do - surf punk? The title track fucking kills and plays along like an air raid siren blasting over a bong-toking beach party. It's the fun, nervous tension that they capture which is so addictive. I can hear echoes of the past of Orange County punk, but those echoes are distant compared to the absolutely fresh scree Smogtown continues to provide. They even tackle and champion an instrumental on this one: "Blackout in Beach City." As with anything that has Smogtown on the cover, you'll be a better person if you buy it. That all said, the cover blows. Sorry, but it looks like someone just learned computer layout, found the emboss filter and had a 45 spool to play with. My only qualm with the band? Tour, you fuckers, tour and the world will be yours. –todd (Hostage, PO Box 7736, Huntington Beach, CA 92615)


SMALL BROWN BIKE:
Dead Reckoning: CD
Small Brown Bike is touring with Leatherface and Hot Water Music now, and that line-up sounds just about right because Small Brown Bike is definitely in the same vein, musically. There's a sense of racing towards the edge of chaos without going off. The sound is very full, and everyone seems to be doing something interesting. The bass guitar is more prevalent in this album than in most rock'n'roll records, but not in a wanking way. Ben Reed has a way of playing bass like it's a drum, filling in spaces between beats. It's very cool and it matches well with the rest of the songs, which all rock. Lyrically, it comes across as the poetry of a melancholy guy in his twenties, which I don't really dig, but when you don't read the lyric sheet, you catch only snippets of pretty poetic lines, and I do dig that. No Idea found a real gem in this band. I'm looking forward to catching them live when they come around. –sean (No Idea, PO Box 14636, Gainesville, FL 32604)


SLIGHT SLAPPERS:
A Selfish World Called Freedom: CD
My band did a split with these guys and it was one of our more popular releases. Fastcore at its finest. Fast, faster and sometimes over the top - manic rage that feels like a power drill is being forced against your temple while you are overdosing on amphetamines. Screaming vocals are flowing over guitar riffs that are so fast that you wonder if it is possible. The drum beats are pounded so fast you wonder if the tape machine was sped up. I sometimes think the bass player must have calluses the size of quarters on his fingers. It's a full release with 20 tracks that barely clocks in just under 21 minutes; short bursts of intense energy that peeks your adrenaline meter to the point of a heart attack and you survive with no side effects. This is the first thing you need to listen to after leaving that shitty job you got stuck in. –don (HG Fact, 105 Nakano Shinbashi-M, 2-7-15 Yayoi-Cho, Nakano, Tokyo164-0013, Japan)


SLIGHT SLAPPERS:
A Selfish World Called Freedom: CD
The band's name is a misnomer, for there is nothing slight about what they do. Their music is the aural equivalent of being repeatedly bitch-slapped with a studded metal fly swatter. This is a seein' stars, turn all the lights off, no relief in sight migraine that no amount of aspirin is gonna help. It's all hyper-speed tempos, over-the top screeching and a "let's go in, kill 'em all and get the fuck out" plan of attack. More succinctly, the title of their opening salvo says it all: "Tokyo Power Violence." –jimmy (HG Fact, 105 Nakano Shinbashi-M, 2-7-15 Yahoi-Cho, Nakano, Tokyo 164-0013 Japan)


SICK BEES:
My Pleasure: CD
This was kind of a harsh listen at first, but I worked it in like a pair of Docs. Sick Bees are a duo (guitar and drums) but they do have bass and some keyboards on the album. This album experiences many attitude changes throughout its entirety. Songs go from light and twangy to harsh and heavy. A clarinet gets some good use. Overall a good listen. –Harmonee (Up, Box 21328, Seattle, WA 98111)


SHORT FUSES:
Get the Hell Down: CD

Sounds like the BellRays with more restraint. A pinch less soul and a dab more metal. Either way, the formula's still the same but the ingredients aren't quite right. Maybe the oven wasn't at the right temp. A few listens and I'm disappointed. –thiringer (Sympathy for the Record Industry)


SCARED OF CHAKA:
Seven Stories Tall: CD
An anthology of sorts, compiling various singles, B-sides, comp tracks and a live set. If you've heard 'em before, you know what you're getting yourself into. If you haven't, picture the Supercharger with a tad more hardcore sensibilities playing pop punk. Pretty good stuff. –jimmy (702, PO Box 204, Reno, NV 89504)


SAIBON:
Number Two: 7" EP
Who the fuck are these guys? This is some righteous fast punkrockdon'tgiveashittearthefuckinghousedown genius! Eight brilliant tracks on this piece of shit disc, every one of them crucial listening matter for anyone even pretending to have a clue. I suggest you buy out the pressing of this and give 'em to all those Blink fans at your school so that they'll know what real punk rock sounds like. –jimmy (Hard On, Jarntorgsgatan 10, 703 61, Orebro, Sweden)


RUMBLESEAT:
Trestles" b/w "Restless: 7"

This is the country side project of Chris and Chuck of Hot Water Music, along with Samantha Jones, that heavily reminds me of Johnny Cash's "Rock Island Line" LP (mostly because it's chock-full of railroad references). It's replete with solemn echoes, poetic vagrants, and souls who have been beaten but not broken accompanied by plaintive vocals and a warm-toned, hollow-body guitar. What keeps it far from sucking is that it's cliche-free, and it trembles out of the speakers as heart-felt. A welcome change of pace. –todd ($3 ppd. to No Idea, PO Box 14636, Gainsville, FL 32604-4636. Rumbleseat, 116 NW 13th St. #141, Gainsville, FL 32604)


RONDELLES, THE:
The Fox: CD
I was a little bit disturbed when I first listened to this CD, for it's a bit different from their last and first (self-titled) album. The first album reminded me of rollerskating rings and comic book reading. It was a little more pop-y and the keyboards were a little more prominent. "The Fox" sounds a little harder, a little more mature. Here's where I have torn feelings. I respect a band who finds maturity with their music, but part of the charm of the Rondelles are their teenage rebelliousness. This album still gives you plenty of room to dance and play your electric air guitar. I guess these CDs are the difference between chocolate cake and brownies. I like one for its light and airy sweetness, but I like another for it's thick, stick-to-the-roof-of-my-mouth gooey goodness. Both are equally as exciting and good, served up fresh and with love by the band we all crave. –Harmonee (Teen Beat, PO Box 3265, Arlington, VA 22203; www.teenbeatrecords.com)


ROCKET 455:
Cross-Eyed: 7"
Rocket 455 raucously roar with robust bowery garagerock trashiness which sent me into a spastic state of all-out foot-stompin' insanity. The duo of deviant ditties contained on this skull-pummelling platter of psychotic sounds fiercely rage with murderous musical madness like there just ain't no tomorrow. It knocked me upside the head with such full-force seething intensity, I'm now permanently brain-damaged, cross-eyed, and imbecilically slobberin' all over myself... wheeeee, what fun! –Roger Moser Jr. (Get Hip, PO Box 666, Canonsburg, PA 15317; http://www.gethip.com or Rocket 455, 5299 Tarnow, Detroit, MI 48210)


RAW POWER:
Trust Me: CD
It's been nigh on 15 years since I last heard anything from this Italian institution and, judging from this release, things haven't changed much. The formula is still metallic guitars married to over-the-top, punishing hardcore. The only noticable difference I'm able to detect is that Mauro's voice has gotten a little raspier over the years. If you like your hardcore pretty mean, you can't go wrong with Raw Power. A word of caution, though. Don't expect eloquent lyrics, because it is sometimes painfully obvious that, although they are able to get their basic point across, their native language is not English. –jimmy (Hello, 100 E. Vine St., Suite 809, Lexington, KY 40507)


RAGGITY ANNE:
Only Square People Think It's Cool to be Cool: CD
Bland pop punk disguised as '60s trash rock. Bastards. –jimmy (Boss Tuneage, PO Box 19550, London, SW1 1FG, UK)


Q AND NOT U:
No Kill No Beep Beep: CD
Kinda heavy on the college rock at times, this disc nevertheless has an edginess that manages to transcend any wimpy pretentiousness that the dreaded "C" word might evoke. Pretty good. –jimmy (Dischord, 3819 Beecher Street, NW Washington, DC 20007)


PROPAGANDHI:
Today: CD
Up to this album, I'd never fully gotten into Propagandhi. Basically, you could read their covers and know exactly what the album was about: gay-positive, animal-friendly, etc. These are views that I essentially agree with, but sentiments I'd heard much more compellingly by the political heavy hitters like Noam Chomsky, Emma Goldman, and Howard Zinn. And when I listened to their albums, Propagandhi was okay. Definitely not as banal lyrically as Face to Face, but the music itself - essentially pop punk - left me neither a fan nor an antagonist of the band. I liked 'em more than Fifteen. Hell, at least they didn't treat their fans like idiots and talk down to them. But I think Moral Crux did a better job asking for a riot while chewing through bubblegum pop songs. Well, with "Today's Empires," that's all changed. This album is fantastic; the lyrics are hyper intelligent, cogent, and literate. The attacks are focused. Their previously ham-fisted platitudes are pocketed for syringe attacks filled with acid that burns onto the small patches of exposed neck of corporate and governmental graft, providing small windows into Propagandhi's very real world of active, perpetual rebellion. The music matches the cacophony and gets about as fast as you can get while retaining a melody. Seething of speedmetal, the entire album sounds like it's surrounded by barbed wire, like these ideas were made in an interment camp or they're already illegal by committing the crime of thought contrary to popularized Disney-fied belief. Whatever happened to them in the last five years since "Less Talk, More Rock," has made me an unabashed fan. –todd (Fat, PO Box 193690, SF, CA 94119-3690)


PROJECT K:
Testing Underway: CD
When PopDefect's demise became inevitable a couple of years ago, drummer Nick Scott said that he would probably fill the void by "joining the Paper Tulips or something." From that notion sprung Project K, a power trio featuring Scott, Tulips' guitarist Greg Kay and bassist Io Perry. As he did with the Tulips, Kay brings a delightfully quirky lilt and skewed poetic vision to the material that makes songs like "Little Things" and "Just One Kiss" darn catchy. Hopefully, this collaboration will last a good long while, too. –Bob Cantu (Bong Load)


POPDEFECT:
R.I.P.: CD
A surfy/thrashy/pop band for twenty debaucherous years, PopDefect takes its final bows with a little pathos, a little bathos and a dash of self-depreciating humor on this full-length album. This release contains new recordings of "Drunken Sailor," "Vena's Revenge," and "Rock in My Hand" that aren't too different from the previously available versions, but it's nice to have them all in one place on what might be the band's finest collection of songs ever. The CD's final cut, "Dirge Overkill," is a song lamenting the last beer at a party that has long run its course as the band finds itself "far from the greatest show on earth" and serves as a moving coda to the band's lengthy career. The keg may have run dry but the memories will last a lunch time. –Bob Cantu (Heart Murmur, PO Box 50602, LA, CA 90050)


PATRIOT:
We the People: CD
Pretty decent American bald boy stuff. Judging from the name of the band, I expected a lot of stupid lyrics brimming with blind patriotism, but that doesn't seem to be the case. There's the usual praising of "street punk" music, drinking, yadda yadda, but the lyrics as a whole are not bad enough to make you cringe. The music itself is well executed and pretty catchy. Not bad. –jimmy (GMM, PO Box 15234, Atlanta, GA 30333)


PAINTBOX:
Earth Ball Sports Tournament: CD
Here is a band that gets better and better. Starting with their self-titled 7" to their CD titled "Singing Shouting Crying" to the earth-shattering "The Door" / "Provided Railroad" 7". The progression from the first to the current amazes me on how much a band can improve and continue to grow while not staying within their formula. The last 7", including the current release, has moments of a spaghetti western mixed with a blend of old school Japancore with some metal overtones. An absolute enjoyable listen. The songs have melody and rage while they continue to search to find new elements to introduce. They bring in horns, acoustic guitar and harmonica at moments to add more texture to their music. If you have been following the Japanese music scene, you know that these guys are heavy hitters. –don (HG Fact, 105 Nakano Shinbashi-M, 2-7-15 Yayoi-Cho, Nakano, Tokyo164-0013, Japan)


OXYMORON:
Best Before 2000: CD
This is a compilation of this German band's tracks from various 7-inchers, splits and comps. They play "street punk," but thankfully, they do it well. The singer sounds a little like Wattie. Hell, he looks a little like Wattie. I'm really glad that they didn't include a lyric sheet, 'cause I probably woulda liked this less if I knew what they were ranting on about. As it stands, I liked this a lot. –jimmy (Cyclone, 24 Pheasant Run, Merrimack, NH 03054)


SAFETY PINS:
Invite Us to Your Funeral: CD
This is real trashy punk'n'roll from Spain. It doesn't really sound like garage music, but it sounds like it was recorded in a garage. You can almost hear the big door rattling and the neighbors calling to complain. You can literally hear the singer hock a loogey. I point all this out by way of complimenting the band, of course. They sing in English, but judging from songs like "Suburban Twat," "Kill the Hippies," and the title track, lyrics aren't what these guys are all about. What they are about is playing fast and loud punk that falls somewhere between Turbonegro and the Smut Peddlers. It's good stuff. –sean (Dead Beat, PO Box 283, LA, CA 90078)


NUMBERS, THE:
Music Design: 10"
Shit, now I'm not so upset that the Mono Men broke up. Though there's no overlap in band members, this ten inch seems to pick up right where the Mono Men's "Have a Nice Day, Motherfucker" left off. It's six high-energy, nothing-to-lose, two-minute rock'n'roll songs, that, if they were stripped down to their core, would have something to do with Johnny Cash and Sun Records, but they've pushed that sound to its edges, dragged it through a hard life, and come out punk rock. My only complaint is that the record is so short that I don't feel fulfilled unless I play it twice in a row. I guess I know how my girlfriend feels now. –sean (Dead Beat, PO Box 283, LA, CA 90078)


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