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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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EXPLODERS, THE:
What's What and Who's Who: 7" EP
Apparently, Larry May of The Candy Snatchers has opened a school or released the patent to his "How To Scream Like Punk Rock Opera." And if you think I speak ill of such things, you're mistaken. The band follows suit - solid snap, crunch, and twists to straight forward, guitar-driven rock'n'roll. What keeps it from being a clone are the hints of psych, pockets of nerve, and the fact that it's easier and more fun to understand than basic math. In my humble opinion, Crime sucked, but The Exploders' cover of "Rockabilly Drugstore" gave it a nice shank in the balls and made it real, real listenable. The Exploders also follow a good rule of thumb: if your cover has a cartoon of a pretty lady with lightning bolts over her boobs, chances are that more people will buy your record. Good listen. –todd (Teenage USA, PO Box 91, 689 Queen St. W., Toronto, Ontario, M5V 1X6, Canada; teenageusarecordings.com)


EX-GIRL:
Kero! Kero! Kero!: CD
I'm so happy I intercepted this CD. This is a female Japanese trio and what Shonen Knife did to pop, eX-Girl could do for experimental/indie rock. All songs but two are sung in English (one is in Japanese and one is in Spanish). My favorites are "Tofu Song" (which is styled after, or even mocking maybe, those Bulgarian Women's Choir chants) and "The Revenge of Kero," which is all about frogs... lots of them. If you're into Japanese pop culture at all, you might be interested in this album. Reminiscent of The Raincoats here and there, just as much fun as its packaging. The question left to answer is not if you should go find this album, but rather which eX-Girl is your favorite. –Harmonee (kobashin@bekkoame.ne.jp or EXG@aol.com)


DOLLICIOUS:
Cold Cinder: 7"
This is wondrously wild distorted audial depravation at its most mindwarping and disruptive best. Dollicious are clamorously comparable to a cranked-to-the-max over-amped Who frantically fronted by Theo Lunachick (and toss in the occasional spooky strains of a theremin's wavy-gravy eeriness for added incendiary effect). Man, this is deliciously decadent, aurally belligerent, and nefariously noisy beyond belief... I've repeatedly rotated it until I can no longer hear myself think (it's that damn addictive, folks!). Please, Dollicious, tell me there's gonna be more... –Roger Moser Jr. (Get Hip, PO Box 666, Canonsburg, PA 15317; <http://www.gethip.com> or Dollicious, 39 Newcourt House, Pott St, Bethnal Green, London E2 0EG, UK)


DISCONTENT:
Who Killed Vinyl?: 7"
What's more authentic than a street punk band whose been around awhile but took several years to get to vinyl due to members being in prison? Hoosegow aside, imagine the less fat Cock Sparrer, the Cock Sparrer that actually wrote new songs - their anthemic, powerful, perfectly timed choruses - and you'll get a taste of Discontent. Although firmly entrenched in a genre that's notoriously narrow and stifling, I'd go as far to say that Discontent is like a 12 pack of beer. You know what you're getting from the packaging, it takes you to where you want to go pretty quickly, but when it's done, you're pissing and a little sad that it's gone. Good shit. –todd (Hostage, PO Box 7736, Huntington Beach, CA 92615)


DIESTO:
Outland: CD
Dude, Soundgarden sucks. –jimmy (Elastic, PO Box 17598, Anaheim, CA 92817)


DHARMAKAYA:
Analbum: The New Indie Rock Standard: CD-R EP
Dharmakaya skillfully churn out melancholy musical madness raucously reminiscent of the lo-fi grungey gruffness that statically strutted across the college-radio airwaves everywhere in the early '90s (a complimentary comparision of sorts: Black Sabbath maniacally mutating with Pavement, vocally led by a gargoyle Kurt Cobain character!). The noggin-thumpin' numbers cacophonously contained herein screech and scream with scathing sonic emotion... delicately soft and cuddly at times (albeit briefly!), and then turbulently tumbling into all-out frenzied fierceness at the spontaneous shift of a chord. Indeed, a heady dose of anger-rock is robustly served on this appealing platter of mind-twistin' tunesmithing, so I'll give it a hearty thumbs-up and a playful poke in the eye... –Roger Moser Jr. ($5.00 ppd. to Spat, 1113 Forrest Ave. Apt. A, Nashville, TN 37206)


DECALS:
You (That's All We Ever Talk About): 7"
Tight, female-fronted punk rock'n'roll. The songs are well written and poppy in a good way. I think I'm keepin' this puppy. –jimmy (Fan Attic, PO Box 391494, Cambridge, MA 02139)


DAGONS, THE:
Make Us Old: CD
This San Francisco band transplanted itself to LA in the fall of 2000, hot off the heels of recording their second full length. SF's loss is definitely LA's gain. The Dagons mine literary references, gothic imagery and Grimm's Fairy Tales all the while avoiding the trappings of goth in favor of a straight-up rock approach. Singer/guitarist Karie Jacobson (who also played bass on this album) lulls you in with sweet, ethereal vocals as drummer Drew Kowalski sneaks up with menacing, pounding drum work on songs like "Grinder" and "As Close As You May Ever Get." Spooky in a good way. –Bob Cantu (Dead Sea Captain, 4470 Sunset Blvd. #163, LA, CA 90027)


CROM:
The Cocaine Wars 1974-1989: CD
I guess this is supposed to be some sort of grind "concept" album, but it doesn't work very well as a release, period. All the songs seem half-done and sound like they probably wouldn't have been all too hot anyway, 'cause they all seem to go "blurp...blurp" and end up nowhere. Grind doesn't really bother me too much, provided it's done with some care, but this seems like such a lackluster, half-assed attempt that it's damn hard to even begin being interested. –jimmy (Pessimiser, PO Box 1070, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254)


COOKIE:
All Hell Can't Stop Us: CD
For those of you dismayed by the unfortunate termination of the Gits or who mused that 7 Year Bitch would be, well, musical, or plain just can't get enough of the eclectic NW scene, rejoice! Cookie is here. Vocally strong chick singer and some punk rock guys. It's the Automatics. It's Poison Idea. It's Elmer. It's the Nuns. It's Patsy Cline. –thiringer (lastchancerecs@excite.com)


CONDORS, THE:
Tales of Drunkenness & Cruelty: CDEP
The powerpop punkiness of The Condors is dynamically delicious, jubilantly jumpy, and melodiously spirited with a spine-tingling plethora of happy-go-lucky hook-laden harmonics! This is the swirling sound of The Byrds if they had been energetically infused with a high-octane dose of snarlin' rock'n'roll belligerence and rabid badboy bite... this is the booty-twistin' sound of hot fun in the summertime sun, of sloppy juvenilistic sex in the backseat of a souped-up turbo-charged '81 Camaro, of wide-eyed youthful innocence soon to be corrupted by mind-altering stomach-churning amounts of the devil's drink and other illicit intoxicants... yes, this is the rambunctiously sparkling sound of vibrantly frenzied life itself! Man, The Condors are sonically cooler than cool, so aurally impress yourself and all of your cliquish lil' friends with this powerfully rousing platter of poprock perfection now, tomorrow and always... –Roger Moser Jr. (($6 ppd to Vital Gesture, PO Box 46100, LA, CA 90046 or The Condors, PO Box 6673, Alhambra, CA 91802-6673)


CONCRETES, THE:
Boy, You Better Run Now: CD
This band is from Stockholm. If they don't play here soon, I might have to save money to search for them in Sweden. The Concretes are made up of six steady members and two more loosely involved members. This is kind of mellow pop - kinda jumpy with some harmonicas and trumpets adding sparks. Victoria's vocals are very soft and sweet, almost paralleling the emotion of the keyboard. Sometimes they remind me of Mazzy Star, sometimes they remind me of Devics. Good music to bake to (and by that I mean cakes, cookies, dinner party action, etc.). Yummy. –Harmonee (Up, Box 21328, Seattle, WA 98111)


COCK SPARRER:
Live: Runnin' Riot Across the USA: CD
You can't really say that Cock Sparrer is breaking any new ground these days. This is a recording of their show in San Francisco last February. They played most of their hits: "Runnin' Riot," "Where Are They Now?" "Riot Squad," "Argy Bargy," "England Belongs to Me," and so on. The recording quality is high. It sounds great, and the songs are really good songs. The only problem I have is that I've heard them all so many times now that I wish they'd write some new fucking songs. They also have kind of a rock star way of putting on a show: they say the name of the city the same way Spinal Tap would, they tell the crowd that they're great audience, they encourage you to sing along with the hits, etc. So if you're a Cock Sparrer nut (no pun intended), if you want to relive the last time you saw Cock Sparrer, or if you've never heard them, this would be a great album. Otherwise, well, you've heard it. –sean (TKO, 4104 24th St. #103, SF, CA 94114)


COCK SPARRER:
England Belongs to Me: CD
A compendium of their early singles, this release also serves as an interesting document of the evolution of this long-running band. The earlier tracks owe more than a little to the pub rock sound that was prevalent when the band started back in the '70s and, as the disc progresses, you can hear the development of the hard, yet very poppy sound for which they are known. Toward the end, the listener is also treated to a lesson that plagued many English punk bands (Adicts, SLF, Angelic Upstarts) during the '80s: overproduction can ruin even the best song. Still, this is more than worth the price of admission just to hear early versions of classics like "Running Riot," "Argy Bargy," "Working," and a great live cover of the Clash's "White Riot." –jimmy (Taang, 706 Pismo Ct., San Diego, CA 92109)


CANNANES AND STEWARD:
Communicating At An Unknown Rate: CD
Nope, I won't be needing any downers tonight. –jimmy (Yoyo, PO Box 2462, Olympia, WA 98507)


CANDY SNATCHERS:
Ugly on the Inside" b/w "Party Girl - Cocaine County: 7"
If Chuck Berry was a bunch of much paler guys, hopped-up, drugged-to-the-gills, and bleeding, he'd be the Snatchers. These guys are the anti-venom to pre-manufactured teleprompter and dance instructor pop. Two fast, drunk and plunder songs. The only question I have is why did someone Photoshop a can of cat food on the cover? –todd (Get Hip, PO Box 666, Canonsburg, PA 15317)


BUSTED LIVES, THE:
The Winner's Circle: CD
Not as crazed as their last album, but that doesn't mean that this isn't up to its eyeballs in bad drug-induced psychosis. As I listened to this, I pictured Black Randy fronting an early incarnation of the Flesh Eaters writing desperate love songs to The Reatards. Then again, I could be way off the mark with that description. It wouldn't be the first time. Look, just send 'em your fuckin' money. You won't be disappointed. –jimmy (Blueball, 6517 Faralion Way, Oakland, CA 94611)


BRIGHT EYES:
Letting Off the Happiness: CD
I saw these boys play at the Silverlake Lounge a while back and they were nice enough to give me a CD to review. I think these guys are great, and I think they are going to continue to grow with their music and their popularity. First of all, this band is huge (or at least bigger than your average 4 piece). They have enough instruments to incorporate into a small jazz band, but without losing their indie rock sound and charm. Whether or not this band is as young as they look is questionable on behalf of the emotions and situations represented in their music. I hate to drop the reference, but lyrically they remind me of Belle and Sebastian, using stories rather than sentences to portray their ideas and songs. I discover something new every time I listen to this album; whether it be a softer lyric, or a new digital pulse or putter that somehow went unnoticed the time before. "Letting Off the Happiness" is only one of many CDs they have released that you probably haven't heard, but are recommended to listen to. Their newest release, "Fevers and Mirrors," is equally enchanting and exceptional. –Harmonee (Saddle Creek, Box 8554, Omaha, NE 68108-0554)


BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE:
Zero: CD
Mellow late '60s-tinged rock. For some reason, every song on this reminds me of Love's "Signed DC." I liked it. –jimmy (Bomp, PO Box 7112, Burbank, CA 91510)


BORIS THE SPRINKLER:
...Is Gay: CD
What I like about Boris the Sprinkler is that they put out new albums often enough so that a newish Boris the Sprinkler record is always on high rotation in my life. And all their albums are really good. "..Is Gay" keeps SweetTart-blood-level high. It's fast, bouncy, Ramones-distorted, Norb-twisted rock'n'roll. The monologue is back at the beginning, thanks to a little pre-planning (they stuck Paul #1 in a soundproof booth while Rev. Norb delivered his sermon [though not without having to monologue duel with the computer from the "Group Sex" album]). But I don't want to give away too many secrets. Suffice it to say that the schtick is still funny, and the songs around the schtick are still great. –sean (Go Kart, PO Box 20 Prince St. Station, NY, NY 10012)


BELTONES, THE:
"Shitty in Pink" b/w "Nobody to Love": 7"
The good news is, the Beltones are still getting better. The vocals vibrate out of the speakers at a dizzying speed, sounding like something between a snarl and a growl and, if you can decipher the lyrics, they're funny and angry and pretty damn good. The music keeps up with the speed and, like the lyrics, it's pretty complex once you separate it from the fuzz. I really like this band. I like these two new songs. I even like the cover with its trashy, shitty-in-pink punk rock broad on the cover and the crazy collage in the back. The bad news, though, is that you get, what, four minutes of music and then it's done. Just like their eighteen minute full-length and twenty minute shows. It's good to be left wanting more, but it's better to fill up the vinyl and get, like four two-minute songs instead of two. –sean (Radio, PO Box 1452, Sonoma, CA 95476)


BELLRAYS:
Grand Fury: CD
The mighty BellRays have once again reared their collective heads and let fly 13 tracks of some bombastic, scathing rock'n'roll. Let me tell you, kids, this is a pretty welcome addition to the playlist at the Alvarado/Perez-Villalta household. Karla (my girlfriend) is not especially punk-friendly, but the Bell Rays is one of few bands that she not only tolerates but actively encourages the listening of on a regular basis (the Descendents and early Bad Brains being a couple of others). Of course, we still have our disagreements about who we hear traces of in their music (she says either a meeting of Jimi Hendrix and Tina Turner, or Angela Davis set to music, but I think she's high, because it's patently clear that what she's hearing is an MC5/Aretha Franklin hybrid, but I digress), and these discussions usually get pretty heated when they're coupled with a game of Scrabble (I do not make up words! "Git" does exist! Sod the dictionary!). While we may disagree on the irrelevant particulars, we do agree that the Bell Rays are one of the best groups that rock'n'roll in the new millennium has to offer, even if listening to them at excessive volumes causes your ears to bleed. I hear through the grapevine that they're going through a bad patch right now, and I hope that they are able to come through it relatively unscathed, 'cause losing this band would be the equivalent of losing a lung for any fan of loud music. –jimmy (Upper Cut, 4470 Sunset Blvd. #195, LA, CA 90027)


BELLRAYS, THE:
Grand Fury: CD
The Bellrays once again brazenly blast out a spirit-stirrin' hypnotic concoction of sizzlin' soulful rock'n'roll and sonic voodoopunk sultriness. Man, this is aurally IT! Nothin' else compares, or even comes close! The guitar grinds and growls with distorted over-amped jungle-swamp ferociousness... the spellbinding nicotine-charred hoochie-enchantress vocals are the intoxicating aural equivalent of a female James Brown/Bon Scott hootin'-and-hollerin' at a holyroller revival down in the impoverished shanty-towns of a "Deep South" Mississippi delta (man, this gorgeous gal's voice is more passionate, more sensuous, and sexier than any sweet sound in existence that's ever seductively caressed my ears, I kid you not!)... the bass raucously rumbles along like the earthmoving clamor of a filled-to-capacity subway train clattering along an over-used track on a one-way destination to nowhere... the dinosaur-stomp drums dissonantly crash, bang and boom with such frightful fullforce fury, I just peed myself silly, folks! Indeed, this ain't no airwave-ready "Soul Train" rehash; this is an atomic-powered punkrock "Soul Locomotive" cacophonously careening out-of-control with salaciously smooth wild abandon. It's sensually smokin', for your ears only... –Kristen K (Upper Cut)


ARSYN:
Degeneration: CD
A truly pathetic aping of mid-period Megadeth packaged as some sort of new direction in heavy metal. God, this sucked bad. –jimmy (www.arsyn.com)


ANTHEM EIGHTY EIGHT:
Q: And Progress A: And Progress: CD EP
Hardcore that was loud, fast and really pissed off, just as it should be. For some reason, they reminded me a little of Articles of Faith, had Vic Bondi been stricken with throat cancer. –jimmy (No Idea, PO Box 14636 Gainesville, FL 32604)


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