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Diver Blue: 12”EP
I unabashedly love power pop and this record delivers, having all of the trappings of a solid power pop band straight out of the early ‘80s. Sounding not unlike early material from The Cars or maybe even something like The Plimsouls, this four song EP sounds and looks as authentic as they come, which is quite a feat for a current band playing this kind of stuff. Much like an early ‘80s teen movie, it’s all about being carefree, having fun, and getting the girl (or boy) in the end. That’s exactly where this record takes me, and it’s quite an enjoyable ride.  –Mark Twistworthy (Almost Ready)

1-800-BAND / SNAKES:
Split: 7”
Two tracks on the 1-800-Band side, steeped in 1970s power pop sensibilities. “Tropical Meds,” the first song, is a catchy, sing-a-long number akin to Joe Jackson’s early releases, island inspired, and feet shufflin’ tunes. Second song, “Good Intentions,” is a little more straightforward pop gem with Wavering vocals over a bouncy organ-filled beat. Good stuff. Snakes provides one song, “Fakeyed Heartscrew,” another song that seems to take a cue from 1970s rock, though more from the Nazareth school of long hair and wizard bongs than the sharp dressed pop of Joe Jackson. –Jeff (Slow Gold Zebra)

Split: 7”
This 7” is apparently the first release from Dirt Culture Records, a spinoff of Dirt Culture fanzine (of which I have never heard). Both bands are from Las Cruces, New Mexico. Man, what is going on in Arizona and New Mexico these days? All of the rockinest bands are springing up over there. Is it the desert heat? Shit, it must be. Answer Lies is fast political punk that dropped my chin to my chest. They are an amazing band. You ought to check ‘em out. Add this to your to-do list, no doubts about that! 10 Seconds to Liftoff gives off a different vibe: more of a late ‘70s English punk style. While listening to it, I couldn’t tell if the songs are just okay or so fucking good that it’s just beyond me. This 7” is one for the history books. –don (Dirt Culture)

Musica de Tormento: CD
When Mitch Clem told me to check out 100 Damned Guns over a year ago, I filed the name away with the dozens of bands people tell me I’m totally going to love. I figured they’d fall somewhere in the broad genre of alt.country, maybe cowpunk with some mandolin or Dobro thrown on top. When I got a copy of Musica de Tormento, their first full-length album, I was completed blown away: solid, well-written country songs—real country, you understand, neither preservationist old-timey tunes nor the slick pop country of today’s radio, and just barely falling under the “alt” tag in its honest simplicity. Sure, the fact that all the members were previously in punk, garage, or metal bands does come through occasionally. The track “Red RiverValley” probably gets the punkiest, picking up the speed with a fast, solid drumbeat, but it’s immediately followed by “Hard Row to Hoe,” which I have every intention of playing for my dad (a confessed CMT addict). In essence, 100 Damned Guns is country and western music—and they’ve been named C&W Band of the Year in their hometown of Fort Worth, Texas, two years running. They’ve played bluegrass festivals, shared bills with Wayne “The Train” Hancock, and recorded with The Marked Men. The only way out is up. To put it succinctly: I love this album. –Sarah Shay (TXMF)

Self-titled: LP
Seminal punk minimalists The Urinals’ sound matured slightly after their third seven inch. Around this time, the band changed their name to 100 Flowers. While The Urinals contribution to punk history has been solidified in recent years, the 100 Flowers era has languished in obscurity. This recent reissue of their only full-length is very welcome. The fifteen songs on this album are happy blasts of undistorted guitar and high energy drumming. The songs are slightly more involved than typical Urinals’ fare, but maintain the intelligent lyrics and dry sound. The material has also been sort of hard to come by in recent years. The CD compilation 100 Years of Pulchritude contains their entire output but has been out of print for a long time. I’m gonna do that record store thing and tell you that their harder to locate appearances on classic comps such as Keats Rides a Harley and Hell Comes to Your House contain punker offerings and are essential listening, so you should seek them out. But this album contains some essential California punk that should not be missed. If “Ride the Wild” is one of your favorite Descendents songs, then this album is for you. Now do the right thing and look up the word “pulchritude.” If you’re not careful, you might learn something. –Billups Allen (Superior Viaduct)

101, THE:
Green Street: CD
Since, alphabetically, this might be the very first review, I want to mention to all bands and labels out there to please check and see if your band fits in with what is covered by this here zine before you submit it for review. Because chances are, you are going to get either me, the grumpy, jaded old guy, or Jimmy Alvarado giving it a shit review. Even worse, if the two of us don’t pick it up for months on end, the CD and inserts gets thrown away and we save the case. I’m being honest. That is how it works. So much crap comes through here that we can’t even get a dime for trade-in on some of this stuff. I’m saying this as I have to sit through another R.E.M. wannabe that not only bores me, but makes my cats irritable. There is a reason for college radio. So do yourself a favor, save some money, and don’t send this kind of stuff to the zine or to my attention. I hope my words caught your attention. –don (Limekiln)

101’ERS, THE:
Elgin Avenue Breakdown Revisited: CD
Re-release of Joe Strummer’s pre-Clash outfit. Bolstered with some live tracks, this is the definitive release of this material, unless you still have it on vinyl of course. Joe playing “pub rock” is a bit jarring at first, but after a few listens I’m sure you become enamored of it as I have. These are mostly Strummer originals, with some covers of Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, and Slim Harpo brought to a live frenzy. “Sweet Revenge” and “Surf City” are my faves of Strummer’s on this disc. Isn’t it also illegal to not like a band that has a bass player called Mole? The 101’ers sweaty take on Them’s “Gloria” is rock solid at close to eight minutes on the end of the record. Not groundbreaking, but highly entertaining nonetheless. I miss you, Joe. –koepenick (Astralwerks)

A New Beat from a Dead Heart: CD
Loud noise-metal that really didn’t leave any sort of lasting impression whatsoever. –jimmy (www.deathwishinc.com)

1090 Club:
Natural Selection: CD
Languid male/female-fronted alt-rock stuff, complete with strings. Not a bad listen per se, but they never really seem to get off the ground and let fly. –jimmy (Sidecho)

Wild Mind: CD
Wild Mind is the sophomore effort from Melbourne, Australia’s 10BA. At first, I had a rather hard time sorting out what was going on here, but after repeated listenings it became clear that the band is either seriously unhinged or just try hard to seem that way. Musically, there are some elements of stoner metal and straight-ahead rock with a keen sense of melody, but vocalist Priesley DiMarco is who brings the crazy to this party. One part John Stabb, one part spoken word Jim Morrison, there really seems to be lot going on lyrically that would have been benefited with the inclusion of a lyric sheet. This is some pretty ambitious stuff that is truly greater than the sum of its parts. I either totally like this, or it makes my head hurt. I can’t decide which. –Garrett Barnwell (thenumbertenba@hotmail.com)

Eight Songs about Drugs and Sex!: 7”
Straight-up, grain alcohol-pounding punk rock’n’roll that pumps the blood of the same vein per The Candy Snatchers, Pleasure Fuckers, Nomads, Temporal Sluts, and hints of The Cramps. Admirers of said bands will find this EP a fitting addition to their turntables, and with the two bonus tracks that can be had with the included digital download card, everyone’s a happy fucking camper. –dale (Drug Front)

Plonie Mi Serce: LP
First impression I had here with my limited knowledge of hardcore and straight edge music was that this bands reminded me greatly of the band Strife—metal guitar licks with heavy-handed chords when they are playing slow. Very tough sounding. Things start to get moving when they are playing at faster tempos and this is where the band shines. The band minus the vocalist is a perfect package. The vocals are an acquired taste though. They are really low and have a growled sound; sounding like something I would picture more in a black metal or grindcore band. But with multiple listens, it starts to work with the music. I have read that the band’s popularity with Poland is long-standing. Not sure of their worldwide appeal, but from what I have heard that is popular in the genre, this band, in my opinion, stands amongst them. –don (Pasazer)

12 CENT:
For the Win: CD
First song is really articulate with lyrics like “One, two, three, four!” They do have something original going for them and that’s a piano. Punk music with a piano is not a horrible idea. I like when bands mix it up. There is something about this band that reminds me of high school, though, and I can’t put my finger on it. It may be because they kind of remind me of Bouncing Souls… I think… and NOFX. Definitely more mainstream sounding. I think they’re actually trying to make it. Their band name is stupid, by the way. –Corinne  –Guest Contributor (Olde Tyme, www.oldetyme.com)

When the Romance Ends: CD
12 Summers Old? What the crap does that mean? Is that your target audience age? I’m sure they hired some pro-market asshole to come up with this brilliant idea. It’s a good thing they listed their legal council in their liner notes (email and all). I’m thinking of suing them for their attack on my sensibilities and good taste. –megan (Anomer)

Feedback is Payback: CD
Man, I feel old. The singer of this band is the nephew of Raymond Pettibon and Greg Ginn. Punk rock has sure been around a long time. Fletcher from Pennywise was one of the producers on this. You can hear that on the recording. Modern South Bay melodicore with big production that you expect from Epitaph. This band is tight and the songs don’t seem to bore me. Not half bad. –don (Epitaph)

Turn of the Screw: CD
Sophomore effort from this young SoCal band. Punk used to be one unified scene but it has fragmented and subdivided. Subgenres do not cross, so this band is only going to appeal to a certain subset. I don’t remember what the first release sounded like, but I have it filed somewhere in my music room. But going off the first listen here, the first thought that crosses my mind is the singer sounds exactly like Scott Radinsky and the band sounds like Pulley. In fact, if this CD was in the case of the new Pulley CD, I would not have questioned it. The songs are competent and well-produced. I don’t think the band needs my recommendation. By seeing the included video, the band will fit in well with the Warped Tour kids. They fit the profile of what kind of crowd a band like this attracts that bums out us jaded, old punks. Sort of jock-ish and popular kids who wear the name brands and look beautiful, not the outcasts who became punk because they wanted to show the ugliness they felt on the inside to the world on the outside. I’m being grumpy and shallow. The music here is top notch and the melody keeps me interested. More power to them. –don (Epitaph)

123 SASS!:
Self-titled: CD
I think I hear an accordion or one of those air organ instruments; interesting choice. Lyrical content is silly yet some has some meaningful weight to it. The balance between catchy light-heartedness and a deeper point of view was a refreshing change from the same ‘ole boring songs I’ve been exposed to lately. In the wise words of the female vocalist of this band, “Shake your hips now, shake it, shake it.” –Corinne (Arkam)

Self-titled: Cassette
This band initially threw me off. Given their name, I was expecting one of two things: a mediocre Wire circa Pink Flag or sub par Minor Threat. Since I already mentioned that I was thrown off, it should be obvious that neither of my expectations was fulfilled. Is that a bad thing? Uh, well, maybe… that’s up to you. To me, this French three-piece sounds like a ‘90s emotional hardcore band in the middle of the bridge whenever they don’t sound like a ‘90s melodic hardcore punk band in the middle of a bridge—the one exception is their cover of “Ha Ha Ha” (Flipper), which lacks the threat and insanity of the original. As uninteresting as I found it to be, it really sounded like they coulda done better; I’m left wondering why they didn’t… –Vincent Battilana (Self-released)

Les Grandes Marées: CD / LP
I have always appreciated when bands whose mother tongue is not English perform their music in that primary language. I usually have no interest in figuring out what they’re saying, but instead find the vocals to act as an instrument, becoming another tone. France’s 12XU provides the right vocal sound (utilizing two vocalists) to compliment their punky emo pop stylings. And it does so quite well—energetic when need be, passionate where appropriate, but always right on the money. The music is generally fast (eleven songs in twenty-five minutes) but not reckless. It’s catchy and fun but not irreverent. I’d heard some songs by 12XU on previous seven inches but this full-length is far superior to any of that. There may be a part of me that is unable to completely relate to it since it’s being sung in French, thus, it may never be my favorite album, but I still can’t deny it’s a fun, endearing listen and therefore comes recommended. –kurt (Bakery Outlet)

The Strangest Colored Lights: CD
The nicest things about this release are a) the diversity of styles—folky, acoustic stuff, neo-psychedelia, spaghetti western-tinged rock—and b) the effort put into crafting the songs is evident. Unfortunately, neither of these pluses can hide the fact that nothing here is all that memorable, mind blowing, or even remotely engaging. –jimmy (Skybucket)

Broken Bottles & Razor Blades: CD
Lyrics dumb for even high school kids, with music that’s been done thousands of times before. The only good thing here is the Riverboat Gamblers shirt one dude’s wearing. Then again, that probably sucks for the Gamblers. –megan (Hairball8: www.hairball8.com)

Demo: 12”
This record is a work of art, with a die-cut cardboard cover that looks like a daguerreotype and ten thrash songs tearing their way across one side of blood red vinyl. 142 were Germans playing exciting thrashcore with touches of the chaos that late ‘90s bands like Reversal Of Man threw into the mix. This is a limited edition reissue of their 2008 demo and I highly suggest it if you’ve ever said “rip your face off” and meant it in a good way. –CT Terry (spasticfantastic.de)

15 PLAN:
Punk Rock for Dummies: CD
If lame approximations of sub-par Queers tunes with a staggeringly flat vocalist are your definition, then yes, dummy, this is punk rock. I’ll go so far to say that if you even so much as accept a free copy of this, you ain’t a dummy, you’re a total retard. –jimmy (Blankmind)

Lost Tracks of Time: 12”
Heavy, riff-laden groove music with lyrics about hating yourself. This is what I want to listen to all day. These were recorded the same time as Zoloft Smile in 2001 and don’t sound like lame leftovers or out of place with the songs that made it to the album. However, the three songs on this 12” fit together cohesively and I can see how maybe they intended to put this out as an EP ten years ago and it just fell by the wayside. These guys were around during the original stoner/sludge boom of the ‘90s and though these songs are older, they still show a band that had their shit together and were already ahead of the pack, sonically speaking. They remind me of earlier Eyehategod or Cavity because they play that angry dirge-y style of metal but can still pull off punk beats and power chords when they want to. This is the soundtrack to getting fucked up and punching the steering wheel because your whole family hates you. If you’re into ‘90s stoner stuff you already know this band, but if you are into newer bands like Torche, High On Fire, etc., then this is definitely worth your time to look into. –Ian Wise (Last Hurrah)

Secret South: CD
These guys are Denver darlings in the music scene out there and for good reason. If you haven’t heard them, it’s easy to throw out labels such as goth country, but it’s truly a sound you have to experience. This album starts out fast and rockin’ with “Clogger.” But then things begin to slow down as 16 Horsepower taps into their more visceral and atmospheric musical prowess. It’s not uncommon for various string instruments from banjo to violin to tastefully grace a tune. Even the electric guitars sound organic and natural in the fog of 16 Horsepower’s sound. This is an album worth getting only if you’re willing to invest the time to sit down and appreciate the art that it is. This is not background music. –N.L. Dewart (Alternative Tentacles)

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