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Demo: CD-R
Energetic indie rock with Built To Spill guitar noodles. Keep an eye out for this band, but do your ears a favor and skip this demo because the recording is so trebly that it hurts to listen to. I kept going, “Hey, this sounds cool!” then turning it up and shouting in pain. –CT Terry (myspace.com/thealphabetva)

Split: LP
A split with two up-and-coming bands from Germany. Alpinist: Seem to have the formula right. The music is pummeling and dark while falling in the crust genre. Screamed vocals power forward through the speakers as the charging guitars cut through. Amazing drumming that is far from generic. They’re definitely an apocalyptic journey of sound. I just wish it was a bit more bass heavy and darker. To me, it sounded a bit bright. Finisterre: My personal favorite of the two, the band plays more of traditional d-beat meets crust than the latter. But they also infuse a sense of melody under the distortion. It adds to the music and gives it more textured layers. Not a pretty sound in the slightest, though. The music is mid-tempo but is bottom heavy and played with a mean streak of anger. Also, the guttural vocals add to the picture of unrest that I believe they are portraying in their songs. Another co-released by Sengaja, Acclaim Collective, Phobiact, Subversive Ways, Bad Pingu, Humidad y Honestidad, Contraszt!, and Threat of Today. –don (Contraszt!)

Split: LP
Crusher of a split here! Alpinist and Masakari both crank out the dark and heavy stuff. Some would call it “epic crust.” Either way, the correct way to listen to this record is fuggin’ loud. Masakari are incredibly heavy. So much low end in their sound! I love how thick the bass is in the mix, and the seriously pummeling effect of the drums (check out the opening of “Progress”—rare that drums are so effectively recorded in the punk world). The vocals are a dry growl, without being completely Cookie Monster style. The songs range in tempo, using time changes effectively to give everything more punch and keep you interested throughout. The transition between “Hexenhammer” to “Modulation” is great and a perfect way to end the record: fast, huge in sound, and a total stomper. Alpinist, from Germany, are little less heavy, though no less effective in pulling you into the darkness the music creates. If anything, their songs are actually catchier (in a good way). The songs blaze, yet the crunching rhythms and slight time changes give the songs depth. “Subjection” uses a tried and true headbanging break that works every time. A little abrasive noise is added for texture as well. Pretty damn good. Nice artwork from Alex CF graces this as well. –Matt Average (Halo Of Flies, halooffliesrecords.com)

This Was Never Yours: CD
By-the-numbers metallic hardcore, never deviating from a well-established template and never stepping outside of the box. Kinda sad when you’re listening to supposed “radical” music and you realize that Barry Manilow took more chances.  –jimmy (High Fidelity)

Sleep Study: Cassette
A five-song EP from this woman-fronted Late Bloomer side project, who simplify their other band’s melancholy alt-rock, morphing it into slowish punk.  –Chris Terry (selfawarerecords.com)

Self-titled: 7”
Charlotte, North Carolina! Home to one of my favorite airports and also home to Alright. If Alright were ice cream, they would be Rocky Road: sugary-sweet indie pop with some crunch, namely in the buzzing guitar sound that brings Dinosaur Jr. and Hüsker Dü to mind. The three tracks presented here are all fine examples of what Alright brings to the party. Did I mention ice cream?  –Garrett Barnwell (Negative Fun, negativefun.com)

The Alrightees EP: 7"
Picture yourself asleep and hungover from the night before. You’re trying to sleep it off, but the thrashing of the garbage truck outside pierces your eardrums in such an unwelcome way that you just want to yank off your ears and crawl into the wall. Yeah, I would use this record to wake up unwelcome guests and scare off the parental units. It’s that irritatingly noisy. I respect that, and as charming as The Alrightees come off, it’s still lacking that extra something. The music is right on, but the vocals are scaring me off. It’s almost like taking a pile of shit and then adding more shit to it. Maybe if they just pissed on that turd instead of emptying the rest of their bowels out on an already full bowl… Still, I kinda like this here record, and not just because the cover has a cartoon of a killer panda getting rained on in blood. –Dave Disorder (Boom Chick, boomchickrecords.com)

Take What You’ve Found Here: CD
You know what happens to a band with an emo sensibility and a hard edge to their guitars? They make a zillion dollars through “alternative” radio. There’s nothing terribly wrong with this record, but it sounds like so many other bands that I hear on such radio stations. I mean, EXACTLY like those types of bands. I feel like I’ve been hearing this same record for the last ten years. Yawn. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Flotation)

Self-Titled: 7"
For some people, grunge rock lives on, it seems. These are heavy songs in the key of D. The vocals long to be Kurt Cobain and the guitar solos are weak. Not my cup o’ whiskey. Cock rock will never die. Fuck, they even put trumpets on the B side. Grunge meets the Bosstones. What will the fucking world come to? –Buttertooth (Floatation)

We As In Us: CD
When I lived in Shitport, Louisiana, I torturously sweated and toiled in a vending warehouse where the hours were long and the labor grueling. The easy-going custodian who half-heartedly cleaned and maintained the premises was a mildly retarded black woman named Alta May (not a very common name at all, I might add). And this was during the early to mid-‘90s when grunge loudly reared its monstrously huge head and reigned supreme in the carcass-strewn dinosaur-rock kingdom of FM-radio stagnancy. Now here’s where the irony of the situation kicks in, folks: this gruff’n’gritty trio of tune-blasters, who are aptly named Alta May, feverishly flail through a grungey maelstrom of sonic skull-crushers that brings to mind the flannel-enshrouded era of Seattle’s sullen sounds which were buried deep in richly textured strains of heroin, decadence, darkness, and death. I assuredly do not intend that to be construed as a negatively toned statement, ‘cause Alta May grandly radiate a mesmerizing glimmer of audial energy that equals, and sometimes surpasses, the best of what Nirvana, Mudhoney, Alice In Chains, Green River, Tad, Love Battery, and countless others had to offer back when grunge was king and the predictable rapmetal moronity of today was nothin’ more than a speck of laundry lint in some major-label rep’s coin pocket. Ah, yes indeed, those were the days... or were they really?!? -Roger Moser, Jr. –Guest Contributor (Glazed)

Weigh Your Conscience: CD

Although they thank Bruce Springsteen’s hips in the liner notes (hot!), I couldn’t really get excited about this. Melodic punk with breakdowns, occasionally gruff vocals, you know the story. It’s not awful or nothin’, though. And, more importantly, what about the name? A quick google search revealed the following: 1.) “Altaira is a rule-based visual language for the control of small mobile robots, using a tile-based navigation scheme.” 2.) the Arabic word for bird or high-flying 3.) the eleventh brightest star in the sky (Altair) or 4.) a female fantasy character. Let’s hear it for tile-based navigation schemes! This is Cheerios. Okay!

–Maddy (A.D.D.)

Weigh Your Conscience: CDEP
I really should recuse myself from reviewing this record, but since Antonin Scalia doesn’t have a problem adjudicating his conflicts of interest and his decisions have far-reaching implications which substantially affect the lives of myself and others, I’ll happily assess the virtues and merits of these seven songs, especially since I became friends with these people largely because I’m a fan of the band. First of all, certain bits of Southern California and Florida punk are so similar that the regions sound like they’re separated by a county, not a country. I’m not talking about the bro hymns from HB or combat-wounded grindcore; I’m thinking of the drunken, anthemic, heroic gestures of defiance offered by bands which live in vans, don’t bother to replace broken strings in the middle of the set because they didn’t need that one anyway and simply strive to do something that most horse race handicappers would put beyond their reach. It’s quixotic and noble, something more realistic than futile but far less practical than most people will ever be capable of understanding. Sure, people used to more polished and less nourishing fare may find it rough around the edges, but this is the shit that always has me dancing, that makes me forget about the small and large insults and indignities that tomorrow will inevitably bring because, at least for these moments, anything seems possible all over again. –scott (ADD)

Self-titled: Demo
It’s the little things that keep me so stoked about all this underground music we cover in Razorcake. Little things like getting an envelope from a stranger who saw the Super Chinchilla Rescue Mission show that Razorcake threw a couple of months ago and had a great time there. By way of thanks (and probably to get a review), he added his band's eight-song demo, and the demo was one of the best things I’ve come across in a couple of months. In a lot of ways, Altaira reminds me of Tiltwheel: gruff vocals, tight melodies but enough tempo changes to keep you on your toes, a healthy nod to Leatherface without becoming a knockoff band, and the music’s strange ability to creep around your eardrums and get under your skin. This isn’t to say that Altaira is just a Tiltwheel wannabe. They’re not. But they’re learning lessons from a great band. I could easily see this band picked up by a label like Attention Deficit Disorder (they have a lot in common also with ADD bands like The Timversion and Super Chinchilla Rescue Mission), and catapulted from there straight into obscurity.
–sean (Altaira, altaira2002@hotmail.com)

Weigh Your Conscience: 7-song CD
Although, yes, you could make a very convincing argument that Altaira cribbed the game plan of Hot Water Music’s Forever and Counting and have looted some from Tiltwheel’s basement, I still think they’re mighty good. (Translation: burlap vocals, the bass, guitars, and drums all have to work hard, and it’s all very personal without resorting to personal attacks or boo hoo-athons.) Altaira have got a natural feel of song weight and dynamics: not one instrument dominates, the vocals snarl when they have to, and the playing goes from epic to atmospheric to anthemic without the acrid smell of a band using the musical clutch for the first time and doing that horrid whisper to scream to whisper bullshit. Besides all that, these seven songs are genuinely catchy, take time to breathe, sound heartfelt, and although well played by each member, aren’t a wankfest. Thumbs up. –todd (Attention Deficit Disorder)

Drunks Not Dead: Split 7"
It makes some sort of morbid sense that the most-realized, stratospheric, and emotionally convincing songs Altaira make are on their swan song. These dudes in San Diego have flirted with bushy-beard era Hot Water Music and post Hairbrained Scheme Addicts Tiltwheel for some time—that hairy-voiced, drunk desperation slipping into elation, mixed about with goodguy musical fisticuffs. They finally got a locker with a combination all their own and their corsage to the big dance, then kaput. Two of my favorite songs by the band. Blotto: Japan needs to invade America again. Bomb the shit out of the airwaves. Make babies who play flawless guitars and say things like “And I want to shoot my head which is poor.” I’m not fibbing when I say they’re standing on the dynamite barrel of Dillinger Four while pulling down the Clash’s socks and making a racket that Crimpshrine would be proud of. Oh, yes. Fucking outstanding split. –todd (Snuffy Smile)

Drunks Not Dead: Split 7”
Goddamn, where does Snuffy Smile find these bands, man? If this label was from the States and was more interested in putting out CDEPs than 7”s and included 8” x 10” promo glossies with all of their releases, they’d be bigger than Adeline by now. As it is, they consistently manage to put out some of the most catchy, aggressive, and hook-laden pop punk around, from bands all over the world. This one’s no exception. With this record, both of these bands (Altaira’s from the States and Blotto’s from Japan) find themselves placed immediately right there in the upper tiers. Alongside Rivethead, Smalltown, the Thumbs, D4, and Snuggle, both of these groups are stellar at writing granite-solid pop punk tunes that manage to not only not be about girls, but also convey some modicum of intelligence and passion, even with Blotto’s slightly skewed English. Granted, it’s easier to put out a solid side of one 7” than it is to put out a solid LP, but the fact remains that I’m hooked, and I’ll be keeping my eyes out for anything I can find by both of these bands. I’m not trying to be all a-flutter here, but I just cannot get enough of this record. Nice job all around. –keith (Snuffy Smile)

: Split 7”
While this outing from Altaira isn’t quite as jaw-dropping as their split with Blotto! (mostly due to minor inconsistencies between the songs, both in production and attack; one of the songs is new and the other was recorded back in 2002), it’s still excellent. Taking the anthemic qualities and gravel-in-the-throat approach of Hot Water Music and laying it above tunes that would be right at home on the Insurgent discography, it’s only slightly embarrassing to say that these dudes are shaping up to be one of my favorite bands after only hearing four goddamn songs from them. As far as Watch It Burn goes, does anyone remember that 10” by Ruth Ruth that Epitaph co-released with Deep Elm back in the mid ‘90s? Well, don’t tell anyone, but I actually liked that record. I still like it. Watch It Burn takes the best elements of that album, combines it with the vocal stylings of Weston and/or Sticks And Stones, smartens it up, and makes sure to throw in some piano wire and duct tape in there; the end result is something that’s simultaneously ragged and hanging by a thread and also infinitely listenable and catchy. I swear, I get a couple 7”s in the mail and I’m reminded that there are still a few stunning, passionate, kickass bands out there ripping shit up in a genre that most of us wrote off ten or fifteen years ago. –keith (Accident Prone)

Self-titled: CD
Whacky hipster shit. Spastic, loud, and noisy, and it’s a vacuous affair the whole way through. I imagine this duo has listened quite a bit to bands like Men’s Recovery Project, Fast Forward, Arab On Radar, and Japanther and felt inspired. However, this shit is subpar and forgettable. –Matt Average (Altar Goats, altargoats@gmail.com)

Greatest Hits Volume Two: CD
Not to be confused with Orange County’s Christian punk band The Altar Boys, this Portland band sounds like early Dwarves, except that the Dwarves were tight, and this is definitely less focused and tight. It has energy, but seems to be thrashing into nowhere. The main problem seems to be the recording levels, I think. The drums are lost in the mix here—all I can hear is a snare and an annoying, tinny cymbal. The guitar, however, is great in a sloppy punk way, and vocals are nicely dark. It just needs to come together more, somehow. Maybe this was a rushed recording. I’m guessing this band is best experienced live. –Guest Contributor (Last Chance)

Volume 1: 2-song CDEP demo
Straight-ahead, Confederacy of Scum-esque (if they’re not members, they should be) punk rock. “Serenity Now” is a little too repetitive in chanting a bit of AA-speak, but “Dead @ 20” buzzes along quite effectively. In a better world, this’d come inside most twelve packs of beer. The Cliff’s Notes gist of it is that Lemmy would approve. –todd (www.thealtarboys.com)

Wolves for Brothers: CD
It’s always the people who try the hardest to come off as tough and rebellious that end up looking fake. There’s artwork that looks like it came straight off a Metal Mulisha T-shirt, a picture of them under layers of makeup, which fails to make them look straight out of a fight, and music that sounds more like speed metal without solos than hardcore. These songs are all about hurting people: stabbing and shooting them, beating them with bats and breaking their fingers. It’s a downer that this even exists. Maybe if they lived in a city in which these things actually happened outside their weak imaginations they would see the reality of violence and stop glorifying it. –Rene Navarro (Horns Up, no address)

Self-titled: LP
Great mid-paced hardcore punk from Texas. These guys are definitely not afraid to mix it up with a bit of melody here and there. Sum up the best qualities of early Naked Raygun with their former bands Storm The Tower and Signal Lost, then add them to the talents of a vocalist who actually knows how to sing. The result is a very solid full-length album. –Juan Espinosa (Adelante, adelantediscos@gmail.com)

Split: 7”
I’ve read good things about Lime Crush and all those things were right—they’re good. “Never” bops along in basement show mode with Veronika Eberhardt singing just a hair off-key before unleashing a brief, screaming hell. Believe me when I tell you it’s a hit. I wish my high school German skills were stronger, but I do know that Alte Sau’s “Becki Hat Ein Pferd” translates to “Becki has a horse.” Whatever else they’re saying, I’m not sure. There is an organ sound running through it and that’s enough for me.  –Matt Werts (Fettkakao, fettkakao.com)

The Exotic Sounds of: CD
Ignoring the fact that I know of at least two other punk bands that have used the exact name over the course of the last two decades and another twenty or so that have gone under the moniker “Altar Boys,” I gotta say that this whole “lounge group grasping for the nu-metal brass ring” thing is just not doin’ it for me. –jimmy (Fractured Transmitter)

Self-titled: EP
This record works perfectly with the sound of police choppers circling low over my neighborhood. Altered Boys, from New Jersey, crank out some burly, no-frills hardcore punk. The rhythm section is akin to an avalanche. The guitar races to keep pace and the vocalist barks out attacks on drug culture (“Drug War”), punk snobbery and the ultimate safe route it takes (“Ask a Punk”), religion (“Missionary Position”), decay (“Crashing Down”), and more. Plus, they have a song titled “The Nudge” where the only lyrics are, “Uuuhhhh.” Pretty good record. Hope they come to Los Angeles sometime. –Matt Average (Katorga Works, katorgaworks@gmail.com)

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