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Record Reviews

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Push It: CD
Pretty run-of-the-mill punk/hardcore with a Dwarves influence. It's better than some, but still not particularly crucial to these ears. –jimmy (Industrial Strength, 2824 Regatta Blvd., Richmond, CA 94804)

Push It: CD
Pretty run‑of‑the‑mill punk/hardcore with a Dwarves influence. It's better than some, but still not particularly crucial to these ears. –jimmy (Industrial Strength)

Shoulda Kept That Quarter: 7”
Garage punk with a slight hardcore tinge. I think that these tracks were culled from a demo, though I can’t recall why I think that. Neither insipid nor inspired. If you still have your New Bomb Turks records, which I’m guessing that you do, you could probably let this one pass you by. –Vincent Battilana (Wallride, wallriderecords.com)

Shoulda Kept That Quarter!: 7”



It’s so hard to review stuff like this. Cellmates play fast, kinda garagey (maybe garage-ish?), kinda hardcore-leaning punk. It didn’t make me want to cut off my ears, nor did it rock my socks off. Finding anything interesting or insightful to say about it is apparently beyond my abilities as a reviewer. –Ryan Horky (Wall Ride, wallriderecords.com)

Bomb Shelter: LP
A sweet ‘n’ mellow mix of Unsane-style skronk rock and more artier fare. By the end, you feel like you’ve been trying to kill one mutha of a hangover with a power saw/boric acid highball and, yep, that’s a good thing. –jimmy (Dead Beat)

Dust Wave: LP
Dissonant, minimalist synth noise with blown-out machines, drums, and voices. The song structures are largely stripped to the bones and the delivery is often harsh, if not overtly aggressive. A choice gift idea for that one asshole friend who keeps saying synths are “wimpy.”  –Jimmy Alvarado (Slovenly, slovenly.com)

Self-titled: LP
Death rock/goth-inspired punk rock which potentially could join the ranks of current stalwarts such as Catholic Spit, Rakta, and Anasazi but isn’t quite there yet. Perhaps it was a wee bit ambitious to press these songs to wax as they all come from demos: demos that could use some kinks worked out. If and when things improve, I can see the ghost of Rozz Williams giving Cemetery his approval.  –Juan Espinosa (Mass Media, massmediarecords.com)

Self-titled: CD
Cenobites are the hook-wielding torture-demons from Clive Barker’s novella The Hellbound Heart and the Hellraiser movies. “We have such sights to show you,” Pinhead, the leader of the Cenobites, promises in the classic line, offering an indescribable convergence of pleasure and pain. In a way, that’s what this band offers, too. Although I would say that the pain of listening to nineteen of their sloppy, angry hardcore songs far outweighs the pleasure that arrives when it’s over. –mp (reverbnation.com/cenobites)

Split: 7"
Wow. Sample Centerhits lyrics: “Shave his stubbles! Waiting? While I get calcium so fast!” The Centerhits are kinda reminiscent of mid-period Modern Machines meets the Soviettes. Boy/girl vocals. Punk + rock + a lot of energy! And, actually, Your Pest Band is pretty similar. Lots of loud guitars! The more I listen to this, the more I like it. I like this genre that’s a little more complicated, a little more ROCK than pop punk, but just barely. If this were a cereal, both of these bands would be Rice Krispies with bananas! A solid formula, plus something of substance! Something that gives you the power to ride your bike and jump up and down, and, maybe, at the same time. Impossible? Perhaps! –Maddy (Snuffy Smiles)

City Girl Friend: 7” EP
Five rockin’ punk blasts with male and female vocals. The Centerhits, a Japanese three piece, don’t let up with their poppy rockers. At first, I was kinda thinkin’ that they sounded like early Donnas, but more rockin’, more punk, and actually good (and have a male singer, too). Then I realized that nothing could make the Donnas this good, so I abandoned that thought. Could they be the Japanese Soviettes if they got another member? Yes, possibly. Their lyrics are about, well, it’s not always clear. I’m not sure that I can get my head around what, e.g., “She won’t know her head is banbanbeef” is supposed to convey; but, I do know that “Make you disco!” is meant to be a threat (as well it should be). Despite the indecipherability of some of their lyrics, this 7” is pretty damn good. I’m beginning to think that Snuffy Smiles should consider offering 7” subscriptions. Just about everything that comes from ‘em is pretty rad. –Vincent Battilana (Snuffy Smiles)

Help Is On the Way: CD
Side one: Gloomy pop, sorta like Christian Death covering the Velvet Underground. It started to remind me of early Pink Floyd at the end. Side two was more of the same. Interesting, but not big whoop. –jimmy (Space Baby)

Incommunicado: CDEP
Whoa, what the fuck is this, Modest Mouse? Eek. Jangly, airy college radio rock with hand wringing, poetaster lyrics that sound like they were penned by Jewel during a break-up-inspired fudge brownie/crying binge. Oof. Oscar Wilde’s ascotted corpse must be spinning in it’s grave. After each horrid song I expected to hear some dorky college kid D.J. with a pimply voice that hasn’t dropped yet. I’ll admit this: the very last song actually didn’t seem so bad, but that might just be because the previous four songs had all the zing and kapow of a couple of grandma boobs. Kids: This CD is an example of why art classes can be dangerous. –aphid (Kapow)

Prohibido!: CD
Pennywise sucked the first time. –Not Josh –Guest Contributor (Finger)

Xenosapien: CD
Kinda wild to see something this extreme getting the glossy full promo Relapse treatment. This shit is crazy; blazing metal with trade-off guttural and high pitched vocals. The time signatures are out of control. Must be hard as hell to play this stuff. Not my scene at all, but if you dig tech metal gone grindcore, lunch is served. –frame (Relapse)

Scared People: 7"
You know how Assholeparade seem to take exact equal doses from punk, hardcore, and thrash? Ceremony follow in perfect form. I saw this band live a couple months ago and it was fucking great. So intense, sooo intense, and this 7” maintains that level of intensity. They slow it down at parts but the raging never stops, and they finish it up with a Negative FX cover. –Daryl Gussin (Bridge 9)

Rohnert Park: LP
A friend of mine recently told me to check out Ceremony, a Northern California hardcore band that takes their name from a Joy Division song. Seeing that it was on Bridge Nine—a label notorious for a plethora of youth crew bands—I was dubious but became impressed upon listening to Rohnert Park, Ceremony’s latest release. While previous releases fall into a stereotypical fast, gang vocal hardcore sound, the thirteen songs on this album come off sounding much more like Black Flag meets the Dicks. The vocals are snotty and full of angst with the music ranging from aggressive to the occasional ethereal. Tracks such as “Into the Wayside Part II” and its follow up, “Into the Wayside Part III” include homemade audio samples with some actual singing, too. But the majority of this is quick hardcore with lots of early punk influence shining through. As I’ve mentioned in past reviews, the key here is the band is obviously not playing their influences (in interviews I’ve seen them include Sunny Day Real Estate, Beat Happening, Deerhunter and obviously Joy Division as bands they’re into), which makes for a more original take on the music. Songs such as the opener, “Into the Wayside Part I/Sick” and “Terminal Addiction” are standouts with catchy lyrics that retain intensity and aggression. Rohnert Park isn’t by any means the best album of 2010, but it’s the attention to subtle things such as the bottle tapping on “Terminal Addiction” or the trudging, emotionless music and vocals of “The Doldrums (FriendlyCity)” that matches the song title so well, which make this a refreshing album. As the hardcore kids used to say (or maybe they still do?), get this or pose. –kurt (Bridge Nine)

Zoo: CD/LP
I really loved Ceremony’s last album, Rohnert Park. It seemed inspired by acts such as the Dicks and Black Flag. The sound was passionate, creative, and intense. There was fury matched with sincerity. Now they’ve signed to Matador and seemingly lost much of that feeling and their edge. While the album starts with a great song, “Hysteria,” the other eleven songs (twelve songs, thirty-six minutes total) just seem dull and tired. While there are a few exceptions, such as “World Blue,” the sound and vocals seem muted and lacking passion. The entire album seems too long, monotonous, and boring. Musically, the band is hardly intense and seem to be channeling Wire, Dead Kennedys, Public Image Ltd. and the Sex Pistols, but not in an inspiring way. It’s as though they took a little bit from each of those bands and came up with something average instead of outstanding. It seems as though they’re starting to play their influences, which is always a bad idea. The band may argue something such as “We’re maturing” or “we didn’t sell out” and that may be true and is totally acceptable, but it doesn’t have to mean that they lose the things that made them good in the first place: creativity, intensity, and focus. –kurt (Matador)

To Each…: LP
Formed in 1977, ACR, along with Joy Division, were the first bands signed to Tony Wilson’s Factory Records. Held as one of those seminal post-punk bands, ACR released their first single sans percussion, “All Night Party” with the b-side, “The Thin Boys” and later covered Banbarra’s anti-marriage anthem, “Shake Up.” Their archetypal debut, To Each… was released in 1981. Martin Hannett’s influence is evident in the jazz punk sound. He was Joy Division’s producer. Simon Topping’s disaffected vocals are much like Ian Curtis’s. While ACR’s lineup and repertoire would later veer into funk punk, sliding in record scratches and marimbas and drawing a Latin texture, here lays the nucleus of ACR. “Felch” and “My Spirit” use a funk slap bass percolating with trumpet notes, while “Forced Laugh” evokes Bauhaus with minimal vocals and screechy guitar chords stretched across a moody, expansive soundscape. Turning the page, “Choir” and “Oceans” could have easily been thrown onto Joy Division’s Closer and none would be the wiser, with its remote drive of a classic time signature and absence of horns. “Winter Hill” closes it out with a sturdy backbone of Latin percussion adorned with guitar drone and mercurial vox. Topping would shortly leave in 1983, following the release of Sextet and I’d Like to See You Again, leaving bassist Jeremy Kerr and guitarist Peter Terrell to fend for themselves. In 1986, ACR would leave Factory and label hop into the mid-’90s, releasing marginally received albums. In 2008, after a twelve-year hiatus, they released Mind Made Up, strutting a sleek, synthesized makeover with Denise Johnson, a previous contributor, on vocals. This limited reissue on red vinyl is a snapshot of a burgeoning ACR and that era when Gang of Four and Suicide were coming up, when genres were defied and redrawn. Recommended. –Kristen K (Drastic Plastic)

Enjoy: CD
I had the joy of meeting this band in Krakow, Poland, just three days before I moved back to Wisconsin. I sat in on one of their practices and then we all went beer drinking in a park downtown. Great bunch of guys, and girl. I was impressed, and a little surprised, to find such a polished sounding punk band in Poland, where hardcore and “newmetal” are most prevalent. Until meeting CF98, I never knew there was such as thing as “Kalifornia punk.” I guess that means bands like Pennywise, NOFX, and the like. Not totally my cup of tea, but I found myself listening to this CD endlessly. I heard some of their music before meeting them and was impressed with Karolina’s perfect English vocals. Once I met her, I noticed her thick Polish accent that somehow does not come through in this recording. Bizarre. Great songs about Polish cockrings (called a ‘buffalo's eye”, I learned), girlfriends getting older, and short-lived friends. I’m just thankful their drummer’s father works in Krakow's city hall, which somehow kept the city cops from taking me in for drinking beer in the park. Dla Karolina, Blinek, Stabi, & Alek, dziekuje bardzo. Harnas butelki sa najpiszny! –paul (Pasazer: www.cf98.pl)

You Communicate a Sense of Harmony to Others: CD
Let’s recap: Chachi On Acid is a legendary band from Southern Ontario that you’ve probably never heard of. They’ve been kicking their snotty, punk anthems out for almost twenty years now, I imagine. This here disc is the digital version of their first record (?), recorded in 1998. This whole thing reeks of punk in Canada many years back. It’s a real time capsule, and it’s great—don’t forget that part. I mean, provided you have a sense of humor.  –Steve Adamyk (BHJ, chachionacid.bandcamp.com)

Well I Guess That’s Why I’ve Always Got the Blues: CD
This full length is boring. It’s boring because far too many musicians have been in a band like this in high school right after they first heard Dead Kennedys. I have no idea how old the members of Chachi On Acid are, but they certainly should be able to write better lyrics than, “I don’t wanna be alone but I don’t wanna be with you” that are just repeated for two full minutes. Even the title of the album is rife with grammatical errors. No thanks.  –Nicole Madden (Self-released, no address listed)

Audiorape: CD
This is some really weird outsider stuff with bad lyrics sung-spoken off-key over generic guitar riffs. He sings about being depressed and how TV and junk food are bad for you and how you shouldn’t download illegally. It’s really, really bad, maybe some of the most hardcore of outsider music fans could get some pleasure from it, but even that’s a reach. Stay away. –Craven (Frey Nation)

Open. Play. Rebel: CD
For every quality this record has an aptitude for, there’s another quality it severely lacks. Dynamics and song flow are apparent, but an ear for choruses and adequate vocal lines is missing. That’s not even getting on the record’s odd variety of genres. I can enjoy some metal tinge every now and then, but a radio nü metal song in the middle of a punk record kind of ruins the whole thing. Then there’s the issue of the record’s pretty atrocious lyrics. I can’t tell if the songs are supposed to be satirical, but a cursory glance suggests they are not. “I want sex so bad” is never, ever a line I want to hear in a song. I can’t in good conscious recommend this to anyone. To the creator of the record, I recommend reconsidering placing all of your genre songs on the same album. The number of people interested in the record greatly diminishes with every other genre you add.  –Bryan Static (Frey Nation)

Shrink Dust: CD/LP
Chad Vangaalen has called this his country album, but don’t be fooled: the use of his newly acquired pedal steel isn’t overly extensive and when it is used it’s effective. With twelve songs clocking in at forty-two minutes, Shrink Dust is the perfect length. While it’s more sedate than past albums and not nearly as weird (there’s no song titled anything as outrageous as “Shave My Pussy,” for example), it’s still got Vangaalen’s flavor of falsetto vocals, bleeps and bloops from keyboards, and an almost hypnotic beat in some songs. Many of them are tinged with sadness, more so than previous releases. (Who knew that a song about a dead dog [“Lila”] could be such a bummer?) His lyrics are still offbeat and unique: “Let’s get high on other people’s dreams” (“Frozen Paradise”) and “Cut off both my hands and threw them in the sand / Watch them swim away from me like a pair of bloody crabs” (“Cut Off My Hands”) are just two such examples. Due to the mellowness and lack of complexity, this is easily Vangaalen’s most accessible album, but it’s still got enough of his psychedelic folk influence to mean this will never be mainstream. That’s fine by me. This will be our secret pop record.  –kurt (Sub Pop)

“Bad Reflection” b/w “Boulevard Girls: 7"
Solid pop punk rock driven by female vocals. The two songs showcased here are in the vein of the early Fiendz records. Simple, catchy tunes with memorable choruses. The screams at the end of “Bad Reflection” are very reminiscent of the quick cadence from the singer of Sado Nation made famous by the early Mystic Records compilations. I can’t deny the obvious Ramones influence from the guitars, but that is to be expected from this style of release. For some reason that I cannot explain, I keep imagining these songs slapped into the soundtrack to Valley Girl and fitting perfectly. –Brent Nimz (Pogo Time, pogotime@live)

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