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Record Reviews

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Self-titled: Cassette
I don’t know about you, but when I’m forced to listen to a band’s cassette, I’m already pretty fed up with the band. First, I’ve got a good three minutes to remember why cassettes are obsolete as I’m struggling to get the plastic packaging off. Then I have ten minutes to diagnose what’s wrong with the cassette player on my stereo and fifteen minutes to try to make the cassette play before remembering that it broke four years ago and I never bothered fixing it because why would I? Then there’s another ten minutes of digging out my other cassette player from one of the boxes in the closet although I’m not sure which one. Then a good thirty-five minutes are completely gone because I’ve stumbled upon a box of old flyers which prompted me to call my ex to see if she remembers seeing The Bouncing Souls with me in senior year of high school. Then I subtly try to feel her out for a bit to gauge whether or not she’s seeing anyone. Then I find out she is and get depressed and make myself pizza bagels. Anyway, what were we talking about? Oh yeah, this band isn’t very good. –Dan Ozzi (Let’s Pretend)

Buzzhog: 7”
I’m pretty sure this band has already broken up. For the sake of this review I’m going to pretend that they’re still around and we’re all having happy, fun times together. OH SNAP, GUYS. This is a really good single! Chanty stoner punk that reminds me of the slower Diarrhea Planets songs. I like to call it drug punk, but I’m pretty sure that’s redundant. What a great LP this will make someday! Sigh… I can’t keep up this ruse. Who releases a 7” this good and then breaks up? If you need more proof why there is no god, or there is and he’s a vindictive asshole, Cool Mutants have made exhibit A. Grade: A-. –Bryan Static (Do What?, no address)

Surfin’ THC: Cassette
A solid stack of three-chord songs. There’s good distorted bass and the type of occasional guitar solos you don’t mind. The guitars get into twangy surf territory occasionally, sort of Radio Birdman style. “Be Dumb” is very catchy. The pace slows down a bit with “I’m Not Worried.” I don’t like that, but it’s just my taste. When it rocks, it rocks. Good tape.  –Billups Allen (Let’s Pretend)

Cool As Piss: Cassette
Cool Piss is a great new-ish band from Houston that includes ex-members of The Cutters and White Crime, among others. Musically, imagine a more straightforward version of the Spits if the Spits paid more attention to tuneful hooks in their songs. It’s fucking great! There are seven songs, and comes with a digital download if that’s your preference. Can’t wait to hear more from these guys.  –Mark Twistworthy (Bummer Tapes, bummertapes.bandcamp.com)

Punk Is Bread: 7” EP
It took me a few listens to realize there are only two kind of regular songs with vocals on this six-song EP. There are also two brief, fuzzy atmospheric instrumentals and two songs with what sounds like a six-year-old singing? In my mind, this puts the record structurally in the same league as Brian Eno’s Another Green World, except Coolies are noise pop kids in their own universe instead of one cool egghead who’s friends with Phil Collins and Robert Fripp. “God Take Me” and “Mothers in Mantis”—the two, I guess, reg jams—are mixtape worthy, or classic, without trying to be. They disintegrate completely or hang out until they’re ready to split and both approaches are correct. This is one of those 7”s you hold close for a long time. –Matt Werts (Epic Sweep)

Life Is Beautiful: CS
A solid take on AmRep-style hate scuzz. Within a single song I can practically see the cords bulging from the singer’s neck as he howls his misanthropic anguish over locust buzz of guitar and sludge bass. The first Unsane record is a good reference point here. Unrelenting.  –Michael T. Fournier (coordinatedsuicides.bandcamp.com)

Chaos or Bust: CD
You know how when you’re riding a Greyhound, especially if it’s a really long trip, your standards will lower because you’re so bored, and you’ll talk to pretty much anyone who looks even slightly punk? Like, some dude with a brohawk and a pudding ring gets on the bus, and maybe he has a crimson ghost patch on his jacket or something, so you let him sit next to you in hopes that maybe he’ll offer some interesting conversation, but he actually just talks your ear off about his job as a cable installer, and how if he can just come up with a down payment he can get his own bucket truck and start getting hired on as an independent contractor and not have to deal with his dickhead regional manger anymore; and on every other weekend when his kid doesn’t come to visit, he and his two cousins have a punk rock band, they do a few covers like “Ace of Spades” and a couple Misfits tunes and a Discharge song, but they write their own songs too, they write about how the government’s fucked up and how working sucks and how relationships suck, but they got a couple fun songs too, like—get this—they have a song about Waffle House! Man, that’s crazy, who writes a song about Waffle House? Dude, those guys are nuts. Well anyway, this CD sounds like that guy’s band. –ben (Profane Existence)

Punk Metal: CD
Something a little different from the PE collective this time around. Based on the title, you should be able to guess what this is going to sound like. It’s more metal than punk, though. These guys play a Motörhead-meets-Biohazard, headbanging, lighters-in-the-air, air-guitar-solo-playing fanfare. Excellent production throughout; you can hear everything. The drums are punchy and the guitars crunch like eating granola. The bass gives you the lows that thumps on your chest when you have the volume up. If these guys were playing at the bar after I had my tenth round, they would have me pissing in my pants while I rocked to the beat. –don (Profane Existence)

Crazy Happy: CD
Crazy Happy is seven songs of surfy, punky, Ramones-esque music with female vocals. It’s pretty run of the mill and nothing special. Every time I listened to this, I kept thinking of how much I’d rather hear the Misfits, so that’s what I did. Oh, I’m not saying they sound like the Misfits per se; I just really wanted to listen to Glenn Danzig and company. –kurt (Self-released, cootieplatoon@gmail.com)

Hosed: LP
Seems that reverb-drenched post-punk is all the rage these days, with labels like Hozac peddling hook-less Marychain-inspired rot to the masses. Some kids have taken the obscure U.K. post-punk to new levels of weirdness like these cats from Florida. I’ve never been to the place, but there’s some weird shit in the water, make no mistake. This shit sounds like any number of no-mark nobodies from the U.K. circa ‘78 who banged on pots and pans and recorded it into a dusty tape recorder. There’s some surf vibes hidden in there; off kilter sax and drums that sound like cardboard boxes. It sounded like the record was warped, but it seems the digital versions sound the same. You know if you need this. I don’t get it. –Tim Brooks –Tim Brooks (Florida’s Dying)

Tape 2: Cassette
Pretty boring, hardly noticeable hardcore. Kind of like a slowed down Suicidal Tendencies with a Descendents influence. –Craven (Gnarly As I Wanna Be)

Split: LP
I love gatefold covers. They make a record feel more important in your hand. Like it was made that way to better protect what is inside. Also, there is more area for artwork and such: more to look at while you are taking a listen. This one is no exception. The artwork is intricate but simple by being only black and white. The inside artwork on this release would have been a rad poster to put up on the wall. The artist, who I can’t find a name of on this release, has created an artwork that can be described as Pushead-like. Cop On Fire hail from Spain and shows that punk has been established and cross infected the entire world. They play a brand of modern day d-beat mixed with some crust influences. Visions Of War hail from Belgium and blast out five tracks of punishing crust. More metallic on their tracks and they feature dual male vocals. A great offering from two bands from separate countries. This is co-released with five different labels out of Europe. So if there is an interest, I can’t see this release disappearing anytime soon. –don (Profane Existence)

Wisconsin Grindcore: CD
The title says about all you need to know about them, for “Wisconsin grindcore” is, indeed, exactly what they are. I have no doubt that the legendary Mike Thrashead will be in fuckin’ nirvana the moment he slaps this onto his player. Purty artwork of zombie-like corpses. –jimmy (First Blood Family)

Split: 7”
Split vinyl offering from a bunch of dope-smoking braineaters from Madison, Wisconsin. I like how their label refers to both bands as “bong-ripping shred fiends.” Murder Of Crows contribute one long, apocalyptic song, “Empty Battlefields,” that comes across as a slightly crustier version of the Awakening’s The Final Feast 7”. No lyrics for the Copeater side, but with titles like “Whale Riders” and “Space Dock”—c’mon, you know what spacedocking is, right?—I’m wondering how much we really need to know. They’re plowing through four grindcore songs in about as many minutes, and it’s some pretty thick stuff for a two-piece. If you’re veering towards the darker end of the spectrum, try this one out. I’m more into Celtic flute-rock at this point in time, but the Jeff Gaither-esque cover and insert were pretty awesome. –keith (Scenester Credentials)

Nope: LP
Permit me to make a bad joke: Coping should actually be called Moping. Go ahead, roll your eyes, but lyrics like, “I’ll hold anyone just to feel at home” and, “I guess you didn’t know, but, baby, I can scream” should make the pining teenager in you cringe. This is textbook emo with shrill, belting vocals and enough flagrant hammer-on’s and pull-off’s to make one wonder if King Emo has mandated that the guitar can only be played this way. Each song is tonally similar and entirely interchangeable. The lack of aggression and creativity under-utilizes the talents of these young dudes. Ultimately, this record is a big, sappy blur. I can only recommend Nope to those still recovering from Snowing’s break up over two years ago. –Sean Arenas (Protagonist)

Self-titled: CDEP
From what I’m able to gather via the internet, this is a two-piece group who hail from parts about an hour west of Mexico City. They’re influenced by the minimalism of the blues and ‘60s rock, and this was recorded in one of the member’s aunt’s house. Dunno how they’ll feel about this, but the results are very much in line with early White Stripes, maybe a little less over the top, and a bit more lo-fi in output. –jimmy (Saustex, saustexmedia.com)

Self-titled: CDEP
These two dudes are making an attempt at playing some extra-distorted blues, like the Mexican version of the early White Stripes or Black Keys. This recording is almost sub-Daniel Johnston in recording quality, though. I’m usually all about “crappy” recordings (i.e. the Urinals, Flipper, everything on Deadbeat Records), but if you’re gonna bother getting an artist to do your cover/layout and paying for professional packaging, it might help to put some of that money into making sure your music isn’t mastered so that it’s so muffled and quiet that it sounds like your speakers are shorted out. At any rate, it sounds like there may be some promising garage punk blues poking around, and maybe given a recording that is not so much “cleaner,” but perhaps better balanced, this band can shine a bit more. –Adrian Salas (Saustex)

Los Niños de Cobre: CD
Seventeen tracks of ponderous, lo-fi blues punk from south of the border (Mexico). If the duo thing is your bag this might be worth checking out. Otherwise, this stone should probably remain unturned. –Garrett Barnwell (Saustex, saustex.com)

Plotting to Kill Your Friends: CD
In which four lads from the UK mimic various bastard shoegazing spirits of long dead bands. These seven songs veer from slightly crunchy, vaguely rocking angular post-core to pathetic, insipid, sniveling and pretentious lyrical and musical content (see the title track: “To emulate the feeling of a dying soul comes easy. Our scars will offer us the chance to stay in touch with our bleeding, our release, and our memories can die before we have the chance to secure them.”). I’m usually in favor of bands including lyrics sheets because I like to know what they’re singing, even if I don’t know what they’re singing about, but in this case I think I would have been better off remaining blissfully ignorant.
–scott (Firefly)

Officer Down!: CD
Eighteen minutes of slash and burn from this DC hardcore outfit. They take the blueprint for fast and loud and pour an old Natty Bo all over the remains. “Broke” and “I Like Cocaine” blast on full throttle like a pig on speed. There’s a Meatmen cover here that also fits in nicely. If you like it hard and heavy, these guys will fit the bill. Entertaining and worth checking out. –koepenick (Zodiac Killer)

Copy & Destroy: 10”
This is the sound of a scene celebrating itself. High-energy, catchy, oddly mature pop punk with a heavy, early SST-ish guitar tone. You expect to hear whoa-oh-ohs, but are pleasantly surprised when you don’t. A collaboration of zine veterans from the U.S., France, and the UK, Copy & Destroy does for zine culture what the Gooningtons did for pop punk as a genre. Inside jokes that make everyone feel “in” take playful stabs at zine clichés: excuses for zines being late, lists of likes and dislikes, click-clacking typewriters. My favorite track is “Up for Trades.” Every punk’s had someone try to swap a token for a work representing weeks of effort, right? Don’t toss this in the riot grrrl bin (though itis straight outta Portland) but its confessional style reminds me of “Musical Fanzine” by Team Dresch. Alex Wrekk’s (of Brainscan) vocals evoke Sheena of Lemuria. This isn’t a serious album by a band trying to innovate, but the warmth it’s suffused with cannot be ignored. I want Copy Scams to tour, because every show would be a party, but I can’t afford those plane tickets. The record comes with a fourteen-page zine and a download code, so I’ll have to imagine the fun.  –Claire Palermo (Lunchroom, lunchroomrecords.blogspot.com; and Bus Stop Press, xtramedium@laposte.net, busstoppress.weebly.com)

An Idea Died: LP
If you had told me this record came out in 1977 I might have believed you. And then I would have asked, “Why did people ignore this record?” If I had to compare it contemporary bands, Rough Kids and Red Dons are probably the closest, but, oddly enough, despite their name, I can’t really pinpoint who I think they sound like. That’s a point in their favor. Grade: B+.  –Bryan Static (CCATS, copycats-punk.bandcamp.com)

Crutches: 7”
As the years pass and the things that used to be new to me don’t catch me by surprise so easily, I find myself asking for more. I’m not so jaded that I need a band to have everything, and I don’t have a checklist or anything, but it takes a lot more for a band to get me psyched up than it did when I was fifteen. This record has me really psyched up. It’s pop punk. It does everything that pop punk is supposed to do. But this record also does more than that. It tells stories. The lyrics aren’t just throwaways. “Crutches,” the title track, addresses that moment when a person realizes that old behaviors may not be the best behaviors, particularly when they’re damaging. It’s not about moving past them. It’s not about succumbing to them. It’s just about that moment of realization. To lyrically catch and explore a moment like that… and to have the music match? That’s more than what I ask for from my punk rock. Maybe it’s what I should ask for from now on? How many bands can deliver that, though? –mp (Red Scare/It’s Alive)

Shit: CD
Hard to believe, but there once was a time when I actually liked pop punk. This, of course, was long before it became the pigeonhole du jour and the planet was effectively pummeled with an unrelenting deluge of some of the worst fucking Xerox clone post-post-post-post Ramones/Descendents/Screeching Weasel/Queers dog-bottom pie imaginable. The shitstorm has tapered off a bit in recent years, but it nonetheless continues to rain down in a more or less steady stream to this day and has effectively replaced what was once a creative path veering off from the hardcore-than-thou crowd with a billion songs about boogers, boredom, and boobs based on the same chord patterns and featuring some asshole trying to affect the perfect “snotty” delivery. Like so many others, The Copyrights play(ed) pop punk. Unlike the herd, they did so with a sincerity and singularity that nudged ‘em well above the rest of the pack. Collected here are tracks from assorted singles, comps, and split releases for fans who missed out the first time ‘round or weren’t aware they existed until now. Don’t usually find myself saying this too often about stuff from this subgenre, but this is definitely deserving of repeated listens. –jimmy (It's Alive)

Shit's Fucked: CD
So, it’s come to this, a Copyrights retrospective. Everyone’s favorite Illinois-but-not-Chicago pop punk band has compiled a bunch of their odds and ends into one coherent package. And I mean coherent. The CD opens into a gatefold of a collage of all their album covers thrown together. It’s pretty awesome, actually. (Even the Art of the Underground singles girl is in it!) You know the drill, this isn’t for the casual fan, this is for the completists, the nerds, and the groupies. Just like any other retrospective, we’ll hear the good and the bad, the new and old all strung together in a loose twenty-four track package. What I’ve always admired about the Copyrights was their ability to create an earworm of a song. I know every Copyrights’ chorus, but I can’t say I listen to their records all the time or have ever been a hardcore fan. Do I recommend it? Sure. Some of their best songs are on this and some of their worst. It’s really the songs from their splits with The Brokedowns and The Methadones that you should really want. –Bryan Static (It’s Alive, itsaliverecords.com)

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