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Landmine: 7"
If “recorded in a hallway” belies charm to you. If fidelity and “being able to play your instrument” begins and ends with Supercharger. If you shed a single tear, lamenting the breakup of Scared of Chaka every time you spin their records, like that Indian in that commercial, amongst all that trash. If you ever wondered how Larry of Genetic Disorder zine played guitar. If you ever wondered how a singer would sound if you constantly ripped duct tape from his skin as he yelped into the microphone. If you’ve ever wondered one of these things, the Dissimilars are right up your alley, spare changing before their sets, antagonizing you when they’re playing, and badgering you for beer when they’re done. Fuck “pro dudes, pro attitudes.” Dirt rock in shambles is where it’s at. Excellent. –todd (Plastic Idol)

Jimmy's Room: CD-R
Ever since Dave Hernandez decided to pull the plug on Scared of Chaka and start breaking the hearts of lonely indie rock girls everywhere (he’s in another band that I’m not going to mention), there seems to have been a wave of heirs to their throne. The Chop-Sakis, the Put-Downs, the Marked Men, the Knockout Pills, and now you can add the Dissimilars to that list as well. Mid-tempo, scuzzy, catchy garage rock from San Diego. It’s as sloppy as it is endearing. Can’t wait ‘til this band releases some vinyl. –Josh (Genetic Disorder)

Live at CBGB 1986: 7”
Four songs from back when punks were still doing some experimenting in their music, mostly trying to add jazz to the mix. It all comes off like subpar Black Flag with a whiny vocalist and adding the most boring of no wave. As a relic it’s interesting. As something to play more than once? Nope. –Rick Ecker (Roaratorio, roaratorio.com)

Self-titled: EP
This is a great little EP for all you shoegaze fans out there. If you like The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, My Bloody Valentine, or any of the Captured Tracks (records) bands, you’ll enjoy this record. There’s lots of fuzzy, static-y sounding guitars, female vocals, and consistently mid-paced tempos. Dissolve is a two-piece from San Francisco, which is the perfect city to compliment their music. For me, this record really picks up on the B-side with the song “Innocence.” You hear piano parts and a more defined guitar melody. Great stuff.  –Ryan Nichols (Painter Man)

Sing Sing Death House: CD
The Distillers have once again put out a CD I can't stop listening to. This one is a bit harder than their first (which is still on high rotation here). This is kick-ass female fronted punk rock. It's catchy but not poppy. Some of my friends have listened to them and were surprised when I told them a girl was singing. She has a great voice. For those unaware, the singer is Brody Armstrong, Tim from Rancid’s wife. They give Rancid (when at their best) a run for their money. She also happens to be one of the hottest girls in punk. I felt like a teenager in heat when I saw them live. I think I have a crush. Anyways, they actually sound great too. Do yourself a favor and listen to this band. (aside: for Brody fans, you can find a poster of her in the new Hellcat comp.) Damn, I feel like I should be reading Teen Beat. Fuck. –toby (Hellcat)

Split: Cassette
Warrior Tribes play stomping hardcore with some gang vocals scattered throughout, influenced by New York hardcore and oi with some of the gnarlier modern hardcore sounds of bands like Fucked Up. The lead singer’s super masculine vocal would fit well into the aforementioned categories, but lyrics to “Flats” call out entitled meathead behavior and bros who have to start fights to feel strong while at the same time playing up a victim mentality. Good form! With only three songs, Warrior Tribes show much more promise as a lyrically and socio-politically sound band. I’m not into Distract as much, but they put in some pretty solid, politically-relevant hardcore with lots of fast to slow tempo changes. However, both sides suffer from atrocious sound quality; another thing that sucks about the cassette trend is its blurring of the line between a demo and an official release. On that note, let’s just call this a demo, because these are serious slop recordings. Bands to watch, regardless.  –Craven Rock (Self-released) –Craven Rock (Self-released)

…More Trouble at the V…: 12” EP
Man, I tried and tried to like the last Distraction full-length, and I sat on the fence with it for a long time, finally falling off, coming to the ultimate conclusion that it was a simpler Stitches. And, due to gross geographic proximity of the two bands (thirty miles, tops), I figured that that subdivision needed only one Stitches. This EP has got me doing some serious re-figuring. Gone are the “Is that Mike Lohrman singing?” vocals, replaced by none other than Le Shok and Neon King Kong’s Hot Rod Todd, who sounds like he’s huffing paint and slurring simultaneously. Also greatly whipping this thing into another shape are the keyboards, which roam through the recording like a fat boa constrictor, gently sliding in and out, squeezing and bulging unexpected bits and pieces to the front. I never had a problem with the Distraction’s string work, and it all comes into focus on this EP. The whole enterprise makes a hell of a lot more sense when it stands on its own two musical legs. Thumbs up, also to the 3-D cover (with Distraction-logo’d glasses) and the fact that this is a one-sided 12” EP makes it almost impossible for these guys to break even, so you know this thing’s from the heart and not just the wallet. –todd (TKO)

Calling All Radios: CD and Transmission Ignition b/w Nothin: CD / 7

The Distraction  grew on me slowly, but I'm glad I stuck with it. I disliked it in the beginning. At first, they sound like a slowed down Stitches, with a mumbly voiced lead singer fronting mid-tempo, repetitive songs. Also, like the Stitches, they're sneaky riff snatchers. They lift nice bits of The Clash and Buzzcocks, but have a real good feel on how to tuck them into their own compositions. But the more I listened, the better the songs started to sound. They're just like fresh snot on glass. They're nasty and boogery but the sound's clean and you can see every detail. This may seem off topic, but The Distraction does to true early punk what a lot of hip hop artists did with R and B tracks. Instead of doing direct samples, this OC crew take the best feel, motion, and groove of bands like the Boys and the Weirdos (without Doors covers, thank you very much) and join them in clever, finger snapping ways. So, when I stopped wanting them to play faster and enjoyed being locked into their groove, what was once repetitive became a solid slab of stagger and swagger. Another thing I realized is that although none of the songs sound like smash fuckin' hit singles, the album as a whole works very well. The 7" has one song that's on the album, "Transmission Ignition," and a track, "Nothin' to Me," that's worth doin' a little vinyl huntin' for. Thumbs up.


–todd (Dirtnap – CD, Pelado – 7")

Calling All Radios: CD
Remarkably unremarkable pop punk that’s a tad catchy, a little snotty, but mostly forgettable. Distraction is right — don’t I have better things to do than listen to this? I can’t wait until I’ve totally forgotten everything about this band, which should occur roughly a minute or two after I type this period right here:. –aphid (Dirtnap)

Calling All Radios: LP
Not really my cup of tea, so I’m not going to profess that I’m going to give this the most informative review. What I hear is what I’ve been hearing a lot of coming out of Sweden. But what I can’t seem to get out of my head is they sound like the Hives to me. Also maybe a mixture of ‘60s garage and maybe a little bit of the Stitches. Also the vocals have that early Iggy Pop snottiness to it. The music is definitely not lame. Musically, they come off at times having a surf sound, maybe a little new wave, too — maybe because they originate from Orange County. But the songs are strong without coming off sounding like a school of French poodles. I feel like I need to get a bowl cut and put on a skinny tie and pogo around the dance floor like a spastic fish. Definitely fun and has caught my attention. I know others within our zine empire would appreciate this more. But I always welcome the introduction to new music any time. How did they get on a German label? –don (Radio Blast)

Calling All Radios: CD
Kudos to the graphic designer, this looks way better than it is. Starts out with "My Sharona" type drums, then adds a bizarrely "We Got the Beat"-esque bass riff, then everything kicks in and it sounds nothing like the aforementioned whatsoever. My best description is "apparent teenagers trying (either knowingly or unwittingly) to emulate the Ruts, minus the reggae parts, with lyrics that, a la Head's The Monkeys album, fail to be minimalistic enough to be interesting solely as minimalism, but succeed at being just minimalistic enough to come off as entirely deficient. But in a nice sleeve." How a band can play fourteen songs in twenty-eight minutes and still sound like they're strictly from plods-ville is beyond me (they musta grown up listening to the Stitches, another band where you'd listen to 'em for like twenty minutes and swear you'd been chained to one spot for three hours). I mean, i'm sure this is supposed to sound like some kind of music i really like, but i really can't put my finger on what kind of music that could possibly be. The beginning of the second side is pretty awright, though. HELPFUL HINT FROM YOUR UNCLE NØRB: Don't bug mom to peg your pantslegs for you until you get the lead out of your asses. BEST/WORST/MOST CREATIVE SONG TITLE: "Rock and Roll" BEST SONG: "Hijack My Heart" or "Razorblade Kiss" FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: I think "Rock and Roll" is about MRR. I find the line "you don't play rock and roll" rather ironic, considering those singing it aren't exactly wiping Little Richard from Earth's collective memory.
–norb (Dirtnap)

split: 7"
Distraction: Jangly guitars, keyboards and tone-deaf vocals. Hatepinks: a former Gasolhead, distorted guitars, and a Swell Maps cover. Hatepinks win by a landslide. –jimmy (Lollipop)

Don: CD
Neither as good as i'd hoped nor as bad as i'd feared, District are that kinda vaguely melodic, vaguely streety Britpunk that i associate with not-terribly-essential bands like Chron Gen and The Adicts (although, to be fair, there's only one Brit in the band, the rest are Germans—which, i suppose, makes it Germpunk), who, if you'd like me to break it down into terms of purely American bands, sound like a cross between Pariah and Rancid with Joey Vindictive's younger, healthier brother on vocals. They hit the relative bullseye a few times ("I Crisis"), but, for the most part, this material strikes me as being too secretly derived from ‘70s rock (one'd think perhaps the album's title being spelled out across the knuckles of the band members on the cover a la Slade's Slayed? LP [well, ok, that wasn't the album title, that was the band name, but you know what i mean] might've been a tip-off)—instead of having that nice, constant, headlong momentum of punk, the guitars are always going BAAA-BAAA-BAAA, and the drums are going BISH-BISH-BISH along with the guitars, the beats of the songs are always getting broken up and interrupted by these sort of punctuations and choreograph-ations and orchestrations—it's like those longer songs on the second Clash album ("All the Young Punks [New Boots and Contracts]" and "Last Gang in Town" are the ones i'm thinking of)—the structure of the songs just seems pointlessly dramatic (although District is pointlessly dramatic much more rapidly than the Clash were). Basically, it seems like there was a lot of thought put into the music on this record (which is cool) but there really wasn't that much legitimate inspiration behind it—you know, the kind of inspiration that possesses a man to run home and bash out "New Rose" or "Nervous Breakdown" with little or no advance warning. Oh well, at least they have the writing-on-the-knuckles schtick; i'm queer for that in a big bad way. BEST SONG: "I Crisis" BEST SONG TITLE: "No Heart" ...if you're the Vibrators. FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: "DON'T MESS WITH THE HARD PUNKS" is the longest string of alphanumeric characters i have ever seen written across human knuckles. I think the previous front-runner was "ELWOOD." –norb (I Used To Fuck People Like You In Prison)

We Barely Just Got Here: CD
Really sharp and on-point. This record grabs you by the throat from the first notes and doesn’t let go. Moreover, it gets better each time I hear it because I’m always finding something new and interesting about the tunes with each listen. It’s difficult to pinpoint precisely what the District Of Columbias sound like. A quick look at their Myspace page reveals a wide range of disparate influences and, somehow, the band seems to incorporate them all. Nonetheless, here goes: Quicksand meets Unsane, but with a more traditional rock’n’roll vibe to it. If you’ve ever felt blessed by the swirling, symphonic glory that was Quicksand (the second band listed among their influences), you’ll like this record. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Inya Face)

Certified Professionals: CD-R
It’s well documented that high levels of instant success irrevocably damage artists. Look no further than a boatload of child actors and author Joseph Heller. (Catch 22 cast a long shadow; one that he never escaped.) Bryan May, who I’ve chastised in the past never to send out band practice tapes as “demos,” heeded my advice. DSYE are good with flashes of being really good. The signposts and direction are clear: Denton, TX punk (wisps of Marked Men, High Tension Wires, Bad Sports). The good news is that the bands Bryan is playing in are getting progressively better by degree. That if these musicians keep chuggin’ away, they turn bright-hot instant success on its ear and fit the much better template of continually releasing stronger and stronger songs the longer they play. Keep plugging in and pluggin’ away. –todd (Self-released, no address listed)

Sex Effects: 7”
The four songs on this record are quite delightful. The beginning of the first song, “Get Up,” has a beat and melody that is strikingly familiar to Andrew W.K.’s “Party Hard.” However, the song then goes into a more ‘80s aerobic-like song and reminded me of an ‘80s Jane Fonda workout video my mom had, with leg warmers and everything. When listening to this song you cannot help but bounce around and dance like Molly Ringwald, while strutting your most impressive aerobic steps. The music contains upbeat keyboards and an electroclash indie rock beat. The vocals are somewhat androgynous, but it is just singer Sheela and her low voice. The music is along the lines of the Epoxies and the Soviettes. The album is fun and worth a listen. It was also recorded on a four-track in the band’s bedroom. Overall: entertaining and enjoyable. –jenny (Jilted)

Sex Effects: 7”
Taking a step back, it’s odd that the words “new wave” come up in 2005, especially when those words aren’t preceded by “fuck.” When it first came out, by and large it was the record companies’ way of neutering punk and “safing it up” in an attempt to corral it and sell it to the masses. Don’t get me wrong. There were some great songs, and a couple of great bands (Devo, Vapors), but it was such slim pickings, that who’d think that the torch would be re-lit to start new and interesting fires over twenty years down the line? For better and for worse, The Divebomb Honey sound a shit-ton like The Epoxies. Sure, there are differences. Sheela’s voice has a lower register than Roxy Epoxy’s and Ben Crew’s backups are more hoarse than FM Static’s, but the elements they’re dealing with: keyboards up front, real drummer, fashion-forward sunglasses and stripes, guitar-driven new wave played by punk rockers is still in its pioneering stages, so I’m going to cut ‘em a little slack. Besides, the songs—especially the songwriting in both bands—is top notch. Shit, you can dance to it and it’s fun to listen to. –todd (Jilted)

Let’s Start Something b/w Pick up the Phone: one-sided 7”
I’ve liked them from the start, but The Divebomb Honey is getting better. “Pick up the Phone,” especially, is propelled with cyanide keyboards and digital ants under the skin. It sounds like a Bladerunner-inspired Josie Cotton in a basement: sweaty circuit boards and played to an audience in underwear made solely out of electrical tape and Christmas lights. That or R2D2 rampage music… and it’s definitely for fans of either Devo or the Epoxies. –todd (Exploding Toe)

Beat, Beat, Beat: Demo CD-R EP
A four-track, made-at-home new wave duo that’s much better that it sounds on paper (much like Altanta’s great one man new wave band, Derek Lyn Plastic) because for all the keyboards, stripes, goofy sunglasses, and good singing, they haven’t neglected the card often missing from the deck: songwriting. Catchy stuff that would fit right at home on the Valley Girl soundtrack. It’s a little bit sparser than the Minds, not quite as tumbling as the Epoxies, but a damn fine debut that a savvy record company (along the lines of Alien Snatch or Screaming Apple) would do well to put out. –todd (The Divebomb Honey)

Self-titled: 7” EP
Heavy reverb trip-garage rock with the guitars nicely fuzzed and spacey. The songs themselves are more modern garage than, say, the Chocolate Watchband, but they do the trick just nicely. –jimmy (The Minneapolis Record Collective, minneapolisrecordco@hotmail.com)

“Glass Chimes” b/w “Montrose”: 7”
First vinyl outing by some ex-Drunken Boat gentlemen playing poignant and heartwarming punk ala Mush, meeting the undeniable energy of a truly powerful live band. The A side is a duet with Erica “Yeaaahhh!” Freas of RVIVR, and the B side is an endearing tribute to Jamie Ewing packed with hat tips to specific highlights from the Bent Outta Shape catalog. This record doesn’t stand a chance against the dangers of frequent re-listening. –Daryl Gussin (Rumbletowne, rumbletowne.com)

Self-titled : 7”
Rumbletowne Records is one of my favorite current labels. They’re unafraid to take chances and, thus, release unique and interesting bands. The other side of this is I often hear something they put out and just don’t get it. Diversis a good example. To me it sounds like slow, boring indie rock. One of the songs waxes sentimental about two guys who call each other Dean and Sal like the Kerouac characters. Ugh! It’s overly maudlin and smarmy. Wait... aren’t Dean and Sal the same guy? I don’t remember. I quit reading Kerouac when I was about eighteen. Anyway, you might like this if you like indie-influenced punk or Rumbletowne Records. I’ll pass. –Craven (Rumbletowne, rumbletowne.com)

Hello Hello: CD
Ten tracks of Hold Steady meets Gaslight Anthem type of stuff from this Portland band. This style lives and dies in the songwriting and vocals, both of which are just okay here. I am not a big fan of most of the bands they seem to be copping from for the same reason. Things get vaguely goth/post-punk in places, which at least gives the band a little personality. Most of this just falls into the new style indie stuff which is neither good nor bad, just kinda there.  –frame (Party Damage, partydamagerecords.com)

Hello Hello: Cassette
There are a lot of things people tell you when you move to the Pacific Northwest from down south, mostly having to do with rain and “hipsters.” They do not tell you that every single punk you meet from here on out is going to be prostrated at the altar of Portland’s Divers. I found out pretty immediately that there was some big deal about them up here but avoided every opportunity to find out what it was. I’m gonna skip the self-flagellation and get to the part that matters: Divers fucking rules, Hello Hello fucking rules. If Gaslight Anthem never really lived up to what you thought “Springsteen punk” had the potential to be—or even if they did, honestly—Divers are the guys you want. But it’d be a mistake to distill Hello Hellodown to that most obvious comparison, as soulful and Boss-like as frontman Harrison Rapp’s whispery rasp may be. Slow burners like “Listen, Teller” and “Last Dance” dig up layers of ‘80s influence that don’t surface nearly as often as Springsteen and Westerberg do in modern punk—I’m hearing strains of U2, Simple Minds, Human League, all these little scraps and strands of nostalgia pieced together in strangely wonderful ways. Of their contemporaries, Restorations is the most comparable, unsurprisingly. But despite the long list of unmistakable influences, this band is anything but derivative. They pull off every angle: pensive, plaintive, anthemic, dreamy… it all just works in this many-layered, unpredictable way. This is a special band.  –Indiana Laub (Stay Punk)

“Achin’ On” b/w “Can’t Do That”: 7”
A-side’s a raucous, upbeat original that frustratingly devolves into an intentional record skip/sound collage thing halfway through. B-side’s a way subdued cover of Dead Moon’s “Can’t Do That” that’s disappointingly over just when it reaches its crescendo. Band’s definitely capable of some good stuff, but all in all this was a little disappointing.  –Keith Rosson (Dirt Cult)

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