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Wine Witch: 7”
Sometimes it is not so bad to know exactly what you are going to be getting from the cover of the record. This looks like party thrash. The band delivers solid party thrash. They cop a skater for their name. Goofy band photos. This band lays it right out. They are certainly no Municipal Waste, but the Hosoi Bros play the kind of good, crunchy thrash that I always enjoy. –frame (Typhoon Killer, hosoibros666@gmail.com)

Haunter: CD
For a very brief period before it was swallowed whole, gutted, and repackaged by the corporate music leviathan as “indie rock,” a term so oxymoronic anymore it makes the brain swim just thinkin’ about thinkin’ about it, the so-called “Alternative Nation” was free to explore different combinations between punk and whatever could be mooshed in to soften that tired warhorse’s increasingly rigid boundaries. From Dead Milkmen to the Replacements to Teenage Fanclub to the Vaselines to Tad to the Butthole Surfers to REM to Babes In Toyland, and so on, a lotta interesting ground was covered before it all went to shit when the money and drugs got ever more seductive, the lights went out, and it all became less dangerous, to paraphrase some old Northwestern band who ultimately went nowhere. Hospital Garden sound like they just time-warped from the moment that whole scene hit its apex, when the edges were coated with a perfect amount of pop to make the poison go down. You get Hüsker-aggressive guitars, laid back Stipe-ish vocal delivery, and a blend of harmony and dissonance that recalls both the punkier edge of early grunge and bands like Poster Children. I could be totally cynical and opine that in this era when the corporate overlords are trying their best to force-feed a starving populace the hollowed shell of grunge to make yet another quick buck because no one’s buying the latest swill they’re cookin’ no matter how cheaply priced it is, a band like this should handily find a place on the revival circuit. Lord knows I’ve said much worse before in other weak attempts at a cheap joke. Problem is, though a song here and there might go on just a teensy bit longer than it should, these guys are pretty goddamned good at what they do and—Mahfü strike me down!—they sound so much like a sincere, real band that they stick out like a leper at junior prom. I seriously love ‘em to pieces, but they haven’t a hope in hell in these times. Here’s hoping they don’t give a flying fuck and continue to do what they clearly do so well. –jimmy (Hospital Garden)

Mover: CD
Another round of prime indie-rock riffage here. As with their last release, they mine the best parts of the genre’s golden age and dish up some tasty, loud guitar pop that doesn’t sound dusty, dated, or deleteriously derivative. –jimmy (Forge Again, forgeagainrecords.com)

Secrets & Sawdust: CD
Interesting bit of work here: dissonant guitar playin’ reminiscent of mid-‘80s college rock stuff mixed in with enough rock and pop influences for them to give the tunes both a heavier edge and some effective hooks. Any occasional nods towards emo yuckiness are tempered by sharp left turns you didn’t see coming. While I can’t say I’d listen to this more than two or three times, I give them their due propers for puttin’ in some obvious effort to separate themselves a bit from the herd. Keeps you on your toes, this does, and that is never, ever, a bad thing. –jimmy (www.bbqrecords.net)

The Believer: CD/LP
Hospital Job is fronted by Luke McNeill, drummer of Illinois champs The Copyrights, and also features members of Horrible Things, who have been near the top of my pop punk list since about halfway through the first song I heard by them. Accordingly, The Believer is an anthemic blast more than worthy of its pedigree. Eleven tracks of tight, melodic pop punk with as many singalong choruses as whoa-ohs and group harmonies. Not to say that these guys stick to the mold of one of punk’s most formulaic sub-subgenres—there are enough quirky chord changes and oddball fills to keep listeners on their toes. In fact, the album’s high point may also be its most unexpected. “The Scrivener” dials back the four-on-the-floor energy in favor of a slow, dreamy swell that breaks at just the right moment. Don’t take this the wrong way, but remember when Blink-182 started getting really, really weird? This is like what it could have been like if that had worked out shockingly well for them. That’s an alternate universe I wouldn’t mind living in.  –Indiana Laub (It’s Alive / Insubordination)

The Believer: CD
Sometimes I think that pop punk as a subgenre is limited by its very nature and, as such, I am usually not overwhelmed when I come in contact with it. That said, I am pleased as punch to hear that Hospital Job brings something a bit different to the party on The Believer. That something different would happen at about the middle of the CD when the band tosses aside the pop punk playbook and throws in some key/synths and/or sequencers on a couple of tracks. And you know what? Not only do they work, but those two songs (“The Scrivener” and “The Believer”) might be the best tracks on the disc. Well done, fellas. Thanks for not following the script. –Garrett Barnwell (It’s Alive/Insubordination)

Never Get Cold: LP
In “Rainspell,” Erica Freas of RVIVR sings about the dirt inside our heads. It’s a metaphor for memory and the emotions that take root in that soil. Here in the foundation of Hospital Job, earworms are wriggling around and flourishing. It’s like they built a farm directly under the band. These songs are super catchy. They glint around your ears—flirting, and threatening to take hold of the granulars, inject their saccharine syrup, and make mud pies out of all that dirt. It’s posi-dance punk with enchanting melodies. The drums are clinky in a way that sounds like they come from a machine, but it helps to the raw sounds of this band. Lots of fuzz and distortion fill the musical crevices like a nourishing water. Vocally, there are two singers who weave together like vines on trellises and really exist well in a shared space. I’ve been meaning to check this band out for a while and am happy to cross it off my list. Real good stuff here.  –Kayla Greet (Rad Girlfriend, radgirlfriendrecords.storenvy.com / It’s Alive, itsaliverecords.com)

Self-titled: CD
Finally! Someone jammed Doo Rag’s blues rock plug into Pussy Galore’s noise socket and it lights shit up like one of those fireworks accidents where everything blows up at once on the ground and the guy’s arm flies off and you’re sitting in the stands with a Bomb Pop in your mouth and everyone starts screaming and the guy behind you kicks your neck. The riff on “Friends” alone just beats me to death every time, and it only goes for like twenty seconds and it makes me feel the way I imagine it would have felt to have heard Led Zep or AC/DC for the first time when they were fresh, or, for that matter, the way I did feel when I first heard Black Flag (which, incidentally, I keep reading references to in others’ Hospitals reviews and I don’t hear it, musically, but the punch is there) or, unavoidably, Pussy Galore. Raw (I mean seriously raw), almost sub-rock, bashing gets hurled in all directions by two guys with a few drums and a guitar (and at least one Suicide record, whose “Rock and Roll is Killing My Life” is here) and if ever a record deserved the mantle “in the red”, this is it. –Cuss Baxter (In The Red)

Demo: 7”
Pretty good Silent Majority or Kid Dynamite-style melodic hardcore. There seem to be a pile of bands doing this right now, so it’s not exactly a mindblow, but these dudes do it rather well. –Dave Williams (Headcount, headcountrecords.com)

Self-titled: CD
Melodic hardcore heroes Hostage Calm return with an album which fuses the band’s early sound, calling to mind Kid Dynamite or mid-late ‘80s era Dischord bands like Embrace and Dag Nasty, with some of their indie rock influences, namely The Smiths. The fusion of indie rock with hardcore roots on this record creates a sound that is simultaneously melodic and catchy while remaining as in your face and intense as previous efforts. Chris Martin transitions from the Kevin Seconds-sounding shouts of the previous Lens LP (2008), to a clean singing style that suits his voice well. The vocal harmonies present in several songs further enhance the overall vocal quality, and Martin’s intelligent lyrics make for songs worthy of epic sing-alongs at shows, in the car, or in your living room. The album opener “A Mistrust Earned,” immediately demonstrates Hostage Calm’s new sound. “Rebel Fatigues,” follows with prominent use of piano, and driving chorus parts that get the head bobbing. “Affidavit,” is a popular track the band play live frequently, and “Where the Waters Call Home,” a poetic argument towards ignoring the differences between people regardless of race, geographic location, or other difference, follows it. A few tracks later is “Young Professionals,” one of my favorite tracks on this album. It is a bit of an introspective song, as one of the title’s young professionals confronts and questions the values of the life he is living, at least for a brief moment. The rest of the album is as good, if not better, with live favorites “Jerry Rumspringer,” and “War on a Feeling,” closing out the album. These songs rank right up with “Young Professionals,” among my favorite tracks on the album, and best represent the new sound of Hostage Calm. While all fans of the band’s previous efforts might not appreciate this new direction, I’d encourage them to give this album a chance. Those new to the band should grab this album and not look back. They will not be disappointed. –Paul J. Comeau –Guest Contributor (Run For Cover)

White Jesus: CDEP
Big-budget street punk along the same lines as Street Dogs or the less-corny, less-Irish Dropkick Murphys tracks. Luckily, Hostage Life forgoes the typical lyrical content of the aforementioned bands and their contemporaries in favor of intelligent socio-political commentary with an earnest, personal slant. There’s even a Wire cover tacked on the end of this that leans the record in an even more thought-provoking direction—certainly a rarity within the genre. This is the first release on the Ontario-based Black Pint Records label, and if the quality of the songs, production, and packaging found here is indicative of their game plan, I’ll be sure to keep my eye out for upcoming releases. –Dave Williams –Guest Contributor (Black Pint, www.myspace.com/blackpintrecords)

Split: 7”
Longshot Records continues to impress with another hearty entry in their split series. Showcasing two Canadian streetpunk bands from opposite coasts, this release brings together Western Canada’s Knucklehead with Ontario’s Hostage Life. As is bound to happen with splits from time to time, one side is way stronger than the other. Although Hostage Life is nothing to frown upon, The Knucklehead track side is an instant classic. It’s like sharing a pizza with someone who ordered something you like, but don’t love on their half. You can still share it, even though you’d rather have hot peppers on the whole pie. Knucklehead is super fucking melodic and danceable, reminiscent of Reducers SF. Hostage Life are in the same vein, but are somehow a little bland. I bet Hostage Life was great live, although they sadly called it quits at the end of 2009. Kudos goes to Longshot for continuing to spread wondrous oi and streetpunk across the globe. –Art Ettinger (Longshot)

Self-titled: 7” EP
Super-speedy straight edge stuff, thankfully short on the metal influence that plagues so many bands in this genre. The lyrics veer more towards the “personal politics” side of things, but there are a few that deal with the stereotypical “edge” subject matter. Not bad for what it is. –jimmy (Third Party)

Legend in My Head, Failure to the World: 7"
The early 2000s saw some interesting trends emerge within the hardcore scene. Bands like Panic and American Nightmare made it fashionable to do away with typical hardcore sloganeering in favor of Morrissey and Ian Curtis-inspired personal gut spilling. This eventually led to the birth of the Makeoutclub online community where the ever-saddening avatars of sensitive hardcore kids worldwide could be found alongside their favorite bum-out quotes and song lyrics. Some anthropological experts (well, me) insist that it was this community of sad sacks that eventually led to the tight-panted, swept-black-hair, Hanoi Rocks version of “hardcore” that thrives today in whichever online –Space or –Book is currently driving the kids wild. To whoever’s interested, Hostages are keeping that flame alive, pretty much verbatim.  –Dave Williams (Burnbridges)

AntHOAlogy: CD
A very nicely packaged anthology of tracks from one of the best American hardcore-inspired German bands of the ‘80s. They knew how to thrash things up with the best of ‘em, but they weren’t afraid in the least to make things catchy and tuneful at the same time, though the singer occasionally sounds like Snake from Voivod during that band’s War and Pain era. Included is a fairly packed booklet with lotsa info on the band (though yer gonna need to be pretty fluent in German ‘cause that’s mostly what it’s written in) and a DVD with live footage and some videos for songs that were originally filmed to be part of a German punk film that was never released. Definitely worth hunting down. –jimmy (x-mist.de)

Grebo 2000: 7"
Punk'n'roll that did jack shit for me. –jimmy (Sell Your Soul, PO Box 6113, Minneapolis, MN 55408)

Grebo 2000: 7"EP
Punk'n'roll that did jack shit for me. –jimmy (Sell Your Soul)

Storklord: CD-R
This San Diego three-piece band is a bombastic blend. Imagine early Amphetamine Reptile bands, like the Cows meets Fugazi or Nation Of Ulysses on a bus that Drive Like Jehu is steering off a cliff. Intense with the loudness the early underground ‘90s perfected. For reference, a hostile combover is what you get when you mess with indigenous people’s land, i.e. the Native Americans. Ain’t No Joke, brother, as these guys say. This seven song gem was recorded by Gar Wood of Rocket From The Crypt. Definitely worth seeking out. –Guest Contributor (Self-released)

Always Looking Forward: CD
I noticed in my pile of review materials that I had one part of this CD’s promo copy packaging, with no actual CD. Unsure of what to do, and ultimately wanting to keep from potentially screwing them over, I figured I’d at least check out the website they’d listed. From what I can tell, this is all your standard Less Than Jake-influenced ska punk. Admittedly, not the kind of stuff I’ve listened to since I was a lot younger, and if I was going to go back now, I’d probably just stick with the influences proper. I tried. –joe (myspace.com/hostileska)

Always Looking Forward: CD
Ska from Scotland which must make them Skatish. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. I also can’t help myself that ska is my least favorite subgenre in punk rock. Hence, I had a hard time embracing this disc with the “ska bounce” and the cliché horn parts. It sounded quite typical of the genre, but maybe a bit more predictable and mundane than usual. My favorite parts of the album were the portions that eschewed the least blatant calling cards of ska. Like the intro to the second song “Where Are You?” and the conclusion of the last song “A Bad Day for Shorts” when they get all metal. However, you may end up liking this if you have a tendency to enjoy ska. –Jake Shut (Self-released)

God Bless America, Popcorn Shrimp’s on Sale Demo: CDEP
My memory of Dubuque is fuzzy. Did I see Hot Carl, or were they just around when people were falling out of trees in inflated inner tubes, before the paint fire, before I almost got in a fight with a guy who kept on pushing me to say, “Fred Durst is a genius”? I understand I was drunk for the better part of the week, and that may help explain why I didn’t realize how great they were. Maybe it’s I’m not so up on their name. Dunno. Hot Carl’s got the hard, tightly structured but expansive melody of Tiltwheel (plus that “it sounds happy but it’s not” quality), hitched onto guitar parts that Jughead of Screeching Weasel would approve of. (Plus the double lyrical meaning in SW. “I’m Doing Fine” is a song about losing it. And “Sympathy” is followed by the parenthetical “(or lack thereof)”) But it’s better than just that, much like Rivethead’s Thundercat music machine is better than the sum of their parts. The songs punch and leave marks of their own and the all the bands I referred them to before are just whizzing-by signposts. I say write them, send a couple of bucks, and have them burn you a copy. This one caught me by surprise. –todd (Hot Carl, 140 Loras Blvd. #4, Dubuque, IA 52001)

Cryonics: CD
This blend of screamo hardcore is dissonant and angular with a slight metallic influence. It also makes me search for something which grabs my ears because there’s nothing that accomplishes that here.  –scott (Level Plane)

Split: CDEP
Two songs and one video of each. Hot Cross’ video is a simple live clip with attendant poor sound, and their studio tracks are too heavy on the jangle and noodle to get away with so much screaming about eyes and hands and voices and pictures. Light the Fuse and Run, on the other hand, turned in a better video (interview and live footage, soundtracked with the two songs from the audio part of the disc) and better songs: second one’s a slow, quiet instrumental that evokes old Western movies, but “Ghost Town” shows that these fellows know how to write a dang song: meaty riffs, proper timing on the tension-buildup parts, discriminate use of “fuck”s, and lyrics that, while obscure, actually bring to mind something concrete. Ain’t no Flesh Eating Creeps, but what is? –Cuss Baxter (Level Plane/Electric Human Project)

The Girl Can’t Help It: CD
Female sleaze-punk, fast, lean, and obsessed with sex. I can think of worse ways to view the world. Unfortunate cover of “The Girl Can’t Help It,” though. –jimmy (Steel Cage)

Negative Fun Singles Club: 7”
This is kind of an interesting sounding record. Very lo-fi and noisy, which seems to be covering up an almost U.K. street punk sound underneath. Basic songs that kinda remind me of Blitz, but there is so much muck and goo over the top that the record ends up sounding like something that might be on HoZac records or something. Those of you who are into weird punk, or shitgaze, or mysterious guy hardcore and the like would probably be into this a whole lot.  –frame (Negative Fun)

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