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Record Reviews

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N.O.T.A.:
Live at the Crystal Pistol: CD
Goddamit, if this recently revived live None Of The Above demo (it came out originally in 1983 as a cassette) doesn't sound as good as when I first heard their "Moscow" 7" (and the title song's on here). In many, many ways they're in the same breath as Really Red, The Offenders, Die Kruezen, and Husker Du. Hard but not stupid. Noisy but not devoid of melody. Political, to be sure, but not locked or suffocating, not overwhelmingly didactic. That they did this in Tulsa, Oklahoma in the early '80s makes it all the more impressive. The sound ain't bad. It's remastered off a four track. It's slightly muffled, but there's no squealing, few drop outs, and most importantly, the energy charges right out of the speakers, like you're in the middle of a cowboy bar and Reagan's the president. Now, if Rabid Cat or Unclean Records would just make the studio recordings available again, that would be fine thing, indeed. –todd (Crank)


NAAM:
Vow: CD
An unholy mix of Tangerine Dream, Pink Floyd, and Black Sabbath’s “Planet Caravan” spread across an entire full-length release. In short, the kinda shit that’d give Syd Barrett night terrors. –jimmy (Tee Pee)


NADA, EL:
Nothing for Nobody: CD
OC hardcore from a band that sounds like a slowed-down, simplistic Dr. Know. –jimmy (www.fingerrecords.com)


NADZÓR:
Your Tolerance Is Shit If You Don’t Try to Understand Us: LP
Nadzor was a Polish hardcore band initially active in the ‘80s and, according to the liner notes, again active. This release consists of two demos, recorded in 1988 and ‘89, in their rehearsal space, released previously on cassette in Germany and Poland, and finally getting its first vinyl pressing here. The sound, captured by a mic placed in the middle of the room, is understandably raw, but one can largely suss out a band that mixes thrash with a tinge of metal and lyrically addresses much of the same topical material prevalent in the global scene back then—the constant threat of war, isolation, totalitarianism, and life within such an oppressive governmental state. Included is a booklet with tons of pics, lyrics, and info on the band presented in both Polish and English. A nice timepiece illustrating both punk’s influence reaching deep into even the most repressed places and the human will to resist those who would strive to bring any dissent to heel.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Pasazer, pasazer.pl)


NAGG:
Self-Titled: CD
...having become Razorcake’s de facto glam critic simply by virtue of having enough interest in the source materials to be able to call people on their shit when they’re underperforming, i have found that the legitimacy of most of the modern-day would-be glamsters, to me, is called into immediate question by their not doing the things that i imagine i would do were i in their position (i.e., covering, say, “Really Gonna Raise the Roof” by Slade, covering something written by Chapman and Chinn, etc.). Imagine, then, my consternation and disgruntlement when i am finally confronted with a “glam” band (i don’t know... they’re kind of fucking ugly for a glam band. They should all be prettier, like myself) who actually DO cover, say, “Really Gonna Raise The Roof” by Slade, a Chapman/Chinn penned number (“She’s in Love with You” by Suzi Quatro) (Quatro, Schmatro—it still counts), etc.—and they STILL don’t have it right. I mean, the guitar player handles the “Really Gonna Raise the Roof” riff so uncapably that one would almost swear that he’s got a wireless unit on his guitar and is playing it without benefit of headphones or monitors from a parked truck three blocks down the street from the studio, the “Bam banma loo banma baby, the man in blue says can you keep it clean” line (occasionally mis-transcribed as “Bam BAM A loo” etc., which is too Little Richard to be correct) right after the solo doesn’t go “BUH-BUH-BUH-Banma Loo Banma Baby” as it should (the “BUH-BUH-BUH” indicating elevated levels of frenzy and riotiousness)—hell, even the little decayed drum stutter before the end is all wrong. Further, at no point in time should any glam record remind me of Pat Benatar (actually, i think that would hold for non-glam items as well) and they should have covered that “Whoa baby you’re a nag” song by Joan Jett. Off with their heads i suppose. BEST SONG: “She’s in Love with You” BEST SONG TITLE: “Really Gonna Raise the Roof,” which, for the record, is supposed to be spelled in Sladean English with the N’s and S’s backwards (funny that spell-check doesn’t pick up on that) FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA ANSWER: Lexington Express! –norb (Dollar Record)


NAH:
Difficult: LP
Nah is a one-man band featuring drums run through effects and layered with washes of noise. The A-side focuses more on the drums and has a driving, kraut rock feel, while the B-side is more about the noise, with intermittent drums. The whole thing has an air of excitement and drive. If you told me I’d have this much fun listening to an album where the main instrument is distorted drums, I’d be shocked.  –Chris Terry (ranchjams.blogspot.com)


NAH:
Die Bad / Tape Fuck: Cassette
Well, I don’t know what to do with this. Two sides of stripped-down, industrial-sounding hip hop beats over atmospheric loops and samples. Occasionally there are weird noises, including something that sounds like a siren made out of a slide whistle and that sound submarines make at the bottom of the ocean. I can’t even begin to write about this as if I know what I’m talking about, so I’m just telling it like I hear it. Apparently this is the guy from 1994!, but don’t let that color your expectations too much. The cover is a glitchy-looking xerox photo of a scary eyeball. Spooky.  –Indiana Laub (Ranch, ranchjams.blogspot.com, ranchjams@gmail.com)


NAH:
Otheration: Cassette
Mike Kuhn, the drummer for 1994!, continues to do what he does best outside of his stalwart band: Beat the shit out of his drum set with mathematical precision. He has released multiple solo albums, with some guest noisemakers, and they’re just that—predominantly solo percussion. There’s no doubt that his drumming is phenomenal but some fantastic booms and thwacksdon’t make an album. Fifteen songs of cymbals crashing is just as lobotomizing as someone sweep-picking on their Steve Vai signature. No matter how good you are, solo instrumentalists always have to be better. Some spitfire rapping over his beats would go a long way towards making this more digestible. –Sean Arenas (Protagonist)


NAIILED DOWN:
Resurrection: CD
Obnoxious hardcore/grind from a band that’s been around for a while. The songs have enough twists and turns in ‘em to keep things interesting, and no doubt some of the lyrics will piss off a few people, as they should. –jimmy (First Blood Family)


NAILBITER:
Abused: CD
Another Discharge clone band, this one inspired by their speed metal period. –jimmy (Hardcore Holocaust)


NAILBITER:
Abused: CD
Another Discharge clone band, this one inspired by their speed metal period.  –jimmy (Hardcore Holocaust)


NAILED GOD:
Glorification of the Unborn: CD
I’m not good at knowing the difference between the infinite number of metal subgenres, so I’m definitely the wrong guy to tell you whether this passes for death metal or black metal or whatever these days, or—for that matter—if this is any good or not. My best guess is that if you can stomach bands like Cradle Of Filth, then this is probably right up your alley. I however, will kindly pass. –Jeff Proctor (Zero Substance)


NAILGUN:
Black Amphetamine Dissonance: CD
Low budget metallic hardcore that did zilch for me. –jimmy (www.angelfire.com/indie/nailgun)


NAILGUN:
Black Amphetamine Dissonance: CD
Low budget metallic hardcore that did zilch for me. –jimmy (www.angelfire.com/indie/nailgun)


NAILS:
Unsilent Death: CD
While I was skeptical about ex-Terror guitarist Todd Jones playing grindcore, this recently re-released album gets a resounding “Hell yes!” Blazing fast at points, and slow and heavy at others, this rager is everything I’d ask for in a grindcore album. The vocals are a little more intelligible than the norm, and features many parts that make you want to scream along. With ten tracks clocking in at just under thirteen minutes, and songs ranging from thirty seconds, to nearly four minutes, the band demonstrates that they can blast out short numbers with the best of them, and also flex their song-writing abilities on longer songs. Grind fans everywhere will appreciate every second of this. I know I do. –Paul J. Comeau –Guest Contributor (Southern Lord)


NAILS:
Abandon All Life: CD/LP
The follow-up to Unsilent Death finds Nails once again playing blistering metal in concise fashion (ten songs in seventeen minutes). As I get older I find I still love heavy, fast music, but I also find the inclusion of short bursts that comprise songs to be more of a novelty and not so much anything I’m interested in listening to repeatedly. Some acts can pull this off successfully (Pig Destroyer), but most don’t seem to have anything substantive to add to the genre by utilizing these sorts of tunes. Nails are obviously skillful musicians and know how to bring intensity and passion to their craft. ­­Their ability to find a groove and strength in the longer tracks makes them pretty formidable. However, there are only two of those songs on Abandon All Life and while both are quite good, it leads me to wonder what an entire album of such material might sound like. My guess is that it would be pretty awesome. –kurt (Southern Lord)


NAILS:
You Will Never Be One of Us: CD/LP
The third album from Nails is their most brutal (and their lengthiest—clocking in at an impressive twenty-two minutes). Most of the songs are under two minutes, but the three-piece has expanded their sound with the grinding, sludgy closer, “They Come Crawling Back.” It’s more than a third of the entire album length. For the majority of these ten songs, however, Nails play ferocious, short bursts of hardcore. They obliterate, they pummel, they burn, and then they’re done—on to the next one. The sound is concise, ferocious, and filled with one emotion: anger. If you can get behind all that (and I certainly can) this is the album for you. –Kurt Morris (Nuclear Blast)


NAKAM:
Self-titled: LP
Vicious, marauding German hardcore that reminds me of Poison Idea. They’re perfectly heavy and pissed-off, with “revenge of the underdog” type lyrics. Makes me want to stand on top of a speeding car and throw cinder blocks through fast food restaurant windows. One gripe: they need to have a band meeting and tell the guitarist to chill with all the shredding. This ain’t Steve Vai, buddy.  –CT Terry (spasticfantastic.de)


NAKATOMI PLAZA:
Private Property: CD
I was so excited to get a CD from Brooklyn, with the first song called “Meanwhile in Greenpoint.” (I live in Greenpoint, a super Polish part of Brooklyn.) I was hoping to hear lots of songs about ridiculous Greenpoint people, buildings, stories. (Yes, I am a sucker for the specific song – see my Radon record collection!). Anyway, this isn’t that. Nakatomi Plaza play mid-tempo punk rock with lots of breakdowns with personal/political lyrics. Okay, but sort of over-done at this point. Still, if they wrote a song about the four drunk guys who hang out in McGolerick Park, I’d listen! If this were a cereal, it’d be generic Cheerios. Let’s hear something new! –Maddy (Immigrant Sun)


NAKATOMI PLAZA:
Private Property: CD
I was so excited to get a CD from Brooklyn, with the first song called “Meanwhile in Greenpoint.” (I live in Greenpoint, a super Polish part of Brooklyn.) I was hoping to hear lots of songs about ridiculous Greenpoint people, buildings, stories. (Yes, I am a sucker for the specific song — see my Radon record collection!). Anyway, this isn’t that. Nakatomi Plaza play mid-tempo punk rock with lots of breakdowns with personal/political lyrics. Okay, but sort of over-done at this point. Still, if they wrote a song about the four drunk guys who hang out in McGolerick Park, I’d listen! If this were a cereal, it’d be generic Cheerios. Let’s hear something new! –Maddy (Immigrant Sun)


NAKATOMI PLAZA:
Ghosts: CD
I’ve been a fan of Nakatomi Plaza (NP) since I got their Private Property album to review back in 2002 for my old zine, actionattackhelicopter. They’ve finally called it a day and decided to release these songs as their last album. For those unfamiliar with them, NP was from Brooklyn and utilized female and male vocalists while the male vocalist also did some screaming now and then. Their music was probably closest to an indie rock or punk rock sound and their lyrics were often political, in an anti-establishment vein, which I always appreciated, as they were written with some attention paid to personal emotions within that political context. However, the new album, while probably showcasing NP at their most introspective and personal, seems to lack much excitement or edginess with their sound. It’s more indie than punk this time around but, unfortunately, Al Fair’s female vocals (which I really like, as they remind me of Caithlin DeMarris from Rainer Maria) seem to be less prominent than Oscar Rodriguez’s male vocals and there are hardly any screams on the album at all (which is fine by me). I suppose that this is a logical progression in sound for NP. Because I’m a fan, I’ll probably find this album growing on me over time, as it has its compelling moments and good musicianship. However, if you want to be introduced to the band, I’m not sure this is the best place to start. –kurt (nakatomiplaza.com)


NAKED AGGRESSION:
Heard It All Before: CD
This album is a compilation of the first decade of Naked Aggression with three unreleased early demo tape songs. There are also three bonus tracks of their late guitarist, Phil Suchomel, playing classical guitar. Basically, if you already have any Naked Aggression albums you will already have most of these songs, so this is only worth it if you want a more complete record collection. The political songs and unique high pitch squeal of singer, Kirsten Patches, have a soft spot in my heart. In a women’s studies class full of ignorant pop-star-loving rich kids, I played “Lock Us Away” for my media presentation—I don’t even remember the point or my argument—but the horror on my classmates faces was priceless. For that moment of triumph, I like this band, and coincidently this CD has some shining moments, since it is primarily old Naked Aggression songs. –jenny (SOS)


NAKED AGGRESSION:
The Gut Wrenching Machine: CD
There are a few bands through the years that I have read about their history, their comings and goings and never listened to a single song by them. This is one of those bands. There a lot of people out there who are better qualified and informed about this band. All I can tell you is that they were a relevant punk band out of the LA scene during the late ‘90s. I still see kids today with their patches on. That’s saying something. History that I read off of this disc and elsewhere is that this is the demo recording of their last album of the same name. The previous album was put out by a label that gave them no promotion or support. The band was ready to embark on tour to support said record and guitarist Phil Schomel died from an asthma attack. Singer and wife Kirsten Patches was devastated and band broke up. If I’m correct, Kirsten moved to the east coast and got a degree, started teaching and eventually moved back to LA. She regained her strength and passion for music and started a new band called Meet the Virus. Coincidentally, the guitarist for Meet the Virus had done the demo recording of this CD. I’m assuming since the original album was hard to obtain and Meet the Virus is currently touring as Naked Aggression, they are paying tribute to Phil Schomel and giving a new generation a chance to hear their music. Since I am a newbee to their music, I am pretty impressed by what I’m hearing. Kirsten is a strong vocalist who seems to be able channel her energy into the songs. The songs themselves are aggressive and raw but have an underlying melody that keeps things interesting. I’m curious to hear the other version to see how the extra production affects the music. I guess I’m playing catch up once again with another band. –don (Rodent Popsicle)


NAKED AGGRESSION / ALL OR NOTHING H.C.:
Split: CD
Despite the fact that they’ve been around more than twenty years and they’re originally from Wisconsin, my home state, I’ve never actually listened to Naked Aggression. Oops. Thoughtful and intense hardcore poking at the same problems hardcore’s been poking at since old times, albeit with a sharper stick than usual. If you haven’t heard them yet either, now’s a good chance to remedy that problem, especially since they’re paired up with the like-minded All Or Nothing H.C. on this split. –mp (On The Rag)


NAKED AGGRESSION / ALL OR NOTHING H.C.:
Split: LP
Angry music with political intent. Fuck the system and whatnot. Naked Agression has a twenty-plus year long history and All Or Nothing H.C. started in the late ‘90s. At certain point, music like this feels like it’s a game of Madlibs. “Fuck (neo-conservative buzzword).” “We’re being (word implying mass public has no free will)-ed.” It’s not that I disagree with the message, but the lyrics feel too simplistic for the ideas that are trying to be addressed. Political commentary is a tricky game. For fans of The Exploited, mohawks, and studded belts. –Bryan Static (Emancypunx, emancypunx.com)


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