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Record Reviews

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O INIMIGO:
Imaginário Absoluto: LP
Heavy mid-‘80s feel to the proceedings here, and I mean that in a proto-emo/hardcore way, as opposed to the usual withering assault for which Brazil’s hardcore punkers have long been associated. The songs show a bit more sophistication than the usual fare in both writing and execution, with dual guitars alternating between barre chords and noodly leads and the bass player wiggling in between. This one’s produced by Mr. Stephen Egerton, which means a loud, clean production and explains the thread of Descendents influence throughout, though the singer eschews trying to sing, for the most part, and instead delivers lyrics in both Portuguese and English in a higher pitched howl. At the end of the day, I can’t say it quite works for me, but they do sound like they’re trying to distance themselves from the pack, which is never a bad thing. –jimmy (Nada Nada, info@nadanadadiscos.com)


O INIMIGO:
Personalidades Plasticas: LP
Heavily influenced by late ‘80s DC hardcore, Government Issue in particular (when they were putting out albums like Youand Crash), and a touch of Dag Nasty. But they do have enough of their own personality to be their own band, as you can readily hear in songs like “Abandonado Pelos Anjos,” and the title track, which has more of a contemporary sound. I must admit, it took me a couple listens to warm to the vocals. They’re a little too high pitched for the music and seem to really be straining at being urgent, when he needs to dial it back a bit and go with the flow of the already strong music. I really like the guitars on this record. They have that attention-grabbing crunch, and can slip into a melodic break with ease (check out the closer, “Racional Incerto”). It’s nice—and somewhat encouraging—to hear current bands look to a period of transition in punk that started to go deeper than the prevailing louder faster mentality, and bring in the politics and ideals to complement the change. Hopefully, today’s generation will do the same and take it further. On the whole, this is pretty nice record, and one that bears repeated listening.  –Matt Average (Amendment, amendment-records.com, amendmentRecords@gmail.com)


O PIONEERS / NEW BRUISES:
Under the Influence Vol. 10: 7"
Well, that was certainly interesting. You guys know the deals with these, right? Two bands, one cover song each. The problem with the whole series was either that I didn’t care about either band, or I didn’t care about the songs they covered. This one is two bands I enjoy with two cover songs I have never heard. I checked out the originals before I started the disc and they are definitely… cover songs. I think O Pioneers cover fit their style more than the New Bruises song (which was “Nu Bruises” by Superchunk, which kind of feels like cheating to me). Recommended if you’re into this sort of things. –Bryan Static (Suburban Home)


O PIONEERS!!!:
Black Mambas: CD
I’ll openly admit it: I’m a huge fan of Against Me!; I’ve spent a good deal of time listening to their records. I’d wager to bet that O Pioneers!!! have me licked, though. I mean, they have to have really, really studied AM! or their brains are on the almost exact same wavelength, with the following exceptions: Eric’s vocals are more burlappy and don’t hold the notes as long or as strong as Tom’s. AM! has figured out the backup vocals to an almost Shangri-Las type of effectiveness. OP!!! are still working the dirt through the carburetor. AM! have this preternatural sense of pacing, of knowing when to dip, curl, howl, and sprint. OP!!! have a couple of speeds: mid-paced and slightly faster than mid-paced. So, here’s my two cents: if you’re currently way pissed at AM! and are revoking their membership card from your clubhouse, heck, you’ve got a band that scratches a very similar itch. I look forward to seeing how OP!!! develop themselves. As it stands, super nice dudes, but they’re in the musical shadows of whom they admire. –todd (Team Science)


O PIONEERS!!!:
Neon Creeps: CD
Fugazi tries to channel their inner Replacements and brand the results with rejected Dillinger Four titles. –jimmy (Asian Man)


O PIONEERS!!!:
Neon Creeps: CD
I remember checking this band out some time ago. I’m pretty damn sure that I did so when Mitch Clem dropped their name. I listened to some stuff online; that was that. I don’t recall exactly what they sounded like, but I can say that I don’t recall it being like this. Typically, I can’t really take too much of a band if they have a very noticeable Hot Water Music influence. For some reason, Neon Creeps passes under my radar. This is catchy in a HWM kind of way, but it doesn’t hit as hard like HWM does at times. It’s like HWM plus some straight-ahead rock influence. Anyhow, OP!!! comes through with an accessible rock punk record (no, I didn’t transpose shit) that sounded good as background music the times that I’ve listened to it. I could definitely see this being something that grows on me, especially if I were to find myself around others who enjoyed the album a lot and who chose to play it often. Also, the packaging seems pretty economical, which is always rad (in my eyes). My disc is in a cardboard packaging comparable to a digipack but without that plastic bit that is supposed to hold the disc in place but instead always breaks. There’s a pocket for the disc in place of the plastic bit, which makes the package more like a gatefold LP cover for a 5” record. The package is also has the lyrics and all else screen-printed on it. Not bad. –Vincent Battilana (Asian Man)


O PIONEERS!!!:
Neon Creeps: CD
O Pioneers!!! hold so much promise. With its sharp typography-heavy cover, the endearing Neon Creeps is racked with ruminations about depression, fuck-ups, and could-have-beens. Admirably, a voice soaked in Hot Water Music spills therapeutic doses of piss and vinegar but there’s too much easily revealed here. Creeps is weighed down by a forced sense of forthrightness. The guitars do give off warm tints of early ‘90s indie/pop punk (one track’s intro recalls a Jawbreaker B-side) but the material here is lacking the overwhelming kick that it should have. The song structures come arranged with a sense of uncertainty. By editing their material for a sense of evenness and holding a few words back, O Pioneers!!! could be crafting something so bold that it brings them to mind rather than their archetypes. –Reyan Ali (Asian Man)


O PIONEERS!!! / SAW WHEEL:
Split: CD
O Pioneers!!! sound a lot like Against Me! and it doesn’t bug me because it seems to be coming from an honest place. Seriously, it’s not a passing blush; from the shouted/sung vocals, to the disco/drill sergeant drumming, to the shimmering guitar. They could almost be unused demo tracks, pre Axl Rose and that instant familiarity gives the band a nice—albeit odd—comfort. Saw Wheel plot nicely in the Rumbleseat, This Bike Is A Pipebomb, Plan-It-X universe: down-home, subdued, but fiery-eyed, calloused-hand, and real easy to listen to while you tap your toes along to the beat. –todd (Team Science)


O PIONEERS!!! / SAW WHEEL:
Split: CD
O Pioneers!!! sound a lot like Against Me! and it doesn’t bug me because it seems to be coming from an honest place. Seriously, it’s not a passing blush; from the shouted/sung vocals, to the disco/drill sergeant drumming, to the shimmering guitar. They could almost be unused demo tracks, pre Axl Rose and that instant familiarity gives the band a nice—albeit odd—comfort. Saw Wheel plot nicely in the Rumbleseat, This Bike Is A Pipebomb, Plan-It-X universe: down-home, subdued, but fiery-eyed, calloused-hand, and real easy to listen to while you tap your toes along to the beat. –todd (Team Science)


O PIONEERS!!! / THE MEASURE [SA]:
: Split 7”
Cohesion in split records: Who needs it? On the OP!!! side, you’ve got a cover featuring a cartoon of a cheeky muscleman in a leopard-print Speedo posing with a “gator dawg” in hand and a tiny mutt taking a leak on his foot. Uh… okay. The band’s lone contribution to the disc is a harmoniously jangly confessional delivered with Chuck Ragan-esque gravelly vocals, cloaked in the awesomely raw production of an early-‘90s emo record. Mildly catchy, but it doesn’t cut through you as it should. Flip the green parcel over and you’ll find a stately portrait of the late Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (with newsprint for skin) questioning your soul. The Measure [sa] offer two tracks of plucky pop punk with a sweet slow dance interlude wedged in the middle. Again, there’s some good moments (like the nostalgic bridge in the third track), but nothing particularly memorable as a whole. Together, this tag team of young bands produces a fun yet artistically uncoordinated and largely ineffective teaser of how great their music could be. –Reyan  –Guest Contributor (Kiss of Death)


O PIONEERS!!!/ ANCHOR, THE:
Split: 7”
If I was romantically entwined with this record, we’d totally be in the “It’s not you, it’s me” stage of the relationship. I mean, all the pieces are present and amounting to what should be a great and loving arrangement: The Anchor provides two mid-tempo songs that wouldn’t have sounded that out of place on Hot Water Music’s No Division, with O, Pioneers!!! contributing a lengthy and impassioned dirge about seizing the moment—the band’s come a long way since their Against Me! comparisons. So I just don’t get it. I mean, between the actual music, the nice packaging, the colored vinyl, I should be all over this record. But there’s just something about it—despite all intentions, we don’t gel, this record and I. It’s no one thing in particular and certainly not through the band’s failings (these are, generally, good songs), we’re just not meant to be together.  –keith (Triumph Of Life)


O-TYPE:
Lugubrious: CD
Members of MX-80s creating ambient pieces with a somewhat rough edge. At times it fills the room, and others it’s almost inaudible. As a listener of ambient, I found this to be interesting, and the textures they create are interesting in how they play off one another. Something edgy can almost sound quiet coupled with something smooth. –Matt Average (Family Vineyard)


O-TYPE:
Lugubrious: CD
Members of MX-80s creating ambient pieces with a somewhat rough edge. At times it fills the room, and others it’s almost inaudible. As a listener of ambient, I found this to be interesting, and the textures they create are interesting in how they play off one another. Something edgy can almost sound quiet coupled with something smooth. –Matt Average (Family Vineyard)


OAF:
Self-titled: 7" EP
Screechy, fucked up, and loud, these cats are doing to hardcore what Step Dads did for trash punk. Songs never get too fast or two slow, sound is blown out but not unlistenable, and the tunes themselves are riff-oriented, but know when to make a graceful exit. Thumbs way up.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Deranged)


OAK:
II: LP
Oak are doom band that has more in common with Morton Feldman and Sunn O))) than Black Sabbath. Every note, every hit on the drums, is deliberate and surrounded by space. Even the vocals are a drawn-out, strangled growl from the pits. As the songs unwind and add to the minimal skeleton, a flow starts to reveal itself. A riff starts to develop, and, when it does, the payoff is worth it. The drums become more than just a hit punctuating space. In order to hear this, all you have to do is hone in on the music and nothing else. I appreciate how what was used as the lock groove on side one is incorporated into “Sorrow Is Dead” on the second side. This is the type of record you put on and crawl inside your mind for a while. Nice gatefold packaging as well. –Matt Average (A389, a389records.com)


OAK & BONE:
Self-titled: CD-R
Loud, sludgy and comprised of equal parts hardcore and stoner metal. The narrow parameters within which so many of the bands adhere to in this subgenre often renders this stuff pretty faceless from band to band and song to song, but these guys give the proceedings a bit more personality dropping in bits of reverb-drenched guitar. –jimmy (Hanging Hex, hanginghex.blogspot.com)


OAK & BONE / LIKE WOLVES:
Split: 7”
Two drop-tuned hardcore bands. Metal without being jock, brutal without being formulaic. With their rock’n’roll overtones, Like Wolves are the more straightforward of the two, while Oak & Bone throw in some double bass pedal thunder. Something that blows my mind about reviewing records even now, years into the digital age, is the sense of just how big the DIY punk world is. There’s a photo of the bands and a couple dozen of their friends, and the thanks lists are a litany of bands, showspaces, and punkhouses that I’ve never heard of. Sure, I don’t get out as much as I used to, but everyone in those bands and spaces mean the world to one another, and they flourish, completely under the radar. It’s inspiring. –CT Terry (Barbarossa)


OAKS:
Field Beat: 12” EP
I like this quite a bit. Their sound is sort of indie rock with some electronic music and mild goth touches here and there. It’s as though they’ve updated 1980s post-punk to fit and relate to the present. There’s a coldness and darkness here, but it’s not entirely gloomy either. The tempos are up—and at times tribal—but they don’t get dour and plodding. The guitar is driving, with cold tones, and, at times, churning in the background, with the bass holding everything together. Erica Krumm’s vocals have a dreamy sound, like something you hear in a dream off in the distance. Coupled with Jim Kolles voice in the song “Falls,” they turn ethereal. –Matt Average (Oaks, oaksmpls@gmail.com)


OAKS, THE:
Demo: CDEP
The Oaks do heavy metal the way Queens Of The Stone Age do rock: they take a tired format and twist into something remarkable. The Oaks are slick, strange, and a hell of a lot of fun to listen to. It’s hard to believe that three instruments can make so much a spectacular racket. If I hadn’t seen them with my own eyes, I’m not sure I would have believed it. (This is an extremely polished demo.) The last track, “Deerhead,” has anthem written all over it. The only question is: anthem to what? Drunken hunting? Taxidermy? Whatever, keep this band in your sights.  –Jim Ruland (www.myspace.com/oaksmusic)


OAOAT’S, THE:
Typical: CD
Never mind the overall “Darlington tries really hard to be the next Plimsouls but just can’t quite make it to Teenage Fanclub-land” feel to most of the songs. Ignore their pretty inane lyrics. Just focus on the fact that “Can’t Let You” is one HOT FUCKING SONG. Drony, jangly guitar hook, perfectly sparse lyrical content, driving beat, THIS is what long, late night drives and loud stereos were made for. If this were an EP or single with maybe “Hot Robot” and “On and On” on the flip, I would be personally handing copies of this out to everyone I happened upon. As it is, the other tunes are starting to grow on me. Sneakily catchy, this one is. –jimmy (www.theoaoats.com)


OATH, DAS:
Self-titled: CD
For the uninitiated, the Oath play wild, fast, unhinged hardcore with a little post-punk noise-mongering thrown in for good measure, meaning that a good aural scrubbing can be expected from the moment you press “play.” Fans of the band can rest assured, this is everything you were hoping for, and then some. –jimmy (Dim Mak)


OBITS:
Moody, Standard and Poor: CD/LP
Since their debut (I Can’t Lose) in 2009, Obits have seemed like the next logical step from where vocalist/guitarist Rick Froberg’s previous act, Hot Snakes, left off. It’s a sound that is a little mellower with less fast songs and some surf and blues influence. It marks some progression away from Hot Snakes, but with Froberg’s recognizable vocals, it’s hard to escape a comparison to his last band. That’s why it’s nice to hear Sohrab Habibion, the other guitarist, sing two songs on this album, as he has a smoother voice that stands in contrast to Froberg and helps round out the sound of Obits. However, while the songs are still catchy, they seem to be formulaic with a format that was developed on many Hot Snakes tunes. It’s hard to describe, but listening to Moody, Standard and Poor I feel as though I’m listening to a lot of the same songs over and over again. And, overall, they comprise a weaker batch of songs than were on I Can’t Lose. Yes, the songs will still get stuck in your head on occasion, but they seem to lack any passion, direction, or newness that was present with the band’s first release or most Hot Snakes material. Perhaps I’m doomed to forever be disappointed to some degree since I find it hard to compare anything against Froberg’s mid-’90s band, Drive Like Jehu, but Moody, Standard and Poor is a disappointment from an artist whose work until now I have found to be inventive and fervent. –kurt (Sub Pop)


OBITS, THE:
I Blame You: CD

I have no particular love for the Hot Snakes, Drive Like Jehu or any of their prior or subsequent bands. Everyone jumps up and down and throws a fit when these guys get in to a studio, but, typically, I find myself underwhelmed. Same with cohorts Rocket From The Crypt and everything those guys have ever touched. So when I say that the Obits record has made it in to my daily required listening pile, you’ll know it must be something special. It cracked my thick skull. It must be good. This is a great example of what I’d like modern rock to look and sound like. Enough nods to garage and punk of the past to fill the tank of a rocket headed towards the future and uncharted lands. All packaged in Rick Froberg’s signature art style. Shit is weird and classy. Just the way I like it. I think if you twisted my arm, I’d admit there were a few so-so songs on here, but you could rip out my fucking fingernails and I would never speak an ill word of the song “Back and Forth”. It closes the album in one of the best ways possible. It’s so fucking good it makes you want to put the record back on immediately after.

–Steveo (Sub Pop)


OBLITERATION:
War Is Our Destiny: EP
Final release from these Boston monsters; blistering hardcore that has as much in common with Anti Cimex as it does with Poison Idea or Kuro. In amongst the furious barrage there are some wild solos that sound like label mates the Impalers. This label is on fucking fire right now with this band’s swansong along with records by Impalers and Vaaska. Boss.  –Tim Brooks (Beach Impediment)


OBLIVIANS:
Desperation: LP
I have a story I love to tell about missing The Oblivians on what turned out to be their last tour during their active period. It was February 1997 and I lived in New Jersey. The Oblivians were scheduled to play at Maxwell’s in Hoboken on a weekend when I already told my mother I would come home from college to visit for her birthday. I didn’t want to spend the gas money, or time, to drive all the way to Hoboken from my parents’ house (probably thirty miles each way) after driving from my apartment to their house (probably seventy-five miles.) I figured I would just catch them on their next pass through the area... which didn’t happen until 2010! By that point, I was living in Indiana and had seen them play a reunion show in Detroit in 2009, but to be able to see The Oblivians at home, I had to make the trip! I love The Oblivians, have since first hearing them circa 1995. They had such an intense anger I identified with at that time. I’ll put it this way, and maybe it sounds dickish, but I never had a “hardcore phase” like many of my friends, and The Oblivians were the angriest band I listened to at that time. Some internet message boards that I frequent debate the merit of the sound of this new album. (As an aside, I find it one of life’s funny contradictions that people use the technology of the internet to complain that something isn’t “lo-fi” enough.)Desperation doesn’t sound like any other Oblivians album, just like Soul Food doesn’t sound like Popular Favorites. And none of these albums sound like the shit they did with Walter Daniels. The songs on Desperation are just as solid as any other album (I actually like Desperation better than Play Nine Songs...) and several songs are contending for a spot on my next road trip mix CD. “Pinball King” looks like the winner. A reliable source says that one of these recordings is actually left over from 1994. Just buy this record and enjoy the fact that you get to even listen to new Oblivians songs. –Sal Lucci (In The Red)


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