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Record Reviews

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Swallow the Pill: 7"
Swallow the pill? I’d rather not. Boring posicore is boring. Also, who thinks a photo of Audrey Hepburn from Breakfast at Tiffany’s has any business being on the cover of a hardcore record? I mean, besides these guys? –Vincent Battilana (Refuse)

Feeding Time: 7” EP
Heard good things about these cats, so I picked this up outta the piles. Was not disappointed. Two mid-tempo shocks of hardcore with a heavy, hypnotic undertow and a nice delicate balance between noise and order. Instant fan I be.  –jimmy (S.H.I.T.)

Day Drunk: CD
Pedestrian, punky rock with a singer that sounds like he’s actively avoiding singing in tune. Cute acronym for the band name there. –jimmy (Pop-2121)

North: CD
Country-twanged rock—or rock-twanged country, if you prefer. I prefer neither.  –jimmy (S.S. Web)

Skinheads Still Scare People: 7”
Oi meets hardcore with good results. It’s tough and really well played. I’d like to hear more. –ty (Koi!)

Split: 7"
Well, the first time I listened to this I may have been a little drunk and confused. I realized the second time around that the record is labeled backwards, so that’s why it wasn’t making sense to me. S.S.S.P. is still doing the oi-meets-N.Y. hardcore thing, leaning more into the hardcore end of the spectrum. They balance it out with a faithful Blitz cover, though. No Resistance was a little more intriguing with their songwriting and singing more than growling. Almost a hint of New York Dolls or something in the mix. I like it. –ty (Koi)

Action: Split 7"EP
Hoo, doggie! Some crankin’ punk rock‘n’roll from two bands I initially thought were one, both of which are apparently vying for the title of Italy’s answer to the Candysnatchers. Some wild shit here that ranges in tempo from overdrive to nitro-injected full-throttle. After being stuck in traffic for more than three hours today, this is exactly what I need. –jimmy (Rapid Pulse)

Feelings of Expiration: 7”
I really wanted to like this one because I’ve been through Redding, CA, where these guys are from—and know how much it sucks—but they play some pretty boring straight edge hardcore with dopey lyrics and lots of E chords and slow parts and breakdowns and blast beats. They do have a song called “Macho,” which refutes macho bullshit attitudes. I’ll commend them for that. –Craven (Mind Melt, mindmelt.com)

Psychopathic Little Girl: CD-R
Sounds like a mix of studio and live recordings from a band that have tell-tale signs they might have roots that go a wee bit deeper than the past decade. There’s definitely the tinge of bar punk to ‘em, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but when you least expect it, the band takes on the attack of a band that sounds like it cut its teeth in straight ahead early/mid-‘80s punk/hardcore. I really can’t explain the sound other than to say it’s like dispensing with nuance and “style” and opting instead to assault the instruments. It’s usually evidence that those responsible learned by doing rather than spending hours at home honing their “craft.” This, along with the comparatively primitive quality of the recordings (which are clean but don’t sound like they’ve been ProTooled to death) lends the proceedings some edge and a feel of authenticity. –jimmy (SA90, sa90punk.com)

Johnny on the Phone: LP
A marked improvement sound-wise here from its predecessor, Psychopathic Little Girl. They’re still mining a mix of bar punk and early ‘80s West Coast influences. They keep things melodic and never quite moving over into full-tilt hardcore territory, but they still attack the arrangements with a sort of meat and potatoes directness that feels more blue collar than, say, a buncha MIT grads slumming in the punk gutter. Nice updating the cover art on the Rodney on the Roq Volume 2 comp.  –Jimmy Alvarado (SA90, sa90punk.com)

W Koncul!: CD
"Pozytywny Przekaz," the third track on this album, opens with a kazoo solo. Kazoo.  –John Mule (Self-released)

Making Light of a Shitty Situation: LP
This Calgary five-piece made a record that gives one the impression they’re fun to party with. Laced with sound clips and lyrics about being bummed out, bored, and chewing on prison bars, it’s a sloppy/melodic rollicking good time. Gravel vocals and Hot Water Music guitar twiddles. The cover depicts a Saber Tooth toy smoking a cigarette. How could you go wrong? - (Matthew) –Guest Contributor (N.C.J.T., ncjtrecords.bigcartel.com)

Making Light of a Shitty Situation: LP

I’m not sure why, but listening to this makes me think of the ‘90s and early 2000s. Poppy punk with a hint of melodic hardcore from Calgary, I think it’s the raw Kid Dynamite-esque vocals and the hint of hardcore rage mixed in with the pop hooks in the riffs that made me dig this. If you like your punk melodic but with screamy vocals, this is definitely something you’ll dig.

–Paul J. Comeau (Sabertooth, sabertoothpunk@gmail.com)

Morning Breath: 7” EP
Poppy punk of a similar strain as bands like Tiltwheel and such. The songs are nice ‘n’ noodly in structure with the requisite gravelly vocals that seem to be all the rage these days. –jimmy (Debt Offensive, debtoffensiverecs.bigcartel.com)

Space Between: LP
I will shop a record based on its graphics and design. I think most browsing consumers do the same, visual stimuli being the first contact point and potentially being a major deciding factor (sans audio availability). Keith Caves’ art cuts, much like the dagger of the back cover, with Pettibonesque starkness. Inside the grooves of Sabertooth’s third and final release, according to Todd of Debt Offensive’s note, is pop punk/melodic hardcore from Calgary with nods to Lifetime and Kid Dynamite. Maybe it’s the fact that Space Between is the bookend of Sabertooth, but the songs carry a genuiness and honesty that carries beyond those foundations. The difference between being apt and loving what you’re doing versus being compelled and living what you’re doing. Melodic hardcore is often fun, but age it, run it through the experience mill, and Sabertooth is shouldering a deeper connection in listening experience, more akin to None More Black or Smoke Or Fire. Seek this one out, limited to three hundred. –Matt Seward (Debt Offensive, debtoffensiverecs.bigcartel.com)

Project Sherm : 7"+CD
A five-song, lowish-fi, jazz-core mini-opera that the producers claim to be about some wacky space adventure of some sort, but sounds to me like it is actually about the life and times of Stephen Egerton. Comes with a fold-out poster sleeve, a CD-R, and a libretto ((well, a piece of folded-over paper detailing the story)) ((which in and of itself is quite amusing and well done)). I hope Project Sherm means a lot to some people. I may not be included in that particular subset of humanity. BEST SONG: “Space Niggas” BEST SONG TITLE: “Red Light Planet” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Shermy, along with Patty and Charlie Brown, were the three characters featured in the first-ever Peanuts strip in 1950. –norb (Goin’ Ape Shit)

Self-titled: 7"
Lo-fi art/proto punk with multi vocalists of both the genders. Not very fast, yet surely fast enough to still rock. Sadly whatever this was recorded on doesn’t seem to have had the capacity to capture the entirety of this band, which leaves me grieving what I don’t get to hear. Whatever, that’s just the price of DIY sometimes, and this 7” is still really good anyways. –Daryl Gussin (Commodity Fetish)

Self-titled: CD
Dunno how I managed to be the lucky one (and I’ve got no one to blame but myself ‘cause I’m the silly, optimistic bastard who pilfered it all from the review bins), but it appears that I managed to get this issue’s full ration of sludge releases. Sabre leans more towards the metal end of the spectrum, with vocals vacillating between howling and grunting. They zip along about as fast as two snails fucking, but they ain’t without their charms, I guess. –jimmy (sabreband.com)

Self-titled: 7"
Hailing from Austin, Texas and featuring members of Army Of Jesus, this new band impressed me quickly. It hits you right in the gonads as soon as the sound pours out of the speakers. I was overtaken by the energy and felt like I was in the comfort of an old friend. It’s hardcore that is tough as nails, but still retains bits and pieces of melody to add character to the charging music. For a modern day reference, this band reminds me a lot of the Swedish band, Victims. The bands share the same intensity and show a genuine drive. Some bands try to sound like they are trying to play U.S. ‘80s-style hardcore and not quite pull it off. Some bands do it right and sound like a band that came from that time period. I classify this band as the latter. –don (Schizophrenic)

You’re Not with Us: LP
A lot of the time when I go to a hardcore show or a metal show, afterwards I walk away talking about how blown away I am by how tight, fast, and intense the bands were. My girlfriend usually then will ask if I want to go buy the band’s record and almost always I find myself saying “Oh, no. I would never listen to that at home.” That’s the feeling I get with this record. These dudes probably slay live. The band is supremely solid, plays with epic ferocity, precision, and speed. But, at the same time, you won’t ever catch me pitting in my room to this. For a quick description, imagine if the Husker Dü that recorded Land Speed Record got angrier, louder, and faster over time, maybe dabbled in metal crossover territory, rather than going on to record New Day Rising or Flip Your Wig. As a matter of personal preference, I enjoy the latter more so than the former, which isn’t to say that there aren’t folks out there who wouldn’t enjoy this record. I’m sure some of you are certainly going to salivate all over this, and I might even join you at the shows. This just isn’t going to get a lot of plays on my turntable. –Jeff (Residue, residue-records.com)

Seven Songs: CD
More fucking emocore. Wouldn’t have been so bad if the singer didn’t sound like such a whiny prat. –jimmy (New Disorder)

Silencer: CDEP
Decent enough indie pop with liberal sprinkles of ‘80s Brit-pop, loud guitars, and gloominess to keep things interesting. –jimmy (Spinsgood)

Self-titled: CDEP
Modern day hardcore with youth crew background vocals and metal guitar riffs. Are you tough enough? –don (Spook City)

Self-titled: CD
Modern day hardcore with youth crew background vocals and metal guitar riffs. Are you tough enough? –don (Spook City)

Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt: CDEP
Full disclosure: The drummer of this band got me into punk rock, the singer/guitarist’s former mother-in-law was my eighth grade science teacher, and the bass player will, to me, forever be twelve years old. That being said, this is the Indiana-based band’s first release. It’s a six song EP, with one of those songs being a bonus track (a cover of a song by the singer’s solo act, The Rutabega). The band is a three piece with the bassist also doing some background vocals. Although the band states their influences range from Minor Threat to Redd Kross and the Flaming Lips, it’s much easier to hear the Flaming Lips than the other bands. This is total pop with a lemony twist of intelligence (take that, generic emo band of the month!) with much of the album focused more on ideal songwriting and less on energy and punk-inspired mass mayhem. Thus, the clean recording and engineering really emphasizes the band’s music. Having known the band members’ previous acts—singer/songwriter, math rock, atmospheric alterna-rock—Sad Tropics seems like the logical next step in the musical lives of these individuals. The sound may be too unsoiled for most readers of this zine, but the hooks and catchiness of the choruses really shouldn’t be lost on any fan of the poppier side of punk. –kurt (Self-released, Sad Tropics, www.myspace.com/sadtropics)

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