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Record Reviews

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T-TOPS:
Self-titled: LP
Formed from the ashes of the awesome Pittsburgh band The Fitt, T-Tops play sludgy, aggressive garage punk that sticks with you. With Don Caballero bassist Jason Jouver involved, there’s some serious musicianship at hand, with a definitive Jesus Lizard influence. This long overdue LP is impeccably recorded and well showcases the band’s signature complex, yet accessible, style. A class act of a release all around, Big Neck wins again. T-Tops are tops, man!  –Art Ettinger (Big Neck)


T-TOPS / CYRUS GOLD:
Split: 10”
It’s not every day that my love of both the 10” record format and old baseball cards crosses paths, but that’s exactly what happened here with the “Topps” baseball card-inspired cover art on the T-Tops side of this 10”. Musically, T-tops immediately take the listener on a dark and grungy noise rock ride, with a sound not unlike what you might have found amongst records on Amphetamine Reptile or early Sub Pop Records releases from the late ‘80s or early ‘90s. Flipping the record over, the Cyrus Gold side of this split is more in the arty, angular post-hardcore vein, which at times almost reminds me of a noisier version of Refused, but without the pretentiousness. Overall, this odd pairing works, with the T-Tops side really speaking to me both musically as well as aesthetically –Mark Twistworthy (t-tops.bandcamp.com)


T. TEX EDWARDS:
Intexicated!: CD
This is an eclectic mix of psycho Elvis country, later-era Ramones jams (think “Poison Heart”), and bizarre comedy songs from the guy who led the Nervebreakers. Quick history lesson: When the Sex Pistols toured Texas, they played a show in San Antonio, TX (my hometown!) and the Nervebreakers opened up for them. One of their songs was covered by the Angry Samoans. As for this record, the country songs are the songs that are easiest to digest. As far as I know, this is just a bunch of odds and ends recorded at various parts of Edwards’s career and, boy howdy, does it feel that way. This honestly probably shouldn’t even have been released. It feels like table scraps, which a good B-sides collection shouldn’t be. Not worth the effort it takes to listen to. –Bryan Static (Saustex, saustexmedia.com)


T.H.U.G.:
Self-titled: 12”
Sydney, Australia’s T.H.U.G. play hard oi, like something out of the early 1980s U.K. skin scene. Inspired more by bands like Combat 84 than the softer sounds that preceded them or the faster sounds that succeeded them, this is some seriously rough stuff. The violent lyrics are clearly tongue in check, making this almost seem like a parody record at times. But the music is so seriously kick-ass, that it doesn’t matter if they’re for real or not. Especially notable is the song “69,” preaching about how old skins should let the kids take over: “Don’t worry about 69 / kids now days they’re doing fine.” It’s hilarious, rocking records like this one that us fans of thuggy punk live for. –Art Ettinger (Rock ‘N’ Roll Disgrace, rnrdisgrace.com)


T.S.R.:
As One Voice: CD
These young kids play a variation on the Anti-Flag / A-F Records sound. If they keep it up...they might eventually sign to A-F: who knows. Speaking of the A-F Connection...This band’s acronym stands for The Socially Retarded, right? Well, when Intro5pect, who is signed to A-F, switched bassists, the old bassist wanted to start a project with me called T.R.B.: The Retarded Buttholes. Hahaha!!! That’s just too uncanny!! –mrz (Mental)


TABLOIDS, THE:
Train of Thought: CD
Mellow rock. When they "rock out," they sometimes sound like a cross between Lou Reed, ‘70s Stones and "Ziggy"-era Bowie. Sadly, they don’t do this often enough, and the singer is pretty weak. –jimmy (Endless Loop, 6114 La Salle Avenue, #357, Oakland, CA 94611)


TABULA RASA:
The Role of Smith: CD
A little too college radio, indie and emo to my liking. –don (A-F)


TACHED OUT:
Self-Titled: 7"
This band has former members of some noteworthy punk bands of the past—Deformed Conscience, React, State of Fear, and Calloused to name a few. But this new collaboration is veering into new territory. The thought that comes to my mind is that they love Motörhead! The sound is distorted punk rock’n’roll with some of the metal chops and the bluesy guitar licks. It’s the perfect band to see on a night of heavy beer pitcher lifting, lighters in the air appreciation, and sweaty headbanging. Bust out the devil horns on this one! –don (Fight for Your Mind)


TACOCAT:
Woman’s Day: 7”
I’ve always told people they sound like a less P.C. Bikini Kill (and not just because their three to one female to male ratio), but this time around they’re a bit more bubblegum, and instead of singing about urinary track infections and wearing leotards on first dates, they’ve turned their attention to controversial (and timely!) subjects like Tonya Harding and psychic cats. All kidding aside, they’re playing my hometown in a few weeks and this new 7” has me thinking that I might just dance my ass off (and I hate to dance). Essential stuff here. –Chris Mason (Minor Bird, minorbirdrecords.blogspot.com)


TAGGART:
Pink Pig Stink: CD
Subtitled “10 Years of Taggart Covers, Demos and Z-Sides: 1997-2007,” this is a whopping twenty-four song collection from this Philly band. The band’s originals stand proud next to covers of The Who and The Replacements. Noisy, frenzied, and full tilt, there’s not a wilting flower in the bunch. “Deep End” is a great song, but I’m sure you’ll find a lot more on here that will have you knocking your stereo speakers over.  –koepenick (Self-released)


TAGGART / SUCCESSFUL FAILURES, THE:
Snow Day (Take It Easy): 12” EP
What more could anyone ask of the big, fat jolly dude than some new Xmas-themed vinyl? Well, these two bands have just answered your wish list. Taggart hits you up with three covers and one original for their side. “Wishmas” is cool and will make it into a wintry playlist mix with ease. But it’s on their cover of The Kinks “Father Christmas” where they really nail it. Ray Davies would be proud and I doubt Bad Religion’s recent take kicks as much ass. The Successful Failures come at from another angle: three originals and one cover. Although their Ramones cover is heartfelt, I think I’m feeling “Christmas Morning (Yellow Canary)” a bit more. Either way this is best enjoyed loud, then go back and search out other releases by both bands as well.  –koepenick (FDR, beckermgt@comcast.net)


TAKARU:
There Can Be Only One: CD
Scream, Crapula, scream! –Cuss Baxter (Alone)


TAKE MY CHANCES:
Down Here with Us: CD
These guys just come slamming out of the gate with the first song and don’t quit. It’s some competent hardcore stuff with a vocalist that, when he’s not screaming himself bloody, sounds like he’s belting out forgotten tunes from a Hello, Bastards-era recording session. Actually, when I’m doing something else and not really focusing on Down Here With Us, not actively listening to it, the whole thing really starts to take on the definite flavor and punch of a Lifetime record. When the focus returns, I start to note differences between the two—Take My Chances are melodic, yeah, but the melody’s buried. They’re more focused on getting in there, playing the song and getting the fuck out. So I guess I’d say it sounds a lot like Lifetime filtered through a standard hardcore colander, with a touch of thrash thrown in the mix. The layout for this thing’s absolutely gorgeous (though I’ve got a sinking feeling it’s not being offered on vinyl) and there’s a few hidden tracks that consist of Misfits and Black Flag covers. Definitely a decent outing. –keith (One Day Savior)


TAKE ONE FOR THE TEAM:
Spaghetti Western: 7” EP
A joke band that cranks out some listen-worthy tunes. What a novel idea. Short and painless. –jimmy (Sir Punkly)


TAKE WARNING:
Self-titled: EP
Poppy punk stuff with a driving guitar sound that gives it an edge, backed up with whoa-oh choruses. I hear traces of Naked Raygun here and there, but this is speedier. Lyrically, they tackle media manipulation, the tyranny of wage labor, and more. It’s not bad. I just wish they would add a little more crunch to their songs. –M.Avrg –Matt Average (Crapoulet, cool@crapoulet.fr / Meantime, meantime42@wanadoo.fr / Purepainsugar, pary@purepainsugar.com)


TAKE WARNING:
Self-titled : 7”
France is a nation currently brimming with talented punk bands of all genres. Take Warning is a new band on the scene, with this, their second 7” release following an earlier split release. Take Warning play angry punk’n’roll. The sound quality of this recording is great for punk’n’roll— very gritty—but just clean enough that you can hear everything. Most of the songs on this were pretty run of the mill, but one song that stuck out to me was “Outside,” the first track on the B-Side of the record. This song had the best riffs and lyrics of all the songs on this record. While there was nothing bad about this record, with so many great bands coming out of France right now, I felt this didn’t do enough to stand out from the rest. –Paul J. Comeau (Purepainsugar, party@purepainsugar.com)


TAKEDOWNS, THE:
Self-Titled: 7" EP
I was gonna be a smartass and badmouth this just ‘cause they were local boys, and there’s nothing we punkers from the ‘hood like to do more than cap on each other for shits ‘n’ giggles, but I just can’t quite bring myself to do it. Not because I’m incapable of doing it, mind you, ‘cause I could swear a blue streak about damn near anything if I had the gumption, as evidenced numerous times over the course of this mag’s existence, but because it’s good. Really good. We’re talking “boy, them elitist Hollywood fucks would’ve been green with envy had this come out in ‘77” kinda good. The lyrics and hooks are kept simple, the THUD factor is upped exponentially and the attitude is cranked to eleven, resulting in some kick-ass tunes sure to spoil your mama’s quinceañera. Even more impressive is that they’ve managed to pack nine tunes on a seven-inch, and these are not short songs, mind you. Of course, I’m gonna call ‘em and tell ‘em this wasn’t bad for a group of tone-deaf amputees with more Justin Timberlake singles in their collection than most people should legally own, but, just between you and me, this is probably thee best record I’ve heard in quite a while. –jimmy (Bridgecityrockerrecords@yahoo.com)


TAKERS, THE:
Taker Easy: CD
Hot damn, this band is fantastic! Members of Whiskey & Co. have started a new band called The Takers and put out one of the strongest full-length albums in recent years. Coming on very much like Uncle Tupelo with more ‘70s country influence, this is an incredible batch of songs. Fans of Drag The River and the Weight will want to be all over this band. I have to admit I am an absolute sucker for this style, but bands must have the songwriting chops to pull it off. The Takers have all the songwriting they need and plenty to spare for lesser groups. This record also works extremely well as an album. With no particular standout song, it is just a great batch of songs that makes me play it over and over again. I know it seems roots rock/alt country is becoming another punk rock retirement plan, but as long as there are bands this good I will welcome the trend. Enough of this review business; I gotta hear this record again. –frame (Suburban Home)


TAKING INDEPENDENCE GETTING TYRANNY:
Self-titled: CDEP
It’s difficult to consider self-described “Party Punks from Green Bay” Taking Independence Getting Tyranny’s (T.I.G.T.), EP a self-titled release; the band also goes by the names This Is Gonna Tickle and Terror In Greenville Trailerpark. Regardless of how the band identifies themselves, this EP introduces listeners to seven tracks of the band’s alcohol-fueled punk’n’roll. With good production from Hi-Five Studios, The EP features six tracks of original tunes, and a punked up cover of Andrew W.K.’s “Party Hard.” Hearing that cover in your head will give you an idea of the vibe of T.I.G.T.’s own material. If that sounds like something you’re into, this is a CD worth checking out.  –Paul J. Comeau (Urban Pirate, tigt.band@gmail.com)


TALBOT ADAMS:
Jesse and Jack: EP
Jesse and Jack is an absolute burner. You can buy this EP for $4.99 from Douchemaster Records. And while I seldom encourage people to straight-up buy records I get for review (we’re all just scum bags—no hierarchy here), this is one of those times where you need to just trust me and pick this gem up. These four tunes are pure gold. “Away” is a beautiful song—a street-level folk-rock number in the vein of “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” (the Chocolate Watchband version). “Life Is Good When Cinematic” has great girl-group harmonies and a driving, Tommy James and the Shondells-like bass line. All of these tunes are so simple—they share a lot in common with The Seeds and early Love in their teenage lyrical subject matter and musical accessibility. But there’s real brilliance to them. “To Jack and Jesse or Jesse and Jack” has an ace Merseybeat root-fifth bass line that makes the song, not to mention a great, reserved little guitar lead. You have to have a vast knowledge of music and lyrical prowess to come up with a 45 of this caliber. Although the music is so simple to perform, to replicate it is really difficult. This is the hallmark of all great music. I mean, even down to Adams’ lyrical phrasing on “Summer Days” and its nursery-rhyme feel. He’s truly entering Syd Barrett, Ray Davies, and Dan Treacy territory with the tune. What do you say when someone drops a 45 of this caliber on your lap? I can easily write a sprawling, thousand-word article on how good this EP is. I’m not fucking around, either. Pound for pound, this is the greatest 45 I’ve ever received for review. Right up there with Greg Cartwright at his best. Absolutely stunning. If you don’t like this 45, write the magazine and they’ll get you in contact with me. I’ll purchase it from you, collect a few, and sell them back to people who get it. I can lay this offer out because I know no one will take me up on it. I haven’t lost hope for humanity. –ryan (Douchemaster, douchemasterrecords.blogspot.com)


TALBOT ADAMS:
“Red Diamonds” b/w “Not Even Europe”: 7”
Talented musicians—once known for their wild behavior, their on-stage intensity—sometimes have kids. And, sometimes, instead of being shitbags, absentee parents, and future defaulters on alimony, they adapt their behavior. Both Alicja Trout (doing Alicja-Pop) and Greg Cartwright (who mentioned that he wrote some of the Reigning Sounds songs from Love and Curses on his kid’s toy instrument) are recent examples of this soothing, mellower result. Talbot Adams follows in this rocker-as-good-parent tradition. If you’re expecting the blast of the Royal Pendletons or Dutch Masters (both bands Mssr. Adams was in), it’s an inappropriate expectation, like bringing a keg and strippers to a baby shower. But if you’re in the mood for quiet Sunday morning jams that balance out the hangover with kids screaming to help them make a dinosaur out of cardboard box, this is some good stuff. –todd (Spacecase, spacecaserecords.com)


TALBOT ADAMS:
On: LP
I always wonder at what point you start using your name instead of a band name. Do you recruit people based on the idea that you’re gonna be the guy, or do you gather everyone together and slowly work on them? Either way, Talbot Adams seems to have done it tastefully. He writes excellent pop songs with a spacey consideration in the vein of early Robyn Hitchcock with a hint of big beat garage influence. The bass and drums are solid. It’s simple trio rock with depth invested in variety. It sounds like an album rather than a bunch of songs.  –Billups Allen (Spacecase)


TALBOT TAGORA:
Lessons in the Woods Or a City: CD
Now we’re talkin’! It took me a second to get into this, but now I really like it. My mind did wander at times, and I feel like the album took a while to get going, but it’s interesting and kind of weird, which often times really works for me. There are lots of varied tempos, even within the same song. Kind of discordant and cacophonous. The vocals, which, oddly, sometimes reminded me of Perry Farrell (only creepier), add to that. I might put them in the same camp as bands like the Chromatics, only not the next section over, maybe one across the park. What kind of camps do they have in Seattle, anyway?! Some of the guitar sound might or might not be Sonic Youth-inspired, and there were times I heard a wee bit of the A Frames. There were also some things about it that reminded me of another great band I got to review lately, Golden Triangle, and they are (coincidentally?!) both on the same label, Hardly Art. The artwork is great; there’s a really nice insert with lots of drawings (including a sweet moth picture) and lyrics. I think I will get into it even more after a couple more listens. Favorite lyrics so far: “…the roads are red but they crucifixed it.” And ah-ha! The rest of the lyrics in that song refer to a camping trip! It’s all coming together now…. –Jennifer Federico (Hardly Art)


TALES FROM THE BIRDBATH:
The Eggs CD: CD
This band is a side project of Ean from Sicko and his wife Reba, who plays drums for the Cripples (I think). I really liked Sicko, but I was a little disappointed with this CD. There’s a couple of really nifty songs that sound like some long-lost ‘60s guitar pop band, but overall, it cuts too close to open mike night at the coffee shop. Sorry. –Josh (Tales From The Birdbath)


TALK HARD:
War Journal: 7"
Here's one that takes me back. Metallic hardcore, but not in the current dark-and-suffering-band-of-the-week mold. I mean this sounds like Struggle or something off of an Ebullition comp from the early ‘90s much more than it does like Isis or anything off Hydra Head today. It's pissed, it's smart, and there are weird little breakdowns and parts peppered throughout the songs so that it hooks you, keeps you listening, and never turns into a snoozefest. With songs like "American Idle," "Hardcore Kids Say the Darndest Things," and "If Your Local Anarchist Collective Ruled the World," you know what you're getting here: short, furious, intelligent songs by kids that are just as ready to critique the fallacies of their own scene as they are to the government or consumer culture. A twelve-song seven-inch from a band I've never even fucking heard of, and also a record that just so happens to come heartily recommended. –keith (Don Giovanni; www.sonofabitchbastard.com)


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