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Record Reviews

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X:
At Home With You: CD
Nice piece of work here. This is the second (?) album from the Australian band with claims to this name and not the Los Angeles band. While just as primal as their first album, this has somehow got a more refined feel to it, almost like what Birthday Party would’ve been had they been more rockin’. –jimmy (Morphius)


X:
Aspiations: LP
The 1980 debut album from these Aussie legends, who’re apparently still slogging it out live. The sound is raw, primal and LOUD, as it should be and is so often not anymore. Wanna freak out one of your “punk lite” friends? Slip this bad boy in the sleeve of one of their Rancid or Blink 182 records and watch their mind melt down at the sudden overload. Rumor has it that they still sound this crazed and rockin’, which is more than can be said about the American band with the same name. –jimmy (Rock ‘n’ Roll Blitzkrieg)


X:
Home is Where the Floor Is: 7"EP
Not to be confused with the LA band, this is a collection of late‑'70s recordings by this long‑gone Aussie band. What it sounds like is raw, rude punk slop with virtually no discernable Ramones influence whatsoever. Classic, to say the least. –jimmy (Rocknroll Blitzkrieg)


X:
Home Is Where the Floor Is: 7”
Here is a re-release of the Australian band X’s 1978 debut single. Shredding early punk that immediately gets rocking in a Damned, U.K. Subs kind of way. Works for me. They re-pressed this and their first LP in time for their first American tour only thirty-two years later. The old geezers sound great live and it’s a real treat to have this record in my collection. –ty (Rocknroll Blitzkrieg)


X:
Wild Gift: LP
A re-issue of Los Angeles’s X’s second full-length from 1981. The packaging’s gorgeous. The vinyl’s nice and thick. The mastering’s booming. If you’re new to X, here are the crib notes. The first four full lengths—Los Angeles, Wild Gift, Under the Big Black Sun, and More Fun in the New World—are well worth your time and are as good as any mid-paced punk during X’s early tenure. It gets pretty dicey after that. (Ain’t Love Grand was produced by a pop metal dude. Not a great idea. And Billy Zoom had one foot out the door, saying that he’d quit if the band didn’t get more popular. That didn’t happen. Billy left the band for many years in 1986.) In Wild Gift, X mastered the alchemy of twisting crooked country roots into the then-still-new punk blast, planting male and female vocals into that soil, fertilized it with poetry, and it bloomed like a rose garden. X’s early catalog is beautiful, it’s thorny, it was carefully cultivated, and since it’s been properly tended, has lasted decades and is set for a long preservation. As well it should. Highly recommended. (PS: On the back cover, Billy Zoom is sitting on an AllState scooter. Those were the American-sold Vespas that Sears had on their mailorder for only a couple of years. Stylish.) –todd (Porterhouse)


X:
Under the Big Black Sun: LP
Beautifully re-issued by Porterhouse, this album is a god damn classic. Not without its duds, but a classic nonetheless. X has a pretty extensive catalog, some of it great, some of it of questionable quality. In my eyes, this is one of those albums that’s a little of both worlds. When it’s good, it’s unfathomable. Who were these people? What universe did they live in? What bus line takes me there? Beautiful, tragic, truly poetic, and full of character. Not timeless, but close, and definitely not trapped by the tropes of 1982. That’s when it’s good, when it’s bad, it’s pretty pathetic, and they really are wearing way too much make up. But it’s easy to take cheap shots at X, so call off your dogs and pick up this record if you haven’t already, because Bonebrake may be playing the marimba, but it’s still punk as fuck. –Daryl Gussin (Porterhouse)


X:
More Fun in the New World: LP
Some of X’s catalogue is being reissued on vinyl by a label in Los Angeles called Porterhouse. More Fun in the Real World is X’s fourth album. At this stage, the band’s songwriting leans away from the more straightforward punk predecessors Los Angeles and Wild Gift. The album contains some great songwriting but gets into the territory of being more for those with an esoteric interest in the band. “I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts” finds the band’s gritty lyrical sensibility being delivered with guitar picking and snare shuffling. It’s a song I would not want to live without. The album also contains a cover of Jerry Lee Lewis’s “Breathless.” All said, it’s pretty essential; a weaker X album is still better than most good albums. A funny thing to me about this release is that it has a sticker on it that confirms that the band approved of the mixes. I can’t imagine them getting together to belabor the mix of More Fun in the Real World, but as long as they’re happy with it...
–Billups Allen (Porterhouse)


X RAY EYEBALLS:
Crystal: 7”
The title track sounds like some In The Red Records band’s channeling their inner Jesus And Mary Chain for a woozy ditty that is oddly reminiscent of the Brigade’s “I Scream,” which sounds much, much better in reality than it may seem here in print. The two tracks on the flip, “Broken Beds” and “Kam Sing Nights,” sound like the same band taking a stab at Urinals/100 Flowers glory. –jimmy (Hozac, hozacrecords.com)


X-GIRL:
Endangered Species: CD
Synth and guitar driven, sometimes moody, Japanese pop from three girls dressed like they just walked out of an episode of some animé show. It’s interesting, but that don’t mean it’s particularly good. –jimmy (Alternative Tentacles)


X-IMPOSSIBLES:
White Knuckle Ride: CD
Boring rock’n’roll dressed up nice and dirty for all you big, tough, leather jacket-wearing punkers. –jimmy (Headhunter/Cargo)


X-OFFENDER:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Co-ed cinder block basement booty-stompin’ not unlike a post-larval Thee Fine Lines, although the guitars herein lack some of the boat-caulking wallop of said band’s stout axes. I enjoy records with television sets on the covers. That is all. BEST SONG: “Get It Right” BEST SONG TITLE: “Oh!” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: My house has been recently overrun with box elder bugs. I was in pursuit of one of these creatures while this record was on the turntable, and, as I moved in for the ((literal)) kill, the beetle in question took to the air—only to land smack dab in the middle of Side A, where he was unceremoniously rotated into my stylus, knocking him for a loop. The rest of the extermination process was carried out sans incident. –norb (Milk ‘n’ Herpes)


X-POSSIBLES:
Blood Everywhere: CD
Solid female-fronted punk rock reminiscent of the old LA band Red Scare. Like that band, the poppier mid-tempo stuff here is good, but when they thrash things up, watch out, boyo. This is gonna garner much airplay come summertime. –jimmy (www.x-possibles.com)


X-PULSION / STREETS :
Split: 7”
A repress here of an early Belgian punk split, originally released on Romantik Records in 1978. X-Pulsions: First salvo is a serviceable punked-up cover of the Partridge Family’s “Heaven Only Knows,” followed by a two-fer: the raw, stompin’ “Schmucks” right into proto-thrasher “Castration.” Those two alone make this worth the price of admission. Streets: Their sole contribution to this party is “Police Control,” a slow, reggae inflected bit of not-near-as-interesting. X-Pulsions are the clear winners here. –jimmy (No Good, nogoodrecords.com)


X-RAYS!:
Jameson Shot: 7” EP
Jameson whiskey goes down fine, and finer still are the X-Rays! of Nottingham for supporting neighboring Ireland’s economy. What isn’t fine is the way waking up to the aftertaste of whiskey has cross-wired my brain to think that whiskey actually tastes like hangovers. But that’s my problem. For the strong eared and stomached, every song on Jameson Shot will please, neat or with ice or water. G-Man’s guitar roars with bottom dollar distortion and Gary X-Ray’s weasely shouts are perfect on tracks like “Drinking for My Baby,” crafting gleefully shitty rock of the street punk feel, minus the aggression and double the cheese. I can just get through these three tracks before the X-Rays! liquor slap overwhelms my system, which needs some watery lager (tempo changes) mixed in with the hard stuff so I can stand on solid legs and flip the record, which comes on marbled vomit grey vinyl.  –Jim Joyce (Big Neck)


X-RAYS!:
Jameson Shot: 7”
Fast, unremarkable pop punk. Each song follows the formula of indecipherable lyrics about drinking followed by a metal-tinged solo. There’s a member of this band named “G-Man.” Of course there is. –Alanna Why (Big Neck, bart@bigneckrecords.com, bigneckrecords.com)


X=:
Seeing Grey: Cassette
What first caught my eye was the excellent packaging. The cover wraps around the tape, held together by two bolts and screws that run through the bit mapped eyes of some man’s face on the cover. Opening this up, there’s a small lyric booklet in the far right panel. You have to see how they constructed the whole thing. Quite nice! Musically, this is a mix of mid tempo punk with some rock influences. In a few songs they remind me of the Pist. On the second side, the rock side of X= comes more to the front. The riff to “Pain of the Past” sounds very similar to the Rollins Band’s “Followed Around.” I really like the opener on side two, “Why Not Now,” which sounds like late ‘80s hardcore with some Motörhead influences shining through. It’s a mid tempo, moody number, but effective. Interested to hear/see where these guys go next. –Matt Average (X=, westpaunderground.com/x=)


X=:
This Means Something Else + Now You’re the Planned Obsolescence: Cassettes

A one- and then two-person band—or recording project, actually—with a pretty heavy nod towards darker post-punk structures and riffs. Sound-wise, it’s all pretty little tinny and kind of forgettable, but the packaging here is top-notch and super creative, with Obsolescence coming housed in a crazy spiral-bound manila booklet with lots of pockets and graphics and foldouts and such. A ton of effort clearly went into these releases, in spite of the fact that This Means Something Else was also recorded over some terrible ‘80s pop that is actually longer than the X= material itself. Pretty jarring when that starts playing at the end of your demo, fellas. Obsolescence has a slightly more menacing low end and sounds a bit better overall. Anyway, not really my thing, but aesthetically these guys rule.

–keith (exequals@bandcamp.com)


XAXAXA:
Tango Revolucioner: CD
The name of this band means HAHAHA in Cyrillic. This band is from Europe and plays their brand of tightly-knit, punk-influenced rock pretty well. I specifically liked the bass playing, which tended to lead things a bit. From what I researched, people really want to compare them with Hüsker Dü, which I simply don’t see. If this was the early ‘90s and this music was sung in English, they would have been immediately labeled college rock. There are ten songs, most under three minutes. The energy is steady and doesn’t fan out towards the end or slump on some slow songs. Unfortunately, this caused me to zone out a lot and I had to re-listen to the album a lot to really feel I’d heard it. Through some research, I found out this is basically a band called Bernays Propaganda without the female singer, so if you like this, that might be up your alley as well. –Rene Navarro (Moonlee)


XAXAXA:
Siromašni I Bogati: CD
A little faster and more engaging that their debut, Tango Revolucioner, Siromašni I Bogati is a unique record that anybody who hears can’t help but inquire about. The vocals are completely sung in Macedonian and delivered in that yell-whisper style that warrants various mid ‘80s Dischord references. The music isn’t flashy or excessive, just song after song that kinda flow into one another, creating an overall mood. It’s dreary and solemn without being a bummer. It’s punchy and aggressive without putting its finger in your face. It’s a complicated record. I’ve listened to it almost everyday for weeks and it’s only getting better. –Daryl Gussin (Moonlee / Napravi Zaedno, napravizaedno.com)


XAXAXA:
Sami maži i ženi: CD
Leatherface doppelgänger from Macedonia. As anyone who reads this zine knows, this is pretty hallowed territory for a band to attempt and XAXAXA succeeds for the most part, though the lyrics (not in English) simply cannot approach those of Frankie Stubbs, in any language. It’s a universal axiom, kind of like staring at the sun—you are probably better off not attempting it.  –Garrett Barnwell (Moonlee, moonleerecords.com)


XBRAINIAX:
Deprogrammed: CD-R
This is a West Coast tour-only advance copy of a full length yet to be released. Being already familiar with this band, I kinda knew what to expect. Or at least I thought I knew. To help put things into perspective, let’s consider the fact that they recently released a collection CD of all their previously released material and it all adds up to ninety nine songs from an EP, several splits and compilations. There are only fourteen songs on this CD. The first of which is not the ten second beat down I was expecting. More like a two and a half minute jam with a steady drum beat (which is unusual given their track record.) After that song, forget it. The songs explode into a frenzy of blastcore and thrash that has not been this entertaining to listen to since Spazz. They love to keep you guessing. The second (and I do mean second) you wrap your brain around a blast part or guitar riff, it’s over and the song morphs into an entirely different being. Like an amoeba of powerviolence. Right after they’re done slapping you silly with their speed, they decide to slow down and drag your unconscious body through a dark, smelly hallway of an apartment building once inhabited by members of Grief and Noothgrush for a good ten minutes on the last track. They recently came through town and regrettably, I missed them. You, however, should not miss out on one of the best powerviolence releases in years. –Juan Espinosa (Self-released, no contact info)


XBRAINIAX:
Deprogrammed: CD
The first song clocks in at two minutes and thirty seconds and all but two of the thirty remaining songs don’t come close to hitting the minute mark. Powerviolence from Michigan that’s not bad, but not all that great either. Really, I think I’d dig them more on a 7”. About halfway through, I realized that it sounds like I’ve been listening to the same song on repeat. I have a feeling that when I’m in the mood for this sort of stuff I’ll be sticking with Scholastic Deth and Magrudergrind. - Chris Mason –Guest Contributor (To Live A Lie, tolivealie.com)


XETAS:
"The Silence” b/w “The Knife": 7”
Two-song 7” about suicide. Side A, “The Silence,” is a melodic post-punk jam with hardcore group vocals. Side B, “The Knife,” has even more melody and group singalongs. Standard “punk” sound, but they’ve got good energy. I liked this a lot more than I thought I would.  –Alanna Why (12xu, info@12xu.net, 12xu.net)


XGIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE, THE:
Crazymaker: CD
I picked up this album because of the title and its reference to the movie (non-porno) that Sasha Gray did. I was surprised to find out that women were behind such song titles as “Zombie Heart,” “Blood Bath,” and “Scream.” These songs seemed to be a move out of The Mapes’ playbook. It’s refreshing to know that women have a sense of humor dirtier than mine and just about as on par with The Mapes in terms of pushing the limits of decency. Take their tune “Pregnant Again” and its opening lyrics: “Oh no, I think I’m pregnant again. I really don’t want another abortion.” Musically, the best comparison I can make to a band other than The Mapes would be The Runaways. I don’t think the tunes on this album have the mass market, instant classic appeal that tunes like “Cherry Bomb” has, but not many songs do. These women are willing to take their sexuality where even Jett would fear to tread. The funniest song on the CD is “I’m a Slut.” It’s sort of like a Grease musical number, but replace the PG cast singing about an innocent high school fling with the women from The XGirlfriend Experience taking it to an X-rated sex-capade. I must lead a sheltered life because I don’t know women this brash, but, hey, at least I have the CD to prove they exist. –N.L. Dewart (Unrepentant)


XIBALBA:
Self-titled: LP: LP

Xibalba are from California and play gnarly, low end-style metalcore. There are some obvious nods to Midwestern influence in their delivery, with several riffs that sound a lot like Integrity or Ringworm, but they take obvious influence from their Californian bands as well. I’m not too into this style, but I know what’s good, and this stuff is up on the ladder as far as modern metallic hardcore goes. The production is warm, the guitars pack a lot more punch than you hear on records in a similar style these days, and the band does a great job of writing really tense riffs that they push to the perfect point before blasting into something else. Fans of Harms Way/Bitter End and similar bands won’t be disappointed. –Ian Wise (A389)

–Ian Wise (A389)


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