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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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ABIGAILS, THE:
Tundra: CD
Blind Rorschach Mr. Potato Head testing. Close eyes, press “Play,” construct MPH accordingly. At the end of The Abigails’ Tundra, my be-speckled, mustachioed Potato Head was wearing tight jeans and a fringe jacket, smoking a corncob pipe and tipping his floppy hat like Dylan on the cover of Nashville Skyline. Sonically, The Abigails throws Waylon outlaw slides, Dylan shuffle, and Cohen delivery into palatable three-minute joints that would be graciously passed around at early 1970s L.A. country rock parties. Songs about medication and jail wrapped up in packaging reminiscent of Exene’s doodles on X’s lyric sheets. Slackers and dirt bags take heed, The Abigails has your lazy summer jams covered.  –Matt Seward (Burger)


ABUSE OF SUBSTANCE:
Substance Abuse: 7” EP
Three-piece drunk-ass street punk from Edmonton, AB, CA. Hard, dirty, and pissed. If a fight breaks out at the party, these dudes probably started it. Just by looking at this record you know exactly what you are in for. From the cheetah print and Casualties-looking font on the cover to the band pic with brick on the back, it looks exactly like what it sounds like.  –Jackie Rusted (abuseofsubstance.bandcamp.com)


ADAPTIVE REACTION:
Carjack My Heart: 7”
I had to do it. As soon as I saw this record, I had to do the research to figure out what it was all about. The record itself is beautiful, but mysterious. Pretty, piss-yellow vinyl with nothing more than the band name and song titles on the label. There’s no cover, just a generic sleeve with cartoony art of some people dancing around a jukebox. So mysterious. I put the record on and it revealed fast and growling garage punk. Angry, fuzzed-out shit with the kind of lyrics that rhyme “epitomize” with “alibis.” Not your typical no-brain stomp and skronk. This is the kind of stuff that I can get into, so I had to learn more. I had to turn to the internet for help. I usually don’t do this before writing my reviews, because I don’t want my opinion tainted by what I might find. In this case, I found something very strange. First of all, I discovered that this is part of a cool subscription 7” series released by Jukebox Records. Then I found the Adaptive Reaction Bandcamp page and learned that a super weird transformation has taken place since the release of this record. They must have discovered synthesizers and drum machines, because it has become a gothy, electro band that sounds almost completely different than this record. Still fun, but maybe they could consolidate the two sounds into something that’s totally unique to them.  –MP Johnson (Jukebox)


ADOLESCENTS:
La Vendetta... É Un Piatto Che Va Servito Freddo: LP
Hafta admit it’s been a good spell since I last heard something new from the Adolescents (my fault, not theirs), so this is a welcome catch-up visit. As can be expected, Tony’s got some things on his mind—pigs running amok, the threat nuclear energy poses to the planet, the peaks and valleys of relationships, and the sorry state of society in the twenty-first century, for starters—and he does so with his usual élan as Steve and the boys lay down the solid sonic terra from which he promulgates. The tunes may occasionally have a bit more “rock” swagger to ‘em, but the wicked hooks, dual-octave guitar noodling, multi-part harmonies and overall feel of the proceedings are unquestionably Adolescents. Seeing as this release marks both the band’s thirty-fifth anniversary and its first new full-length on Frontier since their rightfully revered debut “blue” album, it’s especially sweet that this is as good as it is—a worthy addition to an already stellar, influential career from a band that remembers that punks should be undaunted by careerism to tackle heady, potentially controversial topics, especially in this era when taking a stand on damned near anything can be twisted into controversy, and back it all up with the kind of tunesmithing that’ll burrow into the noggin for decades. A tip of the worn beret is most definitely in order here.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Frontier)


ADULTS:
This Is Our Year: LP
This LP comes with a bookmark-sized insert that implores listeners to “Get Drunk. Read Books. Go to Sleep.” If that were the only formula for making music this fun, this inspired, and this catchy, then every college sophomore would be a fucking punk rock icon somewhere between the likes of Elvis Costello and Laura Jane Grace. Adults hails from New Orleans and this album sounds great. There are portions that sound comforting and familiar, like the gravelly voice and lightning speed, but there are also some surprises like the cleverly arranged guitar riffs and the not-always-so-straightforward beat of the drums. So, to review: Get drunk. Read books. Go to sleep. And, check out Adults.  –John Mule (Hurry Up & Wait)


ALARMS AND CONTROLS / SECRET SMOKER:
Split: 7”
Alarms And Controls released a full-length on Dischord in 2013, and the sonic tethers to other D.C. luminaries, like Hoover and Circus Lupus, a band which guitarist Chris Hemley cites on his punk resume, are audible in the band’s inventiveness. The funky bass groove and tight minimal drumming on “Your Mamma’s Sleek Ride” conjure Minutemen. “Flood Plane” features nearly spoken word lyrics, like “Sibilance in the birdless trees / Grey and the black before the freeze.” The cryptic words pirouette off the tongue and stumble over the jangly guitar. Both songs are memorable and constantly unraveling without ever being mathy. Secret Smoker’s contribution picks up from where they left off on their debut LP Terminal Architecture.If you’re familiar with the LP then this 7” has few surprises, except that the vocals seem to be mixed inaudibly low this time as opposed to simply sitting in the music. Regardless, both tunes are solid emo punk tinged with post-hardcore that is more conventional than revisionist.  –Sean Arenas (Protagonist, protagonistmusic.tumblr.com / Zegema Beach, zegemabeachrecords.com)


ALBERT DEMUTH:
Self-titled: LP
Beautifully packaged solo record by Aaron DeMuth of The Libyans and Cottaging. The effected acoustic guitar and vocals will transport you. You’re no longer home. You’re where Aaron (or Albert?) wants to take you. A journey into the darkness. The guitar reverberates through the air before settling like snow on the streets of a small New England town. The whispered vocals echo off the walls of the narrow alleys. The record dissipates into the night as mysteriously as it arrived. A change of pace for DeMuth, and an enjoyable one at that.  –Daryl Gussin (Self-released, albertdemuth.bandcamp.com)


ALEXANDER THE TERRIBLE:
Mouse Howl: CD
This band describes its sound as “folk punk with an extra x.” Of course, this sends my ears looking for the “extra x.” I find it in some of the songs and not in others. The “extra x” often comes in the form of raw, distorted electrified guitars. This, and some furious ukulele playing set it somewhere between the likes of Ghost Mice and This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb and the dark, spiritual-revival vocal rantings of someone like Jeffrey Lee Pierce. When the singer is not calling down hellfire, he is ranting like a deranged auctioneer, except what he’s selling is the truth!  –Lisa Weiss (alexandertheterrible.bandcamp.com)


AMOEBAS:
Telephone: 7”
Gotta love Modern Action. They have their specific sound dialed the fuck in and have this uncanny knack of finding bands that maintain that root sound while poking at its softercorners. Ramones downstroke and Undertones stun-pop mixed here for some prime singalong punk. Ain’t breaking new ground here by a long shot but it definitely delivers some tasty tuneage.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Modern Action)


ANATOMY CATS:
For Unity: CD
This is melodic, straight-ahead posi-punk made stronger with gang vocals. Seems like they listen to a lot of Anti-Flag, but the result is quite a bit more raw, real, and less formulaic. Fans of No Hope For The Kids and Red Dons would be into this. Like the image on the cover, this is the band I would want behind me if I were marching in the streets, waving flags of revolution, to TEAR IT ALL DOWN!  –Lisa Weiss (anatomycats.bandcamp.com)


ANCHOR:
Distance & Devotion: CD/LP
Swedish vegan straightedge hardcore that uses the line, “Like a hammer smashing through my chest.” The eleven songs on Distance & Devotion sound like something that would’ve come out on Bridge 9 a few years ago—generic, forgettable, and uninspired. It seemed as though over the entire thirty-four minutes the band was phoning it in: dry vocals, tired riffs, and a sound I’ve heard way too often over the many years I’ve listened to and reviewed hardcore music.  –Kurt Morris (Gaphals)


ANTIQUE SCREAM:
Two Bad Dudes: CD
Nope, this is not my thing. I can hear why some people might be stoked on it, but what’s that saying? It’s like a bad laxative… It just don’t move me. If you’re down with the fuzzed-out, two piece stoner rock scene, then you probably already have this disc.  –Ty Stranglehold (Self Destructo)


AR-KAICS, THE:
“Cut Me Down” b/w “Sick and Tired”: 7”
The Ar-Kaics has been tearing it up with the singles lately. This recent one is a classy offering of one jangly speed and one slower song. It ups the ante because they pull it off well. Too many bands play because it seems easy to mimic Lux Interior, but it isn’t. Great band with essential singles.  –Billups Allen (Hidden Volume)


ASMEREIR:
Caravana De Insectos: 7” EP
Interesting bit of Peruvian hardcore here. At its base you get primal hardcore with shouted vocals, but the first tune is a mid-tempo workout with a guitar lead that recalls Peter & The Test Tube Babies, the middle two tunes alternate between mid-tempo and hyper-thrash, and the closer sounds like the band’s decided they wanna go on a hard rock bender. Nice work.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Cuaderno Roto)


ASSEMBLE:
No Vacancy: CDEP
Six-song release from this Philly four piece. Tight rhythms, pounding drums, and vocal harmonies that carry the songs to their satisfying conclusions. The lyrics seem to deal with rejection, depression, and general, overall apathy. Most music listeners should be able to get behind those ideals. Here’s hoping you have space in your music collection to grab a moldy room key and open the door to some well-played, melodic punk rock.  –Sean Koepenick (Self-released, assembletheband@gmail.com)


BAD DADDIES / HARD LEFT:
Split: 7”
EastBay’s Bad Daddies is fronted by Razorcake contributor Camylle Reynolds. Boy oh boy, the pipes on this one! At times melodic and sweet, there are some sharp-ass teeth, too. A fuzzy memory of a raw, bloody, skinned knee and a kiss to make it all better in the ‘90s. Like Veruca Salt meets The Smears. Really great! Hard Left brings the barroom singalong with “Stay True.” Self-proclaimed mod punk, I’m getting solid, classic street punk rock sans the oi!s with rock’n’roll riffage and gravelly vocals. A well rounded mix!  –Jackie Rusted (Emotional Response)


BAD WEED:
Self-titled: 7” EP
The four tracks here try, with mostly successful results, to meld power pop sensibilities to garage production values. Results are quite catchy without being overly saccharine, delivered with a production that maintains a raw quality without sounding like utter shit.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Bachelor)


BARBECUTIES:
Go Down with Style: CD
Really, really good poppy punk in the vein of Don’t Look Back-era Queers, when its music became more diverse and a bit more polished in the sense of tight-as-hell with a good, clean mix. These Germans have got it going on; I have a bazillion records that sound like this, but in no way does the Barbecuties sound rehashed or derivative. Rather, they’ve created something that’s fresh and vibrant within the glut of pop punk. Really worth my time.  –The Lord Kveldulfr (Monster Zero)


BITCH SCHOOL:
Bite Down on This: LP
With an all-female lineup and a cover that hearkens back to the graphic opulence of Buy Our Records circa 1986, I have been trying for hours to think of some band other than Girlschool of which this nonessential platter reminds me, and failed miserably. Some of the songs are pretty cool if you stop and listen to them for a while ((which is, duh, what you’re supposed to do)), but the whole mess is dragged down by this stiff and prominent one-two-one-two beat that gives everything a sort of amateurish feel that doesn’t fit well with the more polished guitar and vocal parts. When the drumming kicks it up a notch to quarter-note cymbal rhythms as in “Sucker For a Pretty Face,” the whole thing seems so ready to go off the rails that I half expected Scotty to come bolting up from the engine room, bitching about how the dilithium crystals can’t take the strain for much longer. I played this album the first time for makeout music, having no idea what it sounded like. Neither one of us was terribly impressed, but we didn’t stop to take the record off, either. BEST SONG: “Think about Love” BEST SONG TITLE: “I Got Dissed by Dave Mustaine” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Albums depicted on the bed on the back cover include Elvis, Dolly Parton, AC/DC, and the Lovesores.  –Rev. Norb (National Dust)


BLACK LANTERN, THE:
We Know the Future: Cassette
Style-wise, the Black Lantern sounds like it could easily fit somewhere on a Three One G or GSL sampler. The first few songs have some dance-y punk, neo-wave elements—not unlike the Julie Ruin or maybe even Sweden’s The Sounds which—then give way to sudden tempo changes akin to Melt-Banana’s frantic unpredictability or the 400 Blows stomping heaviness. Even with all that positive influence, I can’t help but feel like I just can’t get a firm grasp on what audience The Black Lantern is looking to appeal to. This is being released on Burger records’ “little brother” imprint Wiener Records, which means you can look forward to another few hundred cassettes being released next month.  –Juan Espinosa (Wiener)


BLIND SHAKE, THE:
Fly Right: CD
The Blind Shake takes a garage rock base and piles on shit-ton of different ingredients—pick pretty much any tune and you’re inevitably gonna hear one or more of the following: punk, surf, psychedelia, space rock, garage stomp, spaghetti western, and a helluva lot of reverb ‘n’ noise. Their songs are deceptively simple, dense and often have every nook crammed with sound, no small feat for a three-piece with no bass. The piece de resistance, though, is the closer, “Salt,” a catchy little ditty that could easily be a radio standard in some alternate universe where lysergic acid was administered to the population at some key point in the world’s evolution.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Slovenly)


BLIND SHAKE, THE:
Fly Right: LP
The Blind Shake, from Minneapolis, describes itself as “primitive and futuristic: an extraterrestrial backyard surf party.” That’s dead-on. Their sound is garage punk with a dash of dissonant noise and surf, oozing a whole lot of moxie and seductive guitar riffs that slither out of the reverb. “Holy Road” shrieks like Wau Y Los Arrrghs!!!, featuring an infectious psychedelic lick that meanders over the stilted vocals. The instrumental “A Clock, A Window, A Pyramid” sounds like The Penetrators mutated by the chaotic mindscape of Timmy’s Organism. “Yellow” sweats the attitude and swagger of The Spits and howls like The Anomalys. The nine brief songs left me wanting more, however, The Blind Shake boasts a handful of previous LPs I have yet to crack. Recommended.  –Sean Arenas (Slovenly)


BOBBY VACANT & THE WORN:
Dirty Touchscreen: 7”
A side is a slice of Velvets-influenced skronk. Flip is a pretty, acoustic guitar-driven ballad.  –Jimmy Alvarado (bobbyvacantandtheworn.com)


BORN LOOSE:
I Loathe You: 7”
Hound Gawd! Records are well on their way to becoming the Junk Records of this decade, which is to say that half of what they put out is great and half is so-so. This single by Born Loose is absolutely in the great category—strong songs and the speed don’t take away from the rockin’ to be had. The band is fronted by Larry from the Candy Snatchers and sounds a whole lot like that band. Honestly, this might be the best stuff I have heard from this guy since the classic first Candy Snatchers’ album. Members of other NYC bands such as Snuka and Ghetto Ways appear to be in the lineup as well. This band would have torn down the rafters at the Continental in NYC. They’re probably ripping it up in Brooklyn these days.  –Mike Frame (Hound Gawd!)


BRAIN TRAPS:
Self-titled: LP
Super scuzz lo-fi goodness out of Cologne, Germany? Sounds more like the musky garage sounds out of S.F. from the likes of Coachwhips and Useless Eaters. I dunno, perhaps Marked Men and the punk-as-shit Buck Biloxi And The Fucks as well. True greasy surfer garage sludge. It’s laden with enough “Whooos” and “All right’s” to make even the non-believer believe that shit is indeed going to be all right. No giveaway bin for this LP. This stays in the permanent collection. –Camylle Reynolds (Alien Snatch)


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