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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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VIRGIN WHORES, THE:
Whiskey Girl: 7”
It’s not dopey to like dopey punk. Why do fans of fashion punk always come back for more? My answer is because dopey bands are hilarious and are generally in on the joke. Minnesota’s Virgin Whores are no exception and their exposed, non-high concept blasts of young energy are a refreshing anecdote to the wannabe artsy bullshit that so many bands of today strive for. The record’s sides are labeled with one cherry and two cherries as opposed to “A” and “B.” If you roll your eyes at that brilliance, skip this band and have fun outgrowing fun. The rest of us will continue having a blast. –Art Ettinger (Two-Bit)


VENENO LENTO:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Decent enough Brazilian streetpunk-influenced stuff—mid-level tempos and a raspy singer belting out tunes about mistrust, not fitting in, and street life in general. None of the bullshit trappings that plague this subgenre in evidence, which is a relief. Worth a spin or two. –Jimmy Alvarado (Nada Nada, info@nadanadadiscos.com)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Tor Johnson Records Ten Year Anniversary Omnibus 2012: 7”
Tor Johnson Records has been a consistently great label, not only because of the great bands and releases they’ve put out over the years, but because of founder Paul Dechichio’s unflagging dedication to his local scene and community. It is rare that labels and those who run them get the credit they deserve. This 7” and accompanying download is a celebration of dedication to keeping the Providence, RI scene vibrant, and supporting the great bands that have been on the label over the years. Side A of the 7” features a previously unreleased track by Saint Jude, “The Great Finality,” and a cover of the Misfits “We Bite,” by Now Denial. Now Denial has the distinction of being the longest-running band on Tor Johnson, and the track was taken from a live radio recording. I reviewed their most recent Tor Johnson Release Fuck Now Denial in a previous issue. Saint Jude was not only one of my favorite bands on the label, but also one of my favorite bands from Providence in the ‘00s. A group of good friends playing great heavy hardcore punk, their Tor Johnson release Always Hard is absolutely worth picking up for anyone who likes heavy hardcore punk. Side B includes a track from an early Tor Johnson band, Pretty Faces, and an unreleased track from A Fine Boat, “That Coffin.” If that weren’t enough, a download card with each record features additional great jams including unreleased tracks from Weak Teeth, Jesuscentric, Closer Than Kin, and The Defeat. The Closer Than Kin and The Defeat tracks are from each band’s unreleased Tor Johnson albums, and it’s great to see tracks from those lost records finally making it to listeners’ ears. This record is worth picking up not only because it marks a milestone in the history of an independent DIY label, but because it’s also crammed full of great music. Do yourself a favor, check out this record, and discover some great new bands. –Paul J. Comeau (Tor Johnson, torjohnsonrecords@yahoo.com)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Dekalb, Brawl City: CD
In an era when “compilation” is synonymous with “here’s assorted dreck from my label’s shitpile of crap releases,” it’s always faboo when something comes along that recalls the medium’s glory days. Seventeen bands, presumably from the titular city, grace this bad boy, dishing up assorted hues of punk, hardcore, and points between, the results varying from downright catchy to blissfully grating. As with other similar releases, my only gripe here is the lack of band info provided (though an insert with web address for each band is included, I’m a right lazy bastard and want it all handed to me on a silver platter, goddammit), but I reckon one can overlook such slights in this case, considering all this glorious racket-mongering is available for the princely sum of “$3 or else,” or so says the back of the release. All smartassery aside, this is one solid bit of work here. –Jimmy Alvarado (Don’t Panic)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Dead Broke Rekerds Tape Comp Vol.4: Cassette
With some obvious exceptions, no one likes a comp. My favorite comps were put out by Sacramento’s Secret Center Records in the 1990s, usually on cassette. I don’t know to what degree the fact that this is on tape is what is reminding me so much of those classic Secret Center releases, but this collection of sloppy pop is filling me with joy. Besides Stoned At Heart, Gordon Gano’s Army, and God Equals Genocide, most of the bands included were new to me. If you’re looking to check out a slew of fun, fresh bands, it doesn’t get much better than this. I’m digging out Yahtzee Punks Fuck Off now to relive my cassette compilation past. Viva la tape comp! –Art Ettinger (Dead Broke)


VACATION:
Candy Waves: 7”
On this record Vacation execute three tracks written by Chicago, IL’s Al Scorch. Applying a hefty amount of reverb on the vocals, playing some straight up rock’n’roll riffs, and the occasional garage-guitar-thudding, there’s definitely a departure from earlier recordings. But collaborations like this can be just what some bands need, a little experimentation to throw you off your usual routines. Definitely more of a garage record than a pop punk record. –Daryl Gussin (Let’s Pretend / Drunken Sailor)


ULTRAMAN / DOT DASH!:
Split: 10”
Wow. St. Louis’s classic Dag Nasty-ish Ultraman return with this neat split with a French band called Dot Dash! Dot Dash! are more power poppy than Ultraman, but the two bands very much complement one another. Ultraman is one of those groups that is still remembered regionally, but is often overlooked by those not in the Midwest. They’ve always felt like St. Louis’s Naked Raygun in that they’re catchy, but not obnoxiously so. The lesser known Dot Dash! are very likable, too. Have your French friends over for a mixer and check this nifty platter out. –Art Ettinger (Chanmax)


THROWAWAYS, THE:
Self-titled: 7”
This three-piece from Calgary play fun longing-for-summer, girl-fronted Ramones-style pop punk with lots of woah-ohs. Think of a faster Tacocat and you’d be getting pretty close. Fun, energetic stuff from a very young-looking band. –Craven (J.A.W.)


TEMPLARS, THE:
Dans Les Catacombs Du Studio de L’Acre 1993-1999 20th Anniversary Edition: LP
The Templars are hands down the greatest American oi band of all time. This reissue of their collection Dans Les Catacombs, released in conjunction with the band’s twentieth anniversary, adds the two-song Milites Templi 7” to the existing seventeen-song edition, for a total of nineteen tracks of Templars goodness. Known for their unique, stripped down, lo-fi approach, The Templars are an absolutely incredible band. Their live shows are amazing, as are their records. I’ve always contended that Dans Les Catacombs is their finest release, since it includes so many classics like “Police Informer,” “The Sixties Are Over,” “The Templars,” “Subculture Kid,” “I Believe in Myself,” and “Victim.” Fancy packaging and excellent-sounding vinyl add to the awesomeness. The Templars will turn even the snobbiest anti-skin punk into an oi fan. It’s true. Social science research conducted by yours truly indicates that ninety three out of one hundred punks love The Templars upon a first listen. Don’t miss out! –Art Ettinger (TKO)


TEENAGE SOFTIES:
Brunch: 7”
Thoughtful, spirited pop punk with male/female vocals and the unfortunate tendency to extend a song’s refrain a bit longer than seems necessary. Five tracks, all of them well played, though the recording seemed a bit thin and the first side of the record tended to skip. Still, there’s serious potential here—Brunch makes me think of either Astrid Oto or a more frenzied Oswald Five-O, both of whom had some pretty cool songs in their catalog. –Keith Rosson (Meth Mouth)


SWINGIN’ UTTERS:
“The Librarians Are Hiding Something” b/w “Rude Little Rooms”: 7”
Cockney Rejects meet John Cougar Mellencamp. Who knew there’d be magic? The Utters are very continental in their Americanness and very San Francisco in their Britishisms. The Utters could have easily turned into cornpone oi or liver-damage anglophile sad sacks lamenting drained pints, shagged birds, and deflated weather balloons of careers. Instead, the Utters are reliable, always worth a listen, and are aging with defiant, honorable dignity. One question. How the hell can a table legs ever be illegal? I’ll take my answer off the air. Worth the wax. –Todd Taylor (Fat, fatwreck.com)


SWEET PUPS:
Self-titled: Cassette
As simple as it may sound, you don’t come across too many bands who play some fun punk much like the Go-Go’s did in the ‘80s, but Sweet Pups sure do sound like they’ve been doing it forever. There’s some doo-wop and ‘60s bubblegum pop influence lurking about, and it comes through big time with the soulful vocals provided by ladies who appear to be very comfortable with their singing abilities. The Soviettes go garage? Bow Wow Wow as a real punk band? Three songs is such a tiny morsel to savor. Give us more! –Juan Espinosa (Self-released, sweetpups@yahoo.com)


SWEATER GIRLS:
Sweater Girls Were Here…: LP
Cardigans drawn on a chalk board, sack lunches, algebra books, and paper airplanes populate the album cover. Equipped with handclaps, toy keyboards, and xylophones, this twee five piece out of L.A. present their debut album for the class. That perfect shade of shy awkwardness that reeks of teen spirit is heard throughout the twelve tracks. In the same department as Tiger Trap and Shonen Knife, Sweater Girls employ female harmonies to ride a pink cloud of infatuation and nostalgia, cooing “and my parents don’t know” in the chorus to “Fingers Crossed.” Impressively produced, especially for a debut, with guitar hooks worthy of any gym room dance, Sweater Girls are head of the class. Recommended. –Kristen K (HHBTM, hhbtm.com)


SUGAR STEMS:
Like I Do: 7”
Perhaps it’s somewhat unfair to review this single when the rest of my review materials consisted of raging hardcore releases, but I’m confident that I can remain objective. That said, I’m really not feeling this at all. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not hating on the sweeter side of punk rock (I was in The Steve Adamyk Band, for Pete’s sake), but Sugar Stems are just a bit too, I dunno… twee for my liking, I s’pose. I’m sure there are a shit-ton of pop punk nerds who’ll be drooling all over this, but I guess I just don’t see how this even begins to fall under the punk umbrella. Meh. –Dave Williams (Certified PR)


STREET DOGS:
GOP: 7”
Menace performed at the 2012 2000 Tons of TNT festival in Hartford, CT. Watching them play their classic punk anthem “G.L.C.” was a childhood dream come true. Queer Pills Records released an awesome repress of that classic 7” in conjunction with the show, with another four Menace 7” represses promised for the near future. Is the Street Dogs cover of “G.L.C.,” altered to be about the Republican party, worth checking out? Of course it is. Former Dropkick Murphys vocalist Mike McColgan’s Street Dogs are always a good time and this record is no exception. The B-side is a live version of their popular “Not without a Purpose.” Twenty thousand copies of this 7” were originally pressed as a flexi to hand out to Republicans outside of election year Republican events as an educational act of protest. Now the true vinyl is available. Hopefully some young Street Dogs fans check out Menace as a result, an outcome even nobler than changing the face of lame mainstream politics. –Art Ettinger (Pirates Press, piratespressrecords.com)


STRANGLEHOLD:
Self-titled: 7”
Ahhhhhhh, I see what’s going on here. Well, no, I’m not affiliated with this band despite having the same name. It wouldn’t be a bad thing though because I like what’s going on here. Solid mid-tempo punk rock whose singer had an amazingly raspy voice. Does she gargle with razor blades and whiskey? The thing is she sounds great, as does the rest of the band. Three straight-up, catchy originals and a Stiff Little Fingers cover. Stranglehold approved! –Ty Stranglehold (Longshot)


STEAMY WOLVES:
Moist Lord: Cassette
Five tracks of some seriously fucked gabber/electronic/experimental noise immersed in paranoia and sacrilege. This isn’t music to listen to anywhere but in your room alone or with like-minded individuals, though, at times, I can picture it being blared at some shitty club full of soulless clones when suddenly the security sprinklers start to shower everyone with piss. Recommended for anyone who’s looking for anything but a good time. –Juan Espinosa (Self-released, steamywolves.web.com)


STAR AND DAGGER:
In My Blood: 12”
Occasionally, you hear a band that is really ugly and domineering but somehow sounds like they could be poised for commercial success. I’m talking about the Baronesses and Fucked Ups of our time, bands that wrote songs that stuck in your head and had big production because they had an idea and knew how to pull it off, not because they were actively trying to sell more records. I imagine this will be the case with Star And Dagger, and not because they are easily marketable in terms of their “ex members” credentials, but because they just write really good songs. This 12” is three doomy stoner songs with female vocals that have a heavy focus on both the low end and the melody. The music is more reminiscent of early Sabbath/Jerusalem than more recent doom/stoner rock and everything is so methodic and in place it’s hard to nitpick. The guitar tone is perfect, the song structures are engaging, and the vocals fit the music perfectly. I didn’t really know what to expect from this record and I was pleasantly surprised. –Ian Wise (Last Hurrah)


SPITTING IMAGE:
Valley Floor: 7”
What a weird record. The music is sort of noise pop (think Shoppers) that is very informed by early Joy Division and other heavier elements of British post-punk. The closest point of reference would be early Iceage/Lower/I guess other Danish noisy punk bands, but it lacks the intensity or memorability of either of the aforementioned bands. It comes with a thirty-some page zine of artists from Nevada that is really cool and sort of overshadows the record. –Ian Wise (Negative Space)


SPIDERFACE:
Nobody’s Safe: CD
I have very discriminating taste when it comes to shock rock. You can’t just spit blood in my face and expect me to love your band forever. That may be shocking, but it’s not rocking. Spiderface brings forth the grimy, angry rock with straightjacket scum songs like “Death Dong 1” about declaring war on the asses of homophobes. I’m blasting it now. I hope my neighbor can hear it over all the shitty Christmas music she’s playing. –MP Johnson (Unrepentant)


SONSKULL:
Wiped Clean: 12”EP
Sonskull make noisy, jangly-sounding punk rock with female vocals. There’s plenty of feedback and grit in the sound of this, which I enjoyed. Vocalist Mary has a roaring voice that fits their loose-sounding style well. The long buildup of the title track makes the payoff of the song itself worth the wait. From there, each track, rips, rages, and wails from start to finish. The exception to this intensity is “Weeping Hole” on the B-Side of the record. This is a sparse lo-fi sounding track with one of the other members of the band singing in a quiet, monotone voice. It didn’t do much for me, but the rawness of the rest of this record more than makes up for this one hiccup. –Paul J. Comeau (Perennial)


SOFT DOV:
Deathblast: Cassette
Pure chaos. Shattered chords choked out of guitars, giving friction-filled birth to solos that scrape and cut. Drums shoving everything forward. Bass crawling into your gut. Vocals like a desperate warning. Must play again. –MP Johnson (Soft Dov)


SIDEKICKS, THE:
Grace: 7”
The Sidekicks play wimp pop with annoying vocals. For fans of Weezer and girls who sleep with the guy with the guitar at the party. –Craven (Red Scare)


SICK FIX:
Vexed: LP
Pretty cool, heavy hardcore that’s usually a bit too fast for my tastes, although I’m not exactly surprised since Sick Fix features members of Magrudergrind/Coke Bust/etc. I’m sure this is a total mindbomb live (Michelle’s vocals are positively insane), so while I usually like my hardcore to have a bit more groove to it, I’ll definitely check Sick Fix out at the A389 party in Baltimore this January. I’d say there’s a damn good chance I’ll be converted –Dave Williams (A389)


SHANKS, THE:
I’d Fuck Me: Cassette
This is a rarities and B-sides collection by Omaha-based garage rockers The Shanks. Their specialty is the seedier edge of the subgenre, very reminiscent of The Spider Babies. Fans of heavily distorted garage sounds with gritty, sexually-infused lyrics will dig them for sure. From the mildly perverted cover art to the nifty cassette shell, it is releases like this one that are making me a big fan of the tape resurgence. It’s also cool that a download card is included. Fun, sick, and mesmerizing, The Shanks are like Christian TV minus the Christians. How’s that for an endorsement? –Art Ettinger (Rainy Road)


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