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· 2:#330 with Craven Rock
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Nights and Days in a Dark Carnival by Craven Rock
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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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6 Essential Punk Rock Blasts: Cassette
Hmm, this band name is familiar. Maybe it’s one of those bands mentioned in Razorcake a lot? Is that why it’s familiar? There are a lot of bands starting with “white” these days, buuuuut I’m pretty sure it had something to do with Razorcake... Hold on, I’ll look it up. Oh yeah, I’ve gotten something from them before to review and I ripped it to shreds. Not sorry. However, I’m actually quite relieved to say that this is far different than the earlier tape I got from them, by that, I mean, it’s all right. They obviously had far more fun making this oil barrel-recorded, garage, goof rock than you ever will listening to it. But, really, it’s not half bad. There’s not giving a fuck and then there’s not giving a fuck, and these guys do a good job of blurring the two. –Craven (Self-released)

Aftermath of a Severed World 2004-2010: LP
One of the best crust bands of the new millennium, Wartorn continued the power violence trend of the 1990s, exceeding the intensity level of a vast majority of their competition. The vocals are just plain brutal, and there are some really clever pun-infested song titles like “Wal-Martyr” and “Stillborn-Again Christian.” The LP comes with a download card that includes their entire discography, although most of the songs are also on the vinyl itself. I always felt that this type of hardcore rarely translates well in the studio, but Wartorn’s recordings are a major exception. You can listen to this in the safety of your own home, without the odors and destruction inherent in their live sets, although I think my new neighbors might disagree with that assessment as I give this LP another spin. –Art Ettinger (Profane Existence)

Dude, I Didn’t Know: LP
Being from the state that most punks only know for producing Christian metalcore, seeing this re-issue made me more happy than I can explain here. There were great bands in Alabama before the Vomit Spots existed, including Grossest National Product, the Knockabouts, and Random Conflict, but the Vomits Spot’s 1987 7” Nina Häagan Daz is probably my favorite document of the state’s early punk music. They were sarcastic, insouciant, and most of all, really good. This 12” collects a bunch of songs recorded after that 7”, four of which were issued on a cassette in 1989 (the others were recorded back then and never issued), and I was happy to hear that the songs—while a little slower and better recorded—still retained that tongue-in-cheek wit that made me love that first 7”. These songs sound like a Southern version of the Adolescents. Think early hardcore that’s a little slowed down, a little more guitar oriented, and a little less concerned with making it big in Los Angeles. Fans of KBD/obscurities/good punk take note. –Ian Wise (Last Hurrah)

Inamorata: LP
Fuck yes. Fellow Ontarians who’ve conjured the spirit of Deadguy/Kiss It Goodbye in a sickening, serious way. Pummeling, off-kilter hardcore with unique, troubled vocals and sporadic, timely melodic flourishes. I imagine this record might be a grower for a lot of people, as it’s rather difficult to lump in with any contemporaries, but I insist that you give it the time it needs to get under your skin. (For those unfamiliar with the aforementioned Tim Singer bands, think early Today Is The Day by way of Bl’ast and you’d be on the right track) Jeezamoli. So great. –Dave Williams (A389)

The Underground Vol. 1: CD
Another compilation here showcasing bands hovering on the sleazier sounding side of L.A.’s punk underbelly, featuring tracks by Symbol Six, Black Monday, White Flag Down, Los Creepers, The Scarred, Dirty Filthy Mugs, The UVs, Del Rottens, Skin Flick, Lightning Woodcock, Piss Broke Rebels, Dirty Eyes, Milestone, the Livingstons, and Million Kids. On the whole, the tracks stay firmly rooted in that gray area between gritty street rock/punk and the more melodic wing of the whole oi thing, but they all do what they do quite well and there is enough diversity between bands to keep it from sounding like one big mush of swagger and raspy vocals. Nice representation of what’s going on in this corner of the city’s underground. –Jimmy Alvarado (Suicide King)

Red White and Blue. Who Are You?: 2 x 7”
This double disc has two bands from the mean little island that I call home (England) and two from Big Brother (USA). Being that Longshot/Pirates Press put this out, you know this will be a quality piece of kit… and it is. I grew up with Cock Sparrer and Abrasive Wheels then the Dropkick Murphys and Workin Stiffs, so however much I laugh at “streetpunk” for being a clownish parody, it’s in my blood and I’m a sucker for the shit when it’s well done; like this package. The U.S. disc has Old Firm Casuals who have proved themselves to be the best at this shit on our side of the pond (irrespective of any Rancid sway) with a short banger about kicking people’s teeth in. Harrington Saints back them up with their ‘Sparrer inspired noise. The U.K. side is equally as solid with Argy Bargy knocking out a sing-a-along number in the vein of a more polished Business featuring London “Face” Watford John and Daryl from Cock Sparrer. Booze And Glory finish things up with an ode to LondonTown, which stands up against the other three even with the obvious nod to ivory tinkler Frankie Flame. This genre can be garbage if handled wrong; these four bands are a blueprint on how to do “streetpunk/oi” in 2012. Good shit. –Tim Brooks (Longshot)

Obvious Sampler Vol. 1: 7"
This didn’t look very promising. With its sharpied cover, it looked like it was destined for used 7” bin obscurity. Also, calling your compilation a sampler sounds like shameless promotion, not that there’s anything wrong with shameless promotion, but a little more subtlety would give it a less disposable feel and sound less like we’re only supposed to get familiar with these songs so we can buy stuff from the label. Anyway, there are five bands on here with a song each. The Stockyards contribution is a bit of energetic punk with shrieking, spastic vocals and a steady guitar riff. Dharma Dogs is a band that I’ve been playing a lot of after getting their cassette, Drown w/ Moon Rocks + Speed. I’m familiar with the song on here, “Hoka Hey,” and its crazy, dissonant wall of sound. Good track and definitely a band to keep an eye on. The Phantom Scars play a healthy dose of garage rock with a Stiv Bators-sounding guy on vocals. Inflatable Best Friend play sloppy, schlock-art-punk with a spazzed-out lead singer. The Overheaters simply play a quick blast of driving rock. All in all, a pretty good compilation. –Craven (Obvious)

Dream Dad: 7"
Anti-formulaic, capital P pop punk straight outta Ohio. Too smart to simply emulate their influences, but still staking their tent in the pop punk KOA somewhere between the TwinCities and Chicago. Carbondale? Perhaps. It’s fun and driving at the same time while still being quirky and original. –Daryl Gussin (Sidejar / Let’s Pretend)

The Attic: LP
Raging hardcore punk out of Richmond, VA. I can hear some Government Warning in here, and I believe someone from that band is in this band. The songs range from fast to a nice mid-tempo pace (such as the song “Earthquake”). They wisely mix things up so it doesn’t turn into one long blur. The buildup in the opener, “Excess,” is pretty cool. It starts off at a slow lumber, then you hear the bass drum suddenly pick up the pace, it builds up speed, and then back again. Then they tear into “Black and Red” and all hell breaks loose. The riffs are good and the breakdowns are catchy as fuck. As the album progresses, so does the urgency and speed. By the time you’re in the middle of songs like “Tradition,” “Hell Is Other People,” “Whiskey Weed Girls And Speed,” the title track, and the rest, it’s a sonic maelstrom. And yet they can slip in a cool breakdown and not miss a beat. The whole second side is a scorcher (not to say the first side isn’t, because the whole fucking album cooks!). Absolutely love the part in “In Living Color” where everyone but the bass stops for a couple seconds before tearing back into it. Fuck yeah! Even having the bass open on “Sleep” is cool. This guy, Kenny, has a really good sound here. Low end for days and it grabs your attention. Great, great, great, record! –Matt Average (Forcefield, forcefieldrecords@gmail.com, forcefieldrecords.org)

Genius Fatigue: CD
Tunabunny play smart indie pop. The two girl singers weave in and out of harmonization and counter-play throughout the songs, whispering, speaking, and singing over guitars that go from a surf twang, to arty off-kilter riffs, to string-scraping drags seamlessly. They don’t stick to formulas and each song sounds completely different but essential to the whole of the album. You could compare it to Team Dresch or Sleater-Kinney, though it would be unfair. There was a lot more new ground to break when those bands changed the game. These folks do a whole lot with a whole lot less to work with, and have a fresh sound. Their lyrics are abstract—at times seeming to deal with gender—otherwise just abstractly impressionistic and poetically heady or spinning weird tales. I have to be in the mood for Genius Fatigue. Though melodic and catchy, it’s also complicated and requires attention. It’s seemingly benign initially, but it’s a caustic sugar, demanding to be recognized. –Craven (HHBTM)

Methadone Picnic: CD
Throat Sprockets appear to have taken their name from an erotic horror novel, and their music pays testament to such potentially odd groupings of genre. They’re self-described as experimental/pop/rock, which helps explain why I find it so difficult to describe what I’m hearing…there is no one single sound here, but a grim-yet-beautiful mix of influences. (By the way, I like it a lot, but it had to grow on me.) The record is simultaneously gorgeous, stark, luxurious, horrific, awkward, disturbing, and comic. Imagine Jeff Wagner’s Tunnel Of Love / The Tunnel meets Blatz. That analogy is way out there, perhaps, but it’s the best I can do and I’m standing by it, goddammit. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Cat Sandwich)

Warm Blatz for Teenage Runaways: LP
Experimental electronic noise here. Don’t confuse this with harsh power electronics. This is more along the lines of something like Venetian Snares. The sounds are disjointed, fragmented, but, at the same time, it’s not like you’re being hit over the head with a hammer. This has a strangely ambient feel, from whispers, voices in the background, phone rings, and how tones hum and fade. You can put this record on and have it fill the room or be background noise. Either way, if you like this kind of music, you won’t lose. –Matt Average (Savage Quality, savagequalityrecordings.com)

Sunshine Smiley Face: 7"
Classic “your fave local band” shit right here. From Dekalb wherever the fuck that is? Midwest? Whatevs… scrappy mid-‘80s-sounding punk rock. No frills, messed up drum rolls, in-jokes… you know the drill. It’s like a waaaay shitty Dayglo Abortions or any number of mediocre one dollar bin bands. Bet they are super fun live though. –Tim Brooks (no label listed)

Self-titled: 7" EP
This debut from a hardcore NYC quatro pulls from British outfits splicing Discharge and GBH with Nik Fiend vocals. The offspring being four melodic hardcore cuts built on tight guitar riffs and vocals that oughta get you in the pit. “Broke and Alone” and “Rats and Trash,” bearing another likeness to GBH, show off the beauty in simplicity with a classic verse, chorus, rinse, repeat song structure. Absolutely solid throughout, this is getting heavy rotation at Casa Kristen. For those that dig ‘80 U.K. punk. Recommended. –Kristen K (spiritofdanger.bandcamp.com)

Self-titled: 7"
Four songs featuring heavily distorted guitars and vocals with loads of echo. There is a hint of grunge or ‘90s Alternative Tentacles to the song structures and sound. “Rats and Trash” is the most driving on the record. I would like that song except that it has an intro. The song moves and shakes. The intro loses me. But I’m not big on intros, so I may be out of my element. “Broke and Alone” is a simpler song that starts in high gear. It’s about a guy named “Johnny.” That appeals to me on some level. If you can’t learn anything from a story about a guy named Johnny in a rock and roll song, then you’re missing out on life lessons. These guys keep the energy up, but it’s not my thing. –Billups Allen (spiritofdanger.bandcamp.com)

Mind Trip in A Minor: CD
It can be rather cool when a musical work can evoke a sense of time or place. I suspect the fellows in Spiral were well aware of this when making this disc. Mind Trip in A Minor plays like a musical triptych taking the listener through a quasi-psychedelic voyage through the desert of the mind. The whole thing plays like a concept album of sorts. The tracks are listed as parts one through nine as opposed to just song numbers. If you ever saw Oliver Stone’s The Doors, there was a scene of the Doors wandering around the desert tripping out on psychedelics. This disc feels like the musical equivalent of that scene. As far as the music itself goes, the nine parts tend to be fairly passive affairs with hints of metallic guitar work weaved in for good measure. I personally found the atmospheric, instrumental tracks to be more enjoyable than the ones featuring vocals. All in all, not too bad if you dig soundtracks and psychedelic stuff. –Garrett Barnwell (Spiral, thespiral.bandcamp.com)

Split: CD
Now this is the punk rock that this dad wants in his Christmas stocking! This is an oblong split of sorts from two Ft. Worth bands: eight songs by Special Guest, and four by Not Half Bad. Both bands are poppy, but not overly slick and certainly not overproduced. Not Half Bad is a bit more confrontational, less poppy, and more folksy (but in a great way). Lyrical content: songs about punk rock and the DIY spirit, for the most part. I like Special Guest a little better than Not Half Bad, but that’s only because I like the sound of Special Guest’s vocalist better (snottier and not as throaty). That’s just personal taste, however; either of these bands could challenge the pack’s alpha male. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Self released)

Out of Town: CD
This is slower rock’n’roll, played by some older guys (based on the pictures). They are from Arizona, although the singer sounds like he could be Irish or English. One track is faster, and there is also an acoustic number which just drags on. Really kind of boring is a good way to put it. –Nighthawk (Unprotected Sex)

B.B. Gun Picnic: LP
Snot goes a long way with me. If you feel the same way, you will probably enjoy this album. The vocalist hemorrhages a lot of attitude with a high-pitched wail: one of those shrill vocal attacks that you just can’t fake. The vocals occasionally get into breathy, Iggy techniques. They don’t sound like they’re ripping off The Stooges, but the singer shows the influence once in a while and the band gets the dynamic. It works because they only dip into it a little and it’s effective. The sound strikes me at times as a snottier version of the OBN III’s. When they are not playing in that field, the songs are simple, three-chord drivers with mildly distorted guitars. Works all around. Really nice record. –Billups Allen (Rotten Tooth; rottentoothrecordings.com)

Ghost Runner: Cassette
A change of pace for everyone’s favorite baseball-themed powerviolence duo. After two full-length cassette releases, this tape features just one song centered around the story of a boy who got a line-drive right in the eye and now haunts a field where he and other kids once played ball. The lyrics also exhibit disdain from those who remember the glory days of empty fields and lots that have since been converted into shopping centers. I’m smitten with the way the tempos vary from sludgy to a thunderous mid-pace and how the two vocalists belt out their vocals quickly, bringing to mind the early Spazz recordings (see the splits with Romantic Gorilla and C.F.D.L.) Great stuff yet again! –Juan Espinosa (Shout Out Loud, no address)

Wangwee: 7"
One part angry melodic No Idea Records mixed with noodle-y emo-ish lo-fi stuff. The song structures are nonsensical and seem to base themselves on one catchy-ish riff and then beat, dropping into pretty emo parts. Unnecessary/out of place/misguided guitar solos pepper the material in a way that make me just turn around and look at something else. The drums really kill it for me because during the verse parts he tends to accent every downbeat, which makes it hard to pay attention to anything else. Pete Repellent says: “I don’t even know.” Their cover of “The Most Forgotten French Boy” is somehow really well done, but a lot of that is because they don’t deviate from the original song structure. –Ian Wise (Debt Offensive)

Awkward Breeds: CD
This third full-length album by these guys from Columbus, OH has eleven new songs that veer from punkish to power pop to slow rock. About half this album is slow songs that just didn’t do much to grab me and the others went from Weezer-type songs to songs that would sound great on a compilation from the late ‘70s to the early ‘80s. I really liked the few power pop songs on here. I hope that they go more towards this style, leave the Weezer-type songs alone, and cut back on the slow ones too. –Guest Contributor (Red Scare, redscare.net)

What’s Yr Function?: CD
What you get here are six tracks of unexpected fun from this Chico, CA three-piece. My ears hear some trashy garage punk mixed with some cool male/female unison vocals that give the songs a nice buoyant, fun feel. This is the soundtrack to your next beer bash or it very well should be! –Garrett Barnwell (Severance Package, severancepackage.org)

The World Is Ours: 7"
This three piece oi / streetpunk band from Tulsa, OK has just released a single on Profane Existence with four hard-hitting songs. The opening song is great with its oi oi oi chant, but all the songs are great to sing along to and have a few pints while doing it. I really love this band and look forward to everything that they release. They are that good! If you are a fan of non-racist skinhead music, you need to get this release. It comes on red, white, blue, black, and, if you are quick enough, a glow in the dark vinyl single that comes with a patch. –Guest Contributor (Profane Existence, profaneexistence.org)

We Built a Fortress on Short Notice: CD
It’s amazing when a band is around in the independent rock scene for fifteen years, touring, and putting out records—and I have never heard of them. But that’s the case of Self-Evident. It’s especially amazing when I am familiar with some of the band’s peers. Self-Evident has toured with Chicago’s Bear Claw, a band whose album Slow Speed Deep Owls I reviewed a long time ago for Razorcake. While there are similarities between the two bands, Self-Evident has the ability to pull back and play some indie rock influence with occasional build ups and bursts, something which I have always appreciated, as it seems a very base expression of emotion. The band also seems to know how to lay the delicate lines when necessary as well as lock into a nice groove on some tracks. The attack on the songs is occasionally there, but the band also is familiar with melodies and uses them effectively to give the listener a wide range of emotion through the music. The ten songs flow very well, and clocking in at thirty-six minutes, it seems just the right length. If you’re a fan of Shellac, Bear Claw, or melodic math rock, We Built a Fortress on Short Notice comes highly recommended. –Kurt Morris (doubleplusgood)

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