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Razorcake #84
Tim Version, Ordinary Life LP + bonus 7"
Radon, 28 LP
Zisk #25
Razorcake #83


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Record Reviews

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BIG EYES:
Almost Famous: CD
Third issue in a row I’ve scored something new from these kids, and I’m stoked as hell. Fuggin’ choice poppy punk (or punky pop, if that suits ye better) here with hooks up the hoo-ha and hints of (good) ‘70s rock around the edges to give it some stomp. They’re an official selection for summer/fall 2013 around these parts and I highly recommend you add ‘em to your rotation as well. –Jimmy Alvarado (Grave Mistake)


BIG BOYS:
Fun, Fun, Fun…: 12”EP
Simultaneously the coolest thing and the curse of punk rock is its lack of a definition. Cool, because we are left to write our own story and a curse because so many people feel the need to define it. Well, I’m going to plant a foot in each camp here because I will proclaim right here, right now that Big Boys’ Fun, Fun, Fun… EP is the definition of punk rock because it has no rules or definitions. There is hardcore, there is funk. There are singalongs with all their friends. This record literally encompasses it all, yet never feels strained or stretched thin. To me, this record feels like riding a skateboard down a deserted street in the middle of the night. The warm breeze on your face and the smell of pavement in your nostrils as the sound of your wheels echoes off the buildings. It is the soundtrack to endless freedom and possibility with a hint of danger. It’s not hard to tell that I take Big Boys seriously and I’m sure glad I’m not the only one. 540 Records has reissued this must-have record with the love and detail that Big Boys deserve. The massive booklet is exploding with the amazing visual art that has always been a huge part of the band’s identity. A hilarious and lovingly written piece by Beth Kerr (who, in all honesty, should be considered a member of the band in my opinion) is the perfect way to kick it off. It is amazing that the band’s material is being reissued on various labels. There are few bands out there that deserve heaps of praise more than Big Boys and the thing is they could care less about praise. They only care about having fun… That’s why they rule! –Ty Stranglehold (540, chaosintejas.bigcartel.com)


BFG:
Blue: LP
This is a reissue of the final release by this ‘80s Manchester, U.K. band, originally released in 1989. With its gothic tendencies, dance music beats, and English baritone vocalist, comparing this to Joy Division is the easy thing to do upon first listen. But, if you look past the vocalist’s delivery style, this actually doesn’t sound like Joy Division at all. Instead, this reminds me more of the lighter side of Killing Joke, Ministry, or Sisters Of Mercy. I’m sure there’s a market for this with the darkwave crowd, but I didn’t find it all too exciting. –Mark Twistworthy (Drastic Plastic, drasticplasticrecords.com)


BARGE:
No Gain: 7” EP
Jeezaloo, dunno who pooped in these guys’ potato salad, but this is some seriously pissed-off racket they’re dishin’ out. Eight tunes, nine minutes, played at speeds my homie Ralo from No Comment would nod approvingly at, and delivered with the same tact as a mean kid rubbing yer mug with sandpaper, then chucking a pitcher of lemonade in yer mug. –Jimmy Alvarado (Grave Mistake)


BABY GHOSTS:
Ghost in a Vacuum: 7”
I love Slurpees. When I go running, I pass the 7-Eleven on my route and sometimes I get so obsessed with the thought of a Slurpee that when I make it home, I change out of my track suit into something with pockets, grab my wallet, and ride my bike back to 7-Eleven to get one. I’ve been known to pass a couple 7-Elevens on a long, drunken bike ride from downtown and buying a Slurpee at each one. I like the extra-large Slurpees, but sometimes all that syrup gives me a stomachache sitting in my guts in a painful indigestible glob. I stick to a medium Slurpee these days. So it is with much regret I can say I have an understanding of sugar overkill. I got a Baby Ghosts CD a while back to review and it was just that—sweet, cute over-saturation. This time I got a 7” and I have to say they’re a lot better in moderation. It’s easier to digest their girl-harmonizing, lollipop pop songs on a four-song 7” without feeling like it’s overload, but when it really comes down to it, times are hard and I want more than cute. –Craven Rock (Drunken Sailor)


APACHE DROPOUT / THREE MAN BAND:
Split: 7”
Apache Dropout play simple rock guitar riffs laid over slightly overdriven bass lines. It’s good, raw rock and roll with a Stooges influence. “Soul Sucker” doesn’t disappoint. The Three Man Band song has a similar thing going on a dronier, space rock feel to the music and more screaming in the vocals. It’s a good pairing. –Billups Allen (Glory Hole, gloryholerecords.com)


ANCHOR, THE:
Party!: 7”
The Anchor is another one of those bands that I have to thank Razorcake for turning me on to. Great poppy-yet-gravely punk that takes me waaaay back to my late twenties. Party! is the name of the record and that is exactly what I want to do when I hear it. I said it before, and I’ll say it again. Beer, pizza, and The Anchor… a perfect fit. –Ty Stranglehold (La Escalera)


AGE OF WOE:
Inhuman: LP
This is a heavy listen in more ways than one. Yes, it’s crust-on-the-verge-of-metal, but it’s also emotionally heavy. There was a moment during the song “Cold Cycle” when I heard—no, not heard, felt—a grinding reaching out of my speakers, trying to wear me down, trying to instill in me the desperation, the last gasp, hanging-from-the-edge-of-a-cliff-by-the-fingertips-with-skull-adorned-spikes-below feeling. I wasn’t prepared for such a bludgeoning. I am now. –MP Johnson (Suicide)


AC4:
Burn the World: LP
In a world where too many bands try to out avant-garde one another, or mix and match genres in a vain attempt to be new or groundbreaking, AC4 proudly wave their middle fingers at all of that. The Swedish hardcore punk heroes return with their second full-length record, sixteen tracks of the furious, straightforward hardcore punk attack they’ve been known for since their inception. Founding members Dennis Lyxzén, Karl Backman, and Jens Nordén, all return on this recording, with Christoffer Röstlund Jonsson of DS-13 replacing David Sandström, and bringing a stronger presence to the band’s bass duties. There’s enough blazing riffs on this album to keep you circle pitting for days, provided you take breaks for record flipping. Lyxzén’s lyrics tackle typical punk themes, but his distinct vocals and the ferocity of his delivery can make even the most mundane of topics exciting. Hipsters can cry all they want about this band being formulaic, but if E=MC², then AC4=Awesome! –Paul J. Comeau (Deathwish/ Ny Vag)


YATTAI:
Fast Music Means Love: CD
It took three or more spins to get me to the point where I could respect where this band is coming from. They just don’t offer much enough for me to connect with. The sleeve only has the song titles (which are barely legible) and no further information or lyric sheet. Their sound is screamo or powerviolence or whatever the hell they’re calling it these days—that super fast and heavy style of hardcore with shitloads of blast beats and growling and screeching. I might keep it near my stereo, in the corner where the stuff that doesn’t quite make heavy rotation sits for a while, just to see if I have any desire to play it again. I am starting to enjoy it and it did remind me that I once spent a lot of time listening to this sort of stuff, but there’s just not a lot to make it stand out, except that it’s very proficient and technical, which matters little to me. I’ve recently been revisiting my Behead The Prophet NLSL CD. Their spazzy, caustic, and out-of-fucking-control style along with their lyrics—dorky and funny in a self-effacing pseudo-intellectual way— they’re just as awesome as they ever were to listen to! I’m not trying to dig on Yattai, but so far, hearing them just makes me want to listen to Behead The Prophet. Yattai play very efficient genre-based music rather than something truly inspiring and transgressive. I could see why a true believer in screamo (or whatever) could find it no less than awesome, but I guess I expect a little more. –Craven Rock (Self-released, no info)


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 Rosson (exequals@bandcamp.com)


WYMYNS PRYSYN:
“Waste Your Life” b/w “Keep It Simple”: 7”
Perfect for those nights when you want a harder punk band with a name involving women and prison, but you can’t find your Women In Prison 7”. Granted, it’s a pretty good single, but what a bad band name. Garage-esqe hardcore punk. The type of band that sounds like the singer only has half his teeth and struts around drunk and shirtless on the stage while looking like he’ll keel over at any moment. Sounds something like a less-polished Wipers. –Bryan Static (Pygmy, pygmyrecords.com)


WINTERS IN OSAKA:
The Art of Dark Science: CD
Electronically driven noise in the Hospital Records vein that you really need headphones and a half an hour to appreciate. I feel like a lot of the current noise trend is a cop-out for guys who can’t play an instrument to be a band that sucks and is all synths run through delay pedals, but this deviates pretty far from the lame WhiteCastle worship and creates more atmospheric moods, like a dirty version of Hemi Sync tapes. Well worth the time for fans of the genre, but I feel like the rest of the world will still scratch their heads over it. –Ian Wise (tolivealie@gmail.com)


WET LUNGS:
Self-titled: 7”
Seven heavy, dirty, doom-inspired hardcore songs with a ton of metal thrown in. Growled and shouted vocals, manic playing, and super short songs…awesome! I played this twice and still wanted more. –Rick Ecker (Twistworthy, twistworthy.com)


WEEK OF WONDERS:
Failures: CD-R EP
Reverb-drenched, self-described “tropical punk” from Seattle, with Caribbean-flavored rhythms and a guitar sound that resembles steel drums. Is this the wave of the future? Can “Tiki-core” be far behind? –Jimmy Alvarado (weekofwondersmusic@gmail.com)


VOKADIN:
My Fix Before Yours: LP
Clear yellow vinyl LP from a Danish band that sure seems to like Fugazi and The Locust a whole lot. The general vibe here is screamy post punk, but things veer into dance music terrain, early Sub Pop style, and AmRep from time to time. Fans of GSL and Three.One.G record labels will probably find a whole lot to like here. –Mike Frame (Self-released, facebook.com/pages/Vokadin/172645876082425)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
FSDC Volume 2: Cassette
See, my tape deck is broken. It only works half the time and it’s not a part of my stereo in my new place, so listening to tapes is preceded by a fifteen minute ordeal of switching cables around and plugging in speakers on wires that are falling apart. Then it only works half the time and the volume knob does pretty much whatever it wants. So after spending all this time just get any sort of sound out of this tape, I sat back for a minute and thought, “That can’t be right.” I switched some things around and the tape played on. Hmm. “I guess it’s supposed to sound like that.” That phrase kept popping into my head over the duration of the tape, over drum machines, over synth pads clashing with atonal saxophone lines, over fuzzed-out takes on Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet. Apparently, all these bands are from the same neighborhood in Indianapolis and I think most of us need to move there before it turns into the next Portland. The bands on this tape don’t really have a whole lot in common stylistically, but they all have this intense insouciance that is so apparent that you can almost hear them laughing at you from the mixing board. I absolute love this because I haven’t heard a compilation in such a long time that actually felt new and fresh like I was hearing a new scene in its infancy. –Ian Wise (Glory Hole, gloryholerecords.com)


VAASKA:
Condenado: EP
More insanely fast hardcore from these guys. I have their Ruido Hasta La Muerta LP, and that is pretty good, but this is way better. The energy is cranked way the hell up and the urgency is undeniable. It’s all about force and volume here. The songs sound like they are being shoved out of the speakers. From the opening squeal of noise in “Hartos” to “Venganza,” it’s non-stop. There are breaks here and there in the songs, where it’s just the bass and drums for a couple seconds, or a big shift in the tempo like “Violencia Criminal,” with the count off at the beginning. Despite the overall catchy nature of the song, it’s about a heavy subject. Great record the whole way through. –Matt Average (Heart First, heartfirst.net)


UNFAIR FIGHT:
We Are All Dead: 7”
I’m sure that brutal was what they were going for, just not in the way I’m using the word. The only thing angrier than this record is my turntable for subjecting it to this… Not my thing. –Ty Stranglehold (facebook.com/Unfairfight)


TOY STORE RIOT:
I’m Gonna Stop You Right There: CD
This self-released CD has five songs of fast-paced and catchy pop punk songs that will get you up and jumping around as soon as the first chorus kicks in. Really well played and produced, with lots of gang vocals, woah-ohs, and the sound of a band having a great time. You also get a couple of bonus songs. One is a commercial and one is about titties that made me laugh at how goofy it is. –Rick Ecker (Self-released, toystoreriot.com)


TOUGH STUFF:
College: 7”
Well. While I like this label a lot, and while Tough Stuff reminds me of quite a few other bands (Shinobu, the Albert Square, maybe Sundials?), the songs here are proficient enough but really don’t pack all that much spark. A handful of mid-tempo songs seemingly stuck between the traditional foundations of indie rock and punk—on paper it seems like it should be phenomenal, but College just doesn’t work all that well. Kinda poppy riffs punctuated by kinda emo guitar lines and lyrics that kinda toe the line between nonsense and a bunch of guys who actually do seem to be trying to navigate their through their college lives. It strikes me thusly: I may in fact just be too old of a dude to get this record. On the other hand, there seems to be a distinct lack of ferocity here, and I don’t necessarily mean sonically—just that little fishhook of energy or emotion, something that’s going to catch me and pull me back, that’s what seems to be missing here. –Keith Rosson (Secret Pennies)


TOM GRRRL:
Even When She’s Losing, She Is Still Winning: CD
If I were a younger man, I might still have long-distance longings, fetishize bottles of wine, desperation, gleeful self-destruction, and candy-ass, poppy indie tunes such as these. I might appreciate the delirious stupidity of the one-dimensional songwriting and hearty, blissful resistance to metaphor or complexity as much as I can appreciate their adorable, lyrical homage to riffs they’ve stolen (“I did a lot of pills in Memphis/I smoked a lot of grass down in New Orleans”). However, as the crustified, walker-rocker that I am, I find it impossible to relate. Nope, Captain Hook here can’t hang, but that does little to inhibit this from being a kick-ass album, nor my ability to recognize it as such. Now you kids stop snickering and get to bed! –Craven Rock (Self-released, jeho.mofo@gmail.com)


TARTAR CONTROL:
Holy Crap!: CD
This two-piece joke band from the Los Angeles area acts like they’re Mormon missionaries (and might have been at one point, for all I know) but this CD is chocked full of so many inside “jokes” and filler that it got old pretty quick. Throw in a song called “Oxygen Is for Fags” and you can count me out. –Kurt Morris (Self-released, tartarcontrolisyourfriend.com)


SWEET TALK:
Pickup Lines: LP
This album contains some well-written power pop with a heavy New York ‘77 influence in the guitar playing. The heavier distortion brings it away from the lighter side of power pop, but the album never quite gets into full-on rockin’ territory. Riding the middle line doesn’t serve the band well, but they make up for it with some strong songwriting. “Talk” and “Put You Right Back” have well constructed choruses with strong back ups. The band is good with choruses overall. It’s a catchy record when it gets rolling. –Billups Allen (12XU)


SPECTRES:
Nothing to Nowhere: LP
I like this much, much better than the song (“Pattern Recognition”) on their split with the Arctic Flowers. On this record, the sound is more dark and gloomy. Even during their mid-tempo, slightly speedy songs, the darkness hangs heavy. Stylistically, the Spectres are a good mix of U.K. post-punk, L.A. death rock, and some Pornography-era Cure, Kaleidoscope-era Siouxsie. The bass figures heavily in the mix, with the guitars providing the atmosphere, and the vocals have a faraway sound. It’s interesting that despite all the dark and gray that this music conjures, I can’t help but get this feeling of hope while listening to it. Maybe that’s because it’s a great album? “Missing Time” has the potential to be a classic. Really, this whole album will hold up and stand the test of time. They’ve really honed their sound down and pulled out the stops on this one. The broody opening to “Return to the Sea” sink its hooks in deep. You have the tribal drumming, the galloping bass, and the guitar underscoring the gloom, all adding depth. I’m kind of all over the place with this review. But this album is great, and I’m pretty stoked on it to where I want to tell everyone around me, “Get this album! Put the other stuff back, and get this one!” –Matt Average (Deranged, derangedyouth@hotmail.com / derangedrecords.com)


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