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· 1:Off With Their Heads Top Shelf Interview Podcast
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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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BUSINESS VENTURE:
Sleep When You’re Dead: Cassettet
How’s this for a pedigree: folks from Shang-A-Lang and the Thumbs, apparently. Four songs, and they’re all dense, mean little numbers that aren’t afraid to slow things down a little bit. The fact that they can use a freaking wah-wah pedal here and there and still sound tough as shit is entirely aces in my book. This is great stuff, firmly entrenched in that nefarious, half-lit land between garage and punk. I’ve received a fantastic batch of review material this time around, and Business Venture is keeping that hot streak going. –Keith Rosson (208)


BURNT THRONES CLUB / A VOLCANO: :
Split: 7" EP
Burnt Thrones Club: Nice bit of simple, sleazy lo-fi rockin’, not quite garage, not quite art punk, and yet somehow both.A Volcano: Veers a bit more on the skronkier side of the equation from their record-mates, but the song’s effective and not averse to making a racket. Good stuff by both bands. –Jimmy Alvarado (Hovercraft)


BURNT ONES:
You’ll Never Walk Alone: Cassette
Sunny, pseudo-psychedelic bedroom pop. It’s wonderful, really. I feel the sun radiating from my stereo, followed by a cool summer breeze. It’s a lovely day outside. Spacey and deliciously lo-fi with a great sense of melody. It’s yet more evidence that Burger Records is one of the best labels putting out music right now. –Bryan Static (Burger, burgerrecords.org)


BRISTLES, THE:
Bigger than Punk: EP
Had to do a little poking around about this one ‘cause there’ve been a few bands that have gone under the “Bristles” moniker over the decades, and it turns out that this is, in fact the latest from the legendary Swedish hardcore act best known for the inclusion of their tune “Don’t Give Up” on MRR’s also-legendary Welcome to 1984 comp. After a number of years on hiatus, they’ve apparently again been active with most of the lineup intact since 2009 and have released a few other things as well. Very fuggin’ cool. They’re still mining an oi-influenced hardcore sound, with songs both zippy and anthemic, and lyrics that still attack the shittier aspects of modern life with a pointed directness too few bands of more recent vintage are willing. Great to hear an old Swedish come back so up on their game, and it’s especially fun that the album title is an homage of sorts to political hip hop gadflies Dead Prez. –Jimmy Alvarado (Heptown)


BORN WRONG:
Self-titled: EP
This is a crusher! Heavy music and heavy vocals to match. It sounds like the singer is trying to be as loud as the amps. Fast and gnarled-out hardcore punk that hits like a truck. Also, despite all the bashing that is going on in the music, they throw in some catchy parts to keep you interested. As soon as the song “Torch the Place” starts, you are mowed over by their sonic attack. The playing is tight and urgent, and the vocalist has an axe to grind with the world. Not to mention there is a lock groove on here to piss you or the neighbors off. Excellent blast of the fast and heavy kind. –Matt Average (Schizophrenic, schizophrenicrex.com)


BLOCKO:
South London Vs the World: 2 x CD
There are bands that take up places in ones memory like the smell of the London Underground or pub carpets at opening time. They are of a place and a time and as soon as you hear them you are instantly taken back as if it were yesterday. No-one needs to hear about my past, but in 1999 I was living in London with my wife who was transplanted from the U.S.A after I was rudely deported and we were missing her home and wishing the U.K wasn’t so crap. During that period we listened to and loved our homegrown talent (however few and far between it was), bands like Southport, Leatherface, Hard Skin, and South London’s own Blocko. They took the very English sound of bands like Leatherface, Drive, and Broccoli and added just a dash of the Gainesville “emo,” if that’s the right word (think Hot Water Music). It’s hard for me to gauge this double disc with any kind of impartiality, just to say if you want to collect the LP, mini LP, and numerous split records of this London staple from 1999–2003 then it’s more than worth the admission price. Props to Aston at Boss Tuneage for continually archiving my memories. –Tim Brooks (Boss Tuneage, bosstuneage.com)


BLESSED STATE:
Self-titled: Cassette
Mid-paced revolution summer-style hardcore which makes use of the same effects pedal that Criminal Code had previously been the only ones to pull off correctly. Add a dash of Dag Nasty, a pinch of Swiz, stir over a high flame and watch the contents boil over: particularly on the final track, “E for Effort.” Goddamn, I say, goddamn! Fans of Give (raises hand!) ought to get in touch, post-haste. –Juan Espinosa (Blessed State self-released, blessedstate413@gmail.com, blessedstatema.bandcamp.com)


BLASTED:
Exposed/Time to Die: 7" EP
My first impression was that there was a lot of Midwestern hardcore influence here. After repeated listens, though, I’m leaning a bit more towards a mid-’80s Southern California foundation with a bit of that Midwestern brute force brought in through the windows. Gruff vocals, gallop tempos, muscley delivery, this’ll definitely rattle your cage –Jimmy Alvarado (Dry Heave, dryheaverecords.limitedrun.com)


BLACKBIRD RAUM:
False Weavers: LP
Before even throwing this platter on the turntable, I’m struck by the intricate pen drawings that span its cover. A giant wolf and Cthulhu tree people lay a city to waste as methane and smoke plume from crumbled buildings; a military troop struggle for ground. Like the musical accompaniment to a fantasy novel, a fold-out map duplicates the cover’s preternatural bent with a crisp, detailed topography. The map loosely corresponds to tracks listing an actual HakimBay and Kropotkingrad, as well as The River of Filth and Fukushima Hulk, depicting a depressing crater. Raum amplifies the theme of rebellious hobbits taking part in anarchic revolution with liner notes quoting pieces on the French Anarchist Revolution to Michael Moorcock. Like anything off Arkam records, this five-piece employs a menagerie of folk punk instrumentations with washtub bass, pump organ, washboard and saw, plus novelties like a pump action shot gun and bouzouki. Vacillating between male and female vocals, “False Weavers” pulls in Fleetwood Mac’s “Gold Dust Woman” with mandolin and female vocals in the spotlight, while “The Greymare parts 1, 2 & 3” are melodic, rapid-fire spoken word anthems, like a Henry Rollins record set on 45 RPM. Recommended. –Kristen K (Silver Sprocket Bicycle Club)


BILL BONDSMEN:
“Dead” / “Peasant under Glass”: 7"
Not to make this too Detroit-regional, but take the belt-whipping of Negative Approach (buckle at the biting end), expose your back under the dim, disorienting fluorescent light of Cleveland’s Homostupids, then feel the sting and the blood trickle down the back of your legs onto the plastic sheet. Bruised, pained music the color of dead fields, the sky before an earthquake, and wounds that never heal back to their original shape. Intense, splintering, exact, splattery, and penetrating. It’s hardcore. It’s progressive. Silk-screened cover. Released by the band. It’s highly recommended. –Todd Taylor (Self-released, billbondsmen.blogspot.com)


BAZOOKA:
Self-titled: CD
Like labelmates Acid Baby Jesus, Bazooka takes the garage punk thang and dunks it into a deep vat of LSD, combining the usual trappings—loud guitars, stomping drums—with a thick coating of reverb and a healthy reverence for early Pink Floyd. Diehards clutching their Supercharger 45s and lamenting the days before the Mummies “sold out” by releasing a CD might pooh-pooh ‘em, but the more rational will find Bazooka can make a fine racket with the best of ‘em. –Jimmy Alvarado (Slovenly)


BAM! BAM!:
Golden Haze 2: 7" EP
The title track is anchored on a simple dark riff, from which they speed up the tempo then slow it back down for the chorus. Nice bit of work there. The remaining tracks more or less fall within the sorta lo-fi pop confines that modern college radio stations seem to find so swell. This isn’t a necessarily bad thing, it’s just the others don’t quite live up to the infectiousness of that opening salvo. –Jimmy Alvarado (HHBTM)


BADLANDS:
So Little: Cassette
I didn’t know what to expect from this set of songs; whether it would be acoustic or punk. Adrian Tenney is capable of both screaming the house down while she tears it apart with her drumsticks and soothing it to sleep while she croons over her ukulele. The sounds that came out of my headphones when I pressed play made such trivial concerns just float away. This tape is the most I’ve enjoyed an album in a good while. I really like the way it’s recorded—all these wild instruments I can’t even pronounce sound really great both through an ‘80s boombox and a fancy work computer. The music is really interesting and her lyrics, as usual, are so simple yet thought provoking. –Rene Navarro (Ghostbot, ghostbotrecords.com)


BAD DADDIES:
Bad Year: 7"
Abrasive blasts of budget hardcore punk! Screeching guitar dissonance and maniacal vocals backed by fist-pumping, circle pit tempos. Self-released, and limited to 137 copies. No hype, just enthusiasm and love for pissed-off, anti-social music. –Daryl Gussin (Central District)


ASILE:
Self-titled: 7"
Ah, bless the French Canadians, always wearing black and sounding like Motörhead. Oh please, I jest, relax mon ami. Asile are from Ottawa, have done at least an LP, and mine the same dirt as Born Dead Icons and even Complications. These dudes actually sing in French and have that galloping d-beat sound of Totalitär or even early Doom (without the gruff vocals). There’s a definite Motörhead vibe to the riffs, you know that punk/metal sound?, which reminds me of the first Inepsy LP. This is fucking boss; so good I just went and bought the LP. How’s that for a sale? –Tim Brooks (Chaos Rurale, chaosrurale.com)


ARDILLAS, LAS:
Linda Niña: 7"
Nice bit of swaggering Boricua punk from this Davila 666-related (though they apparently predate their popular relatives by many years) band. Though there are some commonalities between the two bands, including members, Las Ardillas leans more towards a ‘70s sensibility than a decade earlier, which makes for a cleaner, beefier sound and a bit more wiggle in the hips. The Killed by Death-friendly contingent will find much to dig here. –Adrian Chi (Slovenly)


APPLESEED CAST, THE:
Illumination Ritual: CD/LP
Over the more than fifteen year career of The Appleseed Cast, the lineup has turned over more than a few times, but singer and guitarist Christopher Crisci has remained. His voice and an atmospheric, indie rock guitar sound is what has made The Appleseed Cast’s sound consistent in spite of the changes. Illumination Ritual, the band’s eighth full-length album, is ten songs that come in at forty-four minutes. It’s certainly different than their last full-length, Sagarmatha, and the one preceding it, Peregrine. In some ways, it is more reminiscent of the band’s second LP, Mare Vitalis, especially as it relates to the drum work. The style of Nathan Wilder is reminiscent of Josh Baruth (the drummer on Mare Vitalis) in its complexity and rhythmic structure. It really gives Illumination Ritual some life and energy for a style that might otherwise be moodier. That’s not to say that there’s not some good emotion on here, but it’s more reserved, not like the band was on their earliest albums. Still, there are some great moments, such as the way the guitar and vocals combine on “Cathedral Rings” and the vocals and drums work together on “30 Degrees 3am.” I can’t say this is the band’s best work, as the majority of the songs don’t stand out like the two just mentioned. However, Illumination Ritual certainly isn’t the band’s worst. It’s got a pleasant feel and brings back reminders of what might be the band’s finest work, Mare Vitalis. It’s safe to say this is an album for fans, but not necessarily the best place for someone to begin to get into the band. –Bryan Static (Graveface)


ALTERED BOYS:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Deranged is fast becoming another one o’ them labels where you’re not quite sure what yer gonna get, but it’s usually good no matter what it ends up being. Wasn’t quite able to gauge this one based on the Mansonesque cover, but what came howling along was some zippy, pissed-as-hell Canadian hardcore, burning fast, heavy, and is out the door before you know what hit ye. –Jimmy Alvarado (Deranged)


AGENT ORANGE:
Living in Darkness: LP
Yeah, the downside to this whole vinyl “renaissance” is the ridiculous price tags. Yeah, I know, 180-gram vinyl, faithful reproduction, blahdeeblah, but it doesn’t change the fact that it both limits the ability of the average schlubs to pick up a copy of a record to which they should have total access, and acts as a prime example of the fetishizing of ephemera by monied hipsters and record collector schmucks who weren’t around to collect it the first time around from subcultures they view as moribund and don’t really care to understand. That said, it is also admittedly very fuggin’ cool to see records like this on the format for which they were intended. Originally released on Posh Boy, Living in Darkness was Agent Orange’s opening, and some would argue finest, punk salvo—four tracks per side of proto-hardcore up to its eyeballs in the sun and surf pop thuggery that, along with other crucial releases by both peers and former members, became the template upon which the much-ballyhooed “SoCal Punk Sound” was built. From the siren-staccato guitar intro of “Too Young to Die” to the punked-up surf covers peppered here and there to the four-minute epic title track, this is the perfect soundtrack for folks who prefer their pop edgy and “like things that bite.” Whether or not it’s worth the twenty to twenty-five dollars I’ve seen it going for is a matter of personal choice, but it’s most assuredly worth the repeated listens that’ll inevitably occur. Limited to five hundred. –Jimmy Alvarado (Drastic Plastic)


ADOLESCENTS, THE :
American Dogs in Europe: CDEP
Probably this platter slipped under the radar for a lot of fans, considering it came out hot on the heels of Fastest Kid Alive. That’s a crying shame since this is a solid mini disc. Soto and Reflex are keeping the ship afloat here, but there are no leaks in sight. All the Agnews are gone, but the songwriting is still top notch. “Destination Nowhere” is the last song here. That’s where you will be if you don’t have this on your shelf. –Sean Koepenick (Concrete Jungle, contact@concretejungle.com,concretejunglerecords.com))


ADICTS, THE:
All the Young Droogs: CD
Brand new studio release from these veteran U.K. punkers. Having only recently discovered the awesomeness of the band’s live show (I know, shame on me), I was pleasantly surprised to find out they can still produce in the studio. Fans of early Clash and Cock Sparrer will find lots to love here. But The Adicts absolutely have their own distinctive sound. Luckily “Give It to Me Baby” is not an Offspring cover. Monkey croons in one song—”stop the world I wanna get off.” But I want to hang on for the ride. Viva! –Sean Koepenick (DC Jam,theadicts27@hotmail.com,dcjamrecords.com)


ACxDC / MAGNUM FORCE / SEX PRISONER:
Split: 10"
Wow, a one-sided three-way split of powerviolence on a 10”. Interesting. First up is ACxDC who picked just about the most terrible name and I’ll tell you why: a few years ago I was at Headline records here in L.A. flipping through the record racks when I overheard Jean-Luc talking to a kid about punk music. The girl told him she was into “AC/DC,” much to Jean’s surprise. He excitedly explained to her how AC/DC essentially aped Rose Tattoo, a band she had clearly not heard of prior. You can imagine the face she made when Jean played a Rose Tattoo CD for her as well as his subsequent head scratching: I’m all for silly and or clever band names but not when they confuse the shit out of people like this. Musically, however, they ain’t too bad if you like pterodactyl screams and endless blast beats. Kids here locally seem to go apeshit for them but they’ve yet to convince me to buy any of their records or ball point pens. Magnum Force come through with more of a death/grindcore approach much like Insect Warfare and Hatred Surge; works for me. Sex Prisoner appropriately close out this split upping the ante on just exactly why the words “power” and “violence” should be reserved only for a band of this caliber. They just completely fucking destroy! Crossed Out smoking sherm with Mellow Harsher in a Tucson alleyway. Check out the cool etching on the flip side as you’re getting your ass handed to you. –Juan Espinosa (To Live A Lie)


100 FLOWERS:
Self-titled: LP
Seminal punk minimalists The Urinals’ sound matured slightly after their third seven inch. Around this time, the band changed their name to 100 Flowers. While The Urinals contribution to punk history has been solidified in recent years, the 100 Flowers era has languished in obscurity. This recent reissue of their only full-length is very welcome. The fifteen songs on this album are happy blasts of undistorted guitar and high energy drumming. The songs are slightly more involved than typical Urinals’ fare, but maintain the intelligent lyrics and dry sound. The material has also been sort of hard to come by in recent years. The CD compilation 100 Years of Pulchritude contains their entire output but has been out of print for a long time. I’m gonna do that record store thing and tell you that their harder to locate appearances on classic comps such as Keats Rides a Harley and Hell Comes to Your House contain punker offerings and are essential listening, so you should seek them out. But this album contains some essential California punk that should not be missed. If “Ride the Wild” is one of your favorite Descendents songs, then this album is for you. Now do the right thing and look up the word “pulchritude.” If you’re not careful, you might learn something. –Billups Allen (Superior Viaduct)


RATAS DEL VATICANO:
Rafagueados: 2 x 7” EP
At its core, this band from Monterrey, Mexico band metes out rudimentary hardcore of varying tempos and hues very much in line with the sounds coming out of different parts of that country during its ‘80s hardcore heyday. The production, however, give the whole thing a lo-fi garage sheen, which adds a whole different dimension to the proceedings. They probably won’t win any awards, but they are quite adept at what they do and the sounds here hint that they may be quite formidable in a live setting. Limited to 500 copies. –Jimmy Alvarado (Batshit, badshit@live.com)


WILD CHILD:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Dirty and fast hardcore punk somewhere betwixt the School Jerks and Cülo. The drumming sounds like hell, the guitar lacks solid distortion, and the vocalist sounds like he’s slobbering all over himself. Fuggin’ spastic! “Stay Bent” is the best of the bunch, because it’s the final song on here and I know it’s over. Kidding. Relax... The real reason is it embodies all the best elements of the other four songs and pushes all those elements further into the red. It sounds like everything is on the verge of falling into chaos. The weird grunting in “Viral Load” has its charm, as well as the urgent delivery of “Brown Nose.” –Matt Average (Deranged, derangedrecords.com)


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