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· 1:The Rikk Agnew Band, Symbol Six, Barrio Tiger and A Pretty Mess
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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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TRENT FOX AND THE TENANTS:
Mess Around EP: 7"
Surf-influenced pop punk, as if the Ventures mated with the Queers and this is the bastard offspring. Reminds me a lot of mid-’90s surf revival (Satan’s Pilgrims, Man…Or Astroman?, the Exotics, etc.), only with lots of vocals and a sloppier, seemingly drunken (read: fun!) sound. It’s not surprising that the Tenants are from Milwaukee; nobody does this sound better than the MiddleCoast between Shorewood and Cudahy. Really good stuff if you’re into this sort of thing. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Kind Turkey, myspace.com/tenantsmke)


TO THE NORTH:
Lustre: CD
I’ve reviewed two or three albums by bands on Tenzenmen and I’m starting to realize that they are like the Australian version of what I heard on Thrill Jockey Records in the mid- to late-’90s. There’s lots of Chicago-influenced, angular math rock: things that have been influenced a great deal by Bob Weston and Steve Albini and the projects they have recorded. Furthermore, the way To The North starts things out, I was reminded of a relatively unknown band from the Seattle area called Eyes Of Autumn that are no longer together but which showcased a great deal of youthful energy in their math rock stylings. To The North have an aggressive sound that is kept from being burdensome by the use of delicate guitar tones. The vocals are a bit harsh at times because they don’t show a lot of diversity. This isn’t bad but it’s not something I’m likely to hold on to, either. As with the rest of Tenzenmen material, if you miss the mid- to late-’90s indie rock/post-punk Chicago sound, then you’ll dig on this. –Kurt Morris (Tenzenmen)


TO BE HATED:
Banned in Dade County: 7"

I don’t really understand live albums, and certainly don’t understand why a relatively unknown band (well, to be fair, unknown by me, which means next to nothing) would choose release a seven inch record of a live material. To Be Hated play competent spirit-of-’77 street punk with duel male/female vocals that kinda reminds me of Blanks 77. I would have enjoyed it more if it was recorded on a four track in their practice space rather than what I suspect is the board at a club show, but I bet the show was pretty fun.

 

–Chris Mason (Suburban White Trash, suburbandwhitetrash.com)


THROTTLE:
Relapse: CD
This disc started out promising with a decent, quicker-than-mid-tempo rocker called “Speedtrap” that had a kind of Big Drill Car thing going on a bit. Sweet, this could be pretty good... Um, whoah. Is that a plodding, guitar-wank-filled, cheese platter of a ballad? Total turn off. From there on out it was pretty rough early 90’s alterna-rockin’. No thanks. –Ty Stranglehold (Collision Course)


TERMINAL ORCHESTRA, THE:
The Seasons: CD
According to the press one-sheet that came with this, the group was originally conceived to create “pastoral movie soundtrack music (for movies that haven’t been made yet),” and that is definitely in evidence here. Four major instrumental compositions and four accompanying introductions/interludes comprise the music here, one for each of the seasons. The music is delicate, nuanced, and effective in invoking different moods and images for different seasons, resulting in a lush, beautiful release that is decidedly aiming more for “music as an art form” than “music as a cash cow.” Very nice work. –Jimmy Alvarado (Phratry)


SWITCHBLADE JUSTICE:
Let’s Destroy the World Tonight: CD
As much as I want to like a band that references characters from Doom Patrol, I can’t get past the Danzig worship that goes on here. –Bryan Static (Real Punk Radio)


STEP DADS:
“Hold Tight”/”Let Go”: CD-R
Dunno if this is the same Step Dads responsible for the two forty-fives I reviewed a while back, but if so, the sound is markedly different. Less trashy and more traditional punk/hardcore in sound is the order of the day here with lyrics on a more personal bent. Not horrible, but not particularly interesting, either. –Jimmy Alvarado (Useless World, uselessworldrecords.com)


STAND OUT RIOT:
The Gentleman Bandits: CD
Decent ska in the vein of Public Access and Arrogant Sons Of Bitches. Now, when I say decent, someone who has any taste buds for ska would probably like this substantially. Just tastes like onions to me, man. God, I hate onions. –Bryan Static (TNS)


SSSSNAKES:
Kissss Thissss: LP
The first track sounded like something from Fifteen circa Swain and Choice, but everything after that had me thinking Scared Of Chaka-lite. While SOC-lite beats the hell out of a lot of stuff out there, it serves no purpose when Hutch Brown Sayngwich is within reach. –Vincent Battilana (Specialist Subject, specialistsubjectrecords.co.uk)


SPRAYNARD / SUNDIALS:
Split: 7"
Spraynard: Somewhat of a gruff, yell-y DC-inspired art rock band. Or, I suppose the new Fest “pop punk” that’s a bit more intricate or calculated than most bands that just play three chords and (try to) actually sing about how girls made them sad. Sundials: Kind of Fender Strat indie rock, not unlike Against Me! or This Bike Is A Pike Bomb, without as much yelling and a little less hyperactive. All in all, not bad. –Joe Evans III (Evil Weevil, evilweevilrecords@gmail.com)


SORE SUBJECTS:
Gimme a Dee Dee: 7"
Solid playing from a three-chord punk trio with female and male vocal trade off. The lyrics are especially engaging with regular allusions to The Ramones. “Gimmie a Dee Dee” is a nice one about getting a haircut. “Tall Boys” sticks out as good rumination on the lifestyle: “All alone in the dark of the basement/you’re the reason why my face hit the pavement/ I’m hanging out with the tall boys.” This band also wins for going out of their way to make the word “aluminum” rhyme with “minimum.” Does it seem that those two words rhyme already? Think again. The delivery has a hint of bored attitude that makes you want to like them in spite of themselves. –Billups Allen (Self-released)


SNAP LINE:
Party Is Over, Pornstar: CD
I began listening to this for the first (and only) time while driving. It was the first hot day of the year, which meant that I had my window down. Goth-y, electroclash rock poured from my speakers because of this, and embarrassment poured through my mind. “Oh, how I hope that nobody I know pulls up next to me while I have this playing,” I thought to myself. “I don’t want to mention this moment to anyone!” Just as I thought this, one of my cousins drove by—perhaps the only person whom I know who would take me to task for listening to this utter crap. “That was too close,” I told myself, as I ejected the CD and hid it away. –Vincent Battilana (Maybe Mars)


SMOGTOWN:
Incest & Pestilence: CD
Smogtown will forever be one of those bands I’ll have fond memories of. The best shows I went to at Al’s Bar were Smogtown shows. Especially when Ray was ripped and throwing bottles from the stage at the bartender one weekend night, at one point shouting to her, “You’ll never get laid wearing a hat like that!” Then they released Fuhrers of the New Wave, which is a perfect album and a definite classic of the era. Then they weren’t as active for a long while. Then this comes out. Must admit, it starts off shaky, but then picks up steam and reminds me why I was/am stoked on this band. Their sound is still intact—beach punk that sometimes skirts along hardcore lines (even the vocals). “Penchant for Screwing Up” is my favorite on here. But that’s not all. You get some other good tracks like “If We Have All the Guns...,” “Let’s String up the New Marketeers,” “Subdivision End Product” (nice guitar solo here!), and some more. “Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing” is very different from anything they’ve done before. It actually has more of an early L.A. punk sound, when bands would experiment with their sound, and throw the song in the middle of the album. Here, they throw in a saxophone, mess with the rhythm, and also toss in a piano. Hope they do some more stuff like this again. In fact, I hope they become more of an active band again. –Matt Average (Modern Action, vom.com/radio77/mar.htm)


SMOGTOWN:
Incest & Pestilence: CD
It’s been forever since there’s been a Smogtown full-length, but this one picks right back up where this classic California band left off. Like everything on Modern Action, this is available in many versions, including a highly collectable “surfwax” LP version. Wherever you are as you listen to this, you can feel the OC sun beating down. There’s a regional feel to Smogtown that’s always been one of their most pleasing qualities. That and the kickass music, lyrics, and vocals, of course. There are some instant classics on this album that can stick in your head after just one listen. Who can’t relate to the song, “I Wanna Fuck My Chick in the Skate Ditch,” for example? Incest & Pestilence is a welcome return. –Art Ettinger (Modern Action, modernactionrecords.com)


SMOGTOWN:
Incest & Pestilence: CD
I had almost given up any hope. It seemed that Führers of the New Wave had gone deep underground in the early ‘00s. Sure, they appeared for a show here or there, but where were the vinyl transmissions? We need our Orders From Headquarters! When I least expected it, there it was. The call to arms that all the Smog City Wavers were waiting for. Word came that our beloved Beach City Butchers were coming back. Not only that, but the new orders would be released courtesy of the hottest label going right now. Anticipation was off the charts! After more than a decade, what was a couple more months, right? It seemed like eternity I tell you! As I wait for my special surf waxed LP, Razorcake HQ took pity on me and hit me with the CD. The time had come. The return of the mighty Smogtown! Let me preface this with an opinion on reviewing a Smogtown record. It is tough when a debut record comes out and is as mind blowing as Führers Of The New Wave was. Everything you do after that is destined to be compared to it. In Smogtown’s case, that’s not really fair. Sure, all the songs on that record are amazing stand-alone tunes, but it’s the way they go together that makes it one of the best California punk rock records ever. That said, the singles, and Domesticviolenceland are also phenomenal! Does Incest & Pestilence fit in? Just fine. The boys come back at us with another twelve blasts of audio turmoil that reveal more tales of the California façade. Behind the sun and glitz, the paint is peeling and the real problems in society are starting so show through. While the rest of the world seems to fall apart around us, Chavez and the boys are still telling it like it is. The creepy saxophone skronk of “Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing” is new, and somehow fits in. If it’s not apparent already, Smogtown are one of my favorite bands. They came out with both guns blazing and never really got their due last time around. I’m glad to see them sticking to it. SuburbanBeachCity just got dangerous again –Ty Stranglehold (Modern Action)


SLOBS:
Look Busy, Do Nothing: 7"
I don’t know if Al Gore has already made a movie about this, but has anyone else noticed that snot has been disappearing from punk rock at a rate nearly as alarming as that of the earth’s disappearing polar ice caps? And I don’t just mean since Jay Reatard kicked the bucket. Hardcore bands in particular seem to be eschewing good globby blobs of snot in favor of knotted up, vein popping muscle. And that’s just not healthy; you wind up with a lopsided punk rock creature that’s all bombast and very little sting. Even Negative Approach—one of the greatest muscle-bound hardcore bands ever—had the good sense to serve up their raging slabs of seething beast meat smothered in a thick gravy of snot. For those in need of a refresher course in Punk Snot 101: The Attitude, I recommend watching Professor John Lydon discomfit aghast TV talk show host Tom Snyder on the Tomorrow Show—Punk and New Wave DVD. Here you’ll see the verbal-cerebral side of snot, with absolutely no aggro-musculatory dimension whatsoever, and it is a beautiful thing indeed. The Slobs, I suspect, are in no need of any such refresher courses; they play early ‘80s hardcore with a healthy infusion of late ‘70s punk snot. The vocals here remind me of Total Chaos’ Rob Chaos in the early years—though less mannered—and the music could be likened to a slightly under-produced Regulations. And it’s catchy, to boot. I don’t know anything about this band other than these four songs, but I like what I hear. And I look forward to hearing more. Thank you Slobs, for keeping the “punk yin/yang” of muscle and snot alive and sticky. –Aphid Peewit (Cowabunga)


SHITTY FRIENDS, THE:
I’m Sorry It Might Not Have Happened This Way: CD
Well here’s something new: sounds like some sort of hippie jam band that managed to get some structure in their songs and avoid the extended instrumental interludes. You can hear the weird instruments (accordion, harmonica, flute?) accompanying the quiet drums and no-distortion guitar chords. The boy vocals sound pretty emo; like his voice is coming from deep in his guts and it comes out sounding like moaning and howling. The girl vocals sometimes mimic the boy’s; but at other times, she sings in this high, perfectly-pitched, angel voice. Interesting stuff; a little too experimental for my taste, though. –Lauren Trout (Pancake Productions)


SHINY DARKS, THE:
Stab at Love: CDEP
I was optimistic when the opening riffs of this four-song EP reminded me of “Blank Generation” by Richard Hell. And then it all went downhill from there. By the end of the EP, twelve minutes later, I was listening to the least greatest moments from Cheap Trick or AC/DC. The sound is clean and well produced but The Shiny Darks appear to be a band that can ape other bands yet not really synthesize that into their own style. It all sounded too polished and sanitized for my tastes, with not enough chances being taken to make it worth many repeated listens. A little more experimentation and dirtying up the recording process would be cool to hear. I suppose if you want to be “the next big thing” then this is the way to go, but it seems pretty boring to me. –Kurt Morris (theshinydarks.com)


SHARP OBJECTS:
Zero Ambition: 7"
It’s as if the dudes at Modern Action records were able to tap into my brain and start putting bands out that they know I’d love. Every single band I’ve heard on the label is amazing, and Sharp Objects are no exception. A couple of barn burners that Briefs fans would gobble up in a second. Thanks again Modern Action, for introducing me to all my new favorite bands! –Ty Stranglehold (Modern Action)


SHARP OBJECTS:
Another Victim: 7"
Ah, the adjectives I could throw at you. Snotty, trashy, surfy, Modern Action-y... None of it matters. All you need to know is that if Sharp Objects aren’t part of the soundtrack to your beach bonfires or late night skate sessions, you’re doing something wrong! –Ty Stranglehold (Modern Action)


SHARP OBJECTS:
5 Song EP: CDEP
Modern Action is a new label that record collectors will want to watch. Complex packaging and pressing info is listed on their site for all of their releases, with the new Sharp Objects being no exception. They’re working on their first album right now, but have put out a few short releases so far, all of which kick ass. Kind of a punchier, even more vital version of The Briefs, Sharp Objects capture the best of ‘77 punk while not coming off as too corny or fabricated. It’s probably too late to get some versions of this release, so get your collector nerd glasses on and figure out what options you have left. –Art Ettinger (Modern Action, modernactionrecords.com)


SHARP OBJECTS:
“Another Victim” b/w “Left without a Heart”: 45
Since the magazine for which i write is, in fact, a southern California-based publication, i must wonder aloud if Southern Californians realize how immediately identifiable their punk rock is as Southern Californian in origin? I mean, SoCal is like the Wisconsin accent of punk: It is clearly, immediately, and irrevocably identifiable as such. Damn near everything I hear, to this very frickin’ day, sounds like it stepped off of 1982’s “Somebody Got Their Head Kicked In Tonight” compilation LP. The eighth-note cymbal rhythms are the most easily isolated part of this sound, but i swear every other issue i get a record by a Southern California punk band to review, and all I can really say about it is that it sounds like it stepped off of 1982’s “Somebody Got Their Head Kicked In Tonight” compilation LP, and that it reminds me of something my old roommates would listen to at head-crushing volume whilst they drank Kingsbury® with chicks they picked up at the bars whilst i tried vainly to sleep in the other room. Singers sound slightly snottier in 2011 than they did in 1982, but, other than that, this is a double-sided example of that which i just said it was. Am i preachin’ to the choir here? Not a bad record on its own merits, if you were hoping that “Somebody Got Their Head Kicked In” came with futuristic bonus tracks. BEST SONG: “Pillbox” by the Joneses. Wait, what? BEST SONG TITLE: “Left Without a Heart” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: I hail Modern Action Records’ use of rubber stamping. –Rev. Norb (Modern Action)


SHARKS COME CRUISIN:
A Past We Forget That We Need to Know: LP
Yarr matey, here be the latest musical voyage of pirate punks Sharks Come Cruisin. These scurvy sea dogs play what many swabs would classify as folk punk or Irish punk, with traditional folk influences. There’s a lot of energy on this recording, but I can’t get on board with the style. The inserts included with the vinyl, a pack of “trading cards” with song and band info, are among the coolest I’ve seen for album packaging, and the band definitely wins in that regard, but, overall, I find this more a sinker than a swimmer. –Paul J. Comeau (Sharks Come Cruisin, sharkscomecruisin.com)


SEXBUNKER:
Great, More Garbage: Cassette
A crusty, crushing feel to this one, and it feels like I’ve heard it before. It’s there, it’s good, but it’s not turning my world upside down or anything. Sorry about the brevity, gents, but that’s the way it is. –The Lord Kveldulfr (sexbunker2000@gmail.com)


SCARAMANGA SIX, THE:
Cursed: CD
Big, blustery rock music with above average writing and more hooks buried into it than should be legal. Every song sounds like the band is aiming for the fences and the approach is effective for the most part, though I’d be kinda hard pressed to see where they’d fit into the modern pop world dominated by scary-looking girls stealing their sound from Madonna’s most watered-down efforts, their fashions from Klaus Nomi and Hazel O’Connor, and cookie-cutter boys culled from Disneyfied Sears catalogs dealing in tunes that have the edge of melted Peeps. I wish ‘em luck. –Jimmy Alvarado (Wrath)


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