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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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DEAL’S GONE BAD:
Self-titled: 7”
I really wanted to like this. I rarely like ska, because it usually sucks. However, I was a big fan during the third wave and always hope for a pleasant surprise. With all of the intense loathing everyone has for ska, I really wanted Deal’s Gone Bad to be good. Hey, I root for the underdog. I also respect someone playing ska these days, because you know dam well that it’s what they want to be doing. Sadly, Deals Gone Bad isn’t a credit their reviled style. This sounds a lot like UB40 or some other middle-of-the-road, pseudo-reggae/ska from the late eighties. Prepare yourself for the cover of Otis Redding’s “These Arms of Mine” on side two. It’s really going to piss you off. –Craven (no info)


DEAD ACES:
Best of Luck in Your Future Endeavors: CD
This is another one of those cases where you can judge a book (or band) by its cover. Tattoo-styled lettering and songs titles like “Friday Night,” “Working Class,” and “Labor vs. Management” led me to correctly deduce some sort of street punk going on here. Yep. I just don’t find it all that interesting. –Ty Stranglehold (myspace.com/deadacestroy)


DARK LION:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Skronky hardcore, not unlike what would’ve happened if Lydia Lunch had been more interested in killing cops and George W. Bush than free jazz. Angry, wholly devoid of melody, and blessed with creativity that only the inept can wield without sounding pretentious. Play it for your favorite DRI fan and gleefully watch them cringe. –Jimmy Alvarado (Static Gold)


CROISSANTS, THE:
Self-titled: 7”
Trashy pop punk of the highest order is what you get from this Sacramento three-piece. Lo-fi and DIY, these Croissants are filled with distorted guitars and snotty, sneering vocals. These numbers are also incredibly peppy and catchy, with lots of “Oh Yeah” choruses. Reatards and/or Nobunny fans will rejoice with this little gem of a record. –Jeff Proctor (lecroissants.blogspot.com)


CRIMINAL CULTURE/WAX PHANTOM:
Split: 7” EP
Criminal Culture: Wait, what gives? I thought emo had gone off and died a mopey death. Wax Phantoms: Two tracks of moody, poppy punk, with “Don’t Bother to Bury Me” being the stronger of the two. –Jimmy Alvarado (Kiss Of Death)


CRAZY AND THE BRAINS:
Don’t Need No Snacks: Cassette
How much do you like the sound of a xylophone? Do you like it chiming again and again, crawling into your brain through your ear canals like some sort of mind slug? Do you like it wrapping its shiny essence around your thinking muscle, squeezing it until you go all zombie-eyed and start kicking your legs and clapping your hands? Do you like it layered under terrible lyrics about loving Lindsay Lohan and wanting to be on Saturday Night Live? Does anyone like xylophone that much? –MP Johnson (Baldy Longhair)


CREEPS, THE:
Lakeside Cabin: LP
This is a vaguely conceptual album about serial killers stalking and slaughtering women and… well, mostly just slaughtering women and running from the law. When people complain about sexism and misogyny in horror, this is the sort of stuff they’re talking about. That doesn’t bother me nearly as much as the lack of originality. Wouldn’t one song about stalking and killing women have done the trick? Was it really necessary that half the songs on the record have that theme? Couldn’t they have snuck in one song about gutting a dude or a cat or something? Boring. And to make matters worse, there’s no teeth. Musically, it’s goofy and bouncy and I don’t even buy the shit they’re singing about. It’s really just pretty pathetic. –MP Johnson (Black Pint / It’s Alive)


COP HUGGER:
Tape 2: Cassette
Pretty boring, hardly noticeable hardcore. Kind of like a slowed down Suicidal Tendencies with a Descendents influence. –Craven (Gnarly As I Wanna Be)


COMPLETELY FUCKED:
Prognosis Negative: Cassette
Your basic youth crew-inspired thrash with angst and bitterness spewing from both ends. I’ve definitely heard worse, but that isn’t saying much about these cats. Then again, what did I really expect from a cassette with a drawing of a demonic Jerry Seinfeld? Try again, guys. –Juan Espinosa (Self-released, no contact info)


COLONIX:
Self-titled: 7”
This totally kick-ass six-song 7” has a very 1990s feel. Colonix is from Seattle, but they’d fit in great on a Boston punk show circa 1996 with August Spies and The Unseen as openers. The vocalist has a higher-than-tenor-pitched range, adding to the snotty fun. When’s the next street punk revolution coming? It’s long overdue. Bands like this never stopped filling America’s basements, but there seems to be a recent renewed broader interest in street punk, with new bands like Colonix and Cerebral Ballzy putting out records left and right. The smell of beer and butt sweat can be a beautiful thing. –Art Ettinger (colonix77.blogspot.com)


CITIZEN USELESS:
The Presidents of the United Mistakes: CD
On the one hand, this is fairly generic punk/hardcore stuff. On the other, they’re pretty tight and do what they do well. In the end, however, nothing really registered much past background music. –Jimmy Alvarado (P.I.G.)


CAPTAIN NOWHERE:
Party Time, Inc: LP
Party Time, Inc. is obviously a tongue in cheek title, as any party with this as the soundtrack would be very unpleasant. This is deep, brooding music; music that you listen to when you can’t see straight and need to trance into another realm. You won’t lose yourself in the rhythms, but the noise will become white and you’ll see a bigger picture of something. Musically, take the boring parts of NoMeansNo mixed with psych-inspired garage rock like Thee Oh Sees and then you have Captain Nowhere. I guess a recording causing emotion isn’t all that bad, but I could never listen to this again. Four songs on neat looking vinyl, though. –Todd Taylor (Idiomism, no address)


BUGS, THE:
eHarmony Rejected Me: 7”
Holy crap, a new Bugs record! Right off the bat, I can’t help but notice that this 7” is an actual single—three songs opposed to the last one’s eleven. In other words, it’s over super fast! The good news is that we have three more hilarious tunes that sound somewhere between Too Tough to Die-era Ramones and early Queers. I need more songs! –Ty Stranglehold (myspace.com/surfinkirecords )


BUBONIC BEAR / HULK SMASH:
Split: Cassette
You take an old jaded straightedge guy, the kind you’d hear grumbling about days past and saying things like “Stay edge” and “Go veg,” but not really meaning them anymore. You cut him apart. You toss away all the gristly bits, everything but the frame and the spark. Then you take that spark and you plug it in. You make a cyborg straightedger, complete with cables dripping from the base of his skull and laser pointer fingers. You tell him to make some fucking music. What do you get? Hulk Smash. Bubonic Bear is a bit more meat and bone, yelling and drumming. Seems kind of boring after listening to the first half. –MP Johnson (srarecords.com)


BROWN SUGAR:
Get Fuckin’ Mugged: Flexi 7"

138.6pt 0pt 0pt" class="MsoNormal">The “mid tempo hardcore punk from upstate New York” tag I’ve heard thrown around for these guys doesn’t come close to doing this band justice. The first track is pretty straight Minor Threat worship, but the vibe of the recording is a lot more rock’n’roll. The other two songs on the record mix the intensity of the early 2000s Rochester hardcore stuff I was way into as a kid with a totally reckless, irreverent attitude. The breakdown/bass work at the end of “Mind Funk” is totally out of place but sounds perfect in context, like if I Object had been on Goner Records and was also into ‘60s psych rock. I’m not sure if I totally get the flexi format right now, as they’re sort of cost prohibitive and the sound quality suffers, but the head noise in this recording sounds like another member, so I’ll forgive them this time. Also, the (clear) plastic is silk screened on one side, and the ink is layered to create a two sided image, a creative idea that at least shows that the band/label took the time and effort to try and make the packaging unique instead of just a gimmicky format.

–Ian Wise (Feral Kid)


BRAIN F≠:
Sleep Rough: LP
Art-clutter via hardcore punk served in ten frantically paced dishes. Male and female vocals are your handrails as distortion and feedback are whipped around, inches away from your face. The sheer noise that’s being created makes this band sound twice as big and 3,000 miles away from the source. I’m absolutely positive it dominates live. Co-released by two of the best hardcore punk labels currently releasing records, you know it’s going to be good. Pick it up and get weird, ‘cause these songs makes the average punk band sound like music that a yuppie would listen to in order to help them fall asleep. –Daryl Gussin (Sorry State / Grave Mistake)


BLIND EYES, THE:
With a Bang: CD
Out of St. Louis, this trio’s second full length continues in the vein of ‘90s alternative. Porter’s crooning vocals over Buffalo Tom chords sound like flannel shirts and Doc Martens. Just to be clear, this is more easy listening than Nirvana or even Pearl Jam. With “Hermetically Sealed,” they veer into outright pop with a sunshiny sing-song harmony. Voted best album of the year in their home town, this is for those who wistfully think back on the original Beverly Hills 90210 and the rise of the Pumpkins. –Kristen K (Self-Released, blindeyesstl.blogspot.com, theblindeyes@gmail.com)


BIG DIGITS:
Know Tomorrow: LP
Weirdo electro hip hop, that’s pretty upbeat and catchy. It could come off as a bit hipster-y, but it’s more goofy than anything, which translates into it being fun. I feel like this is the kind of stuff Jessica Hopper would champion years ago in Punk Planet in the early ‘00s, if you replaced riot grrrls with dudes with facial hair (note “facial hair” and not “beards”) who just party all the time. –Joe Evans III (Anchor Brain)


BERTOS, THE:
San Diego: CDEP
Don’t quote me on the title. Mike from The Bertos handed this to me at AwesomeFest 5. The cover’s written in sharpie on burrito paper. There’s a lot to like about the Bertos; the fact that lead singer Mike’s almost bashful when they’re not playing just adds to it. They play songs about manual labor jobs and quickly and haphazardly moving out of an apartment. Real stuff that may sound small—”…and we dust and we mop…(ba bah bah) and we fold everything…(whoah oh oh)”—but, to me, just sound real and honest. They also have a subtle way of twisting things with a flick of the wrist—”…and the night falls… (ba bah bah) we’re out drinking (whoah oh oh) … and we are so afraid…” Think along the lines of J.Church, (another power trio) Hüsker Dü, and deconstructed and reassembled Tiltwheel guitar riffs. What that boils down to me is plenty of space to breathe inside of the songs. It’s like watching a set of lungs expand and contract over and over again. Seeing the blood pulsate. The esophagus swell, breath expel. The Bertos are a well-kept San Diego secret. Give ‘em a chance. I have the feeling they’ll surprise you. This gets better and bigger with each spin. –Todd Taylor (Self-released, no address)


BAD DADDIES:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Rudimentary, raw, oddly catchy punk ditties about apocalypse men, permanent eyesores, and wishing Roman Polanski would die. The A-side has six tracks, none of which break the one-minute mark, while the flip features their apparent magnum opus, “Not That Kind of Girlfriend,” which clocks in at a whopping two minutes twelve seconds. Dunno if it’d be compatible with all tastes, but it definitely ain’t without its charms –Jimmy Alvarado (Central District)


AWFUL TRUTH / DEAD BABIES:
Split: 7”
Awful Truth’s side of this record was entitled Ass and had a photograph of some dude’s bare ass taking up the entire cover. Dead Babies’ side was called Full of Seamen and had a zombie pregnant woman holding up a dead baby up, its gory entrails dripping and umbilical chord hanging from between her legs. Picture this and then imagine how blown away I was to find it was a great record! Just kidding. It’s just as crappy as you would think it’d be. That is, unless you thought that it would be as bad is it looked in an interesting or outstanding way. Nope. It was just bad, generic punk. Just like the thousand other seven-inch records in the used bin at the store where I’m going to sell this. –Craven (Shithole)


AVFART 33 / INSIDIOUS PROCESS:
Split: LP

138.6pt 0pt 0pt" class="MsoNormal">

 

You get two anarcho bands from Sweden on this record; both are led by women and make for a good match. The record itself comes packaged in a beautifully illustrated black and white sleeve with a cardboard inner sleeve containing the lyrics. The drawing is of a girl with a pet white tiger gazing up into a window from which a silhouette of another child looks back. What this has to do with the sounds on the record is up to the listener’s interpretation, for the sounds are far less serene. Avfart 33’s first song starts out with a pretty standard galloping d-beat intro. It didn’t really grab my attention until the vocals kicked in. The fast, belted-out, high-pitched vocals is what makes this band stand out. At the same time, the band picks up the pace for some speedy hardcore. The lyrics are not printed in English, but there are some translated song summaries. Most of the songs are about smashing the state, anti-sexism, stuff like that. Insidious Process play fast, pummeling d-beat with shrieking, demonic vocals. I think that Process is definitely the all-around better band, but they, too, benefit from a furious vocalist. A few more parts and time changes to their quick, thrashy crust make a big difference. The lyrics are radically political, but most are focused on the mental health side of things, like coping with the wear on your mind when trying to fight, resist, or live outside the system. –Craven (Aborted Society, abortedsociety@hotmail.com)


ART INSTITUTE:
Screaming over the Dull Roar: Cassette
I’ve listened to this live demo countless times since it showed up in my mailbox, but still don’t know how I feel about this band. Their sound is a fusion of early ‘80s post punk and new wave, which sounds—on the surface—like something I’d be into. Many of the songs on this though, felt almost mind-numbingly monotonous. Thankfully, flipping the tape over to Program Two offered some refreshing changes of pace, including faster tempos and more interesting riffs, as on the track “The New Math.” The closing track “Pills & Alcohol” was also quite good, featuring some of the best riffs and a healthy dose of guitar wankery. Ultimately, I think what made it difficult for me to like this as much as I might have was the terrible quality of the live recording. With a proper recording fleshing out this band’s sound more fully, I might be into it, but my feelings about this live recording are lukewarm at best. –Paul J. Comeau (artinstitute.bandcamp.com)


ARCHAGATHUS:
Canadian Horse: LP
Think of Agathocles and Doom mixed with Spazz. Mincecore madness that points out the absurd in “the scene”; dogs at shows, porn-grind, crusties, as well as things like monkeys and wolves. It’s pretty obvious from the cover art of someone on a horse with a saxophone where this band is coming from (“Mincecore Fabio”!?). Multi vocal growls and grunts over a din of guitar and choppy drumming. You know if this is your thing or not. Good for a listen or two. –Matt Average (To Live A Lie, tolivealie.com)


ANTHROT:
The Fucking Tape: Cassette
Eleven thrashing hardcore songs that switch between blast beats and brutal breakdowns. Caustic vocals, up-front guitars. The 9/11-related soundbites are the only thing clueing me in on the fact that this wasn’t recorded in the ‘90s. I would have preferred to hear this, instead of Jihad, on the flip of the Ottowa 12”. As they put it in the liner notes, “Download it for fucking free at bandcamp.” –CT Terry (Cop Grave)


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