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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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UKIAH DRAG, THE:
Jazz Mama Is Crying: 12” EP
Former members of the weird guy hardcore elite (see, e.g., Cult Ritual and Diet Coke Heads) do us all a favor and lay down four lysergic jams on this here slab, which was originally released on cassette by Ascetic House. Had I known of the band’s pedigree before hearing this, I woulda been more than mildly surprised. Dudes (I’m assuming) drop any pretense of hardcore (but do retain a bit of the weird) here, with the opener being the closest thing to punk really on here, as it exudes a bit of Stooges-esque sexual power at times. Outside of that, your feelings about drugs are probably a good indicator of whether you’ll enjoy this. Unless, of course, you really like drugs, in which case you’ll like this, but probably not as much as somebody who isn’t as loaded as often. The second track broods calmly while communicating a definite severity. The cream of the crop is the first song on the B-side, in all its minimalist avant-garde glory. A bluesy lament about being without that sounds like the morning after the night before rounds things out. They already have a follow-up cassette, issued by the reputable Night People label, but this one appears from all accounts to be self-released, as reinforced by the LSD-69 catalog inscription in the dead wax. No contact info, but easy enough to find from a kind distro on the web.  –Vincent Battilana (Self-released)


VACATION:
Candy Waves: CD
I first saw this band in August 2011 with The Dopamines and Dan Webb And The Spiders in a basement show in Somerville, MA. Yes! It was awesome. I picked up some of Vacation’s merch. While all good, nothing was there that prepared me for this record. In some places, this reminds me of early ‘80s output from bands like Wall Of Voodoo and Jesus And Mary Chain. Jerri the drummer writes all the lyrics. But bassist Evan and Peyton on guitar offer up super-charged riffs to bring it all together. I don’t know what else to say about this record except that it’s beyond amazing!  –Sean Koepenick (Don Giovanni)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
The Big Itch Club: 7”
I’ve always liked the comp 7”. It’s nice and communal, especially with rising vinyl prices. But they continue to be a hard sell. The #1’s have two songs on this one: they remind me a bit of The Barbaras. The second song, “Tell Me Why,” is a nice sentimental romp about ambiguity inherent in the word “girlfriend.” The September Girls entry is a jump-beat sing-along with echo-laden guitars. Faux Kings play straightforward, 1-4 punk’n’roll with oooo’s, echo vocals, and raspy guitars with a Chuck Berry-type solo thrown in. The romance with a comp 7” is that all the bands get along and play together. I hope that’s the case here.  –Billups Allen (Bachelor)


WAU Y LOS ARRRGHS!!!:
Todo Roto: LP
This is the sweaty, gnarly spitball kind of garage punk that brandishes razor sharp guitar licks, bright organs, and snappy beats. But most importantly, Juanito Wau’s vocals are like a sneering, rabies-infected animal with froth around the lips. You’re wary of his bite, but you can get down to the disease. Because of my hyper minimal understanding of Spanish, Juanito’s voice is like a misshapen instrument—he slings slobbery hooks and adds a major glob of attitude. This is solid punk from España.  –Sean Arenas (Slovenly)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Psych-Out Christmas: CD
Ah, Christmas in February, ‘tis the season. Fuck it, I love Christmas any time of the year, and I’m a sucker for a good Christmas song, I kid you not. Strange comp of traditional and original Christmas jams from some pretty big hitters like the Fuzztones, Dead Meadow, Psychic Ills, and even Iggy Fucking Pop!. The title sums it up, it does what it says on the label: psych Christmas songs. Sounds utterly ridiculous I know, but fuck me if it doesn’t work just fine. The Cosmonauts drugged out “It’s Christmas Day” is a wonderful drone workout, Vacants throw in a garage banger, Psychic Ills murder “Run Rudolph,” sounding like Lou Reed on more smack. Not every track is amazing—like the Dead Meadow or Iggy Pop—but as comps go, this one is a scorcher. I will definitely be getting high to this next Christmas.  –Tim Brooks (Cleopatra)


SCAM, THE:
Fuck On: CDEP
Not the worst CDEP with a drawing of a topless girl spitting into another topless girl’s mouth on the cover i’ve ever reviewed in my life. Oh, who am i kidding? Of COURSE it is! Sounds like mall punk for people who hate mall punk. I can only imagine the self-loathing. Now spit in your own mouth! This is a cool place. BEST SONG: I actually prefer the outstanding cover art to any of the songs contained within, but, by process of elimination, the answer is “Monkey Monkey.” BEST SONG TITLE: “Teenage Knife Fight.” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: “Monkey Monkey” is a ripoff of the song “Peanut Butter” by the Marathons on Arvee Records, which is itself a ripoff of the song “(Baby) Hully Gully” by the Olympics on Arvee Records. Unless you know otherwise.  –Rev. Norb (Throwing Things)


PURE PREDICATION:
Dead Boy: 7”
Dead Boy is Pure Predication’s second release after Junk Shit for Brains. Shorter by two songs, Dead Boy gives five spooky minutes of haunted house garage rock with an ear for infectious punk melody. Jeff Predication leads with vocals and guitar, and Pure Mike handles guitar two while simultaneously working some drum combo, like Bert in Mary Poppins, if only Bert smoked chimney ash, had debilitating acid flashbacks, and sang ditties about drinking wolf’s blood instead of writing songs about picnics and fountains. Tonally, Dead Boyis harder and catchier and spookier than their prior EP, released on Hard Body Sounds (good people who put out the Tweens release). The title track, “Dead Boy,” tumbles darkly from hook to hook and keeps all components swamp-soaked in reverb, drowning the lyrics and effectively folding the song into a satisfying ambient lo-fi melody. The B-side, “Devil’s Weed,” branches out and drapes itself with creepy single-string melodies and spasms of solo guitar to get away from the mostly chord riffing of the latter track. Oh yeah, and the video for “Dead Boy” is a psychedelic remix of the 1986 movie, Stand by Me. A keeper.  –Jim Joyce (Manglor)


GOOD GRIEF / BUZZORHOWL:
Split: 7”
Good Grief plays ‘90s indie punk jangled through their original song “You’ve Got Codes” (Nintendo codes? Romantic codes?) and a spirited cover of J Church’s “The Track.” I like it. Meanwhile, BUZZorHOWL, also of Liverpool, set well-paced vocal melodies alongside lightly distorted guitar clang and drum fills aplenty for a few more degrees of attitude. There is a similarity between both groups in that they favor melody over brute power and speed, with BUZZorHOWL bringing the hard push to balance out Good Grief’s lighter shrug. A bit of Samiam in here, too—these are good songs dusted in heart and melody.  –Jim Joyce (Boss Tuneage / Drunken Sailor)


EXIT HIPPIES / LOTUS FUCKER:
Split: LP
Exit Hippies crank out some heavy, low-end, sludgy noise that is all over the map. One second the music is plodding and distorted with sounds blistering in the din. Then, suddenly, it’s bubbly and skronked-out electronics spluttering and splattering against the wall. The bass has a great dirty and gritty sound. I mean really filthy sounding, as though thick clouds of dust are coming out of the speaker cabinet. “Slam” is pretty cool, opening with air raid sirens, then the buzzing distortion of instruments comes in with honking sounds and washes of white noise. At times, the noise for the sake of filling space gets tedious. When everything is focused is when they are most effective. Fun for a couple or four spins. Lotus Fucker, on the other side, expand on what they built from their Forever My Fighting SpiritLP. They continue to push at the boundaries of the noisecore thing, which helps place them way ahead of most bands taking a stab at this style currently. Although, I will say these songs didn’t knock me over the way their aforementioned LP did. At points, the songs start to bleed and melt together forming one big white noise mess. Some may think that is good, but I think Lotus Fucker are capable of doing better.  –Matt Average (SPHC)


EX-BREATHERS:
Collision: LP
Sporadic metallic hardcore hailing from Tallahassee, Florida. Reminds me of Ghostlimb except with fewer Viking solos, but every bit as jittery (both bands are dizzying, high impact three-pieces). The songs sink in then hurriedly rush out the fire escape. The start/stop tempos fend off monotony and each shrill pitch floods into the next with skillful calculation. The barrel-chested yells are mixed fairly low blending with the piercing guitars, chugging bass, and fitful drumming—it’s a production quality that retains the rawness and ferocity of live performance. I imagine that these guys crush live. Overall, an impressive debut LP of grim aggression and convulsive experimentation. Recommended for technical hardcore fans looking for blind rage over indulgent showiness. Check the butt rock solos at the door.  –Sean Arenas (Living Lost, exbreathers@gmail.com)


DEAD BODY MEN, THE:
Punk Rock Bottom: 7” lathe
A punk band from the high school years of North Carolina friends (featuring Will Butler of To Live A Lie records fame) and they sound every bit of it: demo quality Reagan Youth taking on fast hardcore, although I wish I could say these songs were as good as that description sounds. The cover was made with what feels like poorly cut construction paper with glued-on xeroxed images as artwork. I understand that this is what presumably would normally pass for a “punk as fuck” product, but seeing as how this record was put out for purely nostalgic reasons (the songs were recorded in the early 2000s) the artwork takes away from all the effort that was put into pressing this lathe onto plastic (not vinyl, mind you). So does anyone other than the parties involved or their friends really need to hear this? Not particularly. I doubt these four songs will cause anyone to shit their pants and drop insane amounts of money for one of only thirty copies available. A fun listen, for sure, but far from essential.  –Juan Espinosa (Positive Youth Productions, tolivealie.com)


CHOOSE YOUR POISON / SMD:
God Hating Thrash Punks from Hell: 7”
The title of this split is truth in advertising. “Alcoholic Antichrist,” the thrasher by Choose Your Poison that kicks off this split, ends with the words “Puke on the cross.” SMD may be less overtly sacrilegious lyrically, but not in sound. The best thing to do is just draw a pentagram on your living room floor with chalk, light candles at the points, and try not to stomp them as you circle pit around the edge, raising thrash demons as you listen to this record.  –MP Johnson (Give Praise)


BORN LIARS:
Show Some Couth: LP
This is the fourth album by these underrated Houston garage punks, a pretty dodgy proposition for a genre where three good albums is two more than expected. And, whilst nothing hereon moves me like “Don’t Tell Me I Know” off of 2008’s Ragged Island, one certainly can’t attribute that to ill-conceived deviations from the formula ((said formula consisting of sounding like Chuck Berry for maybe two seconds and maybe like a garaged-up version of the Mullens for another three)). That said, they still cook pretty good on tracks like “Third Time Down,” and it’s killing me that i can’t place the ‘60s punk riff they stole for “Mizzeree Jim.” Well, gimme another three or four albums and i’ll think of it. BEST SONG: “Third Time Down.” BEST SONG TITLE: “Ridin’ Through the Reich.” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: I am strangely obsessed with the fact that the band’s name is both rightside-up and upside down on the cover, so no matter which way you prefer to orient the crudely scrawled crotch shot upon which their logo is superimposed, their name looks correct.  –Rev. Norb (Little T&A)


BIPOLAROID:
Twin Language: CD
Bipolaroid is such a dumb name, but don’t think about that right now. Don’t think about anything. Listen to these hazy Love-style psych pop gemstones with sleepy Syd Barrett vocals that are so basic and warm and charming and feel perfect with a couple beers (keep adding beers or whatever else as needed, I guess). Better than anything coming out of Burger Records, by a long shot. There’s a photo of the band on the back cover and they look like genuine older dude goofballs, so you know it’s for real. Don’t trust any band under thirty.  –Matt Werts (Get Hip)


YOUNG COCONUT:
I Got a Vibe: CD
This is the twelfth album from a one-man band from Kitchener, Ontario. Comedic, danceable, silly, and energetic, this is very light, poppy material with a sensibility that borrows heavily from Tom Tom Club and Atom And His Package. Relying on a drum machine and other gadgets, Young Coconut also brought in buddies to collaborate on this project, the most essential of which add killer female backing vocals. Alternating between grating and lovable, in the end, the vibe present on I Got a Vibe is one worth experiencing.  –Art Ettinger (Fauxtown)


WOLF-FACE:
Still a Son of a Bitch: CD
This album is full of dicks. No, not the guys in the band. I’ve never met them. The liner notes have dicks drawn all over them. One hard. One is not hard, but freakishly long. One of them is ejaculating. It looks like the wall of a bathroom stall in a Valero somewhere on I-5. As far as the music goes, I like it. I like it a lot. Still a Son of a Bitch has the pop punk melodies and slow-dancing breakdowns of a band like RVIVR but, clearly, without the revolution-promoting gender and queer politics. Wolf-Face has song titles like “I Wanna be a Homo (Sapien),” “What are You Looking at Dicknose,” and “She Swallows.” Umm…all right? According to the back of the album you can “Beat off to Wolf-Face at Facebook.com/pubesonmyface.” I think I’ll just listen some more.  –John Mule (Mooster)


SWITCHBLADE KID, THE:
For All the Sad Bastards: LP
A Memphis rocker’s solo project, with well-written songs that move from post-punk to countryish ballads to literate singer-songwriter material. Save for two tunes toward the end that are dead ringers for early Jay Reatard, the production has a Jesus And Mary Chain level of reverb, which brings the disparate styles together, giving the album a surprising cohesion, especially considering that it was recorded over a ten year period.  –Chris Terry (Miss Molly Music)


SLUSHY:
“Candy” b/w “Pocket”: 7”
This band truly defines the Midwest sound. Or at least what I try to tell my East Coast friends that bands in my neck of the woods sound like. I saw them live once where they played on a beach-themed stage and it seemed so natural. Garage pop without any affectations, as only kids from the flyover states can do. “Candy” is dandy, but B-side “Pocket” is the jam.  –Sal Lucci (Randy)


REACHAROUNDS:
Living in the Future: LP
I like that you can’t judge this record by its cover. Limited to two hundred copies, housed in hand silkscreened covers, this is a labor of love for sure, with packaging that doesn’t at all convey what’s contained therein. Very Midwestern, with a heavy Steve Albini influence, this is unassuming for such a high concept release. I especially love the vicious second track, “Sunday,” which takes anti-religious punk sentiment to the highest possible level. Doc Dart of The Crucifucks would be proud. As accessible as experimental punk gets, Reacharounds certainly reached me.  –Art Ettinger (Push And Pull)


PUNCHLINES, THE:
It Ain’t Funny: 7”
This is what 7”s were made for. Ten punk rock pop singalongs, get in, get out, repeat. It took me one side of close listening and reading of song titles to realize The Punchlines are just that. And they are no joke. Members of The Turkletons.  –Matt Seward (Bloated Kat)


PSYCHIC WEATHER:
Shining in the Red: LP
A full length’s worth of indie-rock instrumentals which mostly come off as rejected Fugazi song ideas.  –Juan Espinosa (Self-released)


PHEMALE:
City Silk: LP
What if Duran Duran had art school beginnings like Devo? Imagine an underground label found those recordings and released them as Hardcore Duran Duran Vol. 1? Melancholy synthpop from “mixed media artist” Michael Donahue. Skinny-jeaned ninety pound teens will find quite a bit to wallow in with a purchase of City Silk. This is not a panning of Phemale, just an observation that it’s no Friday night party record, but definitely a “no girlfriend/boyfriend but that’s okay cause I have my art” record. Creepy minimalist bass/keyboards/samples/loops to express your inner Ian Curtis.  –Matt Seward (Redscroll)


OPPOSITION RISING:
Get off Your Ass, Get off Your Knees: 10”EP
Hailing from Boston, Opposition Rising is a mash-up of a wide variety of genres of hardcore. Usually an attempt at this is the sonic representation of a train wreck but that’s not the case here. The first side is three songs of fast-paced, anthemic hardcore—anthemic without being too singsong and keeping all of its bite. Music to dog pile for the mic to. The second side takes a turn for a different anthem and throws in a lot of ska punk, but, again, not totally shitting all over it. They execute it flawlessly by throwing in lyrics relating to working class issues. I have listened to this record a lot in the last few weeks and will continue to do so.  –Adam Mullett (Riot Ska,chris@riotskarecords.com/ Pirates Press)


NO BUSINESS:
Demo: CD
Awesome demo from No Business out of Oakland. Band features members of Diehard and Detach Dolls. Fierce female vocals, melodic surf guitar, rolling bass, and drums keep things moving. It’s catchy old school punk with great rock and roll hooks. Solid. Can’t wait to see what they have in store!  –Camylle Reynolds (nobusiness1.bandcamp.com)


MALL’D TO DEATH:
More Than a Sinking Feeling: 7”
This new 7” keeps in the vein of awesome modern pop punk like their Minneapolis pals Off With Their Heads or Banner Pilot. Rough around the edges in the vocal department and a solid wall on the music end. Music that gets you riled up. Makes you want to swing your beer and sing along because you know you’ve had those feelings as well. This was released by It’s Alive! and Geykido Comet, so you know you are getting a quality release. This is a very professional looking and sounding record. Very stoked I got to review this.  –Adam Mullett (It’s Alive!)


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·MARK LIND
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