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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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CINEMA CINEMA:
A Night at the Fights: CD
Weird mix of Touch And Go-styled skronk rock and maybe early grunge. Can’t really say it works for me, but they get points for going the extra mile and writing tunes with some structural heft and nuance. –Jimmy Alvarado (Cinema Cinema, cinemacinema.bandcamp.com)


COL•LAPSE:
Enfonsat: LP
Somewhere between a very polished down Dag NastyCan I Say and some band like Turning Point. Poppy and melodic hardcore punk that is so clean there’s not much, if any, soul left. The recording is huge. You can hear the bass and drums and nearly feel them pounding across the floor, while the guitars are certainly up in your face with the vocals, but this lacks that needed grit and dirt to be convincing and attention grabbing. I’ve sat and listened to this album front to back at least ten times tonight, thinking maybe it might grow on me, and after each listen I’m still feeling “meh” about it. I hear bits and pieces in the songs that I like, such as “Ansia De Veritat,” with the guitar riff at the beginning that wants to wind the listener up into something high energy, but it’s not enough to warrant deeper listening. What’s missing from this is desperation and urgency. The songs just lie there and don’t make much fuss—at least not one that is convincing. –Matt Average (Amendment, amendment-records.com, amendmentRecords@gmail.com)


COLD BEAT:
Over Me: LP
I’m impressed with this band. Hannah Lew, best known for being in Grass Widow, fronts and hits the low notes on bass, with members Kyle on guitar from Neon Piss and Bianca Sparta from Erase Errata. They create a sound all their own. Hannah’s ethereal vocals are at the forefront, ambient with layered, harmonized echoes; it both soothes and propels. Cold Beat has an undeniable new wave sound, with its intricate post-punk melodic guitar, synthesizers, and mid-tempo beat. Each song is incredibly catchy. Hannah has a way of layering her song melodies, building to a climax and then giving a very satisfying resolution which makes each song complete. Sounds like a mix of Blondie, Joy Division, Portishead, B-52’s, Go-Go’s, and Joanna Gruesome… at least those bands came to mind throughout the course of listening to this LP. You can’t really pigeon-hole them; it’s an authentic sound. Great LP.  –Camylle Reynolds (Crime On The Moon, crimeonthemoon.com)


COLD CIRCUITS:
Out of Hat Yai: LP
This is my favorite record of the bunch this month; definitely some of the best post-punk I’ve heard in a while. The guitars sound like cables being strung, reminiscent of Big Black. Every song fits into the two-minute category. The lyrics are abstract and minimal and complement the music really well; you won’t find any heart gushing songs here. If you’re a fan of Steve Albini, the Crass Records bands, or Mission Of Burma, you’ll really like this record. I could see these guys pairing up well with the Estranged. Cold Circuits plays tight and precise post-punk as it should be played. I would let these guys play my par-tay. –Ryan Nichols (Erste Theke Tonträger, vaukajott@gmx.de)


CORRUPT BASTARDS / CALAFIA PUTA:
Split 2012: CD-R
Corrupt Bastards and Calafia Puta both play powerviolence. Corrupt Bastards are from Houston. Calafia Puta are from Tijuana. Corrupt Bastards are screamier. Calafia Puta are more on the growling end of things. That’s about all they gave me to work with. –Craven Rock (Self-released)


COVE:
Self-titled: LP
Somewhere between Converge and Copout/His Hero Is Gone, lies Cove. True Memphis grit. Dirty black hardcore stinking of blood and excrement from the gutters of Boxtown. The soul difference between Stax and Motown. The LP is more polished sounding than their live sound, but the listener has the opportunity to hear every start/stop and every nook and cranny of each track. Cove finally delivers their distinct southern hardcore to vinyl and it is absolutely exciting and absolutely essential.  –Matt Seward (Fat Sandwich, fatsandwichrecords.com)


CRIME:
Murder by Guitar: LP
One of the downsides of the Internet is the loss of mythology following certain bands. San Francisco’s Crime is one of those groups written largely in lore. For a time, no one could acquire their singles and few could hear them on worn mix tapes. And nobody deserved the mystique more than Crime. The band released only three proper singles between 1976-1980 and helped define punk with loud guitars and attitude. “Hot Wire My Heart” is the classic you may have heard. All their songs are that good. You can now use the Internet to order a collection of singles we would have killed for at one point. This LP contains the three impossible to find singles that launched the legend of San Francisco’s self-proclaimed first rock’n’roll band as well as some good demos and such. It doesn’t get better than this. –Billups Allen (Superior Viaduct)


CRIME:
Murder by Guitar: LP
This release took me by surprise. Heard some Internet speculation that it was coming, but I believed that like I believe most Internet speculation. Their original 7”s plus nine unreleased songs? Too much for my brain to handle. Crime is what punk rock should sound like. Or maybe The Pagans—I go back and forth a lot. Crime channels the essence of “fuck you” perfectly through their searing guitar tone. I was surprised cleaner versions of some of their songs existed, but that does nothing to diminish their power, even if they have songs like “Gangster Funk” or “Maserati.”  –Sal Lucci (Superior Viaduct, superiorviaduct.com)


CROW BAIT:
Sliding through the Halls of Fate: CD
I had to check my copy of Three Tickle Guysto make sure this was the same Crow Bait. Sliding…is like loving SorryMa Forgot to Take Out the Trash and the next album you buy is Don’t Tell a Soulwithout realizing there were four LPs and eight years between. But not caring. Because it’s genius. If your freshman year roommate had given you a dubbed tape of this album in pre-internet 1984, you would have thanked them for changing your life. It’s like the-first-time-you-heard-Murmur-good. Hasn’t left my car disc player since my review materials arrived. Hopefully that and dropping this many ‘80s rock analogies will clue you in that Sliding… is a shower, and a grower, unrestricted by genre, and will easily be a contender, if not the winner, for full-length of the year. –Matt Seward (Don Giovanni, dongiovannirecords.com)


CRUDE STUDS:
Self-titled: 7”EP
Crude Studs has been a punk staple in the Sacramento scene going on three years, and are seriously one of my favorite bands. This is their first EP and it’s well worth the wait. They’ve got a serious no-frills approach. What you see is what you get: simplistic, catchy, Cramps-style punk rock with a menacing surf-rock edge. Sophia has great range in her voice, able to reach those high, piercing wails—very Siouxsie and the Banshees—but it’s gnarlier, dirtier, all tattered edges. Highlights include “Video Drome,” which gets all whipped up into a hot, frothy mess with a progression that walks the razor’s edge of anxiety attack and pure chaos. “Ground Chuck Night” is one minacious motherfucker. Sophia has her nails dug in tight with fed-up, shrill hollers of tenacious spite, all propelled with knuckle-dragging, almost primal bass and throbbing drums. Only one hundred pressed. GET IT.  –Camylle Reynolds (Phono Select)


CRYPTICS, THE:
Continuous New Behavior: LP
Oh fellas, I am so sorry to do this, but this record sounds like it was recorded— drums, bass, vocals—and then someone accidentally turned the guitar up to eleven on the mixing board, including the guitar solos, thus drowning out everything else that makes a band a band. The guitar sound is so thick in my headphones that I’m not sure I can fairly judge the rest of the record. I see online that you have recently toured with Angry Samoans. That’s fucking rad. Sorry. I can’t give this record a John Mule stamp of approval. –John Mule (Pine Hill, pinehillrecords.bigcartel.com)


CURTIS HARDING:
Soul Power: CD
The album is called Soul Power, he’s on the cover with a neck tattoo, smoking, and yet this sounds like music you could buy at Starbucks. Bland, professional R&B scuzzed up and made casual just enough to come off quote unquote real. I can appreciate that he can sing, that there’s a suggestion of Bill Withers and Cody Chesnutt in the music, and that when he goes off-script (the garage pop of “Surf” and “I Don’t Wanna Go Home,” the dirty blues of “Drive My Car,” the synth bubbles in “The Drive”) he hints at the wider, out-there Shuggie Otis or Prince possibilities he may have in store. But right now he’s making some easy throwback stuff in the age of Devonte Hynes, FrankOcean, FKA twigs. He could do something remarkable. He just needs to catch up. –Matt Werts (Burger, burgerrecords.org)


D BERRY ROOTH:
Junkie Fuck: CD-R
I can’t tell you much about this artist from the mysterious internet, other than he lives in the South and likes to get high. This is a four-song release that deals exclusively with sex. The song titles would give you the nod to this anyway, but I thought I should make you an educated consumer. There’s only about nine minutes of music here, so I should wrap this up. Think Metal Mike singing if he borrowed Steve Albini’s Roland and you get the picture. Raw but enjoyable. –Sean Koepenick (facebook.com/dberryrooth)


DADDY LONG LEGS:
Blood from a Stone: CD
Three piece combo originally from St. Louis now shacking up in NYC. Down and dirty swamp rock with wailing harp to muddy the waters. Usually I don’t gravitate towards bands that use cleaning utensils for percussion purposes, but I will give these guys a pass. If Mojo Nixon jammed with The Flesh Eaters, you might have gotten a hambone stew like Daddy Long Legs. –Sean Koepenick (deathtrainblues@yahoo.com, nortonrecords.com)


DARTO:
Hex: 12” EP
Four tracks of stoner jam-laden post-rock. The big sound thing that you envisage a post-rock band making is present and accounted for, and it gets kinda crazy and captivating at times. Haven’t listened too much in the genre since I saw Pelican live back in ‘08 or ‘09 and wished that I had a book with me because they were so boring, and it doesn’t seem like these folks bring much new to the table. This EP, while nice, won’t be turning me away from my Mogwai recordings the next time I have the slightest interest in hearing something along these lines. The record also came with a short story called Faith, which I will not be reading. –Vincent Battilana (Mother Image, motherimagerecords.com)


DASHER:
“Go Rambo” b/w “Time Flys”: 7”
If I had any real problems with the first wave of post-punk, it’s that I never found the aggression in it that I really enjoyed about its punk rock predecessors. Modern music seems to finally be correcting this grave injustice in musical history. Dasher plays a brand of noisy post-punk whose vocals take more of a hardcore edge. The music is well-constructed and layered, but beautiful in its primitive anger. The only real problem this record has is the kerning on the cover art. I could have sworn that this band was named “Das Her” until I googled their name. Grade: B+.  –Bryan Static (Die Slaughterhaus, dieslaughterhausrecords.com)


DEAD ANYWAYS, THE:
Direct Me Home: CD
Four meat ‘n’ potatoes melodic punk anthems with gruff vocals, lyrics full of boozy regret, and a song called “Oscar Wilde at Heart.” My wife just walked in the room and said, “I bet lots of girls in their hometown like this.” Right on, dudes. –Chris Terry (thedeadanyways.bandcamp.com)


DEAD BARS:
Self-titled: 7”
Guess what label this was released on, guys! Gruff pop punk, more or less inspired by the vocal delivery of bands like Hot Water Music, Leatherface, and Jawbreaker? Check! A “gritty” album cover, either drawn in oddly bright colors or a photo in black and white? Check! At least one member of a band you already know and love (ex-Big Eyes)? Check! Have you guessed it yet? It’s the newest from No Idea Records. As much as I kid, you can’t knock the label for lack of quality. Predictability? Well, maybe a little. We all have our tastes and if I ran my own label I’m sure people would quickly pinpoint exactly the type of music I actually like to listen to. Though Var has a predisposition for signing and releasing bands like Dead Bars, at least their songs are good. Grade: B. –Bryan Static (No Idea, noidearecords.com)


DEATH VALLEY GIRLS:
Street Venom: Cassette
Nine songs of a desert rock band channeling Bikini Kill vocals. Did you buy the record yet? The guitars rest in the sweet spot of fuzz before it gets too indistinguishable and after it’s well past the point of purity. The band as a whole works to create a sonic landscape, with the piercing high winds of the desert air seeping through the production, interrupted only by the grinding industrial sounds of a civilization. This is pioneer rock. This is cowboy garage fuzz. This is fucking amazing, get on it! Grade: A-.  –Bryan Static (Burger, burgerrecords.org)


DEVIANTS, THE:
Barbarian Princes: Live in Japan 1999: CD + DVD
Wow, what in god’s holy name is this? Imagine a nasally Alan Rickman aping Bob Dylan over dull, dull, dull, dull, rock’n’roll. The sound is good, so if you’re into these guys go ahead and pick it up, but I didn’t like it one bit. Yuck.  –The Lord Kveldulfr (Gonzo Multimedia)


DFMK:
Negatividad: 7”
Another solid release from this Tijuana, Mexico powerhouse. Since the last few times I’ve been lucky enough to catch these guys live has been in the USA I almost forgot how great their double guitar sound is (one of the members can’t cross the border). Angel and Boti riffing off each other is a true treat. These recordings remind me just how much I love bands like the Descendents, T.S.O.L., and Avail. This is so unpretentiously punk and straightforward you can’t help being the guy who starts the circle pit. I hadn’t been that guy in years. Thank you, DFMK. Very highly recommended. –Rene Navarro (Blood Pact, Bloodpactrecordstijuana.com / Detesta, detestarecords.webs.com / Barba Negra)


DIRTY NIL, THE:
“Cinnamon” b/w “Guided by Vices”: 7”
This record kind of blindsided me in that it certainly didn’t sound like what I’d expect to be coming out on Fat Wreck. This Canadian band deals more in raucous garage rock/pop than it does in the more standard, melodic punk fare that I’m accustomed to from the label, but I’m guessing it could well be a case of testing the waters as part of a diversification in its roster, much like Epitaph has done over the past decade. Whatever the reason for this choice, I back it one hundred percent. The Dirty Nil manages to grab my attention pretty damn quickly with “Cinnamon”—the musical equivalent of a firework exploding gloriously in my ears—before the wonderfully titled “Guided by Vices” snaps, crackles, and pops more than my favorite breakfast cereal could ever hope to do. This is sheer brilliance.  –Rich Cocksedge (Fat Wreck, fatwreck.com)


DISTRACT / WARRIOR TRIBES:
Split: Cassette
Warrior Tribes play stomping hardcore with some gang vocals scattered throughout, influenced by New York hardcore and oi with some of the gnarlier modern hardcore sounds of bands like Fucked Up. The lead singer’s super masculine vocal would fit well into the aforementioned categories, but lyrics to “Flats” call out entitled meathead behavior and bros who have to start fights to feel strong while at the same time playing up a victim mentality. Good form! With only three songs, Warrior Tribes show much more promise as a lyrically and socio-politically sound band. I’m not into Distract as much, but they put in some pretty solid, politically-relevant hardcore with lots of fast to slow tempo changes. However, both sides suffer from atrocious sound quality; another thing that sucks about the cassette trend is its blurring of the line between a demo and an official release. On that note, let’s just call this a demo, because these are serious slop recordings. Bands to watch, regardless.  –Craven Rock (Self-released) –Craven Rock (Self-released)


DOCTOR AND THE CRIPPENS:
Fired from the Circus: 2 x LP/CD
Once again Boss Tuneage delivers another crucial reissue from the vaults. As always, I wonder how many people give a fuck apart from the couple of hundred who were actually there. This is another record that came out when I was sixteen and completely immersed in the UKHC scene. The Crippens from up North hit a middle ground between the U.K. blurrcore bands and U.S.-influenced bands like the Stupids and Intense Degree. The most notable thing about the band was they used stage props and had an almost lightweight Gwar stage show. This disc has the debut LP that is an absolute stormer as well as their first Peel session, possibly the best thing they did (I think this only because I remember lying in bed listening to the actual session the night before school). As far as I am concerned, Boss Tuneage’s entire retro catalogue is mandatory for anyone with even the slightest interest in the late ‘80s U.K. hardcore scene. For me, it’s much more than a history lesson; it’s part of what made me who I am. Class. –Tim Brooks (Boss Tuneage, bosstuneage.com)


DOCTOR AND THE CRIPPENS:
Fired from the Circus: 2 x LP/CD
Once again, Boss Tuneage raids the archives to bring some 1980s punk rock goodness into the new millennium. This time it’s Doctor And The Crippens, a band best described as being utterly bonkers. With an approach that rarely settled on one method of delivery, this band was capable of taking the same USHC-influenced path that The Stupids trod, mixing it with the occasional Lemmy-like vocal and applying the same ferociousness that helped Discharge define a whole new genre, thus dispensing an enjoyable racket. However, the crowning glories are the lyrics/song titles, which, to this day, have me questioning the sanity of whoever wrote them and which confirm that earlier description. Plus there were exploding cabbages—okay, maybe not on record—but in a live setting this would be one of many unusual effects employed to add a sense of occasion to a Doctor And The Crippens show. This release brings together the band’s first album, a twelve track John Peel Session, and some assorted demos and live recordings. What is noticeable is how the Peel recordings lost some of the raw quality of the album but in its place added a much more powerful sound—this was the case with many bands thrown into far superior surroundings than any had been privy to in the past. For me this release benefits from two versions of my favorite Crippens track, “Freezer,” with the Peel version having a much more melodic quality than one would expect from a band heavily influenced by noisier contemporaries. I would say half of the twenty-three tracks on the album stand the test of time, whereas the Peel Session is worth the price of the album alone. –Rich Cocksedge (Boss Tuneage, bosstuneage.com)


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