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Wailing Of a Town, by Craig Ibarra
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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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MÖBIUS STRIP:
Palabras Podridas: 7” EP
From the chunky bass sound, to their sharply political but tongue-in-cheek lyrics, everything I loved about their previous 7” Step Down is present on this follow-up. On this outing, the DC-based trio brings four new tracks—great new additions to the band’s catalog—but the opening track “Chemicals,” is my favorite. Its strong hooks capture the witty lyricism of the band at their most biting and feature some of my favorite riffs of any of their songs. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the closing track, “IG-88,” is not only a rad instrumental track that allows the band to flex their musical chops, but the title is also a sweet Star Wars reference. Recorded at Inner Ear Studios with Don Zientara—possibly in the same recording session as their previous EP—these tracks have the pristine recording quality we’d expect from such a pedigree. It’s December as I’m writing this, and this 7” has definitely snuck into my top ten releases of the year.  –Paul J. Comeau (Crooked Beat, band@mobiusstripdc.com crookedbeat@crookedbeat.com)


MISS DESTINY:
House of Wax: 7”
Hozac (or Horizontal Action) has easily been one of the most-purchased record labels throughout my collection in the last five years. Now a complete staple of Chicago’s underground, Todd Novak knows what he’s doing. In walks Miss Destiny, a four piece from Australia, representing the love affair for bands Down Under in the past decade. Thankfully, this single landed in my lap before year-end lists have even been a twinkle in my eye, because this debut will likely be on it. The flipside, “The One,” is out-of-control good. Just open your web browser, Google all the above info, and check out a stream for this track. Seriously, just do it. Now. Great (mid range) female vox over upbeat garage pop. The guitar tone is perfect—gritty and dissident. Looking forward to hearing more.  –Steve Adamyk (Hozac, hozacrecords.com)


MISCALCULATIONS:
Self-titled: LP
Working from a taught thud-punk core that sometimes comes off like a cleaner sounding Spits (the guitars sound like they’re coming out of tiny, cheap practice amps), they make otherwise simple song structures a bit more nuanced by adding an almost new wavy sense of dislocation to the delivery. They keep the songs short ‘n’ to the point, punchy, and puissant.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Dead Beat)


MIDNIGHT PLUS ONE:
“Like Camera” b/w “White Flowers”: 7”
Midnight Plus One is alt-pysch-drenched, surfy, post-punk, which I personally love. What really makes it shine is the simple, beautiful guitar shimmering atop—both fluid and simultaneously bound tight. Frontwoman Casey Cooks reminds me of Katie Alice Glass from the Priests, albeit softer and more refined. Both songs “Like Camera” and “White Flowers” start out with a subtle throb that builds, progresses, and then spills over into a full out jam. This is my first introduction to Midnight Plus One, so I’m not familiar their song layouts, but I find this incredibly satisfying. Solid. Part of a Singles Club release from North Carolina label Negative Fun.  –Camylle Reynolds (Negative Fun)


MIDNIGHT CRISIS:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Gallop-tempoed Finnish hardcore, very reminiscent of the stuff that came out of that area in the very early ‘80s, albeit with considerably cleaner production. Not as intense in delivery as I’m partial to, but on the whole they ain’t too shabby.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Rinderherz, rinderherzrecords.ch)


MERIDIAN:
The Cathedral: LP
Though I’m predisposed to like anything rootsy and jangly, Meridian’s banjo- and piano-infused “existential crisis you can sing along to” would have been up my alley even if it wasn’t composed by Signals Midwest’s Max Stern, who possesses the supernatural ability to punch me right in the feels. This filled-out full-length is a follow-up to 2012’s stripped-down Aging Truths LP. Its eight heartrending tracks feature full band instrumentation that includes cello, trumpet, and trombone. Though all of its selections skip along with the same flavor of nostalgic whimsy as the first, the opening, titular track required nearly twenty repeats before I could bear to part with it and listen to the remainder of the record. The charming imperfections of Stern’s trademark vocal melodies and lyrics communicate the earnestness of his passion and force me to reflect on my own lost loves with a teenaged yearning. The Youth Conspiracy-distributed vinyl LP is limited to five hundred. My CD came with a handwritten note from Stern, thanking me for my support and expressing a genuine enthusiasm about eventually touring through my neck of the woods. If this sweet gesture and the depth of emotion on The Cathedral are any indication, Max’s—and his brother and collaborator Jacob’s—barebones live show will be a moving and personal affair that I cannot wait to witness.  –Kelley O’Death (Youth Conspiracy, info@youthconspiracyrecords.com, youthconspiracy.bigcartel.com)


MANTS, THE:
Destroyed by Fuzz: 7” EP
The world is on fire and crumbling yet here are three guys pretending to be half-man, half-ant creatures talking about unleashing a “fuzz ray” at your retro beach party. Take that for whatever it is, but the real issue is some flat, self-referential songs that never rise above the shtick. Within the micro-genre that might be called “costume garage” this falls well short of The Mummies and Servotron. For the B-movie trivia buffs and Hawaiian shirt people only.  –Matt Werts (Manglor, themants.com)


MANDATES, THE:
Suspicion: 7”
Western Canada for the win. The newest offering from Calgary’s Mandates is another blast of upbeat, faster New York Dolls-style glam/punk. It would be difficult to track down another band with comparable musicianship; these guys are pros. “Suspicion” is catchy and filled with slick guitar licks, without overdoing it. “Wasting Time,” the flipside, is reminiscent of The Barreracudas recent work. Can’t say enough great things about these guys.  –Steve Adamyk (Teenage Rampage)


LYCKA TILL:
Rakt over Munnen: LP
Moments like these are among the best musical moments. Moments like these are, maybe, why music and language were invented in the first place. “You are not crazy. You are not alone. There is a lot of fucked up stuff in this world. You aren’t the only one who sees it. And, maybe, if the small voice that you are decides to raise a righteous fuss, others will join in with you.” These are the comforting thoughts that I had while listening to Sweden’s folk-punk act Lycka Till’s album, Rakt over Munnen. My great grandfather was born in Sweden, but I didn’t know what the fuck these people were singing about until I found the photocopied zine inside the record with beautiful, rebellious lyrics in English and a group of punks carrying a banner that translated, “Norrland Against Racism.” Here in the United States, people are still in shock, still organizing, still facing the consequences of speaking out against killer cops in Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island, New York. It was the perfect night to discover this record and hear that, in anger and frustration at the senseless violence laid upon the people by the powers that be, we are not crazy. We are not alone.  –John Mule (Dragabang)


LUICIDAL:
Self-titled: CD
In case you couldn’t tell by the vato with the flipped-up bill stale-fish grabbing his bass guitar on the cover of this CD, this is in fact a band associated with Suicidal Tendencies and named by and after founding member Louichi Mayorga. Luicidal also features the participation of former ST alums Rocky George, R.J. Herrera, Grant Estes, Amery Smith, and special guest H.R. of the Bad—I mean—Soul Brains. Musically, it’s nothing earth shattering: straight forward punk and hardcore with glimpses of their ST roots and its various incarnations (thrash, metal, skate). Thank fucking god there are no traces to be heard of that horrific Infectious Grooves funk-metal style, which, come to think of it, might have something to do with the omission of Mike Muir’s presence on this disc. If I were to catch these guys opening up for someone, I might be inclined to tap my toe and nod my head in approval but that’s probably as far as my efforts would allow to see them perform live. Fun fact: I used to work with the nephew of one of Luicidal’s members. I often caught him sleeping on top of three strategically placed chairs in the break room and sometimes he’d regale me with stories about how he’d get blackout drunk at a bar and have no recollection of the fist fights he involved himself in.  –Juan Espinosa (DC Jam, dcjamrecords.com, luicidal.com)


LOW DERIVE:
Keto: 7”
I’d been playing this record intermittently over a lengthy period before I realized how good it actually was. However, once that eureka moment hit, I quickly became enamored with the three tracks—especially the opener, “Dylarama”— which builds gradually before bursting open into a hugely melodic romp that falls just short of five minutes. These Italians write some great intros, bridges, and outros—which are almost worth listening to in isolation—however, they manage to throw in some decent vocal passages to help build up three very strong songs. The guitar sound owes a debt to Dickie Hammond (Leatherface/H.D.Q.) and it helps beef up the record nicely. A real shame I couldn’t catch the band on its recent U.K. tour.  –Rich Cocksedge (No Reason, noreasonrecords.blogspot.it)


LOST WARNING:
Never Surrender: EP
Generic “street punk” that sounds heavily influenced by all that garbage from the 1990s. Somewhere between Rancid and the Unseen. Not good company.  –Matt Average (Switchlight, switchlight-records.com)


LOSS, THE:
Last Rites: 7”
This five piece from Seattle has that “it” factor that people talk about, yet can’t ever seem to wrangle it for themselves. It’s something that is so easily recognizable when it’s right. From the moment I first heard them, I was submerged in feelings of bliss mixed with shades of sadness. But it’s that deep kind of sadness that you only notice in people who have also experienced severe loss. They make me feel the true definition of melancholia blended with hope and elation. Extreme feelings and rad tunes, to boot. As a genre, they’re very melodic hardcore—rapid, high intensity drumming with despondent guitar harmonies, gruff vocals, and pop punk “whoa-ohs.” My favorite song is the first track on this EP, “Domestic Relief,” with choruses of: “We are the children of broken homes / But we hide ourselves.” Gives me fucking chills every fucking time. These guys are serious, experienced, and finely tuned. They’re a tight, well oiled machine. And, sadly, they’re no longer with us, but at least they left this behind before they split up. Definitely a top ten band of all time for me. Pick this one up.  –Kayla Greet (La Escalera)


LOPEZ, THE:
Travel Fast: Cassette
I literally heard the first blown-out guitar note and said, “Okay, this.” I’ll admit that my fuzz-overload garage rock prediction ended up being a little off the mark (fuzz-overload was dead-on, though). Noise pop is a better name for this duo, who will probably be a hit with those who like their rock weird, snotty, and buried under a haze of flanging feedback and distortion. The programmed drums are a cool twist that I don’t hear too often. Not really my scene, so tracks like “Cubito Aequet” that let the pop hooks out for some air are the only ones that don’t sound like a robot speaking internet rock to me. Like I said, though, this sounds like a solid release for the right audience.  –Indiana Laub (Machine Age)


LILITH VELKOR:
Lone: LP
Sweaty, gritty, and ominous, this is almost-grunge, an album sandwiched somewhere between Sonic Youth and the Meat Puppets. It’s sometimes unnerving, a quality that on some songs leans into becoming just brazenly irritating. I’m strongly reminded of old “alternative” bands like Overwhelming Colorfast and Gumball, but with every ounce of gloss sanded off and plenty of barbs and rivets showing. Like I said, much of it is pretty trying but they do a solid job of channeling a certain damaged kind of pop sensibility, running it through their own sonic rock tumbler, and, at their best, threading their songs with a palpable sense of unease.  –Keith Rosson (Starcleaner)


LEBAKKO:
Elävien Kuolleiden Yö: LP
Tough one to pin down. I mean, really, I have no reference points that seem quite apt, which is frustrating as hell. Four Finnish dudes doing a jangly, almost mathy, almost post-punk thing with warbling vocal melodies and confident, concise musicianship. Clean guitars and odd structures. Hüsker Dü meets… Minus The Bear? The last song on the record’s a precise, sped-up little instrumental number that’s layered with a spaced-out guitar solo; it works flawlessly, is over way too soon, and serves as a brilliant closer to the album. Definitely an interesting band.  –Keith Rosson (PML)


LEAGUES APART:
Brief Interviews with Hideous Men: LP
In a community the size of punk, it’s often easy to peg a band’s geographical homebase, even without paying attention to potential accents. Leagues Apart jumped out as British almost immediately, despite the fact that they would sit easily on any label from Tampa, San Diego, or Gainesville. The songs are almost instantly familiar in an inviting way, warm like the climate of aforementioned locales. The Brit comes across in the short acoustic break of “I Consider John Candy to be a Noir Actor” and the Iron Maiden tone at the beginning of “Rampant Horse Is Rampant.” Leagues Apart will have you raising a proper pint while reminiscing about your first Fest experience. Into it.  –Matt Seward (All In Vinyl)


LAGWAGON:
Hang: LP/CD
Although I was a bit surprised by the album start (just acoustic), I should not have been worried. The unholy riffage and speedy rhythms came in right on time on the second song. Having only seen JoeyCape with Me First And The Gimmie Gimmies, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But I was pleasantly surprised. “The Cog in the Machine” and “In Your Wake” really bring some blistering tuneage to the table. “One More Song” is dedicated to Tony Sly and it is certainly heartfelt. So if this is first release by this band to make it into your rack, then you should have some earplugs handy. It is chock full of rainbow sprinkle awesomeness.  –Sean Koepenick (Fat)


LAGWAGON:
Hang: LP/CD
I admit I never really jumped on the Lagwagon... but right off the bat I’m enjoying this record, which opens with a short, sorrowful acoustic number by the name of “Burden of Proof” that then busts loose into fast paced rocker “Reign.” The opening is so strong. Unfortunately, the rest of the songs are kinda a wash. The vocals and guitar tone are the sounds of contemporary hard rock. Not my jam.  –Jackie Rusted (Fat)


KUKEN:
Black Rose: 7”
Given the odd white lettering on black background that comprises the cover, this could’ve gone any number of ways. Turns out we’ve got ourselves here a German band that sounds tailor-made for Dirtnap’s stable of bands. Two tunes of infectious thud-punk, beefy without being meatheaded, both of ‘em winners. Fuck yeah.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Bachelor)


KLITZ, THE:
Sounds of Memphis ‘78: 7”
First archival release of The Klitz Sounds of ‘78, recorded in one three-hour session during the summer of ‘78. The Klitz existed from ‘78 to ‘80 but never released anything as a band… until now. Considered as one of Memphis’s first punk bands, this is a lo-fi charmer with raw, bare bones guitar, bass, and drums. “Two Chords” is a perfect example with a two-chord progression and lyrics such as “two chords /going out of my mind!” Because all you fucking need is two chords, dammit. Gail Clifton’s vox on “Hard Up” are some of the most delicious vocals I’ve ever heard—fresh and unapologetic. Everything from the rhythm section, to the raw, amateurish vocals, and simplistic guitar feels like it might just fall apart at any time. Always teetering back and forth—lags, drags, picks up—this ultimately adds to this hot, perfect mess. Five hundred pressed. Get it.  –Camylle Reynolds (Spacecase, spacecaserecords.com)


KIMBERLY STEAKS, THE:
To Live and Die in West Central Scotland: LP
Harkens back to the ‘90s when every band and their grandparents were wearing oversized cargo shorts and writing forced-rhyme lamentations about ex-girlfriends to the same three chords. And yet—surprise, surprise—in spite of the potential pitfalls, To Live and Die… manages to come across as fresh and relevant. While the band would’ve been right at home doing singles on Mutant Pop or Rhetoric (the Scared Of Chaka cover is pretty indicative), there’s something about this LP that avoids sounding outdated and just comes across as fun as shit. Pop punk often times gets a bad rap, and has long been synonymous with words like predictability, vapidity, and saccharine cuteness—but the Kimberly Steaks manage to avoid all that stuff. Sure, maybe it sounds like some bands we’ve heard before, but if that’s the case, it’s been a long time since I’ve heard a band do it this well, this exuberantly. The only downside’s a lack of lyric sheet. It’d be nice to know specifically what these guys are crowing about. Still, recommended.  –Keith Rosson (All In)


KILL THE HIPPIES:
You Will Live with Us Forever: LP
Kill The Hippies have been in the game since the early ‘90s. They’ve done the time and spilled the slime. And now they just do whatever they want. You Will Live with Us Forever could be Dead Kennedy’s B sides stolen from airport luggage claim or could be the collected nightmares of Devo robbed from the very men as they slept. All we know is Kill The Hippies have been crafting the weird shit out in Cleveland for many moons now, and good listeners make good songwriters. There’s something for everyone here—the swagger of “Mustache,” the wild bass lines of “Dance Control”—the rest burns along mighty fine.  –Jim Joyce (Phoenician Micro-Systems)


KADDISH:
Thick Letters to Friends: LP
Haven’t come across anything quite like this before. I can best describe the Scottish band Kaddish as post-pop hardcore punk (still with me?) with frenetic melodic guitar and the echoes of traditional Scottish music (with a possible tinge of Mission Of Burma influence throughout). Lax, melodious guitar quickly finds itself into hardcore throw downs, then back again. The change-ups really had me guessing what’s next. At times, they had me wandering aimlessly. Emo-screamo, torn vocals drenched in desperation added uneasiness to their overall sound—as well as the vocals never quite synching with the melodies. It all seemed a bit off kilter, but after a few listens it became more cohesive (as I find this the case when listening to more complex and unusual music).  –Camylle Reynolds (Make-That-A-Take, makethatatakerecords.bandcamp / Black Lake/ The Ghost Is Clear / Boslevan)


INVISIBLE TEARDROPS, THE:
“Cereal Killer” b/w “Little Killer”: 7”
Oddly affecting garage trifles from this Alabama band. Could be the organ? Or the singer? He doesn’t treat it like it’s a joke but he doesn’t treat it like it’s serious either. They’re also not total formalists about rock’n’roll; the songs feel loose, goofy, slightly bummed. I’ve never felt wistful listening to a song about a murderous breakfast before. Nice work.  –Matt Werts (Arkam, arkamrecords.net)


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·ROCK N ROLL PURGATORY #15
·EYES OF AUTUMN
·WEAK TEETH
·MAX LOAD
·BUSTED LIVES, THE
·RISE AND THE FALL OF THE HARBOR AREA, THE
·BEATINGS, THE
·(NO) APOLOGIES PROJECT, THE
·EAR DAMAGE


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