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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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Skin Collision Past: CD
If The New Pornographers and Sunday’s Best got together and managed to take their dullest, most uninteresting moments and put them together, it would sound something like this. This includes contrasting male/female vocals that sound like a not so appealing version of Kori and Jason from Mates of State. The songs are pretty consistently upbeat, which is cool, but it all comes across as too sappy for my tastes. When I used to run an online zine back in the early 2000s, we used to get a lot of stuff that reminds me of this. I’m just as disinterested now as I was then. –Kurt Morris (wildmoccasins.com)

Self-titled: 7”
After my initial listen, I was up in the air on this one. That’s all I remembered of that listen. I don’t know what I was thinking, because this record is tight. Four solid tracks that sound like they are a cross-pollination of Samiam and Gin Blossoms. This record makes me wish that Sleepwall was still around so that I could dream of one day seeing them on tour together. –Vincent Battilana (Freedom School)

Teenage Cults: EP
Denton, TX must be the burgeoning spot for good bands these days. I can think of at least four off the top—ANS, Marked Men, Teenage Cool Kids—and these here Wiccans. That’s more than I can say about any city in California, or New York, or... I was in Denton about four years ago, and thought it was a cool town, but I was totally unaware of the scene that was happening there, outside of ANS and the Xtreme Dudes Manor. Fuck, I’ll have to be a little more investigative next time I’m there. Wiccans play some raw and unadorned hardcore punk with no immediate comparisons, which is a rarity anymore. The vocals have a dry, raspy sound, while the music is jammed, not in the hippy prog way, but the physical way, out of the speakers and into your ears. Some stop-go rhythms, some speed, some noisy and sickly sounding excursions, and really curious lyrics for songs like “Endgame”—“Blind faces under the robe / Some have become amphibian” and “Teenage Cults”—“Angular droves of animals / Frozen in waste / Crippled and placed in rows of eight.” Repeated listens are required and decoder rings are useless. Perhaps it’s time to reinstate the X-files? Only a mere three hundred of this were pressed. Do or die. –Matt Average (Pass Judgement, passjudgementrecords.com)

Immortal: Cassette
This one’s a complicated animal. If a bunch of Hickey worshippers from Milwaukee got tired of the rough winters and relocated to the Southwest next door to the Swing Ding Amigos. It’s weird loud noise that nearly blows out the speakers but is still pop punk at heart. I like that they don’t seem to take themselves overly seriously, but that’s not to say that there aren’t a few more somber moments on here. Rad stuff. –Joe Evans III (Burger)

It’s the Evil: LP
Pretty dang energetic and loud punk rock from this group of three modest-looking ladies and a guy on guitar who looks like he would help you cross the street. You know, you usually get the “Fuck, man, we are so crazy. Look at our stripes and hair and we are too tired to take this photo for our record, although we reallllly need our faces on the cover”—but here is a group that is more concerned with playing good and making cool music. Here is a solid, burning record, snappy guitar, groundwork bass and drums, and mad singing. If you are looking for tight songs with power and no nonsense, here it is. And, you guessed it, on white vinyl. –Speedway Randy (Deranged, derangedrecords.com)

Self-titled: CD
Whoa! This is heavy! This shit rips! Clean vocals, similar to Helmet or Fu Manchu, and musically just as tough, but amped up with a bit of punk speed for a little oomph. Nice surprise here. –Jeff Proctor (Zodiac Killer)

Beach Bummed: 7”
Excellent indie pop that reminds me of the early- to mid-’90s, when this genre was in top form. I hear hints of the Pixies in the song “Beach Bummed,” with its surf style bass and guitar. Yet, Weed Hounds sound like they could easily fit on the Slumberland roster. The sound is dreamy without being lethargic or foggy. Touches of shoegazer are in the sound, and I like how the vocals sound—with Laura’s up front and Nick’s slightly underneath—as the guitars and occasional feedback washes over. “Skating away from the Cops” is the best song of the two, and it’s a great song. Definitely one of the best I’ve heard this year, for sure, and the one I play over and over. Listening to this reminds me of rainy summer afternoons spent in my room reading old comics and fanzines. Not a bad place to be. I seriously hope these folks release an LP soon. –Matt Average (Iron Pier, ironpier.net)

Our Fathers: LP
This is some decent mid-tempo, melodic punk rock with rough, mid-range vocals and cool, kinda Kinsella-esque guitar work. It’s not the most original stuff I’ve ever heard, in that there’s not exactly a drought when it comes to bands inspired by mid-to-late ‘90s “emo” bands of the Braid/Get Up Kids/Cap’n Jazz school, but it’s certainly well-played and written, and if that’s your kinda scene, then you’d do well to check this out. –Dave Williams (Tragicomedy)

Split: 7”
Waxeater is methodical, mathy post-rock with spazzed-out vocals. Being from Louisville, Kentucky where this stuff pretty much originated, I’m totally burnt out on this kind of stuff. It’s good for what it is, though. Jabberjosh is the better side. As a two-piece, they make a hell of a lot of noise with lots of shrieking and bashed-to-hell drums. It’s sort of post hardcore with lots of time changes and trickery. Not bad. –Craven (uselessrecords.com)

Self-titled: CDEP
Probably the most technically accomplished bunch of musicians I’m reviewing this go-round, yet also paradoxically the most boring. (Isn’t that always the way?) I have no idea why they sent this to Razorcake—guys, there’s no way anybody here was going to give you a good review. If you’re into vaguely dancey/funkish tunes that sound like the song a cover band plays after they say, “Here’s a song we wrote,” then you might like this. I sure don’t. –Ryan Horky (Self-released, myspace.com/vietruse)

Self-titled: CDEP
I’ve known Ollin’s Scott Rodarte long enough (most of my life, if you insist on bein’ nosy) to know that when he tells me I should pay attention to a band, I should do just that, and this EP doesn’t change that assessment. Viet Ruse is a San Antonio punk band, but in their case the “punk” is more evident in attitude and approach than adherence to the slew of stereotypical templates that most associate with the genre. While they retain enough of their own personality to keep things from sounding like rehash, one can hear a slight but definite Paul Weller influence throughout, right down to the preference for high end, clean channel guitars and their smart use of pop hooks and subtle soulisms. Their lyrics are well above the norm as well—intelligent, thoughtful, and topical without being preachy—one song even mulls the parallels between Dresden, Vietnam, and Iraq. If I had to find something to gripe about, it would be a wish that they fiddled a bit more with song dynamics and that more disparate, diverse musical influences manifested in their music, ’cause a lot of the songs here are similar in tempo and approach. For all I know, though, the tunes they didn’t record could sound like Ravi Shankar being beaten about the head by The Swans. Sure, maturity ultimately comes with time and experience, and, frankly, they’re already working well ahead of the curve here. I’d be much interested to hear how they expand on the sound they’ve already honed. –Jimmy Alvarado (mjmiranda@83@gmail.com)

White Bread Blues: LP
Victims Family is just plain strange. Their bizarre amalgamation of punk, metal, and jazz makes them a “you had to be there” band. It’s hard to imagine that a group this oddball and complex could have reached the popularity it did. Listening to 1990’s White Bread Blues, the third Victims Family LP, is like opening a time capsule of pop culture references from its time. This re-release is everything a repackage should be, replete with a giant 12” booklet, colored vinyl, and a free full CD version of the LP. Next time some dipshit tells you that the music you like all sounds the same or lacks diversity, refer them to this nutty album. If you missed them the first time around, this is as good a record as any to start with. It’ll make you cha cha like a fucking fool. –Art Ettinger (Saint Rose, saintroserecords.com)

We Come as Aliens: CD
Kind of sounds like Ian Dury and the Blockheads (that first generation stuff with a touch of white-dude funk to it), but a little more subdued (or, at the risk of being a dick, what you would expect from dudes who have been around for that long, and probably a little partied out). Not that surprising, considering this seems to have a bunch of assorted ‘70s/early generation people like Paul Cook from the Sex Pistols. It’s a little slow to get into at first, and I was a little thrown by the weird, cheap early ‘90s-looking outer space art, but it picks up a little more towards the end. –Joe Evans III (Overground)

Self-titled: 7”
This 7” is a re-release of the Veins cassette that came out a few months ago and sold out in a few minutes, so the songs have been making the rounds on the internet hype machine. Both sides swell up with simple guitar work and slower, typical “intro” style hardcore before taking off into rough, raw, old school hardcore punk that reminds me of Dischord #s 1-6. The sound actually has a bit of that treble-y mix in the guitar that makes those records so distinct. The second track, “Sniper Parade,” has a killer breakdown and stands out among the rest, but these six tracks are over so fast and pulled off so well it’s pointless to try and pick them apart. The packaging is a book with the record sleeve stapled inside as part of a fold out. Members of all the usual suspects. –Ian Wise (Youth Attack)

Silver Sprocket Bicycle Club Sampler 2: CD
I’ve only heard a smattering of Silver Sprocket bands in the past, but I’m completely sold on the label based on this sampler. This is the best comp record that I’ve heard in ages. Some straight-up punk, some pop punk, some ska, some stuff that sounds like underbelly wryly-humored singer-songwriter tuneage, and what may be some one-man band stuff or something close thereto. I hesitate to indicate who all is on the line-up because 1) there’s a shitload of different acts on this; 2) I don’t want to favor any one act—I liked the whole thing that much; and 3) I can’t really attest to which acts people will know or not. If you look at the Silver Sprocket website, you’ve got the lineup for this record. To that end, the comp has a diverse sound, but everything here works really, really well together. Yeah, it’s a sampler for a record label, but this stands up to any comp out there in my book. I’d pay good money for this, and like so many others these days I’ve become a cheap bastard who unfortunately thinks twice about buying records. And then there’s the glorious denouement: the back of the insert claims “this CD is awesome even though it is free”—truer words are rarely spoken. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Silver Sprocket, silversprocket.net)

Dead Broke Rekerds: Four-Way Split #2: 7”
Underground Railroad To Candyland: I wouldn’t say URTC is the Fugazi to Toys That Kill’s Minor Threat. (And that’d make FYP the Teen Idles. My analogy goes all to shit there.) But I will say that I like both TTK and URTC equally for essentially different reasons. (Perhaps it’s fist pumping vs. hip shaking.) And that’s a fuckin’ puzzle because with only one member difference at the time of this writing (lord knows when this was recorded), URTC sound like a band that could sell a lot of records if records were selling (like in that scene in High Fidelity when they put on a record and everyone in the store asks who it is… I mute the movie there and play URTC). Killer Dreamer: Zombie stoners. Brains. Buds. Bowls. Scorching riffs laid at the altars of Nick Blinko, Roky Erikson, and Dario Argento. Smelly bandage San Pedro punkrock that will silk-screen anything if it stays still long enough. Tulsa: It’s sometimes amazing how long songs can be on 7” records. Tulsa’s song’s (from 2004? Am I reading that right? It sure looks like a four) has got a lot of parts duct taped together like a massive quilt made out of dirty blankets. Tent city punk rock. The Reaction: Lean back really far and laid back, like the Hot New Mexicans do, and it’s easy to go along for the ride. Four-way split 7”s don’t get more solid. –Todd Taylor (Dead Broke, deadbrokerecords.com)

8^: Comp #1: Cassette
Serving as a mixtape, this solid punk compilation from this Missouri nonprofit showcases five bands with two songs a piece. Political watchdogs, The Dead Pawns, give us a peek at their punk‘n’roll schematics with heavy riffs, gang vocals, and smooth transitions. Part Time Crooks turns up the octane for a hardcore lean, finding their stride somewhere between Casualties and Adolescents. Next up, A Disco For Ferns plays a range of late ‘70s lo-fi punk to grungy humorcore with falsetto vocals. The Unpatriotics take it back to U.K.-influenced hardcore with rapid-fire lyrics and guitar solos the likes of Judas Priest. Stereo Atomico slows it down with their own brand of anthemic sing-alongs, and Snotlock brings up the rear with garage punk and earwormy hooks. The only downside to this sampler is the acoustics. At times it reminded me of how bands sound when I’m outside waiting to get into the venue. I’m hoping vinyl and CD have better sound quality. However, the talent of these bands shines through and so does the effort put out by this nonprofit record label. Definitely recommended. –Kristen K (8^, myspace.com/8records)

8^ Punk: CD-R
The first band literally had a chorus that goes, “I love you, you love me, that’s what we call a family! Oi, oi, family! Oi, oi, family, oi!” And then the other two bands sang about rape and dead white bitches and how you’re a cunt, etc. Idiotic and unfortunate. Fuck this scene, these intentionally unnamed bands, and this “label”. –Keith Rosson (8^)

1919 Hemphill: How Y’All Doin’ Tonight?: CD
A comp that’s a celebration of seven years of existence, making Fort Worth’s 1919 Hemphill the longest-running DIY venue in all of Texas. It’s also an eight dollar benefit CD. Anyone who’s tried to get a volunteer-run community punk space off the ground has to admit that that’s downright amazing (almost unheard of) and it’s a testament that you don’t have to be in a “punk mecca” or even a “punk-friendly” city or town to build a magnet that’ll not only showcase local talents, but draw in bands that are vanning across the country. This comp is a diverse and honest collection of bands (more-well knowns like Onion Flavored Rings, Lemuria, and Japanther) to local-ish asskickers (Teenage Cool Kids, Brickfight). If you’re genre-locked, its breadth may be a bit much for you—folk punk to metal sludge to pop punk to dancey stuff is all here—but I think it’s a great, Polaroid-style snapshot of a national scene in motion; a scene and locale that I hope will get the props they deserve retroactively. –Todd Taylor (1919 Hemphill)

Blonde Girls: LP
Lo-fi, psych/garage/folk rock from this band featuring members from Lover! and Bass Drum Of Death. Fans of the current offerings of Goner and HoZac records will find much to like here. There is a lot of the kinda stuff that Ty Segall, Dutchess & Duke, and Thee Oh Sees are up to, if that’s yer thing. –Mike Frame (Play Pinball!, playpinballrecords.bigcartel.com)

Catch 22: EP
The title track has nothing to do with Joseph Heller’s 1961 novel of the same name. Nor is the song “Kill for Christ” a FU’s cover. However, this is the second EP from these guys, and though it’s a little less blatantly urgent than the first EP, they’ve added more tension by slightly slowing some of the songs down and getting a little more musical. The title track is a burner with its fast attack and vocal delivery that’s convincingly desperate. “Kill for Peace” is pretty good, slightly longer, and reminds me of the Regulations and ETA. I like how they build up “No Salvation” with the vocals shouting, “Do what they say, Obey your god, Do what they say...” over and over with the drums underneath before they bring in the rest of instruments in one quick wave. “Down Again” ends sort of like the record began: a mix of fast and slow with urgency throughout. Yes, this is hardcore, and everything is laid out without pretension, but if you listen a little closer than usual, there’s more power here than just a burst of “1-2-3-Go!” Tempos change and guitars go quiet while the drums momentarily take over. A tried and true formula, but played with conviction, for sure. –Matt Average (Sorry State, sorrystaterecords.com)

Self-titled: CD
Parts of this are pretty listenable in a Sabbathy/fake-ass psychedelic way; parts of it are just stupid “we invited our friend with a saxophone to jam in the studio” type shit. They toured with Big Business. I get the feeling that they were the kind of opening band you don’t especially hate but forget completely by the time the headliners are done, only to see the CD in a bargain bin years later. You reminisce for a second about that show, then pass it over to buy something better. –Ryan Horky (Volcom, volcoment.com)

Skin: EP
Noisy hardcore that sounds like art school kids staying up all night and hitting each other with their instruments. I don’t know how they did it, but this screechy CD has a palpable air of danger. It sounds more like a storm than a song. I like this a lot. This music is so wild that it took a minute for me to realize that the second track was skipping. Dear Criminal I.Q.: Next time you send out goofy lil’ promo CDRs of your releases, make sure that they play all the way through. You’re doing everyone involved a disservice when your review copies don’t play. –CT Terry (Criminal I.Q., criminaliq.com)

Two Headed Demon: CD
There’s no real info on who’s responsible for this, but it sounds like the work of one man with access to a synth and/or a guitar. The music is a weird mix of minimalist synth-wave stuff and vaguely ‘60s-influenced rock. Can’t say it works all the time, but it is definitely off the beaten path. –Jimmy Alvarado (voodoorhythm.com)

“Someone Send Me a Life Boat” b/w “Where Have You Been?” , “Peanuts” b/w “Little: 7"
Turkish Techno aren’t solved easily. They’re neither Turkish, nor are they techno. Why is this two 45 RPM 7”s instead of a one-sided, four-song 12” with an etching on the B-side? Is that really Indian elephant god, Ganesha, in a Shriner’s cap, eating a burrito, swilling a Pabst, sporting a necklace of beheaded band members on the covers? I believe so. Andy, one of the songwriters, disclosed to me that he often writes songs when pooping. And I’m sure I couldn’t write a review without one member getting bent out of shape about something. Anything, actually. I think they sound like the Jack Palance Band or the Horrible Odds mixed with folks who listened to a lot of ‘90s Epitaph punk growing up: blistering and breathless-throaty vocals over a full-force, polished drive. They’ve got the anxiety of a band at odds with itself—on the verge of a breakdown—really going for them. My two cents is they should go on tour with Off With Their Heads and in between sets, they could dim the lights and have a nightly “complain-off.” Top drawer stuff from a Riverside band that’s perpetually threatening to break up. May they never be satisfied. –Todd Taylor (Wolf Dog / Muy Autentico)

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