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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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MIDWEST BEAT, THE:
Back to Mono: 7” EP
So much emphasis has been put on the “budget rock” end of the ‘60s influence thang that when something like this comes along it’s almost like a breath of fresh air. Four tunes of smart, jangly stuff that owe as much to the Paisley Underground bands of the ‘80s as the psychedelic groove merchants of the ‘60s. Catchy and well executed. –jimmy (Eradicator)


MEHKAGO NT:
Massive Fucking Headwounds: LP
Dark, brooding, downtuned hardcore, these dudes pretty much seem to be glowing with hate on this one. They’re certainly convincing, I’ll give em that. As far as I can tell, they pretty much despise everything, but especially fashion punks and religious sects. These are slow, droning, punishing songs, with blazing thrash attacks scattered throughout. The cover art’s got a bunch of dudes at a show surrounding the singer and, yep, every single one of them is bleeding from the noggin. Something tells me I would most assuredly not be able to handle a pit at a Mehkago NT show. –keith (To Live A Lie)


ME FIRST AND THE GIMME GIMMES:
Sing in Japanese: CDEP
That title is no misnomer there, kids; they do indeed warble profusely in that fair country’s native tongue. Funny, but I’ve always wondered what these guys would sound like if they did originals, and I reckon this is about as close as it’s gonna get to that. This is one of those rare moments when I know fuck all about any of the covers they’re coverin’, but the band’s charm and uncanny ability to keep modern pop punk’s curse of “let’s increase our irrelevancy by sounding more and more like each other” completely at bay. No surprise, considering this is the same band that managed to make Barry Manilow sound good. –jimmy (Fat)


MAN…OR ASTRO-MAN:
Your Weight on the Moon: CD
A reissue of a 10” EP, plus the tracks from the Mission to Chaos and Return to Chaos 7” EPs. I profess to have little to no real knowledge about this band, which is a huge oversight on my part. I have no real explanation why, seeing as everything I’ve ever heard by ‘em I dug, but, nonetheless, they’re one o’ them bands I always promised I’d pay more attention to but never actually got around to picking up any of their stuff. By the sound of it, these are from relatively early in their career, with virtually no synths in evidence and all but one of the nineteen tracks are surfy instrumentals with a beefy, punky sound and a lot of audio samples from assorted movies and television shows. If that sounds right up your alley but, like this dolt, haven’t taken the time to give ‘em proper adulation, I suggest you get to it, bucko. –jimmy (Overground)


MALL’D TO DEATH:
The Process of Reaching Out: 7”
When I signed up for reviews, I suppose I should have seen this one coming: two solid label dudes who I’d consider friends release a record that just isn’t for me. Not that this is bad... far from it, in fact! Lyrically, I can totally get behind topics like rallying against the digital age or wallowing in self-deprecation, and the musicianship and energy on this album is apparent. It’s just that while fifteen years ago I would have been all over this, these days I could take or leave their brand of ‘90s pop punk with ska influences. If you’re a fan of Dun Bin Had or Bomb The Music Industry, this will be right up your alley. It’s just leaving me a bit lukewarm. –Chris Mason (It’s Alive/GC)


MACHETAZO / MARROW:
Split: 12”
I like a novelty item like the next person. Record cut like a saw blade? Cool! Even if I hate the record, I would keep it for just that. Yup! I can be a record nerd a lot of the time. Machetazo: Spain-based grindcore band that has kept up the fight since 1994, based on a quick search of the interwebs. They are also a two-piece outfit, which probably keeps things efficient. They’re very much like one of my other favorite two-piece bands, Population Reduction; the difference being the lyrics are in Spanish and this band delves more into the heavier parts of death metal. All in all, raging. Morrow: From the depths of Baltimore, this band belts out the evil-sounding death metal. Pictures of face paint and throwing up devil horns while swinging your hair is the picture that pops up into my deteriorating mind. The music is done with precision and they definitely seem to be proficient in the genre they have chosen. Grind vs. death metal? The grind side is the winner for me. –don (Dysphoria)


LOUD SQUIRT:
Déjà Vu Revue Blues: 7” EP
Medium-fi trash rock, emphasis on the rock. The tempos are reined in, but the songs are well written and the delivery has the requisite intensity to push this into the “winner” pile. –jimmy (High School Refuse)


LIMES, THE:
Tarantula!: LP
It is hard not to compare The Limes to The Modern Lovers. Songwriter Shawn Cripps talk-sings his sentiments in a flat manner that combines lazy charm with understated poetry. Most of the album moves at the pace of The Modern Lover’s “Pablo Picasso.” The guitar playing is authoritative and undistorted. The Limes have such an excellent vocabulary of measured rock riffs that the record rocks without moving above a gallop. But most endearing about the album is the unique take on Americana. We need more people singing about the landscape. Many acts that attempt this style mistake drinking and dysfunction with interesting. The voice of the album and lyrical content set it apart from the typical affected roots music that seems to be popular right now. –Billups Allen (Goner)


LENGUAS LARGAS:
Self-titled: 12”
Lenguas Largas is a band that, firstly, should be seen to be believed. Four guitars, two drummers. Brothers and old friends, made up of some of the best dudes from the best bands over the last ten years (and more). All of those things coalesce into what is the most daring and inventive band in punk right now. The guitars weave in and out, creating an expansive, vibrant tapestry of sound, which is pierced by Isaac’s soulful yowl and then punctuated by the two drummers pounding away in unison. Spacey and lazy daydreams here; frenetic and harried bursts of rock and roll shrapnel there; a low and slow burning ragout that comes to a boil, opening up hidden flavors and fragrances. Amazing is a superlative that I often find overused, as well as often used incorrectly, but in this instance there is no better way to describe the greatness that is Lenguas Largas. –Jeff Proctor (Tic Tac Totally / Recess)


LEBAKKO:
En Tullut Toistamaan Tarinaa Samaa: 7”
Great Finnish punk/hardcore of the non-Discharge influenced variety, meaning they’re not particularly fast and are devoid of that stereotypical beat, but are catchy as hell with a singer who’s just spitting out lyrics coated in venom. One of those instances here when limiting things to just two songs is plain goddamned wrong. More, more! –jimmy (PML, pikakelauksellamaailmanloppuun@gmail.com)


LAST RESORT / OLD FIRM CASUALS:
Split: 2 x 7”
Is Rancid’s Lars Fredericksen a phony for going back to his skin past and starting Old Firm Casuals? I don’t know and I don’t care. What I do know is that his new band is an earnest, well developed oi project that doesn’t seem at all out of place paired up with the legends that are Last Resort. An essential 21st Century oi release if ever there was one, this is a perfect mash up of the new and the old. Plus, if one kid gets into Last Resort through this record, a vital community service has been achieved. –Art Ettinger (Oi! The Boat, oitheboat.com)


KRIG I HUDIK:
II: 7”
The cover art led me to believe that this was some sort of Kraftwork-esque synth-driven band, and the back cover—a digitally rendered image that looks like a screen shot from some urban warfare video game with Swedish text—threw me for a loop. Not knowing what I was going to get, I put this thing on and was confronted with an onslaught of old school Scandinavian hardcore that starts out going a million miles an hour and doesn’t let up over the course of the record. This thing is absolutely pummeling: heavy riffs and driving drum beats with coarse, shouted vocals. No melody, no pretense. After some research, I found out that the band is members of Totalitär (who also make a great stylistic reference if you’re into them) and Brainbombs, and that the majority of these songs are covers of old Swedish hardcore bands. This thing is spectacular. I don’t know how many made their way into the U.S., but it’s definitely worth the time to track down if you’re even remotely interested in Scandinavian hardcore. –Ian Wise (Skrammel, http://skrammelrecords.se)


KNIFEY SPOONY:
Self-titled: 7” EP
The opener, “Art Show Press Pass,” is a bit of thrashy punk with a bit of sly sophistication buried under the sloppy sound. “Retro Poser Enema” throws maybe a smidge of psychedelia into the crash-bang, and they close things out with a cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Hey Tonight.” More fun than it would appear and much better than it has any business being. Great artwork, too. –jimmy (Orifice Dorm)


JUST URBAIN:
Everybody Loves: 7”
Thought for a second the band decided to unleash another two hundred copies of their second EP some thirty-one years after its initial release, but on closer inspection, it looks as though the folks responsible for 540 Records and Chaos in Tejas are the guilty parties. The performance is straight outta Brisbane, Australia circa 1980, and is barely adept rock with the odd piano thrown in to give things some sophistication. The closing title track made it onto one of the later Killed by Death comps, and with good reason. –jimmy (540, timmy@chaosintejas.com)


JOSH DOBBS & HIS DEFICIT OF DREAMS / GHOST AQUARIUM:
Split: 7”
Fresh out of Florida and served on mossy green vinyl, these two bands serve up two very different sides of the same coin. Dobbs, front man to The Runnamucks, turns away from his signature sound but still brings the same teeth-grinding angst. “Deficit of Dreams” has a slower, bluesy rhythm, plus a few keyboard notes thrown in, while “Dial Tone” is a jab at the ubiquitous cell phone (I’m looking at you, Todd). Ghost Aquarium’s “Despite the Vices” is a nod to their affinity to goth rock with a sinister, prowling-in-the-shadows vibe and ‘80s guitar solo, whereas “Enough Time to Live” is a lighter, post punk, body slamming track. The sound quality isn’t killer, but don’t let that detract you from picking up an awesome split from two different but equally talented bands that are steering clear of that 4/4 rhythm cookie cutter punk. Recommended. –Kristen K (Ripping, myspace.com/rippingrecords)


JOHN WESLEY COLEMAN III / FOLLOWED BY STATIC:
Split: LP
An Italian release that acts like 7”EPs on a split LP. John Wesley Coleman III’s EP Personality Pancake: It’s melodic and it’s freaking out. Around the corners and in its heartbeat, I hear Hasil Adkins and Bob Log III. A full-band one-man-band? Appreciated outsiders with insuppressible “yips” and “yops!” all laid down on a shaky bed of howling, hollow bodies, throbbing embers, and a roiling ocean of reverb. Somehow relaxing and high pressured at the same time. Followed By Static’s Bacon Bear: Sitting on its haunches, ready to strike with cobra strikes of reverb and skronking trumpet. They do a nice job of sounding both languid and paranoid. It’s a funny coincidence that one guy in this band’s first name is Jeffery and another guy’s is Pierce, because the band sounds like the ghosts of Jeffrey Lee Pierce’s Gun Club hangs in their closet next to their collared shirts. They sweat that same sorta sweat. Both bands. Nice. –todd (Way Out There, wayoutthererecords@gmail.com, wayouththererecords.blogspot.com)


JEREMY PORTER & THE TUCOS:
Night on the Town: 7”
Porter, former front man to The Regulars plus a slew of other Michigan outfits, has reunited with former band mates to form The Tucos. Back in the saddle, they deliver three solid tracks on glacier blue vinyl showcasing their range from power pop to country. The title track is straight up fun with Porter’s vocals reminding me of Beck at times, plus hurtling drums and ebullient rhythm; everything a night on the town should be, right? “Ain’t My House Anymore” is the game changer with a jangly bluegrass guitar structure and Porter sounding more like Tom Petty, where “Galveston,” the bonus song that comes with the MP3 download, is a country-inspired love letter. Recommended for those who appreciate the Telecaster’s twang. –Kristen K (Magwheel, magwheel.com)


JACK OBLIVIAN:
Rat City: LP
Listening to any of Jack Oblivian’s songs makes me think of noir author Jim Thompson: songs from the wrong side of the track, about people a little past gone with no hope of coming back. But these people have some heart, if only anyone would listen (“Girl with the Bruises,” “Dark Eyes.”) The man can wring a searing tone out of his guitar (watch how he bends those strings next time you see him live). Some real boogie blues, but don’t think Grand Funk Railroad. This here is a solo Jack O. record but features members of his on-off band, The Tennessee Tearjerkers. –Sal Lucci (Big Legal Mess)


IN DEFENCE:
Party Lines and Politics: LP
Near the tail end of our grade school years, my friend Jon and I took our music nerdery to a whole new level. We created the Boppin’ Barney and Matter-of-Fact Matt radio show. Of course, this was not a real radio show. This was us sitting in his basement bedroom making goofy DJ voices and gabbing about tunes into a tape recorder. In between our banter, we added songs by holding the tape recorder up to his boombox and playing our favorites by Exodus, Anthrax, Metallica, S.O.D. and whatnot. If Boppin’ Barney and I had gotten our hands on this new In Defence record, I have no doubt that it would have gotten many spins on the show. Seeing two songs with “mosh” in the title, how could we have passed it up? Our still-developing music nerd brains probably would have described it as a moshterpiece of thrash. “Perfect for the pit!” we would have said, having never actually experienced a pit before. We probably would have spent a lot of time “practicing” our headbanging to songs like “Life in the Thrash Lane.” We probably would have jumped around until we were dizzy. Then we would have eaten a box of mac and cheese, gone out into the woods and shot some other kids with BB guns, all while this album ran through our little brains. –mp (Profane Existence)


IMPATIENCE:
Self-titled: Cassette
Precise, ferocious hardcore that loses none of its momentum for the fact that it’s recorded very well. A Milwaukee band made up of people from Protestant and Enabler (among others), Impatience is playing a dark, pummeling variant of hardcore easily on par with bands like Tragedy and Totalitär. Moody, atmospheric, and a little bit scary; this is a fine release. –keith (Sacred Plague)


HOW DO WE JUMP THIS HIGH?:
Funny/Not Funny: 7” EP
Very late-’80s Midwestern influence, much like the stuff falling on the alt-rock side of things when that much-ballyhooed and strip-mined genre was just breaking off from punk. Vocals are a bit amateurish without being annoying; the songs are catchy and creative without being pretentious. –jimmy (Answer Key)


HOSPITAL GARDEN:
Haunter: CD
For a very brief period before it was swallowed whole, gutted, and repackaged by the corporate music leviathan as “indie rock,” a term so oxymoronic anymore it makes the brain swim just thinkin’ about thinkin’ about it, the so-called “Alternative Nation” was free to explore different combinations between punk and whatever could be mooshed in to soften that tired warhorse’s increasingly rigid boundaries. From Dead Milkmen to the Replacements to Teenage Fanclub to the Vaselines to Tad to the Butthole Surfers to REM to Babes In Toyland, and so on, a lotta interesting ground was covered before it all went to shit when the money and drugs got ever more seductive, the lights went out, and it all became less dangerous, to paraphrase some old Northwestern band who ultimately went nowhere. Hospital Garden sound like they just time-warped from the moment that whole scene hit its apex, when the edges were coated with a perfect amount of pop to make the poison go down. You get Hüsker-aggressive guitars, laid back Stipe-ish vocal delivery, and a blend of harmony and dissonance that recalls both the punkier edge of early grunge and bands like Poster Children. I could be totally cynical and opine that in this era when the corporate overlords are trying their best to force-feed a starving populace the hollowed shell of grunge to make yet another quick buck because no one’s buying the latest swill they’re cookin’ no matter how cheaply priced it is, a band like this should handily find a place on the revival circuit. Lord knows I’ve said much worse before in other weak attempts at a cheap joke. Problem is, though a song here and there might go on just a teensy bit longer than it should, these guys are pretty goddamned good at what they do and—Mahfü strike me down!—they sound so much like a sincere, real band that they stick out like a leper at junior prom. I seriously love ‘em to pieces, but they haven’t a hope in hell in these times. Here’s hoping they don’t give a flying fuck and continue to do what they clearly do so well. –jimmy (Hospital Garden)


HONDURAN:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Blam blam growl growl rooooooaaaaaarrrr chugg chugg blam blam!!!!! Repeat three more times. –jimmy (Honduran, nothonduran@gmail.com)


HOLY SHIT! / YOUR PEST BAND:
Split: 7”EP
Milwaukee and Japan grapple it out via split 7”. Holy Shit! seems a little slower but the songs definitely benefit with a little more melody and memorability. Still cranking out the fast’n’spastic hardcore. Some of the best stuff I’ve heard from them. Plus the best song name I’ve ever encountered. Ever. I recently saw some video of Your Pest Band and it was mesmerizing. Shirtless Japanese dudes wailing on their instruments and putting everything they got into it. It was an inspiring sight and I’ve definitely been enjoying these songs since then. They carry the torch in that Japanese tradition of doing what Americans do with double the proficiency. In this case, it’s wicked guitar licks and slurred early-Replacements vocals. –Daryl Gussin (Small Pool / Snuffy Smiles)


HOLLYWOOD STUNTS:
Self-titled: CD
Little bit o’ tribal sleaze and a little bit o’ rock, sorta like the Birthday Party trippin’ on glam or somethin’. Dunno where they hail from but with a different set o’ production values and a time machine that’ll take ‘em back to 1989, they would’ve been the fuggin’ toast of the Hollywood’s grimier corners. –jimmy (Big Neck)


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·VARIOUS ARTISTS
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·Interview with the Marked Men
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·High, Low, and In Between
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·THREE BLUE TEARDROPS
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