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· 1:Punk Parenthood for the Sleep Deprived
· 2:#330 with Craven Rock
· 3:#329 with Daryl Gussin
· 4:One Punk’s Guide to Poetry
· 5:#331 with Mike Faloon and Todd Taylor


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Razorcake #81
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Nights and Days in a Dark Carnival by Craven Rock
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No Idea Records

Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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MCRACKINS:
It Ain’t over Easy: CD
I can’t tell you how excited I was to get this in my reviewables this time around. Vancouver’s McRackins have been a longtime favorite of mine and I had been looking forward to hearing this new record. For those of you not in the know, the McRackins are Canadian pop punk legends, having started out in 1994 or so and have released (literally) countless records over the years. Here we are in 2010 and the McRackins are back! It Ain’t over Easy is an amazing record that fits in perfectly with the mountain of records in their storied past. Tight hooks and melodies that would have Joey and Dee Dee tapping their toes in their graves and lyrics that will have you either laughing out loud or singing along in the shower or the car at top level. Two eggs and a dog win again! Now get cracking and beat it down to the record store and pick this up! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist it!). –Ty Stranglehold (Wolverine)


MARKED MEN:
On the Other Side: 7”
How is it that a band who I thought broke up can keep making such great music? Is it some kind of magical Tupac thing? No, the reality is that the Marked Men are not broken up, just geographically on hiatus. This means every now and then we will be blessed with a couple of tunes to rock out to and be amazed by. This 7” was released in conjunction with the Chaos In Tejas festival in Austin at which I was lucky enough to see Marked Men twice and get this new record. It was worth the trip! Having been a fan for a while now, I knew it being good wouldn’t be an issue, but having the chance to see them live really added a new facet to my enjoyment of the band. The two tracks here are “On” and “The Other Side.” The funny thing here is that they really are on the other side than they should be, because the labels are on the wrong sides... Or maybe that’s the point? Or maybe I’m just assuming that the song that says “on” a lot is called “On”? All I know is that I have two more tracks of Marked Men goodness that I didn’t have before and my life is better for it. Throw in cover art by the amazing Tim Kerr and this is even more of a winner! –Ty Stranglehold (540, no address listed)


MARK SPARKLES, THE:
Mix Tape: Cassette EP
This sextet out of Seattle dishes out a mix of punk’n’roll seasoned with nerdcore themes and sharp power punk chords. This solid seven song collection is taut with punchy sing-a-long choruses. Switching off between male and female lead vocals, the Sparkles remind me of the Avengers and D.O.A. rolled into one. Included is a cover of Screeching Weasel and my favorite, “Homemade Star Wars Movie.” Anyone that makes a song about Star Wars and growls “Luke, I am your father!” in it is down in my book. Recommended. –Kristen K (Self-released, myspace.com/themarksparkles)


MCCRACKINS / PROZACS:
Somebody Out There Loves Us: 7” EP
Actually, somebody out there doesn’t love you, because this record won’t play on my turntable. BEST SONG: Thus far, the Sounds of Silence. BEST SONG TITLE: “Mickey and Mallory 2009,” if that tells you anything. FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: McCrackins fans are apparently referred to as “Eggheads.” I feel for Egghead. –Rev. Norb (Cheapskate)


LOTUS EFFECT:
Rabbits & Royalty: CDEP
I’ve gotta admit: with a name like Lotus Effect, I really expected a hippie band. Instead, I got this: “Lotus Effect is a progressive-alternative rock band out of Houston, TX, with comparisons to Muse, Soul Asylum, and At The Drive-In. Lotus Effect combines gritty guitar, blistering bass lines, and complex rhythms with melodically aggressive vocals to create innovative alternative progressive rock” (from their website). Does that description make you as excited about Lotus Effect as I am? I will say that at least their singer has a strong voice, although, in all honesty, it does sound like something that should be fronting a “progressive-alternative rock band.” I should note that they get kudos for giving some of the proceeds from this album to good causes (armed forces’ veterans and childhood cancer treatment). –Kurt Morris (lotuseffectmusic.com)


MALACHI:
Self-titled: Cassette
Not too long ago, one of the cereal cookers at the factory I work at got clogged with cereal goo. I had to clean it out. The mess was thick, quickly-hardening sludge that was slightly charred. I was reminded of this tape as I toiled. –Vincent Battilana (Intellect, intcollective.com)


LIZ ALLBEE:
Vs. Theseus: CD
Lotsa odd noises, coughs, and such interspersed with actual “songs” with some semblance of cohesive structure. Some things here are weird, some are silly, and others are downright gorgeous. This kind of stuff doesn’t always turn out well, but Ms. Allbee does present some very interesting sounds here, and, for the most part, it works quite nicely. Really dug this, even though I dunno how Theseus fits into the pic. Is Allbee taking on the role of the Minotaur? –Jimmy Alvarado (Resipiscent)


LIKE BATS:
Look on the Bright Side: 7”
Adding on to the last CDEP I heard, this one’s a little less Connie Dungs, about the same amount of Lawrence Arms, and more “Midwest” sounding (i.e., turning up the Rivethead/Banner Pilot knobs). Also like the last CDEP, this one mildly fucked with my turntable somehow. But, it’s still growing on me. –Joe Evans III (Traffic Street)


LIGHTEN UP:
Absolutely Not: CD
This is some all right posicore stuff that is built for sing-alongs on pile-ons. It is, of course, peppered with a few decidedly mosh parts, which LU manages to keep melodic. Twelve songs in seventeen minutes, nearly one-fourth of which is dedicated to an outro on the last track that just repeats (which I would not think gets played live). Aurally, there’s nothing all that offensive but nothing too memorable. When all’s said and done, this was a bit better than I thought a boring-looking hardcore disc with a one-sheet would be, but that isn’t saying very much. –Vincent Battilana (Jump Start / Ass-Card)


LIBYANS:
“Paralyzed”/ “Keep Waiting”: One-sided 7”
Note to bands who embrace brevity: If you’re going to release a 1-sided 7” 45 (a hard sell in these tough economic times), take a cue from the Libyans and fancy up the packaging. This is a little treasure: Wax papery “wedding invitation”-grade envelope with a graphic in the emulsion, hand-numbered on the back, and the b-side of the record, all the lyrics—black silk-screened ink on black vinyl. Let’s see your MP3 do that. The music’s focused, top drawer, sharp punk with one foot squarely in the Dangerhouse catalog and the other stomping along to the likes of hard-charging Polish punks, El Banda. I squeezed my hands into balls all the way through. –Todd Taylor (Self-released)


LETTERS TO FRIENDS:
Demo: CD-R EP
Seven songs primped and primed for Plan-It-X’s stable of folk punk, packaged in a cut-up twelve-pack case with a hand-written and hand-drawn insert. The horns are an interesting addition to an established formula, but not interesting enough to make me listen again. –Vincent Battilana (Self-released, myspace.com/letterstofriends)


KUZLE:
Se Pomnite Kuzle, Tovarisi?: CD
From what I can gather, this band from Slovenia was around from 1979 to 1982. Not sure if this is re-recorded or a discography. The production is top notch and I can’t picture this being recorded in the former Yugoslavia. Being from that time period, it’s not surprising that they come off as early period Clash meets the UK Subs: mid-tempo punk rock that would now probably be lumped into the street punk genre. When done well, it’s great to see these unheard-of bands see the light of day.                     –Donofthedead (Kuzle, myspace.com/kuzlepunk)


KIDS ON FIRE:
Self-titled: CD
Have you ever imagined what it would sound like if you crossed the dying animal screech of Black Francis with unintelligible, drunken slur of Tim Armstrong? I didn’t either until the second song on this disc. Now picture that with music that reminds me a little of a less great combination of Riverboat Gamblers and Fucked Up... Shit, I’m confusing myself at this point. I guess I’m saying I like the music better than the vocals on this, but I still find myself enjoying most of it. I’ll have to see what happens with more listening. –Ty Stranglehold (Transistor 66, transistor66.com)


KARLOFF:
Bled Dry: CD
A horror fan could easily be misled by this band’s name and the cover of the disc, which features an image from Jean Rollin’s Eurosleaze classic The Rape of the Vampire. There are no songs about Frankenstein’s monster or Dracula on this bleak and vicious album. The monsters here are politicians, religious institutions, and the personal failures that eat away at you day after day until there’s nothing more left for them to consume. These monsters are presented on a sonic platform of rumbling concrete and knives against bricks. Not exactly uplifting. –MP Johnson (Midwestern Decline)


JUKEBOX ROMANTICS, THE:
Self-titled: CD
Rock and roll punk that I imagine is made by guys who hang out in Irish bars, have spider-web elbow tattoos, and wear newsboy caps. It’s okay, in a not as good mid-period Bouncing Souls sort of way, mixed with latter day Dropkick Murphys, a bit of ska, and with a too restrained sounding singer. It really bothered me that this came with a parental advisory sticker. Why would you put those on your album, especially since it’s not 1996 and you’re not on a major label? –Adrian (Altercation)


JESUSCENTRIC:
Self-titled: 12” EP
Screamy, sludgy pain stuff. Guitars are tuned down low enough that for a second there I thought I had it at the wrong speed. One-sided with a red skull screened across one-third of the flipside.                     –Jimmy Alvarado (torjohnsonrecords.com)


HUMAN CARNAGE:
Rest in Pieces: CD
Can’t help but think grindcore’s best years are long, long ago. Seriously, after Brutal Truth stopped and Excruciating Terror put out their second album, what of note has come out of this genre? Human Carnage are tepid grindcore No spark, no fire, no teeth. They should come play in Los Angeles with all the shitty local grind bands that sound exactly like one another. Zzzzzzzz.... –Matt Average (APH, aphmusic.com)


HOUSE OF COMMONS:
Guilty as Hell: CD
Welly from Artcore unearthed this slice of Canadian punk history. House Of Commons came out of British Columbia in 1980 and recorded in one form or another right up to around 1993. Obvious DOA influence in their sound, but they have a definite U.K. influence as well: mid tempo punk where the songs are allowed to build and hold your attention. This disc collects their Patriot LP from 1983, and demos from 1985 to 1993. Must admit, their later stuff is just as good as the earlier. Not a common feat! You can score this with Artcore #26. –Marcus Solomon (Artcore, flw@ntlworld.com)


INVASIONEN:
Hela Världen Brinner: LP
I feel guilty, I think. The Lost Patrol Band put out two of my most-listened-to records of the past many years. I was absolutely obsessed with Automatic (still am, really), and the eponymous record is nearly as awesome. So here’s the guilt thing: As you may or may not know, there were some trademark issues with the band’s name, so rather than try and deal with any of that nonsense, these handsome Swedes chose to take not only the name change route, but to take this opportunity of rebuilding to begin singing in their native tongue. And now? I just can’t get into them the same way... And guess what else? Same story with Masshysteri—essentially a retooled, Swedish-singing version of The Vicious, one of my favorite bands of the modern era. These two bands, to whom I listened to so actively and passionately at one time have become something of aural wallpaper to me now. These songs, which are musically as memorable as any previous output, just blend into the background of my day. And so I don’t know how to review these records. I can only trust that the Swedish punk contingent can now enjoy this record, these bands, as much as I did prior to the language change. And I will unwaveringly support them and buy each record they release… I just wish it felt the same. Am I a bad dude? –Dave Williams (Ny Vag, nyvag.com)


INSURGENCE, THE:
Self-titled: CD
First full length from this Seattle five piece. Produced by Jack Endino, who also produced the last Valient Thorr record. “Honor Killing” and “Barbed Wire Fences” caught my ear. Live, I bet these dudes go for the throat. Check out the enhanced content on this CD to catch the lyrics (which sometimes go by in the songs in a flash) and a video for “K Street Killers,” a song from their first EP where they express their wish to blow this street to smithereens. Just not when I am driving nearby, okay fellas?    –Sean Koepenick (Digital Warfare, digitalwarfarerecords.com)


HOMICIDES, THE:
Black Leather Redneck: 12” EP
When a band has a song called “I Fuck Girls Too Young for Me,” they have my undivided attention. And it’s even better when their music can back up subject matter like that. Not some pussy pose or some affected snot-nosed bullshit, The Homicides are knuckles dragging across the ground punk rock that isn’t afraid of upsetting anyone. I imagine they revel in it. I hope they do, at least. I love punk most when it’s not looking to make friends with everyone. Loud, brash and uglier than that hag you took home last night when the house lights came on at the bar. At least here, you have no regrets the next day. They cover the Fuck Ups (SF) “I Think Your Shit” quite well, and that should be an indicator where these miscreants are coming from. –Matt Average (Vertex Audio, vertexaudio@gmail.com)


HOLLOWPOINTS:
Old Haunts on the Horizon: CD
I still buy Vans. There is a Vans outlet in my local mall and every year I suck it up and go in to get a couple of pairs of shoes. The only real decision I have to make is which combination of black, blue, or grey to get. When you are in the Vans store, there is an endless loop of band videos playing on a monitor hanging over your head. The loop alternates between the screaming metal bands with rap or emo choruses and non-descript pop punk bands like The Hollowpoints. These guys are extremely competent. The singer sings well. The riffs are produced. Very professional. Very uninteresting to me. When I was a kid, I hated when old punks dismissed the bands I like, so if this is what the kids are into, then these guys do it well. The songs are at the speed of NOFX without the advanced sense of humor. There is not much there for me. You lousy kids, your music all sounds the same. –Billups Allen (Sailor’s Grave)


HIPBONE SLIM AND THE KNEE TREMBLERS:
The Kneeanderthal Sounds of: CD
Leave it to a buncha limeys to grace us with a pitch-perfect blend of the finest in American roots music. Embedded into the, uh, sequences of ones and zeros here are the ghosts of Buddy Holly, Bo Diddley, early Johnny Cash, Link Wray, Carly Perkins, the Ventures, and even a little of what made early Stax Records so swell. Sounds stale, don’t it? Well, these guys are so goddamned good at what they do that they sound as fresh, vital, and timeless as their heroes. Yup, they’ve walloped us with another stunner. –Jimmy Alvarado (voodoorhythm.com)


HEXTALLS, THE:
Get Smashed: CD
Competent, knowingly dumb (at least I hope it’s knowlingly), pop punk in the vein of the Queers (when they’re not being a surf band), Chixdiggit (or at least from what I can remember from the couple times I listened to them), or maybe the early Blink-182 stuff (before they were able to keep from putting boner jokes in their power ballads). I don’t think there’s exactly a glut of bands doing this kind of pop punk anymore that aren’t the Queers (who, at this point, are probably trying to be a ‘50s doo wop band), so if it’s your thing, this is worth a couple spins. I’m realizing that’s not really pull quote material, but so it goes. The odd: It’s really weird to start off your album with chanting the name of your singer. I dunno how I feel about that. –Adrian (Self-released, thehextalls@hotmail.com)


HAMBURGER HELP ME:
Awesome Garys E.P.: 7”
I assumed I’d love this as soon as I saw the goofy cover art/concept, the fact that it has twenty-two songs, is on Fart Records, and, upon closer inspection, appears to be a new incarnation of The Fuck Yeahs. Then I put it on, heard that they sound like a cross between Henry Fiat’s Open Sore and Teengenerate, and confirmed it. Absolutely fantastic stuff. Most bands that would try something like this would probably just sound like a mess, but this is some great garage-meets-power-thrash. –Joe Evans III (Fart)


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