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Record Reviews

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UNWELCOME GUESTS:
Don’t Go Swimming: CD
Unwelcome Guests from Buffalo, New York have released a twelve-song disc mixing alt country, Florida campfire punk, and energetic power pop. The upbeat numbers like “Might Be Broken,” “Considering,” and “Any Other Place” border on anthemic punk, but—even more precisely—like their fellow upstate New York brethren The Figgs. The majority of the disc is slower and more reflective than those tracks with clear nods to Americana. In particular; frequent similarities to the Old 97’s with twangy guitar, walking basslines, and a lead vocalist that bears a striking sonic resemblance to Rhett Miller. However, even the ballads don’t overstay their welcome with the longest track on the album running only a 3:08. The songs are economical and well crafted. I would recommend this one if you don’t mind some heartland rock diluting your punk. –Jake Shut (Kiss Of Death)


UNPATRIOTICS, THE:
To Whom It May Concern: CD-R
(This review will attempt to be as bland as the piece of music that it represents.) This was a CD that contained music. It was street punk. Sometimes they sounded like Sham 69. There was a ska song, too. –Bryan Static (Freedom)


UNKO ATAMA:
Another Creature: CD
Super awesome Ramones core pop punk from San Francisco! They cover Stiv Bator’s “I’m Not That Way Anymore,” and it’s awesome! They cover the Ramones’ “Bonzo Goes to Bitburg,” and it’s awesome! They have a song called “Twinkle Twinkle UFO,” no doubt named after a line in Screeching Weasel’s “I Believe in UFOs,” and it’s awesome! They have lots of their own songs (personal favorite: “Tonight”), and they’re awesome! If this were a cereal, it would be Froot Loops, and it would be awesome! Well done, Unko Atama, well done! –Maddy (Self-released?)


UNFUN:
Pain Prescription: 7”
I saw this EP and figured, “If I’m judging vinyl by its cover anyway, it’s not a terrible start to go with a band named after a Jawbreaker album.” At first, I thought something was wrong with my stereo (actually, there is something wrong with it, but further investigation revealed it’s not Unfun). I felt like I was listening to the band behind a wall of static. The second pass through I learned it sounds better when you aren’t sitting eight inches away from the speakers. I think I can hear some slammin’ drums and power chord-friendly guitars here, but that’s all practically buried underneath extraneous noise. Cut the static noise out Unfun, and then we’ll talk. –Candice Tobin (Lost Cat, myspace.com/lostcatrecords)


UNFUN:
Pain Prescription: CDEP
This one’s a nice surprise, in the sense that the Steinways/Huntingtons/Ramones-core ripoff I was expecting was nowhere to be found—if there were ever any sort of poppy veneer to this band it’s long since been scraped off. This shit is dirty, ragged, messy, and blown-out, and it sounds absolutely great. While bands like Dear Landlord make the whole “earnest pop punk” thing sound effortless and a maybe little too snappy and glossy sometimes, a band like Unfun sounds like they’re just barely holding their shit together, instrumentally, emotionally, and otherwise. And this is a great record because of it. The sound quality is raw as hell, the lyrics are like the polar opposite of a 7 Seconds record (meaning: you’re fucked, it’s not going to be okay, things are terrible), and there’s no unnecessary qualities to this thing. A great, snarling mess of a pop punk record, like a truly furious Off With Their Heads but with more chops. Definitely worthwhile. –Keith Rosson (Moonquake, no address)


ULTRA DOLPHINS:
Alien Baby: LP
I used to see Virginia’s Ultra Dolphins in Richmond in the early ‘00s, but now realize that I’ve never heard them recorded. I’ve just seen them on stage, jumping around while performing guitar heroics that would require the most intense concentration from other musicians. The crowds would go nuts, but the songs sounded patched together, like haphazard stacks of unmatched parts. That has changed with this album. They’re slowed down their trippy, technical prog-punk and the vocals are sung, not screamed. The music still sounds like it’s being played backwards in a weird time signature, but it builds in its own ways, progressing, and even returning to hooks. Like a foreign language, understanding the Ultra Dolphins’ music requires immersion. I kept the record on my turntable for a week, until the hairpin turns made sense, and now I can enter their dimension and sing along. –CT Terry (Rorschach, rorschachrecords.net)


UGLY BEATS, THE:
Motor!: CD
While the term “garage rock” most definitely fits ‘em, these Austin ravers cover a lotta ground here. The opener, “Things I Need to Know,” sounds like a lost gem from the ‘80s Paisley Underground that would’ve easily fit into the airplay rotation of most new wave radio stations of the era. The bulk of the remainder bounces across the ‘60s spectrum, from fuzzy garage stompers to jangly proto-psych, from Beatles to Byrds and back, with maybe a quick stopover in Peter & Gordonland. The performances and songwriting are top notch and the whole package bears a feeling of authenticity that a good many others swimming in this pool these days can only hope to achieve. –Jimmy Alvarado (gethip.com)


TYVEK:
Nothing Fits: CD
I got a fever of 102.9, which should help with the reviews. I really like Tyvek’s last 12”, but this has less noodling songs in between the big blasts. Fast-driving, guitar-happy rockers—this album is the Tokyo Drift of Detroit garage rock. A little more aggro than earlier singles, still peppy, still desperate as all hell, with drained singing over a wave of sound. In their older song, “Frustration Rock,” there was more space in between the instruments. You felt you could hear the strings stretching and snapping—a treble party. Now it’s a little more electric and fuzzy, making my brain itch. It’s fucking fun. A little bit like The Gories moving into The Dirtbombs territory. Sorry, Tyvek, there is probably always a Gories connection due to everyone being from Detroit. But shit, great company. When I listen to Tyvek, I just wanna drive faster and turn harder. Good for the flu, too. –Speedway Randy (In the Red Records, intheredrecords.com)


TV BUDDHAS:
Self-titled: CD
Their name is kinda cool, the cover art has a vague Black Flag/Pettibon quality to it, and the tunes have a bit of a Stoogey sheen to ‘em and sound like they were recorded live during rehearsal on a boom box, though everything somehow manages to be heard quite clearly. –Jimmy Alvarado (trost.at)


TRENCH PARTY:
Decadence: CD
With a twenty song tracklist featuring titles like “No Rest for the Wicked (Awesome)” and “Stoked on the Apocalypse,” I was expecting trashy hardcore. Instead I got strummy indie pop with laconic vocals, like Beck’s early acoustic stuff with a British twist. Not bad. Could be catchier. –CT Terry (Terminal Detour, walkmankilller@yahoo.com)


TRANSIT:
Keep This to Yourself: CD
The production quality on this album is superb, but unlike other Run For Cover releases, I didn’t care for this very much. This sounds too much like every other indie rock band inspired by late ‘90s/early 2000s emo/indie. While the vocals sounded great, and it’s clear that all the members of the band know how to play their instruments well, there was little in the songwriting department to make this group stand out. If you like other Run For Cover bands give them a try, but don’t expect too much.  Paul J. Comeau –Guest Contributor (Run For Cover)


TRACTOR SEX FATALITY:
Bloodeagle: CD
Jazzy skronk falling somewhere between AmRep and Touch & Go, with just enough weirdness pumped in to keep the “edge” nicely honed. –Jimmy Alvarado (Big Neck)


TOUCH ME, SATAN:
Festival of Lights: 7”
Six punk’n’roll tunes that conjure up images of a garage-y version of the New York Rel-X. Lo-fi and all the better for it! Touch Me, Satan need no slick production to demonstrate their chops! Bully! The vocalist does a great job using her voice as a counterpoint on several of the songs, which creates some satisfying harmonies with the guitars. This is like Lava soap: gritty yet cleansing. Clear vinyl! –The Lord Kveldulfr (no label)


TORTURED TONGUES:
“Let Me Down” b/w “Feed the Flys”: 7”
There is something kind of off about this recording. I can’t tell if it is on purpose. The vocals are doubled, loud, unrehearsed sounding, and don’t often fit with the rhythm of the music. “Let Me Down” moves at a pretty standard punk rock pace. “Feed the Flys” is a little more abstract. Not quite Butthole Surfers weird, but the riffs are sloppy in a fun, Stooges-influenced sort of way. I don’t really understand why the vocals are so crazy and drunk sounding. The two vocalists overpower everything and the better singer is low in the mix. They sound like they could be better live. –Billups Allen (Hozac, hozacrecords.com)


TOO MANY DAVES:
Weekend at Dave’s: CD
Most of the time, I would quickly dismiss anything that had lyrical themes such as getting fucked up, fucking up, and not giving a fuck. It’s not that I have anything against any of those things, but to revel in such typically ain’t my thing—I can be uptight like that. That said, it’s funny what some guitar work can do to me. More specifically, it’s funny what Davey Quinn’s guitar work can to do me. As it has made me enjoy Too Many Daves regardless of the lyrical content, it could quite possibly make me find myself tolerating the rants and raves of a young earth creationist. I’m just glad that he hasn’t provided the soundtrack for such nonsense, because I would probably check it out. –Vincent Battilana (ADD)


TO HELL AND BACK:
Will We Born Apart: LP
There are a lot of bands out there that came out of the punk scene that try to cross over into the full-on rock thing. Most of them flat-out suck. They might have one good musician in the band that tries to carry everyone else. Then you get a band like To Hell And Back (ex-JBA, Give Up, etc., etc.). Everyone in this band can play their instruments quite well, thus they can pull off the “rock like a motherfucker” thing with ease. In turn, you, the listener, will rock like a motherfucker as well. If you like bands Turbonegro, Rose Tattoo, or the Saviours, then you’re going to love To Hell And Back. It kind of fits that they come from the Albany, NY area. Doesn’t seem like that place breeds pussies. The songs are massive and rage like hell: “The Devil’s in the Details,” “Venom & Saline,” and “Thin Skinned,” just to name a few. The whole album cranks. Big guitar sound, rippin’ solos, a drummer that can bang, and a ton of low end. I love the transition from “Release the Kraken” to the Sabbath-style riff of “Grassroots Brushfire.” Comes on blue vinyl. Don’t delay... –Matt Average (Peterwalkee, peterwalkeerecords.com)


TILTWHEEL:
“Teach Your Children Hell” b/w “Believe”: 7”
My Cher’s songs-made-to-video memory is full of holes. But since Tiltwheel’s a San Diego band, San Diego has a huge naval base, and Davey’s really charming, that the powers that be would allow a video of Davey in a lacey, buttless thong and leather jacket, suggestively straddling a 16” gun, then prancing on the deck of a destroyer while sailors cheer to his lip synching. That’d be awesome in my book and the type of answer I have queued up when the next person asks me what I’d do with a million dollars. This 7” was supposed to be tour support for a European tour that didn’t happen, so it’s totally feasible that “Teach Your Children Hell,” that’s also on The High Hate Us LP, wasn’t out at that time. The B-side’s a cover of Cher, and for those who’ve heard Leatherface’s cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors,” it weirdly illustrates how well crafted musically—and how tender the words to—the originals were. –Todd Taylor (Drunken Sailor, myspace.com/drunkensailorrecs)


THIS DRAMA:
Tarantula Mata: CDEP
Vaguely punky Sunset Boulevard bar rock with spanglish lyrics. –Jimmy Alvarado (deepelm.com)


THESE HANDS ARE FISTS:
Peace Is Bad for Business: CD
A good twenty-four years ago or so, Megadeth said, “Peace Sells... But Who’s Buying?” I guess times have changed... Politically-minded straight edge hardcore here. These Hands Are Fists stick close to the sound of bands like Chain Of Strength, Inside Out, and the rest. Chunky guitars, burly drums, and a clean recording. The songs are semi-speedy with a melodic edge and breakdowns galore. They tackle body image, exploitation of the indigenous people, animal rights, etcetera. It’s pretty apparent these guys believe in what they’re doing and they have their hearts and minds in the right place. I just think they might want to be a little pickier about what they record in the future. Let some songs die in the practice room. For instance, the song “Compassion Fills the Void on Your Plate” is beyond bad. The singy vocals are atrocious and the delivery is overdramatic. The sound bites in between songs are corny and detract from any momentum generated by the music. If they’d cut to the chase and go from song to song, these guys would rage. This isn’t a bad disc, but it could use a little editing. –Matt Average (Refuse, refuserecords.prv.pl)


THEMA ELEVEN / GRIDE:
Split: EP
The song, “Gaze” from Thema Eleven is f’n great! Apparently influenced by Ennio Morricone. The song definitely has a grand feel, hinting at something larger than life. Like any good soundtrack should do. The guitar is allowed a lot of space to roam, and the notes ring out with a sense of impending doom. The vocals come in low in the mix, are thick and gravelly, and don’t not detract from the music. Such a great song... I haven’t heard Gride in a long while. Their sound has changed considerably. They used to be straight- up grindcore. What they have on this split is a little more refined and fleshed out. There’s still some grindcore in the sound, but they’re a little more technical now, and, at times, bordering on math rock or post-metal. “Neurorevolution” is the most complex of the three songs on here. There are overdubs of back-up voices floating over the drums and guitars, solos that really get deep into it, and more layers of sound. –Matt Average (Insane Society, insanesociety.net)


TEENAGE MOODS:
Self-titled: 7”
A lazy comparison would be: Cross Slumberland Records and the early ‘90s output of K Records with the Vaselines. Super catchy pop with a somewhat lo-fi edge. While there’s a sugary sweet (after all, these guys are the “Sugar Band”—“sweet! sweet!”) side, there’s also a somewhat rough sound in the music. No polish, which give these two songs even more charm. These songs are unbelievably catchy, addictive, and will burn themselves into your memory within two listens. I can guarantee you will find yourself singing along to these songs, and singing them while out and about doing whatever it is you do. I want more! I likes this. I really likes this! –Matt Average (Teenage Moods, myspace.com/teenagemoods)


TEARS OF FRUSTRATION:
Live at CBGB: 7”
Talk about making the best out of a stupid situation. Apparently, a part-time ex-member of this band asked if he could be involved in a reunion show at CBGB, then secretly recorded the set and made a deal with this record label to release it. Well, once said label and the rest of the band found out, they worked it out so there would be a record anyway. Side one is live from the said show, and the B-side is sporting studio recorded covers of both Y.D.L. and D.R.I. It’s pretty much tough guy hardcore stuff, but I gotta hand it to them for overcoming the sleaze and getting something out regardless. –Ty Stranglehold (United Riot)


TALKY TINA:
Don’t Go: CDEP
A band named after a Twilight Zone episode featuring “Talky Tina,” a creepy doll. (“My name is Talky Tina, and you’ll be sorry!”) Features a member of the mod pop band The Odd Numbers, which is a good sign, and this band is pretty good, too, but I wish the guitar was louder and that the whole thing was more garagey (think: King Khan and/or the use of tambourines). But I must say that they are the first band I’m aware of to write a mod song about the Jehovah’s Witness, and for that, I must say: Thank you, Talky Tina. So, if you liked the Odd Numbers and/or mod revival stuff, you’d probably be into this, but I think Talky Tina is capable of much more. Talky Tina, I will be watching you, and you won’t be sorry! D’oh! If this were a cereal, it’d be Gremlins. (Yes, they did make a cereal based on the movie, and it existed for a brief time in the 1980s). Tasty, but if they added marshmallows, think of the possibilities! –Maddy (Lost Highway)


SURROGATES, THE:
Demo II: Fall 2010: CDEP
A very promising five-song demo that clocks in under ten minutes. The first track is a very engaging post-rock instrumental, but the following four tracks are firmly in the melodic punk camp. Regardless of genre, all five songs immediately struck me far above average. Overall, this album plays well to the Razorcake audience, straddling the sweet spot of catchy melodies but with the appropriate grit for a punk rock release. Fans of bands like Dan Padilla, Chinese Telephones, and Tiltwheel should be coming to this like ducks to water. –Jake Shut (Self-released)


SUPERDESTROYERS:
“Save to the Urge” b/w “You’re Being Erased”: 7”
Both songs suffer from sophomoric punk riffs and uninteresting ideas. The singer sounds as if he could belt it out, but he never quite gets there—as if he has a good voice but isn’t angry about anything. It reminds me of when a favorite old band gets together after thirty years to put out an album and it sounds out of touch. –Billups Allen (No address listed)


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