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Record Reviews

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DALI’S LLAMA:
Howl Do You Do?: CD
A Fuzztones influence is in evidence here, beginning with their attempts to adhere to the garage rock template whilst retaining a “modern” sound. They more than handle the task at hand, though I wish there were just a wee bit more oomph in the lead vocals. –Jimmy Alvarado (dalisllamarecords.com)


DALETH:
Lady of the Lake: CD
“Initiation” starts out as a nice thrash blast rife with basement-tape acoustics, like a jam from a HolyMountain practice tape. I totally dug it and it made me want to yell made-up lyrics over the top. The rest of the album, however, is more in line with the split Daleth did with Blueshift a while back—long, sludgy dirges that take a while to get moving. Daleth, made up entirely of one J. Merrill, is not my bag at all (apart from that first song!) but I fully admire the man’s insistence on doing things his own way. As with previous endeavors, this one comes in some creative, well-executed DIY packaging. Noise enthusiasts take note. –Keith Rosson (For Documentation Only)


D9 / MONDO GECKO:
Split: Pro CD-R
D9: Dual-vocaled grind, with the two typical types of grind vocals: screaming and growling. I like the screaming, but I don’t like the growling—mostly because I just don’t like guttural growling and never have. Mondo Gecko: Gnarly thrash that seems on the verge of crossing over. Dudes sound ready to skate. (On a side note, I’ve always found the word “mondo” pleasing to the ears.) –Vincent Battilana (tolivealie.com, myspace.com/twintoerecords, urbandecay@gmail.com, myspace.com/zasrec)


CRUSADES:
Self-titled: 7”
This is a powerhouse of a band. Dark, melodic punk that’s three vocalists deep. And if that’s not enough, all the songs seem to be about Satan and his love. I guess what else would you expect from the dudes from The Sedatives and The Creeps? When I listen to this record, I imagine guys who look like Vigo from Ghostbusters II singing along in the front row. “For every tear you shamed out of them / A river you will shed / For every fear you drove into them / A river raging red.” I’ve only spent about thirty-six hours in Ottawa, but it’s pretty easy to see how great of a city it is, and Crusades is just one more thing for her to be proud of. –Daryl Gussin (Scared To Death, myspace.com/scareddeath)


CRIPPLED OLD FARTS / UNLOGISTIC:
Split: 12”
These two French bands sound very different. C.O.F. play a mixture of early ‘80s California coastal hardcore and what U.K. ‘77 bands went through when they began to “harden” their sound. More specifically: UK Subs. Rudimentary hardcore punk played by knowledgeable dudes who have been at it for decades and know when to throw in some bells and whistles (feedback) and quick stops to keep it interesting. Unlogistic: What the? Transitioning between straight-up screamed male/female vocals, blast beat hardcore to deconstructing fascist speeches with synth rhythms, and then building on top of both for some melodic ‘90s emotive punk, this band is pretty busy conceptualizing a sound of their own with these twelve inches. Unlogistic would fit very well on Geykido Comet’s Your Machinery Is Too Much For Me!!! compilation. –Daryl Gussin (Rejuvenation/Positively Negative/Emergence/Falling Down/Wee Wee/Small Budget)


CRESS / BURNT CROSS:
Split: EP
There’s no way you can lose with this split. Two of the best present day anarcho bands on the planet on one record. The last thing I had heard from Cress was their split with Doom, and that was sometime back. This pretty much sounds like they did ten years ago—straightforward delivery, with some experimentation in the sound, such as on “Amongst the Slaughter” that has a windblown sample to underscore the cold and bleak message of the song. Burnt Cross once again tear it up with their urgent delivery. Paul Marriot sounds like he really means it in his vocal delivery. The words are spit out with venom and there’s no hiding behind opaque imagery. There’s no head scratching over the line, “Right wing’s on the rise, put a boot in its fucking face” from the song “Paths to Persecution.” Burnt Cross are one band that I’m stoked every time I see they have a new record out. Looking forward to the next. –Matt Average (Loud Punk, loudpunk.com)


COYOTE SLINGSHOT:
First Word of Evil Omens: 7”
Coyote Slingshot is apparently a one man band, made up of teenager Dom Rabalais from Iowa. The cover of the 7” is a watercolor painting of him, with a feathered headdress (normally I’d take offense at someone playing Indian by wearing a headdress, but at least he’s from Iowa, where the Plains Indians who wore feathered headdresses resided.) and a sleeveless T-shirt with Black Flag bars, but with Neutral Milk Hotel’s name across the top: a quirky juxtaposition. And while those two names might be a good start in getting a feel for what Coyote Slingshot is about, they are definitely greater than the sum of those two parts. Coyote Slingshot opens up with “So Long Silly Rabbit,” with peppy piano plucking which bursts into dense, brooding synths, guitars loaded with fuzz and feedback, and vocals sung like a schoolyard rhyme. This becomes the template for the rest of the songs here. Definitely sharing in the jubilant irreverence of Neutral Milk Hotel and the rest of the Elephant 6 bands, but with a world-weary depth that normally wouldn’t be expected (by this grumpy old curmudgeon) of a teenager. This is a tremendous first release and I look forward to, hopefully, many more. –Jeff Proctor (Super Secret)


CREDENTIALS, THE:
Routines: CD
They sound like young guys who yell like they’re street punks, yet won’t admit they’re a pop punk band. The record is pretty high energy, to the point where it actually surprised me when there was a break in between songs. It’s a little sloppy at times, but the heart is there and they don’t wear out their welcome. –Joe Evans III (Traffic Street)


CREEPS, THE:
Follow You Home: 7”
Really solid power pop with an overall nostalgic feel—the sort of music that sounds best when you’re staring at your ceiling in the middle of the night. The Creeps are a pretty good band, but they make an even better case study for the last eight years of pop punk. (As a point of reference, eight pop punk years is roughly equivalent to 2.5 Dischord years) In 2003, the Creeps were channeling sci-fi-era Lillingtons channeling the Ramones. Note, that’s a lot of channeling. Songs included, “I Broke Your Hymen (You Broke My Heart)” and “My Girlfriend Hates the Ramones.” I’m pretty sure that none of the songs on this latest record are a reference to anything related to the Queers, Ramones, or Screeching Weasel. I’m curious to hear more from this band’s current incarnation. If this were a cereal, it’d be Golden Grahams, one of the key cereals of my youth, which was refurbished and repackaged in various incarnations (For further reference, see, “Contested Territory: The Curious Relationship between Golden Grahams and French Toast Crunch.”) –Maddy (It’s Alive)


COUNTDOWN TO ARMAGEDDON:
Turn into Shadows: Cassette
This is some decent U.S. crust punk: dual vocals, abrasive guitars, rumbling percussion, and dark low end. The best song of the five is “Like Animals,” which is mid-tempo and has a darker and more forlorn tone, which sings about torture via the military and the government. It’s also a good break from the faster numbers on here which remind me of Disrupt, only these guys are more raw and intense. Nice packaging for this as well—silver j-card/lyric booklet with black ink. –Matt Average (countdowntoarmageddon@hotmail.com)


COCONUT COOLOUTS:
Punk House: 7” EP
“Punk House Pt. 1” is slow and hypnotic in a post-punky way. “Punk House Pt. 2” is a bit more up-tempo and shorter, but similarly minimalist in approach. “Yeah, Right” is a short, fast punker ditty. –Jimmy Alvarado (myspace.com/kenrocksplastic)


CIRCE LINK:
California Kid: CD
With all the over-the-top California summer of love hippy art on the CD packaging, I thought that the cover was a joke. I was wrong. This is actually really generic “rock” that would probably be played by dudes in designer jeans who studied closely at the feet of Bon Jovi and the later Goo Goo Dolls, but decided they needed to tone things down a bit more with a singer who probably honed her chops doing the sassy version of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” with the local Stevie Ray Vaughn cover band. I guess oatmeal rock may be the best way to describe this? –Adrian (Blackwings Media)


CHRISTIE FRONT DRIVE:
Self-titled: CD
Reissue of their LP from 1996. I ignored these guys when they were around because I had thought they were a screamo band, and there’s only so much of that shit one should subject themselves to. However, Christie Front Drive are not screamo at all. This is more like second (or third wave?) emo along the lines of None Left Standing, Juno, Jimmy Eat World, and Braid. Tuneful rock with quiet parts that aren’t overdone or overdramatic. The songs build up and hover in the air with a melancholic presence that permeates every song. Even the vocals sound distracted and down. I find I like the material that strays off the patch and delves into creating something like “Coda” is the most interesting. Comes with a DVD of their final show. –Matt Average (Magic Bullet, magicbulletrecords.com)


CHLAMYDIOT:
Live Your Life to a Blast Beat: CD
Drum and bass duo from Fargo, ND like godheadSilo before them, however I find this is far more tuneful and listenable while maintaining the same intensity, range, and depth and all within a lo-fi, DIY context. This is some ferocious, fuzzed-out stuff. The last number is a remarkably spare and faithful Beat Happening cover of their tune “The This Many Boyfriends Club,” complete with feedback and drum clicks. I get the feeling these guys geek out on the Electrical Audio boards for tips on tape looping and other forms of audio manipulation. Even if they don’t, I say well done. –Jeff Proctor (myspace.com/chlamydiot)


CHALLENGED, THE:
Loaded Language: CD
Early Green Day style pop punk (mostly straight forward, with a little bit of fancy guitar licks thrown in, like before they signed to Reprise and started pretending they weren’t as capable of playing their instruments). Some of the songs get to be a little long for my attention span, but the occasional bits of dueling/trading lead vocals keeps it interesting. –Joe Evans III (Rally, rallyrecords.com)


CHEAP FREAKS:
Play Four Songs: 7”
Wham—really plucky fast start makes me think of a ‘60s psych vibe with real motivation. “Nowhere to Go” starts the flipside ripping. No reason to sit on your ass when you can get the song blasting right away. Bada bada bada bop! Bada bada bada bop! Whaaaoo! Shit yeah, let’s do this. Lo-fi garage that pays the bill. –Speedway Randy (Big Neck, bigneckrecords.com)


CEREMONY:
Rohnert Park: LP
A friend of mine recently told me to check out Ceremony, a Northern California hardcore band that takes their name from a Joy Division song. Seeing that it was on Bridge Nine—a label notorious for a plethora of youth crew bands—I was dubious but became impressed upon listening to Rohnert Park, Ceremony’s latest release. While previous releases fall into a stereotypical fast, gang vocal hardcore sound, the thirteen songs on this album come off sounding much more like Black Flag meets the Dicks. The vocals are snotty and full of angst with the music ranging from aggressive to the occasional ethereal. Tracks such as “Into the Wayside Part II” and its follow up, “Into the Wayside Part III” include homemade audio samples with some actual singing, too. But the majority of this is quick hardcore with lots of early punk influence shining through. As I’ve mentioned in past reviews, the key here is the band is obviously not playing their influences (in interviews I’ve seen them include Sunny Day Real Estate, Beat Happening, Deerhunter and obviously Joy Division as bands they’re into), which makes for a more original take on the music. Songs such as the opener, “Into the Wayside Part I/Sick” and “Terminal Addiction” are standouts with catchy lyrics that retain intensity and aggression. Rohnert Park isn’t by any means the best album of 2010, but it’s the attention to subtle things such as the bottle tapping on “Terminal Addiction” or the trudging, emotionless music and vocals of “The Doldrums (FriendlyCity)” that matches the song title so well, which make this a refreshing album. As the hardcore kids used to say (or maybe they still do?), get this or pose. –Kurt Morris (Bridge Nine)


CASTAVET:
The Echo & the Light: LP
No one is exactly sure what caused the mass emo extinction between 2004 and 2005. Devastation of their habitat and/or competition for precious resources? Were the pop punk bands better able to exist in a world without HeartattaCk and Punk Planet? Or were the emo bands absorbed into the pop punk DNA through interbreeding between the two? Whatever the reason, Castavet is an evolutionary relic. Its vestigial tail defiantly wags intricately woven emo in pop punk’s face. The delicate guitar work draws from a deep math-inspired well, but, unfortunately, when the vocals kick in its all Small Brown Bike from there, giving this an already dated feel, making this a living fossil. –Jeff Proctor (tinyengines.net)


CARNIVORES:
If I’m Ancient: CD-R
This Atlanta band trades in pretty all right retro-psychedelic-garage punk in the Black Lips, King Khan vein. There are also a few excursions into the reverb-drenched tropicalia that early Abe Vigoda specialized in on songs like “Parent’s Attic” and “’Cause She Never Stops.” As a whole, this is a decent enough album, and I’m sure I would enjoy these guys live, but my real disappointment is that the first track is so awesome. “Feral Children” is this absolutely glorious wash of noise that sounds like the Seeds as interpreted by Sonic Youth after doing large amounts of speed. The band comes close on a few songs, but never equals the sheer manic gnarly of that first song. That said, this is still a pretty solid release that I can get behind for a garage fix. –Adrian (Double Phantom, doublephantom@gmail.com)


CAMBRIDGE:
This Is Not a Victory: CD
With melodic structures and galloping drums, this second full-length from a quartet out of Canada is full-throttle hardcore. Imagine Jawbreaker on crystal meth. Just listening to this will make you sweat. Attacking militarism, American greed and corruption, Cambridge’s sharp, articulate lyrics are rooted in traditional political punk. “Kubark” has a hint of early The Sounds Of Animals Fighting, while “Hole in the Ground” throws in a one of the best guitar solos I’ve heard in a while. Cathartic and inspiring, Cambridge delivers again. Recommended. –Kristen K (Rebel Time, rebeltimerecords.com)


CALEB LIONHEART:
Climbing Up a Mountain, Just for the View: CD
Politically and socially aware pop punk is still pop punk. And that means it comes with all the baggage that pop punk normally comes with. With the exception of some bands that meld other styles with their poppyness, most pop punk bands just come off sounding weak. And despite their passion for the subjects they’re singing about, Caleb Lionheart (which is the name of the band, not just one person) still seems to lack the energy and intensity I’d prefer when I hear about subjects like poverty and inequality and see pictures of guitarists rocking out and lead singers shirtless and sweaty at a basement show. –Kurt Morris (barrettrecords.net)


BYRDS OF PARADISE:
“Omega Man” b/w “Members': 7”
Omega Man is a solid 7”. Byrds Of Paradise aren’t too far removed from Hüsker Dü and the Wipers. They play solid ‘80s-era punk/hardcore with ‘60s folk rock/British Invasion eclecticism. So while you get the aggression and simplicity of hardcore in this 7”, you also get those great, quick chord progressions of the early Beatles and Love thrown in at just the right moments to create movement. No lyric sheet is included with “Omega Man”; song seems to be about loss of identity—subject matter Bob Mould handled really well. The B side, “Members,” isn’t as memorable as “Omega Man,” but carries its weight. –Ryan Leach (Don Giovanni, dongiovannirecords.com)


BURNING LOVE:
Songs for Burning Lovers: LP
While I love the kick in the stomach that Burning Love can provide, I feel like this album is pretty inconsistent. The energy and vocal delivery vastly varies between songs— which I don’t understand, since it’s been the same vocalist the entire time—whereas the prior 7”s were full-blast attacks. Thankfully, on the metal/punk spectrum, Burning Love is still leaning away from the Reeboks and mullets. –Daryl Gussin (Deranged)


BURNING LOVE:
Songs for Burning Lovers: LP
If you ask me, a full length as a follow up to a couple of spot-on 7”s is the logical next step. But it could also potentially blemish an otherwise near perfect body of work. However, if said full length happens to include most of the songs on those previously released records, your fears of disappointment might be eased a bit after reading the track listing. For the uninitiated: Burning Love, and their hardcore roots, dared to set foot into the enemy soil that is metal and hard rock. Fusing influences from genres that want nothing to do with one another doesn’t necessarily guarantee a recipe for success and rarely works. Dee Snider hair, custom guitars, and Jack Daniels sponsorship have nothing to do with this record. Instead, you are treated to the sounds of a band who probably argues about whether they would rather listen to Discharge or Motörhead for the next long drive in the van. The only way you could possibly go wrong with this record is by not owning it. –Juan Espinosa (Deranged, derangedrecords.com)


BULLY:
Self-titled: Cassette
Pretty straightforward thrashcore; I liked it. There isn’t much here that’s startlingly new, but Bully pulls off a proven sound admirably. There really isn’t much else to add here, except for a few moments in which Bully sound strangely influenced by Verbal Assault (in that there is kind of a graceful, swirling fluidity to the melody). Lyrically, this is fairly typical for the genre: songs about (self-imposed) alienation, the disintegration of society (yay!), etc. This is a solid effort that I like better with each listen. Also, an MP3 download link is included if you’ve shit-canned the tape deck some time in the past. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Mind Melt, mindmeltrecords@gmail.com)


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