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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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SUGAR STEMS:
Beat Beat Beat: 7”
I’m not sure what a sugar stem is, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that this band is amazing! Super catchy power pop/pop punk. Two songs. Both so catchy, great vocals (vocal gender note: female! Yay!) Kinda Riff Randells-ish, and quite possibly better than the Riff Randells, which is quite the feat! Plus they’re from Milwaukee, my hometown. Plus, the cover art features teeth playing guitar and drums while holding a lollipop! If this were a cereal, it’d be Froot Loops! Yum! Yum! Yum! If this band released an LP, I can’t imagine it not being in my top ten of the year, unless NoBunny released ten LPs! If you like power pop and you don’t get this, you are dumb! –Maddy (Bachelor)


STRUCK BY LIGHTNING:
Serpents: CD
Faceless “hardcore” metal dreck sure to be a hit with the floor punching crowd. –Jimmy Alvarado (translationloss.com)


STREET EATERS:
We See Monsters: 12”EP
Six songs by two Bay Area folks who resurrect the off-kilter punk aggression of Blatz and Flipper and drag it kicking and screaming through the well thought-out energy, simplicity, and harmony of This Bike Is A Pipebomb and Shellshag. The 12” format allows this band to construct songs that pick a direction and slowly—yet confidently—progress in that almost Zen Arcade-type way, as opposed to their previous 7”s. Definitely a fine release, just would have appreciated more than six songs on the record. –Daryl Gussin (Bakery Outlet)


STOLEN HEARTS:
Heart Collector: 7”
I am always excited to check out a new Douchemaster release! This is a label that always seems to pick the best stuff to release, particularly in the overdone and half-assed realm of power pop. This is one of my all time favorite styles of music, but I have been burnt out on it for several years, so it takes a lot to perk up my ears at this point. The Stolen Hearts are fantastic—great songs, great production, and excellent vocals. Focusing on songwriting rather than sounding “vintage” or wearing the right clothes is key, and this band comes through in spades. Reminds me a little of Manda & the Marbles, which is always a good thing. Order this immediately and be sure and pick up that killer Perfect Fits single from Douchemaster while you are at it. –Mike Frame (Douchemaster)


STAR FUCKING HIPSTERS:
Never Rest in Peace: CD
This is the second album from the new band featuring Stza of Leftover Crack and Choking Victim fame. I will go on record and say that Stza (or Sturg, or Scotty; I lose track) related bands have the most consistent record of putting stuff out that I like. In comparison to the first SFH album, Until We’re Dead, this record is a little less eclectic. So while there is nothing quite as amazing as the song “Empty Lives” on this new album, there’s also nothing as bad as the failed attempt at epicness that was the song “Death or Fight.” Everything on Never Rest in Peace fires on all cylinders. The male and female vocals between Stza and Nico de Gallo really make the songs click. The couple of songs with Dick Lucas from Citizen Fish and Subhumans really work, too. I love how the band is able to take black metal style guitar lines and vocals and fuse them with pop punk and ska hooks. Okay, the song “Church & Rape” does sound a little awkward at first. Everything else is aces though. I give this my thumbs up as my favorite slice of catchy cynicism and political discontent since last year’s 1-2-3 punch of Supporting Caste, Until We’re Dead, and The Chemistry of Modern Life. Plus the attempt at an epic closer, “Never Rest in Peace,” actually works this time around. –Adrian (Alternative Tentacles)


SQUIRTGUN:
Broadcast 02.09.08: CD
Wow. They must know this isn’t great, because they’ve included the most ridiculous album cover sticker I’ve ever seen. It’s so lame, I just need to quote the whole thing: “Produced by Mass Giorgini (Alkaline Trio, Anti-Flag, Rise Against) With liner notes by Luis Alberto Urrea, Pulitzer Prize Finalist and author of The Hummingbird’s Daughter. Squirtgun includes former members of Screeching Weasel and Common Rider.” Jesus Christ! I mean, they are really hitting all possible target audiences! (Plus, on a side note, if he’s going to be this lame, why doesn’t Mr. Giorgini highlight his production for the Queers, Groovie Ghoulies, et. al, instead?) And the Pulitzer Prize finalist’s liner notes? Six sentences, dear readers. Six sentences. This is so lame. A few halfway decent pop punk songs, but also a horrible Common Rider cover (“Classics of Love”). If this were a cereal, it’d be the now-defunct Fruit & Bran. This is dumb. –Maddy (Kid Tested)


SPITS, THE:
IV: LP
Listening to the Spits is riding with the Spits. Riding with The Spits is like being inside a beat-up late ‘70s Nova where both the driver and navigator are both barely lucid enough to not sideswipe a church, always arrive at their target destination a little frayed, but are capable of delivering of a collection of sharp razors. (This time, a great album of ten songs.) Somehow, through simple, well-worn denim jacket aesthetics—Ramones, paranoia, punk-as-a-gang, smelly armpit, no-tech fidelity that’s absolutely clear—are able to simultaneously create both the exact same album as the previous three, yet be able to expand on them like mold growing on the inside of a record sleeve that gets into your ears every time the vinyl’s pulled out, plopped down, and spun around. (Here’s my theory: the Spits have one album. They’re still making it. This is the fourth installment of a larger work. Thus, the same name for each album so far.) My hand’s raised. I’m a Spits fan. –Todd Taylor (Thrift Store / Recess)


SPEARS, THE:
Shove: CD
At first listen, this music sounded like the last two-and-a-half decades never occurred as this CD blasted with seamless, slamming punk rock in the vein of Minor Threat. Then, as I went to read the lyrics, I found something even more impressive on the back of the liner notes. There were ten business and/or corporation logos at the bottom of the page. Everyone needs to make money—and free gear would be a gift from heaven for most bands—but ten logos? That’s an endorsement and a half for each of the four band members. The last two-and-a-half decades did occur and it looks like business is booming for bands that sound like Minor Threat. –N.L. Dewart (Jailhouse)


SPASTIC PANTHERS:
Rock’n’roll Beasts: 7” EP
This 7” is eight songs full of blitzing, straight ahead punk. These guys play tight in the pocket with some great stand alone bass interludes, a la “Spastic Panther Anthem” and “The Ballad of Joey Ramone.” It reminds me of 7 Seconds, especially with Spastic Panther’s peep song lyrics in their song “Stand Strong.” –N.L. Dewart (Handsome Dan, handsomedanrecords.com)


SPASTIC PANTHERS:
Rock and Roll Beasts: 7”
First things first: Never write a song entitled “ Anthem.” It is never good. In fact, stay away from referencing your band by name in any song. You’ll never be able to beat the classic Bouncing Souls line “Bouncing Souls/ no one can beat us/ we drink beer and wear Adidas.” That shit is solid gold. As for the Spastic Panthers, it’s meh street/hardcore punk (I admit it, I really don’t know what to classify these guys as) with some interesting parts. One thing is for sure: The bassist knows how to fucking play. –Bryan Static (Handsome Dan, no address listed)


SONOROUS GALE:
Two’s a Crowd: LP
It took me a while to get to this review, because I wasn’t sure exactly what I thought about the record. I listened to it a couple of times but I was still unsure how I felt about it. In the end, I am glad I waited to review it, because it fits my mood much better now. It’s kind of sludgy and slow (with occasional sped-up parts), and more instrumental than not. Made up of two gents from upstate New York, the band also has a guest female vocalist on a couple tracks, which I like a lot. Strangely, the (regular) singer’s voice sometimes reminds me of Greg Dulli from Afghan Whigs. The bass is really nice. The songs—my favorite of which is “Clandestiny”—don’t sound very happy to me. I’m not sure if they constitute a gale, but they’re definitely brewing and brooding. The lyrics are dense and will take a few reads, I think, before I have a better handle on them. There’s a great picture on the sleeve of the band carrying an amp up a flight of stairs. I will listen to this more. –Jennifer Federico (Wrong Foot)


SOMETHING FIERCE:
There Are No Answers: LP

Spores. Fungus. Mold. All flourish in shit, hidden wetness, and darkness. Some’ll kill you outright. Some, it takes years to get into your lungs, and, even then, the malady may be hard to diagnose. You’re taking a shower one day, and unexpectedly die when a lung collapses. So when Something Fierce shine their power pop halogens into the dark, slick, icky madness below, their songs don’t sound like bubblegum. They sound like bubblegum and jammed circular saws, lengths of too-short rope, and spats of far-thrown blood. If Roky Erickson, Fred Cole of The Lollipop Shoppe, and an excellent new century punk pop band got together, I imagine it’d sound something akin to Something Fierce. And that’s something I’ve been looking forward to hearing for years without realizing it. Highly recommended

–Todd Taylor (Dirtnap)


SNUGGLE / NO HIGH FIVES TO BULLSHIT:
Split: 7”
Snuggle play tight and loose pop punk from Seattle with some snarlyness torn between olde heartbreak and vague anti-consumerism. Three dorkus malorki who seem know how to lose girls and party. As for No High Fives: Holy Crimpshrine! Take that as you will (I liked Crimpshrine…). –Andrew Flanagan (1-2-3-4 Go!)


SNUGGLE / NO HIGH 5S 2 BULLSHIT:
Split: 7”
Snuggle: like their regional brethren—Drunken Boat—they take the California pop punk sounds and warp them into a cloudy, rainy, flash flood of epic depression, resentment, and piss-in-your-lemonade punk. Two salvaged tracks from a doomed recording session a couple years back. “Sometimes things don’t work out so good.” I guess not. NH52BS: sure, plenty of people rip Tiltwheel off. Plenty. Of. People. But NH52BS do it with style. Incorporating heavier guitar parts that sludge through the groves, more in common with fellow Denvernians Git Some, than Burritofornia. Spot on stuff. I declare this to be the moodiest pop punk split 7” of the year. –Daryl Gussin (1-2-3-4 Go!)


SNAZZY BOYS, THE:
Self-titled: CD
Punchy and, yes, snazzy punk rock here, courtesy of four strapping Italian lads who deliver some catchy tunes. They could handily share bills with the Briefs and the Regulations with nary a problem. –Jimmy Alvarado (nofrontteeth.net)


SLUDGEWORTH:
Insubordination Fest 2008: CD
Incredible sounding live document of this band’s performance in Baltimore, MD on June 28, 2008. Having seen them at Riot Fest in Chicago the year before, I thought I knew what to expect. Think again. These guys pulled out all the stops during this set and I started getting kind of emotional about it all. I had to tell my festival cohorts that it was just Natty Bo that had gotten in my eyes, not a manmade substance. This is a sweet bookend to their studio work. Buy the bundle with the DVD for extra cheap. No, this is not hyperbole and I was not in any way influenced by the fact that my brother is featured prominently in the CD insert picture. He is wearing sunglasses. –Sean Koepenick (Insubordination)


SILLA ELECTRICA:
Hundir: 7” EP
Raw, straightforward punk rock from Madrid. They may not ever hit warp speed, but they definitely leave no doubt they’re plenty pissed about something. –Jimmy Alvarado (Blind Owl)


SIC & MAD:
Songs for the Revolution: CD
I grabbed this because I noticed that this was basically the Slackers with a different vocalist. My exposure to the Slackers mostly consists of my best friend in New Mexico making the proclamation about once a year that they’re the greatest band in the world. I’m a little less enamored of the band, but still was curious as to what this side project was like. Basically, this is some kind of weird amalgamation of dub, lo-fi, punk, jazz, and talk-sing vocals. It’s more stripped down and rough than the Slackers, but, at the same time, it’s still weirdly chill. With that description, it almost sounds like this could be a third generation Sublime rip-off, but, thank god, this album stays away from being another tired stoner-ska retread. It’s much more of a garagey feel than those types of bands. That said, there are a few problems with this album. Some of the stuff seems more like incomplete ideas rather than finished songs (like what the hell is the deal with the song “She”?). Also, the vocals by Happy seem can get old pretty quick because their pretty limited in range and seem to follow the same laidback cadence for most of the album. There are some interesting ideas that pop up at times, but, for the most part, this feels very much like a side project with more ideas than proper execution. –Adrian (Stubborn)


SHORTCUTS, THE:
30 Pack: CD
Minneapolis pop punk! Five catchy songs about relationships (duh, it’s pop punk!), including a Carbonas reference! Yay! The local comparison would be the Soviettes. With “Hey! Hey! Hey!” and “Come on! Come on!” back-up vocals! I’m really glad that the current pop punk revival has way more girl-led bands than the original Lookout heyday. (I’m not saying that I want Ben Weasel to be a girl, but you know what I mean!) If this were a cereal, it’d be Frosted Flakes! –Maddy (Self-released)


SHITTY LIMITS, THE:
Beware the Limits: LP
Beyond the monkey-fisted initial impact of a completely focused punk band getting down to the business of not fucking around, the U.K.’s Shitty Limits affect the little-understood glandular and deep brain systems. Pituitary punk rock? Endocrine rock’n’roll? Insect instinct? There’s an amazing amount of post-shorn sheep of notes, a chopping down to the inner rings of trees, and an ammunition-like reassembly in Beware the Limits, all ready for the right crack, plunge, or push for the shaped explosions to burst into deep places in your body for maximum affect. Imagine Minuteman-like bursts, swapping funkiness for Wire taughtness. Motivated and spot on. –Todd Taylor (Sorry State)


SHIELDS UP:
Self-titled: CD
Fast, relentless hardcore from Edinburgh, Scotland. It’s tough and tight without resorting to youth crew clichés. The second guitar player keeps it bigger than power chords, adding some interesting melodic bits. At thirteen songs in just under twenty-five minutes, the assault blows by and leaves you panting. Good shit. –CT Terry (Wasted State, wastedstate.com )


SHANGHAI WIRES:
Upsetter Democracy: LP
Fans of The Stitches, listen up! Did you spend the mid- to late-‘90s as I did, scarfing up every 7” release from Witmer/Lohrman and company like it was gold? And, have you been in Stitches withdrawal ever since they went inactive, at least on vinyl? Then Shanghai Wires may well be the band for you. They may be from England, but they have clearly soaked up the vintage Southern California punk rock vinyl so much that it courses through their veins as much as any of their native country’s fine bands do. If I have any criticisms about this at all, it would be that I wish the mix had a little more bottom end to it. Other than that, I’ve played this many times through and it more than holds its own. –chris (May Cause Dizziness, mcdrecords.com)


SHANG-A-LANG:
Sad Magic: LP
Shang-A-Lang is one of the few bands that I actively check in on every few months to make sure I haven’t missed any releases. I stumbled upon their songs a bit before their first 7” was released. It was amazing stuff, and with every release their momentum just keeps increasing. I was the first of my friends to have a copy of this record and waited forever for someone else to get a damn copy so we could talk about how good it was. If I had the money, I would buy everyone I know a copy, but I’m poor and I’d be lucky if this convinces someone, somewhere to buy a copy. So, get off your ass and find this, because you will not find any tighter science. –Bryan Static (Fast Crowd)


SERVO:
Everything: CD
Finally! A discography has been compiled! This band was a favorite of mine for the duration of their short existence from 1997-2000. It all started for me with their Blueprint 7” and the full-length, Everything’s Difficult CD. Both got heavy rotation in my house. A dreamy blend of infectious melodies and strong pop hooks filled the air. I always got a cheery feeling with a hint of despair from their songs. Female-led vocals are delivered with innocence and a striking, honest quality. The bass stood out for me as the driving force of the songs, while the guitar complimented and added texture to the songs. The drums are what add the punk flair to tie everything together. So glad to finally hear songs from various splits that I missed and the unreleased tracks are a bonus. Hope a renewed interest in the band emerges so that a reunion is possible. –Donofthedead (Crackle)


SELMANAIRES, THE:
“Princess Illusionist Frankenstein” b/w “Beneath the Brights”: 7”
Slightly droning, almost psychedelic, Brit-flavored postpunk that makes me think of the phrase “pop sensibilities,” even though I’m not sure why. Slight ‘80s feel, and not at all in a bad way. I initially thought side A had two songs, titled, “Princess Illusionist” and “Frankenstein.” “Princess Illusionist Frankenstein” is my new favorite song title. –Sarah Shay (Rob’s House)


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·It’s Not for Critics
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·MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL #334
·BRAINDEAD, THE
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