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· 1:Razorcake #79 Now Available
· 2:L.A. Zine Fest 2014 by Andy Garcia
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· 4:Record Reviews in Razorcake #79
· 5:Record Reviews in Razorcake #79


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Razorcake #79
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Record Reviews

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PROCEDURE, THE:
Rise of New Reason: CD
Emo and hardcore mix about as well as Kool-Aid and frog piss. –Jimmy Alvarado (Blackout)


POPULAR SHAPES:
Bikini Style: CD
Loosely, very loosely, the Popular Shapes are in the same camp as The Lost Sounds, the A-Frames, and Le Shock (RIP). Hyper-angular, almost robotic voiced, whelped guitars, Wire-loving, Gang of Four-idolizing, Stick Men With Rayguns-admiring punk for animated mannequins. Thereís nothing wrong with them, and I find myself really enjoying parts of songs, but like a spice that slips off the side of your tongue instead of blooming right in the middle, I canít hold my arms up in the touchdown position when listening to the Popular Shapes. Whatís weirder is that, on repeated listens, Iím both liking it more and liking it less. Huh. If you donít squint at adventure and donít need straight-ahead melodies holding your hand all the way through a song, I say give Ďem a chance. Iíll sit here and see if it grows on me. –Todd Taylor (On/On Switch)


PLEBE, LA:
Conquista 21: CD
Think Voodoo minus the ska and with a much better grasp of the Spanish language. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.laplebe.com)


PREACHERíS KIDS, THE:
Wild Emotions: CD
Retro-garage punk with enough Cochran, Bo Diddley and the Pagans in the mix to lend authenticity. Not a bad listen and I bet they raise quite a ruckus live. –Jimmy Alvarado (Get Hip)


PLEASURE FOREVER:
Alter: CD
If Tom Waits were thirty years younger and had a hard-on for college rock, I bet his band would sound just like this. –Jimmy Alvarado (Sub Pop)


PENNYWISE:
From the Ashes: CD/DVD
I wonít deny my past. The year was 1991. Iíd been in college a couple years. Then, as now, I was poor. At the time, in Flagstaff, Arizona, the cheapest way I could sample new music was the used cassette bin at an independent record store. They were three-buck gambles. Pennywiseís self-titled made it through some rough winters and the roulette of putting a cassette into the Kraco tape-eating machine. I played that tape multiple hundreds of times. It was one of those auto-repeat players. On the inside cover illustration, one of the members looked like wrestler Steven Nash (long hair, goatee, sunglasses) and another guy had ďfreestyle skaterĒ hair (the feathery hair-blower swoop). I was still a rabid Bad Religion devotee, and Pennywise had the melodic, tight, muscular punk down to a tee. It was seamless and tough, like a ball bearing. It was perfect for driving and wishing harm on the entire hippie race. I was, largely, in a musical vacuum. To this day, I donít have cable TV, donít know much about the alignment of snowboard companies and extreme sports to whatever music theyíre pumping. There was no good radio station for hundreds of miles. When I moved to LA in í96, I got the chance to see Pennywise a couple of times and interviewed them twice. They were very nice, but, man, their fans, by and large, were almost as big of dicks as NOFXís fans. Meaty dudes with sexual/aggression issues and backward baseball caps punched and pulled one anotherís clothes off, circling in an ever-more-sweaty bliss of dirt and sweat. It was like watching a movie where you like the soundtrack but it didnít equate to what youíre seeing. I had such different ideas in my brain when I played their tape, window down, through the forest, on roads where I wouldnít pass another car for at least an hour. Not one to hate a band by who they attract, Iíd still pick up their releases, one after another. Partially, it was nostalgia. Partially, I really liked them. Enter From the Ashes. In the past twelve years, Pennywise has gotten more politically savvy and tighter as a unit. Theyíve always been a little bit more than pro Ė and thank equipment manufacturers frequently. Each album is sonically a little better than the previous. And although I enjoy parts of this album, I canít help but feel that theyíre painting themselves into an ever-contracting corner. Sure, all of the elements theyíve help define in previous albums are there, but the punk rock elements in their songs sound like theyíve been in captivity for too long. Their musical beast is no longer feral. Itís been caged in and trained to a form of Pennywise-ical musical perfection. I think thatís their intention. (The DVD spends some time in showing the great pains they go through in recording an album.) But in doing so, for me, Pennywise has become more and more devoid of snarl, dirt, grit, and the unexpected explosions that I really enjoy in current bands. They want, and make, clean, proficient punk. I want dirty punk that leaves a rash and an infection. Ironically, their mostly pop songs, like ďYesterday,Ē with a piano interlude, become their strongest efforts for me, because it stretches them, if even a little bit. –Todd Taylor (Epitaph)


PLAN B:
Picturesque: CD
Itís nice to see a bunch of God-boys singing about not getting the girl. Lord knows I wouldnít go near the whiney little dudes. –Megan Pants (Dirty Work)


PINHEAD GUNPOWDER:
Compulsive Disclosure: CD
I actually jumped around when I saw this, and I can be a pretty lazy fuck. I seriously canít understand why anyone wouldnít love Pinhead Gunpowder. Theyíre still poppy, still simple, still just so catchy. Itís only nine songs, which leads me to play it a minimum of two times every listen. Itís the kind of album that your favorite song is always the one that youíre listening to for each song throughout the whole album. Perfect for mix tapes, car rides, and dancing around. –Megan Pants (Lookout)


PINK SWORDS:
One Night High: CD
What do you get when you take the dirt out of trash rock? This. I donít know if itís in the recording, but it just comes across so clean. There could be something there, but I lose it in the sterility. This makes me think of office girls going out for a night on the town and so they trade in their suit-dress for a mini skirt and a spiked bracelet thinking that theyíre so bad. However they do thank some awesome bands that you should check out if you havenít yet: Riverboat Gamblers, The Ends, and the Motards. –Megan Pants (Mortville)


OZOMATLI:
Coming Up: CDEP
I have been on a Latin kick for a few years now and I still havenít learned the language. Right at the point when I need a change from the usual, Ozo puts out a new teaser EP. Excited like a little girl getting her first Barbie, I rushed out to get this. After self-releasing their debut EP and recording two full lengths on Interscopeís Almo label, they jump ship and sign to a jazz label. From what I hear on this six-song release, nothing has changed from the label transfer. In fact, the songs seem more focused. The songs still have that party vibe that has lured thousands into their fan base. The mixture of funk and Latin makes for the horrifying sight of this Asian man trying to dance. At least I do it in the privacy of my home so I wonít leave mental scars when people see me at shows. They may not be punk but they are more politically active than most. –Donofthedead (Concord)


OSCURO:
Self-titled: CD
Moody, atmospheric instrumental music that would no doubt compliment your average indie film quite nicely. –Jimmy Alvarado (Pascal)


OPERATORS 780, THE:
Power Version: CD
Yet another ska/rocksteady record to wholly ignore for the derivative umpteenth-generation, played-out pilf it is. Canít wait Ďtil punta-core is the next big thing, Ďcause, much as I love the original stuff, this focus on only one Caribbean rhythmic style is beyond ridiculous. Fuck, even the Skatalites branched out now and then. –Jimmy Alvarado (Power Version)


PANSY DIVISION:
Total Entertainment: CD
PD shouldnít need an introduction, but itís been awhile since Jon Ginoli and company have released a new LP. I fell for PD in 1994 when they put out the Jack U Off 7Ē and itís nice to hear that not much has changed in the ten-plus years since they started. The song writing has a formula and the words have always been more shocking and ground breaking than the music, but they have something charming about them that is still fresh even after a five year break. –Guest Contributor (Alternative Tentacles)


PEELANDER-Z:
P-Bone Steak: CD
Self-described as ďThe Japanese Noodle Samurai Punk Band,Ē Peelander-Z is one weird bunch. Three Japanese guys from New York get some costumes together and decide to rock out. Vocals remind me of a cross of Biafra mixed with the guy from F.O.D. whoís name escapes me. The songs have that late Ď70s, early Ď80s punk sound. The lyrics are either in broken English or Japanese. If you want something silly and has that garage feel, this is your new favorite band. –Donofthedead (Swell)


OI POLLOI:
Fuaim Catha: CD
Oi Polloi are a long-time, multi- and-shifting member band out of Scotland. Politically, they take a stance similar to Crass (anarchism), while incorporating many of the same ethics and politics: anti-police, pro-animal, anti-industrialist, gay-friendly, pro-everyoneís-land, anti-capitalist. Musically, one can really hear the influence these guys have had on the US band, Toxic Narcotic. Aside from the drum-circle monologue poem that opens this long CD up, the two bands can both play convincing, primitive thrash. Then they can switch effortlessly to into slower folkloric, traditional numbers without betraying either approach to music. Itís a lot to chew on in one large bite and the politics are extremely blunt, but after repeated listens, this has grown on me. Thereís surprising bits all over it. –Todd Taylor (Combat Rock Industry)


NO RETREAT:
Pray for Peace: CD
Even with anti-war lyrics, cookie monster metal sucks ass. –Jimmy Alvarado (Da Core)


NO DECENCY:
This Is the Reason: CD
I almost always wince when people I sorta know hand me a piece of music. Itís not that I donít wish them well, Iím just not so big on having to tell bands that I think their music sucks. One of the axioms to reviewing music is that so many really nice people make really bad music. That all said, No Decency has quickly become one of my current favorite punk/hardcore bands in the LA area. Not only is lead singer/guitarist Aaron able to spawn a stage-diving session of four, with a running start from the kitchen at a house show, these three guys have learned their lessons well. And fast. Theyíre young and ultra-excited/ borderline retarded (in the best ways, I assure you). The musicís a great blend of Hot Water Music (for the slower, anthemic, fist-in-the-air parts), Strike Anywhere (for the house-is-on-fire, keep-playing bits), those hidden broken-back melodies in Panthro UK United 13 that most bands keep missing, and they bring a couple extra rounds of ammo of their own to the fight. So itís catchy, smart, rebellious, and shoots up the goddamn place. Not only are their hearts in the right place, they can play in a way thatíll make you care about what theyíre singing, too. On their website, theyíre promising to have hats you can drink beer out of for sale really soon. –Todd Taylor (Destroy All Records)


NICOTINE:
School of Liberty: CD
Here is a band going strong for ten years now. This Japanese band is supposedly described as the Japanese NOFX. I donít hear it. I hear a little Pennywise mixed with the Swedish band Venerea and a little Snuff thrown in for flavor. Thereís seventeen tracks total and I was able to listen to all of them. That is no small feat when this music junkie listens to a ton of shit. The songs are super tight and infectious. The lyrics might not make sense but they sure follow the music. The musicians are as tight as the production. The band seems to be able to stop on a dime. It sounds like they really worked hard on the songs. They let them mature before recording. All in all, these guys take the whole melodicore thing and keep the bar raised. They know that the melody is the hook and Iím hooked. There are so many bands that try to play this style of music and so many who donít get it. –Donofthedead (Asian Man)


NEW MEXICAN DISASTER SQUAD:
Self-titled: CD
Iíve been searching really hard to find a melodic hardcore band that can pick up where Kid Dynamite left off, but more and more, Iím seeing what a tough thing that is. When I first popped in this New Mexican Disaster Squad, I thought I had a candidate for a carrier of the Kid Dynamite torch. The singer has the ability to switch from singing to screaming and still sound good, and to race through lyrics really quickly without completely losing coherence. The guitars blend some nice hooks into the songs, and the drummer keeps things moving. The songs start and finish pretty quickly. Still, after a few songs, my attention starts to wane. I start to feel like Iím listening to a three-song seven inch four times in a row, not one, twelve-song album. If this had been a three-song seven inch, I wouldíve been really stoked on it. As it stands, this album is good background music, but I was hoping for more. –Sean Carswell (A-F)


NEW BOMB TURKS:
Switchblade Tongues, Butterknife Brains: CD
Bear with me. The New Bomb Turks are the Dunkiní Donuts of garage rock. For awhile they seemed to be everywhere. Almost everybody with an ounce of musical taste agreed that they were a high water mark for the game, neck and neck with the Devil Dogs and the Mummies. They appeared to be on a long, constant tour and seemed to have a release every month for five years straight. I can remember a stint when I saw them three times in four months without really even trying. From Ericís often imitated overdrive vocals to the adrenal stab to the heart guitars, to the almost supernatural songwriting sense, to their rock solid, no-earthquake-can-break-it rhythm section, there was no chink in the armor. Thereíve been no bad New Bomb Turks songs. Sure, some are better than others, but none of them slurped shit. Donuts. People, such as myself, who appreciate the fine art of deep frying and cheap, plentiful coffee realize there are far too many pale imitators, far too many ways to fuck up the seemingly simple ingredients. In LA, there are no Dunkiní Donuts. I get an acute pain every time I take a chance on mom and pop donut shop and the apple fritter crumbles like a stale dough turd and the coffee tastes like used oil. New Bomb Turks. I get an acute pain every time I take a chance on some pouty motherfucker who screams ďbrothers and sistersĒ or ďHallelujahĒ while their designer corporate garage rock sounds like acid poured in my ear (or a publicist spewing in my ear). I canít fault Dunkiní Donuts or the New Bomb Turks institutions for perfecting the game and delivering what Iíve been asking for the entire time. Long, strained metaphors aside, this cover-heavy album of outtakes, a lost EP, and harder-to-find international releases proves the continued power of band that can make odds and ends sound like a fully realized album thatís sweet and fuckiní smokes. –Todd Taylor (Gearhead)


NETWORK, THE:
Money Money 2020: CD/DVD
Looks like the new wave revival is in full swing over at Adeline. Thereís hints of Berlin, Men Without Hats, Bow Wow Wow, some other ones I canít instantly recall (lotta one-hitters back then, you know), but mostly itís redolent of Freedom of Choice Devo, which Iíd be an asshole to even try to deny as a cultural touchstone (nay, milestone). Honestly, I was pretty ambivalent at first, but after a few forced listens, itís started to grow on me. They obviously know what theyíre working with and what to do with it (they all have funny names, like Snoo and Fink, and underpants on their heads, so you canít tell who they are Ė I suspect that Billy Joel fellow from Green Day is one but Iím no authority) and have access to probably the same instruments the original new wavers used (like those keyboards with the handle so you would wear it like a guitar) and, a couple duds aside, the whole package comes off sort of like listening to MTV circa 1983. I only watched the DVD part once because the video gave me a swelling, itching brain, and I donít really know how DVDs work so I probably missed some parts, but Iíll tell you this: thereís naked ladies on there. –Cuss Baxter (Adeline)


MURDER CITY DEVILS:
RIP: CD
This is a recording of the Murder City Devils final show, after keyboardist Leslie Hardy had already left the band. It was also recorded at the end of their final tour, so even though one member was missing, her replacement had gotten pretty good at playing the songs, and the songs on this recording are tighter than Iíd normally expect from a live recording. The recording quality on this is okay. When I listen to it in my truck, a lot of the cooler parts of the songs get absorbed by freeway traffic. Sitting at home, listening to this through a good stereo, though, I actually appreciate the added fuzz of the recording. It makes the CD sound like Iím hearing it bouncing off the concrete walls of a club while my ears are ringing. The Murder City Devils play a solid set here, too, including a pretty even mix of songs from their five-year career. I guess itís a shame that these guys broke up, but all in all, RIP is a pretty good parting shot. –Sean Carswell (Sub Pop)


MUTILATED MANNEQUINS:
Lordship and Bondage: CD
Low-rent goth trying desperately to sound inventive, but ending up sounding trite and rather silly instead. –Jimmy Alvarado (Mutilated Mannequins)


MOTORPSYCHOS:
Self-titled: CD
Note to all aspiring bands: If you feel the need to add the word ďrockĒ to your web address, the odds are itís because you donít. One needs look no further than this release for proof. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.motorpsychosrock.com)


MORSE CODE HEARTBEAT:
Self-titled: 7"
Very arty cover, but the music contained therein was uninspiring metal-cum-hardcore. Purty pink marbled vinyl, though. –Jimmy Alvarado (Grey Sky)


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