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Razorcake #86
Wailing Of a Town, by Craig Ibarra
Razorcake #85
Pale Angels, Imaginary People LP
Toys That Kill / Joyce Manor, Split 7"


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Record Reviews

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ABOVE THEM:
Keep Smiling: CD Single
Two-song CD single from this U.K. punk trio. First song is from their first full length-Blueprint for a Better Time, while the second track is an acoustic reworking of a song from their first EP. Tough to judge a band on six minutes of material, but these tunes have got me amped up to do something nutty—like go grab a Big-Un at a 7-11! Next time send the whole record, boys. –Sean Koepenick (Inhaler, inhalerrecords.co.uk)


YOUNG LIVERS:
Of Misery and Toil: CD
While I “liked” The New Drop Era when it first “dropped” (not funny), for some reason I was quick to kinda shrug it off as yet another “We’re from Gainesville and man we dig HWM” band. It wasn’t until seeing Young Livers play that it really hit me. The on-stage intensity completely floored me, and since that Common Grounds set they’ve become a staple of my daily listening. And, sure, probably no one would be surprised to learn this band is from Gainesville, but they certainly bring a lot more to the table than I initially gave them credit for. The passion on this record (and its predecessor, for that matter) is palpable. But dang, the more intricate harmonies and melodies, both vocal and instrumental, totally rocket Of Misery and Toil to a different level than Young Livers’ debut. I can’t wait to see this band again with these songs in my brain, inevitably shaking an angry-yet-hopeful fist in the air and shredding these vocal chords. Killer. –Dave Williams (No Idea)


ALPHABET, THE:
Demo: CD-R
Energetic indie rock with Built To Spill guitar noodles. Keep an eye out for this band, but do your ears a favor and skip this demo because the recording is so trebly that it hurts to listen to. I kept going, “Hey, this sounds cool!” then turning it up and shouting in pain. –CT Terry (myspace.com/thealphabetva)


YOUNG GOVERNOR:
“Cindy’s Gonna Save Me” b/w “Cannabanoids”: 7”
Is Ben Cook the sleeper Canadian reincarnation (of a non-dead) Billy Childish from the early ‘90s? It seems that every two months, there’s new music by him, be it through Marvelous Darlings, Fucked Up, or Young Gov. I haven’t heard any flat spots. He’s got his aesthetic nailed: exploitation of limitations. And that equals effortless, prolific, insanely catchy songs. “Lo-fi, agitated pop” doesn’t quite do it justice. I’d say just-right-fi punk that’s as much about melody as it is shooken agitation. It’s like if mods, rockers, and punks weren’t allowed wear clothes to show how different they were; instead, they had to fight out their differences naked. With solely talent and instruments. The goal? Writing a song that’d have the whole room singing along by the time the stylus hits the taper-off groove in the center of the record. Young Governor wins again. –Todd Taylor (Dirtnap)


YOUNG GENERALS:
“Reconnecting” b/w “Thirty One Winters”: 7”
I like New Found Glory as much as the next guy—assuming the next guy doesn’t like them—and I like Hot Water Music, but probably much less than the next guy. I’m guessing that is why I think the only redeeming quality of this 7” is that the vocals are low enough in the mix to barely be bothered by them. –Vincent Battilana (Intervention, interventionrecords.com)


X:
Wild Gift: LP
A re-issue of Los Angeles’s X’s second full-length from 1981. The packaging’s gorgeous. The vinyl’s nice and thick. The mastering’s booming. If you’re new to X, here are the crib notes. The first four full lengths—Los Angeles, Wild Gift, Under the Big Black Sun, and More Fun in the New World—are well worth your time and are as good as any mid-paced punk during X’s early tenure. It gets pretty dicey after that. (Ain’t Love Grand was produced by a pop metal dude. Not a great idea. And Billy Zoom had one foot out the door, saying that he’d quit if the band didn’t get more popular. That didn’t happen. Billy left the band for many years in 1986.) In Wild Gift, X mastered the alchemy of twisting crooked country roots into the then-still-new punk blast, planting male and female vocals into that soil, fertilized it with poetry, and it bloomed like a rose garden. X’s early catalog is beautiful, it’s thorny, it was carefully cultivated, and since it’s been properly tended, has lasted decades and is set for a long preservation. As well it should. Highly recommended. (PS: On the back cover, Billy Zoom is sitting on an AllState scooter. Those were the American-sold Vespas that Sears had on their mailorder for only a couple of years. Stylish.) –Todd Taylor (Porterhouse)


X:
Home Is Where the Floor Is: 7”
Here is a re-release of the Australian band X’s 1978 debut single. Shredding early punk that immediately gets rocking in a Damned, U.K. Subs kind of way. Works for me. They re-pressed this and their first LP in time for their first American tour only thirty-two years later. The old geezers sound great live and it’s a real treat to have this record in my collection. –Ty Stranglehold (Rocknroll Blitzkrieg)


WOUNDED LION:
Self-titled: CD
Art + punk, as seen through the lens of early Talking Heads and Velvet Underground (plus a tiny bit of the Muppets). Wounded Lion are pleasantly minimal, sparse, androgynous, mid-paced, and jangly. They’re also secretly funny. The pretension and self-absorption that often goes with this style of music is replaced by a nice dose of humor. If David Byrne or Lou Reed singing about the Degobah System (where Yoda’s from) or Crünchy Stars (most likely an ode to the Swedish Chef’s short-lived Cröonchy Stars cereal (while avoiding a lawsuit)) sounds like a fun time to you, I roundly endorse Wounded Lion. Super solid stuff. –Todd Taylor (In The Red)


WILLFUL NEGLECT:
Both 12” on One LP: LP
Absolutely awesome reissue here! Willful Neglect was a hardcore band out of Minnesota that ran from 1981 to 1984. During that time they record two LPs, both collected here, and a third LP, Big Enough to Get It, that never made it to vinyl, but was issued on the discography CD that came out on Neglected Records in 2003. The music was fast hardcore with some rock elements to give them more mass: think of White Cross, but not afraid to slow down a smidge here and there. “E.M.S.& D.” is a great opener for their debut LP, and a song that will be instantly memorable. Both LPs are great, and there’s a slight progression between the two. The second has a bit more of an edge. They have a weird robot-like intro for “Scratch-N-Sniff” that breaks up the thrash assault. Glad to see bands like this getting the reissue treatment, as it shows a bit more of what was happening at the time than just the usual suspects from the coasts. –Matt Average (Havoc, havocrex.com)


WIDE ANGLES:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Take one: Vocalist sounds like: Beard inside his throat. Band smells like: Beer as a perfume. Lyrics sound like: Depression as a call to arms. Lettering looks like: Cometbus’s handwriting. Summer plans look like: Fest-bound. Sounds like the band listens to: Altaira, Tim Version, and Hot Water Music. Take two: While all the aforementioned is observable and verifiable, good bands always have a mystery; some deeply ponderous, and some, “Huh, I’m not sure why I like it, but I do.” The Wide Angles, although fitting almost too neatly into previous templates and jigs (devices that hold a piece of machine work and guides the tools operating on it; not the dance), I hear a spirit in the Wide Angles. It’ll be interesting to see how they flesh things out. –Todd Taylor (Let’s Pretend / No Breaks)


WHITE WHALE:
Demo: Cassette
Fuzzed-out garage punk played with hardcore intensity and velocity, but still retaining the essential vocal catchiness. Souped-up pop punk that reminds me of Scared Of Chaka, with an underlying weirdness like Monorchid and Skull Control. Terrific shit. Four songs. From Buffalo. –CT Terry (Self-released)


WHITE LUNG:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Was kinda worried, judging from the cover, that I was in for some sorta rock music stuff. Should’ve paid more attention to the label it was on, though, ‘cause what you get is female-fronted punk/hardcore that is more eloquent than those merely pushing for speed ‘n’ meathead points. The songs are more creatively structured than the usual lot, and the guitar shies away from relying on barre chords, but none of the anger is lost in the delivery. –Jimmy Alvarado (Deranged)


WEEKEND WARRIOR / HEIL HIDIOT:
WWHH: 7”
Weekend Warrior: First tune is a bit of mid-tempo hardcore with snotty vocals and nihilistic lyrics. Second tune has lotsa interesting time changes and lyrics lambasting bill collectors. Heil Hidiot: Female-fronted thrash from Italy that gives some “ugly fat man” a good dressing down, urges the listener to “kill your boyfriend now,” and laments the fact they have no PMA. –Jimmy Alvarado (Mass Media)


WARVICTIMS:
Domedagen: CD
To the untrained ear, this may sound like a bunch of noise. But to those of us with refined and exquisite taste in music, a band like Warvictims is noise for sure, but one hell of a glorious noise. Prolific has hell with what seems to be a good standard of quality control—they unleash another face-melting blast of D-beat raw punk. You get fourteen songs of unrelenting speed and mayhem. Distortion is high, speed even higher, urgency undeniable, and the vocals are spit out at a rapid pace, yet it’s not some grindcore burp. This is hardcore punk rock, without a doubt. They slow the pace down for a couple seconds in the middle of the song “The Face of Extinction” then open it back up full throttle. The guitar solos are short and abrasive. Seriously sounds like an air raid siren in “Skarprattarna.” All fourteen songs are solid and scorching, and, in many instances, this would get boring quick, but when done properly you’re left wanting more at the end of the ride. One of those discs where “play loud” truly applies. –Matt Average (C.A.H., cahrecords.com)


WAKE:
Surrounded by Human Filth: 7”
The first side was three songs of face-ripping-off grind. Fast as fuck with vocals that go from shrieks that will strip paint from the walls to growls that will register on the Richter scale, followed by pounding blast beats. The other side is one epic track of all the crust that you need. It sort of reminds me of Catharsis. The lyrics are about cannibals and zombies; fun, gory stuff like that and then some about hating the daily grind. Intense record that definitely stands out from the grind/crust ghettos. –Craven (Hearing Aids)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Untitled 21: A Juvenile Tribute to Swingin’ Utters: CD
I’m sure I’ll get some flack for having an opinion about this (because, you know, people who review records aren’t supposed to have an opinion) but isn’t it a bit too soon to release a tribute record for a band that is currently still active? As of May 2010, the Utters are still releasing records and are sparsely playing shows in their native California. Isn’t this like getting a gravestone pre-made for someone who’s still alive? Whatever, on to the music. I was quite impressed with the great mix of well and lesser-known bands that contributed to this disc. Fucked Up is sandwiched between La Plebe and Flatfoot 56. The bummer about tribute discs is when a band practically copies a song note for note. Then again, Useless ID’s complete remake of “Unpopular Again” as the lead off song gives you the impression that you’re in for a bad time. Thank goodness for Off With Their Heads’ awesome take of “Next in Line” and even Street Dogs do a great live version of “The Dirty Sea.” The rest are either barely memorable or utterly (hyuck, hyuck) boring. The rad cover art is courtesy of good old Johnny “Peabucks” Bonnel but, unfortunately, there isn’t much more art to behold. Less discriminating and much more committed fans will surely enjoy this. I re-gifted my copy to a friend who I knew would dig it. –Juan Espinosa (Red Scare, redscare.net)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Rodentia: The Best of Dark Roots Music: 2 x CD
I discovered that this is a perfect record to listen to while driving the back roads of western South Carolina at midnight. That said, if someone were to make a film in the spirit of Flannery O’Connor’s “Southern Gothic” style or one that features a bunch of zombies wreaking havoc in Bill Faulkner’s YoknapatawphaCounty, this would be the perfect soundtrack. Some songs are alt-country, some are alt-bluegrass, and some sound like a more malevolent and creepy version of early Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds. A few songs even sound like a folksy, hillbilly versions of street punk or ‘80s synth-pop. The thirty-plus tunes on this are diverse in sound, but the overall spirit of the record is remarkably consistent, touching those dark corners of life that are filled with fear and dread and occasional touches of black humor. Awesome. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Devil’s Ruin)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Dangerous Intersections VI: 7”
No High Fives: Probably the first pop punk band I’ve ever heard that plays in dropped d tuning. I’m guessing that if Havoc put out a Fifteen record, it would sound like this. Manix: Minneapolis pop punk in the proud tradition of Rivethead, Dear Landlord, etc. This is probably the best song of theirs I’ve heard to date. Humanoids: If Rivethead really played up their Screeching Weasel influence, they’d probably sound like this. Taxpayers: Kind of jazzy, they start off like a cross between the Influents and Grabass Charlestons, until they ramp it up towards the end. Kind of the odd b and out on here, but I dig it. –Joe Evans III (Traffic Street)


VULTURES UNITED:
Savages: CD
Right off the bat, I liked the front cover featuring natives eating ice cream that had me crack a smile. Then I noticed it was on Red Scare, which meant odds were good I would like the record. Vultures United is a lot less poppy than what I normally think of as the “Red Scare sound,” but strong stuff none the less. Vultures United are more about artfully treading the line of quirky and rocking post punk with similarities of Nation Of Ulysses or Paint It Black: herky jerky song structure and shouted vocals that never manages to obscure the quality of the hooks. I like this subgenre of punk rock and this is an impressive debut album from a California band to keep your eye on. –Jake Shut (Red Scare)


VERMILLION SANDS:
Self-titled: CD
Must admit I picked this up because this band is named after a short story collection from J.G. Ballard. A mix of Americana, ‘60s pop like Nancy Sinatra, a fuzzed-out guitar, and other odds and ends, this is more of a laid back listen; light and easy going. More fun than dire. Strip away the melancholy of Mazzy Star and you get Vermillion Sands. –Matt Average (Alien Snatch, aliensnatch.com)


WAKAMONOS, LOS:
4 Fancy Eleki Hits!!: 7” EP
Picture if you will a bargain basement White Stripes, circa ten years ago, who are now Japanese and live by the ocean and smell really crustaceany and play oceany sounding two-piece surf instrumentals that sometimes borrow/beg/steal from source material such as “Blue’s Theme” by Davie Allan and the Arrows. Now picture them devoured by a giant octopus! No one said rock ‘n’ roll is an easy life. BEST SONG: “Blue’s Theme” er um i of course mean “Blue Steamer.” BEST SONG TITLE: “V2.” Who doesn’t love a surf song named after the second Vibrators album? FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Cover blurb states “We Can Play Only Our Originals!” Well, THAT should surely keep Davie Allan’s legal team confounded for the next few months! –Rev. Norb (Go Ape)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Crack Rock City: CD
This is a compilation of Michigan punk bands. I have lived in Michigan for most of my life and have been very involved with live rock music for the last fifteen years or so. I have only ever heard of four (out of twenty!) of these artists. I’ve only seen two live. Either I’m blowing it or these guys are pretty obscure. Most of the stuff on here is pretty bad hardcore punk with no real tunes. It also includes my absolute least favorite band from our state, Ouch Me Arse. So, Todd, if you’re the one who sends me my review materials, you owe me for sending me a CD full of the worst bands my state has to offer. I wasted a whole afternoon listening to this garbage and writing this review, and our local record store won’t even buy it from me. (They laughed at me!) –Ryan Horky (Class Struggle, mmc-nhc.tk)


VACCINES:
Self-titled: LP
What you get here is some speedy garage-y punk from this Seattle band that was around in the late ‘90s/turn of the century. The Vaccines had a track on a Junk Records compilation way back when and they fit right in with the aesthetic of that label. This LP is packaged beautifully, with a full-color eight page booklet and a huge poster to go alongside the colored vinyl. The whole thing appears to be a real labor of love for all involved. The band played all the local haunts and shared stages with everyone from Fear to Valentine Killers to The Bulemics. Fans of the Weaklings, Electric Frankenstein, Zeke, and the like would find a whole lot to like with the Vaccines. –Mike Frame (Wolf Dog)


VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL / THE GOD DAMN DOO WOP BAND:
Covered: 7” EP
I’m a fan. I’m a fan of contemporary, not-the-same bands sharing splits. I’m a fan of said bands covering one another’s songs. Bands are often the biggest fans of other bands. And what better way to show that appreciation than a cover and sharing intimate space on the surface of all holies, the 7”? Vacation Bible School: I’m almost willing to risk a free punch in a dark parking lot without retaliation that at least one of the following is true: one of the guys in the band owns a Rivethead record, one has seriously contemplated a Screeching Weasel tattoo, one has filled in for the Copyrights, or that they’ve hung out shirtless with the Sass Dragons. (All positives in my book.) The God Damn Doo Wop Band: Ladies, not since Grease has cute equaled tough so perfectly. Booted switchblades, crinoline, hand claps, and—what’s it called?—in-tune singing with lots of parts. Where are my pants? Oh, they’ve been charmed right off me again. Damn it. So good. –Todd Taylor (Traffic Street)


UNRULED:
Butchers of Warfare: LP
Did not know that this band from Montreal existed back in the mid ‘80s. With only one 7” under their belt before their demise, it just didn’t cross my radar. Looking at the insert, they have a good amount of shows under their belt from that time period, playing with the likes of MDC, GBH, Discharge, and Dead Kennedys. Not sure what the 7” sounds like, but from what I hear on this LP, they sound like they held their own. Heavily influenced by the U.K. scene, I hear a strong influence of GBH meets the Varukers while adding their touch of metallic guitar into the mix. This resurrection features two original members with the assistance of members from the band Inepsy. A solid release that a newcomer like me would have never guessed was a reformation band. From what I have seen locally in reformations, I would have not given this a chance. –Donofthedead (Schizophrenic)


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