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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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RHONDA IS A DEAD BITCH:
Laos: 12” EP
In 2003, my band was on tour and got booked to play a hardcore festival in an arena in Shitballs, Iowa. We were the only guys there without basketball jerseys and chinstrap beards. I decided to take a crap after the first band’s first song and, from the men’s room, with a pair of Sauconys in each adjacent stall, I heard the singer say, “This next song’s about slitting bitches’ throats.” I farted. At the time, metalcore with misogyny-disguised-as-emo lyrics that followed the “you hurt my feelings, so I want to kill you” template was popular. My bandmates and I called that stuff “Kill Your Girlfriend-core” and, for the rest of that tour, would shout, “This next one’s about slitting bitches’ throats!” in between songs on our van’s radio. When I saw the band name Rhonda Is A Dead Bitch, I raised an eyebrow, worried that Kill Your Girlfriend-core was making an unwelcome return. But the first song was reverby garage, without a floorpunch or spinkick part to be heard. Then the next song was a creepy, ascending keyboard melody and the next two were ambient and synthesized, sounding like the score to an artsy student horror film. Well, the band name is still unfortunate to say the least, but the music was pretty interesting. It didn’t stand on its own very well, but it would be very effective playing behind images of people in occult masks, lurching through fields. –CT Terry (PO Box 41162, Des Moines, IA 50311)


RETURNABLES, THE:
Self-titled: CDEP
Really good power pop that sounds like it borrows equally across the ‘78 to early ‘80s timeline, and still manages to sound a bit like a Chicago punk band circa Naked Raygun. This includes four studio tracks recorded in March 2005 and three live songs from a June 2005 show. A month after the show, the singer was killed in a bizarre car accident—a girl driving ninety mph plowed into another car stopped at an intersection. She later said it was a suicide attempt. All three people in the other car died. The girl broke her ankle and only served a few years in prison. Note to the suicidal: please do not kill other people while you’re trying to kill yourself. Thanks to Dirtnap for putting this out. –Maddy (Dirtnap)


RESTORATIONS:
Strange Behavior: 12" EP
Four songs here and they’re all rich with space and breathing room; it’s mid-tempo post punk that meanders rather than thunders along, and it generally works pretty well. It’s the vocals that are the saving grace here—they’re rough and haggard and offset the frequent delicacy of the music itself. Starting out with the first side, “Title Track” and “Linear Notes,” I can definitely understand the references I’ve heard to Lucero, though Restorations are much more playful and odd—dig that weird guitar freakout at the end of “Title Track.” The closer, “Documents,” takes a long and wandering path from start to finish, and closes the record out on an even more slowed-down, somber note. All in all, this one come across as pretty underwhelming at first listen but manages some atmosphere after a few rotations. –keith (Paper + Plastick)


RESISTANT CULTURE:
All One Struggle: LP
This is the second full length, following their debut Welcome to Reality, from this Los Angeles band that has been playing consistently since their inception. Vocalist Anthony has been active since the early ‘80s with Resistant Militia when I first met him. I believe this band is a mutation from past to present. He also did vocals for the second Terrorizer album. This record continues their brand of self-described tribal grind with crust leanings. The vocals are guttural but very phonetic in delivery. The signature in their sound, to me, is their drummer Ben Axiom, who delivers precise drumming that is on point. The guitar delivery is downtuned and almost mathematical. Bass fills the holes and puts the bite in the mix. This recording has more impact, in my opinion, than their previous release. A stronger production gives the songs more brightness. But my preference is still the live experience with this band. A trend I see more and more, this is co-released with Shaman, Profane Existence, Underground Movement, Bloody Lips, Anti-Corp, Patac, and Jornalero Records. –don (Seventh Generation, seventhgenerationrecords.com)


REGIME, THE:
Self-titled: CD-R
Four songs on a CD-R with a photocopied track listing. Is there such a thing as “crusty pop”? It’s just that I can picture these guys with spiked vests and patched-up pants, but rather than singing about the global political climate or our impending doom, they’re singing about girls and it’s kinda catchy. I could be way off base, but I’m working with said photocopy and a website that’s expired... I’d be interested in hearing some more. –ty (Regime)


RAW NERVES:
Self-titled: LP
Not to be confused with Raw Nerve from Chicago. So note the “s” at the end of “Nerves.” This Portland outfit sounds like a cross between Econochrist with early Dead And Gone, and just a little bit of From Ashes Rise lurking underneath. The guitar sound is thick, the vocals are throaty and raspy, and the drum kit is taking a severe pounding. Every song on here is one massive and dense wall of sound. The one thing that sort of works against them is the amount of time changes in each song. A few straight forward songs thrown in would be pretty good. The amount of time changes makes me think the song has stopped and another has started, then a check of the lyric sheet and I see I’m still listening to the same song. A lot of momentum that gets built up also gets lost. This isn’t a terrible record; it just needs some tightening here and there. “Time to Disintegrate,” “Bread or Lead,” “Slave Trade,” and “Taste of Annihilation” are the stand outs. –Matt Average (Inimical, inimical.com)


RATIONS:
For Victory: CD
Raw, angry, political punk that reminds me of a band you’d hear on a Lookout comp in the mid-’90s. You know, the band that didn’t sound remotely like the other bands, but you ended up loving their song and tracking down the LP. This ain’t bad, but would benefit greatly from a slightly less crappy recording and a better drummer. (I’m no recording snob either, but this sounds like it was recorded in a trashcan. Not one of those fancy trashcans either—a really crappy one.) –Ryan Horky (86’d, 86drecordsandfanzine.com)


RATIONAL ANTHEM / BILLY RAYGUN:
Split: 7"
Man, when I hear stuff like this I really feel old. Sarasota, Florida’s Rational Anthem and Portsmouth, New Hampshire’s Billy Raygun deliver a 7” scoop of some pop punk that didn’t really do it for me. Both bands stay in a comfortable zone that feels neither dangerous nor particularly passionate—both traits of what I look for in all music, not just punk rock. Rational Anthem pretty much stick to the formula while Billy Raygun adds a little of the awkward, geeky to the mix to slightly better results. –Garrett Barnwell (Traffic Street/John Wilkes Booth)


RAINBOW PERSON:
Trade, Labour, Vocation: Cassette
There’s a very limited audience for this kind of racket: Chavez fans, math-rock fans, and maybe later-era Rites Of Spring fans. Limited to twenty-five copies, so jump on this if you’re so inclined. –Juan Espinosa (Self released, rainbowperson@usa.com)


QUINTRON:
“Ring the Alarm” b/w “Jamskate”: 7"
“Ring the Alarm” is not a cover of Tenor Saw’s reggae anthem of the same name, but rather an up-tempo, dancey bit of organ ‘n’ drum machine-propulsed bit of punky quirkiness. Ditto for the flip. Fun and totally innocuous. –jimmy (bachelorrecords.com)


QUEERS, THE:
Back to the Basement: CD
Another superb addition to the ever-increasing discography of New Hampshire’s finest. There’s an instrumental and a Black Flag cover. But there’s also the classic songwriting you have come to expect from Joe Queer and the boys. With titles like “Titfuck” and “Fucked in the Head,” would you expect any less? And, really, there is no fucking way this could be a bad Queers record with a drummer named Hog Log behind the kit. Case closed. –koepenick (Asian Man)


PUTAS MIERDAS:
La Nacion Mas Pobre: EP
As far as I know, Mexico is largely ignored and unknown for its great punk/hardcore bands, which is quite a mystery to me since I am fairly certain that a country so large and internally oppressed surely must have some punks screaming into microphones somewhere. Putas Mierdas from Guadalajara are everything I was hoping to hear from the land of my ancestry: pissed off, mid-paced, basic but not bland punk rock drawing influences from the early ‘80s such as Nardcore and Eskorbuto. I hope they don’t take offense to this, but their singer seriously sounds like a punk rock Alex Lora, vocalist for a well-known Mexican rock band called El Tri. Stoked that they’re helping to put Mexico on the punk rock map. –Juan Espinosa (Adelante, adelantediscos@gmail.com)


PRICKS, THE:
Maximum S&M: CD
The ‘50s style pin-up model artwork had me fearing I would have to review some neo-rockabilly album, which I was not looking forward to. Instead, The Pricks deliver twenty three tracks of raging speed punk in under half an hour, with only one song lasting more than two minutes. Reminds me of modern era bands like Zeke, Speedealer, and the Candy Snatchers, with clear references to ‘80s hardcore pioneers like Negative Approach and Black Flag. That being said, The Pricks do not approach the brilliance of any of those legendary acts. The songs are somewhat typical in an unexceptional way and the shrill vocals began to wear on me during repeated plays. –Jake Shut (Rockstar)


PORN STARS OF HORROR / STUPID IN STEREO:
Split: 7”
For a band with one of the worst names ever, the Porn Stars Of Horror are surprisingly rad. Straightforward horror hardcore that gets bonus points for doing something so mind-blowingly obvious that I can’t comprehend how it has never been done before (or how, if it has been done before, I’ve missed it): they turn the “verata clatoo nicto” chant from Army of Darkness into a song. Of course, they lose major points not only because they did not use the official spelling of the chant (which originally appeared in The Day the Earth Stood Still), but because they chant the three words in the wrong fucking order (should be “klaatu barada nikto”). If you’re keeping track, that puts them into negative points. If you’re going to mess with nerd stuff, you best do it right. Stupid In Stereo’s side is a match thematically, even if their pop punk sound doesn’t mesh. They pay tribute to Ash and the evil dead with a song called “Tree Love.” And they spell everything correctly. –mp (Unrepentant)


POOL PARTY:
Pool Party Yeah!: CD
A four-piece band from Iceland being released by a Florida label. This disc has a running time of close to an hour, with the first half being a twelve-song, coherent album that sounds like it was recorded in a legitimate studio. And it’s pretty darn good too, ranging through Ramoneish punk, synth-driven new wave, and power pop. Energetic and amusing party music that appeals to the basest rock and roll instincts, which goes well with the joyfully immature, sexually-loaded lyrics. The second half is twenty more tracks of noticeably lower quality both in terms of the recordings and the strength of the songs themselves, although a number of songs on the later half of the release are live or crude demo versions of the twelve first songs on the disc. The second half is also more experimental, even working in elements of dub and techno, but quite hit or miss. The first twelve songs are well worth listening to all the way through, but you will want to employ the track skip button on the rest of the release. –Jake Shut (Livid)


POISON PLANET:
Oblivious: EP
So many reasons to like this record... Poison Planet crank out some blazing hardcore punk that has a rough and burly edge. Elements remind me of Negative FX, such as the vocals, and the straight-forward approach to the music. The guitar has a nice sound and the guy can actually play. I like how the bass is right up in the mix as well. More hardcore bands need to do this! There are some cool intros to the songs, and this stuff is as catchy as it is speedy. Then—something I unfortunately don’t come across too often in today’s punk scene—here’s a band that actually has something of worth to say. Not one song on here is about what the “scene” means to them, or about straight-edge. Instead, they bring up animal rights, staying true to your ideals (as they say, “This is about something much greater than breaking Edge, or ceasing to be vegan/vegetarian. This is about selling out your soul like a fucking coward”), religion, and apathy. Well worth your time and money. –Matt Average (ThirdXParty, thirdxparty.blogspot.com)


PINK HOUSES:
Self-titled: LP
Some decidedly atypical punk rock, with a bit of a tribal vibe in evidence in some places, hints of mid-period Fugazi in others, with flashes of a more straightforward approach popping up now and then. –jimmy (Pink Houses)


PERKELE:
Punk Rock Army: 7"
This three-song record came out as an appetizer to the new Perkele full-length and it’s another fine release from this popular Swedish streetpunk band. Fans will especially dig the corny, but awesome acoustic version of the old Perkele staple, “Heart Full of Pride,” exclusive to this 7” only. It was pointed out to me not long ago that skins like some of the wimpiest music imaginable. No one would disagree with that fact, but the detractors with their noses in the air are missing out on some of the catchiest, most lovable bands around. Pride is lame, unless it’s taking pride in adoring seemingly asinine music. How asinine is it, then? –Art Ettinger (Oi! The Boat, oitheboat.com)


PERENNIALS, THE:
Oh Kimmy: 7"
I’m puking from my fever now, but I think this 7” is really sweet. It might be the meds or the flu, but The Perennials got a great dreamy, flowing sound. It could be anxious teenagers strumming and playing with energy over authority (that’s big in my book), or it could be my head swirling, thinking about 1960s sock hops with local bands tearing it up. I do hear lyrics about girls not needing love anymore and trying to remember memories. Shit yeah, man. I think this is honest, kickin’ garage-pop rock. I asked my wife to make sure: “Hell yeah, this is happy.” –mike (Eradicator)


PHOENIX FOUNDATION, THE / HER SPECTACLES:
Split: 7"
A pair of rather generic indie rock bands together on the same split 7”. The most memorable thing about this record is that The Phoenix Foundation’s name is a sweet ‘80s pop culture reference (Macgyver). –Paul J. Comeau –Guest Contributor (Unsane Asylum)


PERENNIALS, THE:
“My Side of the Mountain” b/w “This Whole Town”: 7"
Catchy punk stuff with a kinda indie rock, kinda garagy feel. The guitar pretty much sticks to a strum-de-strum pattern, but I’m diggin’ the noodly bass lines. –jimmy (Eradicator)


PERENNIALS, THE:
“My Side of the Mountain” b/w “This Whole Town”: 7"
This 7” contains three catchy pop songs with a tinge of ‘60s influence. “My Side of the Mountain” rocks a Teenage Shutdown–style beat and bass line framing jangly guitars. “Savannah” is a simpler song in the same vein, while “This Whole Town” moves into more roots territory. There is no snot, but the songs take the retro influence into upbeat territory confidently. Good vocals. Good songs. –Billups Allen (Radicator)


PARTING GIFTS, THE:
Strychnine Dandelion: LP
The latest project from Greg Cartwright (Reigning Sound, Oblivians, Compulsive Gamblers and numerous others) with Coco Hames of the Ettes. Apparently, the band came together just to record a single for Norton Records’ Rolling Stones cover series but a full-length accidentally popped out. Cartwright continues to be a prolific songwriter (penning ten of the fifteen songs on the album) and there are no real duds here. The production sounds much like the latest Reigning Sound album (Love and Curses); very organ heavy. I actually kind of like this album a little more than Love and Curses. –Sal Lucci –Guest Contributor (In The Red)


PARASYTIC:
Poison Minds: LP
I thought this Richmond, VA’s debut LP Hymn was great, but I feel this new release raises the bar. This time around, the crust seems to take a bit of a back seat while the thrash metal and Motörhead sound come to the forefront with sheer ferocity. I would compare the sound to the last few World Burns To Death releases. The production is superb with a biting and bright guitar sound accented with the pounding and solid tone of the bass leading the charge. The mixture of the two creates a soundscape of headbanging fury. The drum mix seems to be pulled a hair to the front to give the songs a thundering effect. I can picture every beat as they are being hit. The gravelly vocals complete the barrage of power to this collection of eight songs. Saw them a few years ago live and they put on a great performance. Hopefully another tour out west is in the works for the future. –don (Vex)


OUR OWN END:
Quit While You’re Still Behind: CD
I don’t know what to say about this other than that it’s super generic youth crew hardcore. Gang vocals and all of that. The best thing about this band is the unintentional, homoerotic band name and album title. –Craven (myspace.com/ourownendmusic)


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