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· 1:Webcomic Wednesdays #131
· 2:A Brief History of Punk in Izhevsk, Russia by Alex Herbert
· 3:#362 with Kurt Morris
· 4:Two New Installments in the Tear A Cognita Series
· 5:Webcomic Wednesdays #128


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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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MEAN MUG:
Self-titled: Cassette
Pretty decent hardcore here, at times reminding me of The Germs. The lyrics are of a more personal sort of subject matter, dealing with depression and struggles of that sort. –Craven (Self-released, myspace.com/halifaxpunk902)


MASS HYPNOSIS:
Disin4mation: CD
Speedy grumble metal. Found myself more impressed with the occasional classical-sampled interludes than the actual songs. –Jimmy Alvarado (greengerrecords.com)


MARK SPARKLES:
Uppers and Downers b/w Black Snowflakes: 7”
I took this out of the sleeve and it looked like some kind of crazy super future record, which is a shame considering it kept knocking the needle off (clearly, because it’s not compatible with my primitive record player). The A-side is indie rock while the B-Side gets a bit louder and more aggressive. I’d write more, but admittedly I was distracted by the needle mishaps. –Joe Evans III (Abandon Hope)


MASS KOTKI:
Miau Miau Miau: LP
…it seems that whenever i run across an electropunk ((if you will)) record, it’s usually from a band ((if you will)) from an Eastern European country. Dunno if that’s because that’s just where this stuff comes from, or if it’s just some coincidence based on the fact that my electropunk ((if you will)) experience constitutes a relatively small sample size. Be that as it may, if Helen Love is a sackful of magenta, yellow and cyan jellybeans ((and most of us think that she is)), these two pert Polish lasses are a well-turned jellybean vessel populated with solely the black variety ((though i’d stop myself just short of saying that they taste like anise)). Lyrics are generally sung in Polish, but are printed in both Polish and English—any inklings the listener might have of learning Polish by following the lyric sheet will likely be quashed by the fact that the back of the poster-sized lyric sheet is occupied by a photo of both girls, nude except for boots, bracelets, and large wrenches, thus rendering the urge to experience the lyric side pretty dismissible. Side two spins at 45 RPM, and is more along the dancey-remix train of thought, making the entire experience not terribly unlike a cross between “Hell Comes To Your House” and the un-punk side of any given “Rodney on the ROQ” comp album. The one song sung in English—”Forever 18”—is a pretty lyrically generic lament about societal standards of pulchritude, so my suggestion is to ride that Polish thing—not to mention that whole nudity thing—’til it drops. Ride that Polska! BEST SONG: “Siniaki” BEST SONG TITLE: “Wino” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Oddly, the band is related neither to Mass Giorgini, nor to Leo Kottke. –Rev. Norb (Nikt Nic Nie Wie)


LOST BOYS:
Work. Life. Regret.: EP
Simply okay punk rock from these guys. The guitar is jangly instead of completely distorted, and the vocals are more strained than yelled. But the songs just pass by without any incident. “Keep Your Smile” is the best of the four. “They’re Watching” is the speediest of the bunch, and has some good stop/go parts. The other two go by, and before you know it, it’s done. And it’s not because the songs are short, it’s because they can’t hold your attention for the duration. This isn’t horrible, it’s just okay. –Matt Average (Thrashbastard, thrashxbastard@yahoo.de)


LOCATORS:
Self-titled: CD
Minimalist, no-frills punk stuff from Denmark that lands in the same ballpark as recent sensations Eddy Current Suppression Ring and maybe Billy Childish’s assorted endeavors, only without all the lo-fi sensibilities and Kinks worship. Band is tight, tunes are catchy, and the guitar sound is fairly clean. –Jimmy Alvarado (heptownrecords.com)


LEAGUES APART:
To Anywhere: CD
This band plays pop punk in the vein of later, overproduced Bad Religion. There are elements of Hot Water Music in play, including a nice raspy quality to the vocals, but they lack the hooks. It also suffers from being a little too emo for me. Nothing to latch on to. –Billups Allen (TNS, tnsrecords.co.uk)


LAVOTCHKIN / CROCUS:
Split: CD
I think it’s a bad sign when you listen to a split release and can’t tell when you have switched over to the next band’s contribution. This is horrible nü metal with screaming substituted for vocals on both bands’ output. I would rather eat a roadkill rat with spicy mustard on a bun then listen to this CD again. –Sean Koepenick (Small Town)


KNIFE IN THE LEG:
The First Two Stabs: CD
Two of this Polish band’s 7” EPs collected on one CD here. Music is mostly mid-tempo hardcore stuff that wouldn’t be repelling to folks who dig the Regulations and bands of that ilk. Good stuff, although their decision to sing primarily in English makes for some awkward lyrics, and lines like “Some of the things that kill punk rock/reggae influence man” indicate a need to delve a little deeper into the history of their chosen genre. –Jimmy Alvarado (nnnw.pl)


KIRKZ, THE:
AgroCulture: CD
A twelve-song album by a British four piece punk rock band. Very ‘90s-sounding Epitaph/Fat hardcore punk sound with obvious influences of NOFX, Pennywise, Rancid, etc. Some of the songs deviate from that formula, like “Get Lucky,” which alludes to reggae and rockabilly within one song. Something about the recording makes the drums sound really flat and everything unnaturally compressed, which does not help matters. While I couldn’t find anything of obvious musical annoyance to report, the songs left me cold with an impression of mediocrity. Meh. –Jake Shut (TNS, tnsrecords.co.uk)


KERMIT’S FINGER:
Grudge: LP
Bearing in mind that I contend that hardcore died at anything other than a local level by the end of ‘82, this album reminds me of the what-was-still-being-called-hardcore albums of 1984—which isn’t necessarily a bad thing: The albums being called “hardcore” then ((and do note that albums—not seven-inches—had shifted to the dominant format by that time, and read into that what you care to)) weren’t terribly IMPORTANT in any meaningful sense ((other than being an ongoing artifact of a healthy grassroots etc. etc. etc.)), but they could still be kinda enjoyable. Plus, they always had a shit-ton of songs on ‘em, and if you didn’t like the song which was currently playing, maybe you’d like the next one, which was probably due up in ninety seconds or something. Kermit’s Finger, then—including a man in a baseball cap and a Fear t-shirt, how novel!—remind me of those gruffer bands like The Burnt, crossed with the efforts of less-weighty minstrels, like TMA’s “What’s for Dinner” LP. There’s a song about getting your beer spilled, and another about falling down when attempting to shovel the sidewalk—none of them delivered in a self-conscious “hey, look at me, I am writing a song about slipping on ice! Ain’t that wacky?” fashion, just a straight-up “Three things happened to me today so I wrote three songs and here they are” kinda vibe. “Young Wesley” sounds like something off the second or third Sham 69 album, and “I Need Destruction” reminds me a bit of classic Sacred Order; other than that it just sounds like 1984 ((including too-fast covers of “Lift up Your Hood” and “Ain’t Nothing but a House Party,” mirroring hardcore ‘84’s own dawning realization that we were all kind of either coming to or at a musical dead end)). I’ve spent a worse twenty-five minutes this month. BEST SONG: “Young Wesley” BEST SONG TITLE: “PTA Hole” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: I’ll call the same bullshit i called on Austin’s Bloody Tears—”Ain’t Nothing but a House Party” isn’t a J. Geils song, it was originally by an English band called the Show Stoppers, although i’m more familiar with the Tremeloes version meself. –Rev. Norb (Poorest Quality)


JUNKER:
Self-titled: CD
One day I was walking through the grocery store and I discovered a candy that I remembered from years ago. The candy was unique; many similar things existed, but nothing was quite like it. Hot Water Music brand candy, they called it. I purchased the candy and returned home, delighted in my discovery. When I began to consume the candy, I noticed something was off. The formula was dead on, the packing was right, this was definitely close to the sweets of my youth, but what was wrong? I then noticed that the brand was not the same as that of my childhood memories. Perhaps the magic of the recipe was only delicious by the creators. I threw the candy down and cursed the name of Willy Wonka until I feel asleep for an angry nap. –Bryan Static (Self-released, no address)


JJCNV:
Two Hits and a Miss: CD
Good natured, quirky rock/punk stuff, a little arty at times, but on the whole not terrible. –Jimmy Alvarado (Flab Fjord, no address)


JEWS AND CATHOLICS:
Who Are? We Think We Are!: CD
Catchy, danceable rock modern rock stuff with heavy nods to post-punk mixed in for edge. Can totally hear roughly half of the tracks here getting extensive airplay. –Jimmy Alvarado (307knoxrecords.com)


IVAN REBROFF’S ARMPITS:
Play It the Same: CD
Holy serious band tunes. Just looking at the album art which consists of landscape in an orange tint tells me they’re not f’in around…at all. So don’t even try anything. Granted, the recording is pleasant, but the music is not so much pleasant as it is darkly hardcore. It’s all fast, slow, fast and can you say dramaaaaa? I just came here to party, dude. –Corinne (Vegas)


HYTEST:
Dishing Out the Good Times: CD
Some kind of split personality type of band, I guess. They bust out some stoner rock riffage that has me cringing, then out of nowhere a heavy duty punk blast wakes me up and gets the blood flowing. Then another stone-fest lulls me off to sleep again, then BANG! We’re off again! Quit messing with my mind Hytest. I don’t appreciate the love/hate thing you’re instilling in me. It’s a good thing that the artwork is pizza themed. I guess we can be friends, but I can’t see myself listening to you all that much. –Ty Stranglehold (Impedance)


HUNGER STRIKE RIOT:
Grandpa’s Naked Present: CD
Quirky rock stuff, with lots of ‘60s garage, punk, and other influences, as well as no shortage of creativity and humor slathered on for good effect. –Jimmy Alvarado (no address)


HUMANIFESTO:
The Infamous: CD
Bland, by-the-numbers punk can have its charm, but not this time. I unabashedly love the monotonous, robotic feel of Pennywise, which is what I think Montreal’s Humanifesto may be going for. But it’s just plain boring. The lyrics are more highbrow than most political punk lyrics, but the rote, fast melodic hardcore that accompanies them is oddly irritating. To add to the annoyance factor, the production is very tinny, although not especially treble-focused. It’s also available on various colors of vinyl, so you have to at least give them credit for trying. There’s nothing wrong with The Infamous. Then again, there’s nothing right about it either. –Art Ettinger (Koi, koirecords.com)


HOLD A GRUDGE:
Doing Time: CD
Okay, time for the hardcore checklist. Tough-sounding three word name? Check. Said name in athletic block letters on the front of the disc? Check. Strange cover art depicting a guy with half his face ripped off and busting through a cobweb-covered iron fence? Check. With that out of the way, let’s check the music. Yep, it’s hardcore with all the breakdowns and singalongs. The music is really good and kept me interested throughout. My problem lies with the vocals. First of all, they’re way up front in the mix, such so, that the singer almost becomes cartoon-like. Then the lyrics themselves are pretty typical fare. The “scene,” the “old days,” etc. I hope these guys really don’t hold a grudge. C’mon, you woulda made the joke too! Did I mention the music is really good? –Ty Stranglehold (Insurgence)


GROWN UPS:
More Songs: CD
This band has some promise. Grown Ups strikes me as what would happen if the Shook Ones took a decidedly more emo bend to their Kid Dynamite/Lifetime worship. In fact, the vocalist from this band sounds so close to the singer from the Shook Ones at times with the off-tune yet melodic shout-sing, that I had to check to make sure they weren’t the same guy. The press sheet keeps throwing around Cap’n’Jazz as a comparison, but Grown Ups is a lot more straight-forward (although they both are from Chicago, so I guess they do have that in common). It’s the type of emo that’s essentially poppy hardcore with a couple of clean guitars doing some note runs around the edges of the main melody. There’s also a lot of gang vocals keeping things sounding rousing. It’s a pretty good collection of songs that sometimes reminds me of what the last Lifetime album might of sounded like with a cleaner mix. If you need things on the more introspective, but not de-clawed side of the spectrum, or a dose of emo that isn’t full of “brootal metal” guitars and shitty screaming about “blacked eyes, slit wrists,” this would be well worth your time to check out. –Adrian (Big Scary Monsters, bsmrocks@googlemail.com)


GRAVES BROTHERS, THE:
San Malo: CD
I gave this several runs through because I respect that they’re taking chances and don’t want to give it an unfair review. But the thing is, it doesn’t sound like it’s taking chances. It’s experimental alternative/post-punk that reminds me of bands like Camper Van Beethoven, Primus, Meat Puppets, and The Jesus Lizard. It’s jazzy, weird, and pretty creative but at the same time I can’t help but associate it with a time when there was new ground to break in the post-punk sound and this just sounds dated, like it came out of a time capsule. As much as they seem to be trying to make interesting and innovative music, it just sounds stuck in the late-eighties/early nineties to me. –Craven (no address)


GOOD RIDDANCE:
Capricorn One (Singles & Rarities): CD
I saw Good Riddance play at Portland’s X-Ray Café sometime in the early nineties. I want to say they were touring on the strength of a demo, but I’m not sure. I do remember I was stoked and they were a great, powerful hardcore band. While they’d go on to release a veritable ton of stuff over their nearly two decades together, nothing comes close (for me) to touching their first LP, For God and Country. Good Riddance, like many on the Fat and Epitaph rosters of the time, were responsible—for better or worse—for creating and sustaining the particular genre known as “melodic hardcore.” The style certainly had its weak points, but I always thought Good Riddance fared better than most —they tempered their unabashedly cheesy love ballads with some reasonably well-articulated political howls, and the music was almost always on the right side of pissed off. Capricorn One serves as a nice siren song for the band, and a treat for completists— like the name implies, it’s full of comp tracks, unreleased demos, outtakes, and the stuff from their splits with Reliance, Ensign, Ill Repute, and Ignite. Vocalist Russ Rankin provides lyrics and little anecdotes for each of the twenty-one songs and the whole thing lends one last punch to the jaw from a band that was important to a lot of people. –Keith Rosson (Fat)


GOOD MEN DIE LIKE DOGS:
Self-titled: 10” EP
Gruff, poppy punk stuff. The vocalist has a vague Billy Joe Green Day quality to his delivery, but the lyrics are pretty strong and the music is catchy without being so sugary it makes yer teeth hurt. –Jimmy Alvarado (Tortilla Chip, no address)


GNARLY LOVE:
The Long and Gnarly Road: CD
Kentucky four piece deliver this long player with titles like “Bedpan Munchies,” “Bad Cop, No Donut,” and “Sports Suck.” There’s a Dead Kennedys influence here, but it’s not overwhelming. Actually, I think Moses (the singer) may be funnier. There are some good tunes on here. Now if they would tour with Johnny Vomit, this would sell out every club it hit, even if they do reference one of the worst bands ever in their album title. –Sean Koepenick (Eugene)


FORGIVEN RIVAL:
This Is a War: CD
The packaging to this one gave me some high hopes—visuals reminiscent of Jacob Bannon’s occasional dirty, ominous work with photographs. I figured I’d be in for some dark, epic hardcore, verging on crust at times. I was not expecting the blast of overproduced nü-metal that greeted me, fat with autotuning, chugga chugga riffs, and mincing piano. One second it’s so saccharine sweet it sounds like these dudes are auditioning to be the house band at a Disneyworld breakfast buffet, then it’ll suddenly sound like Monster Magnet and Buzzov-en sniffing each other’s asses with angry Cookie Monster guy pouting above the din. Technically proficient, way too glossy, and pretty much a horrible mess; this is apparently what constitutes hard rock these days. –Keith Rosson (Indianola)


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