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Razorcake #84
Tim Version, Ordinary Life LP + bonus 7"
Radon, 28 LP
Zisk #25
Razorcake #83


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Record Reviews

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MIRRORS AND WIRES:
COLOURIZED AUDIO TRANSMISSION: 7
Don’t be fooled by the cover featuring a gaudy psychedelic pattern Photoshopped to oblivion: Mirrors And Wires’ music is swift and well-tempered. Without a vocal to be found, the first three tracks of their robust garage/surf rock cruise forward with silly titles like “Curse in the Cauldron” and “Sexy Zombie Pussy.” Everything else here is used to build up closer “Chiaroscuro,” a wonderfully foggy song that manages to craft contemplative sounds out of surf, a genre usually about having wild fun. As I have a deep affection for surf (one of rock’s most underappreciated variations), I’d dig hearing more stuff from this Jersey gang. Should they let the weirdness thrive, this material has cosmic potential. –Reyan Ali (HEADCOUNT, HEADCOUNTRECORDS@GMAIL.COM)


MIDTOWN DICKENS:
LANTERNS: CD
I’d like to think this is what the Carter Family would sound like if they were just starting out today and had a quirky member or two who was interested in twee. I’d love to hear this band cover “No Depression.” The Midtown Dickens is a fun listen and a nice change of pace. –Kurt Morris (MIDTOWNDICKENS@GMAIL.COM)


MAX AND THE MAKEUPS:
SELF-TITLED: EP
Here’s a lost punk gem from Austin, TX. The four songs on here were recorded in 1984, and I believe this is the first time these were ever on vinyl (which is strange, considering how good these songs are). Catchy and tuneful punk rock with some new wave touches. The stand out track is “60 Minute Man.” The main riff in that song sounds similar to a riff in the Butthole Surfers’ “Gary Floyd” (which was recorded three years after this song. Hmmm...). Texas had some great bands coming out in the early years of punk rock, and everything I’ve heard from that region and during that era has been gold. So, with that in mind, get this record. –Matt Average (PUKE N VOMIT , PUKENVOMITRECORDS.COM)


METH MOUNTAIN:
SELF-TITLED: CD
I don’t really care for this band name, but found that, strangely, I like it a lot better when it’s written: “MethMtn.” Go figure. There is a black drawing of a wolf on the (white) cover of the CD. I actually love wolves but this drawing seems a little typical. I thought they were going to be a metal band. Some of the songs maybe start a bit metal, but then the rhythm and the way the guy sings, I feel, is more punk. Man, that singer is gravelly! Makes my throat hurt just listening, but I like it. They seem like they might be young. Sometimes they sound like kids just fucking around, but then they pull something out that’s a bit more mature. Kind of mid tempo, not too fast. One of the rhythms reminded me of the Sex Pistols. The singer’s voice sometimes reminded me of Born Against a little (although the music doesn’t sound like them). The third song I liked the most. They sound a little disgruntled, like they might be ready to kick your ass, but in a gritty, alley kind of way, not in a hardcore jock kinda way. On Self Aware records (which also puts out a zine, apparently); the name of which sounds to me like it might be a straight edge gig or something. Nothing that would seem to really blow me away and, yet, I have listened to it numerous times already. An unexpected surprise. –Jennifer Federico (SELF AWARE , MYSPACE.COM/SELFAWAREZINE)


ME AND THE DEVIL:
JESUS WAS A SADOMASOCHIST...AND OTHER CAMPFIRE FAVORITES: CD-R
The title track is a charming bit of acoustic blasphemy. The remaining tracks are sonically along the same lines with lyrics that vacillate between silly and obnoxious, sorta like Bob Dylan possessed by Eric Cartman. Stunning stick figure cover art, too, even if it looks like everyone is playing mandolins. –Jimmy Alvarado (NO ADDRESS)


MARKED MEN , THE:
FIX MY BRAIN: LP
Reviewing re-releases is always a bit tricky, particularly when it’s a record that you’ve been listening to with some regularity for a few years now, and you’re well aware that this is also the case for most (hopefully, anyway) of the people reading this review. Regardless, I think Fix My Brain is, hands down, the best Marked Men record. It sounds to me that it was at this point that the band fully realized “their sound” that they hinted at on previous records, and while I do enjoy Ghosts, I still stand by Fix My Brain as The Marked Men’s finest hour. “A Little Time,” “Wait Here, Wait for You,” and the title track are pretty much perfect songs, and the rest of the record doesn’t fall far behind. If you haven’t heard this record, thank the heavens that you can pick it up again, and do so as soon as you can. –Dave Williams (DIRTNAP)


MARKED MEN / THIS IS MY FIST :
SPLIT: 7
Marked Men: C’mon, really? If you haven’t at least checked out the Marked Men, just put this zine down and go find some recordings. Shit, dude or lady, if you’re standing in a record store, don’t buy this zine if there’s some Marked Men vinyl to be had in the vicinity and you can’t afford to buy both. What else do you need as an endorsement? How many publications will entirely supplicate to a band, encouraging you to just go and listen to the music? As always, the Marked Men are pitch perfect, no-genre-can-pigeon-hole them music that’s accurate and reasonable to call punk, but it’s so much more. This Is My Fist: Putting this in the “mental health versus making great punk songs” algorithm, part of me wishes that Annie of TIMF finds solace and happiness because, man, she’s been mistreated time and time again if we’re to take her lyrics literally. The other part of me—perhaps the selfish, dick part—keeps being impressed by her output and how much gas is left in TIMF’s tank, especially after all the personnel changes. Perhaps sadness is her ghost, her fire, her muse. –Todd Taylor (NO IDEA)


MALADIE:
SELF-TITLED: LP
This bands sound is super fucking brutal while interspersing melody in a way which only serves to heighten the rage that seethes inside of you as you read their very well thought-out and relevant lyrics. They’re from Tijuana, Mexico which is right on a border guarded with tons of guns and drenched in innocent blood. Having lived there for twelve years, I can tell you that even if you don’t cross it daily, the border becomes a part of you and leaves an irremovable dark spot in your conscious. The songs are sung in Spanish but translated to English on the lyric sheet. The big anarchy sign on the b-side of the album was a bit confusing, but besides that, there are no complaints. Getting this 12” out has been a major struggle for these very solid dudes, so if you want a quality album out on CD, cassette, and vinyl on various labels in the vein of Tragedy, Bumbklaatt, and From Ashes Rise, this is where it’s at. –Rene Navarro (PENGUIN SUIT , GREAT PLAINS , ETHOSPINE NOISE)


LOVE BELOW,THE:
DEMO 2009: CD-R
Based on the slow, plodding beginning, I thought I was gonna be in for some o’ that sludgy metal stuff, but then they kicked in with some full-bore thrash and sent that expectation into the shitcan. Sneaky bastards. They pretty much keep the pace pretty frantic, deliver the tunes with a fair level of cohesiveness, and have the good sense to keep the lengths short and the metal to a minimum. Have no doubt this’ll become a “legitimate” release very soon. –Jimmy Alvarado (MYSPACE.COM/THELOVEBELOWHC)


LOUP.LE :
FAMILY: CD
Kinda hard to pigeonhole this one, which I figure is a point in their favor right off the bat. What it is is experimental and mellow, with a lot of crazy influences—bits of tribal and Latin rhythms, psychedelia, bluegrass, maybe even a little Gregorian chant influence—smooshed together. At times it reminds me of Peter Gabriel, while at others I’m thinkin’ early Pink Floyd with the “rock” pushed to the background. All that said, it sounds like, and nothing like, any/all of the above. Make sense to you? Me neither, but it was an interesting listen. –Jimmy Alvarado (HARDLY ART)


KOBANES:
JAPAN INVASION: CD
The kids know what’s up and, all of a sudden, the kids are really into The Kobanes, with T-shirts and other merch cropping up en masse. A split label Japanese release to coincide with one of the band’s infamous Japanese tours, Japan Invasion is a very solid, mainline pop punk album. Taking 1990s silliness to new peaks with songs about loved ones smelling each other’s feces, suburban ghettos, dicks, and drugs, The Kobanes’ lyrics are gleefully apolitical, mean-spirited, and downright asinine. And that’s a compliment! Driving, Queers-inspired riffs dominate the mix, with geek-tinged vocals maintaining a spirited, tongue-in-ass-cheek vibe. A higher end byproduct of a dwindling subgenre, Japan Invasion happily invaded this aging pop punker’s heavy rotation. There’s even a cover of “Fan Mail” included for Dickies fans. Plus, any album that starts with a dialog sample from Class of Nuke ’em High is okay by me. –Art Ettinger (FIXING A HOLE , FIXINGAHOLE.JPN.ORG / DUMB!, DUMBRECORDS.COM)


KOBANES, THE:
PUBLIC AFFECTION: CD
The tunes sound like Darlington outtakes, right down to the dopey lyrics. The delivery sounds like the Marked Men on a Queers bender. Brett from OBS would pee his pants over this. –Jimmy Alvarado (DUMBRECORDS.COM)


KING FRIDAY:
MARRIED ALIVE: CD
This band is almost indistinguishable from Fay Wray. And, upon further reference, it turns out that King Friday features members of Fay Wray, so there you go. If you like Fay Wray, there is a ninety-seven percent chance that you’d like this. Side note: They have a song called “I Wish I was in Radon,” which, given the fact that Radon is one of the best bands of all time, immediately attracted my attention, but oddly enough, that song sounds nothing like Radon, while the song before it sorta does sound like Radon, but in a less punk way. If this were a cereal, it’d be the generic version of Golden Grahams. I’m not saying in any way that Radon is Golden Grahams. Radon is Lucky Charms. Golden Grahams is on the border between a low-tier and a middle-tier cereal. Yes, I keep track of such things! –Maddy (FAST CROWD)


KING AUTOMATIC:
IN THE BLUE CORNER: CD
Yet another Voodoo Rhythm release that transports the listener to far gone times and places. King Automatic provides a musical time machine that makes stops in ‘60s go-go Paris, 1920s Louisiana Cajun country, and San Francisco garages circa 1990. He effortlessly combines elements of blues, garage rock, jazz, and country and western to create a unique musical odyssey. I’m partial to the straightforward rock’n’roll stuff, like the sultry twanger, “Let’s Have a Party,” and “Vague Information,” an organ-driven dance floor filler. But, moodier numbers like “There Is No Truth in the Night” and “Staircase Serenade” are equally satisfying. What’s most amazing about these tunes is that King Automatic plays them as a one man band, a terrific feat when you hear all that’s going on in them sonically—keyboards, drums, guitars, harp. Simply incredible. –Josh Benke (VOODOO RHYTHM)


KESTRELS:
PRIMARY COLOURS: CD
Oh Kestrels, your CD wouldn’t play correctly in my player half the time. But when it did play, I liked what I heard: fuzzy guitar pop with some shoegazer tendencies. It seemed to be a bit more on the analog side of things, as the sound wasn’t clean, but I think it suits the band quite well. Unfortunately, after a little while, I grew bored because it wasn’t Slayer. So I went and listened to World Painted Blood instead. –Kurt Morris (NOYES,NOYESRECORDS.COM)


JUST DIE!:
GARAGES AND BASEMENTS: 7
Furious, speedy hardcore that didn’t forget to pack the melody along before it explodes out of the gate at a hundred MPH; strong songwriting and definite nods to everything from ‘80s skate rock shredding to soaring choruses reminiscent of Hot Water Music. A hell of a six song 7” by this band from Asheville. I’m glad I got exposed to them. –Jake Shut (SELF AWARE/DEAD END)


JUNK, THE:
Novus Ordo Seclorum: CDEP
The Junk is a fast ska-core band from the U.K. with interesting dub and reggae influences. The cover art showcasing pigs beating down a protestor suggests an anarcho-punk groove, but this short EP is too overproduced to induce any kind of political urgency. And true or not, there’s a feel that a lot of the instrumentals were recorded separately rather than live. Still, these three songs left me craving more, with each being pretty damn well crafted. It takes brass balls to include this much brass on a punk record in the new millennium, so there’s not a lot to knock here. The Junk are anything but. –Art Ettinger (12 Step Plan)


JUNIUS:
The Martyrdom of a Catastrophist: LP
A concept record about Immanuel Velikovsky, a Russian-American scholar who reinterpreted ancient history. The music is post-rock or post-metal and it alternates between dreaminess and swelling rises. The songs ebb and flow and blend together and are post-good. The packaging is eco-friendly and has nice illustrations. This bore of an album is one of the most tedious, pretentious things I have ever heard. –CT Terry (The Mylene Sheath)


JOHNNY ILL BAND:
Self-titled: 7”
Anthemic rock on the end of the Indie Brooklyn sound: part poppy punk, part post-country twang, start and stop vibes. That usually means one listen and out for me, but I like this one. Spazzy-sounding singer/guitarist with some good harmonies. I hope he breaks shit at shows. –Speedway Randy (Kaboodle, myspace.com/kaboodlerecords)


JOHNNY COCK AND THE NUTS / PUBLIC DEFECATION:
Up Split Creek Volume 1 Split: CD
It’s a scum punk standoff! Johnny Cock And The Nuts going up against Public Defecation in a no holds barred rumble. JC And The N make the first move. Uh oh. It’s a song about getting old… but wait, what’s that they’re following it up with? It looks like a Motörhead cover. That’s got to hurt. And what next? Songs about booze, babes, and Santa Claus. But they spelled it “Santa Clause.” Someone’s been watching bad Tim Allen movies again, and that’s just the opportunity that PD needed to sneak in with “The Beginning of the End.” Absolute violence. Growling, grating and blood-spilling. The sound of feces and razors, wielded with anger. The winner of this match is clear. –MP Johnson (Records On Tap))


JELLO BIAFRA AND THE GUANTANAMO SCHOOL OF MEDICINE:
The Audacity of Hype: CD
The Good: Biafra’s lyrics remain as witty and topical as ever, and the band he’s recruited lean more towards his collaborations with the Melvins than Lard, whose output always wavered between “wow” and “ugh” for me. There are no overt, pointed criticisms of Obama leveled here, but I think it’s a safe bet they will be along shortly, with good reason. The Bad: While the band knows how to milk the most out of a groove, the bulk of the songs are a bit long. Probably an odd and petty complaint, but it seems to me the point to some of the songs here could’ve been made more succinctly in about half the time. Chalk it up to personal preference. The Ugly: It seems the more time passes, the more relevant the bulk of Biafra’s work becomes. If anything, the social order he’s lampooned and railed against since the 1970s is regressing rather than progressing. –Jimmy Alvarado ( Alternative Tentacles)


JAY BANERJEE:
Three-Song Sampler: CDEP
Kinda an early ‘80s vibe (think: the Rubinoos, but much less produced). Note: to avoid you, the reader, having the experience I had while reading MRR when I was fifteen, here’s an explanatory sentence: the Rubinoos started in the early ‘80s, power pop, but heavy on the pop. Very worth checking out! As for Jay Banerjee, I wish the guitar sound was stronger, but I could see this guy’s next release being super, super good. The first two songs are the best, so, Mr. Banerjee, please stick with the catchier variety of sounds! Also worth noting: this guy appears to lack a label (this is self-released), so please take note, punk businessmen and women! Also, my extensive research has uncovered his blog, which features a hilarious entry about bad band names, a topic near and dear to my heart. Brief literary sample: “If your band starts with ‘The’ but is not followed by a plural or collective noun, you probably suck. I’m qualifying this because several exceptions spring immediately to mind—The Left Banke, The Action, The Jolt, The (Paul Collins) Beat, etc.—but you haven’t heard of any of them, so you suck.” If this were a cereal, it’d be Cheerios with sugar added by the consumer. Please, become Honey Nut Cheerios! You can do it! –Maddy (Self-released, jaybanarjee.net)


JOEY CORMAN:
Boneyard Betty: CD
I know exactly what you want to hear. First off, you don’t want anything that involves electric instruments, right? And I know you’re sick of drums. That’s just a bunch of caveman pounding. Who needs it? You’re fiending to hear three magical chords strummed on a lonely old acoustic guitar, aren’t you? Not only that, but you would totally poop yourself if that guitar was an accompaniment to some whining, pop punk folk shit. You know, the kind that you used to hear once in a while at open mic nights at that little café next to the university. Because I know you went there all the time, right? That’s where the good stuff went down. Oh heck yeah. –MP Johnson (Self-released)


JAPANTHER:
Divorce/Evil Earth: 7”
There are only two songs, but I’ve probably played them over a hundred times each since I got the record last week. “Divorce” is a weird/sad song that somehow sounds like Toys That Kill and The Spits at the same time. “Evil Earth” shouldn’t work. It’s got the most clichéd punk rock chorus ever, but is saved by the strategic deployment of a few refrains of “Yeah, motherfucker!” That’ll get it done. –Jim Ruland (Arkam, myspace.com/arkamrecords)


IRON REMINDERS:
Self-titled: LP
Me and my friend Kareem like to talk about “punk for old guys.” That’s music made by people who are closer to thirty than eighteen and still like the short-fast-loud favorites of their youth. Punk for Old Guys strives to maintain aggression while playing something more challenging and unique. Iron Reminders does it right. This 12” has ten songs in less than twenty minutes, song titles like “TV Dinner” and “Old Dudes with Hard Tunes,” and a Pettibon-esque drawing of a train wreck on the cover. The music is classic ‘80s hardcore with super-tight drums and the occasional choppy math part. –CT Terry (Spastic Airlines, no address available)


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