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Razorcake #80


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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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OFF WITH THEIR HEADS:
Live at the Atlantic : Vol 2: 7”
This pristine live two-song recording of Off With Their Heads flew off the needle and rocked my studio apartment so fucking hard I felt like was at their show. The “I Am You” side alone makes this 7” worth getting, but the vomit confession on the “Go On Git Now” side really proves why you should go on and get this now. –N.L. Dewart (Sound Study)


OBNOXIOUS OBLOQUY:
Self-titled: CD
Earnest, but painfully redundant Fat Wreck/Epitaph-sounding punk by teenagers. These guys may very well go on to do much better stuff. I ain’t mad at ya. –Craven (no address)


NUISANCE DRILLED:
All Is Well, Euphoric Ending: CD
Screechy Malaysian metal/hardcore stuff. The artwork included is pretty nifty. The music is more or less take-or-leave. –Jimmy Alvarado (revcords@gmail.com)


NOMEANSMOCK:
Throng: CD
This has to be one of the craziest records ever. It is nine Nomeansno covers, but none like you’ve ever heard before. Would you like a disco funk version of “Two Lips, Two Lungs and One Tongue”? How about a bluegrass hoedown cover of “Oh No, Bruno!”? As I understand it (as most of the information is in French) NomeansMOCK is a one-man project and, let me tell you, it is a massive undertaking of talent and a true labor of love. I can’t imagine all the work and time that went into making this. On repeated listenings, I have to say that my favorites are the Middle Eastern-flavored version of “Rags and Bones” and the crazy spy-theme take on “It’s Catching Up.” So much fun. As far as I know, this is only available as a download. If it ever gets pressed, I’m all over it. My only complaint is that I think the project should have been named FauxMeansFaux instead. The real Nomeansno are fans of this and so am I. –Ty Stranglehold (myspace.com/nomeansmock )


ON THE BRINK:
Take Cover: CD
This reminds me of bands that I used to see at the Warped Tour back when it was worth going to. (I suppose everyone has a different definition of this, but for me that would have been up to about ‘98-’99.) On The Brink has a sound reminiscent of older Fat Wreck Chords releases: They’re anthemic, crunchy, and vaguely political. If you’re into that sort of stuff, this is pretty solid. –Ryan Horky (Longshot, longshotmusic.com)


NICE FACE:
Mnemonic Device: 7”

Nice Face has a sound that is a bit arty and slightly experimental. The a-side, “Mnemonic Device,” is hypnotic, echoey, and a bit creepy-sounding—a good tune for late autumn in northern climes. The b-side, “Situation Is Facing Utter Annihilation,” is more straight-up rocking with a very fuzzy sound that made we wonder if this outfit were from Detroit (initial research has revealed nothing in that regard) because they remind me of a version of the Go on amphetamines. Vocals sound like their done through a hummacomb. With my arcane Rocky and Bullwinkle reference complete, so is what appears to be a rather inadequate review. End of transmission.

–The Lord Kveldulfr (Sacred Bones)


MUNDO MUERTO:
Rompe el Silencio: 7”
An exciting new band from the Southern California area—which I have had the pleasure of seeing a few times this year—that has really caught my eye and ears. Featuring a collection of members from Mala Sangre, The Homewreckers, and Svarta Tankar, this band has an early ‘80s sound that takes pieces from South America and Mexico and make it sound relevant today. Songs sung in Spanish are backed by a sonic push of lightly distorted guitar sounds that give the music a raw edge but hook you with their strong melody. It makes you want to just dance in the pit or pogo in your room. First time I heard the music, I got energized with excitement that I’m really going to have fun listening to this instead of the usual appreciation of music through anger. I can’t wait to see what more is in store from this foursome. –Donofthedead (Mundo Muerto, myspace.com/mundoxmuerto)


NIGHT BIRDS:
Demo: CDR
The latest in the recent wave of “well, our old bands broke up, time to start fresh” bands from the New Jersey area. Four songs of ‘80s West Coast/California-influenced hardcore punk, that sounds a lot like the Dead Kennedys (especially with the surfy guitars/solid musicianship all around), and touches of bands like the Adolescents, D.I. and TSOL. Pretty awesome, considering, I think, they’ve been around for about two days. –Joe Evans III (Self-released, myspace.com/nghtbrds)


MUGRE:
En Estos Tiempos: EP
Apparently, these guys have been kicking around in Los Angeles for more than a few years now. Yet, this is my introduction to them. It’s totally my loss. I’ve always said that the less melody in hardcore, the better. While I do love me some Tragedy, I’m always more in favor of dark, crushing heaviness than an acoustic interlude. No unplugged instruments here, folks. All a hardcore band really needs to do to leave a lasting impression is play raw, fast, and pissed. And that’s exactly what you’ll get with this record. Straight-up "We're not here to fuckin' amuse you" hardcore. There’s an endless string of bands with a similar approach to this sound. But Mugre, seemingly without effort, stands out amongst the clones. Or should I say stood out. I write this the night after they played their last show ever less than a mile from where I stay. Bummer. Let this record be the final shovel full of dirt on the makeshift grave of yet another highly underrated Los Angeles hardcore band. –Juan Espinosa (Lengua Armada, no contact info.)


MODERN CAESARS, THE:
Botox Rats: LP
Ugh…the Modern Caesars play Johnny Thunders-style tunes with less pizzazz than The Joneses. And that sucks. –Ryan Leach (Meaty Beaty)


MISS DERRINGER:
Winter Hill: CD
Always a kinda dicey affair for me whenever I hafta review a disc from a band that includes people I know, in this case Liz McGrath, whose old band Tongue I shared many a rehearsal space and bill with when I was in the Black Jax. Luckily, her latest musical endeavor, while nowhere near the oddball hardcore scree that Tongue reveled in, is a nice mix of rootsy rock, ‘60s garage rock, and Spector-tinged teen tragedy girl group fodder. It’s a little hard getting my head around an El Sereno girl affecting an occasional country twang, but she has a nice, rich voice that fits well with the music the rest of the guys in the band are laying down, and vice versa. Gotta admit, I kept half-expecting her to wind up and let fly some prime throat-shredding vocals while the band pummeled their instruments in wild abandon, but while that never happens here, what they did deliver was pretty danged good. –Jimmy Alvarado (Nickel and Dime/Triple X)


MINOR AUTHORITY:
Punk Side Up: CD
If you’re able to get past the ridiculous band name, album title, song titles, haircuts, and everything that isn’t the music, you might be able to stomach this. The band sounds like early ‘80s hardcore (Bad Religion, Adolescents, etc.) and does a superb job. It just looks so lampoonish that it’s amazing it isn’t. It’s very hard to take it seriously, but damn if they don’t know how to write a song. –Bryan Static (Pop Sweatshop)


MIKE HALE:
Lives Like Mine: CD
This is some acoustic stuff from an ex-member of Gunmoll. This record is extremely mellow and sounds more like Toad The Wet Sprocket than anything else. That is not a lazy comparison. The vocals and arrangements do in fact sound a lot like Glenn Phillips from that band. There are far worse things out there and the songs are fairly strong overall. I will definitely give this guy credit. He sure seems to cover a fairly broad spectrum of styles and puts out a lot of records. –Mike Frame (Suburban Home)


MIDDLE AMERICA:
Scars: 7”
The title track, “Scars,” sounds a hell of a lot like Black Flag’s “Damaged,” with similar bass line, tempo, and distorted and twisted guitar sound. Some may think this is a good thing. But Middle America is no Black Flag. The playing is less intense, and despite all the screaming and growling, the urgency and desperation sounds a tad forced. The opener, “Every Night” starts off okay, then tends to lose its way and washes out with some feedback. “Reclusion” starts off with a dark and minimal tone similar to what the Birthday Party could achieve—plodding—then lurches into thrashy hardcore punk and is suddenly over. Of the three cuts on this record, this is the standout track. –Matt Average (Fashionable Idiots, fashionableidiots.com)


MEATMEN, THE:
Cover the Earth: CD
First new recording from Tesco Vee in quite some time. Here the man offers up his favorite covers. With twenty-four tracks, there is something here for everyone. You get punk chestnuts from Fear, GG Allin, Roky Erickson, and Black Market Baby. Metal gets the nod with Motörhead, Saxon, and some B.O.C. There’s even some Motown love junk on here. I could have done without two Black Randy tunes, but, hey, that’s nit-pickin’. Tesco’s back in action, just don’t leave the cover lying around the next time you have the P.T.A. over for tea and biscuits! –Sean Koepenick (Meat King)


MAX LEVINE ENSEMBLE, THE / BEN WEASEL:
Split: 7”
I lost many important and useful brain cells a few years back reading Mr. Ben Weasel’s punk rock gospel/book Punk Is a Four Letter Word. It was his collection of his Maximum Rock’n’roll essays. Though I still remember parts of what he wrote and agreed with some of it, I swore to stay away from his input because of his whole punk rock dress code thing. If I remember correctly, it was in that book where Weasel wrote about eating his hat because Jawbreaker signed to a major label. So, when I saw this 7”, which reads on the liner, “Fuck You Is A Seven Letter Word Records,” I had to snag it up for the sake of nostalgia. Weasel’s side of the split has him doing some radio announcing. This time he’s preaching his opinions about how The Max Levine Ensemble sucks and ending with The Max Levine Ensemble’s cover of “God Gave Rock and Roll to You.” Staying away from the internet and taking in all of this at face value, my theory is that this split is Weasel’s humor/reverse psychology to get listeners to dig this band. After all, we have to take what he says with a grain of hat. As for The Max’s side, it has great pop punk songs. They really know how to inject personality into their three-chord rock. They’ve got everything here from simple pop tunes to songs with quirky lyrics and wild guitar solos. I guess what I’m trying to say is “I dig this split” is a thirteen-letter word. –N.L. Dewart (Fuck You Is A Seven Letter Word, benweaselthinkswesuck@gmail.com)


MANIKIN:
Stop the Sirens: LP
Taking cues from PIL, Joy Division, and Bauhaus: distorted vocals, wailing trumpet at times, marching bass lines, garroting guitars, all played on with the tension of a large mass sliding on black ice, Manikin continue along the trajectory of their earlier 7”s. Like an obscure map of a yet-fully-discovered land, it takes a while to notice the details lurking beneath the more obvious mountain tops. I’m sure this record will reveal more from the shadows on additional spins and I’m willing to give it that chance. Fans of The Estranged and The Lost Sounds, take note. You’re preconditioned to give Manikin a fair shake. Extremely well realized. –Todd Taylor (Super Secret)


MAMMOTH GRINDER:
No Results: 7” EP
This is some hardcore, crusty-styled punk that I thought was pretty nice. The vocals reminded me of Born/Dead a little—shouting, but not in a doom/death metal way. Like Born/Dead, there are three members in the band, although they apparently hail from Austin, Texas. The drums rarely verged into that boring, fast hardcore style (and seemed actually quite good), and there were some nice break downs and heavy rhythms. Reasonably furious, probably fun live. Lyrics seem political in style but they’re a little vague—this is not a bad thing, just means they’re not as easy to figure out as they might otherwise be. Pretty aggro, though. Nice photo of the band playing a show on the insert. The vinyl itself is wine—red colored split with gray—white. Good stuff. –Jennifer Federico (Inkblot, c/o Sam Sputo / Faith Laurel)


MAMA ROSIN:
Brule Lentement: CD
Raw and authentic Zydeco and swamp roots from France. Banjos and melodeons (type of button accordion) too much for you? Throw in some thoughtful and irreverent folk punk (think Pogues, but French) harmonies and you’re on your way. Even early genre populists would be proud of the sometimes traditional, sometimes modern approach. Two of the best songs, “Dead Love Song” and “You Stole My Motorcycle,” are examples of this extreme. –Jessica Thiringer (Voodoo Rhythm, voodoorhythm.com)


MAC BLACKOUT:
The Rabid Babies: CD
The press sheet mentions Big Black and Devo as major reference points for Mac Blackout. Seeing as those are two of my all-time favorite bands, I felt almost obligated to listen to this. After giving this a couple spins, I don’t really agree with the comparisons. This is way garageier than either of those two bands. There are a lot of keyboards and weird electronic sounds, like Devo, and some extreme, in-the-red guitar tones and drum machines, like Big Black, but it’s not quite the same type of thing. What this strikes me as is more like a one man version of the early L.A. art punk stuff like Geza X And The Mommymen, Black Randy And The Metrosquad, or The Eyes. This is fine for what it is, but not what I was expecting. This feels like music that shoots for innovative but instead lands at well-worn eclecticism. –Adrian (Dead Beat)


LOVER!:
I’m Not a Gnome: 7”
This is okay, but not really my thing. Total Nuggets/psych-garage tribute. It’s authentic and they get the sounds right –Ryan Horky (TicTacTotally)


LORD BY FIRE:
“Three Sisters of the Wolves” b / w “Tribes of the Unnamed Beast”: 7”
This is a pretty good slab of wax. Both tracks are sludgy stoner numbers that don’t get very Southern fried, but still worth checking out if you’re into Eyehategod. –Vincent Battilana (Forcefield)


LONG AND THE SHORT OF IT, THE:
Caw! The Unkindness of Ravens: CD
This is some wild-ass stuff. I’m not sure it’s actually good, but it’s definitely interesting. The Long And The Short Of It play a mix of punk and prog rock that is best taken in small doses. The guitar riffing is occasionally pretty inventive, but the vocals get old quick. (Dude sounds like an annoying version of Guy Piccioto.) I can’t decide if they do that on purpose or not. –Ryan Horky (Black Rabbit Rebellion, blackrabbitrebellion.com)


K-JELL:
Refreshing K-Jell Power: CD
Norway’s K-Jell on the “East meets West” Norwegian/Chinese label October Party are a mind numbingly catchy, poppy punk band that is one of the best kept secrets of our time. It’s downright alarming that an instant classic like Refreshing K-Jell Power can be relatively unknown, at least stateside. K-Jell is sort of what D4 would sound like if they had some streetpunk influences. Brilliant. Just plain fucking brilliant. –Art Ettinger (October Party)


KILLING CALIFORNIA:
Goin’ South: CD
I liked them before, but Goin’ South really has me listening. Like I said before, I hear the likes of Agnostic Front or Death By Stereo in there, but there is something else in the songs that I couldn’t finger until the third or fourth track. The songwriting style is a lot like the Adolescents but with more of a metallic edge to it. The lyrics are even Tony-ish but are delivered with a gruffness not quite on a Frankie Stubbs/Lemmy level, but well on their way. Solid stuff. –Ty Stranglehold (Basement)


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