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Record Reviews

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TURBO A.C.’S, THE:
Damnation Overdrive: CD
Greaseball motor punk that celebrates all the bawdy aspects of the Great American Trailer Trash lifestyle. If you didn't know any better, you'd expect these fellers to be beer-bellied, wifebeater-wearing, pit-stained louts with out-of-fashion facial hair styles. But you'd be way off the mark; they look more like foppish ska boys, what with their neatly combed back haircuts and nicely tailored suits. But thankfully there's not one ungodly blurt from a brass instrument anywhere on this disc. In fact, they remind me of a somewhat less gruff Nashville Pussy, complete with chunky, grunty guitars and lyrics distilled from the pages of Hot Rod and Easy Rider magazines. Thing is, this big-talking strain of moto-rawk is, with the notable exception of Zeke and a few others, rarely as balls-to-the-wall turbo-charged as its own hype would have you believe. Compared to the self-referential lyrics that alternate between worshipping cars and worshipping the band's own purported demonic powers, the music comes up sounding a bit tame. And the rebel-without-a-clue, Bad Boy rawk thing's been done to death. Still, in spite of everything I've just said, it sounds pretty good to me. I just wish there was more bark and even more bite.
–aphid (Blackout!)


TSUNAMI BOMB:
The Ultimate Escape: CD
Wasn’t sure what I was in store for. I haven’t been that much of a fan of what has come out of the Kung Fu roster lately but I am a sucker for female led vocals. I popped this sucker on with apprehension and was truly delighted with what was forced into my ears. I thought in my head that I hear the music of AFI meets the Dance Hall Crashers. Fun stuff through and through. Songs are extremely melodic but forceful. Makes me giddy with childish delight.
–Donofthedead (Kung Fu)


TREEBERRY’S:
Talkin’ about Treeberry’s: LP
If you haven’t noticed, Japan has the most fanatic fans out there. Take this band for example. This three piece plays an authentic version of '60s pop rock. Very reminiscent of the early Beatles and a band I remember my dad listening to as a child, the Mindbenders. It sounds like it was recorded live in a studio setting on an old two-track recording machine, like the bands of that time. A Hammond organ is incorporated at times to add to the appeal. The songs are so bubblegum, you can’t help yourself from grinning like a child who has had too much sugar. Pretty cool and groovy in my book.
–Donofthedead (Sounds of Subterrania)


TRANSPLANTS, THE:
Travis from Blink 182 and Tim Armstrong’s Crappy Band : CD
I can imagine how this CD came about. Travis, the drummer guy who looks out of place in Blink 182 is sick of being best known for being in a TRL band, so he calls Tim Armstrong of Rancid, thinking Tim will lend a sympathetic ear. During the call, they decide to form a band to show that they still have street cred or something. They call a guy with neck tattoos and a shaved head because he will look really tough in the photo and record some stuff that the kids will like now that Slipknot is all big, which pretty much ends up in something that I would have liked when I was seventeen and thought anything ripping off Big Black was cool. And yes, I see the irony of this story starting off with a drummer trying to seem cooler that ends up with sounding like a band with a drum machine. But do THEY? Hmm, okay, I must admit that I wrote that all during the first song. The next song seemed an exercise on writing songs based on the ability to use expletives (hey, it's 2002, the word "fuck" effects me as much as "hey"), and then, um, well. Tim Armstrong was in Op Ivy, right? And his label puts out a lot of good music, right? You would think he would know a thing or two about what sounds like good punk rock music. Or, you would, until you listen to this. This is not very punk, but that isn't such a crime so much as it's also not good. This is one of those weird cases when someone sounds like they are ripping off the bands that were influenced by them. Anyway, Travis should stick to showing off how he has big fancy SUVs in entertainment magazines and Tim should stick to putting out good music, whether or not it has him on the cover.
–rich (Hellcat)


TRACY CHAPMAN:
Let It Rain: CD
Black Flag said it best, “depression, got to break free, depression has got a hold of me.” I have had a shitty year. Right now, my state of mind is in the dumps. The only saving grace has been music, my inner sanctuary where I can hide without using outside substances. It’s weird to me that I find Tracy Chapman at my low ends of life. I had to have a major surgery lately and my life is in a tumble. Because of the injury, I can no longer participate in an activity (skateboarding) that I have enjoyed since I was a child. I have restrictions from my doctor that inhibits me from returning to work. I am the primary income maker in my family. What if I can’t ever return to work? Luckily, music is my solace and a place where I can escape. Music as a whole can connect with whatever emotion you are going through. Right now, the music of Tracy Chapman connects to me. Her music is dark and sad. It reaches areas of my soul which I do not like to seek. But hidden behind the sadness and despair, there is a secret spot of hope. That hidden magic makes my reality bearable. Either reading or hearing something as painful or more can set you straight. The songs are mellow but striking in their power. She can interpret her inner demons and lets the public use it as a tool for their comfort zone. It’s surprising to me that she can continue to be released by a major label. She does not fit into the commercial fashion model of what is interpreted as a female recording artist by the industry. No fancy make up or overblown outfits. Even though she isn’t categorized as punk, she carries the ideals of punk because she is who she is. She also sings from a heart which isn’t always marketable. I need her music because it is honest with what I feel sometimes.
–Donofthedead (Elektra)


TOY DOLLS:
Wakey Wakey: CD
A reissue of the Dolls’ sixth studio album, this is a vast improvement over the previous debacle, Bare Faced Cheek. Out of favor on this bad boy is unmemorable, uninspired songwriting and back in vogue are instant classics like “Cloughy Is a Bootboy” and first-rate covers of ”No Particular Place to Go” and the classical staple “Sabre Dance.” Add to that a tight as hell performance and Olga’s surgeon-precision punk guitar pyrotechnics and what more could one ask for? Recommended.
–Jimmy Alvarado (Captain Oi)


TOY DOLLS:
Orcastrated: CD
A reissue of their ninth album, this runs pretty much along the same lines as all the other post-“Bare-Faced Cheek” releases, meaning the tempos rarely get too frantic, but the songwriting is consistently top-notch. Cover of Small Face’s “Lazy Sunday Afternoon” is mighty swell.
–Jimmy Alvarado (Captain Oi)


TOY DOLLS:
Fat Bob: CD
Album number seven gets the reissue treatment and those of us who wrote these guys off a long time ago get a second chance to vindicate themselves, sing along to classics like “Bitten by a Bed Bug,” “The Sphinx Stinks” and “Back in 79” and once again marvel at Olga’s formidable fretwork. Tacked on for good measure are both sides of the “Turtle Crazy” single.
–Jimmy Alvarado (Captain Oi)


TOY DOLLS:
Absurd-Ditties: CD
This is this long-running band’s eighth album and the fifth in Captain Oi’s Toy Dolls’ reissue campaign. As with virtually all of its predecessors, there tunes are classic, the playing impeccable and the humor level in the red. The highlight of the disc is easily their take on “Dueling Banjos,” here renamed “Drooling Banjos” and featuring Olga’s nimble fingers.
–Jimmy Alvarado (Captain Oi)


TOXIC NARCOTIC:
We: CD
Do this: take a sock (like a thick sock, not one of those thin dress ones), fill it with chestnuts (also walnuts would be okay), soak it in adrenaline, duct tape it to the ceiling fan, put the fan on the high speed (generally done by pulling the chain), then stand on a chair so the sock hits your face when it goes around. Toxic Narcotic is a better Poison Idea than Poison Idea was most of the time.
–Cuss Baxter (Go Kart)


TORG:
Hot Yogurt Enema: CD
From the letter attached to the CD: "we do understand that not everyone will like our music but are hoping that if you don't like it you could at least make the review as funny as possible so that we could still post it on our website." I mean, WHAT the FUCK am i supposed to do NOW??? All i really know is that before i listened to this, i looked at the cover and thought "hmm...this graphic design evokes the look of the Meet the Beatles album cover." Fifty minutes later, when the lumbering punk/rock/metal/bodily function assault had ceased, i looked at the cover again – two flabby bruisers in Sloppy Seconds' weight class, the first holding microphones both fore and aft to the second gentleman, ostensibly to capture the sonic rapture of his dual-ended gas passing – and my first thought was that i wished it was a three-hundred-pound chick on there instead, so they could add a third mic and go for the fart/belch/queefe trifecta (i guess it's sorta like i heard San Diego described – you lose forty IQ points just stepping off the plane). The one legitimately brilliant song in this showcase of suavity is "Not Quite a Love Song (Clam Slop)," which sounds, almost unbelievably, like El Duce fronting the Jimi Hendrix Experience. I'll put this on at a party at least once before i die, but if it gets taken off ten seconds into song #2, i won't throw the first punch, especially not when i still can't figure out whether they're the Rancid Vat or the Horshacks of the new millennium. BEST SONG TITLE: "Burping up Barf" BEST SONG: "Based on a True Story" or "Not Quite a Love Song (Clam Slop) AMAZING FANTASTIC TRIVIA FACT: The singer's name is "G.G. Duce," but, unconscionably, no member's name is "Peter Torg."
–Rev. Norb (Clambake)


TOMMY AND THE TERRORS:
On the Run: 7" EP
I have a lot of respect for these guys. They drove through a bad snow storm to play a Grange Hall in Maine to an audience of about four. And they played like the place was full. This 7” is right on par. They play tight and clean, not really messing around. Just straight up good ol’ punk with a little rock influence. A nice taste if you haven’t heard them yet, or a good addition if you have.
–Megan Pants (TKO)


TO SEE YOU BROKEN:
A Thief, a Poet, an Enemy: CD
Seven Year Bitch goes metal.
–Jimmy Alvarado (Excursion)


TIGER ARMY:
Early Years EP: CDEP
Six songs to tide people until their next release. This contains four old songs that were recorded before the release of their two full lengths and two alternate tracks of previously released material. Psychobilly for those not in the know. These songs are rawer than their latest, but as enjoyable as the rest.
–Donofthedead (Hellcat)


THROWBACKS, THE:
Throwbacks, Everyday b/w PSA, Enemy: 7"
Fast, friendly, fuck-you street punk from beer drinkin' boys who are quite proud of the fact that they get their hair cut real close to the scalp. Sounds to me a bit like if GG fronted the Ramones and the Ramones knew five or six chords instead of three. Good stuff. I bet they slay live.
–aphid (Dim; www.dimrecords.de)


THIRTY-TWO FRAMES:
Self-titled: CD
Jay Palumbo’s past in Elliott (particularly the elegiac False Cathedrals) wouldn’t have led me to believe that he’d be involved with a straight-forward hardcore record, but here it is, sounding equal parts young Ian MacKaye, Reach The Sky, Unitas and Endpoint (among other musical reference points). This is a punk record in the sense that it wonders how people get so anesthetized, so dull and bland. It’s not explicitly political in the sense that it shouts “Fuck Bush” at every turn, but rather in the sense that it challenges received ideas (religion in “Saints Stolen,” consumer culture in “Affluenza”) and offers suggestions about what questions to ask to begin finding the answers. This disc also includes a rather rockin’ reinterpretation of Tom Petty’s “I Need to Know.”
–Puckett (Revelation)


TEN GRAND:
The Comprehensive List of Everyone Who Has Ever Done Anything Wrong to Us: CD
It’s really too bad that brilliant (or at least marginally clever) song titles don’t make a good record. If I were to judge this record based on song titles like “Never Let Your Girlfriend Go Camping with That Guy She Met in Pottery Class… Trust Me” or “It’s Not a Party Unless You’re Doing It with Someone Else in the Bathroom,” I’d swear it was the greatest thing since Paul Westerberg … or at least Type O Negative. If, on the other hand, I were to judge this by the title (which is the single most off-putting title I’ve been exposed to in years, solely because it makes this band sound like they didn’t take enough beatings over the years), I’d conclude that it was music made by people who really needed to put down their instruments (permanent, like) and get a hug. And I’d be right on the first part. Probably right on the second. And I would have also been right on the third because I would have put this thing back on the shelf and left it to rot at the record store. If you really can’t get enough of bad college rock bands playing dissonant, disjointed, fragmented, angular music to accompany vocals that sound like cats fucking, then you might find this appealing. If, on the other hand, you realize that this whole thing has been done to death and that chaotic screamo shit really isn’t that interesting, you’re probably better off skipping to the next review. Which is exactly what I’m doing.
–Puckett (Sickroom)


TEMPLARS:
The Return of Jacques de Molay: CD
A reissue of this long-running band’s first album. It was recorded in a garage, so there’s a definite demo quality to the tracks. While not my favorite Templars album, there are a few standout tracks to be found and the seeds of their trademark sound are apparent.
–Jimmy Alvarado (GMM)


TEMPLARS:
Phase II: CD
Ahh, that’s more like it. A resissue of the band’s second album here. Great songs on here, all done nice and purty with that jangly-guitar sound that has since become one of their trademarks. If you’re into the bald boy rock thang, this is easily one of the last decade’s bright spots in a pigeonhole that has been otherwise mighty scarce on quality music in recent years. Recommended.
–Jimmy Alvarado (GMM)


SYSTRAL:
Black Smoker: CD
Now that’s what I’m talking about. Ugly as shit, Earache Records styled metal that reminds me of Entombed, Napalm Death, and Carcass. On top of ugly, the music is fierce. I love that cookie monster vocal shit. The lyrics are completely unintelligible. Can’t be offended if I don’t understand what the hell is being sung. But they sure do sound mean. The guitar riffs are heavy and the drums are bashed to the tenth degree. Even though I can’t listen to this style of music on a regular basis, I do grit my teeth and snarl every time I do pull this stuff out. Maybe I will grow my hair long again?
–Donofthedead (Chrome Saint Magnus)


SWITCHBLADE KITTENS:
Hey Punk! Try Heroine(s): CD
I don’t think there are enough all-girl or girl-fronted bands that suit my taste, so I’m always on the lookout for new ones that won’t disappoint me. I was pretty happy to come across the Switchblade Kittens’ new six-song CD. What’s interesting about this band is that there are no guitarists. There are three bass players, one drummer, and a female vocalist. In no way does this impede their sound, though. In fact, knowing this and listening to the music, you can’t help but feel a little impressed at the way the band pulls it off. The songs are fun and catchy and maybe more pop than punk, but they still rock. The first time I listened through the six songs, it occurred to me that the experience was kind of like when you’re watching a bad movie made for a teen audience, but the soundtrack has enjoyable songs with cool female vocals. Turns out that “All Cheerleaders Die” (the second one on the CD and my favorite one to bop along with) is the theme song for a horror flick of the same name. I do have one complaint. It is never a good idea to cover any sappy theme song from any sappy movie, particularly the embarrassing, awful Titanic. And Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” still sucks ass no matter who tries to give it a twist. That’s okay, though. I still want to hear more from the Kittens.
–Felizon Vidad (Switchblade Kittens)


SWEET JAP/DAS BOOT:
: Split 7"
When Flipside entered into the multi-year publishing hiatus that they’re currently wallowing in, I was left with a bunch of releases from the Flipside, no-one-wants-to-review-this pile. I didn’t even listen to most of the stuff. I just stuck it in a shoe box to await a less discriminating time in my life. A few months ago, I finally went through the box to see if I was missing out on any gems, and I found this seven-inch. The cover is really vague and arty, and it took me a while to figure out which bands were on it, but I figured out that Sweet JAP was one of the bands. I knew that name because, if I’m not mistaken, the singer of this band is the guy who did the intro to the newest D4 album. I’d heard good things about them, so I figured I should give this record a spin. I was blown away. It’s like finding a fifty dollar bill in the pocket of a jacket that you haven’t worn for years. Sweet JAP play tight and trashy rock’n’roll that’s reminiscent of the early Replacements in its catchy rawness and reminiscent of Teengenerate in its ability to make your stereo sound like it’s in the middle of a speaker-blowing orgasm. The Das Boot side is good, too. It’s also trashy rock’n’roll, but more in the vein of the New Bomb Turks at their best. As you can probably tell, though, it’s the Sweet JAP side that’s got me going nuts. So, yeah, this release is a couple of years old but what the hell? A gem is a gem. Check it out.
–Sean Carswell (Nice & Neat)


SUPERCHARGER:
Singles Party 1992-1993: CD
This is six Supercharger 7”s conveniently packaged together. Anyone who’s tried to get any of the single releases knows how impossible (or expensive) it is, so this was my first time hearing a some of the stuff on here. Funny fact about this is that the masters were long gone by the time they put this together, so Greg Lowery taped them directly from his record player. My favorite Supercharger song, “Don’t Mess Me Up,” is here, along with songs they apparently weren’t all that happy with in retrospect – the Rezillos cover. A great album to pick up while you hang on to the hope of finding the originals.
–Megan Pants (Rip Off)


STRAWBERRY GIRL:
Illuminated Communications: CD-R
Assorted noisescapes and industrial-type rhythms occupy the majority of the tracks here. Most of it is engaging and there is an obvious purpose to what they’re doing, meaning it’s not just noise for noise sake, but the proceedings would probably benefit from either some quality visual stimuli or some really good acid.
–Todd Taylor (Enterruption)


STRAWBERRY GIRL:
Cassette Cacophony Collection II: CD
More noise collections culled from limited edition cassettes. This set drops all pretense and is almost completely comprised of static patterns and other found noises. Highlight here is a series of tracks made up of nothing more than sheets of white noise that are supposed to serve as a “soundtrack” for porn star Savannah’s film escapades. Should make watching porno flicks considerably more interesting, indeed.
–Jimmy Alvarado (Enterruption)


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