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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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J CHURCH:
One Mississippi: CD
I not a real big fan of J Church. I love their song "Alone When She Dies" off the "The Drama of Alienation" CD. It touched me. But that is about it for me. I liked Lance’s previous band, Cringer, more. I used to see them all the time when they moved to LA before moving north to SF. J Church used to pump out the releases for awhile. I don’t see that many advertisements for new releases anymore. I saw them recently and maybe due to lack of alcohol, I was lackadaisical about their performance. If anybody knows my brother Katz and sees Lance, you would swear they were twins now. This release leaves me kind of unmoved. I hear elements of REM and college rock. It’s kind of folk-like with a rock mix. Don’t get me wrong, but it just does not grip me. J Church fans should disregard all that I say and continue on with their lives. –Donofthedead (Honest Don's)


ITCH:
Euphoria: CDEP
A weird shaped CD put out to commemorate the tenth anniversary of our bombing the shit out of Iraq. The first track is a sort of sound collage highlighting how silly the war propaganda machine has gotten over the whole thing. The other two tracks are largely forgettable. Shoulda just stuck with the first track and left well enough alone, ’cause that was the one that most effectively made its point. –Jimmy Alvarado (Itch)


INTERNATIONAL NOISE CONSPIRACY:
Survival Sickness: CD
Quasi-militant rock/punk with ‘60s underpinnings. I liked this a lot better than the single I heard a year or two ago. Actually, I’m pretty damn thankful it wasn’t more pop punk crap. –Jimmy Alvarado (Epitaph/Burning Heart)


ICARUS LINE, THE:
Mono: CD
Dicordant, noisy, arty, morose. I liked it. Judging solely by the name, I thought Todd was fucking with my hatred of emo when he gave it to me. –Jimmy Alvarado (Crank)


I HATE MYSELF:
Self-titled: CD
Aurally, this is uneventful, underwhelming, and not all that unique. Although I Hate Myself tumultuously teeter-totter at times, they ultimately tread a fine line between overwrought emo emissions of sound and bratty propulsions of unoriginal indie-rock redundancy. The vocalist excruciatingly screams with all-out unrelenting rage as if his pecker's been pierced with an old rusty icepick, but sometimes he fades into indechipherable choirboy harmonies that are almost angelic in nature... the guitars are quaint and pretty (meandering, soaring, and frolicking like huge fluffy clouds rolling through the statuesque solemnity of rugged snow-capped mountains)... the rhythm section is adequately appealing in the sense that my toes frenetically tapped along to the beat on occasion. I just don't know... after listening to this, I got the distinct gut-level feeling that I've heard it all before... indeed, it's interchangeable and indistinguishably replaceable with everything else in the emo-charged world of musical monotony. I want music to move me; to inspire me; to shake my senses silly; to create intense feelings of euphoria, soothe the inner child within me, or unleash the big bad beast in me. I have no need for music that numbs me with teary-eyed melancholy or causes me to desperately dwell in my very own self-made misery or makes me blearily contemplate the meaningless morbidity of life. Unfortunately, emo often does just that... it's pouty hippy-church music for today's disaffected sulking PC youth (nothin' a swift kick in the ass and an eye-opening dose of harsh reality can't cure though!). Yep, give 'em the boot, and then kick out the jams, motherfuckers! –Guest Contributor (I Hate Myself)


I HATE MYSELF:
Drama in the Emergency Room: 7"
I’m almost sure that is the band’s name and the same goes for the title. The penmanship of whomever wrote the titles and the lyrics needs to consider others trying to read it. I’m no secretary having to read somebody’s bad writing every day. This has a arty cover with the bad penmanship. Music wise, this sounds like emo to me. –Donofthedead (No Idea)


HEROINE SHEIKS, THE:
Rape on the Installment Plan: CD
This is Shannon of the Cows’ latest musical endeavor, and it don’t sound all that different from the Cows, which is a pretty good thing if you happen to be a fan of that now-defunct band. The group itself is a sort of super group, featuring members of Ultra Bide, the Swans and Foetus, and they easily provide their charismatic front man with enough solid, noisy grooves to make the whole thing one hell of a listen. Oh, and yes, he did bring his bugle along for the ride. –Jimmy Alvarado (Reptilian)


HEROINE SHEIKS, THE:
Rape on the Installment Plan: CD
This is spine-tingling audial insanity... nefarious, noisy, and abnormally erratic... Butthole Surfers-style noise terrorism... an electroshock-induced sonic nervous breakdown. It's cacophonously comparable to thick coats of fluorescent candlewax melting in the mind and oozing snail-like out of the ears like serpentine streaks of alien-monster penis goop. After just one harrowing listen to this ear-plundering platter of twisted psychotic sounds, I feel as if I've been beaten within an inch of my life, violently lobotomized, and then left, bloodied and bruised, for a circling flock of flesh-starved vultures... indeed, beware the brain-rattling musical bewilderment that The Heroine Sheiks will hellishly heap upon you! –Guest Contributor (Reptilian)


HELLNATION:
Cheerleaders for Imperialism: CD
Hyper-speed blur-core with screaming fetus vocals. In all, you get 29 songs in 17 ½ minutes. Now that’s what I call more bang for your buck. –Jimmy Alvarado (Slap A Ham)


HELLIONS, THE:
Self-titled: CD
These are the bastard demon-spawned purgatorial offspring of Lemmy and Motorhead... sinful, wicked, and belligerently bad-to-the-bone... ugly, mean, nasty, and evilly vile! The Hellions crudely crank-out a skull-fracturing assault of insanely souped-up audial madness that's thunderously louder than a corpse-strewn apocalyptic battlefield and just as confrontationally fierce! With balls-out bad-ass brutality, they ferociously roar through such sonically volatile stormings as "Think for Me," "Death Row Romeo," "Case of the Bads" ("Hot rod rebel/ I'm a real tough man... I'm going to hell as fast as I can!"), "Teen Rage," "Blacked Out," "What's Yer Poison," and "Switchblade Rock'n'Roll" (my personal fist-thrustin' favorite!). Satan better beware; these mayhemic musical miscreants are gonna knock him cross-eyed and silly right off his flame-broiled throne as they rabidly conquer Hell and beyond with their 100% blend of killer kick-ass rock'n'roll rambunctiousness. Fuck yeah, The Hellions whipped my ears into a frantic frenzy of brain-bustin' bewilderment, and I now have serious doubts as to whether I'll ever return to a non-convulsive state of semi-coherent normalcy. Oh well, who cares?! Long live The Hellions! –Guest Contributor (Hello Records)


HELLBENDERS/SAFETY PINS:
Split: CD
Hellbenders: Punk fueled rock’n’roll that struts its stuff at a nice clip. Safety Pins: More of the same, only with gruffer vocals and a Spanish accent. Good listenin’. –Jimmy Alvarado (Dead Beat)


HELLACOPTERS/FLAMING SIDEBURNS:
White Trash Soul: CDEP
A couple o’ trashy rock bands take a stab at soul music. The Hellacopters weigh in with two apt Motown covers and a Flaming Sideburns cover, while the Flaming Sideburns offer two originals and a Hellacopters cover. The effort is not bad, but it seems to me that the Sideburns kinda eschew the whole soul thing and opt to do what they do, which ain’t too bad. –Jimmy Alvarado (Bad Afro)


HAWKWIND:
Weird Tapes 4: Live : CD
The straightest-ahead of the Weird Tapes discs: it’s all (gasp) from one Hawkwind lineup, no ringers from side bands or solo projects tossed in, all live Hawkwind from 1978.  Definitely more rockin’ than the bulk of these releases, and probably the most highly recommended of the Weird Tapes discs - if you only want to buy one (at first…) you could do worse than to start with v. 4.  It’s got “Urban Guerilla,” probably my favorite Hawkwind song bar none, and the consistency of this disc makes it the most palatable to the ear in ways than the grab-bag nature of the other discs in the Weird Tapes series - it basically sounds like an unreleased live album, and a pretty good one at that.  Definitely a worthy addition to the canon. –Guest Contributor (Hawk Records/Voiceprint)


HAWKWIND:
Weird Tapes 5: Live : CD
Here we find unspecified (as to date-and-location) live excerpts from two different lineups, one from the seven-piece ‘76 band with Nik Turner and one from ‘77 following the departure of Turner, bassist Paul Rudolph and one of the two drummers.   A bit more laid-back and less raging than the majority of live Hawkwind records overall, there’s still plenty going on here and unlike the first three volumes of the Weird Tapes it’s all Hawkwind and all prime.  Plus, there’s even a vintage radio ad for “Quark, Strangeness & Charm” on Sire Records thrown in for good measure.  (I wouldn’t mind hearing more of this kind of audio ephemera on the Weird Tapes series: after all, with the Weird Tapes name as a caveat emptor, it seems like about any kind of recording could be legitimately included, as long as it’s audible.  Band dialogue, arguments, crowd noise, whatever.  Hell, it’s not like people don’t already expect freaky shit from Hawkwind anyway.) –Guest Contributor (Hawk Records/Voiceprint)


HAWKWIND:
Weird Tapes 3: Free Festivals: CD
This one’s almost too good to be true: Hawkwind at Stonehenge!  The first five tracks are, anyway - recorded at a free festival amongst the famous stones in 1977 - while the remaining three come from a 1975 gig (the Watchfield Festival, apparently) with a totally different lineup besides Brock.  The latter are a bit lower-fi than the Stonehenge tracks, which are nice and clear, but the Watchfield extracts only comprise about a quarter of the playing time anyway - obviously the Stonehenge stuff is the main attraction here. –Guest Contributor (Hawk Records/Voiceprint)


HAWKWIND:
Weird Tapes 2: Hawkwind Live/Hawklords Studio : CD
This volume of the Weird Tapes presents a five-track chunk from a 1977 “Spirit of the Age” tour Leicester gig, filled out with three Hawklords (the band Dave Brock formed after temporarily breaking up Hawkwind in the late ‘70s - which quickly evolved back into Hawkwind, naturally enough) studio tracks, presumably otherwise unreleased.  Nice clear sound on the live stuff and a focus here on poet/vocalist Bob Calvert’s material: four of the five Hawkwind cuts have a Calvert writing or co-writing credit.  Interesting contrast with the Hawklords tracks, which are sans Calvert although he was among the  ‘lords initially.  Creative tensions aside, he’s in fine form here, as is the rest of the group.  The Hawklords cuts aren’t quite as striking, being a bit keys-heavy guitar-light, and the sound’s a bit pinched, but they’re not too problematic; if nothing else they certainly help justify the Weird Tapes heading. –Guest Contributor (Hawk Records/Voiceprint)


HAWKWIND:
Weird Tapes 1: Sonic Assassins, Dave Brock: CD
This initial entry in the “Weird Tapes” series is basically a split release, combining half an album’s worth of the Sonic Assassins live on Christmas Eve 1977 with a bit less than half an album’s worth of Dave Brock solo tracks, plus one extant Hawkwind live version of “Who’s Gonna Win the War,” perhaps to justify the Hawkwind logo on the front, since the bulk of the album isn’t technically Hawkwind.  Still, the Sonic Assassins (described in Pete Frame’s Rock Family Trees as Brock’s local/second-string group of the time) here also feature full-fledged Hawkwind member Bob Calvert alongside the Assassins, two of whom would end up in the Hawklords in a short while anyway.  It’s a bit less straight-up spacey as Hawkwind proper, with a few more jazzy overtones, but if you put this stuff on a comp in between Hawkwind tracks I doubt you’d hear a shocking difference.  Brock’s solo stuff here falls a bit in the sparse-and-experimental category, and is overall of less interest except for “Assassination,” which is more successful. –Guest Contributor (Hawk Records/Voiceprint)


HAWKWIND:
Spacebrock: CDR
Whereas the other Hawkwind discs I’m writing about here are archival releases, “Spacebrock” is an all-new for 2000 album.  As you might expect, it sounds vastly different from the vintage stuff and features a completely different lineup other than titular mainman Dave Brock himself; actually, the largely electronic and sample-based sound of the disc in combination with the title tends to make one wonder if this isn’t effectively a solo album with several contributions by Brock’s touring cohorts.  Regardless, don’t expect a spacerock retread or simulation here - I get the idea Brock’s basically trying to reinvent the spacerock idea for the present, and he’s often very successful.  Someone who only liked, say, the Hawks with Lemmy-era stuff might be a bit startled - hell, they might not even recognize it as Hawkwind - but as long as you don’t come to the party expecting the familiar it shouldn’t be a problem.  The oddest thing is the credit on the back that says “Life Form” was in the movie “Any Given Sunday.”  Really?  That Al Pacino/Cameron Diaz football movie?  I didn’t see it - I’m not big on sports - but now I almost want to check it out to see if the Hawks are in the background there or what. –Guest Contributor (Hawk Records/Voiceprint)


HAWKWIND:
Family Tree: CD
The actual Hawkwind content on this album is a bit on the low side, basically consisting of one ’79 version of “MotorwayCity”; the rest is extracurricular cuts by members of the current Hawkwind lineup.  The first half of the record is the most un-Hawklike, since Brock didn’t have anything to do with it as far as I can tell.  The second half features four all-Brock-all-instruments tracks (which sound pretty similar to what’s on “Spacebrock”), one track by Brock plus two Hawks, then ends with the live ’79 cut.  Not at all a bad listen, but not as essential as the other Hawkwind/Voiceprint releases by any means. –Guest Contributor (Hawk Records/Voiceprint)


HAWKWIND:
Atomhenge 76: CD
If I had to break down and recommend one of this batch of Hawkwind records, “Atomhenge 76” is definitely it.  This is prime stuff, the spaciest, tastiest space rock of the bunch.  Good lineup, an amazing great version of “Reefer Madness” kicking it off, classics like “Brainstorm” and “Sonic Attack,” plus a bunch of tunes I wasn’t already familiar with.  Up there with the best of my Hawks records, this is the one I find myself reaching for the most, of the stuff that’s newer to the Hawkwind section and hasn’t already been listened to fifty times like “Complete ’79” or “Space Ritual.” –Guest Contributor (Hawk Records/Voiceprint)


HALF JAPANESE:
Hello: CDR
God, I haven’t seen this name in quite a while. What you get is some great post-Velvets/Beefheart art pop with enough of a “punk” edge to keep the proceedings more than entertaining. This is welcome change of pace around these parts, believe me. Recommended. –Jimmy Alvarado (Alternative Tentacles)


H2O:
It Was a Good Day: 7"
Two covers here, side one being an embarrassing, punked up cover of Cube’s “Good Day” and side two being a shitty cover of a shitty Suicidal song, “I Want More.” If there is a God, someone’s gonna do some serious time in punk rock hell for this release. –Jimmy Alvarado (Sideonedummy)


GINA GO FASTER/ THE THIRTEENS:
Split: 7"EP
Gina Go Faster have been a sleeper favorite of mine for awhile. I forget about them for six months at a time because the name’s kinda weird, but the songs are a-rockin’, and I’m always pleased when I pop one of their releases on. “Here We Go” and “2 Steps from Home” are low-fi, high-energy songs that are sweet and crunchy like bubblegum dropped on a sidewalk, and re-popped into your mouth. Real fun garage power pop. The Thirteens are pretty standard and straddle the line between punk and hardcore (screamed vocals, trapped drummer syndrome, soaring guitar chords). To be sure, the songs are competently played, but there’s at least fifteen current bands that do it better. Their effort’s not piss, but not as good as a two 40 ozs (which would be in the same price range). –Todd Taylor (King Bee)


FRENZAL RHOMB:
Shut Your Mouth: CD
An average band in my opinion. They never seem to float my boat with their melodicore and silly lyrics. I know people must like them because they are on Fat. But I am not one of them. –Donofthedead (Fat)


FOUNDATION:
Self-titled: CDR
Rare has been the occasion when a CD hits the bottom of a trashcan as fast as this one did. Neo-hippie shit with non-fuzzed guitars, a song named after a Cocteau Twins EP and a Tom Waits cover, dressed up in packaging that gives the impression that they’re either straight edge hardcore (which ain’t much better) or noise metal. –Jimmy Alvarado (Ann Beretta)


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