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Razorcake #86
Wailing Of a Town, by Craig Ibarra
Razorcake #85
Pale Angels, Imaginary People LP
Toys That Kill / Joyce Manor, Split 7"


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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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RIDGELANDS, THE:
Daggers Down: LP
On first listen, I would describe this as Midwestern, Johnny Cougar pop punk. That’s not a dig. I like pop punk. I like the Midwest. John Cougar Mellencamp’s “Hurt So Good” is a fucking solid ode to kinky sex. The video is a goddamn masterpiece. Why not? In the gatefold, the trio sits clothed in a bathtub, pouring clear liquid from gasoline canisters over themselves. Crazy kids. I see a skateboard deck, a half-gnawed chicken wing, a G.G. Allin shirt, and cans upon empty cans of Midwestern beer. I bet this band is the life of the house party, frat party, and skate park. If you find yourself headed into any of these situations, consider taking a copy of Daggers Down with you. The packaging is beautiful (colored vinyl, etc.) and it’s impolite to show up empty-handed, you filthy cheapskate!  –John Mule (Sexy Baby, sexybabyrecords.com)


ROCHELLE ROCHELLE:
Self-titled: Cassette
If we lived in a reality where children, instead of becoming adults as they aged, became, say, furry green multi-headed antelopes that shit out, like, gems and miniature cities instead of poop, and everyone talked out of their eyes, and rubbing the soles of one’s foot with someone else’s foot was considered the most intimate form of human contact, then Rochelle Rochelle would be the biggest house band in the universe. But since we live here, in this reality, this tape sounds like the droll, trying soundtrack to a demented kids’ show, full of reverb and no information besides song titles and, honestly, I just don’t have the patience for it. –Keith Rosson (Muckman)


ROMAN CANDLES:
“Yorba Linda” b/w “Crystal Cathedral”: 7”
Chris Gordon is not simply an angry punk who writes about what he sees on the news. This two-song seven inch is a testament to that. The short essay on the insert makes all the difference by not simply throwing music into the world expecting the listeners to interpret it correctly, but rather putting the effort to explain, “This is why I made this.” Gordon is honest; he pulls from his life experience admitting his disappointments with his hometown as well as the reluctance with which he leaves it. While the lyrics themselves—sung in strained pleads that were too lacking in definitive melody—did not stir radical feelings of rebellion in my chest, the context they were presented in won me over.  –Ashley (Self-released, fuckthestowaways.blogspot.com, romancandlesmusic@gmail.com)


ROYAL PINES:
Three Sheets: LP
Interesting collusion of Fall-esque post punk and maybe some odd rock stuff that would not have been out of place on Am Rep or Alternative Tentacles back in the day. If this were the 1980s (and Three Sheetshas that quality about it: it could just as easily have been recorded then as now), you’d just call this stuff “college rock” and be good to go. Slightly droning and very layered and braced by challenging rhythms and tempos, it’s a record that seethes along pretty decently. A far cry from my usual fare, but convincing enough. –Keith Rosson (Grey Chord)


RUINED FAMILIES:
Blank Language: LP
Tearing through nine songs of chunky, angular riffs and staccato yells, Ruined Families, from Athens, Greece, play evolved hardcore with post-screamo, post-punk, post-whatever flourishes. They make an impact immediately. The arrangements aren’t the derivative loud-quiet-loud formula that is the go-to for current emotive hardcore bands. Instead, the aural assault begins with “Only Need Is Real” and continues through to the last song, “Pedestal.” The subtle tonal shifts make for an engaging listen. From metallic assault, like Florida’s Ex-Breathers, to the shoegaze-lite of “Easy Living,” Ruined Families stretch their legs in a genre sadly synonymous with uniformity. Also, the lyrics are divisive with plenty of food for thought, criticizing capitalist parenting and punk stereotypes: “We were born inside a trap. The punks want their money back.” Thoughtful stuff. –Sean Arenas (Adagio830, adagio830.de)


RUINS / USNEA:
Split: EP
An exercise in the dark and heavy. One song from each band, and I would definitely like to hear more from Ruins. They walk in the Tragedy realm, though they have a slightly catchier and melodic side that helps propel them far ahead of others who tread the same ground. The song, “Only the End of the World” begins with an apocalyptic tone then kicks into a full-on attack that is as rocking as it is heavy. Time changes throughout to keep the listener interested as well as adding more depth to the music. Usnea slow things down considerably with their contemplative sludge that’s slightly marred by the higher range vocal growling that comes in towards the end. Should have left that out and just let the music do the talking.  –Matt Average (Halo Of Flies, halooffliesrecords.com / Twisted Chords, twisted-chords.de)


SAM RUSSO / BRENDAN KELLY:
Split: 7”
Looks like we have another entry in the punk rock retirement acoustic solo career sweepstakes. Tim Barry and Chuck Ragan sure opened the floodgates on the “mature and pick up an acoustic guitar” trajectory. The two tunes by Sam Russo here are quite tuneful and downright strong. Not sure if he is ex any band but there are some real songwriting chops here and the British accent lends an air of sophistication to the proceedings. Brendan Kelly is the Lawrence Arms/Slapstick dude and turns in two songs as well. The songs on his side of the split are perfectly passable acoustic songs that don’t really stand out but are still good. It takes a lot to really shine with just an acoustic guitar and vocals. Not everyone can be Chad Price or Jon Snodgrass. –Mike Frame (Red Scare)


SASHCLOTH AND AXES:
Zeus: LP
If there is a soundtrack better than this for those S and M folks out there, put it up against this record. Imagine if Q Lazarus recorded more than one song and you’re half way there. Sashcloth And Axes make dark and driving dance floor music, the kind that makes you want to take your pants off before your shirt. Fans of Q Lazarus, dark-wave, and Dark Entries Records will fall in love with this record. The vocals are minimal and mostly consist of sexual moaning. If you mashed up Thriller and some old Clan Of Xymox, this happens. Limited copies come with a very X-rated coloring book where you can connect-the-dots to make a penis, pick different styles of breasts to put on a woman’s chest, and color an illustration of “The Hasselhoff” position next to phrases like, “Color me harder!”  –Ryan Nichols (Self-released, no address listed)


SCUMRISE:
Super Hits: Cassette
With a bevy of influences on display such as hardcore, hard rock, and punk I can only assume that Scumrise is unfamiliar with bands like Cursed, Burning Love, and To Hell And Back who have proven that this style only works for a chosen few. Not awful but not spectacular and that is precisely the problem. –Juan Espinosa (Scumrise, scumrise.bandcamp.com)


SEAGULLS:
Royal We/ All the World’s Wars: CD-R
A spit-shined produced version of Seagulls’ live set. Equal sonic parts Florida and Fat Wreck with a heavy dose of dirty South ATL. Steve roars with a Pink Eyes ferocity while Dom and Billy wheel and loop their guitar leads around the rhythm section like ripcord dervishes. You can see and feel the plywood stage buckle under the pressure of the band’s incessant energy. Not sure where their penchant for basketball jerseys comes from—and some songs could have had a bit of fat trimmed from their lengths—but still recommended for ratcheting up your already soaring mood. –Matt Seward (seagullsatl.bandcamp.com)


SELF ABUSE:
Teenage: LP
A vinyl pressing of what was originally a cassette-only release originally making the rounds in 1983 from a now lesser-known Bournemouth UK82 band. The tunes are very much of that time and genre, but they also manage to sneak in a bit of the kind of post-punk influence popular with that era’s anarcho-punk cabal of bands as well. The tunes are strong individually, but I gotta say, taken one after the other the sameness of much of what here starts to blend together into once long mush of a tune. This is a recommended purchase, with the caveat that it might be best to drop it into your greater playlist and hit random for maximum effect. –Jimmy Alvarado (Loud Punk)


SERIOUS SAM BARRETT:
Any Road: LP
It’s interesting how it seems that if done genuinely, any genre of music can become punk music if played by punks. The genre at hand is rootsy, acoustic, country, folk stuff. When executed with this much energy and passion, Sam could be playing a goddamn slide whistle and it would still sound like distorted guitar in my brain. It should be no surprise that Mr. Barrett’s previous LP was released on Arkam Records, and he has toured with the Pine Hill Haints. Both he and they do an exceptional job of staying true to a lifetime’s worth of punk music while still playing something totally different. Having a song about touring with Kid Little doesn’t hurt either. –Daryl Gussin (YaDig?, serioussam13@hotmail.co.uk)


SERPENTINE PATH:
Emanations: CD
When I had to look inside the liner notes to read the band’s name because the front was indecipherable, I knew I was in trouble. Dull, plodding music with painfully unmelodic vocals. Sounds like grindcore? You are correct! I can’t stomach this but the cover of a woman turning into a snake was titillating for a second.  –Sean Koepenick (relapse.com)


SETE STAR SEPT / NEW YORK AGAINST THE BELZEBU:
Spilt: EP
Dull and pointless noisecore from both bands. If you want to see the negative effects of the “anyone can do it” mentality championed by punk rock, then look no further than the cynical crap of the contemporary noisecore scene. Sure, anyone can do it, but that does not mean that they should.  –Matt Average (SPHC, sphc.bigcartel.com)


SHANKS, THE:
Surfing the Lexicon: LP
Sometimes I think I listen to music wrong. Take this record, for example. When I listen to it, I hear absolutely perfect indie rock with a mid-’90s vibe. It sounds like music by guys who’ve listened to Bob Mould’s solo album guitar work (not just Hüsker Dü). It sounds like music by guys who understand what makes Guided By Voices tick. The first side ends with some slower stuff. “Miss Virginia” is the kind of patient, fuzzy tune that gives me the spine chills. None of the tunes move faster than a solid gallop. I wouldn’t describe any of this as snarling or metal. Yet the sticker on the cover of the record compares this band to the Dead Boys and (huh?) Big Business. Is someone really getting that vibe from this record? Maybe I’m wrong. Surely the record label knows what the band sounds like. Still, I like listening to this band my way better. –MP Johnson (Phratry)


SIAMESE TWINS:
Corner:: LP
The cover art looks like something straight outta the 1990s catalog of either Amphetamine Reptile or Touch And Go, but the music is reverb-laden, occasionally gloomy post-punk with maybe a nod or two to the dream pop end of the sandbox. Though I do wish the results were just a smidge catchier, they do it well, keeping the instrumentation to a minimum, effectively setting appropriate mood and not dipping too far in the direction of any particular subgenre. Definitely a band to keep an eye on. –Jimmy Alvarado (Eunuch, eunuchrecords.storenvy.com)


SIGHTLINES / CRYSTAL SWELLS:
Split: 7”
The mauve/gray-colored vinyl is reminiscent of the gray matter and blood missing from the exposed cranial cavities of the two figures depicted in the cover art. I like that, a lot. Both bands are out of Vancouver, BC. Sightlines blends power pop and pop punk into this weird, anxiety-inducing sound that makes me want to pace the floor like I’m making awkward small talk on the telephone, in a good way. Crystal Swells put out some noisy punk. Bass, drums, and guitar come together like a beast with three backs, only to burst apart thrashing and wailing while subtle vocals weave through the madness. All hell’s broken loose and there is no caging this beast. –Jackie Rusted (Self-released, sightlines.bandcamp.com / crystalswells.bandcamp.com)


SISTERKISSER / RUMSPRINGER:
Split: 7” EP
Sister Kisser: Gruff and/or flat-vocaled indie pop punk with hooks aplenty. The songs are innocuous enough, and are sugar-sticky and simple without being lug-headed, but on the whole they don’t really stand out from the umpteen other bands populating the pack. Rumspringer: Sure, there’s some musical DNA overlap in evidence here that is shared with their record-mates, but Rumspringer’s working on a whole other level of hooks and sonic sophistication, and they do so with a deceptive ease in delivery that make the results all the more impressive. As a result, it’s about as unfair to compare the two as it is to put a bonobo in a cage with a nine hundred pound silverback and expect it to hold its own.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Dead Broke)


SLOW SCIENCE / THE DAUNTLESS ELITE:
Split: 12”
My first exposure to Slow Science was two and a half years ago with the band being sandwiched between Crazy Arm and Muncie Girls on a low key, midweek gig here in Plymouth (U.K.). I was highly impressed with the performance of the quartet and later that week picked up a download of the band’s demo EP which indicated that it was as good in a studio as it was live. With its members being involved in other musical endeavors, this 12” is the first proper release for Slow Science and just as is heard on the demo, there is a “kitchen sink” approach to song writing/structure, with a plethora of influences being applied throughout. The two tracks here are intricate and suitably diverse, with a sound created by easing an indie rock basis down a number of tangents to reach a beautifully lush outcome that although complex is never confused or overstated. The Dauntless Elite has been around the block quite a few more times than Slow Science and adopts a much more straightforward style in its presentation. The band dishes up a pair of songs full of melodies ingrained with enough Yorkshire grit to add a few rough edges here and there. It’s a good effort from the Elite but for me this split belongs to Slow Science, a band who by the time you’ve read this, will unfortunately have ceased to be. –Rich Cocksedge (Bombed Out, bombedout.com)


SLUTS:
12” of Sluts: LP
I have a good friend who probably owns most of G.G. Allin’s records (although I think he feels some shame that his friends know this.) When I excitedly asked him if he was going to buy a record called 12” of Sluts, he told me he would pass, that he thinks he heard a bootleg of it years ago and didn’t care for it. Why old punx gotta be jaded? With a band name and a record name like these, you can’t help but be interested. I have a hard time making out the words, but with song titles like “Fuck You,” “Cunning Linguist,” and “Mom’s Cunt” you can kinda fill in the blanks. Makes me think of the “cursing club” I had with some friends when I was a kid. Our goal was to say as many bad words as often as possible. –Sal Lucci (Jeth-Row, jethrowrecords.bigcartel.com)


SMOOTH BRAIN:
One of Them: 7”
Smooth Brain play aggressive garage punk that is more like adrenaline-pumping street racing, not beach balls, pastel sunglasses, and jean jackets. Each song is a tasty morsel of shouted melodies—albeit indecipherable lyrics—with the type of fuzzy production values that enhance the attitude instead of solely disguising the flubs. I find myself satisfied, nothing less, nothing more. Big bonus: Nathan Ward’s cover and insert art is killer. It reminds me of Gary Panter in the best possible way. –Sean Arenas (Dead Broke, deadbrokerec@gmail.com / Lost Cat, lostcatrecords.org / Root Of Evil, rootofevilcollective.com)


SNAKE HANDLER:
Enjoy the View: 7”
Yes. Now we’re talking. Furious, dark hardcore in the Poison Idea vein with a slightly more chaotic slant, made all the more aggressive and frenzied by Orchid/Ampere wizard Will Killingsworth’s ultraviolent mix. Killer cover art to boot. Awesome. –Dave Williams (Victimized, snakehandler.bandcamp.com)


SNIFFS, THE:
A Bad Time: Cassette
This is a high quality, five-song catchy demo from D.C. The Spits probably were the main influence on The Sniffs, or at least the main recent influence. That’s not a bad thing at all. I like the vocalist’s snotty tone and the lyrics are great, especially on the song “Prosecutor,” which is an indictment of those who indict. I’ll be sniffing out future releases from The Sniffs for sure.  –Art Ettinger (Self-released, thesniffs.bandcamp.com)


SNOOKYS, THE:
Steroids: 7” EP
High-octane garage punk. The production is remarkably clean compared to, say, the Mummies or even Teengenerate, which adds a bit more intensity and a sense of tightness to their delivery. Not bad at all. –Jimmy Alvarado (Bedo, bedorecords.bigcartel.com)


SOFTLINES:
Self-titled: Cassette
There is nothing soft about this band. Linear, yeah okay. But soft? No way. There are parts that are fuzzy but in the same vein that the scrubby part of a sponge is fuzzy. I’d certainly describe them as abrasive, cutting, and piercing. Their guitar work is bright and warm, the drums are fierce, the bass is deep and poppy. Vocal stylings are slowed down, drawn-out melodies that pair more with the bass in tempo than anything else. Reminds me a bit like the vocals in Big Eyes. This recording is only two people in a practice space in Buffalo, NY. It’s mixed really well and has a full, robust, and complex sound. Lots of nice nuances in this band. My only diss is the unlabeled cassette. For real guys, at least write your band name on it. I got two unmarked tapes both from your practice space and the only distinction is color. My only hope is they find a third member and take this out of the studio. –Kayla Greet (Self-released)


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