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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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CANNOMEN:
7': EP
The label told me to play this at 45 and it was total Chipmunk-core. Then I noticed it said, “For smoke and lightning, play this at 45.” Fair enough. Playing it at the right speed, it sounds like early Replacements worship—rough, speedy, and yell-y. The first track kind of dragged after hearing the lightning version, but the b-side is pretty good. –joe (Flat Black)


BROADSIDERS, THE / AIRES AND GRACES:
Split:: 7"
I couldn’t stop thinking about how much The Broadsiders from Texas sound like The Business, until I checked out their myspace page and saw they’re the band The Broadsiders open for at their next shows. Their lyrics complain that “Tired styles reign the streets.” That is true, and their side of this 7”, while not bad, ironically proves their point. Aires And Graces have one original and a cover of the Dead Boys’ “Sonic Reducer” on their side. The cover is good because, let’s be honest, somehow it’s really hard to fuck up on a song that rad. Unfortunately, their original, while more street punk, is just another oi song about a junkie’s death not being important. These bands really enjoy shadowing The Business. –Rene Navarro (Longshot)


BORN TO LOSE:
The Dreams of Kids: CD
This is a frustrating one. I hit play on this and the music smacked me upside the head and made me pay attention. Alright, forget that whole pirate thing happening on the cover; this is shaping up to be good. Then came the lead vocals. Way up front and cartoonishly over exaggerated. It kept me from focusing on how good the music and songwriting is. He just needed to tone it down a few notches and this record would be excellent. I can’t really tell if that is a second vocalist doing the backups and occasional verses, but the backup stuff sounds great. If all the vocals were that way, they’d be on to something. –ty (Altercation)


BOILING OVER:
Trash City: EP
If this record would have come out during the early 2000s, I bet Boiling Over would really have raised some eyebrows in their native Chicago. Unfortunately, we’re well into a whole new decade and hardcore isn’t quite the same. Even by the bare minimum standards of “at least it’s fast” hardcore, this is pretty basic and unoriginal. Side B of this record is a tad angrier and faster than side A and, during its best moments, brings to mind Tear It Up and Down In Flames. The live action shot on the back of the cover suggests that these guys are quite possibly sincere, fun-loving guys who don’t take themselves too seriously. Then again, there’s also three X’s on the bottom left hand corner. –Juan Espinosa (Lifeline)


BOILERMAN:
Demo: Cassette
What is it about Chicago and excellent pop punk? Screeching Weasel, Smoking Popes… and now Boilerman. They play fast and gritty with catchy little guitar leads and no snot, just sincerity. The raw recording puts the detonating guitars up front and makes the already dynamic songs kick all the more ass. Five songs, summed up by these lyrics: “All I want’s to be productive/But what is there to do?” –CT Terry (boilerxman@gmail.com)


BLOOD BOMBER:
Self-titled: CD
This band’s myspace brags about featuring former members of Dissucks. That caught my attention, since the first Dissucks 7” is one of my all-time favorites. I dug it out, looked at the band members, and didn’t see any matching names. Odd, but that would explain why this band really sounds nothing like Dissucks. I suppose Blood Bomber are good, but all I’m hearing in my head now is “Better Day” from that Dissucks 7”, and nothing on this disc matches that. The dangers of listing your band as “former members of…” –mp (Self-released, myspace.com/bloodbomberpunks)


BLANK, THE:
The Art of Day Drinking: CDEP
A two-man band playing skronky noise rock stuff, with lotsa rhythmic variations and the occasional nod to more jazzy influences to keep things interesting. As with most two-man bands, it sounds a little incomplete and flat to these ears without someone flailing away on a bass. Totally admit it’s a personal preference, one that others may not share, and personal preferences aside, they do what they do quite well and are definitely worth a look-see. –jimmy (theblanktheband.com)


BLACKHEART SAINTS, THE:
Sick in Love: 7"
Based on the band’s name, this sounded exactly like I expected it to sound,: mid- to quick-tempo punk rock’n’roll tunes about hard luck and hard living. Sure, it was rather predictable and bordered on formulaic, but I liked it anyway because this is one of the rock genres that I dig the most. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Electric Heart)


BLACK SCORPIO UNDERGROUND, THE:
Attica: CD
Somewhere out there is a person who is tired of listening to Enigma and wants something a little darker. Maybe they’re looking for a CD with over forty-five minutes of looped, arrhythmic boombox percussion, ambient synths, and cryptic sound bites. If they are, then The Black Scorpio Underground has just the album for them. I’m proud to say that I’m not that person—I’d never get tired of Enigma. –CT Terry (myspace.com/blackscorpiounderground)


BATTLEFLASK:
Smile!... Tomorrow Will Be Worse: CD
I’ve reviewed these guys before. The CD didn’t work. This one does and I like it. Hard-driving punk rock with a bleak outlook on life, but you’re too busy bopping your head up and down to get depressed about it. The singer’s voice sometimes had a bit of a Joey Shithead cadence to it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I could do without the touches of country twang and Dropkick Murphys’ teat suckling though. It’s predictable and the songs are damn fine without it. –ty (Fallen Angel)


BANGERS / BREAK THE HABIT:
Split: LP
Two sides of British gruff-voiced pop punk. Bangers do theirs with little bits of Hot Water Music-esque breakdowns to keep things vaguely interesting. Big sing-a-long choruses probably get the kids all riled up back home. The pacing is a little off, the songs seem to speed up and slow down at awkward times, and the snare pop is pretty annoying. Despite all that, it’s not a bad effort, just nothing terribly exciting or innovative these days, which leads me to the Break The Habit side. My hope is that Break The Habit is a novelty act, the Jewdriver or Manic Hispanic of the shirts off beard-core drones that every other band at Fest has become. How else do you explain these lyrics: “We are singing, we are dancing all night long with our favourite bands to our favourite songs. There is nowhere that we’d rather be, and I’m so glad that you’re here with me. Just another show. Same old bullshit, same old friends.” Same old bullshit, indeed. This is “Bro Hymn,” only with different stripes of shitty beer and bad tattoos behind it. –Jeff Proctor (This One’s For the Crew, myspace.com/thisonesforthecrew)


BAND NAME:
Insert Band Name Hear: CD
This is one disorganized little package here. It took me awhile to figure out that the band is actually called Band Name... Seriously, unless you were entered in some sort of shitty band name competition, you just aren’t even trying. After getting over that little bit of confusion, I found that I really like the music. Jangly, punkish indie rock in the late ‘80s sense of the term. I keep thinking of a way sloppier Dinosaur Jr. or some kind of bizarre Sonic Youth/Dead Milkmen/Superchunk hybrid. Honestly, it’s better than that description looks on paper. One more thing: Hey Band Name! Take a minute and think of an actual band name. –ty (myspace.com/bandnameb4tv)


BABY TEARS:
Self-titled: CD
Overblown, overdriven, and over-the-top sonic bombast. If I was the dude from In the Red Records, I would definitely pay close attention to ‘em, ‘cause they definitely fit within that label’s noisy, trashy rock purview. –jimmy (doomtownrecords.com)


ATOM AGE, THE:
Kill Surf City: CD
Though nothing here really stuck, their approach to the punk thang was just off-kilter enough to keep me interested most of the way through. Not particularly catchy, but well executed with a saxophonist present; thankfully the ska is kept out of sight. Not bad, all told. Just wish I liked ‘em more than I do. –jimmy (Solidarity)


ANTIBUBBLES:
Pop: 12" EP
A couple items before I get in to the meat of the review: first, the record comes on a slab of solid red vinyl, which I greatly prefer to clear red vinyl. It is much easier to find individual tracks when you want to do that. Secondly, I started this off on the wrong speed and didn’t notice until I got to the vocals. Slowed down, it sounded like it was some heavy, sludgy, lost track from Bleach. Played at the appropriate speed, it’s some seriously catchy fuzz pop similar to that played by fellow North Carolina statesmen Archers Of Loaf or Superchunk. A lo-fi recording with slightly off-kilter vocals, this record definitely benefits by showing off its blemishes, as notes of naïveté and sincerity run from start to finish. The songs are sweet and playful without being cute or cloying and are more than worthy of repeated listens. –Jeff Proctor (myspace.com/antibubblesss)


ADAM’S DAGGER:
Self-titled: CD
Holy shit, guys. The ‘80s were thirty years ago! Can you believe that? Well, Adam’s Dagger can’t, because I’m not sure if they’ve ever heard a record released past 1984. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though, because Adam’s Dagger is actually pretty decent. There are a few odd choices in song writing here and there, but this is not a bad record. I think when my biggest gripe about the release is the cover art (another The Black Album cover? Really?) then the band must be doing something right. –Bryan Static (Durty Mick, durtymickrecords.com)


ZYGOTEENS, THE / THE HUSSY:
Split: 7"
Zygoteens: distorted, crunched, punky power pop. Contains requisite hooks and some wailing guitar solos. The Hussy: male/female duo that cranks out the punky power pop as well, but with more of an arty-dancey-feel to it. All in all, two songs from two gnarly bands that sound good on the record, but probably sound a lot more fun live. –Daryl Gussin (Big Action)


YEAR OF THE PIG:
Self-titled: cd
Thinkin’ man’s metal, with sludgy geetars and songs about blind consumerism and media manipulation. The reimagining of the famous Iwo Jima flag-raising photo with an oil derrick replacing the flag that serves as this disc’s cover art is great. –Jim Ruland (Spider Cuddler)


XGIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE, THE:
Crazymaker: CD
I picked up this album because of the title and its reference to the movie (non-porno) that Sasha Gray did. I was surprised to find out that women were behind such song titles as “Zombie Heart,” “Blood Bath,” and “Scream.” These songs seemed to be a move out of The Mapes’ playbook. It’s refreshing to know that women have a sense of humor dirtier than mine and just about as on par with The Mapes in terms of pushing the limits of decency. Take their tune “Pregnant Again” and its opening lyrics: “Oh no, I think I’m pregnant again. I really don’t want another abortion.” Musically, the best comparison I can make to a band other than The Mapes would be The Runaways. I don’t think the tunes on this album have the mass market, instant classic appeal that tunes like “Cherry Bomb” has, but not many songs do. These women are willing to take their sexuality where even Jett would fear to tread. The funniest song on the CD is “I’m a Slut.” It’s sort of like a Grease musical number, but replace the PG cast singing about an innocent high school fling with the women from The XGirlfriend Experience taking it to an X-rated sex-capade. I must lead a sheltered life because I don’t know women this brash, but, hey, at least I have the CD to prove they exist. –N.L. Dewart (Unrepentant)


WONDER YEARS, THE:
The Upsides: CD
The Wonder Years play a polished brand of pop punk that’s ridiculously melodic, smart and über-produced. The vocalist flawlessly hits all the high notes. To me, they sound like their buddies in Title Fight, or a way-wimpier version of Make Do And Mend. That’s the review. Now comes the diatribe. I really do hate to bust on a band in such detail but, goddamn, do these guys make it easy for me. I am tired to death of this myopic, self-obsessed, whoa-is-me brand of music. I understand the desire to write about what you know, guys, but haven’t we culturally moved past writing songs about our friends “sexting” girls when the van breaks down on tour? Or how the ex-girlfriend’s lame? Or how playingvideo games make you depressed? It’s obvious this band is smart and can play the fuck out of their instruments. But for all of the potential here, all they manage to do is namedrop their friends in songs and talk about how they’re trying to be happy even though it’s raining outside. Spare me. Overall, The Upsides is probably an awesome album for junior high kids who feel like walking down the hallway at school can be like running a gauntlet. The adults among us should most likely steer clear. It’s rare when a band’s collective pissing and moaning can upset me this much, but this is the third review of The Upsides that I’ve written and, believe it or not, the least vitriolic. I’m frustrated because I can see how this band could potentially be really great—but I feel like they repeatedly blow it by lyrically musing on their fucking haircuts for thirteen songs. –keith (No Sleep)


WHISKEY TRENCH:
Television: CD
I can’t help but think of Ringers when I listen to this. This is mainly because of the vocals, but the music contributes, too, to a large degree. Anyhow, Ringers aren’t a bad band at all to remind me of, but I’d rather just put on Detention Halls since that album is still as great as the day I got it—and I will, just as soon as Nathan gives me my copy back. –Vincent Battilana (Kiss Of Death)


WAYWARD, THE:
Alzheimers: 7"
I used to be an avid fan of a band called Carrion that was around until about 2003 and was always aware of the connection between them and the Wayward, but, for some reason, never really checked this band out. Years later, I’m finding out that I’ve been missing out and this 7” is great. It’s not quite as heavy as Carrion was, but the noodley, J Mascis-esque guitar work is still there. The riffs on the opening track are really bleak but actually pretty intricate. The vocals are spot-on; they’re pushed behind the mix but fit into everything well. The bass is a little hard to discern in the mix, but other than that, the production is solid. Both songs on the A side are great, and the B side is a sleepy cover of the Birthday Party song “The Friend Catcher.” –Ian Wise –Guest Contributor (Forcefield, forcefieldrecords.org)


VERMIN POETS, THE:
Self-titled: 7"
I can’t keep up, but I’m sure that I like everything Billy Childish puts out. After decades of great music and fronting numerous amazing bands like Thee Headcoats and Thee Milkshakes, he can still associate himself with solid songs and new bands every few years. In an online interview with Heyoka Magazine, Billy names poets as the worse vermin out there, even more despicable than “estate agents and dentists.” The V-Poets don’t go the way of Bo Diddley per past Childish bands but more of a 1970s punk rock sound; really catchy treble action, like that era’s cautious pop optimism. Billy is on bass guitar here with his wife Julie on drums, both backup singing, with Wolf Howard also on drums and Neil Palmer singing and playing guitar. Billy and Palmer write the songs—which don’t ring as bad poetry at all—but wise thoughts and giddy insight for all. It’s great stuff, really vibrant. Don’t think that you’ve heard it all from Billy and crew. –mike (SmartGuy, smartguyrecords.com)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Wrecktrospective, Twenty Years… and Counting: CD
Congrats on twenty years, Fat. They’ve become one of my favorite labels of the last few years with releases like Until We’re Dead, Oh Calcutta!, Potemkin City Limits, Cuban Ballerina,and the first Fat album I ever bought, SituationistComedy. The first disc is like a chronological greatest hits from a sizeable chunk of Fat’s bands. None of this disc is unreleased material, so it’s very likely that fans of any of these particular bands probably have these tracks already. There are a lot of goodies on here though, and it’s a good primer for people who may not know certain bands on the label. I learned, with the exceptions of Propagandhi and Swingin’ Utters, that I have very little interest in most of Fat’s pre-2000s catalog. Lagwagon and No Use For A Name just never really did it for me. Disc three is a compilation of the Fat Club single’s series. While I don’t own any of the actual singles, I’ve somehow come to own about half of these tracks over time on B-side comps. There were some things I didn’t have which were great to hear, like the Vandals and American Steel songs. Disc two is where the real rarities come to play. This is a compilation of demos from many Fat bands, new and old. While some of these songs are pretty close to what ended up on the final versions (seriously, what’s the difference between the demo and final version of Rise Against’s “Alive and Well”?), some have pretty entertaining quirks in their raw forms. Standouts include the Lagwagon song that has the super loud drum mix, Dead To Me’s “Writing Letters” with different lyrics, and Against Me’s “You Look Like I Need a Drink” rendered in acoustic form. Included with the set is a poster showing every Fat release up to the present. It’s pretty cool to see the label development in picture form. This is a pretty cool comp to pick up for the price. –Adrian (Fat)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Rodentagogue: The Best of Dark Roots Music II: CD: CD
This is a soundtrack for campfire suicides, lonely horseback rides, and loss. I don’t know what “dark roots music” is, but the bands on this collection fall into two groups. The first take the dustiest, dirtiest sounds of old-school country and do everything they can to add an impenetrable bleakness. They do not make music for sunny days. The second really need to stop listening to MurderBallads-eraNickCave for awhile. Luckily, bands that fall into the first group far outnumber those that fall into the second. Actually, I don’t know if that’s lucky at all. I think I have to turn this off because the sadness is fucking crushing me right now. –mp (Devil’s Ruin)


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