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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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Boutokunotaiyo: CD
Fans of this style know by now that 324 is a destructive force. Tech grind like Discordance Axis, with an explosive power that is unmatched. Surging tempos over spastic percussion and abrasive guitar work. They unleash a torrent of rage song after song, and it’s tight! Every bit as good as you anticipated, and then some. –Matt Average (HG Fact)

A Fistful of Revolution/Stars & Skulls: CDEP
According to the inside of the CD, this is a collection combining both A Fistful of Revolution and the Stars and Skulls EP. I gave this a listen and, although it wasn’t my thing, it was interesting and well done. The songs are mostly mid-tempo and melodic and soulful. There were some fast parts and some upbeatness in some songs, too. I don’t think it’s what you would call emo but it is mellow. The last track is mostly an acoustic number with some whistling (whistling is good). This band also has at least one member of Anti- Flag in it. If you like W.I.T. you will be stoked cause they have a split 10” out now with The Code. Like I said, not my thing but if you like the mellow DC type of thing, this would be for you. –Mike Beer –Guest Contributor (A-F)

Solid State b/w Coffin Nails: 7”
How the Motards could be the tightest sloppy band on the planet and make mumbling and gurgling almost poetic, the White Outs hold the same charm, although it’s more on the heels instead of hanging from the rafters. Fuzzed-out guitars, Goodwill budget rock that’s far from sterilized and has that worn-at-the-elbows charm. The A-side, “Solid State” is the keeper. It’s a great split personality song that almost seems like two. It gains momentum, stops, pauses, then introduces what sounds like a well-tuned Fisher Price organ (but could be anything), then collects itself at the end. Neat. The B-side’s a mite repetitious and sows the fields of the not-so-triumphant parts of the Seeds catalog. –Todd Taylor (Shit Sandwich)

Soooo Intense: 7”
The Y, from Gainesville, just made the journey out to the west coast and I got to see them in Riverside, CA. They played in someone’s bedroom, which had at one time been the garage and was about the size of a small to mid-size car. Despite this, as The Y started to play, the best four-man mosh pit started. I’m talking tackling, running across the kitchen and diving into the room, and quite possibly the most brilliant idea ever – hitting people with other people’s hands. And The Y? They rocked through it all. I’ve been told by two people, on separate occasions, that The Y would change my life. I’ve seen their tattoo on at least five people. The 7” captures all of this pretty well. Best song is either “O.O.C. in the U.S.A.” or “M’ Jus’ Waggin’ M’ Tail A’ ‘Cha,” depending on the mood you’re looking for. Shirts off, dudes on. –Megan Pants (Sooooo Intense)

Reconstruction Site: CD
Some of the songs on here are kinda good. They’re kind of upbeat and remind me of bands that I like, such as Superchunk and Dirt Bike Annie. At best, the other songs sound like Jets to Brazil, which is to say pretentious crap; at worst, these songs wouldn’t be out of place at a coffee shop where they spell it “shoppe.” It seems like there’s more bad songs than good ones, though. –Not Josh –Guest Contributor (Epitaph)

Self-titled: CD

Well, they look like hardcore kids, so I was all primed to have my head peeled back by the ensuing onslaught of noise I was expecting, but the music that’s coming outta my speakers is some lame college/indie rock crap. What a fucking disappointment.

–Jimmy Alvarado (Learning Curve)

Suppress & Restrain: CD
I dug up that this is a re-issue of their first LP that went out of print quickly. Most copies were sold within Finland and this is co-released by their original label, Combat Rock Industry, and Boss Tuneage. I read that they have been touring a lot in Europe and gaining in popularity. The songs are tight, melodic and mid-paced. This album can be matched up against any of your favorite oi and early UK punk bands. The production is solid but maintains that raw edge. I’ve also read about them being compared to early period Rancid. I don’t hear it. But who am I to judge? It’s only my opinion. This is another great release for us outside of Finland or Europe who have never heard of this band before. –Donofthedead (Boss Tuneage)

Reconstruction Site: CD
The first thing you need to understand about this album is that it is not punk in any traditional sense. The politics are not obvious, the music is not fast nor would it be likely to appeal to your average Fat Wreck or, oddly enough, Epitaph fan. Instead, The Weakerthans focus on the subtleties of politics – the effects on people, the real implications and results of policies… and, in almost every case, offer some hints at transcending these things. Essentially, The Weakerthans craft songs which are stories, documents of lives (their own, their friends, people they’ve imagined) that resonate because the details are all too true. The music veers between country-inflected pop and straight-forward rock and roll, ringing with instrumentation which doesn’t seem to have much of a place in most contemporary music – found gadgets that make interesting percussive noises, lap and pedal steel, glockenspiels, keyboards… the list simply goes on. The strength of this album isn’t in its catchiness – the first two Weakerthans discs were far more immediately accessible. This album’s strength lies in how much repeated listening it bears. I have easily heard this record more than one hundred times since I got it (for about two months, it was my morning rotation – period) and I still can’t get enough of it. It’s true that these songs seem gentle and comforting, that they present a form of musical solace for the lonely and disenfranchised, for people who are struggling merely to feel alive, if not actually live. It’s also true that they represent what music, at its best, can be – something which replaces the “bitter songs [we] sing,” which reduces the humiliation and anger which results from the “small defeat[s] the day demands,” which reminds us that we all possess reserves of inner strength which we have not yet begun to tap. –Puckett (Epitaph)

We Got the Neutron Bomb: Weird World Volume 2: CD

A second helping of rarities and such from this, arguably LA’s first (and in the top three of the “best” category) official punk rock band. While it is easy to start complaining about what is included (yet another, albeit differently mixed, version of “Neutron Bomb,” and a rehearsal take of “I’m Not Like You,” a studio version of which was included on Volume One) and what isn’t (“Why Do You Exist” is conspicuously absent, making it the only remaining track from the Destroy All Music 7-inch on neither volume of this series; their take on the Door’s “Break on Through” or any versions of live favorites “Do the Dance” or “I’m a Mole”), there are more than enough goodies to keep fans’ appetites sated, such as Denny Brothers’ “solo” work like “Skateboards from Hell” and a track or two from their Warhead 12-inch, an early rehearsal with Dave Trout in tow for a run-through of “I Want What I Want,” alternate takes of previously released tuneage and unreleased live songs that appear nowhere else in any form. Plus, it’s the Weirdos, for chrissake, so you know going in that, no matter what, the proceedings are gonna be at worst top notch. I’m not gonna rip into you about what utter wannabes you’re gonna look like if you don’t soon have a copy of this in your collection, ‘cause I think that little fact is glaringly obvious.

–Jimmy Alvarado (Frontier)

A Mistaken Belief in Forever: CD
Kittie fans take note. Here is a new group of females ready to kick ass. Musically, picture a summit of Norwegian death metalers and East Coast youth crew types discussing a recording project. Have them switch uniforms and this is the new sub-genre that is created. I would have never guessed this was an all-female band until I looked at the liner notes. The cover of the Journey song, “Separate Ways,” was brilliant. –Donofthedead (Immigrant Sun)

God Won’t Bless America: CD
Mid-tempo punk, arty political punk with vocals vaguely reminiscent of the Crucifucks, courtesy of a fifty-nine-year-old who spends his days as political philosophy professor at Purdue University. Interesting, rabblerousing tuneage overall. –Jimmy “Big Head” Alvarado –Guest Contributor (www.thickrecords.com)

Karhore All the Way: CD
Fuck technology. This CD wouldn’t work in either of my CD players. I would, however, like to point out that Volume 69 is a really dumb name. –Not Josh –Guest Contributor (volume69@societyx.net)

...All Them Clowns: CD
Fast, melodic, harmonic singalongcore that sounds to me like 54% of everything that passes for punk these days, with almost nothing (besides funny names) to belie that fact that they’re from Greece! I don’t remember having heard any Grecian punk before, but I would’ve expected it to sound like the stuff that comes (or used to) out of the Eastern Bloc, all creepy and weird and somehow wrong but right. This stuff is right, but wrong. Comes with a comic book, though! –Cuss Baxter (Cannonball 666)

Split: 7"
Velcro Lewis: In the lineup somewhere after Mick Collins, Rudie Ray Moore, and Andre Williams, Velcro Lewis shakes and cruises through some rough-voiced R & B punk. Dirty and filthy. A tad solo-y at the end, but as a whole, not bad. The Dutchmen: Sort of sounds like a funkier, riff-alicious Mog Stunt Team. I hated the radio growing up in the seventies – that hasn’t changed – and the “classic rock of the 2000s,” such as these fellows play, I still have no patience or admiration for. –Todd Taylor (Shit Sandwich)

Dying to Meet You: CD
Plopped this in with the expectation that I was about to be annoyed by yet another two-man band trying to cash in on the fluke that is the White Stripes, so imagine my glee at being blown away by some of the best skronk-pop to come along since Sonic Youth started laying off the sheets-of-noise approach and actually tried to adhere to conventional song structure. This is rife with guitar noodling that would make Lee and Thurston beam with pride, complimented by some seriously wicked drumming. Derivative, yes, but a rehash? No. While reminiscent of that famous New York band, these guys have enough of their own twist to keep the proceedings inventive and fresh. Most astonishing of all, they’ve managed to create the same amount of racket with half the band personnel. –Jimmy Alvarado (GSL)

VooDoo Rhythm Label Compilation: CD

It’s a pretty decent compilation of very primitive rock and roll on the VooDoo label. Taking cues from the likes of Norton, Sun, Estrus (the years of 1994-1997) and Crypt as far as musical direction, but adding in a spooky halloween record and a European bent; giving a home to Lightning Beat-Man, John Schooley and DM Bob and the Deficits. It’s a good introduction to a label that has put out a slew of records in the past eleven years, but still hasn’t seen much American recognition, except from a few Beat-Man fans. –Wanda Spragg

–Guest Contributor (VooDoo Rhythm)

Get into the Underground Groove: 7"
Four bands each contribute one song to this seven inch. One of the bands is called the Goxxip and they’re fronted by the singer from the Gossip, and another band, The Supreme Indifference, has Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth and Jim O’Rourke, who often plays with Sonic Youth. I really like the Gossip. I really like Sonic Youth. I often like Kill Rock Stars releases, too. So I would think that this would be a pretty good record, but I was dead wrong. I couldn’t find anything I liked about this seven inch. I could hardly stand to listen to it all the way through. It’s just too much noise and not enough song to hold it together. –Sean Carswell (Kill Rock Stars)

Boston Scene Report: CD
Four bands from Boston are highlighted in the first scene report series put out by TKO. Suspect Device: two really solid tracks. They’ve nailed down catchiness without embracing a pop sound. Tommy and the Terrors: I can’t recommend them highly enough. These guys have been around for awhile now and never leave me less than impressed. It’s bands like them that let me keep my head held high when I say I like street punk. A-Team: on the first song I thought I heard a lot of Motorhead influence. The second track was a Motorhead cover. The Fast Actin’ Fuses: psychobilly meets metal riffs. Not necessarily a combo I’d recommend. I don’t know how well a full length would fare with me, but the two tracks aren’t enough to keep me from listening to the comp. So, I guess I’ll get used to it. On the whole, a good comp. I just wish there was more – either of tracks or bands. –Megan Pants (TKO)

Punk Seven Inch CD, Volume One: CD
This is a collection of six seven inches that Lookout released in 1988 and 1989, and it was a cool thing for me to pick up because I used to order a lot from Lookout ten years ago, and I always wondered what these seven inches sounded like, but I never dropped the three bucks down to find out. So now I have my answer. The first two bands, Corrupted Morals and Isocracy, sound so similar that I can never tell when one band ends and the next begins. They both bridge the gap between the Dead Kennedys and Green Day, but neither Corrupted Morals nor Isocracy has anywhere near the talent of the bands that came before and after them. Both bands are snottier than a six year-old’s sleeve on a rainy winter day. The next band, Plaid Retina, sounds like a sped up Corrupted Morals or Isocracy. Still snotty. Still forgettable. Next up is the Yeastie Girls, who do a cappella raps about women’s issues and left wing politics. I’m not sure if it’s a joke or not, but I know I’m not listening to it twice. The next band is Surrogate Brains, and finally, you can hear some of the sense of humor and infectious melodies that made Lookout famous. These guys even forgo the snottiness for some sincere, gruff vocals. The Surrogate Brains EP would’ve been worth my money ten years ago. Finishing this disc off is Kamala & the Karnivores. Man, Kamala’s so nice; I’m such a dick. (Sorry, couldn’t resist). They put out four awesome, female-fronted pop punk songs (pop like the Go-Gos, punk like the Ramones. You can’t go wrong). So this basically comes down to a forty-seven song disc with ten good songs on it. That’s not a very high batting average. I don’t think these original seven inches are out of print, so you’d probably be better off picking up the Surrogate Brains and Kamala & the Karnivores records and letting the rest of it fade into obscurity. –Sean Carswell (Lookout)

Tower 13: LP
Compilations are a harder and harder racket. On one side, you usually have to sell them for less than a regular album, you have to deal with the personalities, logistics, and maintain consistent recording environments of seventeen bands, but mostly, comps have been smeared by the assy sampler. (A sampler collects previously released tracks under the premise of introducing the listener to new bands by luring them in with the bigger name bands.) The fact that the tracks on Tower 13 were made specifically for this comp and aren’t just donky, cast-off mediocre covers should give you some idea how much faith is put in Hostage by bands that aren’t necessarily under its wing. Heap on top of that if you have the guile/cajones to release a comp only on LP, you’re almost committing financial suicide. That is, if no one cares a lick about any of the music on it. The power of Tower 13 is that not only are Hostage honchos Rick and Paul upright citizens and righteous defenders of both vinyl and the true OC punk sound, they have great taste in music that’s wide enough for the bands and songs to differ from one track to the next, but their tastes are contracted enough so it all sticks together with some dysfunctional, sandy glue. Say you lived in Croatia. If you listened to this fucker all the way through carefully, you’d have to shake the dirty water out from the sleeve and get a hepatitis shot after the needle returned to its cradle. The OC I know is fully representing, staring you right in the face, cracked stucco, stained teeth, neck tattoos and all. This comp is a little different from Cuts, the last blazing Hostage comp, in that there are few run-away favorites. It’s solid from tip to tail and I like best it as a whole unit, like an hour of the best radio show you can imagine. It’s rare that I’ll say a comp is essential. This one is. I, literally, bought five of these to give to friends. Here’s the band list: The Drips, The Fakes, Smogtown, Broken Bottles, The Pegs, The Main, The Decline, Ciril, Smut Peddlers, The Crowd, D-Cup, The Revlons, Discontent, The Negatives, Thee Indigents, and Cell Block 5. –Todd Taylor (Hostage)

The Sound of San Francisco: CD

A compilation bands currently making the scene in San Francisco, including Black Cat Music, The Coachwhips, Big Midnight, The Aktion and others. Although it serves as a nice primer of the myriad of sounds the SF rock scene has to offer, some of the stuff here veers closer towards ‘70s rock than is comfortable.

–Jimmy Alvarado (Alive)

What Is Real and What Is Not: CD
To give all due respect, the Urinals have been around for a long time – starting as a punk parody band in 1977. They quickly developed into a real band, had disagreements, changed their name to 100 Flowers, called it quits, then reformed in a slightly different form, and changed their name to Trotsky Icepick. The Urinals were a supporting band the night Black Flag was arrested onstage in LA for disturbing the peace. Somewhere in or after all that, Amphetamine Reptile released a compilation of many of the difficult-as-fuck to find 7”s, titled Negative Capability… Check It Out. That’s a great listen. You get to hear how they began like Wire and where the Minutemen quite possibly got their knack for short but full songs. A bunch of more well-known bands have gone to cover Urinals songs. The Butthole Surfers pop right into mind. What Is Real and What Is Not is their first release of new material since 1984’s Drawing Fire. The Urinals have always been arty, but I remember more bits of shattered glass in the listener’s ear. This CD is nice. Nice. It’s not patently disappointing, like Devo going into the studio and re-recording “Whip It” specifically to make an advertisement for a home duster, but it’s also not patently exciting, like the charge the first time I heard “Ack Ack Ack Ack” or “Sex.” A lot of the songs on this CD are extremely light and fluttering, like David Byrne’s solo work after the Talking Heads, which can be clever and pretty, but I just don’t find myself hankering for it. In other words, they’re covering the ground well covered and sown in late-90’s indie pop instead of jumping into the noisy direction of whence they came. That all said, “I Make Love to Every Woman on the Freeway” is pert, catchy, and as itchy a song you’re bound to hear this year. The Urinals are a band who’ve gone from angst to a more dust-free environment. Take that as you will. –Todd Taylor (Warning Label/Happy Squid)

Four Walls: CD
Your average NYHC release, meaning that it’s up to its Marshall stacks in metal and boring as fuck to wade through. –Jimmy Alvarado (Blackout)

Explode: CD
It’s tough for me to wholeheartedly endorse The Unseen partially because it bugs me when bands go so far to dress up like classic punk rockers. It’s my hang up, I know, but really, it’s not Halloween and you’re not shocking anyone. You’d be better off just wearing what’s comfortable. Also, I think The Unseen’s over-the-top crusty look tends to stick them in a category with much lesser bands like the Casualties, which is a shame, because The Unseen is way better. My other hang up with The Unseen is that I liked guitarist Paul Russo’s first band, The Pinkerton Thugs, so much better. When I can get beyond those two things, which really are my problem and not the band’s, I have to admit that The Unseen is a solid band. They bring a lot of energy to their songs, and, though it’s fast and angry throughout, there’s enough difference between songs to keep things interesting. I like the way Paul sings, too, and he seems to be singing more on Explode than he did on their last album. Overall, it makes for a pretty good listen. –Sean Carswell (BYO)

Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone?: CD
Do you ever pick something up because it looks so terrible that you assume it has to be good? This is a perfect example. First, they’re called the Unicorns for fuck’s sake. That should be such a badass band in my book. Second, the cover has a rainbow and lightning drawn in colored pencils. Finally, the back is hot pink with super curly-q letters that you can barely read. That being said, this is quite possibly worse than the packaging. Sort of like Portishead, but without any redeeming qualities like decent vocals and music. –Megan Pants (Alien8)

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·Leatherface, March 5, 2010, Knitting Factory, Brooklyn

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