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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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Metal Machine Music: CD
Chances are that there’s less than .001 of you out there that are going to give a flying fuck about this release, but I’m gonna give it a shot anyway. This is a 25th anniversary reissue of the most hated/misunderstood/unlistenable (take your pick) album ever put out on a major label. Contains no hooks, no beat, no vocals, and no songs. Just sixty-plus minutes of layer upon layer of pure feedback mayhem creating an apocalyptic industrial roar. A seminal release that inspired such stalwarts as SPK, Throbbing Gristle, and damn near every artist in the Industrial Culture Handbook. An essential album that’s not for the faint-hearted. –tim (Buddha/BMG)

Discography: CD
Finally this fucking thing came out! I’ve heard rumors that people out there were going to do a bootleg version, so Martin and crew rushed this out. This is vital in the sense that it is a history piece from a band that affected many without trying. They crossed language and race lines while continuing in their formula of addressing their views using Spanish lyrics over hardcore. They were trying to reach only their local community of Chicago but others around the world took notice. The rage was genuine. People all around the world sang along with them even though it was not in their native tongues. I respect that and that is why I tried to get all I could by this band in the past. I wasn’t successful but I bought what I could get without paying some collector scum a high price for something that all should hear. Many already know about this, but others should look for this because they were a great band for their time period. They are now etched in the punk history books as a band that mattered. The CD includes four 7”‘s, the songs from the split with Spitboy, Canciones Para Liberar Nuestras Fronteras LP, comp tracks, alternative version of certain songs and a live studio session. Act fast because I think only 1000 - 2000 were only made. Now I have to go to the record store to get the Limp Wrist 7”. –Donofthedead (Lengua Armada)

To Evil!: CD
A live set from a band associated somehow with the Confederacy of Scum. What you get is a live set and an old demo from, in my personal opinion, one of the best punk bands I’ve heard lately. A sound loud and hard in a mid-tempo Poison Idea kind of way is to be had here. This one’s gonna remain in repeat mode for a good while. –Jimmy Alvarado (Steel Cage)

If We Can: CD
Okay, see, this one has a lyric sheet, so now I know what they’re singing about, and... I still think they blow a good portion of so-called punk bands outta the water. There’s more than a few songs here with lyrics that’re gonna piss off more than a few people (cf. “Get the Bitch to Do It”), but fuck ‘em. This here is some prime punk rock, kiddies. The real shit, mind you, and not that crap that’s been all prettied up and made palatable for the masses of spiky-headed numbnuts whose sole interest in punk rock is “the girls.” This is loud and ugly and rude and crude and flat out killer. You wanna separate the men from the boys, the punks from the poseurs? Slap this puppy on the player and see who’s left in the room when it ends. –Jimmy Alvarado (Steel Cage)

Start Something: LP
The happening album of the now. North and South California meet to release punk as it is today. Los Angeles darlings, Lifes Halt, start off with a mixture of punk rock that is not only fast and to the point but interlaced with their Latin heritages. Some of the songs on their side are sung in Spanish. I may not understand, but the message they are trying to convey is truly felt. I may not always be in the know but they are amazing. I had the impression that they were power-violence kids, but they carried more of a ‘84 vibe in their music. Fast and faster but not too fast. I guess I need to get out more. San Francisco’s What Happens Next? have revived a whole genre in a matter of a couple of years. Renaming it Bandana-Core, they strive to thrash a new following while not making it too noisy for others to follow. I was part of the original scene and glad it’s coming back. Slamming (or for new kids, moshing) in a leather or choosing flannel with some bandanas is an easy choice. The look was created in Southern California and it’s more practical and more affordable. I sound like an adult talking about money, don’t I? This all-star bay area band have put out a good amount of releases lately and this follows in their quality. Absolutely raging, fast punk rock with thought-provoking lyrics. Can’t have enough thought-provoking lyrics. Hope more is to come from both these bands. I feel like a little kid getting the toy they dreamed for at Christmas. Aggression, rage, intelligence and some speed is all I’m asking for. –Donofthedead (Young Blood)

Follow: CD
The Lemmings flawlessly construct an intricately flowing swirl of pristine powerpop atmospherics that’s altogether dazzling, mesmerizing, and illustriously intoxicating. It brightly resonates with celestial stratospheric guitar emissions (the leads are extraordinarily out of this world!) and angelic choirboy vocals that soothingly caress the innermost sanctums of the human ear... the bass rhythmically frolicks, flutters, and plunges headfirst into otherworldly divinity... the drums powerfully plod along as if guided by the multi-armed fury of Shiva. Indeed, this is shimmering sparkle-shine sonic majesty at its most fluid, cohesive, and wondrously well-structured (grandiosely possessing certain aurally stimulating elements of Cell, Smashing Pumpkins, Cheap Trick, Swervedriver, Goo Goo Dolls, and even a bit of “Murmur”-era R.E.M.)... it’s riveting alternative rock revivification that captivates the senses, stirs an entire range of emotions, and hypnotically liberates the soul along the way. Damn, I’m hooked! –Guest Contributor (ParkBench)

Mediocre Generica: CD
Liked the first and 11th songs, but hated everything between and after. The ska crap was especially annoying. –Jimmy Alvarado (Hellcat)

School’s Out, Surf’s Up, Let’s Fall in Love!: CD
Not the local band of the same name, these guys play happy pop punk (heavy on the pop) that makes me long for the days of bands with more edge, like, oh, Sweet Baby. The songs are pleasant enough, but the happy-go-lucky vibe of the whole thing gave me the creeps, much like the movie Pleasantville did. –Jimmy Alvarado (Mutant Pop)

Demo: Tape
This got passed to me from my brother and he told me that it was a mutual acquaintance’s new band. I get in snobby moods from time to time. Demo tapes, because of their mainly low quality recordings, I usually pass on. Since this is a guy I had partied and gone to gigs with over 10 years ago, I would give it a listen. I was blown away. I was really in the mood for some crusty dis-core. The formula that Discharge created over 20 years ago still holds its energy. The recording was full and powerful. Four pummeling, charged songs with thought-provoking lyrics. I want to join this band even though I can’t dress the part. Makes me want to go out and put soap or Knox gelatin in my hair to spike it up. I’m going to dig through my garage for my leather jacket and see if I can still fit in my bondage pants after all these years. –Donofthedead (None)

Funeral For A Feeling: CD
Still haven’t caught these guys live yet. And I’m guessing they’re far more interesting on the stage than on vinyl, or aluminum. I think what hurts this record is the production is too slick. Totally smoothed off the rough edges, and that cheesy guitar in the title track doesn’t help matters. For the type of music KYI cranks they need to keep the rawness in tact. But whatever, if you’re a fan of this band then you already have it. And if you still haven’t heard these guys then start with the older stuff first. I hear they’re gonna tour the US with Voorhees sometime soon. –Matt Average (Side One Dummy)

Time for Rock ‘n’ Roll: 7"EP
Well all right! I’ve been waiting years to hear something new from these guys and this sure don’t disappoint. The tempo is less frantic here than on their All Night Cram Session EP, but in its place is more swagger, more balls, and more flat-out boogie. These boyos don’t so much bring the rock as take it and pummel you over the head repeatedly with it. As an added treat, they even delve into the usually dangerous land of the ballad and pull out a nugget as memorable and catchy as the Ramones’ “I Want You Around.” Enough dicking around, guys. When’s the album come out and the “world conquest” tour start? –Jimmy Alvarado (Alien Snatch)

Self-titled: CD
Reviewing rule number one: if the disc is covered with photos that are out of focus, the odds are that it blows goats. This disc is not an exception to that rule. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.flameshovel.com)

The Lambs: CDEP
Alright kids. Jucifer are finally back with a new release and it’s just as rockin’ as their full length. For those of you who are familiar with Jucifer, you know about their perfect mix between fast, sludgy rock and intense, rhythmic droning. Well, this EP keeps the energy high, like standing on the edge of a rooftop staring blankly below to the distant surface solely supported by increasing winds in every direction. Yeah, they fucking rock. This is the fullest sound coming from a two piece band that I’ve ever heard. Go ahead and try to clean all this mud off your shoes. Highly recommended for anyone interested in something worth listening to. –Guest Contributor (Velocette)

Bleed American: CD
The only thing worse than emo is mainstream, major label emo. Scratch that. The only thing worse than emo is mainstream, major label emo with piano tracks. These jackalopeasses got no label support from Capitol and were eventually dropped. They sweated out an album, spewing all kinds of rhetoric about how cool it was to not have the corporate tyranny of deadlines, creative restraints, etc., but the Arizona heat has made their brains softer than baby shit after a day at the carnival because as soon as they finished the album they signed with Dreamworks. Dumb dumb da-dumb, dumb dumb dumb dumb da-dumb. The terrifying thing is there was a bidding war for their services, which means more radio friendly emo ear puke to come. Jimmy Eat World, I dub thee the Rod McKuen of emo. Now please go fuck yourselves. –jim (Dreamworks)

The Very Best Of: CD
I was never too interested in Jethro Tull when I was a kid for some reason, even though I had friends who swore by them. Okay, sure those friends were into Kansas and Rush, granted, but still we had enough in common that I took their opinions seriously. Something about Tull’s classical/rock/baroque sound (flute, you must admit, isn’t a very rockin’ instrument to have on everything) just turned me off immediately – no, scratch that. It didn’t so much turn me off as it just didn’t intrigue me whatsoever. I mean, my brother had a 2-disc Tull collection one bedroom away from mine and I wasn’t even curious enough to borrow it once. Later on, their reputation as the band that made a whole album out of one song was enough to keep me at arm’s length, at least long enough that I never heard an entire album played from front to back – although statistics probably lean towards me having heard all of Aqualung at one time or another. So frankly it’s with a bit of surprise that I find a decent amount of enjoyment within The Very Best of Jethro Tull. I only recognized three or four of the song titles on the back cover (and that’s counting "Aqualung") but upon listening I find most of music immediately familiar, and pleasantly so. Perhaps it’s the judicious editing that eases my listening experience, paring the bloat so endemic to classical/rock hybrids of the ‘70s and getting to the point. Perhaps it’s the comfort of recognizable music in an easily digestible package. Perhaps Jethro Tull just produced better work than I would have thought likely. I’m not going to be running out to buy up the Tull catalog or anything else anytime soon, but the Very Best Of comp serves my needs quite well and will probably remain in my collection for at least the near future. –Guest Contributor (Chrysalis/Capitol)

Kill Trend Thrash: EP
The sort of hardcore to have any fucker with a 1/4 of a brain set to drooling like a rabid pup in a school yard. A lot of folks shit their designer britches over Japanese hardcore, and with the full on attack of these here J-Roll Rockheads it’s well warranted. And with the kiddie-kore doodoo drawing flies over here in the US, a band like the Jellyroll Rockheads is a welcome respite from all these bands who can do nothing but write song after song of “here’s what hardcore means to me” turdery. This seven inch salvo is essentially their demo from ‘99, and they give it to you straight and reject the establishment and other buffoonery lobbed at us daily. Comes on two different colors of vinyl. Damn if I remember which is rarest. –Matt Average (Youth Attack)

The Ruins of Our Future...: CD
Whoa! This destroys! We’re talking bone-crushing percussion with some bottom heavy instrumentation keeping it all together. Hardcore done right. One song to the next they don’t let up. And best of all, it’s not the same stimulus over and over. Intensity make good use of varying tempos and build ups to create urgent energy that explodes from each track. “By the Throat” and “Amount to Nothing” are two burners on a flawless album. –Matt Average (Bad Taste Records)

4 Song: 7"
NYC Squatcore featuring plenty of speed with no real power, ska with no integrity, and whoah-ohs with no 7 Seconds appeal. Like a mayonnaise sandwich for the ears! –Cuss Baxter (Tent City)

Brick_Bomb: CDEP
Brick_Bomb is a sweetly poppy gathering of four well-written punkish songs peppered with some heavy drumming and loud, creative guitar flexing. The words "pop gems" come to mind. It is chock full of a lot of well-sung emotional lines (undoubtedly making 13 year-old girls weak in the knees) that at time verge on saccharine, but it is a good listen if you can get past the heavy production. Oddly enough, I like the Impossibles more and more as they come closer to the sensibilities of empty modern day MTV bubble gum pop acts. This band’s new EP marks a complete departure from their third-wave ska meets pop-punk roots to more of a fuzzy, radio-friendly Weezer-esque Alkaline Trio. Although a lot of people I have heard comment negatively on this migration of bands recently, (and as much as I would like to join them) I would have to say a few things in defense of the Impossibles. They do nothing to hide their currently embarrassing ska roots, as their web site shows. And, there is some really interesting guitar and drum work present here. More importantly, they are more at home in their element and more welcome to my ears with this new clutch of songs than ever before. –Guest Contributor (Fueled By Ramen)

Beat Em Up: CD
There are some people who, when the subject of Iggy Pop is brought up, complain incessantly about how his old stuff was better, nothing since the Stooges is all that good, and blah, blah, blah (note "clever" rock journalist pun – that’s why they pay me the big bucks, kiddies) until you realize they haven’t actually listened to Iggy’s stuff for ten years and their copies of the Stooges’ records have a layer of dust an inch thick, while they spin some new pop-hip-hop dance-electronic bullshit. Y’know what? Fuck all those people. They can just die. Choke on that trendy bullshit. Iggy’s new album does it for me, and it’s one of his most flat-out hard rock’n’roll albums since… okay, yes, since the Stooges broke up, fine, and it definitely has a lot more of that Funhouse live-in-the-studio feel than say, Brick By Brick. Ever since seeing him play with Iggy on a live video, I’ve though Whitey Kirst could be Iggy’s Zakk Wylde (not his Randy Rhoads, that’d be James Williamson) – he’s a solid rock guitar player, and the track featuring him on "Naughty Little Doggie" was far and away the most rockin’. Here Whitey plays on the whole album and the result is some of the best straight-ahead guitar rock I’ve heard since the last Rollins Band album. This ain’t rocket science, it’s rock’n’roll, and thank fucking god someone’s around to show ‘em how it’s done. Otherwise they’ve got little alternative than to start thinking this techno-programmed shit is actually real music and then that’s the ballgame. –Guest Contributor (Virgin)

Michigan Palace 10/6/73: CD
Damn, man, this historically relevant disc possesses all of the tortured sonic chaos I’ve come to expect in a live Stooges recording, yet with topnotch surprisingly clear sound quality (as recorded on a reel-to-reel at the time by Stooges’ guitarist James Williamson). The drumming is frenzied and tribal; the bass thumps along at breakneck spine-snappin’ speeds of thunderin’ fury; the piano deviously meanders throughout like spiderleg tinklings of dark and scary creepiness; the guitar struts, rattles, and roars with unrelenting urgency; and, of course, Iggy’s vocals are as taunting, nihilistic, threatening, and dangerous as a demon-spawned hellhound. Although the musicianship contained herein fits neatly into well-shaped spurts of agitated energy, Iggy & The Stooges were splintering and fragmenting as a group at the time of this performance (just four months later, they would chaotically careen their way through a final show, and the rest is probably all notoriously exaggerated history). Yep, sure as shit, I vigorously recommend this aurally stunning CD alone just for its sheer ability to shake and startle the inner workings of my soul (plus I’m dazzled silly by the rousing inclusion of three of my fave Stooges songs: “Gimme Danger,” “Search & Destroy,” and “Open Up & Bleed”). Indeed, it’s a harried humdinger of a disc, so get yers today if’n ya know what’s good for ya... –Guest Contributor (Bomp)

Split: 7"EP
Two songs apiece. I Excuse: ruptured, raspy and popping Japanese punk with the dual guitar swirl and battery of Mush-era Leatherface. You have to listen closely to hear the incredible interlock - how the instruments make a big puzzle, and the pieces themselves are interesting and can stand by themselves. I’m a sucker for subliminally complex, surfacely motivated and fast music. You don’t have to notice the layers at first because the songs are instantly recognizable as well structured, but it totally helps add depth to future listens. I’ll play this side a lot. Blazing. Manifesto Jukebox: from Finland are slower and more (polluted) atmospheric, going for a more mid-tempo rock vibe ala early Cult with a knife-inside-the-throat vocalist. Decent. A tad repetitive. –Todd Taylor (Snuffy Smile)

Self-titled: 7"EP
Here they are, creating a new manifesto for today’s wayward miscreant fucks who should know better than to look to music to speak through, but for some reason never do. Discordant, choppy, and memorable, the Molars charge through six numbers of jailbreak fury steeped in sexual double entendres, profound revelations, and the essential. I’d tell you what other bands these guys are involved in, but you’re listening to the future baby! Get with it! –Matt Average (Youth Attack)

Self-titled: 7"EP
Harken back to those late ‘80s skate sessions when you’d cut class, get baked in the ditch you skated and ripped to mix tapes on your portable stereo (beat box, okay?!). At least today you don’t have to be seen with your friend in the hot pink Vision Street Wear pants. Holier Than Thou crank retro cross-over in the vein of Attitude Adjustment, RKL, and the sort. Racing tempos, strained vocals, and bad ass time changes that are tighter than hell. Can’t wait for the LP! –Matt Average (Six Weeks)

Just Another Day: CD
There’s something wholesome about no-bullshit, non-metallic, chokehold hardcore. Sharp, powerful breakdowns. Filler-free drumming. This shit’s all filed down to its core and pipebombs out the stereo. Comparisons? I play ‘em right between Crispus Attucks, DS 13 (there’s a wee bit of gnarled melody deep inside), and Negative Approach (where you think the lead singer’s sucking the venom out of his own blood). This shit’s so easy to fuck up. The fact that Holding On make it yet another explosion without it looking like a fifth generation xerox copy of a show that happened two decades ago is impressive. Hard without senseless knuckle dragging or basketball-jersey-wearing floor punchers and tough without the macho pose. It’s also recorded perfectly. The burrs and roughness are intact but the mix remains clear so you can hear the kung-fu from each instrument, if you’re so inclined. Kick your ass good stuff. –Todd Taylor (THD, Havoc, 1 Percent)

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