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Record Reviews

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The Rising Sun: CD
Cinematic, soundtrack music for a depressing black and white independent film. –Donofthedead (Bad Taste)

Mijo Goes to Jr. College: CD
A philosophical scenario popped into my head while listening to this. Gang life is a subculture that strays away from the mainstream. Punk is also a subculture. What if punk was started by Latino gangs back in the day? Like skinheads have skinhead music, street punks have street punk/oi, and so on. Music for their backyard gang parties played by gang members. Songs were ingrained in stone through the years and became standards through the years. Now those bands have disappeared through the years as time has passed. But the songs are still alive. Like a good Mariachi band, you book them for parties to play music you know. Manic Hispanic becomes that band that belts out the covers like it was their own. Every song that was a classic is now being re-introduced to a new set of gangsters. The legacy lives on. Well, that wasn’t the scenario. But they do take classic punk songs and make them their own. This time around, The Damned, The Clash, The Germs, NoFX, Stiff Little Fingers, Ramones, D.I., GBH, Sham 69, The Dickies, Misfits, TSOL and The Vandals get the Manic Hispanic treatment. After numerous listens, you would believe that cholos and vatos were responsible for these old school tracks. The tracks are so good by this assemblage of talented and veteran musicians that I sometimes forget that these are covers. You also need to see them live. They put on one of the best shows I’ve seen in years. –Donofthedead (BYO)

They Put You in a Mask: CD
Our enemies have gotten much smarter. So must we. Meet Mea Culpa, a melodic political punk band that just raised the bar. Not only do they have carefully worded and literate lyrics, they damn well know how to rock. There’s very little screeching and very little middle finger rock posturing. It’s a perfect melding of mid-tempo ’77 punk, Phil Ochs, the Pogues, Randy, and The GC 5, all bundled and infused with George Orwell’s concepts of governmental and corporate control. Here’s a sample: “And all the public schools get privatized/… When Nike owns your high school don’t be too surprised/ to see sections of the history books on labor disappear.” What that all means is that you can snap your fingers to all the songs, there’s great variance, it’s very tuneful, and they revel in thinking themselves through many troubling situations. They even take an honest tack on school violence: “It’s a horror movie high school and the aliens are us.” All in all, they come across almost like how I think Howard Zinn would be if he fronted Stiff Little Fingers. Much more smart and realized than the loads of “kill the pigs, see ya in the pit!” stuff we get. Instead, take, for instance, the song “Good Cop/Bad Cop.” It tackles the dehumanizing of cops from the inside. Most public servants, on one hand, know they’re cogs, but when they’re thrust into volatile situations (like riots) they can chose to flex the power their badge ensures or exercise their compassion. In the end, it’s the first punk song I know of that has a cop killing another cop, not because he sees the right of the rioters, but the wrongness and amorality of the system he’s committed to protect. What a great CD. One of my favorites in the last several months. –Todd Taylor (Empty)

Self-titled: CD
Some serious power pop-inspired punk from these guys, which, considering the label, wasn’t quite what I was expecting. Like the FM Knives, who draw heavily from the Buzzcocks, these guys are obviously draw more than their share of influence from bands past, yet there’s enough energy and conviction to their approach to keep things sounding fresh and stave off any “been there, done that” feelings. –Jimmy Alvarado (Rip Off)

Oslo City: CD
I’m not in a band, but if I were, I’d be intimidated as hell by all these Scandinavian bands who, as a rule, play their instruments way better than most Americans. Then, Mensen comes along and proves that, not only do Scandinavians kick our ass, but Scandinavian women do. OsloCity is the follow up to Delusions of Grandeur, which was a near perfect album that was only soiled by the Rolling Stones cover at the end. OsloCity is not so soiled. Not only is it full of rock’n’roll that’s so laden with hooks and energy that it’s impossible to listen to without shaking at least one part of your body, but I no longer have to scramble to shut off my stereo at the first few notes of “Jumping Jack Flash.” It’s an amazing album. If you’ve ever asked yourself, what would the Hives sound like if Penelope Houston from the Avengers sang for them? You could pick up this Mensen album and answer yourself with a good, solid, who gives a fuck? –Sean Carswell (Gearhead)

Shake That Thing: CD
Croatian band listens to one too many Stones albums. Band puts out a record that starts off with their attempt at “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and includes covers of songs made popular by Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker and others. A resounding “eh” can be heard from the masses. Should’ve figured when I saw they were covering Nugent’s “Scream Dream” that the proceedings would be pretty painful. –Jimmy Alvarado (Slusaj Najglasnije)

Doomed From the Get Go: CD
Don't get me wrong: I am as big a fan of the Un-Deep in music as the next be-antler-helmeted geek. However, let the record show that Un-Depth does, in fact, come equipped with a handful of core tenets and axioms; foremost among them is the High Truth that bands which are Un-Deep should also make songs that are Un-Long. A good two minute song can't necessarily be made into a good three minute song, a good one minute song likely can't be made into a good two-minute song, and a good one minute song sure the hell can't be made into a good three-minute song. Average length for these eleven tracks is approximately 2:54 – that is to say, five seconds longer than the longest track on any of the first three Ramones albums, and about a buck-two-eighty too long for songs like "I'm a Cunt," "Menstrual Institution" and "Toiletbowl Suicide." That said, i would like to point out that it has been only through sheerest force of will and noblesse oblige that this review consists of something other than the phrase "I WANNA MAKE BABIES WITH THE SINGER!" endlessly repeated, even though she sings kinda like Theo from the Lunachicks' tomboy little sister in heat (that is to say, vocally walking a not-always pleasurable tightrope between appropriate vileness and inappropriate technical pretension) and, not surprisingly, uses "your" instead of "you're." I dunno, i always kind of made it a point to hang around girls who sing lyrics like "I'm so fucking horny That I can't walk straight," although i suppose that's mitigated somewhat by "Come here lick me eat shit" and "I'm gonna bash that bitch's face in Mix her brains with my puke." Sounds kind of like what i imagine those Toilet Boys records i got as promos that i never got around to listen to might sound like, but, obviously, that's highly speculative at this point. BEST SONG: "Doomed from the Get Go" BEST SONG TITLE: "I'm a Cunt" FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Bass player plays a Rickenbacker™, which seems highly incongruous. –Rev. Norb (Rodent Popsicle)

Stereo Test Record: CD-R
From the looks of this artwork, I was expecting some kind of Throbbing Gristle-type noise. Unfortunately, I was not that lucky (lucky?). I got three songs that sound like White Zombie or something. I can barely contain my enthusiasm. On a personal note, this exited my CD player and was quickly followed by Los Crudos. –Not Josh –Guest Contributor (www.micodenoche.com)

First Demo Tape: CDEP
Apparently, Ian Mackaye found this original demo tape when he was doing stuff for the Dischord box set. After the box set was done, Dischord remixed this tape and released it on CD. The songs sound really good, considering that they come from a tape that was buried in a box somewhere for twenty years. First Demo Tape has pretty much the same songs as the Filler 7” (minus “Filler” and “Screaming at a Wall,” plus “Stand Up” and “Guilty of Being White”). It’s good to have a reason to listen to Minor Threat again. They’re undoubtedly one of the all-time best punk bands and they’re the band that first got me into punk rock. Still, you can get similar versions of all of these songs on Complete Discography. This EP is solely for Minor Threat fanatics (like, uh, me). –Sean Carswell (Dischord)

Playa Hated to the Fullest: CD
I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about this. I checked out their website and, well, they had one too many beards for my liking (Oh, how scientific I am!). It just made me suspicious. What are they trying to hide? I’m still sure there’s something, but they’re sure as hell not hiding their ability to rock. From the first notes to the last, this packs a punch. His vocals get very Blag-y on their cover of “Good Thing.” Throughout the rest, everything is raw and bluesy mixed with power. I bet they’d be killer live. I just wish you could hear the bass more. It’s kind of hidden in the recording. –Megan Pants (Estrus)

The 7/8 Wonders of the World: CD
Devo with attention-deficit disorder. –Jimmy Alvarado (Dim Mak)

Split: 7"
The Monkeywrench are fucking awesome. I’m not a huge fan of supergroups, but christ, any time you can get Mark Arm singing in front of Tom Price and Tim Kerr’s guitars, well then, my friend, you got a song that’s kicking my ass. They do just one song here: a cover of 13th Floor Elevators’ “Levitation.” I don’t know the original, but this cover is amazing. The kind of song you listen to twice before flipping the record. As for the Immortal Lee County Killers, well, they prove that white boys can play the blues. All it takes is a decade of heavy drinking, a total disregard for all the classic rock that fucked up the blues for about forty years, some mighty fine slide guitar, and all the requisite power and distortion that comes with being a punk band. They do one song here, a cover of RL Burnside’s “Goin’ Down South.” Which begs the question, if the Killers are from Alabama, where do the go when they’re “goin’ down South”? –Sean Carswell (Bronx Cheer)

Supercharged on Alcohol: CD
Link Wray meets the Ventures for the mother of all surf jams in the ninth circle of hell. This is some good shit that could make the worst movie imaginable that much cooler if they included the Mofos on the soundtrack. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.hellbeachrecords.com)

Hello Good Friend: CDEP
Hell yeah. Match hardcore power (break out the chainsaw guitars and anaconda-thick bass), a sixth sense for harmony (it’s catchy as fuck), and front it with singer who can belt it loud and clear (no Cookie Monster or mush mouthing) and you’ve got me not only buying your next record but seeking the back catalog. Be able to zap out a Bowie cover of “Holding On” without tipping the pansy-o-meter, and you’ve got yourself a fan. Let It Burn are along the lines of current excellent melodic hardcore that’s being belted out on the East Coast by Go! For The Throat, and The Curse. To put an interesting twist, however, the instrumentation seems to be right out of OrangeCounty. I hear bright, loud Crowd guitar, Smogtown galloping tempos, and Smut Peddler-type drumming. Curious. This EP’s a six-song collection of comp tracks, dropped balls, and imports. I just wish they would have kept the Rolling Stones cover as a joke that never burned into plastic. That track alone saves it from the wholesale praise I was willing to heap on it. –Todd Taylor (Alone)

Self-titled: CD
Seven songs that remind me of So Cal hardcore/punk. Fast parts but with melody. Lots of hooks and tempo changes. Meaningful lyrics. Well done for this genre. If this is your thing, definitely get this. –Mike Beer –Guest Contributor (Last Mission)

Self-titled: CD
The first song was promising, pretty basic New England hardcore, just not fully committing to it. From there it just goes downhill. Pretty sappy stuff that borders on that one song that Queen had that was the love song in Highlander. C’mon, don’t pretend you don’t know that one. –Megan Pants (www.lastinfirstout.net)

Look Alive: CD
I want to be fair to this album and give it constructive criticism, but my first reaction to the music is to just be mean with my review. So I kept listening to this album, and the more I listened to it, the meaner I felt. It’s tough. The Lanternjack play very radio-friendly rock’n’roll, and by “radio friendly,” I mean slow. It’s on tempo with, say, Danzig or the Cult’s SonicTemple. The choruses are repeated a lot, which is okay sometimes, but when they do it every song, it gets tiring. The singer really believes he can sing, which is probably nice for his self-esteem, but it’s not good for me. I prefer vocals to be more like an extra instrument and less like the whole focus of every song. So here’s my constructive criticism: play your songs twice as fast and half as long. Take out everything that sounds remotely like a guitar solo – especially the five minute long guitar solo in “Come Around” (well, okay, it’s not literally five minutes long, but some of my favorite Kid Dynamite songs literally don’t last as long as that guitar solo). Or you can keep the songs exactly as they are and send your review copies to a heavy metal magazine. Because, to be honest, The Lanternjack don’t lack talent. This album is fine for what it is. It just lacks any resemblance the punk rock I love. –Sean Carswell (Low Down)

Blaze: CD
Lagwagon fans should rejoice that they have come forth with another full length for their consumption. Five years in the making, the sixth album has seen the light of day. I’m not a fan, but they do not repulse me. They seem to continue their formula which they have been using for many years. The songs are extremely melodic with bursts of fast punk energy. Every release that I’ve heard shows they continue in a positive direction in growth and songcraft. It shows here on this release. Fans will continue to love them and I think they will continue to pick up more along the way. Now it’s time to pass it on to my wife. She likes them. –Donofthedead (Fat)

It’s Gonna Get Ugly: CD
Yet another release from this Confederacy of Scum-related band. As can be expected, the sound is rock’n’roll filtered through a hardcore band and fronted by a singer who’s listened to more than his share of old English oi records. Slower than other stuff I’ve heard from them, but there’s still a thrasher or two to be found. –Jimmy Alvarado (TKO)

The Punk Collection: CD
Some top notch tunes from almost forgotten first-wave English punk band that featured future members of the New Romantics. The sound is kinda Clashy in places, kinda proto-oi in others and sometimes I hear an ever-so-slight dash of early Police in there now and again, although that last bit may well be totally inside my head. Included are the classic “19 & Mad” single and assorted tracks from various releases throughout their brief existence. On the whole, this serves as a nice reminder of how good punk outside the “first division” of English bands could sometimes be. Recommended. –Jimmy Alvarado (Captain Oi)

No Fate: CDEP
This walks that fine line between the mellowness associated with emo-tinged rock and just plain boring. For my taste, it steps over that line far too many times. –Megan Pants (Irresponsible)

Coming Down Like a Hammer: CD
So is Jack Tragic the wiry little bald dude with the guitar in the photos or the lurchy looking guy with the dress shirt and the MC5 afro? I’ve never heard of this guy and it’s making me a little nervous. Is he some overlooked ‘80s punk pioneer who I’m supposed to already know about? I know I kinda skimmed over the Go-Go’s chapters in We Got the Neutron Bomb, but did I accidentally miss the parts about the legendary Mr. Tragic? Is this the review that’s finally going to expose me for the unqualified blowhard boobhead that I am? Holy fuck, I probably should know something about this guy, if only cuz he claims to have spent some time in the late ‘80s writing porno rock songs – and, one would guess, sucking down copious amounts of anything with alcohol in it – with the Mentor’s El Duce, an early role model of mine. Hmm, let's see... kind of Germ-sy in spots, a bit metal in others... this isn’t the most vicious head-splaying stuff out there, but it fucking rocks with surprisingly solid song writing and a healthy snarl that doesn’t sound the least bit affected. I don’t know who’s behind Bacchus or just where the hell they’re digging up old treasures like this Jack Tragic disc and the equally good Live from the Masque comp, but I hope they keep it up. –aphid (Bacchus Archives)

Self-titled: CDEP
God, I should really hate this, but I don’t, and I can’t rightly explain it. Maybe it’s because Chris Shiflett has a Grammy for Fighting Foo, got visited by the Secret Service for wearing a Not My President t-shirt, was in No Use For A Name and 22 Jacks, plays in the Me First And The Gimme Gimmes and he’s still not a dick. That probably has something to do with it. Jackson makes clean, light, starry-eyed pop that’s easy to digest, has a bunch of undeniable hooks, doesn’t make me cringe, and is a good compromise if I have to put on something that doesn’t have a lot of swearing or loud guitars. –Todd Taylor (Magnificent; <www.jackson-music.com>)

Split: 7"
Jed: AC/DC with a weak-ass singer. Retardos: AC/DC with a Norwegian singer. Nice artwork of three-eyed goats on the cover. Scrap the disc and frame the cover. –Jimmy Alvarado (Out of the Loop)

Ride Paranoia: CD
Do today’s kids even know who JR Ewing was? I think I actually stopped watching Dallas the summer before the season they revealed who shot JR; I don’t know when that was, but it was a long fucking time ago. More on target, though, do today’s kids know who the Jesus Lizard was? Because this JR Ewing, with the bass in the driver’s seat a good deal of the time and the guitar running all around it, resembles that Touch & Go band, with a stern ‘00s update after the fashion of the Locust and that breed. I gotta say, the initial few listens didn’t grab my lapels too hard but subsequent plays in the course of trying to pin down something tangible have burrowed into my appreciation center, even the moody, minor-key parts, which is rare. One thing I still don’t get, though: they seem to be from Norway (recorded there, plus names like Mokkelbost and Snekkestad) and the guy writes better fucking lyrics in English than ninety-five percent of the writers in this country (not too many rhymes, however, if that’s what you look for. And no cop songs). –Cuss Baxter (Gold Standard Laboratories)

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