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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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TEAM EMU:
Self-titled: 7”
Straight punk that’s minimal in the same sense as early Misfits and a lot of oi, four songs of that, and then one long instrumental jam that’s kind of moody and less than necessary. The spareness of things mostly leaves me at a loss in terms of what direction the band is aimed in, but some of the vocals suggest poppy sensibilities. Also: blue vinyl, apparently limited to 200 copies, bad handwriting, bad grammar (watch those verb tenses!), and two Hoffmans. –Cuss Baxter (Ghostmeat)


TELESCOPES:
As Approved by the Committee: CD
An absolutely stunning collection of tracks by an English band active in the early ‘90s, who disappeared for a number of years and are apparently out gigging again. Collected here are fourteen tracks culled from their out of print catalog and seemingly sequenced into two different eras of the band’s sound. The first seven are a maelstrom of noise and garage punk, sorta like Iggy fronting My Bloody Valentine while tripping on mushrooms with Sonic Youth: brutal and abrasive, yet oddly melodic. The remaining seven tracks turn the volume down a notch and rely more on experimentation and psychedelic pop sensibilities, not unlike Primal Scream with more balls. This is a band with music that screams for wider recognition and, if you’re smart, you’ll pay serious attention to prevent them from fading back into obscurity. –Jimmy Alvarado (Bomp)


TEEN CTHULHU:
Ride the Blade: LP
Does Tipper Gore ever lie in bed at night wondering how many godawful death metal bands she inspired with her puritan antics? Teen Cthulhu is another in a long line of bands inspired less by real life experience than by an overwhelming desire to cater to childish (not to mention churlish) I’ll-show-you,-Mom-and-Dad fantasies. If suicide, the prevailing subject of the album, is THIS boring, joining the Mormon church sounds like a keg party by comparison. –eric (Life is Abuse)


TAXI:
Like a Dog: CD
Although I haven’t the first clue where these guys hail from, this has a very early ‘80s LA-sounding punk rock feel to it, much like the Hostage bands, but without the OC twang. Thankfully, I still have quite a bit of a soft spot for that sound, lo these many years down the line, so this was a good listen to these ears. –Jimmy Alvarado (Dead Beat)


TABULA RASA:
The Role of Smith: CD
A little too college radio, indie and emo to my liking. –Donofthedead (A-F)


SUGAR DADDIE:
Hell or High Water: CD
Anything with this much pirate imagery can’t be all bad. Yet, I don’t suppose that these guys knew there was going to be a movie with the same name as their song, “Pirates of the Caribbean,” when they started recording. Musically, this is sort of a grunge with Cookie Monster vocal thing. Lyrically it’s a weird sort of cock rock meets children’s rhymes, with an Andrew Dice Clay sort of twist. “Mother Goose just got an abortion from a man named Dr. Seuss,” is an actual line. Dr. Seuss appears again later to steal the singer’s wallet in another song. –rich (Thorp)


STYLEX:
False Start: CD
This new wave keyboards new school bullshit has already started to breed what kills every great musical movement. With that said, Stylex sounds like a band that wanted to incorporate that “new sound” of synthesizers! Sadly, Stylex are mixing indie rock, rap music, dance music and punk rock – bringing me to the conclusion that they are very confused. Plus, they are lacking the anger that makes me like a few of the new wave of bands. You will always get great bands that can do this style of music, but that only brings a hundred bands that are embarrassing to anyone that owns keyboards. –Wanda Spragg –Guest Contributor (Friction)


STUCK-UPS, THE:
Last Chance b/w Out of Control: 7”
Ever wonder what mannequins sound like when they’re having sex? Or robots? Clinical but seriously pounding. Like clean pistons or furiously rubbing antiseptic surfaces. That’s pretty much what I thought of with “Last Chance.” Storefront window dummies banging like mad. “Out of Control” unleashes the drum monster and guitar cheetah, wilding up the proceeds with whirring, dirty blades. Weird, but lovely and bruisey weird. The Screamers and the Go Go’s (live, not on record) fall through a glass table, they get one another’s limbs attached wrongly, and viola, that’s what I think these folks would sound like. Kinda. Sorta. Yes, I like.  –Todd Taylor (Johnny Cat)


STRUNG UP:
Self-titled: 7”
Hardcore punk in the early ‘80s style: fast and mean. Musically, I kinda like it. It’s tight, well-played and interesting, even if it lacks the nail-biting intensity that one would expect from, say, Born Against (and yes, I know Born Against wasn’t an early ‘80s band, but they were pretty fucking intense). Lyrically, um, let’s just say that this band doesn’t play metal and we should be thankful for whatever lyrics we get. I bet they rip live and I’d like to hear more. –Not Josh –Guest Contributor (Blazing Guns)


STRUNG OUT:
Live in a Dive: CD
Over the years, Strung Out has become my least favorite band on the Fat roster. So that should explain my excitement level for this. Where’s the Subhumans “Live in a Dive?” That’s a boner waiting to happen. –Donofthedead (Fat)


STUCK-UPS, THE:
Last Chance b/w Out of Control: 7”
Ever wonder what mannequins sound like when they’re having sex? Or robots? Clinical but seriously pounding. Like clean pistons or furiously rubbing antiseptic surfaces. That’s pretty much what I thought of with “Last Chance.” Storefront window dummies banging like mad. “Out of Control” unleashes the drum monster and guitar cheetah, wilding up the proceeds with whirring, dirty blades. Weird, but lovely and bruisey weird. The Screamers and the Go Go’s (live, not on record) fall through a glass table, they get one another’s limbs attached wrongly, and viola, that’s what I think these folks would sound like. Kinda. Sorta. Yes, I like.  –Todd Taylor (Johnny Cat)


STRIKE ANYWHERE:
Exit English: CD
A minute step slower and more melodic than Change Is a Sound, Strike Anywhere once again proves that positive, intelligent hardcore can be a powerful, challenging, and vital mission, not just a closed track game where they’re yelling to the converted chained to a wall. Still in check are Thomas’s snarl and polyp-busting screaming, the double Matt guitar attack, and Garth and Eric’s formidable bass and drum landscaping. The best news, however, is that this album comes the closest to all of their recorded output in capturing this blast furnace of a live band. You can almost feel the sweat start to bead on your brow. If Kid Dynamite’s memory is like a pulled tooth and your tongue keeps on going back to that empty space, Strike Anywhere’s a great choice. They’re far from being a duplicate, but that massive creative spark – like if 7 Seconds charged out of the gate today instead of twenty years ago – is still alive and well. Punk’s not dangerous? They were refused admission into Japan and were held in house arrest, until they were admitted to fly to Australia. –Todd Taylor (Jade Tree)


STEAM PIGS, THE:
Potshots: CD
Nice blurring of the lines between the classic Clay Records style of English punk, street punk, and American hardcore from a band outta Dublin. The tempo changes and million-chords-a-minute song structure keep things from getting stale and compliment the sarcasm-infused lyrics. The demo quality of the recording slightly saps some of the tunes’ power, but the obvious work put in by the band manages to shine through. –Jimmy Alvarado (punkshitrecords@hotmail.com)


SQUIRTGUN:
Fade to Bright: CD
It really did nothing for me. No hair standing, no goose bumps and no chills down the spine. My excitement level is comparable to tofu. –Donofthedead (Honest Don’s)


SPONTANEOUS DISGUST:
33: 7”
Not sure I can follow the wisdom of putting 33 songs on a 7” in this post-DRI age, nor of limiting its release to 33 copies, nor, especially, of sending ALL 33 COPIES out for review, but fuck it. I guess they figure most review copies go almost immediately back on the free market (that is, the ones that don’t go almost immediately in the trash), and they’re right. Verdict’s still out on this one, though. I mean, it sounds like shit, like a one-armed butcher grinding his way through a frozen moose with a seized chainsaw, but I’ve got a soft spot for the inspired infantilism of bands like Sockeye and SpontDis rolls in that ditch with the masters. Try on the “Egg Pants,” take in the “Fuzzy Penetrator,” and bust out the “Hemoglobin Pileup.” Me, I’ll have a “Side of beef with a bacon leg/hangin’ his boner on a mumbly peg.” –Cuss Baxter (Pestilential Treatment)


SPONGE:
For All the Drugs in the World: CD
I would laugh at the cover for this almost every day for two weeks, so I felt it deserved a review. It’s an overhead looking, down shot of a sensitive-tatted-rocker with “punk” lettering. Musically? I see Chris Cornell and Creed as BIG influences here. Wee ha! –Megan Pants (Idol)


SPECTORS, THE:
Beat Is Murder: CD
A retrospective of a neo-’60s punk band that apparently hailed from Minnesota. They were more varied in sound (dabbling in mod, pop and psych in addition to the requisite Kinks and/or Nuggets worship) than many of the oodles of others that wallow in the same musical ghetto. Most importantly, they were danged good at what they did. –Jimmy Alvarado (Get Hip)


WRECKAGE:
This Is America: cassette
Crucial old-style thrash tape—six songs, eight-point-seven-five minutes, xeroxed insert, full lyrics, band logo incorporates a circle-A, et cetera. And it’s really fuckin good! Reminds me of the most intense points of NOTA and, like NOTA among others, Wreckage uses two guitars to proper advantage. One’s down low and one’s up high, like they split a pack of strings and each one got three. Get them some decent production and I think they’ll blossom into a beautiful hardcore flower. –Cuss Baxter (Wreckage)


WORKIN’ STIFFS, THE:
My Ghetto: 7" EP
The Workin’ Stiffs have always seemed to me to be a thrashier, more chaotic Swingin’ Utters. (Both bands are great in my book.) With this four-songer, I hear a lot of what the Ends are pulling off. On the outside, it may look just like blue collar, working class punk—no denying that—but with close listens are little gems inside all of the songs. Johnny Thunder guitaring is butted up against thin slices of AC/DC, and it’s all delivered up by a cocksure singer, who sounds like he’d spit right in your eye, but do it with a little bit of a smile. Fiery punk rock not afraid of rock’n’roll. These tracks don’t disappoint. –Todd Taylor (Radio)


WOLFGANG BANG:
Working Class Zero: CD-R EP
Title track sounds like “Deprogram” by Suburban Mutilation (but slower) crossed with the first False Prophets 45 (but slower). The other two songs sound the same, but not as good (but, then again, not slower, either). It’s kinda cool they keep the tempo at the same quasi-plod for the duration instead of jacking it up here and there in the attempts to captivate antsy audiences—but, that said, i’m willing to wager that the band can’t come up with enough top-flight tunes at this tempo to make things work to any great extent. Might i suggest a reworking of Sweet’s “Wig Wam Bam” as “Wolfgang Bang?” Granted, the only way i see the chorus going on such a song is “Wolfgang Bang, gonna make you my wang,” but i’m likely not as given over to deep thinking as these folks are. BEST SONG: “Working Class Zero” BEST SONG TITLE: “Head” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Cover art so bad it rules!!! –Rev. Norb (Wolfgang Bang)


WOLFBRIGADE:
A D-Beat Odyssey: 12" EP
Swedish fjordcore, which means this is heavy on Discharge influence, but not so much that they sound like copycats. This is supposedly this band’s last release. –Jimmy Alvarado (Havoc)


WHIPS AND FURS:
We Are Legs on Wheels: CD
On the corner of Art Avenue and Rock Street, Whips and Furs haven’t quite figured out which path to take as a band. Instead of inspiring the best out of both genres (For art—early Gang of Four’s a nice way to go. For the rock, I thought they’d of learned some from The Vibrators’ catalog, since they’re named after one of The Vibrators’ songs). It’s a classic torn-at-the-middle dilemma. When it’s about to rock, it often slows for no real good reason. On the converse, it never gets super weird or damaged, so all the art is well within the lines. Although full of promise, this record just comes out as mostly tedious, well-trained, and far too restrained. Kinda like the musical equivalent of Shrinky Dinks version of a classic punk record. –Todd Taylor (Slab O Wax)


WEAKLINGS, THE:
Rock N Roll Owes Me: LP
Have always heard that these guys were hot shit punk rock, but what I’m hearin’ here is just yer average rock band. No big whoop. –Jimmy Alvarado (Dead Beat)


VODKA JUNIORS:
Suburban Core: CD
Strung Out meets Bad Town Boys with a dash of Youth of Today. It’s positive, skate boarder friendly, derivative, excellently executed, professionally tight, and didn’t do anything for me. If we were still in the mid-’90s, they’d fit opening a bill for No Use For A Name and Lagwagon. Melodicore is like this fifty-foot long sheet cake. The first few slices can be awesome, but if you have to try to eat the whole thing, that’s a fuckin’ chore. Sorry. It came all the way from Greece, too. –Todd Taylor (Playfalse/Cannonball 666)


VIBRATORS:
V2: CD
Although album number two for these guys was an attempt at a more “studio” feel, the proceedings are strangely more “punk” in sound than some of the stuff on Pure Mania. The pub rock undercurrent is still evident, but it is a tad more muted, with the boys opting to nudge thing just a tad closer to the edge. Nonetheless, the hits just keep on a-comin’ over the course of this second effort—”Automatic Lover,” “Pure Mania,” “Nazi Baby,” “Troops of Tomorrow,” and they’ve even thrown in the “Judy Says” single as a bonus. –Jimmy Alvarado (Captain Oi)


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