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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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GREBER / HIROSHIMA VACATION:
Split: 7”

Nothing stands out here, just two bands playing discordant, fast-slow-fast, angry hardcore/grind, bordering on powerviolence. I hate to be dismissive, but there’s not much here for fans of old school punk to latch onto. If you love ‘90s style hardcore/grind and need something new to crush posers to, this might be your bag. If you’re looking for actual songs, not so much.

–Chad Williams (Suburban Whitetrash, suburbanwhitetrashrecords.com)


POISON PLANET / GOVERNMENT FLU:
Government Poison: 7"
I have never heard of Government Flu, and that is a problem. This band completely shreds Agnostic Front-style hardcore with that mid-2000s chug vibe but they fucking kill it in a way I haven’t heard in a long time. Fans of the now-defunct Malfunction Records catalog (early Ceremony, Allegiance, Internal Affairs) should go nuts over this. Their side of the record is excellent and the vocals and lyrics are fantastic (especially considering this band is Polish and I believe English is their second language). The Poison Planet side was recorded, I guess, right around their breakup and really show a band pulling something off with a total sense of urgency. Right from the Black Flag rip-off intro the band feels rushed and chaotic, like they only had half an idea of what they were really doing. That being said, I will say one hundred percent without a doubt that this is the best thing Poison Planet has ever released. The lineup on the release (members of Raw Nerve and RazorXFade) probably had more influence than they thought; because the raw sensibilities of those bands translate in a way that Poison Planet didn’t before. –Ian Wise (Refuse, refuserecords.prv.pl)


GET DEAD:
Bad Dead: CD

Given that this is a Fat Wreck Chords product that appears to be intentionally designed to give the impression that it might be a Goner Records product, I feared the worst. The truth is that this record is actually pretty interesting—it’s quite well-produced ((and not in a sucky way, either)) and the band’s varied instrumentation is surely more thought-provoking that I ((admittedly unfairly)) was expecting ((when was the last time you heard anybody actually rock the mandolin?)). That said, I’ve really found that the whole tattooed-and-raspy-voiced-and-hard-but-sensitive-proletarian-punk-poet ((who likes the Pogues and Johnny Cash! Don’t forget the Johnny Cash!)) trying-to-communicate-the-profound-sorrow-which-lies-at-the-bottom-of-his-whiskey-glass songwriting point of view lost whatever tenuous grip it might have ever had on my interest well over two decades ago ((which, to be fair, does not necessarily imply that it’s an invalid perspective)), so I’m gonna leave this one to the guys who wear the little cab driver hats down to the bar. Still, a commendable effort. BEST SONG: “The Process” BEST SONG TITLE: “Kerouac’s Teeth” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: There are thirty-eight lines of “thank yous” in the liner notes, and two lines of RIPs.

–Rev. Norb (Fat Wreck Chords, fatwreck.com)


GENERACION SUICIDA:
Con La Muerte a Tu Lado: LP

This is some pretty great punk rock hailing from the belly of the beast, South Central L.A. When you come from a place like that and look at life through a second generation immigrant’s eyes, the world can feel like a really fucked up place. This is because the world, or at least many of the isolated worlds that exist within L.A., are truly fucked. Isolation, boredom, racism, poverty, desperation, and madness—it’s all on this slab of plastic. The noise made to vent these emotions is what keeps the insanity at bay. Musically, it’s very much in the vein of Masshysteri if you ask me, “the Mexican version of The Vicious” if you ask others. You get the idea if you’re a fan of either. Eleven tracks that keep it short and sweet on white vinyl with sick artwork. The dual male/female vocals really give it that extra pop. It’s so simple, melodic, and well-played you really can’t help digging this record. Get ready to move your hips and learn some Spanglish.

–Rene Navarro (Going Underground, Goingundergroundrecords@gmail.com)


POISON IDEA:
Kings of Punk: 2x LP
What else can be said but “essential”? Poison Idea is an anomaly in the pantheon of American hardcore. They withstand the test of time. This beautifully reissued record is a testament to that. You should already know that the tunes here are amazing. The second record features live stuff from 1984-1986 that brings all the fury that is PI. I could only imagine what it was like to see them back then, and now I don’t have to wonder. There is also a poster, photos, artwork and Jerry A. telling the story of shooting the grotesque album cover. Keep the reissues coming TKO! –Ty Stranglehold (TKO)


GASMASK TERROR:
17101961: 7” EP

I imagine some will howl to the contrary, and there are definitely exceptions (Metal Urbain comes to mind), but by my recollections is that France has never much been a consistent hotbed of quality punk and especially hardcore. This definitely falls into the “exception” pile. You get four tracks of Discharge-inspired hardcore with a ferocity that is more akin to Scandinavian bands like Totalitär than the band upon which the template is built. In short, quite impressive.

–Jimmy Alvarado (Solar Funeral)


PIG WELT:
Root Porno: Cassette
One of the best listening experiences I’ve had in a long time was over the summer, driving with Zach Rooney to our friends’ house while he played rough demos of his new Pig Welt songs. It was a warm day and breezy, and here was Zach playing genius home-recorded desert rock by way of Unwound and Slint through his iPhone (might have been an iTouch). I think I briefly understood the universe, no joke. On Root Porno, he finds the common ground between Up on the Sun and David Grubbs, between a cluttered attic bedroom and the expanse of the Mojave and the cool, damp woods of the Northwest. It’s effortless, catchy head-space rock with bonus droning, for people who want to drive/float/smoke on a long, slow day. Get this immediately. –Matt Werts (Holy Page, holypage.org)


FULL SUN:
Stay Awake: 7”

Jeff Grant crafts catchy songs without big choruses, sneaking the hooks into guitar lines and the vocal melodies at the ends of verses. He honed that skill in his old band, Pink Razors, and is really killing it with his solo project, Full Sun. The pace on these three songs is a little slower than that on his first two releases, and the hooks have more room to breathe. It’s like a melodic punk scratch-off ticket, the record needle flaking away layers of fuzz and sound effects to reveal prize songs.

–Chris Terry (Let’s Pretend)


FULL SUN:
High Ceiling Bare Floor: Cassette

This compiles the first two tapes by Jeff Grant’s solo project, Full Sun. “High Ceiling” is a bit punkier, with the left field dubby elements in their own songs. “Bare Floor” begins to integrate the low-fi studio trickery into the indie-inflected punk. The end result is in the middle of a Marked Men, Lee Perry, Guided By Voices triangle. Fifteen songs total.

–Chris Terry (Houseplant)


PERKELE:
A Way Out: CD
This oi band from Sweden has been around since 1992 and has been consistently releasing quality music. This is another home run from them. These ten new songs of old school oi anthems that have a touch of Sham 69 mixed in are a powerful stampede of bootboy anger and passion that will have you singing along with them. This band has gone out of their way to create an album of hooks and tight playing with gruff vocals that give the songs a hard edge. It stands out from the generic stuff that passes off as punk rock a lot of the time, like the horrible Blink 182. These guys sound nothing like them and don’t pander to the masses to dilute the aggression and pure power of these intense oi songs. The songs are played with such feeling and commitment that you can hear the love and emotion that the band has put into this new album, so much so that it fills you with a sense of energy and excitement that makes you want to shout about them to all of your friends. If you don’t own any of their albums, go out and start with this one; if you’re already a fan, you need this one! –Rick Ecker (Spirit Of The Streets, oi-punk.com)


FOXFIRES:
The Golden Age: 7”

I’ve seen Foxfires live several times, but this was my first time experiencing them on recording. This 7” does an excellent job of capturing their live sound. This is a record sure to inspire as much moshing and sing-alongs at home as Foxfires inspire at their shows. What really makes Foxfires for me is not just that they rock musically, but lyrically. Vocalist Josh Lyford is a solid performer on the mic, and his almost stream-of-consciousness lyrics tackle themes that are deeply personal, expressed in poetic terms that gives Foxfires a gravitas the music alone can’t quite convey. I dug this record from the start, but I enjoyed it even more after repeated listens as I picked up on the lyrics.

–Paul J. Comeau (Escapist, escapist-records.com, foxfireshc@gmail.com)


PENETRATORS:
Kings of Basement Rock: LP
The second reissue for this early garage punk gem here, originally released in the ‘80s by Fred Records and reissued prior by Rave Up around the turn of the millennium. What you’re getting with your buy-in are twelve tunes steeped in ‘60s beat rock recorded 1976-84. The sound is quite clean, and this version has apparently been remastered from an original pressing of the album, so it sounds even more like they’re playing in your garage. –Jimmy Alvarado (Slovenly)


FORWARD:
War Nuke and Death Sentence: LP

Legendary Japanese band Forward return with their first release since 2004’s Burn Down the Corrupt Justice LP. Based in Tokyo, Forward have been mainstays for nearly twenty years, and show no sign of slowing down. War Nuke and Death Sentence introduces a new drummer to the fold, but maintains the furious sound that carved Forward’s place in hardcore punk. Their twin guitar attack allows for some catchy riffs and insane solos, which, when combined with the thundering low end rhythms of their bassist and drummer, creates the ideal backdrop for vocalist Ishiya’s gravel-throated growls. I’ve loved this band for a while, and this release is a great addition to their catalog.

–Paul J. Comeau (Prank, fw@forward1996.com)


FOOTBALL, ETC.:
Audible: CD

I guess if you really miss Rainer Maria and Caithlin DeMarris’s vocals, this eleven-song, thirty-minute album is your next logical step. Then again, sometimes I miss Rainer Maria (they always put on a good live show and I have some fond memories associated with their music), but even this was a bit too similar for me.

–Kurt Morris (Count Your Lucky Stars, cylsrecords.com)


PAMPERS:
Self-titled: LP
Pampers is a cool record that doesn’t fit easy categorization—hard-charging punk rock bordering on hardcore. Pampers also incorporate a mid-‘80s Casio sampler and guitar effects. Lyrics are largely indistinguishable and the music gets sludgy at times. Fans of Ryan Rousseau’s various projects (Tokyo Electron and Destruction Unit) will likely be into Pampers. Pampers is a solid debut worth picking up. Band is from Brooklyn. –Ryan Leach (In The Red)


FLATLINERS, THE:
Dead Language: CD

Melodic punk from Ontario, Canada with high production values as has become the standard with Fat releases. The first song sounds dead-on like a No Use For A Name song who at one point sounded just like NOFX (I’m starting to see a pattern here). The rest of the album just seems to follow along with passionate vocals, anthemic choruses, and the occasional uneventful breakdown. However, I tend to prefer the more human-sounding bands who allow themselves to fuck up a drum part or forget a bass note to the ones who streamline the quality of their music according to mainstream standards. Needless to say, this album just wasn’t meant for a jerk like me.

–Juan Espinosa (Fat, theflatliners.com, fatwreck.com)


ORIGIN OF M:
Struggle: LP
I was hooked on this from the opening riffs of the title track. Origin Of M’s distinct sound is a collision of the raw intensity of hardcore punk meeting the swagger of rock’n’roll. Featuring Mr. Guy, formerly of Gudon, on vocals and Maru, of Asphalt, on guitar, Origin Of M take catchy riffs, incorporate blazing solos into them, and add Mr. Guy’s howling voice to create a ten-track LP that you don’t just listen to, you experience it. The mixed Japanese/English lyrics have a decidedly political bent, and complement the music well. There are plenty of sing-along parts, and some heavy mosh parts that make you want to get low and dance, especially on the song “Suck Up!!” which was one of my favorites on this. I’m totally stoked on this record. –Paul J. Comeau (StraightUp, reallife@straightup-rec.com)


FLAG OF DEMOCRACY:
23: LP

Another immaculate, borne-from-love reissue of 1988’s “17 Punk Anthems from Flag of Democracy” from SRA (sticker, download code, color vinyl, and an alternative cardstock sleeve/poster). And that alternate cover got me thinking. The cover on the outside’s high contrast black and white. Live band mayhem—blurred and stark. The inner cover’s saturated in bright colors. The band’s posed and candid, happy, smiling, waving, and inviting. The drummer has the tips of his sticks up his nose. They look like goofs. When bands try to pull this off—the skeletal bleakness of bummer-based “reality” politics balanced with, “Hey, we’re humans who fart and go on vacations”—most fail. Only the really adept bands don’t get stuck in the cul-de-sac of too-specific politics where it’s almost impossible to not be dated. (My headspace for positive comparisons would be Hüsker Dü, Minutemen, and JFA [for the instrumental].) Don’t get me wrong, FOD rage. This isn’t the Dickies (who are awesome for completely different reasons). Anxiety and malice radiates stink lines when 23 spins. Twenty-five years later, it still makes squares and people who use irons on their clothes poop their pants from sheer force and the thousands upon thousands of notes played in a relatively short time. Blast this on the street and watch the SUVs and expensive cars scatter away, like cockroaches from cucumbers (the only thing cockroaches won’t eat). FOD’s a rare bird that can both be serious and wink-wink-y, fast yet intricate, all without being predictable or turning into a mushy blur. It’s punk. It’s as catchy as it’s fast, and I like it a whole bunch.

–Todd Taylor (SRA)


ONIONS, THE:
Self-titled: LP
These guys have been around for a while, pounding out their take on the beer-swilling, KBD-inspired garage punk’n’roll. If that’s your thing, this fourteen-song LP will not disappoint. Of the songs on here, two feature vocals by fellow Wisconsinite Rev. Nørb of Boris The Sprinkler. This is totally solid, no-frills Midwestern punk rock, completely and totally DIY, and limited to three hundred copies. –Mark Twistworthy (Brad X, bradxtapesondemand.webs.com)


FINAL CONFLICT:
Nineteen Eighty-Five: LP

Jeez, I must’ve seen these cats about a billion times back in the glory/gory days of Fender’s Ballroom in Long Beach. As I recall, they were one of a few bands that marked a line in the sand between some of the older punks who didn’t like the increasingly stratified—and increasingly metal, with all the stupid mentality in tow—direction punk/hardcore was going, and the younger crowd coming up who were often only interested in shit they could slamdance to. Like fellow locals Dissension, Final Conflict’s sound hinted at the thrash-influenced metal direction a lot of bands were veering towards back then, yet they managed to keep both feet and lyrical subject matter firmly planted in the anarcho-hardcore of bands like Crucifix and Discharge. Collected here is their first demo, recorded in the titular year employing the primitive ways and means that were the norm back then. The sound here’s only slightly muffled (we’re talking about recordings that date back some twenty-eight years, you know) but the tunes, some of which made it onto their ripping Ashes to Ashes LP are choice cuts of tight, breakneck-paced thrash and angry rants about war, the system, and other assorted subjects that remain too uncomfortably topical.

–Jimmy Alvarado (540, chaosintejas.com/540))


FERAL TRASH:
Dead Eyes: 7”

Canada is the place to be, it would seem, or at least it is if you like good music. So much of what I like these days seems to come from north of the U.S.A. border and Feral Trash is no exception. With a no-nonsense and edgy mid-tempo approach, this trio provides four bundles of warm fuzzy goodness, all of which give me the impression of a band midway between Low Culture and Royal Headache.

–Rich Cocksedge (Dirt Cult, dirtcultrecords@gmail.com, dirtcultrecords.com)


NOCIVOS:
Tiempo de Desastre: CD
Mid-tempo-to-gallop-speed Spanish punk rock. The recording’s clean, the performance spirited, the songs are catchy, and they definitely know how to wield a sing-along chorus. –Jimmy Alvarado (Nocivos, facebook.com/nocivos)


FAIRBANKS:
Eat This Record: CDEP

Fairbanks is a pop punk trio from Dallas, Texas, a city I would not normally associate with the genre. Eat This Record digs deep, mining the same vein which catapulted many ‘90s bands into the limelight and made pop punk an ever-so-brief part of mainstream culture. I don’t know if Fairbanks will have the same success of their forebears, but their influences are unmistakable.

–Paul J. Comeau (Urban Scandal)


NO///SÉ:
: 7"
It took less than ten seconds for “Beach Bathroom Bingo” to seduce me to the point that I was ready to go down on my knees and beg for more. The 2012 debut album by NO​/​/​/​sé (ex-Glass & Ashes, Young Livers) was very good, but a slight change in the recording / production on this single has resulted in the band sounding even better—none of the oomph has been lost but everything just seems more together without any frayed edges. These guys are setting the standard for quality melodic punk rock with a no-nonsense, rock’n’roll-influenced approach that delivers on all levels. Even the extra track which comes via the download code isn’t too shabby either. Easily one of the best singles of 2013. For those seeking this out, and you should be doing so, 1859 is in the U.S. and Different Kitchen is in the U.K –Rich Cocksedge (1859, 1859records.storenvy.com / Different Kitchen, differentkitchen.bigcartel.com)


EX-CULT:
Mr. Fantasy: 7”

Ex-Cult is Goner Records’ current hot band. I don’t know how to describe the themes of their songs—haunted, obsessive, paranoid? Let’s go with all three. I still don’t know how to genre type them or even what to call them. Post-punk? But if I don’t like post-punk, how can I like Ex-Cult? I’ve seen Ex-Cult twice, a year apart. Regular touring has made them much tighter, more propulsive, and wilder on stage. I think that is how Ex-Cult wants to be, but I’m having some trouble getting that feeling just from listening to their records. The mix on this 7” seems a little less muddy than last year’s full length. It seems like the singer’s voice has deepened a bit too. A little more low-end punch might be all they need. Goner is a good home for these Memphis cats, but I can totally see Total Punk putting out a future 7”.

–Sal Lucci (Goner)


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