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Record Reviews

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Mono-Flexi EP: 7”
A nineties punk band returns after thirteen years with this new slab o’ wax. Cool songs with actual melodies, which is a good thing. “Joining the Circus” almost made me want to volunteer to work under the big top. Welcome return gentlemen, I will wait patiently for the full length. –Sean Koepenick (Sexy Baby)

Big Money: 7"
Another Killed by Death dream score, this time from 1981, gets the reissue treatment. The title track is the type o’ punk/hardcore stomper that gets that certain brand of punk record collectors droolin’ all over their overpriced bondage pants. The flip is deconstruction/desecration of the Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever” that’ll either come off as inspired or wholly forgettable, depending on where your loyalties lie. Me, I like to think ol’ John would’ve been tickled pink by it. –Jimmy Alvarado (Last Laugh)

Self-titled: 7”
Straight-up goofy, silly, idiotic powerviolence from the Bay Area. Take your Charles Bronson, Stikky, and Scott Baio’s Army records, melt them together, dip them in an oil drum of toxic waste, and see what happens. You smell that? That’s the smell of bored teenagers who love burritos, wrestling, throwing rocks at cats, beer, macaroni salad, and applesauce—of all fucking things. Did I mention those are the song titles? Even with all this dick-baggery going on, they do happen to make a very astute and poignant observation on the ridiculousness of lifted trucks but fail to make mention of those fake rubber nut-sacks that so many of the bros love to hang underneath their rear bumpers. Pay attention kids: the bros vs. punks war is imminent and we need to stay one step ahead of the flat-billed assholes. In case you hadn’t already figured it out, the band is named after Bill Murray’s character from the movie Ghostbusters. I swore to myself that I’d hate this, I really did. But I don’t. –Juan Espinosa (Cow Catcher, venkmanrips@gmail.com)

Tribute to Krupted Peasant Farmerz: CD
I was never a huge fan of KPF when they were around. Which is too bad, because I really missed out. Apart from a few comps or songs I heard on mix tapes, their stuff seemed pretty hard to find in the ‘90s, and while they’re referenced like crazy now, I’m just not sure how big of a deal they were when they were around. But they were undoubtedly a gritty, smart, melodic pop punk band from San Jose that a lot of later bands would, inadvertently or not, wind up emulating. That said, this is a tribute album. Tribute albums are frequently steeped in suckydom because, really, do we need to hear an album’s worth of covers, whether they’re faithful renditions or “wacky” ones? Still, with the original template at work here—sinewy, idea-heavy punk that’s steeped in melody—there doesn’t seem to be too many missteps. Including folks and bands as varied as Craigums, Rations, Useless ID, and Arthur Hazelwood. Nicely done, but still probably something that’s for completists. –Keith Rosson (Lost Cat)

This Is Peterborough Goes Forth: CD
Wow Peterborough! The hotbed of English music! Who knew that this many people even lived in the town famous for being the home of the Destructors (third tier UK82 band). Remember when CDs came out and there were loads of sampler and regional compilations that were utter shit? Ah, the spirit lives on! As with any compilation focusing on a microscopic scene, it’s a totally mixed bag from wanna-be commercial emo, shit streetpunk to pop punk. I’m stoked people are repping their scene. I just don’t need to know about it and I’m pretty sure not one reader of this fine rag does, either. –Tim Brooks (Rowdy Farrago)

Sick City: EP 1: 7”
The L.A. record store specializing in vintage T-shirts and the latest and greatest releases from local bands has dropped their first comp. This tight little package of four bands with a track a piece consists of lo-fi garage surf. First up, The Ugly Kids, who throw their temper tantrum “Nobody Likes Me.” The three piece scream the title and alternate it with “nobody likes you!” ad infinitum. Fans of The Shrills ought to gravitate to the similar vocal theatrics and stage-diving energy. “Nervous Breakdown” is Death Hymn #9’s post-mortem offering. Also on Alternative Tentacles, these guys out of Louisiana in full zombie regalia of black eyes and musty, tattered clothes lean into a nasty, thrashy ear bomb. The flip side launches into Cigarette Bums, whom you may have caught in Long Beach in 2011 or recently at Burger Records. They hand over “Destruction (Is How I Function)” off their debut, Holy Smokes! Without a hint of parody or camp, these guys do classic garage so well, you might think you were hearing a resurrected track from the ‘60s. The Flytraps, a L.A. female quartet, close it out with “I Wanna Party,” a straight forward, weekend warrior anthem equipped with handclaps and high-pitched, high school girl yowls. If you dig garage with all its nuances, you oughta pick this up. Recommended –Kristen K (Sick City)

Sexy Babies across the Wasteland: CD
Sexy Baby Records has a penchant for releasing ultra catchy streetpunk and pop punk. This thirty-one track compilation is an assailment of instantly lovable tunes from the likes of Patriot, Terminals, Apers, and Ducky Boys. It’s a good way to learn about some cool mainline bands you might have missed, like The Bombpops. Way, way above average for a comp these days, this collection is certainly not a musical wasteland. –Art Ettinger (Sexy Baby)

Respect Your Roots Worldwide: CD
A couple of years ago, Roger Miret from Agnostic Front put out a pretty solid compilation of mostly hardcore bands covering old English punk. This time around, he opened it up to “influential songs.” As with most comps, it’s a mixed bag… but with Miret’s pull there’s some top-flight bands on here covering everyone from the Jam, the Damned, to Negative Approach and Social Distortion. For the most part, it’s hardcore bands like Terror, Madball, and Agnostic Front or skinhead bands like Street Dogs, Hudson Falcons, etc. Most of these bands have been round the block, so know how to knock out a tune and the results are definitely more good than bad. Old Firm Casuals’ Madball cover is fire, Ringworm crush Discharge, Beowulf’s GBH is great, and Rancid’s Blitz cover is aces. I’m pretty ambivalent about covers records to be honest, but this one is as good as any I’ve heard. –Tim Brooks (Strength, strength-records.com)

Oi Ain’t Dead: CD
When I was a nipper, this was skinhead music… then it became “streetpunk” and now it’s skinhead music again, which suits me just fine. For me, there’s a very fine line between overweight boneheads playing plodding oi and tough-as-fuck skin music. Old Firm Casuals are pretty much the best at the game. Lars knows how to write a tune and they take the best elements of tough NY hardcore but with a terrace anthem backbone. As always, their tunes are pure class and carry the comp, and while I like Lars’s vocals, the songs Casey (Never Healed) sings are my faves. “I Remain” is a fucking JAM. Razorblade from Holland have a rougher, thuggier sound, and one of their tracks is an anthem for MMA fighter Alistair Overeem, which is pretty hilarious! I’m a sucker for Australian bands like Razar, the Saints, and Rose Tattoo, and the Corps from Oz sound like an oi Rose Tattoo, which works just fine for me. Booze & Glory are the least interesting of the bunch with meat n’ potatoes English oi complete with the vaguely Nationalist song “England Will Never Change.” Too right mate, it’ll always be a shithole! All in all, a really solid comp with some of the better baldie bands. –Tim Brooks (Rebellion, rebellionrecords.nl)

Live Evil – A 2010 Music Sampler: CD
This disc, a compilation from Boise, Idaho’s 1332 Records, must have gotten lost in the mail for the past couple of years. No matter, as you get twenty-four tracks by twenty-four bands that I assume are based in the same area as the label. The label seems to have all the bases covered as far as variety goes, including some metal, straight-ahead thrash, ska, and at least one Flogging Molly-type outfit. The comp was perhaps a little too varied for me to enjoy at one sitting but serves nicely as an introduction to the label. They seem to be very active in the Boise scene and I, for one, find releases and labels like this to be a great reminder of just how important a regional label can be to a burgeoning scene. –Garrett Barnwell (1332)

Bloodstains across Philadelphia: LP
I was super stoked on this compilation of Philly-area bands for new tracks from The Bad Doctors and No Lessons Learned, and neither disappointed. There were also some great moments from Lighten Up, Population Zero, and a handful of other bands that I was happy to discover for the first time. Each band has one track on the compilation, and there are twenty-four tracks in all. Apart from the great bands I’ve previously mentioned, I was a bit underwhelmed by some of the rest of the compilation, either due to the recording quality of some of the bands’ tracks, or just a general disinterest in the sound of a few of the bands themselves. As a portrait of a particular scene at a particular time, I think this is a great release, capturing all the excitement of what’s going on in Philly at the moment, and I totally loved the tracks that I was into. I just wish a few more of these bands did something for me. –Paul J. Comeau (Eaglebauer Enterprises, mpurchla@yahoo.com)

4 Way Split Dead Moon Tribute: 7”
This is exactly as advertised: Four bands doing covers of their favorite Dead Moon songs. The bands Nervosas, Landlord, and Dead Dog, all offer a song each that are quite true to the originals, while the band Al Scorch offer a different, more unique-sounding take. You don’t have to be a Dead Moon fan to enjoy this record, but if you are, you will most definitely dig it even more. Dead Moon fans that aren’t familiar with the bands on this record will most likely enjoy it as well. Pretty cool. –Mark Twistworthy (Let’s Pretend, crucialchos@yahoo.com, letspretendrecords.com)

Maravilloso Estupor Sin Sentido: 7” EP
Argentinean skate punk. –Jimmy Alvarado (Rastrillo)

It’s no secret that I am a big U.K. Subs fan. Another Kind of Blues was the first British punk album I heard after getting Never Mind the Bollocks… Here’s the Sex Pistols around the age of twelve. That album spoke to me to the point that when it came time to name my radio show decades later I ended up going with Stranglehold (obviously a name that continues to follow me around). Well, here we are in 2013 and Charlie Harper and the boys are still at it. With XXIV they are within two albums of completing their mission of releasing a record beginning with each letter of the alphabet. Sure, it’s going to take almost forty years, but Harper is a stubborn punk. I have no doubt he will get it done. This record sounds amazing, almost to the point where it doesn’t sound like the Subs at times. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of songs that exude that bluesy punk swagger, but, overall, this is a harder sounding, slickly produced Subs. The more I listen to it, the more I like it, so you have to give it a chance. Overall, it just makes me happy that U.K. Subs are still a band and Charlie Harper is not only playing and writing music, but out there kicking ass at it. It gives me hope that many of us will still be able to be punks when we are in our seventies. Cheers to you Charlie! –Ty Stranglehold (Captain Oi!)

Skull Necklace for You: LP
Consistently mid-paced hard rock that flirts with metal but doesn’t quite want to go all the way just yet. The rhythm section seems to lead the charge and the guitars provide plenty of hooks, but there’s an edginess missing that could potentially make the songs really come alive. Some heavier riffs and guitar solos never hurt anyone that knew how to use them. –Juan Espinosa (Peterwalkee, peterwalkeerecoreds.com)

Oh Okay: 7” EP
Keep the following in mind when reading this review: 1.) I’m lukewarm at best on Bruce Springsteen. 2.) I really, really want to paint a dogs playing poker mural in my bathroom. 3.) Remember that part in Better off Dead where the claymation hamburger plays the guitar to a Van Halen song? Chill Dawgs make me think of way-stupid shit, much in the way of Too Many Daves. Chill Dawgs validate stupid ideas into being reality. So, if I even cared about Bruce Springsteen, best case scenario would be Chill Dawgs: true road dog music for the fucked-over under classes. Instead of actors and millionaires in arenas, it’s Jason Stuhlmann drumming in a sweaty St. Louis house, where the kiddie pool’s water is murky, shirts are for work, pizzas get delivered by specially trained dogs, fireworks get set off mostly outside, and the band runs six members deep (including tenor sax). It’s lovingly stupid, it’s honest. I back it. For some reason, I keep thinking about Miami Vice episodes. “Hey is my beer mic’d? Can you hear me open the can?” “Yeah.” “Hey dawg, does your Casio have dog barks.” “Rwoof, rwoof.” –Todd Taylor (Do What? dawgschillthe.bandcamp.com)

Self-titled: LP
Recorded in 2001 and previously only available on CD-R, an LP version is finally seeing the light of day. Featuring some of Memphis’s and, well, the world’s, garage rock’n’roll royalty (Jeffrey Evans, Jay Reatard, Alicja Trout, James Arthur.) Three guitars/no bass is the plan of attack; however, fans of Reatard and Arthur won’t find any of their typical skronk highlighted. Not unlike Evans’ most noted combo, ‘68 Comeback. A mix of covers and originals, with the covers sounding enough like Jeffrey Evans songs to fool the uninitiated. To wit: it wasn’t until like the third or fourth listen that I realized “I Gotta Right” is the Stooges song. I never did get to see ‘68 Comeback and hope to see a proper rockin’ Jeff Evans show some day. Technically, I’ve seen him twice. Once, solo outdoors where his amp distortion didn’t take well to the elements, and one time doing some Memphis heel shtick with Ross Johnson, starting a song, then cutting it off and just taunting the crowd. –Sal Lucci (Spacecase, spacecaserecords.com)

She’s a Rock and Roller: 7”
This reissue of a long-lost New York band drops two tracks of the kind of sassy, snotty, rock’n’roll that gets the monied punk collector types scrambling. Dunno a danged thing about the band, but the tunes are top shelf bits o’ swagger that so many modern bands strive for and usually fall flat on their faces. –Jimmy Alvarado (Last Laugh)

Self-titled: LP
Cacaw play a variety of percussive noise rock that I’m not really well versed in. This is young people’s music, but I like the heaviness and angry female vocals. There are droney interludes and energetic, overdriven riffs I appreciate. This is probably a bad comparison, but I like Monotonix and I can enjoy this on some level. If you’re into that sort of thing, I would think it would be a winner. –Billups Allen (Permanent)

Renegade”: 12”
Oh fuck yes. New material from my favorite crust band on the planet: Burning Spirits worship (think Death Side, Crude, etc.) with a distinctly German delivery that’s raw, pummeling, speedy, and venomous. For someone who finds it nearly impossible to find anything interesting in the incredibly oversaturated and often derivative crust world, this is a highly anticipated release from folks who do it better than almost anyone. Psyched as hell to see Burial on their North American tour soon. Radical. –Dave Williams (Hardware)

Self-titled: LP
Like their label mates Double Negative, these cats are not above kicking out some grade-A Poison Idea/Negative Approach-inspired thrashin’. Things get much more interesting when they slow it down and throw a wrench or two in the gears, though. Here, that means songs no less intense, but heavier on dark pop, brooding dissonance and, in the case of “Proud,” a buzz of pissed-off synths. Another winner here from SorryState. –Jimmy Alvarado (Sorry State)

Self-titled: 2 x LP
Lanchy, from Totalitär, Krig I Hudik, and Brainbombs makes up half of this very interesting duo. Mentioning his past efforts, you might expect some hardcore or misanthropic Flipper-esque kind of music. Not the case here. I point this out because it’s refreshing to see a musician not rest on their laurels and take the safe route. Bremen are a mix of drone, psych, spacerock (“Moon of Led” brings to mind Hawkwind), and krautrock. Four of my favorite musical forms in mixed into one project? Please! Not to mention it has someone who has played in bands I have immense respect for? Can it get any better? Yes! This record has me locked in, giving myself over to the drone or the sweeping feedback that screams and yet has this hypnotic quality about it. “Bastogne” is a somber piano piece closing out the first side. Keys are hit, sound fills the room and fades away with guitar lurking in the background, never really making its presence known too much until the end. It’s the songs like the aforementioned “Bastgone,” “Don’t Bring Me Home Yet,” “Debris in Orbit,” and “Nitrate Blossom” that really pull me in to this record. To the point where I don’t want it to end. This is the kind of music that shuts the world out, all without resorting to being loud. The power is in the quiet and dark and the mood they create. Excellent, excellent album. –M.Avrg –Guest Contributor (Skrammel, order@skrammelrecords.se, skrammelrecords.se)

The Musicians: LP
Experimental punk, if you will, from a group hailing outta Chicago. There’s no shortage of noisemongering here, but just when you think you’ve got ‘em pegged, they pitch up a slider and yer again scrambling to get a bean on ‘em. Elements of noise, (dis)harmony, punk, and such melded into a changing mess o’ controlled chaos. –Jimmy Alvarado (Wall Of Youth)

Self-titled: LP
Ethanol and sweaty hair and yelling and the sound of things breaking and the broken things puncturing other things! This is what Larry May means to me! Sounds ((rather unsurprisingly)) like the Candy Snatchers, except for the parts where it doesn’t, in which case it sounds like the Humpers or Tuff Darts or somebody! The sax on “Step Up to the Plate (Be a Runaway)” and “Bobo Blues” is an exquisite touch, but i think i could’ve lived a very satisfactory life without ever knowing the lyrics to “Sugar Pussy.” Thank you sir, may i have another? BEST SONG: “Step Up to the Plate (Be a Runaway).” BEST SONG TITLE: “Step Up to the Plate (Be a Runaway)” again, suggesting that it is clearly Born Loose’s “No Time to Waste.” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: The bass player and i went to the same college! –Rev. Norb (Drug Front)

Trainwreck to Narnia: LP
I don’t like it. I feel as though this would have been right up my alley in the past. (Hell, I probably would have loved this record when I was twelve.) It’s not that the musical style, a strange folk/show tunes/rock combination, is too out of bounds for me, or the humor is too dirty for my taste, but I didn’t find it funny. Do I have a sense of humor? Evidence suggests that if one is there, it is minimal at best. The jokes just didn’t land for me, but I’m not a comedy reviewer, I’m a music reviewer. As such, based almost purely on the music, I don’t like it. The songs by themselves aren’t good enough to carry the humor of the lyrics. If these were just good songs, I don’t think I would ever care that being humorous is its first priority, but as it stands… well, I feel I’ve made my feelings pretty clear. –Bryan Static (Dirt Cult, dirtcultrecords.com)

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