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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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MEWITHOUTYOU:
Pale Horses: CD/LP
The sixth album by Philly’s mewithoutYou ranges from quiet, introspective moments to bursts of intense energy. It’s a contrast from their folksy, Neutral Milk Hotel-sounding It’s All Crazy! It’s All False! It’s All a Dream! It’s Alright. Instead, it’s more reminiscent of their popular 2004 release, Catch for Us the Foxes. The difference is the contrast of Aaron Weiss’s vocals that range from warbly spoken word, to gentle singing, to forceful screams. The music also mirrors the variety of Weiss’s singing. The beginning of “Blue Hen” is reminiscent of a Fugazi song, while “Mexican War Streets” has a hypnotic swaying in the sound. The songs are catchy and emotionally charged, which is the perfect mix of what music should be. Is this the best mewithoutYou album? Pretty damn close. One thing is for sure: it’s certainly their most mature.  –kurt (Run For Cover, runforcover.com)


MICROBES:
Self-titled: 7”
This totally bizarre, semi-creepy five-song EP from Denmark comes with a hilarious comic book detailing the formation of this odd band. Replete with puerile AIDS and rape jokes as social commentary, these guys are using their ESL skills to non-masterful effect. Kind of like a slower version of Spider Babies, this record comes off as a bit contrived, but the mid-tempo melodic tracks are serviceable enough. The beautiful sleeve / comic save the day for this interestingly askance release.  –Art Ettinger (Halshugga, halshuggarecords.tictail.com)


MISCHIEF BREW:
This Is Not for Children: CD
This album is exactly what I would expect from Mischief Brew, whose 2006 release Songs from Under the Sink was a real winner for me and fans of folk-influenced punk. The songs here are anarcho-leftist anthems and singalongs helmed mightily by frontman Erik Petersen, written for people to sing along and dance to. Come and join in!  –John Mule (Alternative Tentacles, alternativetentacles.com)


MUTOID MAN:
Bleeder: CD/LP
Mutoid Man’s follow up to their debut EP Helium Head (my favorite album of 2013) is a full-length with ten songs and twenty-nine minutes of punishing, technical, Sabbath-influenced rock. Comprised of lead singer and guitarist Stephen Brodsky (Cave In), bassist Nick Cageao, and drummer Ben Koller (Converge, All Pigs Must Die), this trio is tight and nimble but can also crush when need be. Brodsky’s vocals go back and forth between clean singing and intense screaming, which mirrors his vocal range from Cave In. Ben Koller’s drumming is once again fantastic. Where many drummers would be content with simple beats on the snare, Koller throws in complex sequences that flow flawlessly. Brodsky and Cageao are also great musicians on their respective instruments. But let’s face it: it’s hard to top an album that was my favorite of 2013. There is the technical prowess, but it lacks the bite that was on Helium Head. Brodsky relies on the clean singing vocals more than the growls, which takes a bit of the edge off (although All Pigs Must Die vocalist Kevin Baker’s guest vocals on “Dead Dreams” are pretty sick). Despite my desire for more bite, it is a killer album in its own right. Start here and work your way back. You’ll thank me.  –kurt (Sargent House, sargenthouse.com)


NATURAL CAUSES:
Self-titled: 12” EP
My knee-jerk reaction to this was that it was a nice bit of aggressive garage punk with some synth lines thrown in to add color. As I got deeper into it that opinion started to change, as the synth took on a more prominent role in their sound and the songs became a bit more primal and caustic. By the time you get to the droney sway of the closer, “Poppers,” it is almost like yer listening to an entirely different band, though one just as kickass. I really, really like when that happens.  –jimmy (Snot Releases)


NEEDLECRAFT:
Hunk Out: LP
First off, the presentation of this record is absolutely flawless. There’s a beautiful pink screen print on the blank side of the clear LP, and it’s wrapped up in a jacket with these ingenious cut-outs, kind of like the paper dolls you can dress in little paper clothes. I just realized that there are instructions included that tell you how to use the packaging to construct a beach scene that includes all the band members. Like I said, flawless. Musically, think part tongue-in-cheek melodic queercore, part doo-wop girl band—but can you imagine Tina Belcher from Bob’s Burgers fronting it? I don’t mean the vocals; I mean the lyrical obsession with shirtless muscley hunks (and their butts). This might be incredibly obscure, but, overall, I think it sounds like Songs For Moms slowed down to play at some weirdo ‘60s prom attended by the cast of Ghost World.  –Indiana Laub (Minor Bird, minorbirdrecords.blogspot.com)


NEW COLONIES:
Self-titled: 7”
As a reviewer, I want to throw my arm around Sean Dolan’s shoulders and say, “First release? Well done!” Handwritten note with band pedigree (Rumspringer and Seas Will Rise) and physical address means zero internet searching and getting straight to it. The stark black and white Pettibonesque cover art is the first thing to grab traction, new yet familiar. Fold-out insert complete with lyrics mining frequented modern punk territory (being a fuck up, drinking, fear of failure, survival). The four tracks aren’t breaking any new ground, sounding like a Leatherface/ HWM/ Iron Chic playlist, but polishing them off with just enough tuneful originality (I think it’s the Rumspringer shining through) that I’m already staggering along and memorizing the words to “League of Extraordinary Failures.”  –Matt Seward (33 Forever, 33foreverrecords.bandcamp.com)


NO COMPLY / SETE STAR SEPT:
Split: 7”
No Comply is grindcore (I think. I never know the subgenres on this side of things) band from Florida. Oddly more listenable that I was expecting, as this isn’t my usual mug of beer. I think it’s the fuzzy bass that holds my attention. Sete Star Sept is pure noise. I’m not a fan. I am finding a correlation over the years that the harder it is to read a band’s logo, the less I am going to like it. –ty (Jerkoff, jerkoffrecords.com)


NO IDEA:
Jag Hatar Punk: 7” EP
Metallic Swedish thrash recorded in 1986. Sounds like the tracks were pulled from an old cassette demo, which makes sense since the tunes here were originally released on an obscure cassette comp. The band is zippy, tight as hell, and know their way around writing a decent hardcore tune. Record comes with a download code that kicks in an additional thirty tunes recorded between 1985-87 for your green.  –jimmy (Just 4 Fun, j4f.dk)


NOISE BY NUMBERS:
High on Drama: 12” EP
Listening to this is bittersweet. They are a great band, not surprising given all the members’ past history. With two full lengths under their belt, this seems to be their swansong. It is super-melodic, superbly played, and well written. “Southgate House” and “Make up Your Heart” are my favorites on this too-brief record. We also get a Lemonheads cover for kicks. Is this really the end gentlemen? I, for one, hope not.  –koepenick (Jump Start, rickbynumbers@gmail.com)


NOT ON YOUR LIFE:
Demo: CS
Nice 4-track, well-produced demo from Forth Smith band Not On Your Life. In-your-face punk; there’s really no way else to describe it. Not quite street punk, but not far from it, either. Punk tunes with a hardcore edge. Tough, but doesn’t take itself too seriously. Points for the extra effort put into the quality of the packaging and design, too.  –Steve Adamyk (notonyourlife.bandcamp.com)


NUN:
Self-titled: LP
Full-synth punk from the rhythms to the instrumentation, a bit more aggressive than, say, the Units, but nowhere near Screamers or Babyland territory. The vocals are barked rather than sung, and the structures themselves are mostly kept very rudimentary with a dark undertow, with little straying beyond the bass line. Beats are danceable and the overall product is intriguing enough to warrant repeated listenings. It’ll be interesting to see how they develop and branch out over time.  –jimmy (HoZac, hozacrecords.com)


OFF!:
Live from the BBC: 10” LP
Fresh out of the oven pops another live record from this punk rock mega-outfit. Precise and to the point, this set is blistering. Featuring songs from all their studio records, it hits the mark with room to spare. I would snatch this up as soon as you can, or else risk living in “Darkness” without it. You make the call.  –koepenick (offofficial@gmail.com)


OMAHA:
Touch ‘Em All, Joe: CD
When punk broke into the mainstream in the ‘90s and ‘00s, it sometimes felt like there was a giant factory somewhere churning out carbon copied bands of the hot sound of the moment. Toronto, Ontario’s Omaha sounds like a band manufactured in the same factory. The riffs are clean and polished, without a hint of grit. The vocals are equally clean-sounding, with just a hint of angst. While some people might be into this kind of sound, I found this record to be a tad homogenous. Without looking at the tracklisting or the number counter on the CD player, it was difficult for me to distinguish one song from another. I think that if Omaha get a bit more varied in their sound they’d have potential, but this release just couldn’t hold my attention.  –Paul J. Comeau (Morning Wood, info@morningwoodrecords.com, omahapunk.bandcamp.com)


ORNERYS:
“Wanna Get Dead” b/w “Keep on Dancin’”:
One reason to keep searching out new music and doing reviews is the hope you find the mother lode, that golden slice of money amidst all the trash. As music becomes more commercial and easier to replicate and remake, it becomes harder to find the true vein: the purity. The cocaine you sniff at the party has been cut with fucking rat poison and baking soda; all the way from Columbia to your fucking dorm room. Imagine hiking through the jungle and getting your white-bread nostrils into some pure shit. One hundred percent uncut, straight from the cooker shit. Well, fuck ya’ll I’ve found it. This one-sided 7” turns up on my doorstep as a white label, white sleeved 7” with a hand-drawn picture over the dust sleeve and inner circle. The two songs bring to mind a more unhinged Jay Reatard back in his teenage days. The internet superhighway shows almost nothing, literally Bermuda triangle shit. Wisconsin maybe? Sometimes I think that music can hit a perfect frequency for one person’s ears. Pure noise to one is perfection to another. Thanks Todd, I needed that. –Tim Brooks (No address listed)


PARANOID VISIONS:
Cryptic Cross Words: CD
These U.K. anarcho punk stalwarts put in some good work on this latest effort. True to form, there is a bit of noodling with conventions and styles while keeping enough “punk” in the mix to keep the kids happy, with intelligent, substantive, and topical lyrics belted out via (mostly) guttural vocals.  –jimmy (Overground, overgroundrecords.co.uk)


PETER BLACK:
Clearly You Didn’t Like the Show: CD
Peter Black is better known as Blackie, one third of The Hard-Ons. My first impression of his fourth solo record was a positive one due to the vivid and striking artwork featured on the cover. However, once the music started my heart sank. The lightweight songs contained absolutely nothing I could get into. It’s not that I don’t like one person with a guitar but when both the vocals and guitar are this wishy-washy it leaves me ready to move onto something else—and quickly. Now where’s that Tim Barry album?  –Rich Cocksedge (Boss Tuneage, bosstuneage.com)


PIERRE & BASTIEN:
Greatest Hits: CS
Close your eyes. I want you to think back... back... alllllll the way back to that party at that one dude’s gross apartment. You remember him. He’d let all the kids come hang out at his place and probably even buy the beer so he wouldn’t feel so alone. A few beers in, you are feeling like pure magic. But one too many “pussy!”‘s in your direction and you give into the peer pressure. Remember specifically the first few breathes you took after the last fateful exhale of that Devil’s Lettuce. Think about how you sank down into that beer-soaked couch all warm and fuzzy. Stale cigarette smoke and BO in the air. Think hard, What is that music playing in the background? Can you hear it? Almost, right? Like it’s in a distant room? Rippling, fading in and out, unintelligible, like it’s in another language—the intensity of the music waxing and waning, super slow in the blink of an eye. Now close your eyes and smile. Sink just a little deeper into that romantical and oh-so-fragrant couch. Then it hits you all at once... yer gonna barf! The urgency! No time for a Plan B here. Take immediate action and everyone makes it out of this situation safely. There’s no wounded pride if no one sees you spew! This is the kind of wild ride you are in for if you give these French punkers a chance. These tracks are recorded over some years and range from drum machine to live drummer to just one dude fucking around in his bedroom. I don’t know what they are singing about, but I like it.  –Jackie Rusted (Frantic City, franticcity.bandcamp.com)


PLAN 37:
Space Junk: 7”
These Canadians offer up four tracks of 1990s-esque pop punk with vocals that are at times not dissimilar to Blag Dahlia of The Dwarves. It is all quite upbeat and I was not surprised that Mass Giorgini mixed it, given his predilection for working with bands of that ilk. The masterstroke for me is the guitar, which reminds me of The Badtown Boys, with a thick, rich quality to it, helping to drive the songs along. Definitely a band I’ll look out for in the future.  –Rich Cocksedge (My Fingers! My Brain!, myfingersmybrain.com)


PLASTIC PINKS:
“FUI” b/w “Kelly”: 7”
Miami garage five-piece Plastic Pinks play delightfully dirty pop rock’n’roll. The sunny melodies and summery sensibility of side A’s “FUI” clash against the track’s slightly fuzzy production and messy gang vocals like a Hypercolor shirt paired with an acid wash denim fanny pack—they shouldn’t work together, but they totally do. The slightly longer B side, “Kelly,” is heavier, slower, and adds a little psych to Plastic Pinks’ surf aesthetic, but the song stays on message with an extended breakdown that is somehow both chuggy and reminiscent of Dick Dale. The powder blue single’s artwork—courtesy of “party animal” and frequent collaborator Mimi Starr—looks like Fear and Loathing had a fever dream acid baby with Spring Breakers. All that’s missing is Spuds MacKenzie on a Sea-Doo…  –Kelley O’Death (Die Slaughterhaus, dieslaughterhaus@yahoo.com, dieslaughterhausrecords.com)


PLAYOFF BEARD:
Self-titled: 7”
Playoff Beard isn’t afraid to play pop punk despite the backlash mounted against pop punk since it gained commercial success in the 1990s. Comprised of members of legendary Pittsburgh-area bands including Tommy Gutless, Remainders, The Radio Beats, and The Shutouts, Playoff Beard borrows from other subgenres, including garage and streetpunk. They play earnest, heartfelt songs about growing up in subculture, doing the right thing, and finding balance in life. Decidedly non-trite, this isn’t “la la” pop punk, despite its catchiness. All five of the tracks on this fantastic 7” are instantly lovable and each deals with relatable themes. “First Day of Summer (Pt. 2),” for example, is about hanging out with friends and listening to Screeching Weasel. The vocals are expressive, with a slight, poignant gruffness, keeping the proceedings from becoming corny. The production perfectly captures how tremendous Playoff Beard sounds live, which isn’t an easy feat given how kick-ass their live shows are. A must-have 7” for anyone into melodic punk, Playoff Beard’s new release is easily one of 2015’s best records so far. Seek it out now!  –Art Ettinger (Between The Days)


PLEISTOCENE:
Space Trap: 7”
RochesterNew York’s Pleistocene provides four dreamy, light, intriguing songs on this 7”. Not prototypical shoegaze, but definitely influenced by that movement, these tracks are best in the faster-paced sections. I appreciate the lo-fi recording, and they’d likely be a blast live. I think some of the weirder instrumentations are actually just synthesizer versions of other things, but the net effect is a practically orchestral experience at times. This unassuming little record works on all levels. Plus, there’s a goofy band photo on the back of the sleeve, with the members covered in foil and/or saran wrap. Oh, the antics.  –Art Ettinger (Cherish, pleistoceneband.bandcamp.com)


POISON IDEA / RÖSVETT:
Split: 7” EP
Poison Idea: The original tune here, “Something Better,” is a seething bit of virulence—slow, yet you can feel the power they’re known for coiled up and waiting to unload. Also included is a live recording of them running through the 13th Floor Elevators’ “You’re Gonna Miss Me.” Rösvett: Two thrashers that showcase the power they’re known for—fast, but weighted with more heft and rage than the usual lot who rely on speedy parlor tricks. The cover of P.I.’s “Die on Your Knees” is serviceable, if wholly unnecessary. Good split.  –jimmy (Just 4 Fun, j4f.dk)


PLURALS, THE:
An Onion Tied to My Belt: CD
Nich, Hattie, and Tommy make up The Plurals, bringing really good songwriting and tight musicianship from Lansing, Michigan. They immediately remind me of another Midwest band, The Replacements. The back of the CD announces, “For fans of Hüsker Dü, Pixies, Dinosaur Jr.” Like all those bands, there is no compelling need here to be any genre, any thing, any level of cool. This is just sonic pleasure with a teaspoon of dry, center-of-the-country sense of humor thrown in. Standout track: “Fine.”  –John Mule (Diet Pop, dietpoprecords.com, GTG, gtgrecords.net)


POLYON:
Three Songs: CS
Pedal rock: a din of guitar effects enveloping the ears on these three songs, creating texture throughout over the rhythm section’s bashing. With that said, there’s not much in the way of ideas to cut through the curtain of sound or make this stand above other bands of their ilk, and the singer’s voice has enough Perry Farrell-style whine and dude from Coldplay in it to rub me the wrong way.  –Michael T. Fournier (polyonmusic.com)


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