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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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Livin: CD

Methinks there's as many as three different "what we should have the band sound like" fingers in Crimson Sweet's pot. I've come up with a loose slide rule. The less psychedelic, the more I like them. Slow, I actually like the grooves they set – there's an attention to atmosphere that has me convinced that they understand the inner workings of Velvet Underground songs. They also nail a perfect cover, which would make a great single: Silverhead's (no, not Silverchair) "Hello New York." Their version and songs like "Airport Novel," and "So Electric," are downright fun, swaggering NYC pizza-sized slices of poppy, glammy punk. But, when the songs get trippy, almost jam-tacular, like the meandering last song, "Sad Walk at Knifepoint," I find myself getting sleepy and not so enthusiastic. Some great songs, but a spotty long listen.


–Todd Taylor (On/On Switch)

Badmen, Butchers, and Bleeders: CD

I think this is my new favorite album of the week. This is a re-issue of their debut album from ’94. It’s been completely remastered and they’ve added three bonus tracks (two GG Allin covers.) Bands should take a lesson from them: this was originally recorded for ninety-seven dollars in under three hours. And it blows away a large portion of what’s been recorded since. It’s loud as hell (which should come as no surprise since their bass player created the Confederacy of Scum), full of sleaze, and is just downright nasty. I love it. This is the kind of music your mother worries about you listening to, with good reason.


–Megan Pants (TKO)

Welcome to Memphis: CD

More thick-necked jocks who think “hardcore” is a term interchangeable with “lame-assed, big-muscled, small-dick macho metal”? Or, as they say in the motherland, this is absolute mierda.


–Jimmy Alvarado (Thorp)

The Better Part of Six Months: CD

This CD, literally, fell behind my CD player and it wasn't until I added more milk crates to the front room record wall, that I found it again, so I can't rightly say when I got it, but unlike a giraffe, this stuff isn't spotty at all. I haven't been so up on the newest Snuff releases, and, oddly, singer for The Chase sounds pretty much like a hardcore Duncan. Actually, they take a lot of the best elements of Snuff – an achingly sweet and catchy melody and they tweak it into some short, satisfying, moshy breakdowns. Instead of veering into a poppunk arena with horns, these guys take some pages from Sweden's Get Up and Goer's: melodic hardcore that isn't afraid of a lot of volume, speed, and screaming. Extra points go to the song titles: "Surprise Party at the Funeral Home," and "Can I Borrow a Headband?" Surprisingly good.

–Todd Taylor (Submit)

Self-titled: LP

If you read what Jimmy Alvarado wrote about this release in the previous issue, you know this is the shit!  I was lucky enough to pick up a couple of copies of the test press that Dr. Strange made available to the public. I have been a fan since the early '80s. Their first 12" was one of the first punk records that I personally purchased. I loved this band!  I would go see them at any opportunity. I even liked their progressive period like the Airborne 12" and the track "Indian Summer" that was on the BYO comp Something to Believe In.  If Bill from Dr. Strange said that they were going back to their roots, I believed it. I put the needle down on my turntable and a comfortable familiarity burst through my speakers. I felt like I was taken back in time. The notes massaging my ears was like hearing music that was in the Fear of Life LP mixed with After the Lights Go Out LP that CH3 made their mark. They cut back on the over production of the later releases. The music is raw but still reflects their amazing melodic sensibilities. The power is there and gives me justification for their reunion. The songcraft they had, they did not lose. I can't believe that after such a long hiatus they can still come back with an absolutely beautiful release. This will probably stay in my car CD changer for over a year. That is how good this is. I hope people now will embrace the sheer magic that CH3 can bring and not ignore that they are an important part of punk history. I am a true believer that this a fantastic release. I hope you become one too!


–Donofthedead (Dr. Strange)

No Aim At All: CD-R

Ah, a boy and his guitar. His acoustic guitar. I wanted to coin a new portmanteau word, ala Lewis Carroll, to signify the conjoining of folk and punk and all I came up with was “Folunk.” Pronounced “flunk.” Which is, coincidentally, the grade I would have to give Bryan Dunaway’s latest effort. Folk music and punk music are, in many ways, spiritually related, but as certain misshapen Appalachian hillfolk have demonstrated, it’s not always a good thing when relatives intermarry. After listening to No Aim At All, I’m not sure the folk-punk admixture thing works. Plus Mr. Dunaway thanks shmuck actor/bon vivant Corey Feldman in his liner notes – an untenable punk gaffe if there ever was one and one that undoubtedly guarantees Dunaway’s accrued “punk points” will take a serious hit. No amount of successive days wearing a Clash shirt can rectify that. I admire his gumption, his DIY work ethic, and his nicely folded up cuffs on his punk rock jeans; but this disc strikes me as musically tepid and lyrically not all that clever. Something you might hear in a coffee shop on open stage night. I don’t like coffee, I don’t like coffee shops, and I don’t like coffee shop punk. For fuck’s sake, whether it was Les Paul or Leo Fender who slapped the first one together, the electric guitar was invented for a reason. Wasn’t Terrible Ted Nugent who once said ”Anybody wants to get mellow you can turn around and get the fuck outta here!”?



–aphid (Street Trash)

Radioactive San Onofre: 7"

Fuck, it took me half a song to figure why this sounds so familiar. Think of Broken Bottles as releasing the never-before-discovered studio tracks to Social Distortion's Mommy's Little Monster (the vocals are a tad higher and less gruff, but still). I don't mean that as a slight – these would be choice cuts. As a matter of fact, fuckin' bravo. Somehow, and I'm quite sure how, they've captured and stomped on entire nuclear water balloon that Mike Ness and Co. have been steering away from for the last twenty years. What makes this less a re-tread on a tire that's got 70,000 miles on it already and more of a souped-up, modern-day soundtrack to Repo Man? Little things. Like the ability to write a motherfucking song that sounds as ominous as a siren and is easy and catchy as an STD during spring break. It sounds paranoid, too, so don’t worry, it doesn't sound like hair gel nü punk. Jes the Mess sounds like he singing surrounded by barbed wire while the band sounds like they're trying to break free. Me likey. On a related note: did Hostage just get paid? Fuckin' a – absolutely beautiful color packaging that matches the quality inside.


–Todd Taylor (Hostage)

Self-titled: CD

I’m guessing that these here rocking doods think that they’re continuing in the grand tradition of witty, technically proficient punk bands like SNFU and NOFX. They do have some of the requisite “punk” stuff: a dork with a mohawk, some ska rhythms here and there, and song titles like “Eat Shit and Die” and “Proud to Be An Asshole.” But this isn’t even punk by the numbers – it's lower than that. For some reason I have a feeling Carson Daly would think these guys “rock.” In other words, the music’s safe, it’s clean, it’s corporate sounding and it blows.            If the chuckle fucks in this band weren’t in hair metal bands ten years ago, I’ll drink Ron Jeremy’s bath water with the Hedgehog still sitting in it. They tip their hand way too many times; the guitar solos alone are so glistening with a lube of their own pre-cum that they’d make a wank maestro like Warren DiMartini blanch. And what’s this? This band was voted “best punk band in L.A.” two years in a row?!? The same L.A. that back in the day belched forth bands like Fear, Black Flag, Circle Jerks, the Germs and the Dickies? Egad. The mind reels. Remind me to update my list of “Reasons I Fucking Hate L.A.” Just to see if it was just me being unnecessarily grumpy and narrow-minded, I actually brought this disc to work and played it. Everyone laughed at it. Seriously. Dumb name. Dumb cover. Dumb songs. To bastardize an ee cummings line, this is dung-luscious. 100% dog manure. I wouldn’t feed this to Sebastian Bach.


–aphid (Industrial Strength)

Dasein: CD

I really like Brazil. I think Terry Gilliam… oh wait, this isn’t the movie. This sounds like the bastard child of Jethro Tull, rap metal, and really sucky robots. That’s not good.


–Megan Pants (Fearless)

: Split 7” EP

Bottles: Two catchy mid-tempo punk tunes. “Party Crasher” is the better of the two, with a hypnotic riff and ranty lyrics. 400 Blows: “The Gods are Laughing at Us” had me envisioning a no-wave band covering SOD. The other song is more disjointed and noisy, which is a plus. Good racket from both bands. White vinyl, you collector whores.


–Jimmy Alvarado (Cheetahs)

Replete With: CD

As a rule of thumb, I try to stay away from bands with ties. It goes back, I’m sure, to the dreadful days of new wave; the Cars, Elvis Costello, The Knack... sort of a gawky, zit-faced puberty era in the upbringing of rock'n'roll. I learned back then that, like bright yellow spots on poisonous salamanders, ties portend bad things: skinny dorks with bowl cuts, synthesizers and all other manifestations of hell. But then along came ripping bands like the Hives and Henry Fiat’s Open Sore, who rocked my face off while wearing ties. I seemed to be finally working through my “tie band” aversion. Now the Bombsite Boys come along, introducing me to the tie and top hat look. But it’s supposed to be about the music, right? Well, musically, the Bombsite Boys suckle that same safe teat of innocuous pop punk that so many other bands live and die by. Fuck it, it’s just pop – except for a couple songs. There’s very little punk about it. Yet another band with no real teeth, just pasteurized, homogenized punk leanings. Today's lesson: beware of ties and top hats. It might have worked for certain 19th century U.S. presidents, but it doesn't work in rock.


–aphid (Myopic)

Times Are Changing: CD

Cookie-cutter street punk with the requisite chanty parts.


–Jimmy Alvarado (Dead Mic)

Self-titled: 7"

I like the music alright. Playing the same game as Antischism, it's got nice atmosphere in a charred earth, we're-all-fucked, big potholes in civilization sort of way. But, as a whole, it just didn't clamp on, yank the nuts down, and have me crying for more. It tended to get plodding instead of heavy. They seem very sad, as would be indicated by the song, "Insides Are Raped."


–Todd Taylor (Hyperrealist)

Self-titled: LP

The vinyl on this record is fucking amazing. It's about as thick as like four regular LPs all Krazy Glued together, like a bright blue (with radiating white bowling ball streaky things!) poker chip blown up to like 8x or something. I actually can't put the fucking thing down, i spin it on my finger, twirl it around, just sorta heft it – it's funner to play WITH the record than actually play it, although immediately after the unreasonably brilliant opening track, "C'mon C'mon," i was thinking things like "I HAVE SEEN THE FUTURE OF STONER ROCK AND IT HATH COME IN THE FORM OF A GIGANTIC BLUE POKER CHIP!" and other pimply hyperbole. I mean, during the first song, i was, no shit, beginning to entertain notions of getting the TV/UPC/eyeball-headed brain-stomached tentacle-appendaged alien life form depicted on the cover tattooed on my back, so great was my blown-awayment! I shit you not: One would swear it was the Figgs playing grunge. In point of fact, i was, for a time, so SURE that it actually WAS the Figgs playing grunge, as some sort of prank side-project (just as the Hanson Bros. occasionally masquerade as some other trivial band, just to show they can do it), that i scoured every inch of the packaging for some tell-tale fingerprints to indict Gent and Donnelly with, only to find that if you hold side A so the label name reads left-to-right, "Boss Tuneage" is at the top and the song titles read down-to-up, but if you hold side B so the label name reads left-to-right, "Boss Tuneage" is at the bottom and the song titles read up-to-down (if you can figure out how that's my smoking gun, i'm all ears, Watson). In any event, by song two, my enthusiasm (and surety of Figgs-involvement) was beginning to dampen slightly, and i thought that perhaps i'd merely have a contest whereby OTHER people would get the alien tattooed on their back, and send me Polaroids™, and win a prize or something, and by track three or four i had lost interest entirely, never to return. I mean, dude, it's GRUNGE (unless they don't call grunge "grunge" any more [for all i know, they call it "hardcore." nothing can surprise me where that term is involved these days after i heard it applied to fucking Snapcase, who are about as hardcore as... oh, i don't know, Bionic i guess], in which case i guess it's whatever they say it is), and has anyone besides me ever noticed that grunge bands (or current contemporary variant thereof, God save us all) never "quote" (used here in the newfangled postmodern sense of "knowingly evoking stylistic similarities to") anything other than those things that, by their mere inclusion in the genre, they are PRE-SUPPOSED TO QUOTE MERELY BY DINT OF THEIR VERY EXISTENCE? I mean, think about it (if you want). BEST SONG: "C'mon C'mon"  BEST SONG TITLE "Peavey Youth"  FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT (apart from the fact that they spelled "Peavey" correctly): Track #6 is, in fact, called "Six." It's genius in our time! (or is it merely the Circle Jerks fifth album??)


–Rev. Norb (Boss Tuneage)

Everything Looks Like Her: 7”

A-side: Potent rock’n’roll with maybe a dash of the '60s thrown in for good measure. B-side: more of the same. The production could’ve been a little rawer, but it’s still pretty snappy as is.


–Jimmy Alvarado (Rapid Pulse)

Drown My Sorrows, Drink My Dreams: CDEP

Anthemic, profanity-sprinkled street punk/hardcore that kind of sounds like a cross between the Bump ‘n Uglies and Sick Of It All. And judging by the title and the dumpy barroom photos, I’d say they have a pro-alcohol abuse agenda. What’s not to like? Five songs and a whopping eleven minutes and thirteen seconds of strong, no-bullshit rock'n'roll. Unlike some of the other discs I’ve reviewed this time around, I will not be burying this one in my backyard.


–aphid (Go For Broke)

THE: Hate Your Everything: CD

Sweet mid-tempo hardcore that gets the blood pumping and the aggro a-buildin’. Best of all, no whiny emo lyrics. Dang good listenin’.


–Jimmy Alvarado (Steel Cage)

Houston: We Have a Drinking Problem: CD

Late at night, I pop this into to the CD player after a hard day at work and the night before my surgery. I get overwhelmed with a time warp of deja vu. I feel like I am listening to the lost track of Sgt. Peppers or am listening to an obscure Alice Cooper track?  Maybe I’m listening to an experimental Tom Petty track?  Maybe Bowie?  Track two is equally as confusing. I am back to reality after the start of track three. A No Use for a Name meets Husker Du mood. The more I listen, I hear elements of R.E.M.College radio is the best description. I am confused...


–Donofthedead (Honest Don’s)

Houston, We Have a Drinking Problem: CD

Bad Astronaut make bad Foo Fighter music. Jeez, with a name like that, you’d expect at least one robot voice.


–Jimmy Alvarado (Honest Don’s)

Front Porch Stories: CD

I have to be honest here. This is the first Avail release that I actually possess. I passed on them for the sheer fact that they had recorded for Lookout. The label rubbed me wrong and because of the popularity. I passed on them. The last Fat release was put out in a transitional phase in which I had stopped writing for one zine and started writing for this one. I did not receive a copy and, in fact, was too cheap to purchase it. I did see them twice in the last two years and was impressed by their live set. Their live show is so impressive and energetic that I try my best to see them every time they come to town. They are a nice bunch of guys to boot. I was excited when I saw that I actually had one of their releases in my inbox at Razorcake HQ. I hate to slam this, but I am disappointed. The recording is thin and is not representative of what I have experienced live. I guess this release might be their experimental period recording. I had hoped for more. But who am I to judge?  I did want more.


–Donofthedead (Fat)

Alright: 7”

Primal punk rock with simple lyrics, simple riffs, and all the fixin’s the average punk band needs. No big whoop, but not without his harms, either.


–Jimmy Alvarado (Rip Off, no address)

Healing Is Not an Option: CD

Sounds like black metal, but reads like emo. Don’t know whether to head bang or weep uncontrollably into my Slayer lunchbox. Oh, the loneliness of being e-vile!


–Jimmy Alvarado (Hater of God)

Healing Is Not an Option: 7” EP

Why is it so cool to act pissed off all the time? Folks play and sing like they’re trying to beat the whole world back into prehistory. Maybe if some bands who can’t find anything to sing about besides misery and agony and cutting their own throats would actually go and do the deed, it would free up some gear for the band down the block who have a couple good monkey songs.


–Cuss Baxter (Hater of God)

: Split 7"

Ass End Offend: Out of their three songs, "Cross the Fence," is the standout solely by the fact it doesn't sound like a tired reconstruction of Corrosion of Conformity, pre-Crossover. That song is my favorite of the split and actually has some nice breakdowns and vocal dynamics. Anti DiFrancos: Barring a song about respecting your parents and an up-front hate for a certain hairy armpitted righteous babe, The Anti DiFrancos are a very standard, almost featureless punk band who seemed to have taken Jello Biafra's spoken word to heart. (I.e. "the nation's elite bolster our alienation to perpetuate wage slave subjugation.") I'm sure they're very earnest but this musical ground – especially the instrumentation – has been trampled so many times, and like a patch of grass under the same treatment, it doesn't seem like anything new's growing out of it. My suggestion for both bands? Get more Feederz and Zero Boys and cut down on the Conflict and GBH in your diet; something to throw in and monkey wrench the mix.


–Todd Taylor (Poisoned Candy)

The “Dante” EP: CDEP

It doesn’t look that good, but by god it’s punchier than a waxed weasel! Five tracks of high-energy '77-via-now head-bobbing delight in the realm of Naked Raygun getting the Rip Off treatment. Too bad it’s so fuckin’ short.

–Cuss Baxter (www.arcadeinferno.com)

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