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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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DAWN:
Self-titled: CD
Song titles like “Proud to Be” and “Ragnarok” made me a little wary, but I see no evidence of any affinity for Teutonic dictators with Chaplin mustaches or calls for albino supremacy dolled up as the worship of one-eyed Nordic warrior gods. The music here is speedy, angry thrash stuff with lyrics bemoaning the state of the world in a way that doesn’t sound like your average peace punk rant. –Jimmy Alvarado (Anti-Corporate Music)


DARKLANDS / THE VILLAGE IDIOT:
Split: 7” EP
Both bands dish up a couple of acoustic tunes, none of which are earth shatteringly good enough to make any sort of lasting impression, though Village Idiot were slightly more interesting than the band named after the second Jesus And Mary Chain album. –Jimmy Alvarado (http://www.myspace.com/rabalderrecords)


DARK LINGO:
Self-titled (?): Cassette
Dark Lingo is a duo of gents creating dark, moderately creepy, and slightly experimental tunes with bass, drums, and effects. Such musical configurations can often be hit or miss, but this one hits very, very well. The six tunes on this tape tap into something dark and primal yet elegant at the same time, like a malevolent spirit with a kindly smile on its pate. Oh, and the packaging is friggin’ awesome: cloth, hand-sewn cassette case. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Official Facss)


DEAD MECHANICAL / FULL OF FANCY:
Split : 7”
Dead Mechanical’s Medium Noise LP usually shows up on my turntable as I’m making the transition from Sunday afternoon to Sunday night, mentally and physically preparing for the week ahead. This band just writes consistently solid and relatable songs. There’s a definite warmth and comfort in them, even though these songs were spawned by the exact opposite of conditions. I will pick up anything this band releases. On the flip, Full Of Fancy play the fuck out of some pop music. The fuck, I say! –Daryl Gussin (Cold Feet)


DAYLIGHT ROBBERY:
Red Tape: 7” EP
If Exene had married Joe Ramirez and joined the Eyes instead of X, this is pretty much what they would’ve sounded like. Songs are tight, sans fuzz on the guitar, and are about as on-target as a band can get. –Jimmy Alvarado (residuerecords@gmail.com)


ALABASTER SKELETON:
Stay Cool, Have a Great Summer: CD
This was a welcome musical relief for me. Twelve songs of crooning from what seems like a bygone era with a take on relationships that doesn’t sound naively antiquated. Everything here is really simple, straightforward, and delightful. Most of the songs are played on acoustic guitar with occasional keyboard or drums. Sometimes, this reminded me of a broken Buddy Holly or Elvis. Other times I felt like I was listening to that friend we all have who plays his songs on his acoustic guitar for you in his bedroom and you wonder why the hell he isn’t playing out because he’s that good. And, sometimes, he sounds like Steven Hawking (“Somethin’ Stupid”). A couple of the songs on here were mediocre and could have stood to be tossed. That’s not to say that they brought the album down, but there were just a few tunes that didn’t do anything for me. This album may not be the most emotionally draining listen from a singer/songwriter (i.e. Elliott Smith), but it’s honest and endearing and I’ll take that any day. –Kurt Morris (www.myspace.com/alabasterskeleton)


ABE FROMAN:
Baltimore Is Scum: 7” EP
Abe Froman is the sausage king from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Abe Froman is also a band from East Lansing. I’m a Michigan native and good music from the mitten state gets me pumped! Right from the first song, “Russian 101,” the band’s sound is very similar to a female-fronted Pinhead Gunpowder. With lyrics like “I write you all the time, even though I’m not gonna send them,” it’s hard not to see the comparison to anything Aaron Cometbus related. Just the artwork alone reminded me of something Aaron would have done. The sound is pretty consistent throughout the entire EP. There’s even a reference to Cleveland Bound Death Sentence in the song “Rex.” Highly recommended if you’re into Midwest punk rock. Too bad they broke up! –Ronnie Riggar –Guest Contributor (Self-released, www.msu.edu/~tobeyeri/abefroman.html)


DAMNED , THE:
So, Who’s Paranoid?: CD
At this point in their career, I have to applaud the band for continuing to put out new music. Maybe they should call up The Circle Jerks? There’s no “New Rose” here, but, overall, I found it to be enjoyable. The Captain still entertains on guitar and Vanian is still one of the coolest frontmen. What I really can’t wait for is to see them again next month. Monty’s spazzy dances will be worth the price of admission. “Maid for Pleasure” and “Little Miss Disaster” could slip into the set list and still please the hardcore punters. For those who like to trip out, enjoy The Electric Prunes-cue “Dark Asteroid.” Good work, men. Keep up the good work. –Sean Koepenick (English Channel)


CURTAINS OF NIGHT, THE:
Lost Houses: CD
Sludgy guitar/drum duo noise rock stuff. –Jimmy Alvarado (Holidays For Quince)


CREEPY:
Strong Lies Kill Highs: CD
Damn shame that Indie 103.1 went under, ‘cause the Kaiser Chiefs/Arctic Monkeys-reminiscent modern punk/wave these guys dish out would’ve made ’em all but a shoe-in for heavy rotation on that now-defunct (at least on terrestrial airwaves) station’s playlist. –Jimmy Alvarado (http://www.teenorecords.com/)


ALL NIGHT DRUG PROWLING WOLVES:
Self-titled: CD
Great title for an album, kinda hokey name for a band, especially considering that it doesn’t sound like these guys are on any cool kinds of mind-altering/expanding drugs. The tunes are mediocre power pop that fall short of memorable. It reminds me of something that I can’t quite put my finger on…mid-’90s “alternative” FM radio…that fuckin’ “Flagpole” band, Harvey Danger. There you go. Colonel Records put out the great King Tuff record recently, so grab that release rather than this one. Stick to the Pets or Gentleman Jesse if you’re looking for a power pop fix. –Josh Benke (The Colonel, www.myspace.com/thecolonelrecords)


400COLPI:
Homo Homini Lupus: CD
Crust-tinged Italian metalcore with two singers and two bass drum pedals. –CT Terry (chorusofonerecords.it)


CREEPS, THE:
These Walls: 7”
The Creeps’ Lakeside Cabin was undoubtedly one of my favorite records of last year. It was a dark, slick pop punk affair reminiscent of mid-period Alkaline Trio and mid-‘90s Lookout! fare that totally caught me by surprise and became a staple of my daily listening. With their newest release, These Walls (once again on Black Pint Records), The Creeps chose to forgo the lengthy, detailed recording process of Lakeside Cabin for a rawer approach, and the result is, in my opinion, their best work yet. Gone are the campy, slasher flick lyrics of past releases and, instead, the band focuses on some uncharacteristically insightful commentary on the prison system, the international culture of fear, and the desperate state of daily life. Now, don’t get me wrong when I say “uncharacteristically”—these are three smart guys, but their lyrical content up to this point has been much lighter. These songs are just on a whole other level. These Walls is catchy, cerebral punk rock that I can’t recommend more highly. Get into this band immediately. –Dave Williams (Black Pint)


COBWEBBS, THE:
The Cola Sessions: CD-R
The music’s not bad in a KXLU/college alternative stuff kinda way, but the singin’ is so lousy you can’t help but admire their chutzpah. It takes some serious huevos to be this unabashedly bad. –Jimmy Alvarado (http://myspace.com/thecobwebbsmusic)


CORY CASE:
Waiting on a Remedy: CD
Mostly acoustic tuneage here, more reminiscent of Jim Croce, early Dylan, and such than Jay Reatard, which is not said to malign what’s goin’ on here, ‘cause there is some seriously good writing in evidence. Pop this into the Wayback Machine, set the controls for 1972, and this vato is a millionaire. –Jimmy Alvarado (Deadbeat)


COBRA SKULLS:
Draw Muhammad: CDEP
I’d never actually heard this band, despite hearing the name over and over again. “Like Against Me! but with more ska punk,” was also what I’d heard, and I have to say, that’s pretty dead on. Come to think about it, they kind of remind me of Against All Authority without the horns. It didn’t immediately grab me at the first listen, but I do have a feeling I’ll want to go back to it later. Also, apparently Craigums from Love Songs/Conquest For Death recorded this, which scores bonus points in my book. –Joe Evans III (Red Scare, myspace.com/redscarepunk)


CLOAK DAGGER:
“Surf Song” b/w “Concentration Camps”: 7”
A kickin’ intersection of melodic hardcore and streetpunk. I bet they rip it live. The A-side is quite a feat—it’s not a song so much as a collection of hooks in rapid succession. On the downside, I’m getting a “style over substance” vibe here, like maybe these guys shop at Urban Outfitters and “just wanna rock.” It’s on Jade Tree and there’re only two songs. The lack of a lyric sheet doesn’t help, neither does the fact that the B-side is called “Concentration Camps” and, from what I can make out, it’s about girls. That’s in really poor taste, dudes. –CT Terry (Jade Tree)


CIVIL VICTIM:
Mehr Kreig: 7” EP
Some pretty good hardcore from a band calling Germany home. Was a little apprehensive when I saw the lyrics were in English, but they managed to make their point(s) clearly. Fast, tempo changes abound; all around solid stuff here. –Jimmy Alvarado –Jimmy Alvarado (Loud Punk)


CHRIS WOLLARD AND THE SHIP THIEVES:
Self-titled: CD
This album is a departure from both Hot Water Music and Rumbleseat, i.e., not what I have come to expect from Chris Wollard. The vocal delivery is more relaxed and, at first, I feared this change. Car listening seemed eh, home listening seemed eh, but when I popped it in whilst at the beach, it instantly fit. This album is for the sunny, lazy, beach time with friends when you don’t want to listen to music by people you fear may suck. Now, if you are not looking for a kicked back time, there may be better selections for you. But if chill is what you’re after, all you have to do is throw on this bad boy and you got it. –Jeremy Jones –Guest Contributor (No Idea)


3 WAY SWITCH:
Self-titled: CDEP
Pretty cool mid-tempo punk rock out of Seattle. Didn’t really grab a hold of me but didn’t grate on my nerves either. –Jim Ruland (Self-released, myspace.com/threewayswitch)


YOUNG GOVERNOR:
“Virginia Creeper” b/w “I’m a Mess”: 7”
Let’s see a show of hands of folks who think The Tranzmitors and The Statues are pretty great. Now, imagine if their power pop propensities were roughed up a little bit, and not in a ProTools-$1,000-a-day-studio-intentionally-fucked-up way, but a Jay Reatard Bedroom Disasters, sort of way, like this dude just can’t help himself. It sounds like he’s playing this shit by himself, standing on his futon in his dirty chones, singing to his cat. And that’s said in the most positive of lights. He’s just got to get the catchy jams out but only has this dinky little machine to capture these raw pustules of sweetness. (I don’t know if “sugar zit” is a genre of music, but I’m ™ ing it right now.) That’s what I get from this 7”. What makes sense, too, is that the Governor sang backup on the single version of Fucked Up’s “Dance of Death” and is a primary member of Marvelous Darlings (and I’m highly recommending The Swords, The Streets 7”s, too right now). –Todd Taylor (Plastic Idol, plasticidol.com)


YO MAN GO:
LIFE LESSONS: 7”
Two rollicking, honest, emotional blasts of pop punk/hardcore crossover, akin to Promise of an Uncertain Future-era Digger and Watch It Burn, with bits of Avail chugga chugga and Hot Water Music whoa-oh’s. In other words, it’s great! One hundred pressed on grey vinyl, one hundred on black. Screened covers with cutesy polar bears. Wish there was more than two songs here, because these songs are a lot of fun. –Jeff Proctor (Square Of Opposition)


WITCH HUNT:: :
Burning Bridges to Nowhere: CD
Haven’t listened to first two records in awhile now and it’s been a few years since I’ve seen them live. Never did get around to burning them on to the computer to get them into the rotation of listening on the iPod, either. But I do have good recollection that I liked them a lot. So I had no apprehension getting this little slab of plastic for review. Since this was on CD, I imported the music right away without a listen. Had that gut feeling that I was not going to be disappointed. After I downloaded the songs, it was time for a sample of what was in store. The first song, “Blind Eyes, Blind Lives,” leads off the bunch with some hard-charged energy. But the second track, “Everyday,” sparked my interest up to a new level. Right off the bat, I noticed the texturing and layers of the dual guitar mixture. Adding the male/female vocal delivery added another element of perfection. The dreariness of the mood of the song made this an instant favorite. This song alone shows the maturity and growth of this band. But it did not end there. The entire release is consistent and, surprisingly, I did not find one track that put me off. A combination of not having an overtly raw production, excellent song structures, and tight musicianship makes this an enjoyable listening experience. The music is ambitious and it shows why this band is heralded. –Donofthedead (Alternative Tentacles)


WARCRY:
Maniacs on Pedestals: CD
This album is the fucking shit. This band’s live performance is brutal; they’re so intense the crowd surges forward to be closer, but is kept away by the ferocity of their movements. The lyrics are as clear and intense as the message they transmit. This album is about oppression and its resistance. The rhythm section is very tight while the guitar fuzzes and slashes away on its own. Holding the sonic assault down are vocals that seem to cry out from the darkest part of yourself, screaming what the world refuses to hear –Rene Navarro (Feral Ward, feralward.com)


WAR PIGS:
Degeneration: CD
This has stayed in heavy rotation since I got it in the mail. It manages to get me pumped up, without making me overexcited or anxious. The Black Sabbath inspiration isn’t just in the name, Tony Iommi’s riffs are clearly audible in a few songs. Yet, this album is nowhere near metal as we know it today; it’s hardcore rife with tension and strength that only beautifully basic chords and perfect timing can deliver. My only complaint would be the two instrumental tracks which make this nine song album longer than it has to be.

 

 

 

–Rene Navarro (Staggered Works Music, staggeredworks.org)


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