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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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My Mind’s Gone: EP
Decent punk rock in the Rip Off vein. Four songs, all rockin’, all catchy. Plus, the back cover has a photo of Corky from Life Goes On! I bet these guys put on a good show. If this were a cereal, it’d be Cheerios – a cereal you can always count on to be at least pretty good. –Maddy (Radio)

My Mind’s Gone: 7” EP
Taut, straight-ahead punk rock falling somewhere in the gray area between the Hostage beach punk and the Rip Off trash punk sounds. After two smokin’ singles, these guys are making a name for themselves and you’d be a complete idiot not to add this to your collection. Also included is an uncredited Skrewdriver cover, which, although devoid of any nazi lyrics, should piss off all the right people. –Jimmy Alvarado (Radio)

Songs for a Knife Fight: 10"
Well, allrrrright! Slip’n’slide rollicking guitar work and inspiring, snotty man/boy vocals from the Sell Outs is definitely not one to miss. Reminds one of the great punkers of the past without really breaking down and copying them to an annoying “T”(eengenerate) – like most bands, you know who you are… Give it a try if you liked The Dirtys and instinctively know what to do when someone yells out, “Gimme action!” or better yet, “It’s beer time!” –Namella J. Kim (Ken Rock)

The Curse of…: CD
I love it when you can listen to an album and tell that the band has a great record collection. Take the Selby Tigers, for example. You can hear a bit of the Undertones, a little Vibrators, a healthy dose of X-Ray Spex, some of Dillinger Four’s give and take, some of Eddie Cochran’s guitar work, but you can’t nail down any of those bands and say, “These guys sound like this band.” That’s the brilliance of the Selby Tigers: they have great influences and know how to blend them together and come out with something very original. Every time I listen to this album or their first album, Charm City, I wonder why everyone isn’t going nuts over this band. Everything is here. Their music is honest and sincere and energetic and rockin’, but they’re also really skilled musicians, and they write great songs. So why aren’t they huge? It has to do with the Curse of the Selby Tigers, which is this: you have to listen to a Selby Tigers album five times to love it. The first time you listen to it, you’ll like it, but you won’t know why. You’ll think, it’s different. It’s quirky. I think I like this. The second time you listen to it, you’ll still like it, but you won’t be so sure. Maybe it’s too different, too quirky. The third time you listen to it, you’ll think, yeah, it is too different. It just doesn’t match the rest of my record collection, like a collared shirt in a punker’s closet. The fourth time you listen to it, you’ll think, I don’t understand what I saw in this album in the first place. So you’ll listen to it once more, and everything will open up to you. It’ll be an epiphany. You’ll have listened to the album enough to start picking up bits and pieces that you didn’t notice before. A guitar riff. Drums gathering speed. Arzu ripping through her vocal chords, then softening back into key. A hidden bass line. It all comes together. You’ll be hooked. You’ll want to listen to the album every day for months on end. You’ll wonder why everyone doesn’t love the Selby Tigers. Then, you’ll realize that no one listens to an album five times to understand it. You’ll realize that the Selby Tigers are victims of snap judgements. It would make you sad, but the album is too fucking good. You can’t be sad. All you can do is keep listening and singing along. –Sean Carswell (Hopeless)

Self-titled: CD
Goofy, funny hardcore from a group of very proficient musicians. This is a pretty fun disc and the music’s tight, but I think they probably go over much better in a live setting and, not having seen them live, this album most likely wouldn’t make it to a second listen here. Put another way, this ain’t bad, but it ain’t mind blowing, either. –Jimmy Alvarado (No Label)

Seven Songs: CD
More fucking emocore. Wouldn’t have been so bad if the singer didn’t sound like such a whiny prat. –Jimmy Alvarado (New Disorder)

You Only Live Once: CD
The Romans were an LA surf band in the early '80s. More muscle car than hot rod, these songs have moxie, and it’s easy to imagine Estrus founder Dave Kreiger listening to The Romans in the Reagan years up in Yakima, Washington, and sporting a Douglas fir-sized woody. Make no mistake about it, The Romans are a surf band, but like The Mermen and Man or Astroman? that came after them, surf is a springboard that launches them into a places with the freedom to explore something new and different. Punk rockers take note: Rob Ritter of The Bags, Gun Club and 45 Grave was in the band for a minute. Dinah Cancer also appears on the record, belting out a screen siren scream on a tune called “Blob!” The bonus tracks are the real gems here. The instrumental “Black” is pretty cool, and “It’s a Lie” and “Slave” are great punk rock songs that are reminiscent of Agent Orange and could not have come from anywhere else but Southern California. “Chasm,” the apocalyptic final track is like Tarzan trapped in an ancient African temple on mescaline, the slo-mo drums seeping into his skull as the enslaved masses chant his soul to hell. A totally bitchin’ horror show. You Only Live Once is the first release from Warning Label Records, and it’s a great one. –jim (Warning Label)

The Day the Earth Met the...: CD
A collection of assorted demo and live tracks from this long dead but very influential band, slapped together to recreate “the greatest album NEVER made.” For those not in the know, this is the link between Pere Ubu and the Dead Boys, a super group, if you will, containing members of both of those bands before they were anybody. With great (although occasionally a little raw) sound quality, this is a must have for fans of either band, if for no other reason than to hear early versions of now-classic songs like “Sonic Reducer,” “30 Seconds Over Tokyo,” and “Final Solution,” not to mention a couple of Stooges covers. Hell, the majority of the songs from the first Dead Boys albums are here, and let me say that until you’ve heard David Thomas belt out “What Love Is,” you just ain’t lived. Recommended. –Jimmy Alvarado (Smog Veil)

Such a Bore: 7”
If ya want my twelve beers’ worth, I fervently proclaim The Riffs one of the trashiest, most bad-ass punkrock bands to savagely blast an ear-wrecking array of insolent sonic snottiness in many moons. They aggressively spit and spew forth a flesh-scorching assault of brazen street-scruff rock’n’roll belligerence that frenetically epitomizes COOL. It’s the perfect musical mishmash of mayhem, wild manic energy, and all-out alley-swaggering attitude: drunken razor-slashed vocals, menacing Steve Jones-style rhythm guitar crunch with violent and fiery Johnny Thunders-like leads, and a decadent urban squall of subway train bass rumblings and skull-rattling jackhammer drum beatings. Ladies and gentlemen, I now present the undeniably greatest rock’n’roll band in all of the world: The Riffs! Do yourself a favor and pick up this spastic piece of plastic today, or forever live a life of complete uninspired mediocrity… –Guest Contributor (TKO)

Dead End Dream: CD
These scruffy, leather-jacketed musical marauders are the ultimate balls-out definition of crazed punkrock belligerence in all of its vicious flesh-slashing glory. The songs are structurally similar to the snotty pogo-bouncin’ madness of the Sex Pistols heavily loaded with the cocky, guitar-struttin’ swagger of Johnny Thunders and the trashy gutter-roamin’ auditory demeanor of the Dead Boys. The coarse urban-jungle lyrics brusquely conjure decadent inner city images of trash-strewn back-alleys inhabited by pimps, prostitutes, and drug-addled razor-wielding common criminals. “Dead End Dream” is the sick’n’sordid sound of hopelessness, despair, boredom, addiction, and unsavory nocturnal unruliness. It’s the cacophonous clamor of an indignant generation of youth outta their heads on amphetamines, ale, and loutish insolent misbehavior. Definitely my kinda incorrigible sonic sleaziness! –Roger Moser, Jr. –Guest Contributor (TKO)

Touch Me, I’m Weird!: CD
From the spandex-sportin’ singer of Boris the Sprinkler comes a themed solo album! If you have just broken up with a lady or man friend, and wanna be pissed off with someone else, why not Rev. Norb? Songs about bein’ done wrong, bein’ mad, bein’ spazzed out, and bein’ sad. It’s not Boris the Sprinkler, it's all Norb, all the time. If this were a cereal, it’d be Lucky Charms after your ex stole all the marshmallows. –Maddy (Bulge)

Thrash Mayhem: 7"
Holy fuck! From the country of Belgium, these straight, to-the-point fastcore monsters graciously record an EP for the world to hear. Manic vocals are screamed to express his point. The guitar and bass are strummed to near collapse. The drummer pounds away at a manic rate of beats per minute that must look like he is an image of a blur. There's nine songs that go by so fast that I have to keep getting up to flip the record over. Grrr! –Donofthedead (Kid for Life)

Nine Long Years: CD
The Real Pills have a very straightforward, mid-tempo garage sound, and Nine Long Years is a sonic driven pop album. There’s a lot of Mersey Beat in here, with the drums bouncing mostly on the snares and symbols and very little bass drum. The Real Pills definitely aren’t treading on any new ground here. In fact, they seem to be following a very similar path to the one that the Gears took over twenty years ago. Still, it’s a pretty good path to follow, and this is an enjoyable album. –Sean Carswell (Mortville)

Sing the Real: CD
Depression has a funny way of creeping into your life. For me, a few events have happened recently that made me depressed. The magic of music is that it can ease your pain in many ways and mimic what you are feeling. This CD has come to be cherished by me because of events that have transpired. From what I know of this band, they are based here in LA. I saw them as an opening act for Ozomatli and was taken aback by their beauty of expressing themselves by music. It's mainly sung in Spanish with a few songs sung in English. They blend an almost Santana-like mix of latin beats with a jazz and blues mix. What I took to heart is their song “Jarocho Elegua.” I have no idea what the song is about. But the beauty of the song, lyrics sung in Spanish, and the music it transfers is the rare event of the perfect song. I would not change anything about it. Brother and sister, Martha and Gabriel Gonzalez, interact with such passion that knowing the translation to this song might spoil it for me. I feel it, so I enjoy it. –Donofthedead (Vanguard)

A Different Kind of Single: 7"
Hey, this is snotty melodic pop punk with Clash leanings. There’s lots of chant-along lines. Hee hee, I likes them even with my cheap record player skipping continuously. If the Buzzcocks were in OC during our modern times, I guess they'd play with The Put-Ons. Then again, I could be wrong and they could really be from England. Oi! –Namella J. Kim (Manic)

Wrong Side of Texas: CD
I don’t know anything about Mortville Records except that they seem to have a real ear for great rock’n’roll. I saw this album in the review bins and remembered that I’d had luck with Mortville in the past. I was surprised just how lucky I got. The Put-Downs are the real find of this round of record reviews. The tough thing is, I’m not sure exactly why. It’s good, solid rock’n’roll. There’s not a whole lot of punk to it. It’s not very trashy. It’s uptempo, but not that fast. On the surface, it’s not really all that original. The key to The Put-Downs, though, is that they follow through on their punches. They remember to follow the rock up with a good bit of roll. They pile one catchy song on the next. They creep into your brain and have you singing along with songs before you can say for sure what the band’s name is. More than anything, they give me the sense that they’re the only three punk kids in some small town in Texas and no one will hang out with them so they hang out with each other, listening to Buddy Holly and the Motards records, practicing all the time, and playing gigs at places where the guys at the bar aren’t sure whether they want to fight the punk kids or join into the pogo. –Sean Carswell (Mortville)

Minimalism: CD
Man oh man, this is a well-structured musical collage of exotic, lightly industrialized sounds with hypnotic soul-stirring flourishes of Eastern mysticism! It’s as if a shamanistic band of gothic electronic minstrels were performing in an alternate dimension in a sacred Hindu temple in Calcutta. Imagine The Cure, Bauhaus, and Jane’s Addiction being submerged in the spiritual holy waters of the GangesRiver for one mortal lifetime and then being reincarnated as an ethereal sonic swirling dervish that can never be tamed, quieted, or put to rest. Psomni are aurally omnipresent and as resplendently colorful as life itself. They are to my ears what frothy brewed nectar is to my soul. Now if you’ll please excuse me, I’m gonna turn off my mind, relax, and float downstream awhile. –Guest Contributor (Spat!)

Discrete and Powerful: CD-R
This is straightforward grunge-style barroom rock that’s musically similar to Thelonious Monster, Dinosaur Jr., Meat Puppets, and early Soul Asylum. Although the vocals are just a tad too slurred, whiny, and annoying for my inebriated tastes, the tight instrumental interplay is perfectly created with the utmost of talent and finesse. And even though a couple of the well-versed songs on here suffer from watered-down sluggishness, this is still a fairly unique aural offering that will assuredly receive a decent amount of attentive affection from my ears. The Pocket Rockets just might be on their way to a higher plateau of sonic splendor in the very near future, so be on the look-out, folks. –Roger Moser, Jr. –Guest Contributor (Independent)

It’s a Calling: CD
Goddamn the Plus Ones. I hate most pop music these days, but the same thing happens every time I hear one of their friggin’ releases: just as I’m about to dismiss it as the pile of pop pap it is, they throw in that one song that just puts a wrench into the whole thing and I gotta go back to square one and reevaluate the whole damned release again. This release is no different. The song in question is “Serve in Heaven/Rule in Hell,” a nearly flawless piece of Teenage Fanclub-esque punked-out pop with a seriously infectious hook. Before that song made its appearance, I was pretty icked out by the whole affair. Now I’ve gone back and, lo and behold, I’m hearing all kindsa weird shit buried under those guitars, including echoes of the Who, the Jam and, of all things, the friggin’ Vapors. Now I gotta keep this damned thing ’cause I found I actually like more than three quarters of the songs on it. I hate when that happens. Goddamn the Plus Ones. Who the hell are they to make a pop album that doesn’t blow sheep? Cheeky bastards. –Jimmy Alvarado (Asian Man)

Breakfast with the Holes: CD
Seventies trash punk a la the Pagans from a band apparently active during the same period. Some of this was pretty darn good and others were, well, not so interesting. If you’re some kind of completist, this’ll probably float your boat well enough. –Jimmy Alvarado (Smog Veil)

4-song demo: CDEP
Hell yeah. I still spend many a day driving around with Kid Dynamite blasting out the stereo, and even though I try not to dwell on the past too much on broken-down bands, I wished they would have continued. Ahh, sweet fulfillment. Guitarist, songwriter, licensed kid head shrinker, and all-around thinker, Dan Yemin has teamed up with his Lifetime and KD drummer, Dave Wagenshutz and a three other like-minded hardcore fools and made four all-too-short, all-so-sweet songs that has me sitting next to my stereo with a line of drool that connects my mouth to the floor. Sooo good. It's hard but it's so, so catchy. Want more. Gimme, gimme, gimme some more. –Todd Taylor (Paint It Black)

Take a Spin with the Okmonics: EP
This here’s a busy bass player. He weaves, he bobs, he bangs, he rocks his prize fighter agile fingers through 3 songs of infectious, sweet yet unsappy punky pop – or is it poppy punk? Helene coos like a bird (of prey) and pounds keys like Jeff Monoman Connelly (minus, like 100 pounds). Guitarist Sammy is a Teen Beat layout waiting to happen! On drums is Sarah laying down the fat beats. This band’s really fun to watch live and they’re super duper cool. They played a fun filled set at Mr. T’s Bowl along with the Seeds on one of those rock-action packed nights here in Los Angeles and believe me, it’s nice to hear a band that isn’t trying to be The MC5 or The Stooges (excuse me, I love the aforementioned bands but can we please get on with it! Detroit Christ on a crust!). Okay, let me break it down like this: they’re like that band your big brother joined during his sophomore year at high school, but The Okmonics are much better because they probably listened to much better bands like The Troggs, The Lyres, The Devil Dogs, and maybe even that gay ass Gary Numan record your brother’s band tried to play along to. (If you’re over the age of 25 – replace “brother” in the above sentence to “you”). Word up, Tucson rocks! –Namella J. Kim (The Okmonics)

The Politics of Person: CD-EP
Far-fuckin’-out, man! This is stylistically perfect psychedelic garage pop that’s thoroughly saturated in an aurally colorful layer of jangly crunch-driven divinity. The sizzlin’ hot lil’ ditties contained herein conjure an intoxicating image of droppin’ a couple of tabs of acid in the middle of a dayglo-hued poppy field while a mind-swirling soundtrack of The Sonics, Them, Shadows Of Knight, and Between the Buttons-era Rolling Stones continuously blares in the background. Of the seven songs that decoratively adorn this delightfully upbeat disc, two (“The Human Condition” and “The American Scene”) are downright funky, and one (“Those Commie Bastards!”) absolutely rocks with pelvic-thrustin’ surf-style swagger! The raucously insane raver, “Give Up," sounds as if it’s a long-lost mid-‘60s garage-rock blaster that’d ideally fit alongside any of the savagely stellar tracks on the original Nuggets comp. Hell yeh, The Obscure frenetically strut their unique sonic stuff all over this mind-blowin’ platter of dazzling musical magnetism. It’s just too damn addictive for mere mortal words to adequately describe. –Roger Moser, Jr. –Guest Contributor (A.D.)

The Great Brain Bake-Off: CD
See, there’s a reason why some bands go unnoticed for eighteen years. The song “FBI” wasn’t too bad, though. –Jimmy Alvarado (Smog Veil)

Failing Early, Failing Often: CD
Like a depressed Melvins (and, mercifully, without the nine-minute drum solos) Noothgrush lives in the same dark region as Grief, a place where everyone's smile muscles are atrophied and thermobaric guitar riffs are the peacekeepers. This 'grush stuff was all recorded in 95-97 and some of it's been released on 7"s and stuff (none of which I have, so at least I'M happy now) but this ain't exactly hit material, so a whole heap of it on a reissue like this is like a big thick concrete slab to build your own personal torture chamber on. –Cuss Baxter (Slap A Ham)

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