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DRYHEAVERS, LOS: Words of Surrender: CD
Another excursion in writing to the Rancid template. Though it sports some Spanish/English lyrics, there’s pitifully little to separate this from the scads of nameless, faceless bands that populate each year’s Warped lineup. Really hoped for something a little more unique from these carnales from Watsonville, but ultimately ended up with more of the same.
–Jimmy Alvarado (Lorelei)
DOUBLE NEGATIVE: Raw Energy: 7"
Last year’s The Wonderful and Frightening World of Double Negative LP totally tore my head off, and I’ve been seriously anticipating some new material since shortly after its release. The Raw Energy 7” is said to more accurately recreate the band’s intense live spectacle, and it is indeed a raw, piercing, destructive six minutes of Void/early-C.O.C.-esque hardcore. Desperate, angry, and raging.
–Dave Williams (Sorry State)
DONITA SPARKS and THE STELLAR MOMENTS: Transmiticate: CD
It seems that L-7’s Donita Sparks has mellowed with time, but she can still get real heavy, fuzzy, and buzzy. Both the first and last tracks on this CD—“Fly Feather Fly” and “Into the HI FI” are the most rockingest, L–7ish tunes of the bunch with that familiar, dirty, wicked buzz, but it’s not punk rock…its punk-influenced rock that continues to grow on the listener with each successive listen. At first, it all sounds kind of the same, but turn it up and listen deeper. Donita is doing a lot within the slower rhythms with a lot of echo, vibrato, and multiple fluid-layers of sonic depth. Her vocals are still husky-sweet, and a distinctive sense of fun and humor floats up from the pleasantly vibrating resonance. Where L-7 was overtly angry and abrasive, this disc is definitely more laid-back, frequently introspective, with mid-tempo, head-noddingly catchy tunes that are rather trance inducing. At first, I thought “Dare Dare” was going to be an ELO cover, but it turned out to be a solid original performed with traditional ‘70s rock arrangement and a distinctly humorous edge. “He’s got the Honey” is the fuzziest of all and sounds like it could be the theme song for a punk rock kids show…tough punk kids. Yes, Ms. Sparks has evolved and grown over time and this is what it sounds like. She practically did this whole thing by herself and the others got to follow along.
–Marcus Solomon (Sparks Fly)
DESTINATION : OBLIVION: Winter Solstice: CD
This disc arrived scuffed. Of the nine new tracks, I could only hear one stuttering song. If a strobe light could play synths it would sound like this. Abandoning the CD, D:O’s myspace page had the first track “Awake Pulse,” reminding me of Halloween’stheme song with an intense piano line leading into crunchy guitars. Damian threw a few new mixes like “Sick v2” and “Self Inflicted Noise Mix” onto Solstice. It’s just too bad I can’t hear ‘em. –Kristen K
–Guest Contributor (Apocalypse Machine)
DEEP SLEEP: Manic Euphoria: 7”
What a great follow up by these Richmond, VA punks. This band saunters the fine line of flawlessness and failure so genuinely and gracefully it just makes you want to shrink into a single particle so you can fit into the grooves of this record and ride the guitar riffs off into the sunset. Totally angry West Coast-influenced punk with a no bullshit attitude. “Textbook Timebomb” is one amazing song. Its riffage will absorb into your bloodstream and make you forget all your responsibilities.
–Daryl Gussin (Grave Mistake)
DEEP SLEEP: Manic Euphoria: 7”
Deep Sleep haven’t changed much up since the killer You’re Screwed 7”, which means you’ve got some more Reagan Youth/SST-inspired melodic hardcore that still totally rules and blows by a bit too quickly. These lads have got this down to a science and, for my money, do this thing just a touch better than their countless contemporaries. Sometimes I deeply appreciate some predictability in my life, and this is one of those times.
–Dave Williams (Grave Mistake)
DOWN AND AWAY: Reclaim the Radio: CD
Sweden’s Down And Away finally hits stateside record shelves with this collection, their first U.S. release to date. It’s a compilation of some of the catchiest material from four of their prior European releases. Neither 1990s enough nor formulaic enough to be dubbed pop punk, their sound is nonetheless on the more poppy side of melodic punk. Fans of pop punk or mainline 1977-infused punk will love Down And Away. There’s also an added charm due to the English-written lyrics by non-native speakers. There’s nothing too hilariously E.S.L. here (none of it would come out of Balki Bartokomous’s mouth), but the lyrics still have an unintentional comedic quality to them. This is fun, rocking pop that deserves a new audience.
–Art Ettinger (Warbird)
DRILLS: Skull Death 2: 7” EP
Ah, yes, this brings back the 1981/‘82 era in a rush—a period when the field was still open just enough that the “any shmuck can join in on the fun” was still in evidence. In this case, two thirty-something dudes armed with a drum machine and a tape recorder crank out their take on hardcore, then con some friends into joining in on the slam-bang. How well they succeeded depends on what you define as “quality music,” but it does serve as a nice reminder of the period when punk was less a template and more an attitude.
–Jimmy Alvarado (email@example.com)
DEAD UNCLES: Demo: Cassette
They would stand to benefit if they were to ditch their vocalist. He, their vocalist, sounds like he listens to a lot of Blink-182 while the rest of the band listens to nondescript pop punk. They also cover “Rumble Seats and Running Boards” by Cleveland Bound Death Sentence. Trying to erase their version from my memory, I listened to the original a few times. It didn’t work; theirs is still haunting me. That aside, I don’t think that the song should have been covered, at least not with the original lyrics in their entirety. A few years back, I read an interview with a member of Jawbreaker (either Blake or Adam if memory serves). The interviewer asked if the band found other bands covering “Boxcar” weird—a song that Dead Uncles thought about covering instead per the liner notes—because of the particular events mentioned in the lyrics. I don’t think that the band thought much of it. However, I find myself in the same mindset of the interviewer, and the case holds here.
–Vince (Spicy Soup, myspace.com/spicysoupproductionsct)
DEAD MISSION: Dang: CD-R
Loud and fast with wholly unintelligible vocals. Point a speaker at a tree and it’ll wreak more havoc than a belt sander.
–Jimmy Alvarado (Single Round, no address)
DEAD MECHANICAL: Insubordination Fest 2007: CD
Seven-song song live mini-set from this Baltimore power trio. Take the best elements of SLF, Hüsker Dü, and Gang of Four. Put them in a blender and insert a Krazy straw. Sit back, sip and enjoy. “Guantanamo Calling” and “The Only Bad Thing That Ever Happened” rock some seriously bitchin’ guitar lines. Look for DM to rip the house place down to the studs for Insubordination Fest 2008.
–Sean Koepenick (Insubordination)
DEAD KINGS / SICK SICK SICK: Split: 7” EP
Dead Kings: Meat ’n’ potatoes punk stuff with Marshalled guitars. Sick Sick Sick: Two more or less hardcore tunes, one inspired by Night of the Living Dead director George Romero and a sorta bio about porn star Harry Reems.
–Jimmy Alvarado (Scat Boy)
DEAD FRIENDS: Them Vs. Them: 7"
Three songs per side of house show post-hardcore. Not flashy or uninterestingly striving to be innovative, just pure emotion and heart. In minute-long intervals they use an honest, non-condescending, mature approach. Six-hundred-and-sixty-six kudo marks for the Ursula K. LeGuin quote.
–Daryl Gussin (Obscurist Press/IFB/Drugged Conscience)
DAYGLO ABORTIONS: Feed Us a Fetus: LP
I know last time when I reviewed Out of the Womb by Dayglow Abortions, I said it contained all of their best songs. Well, I kind of lied. When I was a lad around the age of twelve, I played minor hockey (as most Canadian boys do). The kicker was that punk rocker kids were a bit of a rarity in organized sports, so I didn’t have a lot of friends. I think the only reason I wasn’t lynched was that I was good at hockey. Well, we found ourselves at a tournament down in Washington state and the custom was to get “psyched up” for the game by listening to music. AC/DC was the order of the day, when I told the team that I had a tape that was perfect for our American adversaries. Somehow I was given a chance and within thirteen seconds the entire dressing room was screaming “PROUD TO BE A CANADIAN… PASS ME ANOTHER BEER!” That day we won by a lot, and the punker wasn’t so weird to the jocks. Anyways, the review is like this (Best Songs from Out of the Womb) + (“Proud To Be Canadian”) + A few more classics = Feed Us A Fetus = Best Dayglo Abortions record PERIOD! Another great reissue by Unrest.
–Ty Stranglehold (Unrest)
DARK AGES: 4 Songs: 7"
Another blow to those old assholes who said stupid shit like, “Hardcore is dead, go home.” Dark Ages wreak unholy hardcore havoc with these vinyl grooves and why the hell shouldn’t they? I’m so glad this made it to vinyl. I’m not exactly sure why the same four songs had to be pressed onto the A and B sides, but they’re so good I’m just gonna accept it, flip it over, and listen to them again.
–Daryl Gussin (Get Revenge)
DAN MELCHIOR UND DAS MENACE: Christmas for the Crows: LP
A bit enigmatic. Quiet and subdued music where even the spaces in between are part of the overall sound. Too smart to be garage rock, though it would be quick and easy to paint this with that brush, but... I imagine if Billy Childish had fronted Thee Homosexuals, it would have sounded something like this. At the core is an Americana sound, but off that are strains of post punk, rock, and whatever else. Really, this is not music easily described, which is a great thing. Just listen to this and sort it out for yourself.
–Matt Average (Daggerman, www.daggermandrecords.com)
DAILY VOID: Man/Machine: 7” EP
Three more tracks of odd aural chaos from a band comprised of members of the Functional Blackouts. A-side is a sludgy bit of fun that sounds like a cross between Flipper and early Saccharine Trust, and the flip has two more up-tempo ditties no less unique than the noise on the other side. You either love ’em or hate ’em, but odds are you ain’t gonna come outta listening to ’em feeling indifferent.
–Jimmy Alvarado (www.floridasdying.com)
CRUSADERS OF LOVE: Looking For Treasure: 7"
Two fun, poppy, garage rock songs chock full of fuzz and reverb from this French group. Nothing here is breaking any new ground, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t nice to put this on and take a step back to the sound of the Beach Boys, Barracudas, and ‘60s girl groups for a few moments. This is out on Stephen from Beat Beat Beat’s new label. I’ll be keeping an eye open to see what these guys come up with next.
–Dave Dillon (Danger)
CRETEENS, THE: K-Way Bleu: 7”
When I said a couple of months ago that I’d be on the lookout for more from these sickos, I didn’t realize it would be in my mailbox! Big thanks to Razorcake HQ for that one. On to the record. We have more creepy cover art on this one. It’s a photo collage this time with some Gandhi-looking guy giving the evil eye to a porn star with donuts on her tits, among other things. Did I mention that she is fellating a rocket launcher being held by a young boy? Anyways, the music still kicks all kinds of ass in a low budget Regulations kind of way. I like this like watermelon. Raw and kind of seedy.
–Ty Stranglehold (Boom Chick)
CRETEENS, THE: K-Way Bleu: 7"
“I’ve got beer shits! I’ve got beer shits!” goes the chorus of the final song. Yes, but why did you feel the need to record it? Why did you feel the need to go to Benji’s Mom’s house in Paris, France, and make a permanent document of these noises? I appreciate your exuberance—which comes across loud and clear on this record—but still, why? Did somebody say your music was clever? Did someone tell you that the sloppy, drunk tunes you put together about Dungeons & Dragons were one-of-a-kind? Was it your mom? I agree that there is definitely a level of fun involved, but it’s more of the “We’re gonna play your basement and get totally waaaaaasted!” sort of fun, rather than the “Dude, we need to share this music with the world” kind of fun, you know what I mean? Did you have a lot of extra money? Why couldn’t you just spend that money on more beer? The world and, more importantly, the kids watching you in the basement, would have thanked you.
–MP Johnson (Boom Chick)
COPYRIGHTS, THE: Make Sound: LP
Always leave it to It’s Alive to press the vinyl version of one of the latest offerings from your new favorite band. Yummy colored vinyl too! Joy!
–Mr. Z (It’s Alive)
COMPLETE FAILURE: Perversions of Guilt: CD
Hell. Whether or not it exists, most people can visualize some version of the joint. (I see hell as a cross between Saw II and a Will and Grace re-run.) Often overlooked is the auditory factor; what does hell sound like? My money’s on Perversions of Guilt. Everything on the grindcore grocery list is here: swallowed-the-mic vocals, ceaseless double kick drum action, and rusty barbed wire guitars that may in fact violate your soul.
–Mike Faloon (Supernova, www.supernovarecords.net)
CLOAK/DAGGER: Kamikazes: 7”
One of the newest releases from Grave Mistake and this is definitely a winner. I listened to Cloak/Dagger’s We Are CD from Jade Tree and couldn’t really find anything I liked about it, but I guess all you have to do is take one song, slap it on one side of a 45, throw a Modern Lovers’ cover on the B side, and suddenly we have the future of rock’n’roll. That may be an exaggeration, but these songs are still devastatingly original, driving rock’n’roll that knows how to manipulate a guitar to its new expected potential.
–Daryl Gussin (Grave Mistake)
CHURCH OF THE SATURDAY SAINTS: 14 Rotten Tomatoes: CD
These guys are hip to so many vibes all at once—‘60s pop, punk, folk, country—that it’s kinda fun just to try to pick out influences as they play. Their songs are really fuggin’ well written, too, and show an attention to craft that makes me all the more pissed that other bands don’t put in as much effort. Thing is, though, that I really wish the singer was just a little more diverse in his delivery. His crunchy “world’s finest singin’ rassler” voice has only one volume: over the top. I imagine that’s kind of the point, but the songs scream for a little more attention to dynamics—soft here, howl there, a little less howl over here, and so on. Still, the quality of the songs win out and make for a pretty danged good release.
–Jimmy Alvarado (Vinehell)
CHEAP TIME: Self-titled: CD I like Cheap Time. That’s something a lot of motherfuckers thought I wouldn’t say—like I constitutionally couldn’t stomach the whole genre of power pop. I DON’T NEED ALEX CHILTON’S “LIKE FLIES ON SHERBET” OR REED’S BERLIN TO MAKE ME FEEL LIKE A WINNER! Nevertheless, there’s something to that claim—that I hate power pop. And it has to do with the completely vapid bands celebrating the style in the last five years… like when everyone was making the transition from post punk to power pop overnight. Joy Division records traded in for Nick Lowe buttons and The Boys T-shirts. It felt insincere—like Reagan denying rumors that he hated the working poor—and ill-fitting—like Mike Dukakis posing in a tank. So where does Cheap Time fit in? In the small minority of bands/people with a genuine interest in power pop as a means of communicating some sort of idea—not an end in itself (playing an abused genre) but as a means to an end—a contribution to songwriting with the added joys of power pop. Cheap Time’s got great lyrics; the opener has this great play on words about being late… I can’t understand half the lyrics, but the gist is great. The guitar work on the record varies at times—like really ‘81 The Cars kind of shit and then controlled noise—similar to the joys of Wire’s second and third record. And there’s just this really sophomoric reliance on Roxy Music’s self-titled record. But, I mean, it’s not like Cheap Time borrows equitably from Ferry and Eno’s masterpiece—a little from “2HB,” a line from “Would You Believe?” The kids straight rip-off the breaks of “VirginiaPlain” relentlessly—not to mention a strong reliance on Graham Simpson’s (wherever the fuck you are, glam rock Pete Best) bass work on the song. It’s unbelievably endearing and really quite funny—I fucking started laughing outloud when I heard it! This debut record proves that Cheap Time is loaded with promise… another strong outing from In the Red (after a hiccup or two)—a record label that refuses to give into the vast sea of mediocre music. (Be on the lookout for an upcoming Black Time record. As bona fide as Namella J. Kim.)
–Ryan Leach (In the Red, www.intheredrecords.com)
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