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Record Reviews

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Chinatown: 7"
Two tracks of trashy rock’n’roll that sound like they just got back from a time trip to mid-‘90s San Francisco. Both tracks are plenty rockin’, but my preference is for “Moscow Massage,” the peppier of the two. –Jimmy Alvarado (Kapow)

Chinatown b/w Moscow Massage: 7"
Two blood-stained cuts from the best punk band in LA currently without a label. Take the early desperation, delusion, and stripped rawness of Dangerhouse (Eyes, Bags, Weirdos, Dils) and titty twist it, so it bruises up nice, purple, and immediate. With Jenny at the vocal helm, it’s even parts of chopping you into little bits and stolen, smearing kisses. These two songs measure up to their loopdey-loop live show, which I highly recommend. The packaging is immaculate – bloody fingerprints on the dust sleeve, a red bloop on clear vinyl, and great graphics on the cover. A keeper. –Todd Taylor (Kapow)

The Kitchen Split: 7"
Operation Latte Thunder: A funny song title, “Point Your Compass in the Direction of Fun,” whip-smart lyrics about being in a band; “sardined in a van,” and “you can’t be homesick when the cure’s right beside you,” while referencing Lifetime all add up to a good listen. I’ve been hearing the word “screamo” a lot lately, and I’m not sure what it’s supposed to mean. If it’s a couple of dudes yelling really well, over instruments you can see chip their paint when the vinyl spins, sign me up. OLT mix shades of Guyana Punch Line, where everything’s going off, but in the same direction so it doesn’t sound like mud, along with good, old fashioned audio destruction by guys I suspect have a lot of marbles rolling around in their noggins. Are You Fucking Serious: Have the best song title this rotation: “Cows Go: Moo, Pig Go: You’re Under Arrest.” They’re blunt (SUVs, malls, cops = bad / ripping it up = good), owe a lot to GBH and a poor man’s Iron Maiden (think crusty not-metal-afraid, speedy punk), and have a good song about washing dishes, but lack the extra ooom pa pa that Operation Latte Thunder packs. –Todd Taylor (Mis En Place)

Used to It: LP
I put this record on the turntable and proceeded to pogo around my too-small-to-accommodate-pogoing apartment and it was all fun and games until I crashed into my bike and woke up the neighbors. If you have a full range of motion in all four of your limbs, get this and you will most likely do the same except for the crashing part. –Not Josh –Guest Contributor (S.P.A.M.)

Self-titled: CD
“You know that punk was dead/before the pistols fired a shot/I’m from the Eddie Cochran stock/and I just want to rock.” Where to start? Okay, so if punk’s dead why would you send this to us, a punk magazine? As for being of the Eddie Cochran stock? Well let’s see… Eddie Cochran is one of my all-time favorites. Somehow, I doubt that you ever will be. Another thing, the song that the lyric is from is nothing like Eddie, more of a bastardized (with good reason) Chuck Berry. Finally, if you want to rock, by all means, start at any time, just do so far out of earshot from me. Thanks. –Megan Pants (www.octoberallied.com)

In: Clubbing Seals for Fun and Profit: Split CD
It’s funny what little, seemingly inconsequential things can tip the scales in a reviewer’s mind when assessing the virtues of a new recording. When I first saw the band logos – both of that “scary” lettering ilk, like they were doodled on a notebook cover by some death metal miscreant in detention one day – along with the cover illustration of some smiling little punks beating harp seals over the heads with baseball bats, the Laughable Retard alarms went off in my head. But then I noticed that the little drawings all over this thing are kind of cute in a “Maddy-esque” way and that they even included a funny little board game called the “Punk Point Game” and that sort of reminded of something Crucial Youth would’ve done back in the day. There’s obviously a sense of humor at work here and that almost always makes me less prone to attacking a band with a bag full of dull, rusty adjectives. Obscene Gesture come across like a poor man’s Chain of Strength with quasi-religious lyrics, plus they thank “God” in the credits, so I don’t think the sense of humor is theirs. It seems to be an outgrowth of the good times vitriol of Varant Majarian. Sure, it’s humor that would probably appeal to that miscreant kid doodling in detention, but hell, it’s a sense of humor nonetheless. Plus their singer sounds like a cross between Darby Crash and Jello Biafra, and you gotta like that. Two hardcore bands that don’t sound like they’re trying to sound like each other. Not bad stuff. Give yourselves a few extra punk points, boys. –aphid (Chicken Head)

File Under Black: CD
From what I read, the singer is the former singer for Kid Dynamite. I have never listened to the latter band but heard good things from other Razorcakers. The bass player does double duty by also playing in Kill Your Idols. That band I have heard here and there, and really enjoyed what I did hear. So this band has two brownie points going for them. Musically, the band stays in the mid-tempo arena and tends to lean to a more rock vein. Not one to hold its punches, they do throw in a lot of melody to keep a foot tapping. The vocals are scratchy and gruff, but not out of tune. The rest of the band complements the vocals and shimmies its way through the songs. Definitely a release that you have to listen to multiple times to see if you like it. With more listens, I find it more and more appealing. –Donofthedead (Fat)

War on Errorism: CD
I guess I’m a Johnny-come-lately. I’m jumping on the bandwagon; my opinions have changed and I have become a converted fan. This is the best release I have heard from Fat Mike and Co. Even from their early beginnings, I have by-passed the band. I have skipped shows, not purchased releases and not paid attention. I guess it’s an old guy thing, like old school versus new school. But I’m a big enough person to admit that I can change my mind. Give me a valid argument, I can be swayed. I have been swayed and truly enjoy this release. The political songs are food for thought interspersed in the mix of tracks with their brand of humor. I especially like the reminiscing songs of his early memories of the scene. It brings back memories of times long gone with the old school references he uses to color the songs like “13 Stitches,” “The Separation of Church and Skate,” and “We Got Two Jealous Agains.” The songs, at least to me, are more charged and have a more hardcore sound. The style is the same, but with more venom pushing it in your face. The added CD Rom videos was what initially won me over. I really enjoyed the video for “Franco Un-American.”I guess I should have been paying more attention in the past. –Donofthedead (Fat)

The Winter of Our Discontent: 7"
Weird things lead me to pull records out of the slush pile. I saw the title of this one, which could either be a self-indulgent, whiny emo title, or could be a reference to one of Steinbeck’s greatest novels. Then, when I see it’s on a record label that’s most likely named after Steinbeck’s hometown, I’m sold. Well, the good news is that it’s not emo. Not even close. It doesn’t really have anything to do with Steinbeck, but the first song is called “Free Brewery Tour,” which is good in a whole other way. So what does it sound like? At first listen, it came across as pop punk, but there was something in it that kept me listening. Something a little more raw and a little more sincere. The vocals are nerdy and gruff at the same time, and the drums really power the songs ahead. It’s like these guys learned that the secret behind Screeching Weasel had something to do with Dan Panic’s drums, and they decided that, if they were gonna borrow from the pop punk masters, then they’d have to look to the back of the stage. This is their first release, and it’s not a bad one at all. –Sean Carswell (Salinas)

MOURNINGSIDE: Some Secrets Are Better Left…:
Some Secrets Are Better Left…: CD
East Coast metal-tinged hardcore with obvious cues taken from the mid-to-late ‘80s New York hardcore scene. In short, not my cup of tea at all. –Jimmy Alvarado (Rodent Popsicle)

I Am the Movie: CD
I’m completely buffaloed. Lots of minuses to overcome. 1.) Unrestricted Moog used in a non-new wave type way. 2.) Anthropomorphism as a lyrical crutch. Emo does this a lot, for some reason – gives inanimate objects human feeling. “Sand is said to be sad.” Please, make some sort of sense. Sand gets wet. It gets dry. It doesn’t fucking cry. 3.) Unrestricted sicky sweet backup vocals. 4.) The lead vocalist sounds like he could be in, say, a “new, extreme” Partridge Family. 5.) Name dropping the television show Will and Grace is a good idea, how? Hello, eject button, my trusted friend. –Todd Taylor (Epitaph)

Stardom: CD
I was so excited about this CD that I could barely rip open the plastic to play it. I’m a huge Motards fan, but, when a band breaks up something like eight years ago and they only have two albums, you start to venture into territory where you can only listen to the same two albums so many times, despite their greatness. So, now that it’s eight years after the demise of one of punk’s greatest trashy rock’n’roll bands, Mortville has given us this collection of outtakes and songs from long-out-of-print seven inches. Stardom covers some early Motards ground, when they weren’t afraid to slow things down a wee bit, and it thrusts through their later work, all the way up to beautifully fucked up covers of the Dwarves and of Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation.” In between, it’s pure Motards. A little empty spot in my life has now been filled. I’m so happy to have new Motards songs to put into regular rotation. –Sean Carswell (Mortville)

Kill You to Death!: 7"
You’d think the crossroads of the Dwarves and Zeke would be a barren place where no musical seed could find any purchase. It’s been well-trod land with few inspired results. But, inside the Blag’y vocal bad touch, the speed injection to the breakneck guitar, power stroke drums, and burned rubber bass, The Nitz manage to chuggle and strangle out eight songs that sound great on their own. It’s a nice kick to the balls by a band that doesn’t feel like they’re chained to the back of the truck of their influences. –Todd Taylor (Reptilian)

Nocturama: CD
So, here’s a guy and his band, of relatively large renown and with a reputation for a certain amount of noise and excitement, and he’s singing in his sweetest croon, with mostly pianos for accompaniment, about sunsets and meadows and boats and gardens and it’s all very deep and poetic and I have never wanted so badly to go to sleep in all my days. –Cuss Baxter (Mute)

We Got This: CD
This features the former lead singer of Radio Birdman. As can be expected, much of what’s on this is Iggy-infused rock/punk in much the same vein as his previous, legendary band, and much of it is top-notch. –Jimmy Alvarado (Smog Veil)

Deconstruct the Dancefloor: CD
Occasionally when you’re in a band, one of the members comes up with an incredibly stupid idea to incorporate rap into said band’s repertoire. Occasionally, the member who volunteers such an idea deserves a serious beat down from his bandmates, ’cause adding rap to the sound will only result in public humiliation from your so-called friends and some embarrassed head-shaking as soon as the album hits the stands and all them bong hits that facilitated such thought processes in the first place wear off. This is one such instance. Hope whoever in the band came up with the idea was left a bloody mess, ’cause, frankly, this is one pretty bad listen. Fuck, I’m not even in the band and I’m pretty embarrassed for ’em. –Jimmy Alvarado (Coptercrash)

Running Only Makes the Fire Worse: CD
Drums, bass, screams, and a violin. Some things are better as concepts than as realities. I’m not sure if this is one of them. It’s really dark. Metal drums and throaty screams against the violin is quite a contrast. There’s a haunting feel to it. Four of the nine tracks are instrumental, which has a very different feel than the vocal tracks for me. Interesting and unique to say the least. I can’t figure out if I like it or not, but I do keep listening, trying to find where fits in for me. –Megan Pants (Myles of Destruction)

Bombs and the Bible: CD
Well, it looks like another lineup change has taken place, with Ron out again and new guy Paul taking over bass duties. Musically, they continue along on the same path they’ve always trod upon, namely older English punk influences crossed with early ‘80s LA sensibilities. If it ain’t broke, why fix it, I guess. Included here is a tasty cover of the Boomtown Rats’ “I Don’t Like Mondays,” as well as fourteen other tracks that stand up well against their “classic” material. Seeing as I’ve considered myself a Mad Parade fan since my band Six Gun Justice played with ’em at the Cathay on a “dollar night” bill back in 1983, and have remained so through many years and many shared bills since, I can say that I’m mighty satisfied with what’s coming outta my speakers right now. –Jimmy Alvarado (Dr. Strange)

Let's Go in '69 b/w 50 Gallon Bladder: 7"
Not to be confused with the highbrow lot who brought you "Tammy Wynette," this crew is full-blooded Swedish garage rockers who enjoy adorning their record sleeves with Mopar™ products and exciting toy race tracks. And, while this does issue them a certain, shall we say, "baggage claim" in this day and age, they deftly spin Cheerios™ on any perceived shortcomings-in-waiting by recording with astounding ferocity and "absolutely no overdubs!" – meaning that not only can they rock your Groove umlaut like the Von Zippers covering the Flamin' Groovies covering Chuck Berry's "Let Me Rock," but they can also make you think of the Urinals' "Go Away Girl"/"Sex" recording session while doing it. LOOK, MOM! GUILT-FREE SWEDISH MOPAR™-ROCK! A-side's a corker, b-side is more rockabilly-esque, yet still endearing – if only because the guitar solo is oddly reminiscent of that in "Mule Skinner Blues" by the Fendermen, of which i am quite fond. I'm gettin' the album. BEST SONG: "Let's Go in '69" BEST SONG TITLE: "50 Gallon Bladder" FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: One of the Fendermen looked at my Ibanez Iceman when i brought it into his son's music store and said it was cool. –Rev. Norb (Gearhead)

Demos II: CD
The Lost Sounds have me. Staple together the seemingly incongruous elements of new wave, garage rock, psych, and distorto keyboard while not making it sound like piss. They make it sound like a cyborg-electric monster that’ll sometimes crush you and sometimes fuck you like you’ve never been fucked. These are demos spanning a four-year period. It’s cool to hear and read about how each of these twenty-one songs (plus intro and outro bits) were made. (Jay found a damaged saxophone in a dumpster and played it on a lark on “Energy Drink and the Long Walk Home.”) But, if you’re looking for a firm introductory handshake to the band, I’d go for the almost flawless Rat’s Brains and Microchips. If you’ve already got that and want to peek behind the curtain, don’t mind raw production, and want to see how Siouxie Sioux would have sounded if she fronted a battle-scarred Servotron, by all means, this is a whiz-bang of a CD. –Todd Taylor (On/On Switch)

The Rising Sun: CD
Cinematic, soundtrack music for a depressing black and white independent film. –Donofthedead (Bad Taste)

Mijo Goes to Jr. College: CD
A philosophical scenario popped into my head while listening to this. Gang life is a subculture that strays away from the mainstream. Punk is also a subculture. What if punk was started by Latino gangs back in the day? Like skinheads have skinhead music, street punks have street punk/oi, and so on. Music for their backyard gang parties played by gang members. Songs were ingrained in stone through the years and became standards through the years. Now those bands have disappeared through the years as time has passed. But the songs are still alive. Like a good Mariachi band, you book them for parties to play music you know. Manic Hispanic becomes that band that belts out the covers like it was their own. Every song that was a classic is now being re-introduced to a new set of gangsters. The legacy lives on. Well, that wasn’t the scenario. But they do take classic punk songs and make them their own. This time around, The Damned, The Clash, The Germs, NoFX, Stiff Little Fingers, Ramones, D.I., GBH, Sham 69, The Dickies, Misfits, TSOL and The Vandals get the Manic Hispanic treatment. After numerous listens, you would believe that cholos and vatos were responsible for these old school tracks. The tracks are so good by this assemblage of talented and veteran musicians that I sometimes forget that these are covers. You also need to see them live. They put on one of the best shows I’ve seen in years. –Donofthedead (BYO)

They Put You in a Mask: CD
Our enemies have gotten much smarter. So must we. Meet Mea Culpa, a melodic political punk band that just raised the bar. Not only do they have carefully worded and literate lyrics, they damn well know how to rock. There’s very little screeching and very little middle finger rock posturing. It’s a perfect melding of mid-tempo ’77 punk, Phil Ochs, the Pogues, Randy, and The GC 5, all bundled and infused with George Orwell’s concepts of governmental and corporate control. Here’s a sample: “And all the public schools get privatized/… When Nike owns your high school don’t be too surprised/ to see sections of the history books on labor disappear.” What that all means is that you can snap your fingers to all the songs, there’s great variance, it’s very tuneful, and they revel in thinking themselves through many troubling situations. They even take an honest tack on school violence: “It’s a horror movie high school and the aliens are us.” All in all, they come across almost like how I think Howard Zinn would be if he fronted Stiff Little Fingers. Much more smart and realized than the loads of “kill the pigs, see ya in the pit!” stuff we get. Instead, take, for instance, the song “Good Cop/Bad Cop.” It tackles the dehumanizing of cops from the inside. Most public servants, on one hand, know they’re cogs, but when they’re thrust into volatile situations (like riots) they can chose to flex the power their badge ensures or exercise their compassion. In the end, it’s the first punk song I know of that has a cop killing another cop, not because he sees the right of the rioters, but the wrongness and amorality of the system he’s committed to protect. What a great CD. One of my favorites in the last several months. –Todd Taylor (Empty)

Self-titled: CD
Some serious power pop-inspired punk from these guys, which, considering the label, wasn’t quite what I was expecting. Like the FM Knives, who draw heavily from the Buzzcocks, these guys are obviously draw more than their share of influence from bands past, yet there’s enough energy and conviction to their approach to keep things sounding fresh and stave off any “been there, done that” feelings. –Jimmy Alvarado (Rip Off)

Oslo City: CD
I’m not in a band, but if I were, I’d be intimidated as hell by all these Scandinavian bands who, as a rule, play their instruments way better than most Americans. Then, Mensen comes along and proves that, not only do Scandinavians kick our ass, but Scandinavian women do. OsloCity is the follow up to Delusions of Grandeur, which was a near perfect album that was only soiled by the Rolling Stones cover at the end. OsloCity is not so soiled. Not only is it full of rock’n’roll that’s so laden with hooks and energy that it’s impossible to listen to without shaking at least one part of your body, but I no longer have to scramble to shut off my stereo at the first few notes of “Jumping Jack Flash.” It’s an amazing album. If you’ve ever asked yourself, what would the Hives sound like if Penelope Houston from the Avengers sang for them? You could pick up this Mensen album and answer yourself with a good, solid, who gives a fuck? –Sean Carswell (Gearhead)

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