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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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GROUCHO MARXISTS:
Manifesto: CD
Poppy, sloppy shit that sticks to the roof of your mouth. Kind of annoying and kind of fun at the same time. By the end of the record, you need to go to the dentist because your head hurts and you realize that stomaching the Groucho Marxists is painful but worth the trouble. They do share some similarities to The Ergs! Guitar solos and basslines that walk up and down the walls that have your eyes searching for an invisible bouncing ball you will never find, which may be one of the reasons I actually made it through the entire record. I keep expecting Groucho Marxists to grow on me like pubic hair, but it hasn’t happened yet. The New Jersey bunch leaves me wanting more with a little hope that their lyrics will improve and their next effort will be so catchy it will give me herpes forever, again. And I don’t care who you are, songs about giving or receiving oral sex are almost always never amusing. Unless it’s about pubic hair or sexually transmitted diseases or it ends really, really badly like somebody farts or pees.  –Gabe Rock (Wrapped In Plastic, no address)


HAMMERLOCK:
Barefoot & Pregnant: CD
This enhanced re-release of the now classic 2000 album by San Francisco Confederacy of Scum band Hammerlock includes three bonus tracks and a hilarious music video. The Bay Area may seem like an unlikely place for this un-PC, country punk band to emerge from, but Hammerlock has stood the test of time and this album is even better than I’d remembered. Barefoot & Pregnant brings back memories of when C.O.S. bands like Hellstomper, Cocknoose, and Limecell were churning out release after release in rapid-fire succession. Of all of the C.O.S. bands, none embraced hick humor more than Hammerlock. You can almost smell mud and manure from the CD player as this motherfucker spins. –Art Ettinger (Steel Cage)


HANNA HIRSCH / YOUNG FIT MALES:
Split: 7" EP
Young Fit Males: Oh, Sweden, land of fancy packaging and a currency that is whipping the American dollar into peso-like proportions. As America’s empire quickly returns to the dust of broken promises on the fault lines of colonialism-style hubris, Sweden’s been busy backing their cultural arts and thus come the dividends. There’s some connection between Young Fit Males, Fy Fan, and Svartenbrandt, but I’m not sure what it is. What I do know is that these folks play spot-on melodic hardcore. Not the assy stuff; muscular music that could be reinterpreted as either folk or power pop in other hands; just nice, meaty charges-ahead with Wipers-like guitar. Hanna Hirsch: If the band goes on the life cycle of The Vicious, right when I get my level of enthusiasm to reach “apeshit,” they’ll probably break up…. Dunno if they have, but their two songs commandeer the bouncy ball goodness of Knugen Faller: one foot in good 1977, one cable plugged into the not-too-distant future; connecting the icy space of early Wire to the on-the-spotness of Gorilla Angreb through the switchboard of “man, this is good. I’m sure it’s going to be a sonofabitch to find.”  –Todd Taylor (Self-released)


GROSS URGE:
Cat Killer: Cassette
Plodding basslines and doddering drumbeats—possibly played simultaneously by the same guy—while what sounds like an eleven-year-old kid yelps inanities over the top of it. Does contain the immortal line, “I don’t like to skate ‘cause it hurts when I fall.” Limited to fifty.  –Keith Rosson (Baby Carrots)


GRAVE MAKER:
Bury Me at Sea: CD
Well-executed modern hardcore that adds some straight-ahead rock influences. They definitely don’t break the mold here. But what they do, they do well. “Cast Away” and “It’s Raining Again,” in my opinion, are the strongest of the album.  –Matt Average (Think Fast!)


GOLDEN ERROR:
Self-titled: 12” EP
Ehhhh... Something about this just reeks of bullshit. Sounds like the Tyrades, which, fine, whatever. The sassy attitude and swagger seems forced. As though it’s what expected, so you gotta deliver. The songs are hyper and erratic with a punk flair, but still... It’s just ehhhhh... –Matt Average (Shandi)


GOLDBLADE:
Mutiny: CD
Lyrically, this is a bit better with more pointed salvos at the power structure than I remember previous discs being, but ultimately their take on punk seems more driven by adhering to a template than really pushing forward from the starting gate, which leaves their efforts sounding a bit hollow and thin on righteous anger about what they’re going on about. Gotta say, though, I’ve gone from dismissal with extreme prejudice to a grudging respect for ’em, which means either I’m slowly softening through repeated exposure, or they’re getting a wee bit better with each release.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Captain Oi)


GLASS AND ASHES:
Self-titled: LP
I’m not sure what the final verdict was on this band staying together or splitting up, but if they do split, this is a damn fine high note to go out on. I guess I should give another listen to the first album because I remember it being, well, nothing special. There was nothing to grab on to for me at the time. This album is different. There’s a fair amount of the chaos and noise that I remember from the first record but it’s broken up by these pissed melodic moments that I do not remember them having before. I feel like I tend to drift out a little when I listen to this but just as the record is about to fade in to the background, it kicks you in the shins with these gruff vocaled jams that are a little more pissed than a lot of their contemporaries on ole No Idea but just as catchy. They’re definitely a sight to see live as well. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to do that again. Plus, Mike looks a lot like Judge Reinhold and that comforts me for some reason. –Steveo (No Idea)


GIRLS, THE:
Yes No Yes No Yes No: CD
Call me old fashioned, but I miss Devo and I didn’t mind Max Headroom. I understand Devo’s still around, but given that their last studio record Smooth Noodle Maps (not so good) came out eighteen years ago, I think there’s room in this world for some heavy-duty Devo worship on the ground level (as opposed to the Disney level, where Devo 2.0 was Devo-endorsed kids re-recording Devo songs). I’ve always liked the icy, more evil Devo, too. I mean, Devo pretty much strip mined and devoured any chance that future synthesizer and male-fronted electronics punks could follow in their Energy Domes without being compared to them… And with that said, The Girls more than carry their weight in Yes No Yes No Yes No. Your individual waves of remembrance and urges to reach for Freedom of Choice may vary. Not bad at all. Funny, the last time I saw The Girls, I don’t even remember seeing a synthesizer. Maybe they got one of The Epoxies’ ones at a yard sale. (Damn you for breaking up, Epoxies.)  –Todd Taylor (Dirtnap)


GIRLS OF THE GRAVITRON:
Self-titled: 7"
Three songs of shapeshifting lo-fi, acoustic-based indie pop from Tennessee. White noise and dubby sounds blanket the songs that sometimes sound too slow, sometimes too fast. Once you get past the general mindfuck, some of this is quite catchy, especially “When I’m Dead.” Though not simpering and twee, this band would be at home on K Records in the ‘90s. Will someone please tell them that if they bring over the jug wine, I’ll provide the two-miles-under-the-earth’s-crust-molten-magma diggity dank nugs, and we can get hazy together?  –CT Terry (Boom Chick)


GHUNDI:
3196: EP
At first I thought, “This isn’t so bad. It sort of sounds like the Dead Milkmen,” but then the second song came on and sounded like a pit bull fucking a screaming baby’s face so I turned it off. Upon my next sitting of the CD, I was quite pleased to not hate it. Half the songs were good, half the songs were not so good. But it was good enough to push me towards further investigation of the band’s album content. But because trying to read their lyrics is like looking at the clues and squares to a jigsaw puzzle—fuck it, DIY. So I looked up Ghundi online because I could have sworn “Drop the Dead Junkie” was a cover, but I guess it’s not. Instead, I came across them on Youtube and was excited to see that the four-piece is from Ireland, yet disappointed to discover they are not high school kids.  –Gabe Rock (Fake Your Own Death)


GHOST BUFFALO:
The Magician: CD
Fairly strong indie pop from members of Planes Mistaken For Stars. The production is way too slick but the songs are pretty good. Sounds like a band that might have been on a bill with Velocity Girl or some Slumberland band in the mid ‘90s. At times, this record even veers into Creation or Slampt territory, although with slick rather than four-track recording. Good vocals and good instrumentation. I just wish it had a little more grit in the sound. Seems like the type of thing that might grow on a person after multiple listens. –Mike Frame (Suburban Home)


GET BENT:
Demo 2008: CD-R
Okay, I totally concede that these guys are pretty danged good at the whole Leatherface via Hot Water Music thang. The songs are well-structured and catchy enough, they play with enough spirit so as not to sound like they’re going through the motions, and the post-Dü noodly guitar bits would make Stubbs proud. Sometimes, however, it just comes down to personal preferences and this just ain’t enough my ball of earwax to go completely gaga over it.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Get Bent)


GENTLEMAN JESSE:
Self-titled: CD
There’s a lot to say for records that smolder all the way through. Hip sways. Deep nods, slight sneers, the feeling that you want to snap your fingers, even though you rarely think of such things. Gentleman Jesse isn’t blathering, blistering, or putting the listener’s face up to a belt sander. Nor is the trio powdering up diphenhydramine hydrochloride and blowing clouds of it to the audience. This is no snooze-fest. They take a route that’s much more perilous, where each instrument has to take its turn being load bearing so the songs don’t buckle from being constructed by fluff or effects pedals. And when it’s an instrument’s time to shine; bright tones, crisp lines, decipherable lyrics, and more than just a little bit of dazzle all the way through. It takes me back to bands like Eater and The Saints; bands that didn’t quite fit into the “natural order of things” when they were around, but their audio legacies are undeniable. The impeccable pacing also heavily reminds me of The Exploding Hearts, but in more of a Merseybeat, instead of Elvis Costello-ish, way. I hate hearing this record end. Fantastic. –Todd Taylor (Douchemaster)


GASLIGHT ANTHEM, THE:
Señor and the Queen: CDEP
Here comes my poorest and undoubtedly least understandable simile for this issue, but I’m standing by it: the Gaslight Anthem sound like what I would imagine a genetic recombination of R.E.M. and the Bouncing Souls to sound like. This is one of those records on which even the music sounds like it’s in a thoughtful and introspective mood. This would be a great record for driving around town while wistful and vaguely dissatisfied with things. Rocks well, but provokes inward musings at the same time. I like it a bit more every time I hear it. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Sabot Productions)


FOREVER NIGHT:
Playing Dead: CD-R
Don’t play dead. Just get it over with and die already. –Dave Disorder (Self-released, playingdead138netscape.net)


FIX MY HEAD:
Self-titled: 7” EP
A nice bit of thrashin’ put down here by these Oakland natives. The A side opens up with two slower, heavy tempoed tunes and from there they let loose with the thrash; not as fast as some, but more than intense enough to make it worth your while. –Jimmy Alvarado (Vinyl Addict)


FEAR OF LIPSTICK:
Self-titled: 7”
Pretty much equal parts ‘90s Lookout and, well, Ramones, Fear of Lipstick’s follow-up to their first 7” on It’s Alive is a slightly different affair in that it forgoes the by-the-numbers pop punk of their debut by incorporating a “darker” feel reminiscent of Disconnected or Last Race-era Stiv Bators. Hardly a mindblow, but a nice progression nonetheless –Dave Williams (Fucking Scam, no address)


FEAR OF LIPSTICK:
Indie Band: CD-R EP
Never had heard of this band, but when they played the first night of Insubordination Fest 2008, I was convinced. Four tunes, all clever, all rocking. I bet these guys drink Molson Golden. An honest brew makes its own friends, and an honest band like Fear Of Lipstick does not disappoint. Looking to hear more from these guys soon.  –Sean Koepenick (It’s Alive)


F.P.O.:
You Don’t Know What Human Is: LP
It’s not every day a hardcore band from Macedonia pops up. These guys play some decent Y2K thrash. I think two or three song seven inches would be more effective. As an LP, everything here starts to sound the same, and there’s not a whole lot of “oomph” to keep you interested the whole way through. The vocals have zero character. Just shout, shout, shout, with no real sense of emotion. This record isn’t horrible. It’s just okay. –Matt Average (Third Party, www.thirdxparty.com)


EVERYTHING MUST GO:
Sonic Pornography: CD
I don’t know if everything must go, but one thing that really needs to go is wishy-washy Dead Boys rehash bands. –Ty Stranglehold (Calendar Of Death)


ESTRANGED, THE:
“Entranced” b/w “Vilified”: 7"
I know I’m repeating myself, but if The Estranged hadn’t heard of Articles Of Faith prior to recording, I’ll boil my shoes, eat them, and floss with the laces. The A-side track is the fastest and most to-the-point I’ve heard from them, giving the most evidence of their pedigree in previous hardcore bands. The B-side is, by a small degree, more rough and loose than what’s on their excellent debut full-length, Static Thoughts. The Estranged walk a tightrope expertly; they retain their icy structures and foreboding qualities, while locking into a catchy, pocketed grooves. That balance separates them far above the glut of standard, more predictable fare. –Todd Taylor (DeadIdeas)


ERGS!, THE:
Dorkrockcorkrod: LP
What the fuck do we mean when we say “pop punk” anymore? It’s a term so loosely applied to every “punk” band without a three foot mohawk or girl pants and swooping bangs that it means little to nothing to me anymore. I mean to me “pop punk” is a term and invention of the ‘90s applied to bands like Screeching Weasel, The Queers, MTX, The Lillingtons, Boris The Sprinkler, Green Day, (and it pains me to say) Blink 182, most things on Mutant Pop Records, and retroactively applied to bands like the Descendents. I had to put “most things” before Mutant Pop because Dillinger Four put out a 7” on Mutant Pop and I don’t consider Dillinger Four “pop punk.” I don’t know what fits bands like D4, 99.9 percent of what’s on No Idea, or half a dozen other like-minded labels but I know it isn’t pop punk. What am I driving at here? I guess it’s that the term pop punk has been so diluted that when I say The Ergs! are the first decent pop punk band in probably ten years that my meaning may be unclear. I feel like in the late ‘90s in to the first few years of the oughts that pop punk really took a nose dive. Most of the classic bands of the genre were breaking up or trying to break out of the box that they and their fans put them by playing music that was definitely not what they were known for. And sadly on the grassroots front there was a glut of half-assed bands aping Screeching Weasel or Blink 182 and ultra glossy bubble gum bands. Everything just seemed to be going wrong for the genre and I think, subsequently, a lot of people moved on. Anyway, 2003 rolls around and this little gem comes out. This is The Ergs! first LP and although not a call to pop punk arms in and of itself, it was definitely the rumblings of the old beast starting up again. It’s well played, well written with just the right amount of rough edges, angst, and a surprising lack of cringe-worthy moments. It reminds me a lot of the Descendents but in no way does it leave me feeling like they’re aping them. By no means do I think we’re talking about a modern classic here, but it definitely has its moments. And for a genre that has struggled for so long (in my eyes admittedly) that’s saying an awful lot. Tightest jam: “Pray for Rain.”  –Steveo (Don Giovanni)


END OF ALL:
The Art of Decadence: CD
Definite Wolfpack influence here (an ex-member is in this band). Heavy and mid tempo metallic hardcore with the stamp of Sweden all over it. Amid the darkness and heavy pummeling dealt by the rhythm section there are strong, tuneful currents flowing through the songs. The dual guitars, at times, play off each other, one pushing forward, the other creating a new layer with a melodic angle. The piano on “Sista Vilan” was a great touch, ending the album on a somber note. –Matt Average (Crimes Against Humanity)


ELECTRIC BUNNIES, THE:
Eskimo: 7"
Man, some things just have to be filed under enigma, like this Electric Bunnies seven inch here. I know, I know, gees oh gees, let’s not start on the name. I’m going to focus on the positive and this three piece out of Miami, Florida thrash out two poppy garage-influenced gems that just flat out rock. I’m about to kick myself for being from Florida and not having heard them before. Then, I flip to the B-side and the bottom drops out. There’s this muted-out electro dump-fest that sounds like new age chanting. It just makes me want to toss what seemed like a potentially nice surprise right into my “you’re headed to the used record store” pile. I haven’t heard enough of ‘em to know which band they are, but I’m willing to seek out more releases in order to solve this riddle. If it’s the band on the A-side, hoorah! But if I hear one more song like the one on the B-side, I’m done. 
–Dave Disorder (Florida’s Dying, floridasdying.com)


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