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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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VARIOUS ARTISTS:
And You’ll Spin: A Tribute to Big Drill Car: CD
All. Chemical People. Big Drill Car. When I made the leap from classic rock to punk rock, these bands seemed tailor made for people like me. They had hooks and humor, and they could play well without yielding to classic rock clichés. But of the three pivotal Cruz Records bands, only All seems to get their due, at least in my neck of the woods, so I’m glad to see this Big Drill Car tribute disc. Most of the seventeen bands on And You’ll Spin took the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach, doing straight forward covers. Newcomers will get a pretty accurate sense of the originals. For converts, it’s mostly a mixed bag of well-rendered renditions that stray a little bit and others that fall short—at the very least you’ll want to pull out your old Big Drill Car records. The best versions come from Social Classics, Groucho Marxists, Sad Days Indeed, and The Tank. The most interesting was Jeff Caudill and the Good Time Band’s version of “Swanson,” though I wish they’d made it even more country.  –Mike Faloon (Itchy Korean)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
And You’ll Spin: A Tribute to Big Drill Car: CD
I’ll be honest, I’m not the most knowledgeable guy about Big Drill Car, but I love me some Descendents, ALL, and similar stuff (often jazzy, etc.). Not to mention I already know of two of the bands on here that are local to me (Amber Jets and Groucho Marxists) that go nuts over all that stuff. For a compilation, it flows pretty smoothly, as all the covers are pretty straight forward, which is impressive since some of these recordings are a few years old. I’m going to say if you haven’t checked them out yet, this isn’t a bad way to get into Big Drill Car.  –Joe Evans III (Itchy Korean)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
And You’ll Spin: A Tribute to Big Drill Car: CD
I’m probably the worst person here at the magazine to review this, since my first exposure to this band will be when I see them live this weekend. But I really like Chemical People, so maybe the boys will give me a free hall pass? All the tunes are quite rocking, but, of course, a few stick out like a broken femur. Cynical, The Tank, and Dead Lazlo’s Place bring the noise and add their own spin to the proceedings. Inspiring enough to want me to pick up some Big Drill Car merch ASAP. I think this is the point of tribute records, eh? –Sean Koepenick (Itchy Korean)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
And You’ll Spin: A Tribute to Big Drill Car: CD
The long wait is finally over for this holy offering tribute to veteran power rockers Big Drill Car from Itchy Korean Records. Glenn and Kevin (neither Korean, and will go Bruce Lee on your Adam’s apple if called Korean) over at IKR have been painstakingly assembling this seventeen-song testament to BDC for over the last coupla years, and the result is a killer collection of ‘Car tunes from a cross-section of bands from around the globe. Some of my favorites include The Bultacos (Spain) ripping out their version of “Ick,” Dead Lazlo’s Place busting out “Nothing At All,” and Jeff Caudill’s (USA) roadhouse/folk-tastic (trust me, it works!) take on one of my all-time fave BDC tunes, “Swanson.” I must note here that I’d be a lying mofo if I said I wasn’t particularly fond (and proud!) of Cynical’s version of “Take Away”—that track was actually taken from my old band’s fourth and final record released back in 2001, some years before this tribute got shifted high into production gear. Let’s make it clear that I’m in no way tooting my own horn—a helluva lotta other bands brought the rock to this tribute, as well. If you happen to partake of smoking the weed (you know who you are), put on Valve Drive’s (Japan) version of “In Green Fields” and prepare to have a good time. A coupla of the BDC guys themselves were involved with the making of this rekkid, with the cover art by Bob Thomson and Mark Arnold pitching in his producing skills for The Tank’s take on “No Worse for the Wear.” Even long-time Descendent Stephen Egerton had a hand in the process with mastering this disc, so cut the shit and get some while the gettin’s good, holmes. In fact, get this and grab any and all BDC records and 7 inchers you can get your hands on. Why? Because all in all, everyone on this tribute did a pretty damn good job of paying homage to one of the greatest bands that the music industry missed the fucking boat on at the time, and I mean BIG time. This especially rings true with the CD liner notes that some person named “anonymous” wrote. Turns out that I happen to know “anonymous,” and believe me you, he knows exactly what the fuck he’s talking about. Do you?  –Designated Dale (Itchy Korean, www.itchykorean.com)


VALIENT THORR:
Immortalizer: CD
Fourth full-length from these intense hard rockers from Venus. Yes, they are not of this earth, my friends. This platter was produced by Jack Endino, who gives this a spit polish that does the songs right. Head to the web if you don’t know who Jack is. Double guitars played in tandem not heard this good since Buck Dharma and company did it back in the day. “I Hope the Ghosts of the Dead Haunt Yr Soul Forever” and “Parable of Daedalus” rock with utter abandon. Some may want this for the cover art alone, but trust me; there is more than meets the eye on this one.  –Sean Koepenick (Volcom)


UNWELCOME GUESTS / ORPHAN CHOIR:
Self-titled: 7"
Above average—not anything I would tell my friends about in an excitement of new discovery—but it’s agreeable to my ears. I keep playing it repeatedly, trying to listen to it thoroughly, but I kept missing it. I would be distracted and talk over it or zone out, but that’s a good thing because it means that it didn’t annoy me. I finally sat down in silence to pay attention and I was glad with how it reminded me of Archers Of Loaf, strangely, on both sides even though it was a split. The slow music that would suddenly speed up and then back down is a style that is a fingerprint to Archers Of Loaf for me. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a huge compliment to both bands because I love that band. –Corinne  –Guest Contributor (Salinas, www.unshadowed.com/salinas)


UH OH:
Underneath the Stupid Sun: 7"
Yeah, I’m pretty sure this was recorded in a cyborg’s armpit. Somebody must have shrunk the whole band, instruments and all, and just shoved them into that dank mechanical crevice with some recording equipment and said, “Go to town!” And that’s exactly what they did. Despite the bizarre recording environment, this record wins because of the band’s completely unpretentious, sometimes angsty, poppy punk and roll tunes. This is a loud reminder that music doesn’t need to be coated with studio gloss to be catchy, doesn’t need to be vapid to make you want to dance. 
–MP Johnson (Repulsion)


UGLY LAW:
Self-titled: 7”EP
Off-kilter hardcore with a singer that sounds a little like Springa from SS Decontrol. The beats steer clear of über-thrash land for the most part, but the odd selection of chord progressions make for tunes that keep you interested in where they’re goin’. 
–Jimmy Alvarado (www.myspace.com/uglylaw)


TWO MAN ADVANTAGE:
South of Canada: CD
Pentagram made out of hockey sticks? Check. Fixation on the number 69? Check. Seven band members? Check. Loud punk hardcore with some occasional cringe-worthy melodic vocals? Check. Not too original or groundbreaking by any means, with some cool moments, and if I knew any hockey lingo I’d drop a reference like, “The soundtrackto checking some weak motherfucker into the boards,” but since I know nothing about hockey I won’t bother. A big ol’ lump of ice-themed hardcore. –Will Kwiatkowski (Rodent Popsicle)


TRUCKSTOP LOVECHILD / THE LOOKIES:
Split: 7”
Truckstop: Heavy-duty wallet-chain rock’n’roll stuff with a catchy riff and a nice, drivin’ beat. Lookies: More of the same, though they ain’t quite as catchy as their cohorts on the flip.  –Jimmy Alvarado (www.myspace.com/zodiackillerrecords)


TRANZMITORS:
Self-titled: 12”EP
It’s pretty well documented that I very much like the Tranzmitors. (See the cover of issue #42.) Imagine the best of powerpop—Jam to Buzzcocks to Exploding Hearts—and rearrange those delicate, perishable elements so they don’t collapse, break, or tear. The Tranzmitors have figured out how to do that. It’s sort of like watching scientists make microchips; although you can observe them in the process, you still can’t really see how the magic is made. Yet the results, in the Tranzmitors’ capable hands, are more than apparent when the needle hits the vinyl. That said, these four songs are “on the couch.” I could easily see these songs being played by the band, not once getting off of the couch. (You know, like in a video, or sitting in the studio jamming.) These tracks are all pretty laid back. Not bad at all; just a warning if you’re expecting some “can’t stop shaking my ass” numbers. 
–Todd Taylor (Deranged)


TOUCHERS:
Blithe: CD
Dunno why, but I didn’t really expect to think much of this, so I was a bit surprised at what I got—well above-average ‘90s type alt-rock from a buncha cats that sound like they take their cues from the same puddle of influences that spawned both Nirvana and the Pixies. The songs are catchy, well structured and diverse, and delivered with much less morose moodiness than Mr. Cobain’s crew and less arty snootiness than Mr. Francis and friends. Apparently, the vato responsible for said tuneage is no longer with us, which gives the proceedings an air of unrealized potential ‘cause given the right amount of payola backing ’em, these kids could’ve had quite a career with enough hits to buy a small island for each.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Mental)


TOTALLY FUCKED:
Self-titled: CD-R
Loud’n’heavy hardcore with a wee touch o’ that metalhead-friendly crusty sound, but not so much that I’m picturing ’em with bullet belts and shit like that. Pretty good.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Dead Broke)


TIMEBOMBS, THE:
Nuke Everything: 7” EP
The Xeroxed sheet with handwritten lyrics has “WE DON’T GIVE A SHIT” scrawled across it, rendering it wholly illegible. While that may be true, they do lay down some mean fuggin’ hardcore here, heavily reminiscent of RKL’s first Mystic seven-inch EP, right down to the “Hi, we crammed all our gear into one of the bathroom stalls of the largest restroom we could find and let the tape roll.”  –Jimmy Alvarado (Cowabunga, no address)


TIMBER:
941-: 7"
Dischord/Rites Of Spring brand hardcore from Maryland. Pretty damn well recorded and well structured songs with enough punch to make it stand out. There’s a lot of the color white in the packaging of this 7” and that usually turns me off, but, then again, there's a lot of white in that Rites Of Spring 7”.  –Daryl Gussin (Something Crucial)


THIS HIDDEN SWITCH:
Trial and Error: CDEP
This first time that I listened to this, all I could think was, “Bands really need to listen to more than one band. I’m so sick of bands being so far up Hot Water Music’s ass that they can touch Chuck Ragan’s molars with their tonsils.” As I listen to THS now, I still can’t get the thought that they are emulating HWM out of my head. They don’t do it poorly, but I think that we’d all rather listen to HWM. Music aside, the artwork is pretty rad. It’s a painting of a chimp using a stick to try to get a banana from behind its cage. I’d really like a poster of it.  –Vincent Battilana (S A, thishiddenswitch.com)


THAT’S MY DAUGHTER:
It Takes Tuna Tango: CD
I like this, but I think I would like it more sans the quasi-pedo artwork. (The cover has a painting of a twelve-year-old topless mermaid wearing sock puppets on her hands. The back cover has two tweens in shirts and underwear wearing sock puppets on their hands engaged in an apathetic high five or one-handed patty cake. At least none of it looks realistic.) TMD have good poppy melodies, a bit of a Sub Pop vs. Lookout! punk feel, and traces of early ‘90s alterna rock with co-ed vocals (though primarily female lead). The catchy sounds and sock puppets are helping me get beyond the seemingly pedo nature of the artwork.  –Vincent Battilana (Self-released, myspace.com/thatsmydaughter)


TESCO VEE’S HATE POLICE:
Gonzo-Hate-Vibe: CD
Long-awaited reissue of this classic out-of-print recording from 1992. Now beefed up with a whopping eleven bonus tracks. This sounds great and how can you go off course with song titles like “Big Giant Cock,” “Fuckin the Dough,” and “Judas Priest My Ass Hurts!” There are also choice covers of songs by Black Market Baby, The Fix, The Obsessed, Pat Smear, and even R.E.M.! You cannot go wrong with this one. Buy this now and crank it at your Halloween party. Don’t forget to dress up like Henry Rollins.  –Sean Koepenick (Meat King)


TEENAGE JESUS AND THE JERKS:
Shut Up and Bleed: CD
Another compilation of Teenage Jesus tracks for the masses to ingest. What’s the count, fifteen now? As I’ve stated prior, I can’t say I’m much of a fan of Lydia Lunch the persona—people as blustery and elitist, as she goes out of her way to come off, strike me less as misunderstood geniuses than arrogant quasi-intellectuals trying to project some sorta artsy street cred by incessantly wallowing in life’s fecal matter and pooh-poohing anyone who dares question their motivations—but I’ve always had a soft spot for her musical endeavors, and this stuff remains a personal favorite. As have prior releases, this covers the band’s total output of atonal skronk slam’n’bang: Ms. Lunch’s misanthropic screeching, James Chance’s too-short tenure as saxophonist, brief, noisy instrumentals like “Red Dragnet,” all culled from live sets, EPs, singles, and celebrated comps like No New York. Tacked on are tracks from one of Lunch’s side projects, Beirut Slump, who push farther into no wave’s artier recesses. If you don’t have any of the myriad other Teenage Jesus anthologies and you like your music loud and abrasive, this is more than worth a listen.  –Jimmy Alvarado (www.cherryred.co.uk)


SURRENDER / ACTS OF SEDITION:
Split: 7"
Surrender: When writing about Crass, one has to be careful, due to the length, depth, and diversity of Crass’s catalog. One may only be familiar with “Sheep Farming in the Falklands” or Feeding of the 5,000. And they’ll have a much different understanding of the band than someone who can’t get Yes Sir, I Will off of their turntable. Since members floated in and out, switched roles, and their musical cannon oscillated from classical (Acts of Love) to the downright chaotic (Stations of the Crass), your understanding of Crass might be different than someone standing right next to you with a Crass tattoo or assflap. That all said as a frame of reference, these two Surrender tracks are their Penis Envy: talky, wiry, collaged, and gender politics charged songs. Acts Of Sedition: Are pissed in the doom, melodic landscaping vein of From Ashes Rise. I like it when bands set up the stage: smokestacks, black sky, then gallop into the madness. Very cinematic. The vocalist sounds like a murder of crows smoking unfiltered cigarettes. Not bad.  –Todd Taylor (Penguin Suit / Surrender)


SUNNYSIDE:
Make Tacos Not Bombs: CDEP Demo
The lead vocalist sounds like he can never catch his breath, and it’s always on the verge of cracking or giving out. That provides a nice bit of anxiety and momentum to these four songs. I’m not quite sure if I believe in resurrection and rebirth, but I do believe in solid songs by solid dudes who’ve been in other bands. (Sunnyside has Ross! formerly of Tiltwheel, Gene of Dan Padilla, Josh Mosh (co-owner of Fast Crowd Records), and a singer dude who wrapped his bandana over a microphone that was shocking him during Awesome Fest II. That didn’t quite work, so a beer coozie was slipped over it. That worked; much in the same way Sunnyside does. Ingenious, DIY, and effective shit. For fans of early Fifteen (without the half-hour talks between songs) who will heckle the living shit out of Jeff Ott (almost to the point of tears) if he plays anything except the early Fifteen stuff in their living room.  –Todd Taylor (Self-released)


STREET LEGAL:
Selt-titled: CD-R
Five originals and a Wipers cover. Their bag of tricks isn’t necessarily large or varied, but here and there the band manages a few decent swings. I do like the vocalist’s rough-hewn screech. I don’t like the fact that she feels the need to repeat certain lyrics about seventeen thousand times per song. For example, the entirety of “Death Rock Song” consists of the lyrics “We won’t fight some more…” which are sung, like I said, long enough for me to go to the fridge, get a beer, and drink half of it while pondering when they’re gonna come out with a new Air Bud film before the rest of the lyrics, “Gonna fight you, and your gonna die” come in. I mean, grammatical errors aside, I just don’t get the sentiment of that song, much less the need for so much repetition. I mean, Street Legal, are you gonna fight some more or are you not? Anyway, I like the hazy, dirty recording and some of the really nice high-end guitar work, which the band seems to favor in lieu of straight bar chords or whatever. Decent raucous punk stuff; just had a hard time staying interested when certain lyrics were being repeated ad nauseam.  –Keith Rosson (Street Legal)


STREET DOGS:
State of Grace: CD
Another great one from this Boston band of punkers. “The General’s Boombox” is an ode to Joe Strummer. “Two Angry Kids” is the most rocking of the bunch and is getting repeat plays here at home. “Free” even features some harp from bassist Johnny Rioux. They’re touring all over the place, so go see them live. They deliver every time: blood, sweat, and stale beer included at no additional charge.  –Sean Koepenick (Hellcat)


STOLEN MINKS:
High Kicks: CD
More than serviceable music from a band that takes their cues from early ‘80s punk rock and the later trash rock scene. Nothing really all that groundbreaking is being offered up here, but they deliver some catchy, minimalist tunes with much vim and vigor, making a little go a very long way.  –Jimmy Alvarado (www.thestolenminks.com)


STEVE LIEBERMAN:
The Gangsta Rabbi: CD
In the liner notes to this flute and guitar-based album, Steve Lieberman explains that this CD is meant to explain a recent stint in a psych hospital for bipolar disorder, which is a noble enough endeavor. With song titles like “Jew in an Institution,” “Committed!” and, intriguingly, “An Hour to Masturbate,” I was expecting something perhaps influenced by late period G.G. Allin. And perhaps that was there, in part, but mostly this sounds like a guy with a flute who’s listened to the Sex Pistols a few times. But never mind that! Instead, I bring you a statement from his website, entitled “F-CK You Wikipedia,” with original punctuation and spelling intact: “Damn it’s not bad enough you deleted my page there cause one of your geniouses thought of me to be not ‘noteworthy’--but you then after 2 ½ months went and frickin’ deleted a mention of me in the Jethro Tull article--Hey jerks--that hurts--WTF--Damn I’m gonna live my life so noteworthy that even your damn elitist ‘editor’s’ will think that--.” Mr. Steve Lieberman, I wish you the best of luck on this noble quest! If this were a cereal, it’d be a curious combination of granola, Cheerios, and bran flakes! –Maddy (Self-released?)


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