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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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NINJA GUN:
Restless Rubes: CD
At about thirteen, I went to a Soldier of Fortune convention with my brother, who is currently a major in the Army. It was basically a swap meet for mercenaries. Being that this was the mid-‘80s, ninja movies were being released daily and there were videos of topless women shooting automatic weapons for sale at multiple booths. I remember putting having to decide what to do with my ten dollars: a throwing star (that my mother would not approve of) or a T-shirt that said, “Ninja, sminja. You can’t karate chop a bullet!” with the silk-screen of a mercenary shooting a ninja on the front. I bought the T-shirt. There are some dumb hurdles one has to get over when approaching music. I couldn’t get that T-shirt out of my mind when the band name Ninja Gun came up. I really liked that T-shirt, but I didn’t want to listen to a band that reminded me of it. It doesn’t make sense, I know. On the first several listens, I could admit that Ninja Gun were pleasant. Like Big Star pleasant: melancholic, melodic, measured—but with subtle country inflections. In fact, they reminded me of a lot of overlooked music from the middle of America in the mid-‘70s, stuff that never got proper attention due to the progressive rock bloat weighing down the top of the charts. You know, bands that broke up due to “lack of commercial success” and then got rediscovered decades later because they put their songwriting and music first. The other thing that I had to wrestle with is that Ninja Gun—like the Hot New Mexicans I review in this rotation—has few outward trappings of punk, even if you have a very liberal interpretation of it. It’s only with a close listening to the lyrics and the approach to the songs that you realize that, yes, you want these rural boys on our side when “shit goes down,” or when you want for “shit to get real fun.” A welcome, unexpected batch of songs. If you like Whiskey & Co. and haven’t picked this up, it’s highly recommended.  –Todd Taylor (Suburban Home)


NEW DUMB, THE:
Let’s Get Lucky: CDEP
This reminds me a lot of The Pixies circa Surfer Rosa and Doolittle. Frank Black’s squeaks and yowls are mimicked and joined with bouncy pop/post punk melodies that make you want to sing along. The departure from this niche, “Dance Song,” uses a drum machine and a tight bass line that just might inspire you to get off your ass.  Recommended.  –Kristen K (Mighty Science)


NAPOLNARIZ:
Self-titled: 7” EP
The A-side of this Puerto Rican band’s first vinyl effort, “Somos Heroes,” is a nice bit of Ramones-inspired punk that recalls many of the great Latin American bands that made the rounds and mined the same sounds back in the ‘80s. “Mañana Lo Mismo” churns not unlike San Francisco’s Urban Assault, while the flip’s closer, “Mami, Mami, Mami,” falls along the same lines as “Heroes.” Solid stuff, in all.  –Jimmy Alvarado (TPVRecords)


MY HEART TO JOY AT THE SAME TONE:
Virgin Sails: 7”
Noisy emo-tinged post-hardcore stuff that would no doubt be a shoe-in to release something on No Idea. This stuff really ain’t my thang, but they definitely pull out the stops enough that I couldn’t help appreciating their efforts.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Triumph of Life)


MUTATORS:
Secret Life: LP
Disjointed and minimalist compositions that reside in a midnight world of awkward creatures and desperate individuals. If this were NYC 1979 / 1980, the Mutators would have a home with the likes of Mars, Teenage Jesus And The Jerks, and other no wave luminaries. Their music is ugly and noisy, filled with shrieks, yelps, punchy bass lines over a scratching at the door guitar, and dry beat. Once you’re in, you can’t turn away.  –Matt Average (Nominal)


MOTHERSPEED / RETARD STRENGTH:
Split: 7"
Motherspeed: Skate punk that reminded me of Stalag 13 and RKL merging into Voetsek. Two original punk numbers that keep up with any other skate punk out there on a mix tape. Energetic with a good and raw garage feel of bands from the past. Closing things out are two covers of the Circle Jerks that hold true to the original versions. Retard Strength: Straight forward ‘80s punk rock that has a very demo tape feel to it. Would like to see this band live or recorded in a better studio to make a judgment. Sounding like a live recording turns me off real quick.  –Donofthedead (Here’s Your Warning)


MOSE GIGANTICUS:
Commander!: 7”
This is four songs of synthy, powerful pop that would fit really well in the opening and/or ending credits of a late ‘80s action figure cartoon series. Total epic-pop-keyboard jams kind of like what Andrew WK does. This seems like it could be a conceptual 7” or maybe even a concept band.  –Daryl Gussin (Cottage, thecottagerecords.com)


MONIKERS:
Wake Up: LP
Like many loyal Razorcake readers and contributors, I am a serious sucker for gruff-yet-poppy, East Bay-heyday style punk rock. When Lame Gig Contest or Karin are on the ol’ phonograph, I can’t imagine music sounding much better. My instincts tell me that the folks in Monikers would likely agree. If you thought that the tasty Jawbreaker-by-way-of-Crimpshrine jams on Eat Your Young weresomething to behold, than Wake Up will undoubtedly leave you grinning endlessly and have you heading right back to Side A once you reach the end. These last few months have been incredibly good for rough-around-the-edges melodic punk (Hidden Spots, Banner Pilot, etc.), and Monikers are smack-dab at the top of the pile. Wowee.  –Dave Williams (Kiss Of Death)


MONIKERS:
Wake Up: CD
One of those albums that reveals itself a little more with each listen. Not so much with complexity, but with charm. Tuneful punk from the neighborhood of Leatherface and the Strike, right down to the gravel throated vocals. A bit more hope, some defiance, melancholy, and reflection. “Them and Us” is the choice cut here. The lines, “Destroy the country, pollute the sea, then reduce our wages, security, freedom’s all but gone we shut out mouths, all we do is sing these fucking songs” says it all.  –Matt Average (Kiss Of Death)


MISS COSMOS:
Self-titled: CDEP
England’s Miss Cosmos play dark alt-rock with touches of psychedelia and shoegaze. Think the strumming, ominous propulsion of “Dirty Boots” by Sonic Youth with the chanty vocals of The Stooges’ “We Will Fall” and the Eastern drone of “Venus in Furs” by The Velvets. Now dress it up in a paisley shirt and play it loud on a rainy day with the windows down. That’s what I did. Now my floors are wet, and I’m gonna start these four songs over, as if it was still the ‘90s and I was at home grounded with the copy of White Light/White Heat that I got from the library.  –CT Terry (myspace.com/misscosmos)


MIKE AND THE RAVENS:
Noisy Boys! The Saxony Sessions: CD
These guys were around in the early ‘60s. That kind of no-man’s-land era when Little Richard was preachin’ and Chuck Berry was behind bars… This CD was recorded recently…more balls than the Sparkletones (“Black Slacks”) but not quite the huevos of the Monks. A nice addition to your record collection if you read Ugly Things magazine.  –Ryan Leach (Zoho, www.zohomusic.com)


MIGHTY HIGH:
…In Drug City: CD
This reminds me of the one Didjits album I have, Hornet Piñata, but every song manages to go on about a minute too long. It’s mostly mid-tempo “rawk and rolly stuff with a singer that sounds like he’s in a bar band. Oh, and all but one of the twelve songs on this is about getting high. The odd song out is called “Shooting Spree,” and I believe it’s about a shooting spree. Other “hit” titles include “Stone Gett-off,” “I Live to Get High,” and “Hooked on Drugs.” The joke gets very old somewhere around the start of the second song. I like drugged-out punk when it’s pulled off right, i.e. the Dwarve’s Blood, Guts, and Pussy, but where that band sounds like genuine meth-addled sex fiends who got a hold of instruments, Mighty High basically sounds like a classic rock cover band who decided to take their cues on what was cool from a couple of fourteen-year-old stoners with leather jackets and a Steve Miller fixation. I do like the R. Crumb-inspired cover art though.  –Adrian (Mint Deluxe Tapes, mightyhighrocks@yahoo.com)


MESRINE / PRETTY LITTLE FLOWER:
Split: 7"
Mesrine: Long-running Canadian grind that mixes it up with death metal. Guttural vocals mixed with high-yielded screams that reminds me of modern day Napalm Death. It’s brutal and bottom heavy which should satisfy the most fans of this genre. PLF: I choose this side as my favorite. There must be something about the heat in Texas that makes bands aggressive. I love the speed of the band and that the songs are short and to the point. Note to collector nerds: purple swirled vinyl!  –Donofthedead (To Live a Lie)


MESA:
Child of Thunder: 7" single
The cover art looks sort of punk, sort of new wave. However, the music is seventies rock in the present day. Definite influences from Sabbath, Molly Hatchet, Zeppelin, Grand Funk Railroad, and Lynard Skynard. The title track is not bad. The guitar solo is decent. Sort of “cosmic.” Yet, the chorus is delivered in a sassy tone which kills the momentum. In order for this style of rock to work it has to be alpha-male driven, not sassy school yard preening. “In Cold Blood” is the better of the two. Not a mind blowing record, but not bad either.  –Matt Average (UFO Dictator, www.ufodictator.com)


MEEMAW:
Glass Elevator: CD & EP
Noisy pop that’s instantly memorable. This is just all-around cool without really trying. More attitude than cute or fragile. It’s pretty apparent these guys have fun. Jangley guitars and big drums. Weird time changes and the songs have a definite sense of space in them. If you like Half Japanese, then you will like this. This is the sort of record you share with friends. Great stuff, indeed. The CD has eight songs and the EP has four that are also on the disc. Two formats to suit your needs, I imagine.  –Matt Average (Infinity Cat)


MEASURE [SA], THE:
One Chapter in the Book: A Collection of Standard Waits and Measurements: CD
One of the most difficult facets of reviewing prolific bands that one likes is coming up with new ways to say “Hell yeah!” in a meaningful way. “Fuck yeah!” although appropriate, doesn’t quite do it. And how does one do a review of a collection when one’s reviewed all seven of the 7”s that made up that collection without a lot of repetition? (“Yeah dude. You’ve said that already.”) Let’s just stay that the Measure [SA] have accomplished one of those rare achievements—the audio equivalent to a collection of short stories, where all of the stories are strong and great on their own, but taken as a whole from tip to tail, is even more powerful due to the overarching, larger vision. One Chapter isn’t a roughly stitched-together singles collection to capitalize on a more convenient format (in much the same way Tiltwheel’s Battle Hymns for the Recluse Youth works). The Measure’s [SA]’s range become readily apparent. It’s a wonderful album—beginning, middle, end, and no “oh, that must’ve been the B-sides part,” celebrating the (almost) collected 7” outputs of one of the most feisty, sincere, and warm punk bands making music today. Although I’ve heard all of these songs before (even the—according to the liner notes—previously unreleased “Big A’s Space Jam”), I got chills listening to Lauren charge into “Union Pool” and “The Moment That You Said Yes,” even though I’d listened to both songs over and over again. So touching. So powerful.  –Todd Taylor (Kiss Of Death / Team Science)


MEASURE [SA], THE:
One Chapter in the Book: A Collection of Standard Waits and Measurements: LP
It’s funny, I’ve gotten more and more into the Measure as time has gone on, but I’ve missed out on the bulk of their 7”s. Fortunately for me, now I have all of them, on one, theoretically larger 7” (hey, a 12” is larger than a 7”). Now, most of the material here has been reviewed here before, so I’m going to blatantly cheat and say to read those/better reviews to get an idea of the sound (though I don’t think I’d called them a pop punk band). But, since design has been a prominent element with this band, I will say that this whole thing looks gorgeous, from the cover, to the swirled vinyl, to the bonus silk screened 7” (which rules if you can get it!), to the point where it makes this worth owning even if you do own all these songs already.  –Joe Evans III (Kiss of Death)


MCRACKINS, THE:
Eggzit: CD
Let’s start by wiping the slate clean. I forgive the Mcrackins. They named their latest disc Eggzit instead of Eggzit Stage Left. I would argue that the latter is funnier as well as being a courtesy from one Canadian power trio (the Mcrackins) to another (Rush). Others would argue that the joke is too obvious, too easy. Let’s call it a draw and move forward. Fourteen years into their career, the Mcrackins still insist on dressing up as two eggs and a dog. That’s as admirable and commendable as it is ridiculous. Like Bobcat Goldthwait’s voice, it’s a labor-intensive shtick that would be easier to drop but their act just wouldn’t be the same. So after reviewing the title and the artwork the Mcrackins are in the black (+1). The songs on Eggzit are a different matter. I’m not certain whether it’s the writing or the production, but the end result is too slick, almost commercial. The lyrics get goofy once in awhile, but a lot of the backing vocals and guitar solos are too radio friendly. The gloss masks the spark that marked their best records of the mid-‘90s (I’m thinking of their releases for Shredder and Stiff Pole).  –Mike Faloon (Cheapskate)


MAYFAIR & HUXLEY:
Ace Hardware Presents: 7” EP
Jesus, these cats can kick up one mean muhfuckin’ racket. Equal parts noise rock, punk, and freakout, they pack the ten tunes crammed onto this little plastic record with more over the top slam-bam than others manage to accumulate over three full-length releases. Not for the faint of heart, but mandatory for the rest of us.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Carthage Vs. Rome)


MASS KOTKI:
Miau Miau Miau: CD
Dunno if these two are trying to corner the market on Polish rap, nouveau new wave, or minimalist electronica, but I’m fairly certain this is destined to be a cult favorite in any of them circles.  –Jimmy Alvarado (www.pasazer.pl)


MALEFACTION:
Division: 7"
Odd. I remember reviewing something from this band back in the Flipside days. So I do some research and see that the band broke up in 2004 and this was released in 1997. Is this a reissue? Anyways, if this is re-issued, here is a snapshot of what a Canadian band sounds like playing a hybrid of hardcore with hints of grind and death metal.  –Donofthedead (Bad Food For Thought)


MAKEOUT PARTY, THEE:
Play Pretend: CD
It’s extremely difficult to walk the fine line between, say, bands like the Shoes or the Raspberries and bands that are total eighties pop crap. I mean, both of those bands even often sound like lame eighties crap! Fortunately, Thee Makeout Party avoids these pitfalls for the most part, although the last song indicates a dangerous possibility that they could fall victim to such blunders. In a rare departure from my usual reviews, I will even tell you (sort of) what they sound like! Take one cup Shoes, a half cup of Plimsouls, two tablespoons bubblegum pop (à la Ohio Express, et. al), stir gently, and then, um, pour some plastic junk into a circular shape! Plus, they don’t look like hipsters! They look like total dorks! Hooray! If this were a cereal, it’d be Froot Loops! Sugary yumminess!  –Maddy (Teenacide)


MAD SPLATTER:
Demo: CD
The moon’s shining down hard. You decide to take the shortcut through the old schoolyard to speed up your walk home. Before you pass the rusted monkey bars, you’re surrounded by zombies. You smile and grab a fallen tree branch. It feels good in your hands as you bludgeon undead skulls. You’re having a really good time. Eventually, you put them all down and move on. Before you’re even ten feet away, you realize the deadies are back on their feet. You do the smash and bash again… and again… and again. The fun runs out fast. Just like zombies, the songs on this disc start out fun, but they just don’t know when to stop.  –MP Johnson (Self-released)


LUXURY SWEETS / THE GREATEST HITS:
Split: 7”
Y’know, I see why people dig bands like Luxury Sweets and The Greatest Hits. It’s nice to put on a record and just dance around your living room to from time to time, and I assume their shows are real ass-shakers. I just can’t help but feel that, to me, this genre of “punk” is what Poison or Cinderella were to the serious metal folks in the ‘80s. Do you follow me? There’s no question that these cats can write some incredibly catchy post-Dolls/Undertones pop songs, but the whole package—musically, lyrically, visually—is just from this whole other bleached hair and neon tights world that I really have no interest in being a part of. Again, there are a lot of people who would just eat this up, because it’s near-perfectly executed and totally accessible, but it’s just lacking a lot of what I look for in punk rock.  –Dave Williams (Desert Island)


LUCHAGORS:
Self-titled: CD
I get confused when things don’t add up. Cool band name that references Mexican wrestling + Pictures of band members dressed as zombies + Muscle-bound mutant on the front cover = Rad horror rock, right? Nope. Instead of gritty songs about psychos and werewolves, we get tunes about relationships and racism. Instead of monster metal or demon punk, we get standard drunken bar band rock. What a letdown.  –MP Johnson (Luchagors Music)


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