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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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CELEBRITY GRAVES:
Can’t Get Away: LP
This is feeling bad music. This is the music you put on when you get in your shitty car and hate-drive to where the fuck ever. You take your hands off the wheel to play air guitar to the solos and let your car careen into oncoming traffic and you shout along so loud you can’t hear the horns of the cars that are wildly darting out of the way and into each other so you can live, ‘cause you do want to live, at least to get to the next song. –MP Johnson (National Dust)


CAVES:
Betterment: CD / LP

This is the sophomore album from the U.K.’s Caves and although it retains the band’s distinctive and slightly chaotic sound, it has taken a swing away from having a bit of a poppy edge to something that has a bit more grit and grime; laced as it is with more of a garage punk quality, at times, yet without losing the melodic bent that has always underpinned the band’s music. It’s still undoubtedly a Caves recording but, hell, the gears have been shifted somewhat to create an all-consuming sound (aided by a quality production job by the current “go to” guy here, Pete Miles) that slays from start to finish—even the acoustic number packs a punch. What I love more than anything are Dave Brent’s drums. They crash, they bang, and they most certainly wallop, as he performs in a way that Animal would be proud. Don’t worry, it’s all part and parcel of the songs, nothing is gratuitous but it really stands out to me. With Jonathan Minto slapping his bass around whilst adding vocals here and there, the rhythm section provides the structure that allows Lou Hannam to give her all, scratching away at her six strings whilst using her cacophonous voice to drive home the songs. If this band were from the U.S.A., us Brits would be urging them to come over and play for us. As it is, we’re proud to say they’re one of ours and all eyes should be looking to this tiny island. Although as frequent visitors to the U.S.A. for The Fest and a handful of other shows, Caves should not be missed if you get the chance to see them. The CD is available via Bombed Out and the LP via Yo-Yo.

–Guest Contributor (Bombed Out, steve@bombedout.com, bombedout.com / Yo-Yo, yoyorecords.de)


CAROUSEL KINGS / REAGANOMICS:
Split: 7”
Reganomics are absolutely great, sounding like Face To Face, with a vocalist reminiscent of B.A. from Sloppy Seconds. Both of their songs included here are beyond solid pop punk tunes that any fan of that subgenre will go for. Carousel Kings play more contemporary poppy punk, the sort that was big about a decade ago on Warped Tour stages. An excellent split all around, but the main benefit for yours truly is that I’m now all about this Reganomics band, although I have to be careful about talking about loving Reganomics. I wouldn’t want anyone to get the wrong idea. –Art Ettinger (CI)


CAPTIVE BOLT:
Gary Francione: 7”
Captive Bolt is a militant vegan hardcore band from Florida. Each side of this record has a ninety-second song, followed by a couple minutes of talk from animal rights theorist Gary L. Francione. “Hardcore record where the political soundbites are longer than the songs” sounds like a scenester in-joke, but there ain’t nothing funny about the music: two catchy, dynamic blasts of hardcore with a touch of crust. –CT Terry (Dead Tank)


BREAK ANCHOR / UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN:
Split: 7”
Okay, that’s enough. The bearded, gruff melodic punk stuff can come to an end right now. I like Hot Water Music as much as the next guy, but when I get a split between two clone bands that I can’t even tell apart, that’s where I draw the line. If these bands continue to emote this hard, they’re going to give themselves hernias. Ripping themselves apart inside literally and metaphorically. It’s gonna be gross, so just stop. Everyone stop. –MP Johnson (Underground Communiqué, undercomm.org)


BLANK PAGES:
Self-titled: LP
Whoah, this is kind of a dream record. Part Masshysteri, part Wreck Of The Zephyr, beautiful art, and heavy packaging. The guitar leads push this record from start to finish, but the vocal melodies etch themselves into your psyche. I recently heard Wreck Of The Zephyr described as equal parts Mission Of Burma and Billy Bragg, and add Masshysteri’s Euro-svart-ness and hopefully I’ve described something you know you need in your life. Because this is a fantastic record. –Daryl Gussin (Hardware)


BLACK LIPS / MARK SULTAN:
Split: 7”
Black Lips are a little more pop oriented these days compared to their raw beginnings. I still follow them with much enjoyment. “I Wanna Dance with You” is a spacey rocker utilizing low quality recording in the best way possible. It’s a good song and a winner for those who like to say things like: “I like their old stuff.” The Mark Sultan track, “Oh Summertime,” contains quality fuzz with good keyboards and a heavy ‘60s surf influence. Good record. –Billups Allen (Hozac)


BLACK HOLE KIDS / HOLINESS CHURCH OF THE VALLEY:
Split: Cassette
A brutal crust split between two similarly vicious acts, each of which churns out two tracks for a total of four ear splitters. The Black Hole Kids side is great, with almost a Dis Sucks vibe, a compliment I don’t throw around lightly. The Holiness Church Of The Valley side isn’t as striking, but the vocalist certainly wouldn’t fit in at church, which is of course a good thing. –Art Ettinger (Wess)


BITS OF SHIT:
“Meat Thump” b/w “W.W.Me”: 7”
Degenerate, sleeveless, tooth decay, strangulated surfing music at the worst beach possible. Cigarette butt sand. Kids puking on seagulls. Adults puking on each other. The seagulls are smoking. Green foam washes in on the waves. The ocean is a massive toilet—spent condoms and dirty needles lap up on shore. Is that someone burning a dog carcass? Is it old tires? Scalding hot beer. Chewed bubblegum-looking bodies. This is the landscape that Australia’s Bits Of Shit paint for me, and I couldn’t recommend it more highly (along with their debut full length, Cut Sleeves.) They make the Cosmic Psychos sound like the My Little Pony soundtrack. (I kid.) If you need a genre to stick inside a pigeon’s hole to get your bearings, think blown-up garage punk, post apocalypse. –Todd Taylor (Total Punk)


BISHOPS GREEN:
Self-titled: CD
Bishops Green hail from Vancouver BC, and they play that brand of punk rock for the “boots and braces” set. Call it “oi” or “street punk” or whatever. All I know is that these guys do it well. The songs are catchy, urgent, and clearly sung. You can drink your pints and sing along with your pals. You can hear that there is some serious musicianship going on here, and the production is great to. An all-around great package here. This usually particular subgenre of punk rock isn’t usually my go-to, but I am really digging this disc. They’re great live, too. –Ty Stranglehold (Rebellion)


BIG EYES:
Almost Famous: CD
Third issue in a row I’ve scored something new from these kids, and I’m stoked as hell. Fuggin’ choice poppy punk (or punky pop, if that suits ye better) here with hooks up the hoo-ha and hints of (good) ‘70s rock around the edges to give it some stomp. They’re an official selection for summer/fall 2013 around these parts and I highly recommend you add ‘em to your rotation as well. –Jimmy Alvarado (Grave Mistake)


BIG BOYS:
Fun, Fun, Fun…: 12”EP
Simultaneously the coolest thing and the curse of punk rock is its lack of a definition. Cool, because we are left to write our own story and a curse because so many people feel the need to define it. Well, I’m going to plant a foot in each camp here because I will proclaim right here, right now that Big Boys’ Fun, Fun, Fun… EP is the definition of punk rock because it has no rules or definitions. There is hardcore, there is funk. There are singalongs with all their friends. This record literally encompasses it all, yet never feels strained or stretched thin. To me, this record feels like riding a skateboard down a deserted street in the middle of the night. The warm breeze on your face and the smell of pavement in your nostrils as the sound of your wheels echoes off the buildings. It is the soundtrack to endless freedom and possibility with a hint of danger. It’s not hard to tell that I take Big Boys seriously and I’m sure glad I’m not the only one. 540 Records has reissued this must-have record with the love and detail that Big Boys deserve. The massive booklet is exploding with the amazing visual art that has always been a huge part of the band’s identity. A hilarious and lovingly written piece by Beth Kerr (who, in all honesty, should be considered a member of the band in my opinion) is the perfect way to kick it off. It is amazing that the band’s material is being reissued on various labels. There are few bands out there that deserve heaps of praise more than Big Boys and the thing is they could care less about praise. They only care about having fun… That’s why they rule! –Ty Stranglehold (540, chaosintejas.bigcartel.com)


BFG:
Blue: LP
This is a reissue of the final release by this ‘80s Manchester, U.K. band, originally released in 1989. With its gothic tendencies, dance music beats, and English baritone vocalist, comparing this to Joy Division is the easy thing to do upon first listen. But, if you look past the vocalist’s delivery style, this actually doesn’t sound like Joy Division at all. Instead, this reminds me more of the lighter side of Killing Joke, Ministry, or Sisters Of Mercy. I’m sure there’s a market for this with the darkwave crowd, but I didn’t find it all too exciting. –Mark Twistworthy (Drastic Plastic, drasticplasticrecords.com)


BARGE:
No Gain: 7” EP
Jeezaloo, dunno who pooped in these guys’ potato salad, but this is some seriously pissed-off racket they’re dishin’ out. Eight tunes, nine minutes, played at speeds my homie Ralo from No Comment would nod approvingly at, and delivered with the same tact as a mean kid rubbing yer mug with sandpaper, then chucking a pitcher of lemonade in yer mug. –Jimmy Alvarado (Grave Mistake)


BABY GHOSTS:
Ghost in a Vacuum: 7”
I love Slurpees. When I go running, I pass the 7-Eleven on my route and sometimes I get so obsessed with the thought of a Slurpee that when I make it home, I change out of my track suit into something with pockets, grab my wallet, and ride my bike back to 7-Eleven to get one. I’ve been known to pass a couple 7-Elevens on a long, drunken bike ride from downtown and buying a Slurpee at each one. I like the extra-large Slurpees, but sometimes all that syrup gives me a stomachache sitting in my guts in a painful indigestible glob. I stick to a medium Slurpee these days. So it is with much regret I can say I have an understanding of sugar overkill. I got a Baby Ghosts CD a while back to review and it was just that—sweet, cute over-saturation. This time I got a 7” and I have to say they’re a lot better in moderation. It’s easier to digest their girl-harmonizing, lollipop pop songs on a four-song 7” without feeling like it’s overload, but when it really comes down to it, times are hard and I want more than cute. –Craven Rock (Drunken Sailor)


APACHE DROPOUT / THREE MAN BAND:
Split: 7”
Apache Dropout play simple rock guitar riffs laid over slightly overdriven bass lines. It’s good, raw rock and roll with a Stooges influence. “Soul Sucker” doesn’t disappoint. The Three Man Band song has a similar thing going on a dronier, space rock feel to the music and more screaming in the vocals. It’s a good pairing. –Billups Allen (Glory Hole, gloryholerecords.com)


ANCHOR, THE:
Party!: 7”
The Anchor is another one of those bands that I have to thank Razorcake for turning me on to. Great poppy-yet-gravely punk that takes me waaaay back to my late twenties. Party! is the name of the record and that is exactly what I want to do when I hear it. I said it before, and I’ll say it again. Beer, pizza, and The Anchor… a perfect fit. –Ty Stranglehold (La Escalera)


AGE OF WOE:
Inhuman: LP
This is a heavy listen in more ways than one. Yes, it’s crust-on-the-verge-of-metal, but it’s also emotionally heavy. There was a moment during the song “Cold Cycle” when I heard—no, not heard, felt—a grinding reaching out of my speakers, trying to wear me down, trying to instill in me the desperation, the last gasp, hanging-from-the-edge-of-a-cliff-by-the-fingertips-with-skull-adorned-spikes-below feeling. I wasn’t prepared for such a bludgeoning. I am now. –MP Johnson (Suicide)


AC4:
Burn the World: LP
In a world where too many bands try to out avant-garde one another, or mix and match genres in a vain attempt to be new or groundbreaking, AC4 proudly wave their middle fingers at all of that. The Swedish hardcore punk heroes return with their second full-length record, sixteen tracks of the furious, straightforward hardcore punk attack they’ve been known for since their inception. Founding members Dennis Lyxzén, Karl Backman, and Jens Nordén, all return on this recording, with Christoffer Röstlund Jonsson of DS-13 replacing David Sandström, and bringing a stronger presence to the band’s bass duties. There’s enough blazing riffs on this album to keep you circle pitting for days, provided you take breaks for record flipping. Lyxzén’s lyrics tackle typical punk themes, but his distinct vocals and the ferocity of his delivery can make even the most mundane of topics exciting. Hipsters can cry all they want about this band being formulaic, but if E=MC², then AC4=Awesome! –Paul J. Comeau (Deathwish/ Ny Vag)


YATTAI:
Fast Music Means Love: CD
It took three or more spins to get me to the point where I could respect where this band is coming from. They just don’t offer much enough for me to connect with. The sleeve only has the song titles (which are barely legible) and no further information or lyric sheet. Their sound is screamo or powerviolence or whatever the hell they’re calling it these days—that super fast and heavy style of hardcore with shitloads of blast beats and growling and screeching. I might keep it near my stereo, in the corner where the stuff that doesn’t quite make heavy rotation sits for a while, just to see if I have any desire to play it again. I am starting to enjoy it and it did remind me that I once spent a lot of time listening to this sort of stuff, but there’s just not a lot to make it stand out, except that it’s very proficient and technical, which matters little to me. I’ve recently been revisiting my Behead The Prophet NLSL CD. Their spazzy, caustic, and out-of-fucking-control style along with their lyrics—dorky and funny in a self-effacing pseudo-intellectual way— they’re just as awesome as they ever were to listen to! I’m not trying to dig on Yattai, but so far, hearing them just makes me want to listen to Behead The Prophet. Yattai play very efficient genre-based music rather than something truly inspiring and transgressive. I could see why a true believer in screamo (or whatever) could find it no less than awesome, but I guess I expect a little more. –Craven Rock (Self-released, no info)


X=:
This Means Something Else + Now You’re the Planned Obsolescence: Cassettes

A one- and then two-person band—or recording project, actually—with a pretty heavy nod towards darker post-punk structures and riffs. Sound-wise, it’s all pretty little tinny and kind of forgettable, but the packaging here is top-notch and super creative, with Obsolescence coming housed in a crazy spiral-bound manila booklet with lots of pockets and graphics and foldouts and such. A ton of effort clearly went into these releases, in spite of the fact that This Means Something Else was also recorded over some terrible ‘80s pop that is actually longer than the X= material itself. Pretty jarring when that starts playing at the end of your demo, fellas. Obsolescence has a slightly more menacing low end and sounds a bit better overall. Anyway, not really my thing, but aesthetically these guys rule.

–Keith Rosson (exequals@bandcamp.com)


WYMYNS PRYSYN:
“Waste Your Life” b/w “Keep It Simple”: 7”
Perfect for those nights when you want a harder punk band with a name involving women and prison, but you can’t find your Women In Prison 7”. Granted, it’s a pretty good single, but what a bad band name. Garage-esqe hardcore punk. The type of band that sounds like the singer only has half his teeth and struts around drunk and shirtless on the stage while looking like he’ll keel over at any moment. Sounds something like a less-polished Wipers. –Bryan Static (Pygmy, pygmyrecords.com)


WINTERS IN OSAKA:
The Art of Dark Science: CD
Electronically driven noise in the Hospital Records vein that you really need headphones and a half an hour to appreciate. I feel like a lot of the current noise trend is a cop-out for guys who can’t play an instrument to be a band that sucks and is all synths run through delay pedals, but this deviates pretty far from the lame WhiteCastle worship and creates more atmospheric moods, like a dirty version of Hemi Sync tapes. Well worth the time for fans of the genre, but I feel like the rest of the world will still scratch their heads over it. –Ian Wise (tolivealie@gmail.com)


WET LUNGS:
Self-titled: 7”
Seven heavy, dirty, doom-inspired hardcore songs with a ton of metal thrown in. Growled and shouted vocals, manic playing, and super short songs…awesome! I played this twice and still wanted more. –Rick Ecker (Twistworthy, twistworthy.com)


WEEK OF WONDERS:
Failures: CD-R EP
Reverb-drenched, self-described “tropical punk” from Seattle, with Caribbean-flavored rhythms and a guitar sound that resembles steel drums. Is this the wave of the future? Can “Tiki-core” be far behind? –Jimmy Alvarado (weekofwondersmusic@gmail.com)


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