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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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SOULSIDE:
Live at 9:30 Club: 7”
Pity the Dischord band: if they get within a hundred feet of me at a show, potluck, or funeral, I’m gonna bombard ‘em with questions of the highest order of geekitude. This is my way of saying that I’m biased as hell and predisposed to like this one, recorded live in 1988. These cats pushed the boundaries of punk and emo (before it was codified or the word itself became a cuss), and this 7”, part of a Polish subscription club, preserves a typically bombastic performance. All this plus gorgeous packaging, featuring a pic of a garage show in California, with Zack De La Rocha right up front. Probably wildly unavailable, but give it a shot.  –Michael T. Fournier (Antena Krzyku, no address listed)


SLEEP WALK:
Never Alone: 7”
This is an interesting record. The first tune relies on a hard-rocking riff to open up the record, but then things switch gears into a more straight-up punk / hardcore vein to close the A-side and open the B-side. The record finishes with a slower-plodding and stomping anthem reminiscent of a mix of crust and early ‘90s Dischord bands. On the whole, it works for me: musically eclectic, but it doesn’t stray far from the yard.  –The Lord Kveldulfr (No address listed)


SHARK INFERNO:
We Are Monsters: CD
This band accidentally made a grunge record, and not a particularly good one. Even if you spent the early ‘90s worshipping bands from the Pacific Northwest and wearing the same flannel shirt every day until your armpits smelled like a pile of dead rats, you still might not be able to get into songs like “Stems,” which features this little dab of poetry: “Her stems are long and fine. They really blow my mind. Caress them through the night. They make me feel alright.” On the other hand, there’s a nice tribute to Edie Sedgwick, and I can get behind that, even if it’s kind of awful. Also, despite what the run time says, I’m pretty sure this CD is one million painful minutes long.  –MP Johnson (Self-released, sharkinferno.blogspot.com)


RISK/REWARD:
Self-titled: LP
All the elements are seemingly here for a solid Jawbreaker imitation. Raspy vocals? Check. Heartfelt lyrics? Check. Melodic yet angular guitar riffs? Check. Steve Albini? Check. Now, if only Jawbreaker maintained a mid-tempo amble across the board and forfeited any and all hooks, then Risk/Reward would be an enjoyable doppelganger. Listen to Bivouac or 24 Hour Revenge Therapy instead.  –Sean Arenas (Self-released, riskreward.bandcamp.com)


REAGAN’S POLYP:
Number Ones: CD
Twelve-song overview of potentially the most important band from Little Rock, Arkansas that you have never heard of. These guys put out over twenty albums in fourteen years and this disc serves as a nice introduction to the band’s brand of insanity. While not intentionally “punk” per se, these guys were inadvertently punker than most will ever be. Includes my all-time favorite, “Pissed in the Fire at the K.O.A.”  –Garrett Barnwell (Vetoxa, vetoxa.com, vetoxarecords@gmail.com)


PYPY:
Pagan Day: LP
I know Taylor feels sorry for me after I bleat about aimless long hairs making boring, directionless drug music, so this month he rights the wrongs. Now THIS is drug music. Spaced-out, trippy psych with a banging metronome backbeat that fucking hammers. Heard some talk of these being a Canuck supergroup and these cats are getting play in all the right hip places, but as y’all know I couldn’t give two fucks about your club. This shit is real special. Heads who travelled the lands honing chops, listening to Can albums on long drives. Hypnotic psychedelic music that has both feet firmly planted in the punk world yet the tentacles spread into ‘60s garage, French pop, and kraut rock. Annie-Claude’s slurred drawl, sometimes sexy, sometimes caustic, carry the record through the peaks and troughs… like some kind of psychotic trip. This shit is banging. Bet these dudes get big. Boss sounds.  –Tim Brooks (slovenly.com)


PRAG:
Self-titled: Cassette
Prag is a tight mess, blending raw, raging hardcore with distorted, echoing, reverbed vocals. It has all of the feedback and distortion a Guitar Wolf fan could want but in the style of hardcore. The singer’s voice goes all over from whistling to echoed effects as the guitars burn through a short six songs. It’s the perfect noise to get me out of bed and raging.  –Craven Rock (brvcevon@gmail.com)


PINK EYES:
Holiday Demo 2013 with Love for Friends and Family: CD-R
If a drunken frat party got its hands on a karaoke machine and decided to record a demo on their iPhone, the result would be this CD-R. The sound is muddy and hard to discern, which I’d like to attribute to the poor recording quality but may actually be the result of the berating gang vocals. Also Pink Eyes is an unfortunate name choice; it just sounds gross.  –Ashley (Self-released, pinkeyeschicago.bandcamp.com)


PEDESTRIAN:
Everyone I Know Who Skis Is Dead: Cassette
Here are five songs from a post-rock group of talented high school dudes out of OrangeCounty. Lots of drifty clean guitars, occasional crunchy chugs for punctuation, finished off with husky, sadful singing. It’s cool, it’s ambient. I can get down with the echoing soundscapes built up by unhurried stacks of chords and reverb, but the singer sighing out lines like “you have got the best of me” and “you can watch me fall” distract from otherwise engaging songs by adding a sentimentality overload. If Pedestrian can stop crying ninety six tears they’ll graduate with honors from Rock and Roll High School, having double-shots of that baby love all the way to ParadiseCity or FunkyTown and out of the suburbs of feelingsville.  –Jim Joyce (Avocado, avocadorecords.blogspot.com)


ON THE CINDER:
Feed Them to the Children: CD
Buffalo, New York’s On The Cinder brings five tracks of unpretentious, blue-collar punk to the table on this disc with fair results. While nothing here hasn’t been done before, the band plays with a certain honest conviction that is endearing and I, for one, hope to hear more in the future.  –Garrett Barnwell (Self-released, onthecinder.bandcamp.com)


OLD GROWTH:
Out of the Sand and into the Streets: LP
To be honest, this record didn’t move me even though I think it is pretty good. That’s not to say that its sentiments, rhythms, and tonalities are not for anyone, I simply did not find my pulse to be altered drastically when spinning this record. Having said that, for those who are into the punk-influenced proto-grunge of Mudhoney, or Neil Young’s Reactor, this record could be a welcome appearance in your life. Bass-heavy guitars, minor phrasings, tribal drums, simple mournful guitar solos, and melodic and yearning vocals—which recall traditional folk songs—bring this record to life. Whether it’s a reference to an economic system rife with inequity, or simply the cry of a struggling artist in the clutches of a capitalist world, I did find my heart quickening to the repeated lyric that comes later in the record: “where’s the money gone.” Worth a spin.  –Noah (Bakery Outlet/Echo Canyon, bakeryoutletrecords.com/echocanyonrecords.com)


NO MARKS, THE / HYALIN:
Split: 7”
These are two relatively new U.K.-based bands, both of which deliver a lighter take on punk with the emphasis being on a less overdriven sound with heartfelt and well sung vocals. Actually, both bands sound remarkably similar to each other and maybe this is due to both including ex-personnel of Blocko—this is a good reference point musically, too. Despite the analogous sound, The No Marks make more of an impact on me although, to be perfectly honest, I’m not really able to say why despite racking my brain to figure out what makes one band appeal to me more than the other.  –Rich Cocksedge (Brassneck, brassneckrecords@hotmail.co.uk, brassneckrecords.bigcartel.com)


NERVOUS TREND:
Self-titled: Cassette
Nervous Trend’s dynamic is built on an affinity for the darker realms of the post-punk genre’s recent resurgence. So much so that it’s hard for me not to mention Barcelona’s Belgrado as an obvious direct influence as evidenced by a number of glaring nuances (bass/drum interplay, lady vocals, icy guitar tones) although mixing in some fast parts here and there is a nice touch. I’m into it, for sure, but only time will tell if Nervous Trend will be able to do more than capitalize on the path that Belgrado has already blazed.  –Juan Espinosa (Self-released, nervoustrend.bandcamp.com)


NAPOLNARIZ:
El Negocio: 7” single
This is pretty damn cool. I like this better than their Esperandotesingle (it was two versions of the same song). These songs have more energy and attitude. Stylistically, they recall the early NYC sound crossed with some second tier U.K. bands of that era. “Velandote” is a mid-tempo rocker with a swagger and a simple and catchy chorus. The recording on this record is dirty and raw, which is perfect for this style. The topside song is the most upbeat, with a guitar that kicks this thing off similar to Johnny Thunders. These guys stick close to the early punk style, which is heavily rooted in early rock ‘n roll. It’s one of their strengths.  –Matt Average (TPV, napolnariz@hotmail.com / Scumbros, scumbrosrecords@yahoo.com)


MUTINY MUTINY:
Don’t Quit Your Day Job: CD/LP
Mutiny Mutiny is a three-piece act from Seattle comprised of male and female vocals. Don’t Quit Your Day Job is twelve songs of what could broadly be described as indie rock. The band has the talent to work within a number of sounds and genres, but really needs to focus on a style. Sometimes the music was aggressive, sometimes poppy, sometimes danceable, but seemed to lack consistency across the board. I know it’s my interest in heavier, more sinister music, but I found the aggressive sound that begins such tracks as “Senseless Theater” more appealing, but it was rarely showcased. The male vocals on that track seem urgent and even the female vocals on that song complement the sound. Fugazi is obviously an influence and—due to the competing male/female vocals—it’s hard not to hear The Evens. However, even within tracks, the band isn’t always consistent. “(It’s a) Chop Shop” is darker (perhaps it’s because of the line they lifted from Slayer?) and at times sludgier before becoming melodic. The closer, “Rapture Fail!,” is also a shadowy tune, and it causes me to realize that the male vocals have much more power and possibility for a serious sound. A few less songs and a real focus on what makes the band strong could greatly improve their material.  –Kurt Morris (Self-released, mutinymutiny.bandcamp.com)


MISSING MONUMENTS:
Self-titled: CD
Power pop from Louisiana with soaring southern-fried guitar melodies and gruff vocals. I regularly order blindly from Dirtnap due to their track record being rather spot on with their releases these past two or three years. This album, however, just didn’t quite tickle my ears the way I was hoping it would. There are two guitarists on this record although I can’t help but feel like the guitar tracks were laid down pretty thin. If you’re already a fan, however, you’ll be delighted to know that this CD also includes the tracks from their Painted White album as well as their EP on Hozac at no extra cost! Noteworthy fact: MM’s drummer Aaron Hill was chosen to replace the dearly departed Joey LaCaze in the mighty Eyehategod.  –Juan Espinosa (Dirtnap)


METAMORPHOSIS:
Self-titled: 7”
Metamorphosis are a group of hardcore punks now out in Oakland by way of Peru. The Metamorphosis EP, released last December, features four tracks from these dudes, all but one sung in Spanish, and only the B-side features songs recently written. The A-side evokes Negative Approach and stripped-back hardcore, while verging a bit on the jogging positivity of 7 Seconds, as the group’s tone leans toward excitement over anger. On “Hombre Nuevo,” I can hear a gnarlier version of 88 Fingers Louie, like a hardcore band pushing for vocal melodies at the forefront; and in “Zombie People,” I catch the distorted shimmers of Canadian rockers, Grade. Meanwhile, the EP art features a couple sitting on a couch with their exploded heads oozing together like the blob monster in The Thing. Right now, that’s pretty much how I see these guys—kinda awesome, kinda gelatinous and jumpy, and still soaking in. You can catch them on their West Coast tour later this year. Metamorphosis is overall enjoyable, and worth hearing, if not only to hear and support some Peruvian hardcore.  –Jim Joyce (Skull Brigade)


MATT SALKELD:
Self-titled: CD
An EP and a full length are combined with an unreleased song for this record. It’s acoustic—so no loud punk in these grooves. But it is heartfelt, well played, and features strong songwriting from start to finish. I haven’t ever been to Bakersfield, CA, but I picture that I would see a few tumbleweeds. This would provide a great soundtrack to that image.  –Sean Koepenick (1332, email1332records@yahoo.com)


MAKEOUTS:
Back to Sleep: LP
The title of this album invites abuse. But there’s nothing wrong with it. The band relies too much on jangly guitar for me. The album moves at the pace of The Barbaras, but not as interesting. The vocal style either has too much of some sort of effect on it, or they double sing everything, which I find annoying. But it’s not incompetent. If you’re esoteric about the middle beat, this might be for you. “Let It All Go” embraces the ‘60s punk sludge a little better than the rest. There is a lazy appeal to this album, but it never really takes off for me. Maybe it’s better live.  –Billups Allen (Bachelor)


LUNCH:
Johnny Pineapple: 7” EP
Honestly didn’t know what to expect from this, but what it ended up being was a potent blend of post-punk, garagy punk, and smidges of pop thrown in for color. Tunes are appealing in their off-kilter catchiness, and the fact that they manage to pull off a non-embarrassing stab at covering Gun Club’s “Sex Beat” earns ‘em extra points.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Resurrection, getresurrected.com)


LOW FAT GETTING HIGH:
Bad Yoga: 7”
Awful name aside, Low Fat Getting High are a shoo-in to be MTV darlings, like The Vines, if only someone could invent them a time machine to transport them back to the early 2000s. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being catchy—which these songs are—or tight. But the self-described post-noise grunge rock outfit from New York are a smidge sanitary. I’m yanked back to junior high ‘cause the baritone vocals remind me of Josh Homme from Queens Of The Stone Age, and the choruses conjure New Millennium CGI-laden action movies (read: The Matrixtrilogy). Sure, I’m pegging this band with a lot of FM radio bookmarks, but this sort of polished sound doesn’t show its face often in DIY punk. Hopefully these folks aren’t gunning for mainstream recognition, because it’s intriguing to hear a punk band dust off rock music from the dead radio waves of decades previous, although keeping the rough edges would make them more exciting.  –Sean Arenas (Money Fire, moneyfirerecords.com / Dead Broke, deadbrokerec@gmail.com)


LADY AND THE MONSTERS, THE:
Sorry We’re Late: CD
Rust-covered pop punk from Pittsburg, PA. Sometimes sweet, sometimes bittersweet, the band largely plays off of the girl/guy dynamic of dual vocalists Reonna Lee and Charlie Pockets largely to good effect.  –Garrett Barnwell (Sexy Baby, sexybabyrecords.com)


JOLLY KOREA:
Throwing Shade: CDEP
Maybe we’ve finally moved away from grunge nostalgia and into a kind of late ‘90s alt-rock minutiae revival? Either that or this EP is from 1996. Angular songs, Albini-esque production, and a nerd dude mumbling and then really, really screaming. I don’t know if these are necessarily songs or just riff compendiums plus vocals. You can feel that they’re working off a really old template and no matter what the results are, they just keep working that template, and part of the effect is that even the wild parts feel hemmed-in and prescribed. Merciless editing could work wonders. Or maybe we need to move into a cultural moment where the ‘90s are off limits entirely.  –Matt Werts (Self-released, jolly-korea.bandcamp.com)


INDOORS, THE:
Self-titled: LP
The Indoors have been putting out a lot of great stuff for a while now—mostly demos released on tapes and through blogs. I believe this is their first full-length record. I saw them play at 6 am a few years ago at Outsleazed Fest (Reno, NV) while the sun was coming up. It was weird and great at the same time. There are not a lot of bands that can mold their set to fit that time, but these guys did it with ease. Most of the songs on here are mid-paced and super paranoid sounding, better for night. The drums keep most of the songs rolling at a mid-paced tempo while guitars have a very nervous sound to them. This record would be the perfect theme to a bad trip. There’s even a creepy picture inside to trip out on while you crank this record. Jawsh from Criminal Code sings and plays guitar in The Indoors; if you’re into them at all, you’ll love these guys.  –Ryan Nichols (Carbonated, carbonatedsounds@gmail.com)


HONEY BADGERS:
Buena Park: LP
Honey Badger don’t give a fuck. This band appears to be named after a short-lived YouTube sensation video, which is a terrible way to ensure longevity of your musical endeavor. Your choice, dudes. Horrendous name aside this band is really good! Foot-stomping garage vibes sounding like a bunch of nobodies banging out the tunes in their parents’ garage in some shitty Southern Californian town in the late ‘60s. Think Teenage Shutdown or Back From The Grave. If you need something more modern to hang your hat on I’m thinking Toys That Kill, as they aren’t afraid of super catchy vibes with a bit of organ thrown in. This one is a definite keeper. Still a shit name.  –Tim Brooks (Resurrection, getresurrected.com)


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