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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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DECRANEO:
Self-titled: LP
I’m friends with Ken who runs F.Y.B.S. records, so my interest was piqued when I got my grubby little hands on this Spanish LP. Didn’t even know he was a part of this release. That and the bitchin’ cover art, all weird and neon pink with a Godzilla-type flea. Rad cover art never hurts. More great punk from Spain spews forth from DeCraneo. Ripping female vocals, a mix of newcomers Destruye Y Huye and icon Alice Bag over late ‘70s punk riffs. Fast and furious guitar. Anxious as fuck, with a kick. It doesn’t let up. I have to say it reminded me of the Spanish band Sudor that I was lucky enough to see (and play with) who recently toured through the U.S. Failed politics and social unrest of Spanish youth has really shaped a new generation of punks. It’s disheveled and dark and unbelievably epic on the ears. Pick it up!  –Camylle Reynolds (F.Y.B.S. / Crapoulet / 1984 / Impala Un O / Primitive / Derrick Hunter Rcds / MMM Discos)


DEAD MORTICIANS, THE:
Back to the Grave: CD
Total headscratcher. Songs run the gamut from hackneyed spooky rock to turgid straight edge anthems. Plus, the vocalist sounds like the bastard son of Jello Biafra and Dance with Me-era Jack Grisham. Releases like this remind me of why I often do not believe the post ‘90s explosion of inexpensive recording mediums to necessarily be a good thing for popular music.  –Garrett Barnwell (Burial Vault)


DC FALLOUT:
Objector: CD
Thinking man’s hardcore from Los Angeles. To me, this stuff comes across as a little to preachy for my tastes, but if you like a healthy dose of leftist politics in your listening, you could do far worse than this.  –Garrett Barnwell (Self-released)


DAY CAMP:
Self-titled: CD
This four-piece from Cincinnati is like a super group of all the good things going on with indie and punk in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. Their self-released and self-titled EP starts off with soft and airy male vocals over a strong and melodic rock guitar leads, sprinkled with sharp but brief guitar solos. Day Camp’s rhythm section is what’s really making this band for me. Bass lines are muffled and slightly buried under the guitar, yet pop at just the right times. They meld in well with the dancey and somewhat frantic drums which are very much in tune with the rhythm guitar. “Five Year Plan” is about apathy and settling with lyrics like “My five year plan / is mostly just to be alive / and maybe happy.” It’s probably the weakest and most boring song on the record, though there is a guitar part where it sounds like a clock ticking, which is a little interesting. A heavy Pixies influence comes through on the song “Seatbelts,” and the last track, “The Fridge Gets It in the End,” harkens to an early Sonic Youth sound. I only wish their singer would strengthen his voice more instead of the hollow, breathy thing he’s going for. It works well in the last song, but after an entire album of someone whispering songs in my ears, it doesn’t have as much effect as it should. Maybe focus more on the Jawbreaker / Leatherface styling than Bright Eyes / Elliot Smith because the current vocals just sound wimpy. Musically and lyrically, this band is super solid though.  –Kayla Greet (Self-released, daycampband.com)


DAMAGE:
Weapons of Mass Destruction: LP/CD
This is the second album from a Swedish band which undoubtedly has a thing for 1980s USHC. Generally it’s a fast and frantic approach that reminds me more of The Stupids, one of the U.K.’s earliest aficionados of that sound, rather than any particular stateside band. I take my hat off to Damage for making this an album, which is a highly enjoyable romp. –Rich Cocksedge (Gaphals, gaphals666@gmail.com, gaphals.se)


DAGGERPLAY:
Urban Campfire Songs: CD
Finish punk with a strong melodic edge. The material is strong and the playing competent. The packaging kind of misled my mind into expecting a raging hardcore disc, so I was happily surprised to find such strong melodic sensibilities on every song. Recommended.  –Garrett Barnwell (Self-released, facebook.com/daggerplay)


CREEPOID:
Self-titled: CD
Creepoid start off sounding like big, atmospheric Americana, but they quickly grow into something closer to Interpol, or even something Brit-pop in size if not in swagger. They’re familiar, but they don’t seem to reference anything directly, which is a skill. There’s something grey and cloudy about them but they’re also not without color—it’s not just steady gloom. Sort of optimized for a long, pointless winter, or a rare afternoon off with nothing to do. They could end up in the faceless mass of Indie Rock 2K14 or they could skyrocket, it’s hard to tell, but shit is decent.  –Matt Werts (No Idea)


CRAVING STRANGE:
A Life Exceptional: CD
If you listen to bands like Creed, Three Doors Down, and Good Charlotte then this record of sonic wankery may be right up your alley. This was a true endurance test that I may never fully recover from in my lifetime. I craved the minute I hit “stop” on the player.  –Sean Koepenick (Horian, no address listed)


COWARD:
Self-titled: 7”
Rawer than a skinned knee, louder than lit M-80s lodged in your ear canals, and more abrasive than drinking rusty water, Coward bring the fucking noise (think Homostupids under the influence of the Fleshies). This copy’s cover, a tour version, depicts a tender moment shared between the Pope and Ronnie Reagan which will only mildly offend if you’re a total square. Not trying to knock the Coathangers or even Japan’s beloved Guitar Wolf—both with whom they toured—but if I were in attendance at any one of their shows, Coward would be the band I’d be gushing to all my friends about. Total Punk is probably doing their next record, although I base that on nothing.  –Juan Espinosa (Coward, coward@gmail.com)


CLARA BELL AND THE CREEPS:
Black Owl Radio: 7”
Clara Bell And The Creeps is a band with a father and his twelve-year-old daughter, which, I have to say, is pretty damn rad. I personally have two albums with my children on them, so I know this is more about a labor of love than anything else. What saves this single from being sickeningly sweet with sentiment is that Clara actually has some really kickass vocals which match very nicely to the ‘60s soul doo-wop sound. The A-side’s “Dumb Boys” sounds like something you might pluck from those dusty bins of used vinyl, all those unknown gems from the ‘60s, covers all tattered and yellow. Sweet, clean, retro, and melodic. The B-side is a bit more sugar sweet with “Beach Baby”—some bubblegum doo-wop, with vocals a bit more syrupy. But hey, she’s twelve. It’s pretty fitting.  –Camylle Reynolds (Arkam)


CIRCLE CURSE, THE:
Glass City: CD
The Circle Curse play noisy, ‘90s post hardcore like Unwound or pre-buttrock Rye Coalition. The musicianship is outstanding, and the songs are played hard enough to not lose their punch when the band breaks into a noodly, jazzy part. A trumpet shows at one point. If you like your ‘90s-core dark and unpretentious, zip up your garage jacket and go see these guys rip a basement show. Hey, it even came with a barely legible, typewritten lyric sheet. Are we sure this hasn’t been lost in the mail since 1996? Wocka wocka wocka.  –Chris Terry (thecirclecurse.bandcamp.com)


CASPER & THE COOKIES:
Dingbats: LP
Casper & The Cookies are an Athens, GA pop band that can be loosely linked to the Elephant 6 Recording Company Collective because of one of the members having been in E6 bands Of Montreal and The Sunshine Fix, among others. Musically, they don’t stray far from the pop side of the E6 aesthetic—poppy and quirky with new wave tendencies at times. Athens has a long history of poppy and quirky indie-rock bands, starting with R.E.M. and the B-52’s, and this influence can still be seen and heard today, with this record being no exception.  –Mark Twistworthy (Wild Kindness, wildkindness.com)


CALL ME LIGHTNING:
Human Hell: LP
Garagey mod-rock with heartfelt vocals. Sorta sounds like a punked-up version of Ted Leo’s old band, Chisel. You know on “I Can See for Miles” when Pete Townsend lets his chords ring out and Keith Moon goes nuts doing rolls and fills? Call Me Lightning does that in every song. For the whole song. I don’t think the guitar ever hits more than two notes per measure. It gets exhausting. It’s like listening to someone revving an engine for forty minutes. Just go, already.  –Chris Terry (25diamonds.com)


BUM-CITY SAINTS:
New Beginnings: 7”
What did I say about this band last issue? Straight-up, no-frills, balls-out punk rock! This new four song EP continues where the album left off, possibly even upping the passion and intensity level, and with two new anthems for our City of San Francisco.  –Chad Williams (Pirates Press, piratespressrecords.com)


BUCK BILOXI AND THE FUCKS:
Self-titled: LP
Where do these assholes get off having a gatefold import as their debut LP? “None of your fuckin’ business!” would be the likely answer from Mr. Biloxi. And aren’t a bunch of these tracks previously released? “Quit your bitching!” would be the likely follow-up to that query. This album is all that it needs to be, no pretensions, no frills, shit-fi punk rock. I will say this is the best record of 2014, even if it didn’t come out this year. Maybe you’ll get it, maybe not, but you’re a jack off either way. Buck Biloxi has out-shined my other contemporary fave, Gino And The Goons, and that’s saying something.  –Sal Lucci (Red Lounge, redloungerecords.com)


BROTHERS GROSS, THE:
Ready to Roll: 7”
Ah, power pop. With you I can always count on hand claps mid-breakdown, ample shouts of “A one, two, three, four!” and at least one track with the word “runaway” in the title. The Brothers Gross stay true to the spirit of the genre and while it’s nothing new, it still sounds good. If you enjoy The Mandates or Mother’s Children, this EP is definitely worth picking up.  –Alanna Why (Sexy Baby, sexybabyrecords.com))


BROONIES, THE:
In Love Again: CD-R
Dude, okay, this one is kinda disjointed, as it’s a bit shocking going from a track that is reminiscent of the shambolic, heartfelt punk on Sexy’s Por Vida to a song that sounds like an amateur take on John Fahey’s guitar-picking with vocals. Anyhow, everything on here is pretty fine, thanks in no small part to the stellar guitar tone. Of the ten tracks here, most fall on the punk side of the spectrum, and all are sounding awesome. I think this one shoulda been pared down to an EP for consistency’s sake, but that’s an easily surmountable issue. What’s next, fellas?  –Vincent Battilana (Self-released, no address listed)


BREATHING LIGHT, THE:
Self-titled: CD-R
It would be easy to dismiss the Breathing Light’s effort as lacking structure, amateurish, and musically scattered. All these attributes initially came to mind as I was trying to process the few listenable moments. Hope was seemingly lost until I noticed the following words printed on the back of the CD jacket: “Recorded in classrooms and basements, DIY or fuck off!” That fills me with mountains of hope that soon they’ll sort out their New York no-wave, goth, indie, and punk influences and meld it into something more palatable.  –Juan Espinosa (Slash Em Up Collective, theonenother@gmail.)


BLACKWÜLF:
Mind Traveler: LP
Some seriously heavy-handed rock comes out of Mind Traveler. Not the faintest whiff of punk emanates from this album. Which, I’m sure in all fairness, is exactly what Blackwülf sets out to do. ‘80s-style heavy metal with tinges of ‘90s grunge, all gloomy and doomy. I’m sure their label sent this out to whomever. This is just not my thing. I can tell you this is well produced and the cover art is a fucking ‘80s vintage-rock-T-shirt-wet-dream-come-true, but if it’s punk you seek, this ain’t it.  –Camylle Reynolds (Self-released, wulf@blackwulfusa.com)


BLACK BLACK, THE:
“One Blunt Death Party” b/w “You’re a Danger”: 7”
In case the name didn’t give it away, The Black Black stands firmly on the gothier end of arty post-punk. Heavily distorted bass grooves tie both these tracks together, working particularly well in the dancey break of “You’re a Danger.” The drawling, Pixies-style stage whispers tend to come off a little dated, as far as vocals go, but there’s no denying these guys are pulling off the cool-moody-Brooklyn-kids aesthetic. The artwork and packaging is slick, featuring some great line drawings of ghoulish babes and cheap beer cans. Pretty accurately summarizes the tone of the whole record, come to think of it.  –Indiana Laub (Money Fire, moneyfirerecords.com)


BIALA GORACZKA:
Nieposluszenstwo: LP
Originally released as a cassette tape back in those carefree days of 2000, this is Biala Goraczka’s second album. Stylistically they lean towards punk rock circa 1990s, with hyper tempos, stadium choruses, multiple vocalists, manic delivery, and a Clash-style reggae number thrown in—though a nice change of pace—falls flat. The opening riff to “Dosyc Juz” sounds like the theme to Night Rider. “Strup” is a standout that has some weird tempo changes—from fast to these mid-tempo parts—and one occurring change has this strange style that conjures ideas of confusion and being lost. Nothing earth shattering on here, but worth a couple spins just the same.  –Matt Average (Pasazer, pasazer.pl)


BETTY MACHETE & THE ANGRY COUGARS:
“Rats” b/w “Mexico”: : 7”
This is some dirty punk rock in the tradition of The Bags and The Plasmatics. Betty’s nasty, sneering vocals are the focal point here as she howls and spits through the A-side. “Mexico” offers a little breathing room with a few seconds of sultry riffing before the buzzsaw guitar kicks off again. Besides some unexpected but cool piano flair in “Mexico,” both songs stick for the most part to a tried and true formula: fast, raw, and confrontational. If it ain’t broke, right? I have to admit that I’m more into the packaging than the music—freebies include an old-school fan club mail order ad and a tip sheet for rat eradication courtesy of Columbus Public Health.  –Indiana Laub (Dull-Fi)


BELLICOSE MINDS, THE:
The Buzz or Howl Sessions: 10”
I dunno, man. When the death rock thing started popping up everywhere again, I was excited for little while, but like any subgenre resurgence, it quickly became oversaturated and far too few bands were really nailing it. And honestly, to me, The Bellicose Minds simply aren’t one of the few standouts. They’re totally fine. Chorus-y guitars, spooky synths, goth-y vocals… there’s just not much new or exciting going on here.  –Dave Williams (A389)


BAUS:
Idol Minds: Cassette
Baus, pronounced “Boss,” out of Oakland offers up their first release. It’s really hard to conform their sound to any one genre. They are a unique hybrid of noise, no-wave, post-punk, and funk. It’s got a quirky funk groove that really gets the hips moving without being cliché in the least. A foundation of bass bounces in step with funk-influenced drums. That’s layered atop with odd and anxious post-punk guitar and shrill and uneasy vocals from Mike. It’s punctuated by some pretty rad shrieks from Sierra. It’s not too often you find a band that sounds this unique; an oddity of sorts. Don’t hesitate to pick this up.  –Camylle Reynolds (Self-released, BausBand510@gmail.com)


BAT COUNTRY:
Love’s the Only Engine of Survival: CD
On a late Seattle morning in May 2012, a man suffering from depression walked into a café and took out a gun. Killing five and wounding others, Joe Albanese, Bat Country’s upright bass player, was one of the victims sitting at that café. Distraught after his death, the band decided to call it quits but wanted to put out an album in Joe’s memory. This, their debut and swan song, serves as a eulogy to a man active in the Arizona punk scene and neocabaret stage. Despite their homebase of Seattle, a southern gothic aura radiates from this nine-piece ensemble. The album title swiped from Leonard Cohen’s “The Future,” which they cover, adds to the NickCave & the Bad Seeds murky mystique of coffins, faeries, and ramblin’ countrymen. Accordion, clarinet, and Joe’s upright bass lend pomp and swing like Amanda Palmer’s Dresden Dolls, while piano threads of Rasputina can be eked out as a parlor lilt fades into the ether. Fit for a steampunk, cabaret variety show.  –Kristen K. (Self-released)


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