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· 2:#330 with Craven Rock
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· 4:One Punk’s Guide to Poetry
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Razorcake #81
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Nights and Days in a Dark Carnival by Craven Rock
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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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LEMURIA:
The Distance Is So Big: LP
Power pop is pretty well documented and familiar enough (quick guitar jangles, The Knack, etc…), but what about “powerful pop”? What if the Brill Building were actually a punk squat? You probably know if you are a Lemuria fan by now, but I feel sad for you if you’re not. Songs and lyrics that can make you bounce or move you to tears, all while wearing their punk rock hearts squarely on their sleeves. The J. Robbins treatment makes the magic happen and takes The Distance Is So Big to another level. The instruments and vocals have all the breathing room they need while maintaining the figurative orchestral power of everything you would imagine “powerful pop” to be. Hell… they made a chorus out of “Oahu, Hawaii”…who does that and wins? Lemuria. –Matt Seward (Bridge Nine, bridge9.com)


LATEX LOVERS, THE:
Self-titled: LP
Brash, quick, lo-fi punk that draws from the same playbook that The Briefs used. While fun in places, the record lacks an essential buzz, a pop, a quality, what have you. There is no excitement in the rhythms, no drive in the intensity. These songs have been seen in places you’ve frequented before: tongue-in-cheek chanting songs, steady-rhythm Ramones rockers, sci-fi tropes turned into song titles. For all I say against it, the album works more than it doesn’t, but a half-good album is still only half-good. (What can I say? I’m a glass half empty kind of guy.) Half recommended. Grade: B. –Bryan Static (P. Trash, ptrashrecords.com)


LAND OF BLOOD AND SUNSHINE:
Servants of the Light: LP
What a weird but really enjoyable record. Imagine if Fleetwood Mac took a ton of acid and decided to make an indie rock record as a result of being really inspired by Can and other German psyche/krautrock bands. This sounds like what I imagine that record would sound like. Musically, this could easily cross over and ultimately appeal to both the folk/indie rock and psyche/garage/pop scenes. The layered vocal style on this record definitely stands out, as sometimes it sounds like a multi-gendered quartet of gypsies provided the vocals. It’s odd, but somehow it works well, much like this entire record. This is different sounding in a good way. –Mark Twistworthy (Whoa! Boat, whoaboatrecords.com)


LADY BANANAS / THE SKEPTICS:
Split: 7”
Killer split! I was going to make a joke about Banana Splits, but… never mind. Lady Bananas from Sweden offer two songs of lo-fi garage punk mayhem, including a Velvet Underground cover. The Skeptics present two reverb-drenched, fuzzed-out songs themselves, including a cover of my all-time favorite Link Wray song. While I tend to like the Lady Banana side a little more because of its trashy quality, The Skeptics are no slouch either. Recommended. –Mark Twistworthy (Frantic City, franticcity.free.fr)


KRAMER:
Here We Go: 7”
A fantastic set of six songs mixing together the best parts of garage, punk, and surf into a pot and stirring it up to create a dish served hot! This band turns up the heat and brings to mind summer with their excellent cover of “Pipeline” by The Chantays and the other smoking songs on here. Every song just seems to pull you in deeper and gets better as you listen. This one was a great surprise from a band that I had never heard of before, but I’m sure I will be listening to a lot in the future. –Rick Ecker (Self-released, kramerjams@hotmail.com)


KNEW, THE:
“What’s Hip (Long Walk)” b/w “World War Ay Ay Ay (Alright)”: 7”
Old school powerpop that doesn’t stray too far from similar acts like The Steve Adamyk Band. Sometimes singles scratch an itch pretty well, and other times they just leave you wanting just a bit more. You know, just a smidge? I would have been happier with three songs, but hey, two good ones works well. Another, please! Grade: B+. –Bryan Static (Snappy Little Numbers, snappylittlenumbers.blogspot.com)


KINGS DESTROY:
A Time of Hunting: CD
There’s no energy at all in these songs. Sounds like everyone is bored and going through the motions. Hard rock that is not hard, or heavy. Just blehhhh... –Matt Average (War Crime, warcrimerecordings.com)


JOHNNY UNICORN:
Sadness and Companionship: CD

So, this is a workout album. Mr. Unicorn had a dilemma. He likes to workout to music with a constant steady beat but techno is too redundant and long songs in other genres like progressive rock will suddenly have a sax solo or something that breaks his stride. He wanted music with a steady rhythm that also changed things up throughout to keep it interesting, so he did it himself. I was hardly working out the first time I put it on—in fact I think I was drinking a beer—but I had a great deal of appreciation for it. It was corny, fun, and cheesy with its triumphant synths and goofy, robotic vocals singing dorky, out-place, maudlin indie lyrics. It definitely reminded me of going to the YMCA as a kid and the aerobics music I’d hear as I made my way to the pool. So there’s that. It also brought to mind Andrew W.K in the way that it’s a joke, but at the same time it’s serious. W.K really wanted people to get down and get excited about life and partying as a metaphor, but he knew full well that his music was cheesy. Mr. Unicorn knows full well that his idea is absurd, but he also truly wants us to FEEL THE BURN!... as it were. I felt I got the joke, but I also realized I couldn’t honestly make a call on the album unless used it for its intended purpose. GODAMNIT! So I got up early one morning and took off running while listening. It was like dropping acid and listening to Pink Floyd. I thought, “Oh, I really get it now!” I realize that a punk fanzine reader might not be the audience for this CD. My guess is your average Razorcake reader will appreciate it as much as they do, well, working out. It gets my blessing, though.

–Craven Rock (johnnyunicorn.com)


JAZZ THE CHILDREN:
Demo: CD-R
When you choose to submit for critique a self-made demo CD-R housed in a cardboard sleeve with some very poor, uninspired artwork, well, sir, your recorded output better be goddamn good. From what I can piece together, Jazz The Children only know two ways to record a demo: shitty and shittier. The first four songs are annoyingly bad with ultra-repetitive riffs of awful indie rock and just “okay” garage rock replete with some of the worst digital mastering, most likely attributed to the use of cheap CD-Rs. There was a small glimmer of hope in the fifth song, “I Don’t Know,” but it quickly dissolves on the final track, which sounds like it was recorded with a boom box strategically placed right next to the floor tom. This is the kind of band/project that makes me count my blessings that I’m not friends with anyone involved. It makes my job of telling you that your demo is terrible at best all that much easier. –Juan Espinosa (Lion Leg, lionlegrecords.bandcamp.com)


JASON ANDERSON:
Omaha: LP
Noisy guitar pop from a singer/songwriter who seems to be obsessed with Bob Mould circa Black Sheets of Rain. The bio on the website is absurd with comparisons to Springsteen and ‘70s Van Morrison. Why the hell do people do that to themselves or let their labels do it? Guaranteed let down when someone tries to work that angle. This individual has also apparently released several records on K Records as Wolf Colonel. Not sure how this compares, but I figured some folks might be interested. Fans of the solo Bob Mould stuff will find a whole lot to like here, as will fans of the Doughboys and Big Drill Car. –Mike Frame (Salinas)


ISAAC ROTHER & THE PHANTOMS:
“I’ve Got a Feeling” b/w “Hitman”: 7”
1950s revival rock. My thoughts while listening to this record: “Oh, hey, this is like a boring King Kahn. I guess a revival band succeeds when their work sounds indistinguishable from the stuff that inspires it? This sounds like music they would have played in Back to the Future. Maybe the B-side will be… zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.” And what a wonderful nap it was. Grade: C. –Bryan Static (Resurrection, getresurrected.com / Eliminator, no address listed)


INTO THE VALLEY SUN:
Sun Valley Gun Club: CD
If you like Weezer and think that the lead singer should be the guy from They Might Be Giants, then this is the album for you. The songs range from being fast (“Engine Gave Out”) to slow and moody (“Cars”), and they also mix in some straight-up rock with their indie sound. None of the songs delve into emo, which is always a good thing, and they play with a lot of feeling and talent. This usually wouldn’t be what I normally listen to, but it was way above par for this sort of retro ‘90s sounds. If this would have come out back then, these guys would have been huge and you would hate them, but now you can actually enjoy them for being different. –Rick Ecker (Self-released, sunvalleygunclub.bandcamp.com)


INK & SWEAT / CASERACER:
Self-titled: 7”
Caseracer play gruff-vocal, beard punk. I’m sure they really care about what they play, but it fails to interest. Ink & Sweat have a similar sound but with a male/female tradeoff over Hot Water Music riffs. They too fail to move me. –Craven Rock (Self-released, no address listed)


Industrial Park:
“Echoes” b/w “May”: 7”
Mid-paced, shoegaze-y, and mostly repetitive post-punk from Portland carried by very little guitar riff, drum beat, or vocal variation. I’d say this would appeal to indie-rock types, but it’s ultimately not very catchy or memorable. In the post-punk realm it’s got some Joy Division-esque qualities but not enough to catch the attention of most punks, therefore I can’t say I know anyone I’d recommend this to. –Juan Espinosa (Toxic Pop, toxicpoprecords.com)


IAN DURY:
New Boots and Panties: LP
Ian Dury’s one of those cats who managed to transcend the pub rock thang that was all the rage in a pre-punk U.K. and have a career that really blossomed after Messrs. Rotten and Vicious became the toast of the children of the bourgeoisie. In a spirit true to the time, the music here is well crafted, varies from funk to punk and all stops in between the two, and is coupled with smart-dumb lyrics filled with sly puns and rhymes that are often racier than apparent at first blush. Its status as one of the more respected, if not outright beloved, albums of the early U.K. punk/new wave era is well deserved and it’s great to see it again available in the format for which it was intended. For those more interested in its collectability than the actual music it contains, this press is limited to five hundred. –Jimmy Alvarado (Drastic Plastic)


HUMAN EYE:
4 – Into the Unknown: LP
Kind of a mixed bag here for me. On the one hand, their mix of noise rock and early psych influences makes for some mind-bending and aggressive fun. The trouble, however, lies with the vocals. While the barking attack on songs with a more direct approach, like “Juicy Jaw,” works quite effectively, they come off as jarringly flat elsewhere. In the end, this is more a solid double than a grand slam or strike out. –Jimmy Alvarado (Goner)


HOWL:
Self-titled: Cassette
The lead singer of Howl has a great voice, a ragged shout that owes as much to singers of Black Flag as it does youth crew bands. The rest of the band backs him up on vocals, but minimally, just enough to add a flourish here and there to the youthful lyrics. There’s a pleasant contrast between the roughness of their sound and the positivity of their message. The guitars are a crunchy, raw throwback to eighties hardcore possibly more suited to songs of a more pessimistic nature, but it actually really works with these songs of resistance and affirmation like “On Holding On” with its lyrics: “they deny our alienation/while we fight their indoctrination/we can(‘t) let it hold us apart/we gotta seek what can be shared/Find The Way.” Howl proves that current hardcore bands worth their salt are as awesome as they are rare. –Craven Rock (Common Thread, onethousanddreams@hotmail.com)


HORROS:
Self-titled: EP
This is probably their first record. I’m just reviewing them in where they come up in my stack... On this recording they are a three piece and stick to the crust core formula. D-beat style, throaty, growly vocals, and songs about war, the apocalypse, and the downfall of mankind. Nothing that really stands out. The addition of a new member for the Iron Birds record was definitely a wise choice, as it improved their sound and gave them a little more distinction in this overcrowded genre. –Matt Average (Face Your Gods, faceyourgods@gmail.com)


HORROS:
Iron Birds: EP
Metallic crust kind of racket. They have the whole smashing and bashing down-tuned thing happening, but then they break out with these NWOBHM-type guitar breaks here and there that catch you off guard at first. Then it’s right back to the crust stuff, with throaty vocals and words about war and the apocalypse. They’re not breaking new ground by any stretch, but if they keep at it, they will find their sound and could become a force to reckon with. –Matt Average (Face Your Gods, faceyourgods@gmail.com, K.Tuotanto, decadence_666@mail.goo.ne.jp)


HITCHHIKERS:
Tell Tale Heart: 10”
Eleven songs of herky-jerky Dangerhouse-style punk on a white vinyl 10”, easily the lamest format and vinyl color of all time. Aesthetic bias aside, this is some pretty strong punk for fans of the Hatepinks or the entirety of the Modern Action Records catalog. –Mike Frame (Wanda, mailorder.wandarecords.de)


HIDINGINSIDEVICTIMS:
Self-titled: LP
Mostly slightly-slower-than-raging tempo crust that takes a lot from His Hero Is Gone and Wartorn. The recording is cleaned up a little and there are nods to some Japanese influence, but the songs are unique and hold their own. Some songs like “In the Black” feel a little more modern simply because you can pick out other influences, but, on the whole, this record has sort of a vintage feel to it, right down to the way the sleeve and insert are designed. Lyrics about all the stuff crusty bands sing about. Nothing stupid or hokey, but it would be nice to see someone try and tackle some ideas other than feeling smothered by society. Fans of Profane Existence Records and the like should take to this easily. –Ian Wise (Rotten To The Core, rotteninfo@yahoo.com)


GUTTERS, THE:
“Should We Make a Seven Inch”: 7”
It’s 1978. Two trains leave separate stations at the same time traveling the same speed. One is coming from Hersham, traveling towards Bolton carrying the members of Sham 69; the other train is traveling the opposite route, carrying the gentlemen of The Buzzcocks. In one of the less reported mysteries of the railway era, the two trains collided in front of multiple witnesses just outside of Birmingham, only to reappear seemingly unscathed one hundred meters apart from each other down the track. One thing that is rarely discussed is what happened to the members of the two bands. While they were only gone from 1978 England for what felt like the blink of an eye, they were actually cosmically merged and transferred through space and time to 2012 Portland, Oregon where they became known as The Gutters. Retaining their penchant for pop hooks submerged in mischievous, bratty, punk rock, and, of course, their British accents, but expounding upon more current subjects such as trips to the 7-Eleven and denizens of the laptop state The Gutters brought a slice of honest working class England to a place rife with the petite charms of the bourgeoisie. Never a bad thing. –Noah W.K. (Tadpole, spudutat@hotmail.com, tadpolerecords.blogspot.com)


GRASS WIDOW:
Milo Minute: 7”
Grass Widow released Milo Minute on their own label, HLR, last year, and when I got it, I didn’t listen to it right away. Something about their Past Time LP left me worn out, although I’ve since come to my senses. Past Time is excellent; an album of effortless, slightly mathematical hooks. It’s tempting to just emphasize the radical girl-ness of them, to place them on a riot grrrl continuum (they’re all-female, they have a record on Kill Rock Stars, they’ve played with the reunited Raincoats), but there’s more. The video for “11 of Diamonds” almost feels Maya Deren-ish, like avant-garde beach noir from the earliest days of counter culture America. On the flip side of Milo Minute, they cover Neo Boys and Wire, and they’ve cited ‘60s Brits the Move as an influence. And while their strength is often in their restraint (no wild distortion, no super fast parts or freak-outs), they have something of the pop rush and bounce of the Buzzcocks, and they hint at the briskness and poetics, the guitar jangle and bass rumble and adventurousness, of the Minutemen, but take it in another direction. They’re a model female punk trio, no question, but you can go deeper and wider with them. “Milo Minute”, the song, feels like their attempt at a jaunty two-minute pop burst—plenty of craft, without a ton of overthinking. In the video for “Milo Minute,” they go to Boston’s Franklin Park Zoo and play music for gorillas, and it’s here, with the band on one side of the plexiglass and a gorilla habitat on the other, that the song seems to grow. The band is so charming, they seem like they were going to the zoo to play anyway, and then said “Oh! You should bring your camera, we need to make a video!” I did have some questions, mainly about whether or not it was good for gorillas to hear amplified instruments and drums, and then also what their hearing frequency was like. Is it like a dog’s? Dogs don’t seem to notice bands. The gorillas seem fine with it, especially by the end. Grass Widow have a way of making the complicated very uncomplicated and natural. They make it look not only easy, but desirable. –Matt Werts (HLR, no address listed)


GOONZ, THE:
Death Is Purpose: CD
Despite the “z” spelling, this is the umpteenth punk band that’s used this name—I can think of a DC band and another in East L.A. that have used it in recent years alone, both of them pretty goddamned good in their own right. So yeah, this ain’t exactly screaming “heavily original and creative” right off the bat. Musically, they fall within in that hardcore subgenre where the lion’s share of melody is in the music backing the howling singer, with metal influence making its presence known throughout. In the end, I can’t say they’re terrible at what they do, with the caveat being that said subgenre they’re aiming at ain’t all that impressive to begin with. –Jimmy Alvarado (The Goonz, thegoonzband.bandcamp.com)


GATOS NEGROS, LOS:
Self-titled: LP
Black cover with no info, so I know fuck-all about who’s responsible. Musically, it’s a chaotic mix of garage/hardcore with a bunch of other stuff thrown in the blender, resulting in a dissonant, almost schizophrenic set of songs that fly from one direction to the next with little warning. Dunno if it’s a “greatest thing I’ve ever heard” contender, but it’s definitely not boring, and that is always a good thing. –Jimmy Alvarado (Plan-It-X)


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