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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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SCAVENGERS, THE:
Self-titled: LP
This is a raw ‘77 punk relic from New Zealand. The Scavengers are high energy all the way, with heavy Buzzcocks snot. This release combines The Scavengers’ offerings for the seminal New Zealand compilation AK-79, along with other studio tracks and a few songs recorded after a name change to The Marching Girls. They stayed reliable while they were together; all the songs are good. As more and more ‘70s-era punk is unearthed in the digital age, you’re likely to come across some duds. But this release is solid. As the band was short-lived, they put all their catchy choruses up front. It’s pretty essential. And, unfortunately, expensive. It’s a New Zealand release. If you haven’t heard the AK-79comp, it’s acquirable through illicit means. For our history lesson, bassist/vocalist Brendan Perry went on to form seminal Goth outfit Dead Can Dance.  –Billups Allen (Real Groovy)


SCALPED:
Demo: 2014: Cassette
Scalped rises from gritty ashes, still smoldering. Seems like bands churn out of San Francisco’s hardcore scene like pink slime out of the proverbial meat grinder. Some serious hardcore, drenched in heavy distorted guitar riffs, swift and at times searing change-ups, all layered atop with raw and savage throat-shredding vocals. Heads up to fans of Stoic Violence, Hoax, and Replica: fresh meat.  –Camylle Reynolds (Thought Abuse)


SANDSPUR CITY:
Self-titled: 7”
Featuring members of Tim Version, Vaginasore Jr., Discount, and Clairmel, this is unapologetically Tampa punk. If you like Tim Version and Vaginasore Jr., this is already a win for you. It’s more spacious and singier than Tim Version, but more dialed in than VSJ. A perfect middle ground between two badass bands. If you’re not a fan of this style, I can’t see this EP winning you over. Definitely curious to see if these guys have a full-length in them.  –Daryl Gussin (A.D.D.)


SADE, THE:
II: CD
As soon as I pushed play on this CD and the beefy, Italian horror rock blasted out of my stereo, I became a fan of The Sade. It’s tough being a fan of horror in music. The majority of it is unoriginal Misfits rip-offs by people who haven’t bothered to scratch the surface of the horror genre. The next CD in my review pile has an Army of Darkness tribute cover and I’m just dreading it. Yes, I love Army of Darkness and the Evil Dead movies, but you can’t imagine the number of dreadful songs I’ve listened to about those flicks. There’s so much more to the horror genre than Ash and Misfits style “whoa-ohhh”s, and The Sade proves it. The second song on this CD is a howling tribute to a short story called “The Werewolf” by Angela Carter. It’s rare for a band to tip me off to a horror story I don’t know, so I’m impressed. But it takes more than a solid understanding of the genre to make a good record. The shit still has to rock. The Sade does, without getting sucked into any of the clichés. This is full-on rock, with deep, driving vocals and machete-swinging guitar solos. Oh, but check this out: By the third song, they’ve introduced an eerie string section that adds a perfectly gruesome touch without detracting from the direction of the track. Halfway into the record, they also throw in some insane tenor and soprano sax solos. It’s fucking wild. But they don’t abandon all the traditional tools either. In the second-to-last song, they whip out some of the most effective “whoa-ohhh”s I’ve heard in a while, and then they close out the record with an acoustic country stomper that puts the best of the psychobillies to shame. I’m going to listen to this CD a lot.  –MP Johnson (thesade.com)


RYAN DINOSAUR:
Demo: 7”
Say there was a car accident that got hit by a train that suffered from paranoid delusions of orcs, naked swords, and one “Parfait of misery.” Well, everyone involved was suffering from low blood sugar and was in need of a little snack to get through this horrible ordeal. About to take their first bites, they all got pushed down some stairs. Low-fi hardcore / punk from ATL that was “Recorded in the goblin waste of the years of snack darkness.” Originally put out as a cassette in 2010, it’s immature, intelligent, and too ridiculous not to enjoy. Think about it, for just a few dollars you can put a delicious treat into the needy hands of some punk kid. Go on, get these kids a Chipwich and some mozzarella sticks, stat.  –Jackie Rusted (No Breaks)


RUBRICS / ABOLITIONIST:
Split: 7”
Rubrics: Killer, very Crimpshrine/Fifteen-y dual male/female crusty melodic punk rock with great, fitting, anarchist hippie peace punk lyrics. Lots of Grimple in there, too. Fans of that world (of which there’s no shortage) would do very well to seek this out. I know I’ll be spinning it plenty. Abolitionist: Three more great tracks from these smart, prolific Portlandians. Fast, furious, catchy skatepunk in a Propagandhi-meets-Strike Anywhere vein with lyrics reminiscent of Less Talk-era Chris Hannah. Terrific. This is a split release between ten different labels from around the planet and comes with a great handwritten fold-out lyric sheet that looks fresh from a Food Not Bombs info table. Awesome stuff all around.  –Dave Williams (1859 / Get Better / Drunken Sailor / Different Kitchen / Waterslide / Bonfire Club / Reality Is A Cult / Lost Cat Records / Fly The Light / Hahaha Cool!))


RUBELLA BALLET:
Planet Punk: CD
Rubella Ballet’s one of those bands that, although quite influential on the U.K. anarcho-punk and early goth sub-subcultures, are a bit obscure these days to the average punter that wasn’t actively immersed in punk during the ‘80s or is a bit of an archivist. Their dayglo-splattered take on peace punk stood in stark contrast to the “black is fab” fashion etiquette normally associated with that set and their music similarly added a hint of, oh, bounce while addressing much of the same subject matter of their peers. Their first full-length of wholly new material since 1990, PlanetPunk doesn’t stray too far sonically from the band’s previous efforts, meaning they still tweak the ‘80s peace punk template by adding bits of influences from outside sources and slather on a bounty of relevant media sound bites while the lyrics remain firmly rooted in addressing topical issues: the consolidation of power by moneyed interests, the global “Big Brother” surveillance state, the dark side of biomedical research, Hacktivism, the overreliance on pharmaceutical prescriptions, Mexico’s drug wars, police corruption, conspiracy theories, widespread political corruption, and the belief in punk as a viable form of resistance to all the above. I’ve honestly been feeling a bit cynical and fatalistic about the state of both punk and the planet in recent weeks—feelings that are inevitable to come up at various points when one has been around long enough to see both change for the worse in a lot of ways on more than one occasion—but while listening to this, I felt that glimmer of hope that, no matter how bleak shit gets, folks will continue to resist and address that which the rest of the population prefers to pretend isn’t happening.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Overground)


RITUAL CONTROL:
No Affinity: 7”
Members of No Statik playing heavy and paranoid hardcore with a crusty backbeat. This has got a His Hero Is Gone feel in the riffs and heaviness but is more straightforward and these folks aren’t afraid to break it down. They speed up on occasion, but they never break the sound barrier and it seems like they aren’t willing to sacrifice their heaviness for speed. One of the best debut 7”s I’ve heard in a while. –Ian Wise (Residue)


RIOTS, THE:
“One Seven Wonders” b/w “On the Run”: 7”
I may be behind the curve in asking this, but is Russia the home of the next punk uprising? There’s Pussy Riot, that group of badass girls getting arrested in churches, selling shirts to hipsters who have never heard one of their songs, and then there is The Riots. If The Jam were from Moscow, it would sound like The Riots. That is to say, it would sound amazing. Nice work, comrades.  –John Mule (Time For Action)


REVOLUCIONARIOS, LOS:
Self-titled: CD
Metallic Mexican (or at least what I can find about them says they hail from the state of Coahuila) crust with the obligatory grandiloquent sound and lyrical content. Waaaay too much metal pumped into the tunes for my taste, but I imagine the black clothes ‘n’ backpatch crowd will find much here to get ‘em in a tizzy.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Los Revolucionarios)


REVENGE OF THE PSYCHOTRONIC MAN:
Still Getting Pissed, Still Talking Shit, Still Dancing Like Idiots: 7”
These prolific U.K. punks are celebrating their ten-year anniversary with a nostalgic 7”, starting off with two new recordings of old tunes. The tracks don’t break any new ground, but they do prove that these guys are still tearing it up impressively hard and fast a decade later. I’m hearing less skate punk influence than on their last record—this is more straight-up English punk rock for the drunk and rowdy. As if to confirm this, the second song is a genuine streetpunk banger, the kind with literal “oi oi oi”s at the end of every line. I didn’t know they still made ‘em like that, but I can get behind it. And then… there’s Side B. This features two electronic/drum-and-bass remixes of what I must assume are other selections from the Psychotronic catalogue. I mean full-on Transplants-style punk fusion, but less terrible. I’m not entirely sure that any of this was necessary, but it’s funny as hell and, on occasion, weirdly good. Honestly, these remixes are more interesting than the standard-issue punk rock B-sides would have been. These guys aren’t afraid of getting a little stupid, and I can respect that.  –Indiana Laub (TNS)


RESPECT THE RICH:
I Love Rich: CD
Of the eight tracks on this compact disc, three of them are called “(You’re so Hot) I’m Gonna Fuck You with the Lights On.” There is the original version, the Spanish version, and the clean radio version. Everything about this CD makes me want to want to ask, “Why?” From the cartoon cover to the butt-rock solos, this feels likes someone’s midlife crisis.  –John Mule (Self-released)


RANDUMBS, THE:
The Triumphant Return of: 7”
These songs come fast and don’t stop. I was worried that my turntable would crap out if I tried to stop the wheel too abruptly. Even though the Randumbs have been going at this punk rock thing for a while now, releasing their streetpunk classic It’s About Time in 1998, this sounds like a band that is far from throwing in the towel. Whatever it is that one is supposed to have, The Randumbs have it in spades.  –John Mule (Chapter 11)


RAD PAYOFF:
The Good, the Rad and the Ugly: Cassette
Goddamn! This is what reviewing is about: getting a package in the mail containing a new band that absolutely blows me away. Depending on the song, Rad Payoff could be mistaken for arena rock-era Rye Coalition, a mathy Dischord band, and/or Swiz. Insane stop-on-a-dime musicianship which is never pretentious or precious, serious grooves, and humor (witness “The Bong Remains The Same”), all with shouted vox from a guy whose vocals chords are obviously the strongest muscles in his body. This is the best music I’ve gotten for review in the past year. Seriously. Featuring a member of Sass Dragons, if you need more ammo.  –Michael T. Fournier (Let’s Pretend)


RAD PAYOFF:
Self-titled: 7”
A garage rock record with a driving, pounding rhythm, minimalist guitars, and improvisational-style vocals over the top. Oh, and it’s 45, not 33.  –Chad Williams (No Breaks)


RABBIT HOLES:
“It’s Not Alright” b/w “I Ain’t Coming Back Tonight”: 7”
Man, I’m getting cynical. Every part of me as a critic thinks this record is nothing new. At a certain point, the diminishing returns of reviewing records every few months shows you that there is only a limited number of tools for musicians to use to make their art. There are only twelve notes, you know? But this record gets everything right. The music is recorded in that beautifully terrible way where the vocals are buried, becoming just another instrument in the mix. I suppose if there’s a key to my heart musically, that would be it. Layers of musical noise with a small hint of melody shimmering in the background. Songwriting-wise, I’d put Rabbit Holes in that category of Dirtnap hopefuls that never fails to capture my ears. Both songs are incredibly well-written, with Side A capturing a Buzzcocks before they lost their edge vibe, and Side B imitating the Ramones back when Tommy was behind the kit. Totally worth any price between three and six dollars. Grade: A-.  –Bryan Static (Big Action)


PSYCHIC BAGS:
Our Friends Call Us Horse: Cassette
These cats know their scuzz: tons of echo, tons of reverb, not tons of chords. My wife heard this one and said, “It sounds like they should be playing behind chicken wire” and I tend to agree: the perfect soundtrack for flying bottles, sawdusty floors, and drunken mistakes.  –Michael T. Fournier (Magnetic South)


PRINCE:
Self-titled: CD
In a perfect world, Tom DeLonge would not have strayed from his bleached-blonde hair and willingness to perform in his briefs to the pretentious front man of U2 tribute band, Angels And Airwaves. Sadly, we don’t live in a perfect world, but we do have bands like Prince to help fill the carefree, tongue-in-cheek pop punk void. The vocals are power-stanced firmly in the forefront, a practice I always appreciate. Sung nasally and loud, the lyrics aren’t poetry—but they don’t have to be. Sarcastic lines like “I’ll keep you forever in my…phone” had me laughing to myself. Recommended for the teenager in you who always wanted to crowd surf at Warped Tour.  –Ashley (ADD)


PISS PISS PISS:
Never Heard of Amebix: CDEP
There’s been a solid trend of coming across releases that show little effort has been put into the layout, but recordings have clearly had some time (and money) put into them. In walks Piss Piss Piss. Who, given the minimal hand-drawn artwork of a fox (?) spray painting the name of the record on a brick wall, I assumed this was going to be a crud-punk record of some sort. Instead, it’s well-recorded, ripping metallic d-beat—probably better than a lot of popular bands of the same ilk. They wear their hometown of PDX on their sleeves, sounding strikingly close to Hellshock, with the token extra guttural vocals. Wasn’t expecting that all with the packaging, but I’m into it.  –Steve Adamyk (Sacred Plague)


PEOPLE’S TEMPLE, THE:
Musical Garden: LP
These Michigan based garage-pop aficionados have previously taken underground rock circles by storm with two absolutely solid-as-bricks releases, and this, their third full-length, continues that trend and does not disappoint. If equal parts psyche influenced contemporary garage rock and part ‘60s rock’n’roll fuzz don’t intrigue you, the vocal harmonies and excellent songwriting by the two pairs of brothers who make up the band will grab your attention and not let go. Recommended.  –Mark Twistworthy (HoZac)


ONLY CRIME:
Pursuance: LP/CD
At last! Only Crime has finally released an album worthy of its constituent parts. I don’t like the phrase “supergroup,” but when you have members of Descendents, Good Riddance, Bane, and Modern Life Is War in a band then expectations are bound to be high. Previous releases have been okay but not to a level that would get me excited enough to buy tickets for a school night 250 mile round trip to see the band, but Pursuance did that after just a handful of plays. This has the clout you’d expect with Bill Stevenson behind the drums and the twin guitars add a hefty wall of sound to proceedings. I also believe that Russ Rankin’s vocals are better in Only Crime than they are in Good Riddance, which is a major plus point, too. The expected synergy has been realized, resulting in some exceptional melodic hardcore—all killer, no filler.  –Rich Cocksedge (Rise)


NOW PEOPLE:
Love, Sex, Death & the Weather: LP
Atlanta, Georgia’s label No Breaks seems to be my go-to lately for hook-driven punk music with a glob of rapid-fire, snot-laced vocals. Now People continues their winning tradition. (North Trolls, Shang-A-Lang, and The Max Levine Ensemble are also in their exceptional back catalog.) Now People play methodical pop punk with some post-grunge chugginess with the occasional tasteful acoustic guitar detour. The songs are short and diverse—my two favorite attributes of any record. My only gripe is that the B-side is lacking in comparison to the catchy jams on the first half of the record. Side note: Mikey Erg contributes guitar on “A New Pedigree” so add this record to Mr. Erg’s already extensive résumé of memorable punk records. Recommended.  –Sean Arenas (No Breaks)


NOSECONE PROPHETS / SHATTERHAND:
Split: 7”
Nosecone Prophets: Hmm. Rather forgettable, awkward skatepunk with confusing atonal breakdowns and weak vocals. Shatterhand: see the Nosecone Prophets description, add “unoriginal leads” and you’d be on the right track. Blah.  –Dave Williams (Unsane Asylum)


NOI!SE / STREET DOGS:
Split: 10”
Noi!se are probably going to be the next Rancid. I’m being totally serious. If this band doesn’t have a deal with a huge label within the next two years I will be amazed. They write these really catchy songs that get stuck in your head immediately but are still intelligent and lyrically driven enough to warrant delving deeper into. They are usually on the Cock Sparrer / Blitz tip with a West Coast vibe in the backbeat, but these three songs really show them coming into their own. Their story is great, they are nice, humble dudes, and I honestly can’t say enough nice things about them. The Street Dogs are still the Street Dogs. They write simple street punk songs that are like a poppy version of Forced Reality. Mike is and always has been a great frontman, but at the end of the day I will forever hold them to the standard of the first Dropkick record (but who cares because those guys don’t need my help selling records). Just make sure that if you get this record for Street Dogs to FLIP IT OVER AND LISTEN TO NOI!SE.  –Ian Wise (Pirates Press)


NIGHT BIRDS:
Monster Surf: 7”
Let’s face it, there is no shortage of gushing positive reviews for Night Birds records. I’d be hard pressed to think of a more universally loved band that has come out in the last few years and it is well deserved. Night Birds make hardcore punk rock with many of the elements of the legendary bands of yesteryear without coming off like a pale imitation. They continually keep it fresh. One thing that everyone jumped on to right away was the heavy surf vibe. It’s not a sound that gets a lot of play in hardcore these days and Night Birds really nail it. It seems only logical that they would want to do an instrumental surf punk record and here it is. Monster Surf is exactly what its title says it is. Short blasts of shimmering guitar with creepy-crawling bass and rock solid drums. Sprinkle in some synth and a few horns here and there and you’ve got yourself a genuine monster party on the beach! I’m going to just cut to the chase. I love this band. You love this band. You’ll want to own this record. If you don’t dig Night Birds, I’ve gotta give you a sideways stare and I’ll always wonder deep down what the hell is wrong with you.  –Ty Stranglehold (Wallride)


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