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Record Reviews

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split: 7”
Man, this is a good split. Flip Tops sound like Supercharger meets the Dwarves meets the Motards. Both tracks (and the two on their split with the Gloryholes) seem to show the Flip Tops maturing as a band from their full-length released late last year. Everything works so well now. The Triggers are so damn good. Female-fronted, no-nonsense punk’n’roll. –Megan Pants (Johnny Cat)

Smash the Octopus: CD
Some thoroughly razed music here, melding equal parts metal, hardcore and free jazz, and ending up with the Filipino/American equivalent of having Melt Banana whooped upside your head by your favorite grindcore band. While certainly spastic in every sense of the word, closer inspection reveals a level of precision and technical prowess that might be lost on the casual listener. Definitely not for those who are faint of heart, but a damn good listen if you’re feelin’ lucky, punk. –Jimmy Alvarado (Kool Arrow)

self-titled: CD
I was ready to hate this, but Flamethrower opens the record with a song about The Super Bee and have peaked my interest. It’s rock, no way around it, but the band seems like lean towards Motorhead in a way that I like and, at the same time, giving me a feeling that someone in this band listened to Agent Orange in high school. With that said, and it’s nit picky, the vocals lean a little away from Lemmy and towards Kurt Cobain. Fans of Zeke or Motorhead should seek this out. –Wanda Spragg –Guest Contributor (Dead Teenager)

Thus Hope Fades: CD
This month I got a lot of killer CDs to review. This one is no exception. Thirteen tracks of excellent street punk, hardcore, and even a reggae tune. It’s all done very well. Great vocals, great music, great lyrics = a great full length. These guys very strongly support the working class, which is evident in their lyrics. That’s good by me. So, yes, bust out your wallet and buy this CD. I highly recommend it. –Mike Beer –Guest Contributor (Insurgence)

Self-titled: CD
Sometimes when you review stuff you have to contrast how you much you like something with how good a job it does of what it tries to do. I don’t see myself that impressed with this CD in contrast with a lot of other music. However, I am sure that this band formed with the intention of impressing me. Even so, nobody I have played this for believes me when I show them the band photo – they look way too young to be making music as well as they are, and everyone is shocked the singer is female – she doesn’t sound like a boy so much as she has a really unique vocal style, especially to contrast her with most female vocalists. I bet these guys will be a real hit with the kids, and I just hope they stick it out for a while. A few years from now, and possibly with a better name, I can imagine being completely in awe here. I do worry. They walk a fine line away from being the next Blink 182 or whoever, but they are definitely on the right side of that line. –rich (Fat)

Wig Wam Bam b/w Love Me Till the Sun Shines: 7”
It’s got a girl singer who sings kind of flatly, then they take a really good Sweet song and just kind of push it around on a dusty floor. If you’re gonna crap up a Sweet song, pick one that wasn’t so good to begin with (ask Nørb which one, probably). B side is a Kinks song I don’t know, so I can’t tell how well they do it, but it sounds pretty good to me. –Cuss Baxter (The Bert Dax Cavalcade of Stars)

Fuck the System: CD
This is pretty solid musically, with the mid-tempo hardcore beats and crunching guitars you’ve some to expect from the Exploited. Lyrically, though, we’re talking about a completely different ball of wax. Granted, The words that have accompanied the average Exploited song haven’t exactly been poetry or anything, and it seems that they’ve only worsened with age. Wattie’s voice is in fine form here, but he’s wasted his talent on mediocre, hackneyed lyrics instead of tackling specific issues and taking to task the monoliths of the system he professes to despise. Sorry, but repeating “You’re a fucking bastard” some thirty-odd times and tossing in the occasional “and a shit cunt too” does not a song make, and naming your songs after other, better known tunes (“Holiday in the Sun,” “Noize Annoys”) doesn’t make ‘em good. Ultimately, you’re left wondering, to quote one of the songs here, “What’s the fucking point?” Maybe he should refrain from hanging out with them poseurs in Total Chaos, ‘cause that band’s eagerness to peddle crap music is apparently rubbing off. –Jimmy Alvarado (Spitfire)

Fuck the System: CD
If you are an Exploited fan and you go out and buy this, don’t look at the lyrics. It might bum you out. Otherwise, if you can get past the bad lyrics this is a good release. I, for one, usually pay more attention to the music before I even look at the lyrics. But when I picked this up, Jimmy Alvarado was at Razorcake HQ and he fucked it up for me. He told me to look at the lyric sheet. My mouth dropped. I was now tainted and biased to what was going to come out of my speakers once I get this disc home. I did have another view from a long time fan and he had mentioned something about the lyrics being stupid but the music was good. So let’s see which side of the fence I was going to go to. I didn’t go anywhere on the fence. I’m stuck on top. The lyrics are stupid and the music is good. One thing I do have to say is they seem to be leaning more in the Discharge camp than their own. The lyrics are structured the same, in a sense. They’re simple and to the point, even though the point is pretty blunt and not too thought provoking. For longtime fans who have stayed for the long haul, they will enjoy this. If you are new to punk and want to check out this band, I would steer you to the Punk’s Not Dead LP instead. –Donofthedead (Spitfire)

Guitar Romantic: CD
Interesting combination of sounds from this band. It took a while to put my finger on it, but I soon realized they sounded like a super-group comprised of members of the Crowd and the Dickies covering old ‘70s mod/punk pop ditties. Mighty catchy tunes only sweeten the deal. Three of ‘em are dead now, which is a damn shame. –Jimmy Alvarado (Dirtnap)

The Autumn Gentleman: CD
The guys on insert look like dirty bastards (which I mean as a compliment). The music isn’t. The music is firmly set in the mid-Dischord era of Jawbox and Lungfish, which means there’s still power left in the punches, but Gang of Four’s and Wire’s angles have found their ways in. An example: Get a mouse. Put it in a box. Roll it down a hill. (Not a big one. You don’t want to hurt it.) Release it. It can’t walk in a straight line, though it really tries. Thusly, are Exercise. Sometimes, I’m thinking, “Rock the fuck out. I can hear you can. You know how to. You want to. Do it.” And although this CD’s okay plus plus, and the people who put it out are fuckin’-a righteous (anyone who takes you to a place that has a sausage as the door handle is A-OK in my book), I hear afterburners that I constantly want to be goosed but aren’t. –Todd Taylor (Learning Curve)

Escaped Generation: CDEP
Once again, Bill from Rodent Popsicle brings us another CD worth your money. This time it’s a CDEP by a band of lads called The Escaped. On this CD’s eight tracks, some are fast hardcore and some are street punk. Either way, they are all good. The band even features two vocalists. One is more of a rough and tough vocalist and the other is a fast, crusty type. Regardless of how you label them, the main point is that they are really good and this combination works rather well! The musicianship, as well as lyrics, is great, too. All in all, this CD gets a big thumbs up and is well worth your hard-earned cash. I won’t leave out that there’s a CD-R video also included in this CD. Not bad and all this is for only $5.98, too. Keep up the good work guys! –Mike Beer –Guest Contributor (Rodent Popsicle)

Metal Garage: LP
When I first put this on, I thought that the title of this record was dead on. Indeed, for a few seconds, it sounded like an unholy alliance of Venom and the Gories. When the vocals kicked in, I realized that I was playing this on the wrong speed. Whoops. Replace Venom with Kiss and the Gories with the Mooney Suzuki and you get an idea of the not good time I had listening to this. –Not Josh –Guest Contributor (Bad Reputation)

A Dead Sinking Story: CD
I picked this up because it reminded me of a Rare Form 7” that I picked up in Maine (which you should too if you ever see it). Envy, however, plays the I scream, I whisper, I scream game in every song. Longest song I’ve seen in about five years, clocking in at twelve minutes and forty-four seconds. I’d had enough at fifteen seconds. –Megan Pants (Level Plane)

Song in the Air: CD
Ho. Ly. Shit. To my way of thinking, Elliott has been that band for a long time now, the band that I expect greatness of, the band that I expect to transcend whatever musical limitations I can imagine and blow my mind with an album that I couldn’t have even dreamed of hearing. I’ve been expecting that since 2000’s False Cathedrals which was the single best artistic achievement I heard that year. It was majestic, soaring, transcendent – all those big fluffy words which seem really important and convey really big ideas. It was a pop record, it was emo, it side-stepped every sub-genre as soon I had managed to pin it down; it remains one of my favorite albums to this day. I’m sure I reveal my bias as soon as I note that I have been waiting for this new record for three years. I’ve been tracking the songs which have leaked onto the internet. I’ve been anticipating hearing the whole goddamn thing on my headphones and when it showed up in my mail this morning, I knew how I’d be spending my afternoon – headphones on, listening to Elliott. And simply put, the three-year wait was worth it. While “Song in the Air” seems to be a radical departure from the poppier textures and conceits of False Cathedrals, it’s really an extension and advancement of the ideas which were set out and tentatively explored within that album’s confines. False Cathedrals was, to an apparently large degree, a bridge between the more straight-forward emo and pop of Elliott’s debut, U.S. Songs, and this sonic experiment which seems to ignore emo altogether in favor of expressing more symphonic and classical tendencies (perhaps best acknowledged by the addition of a string quartet fronted by The Rachel’s Christian Frederickson). The loops and beats which helped characterize parts of False Cathedrals are still present; that instrumentation now helps shape a soundscape which pays more attention to shoegazing bands like Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine than punk bands like Rites Of Spring or Embrace, which owes a large debt to bands like Placebo and almost no debt at all to ones like Hankshaw. And what it boils down to is this – despite changing two members (Jay Palumbo, now playing in Thirty-Two Frames, and Jonathan Mobley), Chris Higdon and Kevin Ratterman have created a masterful work, drenched in reverb and layers, crisp and clear yet still dripping with mystery. Higdon’s angelic, soaring, childlike vocals still sound more like a choirboy’s than a singer for what is ostensibly a rock and roll band; while it still sounds like Higdon is yearning for something, his vocal tones also suggest that he knows exactly what he wants… and that he won’t be denied. Ratterman, the other remaining holdover from the False Cathedrals sessions, is still wielding his studio like an instrument, seemingly treating the recording process as another possible track. Frankly, I can’t begin to imagine how Elliott could perform these songs live without taking stringed instruments on tour and even if that were the case, these songs would still be difficult to perform live. There’s simply too much here, a embarrassment of musical wealth to hear, explore and mine, a host of new ideas which have yet to see birth in a rather insular, self-absorbed scene. And while it’s true that Song in the Air is a studio album in the best sense of the term – which in turn means that the band must necessarily turn inward and close the door to the outside world – what emerges is a map of uncharted musical territory which challenges even the best and brightest songwriters to explore it. –Puckett (Revelation)

Since the whatever wave of street punk/ catchy oi – fronted and fortified by Rancid, The US Bombs, and the Dropkick Murphys – has seemed to let some of the fire burn from its torch, there’s quietly a new cadre of bands that have taken a lot of the now-familiar cues of CockSparrer, Blitz, the Sex Pistols, 999, and Peter and the Test Tube Babies. The Ends are right at the top. What’s cool is that they’re not afraid to add the less-than-strictly-street-punk elements, opening the dilation to include Elvis Costello and Eater, infusing the moodiness of Johnny Thunders without the self-indulgence, and the slash and fun of new wave. Instead of watering down or being wanky, a new bounce makes it fresh. Other bands – that have nothing really in common with The Ends, except they somehow vaulted out of a dead-end drive that so many brick in as their own tombs – would be Wednesday Night Heroes, the GC5, Mea Culpa, and Broken Bottles. There’s some truly transcendent tracks on this. Highly suggested. –Todd Taylor (Pelado)

Soldiers: CD
Straight edge metallic hardcore that reminded me of the bands Strife and Integrity. Metal riffing, a big double bass drumming sound, and a vocalist who screams like he’s about to pop a blood vessel off his forehead and his eyes might explode. Tough music for a tough minded crowd. –Donofthedead (Deathwish)

Double Platinum: CD
I’ve noticed a lot of the discs I’ve picked up of late have taken a bit of a shift toward the “arty” end of the punk spectrum. While this isn’t always a bad thing (especially when it’s obvious that the band in question is trying, for good or ill, to “do something different”), some bands can end up wallowing in a sea of their own excesses and egos. Luckily, this ain’t the case here. Granted, some of the songs may be a little longer than is good for ‘em, but the bulk of what’s here is blissfully sloppy, skewed, minimalist to the brink of incompetence and played with tongue planted firmly in cheek. The result is something that would sound great sandwiched between Suburban Lawns and Flipper on one o’ them weekend late night “underground punk rock” shows. –Jimmy Alvarado (Magic Spot Productions)

It’s a Shame that a Family Can Be Torn Apart by Something as Simple as a Pack of: CD
Shit. I thought these guys were emo for some reason, but somehow it was in my pile. I turned it on and the yelling started. Pretty potent hardcore with a strong metal influence, but definitely not run-of-the-mill by any means. There’s a lot going on in there. The biggest distraction is the frequency of the samples between songs, especially when I’d listened to it enough to know that most, if not all, are from Donnie Darko. –Megan Pants (Hex)

Giraffe: CD
Bloody amazing. I’ve only recently found Echoboy – but he has quite a history. This is his third release on Mute, where he has called on the always fine talents of producer Flood to assist. A mixture of post punk meets electro in a fucking remarkable album. You get a little bit of this and a little bit of that – and it makes for a very accessible album compared to his past releases. From folkish electro tracks to borderline disco songs that would appeal to those “electroclash” kids. It’s great for people like me who have terribly schizophrenic tastes in music – and tend to be a little more open minded when it comes to the evolution of music. Three cheers for Echoboy. –Sarah Shay (Mute)

Pretest: CD
Instrumental math rock in jazzy shades of non-punk Bad Brain and lesser species, wherein you can be pretty sure they’re playing with their eyes closed, grooving on the groovy vibes, AKA they never play or practice uninformed by bong hits (though, while being high undoubtedly makes making this shit fun or sweetly satisfying, no amount of recreational drugs is gonna make it fun to listen to). –Cuss Baxter (Relapse)

If Only We Had Someplace to Go: CD
I am inching closer and closer to liking the Dukes, but I’m still not yet there, and I can’t place my finger on it. The music: very similar to Hot Water Music. Definitely not a direct rip, but the similarities are startling. They can capture claustrophobic moments that break open to wide-open rides of songs that aren’t afraid to let the bass ride in the front seat. Jeff’s voice is the biggest departure and it sounds like a blown-out speaker. Maybe it’s the pitch, but it makes me wince. I feel my brow furrow as I type this. I do, however, give full props to the album art. It’s so simple – a picture of a 32 oz. beer being poured into a gas tank. That’s poetic. So many of my friends like these guys, and I want to wave the banner too, but I just can’t. –Todd Taylor (Attention Deficit Disorder)

Live: mini-CDEP
I’m a sucker for any band that Dave Crider is in. The Mono Men were amazing and I’m still bummed that they broke up. That Watts album (which featured Crider and Aaron Roeder from the Mono Men) never got the credit it deserves, and now Crider is back with this five-song DT’s EP. His tight and fuzzy garage-rockin’ guitar is immediately recognizable, and the first song on this EP sounds like it could’ve been a lost Mono Men track. Then, on “Eyes to the Sun,” DT’s vocalist Diana Young-Blanchard steps in and throws the band in a whole new direction. She’s got a voice like whiskey and cigarettes and Aretha Franklin blurred into one, and her voice gives the album a blues-y punk quality that I’ve only heard before in the BellRays. This EP comes and goes way too quickly, and the CD itself is only about three and a half inches in diameter, which makes it an easy one to lose. Other than that, I have no complaints about the DT’s. In a perfect world, I could see them live at Tom’s Strip and Bowl. –Sean Carswell (Estrus)

Yank Crime: CD
One of the best albums of the ‘90s finally gets reissued on CD, with a few bonus tracks, to boot. I’ve honestly never fully understood why I like this album: nine-minute songs, atonal howls instead of vocals, nine-minute songs, the lack of focus, oh, and did I mention the nine-minute songs? Somehow, it all works, though; there’s so much going on here that the noise is almost hypnotic. If you often find yourself on lots of narcotics, this is right up your alley. –Not Josh –Guest Contributor (Swami)

La Majeure 1987: CD
Hey! Should this have gone to Designated Dale? Oh, well... Fuck you, Dale! The band’s first three-track demo sees the light again and should be much appreciated by fans of the band or followers of bands like All or Big Drill Car. I was more consumed with drinking in the late ‘80s /early ‘90s than following the scene closely. So this band slipped through the cracks for me. I believe that some members later became the band All Systems Go. This is great melodic pop punk before the scene got saturated and diluted with thousands of the same. –Donofthedead (Boss Tuneage)

97-99: CD
This review period, I am the ultimate jaded man. Negative energy runs though me and I am not excited. After listening to this CD, I feel like we are doomed by what music we will be listening to in the future. I’m going to become a babbling old man reminiscing the good old days, listening to records that no longer are produced. The Refused started a avalanche of followers in Sweden who aren’t as original and interesting. This CD drones on and leaves me with a downcast mood that makes me have to dispose of this. –Donofthedead (Lovitt)

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·Punklightenment, November 2012

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