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Razorcake #84
Tim Version, Ordinary Life LP + bonus 7"
Radon, 28 LP
Zisk #25
Razorcake #83


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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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SHOTWELL:
Patriot: LP
Recently I made my first visit to San Francisco’s Thrillhouse Records, which I discovered to be totally awesome in every aspect. While I was there, I picked up some great 7”s from the bins and Thrillhouse’s most recent release, Shotwell’s Patriot. This is a release that the band, the label, and the city should be proud of. Like a more positive Onion Flavored Rings, or more subdued Tulsa, Shotwell’s music has embodied the SF scene for many a release. With those crisp but warm guitar tones and the perfect combination of optimism, skepticism, and probably some other -isms, this LP is an obvious win for fans of the bands mentioned above, long-running Bay Area zines, and DIY anything. –Daryl Gussin (Thrillhouse)


SHORT CHANGED:
Burn Down Wagon Town: 7”
I can smell the stale beer and garlicy body odor in the air when this record is on. EastBay punk (not pop!) that moves at a moderately fast pace. Nothing really stands out about the music though. It’s just “there.” Plus the vocals, main and back up, sound a bit tired, or uninspired. Ehhhh... Nice split green and gray vinyl though. –Matt Average (Goat Power Recreation / Pyrate Punx)


SHOOT IT UP:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Sloppy punk stuff with enough snottiness pumped into what they’re doing to keep ’em interesting. What seals the deal, though, is they manage to cover of the Consumers’ “Teen Love Song” without looking like total ninnies. No easy feat, my friends. –Jimmy Alvarado (Criminal IQ)


SHIT EAGLE:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Heavy Reatards influence here, with enough weirdness of its own in evidence to keep it from sounding like some sorta rehash, and a recording quality sure to lay waste to yer eardrums if you play it loud enough. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.floridasdying.com)


SERVICE INDUSTRY:
Limited Coverage: CD
It’s a chore climbing over Service Industry’s questionable claims—“for the first time life in the service industry is the concept behind a band”—because every band I’ve ever known has slugged their way through life with name tags, and those jobs have played a pivotal role in shaping their songs. And, just for one example beyond my own experiences, the streets of Nashville are littered with songwriters trying to strike the “work sucks” motherlode. I don’t doubt that the members of The Service Industry have ample experience in the minimum wage trenches but their lyrics rarely rise above cliché. I wish they’d sing about the things they think about when they’ve had those crummy jobs, because I kind of like their country rock, especially when Curt Kirkwood of the Meat Puppets guests. –Mike Faloon (Wee Rock)


SEA, THE:
Love, Love, Love: 7”
Definitely a White Stripes influence here. Especially obvious on the flipside, “My Brother Blues.” Not to mention the vocal style is similar. Not bad, but nothing to seek out. –Matt Average (Lusty, www.theseasounds.co.uk)


SCREAM HELLO:
Smart & Stupid!: CDEP
I guess this is a good sign as any that there’s still a degree of segregation between all these little different “scenester/sub-genre/whatever you want to call it,” because I think I see a fair amount of shows in New Brunswick NJ, where these dudes are from, and I’ve only heard their name come up on the internet. This particular EP looks like a teaser for an upcoming full length, with four songs that kind of sound like that “emo”/pop punk that you used to see come out on Jade Tree, in the sense that it’s really polished, and gets kind of arty, for lack of a better word—I kind of prefer New End Original. It’s not bad, but to have four songs last almost twenty minutes just seems way overkill, in my opinion. –Joe Evans III (Red Leader)


SASS DRAGONS:
Bonkaroo!: CD
The “kitchen sink” approach to punk has been the death knoll of many a band. “Endless experimentation” gets tedious because it seems like the band is testing the waters of musical escape routes. (Lesser Fishbone and Bad Brains records come to mind.) Sometimes, you just want to be rocked instead of diddled by a wet noodle in your ear. (I’m all for “experimentation.” Just do it without hitting record. Hit record when the experiment was a success.) Yet, with the Sass Dragons, they’re all over the fuckin’ place—from sounding like Weezer and The Dwarves simultaneously in the same song, to a track that sounds like an STD’d Sesame Street stoop jam—and it works. Much like The Weird Lovemakers (seek out Electric Chump and Back 20 for more evidence) could go from straight-ahead scorchers to ranchero to Doo Wop without losing momentum, the Sass Dragons have hot glued and belt fought something into submission that could have been a big, fuckin’ stupendous mess into a fuckin’ glorious mess. (With a staunch anti-Alan Thicke message.) Lesser bands, just listen and enjoy. Don’t try to copy ‘em, because you’ll sound like dill weeds diarrheaing into your fans’ ears. Awesome in the original biblical sense, not the Kirk Cameron, just-found-god sense. –Todd Taylor (Johann’s Face/Let’s Pretend)


SASS DRAGONS:
Bonkaroo!: CD
I don’t like getting caught up with labels. It seems like too many people get caught up in having, “Well, I’m only into [insert whatever little sub-scene/genre here]” attitudes. What’s great about this record is that the Sass Dragons are clearly not those kind of dudes. At its core, this plays like a crass pop punk record, in the sense that it’s catchy as hell, and switches the ever popular “why don’t girls like me” sentiment with “I WANNA TOUCH YOUR BOOBS, GIRL” approach, which make me crack up while bobbing my head as I listen. But here’s the clincher; these guys are good musicians—like, really good. They know what they’re capable of, and come up with some really creative stuff (like the blues number). Dare I say; I think if The Dwarves did that last album of theirs with the main collaborators being The Beatles (both remaining and non), the output would sound like this. And it sounds great. –Joe Evans III (Johann’s Face/Let’s Pretend)


RUNNING FOR COVER:
Dark Well: LP
Defunct Buffalo, NY, powerviolence band from recent years who sound like they existed in the WestBay circa 1995: MITB mixed with Spazz and ran through a blender at lightning speed. They throw in some quirky guitar squonking here and there to keep it interesting, and the instrumental at the end is totally out of left field, but it’s good to hear a band take risks in a codified genre. Good stuff all around. Too bad they called it a day. –Matt Average (625 / Unholy Thrash / Art Of The Underground)


ROD MITCHELL:
Cheesecake: CD
Musical comedy is a tough row to hoe and Rod Mitchell is swerving all over that field with reckless abandon. One song sounds like he’s swiped Eddie Van Halen’s “1984” keyboard and strapped it to a Weird Al song, while another sounds like a cut from the children’s record Robyn Hitchcock never wrote. There are humorous bits here and there—”The Dying Squirrel” is cruel but funny—but Cheesecake needs a concept to justify putting the lyrical horse before the musical cart and make the trip worthwhile. –Mike Faloon (Orange Knight)


RIPSHIT / OFFSIDES:
Self-titled: 7”
Hardcore. Like the kind your friend’s band played in high school. Next. –Ryan Leach (Spicy Soup)


RIBZY:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Jeez, I dunno if these SanJo legends are back together or they’re just trying to purge their archives, but it’s nice to have some “new” music from ’em. The A-side is comprised of three tunes apparently recorded for a San Jose punk reunion show, the B-side has some circa-2006 recordings of older tunes that weren’t included on the retrospective CD that came out a few years ago. All of it is, of course, gloriously obnoxious in a way that is often rare in these times of punk-as-career-move. Good to hear more from ’em and here’s hoping more is in the works. –Jimmy Alvarado (Vinehell)


RHINO-39:
Self-titled: 2 x CD
As a certified non-West-Coast-grower-upper, the totality of my Rhino-39 knowledge was obtained from four discrete sources: 1. Their song on the Hell Comes To Your House compilation; 2. Their song on the American Youth Report compilation; 3. Their name being plastered across miscellaneous flyers which i had managed to inveigle from kindred West-Coast-grower-uppers; and 4.The fine print on the sides of various commercial aerosol disinfectant cans. It is perhaps not a mark in the band’s favor that the thing that always struck me as the most interesting thing about them was that they named themselves after a germ with a cool name ((and, if you think about that for a while, shouldn’t most of the resultant Cool Points™ be awarded to the germ itself, not the band who merely hitched their wagons to that germ’s mighty star?)). Based on the two songs of theirs that i knew, i always sort of thought that they were kind of in with the less weighty elements of the SST/New Alliance crowd ((i.e., perhaps they didn’t completely hate jazz- and art- rock, and wouldn’t sound out of place on a record with Raymond Pettibon cover art)). However, now that my square-ass ass has been set hip to their initial three-song Dangerhouse release, it is apparent that i was completely oblivious to their status as early entrants in the “first ever hardcore band, maybe” sweepstakes, which, in any rational nut’s taxonomy, puts them more in line with Middle Class, than, say, Saccharine Trust or Overkill ((what’s also amazing is how much the chord progression in “Prolixin Stomp” sounds like that last song on the first Leg Hounds CD, which technically makes Rhino-39 the earliest known Devil Dogs clones—so early on the bandwagon, in fact, as to predate the formation of the band by whom they were influenced by well over a decade. Now THAT’S early adoption!)). Further, the band’s ratty little breakneck guitar solo in “Xerox 12” reminds me of Tommy Hawk’s zany thrash-pop fretboard butchering from the early stages of Cleveland’s Offbeats ((whose existence was still a good three years away at the time of “Xerox 12”s recording)), and even the occasional goofy keyboard solos herein might have predated the similar spaz-out in the Dead Kennedys’ “Stealing People’s Mail” by a few calendar months, so obviously this band, to their great credit, was clearly out ahead of numerous curves. That said, the sort of not-really-in-my-face guitar sound, coupled with their kinda echoey vocal treatment, kinda puts the bulk of this band’s work more in line with the whole The Last/Urinals crowd ((more Last than Urinals, to be sure)) than any of those other bands i mentioned ((except maybe for Middle Class. Yes, i am vacillating. I can’t help it, it’s that time of the month)). But, THAT said, I’ve listened to the Hell Comes to Your House album moderately extensively over the course of the last quarter-century, and when “Marry It” rolled around, it barely registered as a song that i should theoretically be familiar with. My conclusion, after thorough inspection, is that the coolest thing about this band is their three songs from the Dangerhouse single, and the second coolest thing about this band is still that they named themselves after a germ. Take that as thou wilt. BEST SONG: “Prolixin Stomp” BEST SONG TITLE: “Xerox 12,” but only because the band name is “Rhino-39.” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Longing to hear what the band sounded like live, i copped a squint at the video footage on Disk 2, and was amazed that the band pretty much sounded exactly like they did on record. It took me until the video was halfway over to realize that the footage was shot without audio, and that they did, in fact, dub songs from their record over the top of it. Doi. –Rev. Norb (Nickel and Dime)


RESTARTS:
Outsider: CD
Okay, right off the bat, the opener, “Outsider,” had me singing along. It is about as good a punk rock anthem as I’ve heard in a while. My attention’s all theirs. As soon as the ska riffage introduced itself, however, I immediately checked out, only to be lured back in when they went back to the thrashin’ and yellin’. Truth be told, their ska punk here ain’t as miserable as some I’ve heard, even on their previous releases, but a virtual zero tolerance policy is in place when it comes to that stuff, so much time was spent skipping to the next track. All told, a good chunk of this was faboo, and the remainder was Operation Ivy-culled chaff they neglected to slough off. –Jimmy Alvarado (Rodent Popsicle)


RED I CLAN:
Killohead: CD
Sometimes an unfortunate side effect of formal musical training is that while one becomes a proficient player, somehow the ability to actually create compelling music from scratch is difficult. That seems to be the case here. While years of training is in evidence in the musicianship, and it’s clear that may a mix of rock, techno, and quasi-industrial dance was a good idea on paper, the execution is sorely lacking in good sound structure, passion, and remotely compelling songs. What you end up with here is an album that sounds like it was made by people who knew how to play but really weren’t all that interested in what they were doing. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.myspace.com/rediclan)


RATIONAL ANTHEM:
Self-titled: CD-R EP
Sounds like it’s played with a sorrowful heart trying to be an uplifting spirit. The lyrics seem to reflect that and that age where you realize that you aren’t going to be young forever. It also sounds like a melodic hardcore band trying to come into their own. I hope that they do because I think they could be pretty good. –Vincent Battilana (Self-released, rationalanthem@gmail.com)


RAGER:
Feculent Emesis: 7”
A witty, co-ed, power-thrash band is a dangerous weapon in my mind. If the people of the world shared my brain, Rager would be appointed to the position of all-things-awesome. But let’s be serious for a moment—if the idea of a politically charged, church-hating, smart band that can bring the crucial, often melodic, female and male vocaled, thrashin’ hardcore punk makes your day; Rager is the 7” to go with. –Daryl Gussin (Hewhocorrupts, Inc.)


QUAN AND THE CHINESE TAKE-OUTS:
“Crazy Pills” b/w “Poorman St”: 7”
First they sent a demo in, it was good, and we would listen to it often. Then they took two of the songs off it and made this 45 on blue vinyl and limited to 100. Motherfuckers, they officially won me over. Quan And The Chinese Takeouts are a band that mixes early New York punk with ‘90s alternative radio; plus they have a synthesizer. I hate two of those three things, but they pull it off. –Daryl Gussin (Self-released, benpablo@yahoo.com)


PROTESTANT:
The Hate. The Hollow: LP
Okay, right off the bat, lemme just say that the vinyl—sorta plum colored with a neat design marbled into it—is fuckin’ gorgeous. The music is heavy, fast, and pissed-off hardcore that sounds like they have more than a passing interest in some of the more rambunctious hardcore bands coming out of Scandinavia. Nine tunes total, and totally worth your time. –Jimmy Alvarado (Halo of Flies)


PROSTHETICS, THE:
Count It: 7”
When things started swirling around the global drain at the dawn of the Bush Regime, I was among those who thought that, at the very least, we’d get some great searing, political hardcore records coming out a la the early days of Reagan. Well, in the last eight (?!) years, nothing has really blown my mind on that front until now. Upon slapping The Prosthetics’ EP on the turntable I was taken back to an angry time in my youth. The music is simple yet brutally hard. No chugga-chugga metal here, just hardcore in the truest sense of the word. The lyrics aren’t growled; they’re very clear and delivered in a tone that is dripping with an urgency that more of us should be instilled with. The cover art is a black and white drawing of their local crooked sheriff getting curb stomped. This is the real deal here, people. I want more! –Ty Stranglehold (Organized Crime)


PROLETARIAN ART THREAT:
The Long Process of Quitting: CD
This is the discography of the Cleveland, Ohio, band. This band does frantic rock’n’roll with sort of off-kilter sensibilities that lands it right in between The Bronx and Drive Like Jehu. This is pretty great stuff that probably would have been right at home on Amphetamine Reptile or ‘90s-era Touch and Go. There’s a mix of studio and live recordings on this CD, which I had reservations about at first, but, amazingly, the live stuff actually sounds good. The band had two singers over the course of its three years, and I have to say that the first half of the CD is the stronger half, because first singer Jack Shit really gave the band an extra manic edge over later singer Stephe. This album (especially the first half) is my favorite of the current review batch, especially after spending a little time with it so that I could pick through the franticness and noisy diversions in it, like the odd noise jam/spoken word song “Dub Arrest.” –Adrian (Shandi Records and Tapes)


PRETTY BOY THORSON AND THE F’’N A’S:
Take It Easy: CD
You gotta hand it to any music that can comfort you in your sorrow and invigorate you in your merriment. Take It Easy is the ultimate fall back album for those diagnosed with manic depression. It’s also great for parties, alone time, and road trips. Not many albums can say that. –Daryl Gussin (ADD)


POTENTIAL CASKETS:
Nunns & Heroin: 7”
Folk punk doesn’t get any more awesome than this seriously addictive two-piece band from the Midwest. They sound like an angrier Ghost Mice or This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb, the latter of which influenced the hilarious title of their previously released demo, This Bike Is a Crack Pipe. Four angry songs are included on this instant classic 7”, including the anthematic “You Fucking Left Me” and “Sinners Unite.” This is easily one of the best acoustic punk records ever. It’s that fucking good. –Art Ettinger (sXe Cat, www.myspace.com/sxecatrecords)


POPULATION REDUCTION:
Each Birth a New Disaster: LP
If you haven’t heard the magic of this guitar and drums duo in person or on recording and you are a fan of metal, grind, death and such, you are missing out. This is the band’s first full-length, showcasing their brand of death metal, grindcore, and thrash attack which continues on the greatness of their At the Throats of Man Forever EP that came out a year or two back. Heavy riffs, blast beats, and everything in between are thrown out at you. There is no lack of heaviness and speed from these two men from the Bay area. The music will make you bang your head, mosh, slam, and, for stoner types, maybe smoke one. It makes you feel like they are taking you for a ride; first going slow, then fast, and finally even faster, about to crash but still in control. Interested yet? But on top of all that, they have humor. Make fun of the Amish? Old people? SUV owners? Black metal fans? All of the above. They don’t seem to narrow themselves to what topics they cover in their lyrics. Overall, this LP has shown me how much I really do like this band. After seeing them live and hearing them recorded before, they surely raised the bar on this one. –Donofthedead (Tankcrimes)


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·VARIOUS ARTISTS
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