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· 3:#341 with Daryl Gussin
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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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JOHN SPENCER BLUES EXPLOSION, THE:
Jukebox Explosion Rockin’ Mid-90s Punker!: CD
This here disc is full of the type of wild, caterwauling, honking, punk blues that makes one want to trash an apartment in a grand fit of irresponsible hysteria while drinking whiskey straight from the bottle. John Spencer seems to be a polarizing figure in his present-day incarnation of countrified entertainer (I happen to dig Heavy Trash), but this collection of early singles that originally came out as part of In The Red Records’ Jukebox Series and other various limited release singles provides incontrovertible proof of the JSBE’s ability to defile you with greasy, dirty, lecherous rock’n’roll. “Shirt Jac” jumps through the speakers, grabs you by the collar (of your shirt, Jack!), and shakes the piss outta ya, with a devastating cover of the Chain Gang’s “Son of Sam” hot on its heels. The CD rolls along like a runaway locomotive through “Push Some Air,” “Do Ya Wanna Get It,” and the absolute primitive ferocity of “Dig My Shit.” The Back from the Grave-inspired cover art is priceless, with the Blues Explosion rising as the undead to shovel dirt into the grave of Tori Amos, the Pixies, Smashing Pumpkins , Pearl Jam, and Oasis. This shit is what rock’n’roll is all about. –Josh Benke (In The Red)


JAY REATARD:
Blood Visions: CD
Every once in a while a record comes along that’s so ferocious that it makes me grateful to be a reasonably sane, reasonably stable person, because if I weren’t, Blood Visions would push me right over the edge. Some records are so intense, so relentlessly dark, that you can’t get the drugs inside of you fast enough when you put it on. (So far I’ve found six or seven that do the job.) I realize it’s late in the game and I’m preaching to the choir, but you have to get your hands on this record. Your sanity may depend on it. –Jim Ruland (In The Red)


JACUZZI SUICIDE:
Self-titled: 7”
Eighties hair metal via glam and moustaches, given the ‘00 DIY punk treatment. Falsettos. Cow bells. Guitar “solos.” Judas Priest-y. Got it. Celebrity Skin: pretty rad band. Memorable tunes. The Lee Harvey Oswald Band’s Blastronaut, I can’t recommend highly enough, and it’s a concept album with aliens, to boot. Both of those bands had previous punks. I appreciate Jacuzzi Suicide’s spirit, and I wouldn’t rule them out live, but, on record, it’s not clever enough for me to enjoy strictly as parody, or rockin’ enough on its own merits to excuse a genre of music I had to suffer through (sans irony) for close to two decades growing up. The main vocalist’s delivery rushes me straight back to a dark, dark time and place that is accompanied by very violent thoughts. Sorry. –Todd Taylor (Humdinger)


INTIFADA:
First to Terrorize: 7” EP
Speedy, sloppy, and spastic hardcore from Chicago from band addressing addiction, television, America’s hypocritical immigration policies, and society’s treatment of its youth both in English and español. They are not without a sense of humor though—they thank the bassist’s father “for looking like the guy from Kung Fu Hustle,” and “our pastors and priests for not touching us.” Good stuff. –Jimmy Alvarado (Southkore)


INSOLENTES / TRAS DE NADA:
Split: 7” EP
Both bands lean hard left lyrically—my favorite line is “Bush, un yankee de mierda, asesino”—but differ in musical delivery. While Mexico City’s Insolentes deliver some crushing, atonal hardcore, the short, angry outbursts Chicago’s Tras De Nada is layin’ down are much more suited to my attention span. All told, though, you ain’t gonna go wrong with either side. –Jimmy Alvarado (Southkore)


IN THE RED / GIT SOME:
Split: 7”
In The Red: It’s Mike, singer from Gunmoll’s, new band, and it wouldn’t be too far off the mark to say this is a direct continuation of that band with a new name. Oddly, it parallels the post Hot Water Music split into The Draft, where the vocals become less gruff and there are more attempts at intimate (as opposed to sweeping) melodies. With a few tweaks here and there, could be played on college radio. (If that genre still exists. I’ll stick with my late ‘80s / early ‘90s understanding of it.) I oscillate between not being bothered by this and wondering how far away from REM this really is. Git Some: Noisy, guitar-breathing screech that fans for Olivelawn, Planes Mistaken For Stars, and AmRep’s bread and butter will be preconditioned to liking. Someone (or many) in the band has a massive hard-on for Black Sabbath, (“Iron Man” is nicked) too. Alcohol on side A. Weed on side B. Jury’s still out for me. –Todd Taylor (1234 Go!)


IN DEFENCE:
Don’t Know How to Breakdance: CD
While musically they’re still reveling in by-the-numbers thrash—totally fine, but you gotta put your own stamp on things to really stand out even if you’re working within the confines of an established “sound”—their sense of humor (best song title this month is “Veronica Mars, Bringer of War”) and occasional obnoxiousness make for a much more interesting listen. –Jimmy Alvarado (Get Outta Town)


IMAGINARY ICON:
Off the Grind: 7”
A-side sounded like a middling bit of pop with off-key vocals. B-side, “Fun with Capital,” reminds me of early Devo for some reason. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.plasticidoldrecords.com)


ILLUSTRATED, THE:
Alphabaggage: CD
Sometimes execution of the whole trumps execution of the parts, and this is the case here. While the individual songs may not be quite be of mind-blowing caliber, the fact that these guys cherry pick from a buncha different trees—one minute they’re thumpin’ some quasi-tribal hardcore type stuff, the next they’re strip-mining delta blues, and the next it’s some sorta arty soundscapes that could’ve easily been Godspeed You Black Emperor outtakes—and are smart enough to not be pretentious about it, make this one mighty interesting listen. Can’t say I dug everything here, but I’m mighty grateful they opted to put some thought into what they were doing rather than aping NOFX or whoever’s hot shit this week. –Jimmy Alvarado (Livid)


HUNCHBACK:
“Werse Houses” b/w “Beautiful”: 7”
Both of these artsy post-punk songs feature dreamy Bowie-influenced vocals and keyboards set to instrumentals reminiscent of Big Black. There’s an aura of self-referential pretension that annoyed the shit out of me, although the recording and production are interesting enough to not totally kill Hunchback. It doesn’t matter that this record is hand-numbered and limited to 300 copies. Unless the band members have large loving families, the bulk of these 7”s are going to be collecting dust in someone’s closet until the end of time. –Art Ettinger (Sacred Bones, www.minus3plus4.com/sacred_bones)


HOWITZER:
Turncoat: 7”
I think I’ve reviewed Howitzer in the past. I can’t remember what I said though. Let’s start from scratch. What I’m hearing is east coast style hardcore with a heaping helping of the oi thrown in for good measure. I seem to remember previously thinking that they were hyper-patriotic and with a song called “Folded American Flag,” I was expecting more of that. It turns out that the song is about his brother dying in “this bullshit war.” I didn’t see that coming. The record isn’t bad by any means, but not overly memorable. The red and black splatter wax of the record, however, is amazing! –Ty Stranglehold (Hazard Hill)


HOSTAGE LIFE:
White Jesus: CDEP
Big-budget street punk along the same lines as Street Dogs or the less-corny, less-Irish Dropkick Murphys tracks. Luckily, Hostage Life forgoes the typical lyrical content of the aforementioned bands and their contemporaries in favor of intelligent socio-political commentary with an earnest, personal slant. There’s even a Wire cover tacked on the end of this that leans the record in an even more thought-provoking direction—certainly a rarity within the genre. This is the first release on the Ontario-based Black Pint Records label, and if the quality of the songs, production, and packaging found here is indicative of their game plan, I’ll be sure to keep my eye out for upcoming releases. –Dave Williams –Guest Contributor (Black Pint, www.myspace.com/blackpintrecords)


HORROR OF ‘59:
The Golden Age of Sin: CD
Kitchen sink bands can (and usually do) really suck, but this mix of punk, metal, and rockabilly is surprisingly listenable. The vocals feature a snarl that gets a little old on some of the songs, but this horror punk outfit from Cleveland is surprisingly fun given its hodgepodge of musical stylings. The lyrics are good cheesy fun, celebrating all things horror. There are some great sing-a-long choruses to go around, too. All in all, this CD doesn’t live up to its beautiful monster art packaging, but it has its moments. –Art Ettinger (Shark Attack, www.sharkattackrecords.com)


HOLY SHIT!:
Self-titled: LP
Wanna make a pact? Just you and me. Let’s all disregard that twenty or so years after Agnostic Front released Cause for Alarm, in 1986—all the way through what Victory Records commandeered through the ‘90s and morphed into karate chops, questionable metal, and dance moves that required starting phantom lawn mowers—and do some reclamation of the word “hardcore.” It’s confusing those of us who don’t want to be in tough-dude gangs but like cantankerous and fast music that’s the musical equivalent of watching a brain tumor grow in fast forward. The only muscles I want to see “flexed” during my hardcore experiences are throats and brains and whatever ligaments are attached to the occasional funny bone. High fives to Holy Shit! for keeping the much-more-enduring spirit of Necros, Angry Samoans, Void, and Die Kreuzen alive. Nice. –Todd Taylor (Criminal IQ)


HOLY SHIT!:
Jazz Phase: 7”
Early F.Y.P. meets early Die Kreuzen sez my friend who knows these things. But really, they don’t sound like anyone. They’re that crazy, fast, and awesome. Ten songs on one 7”! And they’re from Milwaukee (my hometown)! Holy Shit! is 0 percent metal and 100 percent hardcore goodness! I like ‘em, and the most common hardcore (?) record on my turntable is 7 Seconds. (In other words, I’m such a girl.) If this were a cereal, it’d be Rice Krispie Treats. Crazy concept, but it totally works! –Maddy (Trigger On The Dutendoo)


HOLY ROLEMODEL:
The Sum of Our Parts: CD
From what I can tell, this band has gone through a major line-up change, as this record had two female players on it. Looks like they didn’t make it into 2008. But this platter has some choice cuts on it: “Blister,” “Believe,” and “Skulls” are pretty tight. This comes across as some weird concoction of Social Distortion and Mary’s Danish (just the female singers) getting it on in the back of a Chevy conversion van. –Sean Koepenick (Self-released)


HIPSHAKES:
“I’m Gone” b/w “Do It!”: 7”
Really wanted to like this—straight forward garage rock with nice flourishes into This Bike Is A Pipebomb territory on the B-side—but after repeated listens, it just lacked its own strong personality. It’s a band that kept reminding me of bands I like a whole bunch and wanting to listen to their records instead. Perhaps it’s the mastering. The band sounds so clustered together that maybe their own identity wasn’t allowed to spark. Dunno. –Todd Taylor (Die Slaughterhaus)


HINDI GUNS, THE:
Self-titled: CDEP
I was going to make a joke like “Maryam b/w Count to Ten: CD” in the title, but didn’t, and then I opened this up and saw that it’s one of those CD that looks like vinyl deals, so I regret that decision (I’m not going to lie and say I thought of it before seeing it. I have integrity like that, or something). It’s fitting, since the songs on here are somewhat jazzy, mildly psychedelic, and fairly light in comparison to what I think the subject matter is (I could be wrong though). It’s good stuff, but I wish there was more than two songs. –Joe Evans III (French Fan Club)


HIDE YOUR DAUGHTERS:
The Teen Girl’s Guide to Social Success: CD
This one gets filed in the “book by its cover” file. The cover sports nice drawings of bears and birds in relaxing shades of white, grey and light blue. Calming to say the least, but had me concerned about what lay in store for me musically. Let’s just say that I wasn’t expecting a mutated Melvins/Jesus Lizard hybrid to jump out and start smashing my head into the desk and punch my brain from the inside out. The vocalist kind of falls somewhere in between the aforementioned Lizard’s David Yow and Rick Froberg of Drive Like Jehu and Hot Snakes. As for the tunes, they’re heavy and sludgey with little sprinkles of Nomeansno—like bass rolling through them. Pretty good stuff. –Ty Stranglehold (No List, myspace.com/nolistrecords)


HENPECKER:
(Band): CD
These Arcata rapscallions mask some smart-aleck social commentary with bar rock tinged tunes. While it ain’t “punk” in the stereotypical mohawk-mania sense, songs like “Chicken Hawk” are considerably more biting and astute than anything SUM-41, Bowling For Soup, or even the Virus have said their entire careers combined. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.henpecker.com)


HELLSHOCK:
Shadows of the Afterworld: CD
Heavy, angry crust. Sometimes sludgey, sometimes fast, quite often metally, and always heavy. To top it off, the singer sounds like he’s singing from somewhere within Dante’s seventh circle of hell. With songs like “Welcome to the Void,” “To Hell,” and “Night Terrors,” this band definitely has a lot on its mind and it’s probably not just girls. These guys are making Tragedy proud. –Adrian (Crimes Against Humanity)


HEARTATTACKS, THE:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Could take or leave the a-side tune, “Stay/Go,” and the b-side closer, “That Girl,” but “Nothing Better to Do” is one catchy bit of up-tempo, trashy punk. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.plasticidoldrecords.com)


HEART BEATZ:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Loud, overblown Reatards worship. Could be worse, I guess—they could be fascinated with Piebald. –Jimmy Alvarado (Going Underground)


HAUNTED GEORGE / HEX DISPENSERS:
Forest Ray Colson’s Pile O’Meat: 7” EP
I like the concept. Two songs each. Both bands do the same songs: an original and a cover of the other band. Haunted George: Really? I can’t figure out if the joke’s on the listener or George. The first song’s a reverby, in-a-pool recording of a one man band that, I’m guessing, is supposed to be coming across as a paranoid stomp through a destroyed wasteland via a serial killer, but it comes across more as ooky-spooky camp that’d be playing in the background of a Munsters episode. Hex Dispensers: That’s more like it. Their version turns George’s “Pile O’ Meat” into an Undertones Vs. Marked Men powerpop raver that makes the song sound like a Winston Smith collage come to life: cocained-up, teeth-baring consumers thinly butchering the things that are truly ingesting them. Totally worth it for the Hex Dispensers side. I love danceable destruction. –Todd Taylor (Hook Or Crook)


HARRINGTON SAINTS:
Sounds of the Street: 7”
It’s been a bit of a skinhead kind of month for reviews. I’ll try to keep from repeating myself too much, but the same things can be said for so many of these bands. Harrington Saints are good. They’re tight and the songs really get you going. Lyrically, they’re not really exciting at all, but you can’t win them all. A lot of the typical catch phrases being thrown around. “Boots,” “Working Class,” “Hoist our pints,”… You get the idea. I’m just glad that it sounds good enough to forget about all of that. –Ty Stranglehold (Pirate’s Press)


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