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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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AUTOMATIC MUSIC EXPLOSION:
This Is!: CD-EP
The press release that comes with this is totally strange and states that Automatic Music Explosion has been featured on various MTV shows, but it’s unclear what record label this is on. A mystery! Sadly, whether they are MTV darlings or hardcore crust punks, this is pretty boring. If this were a cereal, it’d be Total. Yawn. –Maddy (Self-released?)


AUTOMATIC ERASERS, THE:
“Make It Right” b/w “On the Road”: 7"
Super groups seldom live up to our expectations. GTR fell short (as did every one of my Max Bacon/Kevin Bacon jokes at the time). Likewise for ABJ (Jon Anderson, “Booger” from Revenge of the Nerds, and Davey Jones). Sadly, the Automatic Erasers debut single suffers the same fate. The songs are okay, especially the flipside which picks up the tempo, but nothing sticks once the needle’s returned. I’d hoped for more given the band’s credits—Ryan O’Sullivan (Tri-City Thundercats, Stamens) on bass, Ward Reeder (whose drumming with the Primate 5 is amazing) keeping time, and Orin Portnoy out front (he’s new to me but he keeps good company). The good people at I Don’t Feel A Thing usually lean toward humorous records. More of that would help here. –Mike Faloon (myspace.com/idontfeelathing)


ATTICA! ATTICA!:
Dead Skin/Dried Blood: CD
Jesus. This band is trying way too hard to be something catchy but just comes off with a resemblance of something that would be played on a showtune soundtrack. I’m not feeling it. It just feels cheesy to me. And I questioned my feelings initially because I was listening to it for the first time at 7:10AM getting dressed for work. I thought maybe it was just making me grouchy because it was not what I expected. There are catchy parts here and there but they lead to nowhere. When I got to work and read the insert, it is exactly what I thought. Another artist that is just trying to be grand but the mediocrity shines. Some songs included piano, cello, and accordion. For such fresh instruments being used, the music sure does stink. Bloodbath And Beyond said it best, “You should febreeze your guitar because your music stinks.” The insert says things like, “Scott has been traveling the country on his own, writing songs on buses and trains.” I think this bugs me because whoever wrote the insert is trying to paint a picture of some starving artist when all the writer had to say was, “This gentleman tours,” and people would have gotten it. All of the artists I know are starving artists at one time or another; why are they pointing this out like it's some above average quality that makes him noble? Oh, and there are so many other good quotes from this thing. I wish I could just copy and paste it under this review to give you the giggles. I will leave you with this one, “album of intense beauty, gorgeous yet eclectic soundscapes that form a complex, cohesive tapestry held together by songs that are as challenging as they are fascinating.” –Guest Contributor (Red Leader)


ATTACK FORMATION:
We Are Alive in Tune: CD
Oh, this is not for me. This is something that would be played in a gallery with video images of art mixed with livestock flickering on the walls, which would be covered in other art so that there’s never a clear picture of what’s actually happening. Way too much stimulation for this girl. I think this shit’s what crazy (and not “whoah, you know that dude Barney with the hat? He’s ca-razy.” but “Hey maybe we shouldn’t walk down this alley with that dude talking to his own feces.” kind of crazy) sounds like. –Megan Pants (Australian Cattle God, Attack Formation)


ATOMS:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Got a wee bit hopeful that this was a long lost single by old L.A. punk band The Atoms, but no. These San Diego kids dish up some punky new wave along the same lines as Servotron or the Epoxies. The tunes are short and sweet, with the rager “2029” leaving the most lasting impact. Good stuff. –Jimmy Alvarado (Sweet Tooth)


ARMED SUSPECTS:
Time Will Tell: CD
Blending hardcore and street punk with songs about the usual heartache of being a low-life. This isn’t horrible, but it doesn’t really have much originality and the drummer misses a beat here and there. They thank the punks and skins, which takes me back to my early punk rock days, except in those days, a lot of the skins were stupid Nazi fucks in Georgia. In this day and age of senseless war and consumer overdrive, these guys are still talking about the same unity. I agree, but the message comes off as defeatist and yesterday’s skins are today’s jarheads, which scares the shit out of me. P.S. Never write lyrics about Ben Sherman shirts and Fred Perry vests. It comes off like fashion punk bullshit. Read a book. –Buttertooth (Self-released)


¡APESHIT!/TIGERSHARK:
Split: 7”
¡Apeshit! play chaotic hardcore with headbangin’ breakdowns. The last time I hung out with these guys, the drummer pushed a bunch of people onto a bed, then started sniffing the walls, pretending they were cocaine. My pants still smell like the fire that got started in the backyard that night. Tigershark play complex, pounding metalcore. Their drummer, Jon “Jonny Z” Zanin was a great friend to many people, myself included, and we were all heartbroken when he died back in May. RIP Jonny Z, this dope record will help your memory live on, even though it doesn’t need any help. –Guest Contributor (Molsook)


APACHE:
Boy’s Life: 7”
This is a two-song seven-inch of fuzzed out sixties sounding rock’n’roll. Apache wouldn’t sound out of place on that Nuggets compilation. My days of buying garage rock are pretty much over, because at this point it all seems pretty derivative (which is something you could probably accuse Apache of being). But nonetheless, I’ve been pretty busy rocking this record. –Craven (Douchemaster)


ANOTHER ONE DEAD:
Come What May: CD
It’s getting harder and harder these days to differentiate between what people call hardcore and metal these days. Also, hardcore has spread across the world. Bands all over the world play this style, making it hard—at times—to know what country a band might originate from. Case in point: this band from Finland sounds like a band from the East Coast from the ‘90s: the heavy, metallic bar chords, vocals that are shouted with a grunting tone, and the youth crew background vocals. First thing I thought was Strife meets Sick Of It All. A powerful slap in the face is the first impression I get. The band has a command of their instruments and execute with controlled power. A little bro-ish at times, but I can’t deny my love for bands that are metallic. –Donofthedead (Hell’s Tone)


ANITA:
Self-titled: CDEP
College rock that kind of reminded me of Bob Mould or his band Sugar. –Donofthedead (www.anitamusic.com)


ANGEL EYES:
And for a Roof a Sky Full of Stars: CDEP
Dense, brooding, scary music from this Chicago band. There are only two songs, but they total twenty-seven minutes. Dark, moody, and, overall, pretty cool. The band’s website is vanfuckingcleef.com. I guess they are way more into Ennio Morricone than I am! Warning: don’t put this on late at night if you are home alone. You could get scared. –Sean Koepenick (Underground Communique)


ANDI SEX GANG:
Blind!: CD
Sex Gang Children is one of those proto-goth bands that is not probably unheard-of by only today’s most dedicated gloom’n’doomer. I’m figuring the biggest reason for this is because, like fellow Batcave denizens like Alien Sex Fiend, their chosen sound was far removed from what became the goth template set forth by bands like Bauhaus and, especially, Sisters Of Mercy. Rather than sing in dour, deep voices, Andi opted for a very nasal post-Rotten screech for the most part, while the rest of the band eschewed all the sludgy minor chord worship and instead mined some bizarre, over the top, dark cabaret/tribal punk hybrid that would’ve made Bertold Brecht giggle with glee. This, released as Andi’s first solo album due to some legal bullshit the band was going through over their name at the time of its 1984 release (and since reissued a few times under the band’s name), is a nice example of what the band does best and stands shoulder-to-shoulder with better known previous releases like Deiche and Sebastiane. If black is your favorite shirt color and you’re looking for something a little off the beaten vampire-inspired track, this’ll be a welcome surprise. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.cherryred.co.uk)


AMERICAN STEEL:
Destroy Their Future: CD
I never really listened to this band the first time around. I see that they had a run of a few years where they had released three LPs, toured extensively, and disbanded in 2002. So they resurface and bam! Here’s the reformed band and a new record. So this is new territory for me. Right off the bat what comes to my mind is that they remind me of an Irish-influenced version of Against Me! meets One Man Army. But the second track, “Dead & Gone”goes into a different direction. It had a mixture of the Cure meets early Goo Goo Dolls before they went major. My favorite track, right off the bat. But this band gets hard to pigeonhole as you continue listening. They bring a lot of elements to the table. The song structures are multi-layered and yet still calculated. Not one song seems to be from the same camp, which keeps things interesting. This release is a pleasant surprise to my ears, indeed. I was so ready to dismiss this. –Donofthedead (Fat)


AMBITIONS:
Exile: 7"
Funny, the band looks like they should be playing something Weezer-esque, only a lot less radio-friendly. So: silly me for equating unheard tunes with photo of tune-makers. Instead of wry sarcasm and sharp and sometimes poppy tunes, I got four tunes that make me want to beat up the next thing that crosses my path and then wax poetic on why I had to do so. The vocals have this sort of angry-heroic feel to them, like you’d find on old straight edge records before low-end bellowing became all the rage—drawn out notes on the lead with the anger-spitters howling the backups. Ya, now that I hear this thing again, it sounds like a straight-edge band that’s flexing its musical chops. Ambitions are good. Me like, even though I’m not a fan of such vocals, since the tunes have a certain pneumatic effect on my bloodstream. –The Lord Kveldulfr (www.bridge9.com)


ALEXIS GIDEON:
Flight of the Liophant: CD
Alexis Gideon is what some might call “schizo-rap” (or at least that’s what his label calls him). At times I felt like I was listening to Silver Jews trying to do loosely formed hip-hop. Other times, it was just a mess of electronic beats and noises, worked in with higher pitched vocals. Sometimes the music produced an ambient, floating sensation. The last song is an Irish ditty with just voice and acoustic guitar. What the hell is going on here? Overall, the material seemed like a whacked-out Beck with heavy doses of Dan Deacon. I definitely enjoyed this more than I thought I might and it will grow on you in all its silliness and oddity, but it’s still pretty fucking bizarre. You can decide whether that’s good or not. –Kurt Morris (www.sickroomrecords.com)


AKUTARE:
Riot City: 7”
I heard a buzz about this band from Tokyo on a message board. Live they are supposed to be amazing. From what I hear, I can believe that it would be a great band to see in a live setting. This band is, undeniably, a guitar-heavy band with a ton of blues licks: three guys banging out the dirty punk’n’roll with a heavy Motörhead vibe. They also add elements of Japcore—reminding me a bit like countrymen Testu Arrey—giving it a punk edge. The singer reminded me of a cross between the latter mentioned band and the transplanted band from Japan, Peelander Z; a gruff voice but definitely having a good time belting out the lyrics. Even though the band sounds loose, they play with controlled precision to perfect the intended sound without falling apart. Worthy of a few shots of whiskey and a packed club of energized fans getting rocked out. Now I need some cash to get to Japan so I can see it for myself. –Donofthedead (Schizophrenic)


AGNOSTIC FRONT:
For My Family: 7” EP
I stopped paying any serious attention to these guys right around Cause for Alarm, when they started hugging too tightly to them metal chuggas. Peeked in when they reformed and found their nouveau “oi” chanty sound about as interesting as their metal. Now, a decade later, I figured it was about time to check in with ’em again. Based on what’s going on here—a kinda meshing of the metal and the chanty stuff—it appears I haven’t been missing much. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.bridge9.com)


AGGRAVATION, THE:
Self-titled: CD
If you think eighth-note bass rhythms and an occasional minor chord = The Wipers, then, whoopee ding, i present unto you the French Wipers. Me, i’m more inclined to say Les Marked Men at present, although i suppose the smart money makes some kind of reference to the Clorox Girls ((who are already too French by proxy for their own good)) at this point. Actually, now that i’m actually reading the lyrics, i think i’ll change my order to be a French Wipers who really sound more like the Marked Men or Clorox Girls and learned everything there is to know about lyrical structure from the first Discharge album. Par example: “People says I’m greedy / People says I’m greedy / but I have my friend / my German friend / now I’m happy / I can travel / now I will travel for free / now I’m in my train / yes I’m in my train / I’m gonna see Poland / I’m gonna see Poland.” That is the lyrical entirety of the first song. Somebody call up Greg Sage and get his sign-off on this, won’t you? BEST SONG: “Violence” BEST SONG TITLE: “No Girls” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Came with a Biographie! –Rev. Norb (Lollipop)


WHITE YORK:
Self-titled: CD EP
Another demo from another band. This time, the band sounds like Hot Water Music meets Grey Area meets emo-pop. It’s a four song EP whose production sounds pretty good. The band has one primary singer and lots of backup vocals. Been here, done this. –Kurt Morris (Self-released)


WAX MUSEUMS:
Self-titled: 7"
First off, this band did one of the most annoying things that a band putting out a record could do, such as not including lyrics with the record. I despise such things. Secondly, Wax Museums instantly reminded me of The Ramones with their “yeah-yeahs” and “oh-ohs.” The record has an old reverb sound on it which gave a nice touch. I would like to say more about them, but there is no address on the record, no lyrics, and no band members listed. I’m hoping they just forgot to stuff the record that was sent to me. –Guest Contributor (Douche master)


WATERSHED:
Three Chords and a Cloud of Dust II: CD
Pretty strong, radio-ready power pop for fans of Marvelous 3, American Hi Fi, and the like. This stuff has to be really well done to be worth a damn and this band has some huge hooks. Can’t tell if it is an actual live album or a “live” album, but that seems to be what they are going for. Much better than I would have thought and one of those bands where the huge major label style production actually helps the sound. –Mike Frame (Idol)


VOIDS, THE:
Sounds of Failure , Sounds of Hope: CD
Melodicore that is very distinctly SoCal sounding with an early ‘80s feel. At times, they bring thoughts of a more punk version of Tsunami Bomb. The vocals will often be compared to Beki Bondage from Vice Squad, but I hear, at times, Julie from the early ‘80s Santa Monica band Sin 34. The vocals are delivered with a phonetic precision. I can hear and understand the lyrics clearly without the aid of the lyric sheet. They play songs that are mid-tempo to fast that do not come off generic. They seem to know where to find the hook and have melody in their songs. I am not quickly bored listening to this. The songs seem genuinely heartfelt. Listened to this numerous times and I see their name on some of the bigger shows. They are making a name for themselves. Most likely, I would never see them live, but if I do, I would not be bummed. –Donofthedead (Dr Strange)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Summer Sounds—Four Reasons for the Season, Vol. 2: CD
Four bands offer their variations on Lookout/Mutant Pop style pop punk. Roll call… With their musical chops and use of the Ramones-core formula, the Adorkables clearly have advanced degrees in Whoa Oh Oh Oh Oh-ology. But just as not every BA in creative writing yields a great novel, those whoa oh degrees don’t translate to real world success. “21st Birthday” seems too much like a finger-wagging morality tale—you, object of romantic love, have committed the ultimate sin of doing something of which I disapprove and to compound the situation, you did it with someone other than me. Maybe if you really dig Lillingtons-style vocals you can overlook this. Next up are the Kilowatts, the best band on the disc (and not to be confused with the Kill-A-Watts of Rip Off Records fame). These gents mix lo-fi pop punk, think Automatics or After School Special, with an appreciation for more traditional pop embellishments, especially the piano break and handclaps on “Without Your Love.” Fine fare on all four cuts, though I’d love to hear them with production/arrangement guidance from James Cahill (Kung Fu Monkeys). In the number three spot are the Screeching Weasel-worshipping Sheckies. They’ve got Ben Weasel in their guitar sound. They’ve got Ben Weasel in their whiney vocals, and they’ve got Ben Weasel in their “I’m not such a bright dude” lyrics (“Knucklehead,” “Sumpin’ Wrong with My Brain,” and “Retarded”). They don’t sink to the annoying depths of, say, the Nobodys, but I’m not among those who think the world needs more Screeching Weasel in its collective diet. The Bluffingtons are in the cleanup spot. They get off to awkward start with “Psycho Retard Beach Party Pt. 3.” The title suggests a surf song but the band opts for metal. They try to cleanse the pallet with the conventional pop punk fodder of their other songs, but such efforts are in vain. Final tally: one for four. –Mike Faloon (Cabana 1, www.cabana1records.com)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Mauled by Tigers: This Was Supposed to Be a Celebration: LP
There’s a lot of eye-rolling, hipster, art schlop here, but there’s also some really great bands playing really great songs. Sadly, those songs can easily be found on other great recordings of theirs (Go buy both the Canadian Rifle 7”s right now!). But if you went to Mauled By Tigers, what’s a better souvenir of a music festival than a comp.? And how can I complain when it contains three bands that placed in my top five performances of the entire weekend? –Daryl Gussin (Do The Math)


UNCUT:
Modern Currencies: CD
A strange mixture of strains of emo and alt-rock, with shimmery Hüsker/Sonic Youth guitar noodling and raspy, restrained vocals. The result manages to simultaneously sound inviting, catchy, and leave you feeling like your stomach’s gonna lose its contents at any second. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.paperbagrecords.com)


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