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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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SYSTEMS OFFICER:
Self-titled: CDEP
I was ready to tear into this EP because it sounds like a rip-off of Three Mile Pilot, and Pinback. Lo! Upon looking at the liner notes, I realized the joke was on me because this is, in fact, members of Three Mile Pilot and Pinback. Fuck. That doesn’t make this sound any less like those other bands though. –Puckett (Ace Fu)


SUPERCHARGER:
Live at the Covered Wagon: CD
Bad sound quality, super lo-fi, but then again it’s Supercharger, so you expect it. You know you want it.  –Megan Pants (Rip Off)


ZOMBIE GHOST TRAIN:
Dealing the Death Card: CD
Too many band names suck. There’s no excuse for it. I bet you can come up with a half dozen good band names right now. All you have to do is put a bunch of cool words together, words like zombie, ghost, and train. How about Death Urine Communist? Maybe Zig Zag Dirty Wang? Anyway, these guys have a cool name, but it’s more horror-themed rockabilly. I love horror, but why is it so frequently combined with a form of music that doesn’t sound particularly horrific? It makes no sense to me. There’s a reason why there are so few science fiction country western songs. It’s because country western doesn’t sound very science fictiony. Now country horror: that would be some cool shit. Maybe if a couple of these horrorbilly bands branched out, they could do something really cool, instead of playing the same old songs over and over. –MP Johnson (SOS)


YUM YUM TREE, THE:
Paint by Numbers: CD
Solid indie pop here from this Atlanta band, immediately bringing to mind early Spinanes, Velocity Girl, and Superchunk. This is a sound I loved in the mid ‘90s and it still sounds good to me. Not as good as the recent Lemuria full length covering similar territory, but this is a strong indie pop record if you dig the sound. –Mike Frame (Two Sheds)


YOUNG LIVERS:
The New Drop Era: CD
I want to like these guys more than I really do. They have that passionate, Hot Water Music thing going on—it sounds like they’re playing their asses off, and they’re probably onto some deep shit—but I just never catch myself with the urge to throw this on. I think part of my problem with this band, and Hot Water Music for that matter, is that I never really understand what their lyrics are about. Bands can be as obscure or transparent with their lyrics as they want, but sometimes I feel like I’m listening to a million metaphors about desperation that I don’t quite get or relate to. –Adrian (Kiss of Death/ No Idea)


YOLEUS, THE:
Nightmare Circle Vision: CD
Three-piece band from Minnesota that jams instrumentals with the best of them. You can feel the cohesive love in the menagerie of sound. But the one thing pops in my mind is that this band sounds like Primus with no vocals. –Donofthedead (www.myspace.com/theyoleus)


YIKES!:
Whoa Comas or Blood Bomb: CDEP
Full-on noise/garage stuff that sounds kinda like “Surfin’ Bird”-era Cramps, only without any rockabilly pretense whatsoever. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.killshaman.com)


Y, THE:
It’s Pyzza Tyme!: 7”
Crucial forgotten jams from early ‘80s OrangeCounty about being drunk, gettin’ nasty,  and eating pizza… except it was recorded in 2002 in Florida. If I could skate, I would skate to this. –Steveo (Sooooo Intense)


WITCHES WITH DICKS:
American Railroads: 7”EP
At the risk of sounding like a total hypocrite, here goes. Witches With Dicks, with American Railroads and their full-length, Manual, owe a great deal to the Dillinger Four collection, This Shit Is Genius. But, by whatever alchemy of time, space, and acoustics, they have created a companion piece, nigh over a decade later, that rocks just as hard, and without qualifier. I mean, sakes alive, there are riff-by-riff duplicated chord progressions, coupled with Paddy-toned singing, and it—amazingly because stuff like this usually bums me out—doesn’t bother me in the slightest because Witches With Dicks seem to have come to the same musical conclusions as D4-at-that-time. They actually add to what seemed like a finite catalog. And that’s important: ending up at the same place musically is a much more genuine approach than merely mirroring—or pantomiming—an influential band’s “hot licks,” “killer breakdowns,” or “awesome guitar sound.” Yeah, WWD broke up. It even says it on the repress of this 7”. They had “space shuttle” potential, my friend. Blew up when they were really taking off. Too bad. –Todd Taylor (Shock To The System / Kiss of Death)


WIDOWS, THE:
Point Dispair: LP
A record that’s all over the map from a San Diego band that does a little bit of everything: from lo-fi rockabilly to English oi. What does that get you? The most aggressive cover of Wooly Bully ever. Solid from start to finish. –Jim Ruland (Green Door, www.myspace.com/comeonandie)


WHITE YORK:
Changing the Wheel: 7”
“Changing the record” is much more accurate, thank you. –Jimmy Alvarado (White York)


WHISKEY DAREDEVILS:
Old Favorites: CD
For those into guys like Richard Cheese, here’s another group o’ malcontents mangling punk classics with glee, this time pumping ‘em up with all kindsa country corn. Some tunes, like “Skulls,” sound good with a liberal dose of twang, while others, like “God Save the Queen,” sound like the aforementioned Mr. Cheese, which you can take as you will. The best tune here by far, though, is “Immigrant Song/Pay to Cum,” which ranks right up with Elvis Hitler’s brilliant “Green Haze.” –Jimmy Alvarado (www.knock-out.de)


WAR OF WORDS:
Violence / War: 7”
Fun, inventive, melodic hardcore from Boston. Reminds me an awful lot of Strung Out in terms of how the chords progress and how the vocals are handled, but with less production value (a very good thing). This is a great little record and it puffs me full of vigor and savagery every time I hear it. There’s an acoustic track closing the b-side that’s dripping with melancholy and I don’t play it as often, but the other tunes stand me up and get me shouting. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Slab-O-Wax)


WAGNER LOGIC, THE:
Easiest to Grab: CD
Apparently Alaska has its own homegrown alt-rock scourge. –Jimmy Alvarado (Wilderhood)


VIOLENT ARREST:
Self-titled: CD
Fucking good raging hardcore here! This band is from the U.K. and, given the accent, later period Voorhees comes immediately to mind. Around the time of their split LP with Out Cold, another good reference point here. Apparently, there are members of Ripcord and Heresy here, but this is much more straightforward than I remember those bands being. This is simply killer HC off the Negative Approach/Minor Threat/Early Boston tree. This is exactly the kind of hardcore I love and can never get enough of. Once again, the old timers take the young’uns to school on how to play raging original style hardcore. –Mike Frame (Deranged)


VELVET CLAWS:
Quarantine: 7”
Velvet Claws, you win this time. I am nauseous. This band is like a strobe light of “I could get in to this” and “FUCKING VOMIT!!!” It literally alternates every two to three seconds. I cannot wrap my head around this. Let’s see if you can do the math: two-piece (bass and drums) band from Ontario that somehow sounds a little like the Poison Girls and Weakerthans at the same time. Don’t forget to add in something sinister and a little fucking crazy that you can’t quite put your finger on. What do you come up with? –Steveo (Music Maul, www.myspace.com/velvetclawsrock)


VEINES:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Killed by Death-style punk rock dished up by a buncha Frenchies. If you ain’t some “Freedom Fries” eatin’ jerkoff, this should hit the spot just fine. –Jimmy Alvarado (http://franticcity.free.fr)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Wild News to Crash Your i-Pod: CD
Dave “Kong” Kingman was known for having a low batting average but being able to crush massive home runs. Dude once got a pop up stuck in the roof of the Metrodome. Another fly ball hit a speaker in the Kingdome. The rest of the time he struck out. Kong was feast or famine. Wild News, a label sampler from France’s Lollipop Records, has a similar dynamic; judge this disc by the ratio of good to marginal (nine for nineteen) and you’re missing the picture. Wild News opens with a hit parade of pop and punk jaw droppers. Gasolheads lead off with “Hate Is Better than Rock’n’Roll”—the catchiness of early G.G. Allin coupled with the attitude of latter G.G., all, thankfully, free of fecal matter. The Manikins’ “High School Good Boy” is a long lost dose of Dickies’ gold. Powersolo’s “Action” has that ridiculous good time feel that the world’s been missing ever since Madness passed their peak. Toss in an album cut from the Briefs and we’ve got a sequence of four killer cuts to open the compilation. The best of the rest includes mix-worthy songs from Dead Brothers, Les Hatepinks, Petit Vodo, and the Aggravation. New bands, great songs; this is everything a compilation should be. –Mike Faloon (Lollipop)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Vancouver Complication: 2 x LP
Another reissue, this time on LP, of one of Canada’s more important compilations. While the stuff here predates the whole hardcore thing by a couple of years, some of that subgenre’s more celebrated Canuck participants—namely the Subhumans and D.O.A.—do have a presence, and you can already hear the ever important intensity starting to gel in these early tracks. The bulk of the remaining stuff—courtesy of the Dishrags, Pointed Sticks, Active Dog, the K-Tels (who later became the Young Canadians), U-J3RKS, No Fun, (e), Shades, Tim Ray and A.V., and more—stick more towards the poppy end of the early punk spectrum, but all deliver some first-rate tracks here. As if the original release wasn’t alluring enough, they’ve added a bonus album’s worth of tracks from even more bands. Quality listenin’ here. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.myspace.com/rockinbonesrecords)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Misc. Music:
This is a twenty-eight track label sampler. Most of the music is noise, experimental, or electronic, in some way or another, but it’s pretty diverse. Too diverse, I’d say. The only band I’m familiar with is Danny And The Nightmares, a band with Daniel Johnston. Back when I was a youngster, I often relied on label samplers and stuff like that as a way to find out about new music. These days of quick information and myspace and all, I find myself overexposed to new music. Why would I want to skip through twenty-eight songs to find something good when I can just poke around online to find something new? Unless it’s an actual album with a theme, like, say, Allied Record’s Music for the Proletariat, a movie soundtrack, or maybe one representing a town; I find that I have no patience at all for compilations these days. But maybe I shouldn’t blame myself or the medium. Maybe it was that while there wasn’t much that was bad on here, nothing stood out. Maybe it was that there were no really good songs to warrant waiting through a lot of okay songs. –Craven (Misc. Music, info@miscmusiconline.com)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Local Anesthetic: CD
Eleven long-gone singles here by ten long-gone Colorado bands that were originally released by a long-gone label. This ‘uns got a little something for everyone—hardcore (White Trash, Bum Kon), gloomy post-punk (Your Funeral), odd new wave (Young Weasels), no wave-type skronk (Jeri Rossi), KBD punk (Rok Tots, Defex), even oddball shit with a dead Beat poet providing vocals (Gluons with Allen Ginsberg). Of particular interest, though, is some punky stuff by a band called the Nails, who later found a spot in new wave heaven with a tune called “88 Lines about 44 Women.” Good, diverse comp. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.smoochrecords.com)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Insubordination Fest 2007: CD/DVD
Twenty-seven tunes by bands that played this Baltimore, MD, blowout last year. Great cuts from the Riptides, the Ergs!, Banner Pilot, the Parasites, Teenage Bottlerocket, and the Copyrights. Plus the same track by each band on a DVD too. The one unforgivable omission: no Methadones? WTF? Rev. Nørb will have a fit, but I’m sure there’s a good reason! –Sean Koepenick (Insubordination)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
A Fistful of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Volume 13, Parts 2 & 3: 2 x CD
The long-running garage rock compilation series A Fistful of Rock ‘n’ Roll finds its way to Steel Cage Records after prior volumes were released on TeePee, Victory, and Devil Doll. Like the other volumes, this new double CD features a healthy mix of known and unknown garage bands from around the world. I can’t imagine too many people wanting to listen to both CDs in a row, but there are tons of really great tracks from the likes of the Makers and Hot Dogs to make this compilation worthwhile. It’s infinitely more fun than the boatloads of shitty label samplers piling up in the world’s dumpsters. –Art Ettinger (Steel Cage)


UTOPIA:
Self-titled: CD
This the second release this issue that I get something great from Poland! First thought that comes to mind is of their country mates Post Regiment mixed with La Fraction. This band’s style is highly comparable to both. They’re a female-fronted band that plays straight-forward melodic punk that is no bullshit and all fun with enthusiastic energy: vocals that are sung with a pretty tone but comes with some grit you can sink your teeth into; driving guitars that propel the music forward and takes you for a rip roaring ride; and drumming that drives the back beat that makes your heart pound. A great listen from start to finish make this a great candidate for repeated listens. Now if I could read the Polish language, I could figure out what was being sung and what the song titles are. Regardless, I know now that I have found a new favorite band to add to the list. –Donofthedead (Trujaca Fala)


URGENCIES:
Present Their Manifesto: CD
These guys appear to love to dance on the fine line between power pop and rock. They’re at their best on the power pop side of the fence, where the little bit of muscle they add to the sound goes a long way and makes for a much more interesting listen, like a beefier Quick, you know? The more “rock” stuff I’m not too, uh, into, man. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.myspace.com/kriticschoicerecordsrecords)


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