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Razorcake #90
White Murder, both LPs
Treasure Fleet, The Sun Machine LP
Razorcake #89
White Murder, Form Early LP (CLEAR VINYL)


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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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MDFY:
Derivative Processes: Cassette
Ambient music made by punks. For some reason, I thought that would make it more aggro. But aggro ambient is an oxymoron, so this is just chill. It’s so chill that when I got about thirty minutes deep, I was like, “This is so chill I can barely hear it.” Then I realized that the music had actually ended and the tape was just running long. Really though, these soundscapes are clever and relaxing, but way too short. I need at least an hour to get a full-on ambient zone-out going. So, dear mdfy: Get to work!  –mp (Self-released, mdfy.bandcamp.com/releases)


MASK FACTORY:
Self -titled: CDEP
Brand new band rises from the rolling hills of Virginia to offer up five tracks that feature catchy riffs and top notch song craft. Longtime DC music fans will recognize Patrick Bobst as the former axe-slinger in Kingface. This ship sails into The Replacements waters with a touch of Slobberbone grit to keep things flowing. Ably supported by Andy Meltzer and Pat Fitzgerald, Bobst handles lead vocals and the guitar lines with ease. “Forget” starts things off and there’s even a bit of Dumptruck flavor on “Slow Down.” Wrapping it up is balanced thrashing of “Nine Things.” I think Tommy Stinson would say this has sea legs. Give it a test run yourself to be sure.  –koepenick (maskfactory.bandcamp.com/releases)


MANATEEES:
Sit n Spin: LP
Funny, that in the review cycle that I received another record that showed how average and bland that garage rock can be, that I receive another record that I hold the same opinion about. The problem here is a question about identity. Musically, it just seems so faceless. There are qualities that could be described, but not in a way to make them unique or special. I guess what it reminds me most of is the Reatards, but before they became listenable. The parts that are memorable are sometimes just repeated noises. Not high quality, but I wouldn’t completely count out the Manateees yet. It’s very possible their next LP could make me forget about this one completely. The pieces of a great band are in this record, but they’re just not on this record. Despite my complaining, proper kudos must be given to the band for writing a song as good as “Cold & Rhythmic.” That song is a beast. Grade: C+.  –Bryan Static (Pelican Pow Wow, pelicanpowwow.com)


MANATEEES:
Sit n Spin: LP
Funny, that in the review cycle that I received another record that showed how average and bland that garage rock can be, that I receive another record that I hold the same opinion about. The problem here is a question about identity. Musically, it just seems so faceless. There are qualities that could be described, but not in a way to make them unique or special. I guess what it reminds me most of is the Reatards, but before they became listenable. The parts that are memorable are sometimes just repeated noises. Not high quality, but I wouldn’t completely count out the Manateees yet. It’s very possible their next LP could make me forget about this one completely. The pieces of a great band are in this record, but they’re just not on this record. Despite my complaining, proper kudos must be given to the band for writing a song as good as “Cold & Rhythmic.” That song is a beast. Grade: C+.  –Bryan Static (Pelican Pow Wow, pelicanpowwow.com)


MAD DOCTORS, THE:
Snake Oil Superscience: LP
Bluesy sludge rock delivered with equal parts fuzz, reverb-surf, psych, and lo-fi sensibilities thrown in for color. Somehow it works quite well here.  –jimmy (King Pizza, facebook.com/kingpizzarecords)


LESS THAN JAKE:
See the Light: CD
Honesty first: I feel totally unqualified to review any ska album, much less the latest release from Less Than Jake, a band often credited with defining the sound of third-wave ska. These guys have a two decade long history and substantial catalog that is worthy of consideration. All else said and done, ska is fun. Less Than Jake has a formula, but it’s effective, and why mess with that? See the Light kicks off with classic punchy horns and adolescent energy that never quits. These guys aren’t tired, but seem to be struggling to both maintain the reliable sound that long-term fans want and stay fresh. “John the Baptist Bones” is a standout track with playful, intricate brass work in which the horns almost become an additional voice. “American Idle” swings in a heavier direction with a Green Day flavor and takes on surprisingly dark, political subject matter for such an upbeat, sunny tune. This music is made for veteran fans to skank, shout gang vocals, and swim over each other’s heads to, not contemplate the meaning of life to—but it’s missing some of that raw, DIY passion that perks up my ears. The production is polished and tight, perhaps a bit too shiny. They’re trying a bit too hard to hold on to that high-pitched teenage pop punk vocal sound. I think there’s something a bit wrong if I find a punk record relaxing. Seeing this live would get me head-nodding, but not circle-pitting. It’s satisfying in a weekend beach party way, but unremarkable. I prefer grittier, less bouncy punk, but these guys can laugh that in the face because they’ve made it—to the point where they can return with a safe record after a half-decade of silence, and pick up the crowds as if they were never gone.  –Claire Palermo (Fat Wreck Chords, mailbag@fatwreck.com, fatwreck.com)


KNAVES GRAVES:
Discography: Cassette
Hmmm, first impressions can be deceiving. This is a weird mix of punk. On the tape cover is’80s-style comic art of cool girl punkers at the beach. Then there’s boy-dumb song titles like “Get Off My Dick,” “Aarp,” “Calypso Cunt,” and “Fuck Off/Like Totally,” but my contempt was soon proven wrong. Love that. Each song progressively pulled me in tighter with their unmistakable underlying Go-Go’s ‘80s vibe, Brit sound—ala Joanna Gruesome for vocals—and infectious song melodies. “Heaven Is Hell” harkens the Strokes, with a strong guitar hook and super catchy melody, while the lax drag of Sebadoh informs “Green Coat.” There’s definitely a new wave, post-punk, surf guitar sound as well, which sets the tone. Never heard of this band from Florida before, but I’ll be keeping my eye out. Into it!  –Camylle Reynolds (Muckman, Muckmanrecords.bandcamp.com)


KLITZ, THE:
Sounds of Memphis, ‘78: 7”
Here’s a band I’ve long heard of but thought I’d never hear. The Klitz may or may not be Memphis’s first punk band (in the “yes” camp is longtime Memphis musician Ross Johnson; in the “no” camp is Klitz founder Gail Elise Clifton). The Sounds of Memphis recordings are lo-fi (likely more out of necessity, considering the time, than stylistically) but there is power that jumps off the tape. More powerful than, say the Like Flies on Sherbert sessions (of which The Klitz cover “Hook or Crook.”) As an aside, I put off buying LOFSfor so long, due to high sticker price and being wary of Alex Chilton’s self-sabotaging tendencies. When I finally got LOFS, I was let down. I could tell the songs have a solid foundation, but the half-ass playing and don’t-give-a-fuck attitude really take away from the songs. The Klitz make up for this in spades. Brought to you from the vaults by Austin-by-way-of-So Cal Spacecase Records, the label that loves Memphis music more than I do!  –Sal Lucci (Spacecase, spacecaserecords.com)


INANICION:
Demo: Cassette
Loud and fast grindcore that makes your ears bleed. They could probably take you in a fight. Grade: C.  –Bryan Static (Rigid, rigidrecords.bigcartel.com)


IMPALERS:
Psychedelic Snutskallar: 12”
Texas’ Impalers kick start this 12” with an epic side-long hardcore punk assault with the fast but steady pace of d-beat influences and a reverb-y guitar tone to coincide with the record’s “psychedelic” theme. The second side has four songs in the same vein as the lead off track though obviously not as lengthy, which makes for easier digestion of this hardcore smorgasbord. As varied as this may sound, I can hear elements of Mötörhead, Totalitär, and later period Black Flag throughout. Not sleeping on this band anymore and neither should you.  –Juan Espinosa (540, no address listed)


HILLTOP RATS:
Self-titled: CD
Hi, we’re NOFX, but better. For the first couple seconds of the disc, I really thought I was listening to something on Fat. Personally, I think Fat Mike is a shithead, and I know that’s not an uncommon opinion. Hilltop Rats might be shitheads, but so far I’m not convinced. They’ve got one song, aptly called “Party,” about a house party where some dudes are trying to score with drunk chicks, people are puking, and just rallying in general. Pretty standard punk party scene. But they also have “Mondayne,” where they sing about living paycheck to paycheck, struggling to pay rent, and wanting to wake up from this American dream. Props. They shot a video for “Take It Back” featuring strippers and a female bartender getting treated like shit. I was worried at first, but the message is a positive one with lyrics like, “She’s waiting tables while finishing her degree / late nights and bar fights are getting really old.” It’s pretty refreshing to hear something current that sounds like it was written fifteen years ago and is actually good. If you can imagine a pop punk world where instead of band members kicking you in the face, they’re treating you with respect, check these guys out. I guess this is growing up?  –Kayla Greet (Self-released)


HAUNTED HEADS:
Self-titled: CDEP
Decent bit of indie pop here. In addition to the obligatory odd chord structures belted from jangly geetars and non-”professional” sounding vocals, they mix in occasional psychedelic flourishes to keep ye on your toes.  –jimmy (Double+Good)


HARD CHARGER / SOTOS:
Split: LP
Gnarly, international, head-to-header between Fargo’s SOTOS (Shit On Top Of Shit) and Fredericton’s (it’s in Canada) Hard Charger. Not much punk here, just raging metal for those who want it without all the pretty bullshit. The riffs are sick and the headbanging is involuntary; just got be in the right mood. Thrash on!  –Daryl Gussin (Bigger Boat)


HADDONFIELDS, THE:
That’s My Bike: CD-R
Fans of the Haddonfields usually know what to expect with each new album—a healthy mix of songs about love, drinking, and monsters. It’s like pop punk with a dark side. While That’s My Bike is no different as far as subject matter, it’s safe to say there are still plenty of surprises to be found on their latest full length release. There are some insanely epic guitar solos (thanks to special guest Party Nate of Cape Girardeau’s Guy Morgan & The FT Crew and a definite maturation of the band’s tightness as a group. Additionally, their song writing has really grown lyrically. Whether it’s a soul-bearing love song with a serious side or a short, fun ditty about the end of human civilization, the composition and storytelling is better than ever. Not every song is a homerun but, overall, it’s my favorite Haddonfields release to date. If I had to pick the three strong points, I’d say be sure to check out “Last Goodbye,” that love song with a serious side I mentioned earlier; the warning to all humanity about the dangers of technology that is “Robots,” and “Dumber Every Day” which reassures us that “the zombies are all gone because there’s no more brains left.” You won’t be sorry, I promise.  –Nicole Madden (Throwing Things, throwingthingsstl.com / Rad Girlfriend, radgirlfriendrecords.com)


GREG HOY & THE ENABLERS:
Hair of the Mouth: CD
CDs like this really make me wonder how people end up with Razorcake’s address, as at best these guys could be your next-door neighbor’s just-for-fun, Friday night, six-pack jam session. Nothing wrong with that, just sayin.’  –Garrett Barnwell (30peak, 30peak.com)


GLOBAL UNIFIED:
Self-titled: CD
This concept record is the musical form of that backyard sci-fi film that everyone wanted to make with their best friend as a kid: vivid and ambitious in vision—except this is disappointing upon execution. Prog rock requires confidence to pull off, and this band isn’t sure what it wants to sound like. Tremendous effort went into the lyrical construction of Global Unified’s dystopian world, full of robots and state surveillance. However, their story does not grab the listener and set us on a logical course; rather, we are plopped into a post-apocalyptic scene without a map. Quiet guitar and hesitant vocals were surprising to encounter after reading the bombastic, political stage setup in the liner notes. It’s as if someone recruited Trey Anastasio of Phish into Genesis, but imbued his lyrics with quavering, ominous darkness. There is some grunge or drone exploration waiting to happen, and I hope they go for it in the future. The standout track, “Desert Soliloquy,” dips toes into Queens Of The Stone Age-ish heaviness with down-swinging core notes, but following tracks then spiral out into bizarre electronic dance music territory. It’s beautiful to drift from sparkly to brooding and back, but there are too many lighter-waving moments where I waited for songs to get to the point. When a new band gets caught up in the “we gotta be different, man” mantra and smashes disparate genres together without establishing what they’re out to accomplish, the sound is fragmented. I hear elements of Blue Öyster Cult heavy rock, the symphonics of the Who, and the Pixies’ loud-quiet-loud dynamic. Within each song, these genre shifts work, but between tracks they are jarring. These guys are technically advanced musicians, and I trust they’ll find a way out. It lies not in abandoning their concept, but in making it relatable. Global Unified needs to give their well-illustrated RPG a soundtrack that vacillates between a couple of genres rather than trying to pack in absolutely everything.  –Claire Palermo (Self-released, resistance@globalunified.org, globalunified.org, globalunified.bandcamp.com)


GHB:
Self-titled: 7”
So GHB, not to be confused with GBH, stands for the Get High Boys. Admittedly I was very dubious (doobie us?) about them and kinda judging them on the name alone. Plus, I always let out an audible sigh when I find a 7” record that requires an adapter to play. Turns out I like the music more than I initially thought. Though there’s no lyrics and minimal information about GHB, many of the verses have discernable words. The recording is real fuzzy and garagey. Sonically, they’re a bit like a much slower New Bomb Turks or a less spooky version of The Mummies, sans keyboard. Vocally, they remind me of Jay Reatard. These boys, high or not, have some good tunes. I just wish the recording was clearer. I love a little grit in my music but it takes away some of the listenability. I bet they’re a great band to see live.  –Kayla Greet (Die Slaughterhaus)


GAMES:
Little Elise: 7”
The title track pilfers the initial vocal line of the Beach Boys’ “California Girls” and transplants it into a power pop gem that sounds like it’s just been plucked outta 1978. “About Me” follows along the same power pop lines as the flip with a nice lead guitar hook running throughout.  –jimmy (HoZac, hozacrecords.com)


FREAK VIBE:
Prostration: Cassette
The black and white photo of a skintight jeaned leg/boot firmly standing on a chain link with a razor blade conveniently lying nearby instantly brought on fantasies of a hardcore punk band melding oi with cold wave post punk. Such was not the case. Freak Vibe’s tunes owe much more to the goth-punk stylings of early Birthday Party or even the Cramps’ reckless attitude sans the rockabilly. Captivating and brilliant musicianship performed with unchained ferocity and fronted by a howling, menacing figure. Papa bear like. Send more.  –Juan Espinosa (Casino Trash, casinotrashrecords@gmail.com, psychedtodie@gmail.com)


FLAREUP / GIRL:
Split: Cassette
FlareUp is from Indonesia and Girl is from Minneapolis. Both offer four songs each of intense hardcore which fans of powerviolence and similar hardcore will enjoy. The tracks by both bands on this tape are killer, but the duplication of this tape sounds so horrible and lo-fi that I am convinced something went wrong with the duplication process, or something has gone horribly wrong with my tape deck. It’s a great split release, regardless, and worth checking out.  –Mark Twistworthy (Nog, nogblogofficial.blogspot.com)


FISTULA:
Northern Aggression: 12”
How fucking heavy can one band be? I really shouldn’t be too surprised by such a feat but rarely does anyone encapsulate everything endearing about pulverizing bands such as Dystopia, Buzzoven, and Corrupted in one sitting. Infusing a bit of crust and grindcore influence makes this record harder to categorize, so let’s just say that if you’re more inclined to partake in the ugly side of music then Fistula are waiting for you with open arms.  –Juan Espinosa (Patac, patacrecords.com)


EL JIMMY:
De Puta Madre: CDEP-R
Top notch Leatherface-esque guitar playing with hella-crappy vocals that do not synchronize. Dude should use this as a demo and find a band to join. So if you are in the Madrid area, hit this guy up. The incoherent, handwritten letter (in English) that accompanied this CD-R says that he gets paid $1,500 an hour, I think. Confusing.  –Lisa Weiss (Jimbo)


DFL:
Earn Your Scars: CD
Ultra metallic hardcore from this five-piece band. Two singers would lead you to believe that there may be some variety in the vocal department. Not the case. The vocals are screamed on each song from end to end. Even though the playing is competent, there’s nothing here for my ears to latch on to when it’s all wrapped up.  –koepenick (Schizophrenic, schizo666.com)


DEVIANTS, THE:
Have Left the Planet: CD
Depending on who you ask, The Deviants are either U.K. proto-punk legends led by eccentric writer/author Mick Farren, or just another band you’ve never heard of. This CD collects demos, live, and studio outtakes from the Deviants, and while this is far from being essential, it’s definitely interesting. The majority of the tracks were recorded with longtime Deviants members including guitarist/bassist Andy Colquhoin and former Motörhead drummer Phil Taylor who lay down the background for Farren to recite his weird poetry-songs over the top. At times, this brings to mind the music of Frank Zappa, of which I am not a fan. This is the type of release where I know it’s historically relevant and important to some, but, unfortunately, it’s not necessarily accessible and/or very listenable to me.  –Mark Twistworthy (Gonzo Multimedia, gonzomultimedia.com)


DECADES/FAILURES:
002: Cassette
Wonderfully atmospheric and gloomy and… and… well, uh, and almost exactly like Joy Division. I mean, there’s scant elements of other bands (Spectres, Cat Party, and even a little Bauhaus come to mind) as well as a song or two that mayyyybe come across like the soundtrack to an ominous montage in one of the Terminatormovies or something, but mostly, 002just sounds eerily like Joy Division. I like it, and the band’s damn convincing, but yeah, take note: they sound like a slightly modernized version of Ian and the gang. Take it or leave it.  –keith (Dead Tank)


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