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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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VARIOUS ARTISTS:
D-Sides: LP
I was a huge fan of the label compilation boom of the late ‘90s early ‘00s. It was such a great way (pre internet) to hear a bunch of bands you might never had heard otherwise. One of my favorites was the Punch Drunk series on TKO Records. Among the amazing bands on there was my introduction to The Bodies. What a band! I couldn’t get enough. Well, here we are many years later and the guys from The Bodies have a killer label of their own and a compilation. My love of Modern Action records is no secret, so how could I not go apeshit for a comp of rare, unreleased, and demo tracks from bands like Modern Action, The Bodies, Smogtown, Stitches, Sharp Objects, Modern Pets, Botox Rats and more? Sure, some of the recording quality might be rough (the Stitches track was recorded on a beat up ghetto blaster in 1993), but it’s all great! I go well out of my way to pick up anything on Modern Action and you should too.  –ty (Modern Action)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
No Future - A Tribute Album: CD
Titles can be deceiving. This is not just a tribute to The Sex Pistols. The Clash and The Damned are also represented. I feel like I already have semi-decent tributes to the first two in my collection. An all-Damned focus would have stood out a bit more, but what do I know? I will give you my picks from each section, just to be fair. The Bolsheviks take on “Holidays in the Sun” is out of the ordinary. “Washington Bullets” is handled well by Atilla The Stockbroker. Finally, Robb Johnson does a warm and fuzzy take on “Thanks for the Night.” If you don’t already have twenty-five tribute records, then seek this out.  –koepenick (Released Emotions)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Windian Subscription Series 3: 6 x 7”
A singles collection from the Windian record label featuring six 7”s each of which is a two-song offering by bands the Seeers, DD Owen, Platinum Boys, Church Bats, War Party, and John Wesley Coleman III. The bands featured are predominantly of the garage rock variety and its subsidiaries (lo-fi, power pop, punk, experimental, etc.). Musically, it’s just your standard fare of garage acts and nothing really stands out too much, which is a shame because as far as the packaging goes, it certainly doesn’t get much better than this: a candy box housing all six records, artwork and lyrics booklet, download code, and a custom made Windian records 45 spacer.  –Juan Espinosa (Windian, windianrecords.com)


VATICAN DAGGER:
Self-titled: 7”
New Orleans punk is something I dig more and more, the more I listen to it. Vatican Dagger’s guitars are very Gary Wrong-ish, mostly because Gary Wrong is in the band. The riff of “Not to Be” is a hypnotic groove that veers into some chaos, kept in control by the drum pummel. “The Mess” is a more straight-forward punker. Both tunes have a thick enough guitar sound and good low end. Total Punk scores again!  –Sal Lucci (Total Punk)


VIOLENT ARREST:
Life Inside The Western Bloc / Distorted View: CD
I’ve reviewed this lot before and probably said the same thing, while the “ex members of…” tag is tired and irritating for current bands, I can’t help it with these old timers. Ripcord has been one of my favorite bands for nearly thirty years. My belief is that they are one of the lynchpins of modern hardcore… that’s just me, though. Violent Arrest featured three quarters of Ripcord and didn’t sound a million miles away, in part due to Steve “Baz” Ballam’s distinct Boston via Bristol guitar riffs. The Distorted View is the last record with that lineup before vocalist Steve departed. That LP is a continuation of what went before: no-frills hardcore in the mold of Negative FX or Last Rites. They do a Mau Maus cover, which makes perfect sense, as VA sounds like that old UK82 band sped up. The tracks from their split with Endless Grinning Skulls are among the very best they ever did. Fitting swan song for one of hardcore’s best vocalists. The Western Bloc LP is the first with new singer Welly, another U.K. punk institution who continues to do one of the best fanzines in the world, Artcore (which I started reading about the same time I heard Ripcord). Welly was also the main man in the late, great Four Letter Word. Instead of just sliding into the band unnoticed, Welly’s thumbprint is all over this release. The band has slowed down a touch and the lyrics are longer and more overtly social/political. Maybe add the Freeze and Agnostic Front to the list of influences? Same name, different band. Better? No. Different? Yes. I love both incarnations of the band and am silently praying they come to the USA to melt faces. Good to see the old guard can still smash it.  –Tim Brooks (Boss Tuneage)


VLASTA POPIĆ:
Kvadrat: LP/CD
With repetitive bass lines, scratchy guitar, and syncopated drumming, there are enough nods in the direction of Shellac and Fugazi to justify the inclusion of those two bands on any promo sheet for this Croatian band. The combined female/male vocals, however, allows Vlasta Popić to make its own mark rather than be considered as some kind of carbon copy of those musical powerhouses. There are curve balls in the form of “Slijepa naša (mržnja),” an explosive burst of melodic punk, and “Maštanje,” a more measured and straightforward track both catching me unawares but equally not seeming out of place. –Rich Cocksedge (Moonlee, moonless@moonlessrecords.com, moonleerecords.com)


VOIGHT-KAMPFF:
Last House on the Right: 7”
Two tracks of gloomy-gothy wave-pop. While the title track is the brighter, pop-friendly of the two tracks, for my money it’s the flip, “Little Dyings,” that’s the pick to click here, with its minimal drum machine-anchored instrumentation and darker feel. Nice single.  –jimmy (Deranged)


VULTURE LOCUST:
Command Presence: CD-R
I’m not sure if it’s a bad thing when a band sounds note for note like I expect them to. Certainly, someone out there has to like it and be able to tell all the songs apart. I sure can’t. For those who have a hard time attaching themselves to a song without any melody, there isn’t much here for you. But if you just sort of want to bang your head rhythmically until you get a concussion, this is pretty okay. Grade: C+.  –Bryan Static (Self-released)


WAR ON WOMEN:
Self-titled: LP
War On Women’s in-your-face, empowered attitude and visceral aural assault is a breath of fresh air when suffocated by the ignorant, sexist, hate-filled poison that floods the internet message boards and Youtube comment sections. “Is the wage gap not big enough to get your ego through?” spits Shawna Potter, taking to task workplace inequalities and willfully blind men. On “Second Wave Goodbye,” she pinpoints another target and unleashes a scathing barrage: “You’re a relic of the second wave, and we’ve waved goodbye.” Although Potter may seem divisive, she repairs the bridge: “Hey! We’re all, we’re all women.” There are a lot of exposed nerves (read: no minced words) as sexual assault, abortion, and chauvinists in ally clothing are not handled delicately. War On Women want to dig into your shoulders and jolt you awake, proof that punk can still shock in the right ways. Although the lyrics are clearly center stage, the music is an engaging mixture of Propagandhi’s metallic chug, Neighborhood Brats’ swagger, and Feral Future’s pensive poetics. Highly recommended.  –Sean Arenas (Bridge Nine, bridge9.com)


WAR ON WOMEN:
Self-titled: LP/CD
I’d rather not have women’s right being a cause because, to me, they are inalienable rights that shouldn’t need discussion or argument. However, we live in an unjust society and this serves only to fire up War On Women, a band ready to take on all and sundry to raise awareness to the discrimination suffered by so many and, in doing so, providing the perfect soundtrack to the fight. This album kicks and screams from start to finish but the most poignant line is delivered in “Say It” with, “Say it! Say it! I was raped,” being both empowering and chilling in equal measure. This is what punk rock should be about—if listening to this doesn’t make your blood boil then you’re most likely dead.  –Rich Cocksedge (Bridge Nine, info@bridge9.com, bridge9.com)


WASTOIDS:
Dangerous Spaces: EP
Sloppy, lo-fi hardcore from the Arctic wastelands of Canada. Refreshingly raw like some lost ‘82 gem from the Touch And Go or Discord catalog. Think Necros meets Teen Idles or SOA. Banging.  –Tim Brooks (High Anxiety, via noidearecords.com)


WET DRAG:
Self-titled: 7”
Some folks from Uzi Rash, Grass Widow, and The Trashies playing noisy, arty punk. It’s dirty and raw with shrill guitars over vague dystopian lyrics. A good record, but it fails to really stand out in my memory or call me back to it.  –Craven Rock (Wacky Wacko, wackywacko.com)


WHAT-A-NIGHTS:
Self-titled: LP
What-A-Nights are a Japanese melodic punk band that contains ex-members of Minority Blues Band and I Excuse. Musically, they are seemingly influenced by the best of the ‘90s U.K. melodic punk bands—Leatherface, Snuff, and Hooten 3 Car come to mind. This was originally self-released by the band on CD, but now, thanks to a handful of great labels, it’s now on vinyl and available domestically. Great and highly recommended!  –Aaron Zonka (Rad Girlfriend, radgirlfriendrecords.com)


WINDOWSILL, THE / DEECRACKS:
Reconsider Fisto: 10”
Fisto, the rough-bearded, iron-fisted woodsman of Eternia. Deecracks deliver the twist waist and power punch action equivalent with four tracks of hook-laden gruff punk. Deecracks’ side of the record is the side of “good” and keeps you coming back. Fisto’s toy-line adversary was Jitsu, a gold-handed evil karate chop master. Total weak sauce compared to the power of Fisto. The Windowsill is Jitsu, masters of their craft, but ultimately forgettable in the glut of standardized pop punk. Deecracks and He-Man inferences make this release worth the price of admission and I’ll probably wear out the grooves of the Deecracks side. Thanks to Wiki Grayskull.  –Matt Seward (Shield, shieldrecordings.com)


WOOD CHICKENS:
Have a Cow: CD-R
All info I’m able to suss out indicate an origin of Wisconsin, but they could’ve easily come from Texas, given their almost schizophrenic output here. You get by turns, punk, country, roots rock, art-damage, and full-blown psychedelia here, with the band bouncing from one to the next with no apparent rhyme or reason other than they feel like it. Does it work? Well, it does make the noggin ache after a spell and one ultimately wishes they’d manage to find a way to distill all of their influences into one unique and gloriously fucked up sound; but yeah, they manage to pull it off, primarily because they’re quite adept at all the above. Betting they’re a hoot live, too.  –jimmy (Wood Chickens, facebook.com/woodchickensband)


YOUR PEST BAND:
Time to Go: CD
I had heard about Your Pest Band for some time now. There have been a few attempts on my part to check out the music, but I never found anything that stuck with me very well. An identity for the band’s sound never fully formed in my mind. And that’s around the time I usually give up trying to like a band. Going into this album, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. What I ended up getting was relatively pumped-up Japanese punk with a psychedelia twinge that’s a little out of tune in a good way. (A very good way.) This is a pretty good album. Goes great with blown-out speakers and warm summer days. Grade: A-.  –Bryan Static (Snuffy Smiles)


ZACK ZACK:
Wir Haben Zeit: LP
Shame on whoever took the “rock” out of “punk rock” but, lucky for us, Zack Zack is somewhere in Germany working on putting it back in. This album is a garageland masterpiece. If you told me that these were long-lost Clash or Buzzcocks recordings, done in German, I would believe you. Well done.  –John Mule (Modern Action, modernactionrecords.com)


ZACK ZACK:
Wir Haben Zeit: LP
Zack Zack have taken the ‘77 pogo punk formula and mixed it perfectly with ‘70s powerpop to create a totally great, absolutely solid LP of catchy singalong (mostly in German) punk. A couple of these guys used to be in the ‘77 punk style band The Shocks. Fans of energetic power pop-influenced punk like The Briefs would likely be able to get into this. The hooks are undeniable while still having enough teeth for the pogo punk purist. –Mark Twistworthy (Modern Action, modernactionrecords.com)


1971:
Self-titled: Cassette
While I felt like the band kiiiinda noodled on too long in the majority of these songs for my personal tastes, there’s no refuting that there’s some real power here, and 1971 has, hands down, some of the most impressive lyrics I’ve read in some time. Smart, agile, and thoughtful stuff that seamlessly merges the personal and political. And if some of the songs work from a kind of odd and stumbling doom/punk amalgam, or even a manic, caffeine-heavy version of indie stuff ala old Crackerbash—who 1971 has almost assuredly never heard, so that’s probably just me—that’s okay, because when these guys are on, they are seriously on. I’m personally a fan of brevity as far as chops go, so this probably won’t get a lot of repeat listens, but I’m sure there’s plenty out there who’d go bananas for these dudes.  –keith (Faxed)


1984:
Specjalny Rodzaj Kontrastu: LP
I only have my own boring historical context with which to review this album. The lyrics and notes are in Polish and I’m not sure who this album is made for, save an emerging scene and/or a continuation of an existing interest in dark electronic pop I’m not familiar with. When I was younger (yawn) D.C. had a very small punk scene. I was too young to be fully involved in the really historical stuff, but there were places to hang out and many groups were fairly accepting of anything. This reminds me of music played in clubs at this time. It’s slow, electric, minimal, and goth-like (as much as I understood goth at the time). Not the mall goth, but the people actually hanging out in dark places—meaning goths who turned twenty-one, probably. I had very wide eyes then; everything was impressive to me. This music is mysterious, but only in that I haven’t heard anything like it in awhile and I don’t understand Polish. What I mean is: I either don’t get it, or it’s made for people like me, which I doubt very much. Either way, it’s very well done. As a point of reference, I don’t really like The Faint, although I sort of understand why some people might. It doesn’t sound like that sort of thing, but the sort of thing that a person who likes The Faint might smoke a joint to.  –Billups Allen (Pasazer)


ACID BABY JESUS:
Selected Recordings: CD
Acid Baby Jesus sound exactly like you’d expect based on their moniker. Yet, this Greek psychedelic ensemble eschews the common “throwback band” pitfalls of nostalgia and mimicry. Their utilization of eclectic instruments and minimal lyrics packed with mythical and literary allusion create an atmospheric sound that is interesting and authentic. It threatens to fall apart for me around “Who’s First”—the lyrics for which were “found and collaged” whatever that means; art, man—and again on “I’m Becoming a Man,” which boast prima facie effemimanic messages. Not sure whether these sentiments comment on Athens’ human rights issues or spawn from them—though the track “Night of Pan” invokes infamous half ‘mo Aleister Crowley—but I like the music enough to pretend Acid Baby Jesus get to use the word “faggot” because they themselves are mad gay.  –Kelley O’Death (Slovenly)


ACID BABY JESUS:
Selected Recordings: LP
Psych rock is a bit tricky to pull off with any effectiveness. Lose your footing and you’re sliding down a very slippery slope into a rather deep puddle of pretentiousness. ABJ are good at knowing where to go next, adroitly avoiding overt Pink Floyd worship while still recalling the heavily dosed experimentation of that band’s early years and knowing that changing things up and throwing in a teensy bit o’ pop can go a long way. “Head” music of fine vintage here.  –jimmy (Slovenly)


AGATA:
Promo: CDEP-R
I got excited when I opened this one because I thought it was going to be Seattle queercore band Agatha. What a difference a letter makes. Imagine if Agnostic Front and Coliseum were roommates and the apartment always smelled like sweat and dank nugs. This is the sonic equivalent of that. It works, though, kinda like a pit bull St. Bernard mix, that is to say loud and heavy. There are only three tracks on here. I hope to hear more from these guys.  –Lisa Weiss (Agata Industries, agataindustries.bandcamp.com)


AGATHA:
Gravis Atque Gravior: LP
This is the Italian Agatha, not the band from Olympia, and they’re a drums-and-bass two-piece, but with none of the ickiness that that implies. Gravis Atque Gravior (Latin for Heavier and Heavier) is a dark and brooding thing, riff-heavy and menacing, and, if nothing else, remarkable for its fullness of sound. This record sounds like a lot more than two people at work. Unfortunately to my uneducated ear, words like “stoner doom” keep coming to mind—they just have this tendency to ride a slow and singular riff into oblivion—but preferences notwithstanding, the band is certainly excellent at what they do.  –keith (Chaos Rurale)


ALCOHOL FUELED:
Self-titled: Cassette
This studied seven-song streetpunk demo from Ottawa has a heavy Ripcordz influence, confirming my suspicion that Canadian streetpunk has its own distinguished set of tropes and traditions. Clean, but not overproduced, this demo is supposedly a precursor to a full-length that is due out in 2015. Clearly fueled by more than alcohol, these guys can play. Sounding like something that would have appeared on the Pogo Attack compilation in the ‘90s, Alcohol Fueled makes me nostalgic for that fun-filled resurgence period of this subgenre. Watch for Alcohol Fueled if you’re into street sounds. This is easily one of the better releases of this type to emerge in ages, and it’s only a demo!  –Art Ettinger (Obnoxio Drunk Punk)


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·JONESES
·UGLY BEATS, THE
·RED SATYRS
·PEPES, LOS
·VARIOUS ARTISTS
·MYSTERY GIRLS
·ZINE FOR THE LADIES, A
·HELL, THE
·Scream and The Gears


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