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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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DELETIONS:
Self-titled: Cassette
If these cats don’t wear jumpsuits onstage I’m gonna be pissed. Never nostalgia for its own sake, but an updated approach: Deletions’ modus operandi is to meld herky-jerk rhythms and catchy vocal phrasing, which refer to new wave without outright aping it, filtered through sheets of glitch. Usually music which nods to the past like this takes a similar production approach to its predecessor, but here the audio is decidedly lo-fi, adding an unclean edge. Great stuff, especially for fans of Devo and the A-Frames. –Michael T. Fournier (deletions.bandcamp.com)


DEATH ON/OFF / DYSMORFIC:
Split: 7”
Death On/Off are like Insect Warfare with a death metal lean. I’m not the most PC person in the world, but damn if these lyrics don’t kind of bother me. I don’t know if they are actually really homophobic and sexist or if this is just an attempt to be ironic and... I don’t know, shine a light on the issues. If the latter is the case, then they are just really bad at expressing opinions. Dysmorfic have even more of a death metal influence. I am not interested in any of this. Seriously this is awful. I’m sorry, I usually try to come up with good things about records even if I don’t like them, but I honestly see absolutely no redeeming characteristics in this record at all. –Ian Wise (Skull Crusher)


DEAD SKULL:
Blam!: CD-R
Normally, two-piece bands aren’t my cup of tea in the least, but this two-piece from Minneapolis’s take on punky, ‘70s-influenced garage rock wasn’t bad at all. Songs are understandably rudimentary, and maybe a little more “over the top” attitude might be of greater future benefit, but they deliver them with enough conviction here that they somehow pull it off. –Jimmy Alvarado (Dead Skull)


DAVEY DYNAMITE & FRIENDS:
WAITT: CD
Optimistic isn’t enough to describe these seventeen tracks of dopamine and group hugs. From Illinois, Dynamite & Friends have chipped in to create a back-slapping pep talk on the import of community in this disparaging world of hipster consumerism and division. A handful of comrades drop spoken word bombs of self love, skating around socialist, communist dogma including a Cometbus piece inciting the “We’re All in This Together” movement. The first track, “WAITT,” an acronym, sets off a cascade effect with a quiet bedroom recording of acoustic guitar and loosely controlled vocals. “Sad Songs” bring an electric thrum with power punk chords and a peppering of saxophone while “Destroy Privilege” draws up a needling laundry list of Davey’s privilege and ends with a vow to defy these advantages. Well written and calmly riotous, this is the party before and after the fall; these are the campfire songs to stoke a rebellion. Recommended.  –Kristen K. (Self-released)


DAN WEBB AND THE SPIDERS:
Now It Can Be Told: CD
A singles collection, gathering 7”s from the Gunner Records Singles Club, bonus tracks from the Euro version of Oh Sure, and splits with Irish Handcuffs and Beach Party. As I’ve stated previously, this band should be huge. All the pieces are there. It’s garage rock in the basest sense, but the desperation and weariness is tempered with smarts; the frenzy is forsaken for self-restraint. What results, instead of an explosion, is a slow burn: a collection of sixteen songs that showcase rock-solid songwriting and an incredible amount of variance within the sometimes constraining limitations of the genre. That’s all a lofty way to say these dudes are doing a lot with a little, and the songs here are simultaneously tough as shit and introspective and vulnerable enough to be relatable. This is a really good band. –Keith Rosson (Safe Responsible)


DAN WEBB AND A SPIDER:
Eine Kleine Akustischmusik: CD
In lieu of his usual full band (The Spiders), Dan Webb enlisted the help of just one band mate (Get it? A Spider?Mildly clever, guys, I’ll give you that) for an acoustic album of old DWATS songs (and a wholly unnecessary Misfits cover). It was interesting to hear the marked transition from what were originally buoyant, exuberant garage punk tunes to, well, these versions. Somber, slowed down versions. Darkerversions, as the inherent solemnity in many of the songs really comes to the forefront here. I’m a sucker for the original electric tracks (hell, I still play Oh Sure all the time) and honestly can’t imagine listening to this album all that often, but to their credit, these guys did an impressive job of rendering a familiar batch of songs into something almost entirely new. –Keith Rosson (Safe Responsible)


CUSTOM FIT:
Self-titled: 12”EP
Custom Fit might be from the Bay Area, but Sabi, their terrific singer, hails from Slovenia. Female-fronted oi / street punk is way less common than it ought to be, and Sabi has the ideal voice for this type of music. The recording is of the super clean, slick variety, which suits these eight catchy songs well. There’s a heavy influence from both classic U.K. punk and oi, as well as from more recent U.S. street punk. There’s a definite Templars vibe to some of the riffs, sans that band’s affection for lo-fi sound mixes. Even in the crowded Northern California scene, Custom Fit is shining, playing tons and tons of shows. A proper LP will hopefully follow this 12” EP quickly. From the band name on down, everything fits on this great debut. –Art Ettinger (Pirates Press)


COZY:
“Kiss Me Dummy” b/w “Show and Tell”: 7”
Do you remember when you were first afflicted with glam disease? The first time you heard a New York Dolls record and thought to yourself, “My gawd! My whole life has been but beige and khaki until now! What is this glitter, this androgyny, this sparkle, this magic?!” Then you did things like cut your own hair, buy too-tight denim clothing, and write songs like these ones. There is a fine line between camp and cheese, and I am afraid that this record crosses that line in a red pleather boot. This band would be better off making experimental harsh noise instead—at least then the music wouldn’t be quite as generic –Alanna Why (Secret Mission)


COUP SAUVAGE AND THE SNIPS:
“Sneaks” b/w “(Don’t Touch My) Hair”: 7”
This is a wacky one, from the flawless highlighter-pink-and-yellow jacket to the music itself, an offbeat pairing of old-school Motown and soul with programmed beats and synth lines. At its core, this D.C. ensemble is rooted in the spirit of ‘60s girl groups, but between the garage-fuzzed guitars, the glittery disco flair, and the smart, confrontational lyrics, there are a few dozen layers of additional weirdness. This record is really tailor-made for a certain DIY demographic that you either recognize or you don’t: dance party punks. I’m not one of them, but if I were, Coup Sauvage And The Snips would be ruling my world right now. –Indiana Laub (Paroxysm)


COPING:
Nope: LP
Permit me to make a bad joke: Coping should actually be called Moping. Go ahead, roll your eyes, but lyrics like, “I’ll hold anyone just to feel at home” and, “I guess you didn’t know, but, baby, I can scream” should make the pining teenager in you cringe. This is textbook emo with shrill, belting vocals and enough flagrant hammer-on’s and pull-off’s to make one wonder if King Emo has mandated that the guitar can only be played this way. Each song is tonally similar and entirely interchangeable. The lack of aggression and creativity under-utilizes the talents of these young dudes. Ultimately, this record is a big, sappy blur. I can only recommend Nope to those still recovering from Snowing’s break up over two years ago. –Sean Arenas (Protagonist)


CLOSE TALKER:
So Am I: LP
Emo-y pop punk with super bummed out, anxious lyrics. Part of the wave of bands who came of age on Alkaline Trio, Hot Water Music, and Piebald. I was gonna compare Close Talker to Sundials, then looked them up online and saw that they’re from Richmond and share a member. –Chris Terry (No address listed)


CIGARETTE CROSSFIRE:
Tour 7”: 7”
When I call this single “DIY,” I mean that the packaging is as raw as can be while the music is a real standout. My copy of Tour 7” from Finland’s Cigarette Crossfire came in a white sleeve, hand-labeled and numbered, I think, 159 out of 208. The writing is a bit sloppy. The charming error on my copy is that the sides were labeled wrong and I didn’t figure it out until I looked it up online. All that bullshit aside, Cigarette Crossfire is melodic and thoughtful. I will be listening to more. –John Mule (Unsane Asylum)


CASANOVAS IN HEAT:
“Belvidere” b/w “Destiny St.”: 7”
The cover of this single is four dudes in leather jackets and denim vests playing pinball. Bad-ass, right? You would think so. However, the photo is a bit posed. It’s almost—oh jeez—boy-band-esque. Yikes! The music is very 1980s. Not good underground ‘80s / John Hughes-movie-soundtrack-’80s. I could hear the b-side, “Destiny St.,” playing as the lead character—Judd Nelson or Matthew Broderick perhaps—the misunderstood rebel, walks off into the distance and credits roll. You might like that. It’s not for me. –John Mule (Katorga Works)


CAPITALIST KIDS, THE:
At a Loss: CD
Man, you can tell these guys have been playing together for a while in that even though the familiar pop punk thing is what they do, they do it with such gusto and sincerity that they somehow make you believe that this kind of stuff hadn’t been done to death. Lyrically, they seem to capture what is in my head, which is either scary or cool depending on if you are me or not, I suppose.  –Garrett Barnwell (It’s Alive / Toucan Play)


BUZZORHOWL / CHESTNUT ROAD:
Split: 7”
Well, Buzzorhowl start things out on a decent foot—their first song, “Little Cop,” is a passable stab at ‘90s melodic punk, if a little unmemorable, but then they do a crazy-abrupt key change at the end and close the song out with a drawn out wah-wah solo. Very disarming ending. The second song’s an instrumental, and, I’m sorry, guys, but unless you’re Danzig or some shit, those generally go in one ear and out the other around here. Chestnut Road is tilling similar ground; musically their pair of songs are akin to Leatherface and, on the second track, maybe even an over-complicated Fun Bug or early Green Day riff, but again, it’s just somewhat bland and there. Decent recording, nice packaging, but nothing here had any real velocity or bite to it.  –Keith Rosson (Brassneck)


BROWN PLAID:
Chico’s Revenge: 7”
This band cops to ripping off Screeching Weasel on their web page. Completely obvious from note one: a virtual dead ringer for ol’ Ben vocally, with songs invoking the band’s first two albums both in terms of style and subject matter. Not that this is a knock: “I Hate the Sex Pistols” is way funnier than “I Hate Led Zeppelin,” and “Baby Wants a Bottle” cuts the chaff from “My Brain Hurts.” Cool diarrhea-colored vinyl, too. –Michael T. Fournier (brownplaid.bandcamp.com)


BRONCHO:
“It’s On” b/w “Kurt”: 7”
The wave of not-so-lo-fi garage revival bands has never really let up since all those “The” bands—Strokes, Hives, Vines, White Stripes, whoever else—burst forth at the start of the millennium to “bring rock’n’roll back.” These two tracks are distant descendants of that tradition, proto-punk garage rock infused with glam and a hint of poppy indie melody. Thankfully, the vocals depart from the blown-out yelping that usually accompanies this kind of retro rock. The frontman opts instead for a kind of studied whininess—or, to be more generous, a blasé Television-esque drawl. There’s a bit of a too-cool-for-school vibe, but that just comes with the territory.  –Indiana Laub (CQ)


BRAVER:
Stay Busy: LP
Braver is a very tight pop punk band but the singer’s voice wears on me. I tried and tried to like it. I even respect it for not going the poppy, whiny, lovable route of The Lillingtons and Screeching Weasel before them. In the end, this album just does not come together for me. –John Mule (Lost Cat / Pogo Party)


BLUE SKIES FOR BLACK HEARTS:
Self-titled: CD
The ‘70s are back with a vengeance here with tune after groovy tune that sound like outtakes from long lost album sessions for Pilot, or the Eagles. The songs are well written, but having lived through this kind of AM radio fodder the first time ‘round, I’m not sure revisiting the days of bell bottoms, country-tinged rock and makin’ love in Chevy vans is all right with me. –Jimmy Alvarado (Velvaphonic)


BEAST FIEND:
Beast Fiend Rules: CD-R
A burned CD with the words “Beast Fiend Rules!” scribbled on the front. Nothing more. Pretty fucking sloppy. The music is only slightly less sloppy. It’s a repetitive, banging, clanging garage punk mess made by a band that clearly gives no fucks. It’s maybe worth a quick listen if you can see past the pile of shit exterior. –MP Johnson (Self-released)


BAG OF GREMLINS:
Self-titled: CD
Bag Of Gremlins are reminiscent of early D.R.I., but with snottier, screamier vocals. For a two-piece (guitar and drums), they accomplish quite a bit, but I suspect that might be the result of this particular genre of punk rock not really needing low-end bassiness to get its point across. Twenty-one tracks in just under nineteen minutes; some songs are S.O.D.-short, but some even get close to the two-minute mark. Lyrically, it’s comprised of rather standard punk rock sensibilities, but with all its screamy goodness and no lyric sheet, that observation is based mostly on the titles. In the end, once could consider this a good example of the genre—whatever the hell we may actually describe that genre as—but I wouldn’t consider it essential listening. It has its time and place, though. My favorite thing about this: instrumentals to open and close the record. I love it when bands do that shit! –The Lord Kveldulfr (No address listed)


BAD NOIDS:
Everything from Soup to Dessert: LP
Hopping and popping like cockroaches in a frying pan, these boys outta Cleveland give up new and re-recorded tracks from their debut 7”. With crone witch vocals, Noids chew through each cut like cracked out termites foaming at the mouth. Tackling misanthropy, cop killing, and street riots, they clock in at just under twenty minutes. Hardcore asylum punk is the main entrée with noise and a sprinkling of blues on the side. “Lies” and “No One” start off the course with ‘80s U.K.-flavored hardcore played so fast it seemed like a dream. On the flip side, “My Country” brings a bluesy bass line and screeching harmonica to the table, while “Sticks Around” and “Happy Endings” slow down a smidge, taking a melodic lean like Tartar Control or The Shrills. For dessert: an ink and watercolor gatefold of the boys and rabid toasters laying Cleveland to waste. Volatile. Noisy. Speeded out. Recommended. –Kristen K. (Self-released)


AUTONOMY / STREET EATERS:
Split: 7” EP
Autonomy: Opening track is a haunting bit of pop, with Hüsker-shimmer guitars and “whoa” backing vocals. “Man Should Surrender,” sends ‘em careening off on another tangent and plops ‘em into Killing Joke territory—a slice of post-punk crunch, “Wardance,” tribal stomp and chant-along vocals. I really dug their side of their split with DoomTown and the two tunes show the quality in evidence there wasn’t a fluke. Street Eaters: A bit harder to peg, but by no means lesser in result. Hints of post-punk and Black Sabbath gloom tinge a minor-chord punk ditty hinged on baritone guitar rumble, dual vocals and a solid backbeat. Nice split all ‘round.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Off The Books)


ARMAND SCHAUBROECK STEALS:
God Made the Blues to Kill Me!: 10”
Ya know, I’ve heard of this guy ((and his band, which has apparently been around since 1963???)) for over thirty years, but I have never actually heard Armand Schaubroeck until just now. I always just bypassed his records when I was a kid, because, like Dead Fingers Talk or Can or The Residents, they just struck me as some kind of weird shit to which someone else who is not me would listen. Well, whatever. He seems to have gotten along fine without me. After listening to this record a few times—a thirteen-minute blues opera about a guy going to and returning from Vietnam that appears to be in 7/4 time, unless I just don’t understand how these things work—I have come to the conclusion that this is some genius, epic shit, and should likely be afforded a higher level of R-E-S-P-E-C-K from the rank ‘n’ file than it is probably destined to achieve. It’s sort of like if “The Devil Glitch,” by Chris Butler was a fifth as long and about the Vietnam war, or if Eugene Chadbourne could have a long, coherent, musical thought, or if the Last Poets were white or if Zoogz Rift got electroshock therapy or something. The ending finds the protagonist opting for “NeedlePark,” as opposed to the way of his other contemporaries, who “eat the shotgun.” I dunno if I described this very well, but it’s good. The b-side is a remix of the same song that is essentially undistinguishable from the a-side. BEST SONG: Hey, it’s a trick question! “God Made the Blues to Kill Me!” BEST SONG TITLE: Come on, this is stupid. FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: The image of Armand Schaubroeck and his companion are mirror-image reversed on the back cover, yet all the street signs in the background read correctly. Weird. –Rev. Norb (Mirror)


ALL TORN UP:
Drone Life: 7”
Vaguely crusty hardcore with a lot of early 2000s street punk sensibility to the sound and a little DRI thrown in for good measure. The result is pretty decent, hook-laden, political hardcore. The lyrics and presentation are certainly influenced by the old Crimethinc. set, but not quite as overbearing as some of those bands.  –Ian Wise (Self-released)


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