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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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BLACK SOUL CHOIR:
Cardinal: CD EP
So far as I can tell, they ain’t Black, they ain’t a choir and they sure as hell ain’t playin’ no soul. Their brand of noise rock ain’t all that good, either. –jimmy (Init)


BERENICE BEACH:
Runaway: CD
Dudes, Rancid is soooo passe, and the latter period Social Distortion added here for flavor didn’t help matters much. –jimmy (Mad Butcher)


BENNY/BABY LITTLE TABLETS:
Self-titled: split 7”
Baby Little Tablets are an earnest, sqawking band who sing about midlife crises before they’ve even turned thirty. Benny, for some reason, enjoy holding hands like they’re in a prayer circle. While I admire people who are in touch with their emotional side, displaying it like a badge is kinda goofy. Their song, “The Right True End” has a nice Hüsker Dü feel to it that makes it worth repeated listening. –eric (Boss Tuneage)


BEEHIVE & THE BARRACUDAS:
In Dark Love: CD
Arty, punky stuff that was interesting for approximately two songs. When I found myself pondering the potential of rocks having some semblance of consciousness, I knew I was in deep doo doo. –jimmy (Swami)


BALZAC:
Beyond the Darkness: CD
If you didn’t make it out to Fiend Fest to see Balzac on their first US tour, you missed out. Let me tell you, they were fuckin’ incredible. I saw kids seeing and hearing them for the first time get blown away by their set. I even got to hang with them for a bit each night that I went. Here is a little history for you. The band originated in 1992 and are from Osaka, Japan. The band is a Misfits-influenced band that has taken everything that is to be loved of the band and improved on it. They play original songs that are catchy and can compete against the Misfits catalog. This release is a collection of songs from their past catalog that they re-recorded for their North American introduction. Some of the songs on this recording were released earlier this year in Japan as the Beware of Darkness EP. On that EP, the song “The Pain (Is All Around)” and three live tracks did not end up on the American release. But the American release is chock full’o songs. Seventeen studio and three live tracks fill the disc. In addition, you get a bonus DVD of videos that were only available in Japan. The differences I hear in this recording session, compared to the past versions, are the vocals are a little up front in the mix, the guitar is a little pushed back, and the tempo is a hair slower, I believe. The songs are still great though! I look at it as just a different version of a great thing. Fans of the Misfits, Samhain, AFI or Danzig, here is your next favorite band! –don (Misfits)


BATON ROUGE, LES:
Chloe Yurtz: CDEP
...after listening to this all the way through, my Chloe Yurtz a bit as well. BEST SONG: “My Body-The Pistol” BEST SONG TITLE: “Velvet Barbed Wire” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: The first four songs reminded me of Penetration, the Lunachicks, SIN 34, Red Scare, the Cinch (infrequently) and Bikini Kill. Mostly of their shortcomings. The fifth song – “My Body-The Pistol” – was a complete about-face: Male vocals and a fuzzed-out robo-approach which either reminded me of PilgrimState or No Scene (i forget which). And the last song – “Parish Priest” – sounded like one of those weird, soft tunes somewhere between the “real” songs (such as they are) on Jefferson Airplane’s Surrealistic Pillow album: Echoey guitar and female murmuring sounding like it’s coming from somewhere down the hall whilst the listener sits crumpled in a heap in another room, wondering whether the floor is really made out of water or not and if the toilet is working again. If someone would care to explain the Portuguese punk rock aesthetic to me at this point, i’d be all ears. –norb (Elevator Music)


AWAY FROM NOW:
Shadows Allude Invade: CD
This is a strange little album from Australia. The vocals sound a bit like Frankie Stubbs from Leatherface, and some of the songs on this album do have Leatherface breakdowns and those hard, fast, chaotic melodies. When the songs have these parts, I really like this CD a lot. Sometimes, though, they pull out of the breakdowns with some tough guy metal bits, which, at its best, reminds me of Sick of it All, but usually, the tough guy metal parts don’t sound as good as Sick of it All. It’s strange because the two elements don’t match. The combination of the two elements also makes for really long songs. I wish that they would cut out everything that doesn’t sound like Leatherface. Of course, I realize that this would probably make them sound less original, but that’s a chance I’m willing to take. –sean (Pee)


ASTERISK*:
Dogma: CD
Superior grindcore from this Swedish trio that leaves the medicine to the doctors and goes straight for the intellect. Well, I guess so, as there’s no lyric transcription, but from the song titles (“Adding Milk to DNA,” “Another Dane Law Carved in French”) to the quirky weirdness (a la Locust) that pops up here and there (and the dedication of one track to minimalist composer Arnold Dreyblatt) this blasts in the general direction of the thinking grinder. Forty-one tracks, including a cover of Queen’s “Ogre Battle,” in as many minutes (apparently their entire recorded body), and you’ve got probably the forty-one most frantic heavy minutes you’ll see this year. –Cuss Baxter (31G)


ARAKI:
Ikara: CD
What starts off with sappy minimal piano practice progresses into sappy sleepy interminable dance music that sounds like Depeche Mode dying of chronic diarrhea. I looked at Scene Police’s website and it seems like they got some great shit; I hope I never find out why the fuck they put this out. –Cuss Baxter (Scene Police)


ANN BERETTA:
The Other Side of the Coin: CD
After To All Our Fallen Heroes and New Union, Old Glory, I need another Ann Beretta record like I need a box set collecting the complete oeuvre of Jimmy Buffett with outtakes, especially when it’s acoustic versions of songs from the first record. I’ve had it. If we’re going to be honest, we need to acknowledge that Ann Beretta had one good album in them but kept tilling and seeding the same creative soil, never letting it lie fallow. And what it all boils down to is this – Bitter Tongues is a damn fine record. It is also the only Ann Beretta album you need. –scott (Thrown Brick)


ANCHORMEN, THE:
Nation of Interns:: CD
They rhyme woozy with Vespucci. That’s seriously the highlight of the album. –megan (Unstoppable )


ALLERGIC TO WHORES:
Chaos Before Death: CDEP
This one’s a bit slower than their usual thrash gallop pace, but the level of quality hasn’t diminished accordingly and the singer still sounds like he’s about to burst a vein at any moment. Good stuff –jimmy (Dark Front)


ACID REIGN:
Ready Yet?: CD
Like its punk rock cousin, much of what passes itself off as “rap” these days is pretty dismal, to say the least. Just as punk has had to learn to live with oodles of boy-band-in-training pop-punk poseur fops whoring for fame, clueless fashion slaves trying to relive the glory days of 1977/1982/1994, and whiny emo buttercups taking PC-isms to new ridiculous extremes, so has hip hop had to endure both the rise of gangsta wannabes flooding the racks and airwaves with odes to guns, bitches and the ever-ludicrous worship of the bling-bling, and the corporate raiders sucking the genre dry and trying their damnedest to prevent anything new or inventive from leading the cash cow astray. If you do a little digging under the surface of either genre, however, a whole host of amazing sounds can be found just waiting to blow your mind. Such is the case with Acid Reign’s debut. The three rappers here (Beond, Gajah, and Slowrider vocalist Olmeca) have apparently drawn inspiration from the Freestyle Fellowship/Project Blowed school of stream-of-consciousness delivery and married it to a level of hyper-speed delivery not seen since Chip Fu in his prime, resulting with one hell of a ride more often akin in tone to the jazz vernacular of Coleman or Coltrane than to your average purveyor of “street knowledge.” Taken on a purely literary level, the rhymes and rhythmic structure of the songs contained here are impeccable, fusing social commentary with an impressive experimentation with meter – these are guys who obviously paid attention during the poetry component in English class, and it shows. For those that just wanna hear some really good music, this doesn’t disappoint on that level, either. The beats and backing tracks here are strong and wildly varied, and the furious alliteration utilized by the rappers lends even more level percussive counter rhythms to the tracks, giving you even more to sonically digest. In short, this is one mind-bogglingly good record. If there were any justice in the world, these guys would rule the airwaves. –jimmy (Nomadic Sound System)


A FRAMES:
2: LP
Lyrics about math and atoms and electricity and alienation and what-not (sample song titles: “Nuclear” “Ionic” “Electricity” “Abstract”) (sample verse: “She’s a spasm/Protoplasm”) intoned in a droll monotone over calmly spastic riffs that lead one to believe that the guitar player’s mother was frightened by that Crucifucks song about the canisters whilst she was with child, backed by basslines that seem appropriately disjointed enough to match the guitar, yet deep ‘n’ shake-a-robo-booty rhythmic enough to lock in perfectly with the hard-hittin’ drums – meaning that while the geeks spaz out to the sonic and lyrical occurrences occupying the higher frequency ranges, the stoned art fop two feet away might very well be simultaneously locked in some manner of rhapsodic groove coma down at the lower end. Not a bad gig, really – sort of like if Gary Numan kicked Steve Albini out of Shellac or something. And, right when one begins to feel the feeling that the entire record is one big drone-smash statement after another, the band serves up a brilliant slice of comparative goofiness in “Search & Rescue,” which is almost Supernova-esque in its merry naivete (though not to the extent where the A Frames instruct everyone to string together all their belts because they lost their snorkels and their fins) (but TO the extent that i decide the band has more in common with the Epoxies than the Gang of Four) (thank fucking God). One thing i fully expected from this record that never materialized was at least one song where the singer purported to either be an artificial intelligence or an alien – no one said anything of the sort, and, as a result, i’ve been furtively looking over my shoulder ever since. BEST SONG: “Search and Rescue” BEST SONG TITLE: ah, i won’t give ‘em the satisfaction... but i will state, for the record, that if “Togetherness” is not a direct musical ripoff of “Apathy” by Suburban Mutilation, i will eat my own shit. FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Recorded (quite well) by Chris Woodhouse of the FM Knives, which i didn’t know until yesterday, despite the fact that i was in the same building as both Chris and the A Frames on two separate occasions this year. –norb (S-S)


ZS:
Karate Bump: CDEP
You know that cell phone commercial where the little kid dressed up like a chicken goes, “Honk honk! I’m a goose!”? I don’t know what the Zs are dressed up as, but they go, “Honk! Honk! I’m a pretentious jazzbo and I have just realized a composition based on the natural arhythm of my own farts over the course of one Earth day! Three compositions, actually! Listen to me fart and call me a genius!” –Cuss Baxter (Planaria)


WRETCHED ONES:
Less Is More: CD
Angry skin-style punk by these veterans of the genre. It’s a style of music that can easily get repetitive and dull, but The Wretched Ones do it right and keep it loud, angry, and fun. Eighteen tracks with seven hidden ones. Lots of angst for your buck. –toby (TKO)


WATERPROOF BLONDE:
The Morning after the Night Before: CD
I, for some unknown reason, picked up every pink album this time through, this being one of the pinkest. Pretty formulaic, female-fronted stuff. Quiet. Rock. Quiet. They say they’re influenced by The Strokes. –megan (Crash Avenue, no address given)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
We Ain't Housewife Material: CD
I guess being a bunch of chicks is a good enough excuse to throw together a comp, and it's a decent enough record, i guess, but i don't really hear anything here that makes me want to sit all these ladies down in a row and perform untold hours of cunnilingus upon each and every one of them in succession or anything. Wait a minute. Yes i do. Never mind. BEST SONG: Elvis McMan, "Slow Children" HOTTEST BAND: The three female members of Japan's The Soap are so UNGODLY hot that if you told me i had my choice of doing all four members or nothing, i'd go for the quadruple band-pork in a New York Nanosecond. FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: I can't get The Soap's website to load in my browser, which is deeply frustrating but is also relieving me of the unsightly chore of Windexing my monitor every five minutes. Also, once Boris The Sprinkler's drummer, Ron, lost his Mensen t-shirt somewhere or another and it was a big deal of some sort. –norb (Dionysus)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
SOFLA, So Good, So What: CD
It's nice to see more and more good music coming out of Florida these days. This compilation has some great bands that have been around for a while like Against All Authority, Runnamucks, and The Crumbs, but there are a handful of new ones worth checking out as well. Standouts on this twenty-one band compilation, aside from the aforementioned bands, are AC Cobra, The Skanks, The Hangovers, The Knumbskullz, Hopesick, Stay Hit, and The Getback. The music ranges from ska to hardcore with many genres in between. Not a bad listen for five bucks. –toby (SOFLA)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
L.A.’s Rising Scene 2004, Volume 1: CD
Low-budget recordings of indie rockers from L.A. I’ve never heard of any of them. So-so, nothing to write home about. –Heela –Guest Contributor (Intravenous)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
It’s a Team Mint Xmas Vol. 2!: CD
As a rule, I just don’t like Christmas songs. They saturate the radio, television commercials, and cell phones, and by the day after Thanksgiving I’m begging for any other holiday than the one that gives us N’ Sync, Céline Dion, and Rod Stewart crooning the classics. Even when the fabulous Man… or Astroman? covered “Frosty the Snowman,” I was bored. At least with It’s a Team Mint Xmas you get a chunk of creativity with thirteen of the fourteen songs here being originals. But still, the cover of “Do They Know It’s Christmas” by Mint-Aid is just a bit too predictable; right down to the hokey Band-Aid name rip-off. I dunno, I guess I just think it’s kind of a waste of time and talent. Think of your favorite band. Now imagine them doing a Christmas song. Now imagine listening to that song in July. Yeah, my point exactly. –kat (Mint)


VACANCY, THE:
Heart Attack: CD
I could be completely wrong here but this band reminds me of the Foo Fighters, Urge Overkill, Helmet, or Jimmy Eat World. But I couldn’t sit through a full song. –don (A-F)


TWENTY2:
Unstable: CDEP
The cover artwork on this reminded me of the artist who used to graphics for Santa Cruz Skateboards back in the ‘80s. Well in that theme, this sounds like another band for the Warped Tour set. Watching the bonus videos, it looks like they have already played one even though they don’t mention it. Melodicore for the newbies. –don (New School)


TURPENTINE BROTHERS:
We Don’t Care About Your Good Times: CD
This would be The Animals meets the Doors, if Eric Burdon hadn’t been one hell of a rockin’ little man and Ray Manzarek never did anything interesting on keyboards. Non-offensive, but not that interesting either. –megan (Alive)


TROUBLEMAN:
The Last Show: CD
In addition to the music, all good rock‘n’roll records include the following topics: drinking, fighting, cheap floozies, and rock‘n’roll. Thus The Last Show may officially be dubbed a good rock‘n’roll record. These eleven tracks re-induce my juvenile rock fantasies (drinking, fighting, and chasing cheap floozies in a fog of Blatz and Jim Beam), and make me think of the Black Crowes meet the Joneses: knife-edge tunes with a twangy, Southern mentality lurking in the background, and just the right amount of sloppy drunkenness to provide an air of authenticity and credibility to go with the all-around fun and mayhem. Good stuff. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Offbeat Productions)


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