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Razorcake #87


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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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SUMFUX:
: CD-R
Good ‘n’ terrible hardcore from Buffalo, New York. Crusty, unpolished, ‘80s era influenced, hardcore punk that’s injected with some venom. The kind of punk that conjures up images of circle pits and trips to the hospital. This recording is bad in a good way. Classic, like a crackled out record spinning on a turntable. Yet it’s a CD-R. –Dave Disorder (Self-released, 29 Custer, Buffalo, NY 14214)


STEVE LIEBERMAN THE GANGSTA RABBI:
Shake the Missile Base: CD
With his quasi-innocent and simple, direct lyrics that sometimes bound over the “too much information” line, it’s hard not to find easy comparisons to Wild Man Fischer and Wesley Willis. While those two relied on Casio keyboard accompaniment or none whatsoever, Lieberman utilizes flute, steel drum, beat machines, and other instruments—usually doing all the playin’ hisself—to make his songs. Whether one likes his efforts is a matter of personal taste; some will undoubtedly see it as much ballyhooin’ and little talent, others will find a uniquely genius quality in the unpolished delivery of songs like “Skinheads in My Yard Oy Vey,” “Love @ Defcon 5,” and “Rubbin’ One Out for My Baby.” Me, I’m just wonderin’ how Roger and the rest of Pink Floyd feel about his cover of “Wish You Were Here.” –Jimmy Alvarado (stevelieberman@gangstarabbi.com)


STEEL TIGERS OF DEATH:
Self-titled: CDEP
Although I liked the STOD debut, I found it to be a tad antiseptic. When I saw them live, gone was that angular post punk and in its place was a Hanson Brothers/Nomeansno, full-grip, older-punks, we’ve-been-doing-this-for years feel to ‘em. I couldn’t be more pleased. There’s a sneer in their smile, there’s the surefootedness and excitement of a band gaining inertia, and it’s a thoroughly enjoyable four-song ride into straight-ahead punk rock. Nice. Mine has silk-screened walrus on the cover. –Todd Taylor (Self-released, www.steeltigersofdeath.com)


STAGE DISASTER / THE DEFICIT:
Split: CD
Stage Disaster: Fairly pedestrian street punk-sounding stuff from a German band fronted by a singer who spends much of the time barely making it into the vicinity of the right note. The Deficit: Much more interesting than their disc-mates, the Deficit lean more to the thrashy-yet-poppy side of the modern punk spectrum, with lyrics that seem more politically informed than many. In all, this ain’t the greatest release I’ve heard lately, but the latter band make it a much better listen than it would’ve been without them. –Jimmy Alvarado (Warbird)


SQUALORA:
Self-titled: CD
The band’s name is in this prickly font, as if when you simply think the name it’s like having a sea urchin inside your head. The songs are the same—one wouldn’t think that a tune titled “United We Slouch” would put such a sneer on one’s pate, but oh my does it ever. On the whole, Squalora remind me lots and lots and lots of Nausea or Milwaukee crust punk bands from the early ‘90s. This is a good thing; my understanding is that sea urchins can be pretty tasty when you crack them open. So is this record. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Repetitively Futile)


SPECIMENS, THE:
The Quick and the Deaf: CD
In the tradition of fellow Australian bands like Rose Tattoo, AC/DC, The Saints, and Radio Birdman, these guys take the Detroit’s bluesy, punked-up rock’n’roll template and just go to town with it, infusing it with enough swagger to blow the balls off a charging rhino at sixty paces. Collected here are two full-lengths and an EP, all of which are definitely above average for this particular pigeonhole, plus an interview with the band from an Australian radio show. Impressive stuff here, fo’ sho’. –Jimmy Alvarado (Zodiac Killer)


SPACE MARCH:
Without This You Can Never Change: CD
Sometimes it is amazing what gets sent to a magazine for review. This is full-on 1985 synthpop that I can’t imagine appealing to the readers of Razorcake in any possible way. We are talking Erasure, later era Human League, and maybe even Rick Astley. I am not exaggerating or joking when I say this. This style of music is still huge in Utah where Howard Jones can fill a stadium instead of a club—perfect Mormon rebellion music I suppose. It is amazingly well done and it already sounds dated, just like the original stuff. –Mike Frame (Death By Karaoke, www.deathbykaraoke.com)


SOUL MERCHANTS:
Selections from 1985-1987: 2 x CD
The most interesting thing about this band’s music is— .... (sorry, but a partial copy of a release only warrants at best a partial review.) –Jimmy Alvarado (www.smoochrecords.com)


SONGS FOR MOMS:
The Worse It Gets the Better: LP+CD
Calming, aggressive, and accessible are words that can all be honestly used when discussing The Worse It Gets the Better. Songs For Moms contains three women who write beautiful, strong lyrics and sing them with their beautiful, strong voices, while playing acoustic instruments, beautifully and strongly. And while at times this album reminds me of Rumbleseat, or the Pogues, or even the theme song from Sealab, Songs For Moms always maintain ownership of the music with their uniqueness, honesty, attitude, and character. Even when hopeless romanticism is handed out in heavy doses, these songs tell a tale that’s relatable and endearing. I have yet to play this album for someone who hasn’t totally dug it. –Daryl Gussin (Starcleaner)


SOFY MAJOR / ONE SECOND RIOT:
Split: 10” EP
Both bands apparently hail from France, and both kick up a mean racket (One Second Riot sound like they’re doing it without the added assistance of a guitar), and both wear their sludgy AmRep influences on their sleeves. Something in the delivery seems to be missing, however, ‘cause precious little here is really all that memorable. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.sofymajor.com)


SOFT TARGETS:
We Hate You Soft Targets!: CD
Post-Hüsker / Replacements / Dinosaur Jr. tuneage that sounds true to the period when alt-rock was known as “college rock.” While the songs are well written for the most part, none really stand out, as in “holy crap, this is good,” and the bulk of album sounds so true to form and period that it feels more dated than it should, especially considering it was recorded almost a year ago. Still, I’d categorize it as a very near miss rather than a failure. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.roostercow.com)


SOCIAL TREASON:
Self-titled: CD
Songs short and straight to the point. Using the formula of fast and slow, they mix metal riffs with mid tempo punk blasts. The punk parts remind me of bands that would have appeared on Mystic Records. The band Don’t No comes to mind. If you had told me this band and recording came from the mid ‘80s, I would totally believe you. –Donofthedead (Social Treason)


SLOWA WE KRWI:
Przebudzenie: CD
Truly intriguing first release from this band from Poland. A feeling I get listening to the music is the weight of darkness with the hint of hope for light. Music that is heavy with an aggressive attack and yet there lies beneath the surface a pretty melody mixed in. A mixture of anarcho punk meets metallic crust. Female vocals that, I believe, are sung in Polish since it’s their country of origin. English translations of the songs are provided. Her vocal delivery is screamed but is controlled and does not come off indecipherable, as far as I can tell. What I do know is that she sings with a feel that is genuine and passionate. Another thing that stands out is the interplay of the guitars and bass. At times, they are dead-on, pounding out riffs and, all of a sudden, the guitarist will just slip out a little bit, almost sounding out of key but adding a new dimension to the song. At other times, instead of just playing power bar chords, the person uses other strumming styles to add depth. Like any band, the drummer has to tie everything together. This band has that drummer that is solid and bangs out the beats to carry this group forward. This might take a little digging to find. But if what I describe entices you, the search will be rewarding. –Donofthedead (Tujaca Fala)


SKITZOS!, THE:
Faster! Louder! Better!: 7” EP
The Skizos! use exclamation marks everywhere! Punctuating their band name! And their EP title! And their song titles! And following each band member’s name! They make a good first impression. On the cover they’re gathered beneath a comforter—somewhat like the Who on The Kids Are Alright—and they’re looking at a Motörhead album with a Shadow comic on deck. They’re goofy Canadians cranking out goofy hardcore that reminds me of A.O.D., Ferd Mert, or those early I Farm 7”s. They even drop in a bit of Rush’s “Spirit of the Radio” at the beginning of “Watch Out!,” which probably qualifies the Skitzos! for tons of grant money from the Canadian government. So what’s not to like? The songs. They didn’t stick like I wanted them to. –Mike Faloon (Longshot)


SKITSYSTEM:
Singles Collection: CD
A reissue of three of their Distortion records EPs on one disc, which means you get to enjoy having your mind blown off your shoulders without having to stop and flip to the other side every few minutes. If you’re unfamiliar with Skitsystem, they mine the same Discharge influence as many of their Swedish peers, drop the tuning down a couple of notes, and let fly with just the right amount of their own virulence added to the pudding. They remain one of the best hardcore bands from that area of the planet and this serves as a reminder that they’ve managed to remain consistently cool for more than a decade. –Jimmy Alvarado (Barbarian)


SKARPRETTER:
Ammunition: CD
Copenhagen punks that put a lot of nice work in their digipack: foil-stamped cover, big booklet full of lyrics, nice layout, great crusty artwork throughout, and lyrics sung in both Danish and English. Gotta admit, I have no idea why they decided to just foil-stamp the cover and not put to use any, you know, ink, so it’s just this all-black cover with some bumps on it. Lack of accessibility aside, they’re doing some nice work here. High-energy, simple, quick, and dirty eight-song EP of political punk that sounds like the dude from Against All Authority if he became an ex-pat and dropped the horn section. Recording’s level, there’s some nice guitar sections that provide a break from the straight 1-2-3-4, and their politics are spot-on and right there in the open. The effort shows, gentlemen. –Keith Rosson (Skarpretter)


SICK ELECTRIC:
Haywire: CD
This band’s songs are populated by lyrics that seem like they were thrown together because they sounded neat, rather than to put forth any particular meaning. The first line you hear is, “Grab your board and ride the wave… straight to the grave!” That’s about as cool as they get. Each line is followed by an exclamation point. Some are followed by two or three exclamation points. Do you really need to use so many exclamation points in lyrics printed in a booklet with a rock CD? No, you don’t. Of course, you don’t need to put out boring indie hardcore CDs either, but this band went right ahead and did it anyway. –MP Johnson (Self-released)


SHOW IS THE RAINBOW, THE:
Perfect Push: 7”
This is difficult music. Difficult to classify. Difficult to listen to. Difficult to figure out why someone would produce such music and subsequently release it. Are you a weirdo? Do you like somewhat electronic spazz rock made by nerds? Are you ready to get stoked out by a 7”? If the answer to all three is “yes,” write Yosada records for your copy of this gem today. That was weird. That sounded like one of those reading rainbow segues. Segue isn’t spelled how you’d think it would be. I think I wrote that in another review awhile back. With the way I ramble in these things, you’d think they paid me by the word. They don’t. –Steveo (Yosada)


SHOT BAKER:
Time to Panic and Awake: CDEP and CD
These guys are several heaping slices of great. The general sound is up-tempo, melodic punk with big choruses one has the urge to sing along to even when they don’t know the actual words (which would probably result in enthusiastic mouthing along if one saw them live). The singer has one of those great low voices that sound pretty fuckin’ forceful and epic, like Shawn Stern from Youth Brigade. In fact, Time to Panic and Awake sound like the great, lost, follow-up albums that Youth Brigade never really got around to making, albeit with a Chicago rather than California slant. These albums are actually re-releases, but the provenance gets a little complicated. Awake was Shot Baker’s first proper full length and was originally released a few years ago with their first demo Time to Panic tacked on (for a demo, it’s actually a really good release on its own, instead of just sounding like rough sketches of future songs). Unhappy with the original release of Awake, the band rerecorded the album, included a new song, and separated Time to Panic. Whoa, kinda like how Youth Brigade did the same thing twenty-five years earlier with their Sound and Fury album. Déjà vu! Anyway, check this shit out, for this music makes me happy. –Adrian (Underground Communiqué)


SHOT BAKER / VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL:
Vindictive Tribute Split: 7”
The Vindictives are perhaps the most under-appreciated of all 1990s pop punk bands. So, imagine my delight upon receiving this Vindictives tribute record! The problem with this sort of thing is that it just makes me want to put on a Vindictives record instead! Plus Joey Vindictive & Co. have got to be one of the hardest bands to cover—crazy Muppet-ish vocals, over-the-top energy and craziness, ack! I’ve heard Shot Baker are a decent band, but their covers of “Future Homemakers of America” and “Glad to Be” lack the insanity of the originals. Vacation Bible School cover “Assembly Line” and “Automatic,” and get a little bit more of the Vindictives craziness, and rock, um, a little harder. That said, if I ever heard either of these bands (or, really, almost any other punk band) playing a Vindictives song at a show, I’d be jumping around like crazy! And I wholeheartedly salute the production of anything in homage to one of the best bands of all time! If this were a cereal, it’d be the revival (about ten years ago?) of Quisp, one of most amazing cereals ever! –Maddy (Underground Communiqué)


SHOREBIRDS:
Self-titled: 7”EP
I don’t think I’m alone in my affection for Big Drill Car, for punk that’s poppy, but not it the super-obvious ways, where the guitar work sneaks up on you over time, and you realize that all the instruments (usually lead by the guitars), regardless of the lyrics, sound hopeful and swelling; then you also come to realize that the lyrics are thoughtful and meaningful. It’s music which openly suggests that the listener can start believing in them. Shorebirds do exactly that. One song’s made and sung along by David Hayes, a golden dude if there ever was one; the guy who helped form Lookout! and walked away from it clean when he saw the shit sandwich it would become (and look how right he was), and formed Very Small Records. This is fantastic. –Todd Taylor (Self-released)


SHIT OUTTA LUCK:
Family Tradition: CD
Holy shit! No punches being pulled here. Right from the intro: “This one is dedicated to our fuckin’ families/It’s dedicated to the ones who fucked us up before we had a goddamn chance!” Wow. Those’re some pent-up issues right there. From there it sinks into some kind of Monster Magnet-esque sludge stoner fest. These heartfelt, angry songs to drinking and hating had me simultaneously wanting to give up the booze and wishing I had a big bottle to get me though the rest of the disc. Thankfully, there are only six songs on this thing. As a bonus, it goes out on the epic “Friday Night Fights.” Towards the end of the five minute-plus song, we get the speaking rant over the music. Pure gold. It goes from bitching about the price of beer, to people who drink “pussy ass” drinks other than whiskey, to shoving a frat boy’s balls up his ass(?!). It finishes off with a bunch of tough guy banter about picking fights blah, blah, blah… I don’t think you can blame your families for this shitty record. –Ty Stranglehold (Organized Crime)


SHELLAC:
Excellent Italian Greyhound: CD
First new record from the Chicago power trio since 2000. J Robbins stated he only liked the first four songs on this one. I like the whole thing. The rest of the record consists of a couple of instrumentals and a Bob Weston vocal. But if you’re lookin’ for fresh Albini—the first few songs are kick ass. “The End of Radio” is so true, so true. –Sean Koepenick (Touch & Go)


SHAPES, THE:
Songs for Sensible People: CD
The Shapes are another criminally obscure band hailing from England who apparently left a lasting enough impression that someone cared about, as well as remembered, them so that this compendium of their recorded output could see the light of day, and the punk world is a much better place as a result. One of the architects of what later became “punk pathetique” (think Toy Dolls, Splodgenessabounds and the like), they married to some very silly subject matter (how silly? How do “Jennifer the Conifer,” which is a love song to a tree, or “{I Saw} Batman {in the Laundrette}” strike you?) to the punk template and came up with catchy songs that weren’t afraid to be just as flat-out funny as sound pissed off. Their “Wot’s For Lunch, Mum (Not Beans Again!)” is a bonafide classic and its inclusion here is more than enough reason to pick this up and provide it with a properly reverential spot in the ol’ collection. One more thing: the liner notes are a fuckin’ riot: “The pressure of drink, women, and rock‘n’roll debauchery totally failing to manifest in their lives began to affect the band badly….Dave began wearing a curly wig and false mustache, claiming that he was really Carlos Santana and that, therefore, he should get double helpings of ‘eggs, beans and chips’ when the band stopped off for a nosh…. Brian demanded that his knees be removed so that he could have the front of his legs paved. It was all getting too much….” –Jimmy Alvarado (Overground)


SERIOUS:
Rejected: 7”
Ack! I can hardly figure out what the name of this band is! The 7” is covered with words, and I’m too stupid to figure it out! Sadly, I had to resort to MySpace for the answer. For shame! Anyway, although I was intrigued to learn that they’re recording their next record at Sonic Iguana (recording studio of choice for many pop punk legends), I must say that this didn’t get past your basic Cheerios for me. However, it does include the lyric, “All the other girls were laughing at me/I’ll piss in their face.” –Maddy (High School Reject)


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