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Razorcake #80


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Record Reviews

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WINTER SOUNDS:
Porcelain Empire: CD
By all rights, I should hate this like crazy. It’s overblown, sappy-sounding, exceedingly poppy indie rock stuff, but for some reason—maybe it’s the cold medicine I’ve been downing like kamikazes—it gels together quite nicely. In the midst of all the grandeur is some nice funnin’ with dynamics, solid vocal harmonies and some good songwriting, the result being something like a cross between the bluster of The Killers and the humility of Teenage Fanclub. Surprisingly better than I expected. –Jimmy Alvarado (Live Wire)


WE THE PEOPLE:
Time to Operate: 7" EP
Seem to remember previously reviewing something else by ’em and not being all that impressed (but given the amount of stuff I wade through, please excuse me if I’m mistaken in that assessment) but these guys have an interesting sound going here. Although decidedly punk, the overall feel is they’re aiming for some gray area between rock, hardcore and oi. The song structures are well thought out and have interesting little bits, the tempos often vary within a given song, and the singer sounds like he just stepped out of an early Boston hardcore band. Very interesting, indeed. –Jimmy Alvarado (Stop Whining Start Winning)


SUITE 666:
Pretty Corpses: CDEP
I amuse myself sometimes. I will look at certain releases and think right off the bat I’m going to dislike it. I thought the same thing here. But the first track, “Personal Safety of Midget,” starts with a bass line that reminded me of a cross of the intro to the Circle Jerks’ “Trapped” and Black Flag’s intro to “Six Pack.” Then the band blast forward with a punk meets death rock attack that reminded me of the Super Heroines because of the dual female vocals. Whoa! I’m wrong again. Then the other tracks veered into cowpunk, straight forward punk and pop punk territories. Not sure if this is their debut. But from what I have heard so far, I like what I hear. –Donofthedead (Suite 666)


PEACHFUZZ:
Catch Your Snap: CD
Decent laid-back power pop (i.e. way more Big Star than 999), but nothing that makes me want to throw off my clothes and jump on a trampoline—the standard reviewing benchmark. I think I am regressing. The older I get, the faster I want my music to be! By the time I'm in a nursing home, I'll just be listening to speed metal. For shame! I'm also creeped out by the cover art—a drawing of a naked woman with the fish head. Yikes! If this were a cereal, it'd be a defective box of Apple Jacks with the sugar mysteriously missing. Calling Encyclopedia Brown! –Maddy (Teenacide)


NEUTRAL BOY:
Weapon of Mass Seduction: CD
This band appears to be somewhat smart, very angry, obnoxiously loud, and probably have really, really dirty floors at their house. Actually, the back cover displays a rather clean environment, so what the hell do I know. In any event, I’m glad they could work out all their emotional issues they have with their friends on my time. Glad to help! BEST SONG: “She Swears” BEST SONG TITLE: “Dick to Cry on” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Recorded “on purpose.” –Rev. Norb (Music Abuse)


MAD JUANA:
Acoustic Voodoo: CD
This band contains one of the dudes from Hanoi Rocks (the one who replaced a dead New York Doll) and about seven other people. It’s got a “world music” feel to it—the kind of stuff Joe Strummer was doing after the demons of the Clash left him. The difference between Joe Strummer and Mad Juana: oodles of erudition with the former, cerebral bankruptcy with the latter. Even worse: Acoustic Voodoo contains a cover of “Venus in Furs,” which in Soviet Russia would’ve gotten these numbskulls thrown in the Gulag. (NOTE: Don’t ever cover a Velvets song unless you’re Peter Laughner. Additionally, NEVER cover a DRIFTERS SONG: BEN E. KING and CLYDE McPHATTER CAN NEVER BE TOPPED, MOTHERFUCKER; SO JUST DON’T DO IT! THAT INCLUDES YOU, JERRY LEE although your version of “SAVE THE LAST DANCE FOR ME” is pretty good—just not DRIFTERS’ QUALITY.) –Ryan Leach (Azra)


LOSER LIFE:
I Have Ghosts and I Have Ghosts: CD
On first listen this seems like a kinda loose, sloppy hardcore band and that’s about it. Some interesting little things are going on underneath all the noise, however. The lyrics are nothing to write home about and more than a passing nod to Conflict is apparent in the dynamics and delivery, but there’s also some Hüsker-type guitar noodling buried layered in there as well, adding an interesting dimension to what their doing. Can’t really say the end result was mind-blowing per se, but they did make me pay attention the whole way through. –Jimmy Alvarado (Magic Bullet)


KOBAYASHI:
Neuanstrich: LP
Never heard of this band before. But with so many bands around the world, that is highly likely. I really didn’t find much on this band when I did a quick search but I did learn that this is their second release. At first glance, I really didn’t think I would like this record. I thought this would be a street punk record from Germany. Boy was I wrong on that assumption. The band is definitely German. I can’t put my finger on what band or bands they remind me of at the moment. But that is a good thing since I can’t instantly write them off as another band that easily sounds like another. Instantly I can say that they play melodic driven punk that is emotionally layered and varied. Mid tempo beats that have force and songs that have been written with a lot of thought put in. Vocals are delivered with a passion and with conviction. Without understanding the language, I can definitely feel that the songs are sung with passion and sincerity. Guitars are a tad on the clean side but lightly distorted they create the right aural power to bring forth the music. Drums and bass tie in the rhythms to solidify the music. An enjoyable listen all the way through. A large group of labels banded together to put this out. Co-released by Alerta Antifascista, Soroll, Tofu Guerilla, Acclaim Collective, Synalgie, and Behind the Scenes. That shows a lot of faith that this release should see the light of day. –Donofthedead (Alerta Antifascista)


KING AUTOMATIC:
I Walk My Murderous Intentions Home: CD
I buy demented, bluesy, squawky-harmonica bashing records from time to time, and, generally, I tend to enjoy them the first couple times I play them, then rarely spin them ever again. With the one-man-though-likely-not-all-recorded-at-once skronky majesty of King Automatic, these songs sound like demi-classics of the subgenre that one already knows and loves after the second or third time around, and I can’t figure out if that’s a good thing, or it just means that I’ll be sick of and done with the record that much sooner. OH, THE PAIN OF UNCERTAINTY!!! BEST SONG: “Artschool Girl” BEST SONG TITLE: “I Walk My Murderous Intentions Home” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: He’ll give you space cake, you cunt. –Rev. Norb (Voodoo Rhythm)


HAUNTED LIFE:
The Declaration: CD
Fast ’n’ furious, cookie cutter bro-core stuff with all the requisite shout-alongs and shit like that. The fact that they sounded a little like a sped up Cro-Mags made ’em interesting for about nine seconds, tops. –Jimmy Alvarado (Get Outta Town)


GREAT ST. LOUIS, THE:
Forever Now: CD
Muscular up-tempo punk rock akin to Avail or American Steel (maybe Dropkick Murphys meets early Jawbox?). Bands like that are always hit or miss for me, but this one grew on me with every play. Catchy and melodic with gruff vocals that mean business, I for one did not feel that this record was stale or derivative in any way. I may be pigeonholing the style of music that The Great St. Louis play, but they do it very well, sounding fresh and vibrant every step of the way. Solid stuff. –The Lord Kveldulfr (JSNTGM)


GHENGIS CON JOB:
To Hell In Black: CD
So here’s the picture on this CD: Big, tough looking guys with a lot of tattoos, bandanas, and facial hair drinking beer. The cover has a skull wearing a cowboy hat with a pentagram on it above two six-shooters skull and crossbones style. There is a picture of a tattooed woman tied up and gagged, wearing just underwear, in the trunk in the car. On the other side is just the rope in the trunk of the car. Did she escape? What’s the deal? So this CD is metal. I’m not much into metal; in fact I’d say it accounts for less than one percent of what I listen to. I can’t really relate to the satanic redneck theme of this record and the music, although not bad (I’ve listened to enough metal in my life to at least know good and bad) isn’t anything new. Somebody might like this, maybe Pantera fans? But it’s not my taste. –Jason Donnerparty (High Fidelity)


GEE STRINGS, THE:
A Bunch of Bugs: CD
There is nothing subtle about The Gee Strings. For instance, there is a song on this album called “Let’s Make Up and Screw”. Straight ahead, aggressive, catchy punk rock with lady vocals. I liked it while I was listening to it, but forgot it as soon as I turned it off. –Jennifer Whiteford (Dead Beat)


FIVE-O:
Get Down!: CD
Five-O really hate the police. I’d even wager that they hate the police even more than The Dicks and N.W.A. put together. Yep, they’re really passionate about their hatred for the police alright. The only problem is that you’d never guess from their sound. It definitely looks right. Lots of pictures of police brutality from over the decades, lots of angry lyrics and slogans plastered everywhere… One question though. Why is the singer so goddamn happy? Seriously, the guy sounds like he’s singing about taking is Grandma out for ice cream and a walk in the park, while the lyrics are spouting rhetoric about smashing the police state and our rights being removed. It just doesn’t synch up. On another note, the music is incredibly cheesy which doesn’t help to get the point across. I’ve got to say that I’ve never heard of annoying someone into seeing your point of view. –Ty Stranglehold (Citizen Target)


DRUNK DRIVERS:
Model Citizen: CD
Smart-guy rock of the ilk you’d hear from a band playing one o’ them college town bars where the kids get shitfaced, whoop a lot and never really pay much attention to the band playing on any given night. –Jimmy Alvarado (Crustacean)


DEADLINE:
More to It: CD
My feelings about Deadline have varied from album to album, usually with them averaging out at being better than average. This reissue of their first album, however, is a bit of a doozy. The tunes are loud and up to the eyebrows in hooks, and Liz’s vocals sound like a low-intensity Poly Styrene. Though I wasn’t too hip on the ska-tinged second tune here, the bulk of this is solid as a titanium wall and the non-ska cover of the Specials’ “Do Nothing” was easily one of the highlights. –Jimmy Alvarado (Captain Oi)


DASH RIP ROCK:
Hee Haw Hell: CD
Right off the bat, I’m not a big fan of the “Southern Fried Punk” thang. That said, however, I do respect a clever idea and some decent song writing. This—a baker’s dozen of twangy rock tunes loosely held together by a Southern take on Dante’s Inferno—has both. I wouldn’t say it’s the best thing I’ve heard this year, but it is good for a few listens, and the vignettes between songs should make any literature-savvy listener giggle more than once. –Jimmy Alvarado (Alternative Tentacles)


CRACKDOWN, THE / HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR:
Vs.: Split CD
Those who know me can attest to my love of bands from both my native Canada and also Germany. Just can’t get enough of the punk rock from both countries. That said, this split puts me in an odd position. Who will win? The Crackdown are from Winnipeg and they play that earnest, working man’s punk. They do it well. Great recording here as well. I’m thinking Beltones which works well for me. Toe tapping and singing along at work. We have a contender. In the other corner we have Hiroshima Mon Amour hailing from Bochum Germany. They came out of the corner firmly rocking the whole Turbonegro thing. Doing it well, but it’s a style that’s been done to death as of late. Wait a minute. That’s all falling to the wayside, and what we’re left with is some tight, snotty and rocking punk that is fully kicking my ass. Lyrics in both English and German. That gets me every time! Who wins this one you ask? I DO! –Ty Stranglehold (Longshot)


COFFINBERRY:
God Dam Dogs: CD
Alex Chilton-inspired indie rock for teenagers who don’t know Alex Chilton from Paul Westeberg. Honestly, better than most, but not Black Time or anything. File under “I’d rather being reading Michel Foucault.” –Ryan Leach (Morphius)


COBRETTI:
Violation Guaranteed: CD
Think Henry Rollins fronting a Swedish rock band and you’re on the right track. –Jimmy Alvarado (Cobretti)


BLUDWULF:
Cryptic Revelations: CD
These guys and girl are a different bunch. They tend to play a lot of DIY punk shows. But their look is more glam with some punk elements mixed in. The music sounds like 80s metal with a feel of the Japanese band GISM. I saw this band on tour with Toxic Holocaust last year. If you know anything about TH, it is just one person on record. But when he plays out, he recruits a band to learn his songs and back him. So Bludwulf were the backing and opening band for the tour. Live, Bludwulf were pretty fun to watch even though they didn’t have their guitarist with them. He had gotten himself arrested the night before. So Mr. Toxic Holocaust had to back them on guitar. So I ended up watching one band with a singer and the same band with the guitarist singing a different set. On this recording, the energy of their live show is not captured. To me, sounds like a metal record I would have pulled out of the used bin back in the ‘80s from some obscure band from maybe the Midwest. I would have pulled it out, listened to it, and then put it back in the bins. –Donofthedead (Charged)


BLACK ROSE BAND:
Hot Box: 7"
Plucky fun from the modern master King Louie. He keeps the rock pure and simple here. “Hot Box” is a love letter to smoking; “Hoochie Poochie” is a bitch session about getting the tour van pulled over and searched. That’s what I’m sayin’, don’t need to reinvent rock, just tell stories, pluck the instruments, photocopy the cover, have people nod along. Good shit. –Speedway Randy (Contaminated)


BEERZONE:
Against the Flow/Strangle All the Boy Bands: CD
Beerzone’s take on the whole streetpunk thing, firmly entrenched in the Peter & the Test Tube Babies school of rambunctiousness, is always a hoot, with social commentary dollopped into the off-kilter humor for which these guys are known, and you get a double dose with this, a reissue of two albums on one disc. Haven’t heard anything from them for a while and was kinda worried they’d thrown in the towel, but a quick Google search indicates they’re still raising a ruckus, which is good news, indeed. –Jimmy Alvarado (Overground)


WILLOWZ:
Chautauqua: CD
I know people love this band, but I’ve never listened to them. I kind of started to respect my friends who like this band a whole lot less. Seriously, who sings through a filter if they’re not Scott Weiland? –Megan Pants (Dim Mak)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Don't Fuck With Her: CD
This collection from On The Rag Records is named after the idea that no one should “fuck with” any woman, dedicated to abused women everywhere, and includes a call to support RAINN (the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network). Everyone can get behind a cause like that, but what I can’t get behind is the music on this comp. Featuring four or five tracks each from four hardcore bands that are either female-fronted or all women (Gruk, All or Nothing HC, Riot This, and Bruise Violet), this all just sounds the same to me. Sarah Shay –Guest Contributor (On the Rag)


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