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Razorcake #84
Tim Version, Ordinary Life LP + bonus 7"
Radon, 28 LP
Zisk #25
Razorcake #83

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Record Reviews

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Indie Band: 7” EP
Punky, ramped-up pop from a buncha guys who apparently prefer “independent” rather than “indie” when it comes to describing them, and I can totally empathize. The songs are catchy, opinionated and strong overall, which means you could do much worse than picking this up. –Jimmy Alvarado (It’s Alive)

Indie Band: 7” EP
There is an axiom in rock’n’roll that says you can’t really go too wrong buying a record with a black cover and pink lettering ((and i should know, because i just now made it up)), and, in a general sense, that’s true here; however, what i really can’t get my brain around is how a band that writes such laughably shit-tacular lyrics like “your college boy brand of rock is doing mighty well for you and that’s just fine / you’re packing your shows, making more than a dime” could actually have the balls to include this line in their press writeup: “Pop punks ((sic)) songs absolutely need to have the hooks, but without quality lyrics and solid song structure they’re just fodder for the bargain bins of tomorrow.” I’m reading that, i’m like “Fuck YOU, ya little douches! Your lyrics are so bad i spent ten minutes trying to figure out if you were native English speakers, or from fuckin’ Lithuania or some god damn thing! Who the hell are YOU to go off on ‘quality song lyrics’ this, and ‘solid song structure’ that?! YOU FUCKIN’ DORKS WRITE SONGS WITH TITLES LIKE ‘CHERRY BOMB!!!’ HAVEN’T WE HAD A PERFECTLY GOOD SONG WITH THAT TITLE FOR LIKE OVER THIRTY YEARS NOW??? I HOPE JOAN JETT KICKS YOUR ASS WHILE LITA FORD EATS TIM HORTON’S STREUSEL CAKES OFF YOUR MOTHER’S BEST CHINA!!! AAAAAAGGGGGHHHHH!!!” Not a terribly bad record, really, but... i mean... holy crap, mon, get it together. BEST SONG: “What You Do” BEST SONG TITLE: “Cherry Bomb”...if you’re the FUCKING RUNAWAYS!!! FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: I wrote the song “Motherfucker Are You Ready To Rock?” in the front row of a Joan Jett concert. –Rev. Norb (It’s Alive)

Damn Fool Music: CD
The latest release from these prolific Europeans, who are known for their take on pop punk crossed with rock’n’roll. They seem to try to take things a little further on this one as well, with some subtle indie rock and jazz influences (especially on “Daily Mail,” which is one of my favorite tracks on the record). Other miscellaneous thoughts that popped into my head while listening involved wondering if Sonic Iguana had moved to overseas, and that the vocals sounding like a pop punk cross between Jello Biafra and Leonard Graves Phillips. –Joe Evans III (Whoa Oh)

Sad Fur Peak: CDEP
According to the info that came with this, the main dude responsible is an abstract painter who got into making his own tape loops. He got involved with two other cats and they decided to make a kinda hip hop/punk/skronk hybrid, which is exactly what this sounds like. It’s quite good when it works, kinda meandering when it doesn’t, but when you average the two ends of the spectrum out, it’s a consistently interesting take on the melding of all aforementioned genres. –Jimmy Alvarado (The Young Lasses)

Make It Happen: CD
It took them almost a decade, but the irresistible Wretched Ones finally return with their fourth full-length album. The Wretched Ones are one of the few surviving bands from the oi/streetpunk boom of the 1990s. Perhaps they’ve endured since they truly do live the working class existence that other bands only purport to. They work blue collar jobs and don’t try to make a career out of the band. Live shows reveal that they have some of the most ribald fans of any active band of today. They traditionally sing about being old and working themselves to the bone, and it’s been wise of them to take so long between records since all four albums are essential. While there are no songs as catchy as “Bicycle Jack” or any of their occasional melodic songs from the past, every track on here retains that Wretched magic that fans know and love. New classics include “Skin Neighbor” and “Lady Boss.” It’s always been hard to explain why this seemingly dopey music is so damn effective, but nothing gets us fans going the way The Wretched Ones do. This new batch of laugh out loud lyrics you can raise your fist in the air to, belted out by vocalist Pit, will provide years of fun for a bourgeoning new generation of Wretched fans. –Art Ettinger (Headache)

Self-titled: CD
Is it naïve of me that I expected a band called Words with an album called Words to have an emphasis on, y’know, words? Words’s atonal, frenetic, slightly mathy hardcore has a few good lyrics, but the way vocalists Justin Morales and Morgan Travis scream them, you’d never know without cracking the insert. Doing so does prove informative, however; they’ve included a manifesto of sorts inside, explaining that they give away their music for free because “music is passion, not an industry.” –Sarah Shay –Guest Contributor (Self-released)

Split: 7”
Your older brother’s screamo, from the days when bands wore garage jackets and didn’t even consider getting on the radio. Words are the more spastic of the two bands, with guitar effects, a sick drummer, and sing-along potential towards the end of their track. Think In French slow their hardcore down a bit, for a chunkier rock style that would have been a lot more interesting if the song was half as long and they didn’t keep going back and forth between two parts. If those Impetus Inter records just aren’t enough, you may as well pick this up. –CT Terry –Guest Contributor (www.humaniterrorist.com)

Desentivity Training: CD
Kevin from Limecell once told me that he sings from the neck up, no diaphragm needed. He’s got a kindred spirit in Captain Perverto, fellow practitioner of the Cookie Monster (style), “I will end you” (substance) vocal arts. But it’s the humor and conviction as much as the sandpaper singing and metallic punk that win me over to the occasional Confederacy of Scum band. While I have no doubt that Without M.F. Order can mop the floor with any dude in the joint Desentivity Training is a relatively tame record. Sure “This Blood’s for You” is kind of funny but it’s kind of dull. The anti-gay lyrics later in the record are to be expected—more predictable than offensive—but I’m confused by the “Parental Advisory” label and the decision to abbreviate “motherfucker” in the band name, seems rather pragmatic, if not sensitive. I can’t imagine a guy like Captain Perverto making such concessions. –Mike Faloon (www.blackandbluerecords.com)

Self-titled: CDEP
This five-song EP from Portland’s Wisdom Teeth bears a great resemblance to Virginia’s Haram (who basically combine Drive Like Jehu and Sonic Youth) or the great Unwound. While it’s played competently, it doesn’t really have any bells and whistles or even a swinging leg that kicks me in the balls. Unfortunate. –Kurt Morris (Radio Is Down)

Demo: CD-R
First off, lemme start by saying that as a rule I’m not too fond of cover bands, especially punk cover bands. Exceptions exist, of course, but on the whole, I don’t really understand why anyone would spend so much time perfecting the performance of someone else’s songs instead of coming up with your own. To me it shows a serious lack of creativity, you know? That said—and I know I’m contradicting myself, so shut up—I like Wild Weekend. Sure, the vocals could be delivered with a little more oomph, but on the whole, they ain’t too bad at covering Zeros “hits,” like “Cosmetic Couple,” “Wimp,” and “Handgrenade Heart,” to name a few. Would I prefer to hear what they come up with on their own based on said Zeros influence? Yeah, but hearing a worthy band put “Don’t Push Me Around” to good use ain’t exactly a bad thing. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.myspace.com/wildweekend07)

Let’s Get Arrested: CD
Dirty, outlaw, stoner rock from this New Orleans via Baton RougeLouisiana band. They are sleazy and proud. The songs are tongue and cheek and over the top. Although this kinda stuff isn’t usually up my alley, these guys could grow on me. At least they don’t take themselves too seriously. They could be considered in the vein of Supersuckers, Nine Pound Hammer, and Nashville Pussy. They appreciate the down and dirty style and attitude of bands like Zeke and Honky. If you’re in the mood to tie one on and get in a fight with some rednecks in bro-dozers, these guys might whet your whistle. –Buttertooth (www.myspace.com/thewayhighmen)

No Shore: 7” EP
Seven more cuts of hardcore carved from the same cloth as bands like Negative Approach and Out Cold. Not too fast, not too slow, but plenty pissed. –Jimmy Alvarado (Grave Mistake)

Split: LP
Splits LPs rule. All around, it’s an awesome format: more than a split 7”, which can be over before you know it, you’re able to firmly get an idea of what a band’s trying to do—but you get two of ‘em to try on for size. So I figured Sweden’s Penalty Time was going to be some nutty thrash stuff, given that their side of the sleeve had a drawing with skeletons with those little flipped up hats on it. That and the band name were really all I had to go on, and surprise, surprise, I was way off. Me and my assumptions. They’re actually kicking out some pretty decent, catchy streetpunk stuff: think of a more gruff Criminal Damage, or Blitz with a bit more of a hardcore flair. Not bad by any stretch. Wardance is playing dark and doomy crust stuff—they don’t really provide any band information at all, so I’m just guessing when I say that a guy and a girl are trading vocal duties here. If I’m wrong, you lads should know that one of your vocalists sounds strikingly like the woman from Hiretsukan. Taken as a whole, it’s a great introduction to both bands, and neither one of them skimp on the content; generally good songs and consistent songwriting throughout, and there’s so much music packed onto this thing, the record would occasionally skip due to the grooves being so thin. Pretty solid attack. –Keith Rosson (Penalty Time)

Sounds of Failure Sounds of Hope: CD
Solid, female-fronted punk rock with lyrics that are deeper than you might expect. The next time I’m in an angry ladyrock kind of mood, this is what I’m going to reach for. –Jennifer Whiteford (www.drstrange.com)

They Have Pulled Down Deep Heaven on their Heads: CD
Sometimes when you wish for something a little off the beaten path, you get it in spades. Case in point: this disc: Imagine that Biafra and Saccharine Trust’s Jack Brewer had a love child and he’d been recruited to sing in a Scratch Acid cover band wholly conceived in the mind of the dudes in Rudimentary Peni and you ain’t even partly there. This is unrelentingly noisy, pretty danged original sounding, and fucked up in all the right ways. Can’t wait to spring it on the guests at my next garden soiree. –Jimmy Alvarado (Boot To Head)

: 7”
So, picture this: Violent Arrest walk into a bar… No, no, that’s not right. Violent Arrest walk into a VFW Hall, or a community center, or a basement, or, hell, maybe even a bar, sure. They then proceed to lay waste to the entire place with their relentless worship and emulation of ‘80s hardcore, and you can take that for what it is. I mean, they’re not reinventing the wheel by any stretch, but the wheel they’ve created is big (great recording quality), rolling very fast (ten songs in maybe ten minutes), and covered in sharp, scary spikes (as there’s no lyric sheet, I’ve got no idea what they’re singing about, but the titles don’t exactly denote glee or contentment, and by jumped-up Christ, they sound like they mean it). So it’s probably best if you get out of the way. Another solid one for this label. –Keith Rosson (Deranged)

The Autumn EP: CD
The name scared me from the start. These guys from Minneapolis need to take a good listen to Dillinger 4. I think they want to be pop rock stars that sound a little hard. You know the type: shopping at the mall and rubbing elbows with Grammy-award winning producers for crossover success. This is a punk rock magazine and when there is a blatant lack of understanding of DIY culture, ideology, ethics, and a simultaneous affection for mass popular culture, all you get from me is a big fat, “This sucks!” –Buttertooth (Somnio Artist Group)

The Punk Singles 1981-85: CD
I’m all for reissues and “best of” discs, especially when it’s an obscure band or a long gone great whose output has been wallowing in “out of print” land for far too long, but at this point, another Varukers retrospective is about as necessary as a Sex Pistols retrospective. I mean, seriously, how many are there now with the same tracks? How many more times can you squeeze blood from a stone? No one can deny they were a good, even important, band. Inhabiting that fuzzy territory between Discharge and the Exploited, they were fast, topical, pissed off and yet oddly catchy in a way most of their peers weren’t. They are easily deserving of much adulation, but wouldn’t it be much better if a definitive overview—or better yet, a full-on reissue of all their material—were embarked upon and all attempts were made to keep them perpetually available instead of shuffling the same tracks around and slapping a new cover on them? –Jimmy Alvarado (www.cherryred.co.uk)

We Just Call It Roulette, Vol 1: CD
Russian Recording is a sound studio in Indiana making records for independent bands for the past four years. This disc is a one-time pressing of 500 copies. Most the bands are obscure Midwest bands. I appreciate the underground factor of this disc. The musical styles vary from folksy to indie rock to hardcore. From Billy Bragg ideas to Slint’s and Jesus Lizard’s musical twists. The hardcore tracks include WastelandDC and Racebannon. There are a plenty of good acts on here including: Lucky Pineapple, Beltane Fire, Turn Pale, and Abner Trio, among others. Diversity is punk rock. Russian does decent recordings as well. Check ‘em out if you are in Indiana. –Buttertooth (Russian Recordings)

The Black Garfield Comp: CD
Four bands: Part Man Part Horse, The Old Timerz, Coconut Cool Outs, Unnatural Helpers, all of which I’ve never heard of. No track listing, so I have no idea who’s doing what. Those tracks that have that spastic dance feel of the Trashies or the Sneaky Pinks are awesome. Those few songs with the dude who sings like he’s got a healthy stash of Lifter Puller and Hold Steady records on his shelf are pretty great. The rest of it varies from ignorably annoying to full-on shit-tastic. Lots of weird dick joke humor going on in there inside this sweet three-color hand screened cover, which was a little off-putting, even though I love me a good dick joke. –Megan Pants (Haunted Horse)

Retro Is Poison: LP
An interesting four-way with Ciril, Karnvapen Attack (Spain), I Object, and Active Minds (U.K.) who I didn’t know were still an active band. Starting things off is one my favorite bands to go see live. Their mixture of death rock and punk ala Rudimentary Peni is challenging and interesting. A band you have to see live once in your lifetime to really see what their madness truly is. Karnvapen Attack from Spain takes their name from a Mob 47 song, but that is not their primary influence. They take the early ‘80s Scandinavian sound and meld it with pieces of early American hardcore. With the pieces together, they bring forth a forceful attack. I Object has been flying past my radar. I have a couple of their releases I never got around to listening to. I know they tour extensively but I have missed them the few times they have come around my way. Now sitting here listening to them, I am the one who has truly missed out. Straight-ahead, female-fronted hardcore that keeps the songs short and to the point. A ferocious delivery of rage, but they change it up to keep songs from becoming monotonous and generic. They play with the tempo and are not afraid to play with the sounds and notes. But, in the end, their thrashing is what is going to slap you in the ass. Closing the comp is U.K.’s Active Minds. A perfect blend of anarcho punk meets thrash. They have been at it for quite some time now but they have not become complacent. They still question the realities of life and spew it forth with abrasive aggression. Comps are not always my favorites these days, but this one stands out amongst the comps out there that feel like they are full of filler. –Donofthedead (Punks Before Profit)

He Put the Bomp! in the Bomp-Greg Shaw: CD
Incredible compilation of bands paying tribute to the late Shaw, founder of Bomp Records. It starts out with the one-two sucker punch of The Plimsouls doing “Good Times” and The Briefs tackling “She’s Just a Girl on the Block.” Other groups cover The Zeros, The Dead Boys, and Roky Erickson too. Captain Sensible even contributes to Nikki Sudden’s take on “KillCity.” Twenty-three killer songs, this also came with a book and T-shirt in a hundred run package. But at least get this CD to find out about Bomp Records and the man that made it so fucking cool. –Sean Koepenick (Bomp!)

“Shake Me Just a Little Bit More” b/w “It’s All About Me”: 7”
The Underthings, who bill themselves as “Brooklyn’s Oldest Hit Makers,” feature members of the Sea Monkeys, Little Killers, Plungers, and Vacant Lot, and they haven’t just been around the block, they were there when the block was paved. This has been a great year for singles—Ergs, Primate 5, Coconut Coolouts, Tuff Bananas, Catholic Boys—and my most recent mix tape is already dragging from overuse (Maxell’s R&D budget ain’t what it used to be. They’ve even cut back on the amount of leader tape in each cassette.)—and “Shake Me Just a Little Bit More” is the best song on that mix. Don’t be led astray by the lyric’s modest request there’s big action. Enough pop, punk, and garage to please the Chocolate Watchband fan as much as the All fanatic—that’s what great guitar hooks and simple yet adhesive melodies will get you in this world. The b-side is okay, same great band at the helm, but suffers in the arrangement department (the last line of each verse is repeated in every chorus and it’s overkill). Worth it for the a-side. –Mike Faloon (www.myspace.com/heyheyitstheunderthings)

Black Bile: LP
These guys keep the thrash-o-matic drum beats to a bare minimum and opt instead for some driving, blunt force beats to propel some solid tuneage. It’s probably not wholly intentional, but the singer is sometimes reminiscent of Snake from Voivod. Not bad. –Jimmy Alvarado (Fashionable Idiots)

Black Bile: CD
Musical tastes are so subjective. Reviewing music, even more so. I’ve had records I’ve played on, songs I’ve written, compared to bands I’ve never heard of before, much less listened to or ripped off, intentionally or not. So, for all I know, Under Pressure has no idea who Fucked Up is, or if they do, it’s entirely possible the similarities I hear are in no way intentional. But again, reviewing music is mired in subjectivity—we’re all at the mercy of limitations, both the band’s the reviewer’s. And I’m hearing a heavy, heavy tip of the hat to that band on this album; the vocalist sounds remarkably like Pink Eye (or whatever stupid moniker the dude’s going by these days) and the music itself sounds like discarded outtakes from the Epics In Minutes collection, until the final track, “The Last,” which is a slow, simmering dirge remarkably similar to something from Hidden World. I hate to compare one band so rigidly to another (because Under Pressure doesn’t come close to giving me the same spiritual piss-shivers that Fucked Up does) but after listening to Black Bile multiple times, that comparison’s the only one that keeps springing to mind. –Keith Rosson (Escape Artist)

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