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ESTRANGED, THE: Static Thoughts: CD
Minimalism is tricky to nail punk (and post punk). Because it’s a reduction to the bare elements without losing power. For maximum effect, it’s knowing exactly what not to play as it is what to play. Skeletons with phantom power. When to pound, when to tap. When to lunge. When to hide in wait. And that’s why any music that’s sparse, yet powerful and totally on target, there aren’t many bands that have stood the test of time. Wire. Early Gang Of Four. And to bring up those two bands isn’t in any way to suggest that The Estranged are regressive, it’s to show that there’s a high water mark, and if you’re going to be in band, why not aim for that? There’s no hiding behind a wall of sound, no banks of effect pedals, just well-constructed, icy, and sparse songs that are simultaneously filled with doomed thoughts, self-immolation, and joy. Excellent.
ENDLESS MIKE JAMBOX: Another Hot Freshy Fresh: CD
Almost equal parts of a watered-down, slowed-down version of Lifetime and a Drive-Thru band without the turd polish. I don’t know what the band name means, but I think the album title means a steaming pile of shit.
–Vincent Battilana (Madison Underground, www.madisonundergroundpress.com)
ENDLESS BLOCKADE, THE: Primitive: CD
Genuine anger and disgust seethes in this music. Powerviolence that embodies the moniker. Auditory warhammers are swung back and forth with no regard to safety of those around. If you’re in the way, you’re gonna get your skull crushed into paste. Why hit once when you can hit again and again, and harder with each blow? The bass is laden in doom and fills the room with its presence, and the guitars send it over into the void. They also utilize noise and power electronics, as some may call it, to great effect. A masterpiece.
–Matt Average (20 Buck Spin)
EMPTY GRAVE: The Dark: EP
Hardcore, pure and simple. Definitely earl- to-mid eighties influences with its straightforward and tuneful aspects. More mid tempo than thrash as well. Five songs in all, and the second side, with “Mental Disorder” and “DUI or Die,” is the preferred. Comes on pink vinyl (maybe only 100 pressed?).
–Matt Average (Absent)
ELEMAE / MEMORIAL / SOON: Split: CD
All three of the bands on this three-way split play painfully bland, murky rock that relies on computerized effects to make the experience all the more excruciating. These guys all need interventions from friends and family reminding them that drum machines were never cool. Memorial is the least annoying of the three bands because of the sweet vocals, but, overall, this CD is less fun than a root canal. At least a root canal comes with drugs.
–Art Ettinger (Engineer)
ELECTRIC BUNNIES, THE: Chewing Gum: 7”
This was a definite surprise! The title track on here vaguely reminds me of the chorus of “Pepper” by the Butthole Surfers, but reworked in a jangley, minimalist via the Velvet Underground kind of way. The other track on the first side is a fuzzed-out little rocker. The third one is a spastic blast of rock that emphasizes, what I’m guessing to be, their affinity for aural dissonance. The song wrapping up this slab of wax is a Nuggets-esque piece that displays some VU-type noise without letting it engulf the song. I’m thinking that I’ll be spinning it every now and again.
–Vincent Battilana (Forida’s Dying, www.floridasdying.com)
EGGS, THE: Cut the Shit, Peepee: CD-R
A nice bit of noisy, vaguely arty punk that sounded a little like early Saccharine Trust joining the Urinals (whose “I’m a Bug” they cover here) and Julie from Sin 34 in an attempt to extract all the funky sophistication from the early Minutemen. It may not always be effective, but their batting average is good enough that they are worth looking into. Would love to see ’em with the added adrenaline infusion of a live show.
ECOLI: Self-titled: 7”EP
Ecoli reminds me of the very first wave of Touch and Go stuff. It sounds like the band can barely contain themselves, that eight songs is a good number to put on a 7”, and that they’re socially aware in warty, anti-authority, anti-racist ways. It’s chaotic thrash punk. Like both the Necros and Fix (and Out Cold), the more listens this gets, the more little musical flourishes—tempo changes, tricky guitar bits—seep around the initial face-peeling blast. Whores, cops, the military, and thrash ultimately rely on one thing to be judged by: effective penetration.
–todd (Stress Domain)
EATER: The Album: 2 x CD
Hell yeah, this is great. You have your Clash, you have your Sex Pistols, etc., etc. You need to have Eater in your life as well. Otherwise it’s going to be a bit incomplete. This has been reissued a couple times before, but this is thee edition to pick up, fer sure. Everything they recorded studio-wise is on here, along with some live tracks. Primo U.K. punk from the “early days.” Driving, tuneful, catchy, lewd, crude, and on and on. All description used to turn you on to music can be applied. Songs like “No Brains,” “You,” and “I Don’t Need It” are punk personified, or sonic-fied. Get it?!? Then there’s the out of left field tracks like “Michael’s Monetary System” and “Luv & Piece.” Not to mention the great covers, a practice I usually frown upon. But Eater does it right. “Sweet Jane,” “Fifteen” (“Sixteen” reworked), “Waiting for the Man,” and “Jeepster” get ran through the transmogrifier and come out Eater-ized. Disc one is “The Album,” and disc two collects the singles and more. Absolutely essential.
–Matt Average (Anagram)
DUTCHESS & THE DUKE: She’s the Dutchess, He’s the Duke: CD
Though I might be confusing them with another band, the last thing I remember hearing from The Flying Dutchmen was a disc filled with no-holds-barred noise and little else. Expecting the same here, what instead came out of the speakers was surprisingly well written and catchy folk stuff with male and female vocals. Normally this ain’t my cup of tea at all, but these kids are more Dylan than Baez vocal-wise and know how to crank out an interesting tune on acoustic instruments with lyrics that more than hold their own. No small feat these days, that.
–jimmy (Hardly Art)
DRYHEAVERS, LOS: Words of Surrender: CD
Another excursion in writing to the Rancid template. Though it sports some Spanish/English lyrics, there’s pitifully little to separate this from the scads of nameless, faceless bands that populate each year’s Warped lineup. Really hoped for something a little more unique from these carnales from Watsonville, but ultimately ended up with more of the same.
DOUBLE NEGATIVE: Raw Energy: 7"
Last year’s The Wonderful and Frightening World of Double Negative LP totally tore my head off, and I’ve been seriously anticipating some new material since shortly after its release. The Raw Energy 7” is said to more accurately recreate the band’s intense live spectacle, and it is indeed a raw, piercing, destructive six minutes of Void/early-C.O.C.-esque hardcore. Desperate, angry, and raging.
–Dave Williams (Sorry State)
DONITA SPARKS and THE STELLAR MOMENTS: Transmiticate: CD
It seems that L-7’s Donita Sparks has mellowed with time, but she can still get real heavy, fuzzy, and buzzy. Both the first and last tracks on this CD—“Fly Feather Fly” and “Into the HI FI” are the most rockingest, L–7ish tunes of the bunch with that familiar, dirty, wicked buzz, but it’s not punk rock…its punk-influenced rock that continues to grow on the listener with each successive listen. At first, it all sounds kind of the same, but turn it up and listen deeper. Donita is doing a lot within the slower rhythms with a lot of echo, vibrato, and multiple fluid-layers of sonic depth. Her vocals are still husky-sweet, and a distinctive sense of fun and humor floats up from the pleasantly vibrating resonance. Where L-7 was overtly angry and abrasive, this disc is definitely more laid-back, frequently introspective, with mid-tempo, head-noddingly catchy tunes that are rather trance inducing. At first, I thought “Dare Dare” was going to be an ELO cover, but it turned out to be a solid original performed with traditional ‘70s rock arrangement and a distinctly humorous edge. “He’s got the Honey” is the fuzziest of all and sounds like it could be the theme song for a punk rock kids show…tough punk kids. Yes, Ms. Sparks has evolved and grown over time and this is what it sounds like. She practically did this whole thing by herself and the others got to follow along.
–Marcus Solomon (Sparks Fly)
DESTINATION : OBLIVION: Winter Solstice: CD
This disc arrived scuffed. Of the nine new tracks, I could only hear one stuttering song. If a strobe light could play synths it would sound like this. Abandoning the CD, D:O’s myspace page had the first track “Awake Pulse,” reminding me of Halloween’stheme song with an intense piano line leading into crunchy guitars. Damian threw a few new mixes like “Sick v2” and “Self Inflicted Noise Mix” onto Solstice. It’s just too bad I can’t hear ‘em. –Kristen K
–Guest Contributor (Apocalypse Machine)
DEEP SLEEP: Manic Euphoria: 7”
What a great follow up by these Richmond, VA punks. This band saunters the fine line of flawlessness and failure so genuinely and gracefully it just makes you want to shrink into a single particle so you can fit into the grooves of this record and ride the guitar riffs off into the sunset. Totally angry West Coast-influenced punk with a no bullshit attitude. “Textbook Timebomb” is one amazing song. Its riffage will absorb into your bloodstream and make you forget all your responsibilities.
–Daryl Gussin (Grave Mistake)
DEEP SLEEP: Manic Euphoria: 7”
Deep Sleep haven’t changed much up since the killer You’re Screwed 7”, which means you’ve got some more Reagan Youth/SST-inspired melodic hardcore that still totally rules and blows by a bit too quickly. These lads have got this down to a science and, for my money, do this thing just a touch better than their countless contemporaries. Sometimes I deeply appreciate some predictability in my life, and this is one of those times.
–Dave Williams (Grave Mistake)
DOWN AND AWAY: Reclaim the Radio: CD
Sweden’s Down And Away finally hits stateside record shelves with this collection, their first U.S. release to date. It’s a compilation of some of the catchiest material from four of their prior European releases. Neither 1990s enough nor formulaic enough to be dubbed pop punk, their sound is nonetheless on the more poppy side of melodic punk. Fans of pop punk or mainline 1977-infused punk will love Down And Away. There’s also an added charm due to the English-written lyrics by non-native speakers. There’s nothing too hilariously E.S.L. here (none of it would come out of Balki Bartokomous’s mouth), but the lyrics still have an unintentional comedic quality to them. This is fun, rocking pop that deserves a new audience.
–Art Ettinger (Warbird)
DRILLS: Skull Death 2: 7” EP
Ah, yes, this brings back the 1981/‘82 era in a rush—a period when the field was still open just enough that the “any shmuck can join in on the fun” was still in evidence. In this case, two thirty-something dudes armed with a drum machine and a tape recorder crank out their take on hardcore, then con some friends into joining in on the slam-bang. How well they succeeded depends on what you define as “quality music,” but it does serve as a nice reminder of the period when punk was less a template and more an attitude.
DEAD UNCLES: Demo: Cassette
They would stand to benefit if they were to ditch their vocalist. He, their vocalist, sounds like he listens to a lot of Blink-182 while the rest of the band listens to nondescript pop punk. They also cover “Rumble Seats and Running Boards” by Cleveland Bound Death Sentence. Trying to erase their version from my memory, I listened to the original a few times. It didn’t work; theirs is still haunting me. That aside, I don’t think that the song should have been covered, at least not with the original lyrics in their entirety. A few years back, I read an interview with a member of Jawbreaker (either Blake or Adam if memory serves). The interviewer asked if the band found other bands covering “Boxcar” weird—a song that Dead Uncles thought about covering instead per the liner notes—because of the particular events mentioned in the lyrics. I don’t think that the band thought much of it. However, I find myself in the same mindset of the interviewer, and the case holds here.
–Vince (Spicy Soup, myspace.com/spicysoupproductionsct)
DEAD MISSION: Dang: CD-R
Loud and fast with wholly unintelligible vocals. Point a speaker at a tree and it’ll wreak more havoc than a belt sander.
–jimmy (Single Round, no address)
DEAD MECHANICAL: Insubordination Fest 2007: CD
Seven-song song live mini-set from this Baltimore power trio. Take the best elements of SLF, Hüsker Dü, and Gang of Four. Put them in a blender and insert a Krazy straw. Sit back, sip and enjoy. “Guantanamo Calling” and “The Only Bad Thing That Ever Happened” rock some seriously bitchin’ guitar lines. Look for DM to rip the house place down to the studs for Insubordination Fest 2008.
DEAD KINGS / SICK SICK SICK: Split: 7” EP
Dead Kings: Meat ’n’ potatoes punk stuff with Marshalled guitars. Sick Sick Sick: Two more or less hardcore tunes, one inspired by Night of the Living Dead director George Romero and a sorta bio about porn star Harry Reems.
–jimmy (Scat Boy)
DEAD FRIENDS: Them Vs. Them: 7"
Three songs per side of house show post-hardcore. Not flashy or uninterestingly striving to be innovative, just pure emotion and heart. In minute-long intervals they use an honest, non-condescending, mature approach. Six-hundred-and-sixty-six kudo marks for the Ursula K. LeGuin quote.
–Daryl Gussin (Obscurist Press/IFB/Drugged Conscience)
DAYGLO ABORTIONS: Feed Us a Fetus: LP
I know last time when I reviewed Out of the Womb by Dayglow Abortions, I said it contained all of their best songs. Well, I kind of lied. When I was a lad around the age of twelve, I played minor hockey (as most Canadian boys do). The kicker was that punk rocker kids were a bit of a rarity in organized sports, so I didn’t have a lot of friends. I think the only reason I wasn’t lynched was that I was good at hockey. Well, we found ourselves at a tournament down in Washington state and the custom was to get “psyched up” for the game by listening to music. AC/DC was the order of the day, when I told the team that I had a tape that was perfect for our American adversaries. Somehow I was given a chance and within thirteen seconds the entire dressing room was screaming “PROUD TO BE A CANADIAN… PASS ME ANOTHER BEER!” That day we won by a lot, and the punker wasn’t so weird to the jocks. Anyways, the review is like this (Best Songs from Out of the Womb) + (“Proud To Be Canadian”) + A few more classics = Feed Us A Fetus = Best Dayglo Abortions record PERIOD! Another great reissue by Unrest.
DARK AGES: 4 Songs: 7"
Another blow to those old assholes who said stupid shit like, “Hardcore is dead, go home.” Dark Ages wreak unholy hardcore havoc with these vinyl grooves and why the hell shouldn’t they? I’m so glad this made it to vinyl. I’m not exactly sure why the same four songs had to be pressed onto the A and B sides, but they’re so good I’m just gonna accept it, flip it over, and listen to them again.
–Daryl Gussin (Get Revenge)
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