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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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USER ERROR:
Hey Fuckers: Cassette
Most people will first want to know that this band contains an ex-member of the legendary ‘90s hardcore band Assfactor 4, and while this doesn’t necessarily sound like AF4, you can certainly hear some of the same influences in these songs in both musical style as well as lyrically. At times, the songs have space for the melody to really thrive, sounding not unlike an angry version of some of the melodic punk bands to come out of Chicago like Naked Raygun. Good stuff.  –Mark Twistworthy (Protagonist, protagonist_music@yahoo.com, protagonistmusic.bigcartel.com)


USER ERROR:
Hey Fuckers: Cassette
Seven song cassette, pro-dubbed in a neat silkscreened envelope. Features folks from Assfactor 4 (!), and there’s something very cool about older dudes stepping back into the fray and coming out, if not untouched, at least without a glaring misstep. This stuff’s good. User Error’s way more chill than Assfactor 4 was—it’s an interesting, uptempo kind of emo/punk hybrid that reminds me of sweaty, fetid basements, duct taped microphones, and newly discovered cigarette burns in your shirt when you don’t even smoke. I’m probably letting their pedigree color my opinion a bit, but I hear passing nods to older ‘90s bands like Tonka, Whatever, and Eagle Bravo here. The title track’s fantastic and the whole mess is consistently catchy—those guitar lines! So simple! So good!—without ever coming across as formulaic. This one’s been growing on me. Check it out.  –keith (Protagonist)


VACANT STATE:
Chains: 7” EP
Sounds like it’s just come back from Boston circa 1981 to unleash a little whoop-ass on a scene overripe with backpacks and nouveau-geek chic. Singer alone sounds like Choke Slapshot’s unholy progeny.  –jimmy (Warthog Speak)


VANITY:
Vain in Life: LP
I heard people describe this as sounding like All Skrewed up-era Skrewdriver, the pre sketchy era. Not true. This is straight up Voice of Britain, Hail the New Dawn-era Skrewdriver. These dudes nailed the sound of early ‘80s English skinhead music. If you love the sound of Skullhead and Skrewdriver but can’t hang with the idiotic White Power shit, this is the record for you. File next to Skullhead, ‘Driver, No Remorse, and Battle Ruins. YOFC crew, pure class.  –Tim Brooks (Katorga Works)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Back from the Grave Volumes 9 & 10: LP
All hands on deck!!! If there’s a more important series of a certain time that shines light on another certain time, I don’t know it. Many years have passed since Back from the Grave 8. These two LPs go to show we’re not running out of old. I guess it’s obvious I’m excited about this, but I did listen objectively and these are right up there with their predecessors: old and unheard. Not that I claim a profound knowledge of lost singles, but I’ve been burned with recycled comps and BftG has not disappointed yet. Taste, taste, taste still reigns at Crypt. So if this is what you’re into, you don’t really need me to tell you that you need these. If you think you might be into it, get a job mowing lawns and pick up the rest. These records remind me of the parties I wish I had been invited to. –Billups Allen (Crypt)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Phoenician Microsystems Presents Shortshorts: 7”
Here are twelve short sentences about this record. This is pretty good. There are twelve songs on this record. All of them fit on a 7”. Not all of the songs are phenomenal. Sonically, they’re all over the place. Some pop punk, some thrash rock, some shock rock-inspired synthpop. More labels should try experimental releases like this. There’s a small chance I’m only giving this a good review because of how much Short Music for Short People means to me. Thirty second songs are the best. I need an eleventh sentence or my premise is shot. Here’s to volume two. Grade: A-.  –Bryan Static (Phoenician Microsystems)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Za Krótko!!! Za Szybko!!!: LP
112 Polish bands on one record means a shitload of short songs. The label makes no secret of the fact that the base of inspiration for this madness was the legendary Slap A Ham Bleauuurrrrggghhhh compilations and Fat’s Short Music for Short People. Essentially, you have a grab bag of assorted punk/hardcore/grindcore songs and one brave sucker sequencing it all. For someone with the attention span of a fruit fly (such as myself), this would appear to be mandatory listening. Unfortunately, the endless list of unfamiliar band names makes for a daunting and damn near impossible task of identifying any standouts since every song is just short enough for you to forget as soon as it’s over. I’m definitely on board with the idea of compilations like this, so I do feel a little bit like an asshole for not being more stoked on this record.  –Juan Espinosa (Pasazer / Kwadraciok, castetcrew@02.pl))


VHS:
Vultures & Hungry Spirits: Cassette
Psych garage with a slight, post-hardcore, math rock influence. There’s a spooky tone to it that’s kind of cool. Not bad, but I could seriously go the rest of my life without hearing the Burger Records distorted vocal trend on another cassette tape. This band has potential, though, if they can drop (or adapt) the psych garage shtick enough to find their own sound.  –Craven Rock (Casino Trash)


VICIOUS PLEASURES:
Self-titled: EP
Wow! This is really, really, really good. Reminds me of early TSOL (especially the song “Concentration”), but crossed with early ‘80s UK punk. The songs are tense and tuneful, fleshed out with interesting riffs, bridges, melodic elements, and a relentless drive. From the opening of “Scattered” with its building drum roll and scratchy guitar, to the barreling closer “Concentration,” Vicious Pleasures keep the whole experience at a constant boil. The vocals are clear, concise, and delivered with an undeniable intensity. I also really like the guitar tone, with its dark, gritty edge recalling the previously mentioned TSOL, and that Southern California sound from the early half of the ‘80s; and yet Vicious Pleasures is a band rooted firmly in the here and now. Something I’m certain I can listen to in ten years and it won’t sound dated.  –Matt Average (1859, Different Kitchen)


VIOLENT ARREST:
Life Inside the Western Bloc: LP/CD
A band featuring ex-members of Ripcord, Can’t Decide, and Four Letter Word will always have high expectations placed upon it. However, Violent Arrest doesn’t give a toss for such pressure and goes about its business of dispensing a barrage of razor-sharp hardcore with ease, featuring plenty of anti-establishment sentiment delivered with an uncontained ferocity by new vocalist Welly. The one concession to short and fast comes in the form of “Mean Creep,” a lengthier track which adds the same level of variety to the album as did Jerry’s Kids’ “Raise the Curtain” on Is This My World? –Rich Cocksedge (Boss Tuneage)


VIVA LE VOX:
Luv Hungry Part I & II: CD
This is like a Tom Waits CD or something. Parts of it come close to sounding like gypsy punk, but it never really gets heavy enough. What I’m saying is this is light music. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing, but I had to wonder how this disc made its way to me in the first place. Here’s the deal: this album uses a lot of acoustic guitars and way too much kazoos. How much is too much kazoo? What How about like half the songs? I think that is too much kazoo. The singer has a pretty nice voice though, so if you’re just desperate for more folksy stuff, there are far worse options than this. Grade: B.  –Bryan Static (Self-released, vivalevox.org)


VIVISEKTIO:
Self-titled: 7”
Dark, mid-paced hardcore punk from Finland. Not quite crust or metal but there are some elements of each poking through. I could see these folks playing a gig with Kylesa and World Burns To Death and appealing to fans of both those bands.  –Juan Espinosa (Kämäset Levy, vivisektio83@gmail.com)


WAKE UP LUCID:
Gone with the Night: CDEP
Six-song platter that looks to be an appetizer for an upcoming full-length. This trio are cousins, hopefully there are no fisticuffs happening, which seems to be the case sometimes when you have relatives in bands together. The theme hear seems to be moody, fuzzed-out rock. I’m hearing a bit of The Black Angels welded with The Rain Parade. “Don’t Fear” and the title track are stuck in my mind the most here. It’s a solid mini-album that compels me to keep an eye out for more.  –koepenick (Self-released, band@wakeuplucid.com))


WAR EMBLEM:
Constant Defeat: 12” EP
Interesting mix of early NYHC-influenced hardcore punk with some d-beat guitar stylings added in here and there for extra punch and heaviness. The bass that kicks off “So Far Gone,” as it comes in with a slide and then builds up the tempo, is glorious! It effectively grabs your attention with its dark and dirty sound. This is how bass should always sound in hardcore. The songs are on the fast and faster spectrum, but they manage to throw in a few breakdowns here and there. I do think this would be more effective if they put fewer songs on here, as some of these songs being played at the same tempo, or close to, back to back tend to start sounding like the same song. Take the songs “So Far Gone,” “Carcinogens,” “Obsessed with Death” with its lumbering pace contrasting with the faster and shorter songs, and “Hard to Swallow,” which has one of the coolest riffs I’ve heard in a while, and you would have a killer record. This is a good record that could be great with some heavy editing.  –Matt Average (Protagonist, protagonistmusic.tumblr.com / Narshardaa, narshardaa.com)


WAXEATER:
Baltimore Record: Cassette
I still remember my old college radio station getting a concept record which was—no shit—an album-length rumination on a trip to EpcotCenter. If I had been dictator at that particular moment, the kid’s body would still be strung up in the town square for us all to huck fetid vegetables and tattered copies of CMJ at. Seriously, who the fuck cares about your trip to Epcot Center for even three minutes, let alone forty-five?I don’t often actively get angry at musicians or bands, but when I do it usually involves a concept album. Sure, they’re a good way to garner critical notice and imply a certain amount of musical gravitas, blah blah, blah, but that aforementioned hypothetical dictatorial square has no absence of precocious crucified saps whose thematic “explorations” (quotes mine) deserve a stinky tomato to the face. So imagine my trepidation when I found that Waxeater’s cassette was an album themed around The Wire, my favorite TV show of all time. I was so apprehensive at the prospect of listening to what would doubtlessly be a brutally bad collection of in-jokes that I took my time machine back to last summer, bought a bunch of farm stand veggies, and secured them in my basement so I’d be ready for the present day. But. BUT! Waxeater manages to pull it off: no public humiliation or cold cellar stockpile needed. Far from it. Their band house shares property lines with late-era Black Flag and the Touch And Go roster, with enough howl and shrill grit to warrant discussion of the TV series’ often grim subject matter. This is not done without humor, however; as lines of dialogue become titles, choruses, and hooks on which to hang riffs throughout. I’m sure, too, that the energy present throughout this cassette must translate bombastically in a live setting.  –Michael T. Fournier (Let’s Pretend)


WE ARE HEX:
“W.D.M.R.s” b/w” Tongues”: 7”
Artsy goth rock, like a strangled PJ Harvey singing Siouxsie. Hints of some dark wave like Joy Division or Killing Joke. I guess this is the new sound? I lived through the goth crap in the ‘80s and don’t need to do it again. Seems like these dudes are a pretty big thing. I dunno; it all feels a bit contrived to me.  –Tim Brooks (Latest Flame)


WEAK TEETH:
So You’ve Ruined Your Life: LP
Second LP from this Providence, Rhode Island hardcore/screamo band. Discordant, melancholic-yet-heavy guitars melded perfectly to tight, fast-paced rhythms, with lots of riffage injected into the proceedings a la modern Propagandhi. Too often this type of stuff plods along without a lot to distinguish one song from another. This is not the case with Weak Teeth, musically speaking, though the stylistically typical screamy vocals tend to employ similar patterns throughout the entire album. Solid record, definitely worth your time.  –Chad Williams (Riotous Outburst, riotousoutburst.bandcamp.com / Fita, fitarecords.co.uk / Tor Johnson, torjohnsonrecords.com)


WHATEVER BRAINS:
///////: 2 x EP
I admit I have a soft spot for Whatever Brains, not just ‘cause they’re “weird,” but because they’re ambitious in their weirdness. This release is a fine example of what I mean—two distinct EPs packaged as one, identified as SSR-63 and SSR-64, respectively. The second EP is the more conventional of the two, with four tunes showcasing their usual synth-laden noise mongering. The first, however, is a different beast entirely. According to SorryState’s website, it is comprised of “A series of linked compositions a la Venom’s At War with Satan or the Subhumans’ From the Cradle to the Grave, SSR-63’s lyrics chronicle the plight of a Russian family who lived in complete isolation in remote Siberia for more than forty years.” These linked compositions, which meld from one into the next, vary wildly in tone, texture, and attack—one minute you’ve got post-punk, next you’re into some minimalist synth, then quieter acoustic passages, and then you’re off on a hypnotic groove-skronk trip, and so on, stretched out over two sides of a 12” and clocking in at a total of roughly twenty minutes and change. It’s a worthwhile ride, with enough engaging twists and turns in delivery to keep one from losing interest, and impressive in scope.  –jimmy (Sorry State)


WIDOWS WATCH:
This Message Repeats: LP
I put this record on and the sound falls into place in my ears like my fat ass fits into my favorite chair. I hear the Replacements. I hear Face To Face, Lucero, and the Gaslight Anthem. This five-piece band from Baltimore creates good, solid, no bullshit, American songwriting. This message repeats? Yes. And thank god it does.  –John Mule (Toxic Pop)


WOMBELS:
Back Attack: CD
German punk trio that sounds like a mutant strain crafted from the cells of Pennywise and Millencolin band members. Whatever method that was used by a mad professor, it works. Blazing guitars, pounding drums, and flame-retardant bass are what are on the menu here—sixteen songs that will sound killer at maximum volume. These guys know what they are doing since they have been at it since 1985. The only misstep is covering an obvious Bob Marley song. But the inside photo shows that these dudes like to drink huge beers with high alcohol content, so I will let that one slide.  –koepenick (Self-released, wombels.net)


WORLD/INFERNO FRIENDSHIP SOCIETY, THE:
This Packed Funeral: LP/CD
How many bands make you want to grab a partner and waltz your ass off until your feet hurt? I count just the one and that is The W/IFS, a collection of rabble rousers which, despite many attempts, defies direct classification. This album takes me on a musical journey that conjures up images of the darker reaches of Eastern Europe, Paris, and New Orleans to name but a few places; such is the eclectic quality of the songwriting across its course. This Packed Funeral is The W/IFS at its best and stands as an open invitation to the best party ever. –Rich Cocksedge (Alternative Tentacles)


WRETCHED OF THE EARTH:
Fire to Their Houses: LP
Self proclaimed anti-colonial d-beat, Wretched Of The Earth are both heavy and beautiful. They have a nice balance between the two adjectives. The drum and bass are furiously quick and full-sounding, while the dual guitars sparkle through solos around a thread of rhythmic melodies. Two deep, raspy voices rise up over top, spitting about subjects of subjection and oppression at the hands of pious colonial settlers, as well as the residual impact into this century. I love this stuff and often play records like this while I’m falling asleep. This particular record has six tracks, most of which are each five or six minutes long. The instrumental breakdowns are peppered throughout each song, during which the guitar work is reminiscent of slower Maiden. Lyrics are exceptional as well. The last lines of the titular track are especially haunting: “subvert, set flame, refute, reclaim / subvert, set flame, they perish, we remain.” Wretched Of The Earth is intelligent and memorable.  –Kayla Greet (1859, 1859records.bandcamp.com / wretchedofhteearth.bandcamp.com)


WRINGER:
Bullfighter: Cassette
Well-written and –played three-piece pop punk, with airtight arrangements, vocals (and, occasionally, harmonies) which alternately soar and rasp, whoa-oh choruses, and chugging guitar. Good stuff.  –Michael T. Fournier (Let’s Pretend)


ROSELIT BONE:
Blacken and Curl: LP
Bring on the desert. Blacken & Curl is a Spaghetti Western record complete with stenciled artwork of a desert range. If you love old country and bands like Spindrift, The Starvations, Fresh & Onlys, and Old Crow Medicine Show, you need to hear these guys. One of the things I really like about this record is that the band didn’t half-ass it instrumentally. There is a nice range of instruments on this record: cello, violin, trumpet, and plenty of acoustic guitars. They keep the themes consistent with the art, music style, and song titles.  –Ryan Nichols (Self-released)


VIBRATORS:
Punk Mania Back to the Roots: CD
I have a confession to make: I’ve never really listened to the Vibrators. For whatever reason, they were one of those bands that underwrite so much of punk rock and simply fell between the cracks for me because I spent my time listening to the bands they inspired. It’s kinda like spending one’s whole life listening to early Beatles and never listening to Gene Vincent. Shame on me, eh! Regardless, now that I am aware of the gaping void that has been present in my life, at least this record shovels some dirt back into that hole. The subtitle does not lie: the action here is very much in the vein of early rock’n’roll punk, before politics and blazing speed took over the menu at the banquet. However, since this record pops my proverbial Vibrators cherry, I am in no position to assess its quality in relation to their previous efforts; in actuality this could be the worst Vibrators record in the history of the world, and I would have no clue. All I can say is that I’ve been enjoying my ride on the Vibrators train. Whee!  –The Lord Kveldulfr (Cleopatra)


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·ALLVARET
·PILTDOWNLAD #6: INSTITUTIONALIZED
·LAGWAGON
·Remembrances of the Fest, Part Two: The Revenge
·SPIKNYKTER
·MANTITS/JOHNNY HOBO AND THE FREIGHT TRAINS
·NIXON NOW
·DAN PADILLA
·CROOK$:


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