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Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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AARON & THE BURRS:
Release the Bats!: 7”
Two snappy surf tunes, all major chord zippy and true to the genre. Considering the horror motif used in the artwork and song titles one would’ve expected a bit more of a somber tone to the proceedings, but they do what they do well.  –jimmy (Feral Kid)


YOUNG LADIES:
We Get By: LP
Comprised of members of Discount, Bridge And Tunnel, Moniker, and Latterman, which is quite the résumé, Young Ladies come with high expectations. It’s a good sign when the LP begins with a Rod Serling narration and a cut into the LP’s strongest song, “Wake Up, Let’s Go.” Then five songs sneak by and none have left an impression. Young Ladies brand of poppy punk doesn’t stand out: the consistent tempo throughout is partly the culprit. The arrangements and lyrics about personal insecurities are similarly formulaic: “I don’t want to live with you,” “I don’t want to see any other people I know,” and “I don’t know what I’m doing” are the opening lines to three separate songs. I would have been happier watching The Twilight Zone’s “Mr. Bevis.”  –Sean Arenas (No Breaks)


WORMWORD:
Self-titled: CDEP
Wormword is a two-man band (one guy plays drums and the other plays guitar, bass, and sings) comprised of members of Doomriders and Cast Iron Hike. Their sound is reminiscent of the intensity and heaviness of Germany’s Tranewreck, but darker and sludgier. With only five songs, it’s hard to get a good feel for what the band’s potential is. Much of the sound was redundant, but the lead track, “Hollow Black Eyes,” was the standout. The music pulls back part way through and then kicks back in and ends with a guitar solo. Nothing fancy, but it helped make for some diversity compared to the following songs which all seemed to just go on with nothing to decipher one from another. If they could put out another album with some diversity, I’d be game, but as it stands now I think I’ll pass.  –kurt (Patac)


WATCHER’S WOODS:
Autumn: Cassette
It’s not just that these sound like lost ‘80s demos from a dark, misanthropic band that never got to play with Bauhaus even though they should have. It’s not just that they sound authentically small-town, fed up with the piece of shit people they have to deal with, who probably own Vatican Shadow records and follow what’s going on with Blackest Ever Black. It’s not just that they want to sabotage greedy land developers because they rightly love the forest. It’s not just that the tape comes with sprigs of chicory and mugwort, and that the original title of their first demo was, allegedly, Fuck Everything about This Society. It’s also that Mary Rage’s guitar is perfect and every song is a hit in some world that’s much better than our world. Seeing they had a song called “Kill Cops, Not Trees” made me an instant life-long fan. Can’t wait to see what they do next.  –Matt Werts (Self-released)


WANK FOR PEACE:
Fail Forward: CD
The global influence of Lifetime and Avail cannot be denied. Wank For Peace would likely not exist but for the tremendous power and spread those bands continue to enjoy. Wank For Peace is from France and this is not their first release. Not only is Wank For Peace gaining popularity in Europe, but they’re also getting known in North America as well through playing shows in both the U.S. and Canada. Action Patrol proved way back when that it was possible to surpass Avail through tribute. Fail Forward is powerful enough that these talented kids might again prove that an Avail knockoff can sometimes be preferable to the original. There’s no failing whatsoever on Fail Forward.  –Art Ettinger (Shield Recordings)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
They Came to Destroy the Carolinas: CD
Based on the sound of the lion’s share of music on here, Black Sabbath is apparently the “they” referenced in the title, for their heavy boots are stamped all over this disc. Sludgy Iommi-isms abound throughout the tunes meted out by bands with names like Blood Bucket Joint, Mountain Of Judgement, Math Is Hard, The Lab Rats, and many others. Then, just when you think you’ve got the whole thing sussed out, some trashy garage or a swampy bit of oddness comes wafting through the speakers, and it gets even more diverse in delivery as it goes on, adding weird new wave, Cookie Monster metal, and even acoustic guitar into the mix. Was a bit apprehensive at the outset, but all told, it ain’t a bad comp in the least.  –jimmy (Dead Wax)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
The New Wave of the Grave New Beat: CD
An international comp featuring twenty songs from twelve bands ostensibly repping a “new” direction in the whole D-beat phenomenon: using Discharge’s Grave New World era as the template. As with the lion’s share of stuff inspired by Discharge, the best of the bunch is the stuff that veers radically away from the basic sonic template (one tune is a quiet piece played on a piano), and the rest sound like, well, assorted bands covering Discharge, even if the songs they’re playing are “original” compositions. Boring. Look, I understand influence. As the Big Boys once sang, “everybody has their own.” Hell, many of my favorite bands have drawn heavy influence from Discharge, as have I on occasion. Going out of one’s way to sound as like another band as possible, however, shows the same staggering lack of creativity as blatantly stealing old band names, logos, and visual ephemera and trying to pass them off as your own. For good or ill, even Discharge understood that templates are made to be bent, twisted, stretched, mutated, or decimated, not revered and adhered to with blind dogmatic ardor. That’s what church is for.  –jimmy (Our Future)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Roaster: 10”
Four bands, two songs each. Minneapolis punk by way of Fest, except from Scotland. All four bands in the Rivethead / Off With Their Heads / Banner Pilot vein. Everything here is competently written, played, sung, and recorded. Unfortunately, nothing really stands out. In fact, the most striking thing about this record is the cover, and that’s not a good thing, as it is wholesale theft of Slayer’s Postmortemcover, complete with Slayer lettering and pentagram. What does that imagery have to do with the music contained on the record? Nothing. Just the latest in a long line of blatant imagery theft in punk (see: the Black Flag bars), and I’ll never understand it. Create your own identity and stop copying.  –Chad Williams (Make-That-A-Take, makethatatake.bandcamp.com, make_that_a_take_records@yahoo.co.uk / Team Beard, teambeardrecords.net, mail@teambeardrecords.net)


VARIOUS ARTISTS:
Atlanta—Inside Out: CD
A surprisingly solid compilation of bands that (I’m assuming) hail from the titular locale—El Fossil, Hotels, Stevie Dinner, MTN ISL, Bodyfather, Terminally Ill Babes, Ryan Dinosaur, Horus, Landline, Rochelle Rochelle, New Junk City, Wymyns Prysyn, Cheap Art, and Burners—whooping it up. They cut across a wide swath of sounds here, from punk to art-damage, to art-damaged reggae, to pop, to surf, and so on. More important than the diversity, however, is the quality of the tunes delivered—unlike too goddamned many other comps, the contributions here don’t feel like castoffs and B-team selections, but rather songs the bands are proud of. Makes for a whole different listening experience when even the worst tune on a comp is pretty damned good. Recommended? You betcha.  –jimmy (Muckman)


TOUMING MAGAZINE:
Self-titled: 7”
Taiwan’s Touming Magazine plays chipper indie punk reminiscent of Japan’s Four Tomorrow, Shinobu, and Aye Nako. The shimmering guitars are interwoven with sudden bursts of jaggedness, but the understated vocals keep the pop melodies from becoming cloying. “Touming Magazine FOREVER” is a feel-good hit in which “We are forever young!” is chanted like a PMA mantra. It’s the type of song to start your morning right. “Sexual Hell” opens with angular Pavement-esque noise then sprawls into a lush dance chorus. My only ding is that there’s no lyric sheet; I want to know why this hell is sexual in nature. Recommended.  –Sean Arenas (Phat ‘n’ Phunky)


SURROUNDED BY THIEVES:
Self-titled: LP
This Las Vegas band has a red vinyl record out that makes ten attempts to remind the listener what Avail, Hot Water Music, and Strike Anywhere sound like. Nothing wrong with that, but this is really just a watered-down version with less good recording quality. If you absolutely cannot get enough of anything that sounds like it is off the No Idea Records tree, you will most likely like this. I’m off to throw on Over the James for the thousandth time…  –frame (Squidhat)


SUBSETS:
Twothousandfourteen: Cassette
I’m going to hazard a guess and say that live, these Cincinnati dudes probably flatten rooms. On tape the energy’s a little muted, so what comes across is an entirely serviceable punk band with simultaneous nods to both the swagger of the Murder City Devils and the ferocity of hardcore. Not bad, but missing that little something extra necessary to make it leap out and slap the ears off of me.  –keith (Subsets)


SO COW:
The Long Con: LP
I’ve listened and listened to this, hoping to make some sort of connection to the music, but nothing is happening. Maybe it’s the “too precious” aspect, like the song “Sugar Factory” that I find off putting. They do what they do well, which is indie pop rock that sort of reminds me of Cause Commotion, only more influenced by the Junosoundtrack instead of the Kinks. It’s just not “my thing.” All a matter of taste.  –Matt Average (Goner)


SLUGGA:
Demo 2014: Cassette
Tough grime hardcore with vocals that remind me of the guy from Raw Nerve or young Cobra Commander. They could be going for a less unhinged Crazy Spirit thing. I’m kind of over negative dude posturing, but this tape is solid. Riffs and whatnot for the drunk heads and wild kids.  –Matt Werts (Muckman)


SLEDGEBACK:
Land of the Freak: CD
Decent punk’n’roll from this Seattle, Washington four piece. I gotta say, though, I don’t really think the treated vocals a la Ministry do these songs any great service. It’s really a shame as there are some hints of good stuff here. “Hooligans” is a great example of a song that could have been potentially great if afforded a dryer mix and untreated vocals.  –Garrett Barnwell (Sliver)


SLANG:
Glory Outshines Doom: CD
Slang is what happens when a Japanese band decides to emulate Discharge and mixes in some 1980s New York City hardcore. They’ve been doing it since 1988, so I’ve got to give them props for that, but I had my fill of ‘80s NYC hardcore in high school and Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing has always been enough for me when it comes to the Discharge sound. So I think I’ll pass, but if this sounds like your type of thing, then I say go for it.  –kurt (Cleopatra)


SICK THOUGHTS:
Fat Kid with a 10 Inch: 10”
This is the kind of depraved garage trash punk that makes my blood pressure soar (even higher than normal!). Holy shit, apparently they have released ten records in 2014! It looks like I’ve got some searching to do because I need more!  –ty (Slovenly)


SEX RAYS:
Self-titled: 7”
This is a major pet peeve of mine—why do you need an adapter to listen to 7” these days? The entire purpose of those large holes punched out in 45s was so the arms of jukeboxes could pick up the record and play it. At this point, most jukeboxes are internet connected and hardly store any music at all. So when I see that I need a spider (adapter) to listen to new records, my brain hurts. Sex Rays have a fitting sound for that era, though—straying close to the ‘60s psychedelic / mod revival stuff with organ-style keyboard parts. Real stripped-down guitar and drums a la The White Stripes for most of the A side, backed with an instrumental jam that’s appropriate for any hipster coke party.  –Kayla Greet (Pinata)


ROSELIT BONE:
Blacken & Curl: CD
This here is some very self-aware Nick Cave/Howe Gelb worship from a band from Portland, OR. This is what happens when you self apply a term like “Dark Americana” to your music instead of letting some lazy music reviewer do it. If you like Calexico, Slim Cessna’s Auto Club and the like, you may be into this.  –frame (Self-released, roselitbone.bandcamp.com)


RITUAL MESS:
Vile Art: LP
Wild tempo changes wherein they bounce from ultra-thrash to off-kilter sludge usually during the course of a given tune, a singer that sounds like he’s gonna bust a vein in his forehead any second, an almost industrial dissonance to the instrumentation, and yet it’s kinda catchy. Now there’s a fuggin’ hat trick for ye. Definitely not for the faint of heart, but they’re putting in some serious work here.  –jimmy (Clean Plate)


REAL TEARS, THE:
Self-titled: CD
Upon putting this on, five songs of high-energy punk rock’n’roll that would likely fit in nicely amongst Nashville Pussy or Zeke flow from the speakers. It seems staggeringly unpretentious, like they’re just four friends getting together every Monday night to play some rock’n’roll, drink some beers, and have a fucking good time.  –Mark Twistworthy (therealtears.bandcamp.com)


RAWHIDE:
Murder One: LP
Swedish “white trash rock’n’roll savagery” (their words!). Despite a nagging feeling of “haven’t I heard this riff before?” that permeates each song, this is a style of hard rock/motörpunk that always lends itself to playing loud while drinking and getting ready to head out on a Saturday night. You don’t need to pay close attention to get the idea. Recorded by the dude who did the early Hellacopters records, this fits right into that scene, though maybe a bit more Hookers than Hellacopters, and slightly more metal. And though it lacks memorable stand out songs, it is a solid, ballsy rock record, perfect for blasting at your next kegger.  –Chad Williams (Patac)


RAKTA:
Self-titled: 7”
Rakta from Brazil recently played here in Los Angeles at the Dog Haus (L.A. punks Generacion Suicida’s spot to host touring bands) and for whatever fucking reason I assumed two very stupid things. One: that Rakta were a thrash band. Two: I didn’t need to go to this show even though GS and the Bay Area’s Flesh World were both also playing. This two-song 7” will forever be a painful yet endearing reminder of bad, bad life choices. I’ve tried to sit through Siouxsie And The Banshees records. I’ve never made it past more than two songs. I get that they were innovators in the post-punk/goth realm but always felt like there was a key DIY punk element missing. Rakta have not only found that element but have run off with it and nurtured it back to health in dark rooms full of empty wine bottles, bone-chilling keyboard notes, and echoing incantations. The packaging and artwork is nothing short of perfect: silk screened cover and dust sleeve with a printed vellum insert. What more can I say? I’m smitten.  –Juan Espinosa (540, La Vida Es Un Mus, Dama Do Noite, Nada Nada)


QUITTERS:
Contributing to Erosion: LP
Twelve songs of EpiFat meets screamy hardcore from this Las Vegas band on blue vinyl. I really can’t come up with much more to say than that. Here’s what they think of themselves: “With such diverse influences as Refused, Bad Religion, Queens Of The Stone Age, The Bronx, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Mars Volta, Green Day, Offspring, MGMT, and Dillinger Escape Plan their powerful sound punches you in the face with lightning-fast drumming, shredding guitar and bass and frantic high-energy vocals.”  –frame (Squidhat)


PURPLE 7:
Jewel Finger: LP
There’s a sweet spot right between punk and lo-fi indie rock, where the aggression shines through on occasion, but so does the more complicated song structures of more—ahem—”refined” music. I like to call it bedroom pop, but I honestly have no idea; I ain’t no music scientist. What I am, though, is impressed by this record. If I had any idea of the pedigree involved in this band before I turned it on, it would have been no surprise. There are members of Hot New Mexicans, Defiance, Ohio, and Landlord on this thing. That’s a hell of a lineup. This is a hell of a record. It’s just so nice to hear a group of people who actually know how to harmonize correctly and build a sound that takes the best parts of each of their musicianship. Highly recommended. Grade: A.  –Bryan Static (Self-released)


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