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Razorcake #87


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No Idea Records

Record Reviews

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Below are some recently posted reviews.

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VACATION CLUB:
Self-titled: 7”
I finally have a vinyl version of “Daydream!” I love this song so much, and had to settle for a cassette version last year. (I hate the tape resurgence of the past few years, but I made an exception for Vacation Club.) In the spirit of full disclosure, not only are Vacation Club my favorite Indiana band, but I’m friends with these guys. They’re kinda reverb-y pop-psych, and there’s something distinctly Midwestern about them. “Forest Babe” is no slouch of a tune, but “Daydream” is the jam. Don’t be afraid to dance home alone to this record.  –Sal Lucci (Randy)


VACATION:
Candy Waves: LP
Don Henley and Phil Collins do not count. The only singing drummer that springs to mind as actually good is Will Grabass and now that he’s moved up front, The Careeners are even better. Enter Vacation to turn that notion on its head. 2011’s self-titled was a stunner and Candy Waves seals the deal. Tight mod-pop (think current Canadian punk explosion) drumming dropped into a 40oz full of California echo and fuzz. Dose the drink with just a touch of desert expansiveness. Re-cap and shake vigorously. Pop the top and catch Vacation explode. Fast and tight hooks to blow your mind and set your happy feet free. Highly recommended.  –Matt Seward (Let’s Pretend)


VAASKA / IMPALERS:
Split: 7”
I think I could sell this hardcore split from Vaaksa and Impalers just by describing the cover. A shrouded skull has bony arms coming out if its mouth, hanging a mass of cracked and mangled skulls, spines, hair, and eyeballs from a barbwire fence. This all, of course, is happening in black and white. My three years of high school Spanish, mostly long forgotten, help me to translate Vaaska’s two songs as “Where is your God?”—my favorite track on the split—and “All is shit.”  –John Mule (Beach Impediment)


UTTER FAILURE:
Eroding Forces: LP
New band with the Fraser brothers of ‘90s punk outfit Krupted Peasant Farmerz (as heard on the classic Can of Pork comp). A mixture of ‘80s skate punk and ‘90s pop punk, this record is a grower. Has a “heard this before” feeling at first and while that may not be an unfair criticism, there’s a lot to like throughout the fourteen songs. Raw, raspy vocals, catchy melodies, and lyrics that balance political and personal commentary with just the right amount of humor. Really, just good punk songs that worm their way into your brain. Favorite song: album closer “Psychological Breakdown.” I’d be remiss to not mention that this thing is nice and raw, recorded basically live by the man whose name must appear on a thousand Bay Area punk records, Bart Thurber at House of Faith Studios. All in all, solid first album from this San Jose band.  –Chad Williams (Vinehell, trallpunk@aol.com, vinehell.com / Lost Cat, lostcatrecords.org / HaHaHa Cool, hahahacool.com / Say-10, say-10.com / 86’d, 86drec.com / Shit Starter, shitstarterrecords.com / Smart Ass, smartassrecords.com)


UŠTKNI:
Protijed / Oči Šelem: LP
It took me a minute to figure this one out but I do believe this is a 12” with two separate recording sessions (and possibly even releases) on each side by Uštkni from the CzechRepublic. The first side is entitled Protijedand recalls the “to the point” energy of Naked Raygun but with a sax player. Side B, Oči Šelem, is more rhythmically led with a strong Big Boys, Dead Kennedys undercurrent and more of that zany sax-o-ma-phone which, I might add, is front and center with the rest of the band and will surely test your tolerance for the sexiest of all horns. The songwriting is expertly crafted despite the arrangements appearing to be a tad bit too adventurous for most of us American punks who typically prefer to have something to sing or mosh along to. You’d only be able to sing along if you’re fluent in Czech and since things rarely get fast or frenzied, you’d do well to just stand in place and enjoy your drink while your head bobs back and forth to the herky-jerky beats. Solid stuff.  –Juan Espinosa (Papagájův Hlasatel, phr.cz)


UNDERCLASS UK:
Live and Loud: CD
What we have here is a live album of some good quality British street punk. The singer has a great voice. It’s rough in all the right ways. Apparently, these guys put out a record in the early ‘80s and the follow up came in 2012. Well, good on them, since they are still sounding vital and carrying the punk rock torch high. For a live album, this is some stellar recording too. This is great all around.  –Ty Stranglehold (Punk Lives, punklives.co.uk)


TZN-XENNA:
Paranoja 1981: 7”
Tzn-xenna originated in Poland in 1981. This band has seen a lot of the ups and downs of punk rock throughout the decades. They stopped playing around ‘87, and just recently got back together. These guys are unadulterated punk through and through, and you can tell they started in the eighties. If you like bands like GBH and Anti-Nowhere League, you’ll probably end up liking Tzn-Xenna. The recording quality is great, and they’ve lost no energy with age. The second song has some really interesting Native American elements that I can’t even figure out how to describe. If you’re a fan of ‘80s punk, you’ll feel right at home with Tzn-Xenna’s new release.  –James Meier (Refuse, refuserecords.prv.pl)


TV GHOST:
The Amputee: 7”
Sludgy instrumental garage stuff with the sound so blown out that it’s all but unlistenable. Whatever floats yer boat, I reckon.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Kind Turkey)


TOUCH MY RASH:
Destined for Disaster: CD
Fairly middling thud-punk with little “thud” of any potency to it. The performance is a bit more spirited than on their previous release, but ultimately the tunes don’t really leave any lasting impression. Bummer.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Bittersick, bittersick.com)


TONIGHT WE STRIKE:
Bombs and Bibles: 7” EP
Mid-tempo modern punk of the ilk that sounds like it was made either by older punks or younger punks that like punk made by older punks—mid-tempo rhythms, singalong choruses, the occasional “whoa-oh” and so on. No particularly offensive, no particularly memorable.  –Jimmy Alvarado (The Machine Shop)


TIM TIMEBOMB:
“Change That Song Mr. DJ” b/w “Guardian Angel”: 7”
Tim Armstrong (of Rancid, and here under the moniker Tim Timebomb) did this deal where he released a song a day for a year. As someone who is a fan of the guy’s stuff (in spite of how embarrassing that is, and how ludicrous and cartoonish the man’s persona has become over the years), I listened to most of them. The majority of the songs released were old country and western or ska covers, and towards the end of the year he just released the same songs without vocals, ala old singles from the ‘50s and ‘60s. His backing band is the guys from the Interrupters, and in my humble opinion, maybe ten percent of the year’s songs proved to be even remotely interesting. Pirates Press is gathering those songs up and releasing vinyl versions of them. “DJ” is a quick and frenetic tune that may be as close to aping the Ramones as the guy’s ever gonna get, and it’s a good one. The B-side could’ve come off of their recent album, but there’s a grittiness in the production that gives the song a little breathing room. A fun little record, all in all, and absolutely miles above some of the stuff he released throughout the year.  –Keith Rosson (Pirates Press)


THUNDERHOOF:
By the Flames: Cassette
Tape wouldn’t play. Found ‘em on Bandcamp. They tagged it as sludge, but it sounded like constipated-guy moshcore from the ‘90s.  –Chris Terry (thunderhoof.bandcamp.com)


THREE MAN CANNON / LEE COREY OSWALD:
Split: 12”
The defeated-looking old lady adorning the cover of this record didn’t give me any insight as to what these bands were going to sound like. Three Man Cannon have a nostalgic indie rock sound. They took me back to the early days when all these now-famous bands belonged to us and not the world. The recording has a warm home recording sound to it. Lee Corey Oswald really took me back to the ‘90s and reminded me of bands like Superchunk and Pavement. Both of these bands compliment each other really well. If you miss the days of discovering underground indie bands with your weirdo high school friends then pick this record up. A lot of band names come to mind when listening to this split, but, more importantly, it’s the time that this record reminds me of being young, having your whole life ahead of you and not realizing it. This split is a perfect blend of indie rock, pop, and emo (the good, old stuff). Great record overall.  –Ryan Nichols (Stereophonodon / Black With Sap, blackwithsap.limitedrun.com)


THOUSAND EFFIGIES, A:
Old Habits Die Hard: CD
Based on the name—which includes an anarchy-A symbol in the band logo and the atrocious album artwork with depicts the Statue of Liberty holding a hypodermic needle rather than a torch in hand—I was expecting some crust punk or something along those lines. Instead, I got some vaguely 7 Seconds or Down By Law-style melodic hardcore. Normally I’d say that’s much more preferable, but this was mostly unoriginal, unlistenable cornball.  –Jeff Proctor (1332)


THOSE HOWLINGS:
Self-titled: 7”EP
More good stuff coming out of the Austin Texas punk scene. Those Howlings offer up their 7” (two songs) of super charming garage/psych/ “rock and roll, emphasis on the roll.” The A-side’s “Paid for You” is all garage rock with Patsy Cline-tinged vocals—the vocals are superb—surrounded by clean, melodic guitar, and a beat that will get your hips moving. Flip to the B-side, “Dip It in” has a solid Stooges-style rockin’ drawl, a bit more raw on this side, with chord progressions that are Pavement-esque? Coincidence perhaps. Highly recommend, so pick it up.  –Camylle Reynolds (Swear Jar, thosehowlings@gmail.com)


TERRIBLE FEELINGS:
Backwoods: 7” EP
It’s no secret the whole “indie rock” thang has been plundered, looted, and wholly defiled by the mega-corporate music machine, but every now and then little bits of fertile green promise pop up amongst the ruins. Such is the case here from a band that infuses that base with bits of swampy pop, varying tempos, chorused guitars, the occasional cowboy twang, and no apparent fear of sounding like an honest-to-goodness band that’s actually trying to write songs instead of playing to pre-approved templates. The results make one pine for the days when songs this catchy could find airplay on terrestrial radio, but also thankful that some folks continue to stubbornly create in a world that devalues such efforts more with each passing minute.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Deranged)


TERMINUS:
Graveyard of Dreams: CD
Songs about hunting the men who hunt foxes, songs about hatin’ the state, songs with doomsday sci-fi undertones—these and more can be found on Terminus’s Graveyard of Dreams. For those who missed Terminus during their heyday (after which much of their material was no longer pressed), this re-release condenses at least six EPs worth of material onto one nineteen-track CD spanning their lengthy ‘80s-though-’90s career. Among fourteen other bandmates, Mark Richardson—principal songwriter, guitarist, and singer—is the sole constant member through the years. Richardson holds it down with follow-the-guitar vocal melodies that fluctuates into guttural Lemmy Kilmister lows and American rockabilly swagger when appropriate—all this over some smoky and shifting mix of mid-tempo almost Sabbath-touched rock, and by its end, something more snarling and rough-edged, without losing the hooks and melodic touch of a versatile punk’n’roll outfit. If you’re looking to fill the gap in a collection of ‘80s U.K. punk and hardcore, Terminus is a fine addition, and plenty to explore. Check out “(Waiting for the) Purge” and “What Do You Want From Me,” exemplary of the band’s early and later work, respectively.  –Jim Joyce (Boss Tuneage)


TENEBRAE:
Self-titled: 7” + CD
Many hardcore talents make up Tenebrae, but as to this new band’s standing in relation to their collective history—members of The Unseen, Blood For Blood, Slapshot, The Street Dogs, and Sick Of It All, and maybe others, still—Tenebrae’s self-titled EP has the most in common with the first two mentioned. On the four new tracks, Mark Civitarese’s vocals recall a bit of his melodic range with The Unseen, though the singing here achieves something harder and darker. And while there is some commonality with Blood For Blood’s old school roar-along breakdowns, the sum of Tenebrae’s parts, to my ears, congeals into something with more thrash and metal than the prior hardcore songwriting the members are known for. Two great tracks “No Voice” and “Blood Runs Red” are streaming on Dyingvoice.com; dig it. I definitely recommend this release for fans of any of the members’ earlier work, but this is an excellent start for Tenebrae in and of itself. Grab the colored vinyl (blue or red) with free CD included. –Jim Joyce (Jailhouse)


TEENANGER:
Singles Don’t $ell: LP
If you’re a fan of spacey post-punk leads with the occasional synth flourish, snotty vocals, and pogo beats, then Teenanger is a big bowl of delight. Denizens of the Great White North, these Torontonian punks downpick through poppier songs akin to the Buzzcocks, then time warp into late ‘70s New York punk à la Television or Richard Hell & The Voidoids. The tunes are at once precocious, ambient, and immediately catchy. The highlights—”Psychic Sonya” and “Conflict of Interest”—benefit by baring their jagged teeth, but the discordant ballads leave quite the impression and hint at more jarring experimentation further down the pipeline. A solid record overall and a band definitely worth following.  –Sean Arenas (Southpaw, southpaw-records.com, southpawdistro@yahoo.com / Telephone Explosion, telephoneexplosion.com, telephoneexplosion@gmail.com)


TEAR THEM DOWN:
This Is a Mutiny: CD
There are certain review tropes which drive me up a wall when I read ‘em. The worst, I think, is “for fans of (fill in the blank).” Sometimes, though, it’s unavoidable, such as with this CD from Tear Them Down, a Swedish four-piece chugging out melodic, vaguely political whoah-oh anthems. They’re good at what they do, you know? For fans of finger-pointing, singing along, and sweating in da pit.  –Michael T. Fournier (Tear Them Down, info@tearthemdown.com)


TAGGART / SUCCESSFUL FAILURES, THE:
Snow Day (Take It Easy): 12” EP
What more could anyone ask of the big, fat jolly dude than some new Xmas-themed vinyl? Well, these two bands have just answered your wish list. Taggart hits you up with three covers and one original for their side. “Wishmas” is cool and will make it into a wintry playlist mix with ease. But it’s on their cover of The Kinks “Father Christmas” where they really nail it. Ray Davies would be proud and I doubt Bad Religion’s recent take kicks as much ass. The Successful Failures come at from another angle: three originals and one cover. Although their Ramones cover is heartfelt, I think I’m feeling “Christmas Morning (Yellow Canary)” a bit more. Either way this is best enjoyed loud, then go back and search out other releases by both bands as well.  –Sean Koepenick (FDR, beckermgt@comcast.net)


SYCAMORE:
Self-titled: Cassette
I’m generally a fan of garage punk in all its varieties, but something about this wasn’t really doing it for me. I think it might have been the recording, which felt uneven at times. The drummer’s cymbals were so loud that they overpowered almost everything else. I really dug the track “In Your Living Room,” partly because I could hear more of what was going on musically. The shared vocal duties were a nice touch throughout the tape, particularly on the track “Leave(s).” While this didn’t really do it for me, I’m interested to hear more from this band.  –Paul J. Comeau (sycamoreny.bandcamp.com)


SWIFTUMZ:
“Willy” b/w “Can We Get Together”: 7”
Power pop with an endearing singer who can only kind of sing. Has all the fuzz quality guitar of ‘90s alternative radio rock. If we’re judging singles by how likely I would be to check out a full length by this band, I’d say they did a pretty good job. If anything, I feel like there wasn’t enough meat to really be able to figure out the band’s personality on these two tracks, but I have no real complaints, only the imaginary ones. The cover of this record looks like a shoegaze record, though. Grade: B.  –Billups Allen (Sugar Mountain/Divis & Mason, no address listed)


SWIFTUMZ:
“Willy” b/w “Can We Get Together?”: 7”
This is two doses of jangly, syrupy power pop with no placebo. These are airy songs with that special something that feels like you left the radio on late at night. Good bass runs and catchy choruses remind me of a band called The Records. For fans thereof, you’ll appreciate this one.  –Billups Allen (Sugar Mountain, facebook.com/swiftumz)


SWEET TALK:
Flash of Light: 12”
As far as I know, this is the first production of The Marked Men’s Cool Devices studio. No surprise that the production is excellent and the music lies comfortably on the garage/power pop spectrum. Really, this record wrote its own review just by being recorded where it was recorded at. Granted, I would have liked this release regardless of studio. The songwriting is just plain good and I’m looking forward to whatever this band churns out next. Grade: B+.  –Bryan Static (12XU)


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