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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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Split: LP
Very well produced post-rock that has that repetitive, hypnotic thing going for it. I find that my mood greatly affects how I feel about this record and this genre in general. The whole of it reminds me of Explosions In The Sky (a comparison I’m sure both of these bands would scoff at), but with doomy metal parts thrown in. The Co-Pilot side has no vocals and just trudges on for a full ten minutes. It constantly feels like it’s building towards something, but it’s all tension and no release. While I see what they’re going for, I don’t think they do it very well. Some of the riffs build up considerable momentum, but they create a feeling of aggravation in you before just changing to something else instead of resolving the issue presented. If there was a narrative or real structure to it I could see the merit in their sound, but this all sounds like it was made to define itself with the aesthetic rather than accomplish a clear goal. The Alaskan side provides a clearer statement of intent, and the vocals do help steer the listener towards their endpoint, but I still feel like they may have just mic’d all the instruments and hit “record” with no clear idea of where they were going to go. –Ian Wise (Treaty Oak)

Blessphemy (Of the Peace-Beast Feastgiver and the Bear Warp Kumite): CD
Between the unrelenting and relentless shrieking of the mouth man and the restless nomadic hand-toes of the piano man, your ears are in for something akin to the most irritating carnival ever—one featuring stuff like: the Biting Zoo, the Eczema Wheel, Eardrum Tattoos, the Portable Toilet where when a guy hits the round circle outside with a baseball you get dumped in the Turd Soup, everyone there is four years old, and vegan corn dogs. That, or some fucked up version of the “Flash Gordon” soundtrack. They call it the “Revolutionary Politics of Dance” (and a bunch of even more pretentious shit on the PR sheet), but I’m calling it “Spastic Art Rock”. I will say that there’s more actual rock on this one than on the other one I heard, but unfortunately it comes in tiny chunks only every few minutes or so, so no real momentum ever develops. –Cuss Baxter (Ace Fu)

Eat Lightning, Shit Thunder: CD
So an albatross and a locust were sitting somewhere plastic, yelling loony sex words at each other and then flying loopy and fast all over each other, above the plastic thing. I was standing over by the soda machine, and I could barely tell the difference. –Cuss Baxter (Bloodlink)

Split: CD
The Albert Square: When the drums kicked in at first, it reminded me of a band of high school kids trying to sound like Fugazi (which I’m not knockin—I mean it in the sense that it had that youthful energy to it, just without the “How are they even playing that?” thoughts I usually have when listening to Fugazi). Then the vocals came in, and I realized, “Oh, this is clearly Dan Andriano from Alkaline Trio singing”. I mean, “supposedly it’s not”, but I’m convinced they’re lying. I mean, I thought the dude was going to start singing about his sore back. So basically, Albert Square: Young Fugazi, fronted by Dan Andriano. Hard Girls: They reminded me of Hot Water Music a lot, but without vocals of anyone who’s sang for Alkaline Trio at any point. –Joe Evans III (Silver Sprocket, silversprocket.net)

Split: CD
Upon first putting this CD into the stereo, I was struck by how much the Albert Square’s vocalist reminded me of... somebody. I couldn’t place it, and this bothered me. I kept listening, hoping I’d figure it out. I probably paid more attention to this than anything else I was supposed to be reviewing this go-round. It finally dawned on me. In his inflection, his timing, and in a lot of ways, his voice, he’s a dead ringer for Dan Adriano on that Tuesday record. (Maybe without the lisp, which I still swear is contrived.) This isn’t a bad thing; I liked that record. The Albert Square write pretty catchy little songs to accompany their singer’s Adriano-like vocals. They aren’t anything special, but it’s not bad either. Certainly worth a listen. The Hard Girls play gruff-voiced punk that’s all over the map stylistically. It’s not bad either. But it certainly didn’t send me on a weeks-long search to figure out who the vocalist sounded like. –Ryan Horky (Silver Sprocket, www.silversprocket.net)

1999 Demo: 7"EP
WE ARE THE CREW! WE ARE UNITED! WE'VE GOT SOMETHING TO SAY! Jesus, I feel like I'm stuck in New York with no way out in sight. Oh, wait. The record ended. That's better. –Jimmy Alvarado (Headline)

Zero Zen: CD
More space rock from these guys. The tracks are considerably shorter and more rockin’ than the last outing I heard from ’em, which means that it’s more readily enjoyable for those of us who don’t like to think too much. I like it lots. –Jimmy Alvarado (Rubric, 12 W. 37th St. 5th Floor, NY, NY 10018)

Punk Rock Jihad: CD
They might not all be white or trash, but they sure have the alcoholic thing down pat. This is AWT’s second full length CD, and it was well worth the wait. Searing hardcore punk, with a hint of metal overtones and heavy on the scum humor, these boys fit right in with their Victoria luminaries Dayglo Abortions and Lummox. Musically, this is the best they’ve ever sounded. Period. The thing that really stood out to me was the vocals. Ratboy Roy has got a voice apart from drunken rambling! Who knew? In the end, I can do without the really over-the-top lyrics (is “I Shit My Cunt” really necessary?), but other than that it truly is a great record. –Ty Stranglehold (Crusty)

20 Years of Tanked Up Tunes: CD
Okay, right off the bat, these guys get points for covering Jimmy Liggins’ “Drunk.” A mighty fine tune, that one, as is his equally coverable “I Ain’t Drunk, I’m Just Drinkin’.” Gotta love a band that knows their drinkin’ songs and, based on the selection here, these guys have made a career out of bein’ well versed in the classics. While normally such single-minded attention to one subject, especially when we’re talking a span of two decades, would be the kiss of death for such an endeavor, and things do wear a bit thin the closer one gets to the end, the fact that they are wise enough to pluck covers from a wide variety of styles—not to mention penning a few of their own, including the beloved punk holiday anthem “Santa Claus DWI”— to get the most mileage out of what is essentially a one-trick pony. Although I’m most partial to the earliest stuff here, courtesy of the band’s late ‘80s-early ‘90s lineup(s), all here are delivered with enough joyously sloppy abandon that one can’t help but smile. Definitely one to toss onto the player at the next straight edge club meeting. –Jimmy Alvarado (Steel Cage)

Loved Me Back: 7”
Italian-pressed single from this U.K. act, coming on with a very British sound. Hints of acoustic guitar, piano, and pop hooks make for an interesting style. There are hints of everything, from the Kinks to Scott Walker and all manner of anglophile obsession to be had on this single. I would recommend this for fans of everything from Swell Maps to power pop or britpop. Pretty good stuff; would like to hear more.  –Mike Frame (Rijapov, myspace.com/rijapovrecords)

Nowhere Is the Place for Me: CD
At first I was wary, because this CD’s artwork looked like that of so many hopeful but ultimately dull singer-songwriters of the sort I used to encounter in New Hampshire when I went to college there—y’know, well-meaning and earnest but ultimately disposable, just like the drawings or, worse, photographs of guitars which appear on their album jackets. But! That’s what I get for judging a book (fine, CD) by its cover, because this fine slab from Alec Morrison upends expectations. Sure, it’s primarily acoustic, but this dude’s stuff takes little heed of the form and conventions dipshits like me associate with being a singer-songwriter. His voice, which manages to sound both otherworldly odd and completely grounded, vacillates between raspy and reedy, a fine complement to riffs which are obviously purposeful and skilled technically but operate with inner logic like a puzzle which unlocks after several listens. This music’s hard to pin down, which had me coming back repeatedly for more, which is what a good record’s supposed to do. Fantastic, expectation-defying stuff. Holla!  –Michael T. Fournier (Self-released, morrisonalec.ca)

First Aid: 7”
This is some serious skate thrash! I had to go back and check to see when this was recorded. The sheet says 2005, but I’d swear it was ‘85 judging by the style, content, and recording quality. Five songs of all-out skate rock as it was meant to be. The fast parts are really fast and the breakdowns have a groove. Throw in some tag team vocals and we’ve got ourselves a winner. “To all the kids who still skate for fun!” Indeed! –Ty Stranglehold (Cassette Kill)

…It Never Ends: CD
The packaging that this CD came in is pretty sweet. It’s like a little zine, with the CD put in a plastic sleeve and stapled onto the last page. The drawing on the front is nice, and I would have liked to see more drawings on the other pages. Instead, the other pages had lyrics and then a short explanation of the impetus behind the song. On a couple of the copied pages the words go off the bottom of the page a little, so a bit more attention could have been paid to that, but, overall, it’s a nice little package. The music is kind of folk or anarcho folk or something like that, and, usually, Alex Loeb was on his own, singing and playing guitar. Not that he stinks or anything of the sort, but I preferred it when there were gang vocals and when Sara Mann sang with him. The CD wasn’t bad, but it just didn’t do it for me. This is not my favorite genre of music, so I think it has to be quite compelling or fresh for me to get into it. As it was, I think Mr. Loeb is very sincere and earnest and I get the feeling he really hopes to contribute to making the world a better place, which is excellent. I think his songs will make certain fans of the genre feel excited and touched. For me though, it just didn’t thrill. Favorite song is called “Money Can’t Buy You Clean Drinking Water,” even though, unfortunately, it sure enough can, sometimes. –Jennifer Federico (Raise Your Fist)

If you swear that acoustic singer-songwriter stuff is where music’s most honest, heartrending revelations stem from, this solid but ho-hum four artist project is up your alley. Alex And The Imaginary Friends (which is probably just one guy here) pull off a swell Chris McCaughan impression as they talk about aging and getting grim in the decent “Growing Up Is Giving In.” Valentine’s “A Plea for Something” is the least appealing of the four songs. It’s plagued by grating, whiny off-key notes, even if it does pick up toward the end with the addition of claps and muddled chants. Tanner Willow wishes on a star in “Starlight Starbright.” It’s a childish, unimpressive move that’s compensated for via a decent hook. Closer “This Is The Biggest Thing (Of All Things We Deserve),” as executed by Winter Winds (a.k.a. Eric Doucette), delivers a mature, beautifully assembled little song. It’s nothing mind-blowing, but it delivers on the sense of sincerity so important to this sort of music. Production quality definitely varies between tracks: while Winter Winds’ song is warm and full, the Valentine track sounds like it was recorded on a computer setup. As of this writing, you can catch the whole thing at http://the4waysplit.bandcamp.com. –Reyan Ali (Raise Your Fist)

4-song: 7”EP
Singer, guitarist, and one of the main songwriters for the Hex Dispensers does some solo work. While the Hex Dispensers conjure banshees, Alex summons quieter, more conversational ghosts and languid spirits. The songs are reverby. There are trebly effects over his voice and he’s backed by electronic keyboards and/or drum machining. Alex is spooky in a haunted, thoughtful way, not a photocopied comic book rendering of the Danzig playbook. There are no skeleton gloves fingered into in the making of this record or “whoah ohs!” instead of choruses. It’s more like a broken-legs-barely-healed waltz. Smooth and animated and swaying at the same time. –Todd Taylor (Trouble In Mind, troubleinmindrecs@gmail.com)

Hallo Mein Name Ist: 7"
Back when Lux Interior left this Earth, I was upset and my friend Adam consoled me by informing me that at least we still have the Hex Dispensers. I had heard the name, but had no idea that my life was about to change. That band proceeded to take over my being. They instantly shot to the top of my go-to music list. A while later, HD front man Alex Cuervo put out a solo 7” that was also amazingly creepy. Well, here is another solo slab and it’s a nice addition to the catalog. Two off-kilter songs that sound so perfect with that odd feeling that something is amiss in the background. Catchy yet menacing. This man can do no wrong in my books! –Ty Stranglehold (Red Lounge, redloungerecords.com)

Welcome Song: CD
For years now I have had a severe distaste for Gene Defcon, the always-a-child artist of mindlessly strange obscure short songs, usually accented with Casio play sounds. I have destroyed multiple Gene Defcon CDs, spread my message of distaste for Gene Defcon to friends, and forced people to listen to his music just to prove that he is indeed one of the worst artists ever to exist. Quite frankly, Come Party with Me 2000 is the type of thing I hope I never have to listen to again, but God knows I’ll get dragged into it at some point in order to win an argument about the worst album ever. Alexis Gideon reminds me of Gene Defcon if Gene tried to do more rapping and had more of a Ween influence. Upon hearing the Casio-backed track, “Casio Elation,” I seriously wanted to punch my computer monitor. This isn’t as bad as Gene Defcon, but hell if it doesn’t piss me off nearly as much for it’s (amongst other things) a complete waste of so many peoples’ time (including my own) and waste of natural resources to make this garbage. –Kurt Morris (Sickroom)

Flight of the Liophant: CD
Alexis Gideon is what some might call “schizo-rap” (or at least that’s what his label calls him). At times I felt like I was listening to Silver Jews trying to do loosely formed hip-hop. Other times, it was just a mess of electronic beats and noises, worked in with higher pitched vocals. Sometimes the music produced an ambient, floating sensation. The last song is an Irish ditty with just voice and acoustic guitar. What the hell is going on here? Overall, the material seemed like a whacked-out Beck with heavy doses of Dan Deacon. I definitely enjoyed this more than I thought I might and it will grow on you in all its silliness and oddity, but it’s still pretty fucking bizarre. You can decide whether that’s good or not. –Kurt Morris (www.sickroomrecords.com)

self-titled: CD
For every Black Cross, Give Up the Ghost, or Fairweather record that Equal Vision releases, there’s at least one album by a band like Armor For Sleep or Alexisonfire (which is to say that for every interesting, experimental, and artistically challenging record, you get one incredibly commercial release which offers no surprises and nothing new). Like bands such as Waterdown and the rest of the screamo hordes, one vocalist screams as if he wanted to be in Morbid Angel; the other sings in sweet, angelic tones. Like most bands of this ilk, the musicianship is passable to good; that’s rarely the problem. The problem is that the actual music begins at pop-punk with the sweet melodies to get the chicks in and then tries to add a tougher edge so that, you know, the dudes will like it, sounding like every other band with dyed black hair and bangs, ear plugs, and star tattoos in the process. In that respect, this album offers something for everyone who will be listening to the next big trend in two years. However, by nearly every measure that I can use to gauge a good – or even decent – album, this doesn’t even begin to register.  –Puckett (Equal Vision)

Self-titled: CD
Italian hardcore at its, um, core, but there’s a ton of straightforward rock slathered liberally on top. Results are on the whole good, depending on how one feels about rock. –Jimmy Alvarado (Avis Odia, avisodiarecords.jimdo.com)

A Wayward Sound Floods the Streets: CD with graphic novel
Wow, this CD comes with a lovely black and white graphic novel, with romantic, cartoony art reminiscent of the stuff done by Nate Powell. The story is about consumer culture ending the world. After checking out the awesome artwork and cool story, I was prepared to hear some fucked-up jazz or progressive hardcore. Instead, my ears were felched by modern rock at its most pretentious and ham-handed, played by sloppy musicians that you’d expect to see stinking things up with an Incubus cover at a high school battle of the bands. It’s interesting when pedestrian art inspires other, greater art—similar to how the movie Superfly was surpassed by Curtis Mayfield’s terrific soundtrack. While Superfly was a good movie with incredible music, A Wayward Sound Floods theStreets is a strong comic inspired by a weak band. –CT Terry (www.algrenmusic.com)

Rowne Prawa: CD
I believe the band is from Poland and they play ska, reggae, hardcore and any combination thereof. Included are Dead Kennedys, Clash, and Peter Tosh covers. Normally, this stuff ain’t my cup of tea anymore, but these guys are pretty darn good at it. –Jimmy Alvarado (href=mailto:arkumusic@clerk.com>arkumusic@clerk.com)

Violence Girl: 7”EP
I’m much more fond of looking at music as a continuum instead of isolated times and places. Instructive history shouldn’t be trivia and artifact. That way, as a listener, I can actively participate, draw from my own experiences and enjoy music—even if it was released years ago—as a living, instructive thing. Alice Bag could have easily been solely a significant, static jewel in the crown of first wave L.A. punk and called it a day. Instead, she continues to make art through today and this 7” is a nice reminder of that, culling songs from five bands that Alice actively participated in: Bags, Castration Squad (live), Stay At Home Bomb, Goddess 13, and Cholita. The music Alice plays just isn’t one thing. It’s punk, goth, rootsy and mellow, angry, funny, violent, and tender. And that way, we all win when Alice uses this refracting jewel of her talent and perseverance, lighting up and crystallizing great music for three decades. An excellent short collection of songs by a fantastically talented lady. –Todd Taylor (Artifix)

Three Sisters: CD
I suspect you would be hard pressed to find anyone who has thought about Alice Donut in the past fifteen years, much less cared about the band’s music in some way. I would put myself in both categories. Having listened to this album, duly noting that it is presumably intended to be filed under rock by dint of its guitars and rhythm section, I will continue to place myself in the latter of the two categories. –Puckett (No address listed)

Ten Glorious Animals: CD
I fully admit that while the name has not been unfamiliar to me for more than a decade or two, I’ve never actually gotten around to actually listening to them before this, so I can’t really speak to where it fits in their oeuvre. What I can say is that what’s on here is sorta catchy, but ultimately pedestrian alt-rock stuff that’s neither bad nor good, but mostly just kinda there at best. –Jimmy Alvarado (Alternative Tentacles)

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