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Record Reviews

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AMA-DOTS:
Self-titled: LP
This was Milwaukee’s darker, funkier, heavier answer to Siouxsie & The Banshees back in the early ‘80s. While I had plenty of older, wiser friends who numbered themselves among this artsy, mixed gender ensemble’s supporters at the time, I never much cared for bands like this back in the day, and, to tell you the truth, I still don’t. It’s just so unsuitable for playing at barbecues! I tried to like it, but it just seems weird and tiring and i-don’t-know-what-they’re-trying-to-do-and-i-kind-of-don’t-care-either-ish. Sorry I’m so musically unadventurous. Now shut up and pass the Usinger’s®. BEST SONG: “Hit Girls.” BEST SONG TITLE: “Strange Brute.” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: There are hardly any dots anywhere.  –Rev. Norb (Rerun)


AMATEUR PARTY:
Sounds and Halls to House Them: CD
Pretty generic, mediocre rock that’s pretty inoffensive, but pushed over the line for the worse with crappy vocals. –Megan Pants (Cheap Art)


AMATEUR PARTY:
Public Utility Complaint: 7" EP
Meaty subject matter addressing local and national issues the Philadelphia Gas Works’ decision to turn off the heat on “deadbeat customers” in the middle of winter, gun violence, war—married to that kind of indie rock/punk hybrid that sounds angry and outraged enough yet retains enough melody to garner college radio play. –Jimmy Alvarado (Paramnesia)


AMATEUR PARTY:
Truncheons in the Manor: LP
Rapid punk with clean guitars, melodic vocals, and touches of new wave, indie pop, and post-hardcore. This owes a lot to Ted Leo. It sounds like a less-precious Chisel or a rawer Pharmacists, but is done with enough thought and spike to stand on its own. Vocalist/guitarist Mike McKee was in the political hardcore band Kill The Man Who Questions and his lyrics are still in the topical storytelling style of turn-of-the-millennium DIY hardcore. He takes out drunk yuppies and lousy jobs in a way that makes the gray area between personal and political grow romantic and accessible. You find yourself along for the ride, rolling along on a wave of catchiness. –CT Terry (Rorschach)


AMAZING TAILS:
Daydreams for Adults: CD
The Good: These two retrospective discs, covering what I’m guessing is this Finnish band’s recorded output of a couple of albums (one heretofore unreleased), assorted singles, and comp tracks, show a band with one helluva lot of talent both in songwriting and performance. The earliest stuff showcased here sounds like the output of some sort of Descendents/Hüsker Dü worshippers who have conned Slayer’s Dave Lombardo into bringing his double kick drums and need for speed along for the ride. As they go along the ride spread across both these discs, though, you can hear their sound morph until they end up sounding like Leatherface’s Finnish doppelganger, right down to the crazy/droney/ringing chords and obscene hooks. I’m not kidding, kids, some of the songs here are fuggin’ gorgeous. The Bad: Totally a preference call, but as much as I’m agog over the songs themselves, I’m not so keen on the lead vocals, which sound to these ears like a weird cross between the worst aspects of Circle One’s John Macias and Don from Plain Wrap. The Ugly: An unfortunate cover of Cheap Trick’s “He’s a Whore,” which is one of those tunes you just shouldn’t fuck with. A little digging on the internet revealed that they’ve apparently reformed after breaking up in 1994, and despite my misgivings about the vocals, I’d recommend giving them, and these discs, a shot. –Jimmy Alvarado (sp-records.com)


AMAZING TRANSPARENT MAN :
The Death of the Party: CD
Recorded at Sonic Iguana, so you’ve got the classic pop punk sound. Okay. Nothing mind-blowing. When I hear pop punk of this vein, I wanna hear really cool harmonies. Nothing that elaborate here. Songs about girls and being in a band. If this were a cereal, it’d be Kellogg’s Corn Flakes ‘cause you know what you’re getting here. –Maddy (Springman)


AMAZOMBIES:
Bitches and Stitches: CD
Female-fronted pop punk with lots of call and response. She has a good voice and they’re really pretty tight. I wasn’t blown away by this, but it isn’t bad. –Megan Pants (Go-Kart)


AMAZOMBIES:
Bitches and Stitches: CD
Mid-tempo punk with a lot of Go-Gos in it, although I’m not quite sure it’s intentional. This’ll get played more than once. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.xcommunicated.biz)


AMAZOMBIES:
Shipwrecked: CDEP
These are three ladies from Seattle who sometimes sound like Joan Jett and other times like the Ramones. There are five songs on here with what I think is their best track saved for last – “At the Bar.” The cover photograph is of a pre-twentieth century sailboat. It looks like a pirate ship to me. Is this a pirate ship? I’m not sure. Are these young ladies really pirates? Amazonian zombie pirates? I like it. –bradley (www.amazombies.com)


AMBASSADOR GUN:
Self-titled: 7"
Atonal, abrasive metal, mostly mid-tempo with guttural vocals. I reckon I’m a bit outside the desired demographic, but I’m guessing the seventeen and angry crowd will totally eat this shit up. –Jimmy Alvarado (Minor Bird)


AMBER:
Lovesaken: LP
When the idea was still fresh and innovative, I could appreciate heavy bands such as Isis delving into a more atmospheric, prog rock sound. But even that got boring in a heartbeat. At least they had the good sense to not try and mix in screamo vocals. Oh, how I wish Botch would come back from the dead to show bands like Amber how it’s done. –Juan Espinosa (Halo Of Flies / Narshardaa / Protagonist Music, weareamber.bandcamp.com)


AMBER:
Lovesaken: LP
Amber is a post-hardcore outfit from Marburg, Germany. The songs all fall into the genre’s typical trappings: reverb-drenched clean guitar sections, distorted crescendos, strained vocals, and songs on the longer side. (“Lovesaken” is a whopping ten minutes.) The more notable moments conjure Envy or City Of Caterpillar, but the album quickly grows redundant. Amber would benefit from tempo changes or musical variation other than the clichérise-then-fall patterns and absolute despair tone that is analogous with the genre. Otherwise, it’s a solid—but forgettable—addition to any screamo or post-hardcore fan’s collection.  –Sean Arenas (Halo Of Flies, halooffliesrecords.com, halooffliesrcds@hotmail.com / Narshardaa, narshardaa.com, info@narshardaa.com / Protagonist, protagonistmusic.com)


AMBER / LOCKTENDER:
Split: EP
The minimalist packaging (unless an insert was lost in the mail) gives virtually no information about this record. Is this the birth of “mysterious guy” metal? A search on the web reveals this is a split on Halo Of Flies, who usually have some nice packaging. Anyhow, Amber are contemporary metal that has a bit of crust and hardcore swirling around, not to mention some emo-esque guitar parts. Throaty vocals devoid of much emotion blanket the song, but it doesn’t have my attention. Locktender are along the same lines, only with a touch more tension in their song. The throaty vocal thing here also blankets the song and buries some of the nuances in the music. On the whole, this record does nothing for me, as neither band does anything to distinguish themselves from others of the genre. –Matt Average (Halo Of Flies, halooffliesrecords.com)


AMBITION MISSION:
Self-titled: CD
Hardcore punk that’s big and blustery in a Dillinger 4 kinda way, but just ain’t impressing me in the same way that band does. Their cover of “Amerikan in Me” was relatively painless. On the whole not sucky, just not particularly memorable. Maybe next time. –Jimmy Alvarado (Government Music)


AMBITION MISSION:
Self-titled: CD
Hardcore punk that’s big and blustery in a Dillinger 4 kinda way, but just ain’t impressing me in the same way that band does. Their cover of “Amerikan in Me” was relatively painless. On the whole not sucky, just not particularly memorable. Maybe next time. –Jimmy Alvarado (Government Music)


AMBITIONS:
Exile: 7"
Funny, the band looks like they should be playing something Weezer-esque, only a lot less radio-friendly. So: silly me for equating unheard tunes with photo of tune-makers. Instead of wry sarcasm and sharp and sometimes poppy tunes, I got four tunes that make me want to beat up the next thing that crosses my path and then wax poetic on why I had to do so. The vocals have this sort of angry-heroic feel to them, like you’d find on old straight edge records before low-end bellowing became all the rage—drawn out notes on the lead with the anger-spitters howling the backups. Ya, now that I hear this thing again, it sounds like a straight-edge band that’s flexing its musical chops. Ambitions are good. Me like, even though I’m not a fan of such vocals, since the tunes have a certain pneumatic effect on my bloodstream. –The Lord Kveldulfr (www.bridge9.com)


AMBITIONS:
Stranger: LP
Frustrating. If I had one word to sum up Stranger, that’d be it. The packaging is beautiful (wonderfully colorful and ambiguous artwork and some of the prettiest, multicolored splatter vinyl I’ve ever seen), the production is glossy and full, the lyrics are well written, and yet… it resounds with the impact of a band that’s restraining themselves. Firmly rooted in modern, smart hardcore but with enough variance in tone that a listener’s either gonna think a) “Mein Gott! They perform such brilliant and disquieting pretty parts before they go all chunka-chunka! And what a beautiful set of pipes the vocalist has, while other members of the band utilize their more rough-hewn voices to provide fist-pumping singalongs and choruses! Stranger is a true raison d’art!” Or, like me, you may think b), which is, “They sound like they’re a super-talented band that’s obviously good at songcraft. A band that’s totally got it within them to just go the fuck off every once in a while. I wish they would; chances are they’d lay waste to all around them and I’d like this record a lot more if I just heard one specific instance where they went flat out with the speed and shrieks and energy. But they don’t, and therefore I’m forced to flip the record over and over again, trying to hear it in a new way, searching for that moment.” There are bands that display passion and intent with breakdowns and well-placed pickslides and fairly tuneful melodies that cascade into midtempo hardcore songs that are trying like hell to become anthems but don’t quite make it. Then there are bands that just fucking go for the throat and everything’s at full tilt all the time, from start to finish. Ambitions has a lot of one and not quite enough of the other: the result is a band that sounds like they’re continually holding themselves back and, ultimately, the record falls short of being memorable because of it. –Keith Rosson (Bridge 9)


AMBITIOUS CAREER WOMEN:
3 song: CD
Complicated Seattle nerd rock so chock-full of dynamics that it’s a regular science fair, as judged by No Means No (if they had anger). –Cuss Baxter (www.ambitiouscareerwoman.com)


AMBITIOUS CAREER WOMEN:
3 song: CD
Complicated Seattle nerd rock so chock-full of dynamics that it’s a regular science fair, as judged by No Means No (if they had anger). –Cuss Baxter (www.ambitiouscareerwoman.com)


AMBIVALENT:
self-titled demo: CD-EP
Judging solely from the sound of this, one is led to assume they’re an East LA backyard band. Decent, mid-tempo punk marred by a limp four-track mix job. They thank god and beer in that order. Now that’s punk rock, man. –Jimmy Alvarado (no address)


AMBULANCE:
The End of Our Time: CD
I would imagine they’ve got some sub-sub-pigeonhole they fit into, but what I’m hearing sounds essentially like death metal without the satanic/Texas Chainsaw Massacre lyrics. Although they’re quite proficient at what they do, nothing about ’em really stands out. –Jimmy Alvarado (Wasted Sounds)


AMBULARS, THE:
Dreamers Asleep at the Wheel: LP
This record took me back to the days when The Anniversary were still putting out records, only these guys don’t use keyboards on every song. The Ambulars have the whole power pop trio sound down. All the songs are well crafted, and, as a whole, the record flows together nicely. There are a lot of male/female vocals harmonies which add a nice dynamic to the songs. A lot of the themes of the songs seem to deal with growing up, feeling disconnected, and heartbreak. Recommended for fans of true emo, indie rock, and pop punk.  –Ryan Nichols (Salinas, salinasrecords@gmail.com)


AMDI PETERSEN:
Blod Ser Mere Virkeligt Ud Pa Film: 7"
Havoc Records has put out a lot of great European hardcore bands that actually play hardcore and not metal or emo, and Amdi Petersen's Arme from Denmark continues in that fine tradition. Although the lyrics are in another language, this is proof that hardcore can still be interesting without sucking off the greats from the past. Hell, if I didn't know that this was a new band, I would have thought it was a great from the past. A ripping single and a damn shame that they broke up. –Josh (Havoc)


AMDI PETERSENS ARME:
Self-titled: 7"
I heard a few people tell me and read that “APA is coming, APA is coming!” I never heard of them. Where are they from? Copenhagen, Denmark. What kind of music do they play? Old school punk that reminded me of Minor Threat mixed with the Big Boys. I got off my fat ass and had to find out what I was not aware of. A real raw and low budget recorded 7" that reminds me of days long gone with the guitars that are barely distorted but forced. Sounds like a classic from the past available now. –Donofthedead (Kick N’ Punch)


AMDI PETERSENS ARME:
Blod Ser Mere Virkeligt Ud Pa Film: 7"

I missed them when they came through town while they were touring the states. I forgot what the reason was, but I do regret it. I hate to miss the international bands when they work so hard to come here. I heard good things about the show and wished I was there. Well, these Danish maniacs have released their second EP, which is every bit as good as their first. Old school, in the Circle Jerks meets Black Flag kind of way. Everything about the packaging and music would lead you to believe that this was a long lost record from the ‘80s. Not many bands trying to claim old school pull it off. These guys perfect it and truly make this old guy crack a tear, an accomplishment that is not easy to achieve. It’s amazing to me the rawness and the energy these guys put forth. I know that I’m not the only one out there raving about this. Taking something that is old and making it relevant today is something to cheer for. Their records are going to stand the test of time. A big thumbs up to Felix Havoc for releasing this in the US.

–Donofthedead (Havoc)


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