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Razorcake #90
White Murder, both LPs
Treasure Fleet, The Sun Machine LP
Razorcake #89
White Murder, Form Early LP (CLEAR VINYL)

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No Idea Records

Record Reviews

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Greatest Hits Volume Two: CD
Not to be confused with Orange County’s Christian punk band The Altar Boys, this Portland band sounds like early Dwarves, except that the Dwarves were tight, and this is definitely less focused and tight. It has energy, but seems to be thrashing into nowhere. The main problem seems to be the recording levels, I think. The drums are lost in the mix here—all I can hear is a snare and an annoying, tinny cymbal. The guitar, however, is great in a sloppy punk way, and vocals are nicely dark. It just needs to come together more, somehow. Maybe this was a rushed recording. I’m guessing this band is best experienced live. –Guest Contributor (Last Chance)

Volume 1: 2-song CDEP demo
Straight-ahead, Confederacy of Scum-esque (if they’re not members, they should be) punk rock. “Serenity Now” is a little too repetitive in chanting a bit of AA-speak, but “Dead @ 20” buzzes along quite effectively. In a better world, this’d come inside most twelve packs of beer. The Cliff’s Notes gist of it is that Lemmy would approve. –todd (www.thealtarboys.com)

Wolves for Brothers: CD
It’s always the people who try the hardest to come off as tough and rebellious that end up looking fake. There’s artwork that looks like it came straight off a Metal Mulisha T-shirt, a picture of them under layers of makeup, which fails to make them look straight out of a fight, and music that sounds more like speed metal without solos than hardcore. These songs are all about hurting people: stabbing and shooting them, beating them with bats and breaking their fingers. It’s a downer that this even exists. Maybe if they lived in a city in which these things actually happened outside their weak imaginations they would see the reality of violence and stop glorifying it. –Rene Navarro (Horns Up, no address)

Self-titled: LP
Great mid-paced hardcore punk from Texas. These guys are definitely not afraid to mix it up with a bit of melody here and there. Sum up the best qualities of early Naked Raygun with their former bands Storm The Tower and Signal Lost, then add them to the talents of a vocalist who actually knows how to sing. The result is a very solid full-length album. –Juan Espinosa (Adelante, adelantediscos@gmail.com)

The Exotic Sounds of: CD
Ignoring the fact that I know of at least two other punk bands that have used the exact name over the course of the last two decades and another twenty or so that have gone under the moniker “Altar Boys,” I gotta say that this whole “lounge group grasping for the nu-metal brass ring” thing is just not doin’ it for me. –jimmy (Fractured Transmitter)

Self-titled: EP
This record works perfectly with the sound of police choppers circling low over my neighborhood. Altered Boys, from New Jersey, crank out some burly, no-frills hardcore punk. The rhythm section is akin to an avalanche. The guitar races to keep pace and the vocalist barks out attacks on drug culture (“Drug War”), punk snobbery and the ultimate safe route it takes (“Ask a Punk”), religion (“Missionary Position”), decay (“Crashing Down”), and more. Plus, they have a song titled “The Nudge” where the only lyrics are, “Uuuhhhh.” Pretty good record. Hope they come to Los Angeles sometime. –Matt Average (Katorga Works, katorgaworks@gmail.com)

Self-titled: 7” EP
Deranged is fast becoming another one o’ them labels where you’re not quite sure what yer gonna get, but it’s usually good no matter what it ends up being. Wasn’t quite able to gauge this one based on the Mansonesque cover, but what came howling along was some zippy, pissed-as-hell Canadian hardcore, burning fast, heavy, and is out the door before you know what hit ye. –jimmy (Deranged)

Self-titled: 7”
It’s time to lace up your boots and get down with Alternate Action. The thing about oi or street punk or whatever you want to call it is that the majority of it is lyrically empty, but the energy of the music will overshadow that if a band is good. Alternate Action is really good. The songs aren’t saying much but they feel vital. Menace is a band that comes to mind when listening to this. I’ll listen to more. –ty (Longshot)

Thin Line: CD
Semi-catchy street punk that sounds all right. If that’s your bag. You could do a lot worse than this. –Ryan Horky (Longshot, longshotmusic.com)

Thin Line: CD
It’s probably best that there isn’t a lyric sheet accompanying the otherwise above average oi-boy tuneage here, as nine times outta ten all lyrics in this subgenre manage to do is blight whatever work is put in musically. Based solely on the musical output here, these guys have put some obvious work in, with catchy hooks and odd little timing thingies to keep you on yer toes, scraggly sung/shouted vocals, and little guitar bits that occasionally recall the best musical bits of Skrewdriver without all that band’s bullshit baggage and moronic worldview in evidence, and enough zip in their delivery to come across like they at least mean what they’re on about. In all, not bad. –jimmy (Longshot)

Split: 7”
Alternative Action: Pretty straight-forward street punk. However, it gets a little poppy by the second song, and that’s all fine and good with me. Marching Orders: First impression: the vocals are very reminiscent of the Subhumans U.K., and, musically, it’s not far behind. My second impression is that even disregarding that, these guys sound way British. Overall: I wish I’d gotten the picture disc version of this, but oh well. I imagine I’d enjoy seeing either band live—barring it doesn’t get me a kick to the side of the head. –joe (Iron Pier)

Self-titled: CDEP
Pretty unoriginal, slightly more powered-rock with cutesy female vocals - the oh-look-how-witty-I-is type (one song is called "Y-u-so-mean to me"). The guys dress with priest collars and one has so many big buttons that he looks like he'd be happier showing off his "flare" at Fiddlesticks. Oh yeah, and their label has a platinum hit and one of their main focuses is to get songs on commercials, soundtracks, and the like. –megan (Mother West)

Trunk Lunker: CD
Roky Erikson mania meets the Reatards’ “record in your bedroom with a bucket for a drum” aesthetic. Sometimes it seems a little bit like they’re trying too hard. I bet if you played it at a party, everybody would leave, which I mean as a compliment. –Josh (Trick Knee Productions)

Trunk Lurker: LP
What can make supreme weirdness so catchy? The process of discovery and invention is so vague and convoluted, but when you hear something from left field, it’s either like being whacked by Thomas Edison’s wet brain and a huge light goes on over your head or it’s easy to dismiss it as broken ear junk (or just plain shit). For as cacophonic, scree-laced, and scraped-into-a-mound-then-blasted-apart as AKE are, there’s a soft bubblegum-ness that keeps it all sticking together. Somehow. The beauty of it, what I hear may be completely different for the next listener. Christ, they’ve got stuff reminiscent of the Cramps to Roky Erickson to the Lost Sounds to The Pagans to The Clone Defects to The Scientists to Hasil Adkins to Masters of the Obvious to spaghetti western soundtracks to good, old fashioned gas huffing. Mix ‘em up in a big, jagged ball and imagine an accident with them getting splattered on a windshield and the little bits of glass flying everywhere. Definitely something challenging yet instantly listenable. Here’s to rural Wisconsin and its frozen tundras of inspiration. –todd (Deadbeat)

Northern Secrets: CDEP
Boy, oh boy. Opening tune takes my hand and leads me to a slide show of the times I’ve fallen in love in my life and I slow dance with the memories. I can’t understand the lyrics, but I’m happy the name of the second jam is called “Mapping Her Contours,” and not “Homicidal Lubricant.” I say jam, and it’s jammy, but not lame. Upon further inquiry, it turns out they are MIDWESTERN! Specifically Haunchyville, WI, pronounced “Honkyville,” I’m sure. My first listen, I was in the garage, building shit, ripping and chopping, drilling and sanding. I listened to it five times in a row, appreciating it more with each spin. This is a perfect soundtrack for the creative process.  –Jackie Rusted (Self-released, aluminumknoteye.com)

Self-titled: CD-R
Wow, Malaysian pop punk. Something you don’t run into every day. Good stuff from a band that sounds close to what I imagine Me First And The Gimme Gimmes would sound like if they played originals. –jimmy (nizangmosh@gmail.com)

Self-titled: 7”
Mid-tempo Ramones revivalism at its most lovably predictable: catchy choruses (“baby” / “maybe” / “crazy” rhymes sprinkled throughout), power pop progressions, and swaggering rock’n’roll leads. “Damn Right (It’s a Saturday Night)” is a solid, if familiar, opener that details how Saturday night makes these guys feel—you guessed it—all right. On this night they are also going to have a good time. Damn right. This is very much along the lines of what plenty of fellow nostalgics like The Mandates are doing. Nothing new here, but that’s not what the AM/FM’s seem to be going for.  –Indiana Laub (Radio Guru, theamfms@gmail.com)

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.  –norb (Rerun)

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 (Cheap Art)

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 (Paramnesia)

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)

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 (sp-records.com)

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)

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 (Go-Kart)

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 (www.xcommunicated.biz)

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