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Record Reviews

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Sons of Spartacus: CD
Uhh…. no. As much as I may have liked this band in the past, this just doesn’t quite cut the mustard. While this is by no means an embarrassing record for these guys, as there are some songs here that are really quite good, there’s more than a little fat (about half the tracks) that could’ve been trimmed (starting with the ballads – they sound like Alarm outtakes, guys) and this would’ve been a mighty fine addition to their discography. Included is a song called “Anti-Nazi,” which I guess Mensi’s hopin’ will clear up any lingering misconceptions stemming from interviews he did more than two decades ago. –Jimmy Alvarado (Captain Oi)

Still from the Heart: CD
With album number five, the Upstarts took a stab at a more "commercial" sound and effectively zapped virtually of the all-important punk energy from their sound, ending up with an album that pretty much blows. Fortunately, Captain Oi has had the foresight to include a slew of demo versions of some of the album's songs, which are damn good and show how good an album this could've been had they just stuck to their guns. –Jimmy Alvarado (Captain Oi)

Punk Singles Collection: CD
The collected A-sides from this band’s assorted singles are compiled on one disc so’s you don’t hafta keep getting’ up every few minutes to change the record. All the hits are here, including “I’m An Upstart,” “Liddle Towers,” “Woman In Disguise,” etc., so if yer lookin’ for a decent overview of their career without the commitment of actually buying an album or two, this should do the trick. My only gripe is that it would’ve been nice to have a couple of the B-sides on disc as well, namely “Lust for Glory.” Ah, well, such is life, I guess. –Jimmy Alvarado (Captain Oi)

Teenage Warning: CD
Hear that? That’s me kicking a hole in my wall as I crank this bad boy full volume. This, a reissue of the band’s classic first album, still sounds as great as it did way back when. Primal punk ranting and raving, football terrace chant choruses and classics like “The Murder of Liddle Towers,” “I’m an Upstart,” and “Leave Me Alone” make this a must-have for any self-respecting punk fan. To sweeten the deal, Captain Oi has tacked on the single versions of “LiddleTowers” and “Police Oppression.” –Jimmy Alvarado (Captain Oi)

We Gotta Get Out of This Place: CD
A reissue of album number two, this one featuring punk/oi staples “Police Oppression,” “Never ’ad Nothin’,” and many others as well as a couple more single B-sides. Right up there in quality to their first album and featuring more of what made that album so great, although they probably could’ve skipped the cover of the title track, originally a hit in the ‘60s for the Animals. –Jimmy Alvarado (Captain Oi)

Sons of Spartacus: CD
Now I know these blokes have been around forever, carrying the proud street punk torch and squashing nazi skinheads beneath their jack boots whenever possible, but I don’t know if I’ve ever heard more than a couple of their songs. But I was elated to see their pictures on this disc: they’re unapologetically old, pudgy, ugly and all suffering from male pattern baldness. I was all ready to embrace my new musical heroes and then I hit the play button. Um, looking like the fat middle-aged guys in The Full Monty is one thing, but to look like that and sound fat and middle-aged is another thing entirely. It doesn’t start out too bad — mid-tempo-ish and a bit workman-like — but then the wheels break off and the whole thing slides off into the ditch when they pull out a sappy power ballad that could have been penned by (ugh!) Brett Michaels from Poison. I guess it’s kind of funny to hear some guys who look like this doing a hair metal style power ballad, but I’d like to hear their stuff from back when they had a little more hair and fewer chins. And zero power ballads. They probably tore it up back then. But as it is now, I’m sorry to report, these guys seem like they should share a crate of viagra with Bob Dole. –aphid (Insurgence)

We Are the Wolves: CD
What started off with an interesting, twangy country guitar bit quickly sank into bland, boring nouveau hardcore-land. –Jimmy Alvarado (Happy Couples Never Last)

Can’t Go Home: CDEP
Straight edge hardcore that plays like a soundtrack to a panic attack or going through the day with a high level of anxiety. Metallic riffing and the screamy vocals keep things aggressive. If you have little penis syndrome, like me, bands like this are a good remedy. Weird name for a label. Unique. –Donofthedead (Happy Couples Never Last)

State of NJ vs. Anger: CD
Some pretty strong, clean sounding hardcore with varying speeds that is sometimes a little reminiscent of the Fixtures. Some of the lyrics are a little questionable at best, especially "Bull Dyke," which should raise a few eyebrows over at the MRR compound. Musically, though, this is pretty solid. –Jimmy Alvarado (HOA, PO Box 442, Pompton Lakes, NJ 07442)

Loss: CD-R
Are you pining away for the Revolution Summer? Do you wish more bands were taking cues from mid-’80s Washington DC bands? Well, this might be for you. Anger House are a “classic era” Dischord Records-inspired band from Denton, TX who seem heavily inspired by one of my favorite periods of U.S. hardcore, sounding not unlike the bands Rites Of Spring, Rain, or One Last Wish. This is the sound that we once called “emo” before that term was co-opted by mid-’90s bands to mean something else entirely. Anger House seems to know exactly what they’re doing and what they want to sound like, wearing their hearts on their sleeves. –Mark Twistworthy (angerhouse.bandcamp.com)

Asleep: 7”
Emo in the “before it was a bad word” D.C.-sense. An incredibly accurate, charmingly sloppy, palpably passionate throwback to Rites Of Spring, Embrace, 3, and One Last Wish. Strained, speak-yell vocals, plenty of repetition in the lyrics, vintage tones, and a very fitting production job make this one a definite “highly recommended” for fans of the above trailblazers and current stuff ala End Of A Year/Self Defense Family. Great job, folks. –Dave Williams (Happy Ass)

Reverends and Rednecks: 7"
Five tracks of raging, vaguely metallic thrash, recorded thirteen years ago by an Aussie band I’m assuming is long dead. Pity, ‘cause it sounds like they were a mighty fine band, indeed. I’m hoping they have other stuff out there that’s readily available, ‘cause they are worthy of considerably more notice. –Jimmy Alvarado (Kangaroo)

Self-titled: CD/LP
Angers Curse is what happens when there’s a Swedish version of Earth Crisis that wants to be on a label like Bridge Nine, but they tell the band that they’re going to have to write shorter, faster songs to fit in (twelve songs, twenty minutes), and then the label doesn’t sign them anyway. –Kurt Morris (Monument / Gaphals / World Vs. Cometh / Defiant Hearts, angerscurse.bandcamp.com)

Pistol Shot: 7"
Minneapolis’ Angie Oase meanders through dreamy and starry-eyed songs with her girlish voice and unobtrusive electric guitar. So tempered, mellow, and ethereal bluesy, I imagine this will pop up in some independent art film. –Jessica Thiringer (Self Released)

Pistol Shot: 7"
The packaging and arrangements are minimalism at work. No dust sleeve, blank labels, two 5” x 8” pieces of cardstock with art and lyrics, one woman with an electric guitar. That’s cool, but the songs are begging for more. Angie Oase’s songs straddle punk, power pop, and glam and would be perfect in a movie about badass women living in the city and trying to make it in a rock band. And she does it without the cheese or lowest common denominator lyrics and riffs that you’d assume come with such a thing. The problem is that these songs sound incomplete without booming drums leading up to the choruses, soaring leads, and rumbling bass to move the hips. Here we have Jem. Let’s hope she finds her Holograms. –Guest Contributor (myspace.com/oaseblues)

…Ruin Your $cene: CD
Here’s a tip: do your album cover by hand. Computer-generated covers just look like shit. Their lyrics most likely came from the diary of a thirteen-year-old while their music (Leftöver Crack-esque ska) shows hints of originality in spots. The low point of the disc is the pseudo instrumental track. Though punk rock isn’t always about being in key, bands usually pick up the speed when they aren’t pitch perfect. These guys, however, choose to be slow and out of tune. Shame on them. Bryan Static –Guest Contributor (Triumph Of Life)

Split: 7"
The Angries: Pissed-as-shit lyrics/vocal delivery with a sorta jangly, Wipers-ish guitar sound that somehow manages to totally fit. Hooray For Everything: Little more conventional guitar with a vocalist who occasionally reminds me just the tiniest little bit of Penelope Houston. (And someone else I can’t quite put my finger on. It’ll come to me about five minutes after I turn this review in, I’m sure...) I should love this, but something just isn’t clicking. This is not a bad release in any way and you should definitely check it out. The songs are well-written, well played, and sung with conviction. I’m just not goin’ gaga for it or anything. This could change with repeated spins, but for now this doesn’t seem that essential –Ryan Horky (Self-released, angries.net)

Some Songs We Recorded 2004-2006: CD
I’m gonna give this CD the thumbs up. It has that speedy and melodic skate punk feel that I like. Just like their name, these guys also have a lot of lyrics about being angry at life, which is fine by me (although these guys really seem too hung up on drinking away their pain, as they mention it in around five of the songs). When I was looking these guys up, I also learned a new genre of punk which I never heard of, which is trall punk. I guess you discover something new everyday. The stand out track to me is “The Sky Is Falling.” There’s a catchy violin line in that song that just really throws it over the top for me. The rest of the album is good, but I wish more of it was more memorable and would stick with me as much as that one song. –Adrian (Co-release: Hungry Ghosts, Infected, Jerk Off, Lokos, Tic Tac Totally, Vinehell, White Trash Taco)

Split: 7”
Reviews like this are sometimes the hardest to write. This split just isn’t terribly arresting, but at no point did I feel the urge to throw my record player out the window. It’s just one of those cases where there are some punk songs on a little piece of vinyl that spins around when you put the needle on it. Uliczny Opryszek is a Polish band that sings songs in their native tongue (with English translations) about religion being dumb and staying punk forever, complete with namedrops of the Exploited and Conflict. Angry 4 Life’s from San Jose and are generous enough to include the chord progressions to one of their songs. It’s recorded well (always good to see Bart Thurber and House of Faith are still around) and both bands seem to be shooting for that anthemic, songalong kind of streetpunk thing, but again, there’s just nothing to really grab onto and lurch around with while the record spins. Sorry, guys. –Keith Rosson (Cat Food Money)

Slut Bomb: CD
I remember seeing this band up in Santa Barbara a few years back, and damn if this CD doesn’t remind me of how cool of a live band these Angry Amputees are (speaking of Satan Barbara, aren’t the fifteen minutes up for that band, The Ataris? Who’s in charge of watching the clock and keeping time? Their fifteen minutes are over, for fuck’s sake. They need to go away. Now. How dare that band desecrate the happy memories of early ‘80s home videogaming, especially mine in grade school. FUCK!). Ahem… anyways, this is a band you should be checking out. It’s chock fulla chunked-up rock punk that I found myself playing more and more this past week, kind of like the catchy commercial on the television you catch yourself humming along to word-for-word unexpectedly. Not to compare the Amputees to a TV commercial, ‘cause that wouldn’t be fair – commercials usually get the finger from yours truly, but the Angry Amputees get both my thumbs up. Enough hooks and different song tempos to keep your fat head occupied for awhile, not just the same old thrash and bash with monkey beats in the background. Choice butcher block cuts here include “Vanity Fair Blackout,” “She’s Got It All,” and the wonderfully done, early Muffs-sounding rocker, “Put Me to Bed.” Not a bad release, not bad at all. –Designated Dale (Dead Teenager)

Self-titled: 7”
Alix from The Lids and Jay Reatard. What else do you need to know? Doesn’t retread their other bands but just as great and highly recommended. Tight, bed-jumping rock. Has the expected Urinals cover and a Phil Spector-ish song that you will hum everywhere you go… just don’t sing the words in public. –Speedway Randy (Shattered)

Apparent-Transparent: 7”
Oh man this band keeps delivering. Jay Reatard and Alix from The Lids, if you haven’t heard. Redefining new wave in good form: sometimes moody, sometimes fast sounds without pretentious goth or keyboards. They are all business without an inch of waste, from the poppy title track to the haunting “You Fell in” and a killer, cover of “The 15th” by Wire. All of their singles come highly recommended. –Speedway Randy (Plastic Idol)

Apparent Transparent: 7”
I think Mario at Plastic Idol and I are on a very similar page when it comes to music. I have yet to hear any of his releases and not be taken with them. Angry Angles are no exception. My only mistake was not ordering it soon enough, and the first pressing sold out in two days. Luckily for me, Mario reissued it (this time on yellow vinyl and with different colors on the cover). For some reason, I always remember this having keyboards (which it doesn’t). Two originals and a Wire cover on the b-side. –Megan Pants (Plastic Idol)

Garage Music for Mind and Body: LP
At this point, garage rock seems to be the premiere scene of rock music for the last decade or so. Sometimes, that’s great. I love a good garage record, but it seems to translate to letting a lot of bands just sort of phone it in. Just enough slack in the vocals to make it sound like the singer doesn’t care, just enough reverb in the guitar to make it sound like guitarist is always about to miss the notes, just enough simplicity in the drums to never confuse anyone where the song is going. It just gets rather uninspiring sometimes. Angry Dead Pirates at their best do what at least a hundred other bands do, but not in a way that raises your eyebrows. You simply see it, think, “Yeah, that sounds alright,” and move on with your day. Interchangeable garage rock. Grade: C.  –Bryan Static (Frantic City, franticcity.free.fr / Barbarella Club / Laboratoire)

Sharks and Roaches: CD
If this spew of mediocre pop punk (think about early Bad Religion or early Screeching Weasel, only less musically competent and interesting), generic lyrics about individuality and, like, resistance and shit, bro, had come out twenty-five years ago, someone might have cared then. As it is, I don’t because this says nothing to me about my life or what I face. Hell, I doubt it says anything meaningful to someone in high school who really thinks that Yellowcard’s lyrics are profound. –Puckett (Vinehell)

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