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Razorcake #79
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No Idea Records

Record Reviews

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AT THE DRIVE-IN:
This Station Is Non-Operational: CD/DVD
I’m surprised that Retodd didn’t keep this for himself since he has more history with the band. Me, I have the first and the last CD. Nothing in the middle. Haven’t listened to either in awhile. So this anthology is a wake up call. I forget sometimes how good a band is because I can’t keep up with the new music I get and I neglect what I have in the collection. The demise of the band while about to break through and then splintering into both Mars Volta and Sparta makes you forget quickly. I really didn’t get into either band. The chemistry was not the same. This validates my theory. Eighteen tracks from various full lengths—rare and unreleased. This plays through effortlessly. A bonus DVD is included with a bunch of videos and stuff to entertain an egghead for a short period. I don’t know if this an attempt to sell more back catalog, but for me, this well worth the price for a new fan who missed them the first time around. –Donofthedead (Fearless)


AT THE SPINE:
First Day of Spring: CD
I think what annoys me most about this record is the plea on the back to support independent music and to avoid copying this record if you can help it. Dudes, you don’t have to worry about that last bit—I like people and wouldn’t want to subject them to this. As to the first point, fuck independent music. Support GOOD music. This is everything but. I had realized over the years that there is simply no end to the things I can’t do in music—I can’t play guitar, bass, drums, flute, saxophone, keyboards, tuba, bassoon… none of that shit. I can’t read or write music. I can’t even whistle in tune. And singing? You’re kidding, right? At any rate, I thought I knew all of that until I heard this and with the exception of a couple of pseudo-solos, I can play every goddamned thing on this disc and do it better because I at least figured out how to play a Ramones song or two on every instrument over the years. I can’t sing, but at least I have the good sense not to try (meaning that, unlike this record, you’ll rarely hear me off-pitch) and to yell in something approximating the same key. This? Fuck this. –Puckett (Global Seepaj)


AT THE SPINE:
First Day of Spring: CD
This was specifically sent to me with a note stating that they really appreciated my sincerity. So, I was truly hoping to honesty love this and reward them with a glowing review. I read the liner notes as I put this in and got a bit jaded. They cover Hank Williams and admit they’ve never even heard his version of the song, “House of Gold,” that they cover. Minus one. Then, they go on to proclaim (minus one) that they’re not religious, and if they were they wouldn’t be Christian… and proceed to sing a religious song (hypocrisy—minus twelve). If you seriously feel so strongly anti-religion, anti-church, or anti-whatever that you feel the need to come out and defend your views, then why not just choose another song? Or, if you just like the song’s melody or other element, but don’t agree with the lyrics or sentiment, you have some choices. Personally, I sing the hell out of songs that I like which have lyrics that I don’t necessarily agree with or that have sentiments I don’t agree with. Do I feel the need to validate my liking of the songs? Nope. Maybe I’d take it all with a grain of salt if the music were any good, but this is about as awful as it comes: mellow and uninteresting arty adult contemporary with wimpy, echo-y vocals. How’s that for sincerity? –Megan Pants (Global Seepej)


AT THE SPINE:
The Curriculum Is Never Neutral: CD
What seems to dominate college radio but never leaves. This is probably some critic’s favorite, but it leaves this listener bored.  –Donofthedead (Global Seepej)


AT WAR WITH SHADOWS:
Healing Is Not an Option: 7” EP

Why is it so cool to act pissed off all the time? Folks play and sing like they’re trying to beat the whole world back into prehistory. Maybe if some bands who can’t find anything to sing about besides misery and agony and cutting their own throats would actually go and do the deed, it would free up some gear for the band down the block who have a couple good monkey songs.

 

–Cuss Baxter (Hater of God)


AT WAR WITH SHADOWS:
Healing Is Not an Option: CD

Sounds like black metal, but reads like emo. Don’t know whether to head bang or weep uncontrollably into my Slayer lunchbox. Oh, the loneliness of being e-vile!

 

–Jimmy Alvarado (Hater of God)


ATARASSIA GROP:
Nonsipuofermareilvento: CD
This bad boy took some work; I almost pulled a hammy trying to pronounce the album title. A lot of the tunes seem to be about politics, only a couple songs are about drinking. There is a song about rugby too. Think Dropkick Murphys and The Boils if the singer was from Rome. I liked “Every Step,” “Scarves Outstretched,” and “Letter to Genoa” the best. But I’m a little confused about the sub-liner notes on “I Hate You.” Maybe this is just a piss poor translation? But “what else could we say to those madmen who regret Fascism?” Are these guys Fascists? That’s totally crazy! –Sean Carswell (Mad Butcher)


ATHRENODY:
Crazed Development: CD
I did not know that this band had existed for a short period of time back in the early ‘90s. It’s amazing that they went into the studio to record an album’s worth of material before the break up. Vocals were not recorded for the session until 2005. This band featured the singer from Exhumed and leans towards the early grind meets death metal sounds, taking hints from Napalm Death, Terrorizer, and sounds like the current Japanese band 324. If I would have heard this in their heyday, I would have been all over this. Songs that average in the two minute range—not relying on pure speed—this band uses a bit of dirty power chords with short bursts of blast beats. Kind of a muddy sludge feel but you can feel the power of the music. The vocals are deep but not full-on cookie monster. I like that it has a sort of demo feel to it but with better production; not over-the-top but dirty enough to keep the madness in check. Great that this has seen the light of day. Co-released with 625 and De Rok. –Donofthedead (To Live a Lie)


ATLANTIC MANOR, THE:
Failing by the Second: CD-EP
This failed the second any sound was produced. There was already a last Warren Zevon record.  –Donofthedead (Do Too)


ATMA, THE:
On My Artichoke: CD
They claim to be very arty, are obviously qualified to slang geetars, and I’ll concede they occasionally tread on some diverse musical territory, but on the whole they don’t sound particularly unique from most of the other thousand alternative rock bands that have slugged it out in the L.A. club trenches over the past decade or so. –Jimmy Alvarado (The ATMA)


ATMOSPHERE:
Seven’s Travels: CD
I’m no authority on hip hop. The depth of my knowledge goes little deeper than Public Enemy to the Wu-Tang. I ultimately got turned off by the talk about bitches and gats and bling bling and whathaveyou. A couple years back, I got turned onto Atmosphere by their fellow Minnesotans, Dillinger Four and Dan Monick (who takes pictures for this magazine). It’s addictive stuff. The rhymes are organic, flow effortlessly, are made by humans I can relate to in more than one way (they name drop Lifter Puller and sing about drinking Jim Beam, among other things), and it keeps my head bobbing. Also, since I know a little bit about the band, they were seriously courted by the majors but decided – partially because they’re a diehard part of the underground community and partially because they’re not suckers – to pass on the easier sellout route and were able to make the exact album they wanted to. If you want a complete change of taste, or hang out with a bunch of people who loath punk, this may be your bridge. –Todd Taylor (Epitaph/ Rhymesayers)


ATOM AGE, THE:
Kill Surf City: CD
Though nothing here really stuck, their approach to the punk thang was just off-kilter enough to keep me interested most of the way through. Not particularly catchy, but well executed with a saxophonist present; thankfully the ska is kept out of sight. Not bad, all told. Just wish I liked ‘em more than I do. –Jimmy Alvarado (Solidarity)


ATOM AND HIS PACKAGE:
Hair: Debatable: CD/DVD
Final show from the outsider artist (and certified high school teacher), who sings and plays guitar to songs he wrote on sequencers. The current Atari-Nintendo restructure dance scene probably owes him some credit. Catchy, hilarious, and – as evidenced in the bonus DVD – entirely humble. With songs about friends, street hockey, parties at the North Pole, how stupid the team name of the Washington Redskins is, the efficiency of the metric system, and moving, Atom is the high-pitched bedroom nerd who makes punk anthems through his own tight universe. It’s infectious. I challenge you to not sing along to “Happy Birthday, Ralph, I love you, even though you are fucking disgusting.” High quality DVD also includes a couple of documentaries and a music video. –Speedway Randy (Hopeless)


ATOM AND HIS PACKAGE:
Hamburgers: CDEP
A quick Atom synopsis: It’s one guy and a sequencer/mixer, accompanied sometimes by a guitar. You wouldn’t be too far off supposing he’s like a punk rock Weird Al Yankovic or a one man Dead Milkmen, but you wouldn’t hit the nail on the head, either. What impresses me with Atom is that he opens me up a little bit to things I patently loathe – like dance music, beats, and straight-up indie rock – and incorporates them catchily into a song called “I’m Downright Amazed at What I Can Destroy with a Hammer.” I’ll be honest, the first several listens, I wasn’t that gripped with this EP. The songs – except the hammer song – seemed a little flat, falling into too similar musical grooves, but when I popped it on the headphones, I liked it much more. For someone who’s known for pretty hard-to-miss parody – like the song “If You Own the Washington Redskins, You’re a Cock” off the excellent Redefining Music – I found myself enjoying the musical nuances and how he layers the instruments and loops on top of one another. Not bad. Not bad at all. –Todd Taylor (File 13)


ATOM AND HIS PACKAGE:
Redefining Music: CD
This is one of those CDs that I take out of my stereo only after being threatened. I could not endorse this more if I showed up to your house and put a gun to your head and told you to listen to it. The only person whose opinion I care about who had anything non positive to say about this is a guy who thought it wasn’t “a joke” enough. If you aren’t aware, Atom is this guy who records songs with a sequencer and sings and plays guitar along with them. He has a great sense of humor, and his music has all manner of funniness going on, but this isn’t a novelty CD. There are vastly complex musical parts and an amazing range of styles on this. The lyrics are witty and poignant, and many of the songs are danceable even. I dare you, dare you to listen to “Shopping Spree” (not about what you think) and not get it caught in your head. Other highlights are Atom’s mockery of those who deserve it in “Anarchy Means I Litter,” covers of three Mountain Goats songs including my favorite “Going to Georgia,” an amazingly kickass version of Madonna’s “ Open Your Heart” and the sing-along epic against racial caricature; “If You Own the Washington Redskins, You’re a Cock.” Of course, I like the whole CD, even if “Before my Friends Do” makes me sad. –rich (Hopeless)


ATOM AND HIS PACKAGE:
A New Thing in a New Town: 8-track cassette
You read it right. 8-fucking-track. I happen to own an eight track player.  Bless Goodwill and their Dollar Days. It happens to be rigged directly through the stereo and set as Phono #2, for glorious instances just as these. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the fidelity of this eight track is really poor. I’m casting no stones, looking no horses (gift or otherwise) in the mouth, it’s just that after hours (literally) fiddling with all the adjustments I could think of (including trips to the 99 cent store for some speaker wire alchemy), I can barely make out the songs. Either I get this weird, low-cycle bass hum that sounds like a giant hydroelectric generator through ear muffs, or it’s so tinny I fear glass shattering. Just to show you how far I went to try to get this to work, and be as scientific as possible, I popped in my “control group” 8-track, The Best of Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians’ “The Sweetest Music This Side of Heaven.” It sounds great. Lush strings, and tons of verve on the “I’m Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover” medley. Pop in Atom again, and, unfortunately, not much of anything that be construed beyond an industrial noise band’s wet dream with a wee bit of Atom in the distance. For completists. FYI, it’s a live recording from March of ‘00, and from what I can tell, all the material has been previously released. On the weird side, I just realized that I’m credited for the photo on it (which I didn’t take), but not credited for a source photo on his new album, “Redefining Music,” (which I did take). No hard feelings, just my type of luck. –Todd Taylor (www.atomandhispackage.com)


ATOM AND HIS PACKAGE:
Redefining Music: CD
If you've never heard of Atom, it's a hard sell. "Uhm, it's this Jewish guy who tours the land solely with his synthesizer and his wits to protect him. He got threatened to be doused with a bucket of blood in Wyoming." But he's much more than that. Live, he rocks the house. Serious. Although not quite a redefinition, Atom's surely exploring some fun stuff. Think of an extremely warm‑sounding Devo crossed with the gleeful abandon of Masters of the Obvious (if you've never listened to MOTO, do yourself a favor and get the "Bolt" LP ‑ $8 to Box 578912, Chicago, IL60657) with some Weird Al Yankovic poking its nose in here and there. What makes the kitsch/ joke value almost irrelevant is fact that Atom makes Grade A, excellent songs; little poisonous capsules that sound like simple sugar until you realize how damn catchy they are. No matter how hard you shake your head, those little ditties stick. They're layered, catchy, structured really well, and thoughtful. Songs range from whatever happens to be on his mind: "I'm going on a shopping spree," to a workmate being "undercover funny," to a plea for the Washington Redskins to change their name, to "Oh, I get it. Anarchy means you can litter." If you're already familiar with Atom, this album's a natural extension of "Making Love." He's definitely developed a steadier music and a tighter album as a whole. Parting shot: if the popular '80s new wave had a sense a humor and more balls than hairspray, distilled through thousands of van miles, you'd get Atom. –Todd Taylor (Hopeless)


ATOM NOTES:
Spare Parts: CD
Interesting bit of work here. The base is yer standard thud-punk, but on top they layer nice bits of other influences—surf, post-punk, power pop—and deliver tunes that are more sophisticated and challenging. These are songs to be savored in order to appreciate the work put into ‘em, which I guess runs counter to instinct in a world now obsessed with instant access and unbridled consumption, but the payoff is definitely worth the effort. Also included are tracks from a single and an EP, which are no less faboo. –Jimmy Alvarado (Combat Rock)


ATOM SMASHERS:
Drop the Bomb: CD
I have a friend named Adam Smasher, and he’s way cooler than this CD! Adam Smasher once drove all the way to Brooklyn from Wisconsin just to see his favorite band, The Onion Flavored Rings, but then he got so drunk that he passed out at the show before they even played. THAT, my friends, is punk! This CD, on the another hand, is nowhere near as cool as that. Pretty standard garage, of the sort that you’d expect from Rip Off these days. Not horrible, not amazing. You know, like most garage punk! If this were a cereal, it’d be regular Chex. Take it or leave it. –Maddy (Rip Off)


ATOM STRANGER:
Self-Titled: CD
This was recorded in 1998, so it seems a little weird that it was just released for review. The CD starts off with weird electronic machine gun drumbeats and squelching walkie-talkie sounds. Then there are some passionless, monotone vocals, and stop start electronic drumbeats. There’s really no melody other than the slight tunefulness of the singer. All the other sounds are atonal electronic noises: bleeps, blurts, and machine gun drums. It just goes down from there. The second song isn’t just bad, it’s unbearable. There is some kind of melody provided by a wah-wah bass sound and a guitar providing melody, but it sounds like lame, clichéd, Nine Inch Nails-type guitar. The third song starts off with some crappy ‘80s synth and a farting bassline. I’m driving along while listening to this, and, at the same time, I think I’m smelling a sewage treatment plant. It’s raining really hard, so it might be overflowing, and combined with this music, I’m starting to feel a little nauseous. –Jason Donnerparty (23)


ATOM-AGE, THE:
The Hottest Thing That’s Cool: CD
New York’s all right if you like saxophones… only this is Berkley and there’s no sign of Lee Ving. The Atom-Age from Berkeley, CA comes from the John Reis RFTC school of vocals; power chord guitar melodies and those god damned ever-present saxophones. The stand out track “I’ve Been Thinking” moves away from the Reis-formula and reminds me of the ‘90s New Orleans garage rock band Royal Pendletons by leaning more towards catchy ‘60s frat rock. All of this isn’t to say The Atom-Age is bad at what they do, they’re not—however, at the end of the day, it’s just too derivative for me. –Mark Twistworthy (Asian Man)


ATOMBOMBPOCKETKNIFE:
God Save the ABPK: CD
Some potent, post-Sonic Youth noise pop. The songs are well executed and hard, yet they retain enough of a poppy edge to keep them annoyingly planted on your internal playlist. Especially liked the feedback solo on “Gamma Rays Forever.” –Jimmy Alvarado (Southern)


ATOMGEVITTER:
Thrash Ritual: CD
Thrash thrash thrash! Forty songs of sonic speed trials, many unreleased, remastered, and more. Very 625 style: fast, a bit whacked out, straddling hardcore, punk, and metal crossover. I must admit, it’s hard to listen to forty songs of this style without it blurring into one song. Near impossible. I listened to the Larm discography straight through a few times just to see if I could do it, and it changed me. Not in a good way. My attention span shortened. This is doing the same thing. I do like this, but, fuck, it gets to be a slog. I recommend listening to this in parts for full effect. Then you can appreciate the speed, how they can throw in some catchy and crunching riffs, and the wild, strangled vocals. This disc includes the material from their split with Filthpact, their Hirosehmo EP, a comp track, some live stuff, and mostly unreleased (as mentioned at the top of this paragraph). –Matt Average (Revulsion, info@revulsionrecords.com)


ATOMIC 7:
…en Hillbilly Caliente: CD
Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet will forever have a special place in my heart as the band that, along with a few other musical luminaries like Rod Torfelson’s Armada and Mississippi Gary, provided the musical accompaniment for my all-time favorite television show, The Kids in the Hall. Former Shadowy Man Brian Connelly resurfaces here with more instrumental twang and hilarious song titles (“Various Rats Get Whacked,” “Funeral Hotpants”). It’s well-crafted, entertaining, and pleasant, but I seldom look for pleasantness in music. It’s a personal thing, I know, but I’m looking for that visceral charge of mistreated instruments and flailing limbs. I can’t even say that it’s good rainy day music because it never rains out here. Sorry. –Josh (Mint)


ATOMIC BITCHWAX:
II: CD
High falutin’ stoner rock in the vein of Deep Purple (or whatever band it was that did "Highway Star") and similar ilk. The band plays the stuff well and the songs are engaging enough to keep me from being completely bored to tears. –Jimmy Alvarado (Tee Pee, PO Box 20307, New York, NY 10009-9991)


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