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Record Reviews

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ARMOR FOR SLEEP:
What to Do When You Are Dead: CD
The art and layout on this CD rules. The little booklet that came with the CD (that sort of mimics little Bible-thumper pamphlets) explains the ever-so-witty guidelines on what to do when you are dead. A shame the music sucks. Or maybe to be fair, I should have said a shame this reviewer hates emo rock and the like. –Mr. Z (Equal Vision)


ARMS ALOFT:
Comfort at Any Cost: CD
I can say with confidence that this six-song EP will make my Top 10 list for this year. The CD combines their self-titled 7” and their recent Kiss Of Death split 7” with Fake Boys, and it just so happens that this is some of the most assured, muscular, hook-filled, and smart music I’ve heard in a long time. Combine the fattened-guitar steamrolling that Rivethead dished out with that weird juxtaposition that the Lawrence Arms frequently manage, how they make solemnity and damage sound somehow redemptive. That’s pretty close to Comfort at Any Cost. Arms Aloft have crafted a handful of songs here that are wicked smart, ridiculously catchy, and wrenched from one of the most basic tenets of punk and, yeah, folk music: the idea of protest, of flying in the face of. And they do it beautifully and with just the right amount of swagger. I particularly love this type of stuff but, like sugary pop punk in the ‘90s, we’ve become inundated with bands like this. There’s a glut of groups doing this type of stuff. And yet I can think of less than half a dozen bands who are doing it as well—with the same amount of obvious passion and jagged-edge songwriting—as these guys are. I’m moving to their home state in about a month and plan on making it a mission to catch ‘em live as often as possible. Grab this one up. –Keith Rosson (Gilead Media)


ARMS EXPLODING:
Ruminari: CD
Odd mix of screamy metal/hardcore stuff and emo. Liked the cover art and precious little else. –Jimmy Alvarado (Phratry)


ARMY OF FRESHMAN:
Beg, Borrow, Steal: CD
Keyboard-heavy pop punk that sounds like Reggie & the Full Effect on a really bad day. Honestly, this isn’t my cup of tea. They seem to have their songwriting down pat; I just can’t seem to get past those keyboards and singer. –Jason K –Guest Contributor (33rd Street)


ARMY OF FRESHMEN:
Beg, Borrow, Steal: CD
Watch your steps, kiddos. Dance Dance Revolution looks like it’s got a new soundtrack band. –Megan Pants (33rd Street)


ARMY OF JESUS:
Book Bomb: EP
This was recorded at the same time as the other 7” (Prosperity Health Finance Wealth) but this one sounds a million times better, (note to bands: go ahead and drop the extra hundred bucks on mastering your record, it’s worth it!) much more in-your-face, meaner and uglier than the last one. They’re still pissed at cops and bosses and rich honkies, but they take it a step further by unleashing their hatred on monetary systems (but you still gotta pay for the record), the music industry (but they still got the records pressed at United), and Myspace (how’d you book the tour, guys? On the phone? It’s 2006.) While it’s essentially the same band as their other two records, this particular release comes across as too preachy and complain-y. I think Doug should start smoking weed again. –ben (Criminal IQ)


ARMY OF JESUS:
Prosperity Health Finance Wealth: EP
Kudos to these dudes for putting out their own record, even when other people offered to do it for them. This is a nice slab of pissed-off, mad at the world hardcore in the vein of DS13 and Tear It Up, without the bandana thrash gimmickry. These guys are unashamed of their opinions, and boy are there lots of them. They hate Christians, cops, lawyers, judges and all other rich white bad guys, almost to a fault. At times it seems like they’re trying to duplicate a classic hardcore feel that they might as well be a cover band. Still, it fuckin’ shreds and the next time I’m mad at somebody I’m gonna put this on. –ben (BSD)


ARMY OF PONCH:
Army of Ponch Vs. the Curse: CD EP
In an election year, we’re all looking for wedge issues in the culture war. We all need them to make sure that we only associate with people who are exactly like us and won’t challenge us to change ourselves, our minds, or our opinions. Fuck, even I need one to ensure that I’m doing my part to divide while claiming to unify, and I think I finally got it with this release. I’ve concluded that I simply don’t get Army Of Ponch. I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. Screamed vocals, disjointed and slightly chaotic music, chunky riffs that stay crispy even in milk – I think I need more melodies with this, that what’s really missing is a sense of harmony. It’s not that this is bad – I’ve just finally realized after a few separate attempts over the time span of about a year that this really isn’t my thing. –Puckett (Sabot)


ARNDALES:
Dog Hobbies USA: 12” EP
The Arndales are a thoroughly British post-punk group, featuring at least one member of the Country Teasers. I never got into the Country Teasers (everyone around me seemed to—hell, even JA released that The Rebel record), and that might have been my loss, as this EP is good. No doubt Arndales are familiar with Marc Riley, but there’s no nostalgia here. The production on this record is modern-sounding and the music is anything but by-the-numbers. You likely already know if this record is for you, as it surely has a limited audience (always a good thing) and I’m admittedly late to the party. –Ryan Leach (In The Red, intheredrecords.com)


ARNOCORPS:
The Greatest Band of All Time: CD
I was at a Jello Biafra And The Guantanamo School Of Medicine show recently and an older gentleman standing next to me was lamenting how Alternative Tentacles hadn’t kept up with the times. I politely chided himfor not keeping up with Alternative Tentacles. As good as joke records get, these songs are all named after Arnold Schwarzenegger movies and prominently feature quotes and plot descriptions of the films, twisted into hilarity, in the lyrics. Musically hard, with an almost oi tinge, this might be the best Alternative Tentacles album since the 2004 release of Leftover Crack’s Fuck World Trade. Want to touch Arnold’s gams? That’s one of the many pressing issues discussed on this instant classic.  –Art Ettinger (Alternative Tentacles)


ARRESTUM:
Ihmistieteet: 7” EP
Loud ‘n’ rambunctious crust punk from Finland. They keep the most overt metal and Discharge influences more or less at bay while retaining the propulsion and dark theatricality that comes from the best parts of both those influences. –Jimmy Alvarado (Parta, partarecords.com))


ARRIGT ANTRAEK:
Self-titled: 7”
By looking at the pictures, they’re a young punk band out of Denmark that sounds like they came from the same school of punk that Amdi Petersens Arme and No Hope For The Kids came from. Not as fast as the latter bands, but they have a definite snotty attitude that kind of sets this band apart. But they also have an early Swedish sound that reminded me a little of Asta Kask. I like the fact that they sing in their native language. What they are singing about, I don’t know. I liked the rawness of the songs and the simplicity. If they can keep it together, they will be a band we will be hearing about more on these shores. –Donofthedead (Hjernespind)


ARRIVALS / BROKEDOWNS:
Split: 7”
The Arrivals have a T-shirt that claims them the future of classic rock; and in the world I live in, they couldn’t be more right. Popular music is so far off any track I care to follow and I can’t help picture robots trying to sell me toothpaste when I hear anything near the Top 40. Who better than an outfit of great-natured misfits who just wanna rock away from cliché in the present tense to fill my quota of rockin’? Much in the same vein of a band like Rocket From The Crypt, punks are lucky to have ‘em because everyone else is too busy buying that toothpaste from Short Circuit, being told that that’s music. The Brokedowns: Bravo, gentlemen. I was expecting you to get annihilated by The Arrivals (we all can be defined by our prejudices) but they more than held up their side of the bargain. Blunter and more direct, they celebrate the Pegboy side of things more than Naked Raygun, and are able to slide in some totally catchy sneaky bits in the pockets. (I hear bits sniped from Big Black, Bhopal Stiffs, and The Effigies, in only three songs, no less.) Multi-depth, multi-decade-grabbing Chicago punk. Hell yeah. I think they’re from Illinois. –Todd Taylor (1234 Go!)


ARRIVALS, THE:
Marvels of Industry: CD
I’ll be honest; I’d hear friends of mine talk about how much they love The Arrivals, but then I’d watch them at The Fest, and I just couldn’t get into it. Down the line, I even heard a few more random songs, thought they were pretty good. So I decide to really sit down with this record, and I get it now. These are melancholy anthems, not poppy songs about milkshakes—a record to help you take solace after overcoming daily struggles (making me realize why seeing them for the first time at a show like The Fest may leave you a little bummed). Plus, it kind of made me feel like a pirate. –Joe Evans III (Recess)


ARRIVALS, THE:
Marvels of Industry: CD
I have such high expectations for this Chicago band, so I was a little nervous about hearing the new songs for the first time. I was not disappointed, not even a little. The first track on this album, titled “I’m Sorry for Saying I’m Sorry,” is one of those songs that gets crammed into your head when you’re at work and you have to very sneakily listen to it from your mp3 player while you act like you are not listening to one of the best rock songs out this year. If you have the chance to see them play any of the songs from this album live, you need to skip whatever it is you are doing to go see them. They not only made a great album, but they know how to execute a stupendous show that will leave you with all those honey-dipped little feelings you hope for when you go out on a school night. I feel nothing but glory from this album. Nice job, gentlemen. C. Marie –Guest Contributor (Recess)


ARRIVALS, THE:
Marvels of Industry: CD
Top ten of 2007. There can’t be ten other records that eclipse it. No fucking way. The Arrivals have been flirting with making this LP for a long, long time and they hit the bull’s-eye. (And their first two LPs didn’t slouch in the slightest. See cover of Razorcake #12.) You see, in a different time and place, they’d just be known as a well-loved, hard-rocking band. Their talent and passion is obvious. But in this modern world where people want their music to come through robotic filters and PR firms, to fit into a microgenre that’ll be praised then reproached in the span of a year, they’re an anomaly: a band who can just as easily play blues and blaze through covers of “Hot for Teacher,” but have chosen the strongest voice—their own. With Marvels of Industry, both Isaac and Little Dave’s voices seem more strident, the words blooming and booming from their throats, distinct and electric. I still contend that Ronnie’s one of the best drummers I’ve ever seen; he’s like a gorilla who both mauls and protects his kit; I swear he’s got an extra arm tucked away somewhere. And with the addition of Paddy Costello of the perpetually “we’re recording soon” Dillinger Four on bass, I think the Arrivals have written and performed America’s next national anthem in fourteen verses. Well, for me at least. Wow. –Todd Taylor (Recess)


ARRIVALS, THE:
Northern Hospitality: 4 Song-CDEP

The Arrivals are, without question, my favorite band that I’ve heard in the past year and a half, if not longer. You probably have no idea who they are. You’re not alone. In that time I’ve met two people who have heard them. Two. I was just lucky enough to have someone play them for me after playing with them in Chicago. I was extremely nervous about listening to Northern Hospitality, since to say their full length, Goodbye, New World has been in more than heavy rotation would be so much more than an understatement. I should’ve known better. It kicks my ass for a good solid eight minutes and I keep going back for more. They actually pull off being a band, in the manner that they feed off of one another. Each member is integral to what they create, and what they create is some of the best music out there. Live, you can see how they play off one another, whether it’s their own material or a Van Halen cover thrown in for fun (Say what you will, Van Halen is hard to play!) The lyrics (when you can fully decipher what’s being said) are both intelligent and written to work perfectly with Isaac and Dave’s cadence, but the balance between vocals and music is done so well that the vocals become just another instrument in the equation. “Hearts in the Right Places” is a bittersweet love song done acoustic, but somehow it’s still rough. Two of the tracks will be on their next release, Songs in the Key of Obligation, which hopefully frees them from Thick so they can get a label who knows how to promote them even just little. Get your hands on anything you can find by these guys. Your life will be better for it, well at least your record collection.

–Megan Pants (Thick)


ARRIVALS, THE:
Exsenator Orange: CD
I kept hearing about how good this band was so I decided to crawl out of my hole in the ground and check them out. "Good" is the understatement of the year. Most people use the n-word (Naked Raygun) to describe the Arrivals, and that sound is definitely there, but I actually hear more Radon than anything else. Using the least geeky terms possible, both bands make real music for real people, people who don't give two shits about trends or popularity and play their music like it's the most natural thing in the world. This is everything that you could want in a band: honesty, sincerity, creativity, and truckloads of the rock and roll. –Josh (Thick)


ARRIVALS, THE:
Goodbye New World: CD
Hell yeah. These ears are always thirsty for great music that rocks in new ways. The Arrivals amaze me. Their lyrics are whipsmart, heartfelt, and honest. The instruments crackle like unharnessed lightning and contain an untraceable chemical that has me reaching for the repeat button again and again. What gets me is how catchy they are without being either too simple and boneheaded about it, and the songs are relatively complicated, but they make the music flow so easily and forcefully. With bands like The Arrivals, I get the feeling that it’s four guys playing the exact same song for the exact same reason at the exact same time. That may seem like a real obvious thing, but it’s not. How many bands do you see or hear, and it sounds like they’re going for an effect or are aping an already stripped sound, or they endlessly tinker, or the individual members can’t wait to boost themselves in the mix? Far too many. Not only are The Arrivals technically tight, they’re seamless. The result is pure propulsion, complete charge, a completely new take on punk that jettisons cliche. Take the solid fuel rocket boosters of Naked Raygun, bolt it through an honest sounding voice (a strong, sure, non-mimicking one), structure the songs so they sound instantly classic, yet couldn’t have been made ten years ago (fuck if I know how they do it), and dash in a little Dillinger Four (I’ll never say that lightly), and let it all sizzle and pop. Don’t let the emo-y, bulb-setting blur-fest picture on the cover steer you wrong. This is crystal clear explosion. Snatch this fucker up. It’s fantastic. –Todd Taylor (Thick)


ARRIVALS, THE:
Volatile Molotov: LP
One of the Grand Punk Paradoxes for me is this: I have loved punk rock for the past twenty-five years on a continual basis. I continue to love punk rock. Yet the music, the form, the approach, the culture, the intent, the delivery—practically everything about it—has fundamentally morphed away from its origins somewhere in the late ‘70s. So, if the Ramones, The Bags, The Weirdos, and the Clash are punk, and punk died, what’s left? (Punk’s death is something I don’t believe. I do believe that punk dies in people and that if you repeat something enough times, regardless of truth, people start believing it.) Are punks in their late thirties—too young to surf the first wave, but old enough to put a lifetime in—delusional? Merely hangers-on? Leeches attached to ghosts of nostalgia? No one seriously talks about a wide-scale punk music revolution anymore. Almost every lifer punk I know doesn’t even look like what when someone from the outside shuts their eyes and imagines a punk rocker. But no other term has come along, no other label’s ever stuck. Saying that it’s “music” is too broad; like the term “world music” is just fuckin’ stupid and racist (because I don’t know any bands that have recorded in outer space yet, all music is world music). Digging into smaller and smaller subgenres doesn’t do anyone any good. Parts further isolated will eventually be mocked, suffocated, and destroyed. The Arrivals bring all of this thinking to the forefront. Bar none, they are one of my favorite bands, and have been since their debut Goodbye New World, in 2000. So, I could say, “They’re so much more than punk,” but why divorce them from my favorite form of music so some squares will have fewer wrong preconceived notions and may actually give a wonderful band a chance? I want to celebrate it, bar none, not serve it on a clean plate to fancy, fickle people who mostly suck anyhow. So I came up with a quick, personally helpful device. If someone calls any band that I like “punk,” and they mean it as a compliment, I’ll take it. If someone dismisses music as “just punk,” and they mean it as a slag, that they’ve got the entire enterprise figured out and it’s now a waste of anyone’s time, they can go fuck themselves. With all that mind, The Arrivals have just made one of the best records—and have one of the strongest catalogs—of any band in the past ten years. Punk or not. It’s a big, fat fuckin’ paradox. –Todd Taylor (Recess)


ARRIVALS, THE / THE ARTERIES:
Split: 7”
The Arrivals are one of the best bands in the entire world. They make music so good you can cry to it and, when the song ends, you have a smile on your face. Sometimes I forget how weird they are, but then they do something really weird and it’s pure magic. If you’re not familiar with this band, don’t start here. Get your hands on any—and all—of their full-lengths. Doing a split 7” with the Arrivals is a ballsy move, but The Arteries bring it with their two songs. A little more of the EpiFat sound than I’m used to, but it’s heartfelt and energetic. Mandatory tracks from both bands. Hunt this one down. –Daryl Gussin (All In Vinyl)


ARRIVALS, THE / THE ARTERIES:
Split: 7"
I picked this up for The Arrivals and wound up a big fan of The Arteries. Go figure. It’s not at all as if The Arrivals’ songs aren’t rad, because they are. It’s The Arrivals, man! I’d never heard The Arteries and was instantly impressed. The two bands aren’t unlike. In fact, seeing them play together would be pretty great. I might have to go looking for the other volumes in the split 7” series. –Ty Stranglehold (All In Vinyl)


ARRIVALS, THE: Volatile Molotov: LP:
Volatile Molotov: LP
If the last record made me feel like a pirate (because of songs for the working class through eyes that are both brutally honest, yet romantic), this one feels like I’ve come ashore, only to find that all that’s left is a post-apocalyptic wasteland. There are a lot of songs about the end of the world, and coping; musically ranging from thrashers like “Two Years” to the more anthemic and beautiful “The Last Testament” that feel like they’re slowly building up to something really big. I say it’s a masterpiece. If this is what’s going to be playing as the world comes to an end, I say bring on 2012. –Kristen K (Recess)


ARROGANT SONS OF BITCHES:
All the Little Ones Are Rotting: CD
Just your run-of-the-mill ska-punk outfit. What points they may have earned by maintaining their DIY status they lost the moment the first song started. There was an “enhanced” portion to this disc, but I wasn’t feeling masochistic enough to subject myself to it. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.asobrock.com)


ARROYO DEATHMATCH:
All of Them Witches: CD
I was going to call this “anarcho-flamenco punk,” but I don’t think what Arroyo Deathmatch plays is technically flamenco. There’s a definite Spanish feel to it and there’s a lot of flute work and there are moments that made me think of The Spirit of the Beehive. But, really, this is just a standard, excruciating folk-punk record—ostensibly radical/populist/authentic, though in truth it’s contrived and ridiculous and completely at odds with what people actually listen to. You get one singer who sounds like Chuck Ragan and another who sounds like John Darnielle, basically a lumberjack and an accountant screaming at you about straight edge and voting over acoustic fast-core with prog time shifts. I groaned and rolled my eyes, even when the band did something sort of cool like make an album without the use of electricity (you wonder how they manufactured the CDs and the answer is naturally occurring forest disc-burners running on syrup and good vibes). Another bohemian punkhouse vanity project, light years away from Wallace Berman or any of the real cool outliers.  –Matt Werts (Self-released, arroyodeathmatch.bandcamp.com)


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