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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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Said and Done: CD
Polish punk rooted in ‘80s D.C. with a decidedly ‘90s California bent and vocals that remind of Russ from Good Riddance. Elements of pop punk and hardcore melded together with fairly generic lyrics and melodies; decent stuff but not quite there yet. In the past, this would have been a good demo from which build off of instead of what amounts to a pretty mediocre album.  –Chad Williams (Pasazer)

Presents Fort Orange: CD
Musically, this has the sound of Fat Wreck-era Rise Against. It has that really fast and complex- sounding (but not really technical) skate punk type of thing going on. There’s a hint of the later Propaghandi too because of some melodic bits floating here and there. So this is kind of like No Trigger or Crime In Stereo. Musically, this album does kick a fair amount of ass. As for the vocals… hmm, not bad but they lack oomph some times. Hard to describe how exactly, but it’s like they need a little more grit to really grab ahold. Lyrically, these guys seem to be pretty conscientious dudes, but the one line in the song “Thomas Philbrick,” where the dude sings “Do you remember that Millencollin record?!” sticks out like a sore thumb and always ends up being the only thing I can remember. So this is actually pretty good modern melodic hardcore, but I just know this album is doomed to go down in my mind as “The CD where the guy gets really heartfelt about Millencollin.” –Adrian (Raise Your Fist/ Ass-Card)

Eradication: CD
Another solid melodic hardcore release from this band. I think the band managed to overcome the problem I had with their previous album, Presents Fort Orange, which was the vocals lacking a certain degree of balls-outitude. Musically, it’s clear these guys have been studying at the feet of Propagandhi’s Today’s Empires... and Strike Anywhere’s Change Is a Sound. Overall, a solid chunk of pissed-off, progressively political punk. Plus, did I mention it’s fourteen songs in twenty-five minutes? I appreciate the brevity. –Adrian Salas (Mightier Than Sword)

Split: 7”
After The Fall: I’m not quite sure what to make of this band. The first song is melodic hardcore straight outta the late ‘90s/early ‘00s. It reminded me of Reach The Sky with a tap on the shoulder from Fat Wreck. Anyhow, the second track is hardcore, nothing melodic. It has a pretty driving intro that doesn’t seem like it’s going to let up, but then it goes into some youth crew revival complete with breakdown. The two tracks sound like they could have come from separate bands, but they were recorded at the same time and space. Transitions: Three short blasts of late ‘90s East Coast youth crew revival played excellently appear on this side. Do you miss Floorpunch and In My Eyes? Did you never really get the big deal with American Nightmare? Well, if you answered both of those questions affirmatively, then this is a definite for you. It comes complete with rad bass line intros, breakdowns, gang vocals, and a song about friendship. I’m a total sucker for this kinda shit. Fucking awesome! –Vincent Battilana (Raise Your Fist, raiseyourfistrecords.com)

No Brownie Pie, Same Old Shit: CD
First bad sign: an empty roll of toilet paper on the cover. Next bad sign: the word “Shit” is censored. I think if you’re writing the word “shit” on the surface on which it normally goes, you are more than justified to leave it uncensored. Last bad omen: in their thank yous, they claim to have “constant rock star attitudes.” Sigh. This is sluggish and inconsistent pop punk, and while I’ve heard worse, it’s nothing I haven’t heard before. Is Drive-Thru Records still around? –Will Kwiatkowski (Bone, www.bonerecordschicago.com)

Parade: CD
Afternoon Naps like Orange Juice and The Three O’Clock a whole hell of a lot more than me. I hate Edwyn Collins’ music quite a bit. Absolute pap. The moments on Parade that resemble the better parts of C86 (i.e. The Wedding Present) and the Paisley Underground (i.e. the sublime Rain Parade) are not quite evident enough to save this CD from white funk riff-raff. (On the subject of C86, be sure to check out the Shop Assistants’ Will Anything Happen. Top-notch stuff that’s definitely underappreciated.) –ryan (Happy Happy Birthday To Me)

Agadorable: CDEP
Agador Spartacus, from Germany, describes itself as “Epic Destruction Rock.” I can only assume one of two things: 1) Their English isn’t great or 2) They’re joking. This is neither epic, nor destructive. I suppose it’s rock, but anymore, who can say? Is this style of generic emo pop rock the new “alternative”? What does “alternative” even mean anymore? It all sounds the same to me. I suppose there are nuances and unique angles Agador Spartacus is playing on these five songs, but I don’t really care enough to dissect them in depth. After a dozen listens, I will admit they’re catchy, but so are a lot of bands. Nothing new here. Next, please.  –kurt (Self-released)

The Restoration of Chaos & Order: CD
The songs have clever breakdowns and catchy choruses and the CD has fun cover art but despite such positive aspects to this album I’m not liking it as much as I liked All Fall Down when that LP first came out. Another interesting point to make as well: kind of like how Hopeless Records’ Falling Sickness began life as a band playing straight up ska and then evolved into something of the hardcore variety, their label-mates seem to be going through the same progression. Save for some horns here and there (just because songs have horns doesn’t mean it’s ska) this album is more akin to AAA’s most recent offerings. Not sure if you read that as a good thing or a bad thing (because let’s face it, third wave ska was horrid), so take that info as you will and go with your first instincts. Always. –mrz (Hopeless)

Nothing New for Trash Like You: CD
This album is a collection of AAA seven inches and songs from comps. Stuff like the four songs from their first seven inch, a cool song from a cool but long lost comp put together by one of the Voodoo Glow Skulls, and a cover of a Pist song from a split seven inch AAA did with them. I’m a pretty big AAA fan, so I have most of these songs already. Still, it’s nice to have them all together on one piece of plastic and not have to flip it every three minutes. Plus, I realize that most people don’t have most of this music and it’s not really readily available. Since it’s a Sub City release, part of this album’s profits go to charity. This album benefits the Radiation and Public Health Project, a group that does research regarding cancer from radioactive pollution (the program that AAA refer to at the end of their last album “24 Hour Roadside Resistance”). It’s a worthy cause and a good collection. –sean (Sub City)

Split: CD
I might not be a huge, devoted fan of both bands, but I do own some 12"s, 7"s, and CDs of both bands. The Against All Authority stuff is pretty good. Makes one wonder what their upcoming full-length will be like. Still, their split benefit CD with the Criminals had better songs than the ones featured here. I hate to say it, but the Common Rider songs are horrible and you can totally tell these were outtakes—the songs too sucky to leave on Hopeless the full-length. It is nice to see Hopeless returning from the land of metal/emo and which-major-wants-to-buy-my-band-now music to do conventional punk once in a while though, like the good old days. –mrz (Hopeless)

Split: CD
Back in the late ‘90s ska had its big revival (again). You couldn’t go anywhere without hearing someone playing ska/punk, punk/ska or skacore or whatever. At the start, I thought it was fun. Later, it was excruciating. At that same time, Against All Authority was getting lumped in there. Sure, they had some ska riffs, but they were pure punk rock. They were among the only bands from that era that held any interest for me and I’m pleased to report that it hasn’t changed. The tracks here rock. AAA isn’t afraid to tell it like it is. In fact, they have no problem ripping your skull open to tell you. I think this is the best stuff I’ve ever heard from the band. One track sports the ska vibe, but, as usual, they do it better than the glut of other bands that were doing it. Solid. The whole ska thing brings me back to Operation Ivy as well. I was never a fan. The only reason I have one of their records in my collection is because a friend of mine had two copies and he was right pissed off that I didn’t have it. I don’t hate it, but it sure as hell never worked me like it did for others. I’ve never bothered to listen to Common Rider until now just because I was never an Op Ivy fan. I would have to say that the songwriting has gotten better and having guys like Dan Lumley and Mass Giorgini in your band can only help. Yeah, I could see myself listening to this some more. Good split, but AAA are definitely the winners here. –ty (Hopeless)

Destructive Systems Collapse: 7”
A band that I have kept track of now for a few years. Starting with their first release, a split 7” with Holokaust, followed by their LP The One Who Bear the Scars Remember. They did another split after that I have yet to pick up with Iskra from Canada. I have also seen the band live through the years, so it is great to see firsthand this Los Angeles crust band grow and develop. On their latest release, a two-songer, they focus more on the music instead of just blasting it out. With songs in the four to five minute range, the band is showing more cohesion and displaying greater musicianship. That doesn’t mean this band is getting soft. They continue to play metallic crust that charges forward like a pack of bulls on a rampage. You get the drive to rock out to, hearing the chunky guitars force their way out the speakers. Growled, guttural, yelled vocals ensure that nothing pretty is going on. Drumming that is tight and pounded out with force. On this recording, I like how the bass was recorded: punchy and bright while still bringing forth the bottom end. If bands like Hellshock, Bolt Thrower, or Amebix fit your musical palate, I would believe this band would slide right into your tastes.  –don (Threat To Existence)

Thieves and Leeches: LP
To see a band in their early stages, go through line-up changes, and still continue to stay together after a good amount of time warms my heart. Not many bands make it past the one or two year point. Many others don’t even make it out to play beyond their local scenes. This band has accomplished more and can add U.S. and European tours under their belt. I think the first time I saw the San Fernando Valley-based band was back in 2005 as a five piece. Currently, they are a trimmed-down force as a three piece. Musically, they used to fall into a cross of crust and anarcho punk, but this time around their sound has strong leanings of ‘80s hardcore. It’s a more direct approach in sound that takes the music into higher energy territory than in the past. The songs are precise, yet played with a bit more speed, which adds gusto to the music. The complexity is now in the chord progressions and work with more layers that gives the songs the epic feel. Production is on the clean and bright side of the spectrum, which better suits the new direction of the music. Clarity helps define each element. Lyrically, they continue on with their social political commentary of what disturbs them. They also add in a cover of Crucifix’s Another Mouth to Feed. As much as I love this new record, I am even more proud of what the band has accomplished. –don (Profane Existence)

Split: 7”
Against Empire: More of a live feel and a bit cleaner sound from what I have heard in the past from these SoCal punks. The included songs are more in the d-beat vein and I like that they are a bit faster and have more of a rocking feel to them than we have heard in the past. Previously, they incorporated crust and black metal elements. This has a more direct, slap-in-the-face appeal for me. Knowing them, I’m proud that they keep progressing and growing with each release. Auktion: From Sweden. Unfortunately broke up recently. I had heard they were going to come to the states to tour. I was hoping the singer would have finally gotten me my shirt he had promised to buy for me a few years ago and never came through. Two tight d-beat numbers of their own that blast through in maximum efficiency. They too add a rock feel to their sound, not swaying to metal. –don (Threat To Existence)

Bring the War Home: CD
Against Empire: The lyrics read like an anarchist band, but the music sounds like poor man’s thrash metal. Iskra: The lyrics were strong, and I totally empathize with their championing of the first nations’ cause. Their music, however—part metal, part Conflict-inspired noise punk—was pretty much a chore to listen to two minutes into the first song, and it didn’t get any better. –jimmy (Rodent Popsicle)

Sink, Florida, Sink b/w Unsubstantiated Rumors: 7"
For the fans: two alternate versions of songs from the Fat full-length. For the collectors: the cover is a die-cut demented piece of work. Imagine if you will: Gingerbread Man 1 appears to be hugging his counterpart, Gingerbread Man 2. As you begin to open the cover to get at the music, you see that GM 1 has actually punctured GM 2's stomach and that because of your meddling, his hand is prematurely pulled back revealing the large wound. As you open the cover further, GM 1's hand is released (you can see the 7" at this point) and out of the gaping hole of GM 2's stomach spews his candy guts, all over the place in a rainbow upheaval of epic piñata proportions. Fuck yeah. –mrz (No Idea)

Searching for a Former Clarity: CD
Against Me! has done it again! A fifty state tour, acoustic freebies and a brand new album to delight and entertain the masses. They definitely broke their mold on Searching for a Former Clarity. It is not an album that can be compared to either Reinventing or Eternal Cowboy. It's a new day, friends, and the boys of Against Me! are really working hard to keep things fresh. Let's start with the introductory song, “Miami,” a raucous sing-along devoid of bullshit. It's best to listen to it with a bunch of drunken punks that hate their neighbors. A well-crafted and well-played song that again is just plain fun to sing! I've never even been to Miami but it's like I know exactly how they feel. Track three gives AM! a chance to take a shot at everything from corporate whores to the military. Good song, but way too short. Track five, “From Her Lips to God's Ears:” I absolutely hate Condolezza Rice and this song just solidifies that fact. Track six, “Violence,” slows the pace of the album just enough to let you catch your breath for the remaining eight songs. Beautifully sung and very reminiscent of older AM! I wish it were acoustic, though. Jumping to track eight, “How Low” is a powerful song that touches even the most hardcore. Who hasn't asked themselves, “How low can I go?” I love Cassidy Rist on this track; she compliments Tom's voice so well, like two lovers discussing their future. Track eleven has by far the most morality to it. The boys from Against Me! give the audience a rare look into the rigors of touring, the pressure to perform and the industry's effect on real artists who love the craft but not so much the politics. Tears formed when I heard this song for the first time. The music, the vocals and the overall feeling of this song is heartbreaking, very similar to “Pints of Guinness.” This is definitely one of my all time favorites. Track thirteen, “Don't Lose Touch," reels you back into singing loudly with a catchy, hook-laden song that deserves top decibel car play and all the radio time it can get. It's a candy version of Against Me! that can be spoon-fed to the unenlightened. Not taking away from Tom Gabel or any of the guys from AM!, but this is a song that appeals to a broader spectrum of listeners and hopefully with encourage them to pick up the album and explore the wonderful world that is Against Me! –Guest Contributor (Fat)

Americans Abroad!!! Against Me!!! Live in London!!!: CD
So, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that this is a live recording. Right? Up front and center stage, I will confess that I am no authority on this band. I’m one of those people who can casually listen to them here and there, but I do not go out of my way to listen to them or own anything by them. Just not my thing. I respect what they do—maybe not their major label signing. I think with their sound, they are not as destined as, say, AFI and even Rise Against, who have a lot more crossover appeal to the masses. But, I do want to rant about Pat Graham. Who? He is the photographer for the booklet of the CD. It’s basically a photo zine of AM! or a coffee table book for gnomes. His photography reminds me a lot of Razorcake’s Dan Monick by taking pictures of things in an environment where others around you won’t normally notice or even find interesting. Also, a lot of photographers have jumped on the blurring of images bandwagon when it comes to live band shots. There is too much of it out there, and I’m not moved by a lot of them, but Pat does it well. He adds additional feeling to pictures that otherwise might come off as bland. All the photos are printed in black and white; I love that. I think it best represents punk rock music and really captures the emotion better than color. So, I may have not been excited about the music. But they have enough fans out there. Kudos to them for using the photographs they chose for this release. –don (Fat)

Americans Abroad!!! Against Me!!! Live in London!!!: CD
Against Me! tears it up for appreciative Britons, proving that some things are universal. The lyrics of the new song “Americans Abroad” self-consciously ponders their identity as conquerors overseas, but the distinctly American bravado of the bass line almost gives them away. Hear Tom address the crowd with the utmost courtesy. Take note of James’s lusty accompanying vocals, which are so much more distinctly his own live. Most importantly, prime that fist and get ready for the next time they come to town. –susan (Fat )

Searching for a Former Clarity: CD
This band has not been my cup of tea, but I do not discount their music. I never put in a lot of time to get into their music. Not to disregard my opinions, other staffers at Razorcake are fans and put in more listening time than I ever have. I was really impressed with their DVD, We’re Not Coming Home. I really got a good charge watching that DVD and appreciated their efforts more. But this release shows a lot of maturity. The band seems to have pushed past what was preconceived as their sound and looked for more challenges. The opening track’s vibe reminded me of a cross of the Pogues meets Tom Waits. On others, I got the same feeling of musical challenge as if listening to Fugazi. I might get ripped for this, but I hear things on this release that could even be compared to Franz Ferdinand. So for me, I’m pretty intrigued by this one. It now goes into the car and into heavy rotation to see if I become one of the converted. –don (Fat)

Searching for a Former Clarity: CD
Todd and I decided we wouldn’t form an opinion on this for a week. We played it at HQ every day, and did quite a bit of talking over it. I was impressed that they tackled the issues that they were going through as they were becoming a more successful band. That sounds awful when I read it, but here’s my thinking: there have been a lot of bands who start to become successful, get kind of freaked out about it, and don’t address it. Hot Water Music has been brought up along these lines a lot in our discussions. I think that for Against Me! to actually write about what they’re going through as far as growing pains, feeling compromised, and questioning themselves is highly commendable. The willingness to be that honest with what they’re going through, and to knowingly open themselves to what I’m assuming is going to be a lot of criticism takes a courage that most people just don’t have. For that, I’m really proud of them. At the beginning of the week, I wasn’t sure how I felt about the music. On the whole, it isn’t nearly as instantly catchy as their previous releases. They put “Problems” on there, which has been one of my favorite live songs for some time now, and “Condaleeza” kept getting stuck in my head. By the end of the week I liked it. I really liked it a lot. It grows on you a bit slower than the rest, but once it takes hold, there’s no shaking it. I know there’s going to be nay-sayers, but I, for one, still have my tent spikes planted firmly in the supportive camp. –megan (Fat)

New Wave: CD
If a formerly independent-label band drops a record and it’s paid for by a major, does the band still make the same sound? Does superstar production and the loosened grip of financial fear change things? I’ve had to ask myself this question over and over since Bad Religion signed to Atlantic along with the plethora of other punk bands that went with the majors in the 1990s. At the time it broke my heart, but some bands have a credibility that can still exist if the listener holds the highest optimism for a band’s decisions, and Bad Religion eventually won me back. The same principle applies here along with another I’ve picked up on, which is that I can never know if I’m going to end up liking an album on the first try. Largely unimpressed by the opening title track here (our first taste of the “new” Against Me!), the next track “Up the Cuts” draws me right back in. I can do without the buhbupbuhs of the otherwise lyrically gritty “Thrash Unreal,” but “Piss and Vinegar” is still damned good and convincing. Against Me! have been pissing people off with the progression of their sound as far back as Eternal Cowboy on Fat Wreck Chords, and I freakin’ love that album. They have always created songs with a diverse range of sound. I know they can’t all be “You Look Like I Need A Drink” or even “Those Anarcho Punks Are Mysterious…”, but any band that can write songs like those gets my continued patience as we all wait to see what happens next. –susan (Sire)

As the Eternal Cowboy: CD
I’m probably the only person I know who didn’t go completely apeshit over this band’s first record. Don’t get me wrong, I like it and everything. It’s just that every time I’d listen to it, I’d think of something else that I’d rather listen to, like Sockeye. I didn’t have any expectations for this album, but it really caught me off guard. The drumming sounds a lot better than their first album, the singing is much more tuneful, and the guitar sounds, surprisingly enough, like it came off an early Cure album. Granted, I think the last two songs on this album completely suck, but the other nine songs are pretty fucking awesome, so I guess I’m converted. –Not Josh –Guest Contributor (Fat)

As the Eternal Cowboy: CD
I’m poorly ripping off Replay Dave (Grabass Charlestons) right here. We talked about this album at length. This is, secretly, Against Me!s third album. Zig and zag as you may, there are certain inevitable mistakes on a band’s second album. Everything from growing self-consciousness, “improved” playing technique, and the availability of a better studio can distract bands (“What does that knob do?” “Can we do solos?” “You got a theramin?”), especially if the bands had a modicum of success with their first full-length. (Against Me! had, well, much more than a modicum.) I’m not suggesting that there’s a wholly unreleased, in-the-vaults Against Me! album, I’m just floored at how much different yet the same this album is compared to Reinventing Axl Rose. The mistakes I’m so used to hearing in sophomore jinx albums just aren’t there. Here’s the unmolested template for Against Me! Acoustics are the core, wrapped around voices, strings, and poundables. Basically, what could be done at a punk barbecue, all revved up and written impeccably. Anthems that you’re not ashamed to sing, that sort of thing. Differences: overt politics are redirected to powerful personal policies and inflection. Rally cries seem to be coming from the inside, not just part of a small group. There’s a lot more singing on the Eternal Cowboy. Fuckin’-a Tom and Andrew can sing and I’m glad they’re given more of a chance. There are a lot of subtle differences in the music, too. Although there’s been some minor backlash with Against Me!, This Bike Is a Pipebomb, and the Hair Beard Combo as being jamboree punk, picking up the Young Pioneers banner that some wish would have remained buried, I just hear a great band, not afraid to listen to a broad swath of music. They let it ripple the waters just a little bit. In the corners, of all things, in the guitars I hear early ‘80s underground pop, especially the Cure. Hats off. –todd (Fat)

Reinventing Axl Rose: CD

From the opening riff, when the ghosts of “Folsom Prison Blues” segue into a mid-tempo hardcore songs, it’s clear that this is not an ordinary album. Comparisons are hard to make. Sure, there are elements of folk guitar, but this is no Pogues rip-off. Sure, you can tell the singer has spent years singing along with Fugazi, but this is no emo record. Sure, the Clash drips off the edges of this CD, but that’s not what defines these songs. No matter what point of reference I try to launch from to describe this album – from “a hillbilly Husker Du” to “the black bloc throwing bricks through a Replacements record” – it all seems to fall short. And that’s a good thing. Considering how much new music I listen to, I’m amazed that I can hear something that’s this original and that’s this good. The songs are all well-written with thoughtful lyrics, catchy hooks, vocals that are tuneful even when the singer’s voice is ripped through to the chords, and a really happy guitar and a bouncing rhythm section backs it all up. I guess the best way to describe this album is this: these are the campfire songs I want to sing while the society around me burns itself to the ground.

–sean (No Idea)

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