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Razorcake #79
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No Idea Records

Record Reviews

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Black Sands of the Hourglass: CD
Dismal "hardcore" metal with a singer that can’t sing. –Jimmy Alvarado (href=mailto:ageofruin@darkmoonempire.com>ageofruin@darkmoonempire.com)

Inhuman: LP
This is a heavy listen in more ways than one. Yes, it’s crust-on-the-verge-of-metal, but it’s also emotionally heavy. There was a moment during the song “Cold Cycle” when I heard—no, not heard, felt—a grinding reaching out of my speakers, trying to wear me down, trying to instill in me the desperation, the last gasp, hanging-from-the-edge-of-a-cliff-by-the-fingertips-with-skull-adorned-spikes-below feeling. I wasn’t prepared for such a bludgeoning. I am now. –MP Johnson (Suicide)

Pessimism of the Mind, Optimism of the Will: 7”
I’d like to be nice, but I don’t think I can. This is probably the most bothersome record that I’ve received to review in a long time: extremely annoying shouted vocals over clean guitars and obnoxious drumming. I guess I don’t “get” it. –Dave Dillon (Fashionable Idiots)

I Wouldn’t Trade That for Anything: CDEP
Agent’s five song EP of melodic hardcore bears a striking resemblance to a lot of other bands of the same genre such as Braid, Lifetime, or Dag Nasty. The vocals, which go between spoken words that are kind of sung and gravelly yells, remind me of this band I knew in Indiana called Clark. I liked that band a lot and so Agent did somewhat endear themselves to me. There are lots of hooks and some catchy parts and it all times in at around thirteen minutes. It’s not anything much worth talking about especially since it’s just five songs. Maybe a full-length will be in order so that I (and no doubt a lot of other listeners) can make a complete decision on this Long Island band. –Kurt Morris (Iron Pier)

Just Keep Runnin: CD
More Rancid mixed with melodicore to these ears. I’m guessing that everybody in this four piece gets a chance to sing at one point or another. Big choruses and big production that came off a little too sterile for me. –Donofthedead (Adeline)

Vi Ar Tillbaks: 7”
The only thing I had heard by this band before they sent me this record was a couple of tracks on a compilation LP called Screams from the Gutter (which is a great midsection of Swedish skinhead and street punk bands from the late ‘90s that is easy to find in the U.S. and well worth your time). The band had been broken up for a while. They recently got back together and put this 7” out themselves. If anything, I think these four songs are better than the old songs from that comp. Sound-wise, imagine a mix of the Templars and Discipline and you’re getting close. The production is slick enough for everything to be heard and the catchy, melodic riffs cut through the rest of the mix well. Oi seems to be in vogue again recently and it’s cool to see some older bands sticking around/coming back and doing it right instead of putting out some load of crap so they have an excuse to tour with the Business. Get this! –Ian Wise (Self-released, agentbulldogg1986@hotmail.com)

Living in Darkness: LP
Yeah, the downside to this whole vinyl “renaissance” is the ridiculous price tags. Yeah, I know, 180-gram vinyl, faithful reproduction, blahdeeblah, but it doesn’t change the fact that it both limits the ability of the average schlubs to pick up a copy of a record to which they should have total access, and acts as a prime example of the fetishizing of ephemera by monied hipsters and record collector schmucks who weren’t around to collect it the first time around from subcultures they view as moribund and don’t really care to understand. That said, it is also admittedly very fuggin’ cool to see records like this on the format for which they were intended. Originally released on Posh Boy, Living in Darkness was Agent Orange’s opening, and some would argue finest, punk salvo—four tracks per side of proto-hardcore up to its eyeballs in the sun and surf pop thuggery that, along with other crucial releases by both peers and former members, became the template upon which the much-ballyhooed “SoCal Punk Sound” was built. From the siren-staccato guitar intro of “Too Young to Die” to the punked-up surf covers peppered here and there to the four-minute epic title track, this is the perfect soundtrack for folks who prefer their pop edgy and “like things that bite.” Whether or not it’s worth the twenty to twenty-five dollars I’ve seen it going for is a matter of personal choice, but it’s most assuredly worth the repeated listens that’ll inevitably occur. Limited to five hundred. –Jimmy Alvarado (Drastic Plastic)

The Old Testament: CD
Pseudo-satanic grind that manages to invoke the memories of both Intense Mutilation and early Cryptic Slaughter, which means it isn’t particularly accomplished and the joke ran out of steam somewhere around the middle. –Jimmy Alvarado (Intolerant Messiah)

The Aggravation: LP
Most of The Aggravation is simple, snotty garage punk. It doesn’t quite scale the gloriously ridiculous heights of Loli and the Chones—I think The Aggravation might actually be opposed to “Violence” and having “No Girls” about, whereas I thought Loli and company were always goofing on whatever topic they tackled—but it’s good. I also like the two tunes that break from the pattern and mix in a bit of Wire-like ambition, especially “Olivier.” I wonder where these gents are headed next. Mike Faloon –Guest Contributor (Relax-o-Matic Vibrator)

Self-titled: CD
If you think eighth-note bass rhythms and an occasional minor chord = The Wipers, then, whoopee ding, i present unto you the French Wipers. Me, i’m more inclined to say Les Marked Men at present, although i suppose the smart money makes some kind of reference to the Clorox Girls ((who are already too French by proxy for their own good)) at this point. Actually, now that i’m actually reading the lyrics, i think i’ll change my order to be a French Wipers who really sound more like the Marked Men or Clorox Girls and learned everything there is to know about lyrical structure from the first Discharge album. Par example: “People says I’m greedy / People says I’m greedy / but I have my friend / my German friend / now I’m happy / I can travel / now I will travel for free / now I’m in my train / yes I’m in my train / I’m gonna see Poland / I’m gonna see Poland.” That is the lyrical entirety of the first song. Somebody call up Greg Sage and get his sign-off on this, won’t you? BEST SONG: “Violence” BEST SONG TITLE: “No Girls” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Came with a Biographie! –Rev. Norb (Lollipop)

Runaway: 7” EP
This French band plays garage-y, angular punk rock that’s high in the energy levels. It was decent awhile ago, but, at this point, I think this is what I was expecting to hear the first time I listened to Wire back in high school. –Joe Evans III (Jojo)

Reggae Hit L.A.: CD
This is some reggae that sounds like it could have came from a Trojan Records box set. Had I not seen these guys live a few times, I would have guessed this was recorded forty years ago in Kingston. I have some friends that I know would eat this up, but I personally find that old school style reggae is better in small doses because my attention tends to wane after two or three songs. That’s no knock on the Aggrolites though, because even my personal favorite reggae/ska artist, Desmond Dekker, is best experienced a couple songs at a time (except when I saw him roll through Hollywood a while back right before he passed on. That was sheer amazement). These guys exploit the grooves they lay down for all their worth with some nice vintage keyboard work, appropriately juicy bass melodies, and just the right blend of upstroked guitars and in the pocket drumming. Let’s not forget the soulful vocals either. This is a perfect accompaniment for sitting out on porch or stoop on one of those days that’s just a tad too hot, but all the better for it because of all the work it causes you to put off and just relax instead. –Adrian (Hellcat)

Self-titled: CD
Yeah! Authentic rude boy, Jamaican reggae sounds with soul from this band, based in Los Angeles. The recording has the sounds of an old reggae record from the ‘70s or a Motown record from the ‘60s. If I wouldn’t have known better, I would have guessed that this was an old recording. The only give away is there are no pops and hisses. Boo! My review copy came with a generic Hellcat sleeve and a label stuck onto it to show what band and track listing it contained. Another thumbs down, a CD-R. Most reviewers around the world are music geeks. Why would we endure so much music? Not receiving a retail ready copy of a release sucks! Nothing to look at or read while listening. Isn’t that all part of the experience? –Donofthedead (Hellcat)

Self-titled: CD
It’s damned hard to take seriously a ska band where one of the dudes is brandishing a baseball bat on the cover (what are we supposed to assume, that they’re ruff and tuff? That they’re “hard hitting”? That they like the Dodgers? That they’ll beat down anyone who doesn’t like them? Puh-LEEZ), but these guys actually aren’t as lame as their cover would lead one to believe. The vibe is reggae filtered through a “traditional” ska band, with a little bit o’ soul music mooshed in. In a nutshell, better than expected. –Jimmy Alvarado (Hellcat)

Self-titled: EP
Agitated dish out primarily mid-tempo hardcore punk that has occasional bursts of speed here and there. There’s a particular rawness and purity in their playing. They make no obtuse observations lyrically, opting to give it to you straight in songs like “Gender Issues,” “First World Problems,” and “Dead in the Head.” I like “I Need My Fix” on here because it stands out a little from the rest in the way the vocals are delivered, and the playing is a little lighter. It also gives the heavier and hardcore songs more “zing” as a result. Good effort. I would hope there’s more to come; with a little extra fire in their sound, they could be a force to reckon with. –Matt Average (Helta Skelta, heltaskeltarecords.blogspot.com.au)

For My Family: 7” EP
I stopped paying any serious attention to these guys right around Cause for Alarm, when they started hugging too tightly to them metal chuggas. Peeked in when they reformed and found their nouveau “oi” chanty sound about as interesting as their metal. Now, a decade later, I figured it was about time to check in with ’em again. Based on what’s going on here—a kinda meshing of the metal and the chanty stuff—it appears I haven’t been missing much. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.bridge9.com)

For My Family: 7”
What a coup for Bridge 9 to finally get a chance to release an Agnostic Front record. I am sure both they and their fanbase are stoked. This version here is on red splatter vinyl and limited to 1000 copies. There are two songs here from the new full length and one exclusive track. If you have liked the recent AF releases, this one will be right up your alley. –Mike Frame (Bridge 9)

Agorapocalypse: CD
Wait. What happened to the drum machine? Don’t get me wrong. This album sounds great. Only, it sounds like Cattle Decapitation meets Spazz. The drums sound… real? Do I hear drum stick clicks? If you dig grind or super fast metal, this will pick you up and take you to the moon. But, I think I’m going to go back and listen to their earlier efforts when they sounded more like Agoraphobic Nosebleed and less like all the other Relapse bands. –Mr. Z (Relapse)

This is a double CD, disc one being a re-issue of the previously vinyl-only PCP Torpedo EP, and disk two is a bunch of remixes of what I guess are the songs on disc one. If you’re familiar with Agorophobic Nosebleed, you can expect more of the same: really fast computerized grindcore. One of these dudes is in Pig Destroyer, and his input is really the only part of this album that resembles anything that was even once hardcore or punk about this. The remixes sound like a Donkey Kong game being run over by a train at their best, and Aphex Twin or Atari Teenage Riot at their worst. The way the whole thing comes together kinda sounds like what watching Tetsuo: The Iron Man looks like. It gave me acid flashbacks and made everything smell and taste like gasoline for an hour or so. This album is cool, if you’re in the mood for a bunch of fucked up noises. –ben (Hydra Head)

Host of the Winged: CD
I was very fortunate to catch this band from Sweden on their West Coast tour back in August. An amazing show. The music translated well in a live setting. I first listened to this CD before I saw them. I was captivated by the power they brought forth. It’s a dark, brooding mix of dark metal and Swedish crust. The first song clocks in at over thirteen minutes and instantly comes across as the color black. You are dragged along in the dark and can only imagine what might be just ahead; just the feeling of pain until the music charges forth and displays the power. Like war at night. Quiet until the artillery starts falling. Another image I have is the stories I have heard of long lasting night, where the sun never comes up and it’s a constant battle against depression. This is what I pictured in my mind when I saw them live and recorded. I really like the impeccable production on this release. The bass guitar punches through the mix with impact. The drums are hit with strong force and keep the rhythms and tempos intact. The guitars are bit clean for this type of music but they cut through with precision, adding to the layers of sound. The vocals are so low and almost guttural; it could be easily thought not to be sung by a woman. The nuance of keyboards adds subtle touches to the emotion. Over an hour’s worth of music to mess with your senses. Listening to this, I hope they come back again on these shores. –Donofthedead (Profane Existence)

Weakness: CD
Three audio tracks with a total time of 40:12. I call them audio tracks because these forty minutes and twelve seconds largely consist of noise—screaming, blistering, howling, raw noise, punctuated by periodic vocalizations which are largely unintelligible. We are not, for example, talking about noise as Lou Reed constructed it on Metal Machine Music—we’re talking about chaotic shit that is as likely to make your ears bleed as it is to sound like something resembling a song –Puckett (Level Plane)

Weakness: CD
Three guys raise one seriously cronked racket, one barely classifiable as music. Three tracks run forty minutes and coat a thin skeleton of rhythm with gallons and gallons of guitar noise, bass noise and a few crunchy samples. Maybe some vocals, but you’re not gonna get the words; you’re just gonna get the earborne sickness which is its own cure. –Cuss Baxter (Level Plane)

What Happened to the Kids?: 7”
It seems like I’m reviewing at least one Longshot record in every issue. Trust me, I don’t mind in the least. There are some great bands on the label and Aries And Graces seem to fit in just fine with the likes of Alternate Action and Harrington Saints: straight-forward street punk that’s played well. I was a little shocked to find a standard black vinyl record in the sleeve. I guess I’ve been getting used to the wacky colored vinyl that Longshot has been throwing around on their last few releases. I should also mention that as much as I dig the tunes, I’ve gotta say “Better Dead Than Red”? Really? It would seem apparent to me that America has bigger problems than communism. –Ty Stranglehold (Longshot)

What Happened to the Kids?: 7”
This band from WashingtonState takes its name from a phrase that means putting on airs. Thanks to some remarkable bass lines, it’s a bit more soulful than some of the other oi acts on Longshot and the vocals sound a little Leatherface-ish. “Doesn’t want to learn from an older face, because he’s learned everything to know from MySpace” is one of the more unintentionally funny lines I’ve come across in awhile. There’s something hilarious about punk rockers complaining about kids using technology. Do Aires and Graces have a MySpace site? You bet your braces they do. –Jim Ruland (Longshot Music)

Demo: CD-R
I never got to see Giant Haystacks, but I saw Airfix Kits’ first show at the Knockout in San Francisco and it’s obvious that these two guys have this music so ingrained in their lives that there’s no end in sight. Allan and Alan have the ability to constrict themselves around a song, taking their time and methodically squeezing the vibrant, flavorful juices out of it until you’re soaking head to toe in something you’re not sure you really understand other than the fact that it’s fucking good. Early Wire meets Minutemen but played by three guys who know how to make something their own. I can’t wait for more from this band. –Daryl Gussin (Self-released, www.myspace.com/airfixkits)

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