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No Idea Records

Record Reviews

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BRADLEY DEAN AND THE TERMINALS:
“Top of the Hour” b/w “Graveyard”: 7”
What I often find most exasperating about the modern cookie-cutter mentality of the monolithic music machine—and the clueless fops who’ll take any dish o’ crap served up—is the actual creative process and it accompanying tendency toward risk-taking has been almost completely excised from the equation. It’s what makes the first waves of any new musical idea/movement/genre magical and its absence is what makes what follows, well, cookie-cutter. These cats remember that creative process well. At their core, they’re a pop band but they’re not afraid to make more than the minimal button-punching effort employed in modern tunesmithing, and even mix disparate things, like country twang to the title track and some swing to the flip, to give that core a bit more complexity in flavor. Both songs here would’ve easily garnered them a rotation slot on forward-thinking radio stations and a contract on Slash’s roster some twenty-five years ago, before the whole indie/alternative thing turned into corporate-owned, vanilla-colored shit. This is a great goddamned single and here’s hoping that some DJ finally gets tired of playing the hundredth song in a row that sounds like its ninety-nine predecessors, says “fuck it,” and drops the needle on the wax. –Jimmy Alvarado (bradleydean.com)


BRADY BASTARDS:
The Deep End: CD
I have a good friend named Sean Brady. He has about fifteen nicknames for me. He and his twin brother tend to address people as madam, as in “I apologize madam; it’s about to get awesome in here.” To a bartender at nine in the morning. And they live in a house called the Fat Cave, which is a very happy place for me to visit. Neither he, nor his two brothers are, to my knowledge, born out of wedlock. Which is fortunate, because I really like my friend Sean, and I really don’t like this band. –Megan Pants (www.bradybastards.com)


BRAGGING LADS, THE:
Half Empty: CD
Like Pogues-inspired punk, which is what I was expecting from the band’s name, the whole U.K.-via-OC punk thing is a very dicey prospect—move too far in one direction, you’re in meathead territory; move too far in the other, and you’re in bad glammy rock territory; tilt this way you’re neck deep in bonehead modern oi; tilt that way and you’re trolling around in the depths of the worst of the Social Distortion clones. These guys are quite the dancers, though, pirouetting through the much and balancing all the best bits—anthemic and catchy songwriting, non-wanky guitar leads up the wazoo, a singer that can growl ‘n’ howl in tune, and the wisdom not to take themselves too seriously—to come up with a full-length that puts ‘em in fine company along Mad Parade, Black Jax, and Channel 3, among others. Though the mix is a bit bass-heavy, they’ve got themselves quite the release here, and though it’s making for some mighty fine tuneage in cold-ass mid-February, it’s really gonna hit the spot come July when the windows are down and the volume is up full. –Jimmy Alvarado –Jimmy Alvarado (Collision Course)


BRAHMAN:
A Forlorn Hope: CD
Hmm. This is on Revelation and looks like it might be stoner rock or something. Put the CD on. Huh? Is this the right disk? It's kinda emo-y and poppy, but weirder. What's going on? Look at the liner notes, they kinda look like preps, playing in a big arena… OH, WAIT!! I get it now, they're Japanese. Suddenly, I look at this record from a different perspective, and I like it. It's a little more polished than the Japanese punk I'm used to, but it's still good. It gets me to thinking, though. Do I only like it because it's Japanese? If they were Americans, I'd hate this and make fun of it. Is it right for me to let the lame shit slide just because of where they're from? I don't know how I feel about this record. –ben (Revelation)


BRAILLE DRIVERS:
White Dwarfs and Red Giants: CD
Monstrous pop hooks, nice song structures and LOUD guitars from this power-punk outfit make this worth the green. Judging by the band and album name, I expected this to be either math rock, art damage or some combination thereof, so I’m pretty stoked. Recommended. –Jimmy Alvarado (Molecular Laboratories, PO Box 791, Frederick, MD 21705)


BRAIN BANGER:
Munsoned: CD
Churning, grinding guitars, relatively restrained vocals, mostly slow to mid-tempo rhythms, and an overall sound that falls somewhere between fringier metal, alt-rock, and punk. –Jimmy Alvarado (no address listed)


BRAIN CAR:
Rock & Roll Bologna: 7” EP
Snotty punk ranting and railing against suburbia, Baghdad, spiders, and conforming to rules. They’ve got a definite ‘80s feel to ‘em, and they can generate some interesting tuneage to match the obnoxiousness quite nicely. Good stuff. –Jimmy Alvarado (Reel Time)


BRAIN DEAD / ROT IN HELL:
Millennial Psychosis: Split 7” EP
Brain Dead: Grindy, crusty hardcore concerned with pro-lifers and the end of the world. Rot In Hell: More gloom’n’doom, this time with a metallic hardcore soundtrack. –Jimmy Alvarado (Vinyl Addict)


BRAIN DRAIN:
Demo 2009: CD-R
What you got here is fairly standard hardcore recorded on the cheap, but clear enough to make out what’s going on. The members sound like they gel well together, though, and I hear some flashes of serious potential, especially during the slower bits where they start messing with time signatures and such. Dunno how long they’ve been together, but it sounds like they’re still ironing out what their personal take on hardcore is ultimately gonna sound like, which ain’t a bad thing at all. My suggestion would be to bypass the standard go-to old school bands and instead wallow in the influence of early Die Kreuzen (the Cows and Beer EP is a great place to start), Scratch Acid, Filth-era Swans, and United Mutation if you really wanna come up with something that’ll fuck with people’s heads. –Jimmy Alvarado (braindrainwi@gmail.com)


BRAIN F:
Restraining Order: 7”
Debut EP from a dual vocal, both male and female, clean guitar, garage-style punk band from Charlotte, NC. They immediately bring to mind the musical stylings of both the Shitty Limits and perhaps even the less spastic moments of Career Suicide. The optimist in me is truly into this record and appreciates it at face value. The pessimist thinks they can do much better. A new EP on the great Grave Mistake label is in the works as I write this, so it’s possible I may soon get my wish. –Juan Espinosa (Static Shock)


BRAIN F≠:
So Dim: 7”
Guy-guitar girl-drums duo both singing dirty rad punk fucking rock. Real urgency inside the fuzz here. Back and forth singing works. Feedback with a good pounding speed. Brain F≠ (too sleepy right now to figure out the name) doesn’t invent anything, just rips. Two smoking songs here. They get in the office and get to business, then go home. –Speedway Randy (Grave Mistake, gravemistakerecords.blogspot.com)


BRAIN F≠:
Sleep Rough: LP
You can say that I’m totally high and I’m listening to a completely different band than what’s actually playing on this record. I’m fine with that. Brain F≠ (pronounced “Brain Flannel” (no idea how the “not equal to” sign becomes “lannel”)) come across as a bunch of hardcore folks who channel the following: Sweet JAP, The Saints, The Detroit Cobras, and Taschen. They embrace the stomp and go, barking and wailing, “If you fall off the back, it’s your own damn problem” pacing of Sweet JAP. They bury the sweet and mysterious hookiness of the Saints (albeit completely aggravated and breathless, like the most frenetic tinfoil-in-caves-vertigo moments of (I’m) Stranded). The lady from the Detroit Cobras has a fuckin’ awesome voice, but she’s adamant that the Detroit Cobras are definitely not a punk band. Elise Anderson has an awesome voice and this is unabashedly a punk band. To tie it all up, there’s art at work here that I don’t fully understand, but I don’t think they’re mocking their audience and the graphics look nice, so that’s cool. I rarely make comments about mastering and levels and whatnot because I don’t know dick about that stuff—but this record’s amazing in the fact that the two vocalists are nice and clear in the mix among the buzzing ricochets of blasting instruments. I’m sure they’re murder on live PAs. Exciting. –Todd Taylor (Grave Mistake, gravemistakerecords.com / Sorry State, brainflannel@gmail.com)


BRAIN F≠:
Sleep Rough: LP
Art-clutter via hardcore punk served in ten frantically paced dishes. Male and female vocals are your handrails as distortion and feedback are whipped around, inches away from your face. The sheer noise that’s being created makes this band sound twice as big and 3,000 miles away from the source. I’m absolutely positive it dominates live. Co-released by two of the best hardcore punk labels currently releasing records, you know it’s going to be good. Pick it up and get weird, ‘cause these songs makes the average punk band sound like music that a yuppie would listen to in order to help them fall asleep. –Daryl Gussin (Sorry State / Grave Mistake)


BRAIN F≠:
Empty Set: LP
I love this. It feels like the golden half hour of a party, when all my friends are there and I’m laughing loud but not yet sloppy or sleepy. Brain F≠ is from Charlotte. They play scrappy four-chord punk with motormouth lyrics delivered by a woman with a matter-of-fact voice. Say it, “Brain Flannel.”  –Chris Terry (Grave Mistake / Sorry State)


BRAIN FAILURE:
American Dreamer: CD
Here is something that doesn’t come across your hand too often: street punk out of China! Not just some boombox or cheap studio recording, but recorded here in the states and produced by Ken Casey of the Dropkick Murphys. Most of the songs are sung in English, but the three that are in Chinese are the best. The delivery is more natural. You can tell that when they write in English, it is not their native tongue. The English is broken and is rough around the edges. But that adds to the flavor, like so many Asian bands that came before them. They pull off great sing-a-longs and really seemed to have really studied the early UK bands. Fun from start to finish, I should have made the effort to go see them when they were touring with the Unseen. –Donofthedead (Thorp)


BRAIN FAILURE / BIG D AND THE KIDS TABLE:
Split: CD
Brain Failure: Rancid worship mixed with some Social Distortion from China. I remember liking their CD American Dreamer enough to keep it but haven’t listened to it in a long time. I would have been so into this 5—7 years ago. Big D: They seem to be one of the last few standing of the big ska punk wave of the late ‘90s. For me, I much rather see and hear ska live these days than have to hear a recording of it. It brings up images of boring adults thinking Sublime is still the shit. –Donofthedead (Bad News)


BRAIN HANDLE:
Self-titled: 7” EP
It’s straight ahead meat and potatoes hardcore from Pennsylvania, the land of Electric Love Muffin and Flag of Democracy, and I like it. You know what you’re getting ten notes into the first song. The menu’s straight forward, you order it, and it’s on your plate, glad it’s nice and hot, not just reheated. It fills you up; not too greasy, not too dainty, not art-confusing. I’d put them in the modern company of Career Suicide, Direct Control, and the Pedestrians: very interested in resuscitating the early ‘80s while not willing to jump down in its grave to violate the corpse of old music. Solid stuff. –Todd Taylor (Fashionable Idiots)


BRAIN KILLER:
Demo: 7”
Just like their debut 7”, I can’t fucking tell what speed this record is intended to be played at. With their debut 7”, I finally resided with 33. But the interesting thing is the music doesn’t really change that much between the two. Either way, Brain Killer still plays noisy, feedback-infected hardcore punk. The demo 7” is cool to have, but for anyone interested in checking out this band, I definitely recommend picking up the debut on Deranged. –Daryl Gussin (Deranged/Vinyl Rites)


BRAIN KILLER:
Self-titled: 7” EP
Some heavy Discharge worship here with a big sound, feedback, short songs, anti-war lyrics, etc. They play to the template well, though, with enough personality seeping through to make ‘em worth a listen. –Jimmy Alvarado (Deranged)


BRAIN KILLER:
Every Actual State Is Corrupt: LP
D-beat-influenced hardcore is nothing new. In fact, a new band seems to sprout every other month stateside. What Brain Killer brings to the table is far from dismissible. There are some great spoken word parts leading into each side of the record. The noisy feedback complements the crushing heaviness of the guitars very nicely. Not to mention the songs compositions; they’re completely fresh and unpredictable (something that d-beat is not particularly known for.) Fans of noisy Japanese hardcore like Nightmare should give this a close listen. –Juan Espinosa (Deranged)


BRAIN SLUG:
Demo: Cassette
Decent demo here. The execution is mainly mid tempo, though they do pick up the pace here and there, which gives you, the listener, something to hang on to. There’s definitely more power in bands slowing it down instead of hitting blur speeds all the time. The vocals are thick and heavy growls of disgust and anguish. The guitar is the same as well; just this mass of grind and buzz. I can’t help but think they look to Brainbombs for musical inspiration, as the songs are more about crushing and bludgeoning instead of moving and rocking out. The lyrics aren’t as dark and misanthropic, though they definitely air their dislike of the world. “Permanent Bummer” is the definite standout track. If they listen to this demo and hone in on what works and what does not, then they could be on to something. Just tighten up the songs a bit and this stuff will sting. –Matt Average (hardcorebrainslug@gmail.com)


BRAIN TUMORS:
Self-titled: EP
One of the more interesting hardcore records I’ve heard recently. Brain Tumors can thrash it up with the best of them with blazing tempos and a crushing attack, such as “Improper Execute” and “Self Server.” But there’s some other stuff going on in their sound as well, and this is what helps them stand out. For instance, the song “Shadow People” shows a more tuneful approach to their sound. It’s pretty unexpected after listening to the first side, where the songs are a barrage of speed and sound. But that song really grabs your attention because it’s contrasting to everything else. There’s a bit of darkness in the music. The song structure is a bit more complex while still retaining the hardcore sound with its high-tension pacing. Then there’s the opening to “Rules of Abuse” that has a sort of power pop riff, though distorted and more punchy before they kick into the speedier side of things. –Matt Average (Pass Judgement, passjudgementrecords.com)


BRAIN TUMORS:
Fuck You Forever: 7”EP
At their core, Brain Tumors are a band that mete out potent hardcore that eschews any metal trappings in favor of sloppy, full-bore thrash. The devil’s in the details, though, with sly hooks embedded into the tuneage, over-the-top performances, and obligatory slower sections that don’t come off as obligatory. Dunno where Deranged finds all these sick friggin’ bands, but this is another winner. –Jimmy Alvarado (Deranged)


BRAIN VACATION:
The Musicians: LP
Experimental punk, if you will, from a group hailing outta Chicago. There’s no shortage of noisemongering here, but just when you think you’ve got ‘em pegged, they pitch up a slider and yer again scrambling to get a bean on ‘em. Elements of noise, (dis)harmony, punk, and such melded into a changing mess o’ controlled chaos. –Jimmy Alvarado (Wall Of Youth)


BRAINBOMBS:
Genius and Brutality…Taste and Power: LP
Like its relative, industrial music (and when I say “industrial” I’m talkin’ Einstürzende Neubauten, Whitehouse, Throbbing Gristle, SPK, Minimal Man, and so on, not dance music with drill samples to make it “edgy”), noise rock is a bit of an acquired taste. It involves an appreciation for repetition, abrasive sounds played/performed at often excessive volumes, a willingness to overlook the fact that the standard verse/chorus/verse song structure is goin’ right out the window, and a tolerance for subject matter that’s bound to offend/upset someone, oh, every fourteen seconds or so. In short, it’s not something one wants to play at the next pinochle social. This reissue from these Swedish malcontents, originally released in 1994, fits right in with peers like early Swans, Cop Shoot Cop, and so on. With a guitar sound that’s part sheet metal/part sledgehammer, the music is often plodding and based around a simple riff or two played ad nauseum, and with titles like “Fuckmurder,” “Wash in Blood,” and “Queen of Necrophiles,” you know you’re not gonna get something high on the annual “most recommended PC listening” list, which is as it should be, goddammit. Everyone needs their tastes and mores affronted now and again, especially those associated with a scene as regimented and myopic as punk rock can be. –Jimmy Alvarado (Skrammel, skrammelrecords.se)


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