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Record Reviews

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How I Spent My Summer Vacation: CD
Upon first listen, I instantaneously concluded that the fast-paced pop-punk ferocity contained herein is bein’ frenetically churned-out for the baggy-pants, chain-wallet, bleached-hair crowd. But ya know what, the precise high-energy sonic aggressiveness of these youthful lil’ melody-makers suddenly lurched forward, grabbed me by the balls, and then rambunctiously swung me around and around until I could no longer see straight... so after several more minutes of enjoyable ear-attentiveness, I’ve decided that this disc is catchy as all get-up, and I should be eternally grateful for such lively musical immensity. Only one certifiable caustic complaint though: the “True Believers” song is a thinly veiled sped-up rip-off of the Ramones “My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down (Bonzo Goes To Bitburg)”, so please give credit where it’s undeniably due, fellas! Other than that, I’m deliriously overwhelmed... I feel young and virile again thanks to the musical spasticity of The Bouncing Souls... waaahooooo! –Guest Contributor (Epitaph)

Ghosts on the Boardwalk: CD
So this is the collection of the twelve songs that The Bouncing Souls released one-at-a-time on the first of every month over the course of 2009—a pretty cool idea that I did not keep up with, opting instead to hear them in their collected format. The result is a record that keeps right in line with the Souls’ evolution. In the same world as The Gold Record, Ghosts on the Boardwalk has its share of killer fist-pumping sing-along anthems, a few weirder, slow rock’n’roll tracks that have become staples of their records, and the requisite fast, goofy fun songs that the band always throws in the mix. So, ya, it’s a Bouncing Souls record, which, for me, means that there are a few skippers, a few pretty good songs, and a handful of songs that I will love deeply forever. I guess I can’t really complain about that. –Dave Williams (Chunksaah)

BYO Split Series, Vol. 4: CD

The Bouncing Souls haven’t covered any new ground in years. They’re not a bad band, per se, but every time I hear them, I think of the rumor I once heard about them starting out as a Doors cover band. I don’t know if that rumor is true or not, but the mere fact that it’s plausible speaks volumes. Anti-Flag doesn’t really cover any new ground here, either, but I don’t mind that so much with Anti-Flag. Their lyrics are solid, their melodies are infectious, and they come across with a lot of speed and energy. So I find myself listening to the second half of this split a lot. And the big surprise: Anti-Flag not only covers the Buzzcocks’ “Ever Fallen in Love,” but they also pull it off.

–Sean Carswell (BYO)

Alice and Friends: Cassette
I am not a fan of the recent cassette tape craze that’s sweeping the nation. My girlfriend and I have three cassette players between us and not a single one of them works. In fact, I don’t know anyone who owns a functioning cassette player. It was worth it to track one down, though, because the Box Elders are thee shit and write indelibly catchy tunes. The problem I have with this type of release is that the album is readily available on LP, CD, and MP3. Are there really that many folks out there who listen to music exclusively in the cassette format? No way. I’m not convinced that tapes like this will survive in the music delivery landscape other than as annoying novelties. Still, if your heart is set on purchasing a cassette to stuff into your hopelessly outdated Walkman, this is the one to buy because the Box Elders rule. –Josh Benke (Burger)

Alice and Friends: LP
This is one of the best records I have heard that puts into operation ‘50s pop sensibilities using overdriven vocals. “PalisadesPark”-style keyboards and jangly, reverbed-out guitars make the songs lighthearted and jumpy. “Jackie Wood” opens the album and is a highlight of the mid-tempo songs. “Isabella” and “Cougars” appear later in the album and shift the sound into the pace of Teenage Shutdown-style ‘60s punk. The album is great, but I feel like they would be fun to see in a basement, particularly if it has a low ceiling and there was a danger of hitting your head on the ceiling. –Billups Allen (Goner)

Run the Easting Down: CD
Egads! Emo! Emo! Take it out! Make it stop! –Jimmy Alvarado (Substandard)

Upstanding and Indigent: CD
Singer sounds like Captain Beefheart and sings a million words in every song. Sometimes the band sounds like the Jesus Lizard, sometimes more like Beefheart’s band, sometimes like Mule or the Cows. If you like that stuff, you’ll get the picture. “I got back with a new tattoo of you kissing my ass.” Wholesome weirdness. –Cuss Baxter (Dogfingers)

Hobo Nouveau: CD
Not quite as over the top as previous releases, Boxcar Satan, this time along with the like-minded Ghostwriter, still manage to mine the odder, darker depths of swampy blues. Whether slogging brooding originals or making covers like Bob Dylan’s “Serve Somebody” and Woody Guthrie’s “Jesus Christ” sound like they popped outta their own twisted noggins, they manage to evoke the memory of Scratch Acid as vividly as Son House. If you ever thought early Gun Club stuff could’ve used a bit more psychosis in their delivery, this’ll no doubt do the trick for ye. –Jimmy Alvarado (End Of The West)

Black Water Rising: Split CD
Both deal in swamp-crusted blues that sounds like it comes from a world populated by the unholy progeny of Tom Waits and the Butthole Surfers, with the Graves’ Brothers Deluxe edging out their discmates with a cover of Huey “Piano” Smith’s “Don’t You Just Know It” that straddles a fine line between genius and sacrilege. Proceeds from this go to Gulf region mental health charities. –Jimmy Alvarado (Dogfingers)

The Ill Testament: CD
Hoo, lordy, lordy, I can barely type ‘cause I’m laughing so hard. The band melds together tough-guy metal (aka “hardcore”) and gangsta rap that takes defining “crap” to epic new levels. By the time track three, “Ghetto Story Part 2,” started off with an appropriation of the first verse of Slick Rick’s “Children’s Story,” I was rolling on the floor. I’m reluctant to say this is the worst thing I’ve heard in a decade, because, at this point, there are nine months left, but it’s gonna take some truly monumental testaments to utter suckdom to beat this. Even Brittany Spears at her absolute worst is sheer artistic brilliance compared to this. –Jimmy Alvarado (Screaming Crow)

Demo EP: 7”
I liked Boxkite’s 2013 demo featuring four tracks of crisp, melodic hardcore, hence I was quick to order this on its release. However, in the intervening time, the band has all but discarded the tunes in favor of a more forceful approach. A mass of brooding basslines accompany a guitar which adds a hefty crunch into the mix, resulting in an impact not too dissimilar to concrete hitting bone. Gears are shifted up and down throughout and there’s a palpable sense of anticipation generated as the slower passages gain momentum before heading into a more frenetic onslaught. Good stuff.  –Rich Cocksedge (Tangled Talk, Andrej@tangledtalk.com, tangledtalk.com / Boslevan, boslevanrecords.co.uk)

Rad: Cassette
I will go on record as the one Razorcake staffer who is openly skeptical of the “org-core” trend that has at one point or another stigmatized both the fanzine and record label imprint. I reluctantly find some of the reasons for all the hate warranted: not everyone who falls in love with Tiltwheel and Dillinger Four needs to replicate that sound. Diversity is a beautiful thing that I wish more bands would embrace instead of rehashing ad nauseam. Ah, but then again: once in a while a band comes along who not only sports the beards and shotguns the beers but can also write a great pop punk song or ten. Boxsledder do a damn good job of saluting the originators of beardo-punk while holding their own with heartfelt and sincere lyrics, and melodic-but-powerful guitar hooks. Quick, someone help them put this out on vinyl format before they decide to gut some more old Nintendo cartridges and use them as cassette cases (which was a great idea for the sake of novelty but a pain for filing away purposes). Still, thumbs up all the way!  –Juan Espinosa (Self-released, boxsledder@gmail.com, boxsledder.bandcamp.com)

Self-titled: CS
Somewhere between Raincoats post-punk and a more structured no wave (if that’s possible?) and ‘90s indie pop. I literally saw them play earlier today at Girls Rock! Rochester and they seemed like the happiest band in the world playing to girls age eight to sixteen, eating lunch before heading off to band practice. Kind of a short cassette, but it’s clear they’re one of the better, smarter, realer minimalist punk trios out there.  –Matt Werts (Drug Party, drugparty.org)

Infinity in Its Infancy: LP
Boyish Charms is San Diegan Robbie Lawson (ex-Red Pony Clock) and Angeleno Cam Jones (ex-Finches). The two of them have built up a cult audience through the release of limited run cassettes and 7”s of bedroom recordings, with a sporadic show here and there over the last ten years or so. This new album is a bit of a departure and, perhaps, maturation of their sound. Where before I found the songs were a little too much guy-with-acoustic-guitar for me, they benefit from the assistance of playing with a full band, as well as the production of Roy Silverstein of Habitat Studios. The songs now show off with more vim and vigor than previous releases. They haven’t gone all Motörhead on us or anything, but they bring to mind quite nicely the catalog of grown-up punks cum indie rockers such as Pavement or Sebadoh. Naturally fluid vocals that show off wide range from both Robbie and Cam are excellent. There are also lots of buried layers. I recommend listening with headphones to pick up the flourishes of handclaps, cello, vibraphone, and other sonic surprises. This is a really great listen beginning to end. This comes with the highest recommendation. –Jeff Proctor (Talking Helps)

Demo 2013: 7”
This is a recognizable Bloated Kat release upon first listen. Intentionally progressive, the label prioritizes female and/or queer musicians at the front of their acts, and also promotes flyover country punks not hailing from the coastal behemoths of Los Angeles or New York. Bloated Kat has a tightly honed brand, and Boys are right on it, but pleasantly so. Hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, Boys serves up guitar-propelled bubblegum pop punk along the lines of labelmates Lipstick Homicide and Jabber. None of these bands exist to make groundbreaking, innovative records, but they’re all tireless ambassadors for the art of making one’s own fun. Maura Weaver of the now-defunct Mixtapes contributes strong, sweet vocals with a ‘90s alternative pop edge, displaying a slight homage to Liz Phair or even Alanis. Relatable lyrics speak of suburban disillusionment with the predictability of daily life and the awkwardness of forging relationships. “Long Walk” is my favorite track, as the heaviest and most vulnerable, with a moody, contemplative slowdown that sweeps in at the minute-thirty mark. The production is DIY-rough, in a warm living room way. In “Sundae Skool” I hear a nod to Bratmobile and similar pop-driven riot grrrl, but also a slide into hardcore with a no-holds-barred acceleration at the end. It’s easy to know what to expect from Bloated Kat—and therefore from Boys—but that also guarantees quality music that facilitates a good time.  –Claire Palermo (Bloated Kat)

2-D World: 7"
Yay! This record could have come out in the heyday of the Flakes, the Fevers, and other bands that start with F! And the guy who produced it, Brian Hermosillo, was in the Fevers, the Retardos (SuperTeem is go!), and even the long-forgotten Donny Denim! I mean, it’s hard for me to even be objective about this! Which is fine, because I DON’T have to be objective about this! Oh, um. What does it sound like? A fair question, indeed! It sounds like one cup Rip Offs, two teaspoons Flakes, and four tablespoons Fevers! In other words, garage punk of the best variety! It’s more in the straightforward Rip Offs camp, and less in the crazy buri buri Brentwoods camp, but now I’m splitting hairs! If this were a cereal, it’d be Donkey Kong, Jr. cereal! Yes, the successor to Donkey Kong Crunch! Like Froot Loops, but more ridiculous! Yum! –Maddy (Bachelor)

Girls of Today: 7”
The title track is decent power pop. The B-side felt like the song that comes on when you’re dancin’ with the chick (or dude) you wanna make it with, but then this song comes on that you really don’t want to be dancing along to, but you need to keep dancin’ if there’s any chance of getting any action from said dude (or chick), and you end up doing this miserable side-to-side hop that pretty much guarantees you’re going home alone again. –Megan Pants (Douche Master, www.douchemasterrecords.com)

Self-titled: LP
I won’t pretend to be an expert on all things power pop. But if there’s one thing I’ve noticed about the current wave of bands is that more often than not, the “power” is overshadowed by the wardrobe. Boys Club, however, keep it simple (both musically and fashionably.) They play shoestring budget power pop with more of a nod to the punk side of things. Each and every song sounds like it belongs on a single or EP. Not just that, but a single I would listen to frequently. Great job. –Juan Espinosa (Three Dimensional)

Every Good Boy Does Fine: 7” EP
This looks deceptively more lo-fi/lo-budget/lo-talent than it actually is; the record actually feels more like a contemporary cross between some sort of American indie club rock that never gets punker than the Buzzcocks ((though it does not sound Buzzcocks-like in the least)) and some kinda late 70’s punk/mainstream fence-straddler like Willy DeVille singing some song about how he wants some girl whose first and last names both end in a vowel to come down and meet him on the street corner or something, plus a few showy flourishes like doo-woppy bits and modern dissonance-pop chunks and breakdowns where all the music cuts out except for an unplugged electric guitar in the corner and the vocals suddenly coming out of a little tinny speaker. Took a couple spins but i really warmed up to it. They’ve indeed done fine, i tell you!!! BEST SONG: “Barracuda” BEST SONG TITLE: “Barracuda” if you are Heart or DMZ or someone i guess. FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: The lyrics include the phrase “The Frozen Tundra” so you should obviously purchase a copy at once. –Rev. Norb (Hang Up)

Playback EP: Cassette
One of the cutest things I’ve heard in cassette form in a very long time. Boy’s Order is a four-piece, sugary, female-fronted rock band from Japan and they’ve got some fantastic melodies. Songs are uptempo and these five tracks are over fairly quickly, which means you can totally listen to them twice in one sitting! Their singer and bass player, Chihiro, is so high pitched that she almost reaches chipmunk octaves, but never to the point of annoyance. She makes you want to bob your head and smile while singing along to adorable lyrics, albeit slightly lost in translation, like, “Do you want to date with me? / Let me go / It’s broken my heart.” Dancey songs about love and loss that keep you grinning play after play after play.  –Kayla Greet (Love Panic)

“Tomorrow Dancing” b/w “Danger! Danger!”: 7”
On side A, we learn that if the Epoxies controlled Blondie remotely like robotic surgeons, the first thing they would do is make them learn Japanese, the second thing would be to make them snort helium, and the third thing would be to have them record a demo for Helen Love. On side B, we learn that they’d also make them buy the storm trooper armor from that Mad Capsule Markets video on eBay. You’re going to buy this record for the cover anyway, so don’t spend a lot of time trying to make sense of this review. BEST SONG AND SONG TITLE: “Tomorrow Dancing.” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: “Danger! Danger!” exhibits spaces between the words and exclamation points on the cover, but not on the label.  –Rev. Norb (Secret Mission)

Self-titled: CD
From the ashes of glam band Hollywood Brats came this monster of a band, and their pedigree is evident in the songs contained herein. Tunes like “First Time,” “Sick on You” (originally recorded by the aforementioned Brats), “Cop Cars,” and “Kiss Like a Nun” sound like glam gone on a speed bender, with zippy tempos, catchy choruses and a seriously tight rhythm section. The result is one of the best, and most criminally underrated, punk records to come out of the initial U.K. punk wave. Added treats here include the single versions of “I Don’t Care” and “Soda Pressing,” some outtakes and a “long version” of “First Time,” which includes an extra verse. –Jimmy Alvarado (Captain Oi)

The Punk Rock Anthology: 2 x CD
The Boys were one o’ the more obscure (at least in the U.S.) bands to come out of the first waves of the English punk thing. This has always struck me as odd because, while not as incendiary as some of their contemporaries, they penned some barn burners in their time that also happened to be wicked catchy to boot. What the Ramones did with the template provided by the Beach Boys and the Stooges, the Boys did with the one provided by the Beatles and Spector, delivering tunes that melded razor-sharp pop hooks to punk bluster and breakneck tempos. A huge chunk of those tunes—“First Time,” “Brickfield Nights,” “Sick on You” (quite possibly the catchiest song ever to reference both a relationship gone sour and vomiting), “Classified Susie,” “Jimmy Brown,” and “Tenement Kids,” to name a few—can be found crammed onto the two discs here, along with assorted demos, single tracks and versions, resulting in a mighty fine primer for those unfamiliar with the band. The tunes are mapped out, more or less, in chronological order, which allows the listener the chance to hear how, over time, the band sacrificed the manic tempos for a more power pop approach, a sound that, at first blush, seems like the primary influence for more recent bands like the Exploding Hearts. In the end, the worst case scenario for any potential listener is forty-seven tracks from one of punk’s unsung greats. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.cherryred.co.uk)

School of Etiquette: CD
Barely legal girls kiss their way through standard bubblegum emo. Accomplished, boring, better than angry young guys doing it.  –Speedway Randy (Alive)

Live in Texas: CD
BP Fallon is an Irish storyteller and author with a varied and expansive career behind him, having worked with many legends of the rock music industry in various difference capacities since the ‘70s. With this release, he leads a band, putting the focus on his rambling stories placed over the top of mostly acoustic guitar. It’s pleasant in the kind of way that I bet my parents would like it.  –Mark Twistworthy (Saustex, saustex.com)

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