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Record Reviews

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Your Favorite Weapon: CD
Mass appeal. Can you say MTV? I want to direct the video. I will dress them in the latest skate wear – brand logos that are jumping out of the screen so that they can get extra money from their clothing sponsors. Oh, I can’t forget the studded belts and the chain wallets. I would go to the local punk record store and place all over their instruments punk stickers of every punk band that ever existed. That would give them credibility. Make sure their haircuts are spikey and shiny and at least one member would have a florescent color dyed in right before the shoot. They would have to look like they are individuals. I would have them lip syncing live at an outdoor arena with a high school aged group as an audience fueled on cheap keg beer. Making sure the crowd is going to look energetic, I would yell, “More blood, more beer!” Nothing promotes attention more than underage drinking and free beer mixed together. While shooting the performance, I would yell, “Jump!” every ten seconds at the band to “show” their energy. At one point, I would instruct the singer to take his shirt off so he can show off his fake tattoos, stage prop piercings and the top of his boxers to attract a larger female audience. Oops, I must be blending together a Blink 182 video with a Good Charlotte video. Fuck it. It will still work. –Donofthedead (Triple Crown)

A Life Desired: LP
When this record is playing, everything in my world is suddenly cool. Something about this music... Brasilia tread in territory similar to Broadcast and Stereolab. Synth driven with real back up instruments. The songs float in a trancelike shoegazer way with droning keyboards, dream-like female vocals, and throbbing bass lines. There is a haunting tone throughout that pulls you in, and puts you in the moment. I could, and do, listen to this for days on end. –Matt Average (Obscurist Press)

Split: 7"
The opener on the Brass Caskets side is a slow, metal-tinged hardcore track. The riffs are down tuned and heavy, but the guitar sticks to interesting chord structures that make the riffs a lot more unique and memorable. Political, Orwellian lyrics and samples make up the ideas conveyed on both their songs. Cold Snap are a little bit of an odd fit, as their sound is a little more on the Level Plane style screamo side. The riffs are bleak and haunting, but the songs are still legitimately heavy, and the structures hold up really well. I don’t typically spring for splits featuring two bands I don’t know anything about, so this was a nice surprise to find in my review pile this month. –Ian Wise (Redscroll)

Self-titled: CD
Heavy rock disc on Jucifer’s label from this Atlanta band. This is alright, but there is a lot of this being released right now and this just doesn’t stack up. Sounds like Bad Wizard, Cherry Valence, or Big Business, just not as good. Seems like ironic heavy rock whether that is the intention or not. –Mike Frame (Velocette)

A43-012-2(?): CD
Sort of a fucked up take on ‘70s hard rock and metal that is weird and messy enough to seem interesting. It kind of reminds me of early ‘90s bands like Karp or Godheadsilo. I liked the really horrible sounding Rolling Stones type ballad too. –Jason Donnerparty (Velocette )

American Bastard: CD
A friend of mine burned a copy of this CD for me a long time ago. I’ve been listening to this steadily for about a year and a half. Recently, though, Haunted Town sent us a real copy of the CD, with artwork and lyrics and everything, so I figured I’d review this late. It’s tight, fast street punk with solid anthems. It’s not totally original, but, where other bands only dabble with this sound, the Brassknuckle Boys have mastered it. The frustration and desperation is palpable in these songs. It’s real, and you can tell. For some reason, when I still only had the burn of this CD, I just assumed that at least one of these Brassknuckle Boys had spent some time in the pen, and sure enough, reading through the liner notes, one of them has. I don’t point this out to suggest that bands are cooler if one of their members has done time; I just mean that their lives seem to funnel into their songs. They also do a great cover of the old Johnny Cash song “Sunday Morning Coming Down.” (And yes, I know that Kris Kristofferson wrote and recorded it, too, but in my mind, it’ll always be a Johnny Cash song.) All in all, this is a solid album. Highly recommended. –Sean Carswell (Haunted Town)

American Bastard: LP
This album came out a few years back. It’s solid American streetpunk, full of hooks and anthems and one Johnny Cash cover to boot (“Sunday Morning Coming Down,” which is actually a Kris Kristofferson song, but Johnny Cash made it famous). I guess Haunted Town waited to see if the CD would catch on before they released it on vinyl, and I guess the CD did catch on because the LP has just recently been released. Some of the records are cool, swirly vinyl and some are just black. The music is good. I recommend it. I wish that these guys were releasing something new instead of just re-releasing the same songs in a different format, but what are you gonna do? –Sean Carswell (Haunted Town)

Appalachian Bastard: CD
This CD is a rerelease of the first two Brassknuckle Boys albums, American Bastard and Appalachian Industry, along with two hot previously unreleased tracks. They’re probably the greatest band from Kentucky since the Connie Dungs and have been playing straightforward street punk since the late 1990s. I’d prefer fancy new vinyl reissues of these albums, but this CD is very well put together. As was the case with Patriot, Brassknuckle Boys’ lyrics are way more positive than you’d expect. They are super good at delivering the goods when it comes to accessible, catchy punk. Color me immature, but I’ll take this over contemporary, multi-layered bands any day. –Art Ettinger (Fighting Poor, brassknuckleboys.org)

Appalachian Bastard: CD
This is solid, reliable street punk that will show you a good time if you’re into it. It’s gruff and yet manages to wind some fun around guitar solos and catchy melodies. There are limitations to the sound, and Appalachian Bastard runs a bit long at twenty-six tracks. This is worth picking up, but I believe Brassknuckle Boys to be best served in chunks of infectious, rough energy. –Candice Tobin (Fighting Poor)

Appalachian Bastard: CD
With a name like Brassknuckle Boys, I was ready for the usual round of “oi! oi! up from the streets” kind of stuff, and, sure, it’s there to an extent, but as the disc continued I started to realize a couple of things. These songs have emotion. They’re well written. The singer has an amazing voice. Suddenly it hit me that they sound a lot like Off With Their Heads... if OWTH was a street punk band. It’s great! –Ty Stranglehold (brassknuckleboys.org)

Got It Made: CD
Kinda new wavy, kinda hip hoppy. A lot of the music on the tracks is reminiscent of Run DMC's "You Be Illin'," which would normally be a bad thing, but the songs work well enough as a whole to make one overlook this faux pas. Not bad at all. –Jimmy Alvarado (Wiiija, 17-19 Alma Road, London, SW18 1AA, England)

Destruction Sound System: CD
The first song, “Infighting and Bickering,” excited me with its dual female/male vocals and melodic pop sound that reminded me of the now defunct UK band Servo. I was hoping for more! But no, the male vocals are dominant here. Where did that great female voice go? Two tracks of average punk rock. Track four is “Enemy” and the female vocals come back! The vocals are soft and enduring and go into Brody and Courtney country during the chorus. Tracks five through eight: male dude again. Yawn. Track nine, the dual vocals are back! You go, girl! Track ten is dude again. Skip. Track eleven has too much dude and not enough female vocals. Track twelve: dude. Track thirteen: dude. Track fourteen: dude’s track up front, female vocals buried. Track fifteen comes back with dude singing the verses and female vocals in the chorus. Track sixteen closes off with a rock ballad of sorts but dude is only a background singer. So I’m not sure who dude is. On the CD there is Ben and Dave who are listed as vocalists. They need to step back and just play guitars. No more singing. The female vocals, I think, are handled by Seana but there is a picture of a Meaghan on the back that says vocals, too. Put them up front on vocal duties and this band would be much improved in my book. Sounds like I’m a dude hater, huh? –Donofthedead (Steel Capped)

Destruction Sound System: CD
The only nice thing that I can say about this is that the dude who sings sometimes sounds like Oderus Urungus from Gwar. But they say they don’t give a fuck if you like them or not, so they probably won’t be losing any sleep over this review. –Josh (Longshot)

Those Who Sow Sorrow Shall Reap Rage: CD
Weird mix of hardcore, modern pop punk, and revolutionary rhetoric, right down to the Crass-styled stencil lettering and pictures of Molotov-chucking Sandinistas. Can’t say I dug the music all that much, but I liked the fact that it’s the first time in a good while that I heard anything resembling a Green Day song with lyrics about the prison industrial complex. –Jimmy Alvarado (Rebel Time)

Demo: CD-R
Professional-sounding demo from a band from the Netherlands. It’s melodicore that is well performed and songs that are interesting and catchy. Kind of hard to pinpoint at the moment what they sound like to me. I’m guessing a mixture of Venerea, Pulley, and some elements of early Pennywise. If this is one of their first recordings, they are off to a good start. –Donofthedead (Brat Pack)

Stupidity Returns: CD
The eleven tracks here demonstrate this Netherlands band is well versed in the beach and sun-addled sounds of modern Southern California hardcore. The tempos are, for the most part, zippy and the poppy sheen that makes bands like The Offspring is very much in evidence. The European punk sensibilities shine through, however, in the lyrics, which are markedly more substantive in thought and execution than most bands pandering to the types of punters who dig this sound. Can’t say it completely worked for me, but there’s no denying they do what they do well. –Jimmy Alvarado (Shield)

Attitudes: CDEP
All right, I’ll admit I’m more than a little biased when it comes to East L.A. punk rock. Consider it the musical equivalent to being a Dodgers or Yankees fan, except that there are no hot dogs, no one is paid a fraction of what Barry Bonds pulls in and bats have wholly different uses. Now that that’s out of the way, trust me when I say that you truly need this in yer collection, kids. The Brat were/are one of the better-known bands from the area, and the solid musicianship, smart, taut songwriting and the desire to push past what’s expected illustrate why. Originally released back in the mists of time we now know as the early 1980s, Attitudes, as well as two tracks on the Los Angelinos compilation, is pretty much all the initial incarnation managed to release. The five tracks here cover a lot of ground—the reggae undertow of “Swift Moves,” the punk/pop of the title track and “Starry Night,” the hardcore roar of “High School,” the morose isolation of “Leave Me Alone”—all of it sweetened by infectious hooks and Teresa Covarrubias’ voice, which she isn’t afraid to use to actually sing rather than yell. The good news is that a) they’re also out and playing again, b) an “anthology” disc of unreleased material and a DVD of assorted performances are in the works, c) with this now remastered and on CD, you can now blast this bad boy from your car stereo without having to worry about the needle on the record player bouncing all over the place. My suggestion is you get your grubby paws on a copy by any means necessary, ‘cause although East Los has long maintained a solid batting average, this is one of those occasions when the eastside kids handily sent the ball sailing over the fences. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.myspace.com/thebrat)

Ladies, Women, and Girls: CD
It's about time I got this record! I waited seven years for Bratmobile to put out a new record and it took me over a year to finally buy it. OK, so it came out last year, but I have a tight budget and I want to review it, damnit! This album is great. At first it was kinda weird for me. I felt like, rather than being one big group of riot grrrls hangin' out, it's now more like hangin' out in your room while eavesdropping on your older sisters hanging out and being riot grrrls. On second listen, I was right back on my feet jumping up and down like a pigtailed 15yr. old. Bratmobile has kinda - not so much matured - as they did fill out into their womanly shape and sound. I could safely say they sound a little more Lookout recordsy, but the combination has proved itself to be rewarding. Thank you Bratmobile for coming back and giving me a voice to listen to. I missed you. –Guest Contributor (Lookout!)

Valley of the Brats: CDR
Not to be confused with East LA punk legends the Brat or Corona, California’s ‘90s gloomy glam-punk sensations the Brats, these guys play ‘70s New York-inspired rock punk, that, while pretty faithfully executed, failed to raise much of a ruckus in these parts. In short, they’re not bad, but they’re not exactly the bee’s knees, either. –Jimmy Alvarado (http://committed.to/thebrats)

Be a Man: 7”
HoZac dusts off another oldie and gives it a proper second spin, in this case a 1974 single by a band formed by guitarist Ricky Rivets after leaving the band which soon after became the New York Dolls. His association with that band is in full evidence via the up-tempo title track, which drips with the same swagger and attitude the Dolls utilized with devastating effect, and was also put to good use later by Rip Off Records house band The Infections on their Kill album. The flip, “Quaalude Queen,” is a bit slower, but still has its tail feathers wagging. Definitely worth picking up.  –Jimmy Alvarado (HoZac, hozacrecords.com)

Stay Busy: CD-R
Braver is from Minneapolis, but don’t make any assumptions. They’re far less gruff and world-worn than many of their comrades. The lyrics are filled with question marks, as if they’re at a tipping point, one winter away from a worldview shift for the worse… or better. There’s hope in questions. When the questions stop and the answers come, that’s when things falter. These guys have the right attitude though. As the lyrics go in the standout track, “All My Friends”: “I’ll never see it all.” –MP Johnson (braver1.bandcamp.com)

Stay Busy: LP
Braver is a very tight pop punk band but the singer’s voice wears on me. I tried and tried to like it. I even respect it for not going the poppy, whiny, lovable route of The Lillingtons and Screeching Weasel before them. In the end, this album just does not come together for me. –John Mule (Lost Cat / Pogo Party)

That’s the Hot Part: CD
Lame, boring college rock. –Jimmy Alvarado (Arms Reach)

Never Kill Yourself: CD
This band has already broken up, but they left behind a few EPs. This is their first one and it’s a pretty good collection of mid-paced punk that isn’t going to set the world on fire, but it still has enough energy and fun going on to keep your interest. The four songs go by fairly quickly and are bouncy enough to get you moving in your chair. They showed a lot of potential in their playing and lyrics. It’s a shame that they didn’t stick around to progress. –Rick Ecker (Secrets Of Sounds, link2wales.co.uk)

Dracula: CD
This is one of a kind. The press release that came with the disc is worthy of its own review, particularly its picture of Bray looking like a 1986-era sitcom version of a rock star. You know, the episodes where the teenage girl puts on makeup, sneaks out to the city with her friends, and goes backstage at a concert, only to learn some valuable lesson? Bray looks like the fake rocker they meet backstage, except with slightly smaller hair. Not only that, but there’s a quote from him that says, “I prefer playing after hours. At night we become what we fantasize about.” Yeah, cheesy as fuck. Was that from Growing Pains or Who’s the Boss? I can’t recall. Just so you know, the music is right in line with the press release. It’s ridiculous. The lyrics are about Dracula and include clever bits like “You can run, but you can’t hide. If you scream, I will find you.” Also, “Can’t wait to sink my teeth into you.” All of these words are sung in a sort of breathy whisper and backed by Dr. Fink, who, according to the press release, played keyboard for Prince. Oh, just to make this more ridiculous, this is a CD single with only one song on it. –MP Johnson (Talking House)

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