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Razorcake #84
Tim Version, Ordinary Life LP + bonus 7"
Radon, 28 LP
Zisk #25
Razorcake #83

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Record Reviews

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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)

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)

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)

Last Will: CD
This is their goodbye to the scene in which they say that they are tired of fighting to get gigs in the UK and letting others make money off of them. Our loss since they were one of the better street punk bands that were around. Ten years is pretty good for most bands. By looking at their discography, they put out many a release. I only have one other record by them and it was a keeper. Too bad. –Donofthedead (Combat Rock)

No Consequences: CD
To their credit, these guys try to stir things up by soldering a smidge of pop sensibilities to the nouveau hardcore template, but ultimately the lack of conviction inherent in said template results in something that’ll probably appeal primarily to the scads of kids who think Hot Topic is the punkest fucking place on earth to spend twenty-five dollars on a Converge T-shirt. –Jimmy Alvarado (Burning Bridges)

Welcome to the Revolution: CD
I believe it is my duty as a record reviewer of integrity and honesty to give each record I get a fair shot. This one was a case of true grit and extreme endurance. This is a live-in-the studio recording from 2005 from this Seattle outfit. Musically, these guys have some chops. The vocals left me cold. Cookie monster vocals just don’t translate to my personal enjoyment. They also cover a Venom tunes that has already been covered by over five bands. And when you are competing with The Meatmen, why bother? If this was my lump of coal for the holidays I will take it on the chin.  –Sean Koepenick (1332)

There’s No Eye in Pussy: CD
...yeah, and there’s no good bands in Madison, either. Worse than Pachinko; how many orders of magnitude worse i cannot rightly say. BEST SONG: I don’t mind “MDS” and, curiously, “White Bitch” BEST SONG TITLE: “So Seattle” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Band’s a perfect four-for-four on the facial hair tally. –Rev. Norb (Crustacean)

Animal Mother: CD
My snotty review of this Madison band’s last disc prompted such a shitstorm of local message board flamejobbery that i’m tempted to do it again, just for the sheer sport of it all. However, the band has now cut their otherwise uninteresting White-Grungers-On-Gein faux Sub-Pop shenanigans with a few neat tricks, like briefly sounding like a fucked up Joy Division ((the first fifty seconds of “Jesus”)), or even coming across as tangentially glammy ((“Tabula Rasa”)), thus i cannot dismiss this record outright just for the time-honored purpose of “starting shit,” although i did consider it. Other than that, i dunno, i think this sounds like what grunge used to sound like. Wisconsin’s progressive reputation continues unabated! BEST SONG: “Tabula Rasa” BEST SONG TITLE: “Ed Gein,” of course! FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Looks a lot like the Dwarves “Blood, Guts & Pussy” album, but redder, and without the midget. –Rev. Norb (Zodiac Killer)

Self-titled: CDEP
Ugh. Bro-ish vocals, edgeless metal-lite chord progressions, and overly sleek recording. I was expecting more based on the cover art/band name. –Will Kwiatkowski (Zodiac Killer)

Animal Mother: CD
Cover art looks like it was rejected by the Dwarves. Music alternates between grungy rock and southern fried stoner rock. End results are no big whoop either way. –Jimmy Alvarado (Zodiac Killer)

Self-titled: CD
The vocalist reminds me of James Hetfield in parts. I’m assuming he is the dude in the picture with the Rollie Fingers ‘stache. I hear some Alice In Chains mixed in with Black Label Society’s pummeling riffage. “Powerlines” even sounds like “Spoonman.” Who knew the ‘90s were back? –Sean Koepenick (Zodiac Killer)

Self Titled: LP
This is an eight song LP of what they call noise. Noise was very popular around the early and mid ‘90s. Seems like it died down and went away for a while. Maybe it’s making a come back or maybe this is one of the bands keeping it alive. I don’t know. To be honest, I don’t like this music at all. That doesn’t matter. I have heard many a band do this style, and for what they are doing, this is good. In other words if you are a noise fan, get this because you will like it. The songs are slow and sludgy and the vocals are rough. Like I said, I am not a fan, but, if you are, you will like this record. –Mike Beer –Guest Contributor (Life is Abuse)

Zombie Nation: CD
Pretty standard horror-themed rockabilly. I’m not exactly in love with the thousand bands that sound just like this one (who all, it seems, also have songs called “Evil Never Dies” and “We Will Rise”), so I can’t get too psyched about this disc, no matter how many pictures of half-naked zombettes are included in the album art. –MP Johnson (NMG)

Hell N’ Back / No Brain, No Pain: CD
I’m not a massive rockabilly fan, but I know and appreciate a fair amount. I enjoy it, but in moderate doses. The Brains just might be the exception to that rule. This disc seems to be mashing two albums together. It better be, clocking in at twenty five songs. That’s a lot of twang and pomade for anyone, but I had no problem getting through the whole thing and enjoying it. They do a horror thing, so the majority of the songs are zombies, blood, corpses and such. Not really original by any means, but a lot of fun. Worth searching out. –Ty Stranglehold (Stumble)

Drunk Not Dead: CD
Montreal’s premier psychobilly band is back with thirteen news songs about horror, cars, and drinking, but they do a damn fine job within those confines. They throw in some pretty good punk on here as well—nice and speedy. They put a lot of feeling into what they do and make it convincing, plus you get one song in French and one in Spanish for something a bit different. The songs have a ton of singalong parts and on this third album, great playing and production. These guys should be in jukeboxes in bars and you should throw some coins in and dance around like a nut to these songs. –Guest Contributor (Stomp, stomprecords.com)

Styrofoam: Cassette
Interesting live radio set with great sound quality. There’s a fair amount of stuff going on within these songs—blues, swamp, rockabilly, psych—enough so that the Brainstems manage to sound as if they’re riffing off of material as varied as old Van Morrison, the Rolling Stones, the Cramps, or one-man boom-bap stuff like Bob Log or Almighty Do Me A Favor. Not for everyone, but convincing enough. –Keith Rosson (Don’t Touch My Records)

Which Is Worse: CD
Hairy, Richmond scene vets Brainworms play tuneful hardcore with the perfect balance of drive and technical stuff. I’m hearing the skronks and quirks of late ‘80s D.C. cold lampin’ with Jesus Lizard’s off-kilter guitar muscle. They even have wiseass song titles like “Phat Intentions” and “Break Down the Pajama Walls.” I’ll take a shot in the dark and say that when this band plays a house show, everyone takes a break from flirting and drinking beer in the alley, and comes in to watch, and for those twenty sweaty shirts-off-dudes-on minutes, all is right in the world. CT Terry –Guest Contributor (Rorschach)

Swear to Me; Tape: LP and Cassette
The first thing that I heard from Brainworms was their split with Tubers. They presented one original and a Rites Of Spring cover. Their original sounded not too unlike ROS. Those two tracks, along with the tracks from their splits with Dynamite Arrows and Catalyst, appear on the cassette. After hearing an album and three splits’ worth of material, though they stay in the realm of emotional hardcore, I can’t say that Brainworms is simply Revolution Summer-esque. Think of ROS as a bookend with maybe Antioch Arrow on the other end of the shelf, but Brainworms’ influences aren’t used as a crutch to hold them up. Initially, their approach seems to be simply frantic and maniacal with vocals that never let up, remaining constantly abrasive. This comes through much clearer on the cassette. The LP has a calmer feel, which still isn’t really calm. Still, on both the releases underneath the mania is a feeling of safety that comes with trust. It’s as though Brainworms was jilted by the world and decided that, instead of issuing a directive of revenge, it was necessary to give a guiding hand through the madness by offering a taste of the lunacy to others via sound. Demented and passionate stuff, here. –Vincent Battilana (LP: Rorschach; Cass: People’s Republic Of Rock And Roll)

Split: 7”
Brainworms: Pretty Revolution Summer-esque stuff. They provide one original and a live cover of “For Want of” by Rights Of Spring, which is my favorite ROS song. Their original ain’t bad, but it’s hard for me to recall what it sounds like after listening to the cover. It’s emotional hardcore like you want it to be when you hear that term; that much I can remember. But their cover is where it’s at. I mean, c’mon, it’s a ROS song! Tubers: Kind of a lightweight Hot Snakes. They aren’t as frantic, but it doesn’t seem like that’s what they’re going for. It’s kind of like Hot Snakes with a dash of Fugazi—maybe my mind was stuck on Guy Picciotto from the other side. Tubers also contribute a cover on their side. It’s of “Glad I Don’t Know” by the Lemonheads. It definitely doesn’t sound like the other songs on their side, but it beats the original version while not straying very far from it. Then again, I never was too big on the Lemonheads (I always confuse them with the Gin Blossoms). –Vincent Battilana (Bakery Outlet / Dead Tank / Rorschach)

Split: 7” EP
Brainworm: Another band trying to revive the late ‘80s Dischord gravy train. One original with lotsa tempo changes, fuzzless guitars, and oodles of lyrics, and one cover of a Rites Of Spring tune. Tubers: Switch out Rites Of Spring for the Lemonheads and it’s pretty much ditto for them. –Jimmy Alvarado (Dead Tank)

Swear to Me: LP
I’m having a hard time reading this band. One moment, they’re completely off-kilter and dangerously close to cacophony. The next, they’re bright and almost jazzy. Then they quote Dag Nasty and somehow sound like a band that would do that sort of thing. This is music that requires the listener to invest some mind power. The band’s name is completely appropriate. –MP Johnson (Rorschach)

This six-song EP started off with an acoustic guitar flourish and I hoped it was just an intro and would bust into some major contrast with some raging punk rock. But alas, no. Bongo drums kicked in and more acoustic instruments. The rest of the music continued to horrify me as some sort of dreadful noodley, hippy, dream-pop dreadfulness. There are no electrified instruments on the album, which is simply something I cannot accept. I made myself listen to it once all the way through out of service to the readers of Razorcake and then bits and pieces the next day to verify that my listening experience was not a horrible patchouli-soaked nightmare. Printed on the CD are the words “have a good summer” so it is ironic that this is the worst piece of music I have listened to this season, and for a half hour in August made my summer much less enjoyable. –Jake Shut (Self-released)

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)

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