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· 1:An Interview with Soul Side’s Bobby Sullivan
· 2:Webcomic Wednesdays #146
· 3:We Came! We Saw! We Fested! - Fest 2015
· 4:#380 with Juan Espinosa
· 5:Webcomic Wednesdays #148

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Record Reviews

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Alexandrian Age: CD
This Dutch outfit has been active since 2000. But I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that they didn’t do a Yahoo search back then before picking a band name. There was a band with this same moniker in the ‘90s. These dudes are not the only ones. I see there is a new band with the same name reviewed in the last issue of this magazine, too. Bands, do your homework! But I digress. This band compares themselves to Social D and The Templars. I’m not a big fan of either of those bands. A couple songs here have some hooks. But there is also some extreme guitar solo noodling sprinkled in that made me hold my nose; too much to overcome.  –Sean Koepenick (Rebellion)

Dark Dreams: 7”
Adrian Chi currently known as the drum basher in Spokenest, illustrator of Bite the Cactus,and formerly of L.A.’s beloved God Equals Genocide, has taken a moment to slow things down and project through music her more laid back/mellow nature in the form of Badlands. The amps have been turned down and the mood is much more somber than most of Adrian’s previous projects, but her gift of genius songwriting is stronger than ever. “Dark” is a folky punk number that perpetually builds momentum as the song progresses. “Dreams” is slightly more upbeat and integrates some nice arpeggio guitar strumming while Adrian’s voice echoes in the background like a ghost happily singing in a desert prairie. Lyrical themes include the day-to-day struggles of life but with an overall positive message encouraging us to not succumb to our own fears and hold those close to us even closer. Just like on previous Badlands recordings, Adrian is the sole songwriter and musical performer, but I’ve recently learned that she now has a full live backing band, including current members of Bird Strike and Wreck Of The Zephyr. Can’t recommend this record enough.  –Juan Espinosa (Porchcore, no address listed)

Japanese Bloodbath: 7”
Brutus-style hardcore with a thick, reddish neck and a fetish for old school wrasslin heels like Bruiser Brody and Abdullah the Butcher. Basic no-frills ECW-core that fans of the Bump N’ Uglies and/or Antiseen might enjoy, though I think both those bands do a better job of it. And while I’m on the subject, why is it that all these wrasslin bands kiss the boots of all the same wrestlers? Sure Mick Foley was great back in his hardcore heyday, but I’d like to see some bands lionize some of the more thickly body-haired kookballs like George the Animal Steele and Mad Dog Vachon. Just to spice things up a bit. –aphid (Scarey)

Those Who Die Dancing: 7”
Rebellious, rambunctious hardcore with rebellious, rambunctious lyrics. Songs are put together well, and I bet these guys smoke live. –Jimmy Alvarado (Spacement)

Split: 7"
Bafabegiya: A hardcore band that ain’t particularly fast, but they manage to find a groove and exploit it for what it’s worth. Arabella: An arty hardcore contrast to the flip, not as immediately accessible, but not without its own charms, either. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.spacementreno.com)

Welcome to Earth: 7” EP
Ridiculously fast hardcore delivered with enough stops, tempo shifts, and surgical precision to keep you on your toes. Definitely not for the faint of heart. –Jimmy Alvarado (Speaks Volumes, speaksvolumesrecords.com)

Self-titled: CD
Bag Of Gremlins are reminiscent of early D.R.I., but with snottier, screamier vocals. For a two-piece (guitar and drums), they accomplish quite a bit, but I suspect that might be the result of this particular genre of punk rock not really needing low-end bassiness to get its point across. Twenty-one tracks in just under nineteen minutes; some songs are S.O.D.-short, but some even get close to the two-minute mark. Lyrically, it’s comprised of rather standard punk rock sensibilities, but with all its screamy goodness and no lyric sheet, that observation is based mostly on the titles. In the end, once could consider this a good example of the genre—whatever the hell we may actually describe that genre as—but I wouldn’t consider it essential listening. It has its time and place, though. My favorite thing about this: instrumentals to open and close the record. I love it when bands do that shit! –The Lord Kveldulfr (No address listed)

Tap Dancing in a Mine Field: CD-R
Remember that band that your aging “I used to be a punk rocker, then I grew up” co-worker plays in? You know, the one he keeps bugging you to “come check out” even when you politely decline his offer of free tickets. Bag: Theory is that band and they’re the prog-jazz-freeform-avant-garde clusterfuck that you cringingly envisioned. These sorts of bands are the reason noise cancelling headphones were invented.  –Juan Espinosa (Homeless Publishing, paperbagtheory.com)

Survive: 7"
There were a handful of records I chanced upon when I was a kid, just getting into punk rock, that really struck a chord with me. Looking back, I was incredibly lucky with the records that just happened to be in the used bin of an independent record store in Vegas. Looking back, I was exposed to a tremendously mixed bag of punk and hardcore—from different scenes and different eras—stuff like the Necros, JFA, and the Bags, all in one trip. Gladly, listening to this 7” again years later (see the Alice interview in this issue as to why) neither song sounds dated. Commanding, snarling, and desperate female vocals, expert but not “pro” musicianship, an unquestionable angst and comet-like burning make it as great as ever. Word is that this re-issue is directly from the original 1978 Dangerhouse plates. Sounds awesome. An irreplaceable slice LA punk rock that’s neck and neck with the best that was ever released. –Todd Taylor (Artifix)

All Bagged Up: LP
My very own, totally true, Bags-related story: A girlfriend of mine scored a job at a one-hour photo joint in the Fairfax district sometime in 1988 or so. At the time, I had two full-time bands going, and I acted as a sorta substitute member when she was unable to make a gig to sing, or the guitar player was M.I.A. Anyway, one day, Bags guitarist Craig Lee walks into her place of work. Knowing I was a big fan of the Bags, she calls me up to tell me he’d be back in about an hour and did I want her to tell him anything. One of the bands (probably hers) was trying to learn “We Don’t Need the English” for the set, but were having problems trying to understand Alice after the second time she said “Fuck them, send them all to...” so I asked her to ask him for the lyrics. She later shows up at my house after work with the all the lyrics for said song written out by Mr. Lee on a tiny Post-It, except the one line we were having trouble deciphering. Listening to this album—which includes “We Don’t need the English,” plus all the other Dangerhouse cuts, the live tracks from Flipside’s Live from the Masque CD, and assorted other live and demo cuts, most of which are heretofore unreleased—brought back that memory some nineteen years later and made me laugh all over again, not to mention rock the fuck out to a band that has been a consistent favorite for almost as long as I’ve been a punk. Standing as the more or less definitive statement on this band, the sound quality is downright amazing considering we’re talking non-board live recordings and rehearsal and demo tapes for a lot of the stuff here. Herr Artifix has again succeeded in dusting off a band long relegated to the back ends of the history books and reminded the world of what a truly wondrous thing the Bags were during their short lifespan. Oh, and the mysterious line? “Fuck them, send them all to Canterbury.” Figured it out all by myself a few years ago, so wherever you are, Craig, allow me to offer up a sincere, “ptlhbbt!” –Jimmy Alvarado (Artifix)

Another One Bites the Dust: CD
Should I pretend to know a lot about hardcore to write this review? No! I shall not! Bail Out is from D.C., and their website says they’re breaking up so one of the members can enroll in the Peace Corps. But Maddy, you protest, I could Google that shit if I cared. You’re the reviewer! Review goddamnit! So, Bail Out play, um, fast! Their best line? “Water Balloon Attack! You’re fucking dead!” Punk rock! If this were a cereal, it’d be something I almost never eat, like S'mores cereal. I couldn’t even tell you what it tastes like, that’s how dumb I am! –Maddy (Rosewater)

This Took Too Long: CD-EP
This took too long to get to the end. –Jimmy Alvarado (Not Bad)

Hot Stuff: 7" EP
I have no idea what the hell this French squad’s band name is all about—like, are they talking about one of the testicles of the bass player from the Devil Dogs?—and i don’t understand their English lyrics substantially better than when they’re singing en Français—but this band is spring-wound and tight and on their shit, and that’s largely all the lingua franca a sage consumer needs, ain’t it? Tuneful, rockin’ punk shit which gets extra points from me because their Eddie & The Hot Rods cover isn’t the best song on the record. I also think the skull and crossbones on the front cover is actually pretty cool; when’s the last time you heard me say that? I guess adding the sunglasses and the brain helped. Eat shit, Napoleon! Baiseball are storming your Bastille! BEST SONG: “Hot Stuff” BEST SONG TITLE: “We Are The Fame.” Hey, it’s original! FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: I think this is the only record i own that’s got a guy wearing a Buzzcocks t-shirt depicted on the label. –Rev. Norb (Stress)

Self-titled: CD
Dear Robert Daniel of Savannah, Georgia: I really like the first part of this CD. To me, it sounds like a lower-fi, Southern version of Replacements. The problem, though, is that about halfway through, the CD player starts freaking out and skipping, and I can’t even make it to your version of “Mama Tried.” I realize that it’s just a technological problem and it’s nobody’s fault, but hopefully we can find a way to blame Bradley Williams for whatever went wrong. And I was also wondering if your pseudonym was an Andy Griffith Show reference or just a coincidence. Thanks for listening. –Josh (Official UDC Headquarters)

Return to the Planet of the Bakesys!: CD
I’m pretty open to all genres of music but, admittedly, whenever I have some ska come my way, I can’t help but think “Why?” Fortunately, this is more two tone similar to The Specials than “crazy ska punk,” so it’s not unbearable. Unfortunately, it’s a lot mellower and less energetic than The Specials, which is one of the reasons I like that band in the first place. And even though it’s a live record, there’s hardly any crowd noise in between songs! It’s still good if you’re that into ska in 2010, though. –Joe Evans III (Do The Dog)

The Greatest Story Ever Told: CD, Live Free or Die: CD:
To my mind, there are two very distinct strains running through the east U.K. death rock/goth stuff: the edgy, arty, obsessed with the darker side of life stuff and the simpy, slick, quasi-pretty boy/girl gloom pop that pretty much ended up diluting and fucking up the former. Rare it was when a band falling in the latter camp was worth a piss and these guys are not an exception to that rule. On Greatest Story, they milk dry the gray area between The Mission and mid-period Cult, managing to sand down whatever edge those templates had in the first place. The band, who deftly execute songs that are at least well written but not in the least threatening, are hampered with a singer who has neither the range or the singular quality of an Astbury, or even a Hussey. Their attempts to follow the Cult’s lead into hard rock land, as chronicled on Live Free or Die, are not much of an improvement, either. Rumor is they’re back together. I wish ’em luck. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.cherryred.co.uk)

Shame: 7”
I don’t spend too much time, err, really any time at all listening to crust or d-beat. I mean, my favorite Dis-band is Discount. Thus I can’t really say if this going to float the average crusty’s boat or how it compares to genre-mates. Personally, I think it’s okay, but, as I said, I don’t really have a good basis for comparison. –Vincent Battilana (Forcefield)

Only Boundaries: 12” EP
Four songs of beefy emo rock, like prime Cursive, or the stuff that Revelation was releasing fifteen years ago. The musicianship is tight and the recording packs a punch and a crunch. The problem is, that while the music takes its cues from the highpoints of this much-maligned genre, the vocals are lifted wholesale from the radio emo of the last five years. The lead singer is whiney, and some dipstick screams in the background every now and then. Making matters worse, the vocals are super loud in the mix. It’s a shame, because the music shows a lot of promise; it’s just sunk by what Mr. Burns on The Simpsons would describe as “off-key caterwauling.” –CT Terry (No Sleep, nosleeprecs.com)

Split: CD
I don’t know how anybody can really be into music that either band makes. Balance And Composure sound like they are trying to write songs that will have mass alternative radio appeal. Just pure crap. Tigers Jaw is lucky that BAC is the other band on this split, because, comparatively, TJ is genius. While I don’t care for Tigers Jaw’s brand of Vagrant Records-styled stuff, they sound like they actually play what they want to. Plus, TJ keeps their songs close to the bearable three-minute mark; BAC’s tracks seemed endless. Not cool. –Vincent Battilana (No Sleep, nosleeprecs.com / Run For Cover, runforcoverrecords.com)

Split: 7"
There’s something cleansing about no-bullshit, full-speed-ahead hardcore. It’s sort of like sandpaper. You feel like you can rub it against anything – politics, dogmatism, bad jobs, being penniless, and marginalized – and by its abrasive friction, it makes things shinier. Hitting darkness with its own form of rough force. Now that Victory Records is courting boy bands, it’s high time that hardcore get reclaimed by bands like these, who take cues from Negative Approach, From Ashes Rise, and Deaththreat. I like Balance of Terror a tad more. They’ve already broke up, and it’s a shame. I always wonder at bands who go so fast but can weave in different ways and actually hook a melody deep inside the fast-moving blades, dropping cues on how the genre can redevelop itself instead of merely repeating. –Todd Taylor (Partners In Crime)

“The Message” b/w “The Railtown Abbey”: 7”
This single seems to be going for a funkier, Northern Soul-type sound. There are male and female vocals that go well together. The performances are A-OK, but there is such a thick layer of reverb over the whole thing there is not much attack. Do I hear keyboard and xylophone? I like what I think is going on, but I can’t fully make it out. “The Railtown Abbey” comes across as having a lot of energy that just can’t seem to bust out of the mire of a murky recording. It’s a good song. I would take a guess that the band sounds better live. –Billups Allen (La-Ti-Da, latidarecords.com)

Sound Asleep: CD
I had seen this band from Montreal, Canada this past summer and was not too impressed. I felt that they were going through the motions. It was a tough night for them to be playing with Paintbox, Sunday Morning Einsteins, Artimus Pyle and Harto. I know bands have off nights and I believe they truly had one that night. So, I was glad that this showed up for review. Musically powerful and emotional at the same time, this band plays a dirge of despair. Having elements of crust and anarcho punk from the past, they developed a sound that seems genuine and heartfelt. Female-led vocals that, at times, waver in pitch, belt out lyrics that are intelligent and seem to touch her personally and expressed by her delivery. The music is top notch, using a variety of chords, breaks, and tempo changes so that each song is not a repeat of the previous. An effort was made to structure the songs like stories. They may be a little long for some who are in the short-and-fast school of preference. Hearing this band in a studio situation gives me greater appreciation. –Donofthedead (Profane Existence)

Fuse: LP
I never get over the feeling of having no expectations for a band, and then being blown away. If This Is My Fist was a whole lot darker and angrier and had both male and female vocals, you’d be pretty close to where Ballast is. And that is a damn fine place to start. Throw in intelligent lyrics and great artwork and you’ve got something special. –Megan Pants (Trujaca Fala / Stonehenge)

People’s Republic of Rock and Roll: CD
Dolls meet AC/DC. Strictly for those who miss the glory days of KNAC, and I ain’t one of ‘em. –Jimmy Alvarado (Vicious Kitten)

Tales from the Basement: CD
Couldn’t find much info on these kids, but it appears they hail from Spain and are fond of playin’ pop punk. They steer clear of the heavy NOFX influence for the most part, opting to fiddle with ringing chords instead of Ramones power-chord worship. Songs are pretty solid, but it’s clear very early on that English ain’t their primary language. –Jimmy Alvarado (Balloon Flights, balloonflights04@gmail.com)

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