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· 5:Record Reviews in Razorcake #79

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Record Reviews

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K-Way Bleu: 7"
“I’ve got beer shits! I’ve got beer shits!” goes the chorus of the final song. Yes, but why did you feel the need to record it? Why did you feel the need to go to Benji’s Mom’s house in Paris, France, and make a permanent document of these noises? I appreciate your exuberance—which comes across loud and clear on this record—but still, why? Did somebody say your music was clever? Did someone tell you that the sloppy, drunk tunes you put together about Dungeons & Dragons were one-of-a-kind? Was it your mom? I agree that there is definitely a level of fun involved, but it’s more of the “We’re gonna play your basement and get totally waaaaaasted!” sort of fun, rather than the “Dude, we need to share this music with the world” kind of fun, you know what I mean? Did you have a lot of extra money? Why couldn’t you just spend that money on more beer? The world and, more importantly, the kids watching you in the basement, would have thanked you. –MP Johnson (Boom Chick)

K-Way Bleu: 7”
When I said a couple of months ago that I’d be on the lookout for more from these sickos, I didn’t realize it would be in my mailbox! Big thanks to Razorcake HQ for that one. On to the record. We have more creepy cover art on this one. It’s a photo collage this time with some Gandhi-looking guy giving the evil eye to a porn star with donuts on her tits, among other things. Did I mention that she is fellating a rocket launcher being held by a young boy? Anyways, the music still kicks all kinds of ass in a low budget Regulations kind of way. I like this like watermelon. Raw and kind of seedy. –Ty Stranglehold (Boom Chick)

Split: 7”
Man, The Creteens don’t quit. Edgy, biting, dirty punk songs with all the catch of power pop hooks inside the dirt. The water in France has been amazing the past few years with Creteens, The Fatals, Les Hulks, etc.—rough, screaming, no-frills knockout punk with real catchiness you remember from ‘60s garage. I’ve really liked all the Creteens singles equally, as their website says, “being this consistently dumb is pretty fuckin hard.” With the bar set high from side A, I was surprised to really like side B of the Straight Arrows from Australia, the first stuff I’ve heard from them. They fit the Creteens mold as well without being a retread. The first song sounds like it was recorded not just in a bedroom but with the band under the mattress, going at it like they thought no one would ever care. The second song sounds like “Louie Louie” reworked. A great split that would make The Mummies proud.  –Speedway Randy (Resistance A Go Go, myspace.com/resistanceagogo)

Mellow, mostly acoustic soundtrack music. They play their instruments well, but outside of spicing up the drive to work a bit, this wasn’t particularly crucial listening. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.denovali.com)

Espiritu de Libertad: 12” EP

I will admit, I was not instantly blown away by this band. Seems a lot of folks are. But with more listens I found myself starting to “get it,” and develop the opinion that Criaturas are pretty damn good. Musically, Criaturas crank out semi-speedy hardcore punk (emphasis on the punk here!) that recognizes the roots in the sense that they keep it raw and to the point. No polish and no frills. The songs are catchy. The mid-tempo bits help give the songs some weight and hold your attention. The drummer can bang, and I do like the basic approach in “Libertad O Muerte,” since it’s catchy, somewhat heavy, and gets inside your brain quickly. The vocals can be hard to take sometimes. When she’s just shouting and shouting, the words tend to run together and there’s not much distinction. Granted, songs like “Espirito de Libertad” are raging, but when you have songs in the similar vein right after the other, it starts to blend. When she switches back and forth between shouting and singing, like in “Lobos en La Noche,” “Asko,”(which has lightening fast vocal delivery) and “Opresion,” then the songs have more character. There’s also the song “Invierno Nuclear,” which is a bit different from the rest of the songs on the album. Though still driving, it’s not as harsh in its approach. The vocals are a combination of sung and spoken, while the music pulls back a smidge. It’s a pretty good decision, as it switches things up and accentuates the power they can generate with their songs. Something I’m really into is how these guys have a driving melodic sound, and at the same time there are some elements of bands like Discharge popping up here and there. I’m on board!

–Matt Average (Residue, residue-records.com)

Espiritu de Libertad: 12” EP
Great Scandinavian/Japanese-inspired hardcore punk from Austin, TX which comes storming out of the gates at full speed without a single dull moment to be heard on this slab of wax. Fierce female vocals are front and center with fully enraged screams that also show range with a little melody and grace eerily similar in style to those of Chitose from the Comes. Actually, the more I listen to this, the more it sounds like the Comes if they hailed from Sweden and not Japan. I’ve been seeing Criaturas’ records here and there for a while now and never bothered to pick one up, but that’s about to change because this album left me wanting to hear more. I highly recommend this one, friends! –Juan Espinosa (Residue, no address listed)

San Francisco’s STILL Doomed: CD
If you’ve never heard of Crime, let alone own anything by ‘em, then, quite frankly, you really need to reassess your involvement with this punk rock thang. Next thing you know, you’re gonna be telling all yer friends about how cool and “punk” Hatebreed’s latest snoozefest of a record is. Anyway, this is a reissue of a collection of studio recordings circa ‘76-’79 from one of SF’s greatest bands, period. All the biggie hits are here— “Frustration,” “Murder by Guitar,” “San Francisco’s Doomed,” plus alternate takes of “Hotwire My Heart” and “Baby You’re So Repulsive.” The stuff here is a little more refined sounding than some other stuff I’ve heard with their name on it, but it is still clearly Crime, which means that some choice primitive rock’n’roll can be heard here. Liner notes by the one and only Mike Lucas. –Jimmy Alvarado (Swami)

Exalted Masters: LP
Crime were pioneers in San Francisco—playing the lowest-fucking-fi rock’n’roll the West Coast ever heard; a sound so sordid only the Electric Eels could compare. Crime were nefarious, witless bastards too, playing the infamous San Quentin prison in cop uniforms (Jesus!). Needless to say, these actions do not represent an algorithm for longevity, and, after only a handful of singles, Crime was dissolved. After their breakup in the early ‘80s, Crime’s cult grew. Crime’s influence on bands past and present is immeasurable—simply put, anyone name checking The Oblivians or the Wipers needs to go back to Crime for the source. Exalted Masters is the new LP by Crime. It’s mainly a collection of unrecorded Crime songs from the late ‘70s, finally recorded in 2007. Unfortunately, I don’t like it. Much of Crime’s listening pleasure comes from the lo-fi recordings and undoubtedly acrimonious circumstances a band with no real antecedents—no tenuous links for people to contextualize this new sound—must have felt in 1976. Exalted Masters sounds good. Crime’s earlier recordings don’t. And for a band whose sound relied on hate—an almost Hugo Ball-like negation of the zeitgeist of the mid ‘70s—Exalted Masters sounds weak, polished, and unimportant—everything Crime wasn’t in the late ‘70s. There is one redeeming quality to Exalted Masters. Vocalist Johnny Strike includes a passage from his upcoming book on this LP. I like it. The track has a Stan Ridgway-like feel to it, indebted to writers like Raymond Chandler and Jim Thompson. Unlike Crime’s undoubtedly upcoming records, I look forward to Strike’s upcoming publication. –Ryan Leach (www.crimesf.com)

Extortion: EP
Let me get this out of the way, so we’re all clear here, Crime are one of my all time favorite bands. The whole mythic aura, the music, all of it. So I was a bit surprised to see they put out a new record. Didn’t really expect that. Now, after listening to it, I wonder if this wasn’t Crime, would anyone care enough to put it out? There’s nothing on here that is really interesting. The team-up with Gnawa Express on the B side is a little out of left field, but, at the same time, it’s just rock’n’roll in the end, despite the Moroccan music cut in at parts. “Crazy Beat” sounds pretty similar to “I Feel Alright” from the Stooges, only less power. Seriously, if this wasn’t Crime, I doubt anyone would be interested in hearing this. Absolutely disposable. Blehhhh.... –Matt Average (FYBS, fybsrecords.com)

: CD
Despite the cheesy lyrics—c’mon, you guys seriously have a song called “The Vampire’s Spell?” Seriously? And songs about “Satan’s bride” and “Satanic hordes against Christ?”—this CD collection of various releases actually kind of rules. At least the first half of it does. Comprised of their newest full-length, an EP, and then an LP from 2005—in reverse chronological order—the first sixteen songs vaguely smoke in the same dark, menacing way that Born Dead Icons do; heavy on the doom but still with enough melody and rocking undercurrents to keep the listener interested. It’s when you get to the last LP that things go south really quickly; the music’s much more thrash-based—which in this case translates to more boring—and the singer goes from using what sounds like some pretty unique double-tracked vocals to just straight out high-pitched screeching. Really high-pitched. The difference between the EP and the ending LP is substantial, and not in a positive way. This is a band that’s definitely gotten better with age.  –Keith Rosson (Life’s A Rape)

Trumpery Metier: CD
With a stack of CDs to review, I thought to myself, “I want something heavy and fast to listen to.” Amongst my choices was something from GSL and, based on the label affiliation, I assumed it would fit the bill. Imagine my surprise when I put in the CD and heard a sound akin to Pink Floyd, Emerson Lake & Palmer, or early Genesis. “Okay, this will just last for a little bit and then they’ll rock out,” I said to myself. Yet, next thing I know it was nine songs and over forty-two minutes later and the entire album had gone by, all as instrumental prog rock. The even scarier thing is that I really liked it. With founding members of At The Drive-In and the Fucking Champs, the Crime In Choir may try and compare themselves to a more modern acts like Faust, but, for most people, when they hear the opening notes of the first track, “Women of Reduction,” all they will think is Pink Floyd. The Fucking Champs influence can be heard somewhat, as some of this can occasionally get a good groove going, but it always stays consistent with the prog rock sound. While entirely different from what I was looking for, Trumpery Metier is nonetheless a really solid album. For those of us who secretly keep some of those synth-laden albums in our collection (away from the view of our punk comrades, of course), this will be a perfect addition to that stash. –Kurt Morris (Gold Standard Laboratories)

…Is Dead: LP
I’m hoping that the title of this album is a non-ironic reference to the timely passing of Crime In Stereo. At times, it sounds like an early ‘90s Jade Tree version of At The Drive In, only far more self-consciously earnest, with the singer doing his most heartfelt impression of the Promise Ring’s lead singer circa the time their first album came out. At others, they’re a bad DJ away from pulling off a spot-on aural replication of Incubus, which would have to stand as one of history’s greatest crimes against humanity…or, at the very least, the Razorcake readership. Is this what’s passing for hardcore these days? I thought Bridge 9 brought the fucked up, boot stompin’ brand of hardcore where mind-melting breakdowns were around every musical corner and the vocals recalled the tortured screams of suspected terrorists in the midst of a shadow government’s rendition. This sounds like a parakeet chirping in comparison.  –Josh Benke (Bridge 9)

Explosives: CD
Loud, fast, and whiny. A little bit o’ emo, a little bit o’ pop, a little bit o’ youth crew equals a lotta boredom. So utterly lacking in originality that I find myself at a loss for words. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.blackoutrecords.com)

I Was Trying to Describe You to Someone: LP
In the interest of candidness, I haven’t heard this band since 2008’s Selective Wreckage, their singles collection, which was also my introduction to ‘em. So yeah, I’m definitely a novice when it comes to their catalogue. I do remember not being terribly impressed with Selective Wreckage but willing to write off the questionable production tricks and stutters and skips in pacing due to the fact that it was indeed a singles collection. The problem is that Crime In Stereo suffers from the same thing here: I Was Trying… still sounds like a group relying way too heavily on flash and smoke; in effect-trickery instead of actual songwriting. Like they’re more interested in crafting interesting sections rather than whole songs, you know? In a song like “Drugwolf,” the guitarists utilize more effects than The Edge did throughout the entire goddamn recording of The Joshua Tree, and “Not Dead,” the following song, sounds like a drawn-out mixmash of Nirvana and Marilyn Manson or something equally as ridiculous. And that’s just two songs. The production values are either incredible or woefully overblown, depending on your viewpoint, and while there are brief flashes of hardcore scattered throughout the album, the band’s mostly relying on these strange, nearly prog-rock structures peppered with speed bumps of radio-friendly dross. What is great in theory just makes it, in reality, nearly impossible to discern one song from another. The whole thing eventually comes across as background noise with some odd random jarring parts thrown in every once in a while. Some people would say it’s a “challenging” record; to me it just sounds like various song parts smooshed together and coated in some kind of ProTools gloss in the hopes that it’ll sound like a cohesive album. There are undoubtedly some fascinating parts here, but that doesn’t exactly make for compelling and repeated listens, you know? –Keith Rosson (Bridge 9)

Modern Lobotomies: EP
Decent punk rock from Houston. Mainly mid tempo and a growled voice (though not a hardcore bellow type thing). As much as I want to be dazzled by this, it falls short. Not terrible, but this lacks fire. A little more oomph could really help and send these songs over the edge. The title track, which is the slowest on here, is the best, and the one I go back and listen to often. “Jerry Falwell Is Dead” and “Houston Is Gonna Burn” are the other standouts of the five on here. –Matt Average (Agrowax, agrowax.blogspot.com)

When You Get This Letter, Burn It: 7” EP
NOTE: All my 7” reviews were done with the lights out this issue. WHAT I THOUGHT IN THE DARK: Song #1: Cheater beats are definitely a lost art. Song #2: Well, at least it STARTED like one of the weird instrumental songs off the first Meat Puppets 7-inch... Song #3: It’s a good thing i restrict my gambling to placing wagers on basketball games, because i would’ve put fifty-to-a-hundred down that this song couldn’t possibly suck as bad as the last one... and lost. Song #4: Uhh... how much would it break your heart if i told you i took the record off in the middle of Song #3? WHAT I THOUGHT WHEN THE LIGHTS CAME ON: When You Get This Letter, Burn It? I think they actually meant to say “When You Get This RECORD, Burn It.” BEST SONG: Song #4, o’ course BEST SONG TITLE: “When You Get This Record, Burn It,” which i had to invent for them FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: The guitar player’s name is “XB.J.X” Presumably his friends call him “XB?” –Rev. Norb (Pop Riot)

Savage Reaction: LP
Another band that decides to take a precarious road, in this case hardcore with a heavy dollop of rock mixed into the batter, and it pays off in spades. Songs are clean ‘n’ tight, to the point, rife with great riffage, and have an extra bit of swagger built into the rhythm section to give it all a little extra personality. Good stuff, especially “Fashion Assassinate,” which gets the blood bumpin’ with its zippy tempo. –Jimmy Alvarado (Agrowax, agrowax.blogspot.com)

Hush Hush Revolution: CD
Considering it was on Arkam, I had these vain hopes that CCUSA was going to be some sort of all-star lineup of Pine Hill Haints people doing straight-up punk songs or something. I mean, come on, what was I supposed to think? There’s the vaguely political title, the packaging’s got this red-black-white color scheme going on, there’s lot of rad pixellated images, and mildly incendiary song titles like “Freedom Hills” and “Many Weapons Many Men.” This, however, wasn’t the case. So you’ll pardon me if I was bit disappointed with this one—mostly due to, yeah, those preconceived expectations. Because there are moments where the, like, punkness shines through a bit on this one, but it’s not nearly as consistent or powerful as I was hoping it’d be. The tracks on Hush Hush Revolution are peppered throughout with pretty blasé instrumentals, the music as a whole is kind of lacking in hooks, and I’ve listened to the entire album multiple times, and unfortunately nothing really stands out besides the last song, a fiery, four-and-a-half minute barnstomper called “Run and Hide.” They’ve apparently toured with the Stockyard Stoics; their influences seem to be drawn equally between bands of that ilk and dark, rootsy country music. Like I said, it wasn’t a flop of an album by any means, just wasn’t as spectacular as I was hoping it’d be. –Keith Rosson (Arkam)

Cold Thought: 12”
After an impressive demo and 7”, Seattle’s Criminal Code unveil a 12” of their triumphant take on early Killing Joke-influenced mid-paced punk. Catchy, though not at all poppy, Criminal Code keeps things interesting by incorporating a unique guitar sound into a style of punk that is all too often just basic and stale. The Northwest has been very generous with talent as of late and Criminal Code is no exception. Recommended. –Juan Espinosa (Inimical)

Hollowed: 7”
Pumped up, yelly, Wipers-inspired hardcore punk outta the Tacoma/Seattle area. Relentless and emotional—with two separate guitarists each approaching the song in their own unique way—Criminal Code creates an addictive combination of penetration and fuzz. All packaged in minimalist cover art. Prepare to give yourself a couple minutes to come down after listening to this record. –Daryl Gussin (Deranged)

Sacred Hands: 7”
“Sacred Hands” effectively melds hardcore with a deep post-punk undertow, resulting in a tune that is catchy, powerful, and a bit more nuanced than most. The corker here, though, is the flip, “Distressed Dreams,” which churns and bubbles with a bleakness that would warm the darkest death rocker’s heart without sacrificing the adulation of the average punker punter. Monsieur Daryl hepped me to this and damned if he wasn’t right—this be one seriously badass single here. If it ain’t happening already, someone please get a full-length in the works. –Jimmy Alvarado (Inimical)

: Split 7”
Criminal Culture are bearded dudes from Florida who play melodic punk. I peg the guitarist and drummer as the closet metalheads who make the songs faster. Rubrics’ vocals alternate between barfy and snotty. Their music starts and stops and never really gets going and sorta sounds like Shotwell. This here hobo is gonna tiptoe away from the window, because there ain’t much cookin’ in this kitchen. –CT Terry (kissofdeathrecords.com)

Split: 7” EP
Criminal Culture: Wait, what gives? I thought emo had gone off and died a mopey death. Wax Phantoms: Two tracks of moody, poppy punk, with “Don’t Bother to Bury Me” being the stronger of the two. –Jimmy Alvarado (Kiss Of Death)

No Solution: CD
I assume that most fans of this band (myself included) initially checked them out thanks to the “featuring-members-of-Tragedy” line found in most of their distro write-ups. However, there’s no trace of Scandinavian thrash or Japanese crust here. Criminal Damage chose the ‘80s U.K. No Future Records oi route (think Blitz, Attak, Red Alert, etc.) while managing to avoid the pub-centric, tough guy cliché typically associated with the genre. All the tried and true oi staples are present; group choruses, Chuck Berry leads, downstroke power chords, but the thoughtful lyrical content sets Criminal Damage far apart from their boots-and-braces brethren. Fist-pumping street punk rock for smart kids. –Dave Williams –Guest Contributor (Feral Ward, www.feralward.com)

Self-titled: 7” EP
Wow, this looks and sounds like it just stepped out of a time machine back from 1985/86. The cover art looks a lot like Walsby had a hand in it (but apparently he didn’t), and the music sounds like a thrashy cross between the Stupids and early Beyond Possession. Not bad, although a bit disorienting. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.myspace.com/cipunks902)

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