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Razorcake #92
Spokenest, Gone, Gone, Gone LP
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Record Reviews

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Hosed: LP
Seems that reverb-drenched post-punk is all the rage these days, with labels like Hozac peddling hook-less Marychain-inspired rot to the masses. Some kids have taken the obscure U.K. post-punk to new levels of weirdness like these cats from Florida. I’ve never been to the place, but there’s some weird shit in the water, make no mistake. This shit sounds like any number of no-mark nobodies from the U.K. circa ‘78 who banged on pots and pans and recorded it into a dusty tape recorder. There’s some surf vibes hidden in there; off kilter sax and drums that sound like cardboard boxes. It sounded like the record was warped, but it seems the digital versions sound the same. You know if you need this. I don’t get it. –Tim Brooks –Tim Brooks (Florida’s Dying)

Tape 2: Cassette
Pretty boring, hardly noticeable hardcore. Kind of like a slowed down Suicidal Tendencies with a Descendents influence. –Craven (Gnarly As I Wanna Be)

Split: LP
I love gatefold covers. They make a record feel more important in your hand. Like it was made that way to better protect what is inside. Also, there is more area for artwork and such: more to look at while you are taking a listen. This one is no exception. The artwork is intricate but simple by being only black and white. The inside artwork on this release would have been a rad poster to put up on the wall. The artist, who I can’t find a name of on this release, has created an artwork that can be described as Pushead-like. Cop On Fire hail from Spain and shows that punk has been established and cross infected the entire world. They play a brand of modern day d-beat mixed with some crust influences. Visions Of War hail from Belgium and blast out five tracks of punishing crust. More metallic on their tracks and they feature dual male vocals. A great offering from two bands from separate countries. This is co-released with five different labels out of Europe. So if there is an interest, I can’t see this release disappearing anytime soon. –don (Profane Existence)

Wisconsin Grindcore: CD
The title says about all you need to know about them, for “Wisconsin grindcore” is, indeed, exactly what they are. I have no doubt that the legendary Mike Thrashead will be in fuckin’ nirvana the moment he slaps this onto his player. Purty artwork of zombie-like corpses. –jimmy (First Blood Family)

Split: 7”
Split vinyl offering from a bunch of dope-smoking braineaters from Madison, Wisconsin. I like how their label refers to both bands as “bong-ripping shred fiends.” Murder Of Crows contribute one long, apocalyptic song, “Empty Battlefields,” that comes across as a slightly crustier version of the Awakening’s The Final Feast 7”. No lyrics for the Copeater side, but with titles like “Whale Riders” and “Space Dock”—c’mon, you know what spacedocking is, right?—I’m wondering how much we really need to know. They’re plowing through four grindcore songs in about as many minutes, and it’s some pretty thick stuff for a two-piece. If you’re veering towards the darker end of the spectrum, try this one out. I’m more into Celtic flute-rock at this point in time, but the Jeff Gaither-esque cover and insert were pretty awesome. –keith (Scenester Credentials)

Nope: LP
Permit me to make a bad joke: Coping should actually be called Moping. Go ahead, roll your eyes, but lyrics like, “I’ll hold anyone just to feel at home” and, “I guess you didn’t know, but, baby, I can scream” should make the pining teenager in you cringe. This is textbook emo with shrill, belting vocals and enough flagrant hammer-on’s and pull-off’s to make one wonder if King Emo has mandated that the guitar can only be played this way. Each song is tonally similar and entirely interchangeable. The lack of aggression and creativity under-utilizes the talents of these young dudes. Ultimately, this record is a big, sappy blur. I can only recommend Nope to those still recovering from Snowing’s break up over two years ago. –Sean Arenas (Protagonist)

Self-titled: CDEP
From what I’m able to gather via the internet, this is a two-piece group who hail from parts about an hour west of Mexico City. They’re influenced by the minimalism of the blues and ‘60s rock, and this was recorded in one of the member’s aunt’s house. Dunno how they’ll feel about this, but the results are very much in line with early White Stripes, maybe a little less over the top, and a bit more lo-fi in output. –jimmy (Saustex, saustexmedia.com)

Self-titled: CDEP
These two dudes are making an attempt at playing some extra-distorted blues, like the Mexican version of the early White Stripes or Black Keys. This recording is almost sub-Daniel Johnston in recording quality, though. I’m usually all about “crappy” recordings (i.e. the Urinals, Flipper, everything on Deadbeat Records), but if you’re gonna bother getting an artist to do your cover/layout and paying for professional packaging, it might help to put some of that money into making sure your music isn’t mastered so that it’s so muffled and quiet that it sounds like your speakers are shorted out. At any rate, it sounds like there may be some promising garage punk blues poking around, and maybe given a recording that is not so much “cleaner,” but perhaps better balanced, this band can shine a bit more. –Adrian Salas (Saustex)

Los Niños de Cobre: CD
Seventeen tracks of ponderous, lo-fi blues punk from south of the border (Mexico). If the duo thing is your bag this might be worth checking out. Otherwise, this stone should probably remain unturned. –Garrett Barnwell (Saustex, saustex.com)

Plotting to Kill Your Friends: CD
In which four lads from the UK mimic various bastard shoegazing spirits of long dead bands. These seven songs veer from slightly crunchy, vaguely rocking angular post-core to pathetic, insipid, sniveling and pretentious lyrical and musical content (see the title track: “To emulate the feeling of a dying soul comes easy. Our scars will offer us the chance to stay in touch with our bleeding, our release, and our memories can die before we have the chance to secure them.”). I’m usually in favor of bands including lyrics sheets because I like to know what they’re singing, even if I don’t know what they’re singing about, but in this case I think I would have been better off remaining blissfully ignorant.
–scott (Firefly)

Officer Down!: CD
Eighteen minutes of slash and burn from this DC hardcore outfit. They take the blueprint for fast and loud and pour an old Natty Bo all over the remains. “Broke” and “I Like Cocaine” blast on full throttle like a pig on speed. There’s a Meatmen cover here that also fits in nicely. If you like it hard and heavy, these guys will fit the bill. Entertaining and worth checking out. –koepenick (Zodiac Killer)

Copy & Destroy: 10”
This is the sound of a scene celebrating itself. High-energy, catchy, oddly mature pop punk with a heavy, early SST-ish guitar tone. You expect to hear whoa-oh-ohs, but are pleasantly surprised when you don’t. A collaboration of zine veterans from the U.S., France, and the UK, Copy & Destroy does for zine culture what the Gooningtons did for pop punk as a genre. Inside jokes that make everyone feel “in” take playful stabs at zine clichés: excuses for zines being late, lists of likes and dislikes, click-clacking typewriters. My favorite track is “Up for Trades.” Every punk’s had someone try to swap a token for a work representing weeks of effort, right? Don’t toss this in the riot grrrl bin (though itis straight outta Portland) but its confessional style reminds me of “Musical Fanzine” by Team Dresch. Alex Wrekk’s (of Brainscan) vocals evoke Sheena of Lemuria. This isn’t a serious album by a band trying to innovate, but the warmth it’s suffused with cannot be ignored. I want Copy Scams to tour, because every show would be a party, but I can’t afford those plane tickets. The record comes with a fourteen-page zine and a download code, so I’ll have to imagine the fun.  –Claire Palermo (Lunchroom, lunchroomrecords.blogspot.com; and Bus Stop Press, xtramedium@laposte.net, busstoppress.weebly.com)

An Idea Died: LP
If you had told me this record came out in 1977 I might have believed you. And then I would have asked, “Why did people ignore this record?” If I had to compare it contemporary bands, Rough Kids and Red Dons are probably the closest, but, oddly enough, despite their name, I can’t really pinpoint who I think they sound like. That’s a point in their favor. Grade: B+.  –Bryan Static (CCATS, copycats-punk.bandcamp.com)

Crutches: 7”
As the years pass and the things that used to be new to me don’t catch me by surprise so easily, I find myself asking for more. I’m not so jaded that I need a band to have everything, and I don’t have a checklist or anything, but it takes a lot more for a band to get me psyched up than it did when I was fifteen. This record has me really psyched up. It’s pop punk. It does everything that pop punk is supposed to do. But this record also does more than that. It tells stories. The lyrics aren’t just throwaways. “Crutches,” the title track, addresses that moment when a person realizes that old behaviors may not be the best behaviors, particularly when they’re damaging. It’s not about moving past them. It’s not about succumbing to them. It’s just about that moment of realization. To lyrically catch and explore a moment like that… and to have the music match? That’s more than what I ask for from my punk rock. Maybe it’s what I should ask for from now on? How many bands can deliver that, though? –mp (Red Scare/It’s Alive)

Shit: CD
Hard to believe, but there once was a time when I actually liked pop punk. This, of course, was long before it became the pigeonhole du jour and the planet was effectively pummeled with an unrelenting deluge of some of the worst fucking Xerox clone post-post-post-post Ramones/Descendents/Screeching Weasel/Queers dog-bottom pie imaginable. The shitstorm has tapered off a bit in recent years, but it nonetheless continues to rain down in a more or less steady stream to this day and has effectively replaced what was once a creative path veering off from the hardcore-than-thou crowd with a billion songs about boogers, boredom, and boobs based on the same chord patterns and featuring some asshole trying to affect the perfect “snotty” delivery. Like so many others, The Copyrights play(ed) pop punk. Unlike the herd, they did so with a sincerity and singularity that nudged ‘em well above the rest of the pack. Collected here are tracks from assorted singles, comps, and split releases for fans who missed out the first time ‘round or weren’t aware they existed until now. Don’t usually find myself saying this too often about stuff from this subgenre, but this is definitely deserving of repeated listens. –jimmy (It's Alive)

Shit's Fucked: CD
So, it’s come to this, a Copyrights retrospective. Everyone’s favorite Illinois-but-not-Chicago pop punk band has compiled a bunch of their odds and ends into one coherent package. And I mean coherent. The CD opens into a gatefold of a collage of all their album covers thrown together. It’s pretty awesome, actually. (Even the Art of the Underground singles girl is in it!) You know the drill, this isn’t for the casual fan, this is for the completists, the nerds, and the groupies. Just like any other retrospective, we’ll hear the good and the bad, the new and old all strung together in a loose twenty-four track package. What I’ve always admired about the Copyrights was their ability to create an earworm of a song. I know every Copyrights’ chorus, but I can’t say I listen to their records all the time or have ever been a hardcore fan. Do I recommend it? Sure. Some of their best songs are on this and some of their worst. It’s really the songs from their splits with The Brokedowns and The Methadones that you should really want. –Bryan Static (It’s Alive, itsaliverecords.com)

Button Smasher: 7” EP
I can’t help but wonder if I got this because I’m into pop punk, or because I do all my reviews while playing Super Smash Brothers. Anyway, this is a really good, Ramones style pop punk record, with tons of sing along choruses. You could easily take any song from this, and seamlessly put it on a Lookout! Records comp, from when they still had bands like Squirtgun, The Lillingtons, and Moral Crux. If you like pop punk at all, you’ll like this. –joe (It’s Alive)

Nowhere Near Chicago: 7”
The saviors of pop-drenched punk recorded four songs during their Buttonsmasher sessions, which are actually covers of pre-Copyrights tunes of the members’ previous bands. This shit is top notch. If you get asked what you want for your birthday, you better put The Copyrights discography at the top of your list. And for those of you who have no idea what a record player is, this slab comes with a neat little CD of the same songs along with a poster and lyric sheet. Muy fantastico!! Oh, and dude... Red Scare will be putting out a brand-new full-length by these guys in early 2007. Happy early birthday! –mrz (It’s Alive)

Mutiny Pop: CD
This fucking rules! I bow down before the mighty strength of The Copyrights, and their Marked Men-ishness! And this was recorded at Sonic Iguana by Mass Giorgini, so you already know the guitar sound will be awesome. Super cool back-up vocals! Super cool album name! Super cool album cover! Super cool Dillinger Four-ish lyrics! And they wear tight pants! If this were a cereal, it’d be Rice Krispie Treats. Punk rock! –Maddy (Insubordination)

Make Sound: CD
I grew up outside of Vegas. My parents are frugal. We ate at tons of buffets. Somewhere right around graduating from high school, I finally learned something about eating. Take your time. No need to stack your plate up. You can always go back for more. It’ll be there; casinos lose money on these things. They just need to keep the gamblers in the building. I didn’t take my own advice with pop punk in the ‘90s. I fuckin’ gorged myself at the table; pooping and puking the pop punk I couldn’t rightly digest. Fast forward ten years. I have a gag reflex that I have to get over: the slight echo and reverb on the up-front vocals, gnat-ass tight instruments, whatever knob that pours syrup over the entire enterprise, makes me push back from the table before I take a bite. But not always. Because with bands like Teenage Bottlerocket and The Copyrights, I hear much more than just pop punk—although that’s the moniker it’ll be saddled with—it’s bands like this, years later, that remind me why I sat down at the table and grabbed a fork the first time. Real good album. Fun, tight, alive. –todd (Red Scare)

Make Sound: CD
The new offering from Carbondale’s slowly growing saviors of punk rock. Okay, maybe they don’t see themselves as such, and maybe they are saviors in my head alone…but god damn, this new album is amazing. It’s leaps and bounds ahead of Mutiny Pop, which in turn was light years ahead of We Didn’t Come Here to Die. Each time The Copyrights, put out a new album, the lyrics speak to me like no other albums have, and this is no exception. Lyrics like “I’m starting to feel like I’m on this city’s menu, but I don’t mind” are not only relevant to me right now, but are cleverly written—no simple “this city is eating me alive” here—uh, uh, no way. And yes, it’s pop punk. But…if you were to play this album for anyone outside the punk rock underground…they would not only not be able to link this remotely to anything they know of as pop punk…but I bet you they’ll start to wonder why it was American Idiot and not this album in their car CD changer right fucking now. And for those of you who get excited about amazing vocals, guest backups were offered up by Zack Rivethead, Brendan Kelley, and Danny Vapid. Super sweet. This shit is giving me cavities already. Ten stars out of five. Will this be at the top of my 2007 list? You know it, buddy. Now go buy it. We’re never out here alone. Never. –mrz (Red Scare)

Mutiny Pop: Picture Disc LP
People have called this album much like ‘90s Lookout Records material…but it’s much better if you ask me, as it’s catchier, less whiny or forced, and much fuller than the aforementioned recordings. I know reviewers never really touch upon the actual design or layout of albums for some reason…but I can’t help myself on this one. Super orange and black splashes and streaks on the vinyl complementing the labels and artwork are having me do back flips of joy. The poster and lyric sheets are great too—you wanna put them both on your wall instantly! The artwork really doesn’t attack you on the CD version as it does here. It’s some special stuff. Makes you feel like a lucky holder of Willy Wonka’s golden ticket. I promise. –mrz (It’s Alive)

Learn the Hard Way: CD
I’ll admit, this is one of those bands I got into much later than everyone else for whatever reason, but I’ve become well aware of this by now, and made sure to pick this up as soon as they came around. Before they’ve had the whole “distinct pop punk without being generic,” with the last record building on that, this one feels a bit darker, with just a touch of F.Y.P. style thrash to it (just slightly though, as they’re still tight as ever). I like this quite a bit.  –joe (Red Scare, www.redscare.net)

Learn the Hard Way: CD
They’ve wowed me again. This album is much more elaborate than the last one and doesn’t reek of tired melodies or stolen ideas. These guys manage to come up with new ways to reconstruct the formula they’ve created on the foundation of pop punk with every new release. On first listen, I immediately wanted to go back to the comfort of 2007’s Make Sound. But after a full two or three listens, I can’t seem to take Learn the Hard Way out of the CD player. This band is the bees knees, and they are currently talking about coming out with a split CD with the Methadones soon. I can’t wait. This album is highly recommended.  –mrz (Redscare)

Learn the Hard Way: CD
This is good, even very good, modern pop punk—like eight out of ten stars. I can’t say exactly how Learn the Hard Way stacks up against the older Copyrights albums since this is the first one of their albums I’ve gotten to hear more than a couple tracks from, but this feels like a band that’s mastered their craft. The main problem is that, at times, this album feels just a little too workman-like. Everything’s pretty good, but only a few of songs rise above the fray to approach greatness and be especially memorable (those songs being “Switchblades,” “Out of Ideas,” and “On the Way Out”). This is worth picking up, but seeing as my benchmark for contemporary pop punk is The Methadones Not Economically Viable and The Ergs! Upstairs/Downstairs, there is a lot to live up to since every song on those albums is nearly perfect and full of those moments which make me glad to be alive, even if I’m feeling miserable. Learn the Hard Way is good, but it needs a few more of those all transcending moments to be great. –Adrian (Red Scare)

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