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Razorcake #85
Pale Angels, Imaginary People LP
Toys That Kill / Joyce Manor, Split 7"
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Record Reviews

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Super Amusement Machine for Your Exciting Heart: CD
If you like Jimmy Eat World, you’ll like this. I swear I won’t judge you. –Megan Pants (Negative Progression)

Super Amusement Machine for Your Exciting Heart: CD
If you like Jimmy Eat World, you’ll like this. I swear I won’t judge you.
–Megan Pants (Negative Progression)

Dying to Exonerate the World: CD
Modern pop punk processed, packaged, and ready for Warped Tour over-saturation. –Jimmy Alvarado (Go Kart)

Split : 7”
It amuses me that many reviews for melodic hardcore use the term “fast” as a reason for calling an album good. If there’s one thing this split is, it’s fast. What does this entail? It kind of reminds me of Ruiner, and I hated that one 7” I heard by them. I guess if you buy music because it’s fast, this is for you? –Bryan Static (Burnbridges, www.burnbridges.net)

split: CD
Countless Shadows: A heavy metal band fronted by a guy who likes to scream a lot. My, how original. Until the Fall: A little better, but the fact that they are reminiscent of Excel ain’t exactly a plus.  –Jimmy Alvarado (High Fidelity)

Dead Man’s Handjob: CD
Highly adept Finnish perverts who sound like a sex-obsessed Cramps ((yes, more so than usual)) ninety percent of the time and make me recall the song “Homo Truck Driving Man” by the Pajama Slave Dancers the other ten ((with the notable exception of the first song, “Buttplug,” which, after much deep thinking, i realized sounded much like “Snobby Disdain” off my first solo record)). In additionally interesting matters, the Nick Knox/Mo Tucker drum style made me come to the conclusion that cymbals are the foreskins of rock’n’roll. You’re welcome. BEST SONG: “Don’t Wanna Come Too Soon.” BEST SONG TITLE: “Shemale?” “Truck Stop Whore?” “Cockteasin’ Chick?” There’s just so many from which to choose! FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: All the naked ladies playing cards which comprise the brunt of the artwork here have panties Photoshopped in. Booo! –Rev. Norb (Big Money Recordings)

The Empire Strikes Back: LP

Lots of things can be said about Teaser mastermind Ben Waller’s lyrics: they are meant simply to aggravate, he explores taboo ideas to make you think, he’s just drunk. “Points of view are very hard to understand….all human life must be destroyed.” I don’t think he is just trying to fuck with people, they could do that a lot easier and even rhyme. But yes, the Teasers are fucking with you, in order to move things forward. Exploring taboo ideas in music means you are talking more about culture than just “my parents suck.” So that’s an easy statement, too. Waller uses lots of non-PC words in his songs but if you see the cover of the album, an old political pulp-sized book about racism in England, you might think you are going to get a Zinn-Chomsky breakdown of language and politics (nothing wrong with that, by the way). But this is a Lenny Bruce vibe, using language that can sound funny on stage but you take meaning home. No, I think Wallers does what a songwriter does: sings about his world. He’s a thoughtful writer and that means he is not going to tell you how to fix the world or what his lyrics mean. And Lord, people hate it when you don’t tell them exactly what a song means. He sings about race, music, women, sex, war, drinking, government and even about his own music. He is observational. Not in a “I don’t hate others, I’m just proud” bullshit way. That’s for skins and collegians who analyze too much. Not even in a “I hate people” way. I think more of a “I hate people who don’t think” way. And singing about your world is the core of what country, blues, rap, and rock and roll should be about in the first place. On the music end, this is the Teaser’s slow to medium paced melancholy twang, super plucky, as opposed to the faster version of the band. For thirteen years now, the Teasers have keyed into a childlike fascination of simple sounds that work together, bump and thump and whirr, and process it into pure charm. It sweeps you up and carries you through the whole album. Waller’s voice has that old deadpan country-drinker, forced-singer whine that you can dive into. I do think he drinks a lot, though.

–Speedway Randy (In The Red)

Full Moon Empty Sportsbag: CD
There does not exist one single bad Country Teasers track. Though he may be construed as a racist, sexist, homophobic, off-key hater, I construe primary Teaser Ben Wallers as one thing above all else: a genius, capable of high comedy and devastating sadness IN THE SAME SONG. Arrangements are often ramshackle, tumbling over themselves from lack of rehearsal (or concern for what’s “right”), lyrics often self-referential, puerile and/or plain silly, but who (you?) can deny the plain fucking inspiration of a line like “it’s very cold outside but you have a warm vagina/may I overnight leave my penis inside ya?” That’s the comedy. How about some sad: “Don’t cry for Crichton [a former Teaser], his suffering is over/cry for Dominique and his unfortunate mother/cry for Nicola, of whom he was her brother,” from “Deaths.” I mean, emosize all you want about kisses and the end of summer, but this is real shit about real dead friends. This is the real emo, the real DIY (see “Boycott the Studio”), the real essence of punk (despite lack of pretty much everything that hallmarks punk musically), the actual synthesis of all that’s right and all that’s wrong about the world onto a 25-cent piece of fucking plastic. Now “get off my fucking planet and take Alex Stuart with.” –Cuss Baxter (In The Red)

The Birth of Hank Malloy: 7”EP
Years ago, Davey Quinn and I were driving around, and the topic came up that he wanted to write songs that could transcend genre: pop, punk, country, soul, and folk. Write, essentially the same song, but approach it from all different angles. If done correctly, the songwriting would survive the slightly different expectations of the genres. His thrust was going for something honest and purely distilled. Fast forward five or seven years, and Davey and J. Wang (both of Dan Padilla and Tiltwheel) pair up with Mario (Madison Bloodbath), and they chop out and spit polish four straight-up country songs about atheism, bad weather, and the American Dream crumbling at its foundation. There’s nothing slapdash, cheeky, or ironic about the songs. They’re all direct shots, the record’s dedicated to the birth of a good friend’s son, and it’s well worth picking up. –Todd Taylor (Fast Crowd)

“Sneaks” b/w “(Don’t Touch My) Hair”: 7”
This is a wacky one, from the flawless highlighter-pink-and-yellow jacket to the music itself, an offbeat pairing of old-school Motown and soul with programmed beats and synth lines. At its core, this D.C. ensemble is rooted in the spirit of ‘60s girl groups, but between the garage-fuzzed guitars, the glittery disco flair, and the smart, confrontational lyrics, there are a few dozen layers of additional weirdness. This record is really tailor-made for a certain DIY demographic that you either recognize or you don’t: dance party punks. I’m not one of them, but if I were, Coup Sauvage And The Snips would be ruling my world right now. –Indiana Laub (Paroxysm)

Pick a Bigger Weapon: CD
In a period in rap’s history when politics and the art of rhyme has been overshadowed by an almost obsessive emphasis on bitches, business and bling, The Coup sticks out like Stokely Carmichael at a Pat Boone concert. Boots’ rhymes cover every nook and cranny of how the system has failed the bulk of the country’s great unwashed with eloquence and intelligence that is rare outside of hip hop’s underground these days. Like similar-minded rhymers like Dead Prez and Immortal Technique, Boots assumes a revolutionary stance, but infuses his politics with liberal doses of humor and a gift for telling a good story, which, when fused with Pam the Funkstress’ funk-heavy beats, gives new meaning to “Revolutionary Party.” Although there’s no arguing that he means it when he says “‘Death to the Pigs,’ is my basic statement,” he ain’t about simply rehashing old slogans, and more often opts to make a point with a little more finesse: “Some confuse ass-breath with strong halitosis/it’s been hundreds of years since its first diagnosis/by the African doctor Mwangi Misoi/ known in the States as ‘Mr. Thomas’ Boy’/he found that preventing this affliction was lost/with the mention of the phrase ‘Um, yassah boss’/When that phrase was uttered/many stomachs would wrench/some jumped in the Atlantic to escape the stench….” Like Abbie Hoffman and Jello Biafra (who makes a guest appearance here), the emphasis is more on the “prankster” approach to rabblerousing and dropping lyrical bombs wrapped in wit rather than angrily railing about what is obvious to everyone but the Republican and Democratic parties and the corporate elite that control them. If you think rap sucks, you’re just listening to the wrong joints, ’cause The Coup is some mandatory listening. –Jimmy Alvarado (Epitaph)

Party Music: CD
The best hip hop gives me the same rush that hearing Black Flag for the first time did—that giddy feeling that this might be the first time anything has ever sounded this cool, the uncontrollable urge to tear a hole in the status quo. Every album I’ve heard from the Coup thus far has elicited that response. They deal in a species of rhyme that is an amalgamation of grooves deep from the Zapp vaults of funk, Public Enemy’s fearless political savvy, and punk’s incendiary assault on the power structure. Like Chuck D, rapper Boots walks the walk, never back-pedaling and always willing to say what he means. To wit, when this album was originally released in September 2001, the original cover, featuring Boots and DJ Pam the Funkstress with the twin towers of the World Trade Center exploding behind them (ostensibly through the force of their music), it was obviously one of those really unfortunate coincidences when reality decides to imitate art. Nonetheless, the album cover vaulted the group into the media spotlight, and for the next few months Boots was forced to defend both the album and his position that, given the long history of US atrocities meted out on other countries in the name of foreign policy, he was not surprised in the least that someone had decided that a little payback was in order, a sentiment that strikes at the core of the nation’s cognitive dissonance with regards to the effect of what is done in its name. Eventually the cover was changed to a less provocative cover featuring a hand holding a martini glass filled with gasoline (a Molotov cocktail, get it?), but the songs, savage attacks on the system, remained intact. Lyrically, this isn’t more fodder to further fuel the “Black man is violent and oversexed/Black woman is a whore” stereotypes that permeate mainstream, corporate hip hop, but rather yet another clarion call to the powers that be that the many at the bottom are getting plenty tired of being pissed on by the arrogant, wealthy few on top and that the time is at hand when the chickens will, indeed, come home to roost. Herein the listener will find subjects covering “5 Million Ways to Kill a CEO,” turning the system upside down, battling the rich (“This whole system works for you to kick it in Paris/or roll through Hong Kong in a Rickshaw carriage/so when you spend a dollar that’s ten seconds of my time/and when you spend a billion/that’s my life and that’s a crime/cuz for me life is hard like the track I’m reppin’ on/callin’ for the freedom of the backs that you steppin’ on”), battling the police, and being down with the underdog. Musically, this bounces hard with the best of ’em, as the Coup make music of substance that is simultaneously angry and fun, an approach that leans more towards prankster agitators like Abbie Hoffman and Crass than dour rebels who have forgotten that insurrection can be cause for celebration. Even if you haven’t a passing interest in hip hop, consider this mandatory for the collection, ’cause rebel jams this fearless are hard to come by. –Jimmy Alvarado (Epitaph)

Sweet Modern Fairy Tales: CD
A little too much of the At the Drive-In/Mars Volta worship for me. –Donofthedead (no address)

Tales from the Vortex: CD
I knew there was going to be trouble as soon as I saw the absolutely horrible cover art. Felix Havoc once said that just because computers exist doesn’t mean you have to use them to design your artwork, and this is a prime example of why you shouldn’t. Oh, and the fact that such awful artwork accompanies a really bad exercise in commercially viable rock doesn’t do much to change my opinion. –Not Josh –Guest Contributor (www.thecourtesyclerks.com)

Lost Boys: Cassette
All-female three-piece from Vancouver, British Columbia, following their debut full-length with a cassingle about the undead. The steady drums and effects pedals verge into less harsh Sonic Youth territory. Think the steady “Teenage Riot” build it, build it, build it climax of feelings until the chorus explodes and you’re dancing alone in your room screaming “VAMPIRE TEENAGE BOYFRIEND!” over and over again with the beat, so loudly and with such passion that your mom thinks you have finally lost it. A+. –Alanna Why (Burger)

Self-titled: LP
Somewhere between Converge and Copout/His Hero Is Gone, lies Cove. True Memphis grit. Dirty black hardcore stinking of blood and excrement from the gutters of Boxtown. The soul difference between Stax and Motown. The LP is more polished sounding than their live sound, but the listener has the opportunity to hear every start/stop and every nook and cranny of each track. Cove finally delivers their distinct southern hardcore to vinyl and it is absolutely exciting and absolutely essential.  –Matt Seward (Fat Sandwich, fatsandwichrecords.com)

Portland Death Punk Vol. 1: Portland Is for Lovers: CD
I know I’ve mentioned in reviews before that I am automatically swayed positively by bands that reference zombie and/or horror movies (and, yes there is a difference, but that’s a discussion for another time). It’s pretty safe to say that Covered In Bees is after my heart. Hell, they even have a secret ballad track that’s an ode to the bride of Swampman. On top of this, they happen to have one of my favorite frontmen (and person in general). Heavy on the rock with gravely vocals that melts my musical heart every time I throw it on. I need to make it back to Maine to see them live soon. –Megan Pants (Entertainment Experiment)

Going Nowhere: Cassette
Going Nowhere is loaded with catchy riffs about partying and cool things. “Teenager” is a high-energy rocker with a Bratmobile feel to it. It rattles along as if it were on the brink of falling to pieces. “Beach Babe” is among the slower fare and stands out as a modern seashore classic with a solid melody and catchy chorus. It particularly wins with the line: “If I lived in California, then I wouldn’t be boring.” All the songs are straightforward, yet the album never feels repetitive due to a high-quality catalogue of hooks. It’s a great Saturday afternoon album. –Billups Allen (Burger)

Self-titled: 7”
Rawer than a skinned knee, louder than lit M-80s lodged in your ear canals, and more abrasive than drinking rusty water, Coward bring the fucking noise (think Homostupids under the influence of the Fleshies). This copy’s cover, a tour version, depicts a tender moment shared between the Pope and Ronnie Reagan which will only mildly offend if you’re a total square. Not trying to knock the Coathangers or even Japan’s beloved Guitar Wolf—both with whom they toured—but if I were in attendance at any one of their shows, Coward would be the band I’d be gushing to all my friends about. Total Punk is probably doing their next record, although I base that on nothing.  –Juan Espinosa (Coward, coward@gmail.com)

Solitude: CDEP
This is a posthumous review of the last EP by these Minneapolis punks. This prog style screamo trio, all named Kyle, put together these four tracks as their “goodbye” to their loyal fans last year. With throat searing-vocals, grindcore chords, and rapid-fire drums, Cowards merges an ominous bass line in “Solitude” for a decibel-shattering finale. But fear not, the Kyles will probably be back or absorbed by the surplus of punk bands in MN. –Kristen K (Automaton Records Media Conglomerate, myspace.com/thearmc)

Voodoo Shoppe: CD
Adult indie pop. Can it be done? All the time… and with predictable results. However, as natives of the Big Easy, the band is allocating a portion of CD sales to assist Katrina-displaced Orleans residents. –Jessica Thiringer (Eleven Thirty)

Hatred Songs: 7"
Cower resides somewhere in the audible crusty punk house between Iron Lung and Tragedy. Pounding at times, driving at others. It’s always heavy, and it’s always intense. Amidst the legions of copycats and style-prisoners, Cower take healthy helping of various sub-sub-genres such as power violence, d-beat, noise, and melodic crust to formulate a sound that seems naturally punishing. And while these songs of hatred may not be executed as proficiently as the aforementioned bands might have, they are still a promising detonation of unforgiving, unwavering noise. –Daryl Gussin (Television)

Split: 7"
Good split. Two demented bands that complement each other without sounding similar. Coworkers play dynamic and chaotic hardcore with the occasional blastbeat. This would fit in well at a mid-’90s basement show, but the vocals, which are snarled as opposed to screamed, make the band stand out. Inerds blow through some crust with dustbuster/ nails-on-chalkboard vocals. The raw recording adds to the power. Now, here’s the question: Is the band name a crack on Mac geeks (iPod, iNerd…) or a Skynyrd-esque misspelling of “innards?” Either way, score. Awesome hand drawn cover art, to boot. –CT Terry (Feral Kid/Foot)

Some People Simply Do Not Belong: CD
I was so excited to get a CD from West Virginia. Songs about incest, Nintendo, and girls. Definitely a pop punk influenced thing, but less catchy. I give Cowtipped points for putting this out themselves, but this just didn’t do it for me. If this were a cereal, it’d be Urkel O’s. Nice try, but it just didn’t work out.
–Maddy (self-released?)

First Word of Evil Omens: 7”
Coyote Slingshot is apparently a one man band, made up of teenager Dom Rabalais from Iowa. The cover of the 7” is a watercolor painting of him, with a feathered headdress (normally I’d take offense at someone playing Indian by wearing a headdress, but at least he’s from Iowa, where the Plains Indians who wore feathered headdresses resided.) and a sleeveless T-shirt with Black Flag bars, but with Neutral Milk Hotel’s name across the top: a quirky juxtaposition. And while those two names might be a good start in getting a feel for what Coyote Slingshot is about, they are definitely greater than the sum of those two parts. Coyote Slingshot opens up with “So Long Silly Rabbit,” with peppy piano plucking which bursts into dense, brooding synths, guitars loaded with fuzz and feedback, and vocals sung like a schoolyard rhyme. This becomes the template for the rest of the songs here. Definitely sharing in the jubilant irreverence of Neutral Milk Hotel and the rest of the Elephant 6 bands, but with a world-weary depth that normally wouldn’t be expected (by this grumpy old curmudgeon) of a teenager. This is a tremendous first release and I look forward to, hopefully, many more. –Jeff Proctor (Super Secret)

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