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Record Reviews

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Make Sound: LP
Always leave it to It’s Alive to press the vinyl version of one of the latest offerings from your new favorite band. Yummy colored vinyl too! Joy! –Mr. Z (It’s Alive)

North Sentinel Island / Crutches: LP/EP: LP/EP
Oh mama. I can pretty much guarantee that more than a few loyal Razorcakers have been chomping at the bit for these new Copyrights releases (I’m reviewing both the new LP and 7” here since the latter is essentially a preview of the former and I received them at the same time), and they shan’t be disappointed. I’m not sure what the general consensus is, but Learn the Hard Way was easily my favorite Copyrights LP of the bunch, and North Sentinel Island, even after only a handful of listens, is giving Hard Way a run for its money. I wouldn’t say that these new recordings are a real departure for the band by any means (I actually think these songs have more in common with Make Sound than Hard Way), but this is certainly their most, dare I say, mature stuff to date. Lyrically, the band continues to build on their go-for-heart-and-gut, super sincere singalong approach, but the subject matter is aging incredibly well. More diverse in tempo and dynamics than Hard Way, North Sentinel Island feels more well-crafted, with more ebb and flow, and with a more cohesive overall completeness. The secret weapon here is the tight, non-stop sequencing of the record that, even with the more varied tempos, never lets up for even a moment. A hell of a job on both of these records (the Crutches 7” has two songs not on the LP, so don’t miss that either) from IAR’s flagship band. Hell yes. –(It’s Alive) –Dave Williams (It’s Alive)

North Sentinel Island: CD
I finally figured out my stance on the Copyrights. They are an ideal EP band. I want to like them, but when I put on one of their full lengths, I zone everything out to background music after four or five songs. Yet, the times I hear a track or two from them on Joe Sibb’s radio show, I start reevaluating them and thinking of them as more awesome. They have a very workmanlike way of crafting catchy Chicago-style pop punk, but it is almost too consistent over the long haul. So if one thinks of North Sentinel Island’s fourteen tracks as three EPs, it’s a quite exceptional pop punk release. Go track one to five as EP one. Start again at track six “Bow Down,” which really feels like an opening track due to the sampling. End this EP at eleven, “The New Ground Floor,” which has a very epic ending. Finally, start again at twelve and you have yourself a nice three-track EP. So there we go, program this into the MP3 player as three EPs, and you have yourself a rad compilation album. As a bonus, this got me to look up what North Sentinel Island is. What would I do without an inspirational teacher like pop punk? –Adrian Salas (Red Scare)

Report: CD
The Copyrights propagated a style of pop punk before the market became saturated. Because of the many imitators since, they can sound derivative. It’s hard for me to fully enjoy this album because it reminds me so much of high school. However, once past the, at times, slightly juvenile and repetitivehooks, there are some amusingly clever lyrics—something that never fails to delight me. “I’m throwing nickels at my student loans / and they haven’t made a dent” is a sentiment relatable to any college student or graduate. “The New Frontier” is a musical ode to the works of Steinbeck. And the simple, but honest, lines, “I wouldn’t change it if I could / But that’s easy to say / I can’t change it anyway,” from “This World Is Such a Drag” are a perfect summation of my current outlook towards my dead end job and overwhelming school load. All this, wrapped in a pop punk package, make for an easily digestible—if saccharine—listening experience.  –Ashley (Red Scare)

COPYRIGHTS, THE / DOPAMINES, THE: Songs about Fucking Up:
Split: 7"
Although The Copyrights are from Chicago and The Dopamines are from Ohio, both sides of this split has that OC pop punk sound to it. All the songs have modern distortion tones and the vocals are up front, pristine, and pitch perfect. I’ve had the privilege to see The Copyrights live and they rock, but their recorded sound is a little too ready for teenage movie soundtracks for my taste. –N.L. Dewart (It's Alive)

COPYRIGHTS, THE / DOPAMINES, THE: Songs about Fucking up:
Split: 7"
The Copyrights and The Dopamines do it yet again. “Do what?” you ask. Kick major fucking ass! Now, as the title of the split infers, these songs were all penned at a low point in the life of the one who wrote the song. The themes range from generally failing at life to failing at song writing, but it’s all done in the best poppy punk formula out there right now! Forget nasally bubblegum pop punk. This is gritty, “I’m pulling my hair out of my head before I take another swig of beer” pop punk. And, of course, as is common with all It’s Alive records, you can get the songs on a CD as well. Sweet. –Mr. Z (It's Alive)

Split: CD
Splits are always a dicey proposition. Sometimes you just can’t help it, and one side blows big ape chunks. Not so with this baby. Meths are back to a lean, mean four piece and the results on the first six tunes on this speak for themselves. Top notch songwriting, cool leads from Byrne, and the rhythm section is rock solid. “Under the Skyline” will be encouraging some drunken sing-alongs, and that’s a good thing. The Copyrights hold up their end of the deal on their side. “Keep Me in the Dark” has a chorus that will remain lodged in your veins like a good sugar rush from a Slurpee. They even tackle a cover by The Primitive Radio Gods. Intriguing. Impressive gentlemen, most impressive. –Sean Koepenick (Transparent, no address)

Split: CD
Two superhero camps have joined forces to beat the crap out of stale-ass pop punk villains! The Methadones start off the album with the secret power pop-packed formula they’ve perfected over the years. They always manage to take me to this warm and fuzzy place that smells of depression and alcohol and root beer-flavored lollipops with their brand of punk rock, and I welcome the feeling in with open arms. The Copyrights side of the split wins hands down. Their songs include fantastic lyrics that tug and pull at every emotional string, from happiness to devastation, and even round the set off with a cover that kills all the other songs on the record while managing not to sound like the original tune. Now that’s fucking talent. –Mr. Z (myspace.com/transparentrecords)

Split: 7” EP
Copyrights: These-a-days, pop punk often starts off with three fingers down my throat. It takes quite a bit for my gag reflexes to not instantly kick in. I’ve got to hand it to Copyrights. They come swinging with two daggery melodies, ears-pinned-backed guitars, and closely-shorn songs. Nice. Makes me think of leather jackets, but not worn by the Fonz or meatbrains. Brokedowns: Although I was alive and occasionally being taken to the movies when Flashdance came out, I just recently saw it for the first time a couple months back. I imagine The Brokedowns, collectively, as the lead lady welder. Secretly, they aspired to be a ballet dancer who honed their craft doing avant-art exotic dancing in an indifferent steel mill town. (The lead lady in Flashdance pulls this kabuki strobe light Dieter number at a strip club—with all her clothes on—and the rough-handed patrons go wild, enough so that Fear’s Lee Ving tries to steal her away to his naughtier club. But she has higher, cultured aspirations.) This is a world I want to live in because it makes absolutely no sense on almost any level, but it’s entertaining as shit. The Brokedowns are both strong and fair. Smart and funny. Red roses and reluctant nudity. They’re not all about the arched-back bucket scene. Their welds hold true. Apply this to modern DIY Midwest punk music and any movie from the ‘80s (Top Gun, Some Kind of Wonderful, Better Off Dead) to arrive at your own conclusions. Or, fuck it if that’s a little too straining: Karl Marx mixing it up with the Marx Brothers. –Todd Taylor (No Idea)

Investing with Corbeta Corbata: 7” 33
This record looked pretty good at first—after all, one would assume that anyone who would take the time and effort to rip off the Columbia Records graphic style of the early/mid ‘60s would have also taken the time and effort to put out a record that didn’t suck utterly. Just goes to show ya what a bad judge of character i am. I knew i was in trouble once the bass player started playing chords, and if there was no existing law on the books that states “no A-side shall utilize 6/8 time as its primary time signature,” there is now. Sounds like bad Die Kreuzen sea chanty music. And that’s the a-side. NEXT! BEST SONG: “It’s Better Not To Know” BEST SONG TITLE: “It’s Better Not To Know” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: It’s better not to know. –Rev. Norb (Collective)

Back in Salem: 7”
Two great slices of moody, guitar-driven punk-wave stuff that deftly balances on the fine line between art and punch. There’s a definite dark quality to the tunes, but they thankfully refrain from slathering on layer after layer of “Ooooh, we’re spooky” and instead go for a sophisticated whop upside the noggin. –Jimmy Alvarado (lacordsf@gmail.com)

My Baby's Like a Rocketship: CD
Bass-slappin' drag racer Jose Espinosa decided to pull up his Cordwood, California roots and relocate to England with two buddies who shared his passion for traditional rockabilly. It wasn't a bad move considering British rockers are only slightly less fanatical than the Japanese when it comes to straw cowboy hats, ten-inch pompadours and classic, pre-rock rockabilly. Vocalist Mick Cocksedge has his hiccup vocals down to a science and guitarist Big Ed Potter sounds like he was playing sockhops in 1954. There's nothing terribly innovative about the Draggers and their lyrics are rather pedestrian but their delivery is exceptionally professional and for some people, that's more than sufficient. Good stuff to swing to, but this album is strictly for the initiated. –eric (El Toro)

Self-titled: CD
Catchy gallop-velocity hardcore from Poland, well executed with tight execution and lotsa interesting chord changes to keep ye on your toes. While the likely inclusion of songs in English to reach a wider audience is understandable, my personal preference veers towards the tunes they sing in Polish, which are delivered with a bit more conviction and bite to ‘em and are not hampered by the distracting malapropisms. That said, they do what they do quite well and I bet they can get a live crowd good and worked up. –Jimmy Alvarado (Pasazer, pasazer.pl)

Scream and Shout: CD
The only thing more pretentious than naming the band after Martin Luther King’s wife is the alt-pop music for which said band is responsible, which has all the snotty-yet-safe vocals and emo-boy band fashion sense one would expect and zero substance. –Jimmy Alvarado (Rise)

Halloween Record w/ Sound Effects: LP
The package was so remarkable that I was hoping for something that was not to be. Wacky throwback ‘60s cover art? Realistic magazine-styled advertisements for the insert? In the Red Recordings? Is this one of the newest of the current crop of rock’n’roll purists like Hunx And His Punx and Shannon And The Clams to explore the territory of musical ages long since passed? Well, yes and no. It’s a throwback record all right, but it’s more interested in Dick Dale than the Kinks. I’ll be the first to admit that an instrumental album doesn’t sound appealing most of the time. (Or ever, really. I don’t like them at all.) And I’ll also be the first to admit that I think anything can be done well. As an album of atmosphere, this is really good. I can’t help but be amazed at the album as a whole. There’s a part of me deep down that really loves concept albums and this one works so fluidly between sound effects and songs that I was surprised to find myself feeling uncomfortable during a few points in the record. All signs point to this album being high art. A concept followed to the final step made with love and passion for an unsung hero of media. –Bryan Static (In The Red, intheredrecords.com)

Halloween Record with Sound Effects: LP
The first time I listened to this album, I loved it. Horror-themed instrumentals with surf and R&B elements. It made me think of early Man… Or Astroman? and Impala. The packaging is sweet—heavy cardboard stock and a special slip cover. Subsequent listenings, however, are making me hate it. The low end is practically non-existent and when you can hear the bass and drums, it sounds too trebly. I had to check the sleeve to make sure Kevin Army wasn’t involved (he recorded a lot of late 1980s/early 1990s EastBay bands, mostly for Lookout! Records. Most of his recordings sound like shit—too compressed and trebly.) I don’t know if it’s intentionally recorded in shit-fi but goddamnit, what idiot mixed these recordings? And the band approved this? I think The Mummies cared more about the sound of their records than Thee Cormans do. –Sal Lucci (In The Red)

Mingo: 7”
Played a show some years back with these cats and they were quite the bee’s knees, rockin’ wild surf tunes whilst decked out in monster masks. Sounds here like time has not softened them in the least. Both the title and the flip, “Tiger Lilly,” are fuzzed out ‘n’ fucked sounding bits of surf mania, delivered with verve amid much distortion. Mighty fine listenin’ if you don’t mind having yer ears ripped to shreds. –Jimmy Alvarado (Total Punk)

Split: 7”
Thee Cormans play a fuzzed-out surf tune that would make a good soundtrack for a minute-long movie about a killer shark growing feet and chasing bikini babes around on a beach. The Pacifics drop a revved-up rave up about the sad life of a lonely caveman. B movies for your ears. –MP Johnson (Bachelor)

The Hot for May Sound: Cassette
Burger Records is starting to reissue some wild stuff, like this release from Cornershop. I remember liking this band quite a bit at the time, but on this recording there are too many bleeps and bloops for my taste. If you have never heard Cornershop, they mix dance music, indie, and off-kilter melodies, a lot like what would have probably been called trip hop two decades ago. –Mike Frame (Burger)

Open Reduction: Cassette
Usually I don’t dig much on cassettes, however when they are done well it is hard not to love them. Corpse Donor play a style of hardcore akin to that of a majority of the Bridge 9 lineup. What is most enjoyable about these songs is that they are very straight forward; no solos, no breakdowns, no nonsense. Just straight-up hardcore. Another cool thing about this release is that it contains a download code so you can have these songs on your iPod, because there isn’t a cassette player everywhere you go anymore. –Noah W. K. –Guest Contributor (Self-released, www.myspace.com/xstonedx)

Fight against the Rules: CD
From what I can tell, this is a CD reissue of a tape-only release by this pissed-off Polish hardcore band that existed from 1985-1989, though a lot of the information in the liner notes is in Polish (the lyrics and an interview conducted in 2007 are thankfully translated into English), so don’t quote me on that. This isn’t normally my thing, but this band is definitely as good as, if not better than, a lot of the western crossover bands that existed at the time. Plus it’s always amazing to me that bands like this existed in the Soviet bloc. A really neat piece of history! –Chris Mason –Guest Contributor (Refuse, refuserecords.nfis.aplus.pl)

Fight against Rules: 12” LP

This rules. Hands down. Fight Against Rules is a collection of eleven songs of The Corpse’s work from ‘88-’89, remastered and re-released as a CD in 2010, and now in the form of an LP. Originally formed in 1985 in communist-ruled Poland, The Corpse has been described as “hard core/trash/ crossover,” listing Suicidal Tendencies, Napalm Death, Septic Death, Accused, and Lärm—among others—as influences. It’s really the best of both worlds between metal, thrash, and hardcore punk, relentlessly propelling, shredding, pounding the shit out of your eardrums. It just doesn’t let up! A bonus is a sixteen page booklet with a band bio, past reviews, an interview in English and Polish, and rad pictures of the crew to flip through, plus a print out of miscellaneous flyers from 1988-1994. Get it!

–Camylle Reynolds (Refuse, refuserecords.prv.pl)

Self-titled: 10”
I’m not exactly sure what genre I should determine this is. I’m guessing it’s a bit of doom, sludge, hardcore, and metal. One thing for sure is that the music is mean, dirty, and vile. Its mixture of tempo changes makes it feel like a combination of panic attacks and emotional depression. Dirty, bottom-heavy Sabbath riffs bring forth the sense of evil. Blasting fast parts charge at your face like a windstorm. Vocals are yelled and shrieked to emphasize the overall madness. I started out in a decent mood but soon got very agitated listening to this. Pretty good result, I say. –Donofthedead (Feral Kid)

Your Tomorrow: 7” EP
As a fan of the first two COC LPs, I was stoked to check out this 7” which featured a reunited Animosity-era lineup. This EP, essentially one extended song with a drum solo break in the middle, is a far cry from the crossover thrash of the first two LPs. This is mid-tempo radio metal at best. Only die-hard COC vinyl collectors should pick this one up. –Paul J. Comeau –Guest Contributor (Southern Lord)

Split 2012: CD-R
Corrupt Bastards and Calafia Puta both play powerviolence. Corrupt Bastards are from Houston. Calafia Puta are from Tijuana. Corrupt Bastards are screamier. Calafia Puta are more on the growling end of things. That’s about all they gave me to work with. –Craven Rock (Self-released)

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