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Razorcake #89
Basement Benders, Lydiad LP+7"
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Cuntifiers, Under the Rainbow CD

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No Idea Records

Record Reviews

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Bloodied but Unbowed: CD

Man, I really love Canadian punk rock. So many good bands, from SNFU and Nomeansno, right up through Fucked Up and Propagandhi. They all seem to possess a slightly different sense of melody and structure that makes the songs just a bit more…perhaps organic? I’m not sure what it is exactly, but Joey Shithead and DOA are the Godfathers of Canadian Punk and this compilation of their early years serves as a good reminder why. According to the CD, this was just reissued this year, but I’m not really sure if that means it was remastered too. Either way, songs like “The Prisoner”, “World War III”, and “Smash the State” are adrenaline rush punk anthems with catchy riffs that shouldn’t work but do, drumming that’s snappy as hell, and Joey leading up the whole thing through with his vocals that sounds like a three-way collision of a speed freak, a bear growl, and the guy that works at the local hardware store that’ll keep you up to date on the latest news whenever you go in. The song “I Don’t Give a Shit” is one of the few non-Joey sung tracks, but something about that song tends to dig right into the skull despite no real discernable hook and a chorus that I’m relatively sure is made up of belches. Even the slow, almost shuffly, “Whatcha Gonna Do?” is pretty damn bodacious. About the only thing I don’t like here, for whatever reason, is “Rich Bitch” because it just kind of seems to sit there and never really does anything interesting. All in all, this is a great place to start with DOA, as it’s basically their greatest hits for the early years when most people say they were at their peak. I would also recommend the career-spanning compilation Peace and War because, despite all the “only get the early stuff” opinions you hear about DOA, they definitely had some excellent stuff throughout their whole career, even if they may have never again matched the pure adrenalin rush of “The Prisoner.” Man, that is such a good song.

–Adrian (Sudden Death)

Live Free or Die: CD
Jeez, Joey, what are you trying to do to us? Here you take some of the best DOA tracks to come out in decades, songs we were praying would one day come, get our hopes up high, and then bury them amongst a barrage of ska tunes? HORNS?!? That’s just plain cruel and unusual punishment, sir, and there are laws against that. You could’ve ditched all but one or two of the ska songs (if you really felt the need to include something with a Caribbean beat on here) and had one corker of a record, man. For those interested in procuring a copy of this, here’s my suggestion: set your player to play pretty much all the odd tracks and you’ve got a record that would fit nicely between War on 45 and Let’s Wreck the Party. Take it as a whole, you’re gonna understand what the phrase “the ecstasy and the agony” truly means. I guess it was no coincidence they nicked the riff for the song “39 Lashes” from Jesus Christ Superstar for one of the tunes here. –Jimmy Alvarado (Sudden Death)

Punk Rock Singles 1978-99: CD
Unless you’ve been living in a lead box buried eighteen feet under a very large rock, I really don’t need to delve too deep into the utter fuggin’ brilliance of DOA, do I? Sure, their best years were pretty much spent by 1987, and I personally have on more than one occasion lamented their not really living up to their legendary status in recent years. That said, this singles collection covering the years 1978-99 is pretty goddamned good. As can be expected, the early tracks—including “Disco Sucks,” “My Old Man’s a Bum,” “World War Three,” “The Prisoner,” their cover of the Subhumans’ anthem “Fuck You,” and many more—are the real gems here, but, surprisingly, the weakest tracks come not at the end but somewhere in the middle. The strength of the latter tracks has me wondering if maybe they should go the single route more often to slough off some of the chaff that has been making it onto their albums in recent years, ‘cause it’s evident that they can still come up with some rip-roaring tuneage when they’ve the mind. Ultimately, this comes highly recommended, it feels marvy to say that about a DOA record again, and the eternal optimist in me looks forward to saying the same about a fresh batch of tunes from them one day. –Jimmy Alvarado (Captain Oi)

Triump of the Ignoroids: 7" EP
A limited reissue of a live EP that showcases this band at their fiercest, recorded live at the Body Shop, 1978. You get the original four tunes for your buck, plus a bonus studio cut from 1986 called “Utopia” that sounds like it has Wimpy Roy on vocals. –Jimmy Alvarado (ladykinkykarrot@yahoo.com)

The Black Spot—Unauthorized Bootleg Version: CD
Dunno what the second half of the title is referring to, but considering Joey’s the one putting it out, I’m guessing it’s some kinda piss-take or something. Feel kinda bad about the short shrift I gave this record back when it came out. When it hit the shelves back in 1995, I hadn’t seen DOA in at least a decade, but I had heard from numerous people that they just weren’t what they used to be, so when this band I was in (actually, by this time my position in the band had shifted from musician to sound guy/auxiliary guitarist-when-in-a-pinch) scored a show at a Tacoma AA clubhouse with what was once one of my favorite bands, I was jazzed, but still not expecting much. They demonstrated themselves to righteous punker types when they lent our drummer a kick pedal to replace the one that had broken right as he was setting up (and anyone who’s ever played a show can attest to how truly rare it is for a headlining band to do such a thing), allowing this humble touring band from East L.A. perplex Washington’s punk population in attendance with our hybrid of punk and traditional Mexican music. When DOA hit the stage, though, I knew that everyone who’d said they had lost it were utterly fulla shit, ‘cause they were easily better than the last time I’d seen ‘em in 1986. They sounded just as inspiring, tight, and manic as ever, and newer songs, like their quasi-cover of David Peel’s “Have a Marijuana,” sounded more in step with their earlier stuff than that later rock-type stuff they ended up delving into for a short time. And yet, when I saw this on the racks later, I just couldn’t bring myself to spend the cash on it. Why? I dunno, really. Chalk it up to their aforementioned “rock” period, blame it on terminal lameness on my part, but despite my experience, I totally figured it was gonna suck, so I dismissed it out of hand. That was ultimately my loss, ‘cause while this ain’t Hardcore ‘81 or nothin’, it is one of the more solid releases from their later period, which has been pretty hit-or-miss, frankly. Most of the songs are strong, catchy, edgy, and all that other good stuff one looks for in a DOA release, right down to the chainsaw used on “The Nutwrencher Suite.” Thanks again, boys, for lending us that drum pedal lo those eleven years ago, and thanks, Joey, for givin’ me a second opportunity to appreciate this album. –Jimmy Alvarado (Sudden Death)

Northern Avenger: CD
Hmm…this sounds strangely just like DOA should sound: part BTO-ish rock and part punk with gobs of humor and social awareness to fill up the cracks. This is a good record and one that I’m pretty sure DOA fans will be eminently satisfied with, but it didn’t leave me with my jaw agape all the way through. It did that at times, but not from start to finish. Still, it’s good to see that after all these years these dudes still got the chops –The Lord Kveldulfr (Sudden Death)

Northern Avenger: CD
On the down side, those who are waiting for Something Better Change Part 2 will be sorely disappointed. On the up side, the ska that marred its predecessor is kept to a minimum and the overall songwriting here is more consistent and now than many of their other releases this decade. Still a wee bit perplexed on why they cover Credence’s “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” but, on the whole, this ain’t as bad as I feared it was gonna be. –Jimmy Alvarado (Sudden Death)

Win the Battle: CD
Hoo, doggy, where does one begin with this? Yes, this is the same DOA that’s been slugging it out in some shape or another since the ‘70s and no, this is by no means their finest hour. Most of the songs sound forced and short on inspiration – which is amazing considering the myriad of shit going on in the world these last couple years from which to draw at least an idea or two for a song – although the level of enthusiasm of those performing is strangely high. They cover themselves (a ill-conceived blues rendition of “Fuck You”) and ZZ Top (eschewing a more fitting cover of that band’s “Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers” for a stab at “La Grange”) this time around, neither really adding much to their legacy. Of thirteen songs, the one that comes closest to sounding like a quality DOA tune is “Return to LumberjackCity,” which is shows flashes of the swagger and self-assurance that makes their best work so damn listenable. Still, one song does not a great record make and, while I have nothing but love for Joey Shithead and Randy Rampage, maybe it’s time to send the old warhorse back to the showers for a spell, at least until a vein of steady inspiration can be tapped, ’cause this stuff ain’t doing nothing but tarnishing the good name and reputation of one of the best bands in the history of punk rock. –Jimmy Alvarado (Sudden Death)

Are You Ready: CD
DOA: Although their opener, “Are U Ready” was pretty weak, their other five tracks are pretty strong, which is surprising considering how listless and uninspired their last release was. So far as I can tell, a few of these tunes are reworkings of older tunes, but they are pretty swell nonetheless. Thor: Remember seeing him bend a hunk of steel with his teeth once on a heavy metal video comp my friend Matt owned, which sent all in the room watching rolling on the floor in fits of hysterical laughter. That first impression has managed to stick with me, lo these sixteen years, making reviewing objectively his tracks here next to impossible. When he goes into a tune like “Gladiator Stomp (Arena Anthem Chant),” I feel the giggles percolating deep in my gut and, next thing I know, I’m rolling on the floor once again, gasping for breath and trying not to draw my wife’s attention for fear that she’ll have me locked up or something. –Jimmy Alvarado (Sudden Death)

Split: EP
Second installment of the “Fuck Your Scene, Kid” series on Kranium. I like how the bands chosen to share the splits are not of the exact same style, which makes for a more interesting listen, since it doesn’t get monotonous, and also how the various styles play against one another. Fredag Den 13:e (Friday the 13th) are d-beat influenced, but there’s also some Tragedy in there as well: heavy, wall of distortion, and tuneful all at once. Doberman Cult, though from Sweden, sound heavily influenced by U.S. East Coast hardcore bands of the ‘80s. Sort of like Sick Of It All mixed with Minor Threat for the speed and intensity. “Turn Your Cheek No More” is a short and fast ripper that makes this main reason I would recommend picking this up. It stars off full on and ends in seconds. So f’n good! More songs like this and these guys could be deadly. As with most Kranium releases, the pressing is small and limited. Only 500 pressed, hand numbered, and this one is on red vinyl. –Matt Average (Kranium, krnm.se)

Lions Share of the Dog Years: LP/CD
This Swedish quintet uses an NYHC style to hit hard and fast as it explodes across thirteen songs that clearly owe a debt to the likes of Sick Of It All and Agnostic Front. I’m not that enamoured with the tough guy image some groups portray. The name Dobermann Cult, along with a photo of the band with such a dog on the insert, left me a bit cold. However, the music is well executed and songs like “No Tolerance for Intolerance” display a side of the band I can get behind, alleviating my initial reservations. –Rich Cocksedge (Gaphals, gaphals666@gmail.com, gaphals.se)

Lions Share of the Dog Years: CD
Swedish dudes doing the NYHC thing. While I was kind of looking forward to trashing this—this is easily my least favorite genre of punk—Dobermann Cult made that pretty difficult to do. Sure, the template never strays very far from the one laid down long ago by oldie-moldies like H2O and Sick Of It All, but what sets this band apart is their absolutely refreshing lack of meatheadedness. The lyrics contain reasonably articulate and meaningful calls for unity, tolerance, and compassion that span the gamut of racial, sexual, and economic differences, something that really endeared me to this band. Still not really a fan of the music—though admittedly they’re good at it—but I’d wholeheartedly suggest fans of the genre check these dudes out well before listening to yet another beefed-up ignoramus yell about how he’s been stabbed in the back.  –Keith Rosson (Gaphals, gaphals.se)

Please Send Help: CD
Doc Hopper: maybe I’m feelin’ a little soft or somethin’, but their tracks weren’t as painful as I expected them to be. Their sole original here, “Meister,” was a pretty nice melding of All-lite drive and vaguely Hüsker structure, and their cover of “Kids Don’t Follow” was good, if not as intense as the original. The cover of Black Flag sucked, but that’s just ’cause the song itself sucked to begin with. “South of Heaven” was finely executed, but still pales to the original. Secondhand: They didn’t leave as positive an impression. Their original was not as memorable and their covers, although perfectly executed (especially the Slayer tracks) lacked any sense of immediacy and, ultimately rang hollow. Maybe next time. –Jimmy Alvarado (Attention Deficit Disorder)

Killing the Music: 7”
A cool looking splattered marbled 7” by a four piece street punk band from the province of Quebec. All four songs have above average guitar hooks and catchy choruses. Kind of reminds me of very early Dillinger Four or The Arrivals. A weird thing about the packaging is that the 7” jacket has the black and white cassette with crossbones below graphic exactly the same as M.O.T.O. album Raw Power. If I were going to steal another bands’ graphic, I would have went for Social Distortion’s, smoking and drinking skeleton, but hey that’s just me. –Jake Shut (Longshot)

Fired from the Circus: 2 x LP/CD
Once again, Boss Tuneage raids the archives to bring some 1980s punk rock goodness into the new millennium. This time it’s Doctor And The Crippens, a band best described as being utterly bonkers. With an approach that rarely settled on one method of delivery, this band was capable of taking the same USHC-influenced path that The Stupids trod, mixing it with the occasional Lemmy-like vocal and applying the same ferociousness that helped Discharge define a whole new genre, thus dispensing an enjoyable racket. However, the crowning glories are the lyrics/song titles, which, to this day, have me questioning the sanity of whoever wrote them and which confirm that earlier description. Plus there were exploding cabbages—okay, maybe not on record—but in a live setting this would be one of many unusual effects employed to add a sense of occasion to a Doctor And The Crippens show. This release brings together the band’s first album, a twelve track John Peel Session, and some assorted demos and live recordings. What is noticeable is how the Peel recordings lost some of the raw quality of the album but in its place added a much more powerful sound—this was the case with many bands thrown into far superior surroundings than any had been privy to in the past. For me this release benefits from two versions of my favorite Crippens track, “Freezer,” with the Peel version having a much more melodic quality than one would expect from a band heavily influenced by noisier contemporaries. I would say half of the twenty-three tracks on the album stand the test of time, whereas the Peel Session is worth the price of the album alone. –Rich Cocksedge (Boss Tuneage, bosstuneage.com)

Fired from the Circus: 2 x LP/CD
Once again Boss Tuneage delivers another crucial reissue from the vaults. As always, I wonder how many people give a fuck apart from the couple of hundred who were actually there. This is another record that came out when I was sixteen and completely immersed in the UKHC scene. The Crippens from up North hit a middle ground between the U.K. blurrcore bands and U.S.-influenced bands like the Stupids and Intense Degree. The most notable thing about the band was they used stage props and had an almost lightweight Gwar stage show. This disc has the debut LP that is an absolute stormer as well as their first Peel session, possibly the best thing they did (I think this only because I remember lying in bed listening to the actual session the night before school). As far as I am concerned, Boss Tuneage’s entire retro catalogue is mandatory for anyone with even the slightest interest in the late ‘80s U.K. hardcore scene. For me, it’s much more than a history lesson; it’s part of what made me who I am. Class. –Tim Brooks (Boss Tuneage, bosstuneage.com)

Singles Unreleased Live: CD
The title pretty much puts a bow on it—a collection of singles, live tracks, and unreleased demo recordings made between 1990-93. Though I was well aware of the name, I’d never actually heard much from these guys back when they were active, so this was a nice introduction. They take a hyper-thrash base and expand into all sorts of wild directions—sludgy Flipper-like dirges, zippy hardcore, Stoogey quasi-psychedelic workouts (compare “Fish” here to the Stooges’ “Penetration”) over thirty-two tracks. Also included are lyrics, liner notes contextualizing everything, and photos to keep you occupied while the disc spins.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Boss Tuneage)

Meet Dr. Bird: CD
Very nice handmade cover for a disc with music that sounds like a band some of your buddies in college always starts that isn’t all that great but affords them the opportunity to refer to “the band” later in life when they look fondly back on their wacky years as an undergrad and thought they could change the world with their hippie-dippy alt-rock tunes. –Jimmy Alvarado (no address)

The Bloated Vegas Years: LP/CD
Yet another quality reissue from Boss Tuneage and one which I am more than familiar with, having owned the original tracks since the mid 1990s—plus I have known half of the band for the best part of thirty years. Born out of the ashes of The Abs and H.D.Q., the criminally underrated Doctor Bison was responsible for some excellent anthemic, melodic punk rock, which, to this day, lifts my soul in ways that most other bands can’t compete with. The union of Dickie Hammond’s distinctive guitar and Baz Oldfield’s vocals has always been a joy to behold. However, the remastered version results in a cleaner and more powerful production, adding new vigor to the songs. I’m still slightly flummoxed how the digital wizardry works, but I don’t really care as a great record has been improved and it sounds, for all intents and purposes, like a brand new album from the present day.  –Rich Cocksedge (Boss Tuneage)

Dewhursts: The Musical/Bring It On: 2 x LP/CD
As the second of two Bison reissues, this is the one that really highlights the songwriting skills of Baz Oldfield. He has a great turn of phrase and, as serious as some of the themes might be, he does his level best to inject humor into his lyrics wherever possible. Add to that frequent references to his (and my) hometown of Newport, Wales, and listening to these songs guarantees a sense of belonging and a big grin across my face, with “Ringland Tuxedo” leading the way on both counts. Great melodic punk rock swathed in the meaty guitar sound of Dickie Hammond.  –Rich Cocksedge (Boss Tuneage, bosstuneage.com)

Blue in the Water: 7”
Side one: Mid-fi (as opposed to lo-fi) punk rock’n’roll with a fair amount of drive and a desire to kick some life into the standard 12-bar blues riff. Side two: yer standard mid-tempo garage rocker. –Jimmy Alvarado (Fanboy)

Seven Deadly Sins: 7”
So there are three different pressing of this. One in English, the other in Swedish and the final a combination of both as a 2 x 7”. Would like to get the Swedish version to hear the difference in how the songs sound in different languages. The combo I would like to get just to be a record nerd. This is a theme record featuring a song of each deadly sin. Not being religious, I didn’t know what that would be but I learn based by the song titles. I still don’t care about religion. I do care about music. Any fan that is a fan of d-beat or dis-core would love this. The band also adds slight tinges of metal to add a punch. Sweden produces a great deal of bands in this genre and this continues on the tradition. A multi-vocal attack with charged guitars and bass with the drum beat that are keys to this style. Absolutely pummeling as one song ends and another starts. –Donofthedead (Havoc)

Gladjedodaren: CD
Honestly, I’m not simply saying this because Dodsvarg is Scandinavian, but the singer’s screams are similar to that of Dennis Lyxzen’s. No shit. The tunes veer to the slower, doomier side of hardcore, with lots of operatic guitar leads, but the recording has enough grit to keep me interested.  –Steve Adamyk (dodsvarg.bandcamp.com)

Self-titled: 7”
Uppity activist rock that comes in a nice hand-sewn cloth cover that I’ll be able to use as a hot pad whenever I make my White Castle and Hot Dog casserole. Ah, just kidding. I’m sure these dumpster diving vegan kids are well meaning as all get up, but sometimes this ossified über-earnestness makes me want to shove a flute up my ass and fart out a Clay Aiken tune while I walk on my hands. Don’t get me wrong; these are serious subjects, to be sure, but I don’t necessarily want a hot coffee colonic each time I drop the needle down on a record. Bands like the Dead Kennedys and MDC proved long ago that it’s possible for a chippy punk band to tackle serious social issues without all that damn gravity. I was hoping that, with a name like “Dog Assassin” that this would be a lot funnier. Sorry, I guess I’m just not feeling all that serious this month. –aphid (Spacement)

Imperial States of America: 7”EP
Sweet zombie Jesus, I don’t know where this came from, but I’m glad it got here. Five songs of awesome thrash that could probably be looked at oin the same level as anything on Havoc. To sweeten the deal, this came with free stuff, and the vinyl looks great (half black, half red). But the kicker—the cover has Darth Vader on it! This is too good to be true. At first, I thought I may have to donate this to the Star Wars bathroom in Hotel Astoria, but screw that, I’m not giving this away so easily. –Joe Evans III (Spacement)

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