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· 3:One Punk’s Guide to Poetry
· 4:#331 with Mike Faloon and Todd Taylor
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Record Reviews

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Ready! Get! Go!: CD
Dot Wiggin is hopefully a familiar name as the lead guitarist and front woman of The Shaggs. Ready! Get! Go! is Wiggin’s first new recordings in over forty years. For the uninitiated, The Shaggs’ (1968-1975) music was sonically more revolutionary than punk rock. The Shaggs were inimitable—true pioneers of outsider music in the rock era (although that was never the band’s intention—Wiggin and Co. were sincerely creating their own music from scratch). Unfortunately, they were too far out there to sell any records. (To get the band’s story, check the Internet or the outdated-but-great Songs in the Key of Z.) Ready! Get! Go! is a great album. Wiggin gets backing from people who can play. They support her well in most instances, only occasionally infringing/imposing on the uniqueness of Wiggin’s work. That being said, Ready! Get! Go! was tastefully done. If you’re a Shaggs fan, you probably already own this album. If you’re on the fence about picking it up, rest assured: this is another great album by Dot Wiggin that captures the uniqueness of her songwriting, done with great understanding and support by the band and the label. Wiggin’s imprint is still there and putting her in a more “musical” environment (the album includes a cover of “End of the World”) is rewarding. Way to go, Dot.  –Ryan Leach (Alternative Tentacles, altenativetentacles.com)

Button: CD
Four tracks of lo-fi garage pop from Galway, Ireland. This is the sound of a very young band quickly finding their feet. While not my particular cup of tea, even a curmudgeon like me found plenty to like about this disc. Dott displays a certain confidence in their songwriting and performance that is at once infectious and surprisingly muscular. This CD was the perfect antidote for the bleak, rainy days that engulfed the week in which I had it in my music rotation. –Garrett Barnwell (Girth)

Self-titled: CD
Double Dagger sure loves Pailhead, Drive Like Jehu, and polysyllable words… Effects on the bass guitar… emphasis on dynamics… odd time signatures. Sometimes complexity is really boring. After four songs, I had enough Double Dagger to last me a lifetime.  –Ryan Leach (Stationary Heart)

Self-titled: EP
Flehhhh... A few loose ideas. No strong focus. The title track is terrible lyrically and musically. Sounds like something from the ‘90s. The opening track is cynical “screamo.” “Catalogs” is a simulacrum of Fugazi, and the dance track, “Dancefloor,” is sort of like gabber but with far less interesting results. –Matt Average (Toxic Pop)

Sophisticated Urban Living: 7"
The cover has a picture of skyscrapers with clothes drying on clotheslines drawn in—very appropriate considering the title. On one side of the 7” is “Luxury Condos for the Poor.” The flip has two tracks: “No Allies” and “Art Machine.” The a-side and “No Allies” have a post-hardcore sound à la D.C. They also kind of have an At The Drive-In sound minus ATDI’s pop appeal. The lyrics are politically charged on the front and personal on the back. They have a sound that I don’t hear too often these days; though, I don’t seek it out, either. Nonetheless, it’s a sound that’s always kind of refreshing to hear. “Art Machine” is white noise. I’m going to give ‘em the benefit of the doubt and say that it’s a (much needed) critique of “bands” that pass off the bullshit noise they make as art. Thankfully, it only lasts for a few seconds. –Vincent Battilana (Terra Firma Limited)

More: CD
This band is just a drummer and a bassist or maybe a guitarist. I don’t know; it’s a two-piece of some sort, which I learned on the internet. My internet is down right now, so I can’t confirm this. It also has quite a big sound for a two-piece, which the internet also told me. This I agree with, yet it does not make me like it any better. They also tried to do some conceptual shit with design (?), similar to what Nation Of Ulysses did with rock and Situationism or whatever. They call themselves design-core or something. It’s similar to Revolution Summer-era Discord stuff, but without a lick of soul or heart. I didn’t need the internet to tell you that, yet that’s the most important thing that I feel I need to get across. I could somehow try to tie that in with the fact that they’re doing the whole design-core thing. But that would imply that I came to that impression after I looked them up on the internet, which was hardly the case. –Craven (Thrill Jockey, thrilljockey.com)

Dillybar: 7”
This rocks! Totally silly songs about fast food and grocery stores! And they wear fast food uniforms, too! If you like the Bobbyteens, the Flakes, and Candy Girl, you’ll love this. And if you don’t like those bands, then you’re lame! If this were a cereal, it’d be Quisp! Cartoonish greatness is go! –Maddy (www.myspace.com/theedoubleds)

The Wonderful and Frightening World of: LP
Holy sheeeeiiit. That’s pretty much sums up all my dropped jaw can muster. Why? These guys sound like all the best parts of early Hüsker Dü and Pick Your King-era Poison Idea without sounding like they’re trying to ape those bands, making for one really good reason to go out and buy a record player, if you don’t already have one. I give it four days before I completely wear the grooves out. –Jimmy Alvarado (No Way)

Raw Energy: 7"
Last year’s The Wonderful and Frightening World of Double Negative LP totally tore my head off, and I’ve been seriously anticipating some new material since shortly after its release. The Raw Energy 7” is said to more accurately recreate the band’s intense live spectacle, and it is indeed a raw, piercing, destructive six minutes of Void/early-C.O.C.-esque hardcore. Desperate, angry, and raging. –Dave Williams (Sorry State)

Raw Energy EP: 7"
On top of the pristine heavy-weight vinyl and intricate packaging, this 7” contains nothing but full-blown, teeth grinding hardcore punk. Like a lingering hangover, it makes you want to punch yourself in the face, if nothing else but for your own good. In times so contaminated with disgusting human traits, watching this clear vinyl spin around circles to the soundtrack of complete anger is pretty damn close to purity. 
–Daryl Gussin (Sorry State)

Daydreamnation: LP
A little put off by the Sonic Youth-copped album title and the Double Platinum-reminiscent cover? Remember this: WHOP. That’s the sound you will hear the instant before what’s coming out of the speakers smacks you square in the face and makes its way ‘round to doing permanent damage to your ear canals. One battering tune after the next, strip mining and milking every ounce they possibly can squeeze from all that was glorious about Poison Idea’s early years, including the sheer timelessness aspect of it all. Truly good tuneage doesn’t stagnate with age and there is no shortage of flat-out jaw dropping moments here. Still on the fence about this one? Trust me: WHOP. –Jimmy Alvarado (sorrystaterecords.com)

Hardcore Confusion Vol. 1 & 2: 7”
Apparently the opening two salvos of what is promised to be a four-release set, these guys know how keep the hardcore hordes drooling—one track on each side here. If you’ve somehow managed to miss out on them prior, Double Negative are one of those rare bands that can take the hackneyed hardcore template and make it sound fresh and interesting. Their sound has some serious heft to it—with the tempos ranging from four-alarm inferno to slow burners—all of it coming on like a juggernaut. One can hear echoes of the heavyweights of the genre—Poison Idea, Negative Approach, SS Decontrol—buried in the clamor, yet they maintain a sound and style all their own. Folks in the know will be talking about these guys with reverence long after they’ve gone. –Jimmy Alvarado (Sorry State)

Hits: 7” EP
Focusing less attention to the thrashy, “Poison Idea” side of their equation in favor of a more “Black Flag”-tinged approach, Double Negative dish up three tracks of churning, grating hardcore like only they can. According to SorryState’s site, this is the last recordings with vocalist KC and the first with new drummer Bobby. Should be interesting to hear where they go from here, ‘cause this is already pushing quite nicely against the boundaries they’ve already established for themselves. –Jimmy Alvarado (Sorry State)

Hardcore Confusion 3 & 4: 2 x 7” EP
SorryState rounds things out on this band’s multi-part series with the final two installments gatefolded in a two-for-one package. Things are maybe a little less experimental than on the previous two installments, but even at its most conventional, Double Negative’s brand of hardcore is still pretty friggin’ offbeat, and flat-out jaw-droppin’, compared to the rest of the pack—rhythm and tempo changes all over the place with odd bits of noise phasing in and out to add to the overall chaos. With this latest salvo they cement themselves as one of the more worthwhile bands making the rounds in the realm of hardcore, and this is another must-have release for a still-early 2013. –Jimmy Alvarado (Sorry State)

Got into a Fight in Special Ed: 7”
Smokin’, hyped-up punk rock‘n’roll from three geeky looking guys whose picture made me afraid I was in for some lame pop punk. The concept of the title song is a little dopey, but this is a damn good EP overall. –Jimmy Alvarado (Rapid Pulse)

Cold Comfort: 7”
Long sleeves, gym shorts, singalongs, straight edge, being fucking posi, loving Youth Of Today, gang vocals, mosh lanes, crew cuts, New Balance. Do these things describe the whole of Polish youth? I hope so, because these guys make me feel like they should. This record reminds me of my youth and hardcore from the late ‘90s/early ‘00s in a way that doesn’t make me want to throw up all over myself. The songs are tight, the production is sparse, the lyrics talk about forgetting shitty friends, hanging out with good friends, and being cooler than everybody. These guys probably have more fun than you. This kind of music is like the garage rock of my generation; it’s just four kids playing a few chords in the basement because it’s fun and just playing music to their friends. I smiled all the way through this thing and immediately called my friends to tell them about this band. Highest recommendations for fans of the style or just people who remember when this kind of music wasn’t nearly as fun as these kids are having. –Ian Wise (Refuse)

Father Don’t Cry: CD
I think this is a re-release, ’cause the back says it was recorded back in 1990. It’s mostly instrumental industrial-oriented dance that sounds like it’s from that period, courtesy of at least two members of Skinny Puppy. The dance stuff sounds a little dated, but it ain’t terrible, and the soundscapes are pretty damn good. Recommended. –Jimmy Alvarado (Metropolis, PO Box 54307, Philadelphia, PA 19105)

Salamander: CD
Gloomy pop from a former Guided by Voices member. When he is at his best, he channels the essence of McCartney and the boys at their jangliest, and when he’s at his worst, he just cranks out some swell gloomy pop. While I would’ve liked some more oomph in the guitars in some spots just to make sure I was still paying attention, I gotta say, the brother can squeeze every last drop from a hook. –Jimmy Alvarado (Pink Frost)

Kick the Birthday Boy: CD
Doug MacDonald is one hell of a songwriter. The music on this CD is hard to categorize, but I’d say it comes down somewhere in the neighborhood of psychedelic country rock—a little bit Donovan, but less hippy-ish. MacDonald has a really unique singing style that I like a lot until he switches to this weird falsetto that just pierces the old ear drums. Still, this is a very good CD, unlike anything else you’re likely to hear any time soon, by a very talented singer and songwriter. –brian (Doug MacDonald)

Heels Up: CD
I’m not sure why this guy sent us a copy of his CD. Is this adult contemporary? I know my dad might like it, but I don’t. It’s not terribly done but is definitely not for any kind of underground punk magazine to review. I swear this guy could easily play the cheesy festival they might have in your downtown square during the summer time. If, god knows why, you are a fan of the Black Crowes, the oldies station, or new Paul Westerberg you might wanna pick this up. Otherwise, don’t get yourself involved. –Buttertooth (self-released: www.dougmckeanandthestuntmen.com)

La Majeure 1987: CD
Hey! Should this have gone to Designated Dale? Oh, well... Fuck you, Dale! The band’s first three-track demo sees the light again and should be much appreciated by fans of the band or followers of bands like All or Big Drill Car. I was more consumed with drinking in the late ‘80s /early ‘90s than following the scene closely. So this band slipped through the cracks for me. I believe that some members later became the band All Systems Go. This is great melodic pop punk before the scene got saturated and diluted with thousands of the same. –Donofthedead (Boss Tuneage)

Self-titled: 7”
DSXF play a fuzzy, tender brand of punk over the course of the four songs on this 7”. This three-piece hails from Gainesville and has some similarities to some of the other punk bands from that great city but also seems to have some more heart in their music than any sense of overt anarchic spirit. DSXF seem like the type of band you’d catch opening at a basement show that you didn’t know but after seeing them you’d say, “Well that was a pleasant surprise,” and wouldn’t mind hearing more of them in the future. I wasn’t expecting much from this, but I can dig it. –Kurt Morris (Jeremy)

To Serve and Protect: CD
Swedish band that perfectly blends the middle ground between fellow countrymen Smalltown and Bombshell Rocks. Cool mid-tempo street punk with a real rock’n’roll undercurrent. Reminds me a little of the more recent Ducky Boys stuff, which is high praise. If you can’t get enough of that catchy sub Rancid sound, this is one of the best bands you can hope to find right now. –Mike Frame (Mad Butcher)

Set to Blow!: CD
(Shout the intro.) I blew my wad on Down and Away’s split with Smalltown, but this full-length leaves me disappointed. Standardization’s the problem. Most of these songs could pass for b-sides to Dropkick Murphys songs. (Raise fist. Mention the streets.) The production’s squeaky clean. (Chorus.) The chops are there. The anthems are all in place (“Hey, ho, come on, let’s go.”), but it all seems so pat, so by the numbers. (Short solo here.) No chills. No fire. (Vague lyrics about us vs. them. Us good. Them, they don’t understand us.) No sparks. Nothing’s embarrassing about this CD, it’s just that so many boots have trampled these same musical avenues, you gotta have new bombs to huck – or, I know it’s a stretch – songs that sound like they haven’t been played a thousand times. That’s the disappointment. Everything on this record’s been done before, and better – like the DKM’s Do or Die – and that leaves us standing around in a big, ol’ streetpunk/oi thought ghetto in very tight pants and careful bootlace selection, staring at one another. (Grab the cymbal so it stops vibrating.) –Todd Taylor (Rockstar)

Reclaim the Radio: CD
Sweden’s Down And Away finally hits stateside record shelves with this collection, their first U.S. release to date. It’s a compilation of some of the catchiest material from four of their prior European releases. Neither 1990s enough nor formulaic enough to be dubbed pop punk, their sound is nonetheless on the more poppy side of melodic punk. Fans of pop punk or mainline 1977-infused punk will love Down And Away. There’s also an added charm due to the English-written lyrics by non-native speakers. There’s nothing too hilariously E.S.L. here (none of it would come out of Balki Bartokomous’s mouth), but the lyrics still have an unintentional comedic quality to them. This is fun, rocking pop that deserves a new audience. –Art Ettinger (Warbird)

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