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Razorcake #92
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Record Reviews

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Sex Effects: 7”
The four songs on this record are quite delightful. The beginning of the first song, “Get Up,” has a beat and melody that is strikingly familiar to Andrew W.K.’s “Party Hard.” However, the song then goes into a more ‘80s aerobic-like song and reminded me of an ‘80s Jane Fonda workout video my mom had, with leg warmers and everything. When listening to this song you cannot help but bounce around and dance like Molly Ringwald, while strutting your most impressive aerobic steps. The music contains upbeat keyboards and an electroclash indie rock beat. The vocals are somewhat androgynous, but it is just singer Sheela and her low voice. The music is along the lines of the Epoxies and the Soviettes. The album is fun and worth a listen. It was also recorded on a four-track in the band’s bedroom. Overall: entertaining and enjoyable. –jenny (Jilted)

Sex Effects: 7”
Taking a step back, it’s odd that the words “new wave” come up in 2005, especially when those words aren’t preceded by “fuck.” When it first came out, by and large it was the record companies’ way of neutering punk and “safing it up” in an attempt to corral it and sell it to the masses. Don’t get me wrong. There were some great songs, and a couple of great bands (Devo, Vapors), but it was such slim pickings, that who’d think that the torch would be re-lit to start new and interesting fires over twenty years down the line? For better and for worse, The Divebomb Honey sound a shit-ton like The Epoxies. Sure, there are differences. Sheela’s voice has a lower register than Roxy Epoxy’s and Ben Crew’s backups are more hoarse than FM Static’s, but the elements they’re dealing with: keyboards up front, real drummer, fashion-forward sunglasses and stripes, guitar-driven new wave played by punk rockers is still in its pioneering stages, so I’m going to cut ‘em a little slack. Besides, the songs—especially the songwriting in both bands—is top notch. Shit, you can dance to it and it’s fun to listen to. –todd (Jilted)

Let’s Start Something b/w Pick up the Phone: one-sided 7”
I’ve liked them from the start, but The Divebomb Honey is getting better. “Pick up the Phone,” especially, is propelled with cyanide keyboards and digital ants under the skin. It sounds like a Bladerunner-inspired Josie Cotton in a basement: sweaty circuit boards and played to an audience in underwear made solely out of electrical tape and Christmas lights. That or R2D2 rampage music… and it’s definitely for fans of either Devo or the Epoxies. –todd (Exploding Toe)

Beat, Beat, Beat: Demo CD-R EP
A four-track, made-at-home new wave duo that’s much better that it sounds on paper (much like Altanta’s great one man new wave band, Derek Lyn Plastic) because for all the keyboards, stripes, goofy sunglasses, and good singing, they haven’t neglected the card often missing from the deck: songwriting. Catchy stuff that would fit right at home on the Valley Girl soundtrack. It’s a little bit sparser than the Minds, not quite as tumbling as the Epoxies, but a damn fine debut that a savvy record company (along the lines of Alien Snatch or Screaming Apple) would do well to put out. –todd (The Divebomb Honey)

Self-titled: 7” EP
Heavy reverb trip-garage rock with the guitars nicely fuzzed and spacey. The songs themselves are more modern garage than, say, the Chocolate Watchband, but they do the trick just nicely. –jimmy (The Minneapolis Record Collective, minneapolisrecordco@hotmail.com)

“Glass Chimes” b/w “Montrose”: 7”
First vinyl outing by some ex-Drunken Boat gentlemen playing poignant and heartwarming punk ala Mush, meeting the undeniable energy of a truly powerful live band. The A side is a duet with Erica “Yeaaahhh!” Freas of RVIVR, and the B side is an endearing tribute to Jamie Ewing packed with hat tips to specific highlights from the Bent Outta Shape catalog. This record doesn’t stand a chance against the dangers of frequent re-listening. –Daryl Gussin (Rumbletowne, rumbletowne.com)

Self-titled : 7”
Rumbletowne Records is one of my favorite current labels. They’re unafraid to take chances and, thus, release unique and interesting bands. The other side of this is I often hear something they put out and just don’t get it. Diversis a good example. To me it sounds like slow, boring indie rock. One of the songs waxes sentimental about two guys who call each other Dean and Sal like the Kerouac characters. Ugh! It’s overly maudlin and smarmy. Wait... aren’t Dean and Sal the same guy? I don’t remember. I quit reading Kerouac when I was about eighteen. Anyway, you might like this if you like indie-influenced punk or Rumbletowne Records. I’ll pass. –Craven (Rumbletowne, rumbletowne.com)

Hello Hello: CD
Ten tracks of Hold Steady meets Gaslight Anthem type of stuff from this Portland band. This style lives and dies in the songwriting and vocals, both of which are just okay here. I am not a big fan of most of the bands they seem to be copping from for the same reason. Things get vaguely goth/post-punk in places, which at least gives the band a little personality. Most of this just falls into the new style indie stuff which is neither good nor bad, just kinda there.  –frame (Party Damage, partydamagerecords.com)

Hello Hello: Cassette
There are a lot of things people tell you when you move to the Pacific Northwest from down south, mostly having to do with rain and “hipsters.” They do not tell you that every single punk you meet from here on out is going to be prostrated at the altar of Portland’s Divers. I found out pretty immediately that there was some big deal about them up here but avoided every opportunity to find out what it was. I’m gonna skip the self-flagellation and get to the part that matters: Divers fucking rules, Hello Hello fucking rules. If Gaslight Anthem never really lived up to what you thought “Springsteen punk” had the potential to be—or even if they did, honestly—Divers are the guys you want. But it’d be a mistake to distill Hello Hellodown to that most obvious comparison, as soulful and Boss-like as frontman Harrison Rapp’s whispery rasp may be. Slow burners like “Listen, Teller” and “Last Dance” dig up layers of ‘80s influence that don’t surface nearly as often as Springsteen and Westerberg do in modern punk—I’m hearing strains of U2, Simple Minds, Human League, all these little scraps and strands of nostalgia pieced together in strangely wonderful ways. Of their contemporaries, Restorations is the most comparable, unsurprisingly. But despite the long list of unmistakable influences, this band is anything but derivative. They pull off every angle: pensive, plaintive, anthemic, dreamy… it all just works in this many-layered, unpredictable way. This is a special band.  –Indiana Laub (Stay Punk)

Music to Spazz to: 7?
Self-described mod/punk, but it sounds like fairly pedestrian no matter what they call it. Reminded me of Blanks 77 in all the wrong ways. –jimmy (Know)

At Twilight: CD
You’ve got six songs here full of blastbeats, throat-rending vocals, and some heavy and intricate hardcore-meets-metal riffage. Their lyrics are whipcrack smart, the production’s excellent, and there’s enough variety in their eye-gouging and throat-punching that the six songs go by pretty fast. I’m thinking Curl Up And Die, I’m thinking Killing The Dream and maybe some Madeline Ferguson too. Would probably please both straight-up metalheads and fans of the five mile an hour punch in the face that Drowningman dishes out. One of those deals where it definitely wasn’t cringeworthy by any means, but also wasn’t a sonic version of an ice-cold Pabst on a hot summer day. Still, if I saw ’em in a basement somewhere, I’d probably go right up front and stay there for the whole set. –keith (Shock Value)

Self-titled: 7”: 7”
Jamie Barrier has permanently etched his voice into my brain. Frontman of the Pine Hill Haints as well as many other groups over the last decade and a half. It doesn’t matter who he’s playing with, it’ll always mean more. It’ll always be part of something much larger, and I graciously invite the Divine 6/7 into it. Rootsy, laid-back punk jams that could only have been recorded in the dead of winter. Longing for summer nights and punk shows where people aren’t shivering. The art strangely reminds me of some kind of “urban” “apparel” company, but that may just be the cultural differences between Los Angeles, CA and Savannah, TN. If the Pine Hill Haints play ghost music, The Divine 6/7 have tapped into the spirit of Carolina beach music. –Daryl Gussin (Arkam)

Self-titled: LP
I’m not baiting you if I say, “I don’t know a Justin Bieber song.” I’m not being contrarian when I say, “Nope, never heard Lady Gaga, that I know about.” My thinking is this: certain people spend a lot of time regulating what they ingest and to what they subject their bodies and minds. Food. Exercise. Politics. The sun. Disposable, popular music. Music’s important to me. I cherish the rare place I’m in. No personal Facebook. No cell phone. Records get sent to me in the mail. I can listen to bands and people I admire (sometimes adore) on a regular basis in a manner I find fulfilling at my own pace without a corporation attempting to slide its oil-soaked hands down the front of my pants to extract my wallet (or digital equivalent). The Divine 6/7 feature Jamie and Katie of the Pine Hill Haints and two talented women. The songs are rad. I agree with Jamie’s assessment: they’re looking for that perfect song. This record—a collection of released and new material—is a joy to listen to. It’s an honest, real, authentic, fun, and exuberant record recorded in 2012. So, I’ll make you a deal, popular shit culture who disbelieves that some people just don’t care about you. I’ll listen to your pop trash for one or two songs if you agree to take time, sit down, and listen to the Divine 6/7 on vinyl. Then we’ve got a deal. A one-to-one deal. Yeah, I know it’s asking a lot, but those are the terms. Damn it. Orwell was right again. People are embracing their own systems of control, loving them, and are becoming addicted to the distraction, instead of being cautious of it… and this is a damn fine record. –todd (Arkam)

Pray for Me: EP
Paying homage to classic ‘80s hardcore punk is hardly anything new or original, by any stretch of the imagination. But how many times does someone try and fail miserably? All too often, me thinks. Divine Right, however, tap into all the timeless aspects of early American hardcore punk with authority and confidence; almost as if they had invented this style. Five blows to the cranium of pissed-as-shit hardcore punk with just the right amount of those crucial breakdowns. Top that off with some great artwork and you have another winner handed in by Residue. –Juan Espinosa (Residue, residue-records.com)

Self-titled: LP
Noisy hardcore with lots of feedback and fuzz pumped into the sound. Musically they run along the Tear it Up/Double Negative side of the street, alternating between thrashing and menacing boil.  –jimmy (Deranged)

Self-titled: CD
This dances on a razor’s edge between trash rock and AmRep skronk, lagging a bit when they lean toward the latter but shining bright when they pull out all the stops and raise a ruckus. Clip off four or five tracks of dead weight and this would be a stunner. –jimmy (www.doubleplusgoodrecords.com)

Beartrap Island: CD
God damn Eric Carle-esque artwork suckered me into picking this one out of the stack. I knew it would be soft, but I thought it might be fun-soft. Not crappy indie rock soft. Oh yeah, and someone told me they’re named after an Elliot Smith song, isn’t that interesting. Yeah, I didn’t think so either. –Daryl Gussin (Division Day)

1983 Demo Cassette: LP
Here’s what I was able to dig up about this bad boy: Division Four was an early ‘80s band hailing from Perth, Australia that managed to spurt out this, their sole recorded output, in 1983 before fading back into obscurity. The titular demo has become quite the collector’s item, so this reissue will no doubt be hailed ‘n’ huzzahed in certain quarters, and with good reason: the shit’s pretty danged good. Dual bass guitars, drums, synths ‘n’ vocals bubble and brood aplenty, but ain’t averse to getting all punky-aggressive on occasion so that their results are in just as good company with mid-’80s UK punk as they are with post-punk and the quirkier wing of the new wave. Fuggin’ choice listening here.  –jimmy (Smart Guy, smartguyrecords.com)

Das Not Compute: CD
Yay. Despite the Fugazi comparisons and claims that this band is somehow something more than a Hives clone which listened to too many Sonic Youth and Mudhoney albums, this still just sounds like a shitty garage rock rip-off of the Spacemen 3 to me. –scott (Burning Heart)

Das Not Compute: CD
Yay. Despite the Fugazi comparisons and claims that this band is somehow something more than a Hives clone which listened to too many Sonic Youth and Mudhoney albums, this still just sounds like a shitty garage rock rip-off of the Spacemen 3 to me. –scott (Burning Heart)

97-99: CD
This review period, I am the ultimate jaded man. Negative energy runs though me and I am not excited. After listening to this CD, I feel like we are doomed by what music we will be listening to in the future. I’m going to become a babbling old man reminiscing the good old days, listening to records that no longer are produced. The Refused started a avalanche of followers in Sweden who aren’t as original and interesting. This CD drones on and leaves me with a downcast mood that makes me have to dispose of this. –don (Lovitt)

Mantras: CD
When I was in college, my friends and I used to get together on Sunday nights and have tea and sit and listen to Hearts of Space, an ambient radio show on NPR. Hippies maybe, but it was always a relaxing, mellow way to end the weekend while also listening to some creative, droney, space music. It seems as though Mantras could easily fit in with that type of crowd. The Division is the one-man act of Chicago musician Matthew Schultz who has done time in both Lab Report and Pigface. Eight of the nine songs on this album clock in at exactly six minutes and two seconds; the last track is exactly six minutes. Given the background of the artist, one might expect a little more aggressive, abrasive sound but, instead, the music has an ambient tone that also utilizes some tribal beats and, more importantly, a number of instruments and styles of playing most identifiable from other cultures. In Indian religions mantras are deemed able to produce spiritual transformation. I don’t know if that was Schultz’s intention, but given the right setting (dark room, comfortable seat, a cup of tea, some incense), the tracks on Mantras might very well take you to a different place. –kurt (Lens)

Self-titled: 7”
Pretty generic, heavy crust from Ireland, similar to Ballast without nearly as much charm. You’ve got your requisite male/female vocal tradeoffs, Tragedy-esque melodies, bleak, black imagery, etc. You should pretty much know the drill by now. Granted, it’s incredibly difficult to stand out in this genre, but Divisions Ruin don’t even seem to be trying. –Dave Williams (Contraszt!)

self-titled: 7” EP
Tumbling-a-piano-down-the-stairs type thrash/grind stuff. Your parents will love it every time you put it on at family gatherings. –jimmy (Tsunami)

Every Day: 7”
Tribal-beat post-punk, with thick, thudding bass, chanty vocals, and some out-of-the-box guitar twanging. Both tracks here are alternately engaging and detached, inviting you to move while still managing to feel cold and gray. Here’s hoping a full-length ain’t too far away.  –jimmy (Iron Lung)

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