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Record Reviews

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Dale & The Careeners: CD
Being the first full length in seven years, Dale is a game changer. Here, Will Thomas trades in his sticks for a stab at the guitar. Markedly different from what you associate Grabass with: pop punk persuasion with a Southern slant, Dale takes a turn onto straight up rock. The Charlestons have opted for coasting instead of barreling down the highway at full throttle, as evidenced right out the gate with “Stormy Weather.” A few tracks like “If Dale Were You” and “Apocalypse Whenever” harkens back to their previous work, but after a few play throughs, this grows on ya like a fungus. While this may throw off fans of their older sound, this could also snag the band some new ones. Recommended. –Kristen K (No Idea)

Dale & The Careeners: CD
Blown away. There is really not much else to say after one listen to this disc. The Charlestons have taken such an evolutionary leap as a band that it is hard to put into words what is going on here, but I will try. While I would be hesitant to call this a concept album, it would be fair to say that it is certainly thematic. The disc’s twelve tracks tell the tale of Dale and Cassandra—two fringe characters who find themselves in the midst of opiate addiction, clean up slightly, and relapse again once the cold days of winter return. In the end, there isn’t really any redemption. This is a painful, harrowing and yet beautiful musical journey totally worth taking. On past releases, I always felt that the Charlestons played it a bit safe but this release really takes them to the next level. Every song on here is a minor masterpiece. Everything here is literate, well written, and performed to a level that I wasn’t expecting. Get this, like right now. –Garrett Barnwell (No Idea)

Dale & The Careeners: CD
Florida punk staple adds some rootsy, Springsteen rock’n’roll to their gruff punk for a rock opera about a junkie couple named Dale and Cassandra. The Charlestons are ripping off The Hold Steady all over this album, but it’s hard to complain when it results in their catchiest batch of songs yet. Here’s to romance: “Cassandra’s not the type to weather the winter and Dale’s a nice guy with a good space heater.” –CT Terry (No Idea)

Dale & The Careeners: CD
This CD has a definite theme to it. The character of Dale is in about half of the songs, and his lady Cassandra is in a couple as well. The album is dedicated to the life and memory of Lynnae Hottinger, a friend of the band. The music is easy on the ears, with all of the instruments holding their own. Will’s voice is that of a storyteller’s, and he spins some good yarns, with lyrics about real life shit. My favorite song is “Dale Is a Raindog, Too.” It is about the Tampa Bay Rays winning the American League Wild Card in the last game of the regular season in 2011. The Cardinals did the same thing that year, in the National League. I can relate. This disc features guest vocals from the likes of Chris Wollard, Isaac Thotz, and Neil Hennessy, to name a few. This is a very good CD. –Nighthawk (No Idea)

Dale & The Careeners: CD/LP
I have to admit that I don’t know much about the Grabass Charlestons. I’m sure that for many Razorcake readers, they are a well-known favorite. All I knew of the band was that they were a punk band on No Idea Records from Florida. I expected them to be silly, juvenile, and write equally immature songs. But I like it when my expectations are broken for the better. The Grabass Charlestons have put together twelve songs for thirty-six minutes of solid punk that shows that they are capable of writing songs that can bear some sort of message and include an array of influences beyond their punk rock base. While Dale & The Careeners is certainly a punk-influenced album, I keep hearing a slight bit of country influence as well as some southern rock through a number of the songs. I’m sure some may say Will Thomas’s voice sounds just like this or that guy, but it seems wholly original to me and made the band stand out from the morass that can often exist in punk rock. While it may seem that Dale & The Careeners is a concept album, as the band has said, it’s more a take on the American condition. The songs seem to often deal with a guy named Dale and his situation with drugs, working at the Flying J, and baseball, amongst other things. Other songs don’t mention him at all. So, I’m not sure what to make of the lyrics, but they certainly aren’t juvenile. Dale & The Careeners shows a mature band that knows what they’re doing and isn’t afraid to move past stereotypes that may have held some bands back from achieving an album that they should be proud of. –Kurt Morris (No Idea)

Dale & The Careeners: CD
Serious gaps in their record collections/musical knowledge. Everybody’s got ‘em. Shit, I have a friend who couldn’t even name all the Beatles until this year. In light of that, it doesn’t look so bad that I was only marginally familiar with Grabass up to this point. Sure, I’d seen ‘em live once or twice, and I’m pretty sure I’ve got a burned copy of Ask Mark Twain lying around somewhere, but I hadn’t really let them sink in. (I know, I know, chill out—reference my opening sentence, goddammit.) They’ve always been on my list of bands to get to (And yes, that’s an actual physical list) but I’ve just never gotten around to it. It appears I’ve been missing out too, ‘cause this is good stuff. “Like Craig Finn’s singing, but not stupid.” (According to my roommate) (So, not like Craig Finn at all, I would argue…) I dig the subtle nod to “Sweet Child ‘O Mine” in the melody to “Fall Guy.” Apparently, this sounds different from the older tunes, and, yeah, upon further investigation, the older shit’s gruffer. The newer shit seems to be better-composed, with more thought-out melodies and parts. This isn’t the sort of record that catches you all at once, or has a stand-out “single.” But let me tell you, multiple listens are rewarded-s’good shit. One gap down. –Ryan Horky (No Idea, noidearecords.com)

Split: 7"
I’m a man of many faults. One fault in particular applies to half of this record. It’s the one located somewhere in the crossed wires of my head that causes me to erroneously dislike things that I feel too many other people like. Especially if I didn’t get in on the very ground floor of all this overbearing love. There is absolutely no reason to point out how shallow and down right retarded this is. I think on it often. The Ergs are on fire right now amongst pop punk nerds and the level of praise heaped upon them irks me for some reason. Even though I know that they at least ninety percent fully deserve it. They’re just really good. I enjoy the sounds they make and their impromptu Green Day covers at record store basement shows in San Francisco please me. They’re really nice people. They were on a comp I did and I thought they fucking owned it. Our Bob Stinson who art in heaven wishes he could have nailed that solo so well. But somewhere in the back of my head I want to not like them on account of how much wang suckery people are doing right now over them. Totally not their fault. Mostly unreasonable. Like I said I’m a man of many faults. Anyway I tend to write reviews that rarely inform people of what records actually sound like. In short, if you wish that true pop punk (like Blink 182 never happened) had continued to progress from the ‘90s and maintained its vitality, you’ll be extremely stoked on The Ergs. They bring it in a way that hasn’t been done in a long time and its actual fucking quality. The lip service flood swirling around our waists right now for these guys is actually pretty well deserved. They’re not perfect and every song ain’t a gem but a whole lot of them are. Grabass...bring up the vocals in my monitor! You’re buried back there! You wrote a song about Aaron Kohl god damn it and I want to hear it in its full glory. My only real complaint. Of their two songs “Double Ding-Dong…this song title is too long” is the real winner. Maybe it’s my soft spot for that sweet as pie occasionally one man wrecking ball you call Kohly or maybe it just rocks the face off of the other song. There honestly can’t be a soul reading this magazine who doesn’t know what this band sounds like and I’m trying to knock these damn reviews out so I ain’t going to get in to it. They sound good. That’s all you need to know. On the other hand, something I need to know is why I’ve seen at least four or five record covers over the years with lottery scratch off tickets on them. What’s behind this odd choice of artwork? They don’t look cool so I can only assume it’s a cover for your gambling problems. Just because you made art out of your addiction doesn’t mean it’s not a problem! –Steveo (No Idea)

Split: LP
“Hey Will, how’s it going?” “Not good, Todd. Not having a good time.” That’s pretty much summed up my conversations with Will, the drummer and singer of Grabass, the past several years. It may be that he’s on tour and grumpy. Or that he’s at Fest in his hometown, and that just means more jackasses, long days of work, then dealing with ultra-drunk jackasses who don’t want to talk to him about R. Kelly’s magnum opus. But I really like and admire Will. He has the ability to write poetic songs about a discarded, pink-tired kid’s bike and it’s sad, beautiful, and meaningful. Ah, fuck it. I like not being lied to, either personally or musically, and Grabass have always delivered honest news in their own humble way. Peej still has secret hands playing notes simultaneously on two guitars that glimmer, sparkle, crackle, and fade like fireworks. Replay keeps the bottom end flexible, bubbling, and locked in place. He’s like a less menacing, more cut-off shorts, sleeveless-shirt, postal code-savvy Lemmy. Grabass are my Betsy Ross. I wanna wrap myself up in the flag they’ve been stitching together for years and years, then fly that flag like freedom itself. Toys That Kill: I say this without equivocation. Toys That Kill are my Black Flag, except they haven’t put out a bad record yet, their love of cats isn’t completely batshit crazy, and their fans don’t pine for the days when punching strangers in the face was “punk.” Rise above, my ‘80s-locked friends, and come into the current decade of DIY. –Todd Taylor (No Idea)

The Greatest Story Ever Hula’d: CD
Sweat-dripping, whisky-drowned, dirty Florida punk at its finest. First off, the split these guys did with Billy Reese Peters, pick it up. Ever since I reviewed it, it’s just gotten better and it’s now firmly lodged as one of the top twenty releases of 2002. I’ll be completely honest, on first listen to this I wasn’t hooked. The vocals are a tad slower and the instruments aren’t as instantly dazzling and frenetic. Also, this full-length seems sadder, more morose. (Apparent evidence is the song title “Suicide at $8 an Hour” and the supporting documentation is the lyrics sheet.) Then the netting takes hold – little flashes, little hooks, little dips and wanes. Some horns on one song. Then, around the fifteenth time I popped this on, I didn’t hold it up to the expectation of their split, but held it up to itself. Now, I hate to use words like “songwriting maturity,” because that’s usually for dildos, but these songs are denser, richer, and a slightly bit more of an acquired taste. They look at wreckage (their own ashes) more than bombast (like going after their boss man). So, let’s compare. Like Tiltwheel, the tones are bright and happy, but the sentiment is dark, ultra-articulate and sad. (“We’ll be making a better resource sleeping six feet underground” and “I had the weirdest dream/ Where I went a whole day with a spear in my chest/ I kept waiting to die.”) Like Leatherface, the guitars weave in tight, then splay apart and shimmer. It’s like you’re immersed in their songs, filled with metaphoric life preservers and harpoons. Like Dillinger Four, no instrument takes the easy way out. Pure propulsion and fireworks. Like the Beltones, Will is drumming, but he’s also singing, and it’s catchy hard-drinking, working class without-the-cliché punk rock. Ultimately – and the final testament – is that The Grabass Charlestons are a band that others will start being compared to. A top of 2003 for me, no doubt. –Todd Taylor (No Idea)

Split : CD
Fuck yeah. During this rotation of CD reviews, I though to myself, “Am I being too harsh? Am I becoming a flapping cockhole critic who can’t hear good in front of him? Why am I not liking a lot of bands I’ve never heard of?” That ends here. Both of these bands are great, and for reasons I can’t explain, the Grabass Charlestons win by a nose. (There are overlapping band members between the two bands and it gets confusing who hootenannies from one band to the other, even after it was explained to me that Will Beltone drums and sings on the first seven songs. The fact that the entire album repeats itself confuses my simple brain even more. But after a lot of deliberation, you know what? It doesn’t matter.) It’s prototypical (not to be confused with predictable) Gainsville punk – and what that means to you is that they’ve got an inherent love (either subliminally or explicitly) of Leatherface. They fit right into the pantheon/fireside ruckus of Panthro UK United 13, Radon, Dillinger Four and The Beltones. The music zings and crashes around like a drunk, sloppy, happy gang of friends that stomp on fires holding uncapped gas cans above their heads. Happy, strong combustion, pure and simple. It’s made by people who could give a fuck about being fashionable and can pull off Cheap Trick’s “Hello There” like they wrote it themselves. Take, for instance, what I pose is our generation’s “Pinball Wizard.” (Join along in this exaltation if you consider your generation having nothing to do with mall mentalities, music on the radio, moving units or Soundscan, just the love of loud, raw, fun music that ain’t afraid of thinking as much as drinking.) “Galaga Wizard” has got all this boy needs to fuel his brain and make him hoarse from shouting along. It follows a protagonist being picked up in a limousine full of dignitaries and “neon girls, minor legions with cocaine pearls,” pissed that he’s called an amateur, then locks into the world of the game itself, as “them falling bees is looking fucking scary,” ending, no less, with “it’s some sacred shit to be spreading ‘round.” It’s cool because it’s about playing a video game, but works on so many different levels, like meeting expectations, forever tagged as the underdog and not only being ready to prove yourself at any time, but succeeding in the world you’ve created. That hits so close to home, it’s not even funny. I can’t think of a higher recommendation for this CD. –Todd Taylor (No Idea)

Look up Look Down: CD
You sent us (me) a semi-transparent CD. I’ve never seen anything like it. It wouldn’t play for me so I listened to the new Leatherface album instead. It’s soooo good! –Kurt Morris (southernshedpunk.com)

Anus Is a Pussy: 7"
Well, I feel violated. This sure is angry and incoherent. The inside of the record sleeve says “this is idiot” and I’m inclined to agree. –Bryan Static (Fashionable Idiots)

Live Raw Punk Shits: 7"
With a cartoony name like “The Grabbies” one might envision a cuddly pop punk band that dresses in funny ‘80s new wave clothing and excretes sugary little musical plums that get your toes tappin’ and make you feel good all over. Now, I’m not always the best judge of character, but I think I’m fairly safe in saying that the Grabbies do not want to make you feel good all over. In fact, I think they’d rather butt-spray your curtains with diarrhea and light your pets on fire. And their sound is anything but pop punk. It’s a heaving, blistering, seething, vicious wall of misanthropy that sounds like a bunch of rabid madmen gnawing their own limbs off—and liking it. This live recording is a veritable clinic on Punk Rock Audience Baiting; frontman “Anus” tells the audience to fuck off probably fifty different times during this brief show and still somehow manages to sound like he really fucking means it each and every time. GG, at his pissiest, had nothing on this guy. The story goes, in fact, that this performance—unleashed on an unsuspecting crowd of patchouli-wearing college puds—resulted in our heroes having the power shut off on them and being run out of town. While I certainly hope that that story is true, it obviously could be little more than an attempt to “sell the sizzle” of this new record. But either way, it’s immaterial to me. This fucker is busting out all over the place with “sizzle” and it’s a sizzle that latches onto your face like a pan of scalding hot grease. No selling necessary. I’ve got a Grabbies habit now and I need every Grabbies recording I can get my grubby little hands on. Very possibly the greatest live recording of any band I own. This is the shit religions are made of. –aphid (Proud To Be Idiot)

I Wanna Be Blind: 7
Punk as Hate from Italy via San Francisco that’s full of relentless dumb-brute energy that chases its own tail around and around in the most beautifully idiotic way. Sort of a lo-fi version of the Rocking Dildos. Shlocky, fast ‘tard punk with racing guitars and an indecipherable vocalist who sounds like a tiny, infuriated Popeye impaled on a fondue fork, all on lovely dead-fingernail grey vinyl. I think I love this band. –aphid (Proud to be Idiot)

Voices Travel: CD
There’s a guy I work with who is just dumbfounded by the fact that I don’t like 311 or half a dozen other bands he loves. “They’re such talented musicians.” To which my response is: “I don’t give a good goddamn how talented they are. They’re not playing anything I want to hear.” Chuck Berry plays three chords and I’d happily listen to those three chords for three hours than hear some asshole noodling around being “talented” for three minutes. Gracer are talented musicians. It’s just three guys and I’m sure if you see them live there’s a minefield of awesome pedals and fancy lights all over their amps. But they aren’t playing anything I want to hear. At nearly five minutes a track I should be able to grab on to something here. The kindest thing you could say is that it’s “epic” indie rock. It drags on and on, pulling you through what sounds like out-takes from The Postal Service and/or Death Cab For Cutie catalog, and a lot of deep, emotional, poetic, schmaltzy lyrics that never hit their mark. If I could remember a single one of these songs I’m sure I wouldn’t be shocked when I heard it in the background of a particularly emotional scene on One Tree Hill or The Gilmore Girls. Revelation Records…I like you a lot. We’ve had a lot of good times but I’m watching you guys. The path tread by Victory Records and this sort of crap is paved with thousands of shifted units but it’s a dark one. –Guest Contributor (Revelation)

Honeypot: CD
This hearkens back to the days of early '90s alt-rock, before it denigrated into the completely soppy crap that now flies that flag. I hear bits of Poster Children and others in their sound, and they're quite adept at what they do. In the long run it may not exactly be something I'd listen to all that often, but I do acknowledge their efforts. –Jimmy Alvarado (Pirate Alley)

Honeypot: CD
This hearkens back to the days of early ‘90s alt-rock, before it denigrated into the completely soppy crap that now flies that flag. I hear bits of Poster Children and others in their sound, and they’re quite adept at what they do. In the long run it may not exactly be something I’d listen to all that often, but I do acknowledge their efforts. –Jimmy Alvarado (Pirate Alley, no address)

The Porcelain Doll Collection: CD
The Porcelain Doll Collection consists of four songs. Imagine the more recent Brody Dalle style vocals set to alternative ‘90s power chord music while you’re shopping for something black at Hot Topic. The lyrics have a lot of girl power themes laced with plenty of “F” bombs (Don’t worry, there is a Parental Advisory label on the front). If you’re a female catholic school dropout, this EP will probably make you feel less alone. –Ryan Nichols (Self-released, no address listed)

Y.U. So Shady?: CD
This is some kind of a mixture of AmRep-style noise, Man’s Ruin-style heavy rock, and some of that Southern rock at 100 MPH kinda stuff. Not a great-sounding recipe for a band and the results are not spectacular. The band calls their style “Delta Metal,” so if that sounds like your cuppa then belly on up to the bar. –Mike Frame (Alternative Tentacles)

Destination Time Today: LP
Do you like elaborate packaging that looks like it cost a shit ton of money to produce? How about samples from movies in between each and every song? Then boy, do I have the band for you! I’ve set the bar for out of control hardcore with dashes of metal thrown in for good measure at Bucket Full Of Teeth. Graf Orlock didn’t quite reach that level of insanity. There’s something going on behind the scenes that I’m not completely comfortable with as far as the recording production goes. Perhaps the packaging was foreshadowing of what was pressed onto the grooves here. Way too polished and clean-sounding for my liking or for this genre of music. –Juan Espinosa (Adagio 830/Vitriol)

Blind Horse Campaign: CD
The Cows rock out to Nashville Pussy. Loud, raucous, and definitely worth a spin. –Jimmy Alvarado (Dead Canary)

Self-titled: 7”

Stoner riff rock'n'roll. Sorry, but this hippie shit just ain’t my bag.


–Jimmy Alvarado (Derailleur)

Your Country: CD
Well, Razorcake has officially received its first Graham Parker release for review, which no doubt puts us in the running with Rolling Stone as to the only two publications in the world with that dubious honor. It's all downhill from here. Guess it's only a matter of time before the Springsteen and David Lindley bootlegs start pouring in. –Jimmy Alvarado (Bloodshot)

Your Country: CD
The British have a special affinity for classic American country music. From Billy Bragg and Pete Shelley to the Mekons and The The, some of the most faithful interpretations of Johnny, Carl, Patsy and Hank can be found emanating from the shores of the UK. Graham Parker, who possesses Dylan’s cigarette-rough rasp and Elvis Costello’s biting sense of humor, is perfectly suited to the task on Your Country, offering up ten original tracks and one seriously re-written cover of Dave Edmund’s “Crawlin’ from the Wreckage.” Graham, like Costello, Edmunds and, on another level, Richard Thompson, is a songwriter whose career has been distinguished both by intelligent lyrics and equally capable musicianship. And like his fellow countrymen, Graham has an ear for incorporating a variety of musical styles into his own work. Your Country is not, by most definitions, American country per se, nor is it even an extension of the work of Gram Parsons or, more recently, Steve Earle (although the song “Almost Thanksgiving Day” comes awful close). Rather, this is Parker’s music informed by American country, which is, perhaps, even more ambitious than simply covering other artists’ work. Despite being on the Bloodshot label, this is not alt-country by any stretch of the imagination. Longtime Parker fans will instantly recognize his biting commentary and may even have to look closely to find any hint of what most people associate with country music. –eric (Bloodshot)

Catchy Like a Cold b/w Spread It Like a Virus: 7”
Despite myself, I’m diggin Grain USA’s super squeaky clean, I-can-kick-their-asses pop. “Catchy Like a Cold” has enough juice to keep it from sounding sterile and their bubblegum chops have enough snap to keep the song from sounding flaccid. “Spread It Like a Virus” is just as good. It’s an instrumental head bopper that could easily be used for a soundtrack of an invalid overcoming personal tragedy and embracing the magic of the human soul. –Todd Taylor (www.disposablerevolution.com)

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