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Razorcake #86
Wailing Of a Town, by Craig Ibarra
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Toys That Kill / Joyce Manor, Split 7"

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Record Reviews

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And to Become One: Split CD
Sometimes people start bands because they are good and care about the music they’re making. Other times, it appears to be a sweet showcase for them to show off their well-rehearsed scowls and poses in their perfect makeup and hair. But dudes, there’s this thing called the internet that you can do that on. Sure, you might not get as many friend requests, but for people like myself who have to listen to this drivel, please consider it. And the album title offends what little sensibility I have left. –Megan Pants (I Scream)

Self-Titled: CD
It always throws me for a loop that when an obscure but totally kickass band like the Weird Lovemakers has somehow entered the collective subconscious. I’d bet you a pound of gummi worms that the Mercy Killers, who are from New York and just released this disc, have never heard The Weird Lovemakers’ Electric Chump, which was released the better part of a decade ago in Tucson. I doubt that the Mercy Killers’ lead vocalist knows that he sounds almost exactly like Greg Pettix. But the similarities are uncanny. To think that they came to the same musical conclusions as the Lovemakers makes me smile. The Mercy Killers have that close-to-strangulated vocals and play not-too-fancy, but wonderfully effective punk rock that’s long on charm and short on trying to convince you that listening to them is in any way, shape, or form is cool. (It is, but in a way where you’ll reap the rewards of good music and little else. As it should be, in my humble opinion.) The only main difference between the Mercy Killers and the Lovemakers is the weirdness-o-meter is kept in check. There isn’t a ranchero song like “En Busca Dela Superfucie,” but if you put this on and said, “Look what I found. Weird Lovemakers demos!” I’d bet you another bag of gummi worms that you’d fool most people. I’ll be playing this a lot. –Todd Taylor (The Mercy Killers, 15 Grandview Trail, Monroe, NY 10950)

Self-titled: 7” EP
This debut EP by a band comprised of former members of Direct Control, Wasted Time, and Violent Outburst grabs you by the boo-boo right from the beginning and shakes you around like a ragdoll for, oh, a little over twelve minutes before tossing your concussed carcass in a heap. Sinewy, non-meathead hardcore that bashes and thrashes with the best its progenitors ever kicked up.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Beach Impediment)

Snuffed Out: 7” EP
Another corker of an EP here chock full o’ the kind of meaty hardcore that makes you just wanna go off and wreck shit up. Solid, driving, and just plain mean. Fans of Direct Control, Out Cold, and the like would do well to take note.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Beach Impediment)

When I Die, I’m Taking You with Me: CD
Loud guitar pop, sorta what they were trying to label as “power pop” a few years back but sounds more like Foo Fighters not trying too hard. Not stunning, not terrible, just kinda lost in the middle of the crowd.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Squidhat)

I’m Back: CD
A mostly acoustic release here from a longtime SF punk scenester, Housecoat Project members, and the former wife of Flipper’s Bruce Loose. I can’t say it’s my bag of worms, but it’s clear she’s into what she’s doin’, which is more than I can say of about half of the stuff I get for review in any given cycle. –Jimmy Alvarado (Subterranean)

The Cathedral: LP
Though I’m predisposed to like anything rootsy and jangly, Meridian’s banjo- and piano-infused “existential crisis you can sing along to” would have been up my alley even if it wasn’t composed by Signals Midwest’s Max Stern, who possesses the supernatural ability to punch me right in the feels. This filled-out full-length is a follow-up to 2012’s stripped-down Aging Truths LP. Its eight heartrending tracks feature full band instrumentation that includes cello, trumpet, and trombone. Though all of its selections skip along with the same flavor of nostalgic whimsy as the first, the opening, titular track required nearly twenty repeats before I could bear to part with it and listen to the remainder of the record. The charming imperfections of Stern’s trademark vocal melodies and lyrics communicate the earnestness of his passion and force me to reflect on my own lost loves with a teenaged yearning. The Youth Conspiracy-distributed vinyl LP is limited to five hundred. My CD came with a handwritten note from Stern, thanking me for my support and expressing a genuine enthusiasm about eventually touring through my neck of the woods. If this sweet gesture and the depth of emotion on The Cathedral are any indication, Max’s—and his brother and collaborator Jacob’s—barebones live show will be a moving and personal affair that I cannot wait to witness.  –Kelley O’Death (Youth Conspiracy, info@youthconspiracyrecords.com, youthconspiracy.bigcartel.com)

Arson Is for Lovers: CD
This is Hot Topic Rock at its finest, only this time with a female singer. The songs are boring for the most part, however there have been a few really catchy hooks that caught me by surprise that I really enjoyed. This woman’s voice isn’t horrible, but she probably doesn’t have to hold out every word as long as she does. The music comes off as pretty fancy guitar work, but when you listen to it, you notice it is just an excessive amount of arpeggio and string bends. This is what I imagine Paramore to sound like, I guess. One thing I find weird is that on the back of the album it says that this album can be downloaded for free at their website. Doesn’t that kind of make the CD pointless? –Noah W. K. –Guest Contributor (Self-released, www.arsonisforlovers.com)

If I Could Only Fly: CD
The man is a musical maverick, an enigmatic well-traveled larger-than-life legend, a stern and stoic leathery-faced old outlaw who's sturdily rode the hellbent-on-fury buckin' bronco of life into many a dust-stirred silhouetted sunset. His music is country, pure and simple and no-holds-barred. Yep, on this here smorgasbord spread of delectably tasty ditties, old-time country'n'western is heartily served by the musically mercurial master himself, Mr. Merle: whiskey-sippin' country twang that smoothly quenches the debilitative thirst of the forlorn, lost, and forgotten transient nomads aimlessly wandering the vast sprawling expanses of America's endlessly open rural desolation; chugga-chugga cowhide country that colorfully conjures a smalltown backwoods honkytonk setting of sawdust-covered floors, sweet and sticky BBQ beef thickly piled heaven-high on platters of beans, potato salad, and home-baked bread, and nostalgically cradlin' a longneck while swayin' in a boot-shufflin' cheek-to-cheek waltz with your true-love high school sweetheart; cryin'-in-your-beer shitkickin' country that appropriately provides a spirit-stirring soundtrack of robustly brawlin' manliness. The most intimately inspirational moments contained herein: the jaunty and jazzy New Orleans rowdiness of "Honky Tonk Mama" (it'd do ol' Hank Sr. proud... he must surely be smilin' big and prideful-like in the wild blue yonder!), the downhome flavorful strains of an achingly poignant swirling steel-guitar in "Turn to Me," the quavering cowpoke harmonica-blaring solitude of "If I Could Only Fly," the Bob Wills-inspired country-swing swagger of "Bareback," and the ruggedly jubilant giddy-up-and-go folksiness of "Proud to Be Your Old Man." Yeeehaw and yippy-tie-yie-yay! Merle Haggard, the man and his music... endearing, inspiring, and always intriguing... timeless, yet aged to perfection. –Guest Contributor (Anti)

Saludos al Tirano: CD
Kinda weird listen here: Mexican punk rock with shades of spaghetti western music that, for some bizarre reason, reminds me of the Pogues even though they sound nothing like them. Although it was a good listen, I’ve definitely got to get more sleep. –Jimmy Alvarado (Cochebomba)

Saludos al Tirano: CD
Kinda weird listen here: Mexican punk rock with shades of spaghetti western music that, for some bizarre reason, reminds me of the Pogues even though they sound nothing like them. Although it was a good listen, I’ve definitely got to get more sleep. –Jimmy Alvarado (Cochebomba)

Tropsicle: CD
While Tropsicle is a poor choice for a CD title, the music by Mermaids isn’t equally horrendous. Mermaids takes one back to a 1950s or ‘60s sound of garage-y rock with some nice oohs and ahhs wrapping the sound in a delicate yet catchy surf pop. I was reminded of Delta Haymax (anyone remember that Seattle band?) and the Beach Boys, but Mermaids retain enough indie sensibilities to not sound like a bad stereotype of the sound. This isn’t necessarily my cup of tea but it is pleasant enough to listen to and worth your time if you’re dialed into the world of Southern California blissed-out pop music. –Kurt Morris (Pretty Ambitious)

Revenge Served Cold: CD
An all-girl psychobilly band whose success is owed to novelty, not talent. –Jessica Thiringer (www.Merrywidowsmusic.com)

Self-titled: LP
Is it possible to understand and not understand at the same time? Merx is like a canvas that stars off black instead of white. They play highly constructed, aurally articulated, meticulous post punk. It’s dark, experimental, and filled with electronics. The vocalist is melodramatic, singing in a deep register, like Johnnie Jungleguts. My closest contemporary comparison would be as how Wounded Lion takes the Talking Heads and Star Wars references, Merx robes themselves in slow Joy Division and décollages; strips away, lacerates. This isn’t incidental music. I’m just not sure if the hands-on-everything super-self- and music- aware style of this record isn’t eclipsing my enjoyment of it. I’m probably just not the intended audience. Features members of The Pope, Bipolar Bear, and ex-Spits. –Todd Taylor (Permanent)

Child of Thunder: 7" single
The cover art looks sort of punk, sort of new wave. However, the music is seventies rock in the present day. Definite influences from Sabbath, Molly Hatchet, Zeppelin, Grand Funk Railroad, and Lynard Skynard. The title track is not bad. The guitar solo is decent. Sort of “cosmic.” Yet, the chorus is delivered in a sassy tone which kills the momentum. In order for this style of rock to work it has to be alpha-male driven, not sassy school yard preening. “In Cold Blood” is the better of the two. Not a mind blowing record, but not bad either.  –Matt Average (UFO Dictator, www.ufodictator.com)

I Choose Murder: CD
Ultra-fast drumming? Check. Growly burp vocals? Check. Metal guitar noodling? Check. Song title list that reads like a who’s who of serial killers? Check. It’s official: another grindcore album has hit the shelves. –Jimmy Alvarado (Crimes Against Humanity)

Split: 7"
Mesrine: Long-running Canadian grind that mixes it up with death metal. Guttural vocals mixed with high-yielded screams that reminds me of modern day Napalm Death. It’s brutal and bottom heavy which should satisfy the most fans of this genre. PLF: I choose this side as my favorite. There must be something about the heat in Texas that makes bands aggressive. I love the speed of the band and that the songs are short and to the point. Note to collector nerds: purple swirled vinyl!  –Donofthedead (To Live a Lie)

Split: 7” EP
Mesrine: Fairly stereotypical grind/metal stuff that vacillates between blastbeats and Discharge-inspired tempos. Sakatat: Pretty much along the same lines: full-on sonic spazz-out with considerably less metal in their delivery than their record-mates. –Jimmy Alvarado (To Live A Lie)

Something I Remember: 7”
Great single. I can always depend on HoZac to deliver great, trippy punk rock with their roster of The Functional Blackouts, Wizzard Sleeve, Woven Bones, Blank Dogs, et al. And, sure enough, Mess Folk fit right in, as they tightrope walk the fine line of weird punk, combining meandering drone-y vibes with really tight corners and sharp edges. They have a messy feel, like each member is working out their own take of the song with singing washing over it all, and it really works. Phillip Tarr is the mastermind of the band, starting it as a solo project that has morphed into this group. Mess Folk hails from Sydney, Nova Scotia, appropriately known for toxic waste dumping. Canada breeds some great punk, but Nova Scotia grows a special strain of noise. –Speedway Randy (HoZac)

This Is Mess Folk…and More: LP
From the info on the back cover, Mess Folk looks like the pet project of one guy who gets others to help him out from time to time. The songs were recorded over the course of two years, which, in combination with the variety of musicians, explains the inconsistency of this record. Side A is populated by eleven tracks, mostly no-fi garage that range from good to almost nauseating. The back side of the record plots eleven more points all over the map, going from later Big Boys type funk punk to experimental noise to straightforward Sonic Youth rock back to no-fi garage. A little quality control along with some discretion in sequencing could have made this a whole lot better, but I guess this is what you get from people who thank “drugs and insanity for their unwavering support” in their liner notes. –Vincent Battilana (Bachelor)

Indifference to Life: Cassette
I’m not going to pretend that I love this tape. I was going to make a comment about how if you go to shows and start nodding your head while the band is tuning, this would be good for you to check out. I’m sure as fuck not going to pretend that I had any idea who Mess Folk was before I listened to this scummy, raw, piece of garage filth. And that sucks. It’s festering and oozing and passionate and really fucking hard to like. It’s one of a shit ton of Mess Folk recordings out there, some of which are much better. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the last, because the man behind Mess Folk died last month. I get the sense that there were a lot more shitty tapes that he needed to record. –MP Johnson (Hamburger)

Could You Bet: LP
Italian street punk band that sounds very U.K. ‘82 to me. In fact, since the band sings in English, I would never guess that they were even Italian without looking at the liner notes. I would have guessed that they were from Britain. Had a hard time while listening to this genre after the ‘90s when this style was so prevalent and popular. Stepping away from it makes it more palatable. This three-piece of two males and one female play this type of music well. I’ve heard many a bad street punk band through the years and this one definitely stands out; kind of like listening to the Exploited meets A Global Threat, but with more melody and added moments of poppiness. If I could still fit my bondage pants, had hair to spike up, and could find my leather jacket in my garage, I would get geared up to check out this band live if they ever came close to the house. That would be a scary sight. –Donofthedead (No Flags)

Moments of Mayhem: Cassette
Goddamn! Fifteen songs of raw, furious anarcho punk in thirty-ish minutes, straight outta Flensburg, Germany. MESS//AGE mixes tempos throughout, playing variant after variant of their angry, heartfelt message without sacrificing an iota of urgency. No matter whether their subject matter is personal or political, it’s impassioned, with nary a stinker in the bunch. The hoarse, shouted vocals are reminiscent of Martin from Limp Wrist and/or the throat-shredding gentlemen from Assfactor 4. Great, great stuff I can’t recommend highly enough.  –Michael T. Fournier (message.bandcamp.com)

Self-titled: CD
Granted, it's solid and tuneful punk rock stuff, it's totally catchy, and the singer sounds like a dead ringer for Cinder from Tilt. Granted, the layout and production are really nice and they're probably a terrific live band. Granted, they seem sincere, and my foot's tapping. But this one just falls a bit short somehow, I can't help feeling a little ripped off—for one thing, while it is solid and tuneful, it's also comprised of songs that I feel like I've heard before. Half the time it seems like I'm listening to a cover from another band, like it was a song written from an entire other era of punk rock. You could call that a spirited homage or you could call it shameless regurgitation, I don't know. Then the rest of the time I'm just wishing they would speed it up a bit. Anyway, they've got the mohawks and the tats down, but they left the snot on the bus. The Messengers are really good at what they're doing, it's just that what they're doing rings a lot closer to early Discount, minus the lyrical quirks, or Tilt without the speed, than they do to Antiproduct or To What End. And, you know, I've already got all the Discount and Tilt records I need. –Keith Rosson (Punk Core)

Shake That Thing: CD
Croatian band listens to one too many Stones albums. Band puts out a record that starts off with their attempt at "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and includes covers of songs made popular by Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, John Lee Hooker and others. A resounding "eh" can be heard from the masses. Should've figured when I saw they were covering Nugent's "Scream Dream" that the proceedings would be pretty painful. –Jimmy Alvarado (Slusaj Najglasnije)

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