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Record Reviews

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Self-titled: LP
Serge from the Goons lends his unique vocal delivery to a DC-area supergroup of sorts, with members of Striking Distance, the Twats, The Reticents, Porch Mob, and HR’s band doin’ the twangin’ and bangin’. The songs are on-point, keeping things zippy without getting silly about it, angry yet melodic, and tingeing the whole shebang with a rock/metal influence that never gets distracting or detracting. –Jimmy Alvarado (Under Current)

N.I.: 12” EP
DC punk blasters follow up on their Minimum Wage demo with this sharp-as-nails punk attack. Eight ham-fisted blasters that will make your stereo speakers cry for mercy. “Louder than Stupid” and “Build a Bomb or Shut Up” are my favorites here. But this whole thing flies by so quickly, you’ll have time to put it on repeat, again and again. Keep it up, boys. The rest of the world will catch up soon enough. –Sean Koepenick (Self-released; undercurrentrecords@gmail.com)

Beautiful Brutal, You Can’t Change: one-sided 7”
The Nervous Patterns inhibit that tightly wound, anxious universe of the Lost Sounds (along with sharing members), where circuit boards in your brain rust and the sound of something big and strong breaking in wrong ways, leaking a mysterious fluid permeates the first song. Makes me think of androids made of meat, in revolt, working on Kraftwerk songs with their fists. The second song, “You Can’t Change” is what I wish they’d played at my prom instead of the theme song to “St. Elmo’s Fire.” It’s swelling, aching, tender, bats about bright Cure-like guitars, and twines them around mournful but hopeful female vocals. The second side is blank; needle just zipped right across it. –Todd Taylor (Zaxxon Virile Action)

Separate Beds? I Don’t Think So: CD
First off, if they were really so compelled as to have to have their name be like half of “Nervous Eaters” plus half of “Morning Shakes,” i’m not so sure i wouldn’t’ve rather had them call themselves the Morning Eaters. Next off, this album probably could’ve been titled Three Breasted Woman, owing to the fact that it is stacked so peculiarly—the first twenty-five percent or so is basically these more or less inept rock & roll numbers revolving around sex, shaking, and positive comments on the appearance of one’s own ass (“Get the fear, it’s Saturday night—Sex! Sex! Sex-Sex-Sex-Sex!” the guy yowls, with all the convincingness and swagger of Ron Howard on that episode of Happy Days where Fonzie let Richie borrow his apartment above the Cunninghams’ garage for his hot date)—and, just when one gets the feeling that the main point of debate for this album is whether it’s Retarded Good, Retarded Bad, Retarded Both or Just Plain Retarded, they kick in with some kinda King/Rassler Queers song (“Number One”) that i musta missed on account of i left the gig to get bubblegum and Pop Rocks™ or something, followed by a token sex toy song (“Swedish Love Gun”)—and THEN the band inexplicably cranks into an extended suite of sloppy, brilliant pop/rock/punk/roll tunes not unlike the Real Kids or Yum Yums’ tight-jeaned, leopard-spotted-shirted, black-hair-dyed weird cousins (said suite to include a cover of “Be a Man” by the Brats, better known as the third song on the first side of the Infections album [let the record show that the only Brats song i was familiar with In The Day was “First Rock Star on the Moon”]). I mean, the last seventy-five percent of this record is, like, great—but the first twenty-five percent is practically a joke. Actually, it’s probably just some manner of extended Belgian Mind Fuck; i’m sure they knew what they were doing all along. Kinda like most foreign films, though, this one makes more sense if you enter in the middle. BEST SONG: “Brat” BEST SONG TITLE: “Get the Fear” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: The songwriting credits for “Can’t Stand You” are nonexistent, but, the credits for the hidden track, “Suzie,” are quite evident. Huh. –Rev. Norb (Nun)

Separate Beds?: CD
Les belges sont ici! Belgian rockers playing a Devil Dogs-influenced rock and roll. And they cover the Queers’ “Number One” and the Infections’ “Be a Man.” Strange! Apparently, in Belgium, pop punk is still popular and rock and roll versions of Queers songs are all in a day’s work. I couldn’t decide how I felt about it, and so I played it for two friends who released the following statement: We don’t hate it, but, if for some reason this CD came into one’s possession, one would probably sell it to a used CD store. The verdict is in! So, if this were a cereal, it’d be Weird-Belgium-Pop-Punk-Vortex-Sell-It-for-Sour-Gummi-Worm-Money-Oh’s. –Maddy (no record label info)

Needs Medicines: LP
This sounds like something I would have heard in the late ‘80s, early ‘90s. Very much like something you would hear on Slumberland Records. Nervous Systems have a sound that’s a mix of post punk with synths, indie rock, and shoegazer music. There’s a familiarity about the sound, though I can’t point to any direct influence. The keyboards have a cold tone that floats and hangs in the air. The guitars hammer and churn; at other times they sound forlorn. The vocals took a couple listens to get used to. But the music is really good and has enough of a dark atmosphere for this to work properly and keep me listening the whole way through. “Sleeping Arrangements” is the definite standout song on here. The vocals sound very similar to Bernard Sumner, the music is slightly darker, and the lyrics about letting go are the best of the bunch. “Mains Hum” is a strong contender as well. These two songs would have made for a spectacular single. –Matt Average (Obscurist Press, obscuristpress.com)

Self-titled: LP
Canada has a long history when it comes to pop punk (a term I use begrudgingly, but I can’t think of a better one right now). From Teenage Head and the Pointed Sticks to Bum and Chixdiggit! to Steve Adamyk Band and Needles//Pins, we have a lot of amazing bands who kneel at the altar of the Ramones. Now we can add another to that legendary list: Vancouver’s Nervous Talk. These songs are so fucking good! The hooks stick in your brain like bubble gum in your hair the first time you tried to talk to someone you were attracted to. It blows my mind that something this special is a young band’s debut full-length album. I’ve seen them play three times now and can’t wait for more! –Ty Stranglehold (Hosehead, hoseheadrecords.ca)

Stupid Little Heart: 7”
Three potent doses of catchy punky pop with some organ thrown in for some flash. –Jimmy Alvarado (No Front Teeth)

Self-titled: Cassette
Nervous Trend’s dynamic is built on an affinity for the darker realms of the post-punk genre’s recent resurgence. So much so that it’s hard for me not to mention Barcelona’s Belgrado as an obvious direct influence as evidenced by a number of glaring nuances (bass/drum interplay, lady vocals, icy guitar tones) although mixing in some fast parts here and there is a nice touch. I’m into it, for sure, but only time will tell if Nervous Trend will be able to do more than capitalize on the path that Belgrado has already blazed.  –Juan Espinosa (Self-released, nervoustrend.bandcamp.com)

Demo Tape 2015: Cassette
There are great people and great bands, and sometimes you come across both at the same time. The Nervous from Denver, CO is one of those instances. Some of the nicest people you will ever meet, and they happen to bust out some amazing, scrappy, take-no-prisoners punk rock. This tape sports four new songs that continue to build on their amazing first 7”. Jennie belts the lyrics out with a level of force and conviction that makes me wonder how she has any voice left at all after a show. They are definitely one of my favorite bands going right now.  –Ty Stranglehold (toonervous.bandcamp.com)

Money Money 2020: CD/DVD
Looks like the new wave revival is in full swing over at Adeline. There’s hints of Berlin, Men Without Hats, Bow Wow Wow, some other ones I can’t instantly recall (lotta one-hitters back then, you know), but mostly it’s redolent of Freedom of Choice Devo, which I’d be an asshole to even try to deny as a cultural touchstone (nay, milestone). Honestly, I was pretty ambivalent at first, but after a few forced listens, it’s started to grow on me. They obviously know what they’re working with and what to do with it (they all have funny names, like Snoo and Fink, and underpants on their heads, so you can’t tell who they are – I suspect that Billy Joel fellow from Green Day is one but I’m no authority) and have access to probably the same instruments the original new wavers used (like those keyboards with the handle so you would wear it like a guitar) and, a couple duds aside, the whole package comes off sort of like listening to MTV circa 1983. I only watched the DVD part once because the video gave me a swelling, itching brain, and I don’t really know how DVDs work so I probably missed some parts, but I’ll tell you this: there’s naked ladies on there. –Cuss Baxter (Adeline)

Smoke + Fire: CD
Sometimes, it just takes one line from one song to drag a listener into an album. For this listener and this album, the line was “I’ve lived in funeral cities/ and I’ve lived in golden towns,” from the song “Flying.” While this listener still has no idea what it is that is so captivating about that line, she confesses that it sucked her deep intoSmoke + Fire and she has yet to be able to escape. This debut album from New York-based duo Korinna Knoll and Adam Peters (ex-Echo and the Bunnymen), is filled with lyrics that are sort of vague and lovely and make you sit around and wonder if this is all just fantasy or reality? What exactly is “Middle East” about? Is it a travelogue of sorts? A protest song? Musically, Neulander has the minimal electronic pop style down, with dollops of Neu and Can influences to give the album a sort of psychedelic, lo-fi new wave sound. Knoll has the vocals – the husky, accented vocals that are distinctly European, although it is difficult to tell exactly whereabouts. Or, it could be that she isn’t European at all, but an American who listened to too much Nico while growing up. Alas, a press sheet check confirmed that Knoll is Austrian. Accents, Krautrock, electronic pop—isn’t this all a little like Stereolab? Perhaps, in parts there seems to be a similarity between the two, but Neulander really has developed its own sound. Given it a listen and you might end up caught in the smoke and fire as well. –Liz O. (Disko B; <www.diskob.com>)

Gleichschritt: CD
Clunk! My jaw hits the floor. This a first release? Man, this band is one mean-ass fucker. Dark, German, bottom-heavy black metal that veers into grindcore. Lyrics sung in German with provided English translations shows that this band is a notch above the norm. The lyrics are more in the style of crust with their socio-political lyrics. The lyrical writing style is similar to Discharge with the way they phrase their lyrics. I saw a really bad black metal band this weekend and it seemed like all their songs were over five minutes. It was draining getting through their set. This band barely clocks any of their songs over three minutes. That’s just about right. It’s not a chore getting through this full length. –Donofthedead (Crimes Against Humanity)

The Eye of Every Storm: CD
Long has it been since last I heard these guys, so long, in fact, that I'd completely forgotten what they sounded like. Thanks to this, it's all coming back to me: sludgy, loud, looooooooooong noise rock that strangely fits right in to what's making the rounds these days. Not my bag, which is probably why I forgot what they sounded like, but you gotta respect 'em for sticking it out this long. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.neurosis.com)

The Eye of Every Storm: CD
Long has it been since last I heard these guys, so long, in fact, that I’d completely forgotten what they sounded like. Thanks to this, it’s all coming back to me: sludgy, loud, looooooooooong noise rock that strangely fits right in to what’s making the rounds these days. Not my bag, which is probably why I forgot what they sounded like, but you gotta respect ‘em for sticking it out this long. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.neurosis.com)

Honor Found in Decay: CD/LP
Neurosis takes their sweet time in between albums. Honor Found in Decay is their tenth album in twenty-five years, and their first since Given to the Rising, released in 2007. Like past albums, the total number of songs on the album is few, but the length is still massive, as the seven songs on Honor Found in Decay clock in at sixty minutes. The shortest song is six minutes and the longest pushes the twelve-minute mark. It makes for grandiose movements as the band seeks an emotional release, for not only themselves but for the listener as well. The crushing riffs are still there, as is tribal drumming, and the harsh vocals. The keyboards add a lot of atmosphere and there are points where strings and other delicate arrangements allow for a good depth to the sound. This is a dark album, one that would most likely be best to soak in at night with the lights out in your bedroom. While it’s not as good as Through Silver in Blood or Times of Grace, Honor Found in Decay is a solid album and show why Neurosis are so respected and copied in the music scene. This is a must for any fan of the band. –Kurt Morris (neurotrecordings.com)

Sexy & Mysterious: CD
Uh, with regards to the song “I Killed Kennedy,” to which Kennedy do you refer? By the looks of you lot, the oldest one of you were at best burping up Enfamil when Bobby was still breathing, and Teddy’s still very much alive, as are TV goddess Jayne Kennedy and Penitentiary star Leon Isaac Kennedy. Last I checked, MTV host Kennedy had a pulse, although her career definitely seems moribund these days. In short, I’m perplexed and more than a little annoyed. Oh, and the whole “France’s answer to the Briefs” shtick ain’t cuttin’ it either, kids. –Jimmy Alvarado (Lollipop)

What’s Your Definition of Underground?: CD
Another new band tries to recapture that old punk rock energy and sound and fail miserably. Let’s have a hand for consistency! –Jimmy Alvarado (Lollipop)

Art Rats: CD
Derivative punk rock from the school of ‘77 influence, with embarrassingly bad English lyrics. Bet this would’ve been heaps better if they’d only stuck to their native language. Looks like they went to great lengths to emulate the Voidoids on the cover pics, too. –Jimmy Alvarado (Lollipop)

Weapon of Mass Seduction: CD
This band appears to be somewhat smart, very angry, obnoxiously loud, and probably have really, really dirty floors at their house. Actually, the back cover displays a rather clean environment, so what the hell do I know. In any event, I’m glad they could work out all their emotional issues they have with their friends on my time. Glad to help! BEST SONG: “She Swears” BEST SONG TITLE: “Dick to Cry on” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Recorded “on purpose.” –Rev. Norb (Music Abuse)

Everybody Dies: CD
I’ve got to admit that with a name like “Neutral Boy,” I was imagining a pop punk outfit. I knew that I was probably wrong because I don’t see a band like that coming out on Fivecore, but that’s what I pictured. Well, I was way off. This is some good, mid-tempo hardcore with growly (but still understandable) vocals. As it plays out, it becomes increasingly catchy. The songs are bouncing around in my head in a good way. The female backup vocals (supplied by bassist Mandy “Hot As Hell” Reed!) add the last piece of the puzzle that seals the deal for me. This band rules! A note to Neutral Boy: WA is not all that far from Victoria BC. Come on up! –Ty Stranglehold (Fivecore)

Feral Dogs: EP
Noisy as hell hardcore that has the Scandinavian d-beat thing happening, but not a note for note rip off by any means. The drums are pure chaos. The bass is loud and up front with the guitar (which sounds like it’s played by shards of glass). The delivery is urgent, almost to the point of mania at times (like in the song “Eczema”). You get four large and loud blasts here. The only one who might complain is your neighbor. Other than that, who cares? Just crank this fucker way up! –Matt Average (Loud Punk, loudpunk.com)

Dead Set on Destruction: CD
A discography CD for a band that been existence for only two years? If there is a demand for this to be re-released, who am I to judge? Well, here you have six tracks from an upcoming EP, a 7”, demo and live tracks of no-nonsense straight edge hardcore that doesn’t go overboard on the metal parts. My gripe is having the live tracks smack in the middle of the whole thing. I know chronologically it makes sense, but it does not stand up to the studio tracks, and that includes the demo. –Donofthedead (Organized Crime)

Crusaders of Love: LP
I’m starting to think Douchemaster has a direct line to my brain’s deepest punk rock desires. Part of a distinguished list of releases including the White Wires and the Black And Whites, Bryan Rackley and Co. have once again unleashed a pitch-fucking-perfect LP. This record does catchy self-destructive love with a clean (but not sterile) sound echoing early ‘80s pop punk. Maybe it’s something in the water, but these delightful Frenchmen have a sound so enthralling, myself and my two roommates have this record on the list of “you’re not allowed to play it three times in a row.” One song sounds like a heartbreak anthem from the 1950s! Basically, this record is a fucking good time, even if in the songs, the narrator isn’t having one. Can’t wait to see them live. –Samantha Beerhouse (Douchemaster)

Lock Your Doors: LP
There seems to be a serious Edgar Allan Poe theme going on with this band and record, from the band name to the graphics. At this point, that is at least preferable to a David Allan Coe theme and the trappings that might come with that. Looking more closely, I am seeing that this seems to be a recording from 1991, that one of the band members is named Gretchen Holtz, and the band is from Indiana. There is something rattling around in my head about Gretchen from the band The Smears from that area. A little more research shows that it is the same person and this band appears to be pre-Smears. The sound is along the same lines—garage punk with rough vocals, but this band is more lo-fi and features prominent organ. Real, real lo-fi. Fans of labels like RatCity, Crypt, and Bag Of Hammers would probably find a whole lot to like here.  –Mike Frame (Magnetic South)

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