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Record Reviews

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Hunk: CDEP
This reminds me a janglier version of The Outfield or a weaker version of Jimmy Eat World. Neither of those references is bad, per se, but I just need more “oomph” to keep this one in my collection because by the last song (and this is only an EP, mind you,) I said out loud to myself, “Please stop,” as I reached for the eject button. Still, it’s always nice to get an extra jewel case out of these things… –kat (Prison Jazz)

“Badhammer” b/w “Power”: 7”
This one-sided 7” contains two buzzin’ songs of stream-of-thought lyrics and rapid firepower musicianship. When they perform live, the fact that they use a drum machine is kind of distracting, but on record I can’t tell the difference. Mikey’s demented delivery and head-scratching lyrics heighten how odd this band really is. I saw them play along with a strobe light one time and even though I felt like I was gonna vomit multiple times, it was great. –Daryl Gussin (Goodbye Boozy)

Take a Spin with the Okmonics: EP
This here’s a busy bass player. He weaves, he bobs, he bangs, he rocks his prize fighter agile fingers through 3 songs of infectious, sweet yet unsappy punky pop – or is it poppy punk? Helene coos like a bird (of prey) and pounds keys like Jeff Monoman Connelly (minus, like 100 pounds). Guitarist Sammy is a Teen Beat layout waiting to happen! On drums is Sarah laying down the fat beats. This band’s really fun to watch live and they’re super duper cool. They played a fun filled set at Mr. T’s Bowl along with the Seeds on one of those rock-action packed nights here in Los Angeles and believe me, it’s nice to hear a band that isn’t trying to be The MC5 or The Stooges (excuse me, I love the aforementioned bands but can we please get on with it! Detroit Christ on a crust!). Okay, let me break it down like this: they’re like that band your big brother joined during his sophomore year at high school, but The Okmonics are much better because they probably listened to much better bands like The Troggs, The Lyres, The Devil Dogs, and maybe even that gay ass Gary Numan record your brother’s band tried to play along to. (If you’re over the age of 25 – replace “brother” in the above sentence to “you”). Word up, Tucson rocks! –nam (The Okmonics)

Rustle Up Some Action with the...: 7"
We get a lot of music at Razorcake that just seems to chase trends. A lot of trashy garage rock, a lot of new wave revival bands, stuff like that. Then, something like the Okmoniks comes along and it manages to dance circles around those trends and come out rocking. The Okmoniks play quirky garage rock that’s backed with an electric organ and a really bouncy rhythm section. And, boy, does it work. Rustle Up Some Action with the Okmoniks is a three-song seven inch that follows right along in style with their first seven inch, Rock’N’Roll with the Okmoniks. It’s great stuff. Side A and Side B are exactly the same, but I usually end up flipping this record every time I play it, just so I can finish dancing around my living room. I can’t wait until this band puts out a full-length. –sean (Lo-Fi)

Party Fever!!!: CD
My middle-time memory is awful. I’ll say stuff like, “A couple years back,” when it was over five, over a decade. The Okmoniks remind me of the best of Crypt and Estrus Records—bands that simultaneously plunged a direct heart shunt into the first beatings of rock’n’roll, yet didn’t fully ignore the ever-evolving now. You get a comforting bit of nostalgia in a nice, attitude-filled wrapper, so it didn’t seem like you were merely raiding musical mausoleums, but stumbling onto something undiscovered, cool, and not past its expiration date. Channeling the spirit of the Devil Dogs, Mummies, and the Trashwomen, the Okmoniks Farfisa-jump right into good company. Except much of that company stopped making music over a decade ago. I’m a sucker for this. If technology gets to the point where you can download songs and that activates a pizza being delivered to your door at the same time, man, that’s about the only thing I could think of that’d make this record even better. Crank it. –todd (Slovenly)

Compact 33: 7"
The Okmoniks are a female fronted garage rock band that I can honestly say four things about: 1) they’re the only Sonics-sounding band that I can listen to without getting impatient and just putting on a Sonics record; 2) it is physically impossible to listen to this seven inch (or their other two seven inches) without dancing around your living room at least a little bit; 3) seeing as how they’ve been around for about three years, it’s really about time that they released a full-length; and 4) Dirtnap should put that full-length out because The Okmonics and Dirtnap seem like a match just waiting to happen. In the meantime, this record has seven songs and all of them rock. Highly recommended. –sean (Okmoniks)

Split: 7” EP
Do Ya Hear We usually delivers the goods, so I had high expectations for some quality region rock. Unfortunately, this one didn’t quite cut it. The Onetimers sound like they have heart and are doing just what they wanna do, but their straightforward, no nonsense, gruff-vocaled punk is too forgettable for me. I find Ol Scratch much more palatable. They offer four semi-aggressive punk tracks, kinda reminiscent of Butt Trumpet or Meatmen circa the ‘90s. Surprised to hear anything like this nowadays, and I’m also surprised to be kinda warm to it these days.  –Vincent Battilana (Do Ya Hear We)

Westering Again: CD

Groovy Dead-influenced fodder for makin’ love in your Chevy van, if that’s all right with you.

–jimmy (www.oldcalifornio.com)

2011 Demos: CDEP
Old Flings started as an attempt to put some muscle behind singer and acoustic guitarist Matt Evans. It turned into a legitimate band that has a Hot Water Music influence but with, perhaps, a little more indie and punk sound. It’s quite different than Evans’ hardcore punk band, Just Die! There’s nothing complicated or unique here, just six songs with strong, endearing vocals and a sound reminiscent of Liars Academy—which is probably why I find this release so up my alley—as I always thought they were a pretty underrated band. The fourth track, “Stranded,” is the one exception to this, with an acoustic sound and a contribution from someone who sounds like Cat Power (but I’m assuming is not). It’s a very beautiful song and serves as a nice break from the punk material. My one major complaint is that sometimes Evans’ vocals fall a bit flat and the lyrics, while not stupid, aren’t as powerful as they might be. Considering these are demos, though, they’re not too bad. I’d be interested in hearing what they do with a full-length. –kurt (Bitter Melody)

Spite: LP
Depressing and uplifting at the same time, fans of Samiam won’t want to miss Old Flings. Already on its second pressing, there’s quite a buzz about Spite in some circles, and for good reason. The Samiam comparison would be a lazy one if it weren’t for the fact that this record is virtually interchangeable with Samiam at its best. Hailing from Ashville, NC and starting out as an experiment to electrify an already prominent acoustic musician’s songs, Old Flings is one of those bands that quickly gains legions of fans. I’m not sure that the brooding mindset is for everyone, but those into the more gloomy end of punk will dig it. –Art Ettinger (Self Aware, selfawarerecords.com)

Light Returns: CD
The music is nice enough, but the vocals piss me off because it might as well be some five-minute pop chart wonder on the mic. I'm not someone who believes that country has to include drawls or slur words in order to adhere to some vague and affected notion of authenticity, but this sounds like little more than a competent country band backing a bland pop singer. My problem isn't that this is insincere due to some lack of rural stylings - my problem is that it's fucking boring. –scott (Morphius)

Light Returns: CD
The music is nice enough, but the vocals piss me off because it might as well be some five-minute pop chart wonder on the mic. I’m not someone who believes that country has to include drawls or slur words in order to adhere to some vague and affected notion of authenticity, but this sounds like little more than a competent country band backing a bland pop singer. My problem isn’t that this is insincere due to some lack of rural stylings—my problem is that it’s fucking boring. –scott (Morphius)

Battle Born: 7”

Las Vegas oi/street rock style stuff that is well recorded and actually really catchy. The title track is kind of a dud for me, but the second song picks it up a little bit. Everything is really in that mid-tempo range so it’s not like it’s in your face, but the songs are good and the lead breaks are catchy and good. It vaguely reminds me of stuff like Patriot or the early Adolf And The Piss Artists records. I guess the best point of reference would be Maddog Surrender, but that’s probably a little obscure. The B-side track “Enough of You” is the best of the three and has that nice Best Defense vibe to it. The band is American but the record came out on a label in the Netherlands’s, so I’m not sure how hard it would be to get over here.

–Ian Wise (Stratum, stratumrecords.nl)

Out of the Sand and into the Streets: LP
To be honest, this record didn’t move me even though I think it is pretty good. That’s not to say that its sentiments, rhythms, and tonalities are not for anyone, I simply did not find my pulse to be altered drastically when spinning this record. Having said that, for those who are into the punk-influenced proto-grunge of Mudhoney, or Neil Young’s Reactor, this record could be a welcome appearance in your life. Bass-heavy guitars, minor phrasings, tribal drums, simple mournful guitar solos, and melodic and yearning vocals—which recall traditional folk songs—bring this record to life. Whether it’s a reference to an economic system rife with inequity, or simply the cry of a struggling artist in the clutches of a capitalist world, I did find my heart quickening to the repeated lyric that comes later in the record: “where’s the money gone.” Worth a spin.  –Noah (Bakery Outlet/Echo Canyon, bakeryoutletrecords.com/echocanyonrecords.com)

Split: 7"
We’ve got a problem here. It’s finals at school and I’ve got limited time to write these reviews, but all I want to do is play this record over and over! Old Growth combine winding guitars, interesting rhythms, and vocal hooks while retaining a punk compactness. Think Jawbox or Unwound at a house show. France’s 12XU play silty indie punk with sing-song vocals. They remind me of an old favorite, Garden Variety. Two songs from each band, but I’ll be seeking out more. My grades may suffer for it, but damn the torpedoes; it will be worth it. –CT Terry (Bakeru Outlet)

Split: 7"
Science hits again with another dirty Jehu-styled dirge—if you’ve heard either of their LPs or any of their 7”s, you know what pond you’re skinny dipping in. Fuck, Luke’s got a set of pipes on him. Old Growth totally rules this record, kicking out two rough-hewn pop songs (and I don’t mean pop in a crappy K Records way but a good, melancholy-but-still-rocking broken heart on your sleeve kind of way.) They’ve also got an LP out and after listening to their side of the split about twenty times in a row it looks like I’m gonna have to go pick it up. –keith (Bakery Outlet)

Demo: CD
Old Lines play dark, raw, gritty, and heavy hardcore punk that totally rips! I was blown away when I saw them play in a basement in CT, and this demo does a great job of capturing their live ferocity. The demo includes three songs of catchy riffs, manic drum beats, and throat-blistering vocals. The only disappointment here is how quickly the demo is over. Three songs just aren’t enough! Thankfully, the band is heading into the studio to rerecord these songs, plus a few more for a second release later this year. Pick this up to tide you over until then. I can’t recommend it enough. –Paul J. Comeau (oldlines.bandcamp.com, oldlines666@gmail.com)

Self-titled: LP
Pummeling, raw, vicious hardcore from ex-Pulling Teeth and Ruiner folks, so you should have some idea of what you’re in for. Low, fast, hyper-aggressive hardcore with the occasional non-derivative breakdown and even flashes of gloomy melody. Hell, I might dig this more than both PT and Ruiner, and that’s saying plenty. Get this shit. –Dave Williams (Self-released, oldlines.bandcamp.com)

Self-titled: 12” EP
You know the feeling you get when you see a great band live? The hair stands up on the back of your neck, and it feels like the music isn’t just vibrating in your ears, but right down to your DNA. That’s the feeling I’ve gotten both times I’ve seen Old Lines play, and their debut 12” captures that experience in vinyl form. The record features seven tracks, delivering Old Lines’ crushing riffs direct to you. I was a big fan of the band’s sharp political lyrics, which tackle a variety of topics, but especially on the track “Cages,” for its anti-vivisection theme. Vocalist Matt’s potent roar and the rest of the band’s thundering music is so intense on record, you’ll swear you’re in a dirty basement somewhere experiencing them live. –Paul J. Comeau (oldlines bandcamp.com, oldlines666@gmail.com)

Self-titled: LP
Old Man Lady Luck busts out heavy instrumental rock that defies easy genre classification. Are they post-hardcore? Post-rock? Drone? They are perhaps a little of each of these things, but they are also so much more. With lots of guitar wankery, frequent changes in tone and tempo, and complex riffs that rise and fall in intensity, each song on this record feels like a movement of a symphony. Combined, the songs on this album reveal a fine tapestry of sound. I continue to find things that intrigue me about this album, even after repeated listens. Regardless of your taste, there will be something about this album that will pique your interest. –Paul J. Comeau (Forge)

Self-titled: LP
MOM, SUMMER CAMP IS WEIRD, BUT I FOUND THE ONE GUY WHO THINKS “OBLITERATION” BY BLACK FLAG IS A GOOD SONG!!! Actually, for something i hate, this is not terribly bad. BEST SONG: There are songs? BEST SONG TITLE: There are song titles? FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Record has the phrases “Meat on meat, eh?” and “Get him a glass of meat, eh?” inscribed on the runoff grooves. –norb (Forge)

Guts N’ Teeth: CD
This down-to-earth, bluegrass, good time band is going to be your favorite thing.  Every person in this group seems genuine in their art.  I love watching them all have a great time performing while simultaneously trying to fit the entire band onto one stage.  This album reflects all the happy things they project out to their audience.  If you get a chance to see them perform, get off your couch and make the effort because you will be glad you did.  Go out and get two copies of this record for you and someone you like. –Corinne (Fat)

Guts n’ Teeth: CD
This is a bit of an oddity. We have here a Fat Wreck release that could potentially be played on CMT or TNN, if it were still around. This isn’t punk with a distinct influence from some country music. This is a full-on modern bluegrass album that just happens to be played by a legion of punk rockers. Mainstream country is about as big a cesspool as Clear Channel-core rock, so it’s nice to hear some stuff with an Appalachian slant that doesn’t involve an excessive sheen of jingoism or enough mawkish sentimentality to make one want to join a Nordic black metal band. (Okay, “Song Songs” does get dangerously close to crossing the line on the sentimental thing though.) Simply put, this is a fun record. It’s the type of thing you could probably put on at a party with mixed company and not kill the buzz of people who are less accustomed to the noisier side of things. –Adrian Salas (Fat)

For Better for Worse: 7”
When this band was described to me by a friend of mine, I felt it was pretty much the opposite of something I’d want to listen to. Seriously, how many fiddle, stand up bass, and banjo bands are out there these days? Well, I begrudgingly went, saw them play, and was an instant convert. This is just great twang music that is played really well. The countrified Screeching Weasel cover on the flipside is pretty damn fine, too! –ty (Fat)

Woke up Swinging: 7”
Paging Kangaroo Records, there is a band you need to snap up for an album immediately! Right out of the gate I am hearing some serious Negative Approach/Out Cold vibes from this band and that is usually the only thing I wanna hear where hardcore punk is concerned. Hailing from Vancouver B.C., where they know a thing or two about killer hardcore, Old Man Strength drop four mid-tempo, pissed-off HC killers on this single. “Conversations with a Jackass” is my pick to click here, but all four songs are great, pissed-off, basic hardcore. Cannot wait to hear a full length from this band.  –frame (Pankratium, oldmanstrength1.bandcamp.com)

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