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Razorcake #92
Spokenest, Gone, Gone, Gone LP
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No Idea Records

Record Reviews

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Two Small Armies: 7"
The kids in the pop punk outfit the Pharmacy kind of come off as sweet, like unicorns with sparkly manes and tails. What’s closer to the truth is more like undead unicorns with razor sharp teeth feeding on the flesh of the living, spewing out Devo-ish and Starvations-inspired pop noise like showers of blood. Fans of their epic live shows can now feed off of three killer new songs and an impressive new version of “Two Small Armies.” Recommended for fans of good, catchy punk and shotgunning beers with your friends in the back of parking lots. –bree (Don’t Stop Believin’)

B.F.F.: CD
Spook rock with synth that would fit nicely on a bill wedged between the Starvations and the Lost Sounds, and that would be a show I wouldn’t want to miss. –megan (Don’t Stop Believin)

Abominable: 7”
Indie rocked-out pop in the same form that Zolof The Rock n’ Roll Destroyer once took on. Female vocals, keyboards in the mix, and lots of sugary pop sounds. There’s no going halfway on this one. It’s either totally your thing or you’re going to hate it. –Dave Disorder (Tic Tac Totally, tictactotally.com)

I, Murderer, I: 7”
Slow sludge howl-metal. –jimmy (A389, a389records.com)

City Silk: LP
What if Duran Duran had art school beginnings like Devo? Imagine an underground label found those recordings and released them as Hardcore Duran Duran Vol. 1? Melancholy synthpop from “mixed media artist” Michael Donahue. Skinny-jeaned ninety pound teens will find quite a bit to wallow in with a purchase of City Silk. This is not a panning of Phemale, just an observation that it’s no Friday night party record, but definitely a “no girlfriend/boyfriend but that’s okay cause I have my art” record. Creepy minimalist bass/keyboards/samples/loops to express your inner Ian Curtis.  –Matt Seward (Redscroll)

Escape Velocity: CD
Wow, the Phenomenauts have been cranking out the gold for over ten years now and this very well may be the band’s finest hour. I am personally very glad the band shows no sign of letting up and would like to take this opportunity to thank them for continuing to keep the earth safe from uninteresting, un-fun music. This is so recommended it isn’t even funny. If the Moxies make your feet tap, this is for you. –Garrett Barnwell (Silver Sprocket, silversprocket.net)

For All Mankind: CD
This CD comes in complicatedly folded cardboard sleeve that turns into a rocket ship. It’s pretty cool, but a major pain in the ass to fold back together afterwards. I recommend you slip the CD into a spare jewel case or something. There was also a cool die cut Phenomenauts pin that came with the CD. Musically, the Phenomenauts are best described as “space cadet rockabilly pop punk.” This could be a mess, except that the Phenomenauts actually write great, catchy, songs, continuing the excellence of their previous album Re-Entry. Having also seen them live several times, I can say that they are a genuinely mind blowing experience that shouldn’t be missed. This is the perfect music for cruising your ‘50s-era spaceship to the malt shop and flirting with cute aliens. Since the Groovie Ghoulies are no more (although Kepi is still going strong solo), I would say that the Phenomenauts are tied with Gogol Bordello for the best pure fun punk band around right now. –Adrian (Silver Sprocket)

Home Brain Surgery Kit: CD-R
So many bands are afraid of The Rock. They won’t let it be just that simple. There has to be some sort of outside influence. Then there are the traditionalists, those who make no apologies for walking a well-tread path, but with their own defined steps. This is where The Phenoms come in. Straight-forward, no frills rock’n’roll. No apology, and no reason for one. It’s just plain old rock’n’roll, but they make every song their own, and they do it well, which is why they have chances to share the stage with bands ranging from Pegboy, The New Bomb Turks, and Guitar Wolf to Link Wray. –megan (Beercan)

Demo: Cassette
A present-day East Coast band that sounds like early ‘80s SoCal hardcore punk. Tuneful, driving, and wound up. The pace is somewhere in the middle and they never go for the full-on trash side. Instead, they let the power simmer and brew. Think of early TSOL, Adolescents, and the type. “Silenced Tongues” is the definite standout on here. It has a hard hitting mid-tempo before shifting into a brain-rattling-fast attack. Features a member from Bloodtype. Hopefully, these guys will put out more soon. Good stuff. –Matt Average (Phibes, phibes.bandcamp.com)

The Bell Ringer: Live at the Shot-Out Eye: CD
Phil Shoenfelt is a goth rock journeyman who led ‘80s band Khmer Rouge. This is a career-spanning set, live at his favorite pub in Prague. Fourteen tracks of dark and sinister rock, including two Iggy Pop covers.  –CT Terry (philshoenfelt.de)

About Fucking Time: CD
The label that this band is on sent in several CDs this time around. Like its counterparts, this Phillip Of Nazareth CD has some awesome, eye-catching packaging that I love. Whoever is behind this label has definitely got the whole screen-printing thing down. Anyway, this band plays punk rock with alternately rebellious and goofy themes; the kind of stuff that Fat Records got us used to in the ‘90s and early ‘00s. I think I’ve outgrown all that already, but I bet I would have thought it was cool six or seven years ago. –Lauren Trout (The Automaton Records Media Conglomerate, myspace.com/thearmc)

Split: CD
Man, where do I start on this one? Okay, remember the first Terminator movie? At the very beginning—where there’s this insanely desolate, ruined, metal-scarred wasteland, with various robots patrolling the ground while weird flying machines skim across the sky? Okay. This is the record those robots would be jamming on to get pumped up before going out to seriously shrapnel some human ass. There are fifteen tracks, and I’m pretty convinced the whole album could’ve easily fit on a 7”, if that gives you a little peek into the inner workings of this record. Skrupel’s from Germany and they just get in, sever a limb or two, and jet. The song “Human Freakout” consists of the lyrical jewels, “Feeling so fashionably freaky / Is that all that matters in your worthless life / You deserve to suffer.” That’s the song right there. Phobia’s best? I’m torn between “Death To Pigs”: “Death to pigs with severed heads.” (But guys, aren’t they already dead? If their heads are severed, I mean? Or did you mean to put a comma between ‘pigs’ and ‘with’? Or do you even know?) or “Macho Man In Denile”: “Your a fucking homophobe / And that I despite / You really want to take it up the ass / And that’s alright.” Atrocious spelling/grammatical errors aside, I find it stunning that Skrupel’s English-is-probably-a-second-language lyrics are on par, if not more articulate, than Phobia’s, who are from California. Still, Phobia fares slightly better because they’ve got the “Ruuuh-ruuh-RUUUUUH!” deep-voiced dude, but they’ve also got a high-pitched guy who sings like a Fraggle getting a sans-anesthesia colonoscopy, which is always nice to hear. The whole album’s pretty much one big blast beat with a few slower parts tossed in. Yet another shining example of bands who have the balls to put emaciated corpses and nuclear explosions on their record and then don’t do jack shit, lyrically or otherwise, to back it up. But at least they’ve got tattoos, right? –keith (Crimes Against Humanity)

Silence: CD
Some unholy, unnerving amalgamation of pop punk, indie rock, and what sounds suspiciously like emo influences. Singer sounds like the vocalist from the old California band Capitol Punishment actually trying to sing, to which anyone who remembers that band can attest is not a good thing by any stretch. –jimmy (Passing Bells)

We Need to Make Some Changes: little CDEP
Early Johnny Cougar fronting The Church over a severely muted Hot Water Music. Hearts seem in the right place, but it’s too pretty and heart-on-sleeve-y for my tastes. “Rain gives me a reason to stay inside”? Yerks. I like lyrics, and music, more crucial and less mired in excuses and paralysis. The last song is completely acoustic and skirts way too close to emo for my CD player to continue operating.  –todd (Snuffy Smile)

These Days: CD
First off, this record label is called Newest Industry, which is a Hüsker Dü song. The Newest Industry logo is a spoof of the Hüsker Dü logo. So who does the Phoenix Foundation sound like? Gee, I wonder. The songs aren’t as good or nearly as diverse, but the basic ingredients are there. The songs don’t sound tired or boring at all even though they all go at about the same tempo, but for the most part, they’re another band that is right on the edge of being great. I have the same problem with Gunmoll: some of their songs are spot on, but they never quite explode all over the place. Hopefully, this isn’t the last we’ll hear from this band. –Not Josh –Guest Contributor (Newest Industry)

Split: 7"
A pair of rather generic indie rock bands together on the same split 7”. The most memorable thing about this record is that The Phoenix Foundation’s name is a sweet ‘80s pop culture reference (Macgyver). –Paul J. Comeau –Guest Contributor (Unsane Asylum)

Falling: CD
I yawned fourteen times listening to this CD. It’s not that these guys are horrible; they are just uninspiring. It’s roots rock melodious punk. Their label is from Finland, so maybe this is a new thing there, but I doubt it. I did enjoy a song or two that could’ve been a Lucero riff. I didn’t break out my guitar to check, but I have a feeling they use the same chord progressions on at least half the songs. The lyrics are nothing to gaze at with wonderment either. Mix things up a little; diversity is the spice of life. –Buttertooth (Combat Rock Industry)

Under the Covers: 7"
Side one is a Johnny Cash cover and side two is an Adam Ant cover. Both sound like they were recorded underwater. –jimmy (Transparent, 6759 Transparent Drive, Clarkston, MI 48346)

Da Me Tus Besos: EP
At first I thought these guys were from Europe, instead of San Francisco (ex-FM Knives, and Mothballs). There’s something about their sound that is a bit more free than how U.S. bands play it. Jangley garage pop that’s a tad raw and unrefined, and that’s where their sound has strength. The drums crash and rumble, the guitars go heryky jerky and a little chirpy, and the rhythms are catchy and even danceable. “Da Me Tus Besos” may be the A-side, but the two songs, “You,” and “3 In The Morning,” on the flip are more upbeat and driven. No complaints, really. You’re not going to lose with any of the songs on here. –Matt Average (Daggerman)

“Pretty Baby” b/w “Kill the Weekend”/”Boston Strangler”: 7"
Pop, pop, pop! This is some retro-sounding rock‘n’roll with lovelorn lyrics, sing-along-able choruses, and straight-ahead music to back it all up. I did a lot of happy bopping up and down as I listened to these three tracks. The record jacket features a bunch of girls in photobooth pictures, so originally I thought this was an all-girl band. It is not. But for me to get over that kind of disappointment, you know this has to have something going for it. Thumbs up all the way. –jennifer (Raw Deluxe)

Self-titled: CD
If the press one-sheet that came with this is any indication, these guys fancied themselves the U.K. answer to Blondie, which I reckon is not too far off the mark, if that’s the only reference they had available at the time. For my money, though, they sounded like the Brit counterpart to East L.A.’s The Brat, who in their prime were contemporaries of the Photos when they originally released this album. Both bands were much more streamlined, tighter, faster, and to the point in their pop, with more of the punk engine (the band’s core is the remnants of cult punk darlings Satan’s Rats) that got them going in evidence than Blondie had by that time. Although the pop can get a wee bit sticky-sweet in some places here, they’re really something when they put it in overdrive and just rock. –jimmy (www.cherryred.co.uk)

Songs of Fight and Failure: CD
Thunders worship with mixed results. –Jeff Proctor (myspace.com/phrasemongers)

“Decisions” b/w “Vexed”: 7"
Reviewing records is a treat, but trust me when I say we have to wade through a ton of shit to find the golden nuggets. When it happens, it’s always worth the effort. This record is exactly what a 7” should be: two songs, big hole, cool art. Everything about this record is great. The songs are well recorded, well crafted, and make you keep flipping the fucker over. I can’t decide which side is best, and you know what? I ain’t gonna. I guess these cats have been in a bunch of other bands and that time and experience in the craft shows. These songs have been worked on, loved, created, and packaged into something more than landfill. This is a record I’ll grab from the shelf over and over, a piece of art that is worth having in my house. It’s cool punk rock with an almost rockabilly feel, hollow bodied guitars, stand-up drummer style, and the odd flourish on the keys. Bare bones. Shit doesn’t have to be complex to work. Getting the recipe right is the key. I’m hearing Thee Mighty Caesars or the Headcoatees filtered though the Cramps and—the hell?—even the Meteors. It’s current but reeks of history. I’d be hard pushed to pick a decade. Yesterday or thirty years ago? Who gives a fuck? This record is the reason for finding new shit to listen to. I’ll be right back. Gotta just flip this over again.  –Tim Brooks (Dusty Medical)

Plethora: CD
Ranchero punk! Or maybe Norteño punk… possibly cumbia punk? I probably would have to ask my parents to be sure. Either way, this is awesome. Probably one of the best party albums I’ve heard in a long while. Also, this finally fulfills my longstanding wish of hearing a band do something like this, with the extra plus that it doesn’t suck. In fact, quite the opposite. Get a fast punk band, add an accordion, get them to do polkas (“Polka Time”) and some ballads (“Love Taco”) and a taste for Tex-Mex music, and you have this band. That sounds like a recipe for a novelty disaster, and in the hands of a lesser band it might be, but these guys pull it off. “Cantina” and “Campesino” are some rippers that could start off both a rowdy backyard BBQ full of either punk rockers or my extended family from New Mexico. The mix of good ol’ anarcho style Spanish and English lyrics in the mix on songs like “Suckcess” and “Maquilapolis” is a nice touch tambien. Also, the title of the album has to be a reference to Three Amigos and who didn’t like that movie? This gets thumbs up all around and my seal of approval. –Adrian (Saustex, saustexmedia.com)

Survival Times: 7” EP
Ten songs that come off as one long, angry rant. Last one is a thrash cover of the Crucifucks’ “Hinkley Had a Vision.” –jimmy (A389)

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