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Record Reviews

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This Is the Modern Sound: CD
This goes in kinda sounding like (International) Noise Conspiracy and comes out kinda sounding like the Murder City Devils. I am a little wary of this record. The artwork is really "pro" and the whole thing comes across looking like a Target commercial. The music's not bad, just a little contrived. I kinda get the feeling this band wants to "make it," and that kinda makes me not like them. I don't trust 'em. –ben (Revelation)

Self-titled: CD
Horror punk coming out of the East Bay featuring ex-members of the Nerve Agents and Screw 32, which really didn’t show up in the their sound. Let me start by saying I didn’t care for this very much. I have no problem with bands going for the horror thing, but the band didn’t do it for me musically. In fact, the best part of the CD was the artwork (cool cover courtesy of their singer) and lyrical content (horror themes, duh!). Musically Pitch Black play punk borderline on hardcore at times with goth interludes here and there. The songs generally had dreary intros with melodic guitar work throughout, which was alright musically, but unfortunately there was nothing that stood out. What really killed it for me, though, were the vocals. The singer sounds like a younger, higher pitched version of Rudimentary Peni's Nick Blinko. I found his voice both distracting and annoying at times. No thanks. –Mike Dunn –Guest Contributor (Revelation)

self-titled: CD
I was really hoping I was going to like this. I heard something about a guy from the Nerve Agents was in this band. I heard a few tracks by the latter band and thought it wasn’t half bad. This release rubs me in the wrong way. It’s like having your underwear stuck up your ass, soaking up the sweat while you are trying to run down the street. Not horrific, just not my cup of tea. I would say that it is a mixture of the current TSOL meets a non-psychobilly Tiger Army mixed with some AFI. –Donofthedead (Revelation)

Self-titled: 7”
Tough-as-nails hardcore from Illinois. It’s muscular and pounding, but retains a tunefulness that pushes the gang vocals into oi territory. I’m hearing ‘80s NYHC like Life’s Blood, maybe a couple pre-Rollins Black Flag riffs, and the sound of cinderblocks turning to powder. That’s Ebro from Charles Bronson on the mic…and drums. I think this is their demo, missing a couple songs.  –Chris Terry (Deranged)

Introducing My New High: 7" EP
I used to hate the French, but I think I hate the English even more now. I take that back. I hate English people who sing in English complete with that repulsive snotty snarl that makes one think that they're not even English in the first place but a bunch of poseurs that listen to too many Sex Pistols and The Clash's "Best of..." records while fucking donkeys in the middle of a cow field in Butte, Montana. –Namella J. Kim (Rapid Pulse, PO Box 5075, Milford, CT 06460)

My Life In Ruins: 7” EP

Anthemic punk reminiscent of the UK Subs. I dug it.

–Todd Taylor (Rapid Pulse)

Introducing My New High: 7"EP
I used to hate the French, but I think I hate the English even more now. I take that back. I hate English people who sing in English complete with that repulsive snotty snarl that makes one think that they're not even English in the first place but a bunch of poseurs that listen to too many Sex Pistols and The Clash's "Best of..." records while fucking donkeys in the middle of a cow field in Butte, Montana. –Namella J. Kim (Rapid Pulse)

The Struggle: 7”
This fucking rules. Confession: I am prejudiced. Every time I pick up a 7” and it contains six songs, and especially if it’s at 45 RPM, I think—no—I know I’m gonna be disappointed. Too many times have I gambled and been burned on a record with a killer cover, rad band name and badass song titles, only to be bored to death by hyper-fast, unintelligible “songs” of noise. This, my friends, is not that. This is punk fucking rock, equal parts The Spits and early X. Raw, aggressive, catchy punk tunes. You’d never guess what “L.J.S.A.” stands for—Leather Jacket Separation Anxiety—but the singer tells me that, and I think I might suffer from that very condition. “Six Pack Breakfast?” Okay!  –Chad Williams (Self-released)

The Struggle II: 7”
Six songs of frantic garage stuff that leans pretty heavily towards hardcore, if that makes sense. I’d be surprised if each side makes it to the two-minute mark. Pretty minimal packaging—I’d like to know the lyrics to songs like “How to Be a Better Ally” and “No God Can Judge Me”—but they smoke pretty good. File somewhere between Cut The Shit and Go Sell Drugs, yes?  –Keith Rosson (Pity)

Oaks Bottom: 7” EP
This new three-song release from Pity Fucks contains two original songs as well as a cover version of Bo Diddley’s “Hong Kong Mississippi.” The two original tracks have a renewed Dickies vibe complete with organs to help with the flow of the songs. The vocals are a cross between Gluecifer and Lamont with a little Eddie Spaghetti thrown in for good measure, especially during the chorus of “Ain’t All There.” I would swear that was Biff Malibu making a guest vocal appearance. The Bo Diddley cover is a complete rocker raising the song’s pace to a whole new level. Would love to see these guys play this song live. I’m guessing it would be a highlight of their set list. –Brent Nimz (Felony Fidelity, no address listed)

Self-titled: 7” EP
Mangled drunken garage party boogie with commendably loutish keyboards that would not sound out of place on the “Busted at Oz” album ((then again i probably haven’t listened to that album in twenty-five years so don’t take my word for this)), or maybe one of those not-quite-punk fringe bar bands of the early ‘80s that had a keyboard but were kinda funny and obnoxious so you didn’t mind watching the drunken college guys try to quasi-ironically punk out to the best of their limited abilities by hopping around hanging themselves with their skinny ties on the dance floor or what-not. Or possibly what the Urinals would have sounded like had they had to play biker bars in Pennsylvania. Actually, no, not so much like that, now that i think about it. Yet, out of this drool, sputum and mayhem shoots golden beams of drunken profundity: “The last time I saw you you was lovin’ me good / But then you broke my heart like I knew you would!” That’s actually a pretty fuckin’ right-on line. Plus i like how the keyboard player appears to be playing one-handed, and seems to have obtained the full measure of his chops from that one song you learn when you’re like eight years old where you mostly just roll your fist over the three black keys. BRING THESE VASSALS TO ME! The czar wishes to cut a f’n rug! BEST SONG: “Why Right Now?” BEST SONG TITLE: “Why Right Now?” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: The record label states that this 45 RPM record is “unbreakable,” yet i could not find it in my heart to test this claim by giving the record a good sharp whack against a pinball machine, so the veracity of this assertion remains completely bound to the realm of speculation at this point. –Rev. Norb (Felony Fidelity)

Self-titled: 12” 45 RPM
The cover art has two paper lunch bags drawn on to look like a guy and a girl post-coitus, with a matchbook that has “Some Skank” and a phone number written on it in one corner and a condom wrapper in the other corner. Given the union of the cover art and band name, I was totally expecting something totally sophomoric with an urge to beat dead horses. While the lyrical content of this record may fit nicely into the pigeonhole I made out for the record, I was too busy enjoying the garage rock on this slab of wax to pay a lick of attention to the lyrics. Six originals and two covers (Oblivians and R. Stevie Moore), all solid. –Vincent Battilana (Felony Fidelity, joe@felonyfidelity.com)

Do a Little Dance: 7”
Yes, the old “ex-members of a great band that has previously graced the cover of Razorcake” tag could be used here, but let’s skip it—Pity Party, pleasantly, needs absolutely zero name-dropping to help ‘em out. This shit is fantastic on its own: Do a Little Dance contains a handful of compressed, spring-wound punk songs, all of them exploding right out of the gate ala Bitchin’ or This Is My Fist. Catchy and thoughtful and just fantastic, man. A great surprise, and more than worthy of repeated listens. –Keith Rosson (Bloated Kat)

Fine Young Animals: 12” EP
One tamale and beans/rice slapped in the microwave. Halfway through the small plate of food and the first side of the LP is finished. My mouth hole is coated in porky masa deliciousness and my ear holes are smiling wide from the punk rock goodness that just flew from the speakers. In my mind I’ve imagined Fid mid-leap, Cassady belting it out, Joel plonking away at the bass (it has a fantastic distinguishable sound in the mix), and Mikey sweating out the frantic beat. Flip the record, finish the tamale lunch, same results. Punk pop from the heart from pure pedigree players (Measure [SA], Sexy Crimes, The Ergs). They’ll give you one of the best twenty-five minute sets, drink all the beer, sleep on your couch, and watch the Simpsons until dawn. Quiero mas y quieres mas tambien.  –Matt Seward (Psychic Volt, psychicvolt.com)

Split: 7” EP
Pity Party: Paroxysmal punk delivered with much verve and no apparent fear of switching gears mid-song and sending the wagon careening down a different road. Bad Mammals: More standard indie-punk faire with some pretty bad vocals. –Jimmy Alvarado (No Breaks)

Split: 7”
Pity Party: Featuring Fid of the Measure [SA] and Joel and Cassady from Sexy Crimes. Spazzy and a little unhinged. It sounds like a confluential wave-crash of Toy Dolls and PS Elliot playing ADHD (as opposed to NYHC) hardcore —sweet, spastic, and time changes galore. TroubleCity, here we come. Nice. VacationBibleSchool: Chicago-styled, modern pop punk for the “please play more, Pegboy” fan in all of us. Beefy hooks. Peppy delivery. Dour subtext. Honest dudes. Clean, clear, and punchy recording. If this was the future that didn’t suck, a can of beer would pop out of the top of the record and open itself up at the beginning of the first song. Don’t take this shit for granted folks, because there are a thousand ways to fuck this up and two or three ways to do it right. –Todd Taylor (Underground Communiqué, undercomm.org)

Get out of My Kitchen: Cassette
How can such sweetness come out of Detroit? I’ve always had the theory that anything that could come out of Detroit would just have to have a bit of moxie, but I figured it would have to be in the raw and ugly, angry sense, not in the melodic, power pop way that The Pizazz rock. Rock you they certainly do, but they do it in a melodic, catchy, partyful, dance-around-your-room kind of way. The Pizazz are as much a slave to their influences as you are to their catchy riffs. I hear all kinds of stuff in here: The Feelies, The Replacements, Britpop, Magazine, Buzzcocks, The Kinks, early Cure and many more that I can’t put my finger on, but it’s all blended together and spit out in its own form. I must also mention the twankly (to coin a phrase) keyboards. These songs have been staying in my head every time I leave the house and whenever I’m at home the tape is playing. I don’t know what else to tell ya. –Craven (Burger)

Split: 7"
Pizza Hi Five: Eight songs of precise, brutal grindcore with some pretty goddamn hilarious lyrics. Part of “Neglegent DJ” (sic) goes, “Dude what is this shit you’re playing? Please put on some grind tunes. It’s the least that you could do. Could you do that shit for me? I need blast beats in my ears.” Or my personal favorite, the end of “Extreme Make Over,” regarding the fallacies of the cosmetic surgery industry: “Surgery’s your only hope. Did not work. Still ugly. You’d look better with your face ripped off.” You charmers, you. Infernal Stronghold: Lots of double bass, muted guitar, and growled vocals—this is some wire-tight, apocalyptic thrash with some serious metal flourishes. Nowhere near my preferred genre, but these two bands seem like a good pairing. –Keith Rosson (Sit & Spin)

U Wanna Pizza Me?: Cassette
This particular pie falls into the category of split toppings: side A is entirely in Spanish and carries with it all the hallmarks of a one-man band: canned drums, bleeps n’ bloops, keyboards. In a live band setting, this stuff might work better than it does here, despite some catchy riffs (which, as in, “Tu Muchacho,” sound Lou Reed-y. What is it with pizza bands and the Velvet Underground?). It’s all pretty twee until side B, which steps on the effects pedals and rocks way harder (though not without the aforementioned one-man-band signifiers getting distracting, and not without occasionally sounding like The Pod ). Tasty enough, but I’m still hungry. –Michael T. Fournier (Burger)

I Thought We Were Friends: Split 7”
Don’t let their silly name fool you, PizzaHiFive are some serious grind. With dual banshee screams and guttural vocals, super tight blast beats, and riffs that slay, the eight tracks on their side of the split are everything a grind fanatic could ask for. If that weren’t enough, the Hooker Spit Windex side of the split offers up a helping of crust-tinged grind. I like that Hooker Spit Windex mix up some of their tempos, and it’s not just all blast beats all the time. Sadly though, the band broke up several months before this 7” showed up in my mailbox. Fans of grind take note. –Paul J. Comeau (Rad Girlfriend, radgirlfriendrecords.com)

Self-titled: 7” EP
These guys have been keeping up with the Rip Off Records catalog, and it shows. Three tunes here, all in that trashy punk vein that seems to be such hot shit up there in Northern California. They ain’t too bad at it, either. –Jimmy Alvarado (Daggerman)

Traveling Today on Yesterday’s Maps…: CD
Six piece Kansas City/ St. Louis outfit that gives us a nine song slab of refined sonic outbursts melded with gritty interludes. Yes, there’s The ‘Mats influence here. But I also detect early Buffalo Tom and even some Big Wheel. Songs that stick out like a broken rib: “Touch,” “Drown,” and “Puerto Rico.” With three guitarists, the playing is surprisingly restrained—there’s no Lynyrd Skynyrd meanderings here. They stretch out their song formats on the closing seven-minute-plus “Kick out The Bags.” I have no idea about the “Heartland” music scene at all, but I’m stoked I got this chunk of bone tossed in my direction. –Sean Koepenick (Self-released)

Casting Shadows: CDEP
Man, if it was 2003, Victory Records or Vagrant would be all over these guys. Modern melodramatic pop punk reminiscent of Taking Back Sunday, Saves the Day…you name it; if the band has the word “Day” somewhere in the title, they sound like them. The average Razorcake reader isn’t gonna dig this, but I get the feeling my tolerance for this stuff is higher than most, and found it somewhat decent. Points for the TK-421 (Star Wars) reference, too. –Will Kwiatkowski (No address)

Peeled: 12”EP

Jingly, jangly pop-fuzz hangout listening. This reminds me of stuff I would listen to late at night in the early 1990s. Nice nighttime listening when working in the wee hours with friends. It’s rocking and heavy enough to keep you awake and focused, but not overbearing. The pop side keeps you in good spirits. Places We Slept sound like they could have shared space on one of the Yo-Yo comps or International Pop Overthrow. I like how the songs are light and minimal in parts, then they hit the pedals and some fuzzed-out distortion comes pouring out of the speakers. Then suddenly we’re listening to much quieter song with buzzing amps in the background. The opener, “Almost Died,” sounds like early Dinosaur Jr., which, to me, is a good comparison. These are the sort of songs that attach themselves to your mind with a stronger grip on every listen.

–Matt Average (Lagerville, lagervillerecords.wordpress.com)

Thumper: CD
Personally knew nothing about these guys prior to listening to this, which was bit surprising to me, considering how tuned into the hardcore thing I was when they were out raising a racket, and it’s my loss. Formed out of the ashes of the Defnics (whose “51 percent” is a staple for the Killed by Death types), Plague meted out some crushing warp-speed thrash during their decade of activity. Mining the area between Negative Approach and early DRI, they managed a number of EPs and an album before calling it quits in 1992. The tracks from those releases are all here, giving a whole new crop of hardcore fans the opportunity to revel in their glory. –Jimmy Alvarado (Plague Music)

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