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Razorcake #87

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Record Reviews

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Conquista 21: CD
Think Voodoo minus the ska and with a much better grasp of the Spanish language. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.laplebe.com)

Timebox: 7”
Peppy, happy guy/girl vocals but not girly, not emo: pretty straight rockin’. It’s pop punk that’s radio friendly, and it feels fun, but this record is kind of reserved, no explosions. I like my pop faster and more harmonic, but really interested in what the band does next. –Speedway Randy (Full Breach Kicks)

Tides of Change: LP

Plexi 3 play garagey power pop with female vocals and some girl group dramatics. Power pop requires a fine balance of, well, power and pop. The main problem with this album is that it needs more of both. It’s just not quite catchy enough to make up for how little it rocks. I’d like to see this band live. I bet they’re more energetic on stage, and they probably play in places with shitty PAs that mute the grating vocals. This sounds like the work of a band that is not quite ready to do a full-length, so I’m giving Plexi 3 a vote of confidence. The songs that the drummer wrote are fucking catchy, and they covered the Everly Brothers. Let’s hope that they stick around long enough to capitalize on the potential shown.

–CT Terry (Bachelor)

Tides of Change : CD
This twelve-song album feels like a flailing morph between Matthew Sweet and the old Denver band Dressy Bessy. It sounds like the music lessons paid off and these guys and gal, as they figured out how to writes songs. But all the fuzzed guitar tones and psychedelic album art isn’t going to make the music any good. I’m assuming Plexi 3 is trying to ride the indie wave of The New Pornographers flag with co-ed vocals and layered instrumentation, but they fall short on delivering the punch. –N.L. Dewart (Certified PR)

Vohul To: CD
Pretty standard fair street punk, by way of the Czech Republic. Nothing particularly remarkable one way or another about this. Not bad by any means, but imagine in your head some folks from the patches and pins set, some Les Pauls and Marshalls, sing-a-long “anthems” with appropriate stops and starts in order to include the requisite number of finger-points, then you’ve got these guys.  –Jeff Proctor (PHR)

Pulverizing Lethal Force: CD
Re-press of their debut album from some time back. Listening to this, it’s easy to understand why people are stoked on this band. When it comes to grind, not many can touch the ferocity of PLF. They crank this stuff out with unrivaled power. It’s fast and precise with an avalanche of sound that crushes everything in its path. The dual vocal attack is both corrosive and abrasive, so you get it from all sides. They keep the energy constant, shifting tempos to keep it interesting, and it’s as fast as it is catchy, which is no easy task. Every song on here is a crusher, but the tracks that really stand out are “Black Robe,” Human Shield,” “Pinnacle of Weakness,” “Siege of the Headbanger,” “Fighting the Urge,” and the rest. –Matt Average (Haunted Hotel, hauntedhotelrecs.com / To Live A Lie, tolivealie.com)

00’s Nostalgia with the Plimptons: CD
I saw Madness’s “Our House” video for the first time in about twenty years the other day, and, stunningly, it actually made me feel kinda good inside—like angels were peeing pink sugar water into my lungs—for some unspecified reason ((as opposed to back in the day, when i’m sure i was lobbing sneakers and pull-tab beer cans at the TV in disgust every time it came on)). In retrospect—and, perhaps, ONLY in retrospect—that was a pretty good song, really. I have no idea what the fuck this has to do with the Plimptons, other than the fact that, if MTV still played music, i’d like to think the Plimptons would be in Madness-esque heavy rotation ((which brings up a chilling tangent: Is “these guys would be in heavy rotation if MTV still played music videos” this generation’s version of “in a perfect world, this song would be blasting out of every AM radio in America”??? Yikes!)). They’re poppy and ska-ey and clever and jumpy and sing with funny accents because they’re from Scotland ((good, i’m sick of Ireland anyway)), but they’re also punky because GOD DAMMIT WE HAVE RAISED A GENERATION OF CHAMPIONS. Who knows, for all i am aware, maybe this band is big and famous and continually overplayed at the corner bar ((and, hell, maybe MTV plays videos all the time again? How would i even know?)), but i’ve never heard of ‘em before and i’ll go so far as to say that their videos ((viewable on many popular social networking sites)) are mildly life-affirming necessities. HARK, THE HERALD ANGELS SING! BREATHE DEEPLY OF THEIR SUGARY TINKLE!!! BEST SONG: “I Don’t Wanna Be Dead” BEST SONG TITLE: “The Day My Baby Said She Hated Ska.” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Nobody really knows what the last decade was called, and i don’t blame them. –Rev. Norb (16 Ohm)

Are Cynical and Bloated: CD
I rather enjoy these good-natured Scot-poppers; they sound like a cross between the early Buzzcocky work of their countrymen the Soup Dragons ((a band who actually did not suck at one point in time)), and other tolerable U.K. 120 Minutes fodder enemies like the Wonder Stuff or what-have-you. Of course, their broad Scots accents can’t help but invoke the dread spectre of the Proclaimers, and their college-drop-out eclecticism smacks of Jazz Butchery, but there’s enough of a DIY/regular joe vibe at work here to confirm the band’s fitness as something appropriate to review in a punk mag, even though the only bands to which i have compared them thus far have been questionable ‘80s college radio favorites ((although, for the record, I consider the Jazz Butcher to be largely beyond reproach)). Pretty hard to knock a band who’d sing a song like “Never Going Back To Work,” so venerate accordingly. BEST SONG: “Never Going Back To Work” BEST SONG TITLE: “A Call Centre Job Over The Summer” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: “Recommended Track for Radio – 7 – Be Expected.” –Rev. Norb (16 Ohm)

The Life and Death of Colonel Plimp: CD
After existing for approximately thirteen years, Scottish band The Plimptons are disbanding and The Life and Death of Colonel Plimp serves as their swan song, although it’s really just a retrospective. There are nineteen tracks in fifty-two minutes and almost all of them are overwhelming in their annoyance. I haven’t been forced to skip past so many tracks on a CD in a long time. It’s either the weird organ that sounds like it is from a circus or the vocals that kept reminding me of comedian/talk show host Craig Ferguson, but either way, I couldn’t handle this. Although Nardwuar is a fan of the band, I can’t in good conscience recommend it. They may have a cult following, but I’m not drinking the Kool Aid. –Kurt Morris (Self-released, theplimptons.bandcamp.com)

One Night in America: CD
Judas Priest. The gods are truly smiling on power pop fans. To augment the woefully inadequate availability of Plimsouls' product (only Everywhere at Once is readily available), this brand new live CD has hit the shelf. Recorded in 1981, probably in Cleveland, this is guitar rock at its finest. Yes, we have the Zeros, the Romantics, and many others-but The Plimsouls live is a godsend. This record features Plimsouls favorites like "I'll Get Lucky," "How Long Will It Take," and of course "A Million Miles Away." Plus some cool covers of bands like the Outsiders, the Kinks, and the Easybeats. The Easybeats, for Christ's sake! Throw Angus Young's brother a bone- times are tough. Great sound. Another release is planned for next year. But buy this record and then buy one for a Xmas present for a pal. You'll get something better than a lump of coal this time around. The return of the Plimsouls is good news for the music world. Real rock that has stood the test of time. -Sean Koepenick –Guest Contributor (Oglio)

Live! Beg, Borrow & Steal: CD
Another review of another ex-Nerves member’s record? Maybe there is a solar eclipse coming up. What next, a new Jack Lee solo record will show up on my doorstep? Not very likely. But it’s cool to have this live show available to the world. It’s an incredible-sounding live set from this band at the peak of their powers: October 31st, 1981 at the Whisky A Go Go. Too bad I was not there, but you can hear the band tear apart the Sunset Strip on your own. All the hits are here, a few covers, and The Fleshtones help out on a few songs. “Now” is my current favorite song by this band. But they all kick ass and you need to have this if you like great guitar rock with a pop edge. Plus the CD is worth buying for the pictures alone. Where do I get suspenders like that, guys? –Sean Koepenick (Alive)

Beach Town Confidential: CD
Rescued from the vaults, another sick-sounding live show from this awesome band. Recorded live at The Golden Bear, Huntington Beach, CA on August 13th, 1983. The band rages through seventeen songs: mostly originals with a couple choice cover nuggets tossed in to keep it fresh. This was a band firing on all cylinders and the results kick ass. Thank you Peter Case for getting this out to the masses. Keep them coming! –Sean Koepenick (Alive)

If You Cut Us We Bleed: CDEP
Skronk rock, strangely reminiscent of a less jazzy Saccharine Trust in a pisser of a mood. Can’t decide whether I thought it was the bee’s knees or not, but it did make the past seven minutes of my life a little more interesting. –Jimmy Alvarado (HCNL)

This San Diego four-piece has been at it for a while, offending people everywhere. This EP contains three songs, INRI, a remix, and a cover of “Boys Keep Swinging” by David Bowie and Brian Eno. I prefer the dark tones of INRI over the cover but this is worth collecting if its in the bargain bin. TPTBUTET has a lot of hype these days, and I think they partially live up to it. Their music is for fans of disjointed, angular post rock. They want to know, “Have you heard about the filthy king nailed up to his cross of desire and sin?” –Buttertooth (Art Fag: www.artfag.us)

“Act Like It” b/w “Little Bit of Hatred”: 7”
Let me say this: on the strength of hearing these two songs (less than four minutes of combined music) I was driven to seek out and purchase much of Plow United’s back catalog. That’s some songwriting, okay? That’s how good they are. And a testament to how lucky us reviewers are sometimes. The A-side’s a cut from their new album, Marching Band, with the flip exclusive to this record. Both songs are stupidly catchy and skull-deep in a soaring, dark, and anthemic quality that manages to become redemptive by their sheer awesomeness; the fact that they do it twice, and do it so effortlessly, and do it when their last record came out fifteen years ago, well, I’m impressed. You know those singing Christmas cards? You open em up and they play a little tune? I wish this issue of Razorcake was like that: “Little Bit of Hatred” would start playing whenever you opened up the pages. If you can’t guess, this one’s recommended. –Keith Rosson (Kiss Of Death)

Goodnight Sellout!: LP
Plow United’s Marching Band is one of my favorite records of the last few years. It’s exuberant, smart, hopeful, sarcastic, and catchy as living shit and they make that shit look ridiculously easy and, yeah, you should consider getting it if you don’t already. Goodnight Sellout!, their sophomore record from 1996, has gotten the reissue treatment from Dead Broke. 1996 was a crazy time for punk in general and pop punk specifically, and this LP was, according to the band, written as a way to distinctly try something new. To step out of the confines of the pop punk genre. Test themselves. It’s a frantic, almost hardcore-sounding record at times, with a lot of textures and varying parts. There are a lot of chances being taken here and, no, they don’t always succeed. Mostly, I feel like it’s a collection of songs that are slippery, disjointed, and hard to get a handle on. (Hell, that may have even been intentional.) As a document of an era and product of a particular scene, it’s probably a pretty integral record to folks who were there. But as someone who’s hearing Goodnight Sellout! for the first time, without that historical context, I can’t help but feel that the band’s continuing to get better and better, that their best work may be before them, and that I can’t wait to hear what they do next.  –Keith Rosson (Dead Broke)

Self-titled: LP
This is a loving reissue of Plow United’s 1994 debut LP. I can understand why this was a formative record for a lot of people who heard it when it first came out —it’s personal, fun, fast as shit, and indicative of the great stuff they would go on to do later. That said, I think their best work was years in the future—their most recent full length, Marching Band, was phenomenal. This? This is just okay. Quick, endearingly awkward pop punk songs that rely less on melody and more on a stuttering, veering kind of song structuring, frequent blitzkrieg lyrical passages, vocal interplay, and the occasional stroke of musical brilliance. I don’t think it’s held up amazingly well twenty years later, but it’s irrefutably better than the shit I was making in 1994, so there’s that.  –Keith Rosson (It’s Alive)

Move b/w Mindless Contentment, Let Go: 7"
Hell yeah. The band that often got mistaken for being from East LA because they were Mexican and played LA all the time (they were from Hollywood), The Plugz were part of the very first wave of Southern California punk rock – full of desperation, sharp pain, and great songwriting. Fuck, it’s just such good music that’s the obvious bridge between straight-ahead, no bullshit Chuck Berry rock’n’roll and where early Los Lobos launched from, soaked in the same type of infectious swagger and rockabilly dance that The Gears and The Zeros would embrace and tackle in tandem to The Plugz. So, when Xene says X were the first and only band in the world to operate in a void by plugging the patchchords of punk, rockabilly, and poetry together, you may hold this seven inch aloft and say, “Nay. History is here, in these grooves, pressed in 1978. Although you may control the museums, this piece of vinyl contradicts thee.” This is another “fanclub release” (with the matrix number scratched off from the acetate, no less), but I don’t think this 7” has been available for years and years besides on eBay, so it’s well worth the hunt. Hell yeah. –Todd Taylor (it’s a bootleg, smartypants)

Whatevers Forever: CD
Well this grabbed me right off the start. Fast-paced, kinda punky indie rock with a male vocalist with an almost cartoony kind of voice and a female vocalist with the sweetest layered tones this side of vintage Kim Deal. That first song really smacks you around a bit. In a good way. I guess the part that sucks about that is that the rest of the disc is left trying to pick up the pieces. Sometimes it’s beautiful pop, sometimes off kilter pseudo hardcore. The band starts to lose the identity that is very clearly defined by that opening track. Having said that, I really like a lot of the songs on here, but, as a whole, it’s not flowing together. I’d give them another listen for sure. –Ty Stranglehold (Good Time Gang, myspace.com/goodtimegangrecordings)

The Plurals Today, The Plurals Tomorrow: A Futurospective: CD
Certain artists pull you in. Hearing them makes you say, “I could do that. I should do that!” The Ramones. The Minutemen. (Shit, The Minutemen said it from the damned stage! Watt still ends concerts by tellin’ folks to “start their own band, paint their own picture, etc…”). The Plurals belong in this company. Seeing them live is revelatory. They’re one of the few groups today whose influences aren’t merely contemporary, yet they don’t fall into some retro trap either (the days of them being some ‘90s knock-off are, like, over, man). They simply play rock music, styles and conventions and trends be damned. Futurospective is the record I’ve been waiting for them to make, and it’s been a long time coming. It’s their Zen Arcade, their Double Nickels. The record where they truly put to disc what we’ve always seen them do live. The record that, if there were any justice in the world (or if people still liked rock and roll anyways) some schmuck would be writing a book about twenty years from now. When you have a band that is this goddamned rockin’, it’s just undeniable. These guys and gal play like their life depended on it. It does. They reach new heights of musical interplay (there’s a phrase usually reserved for Rush reviews, eh?) without sacrificing one ounce of face-blowing-off power or catchiness (and this is easily the catchiest The Plurals have ever been). I’d list song titles or whatever people expect reviewers to do, but everything on this record is so all-fired great I’d have to talk about every damned one of them. (Nobody’s paying me by the word here!) I will say that “Happy Songs” is probably the best Plurals song ever written and that the moment where Nick says “Guitar!” like he’s going to introduce some rockin’ guitar solo, but Tommy just comes in with some palm muting and ends the song is a wonderful bit of probably unintentional humor. (The kind that makes me write run-on sentences, apparently.) Futurospective is the past and the future all in one place, with a voice that is undeniably their own. No hype, no bandwagon-jumping, no bullshit. Album of the year, hands down. –Ryan Horky (Good Time Gang, gtgrecords.net)

It’s a Calling: CD
Goddamn the Plus Ones. I hate most pop music these days, but the same thing happens every time I hear one of their friggin’ releases: just as I’m about to dismiss it as the pile of pop pap it is, they throw in that one song that just puts a wrench into the whole thing and I gotta go back to square one and reevaluate the whole damned release again. This release is no different. The song in question is “Serve in Heaven/Rule in Hell,” a nearly flawless piece of Teenage Fanclub-esque punked-out pop with a seriously infectious hook. Before that song made its appearance, I was pretty icked out by the whole affair. Now I’ve gone back and, lo and behold, I’m hearing all kindsa weird shit buried under those guitars, including echoes of the Who, the Jam and, of all things, the friggin’ Vapors. Now I gotta keep this damned thing ’cause I found I actually like more than three quarters of the songs on it. I hate when that happens. Goddamn the Plus Ones. Who the hell are they to make a pop album that doesn’t blow sheep? Cheeky bastards. –Jimmy Alvarado (Asian Man)

Split: CDEP
Plus Ones: The songs aren’t as immediately catchy as their first disc, but are pleasant enough as pop goes. The third song, “You’ve Been Had,” was by far the best. Travoltas: Yet another post-Queers pop punk band to fill up space on the music racks. They’re good at what they do, but there’s already literally millions of others already strip mining this plot on the punk rock landscape. Give it a rest, already. –Jimmy Alvarado (Asian Man)

Drag en Tejp Runt Mina Lår: 7” EP
Here you get a drummer aiming for the tribal end of the spectrum; a bassist embedding simple, repetitive riffs straight into yer cranium; a guitarist who loves his drone; another guitarist who sounds like he’s running through three distortion boxes and has a cord that keeps shorting out at inopportune times; and a Swedish cat who actually tries to sing over the top of the ensuing chaos. Hardcore, noise, art-punk, whatever hole you wanna cram it into, this is definitely worth extended listening sessions. –Jimmy Alvarado (Gaphals, gaphals.se)

Self-Titled: 7"
Very Ramonesy, but done really well. The thing that confuses me is that, although they appear to be in their late twenties, they’re singing about being rejected at the high school dance. Maybe they do things differently in France, or maybe they need to let something go. –Megan Pants (High School Reject)

Self-titled: 7” EP
Thuddy garage punk, very Loli and the Chones/Rip Off Records. Songs are approximately twice the length they need to be, but this’ll do the trick in a pinch. –Jimmy Alvarado (High School Refuse)

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