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Razorcake #84
Tim Version, Ordinary Life LP + bonus 7"
Radon, 28 LP
Zisk #25
Razorcake #83

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Record Reviews

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Self-titled: CD
Apparently named after a villain in a second-rate Bruce Willis movie, Pittsburg, PA’s Polish Hill Strangler specialize in meat and potatoes hardcore with enough vitriol to keep the most ardent admirer of the musical form happy. While nothing on the disc particularly sticks out, it’s a solid release. If I were about twenty years younger, you can bet you would find this in regular rotation in the boombox on the neighborhood skate ramp. Subject matter isn’t too heavy, which I dig. Worthy of mention is “No Wonder You’re a Cripple”—a track that would undoubtedly make the Meatmen proud. –Garrett Barnwell (Polish Hill Strangler, myspace.com/lifeandtimesof)

Someday: CD
Rerelease of this Scottish band’s 1987 mini-LP, adding a live set from the same year. Their music is really busy, mixing prog and pop punk with political lyrics. They look like Rush, sound like Cruz Records, and live in squats. Spiritual kin to New Model Army, but far poppier. Once I got over my initial “What the fuck?” reaction to the simultaneous bass noodling, guitar shredding, and Scottish accent singing, I was riveted—fascinated to hear what came next. –CT Terry (bosstuneage.com)

Window on the World and How the West Was Won: CD
Reissues of this band’s albums three and four (?) courtesy of Boss Tuneage. Not having heard the first two, and indeed having no experience with ‘em prior to this save as a band name I’ve come across on occasion, I’m in no position to map their progression from their earliest days. What I can say is that the stuff from 1990s Window on the World sounds at times like they were no strangers to the sophisto-punk of New Model Army, who in turn were no strangers to homegrown “folk” influences. By 1992’s How the West Was Won, the influence of Hüsker Dü came to the fore, both in the acoustic cover of “Don’t Want to Know If You Are Lonely” and in the noodly electric guitar work elsewhere. Throughout, however, the band incorporates their influences into what is clearly their own sound. Both releases are a great chance to revisit not only a band likely overlooked in favor of more popular fare, but one worth a second look. –Jimmy Alvarado (Boss Tuneage)

Nasty DNA: Tape
Pollution play blasted-speaker hardcore that will appeal to hoodie-clad dorm room moshers and crusties who name their dogs after brands of cheap beer. The songs maintain a nice tunefulness, even as the music grinds down to a headbanging crawl. At times, Pollution reminds me of faster Melvins material, or Born Against at their dirgiest. This is a full-length cassette and it’s totally kick ass. –CT Terry (C6)

Self-titled: 7” EP
So, I’m going to guess that these Michigan punksters are fairly new to the game? The songs are garage type punk rock with a lot of heart. In my opinion, they recorded too soon. The songs are definitely there to dig into but I think with a little more time to tighten things up, they would have ended up with a much better product to introduce themselves with.  –Brent Nimz (American Sedation)

Self-titled: 7”
These are simply recorded simple songs in the simplest of packaging. To put it simply: it works. It makes you wish more bands would just fucking make music and stop worrying about whatever else they spend their time doing as a collective unit. –John Mule (American Sedation)

Self-titled: CD-R
This very light, four-song pop demo EP doesn’t distinguish itself in any way. It’s mildly fun and fluffy, like a Lifetime TV movie about an abusive relationship. The vocals are held back and whisper-soft. I think they’re going for a dreamy quality, but I just fell asleep. Is this a nightmare? –Art Ettinger (Chronic Death, myspace.com/polygonzz)

Demo: CD-R EP
Before this disc was sent to me, I downloaded the tracks because it features three of the five guys who made up the now recently departed Sleepwall. Those three guys got another guy and formed this here band, Polygon. I didn’t expect Polygon to be Sleepwall, but Sleepwall does work as a decent and seemingly appropriate reference point for discussing Polygon. Polygon, not unlike Sleepwall, also likes their ‘90s. Polygon doesn’t have all the punk inclinations of Sleepwall, but does have the affinity for good indie/alternative stuff from decades past. This doesn’t hit as hard as Sleepwall did, and part of that is due to the vocals. That doesn’t mean that it’s not good. The music is something that Sleepwall could have progressed to, but the singing is uniquely Polygon. His vocals are younger sounding and softer, which give Polygon a more playful and light-hearted tone. Polygon’s definitely worth keeping an eye out for. –Vincent Battilana (myspace.com/polygonzz)

Neu: CD
The American release of Polysics’ second album, originally released three years ago and only now being domestically released thanks to the kindness and diligence of Asian Man, and oh what a record it is. The Devo influence is still firmly in place, but the tunes seem less melodic and infused with more intensity, making them just plain rock out harder than their previous long player, Hey Bob! My Friend. More succinctly, this is the equivalent of having Boojie Boy rape your eardrum with an old Casio keyboard. Hunt down either of album, play it loud and play it often, ‘cause Polysics rule. –Jimmy Alvarado (Asian Man)

Hey! Bob! My Friend!: CD
Close your eyes. Now picture Servotron as a three-piece Japanese group who develop this weird kink in their music after one too many Melt Banana listening sessions. Thank God that I didn't go with my initial gut instinct and pass this one up, 'cause this is gonna get a lot of airplay in my house, boyo. Frighteningly good. –Jimmy Alvarado (Asian Man)

The Long Goodbye: CD
I’m not sure if Erik Estrada is down with these dudes, but he sure as hell should be. Cool sci-fi cover and choice tunes inside. The band is from Italy and they really dig Star Wars! Do you need to know more? Well, they write snappy power punk tunes and deliver them with chops. They even cover a Canadian band’s chart topper. No—it is not Rush. But give these guys a shot, man, and maybe you can share a slice of pizza and a bottle of Yoo-hoo with them when they play your town. –Sean Koepenick (Monster Zero)

Split: EP
The Ponches have a bit of the “bro’ punk” vibe crossed with Weezer kind of sound. “Balls at Large” is catchy, and not a bad song, with the ending having a repetitive chorus that has a nice, slight punch. Riccobellis hearken back to that early U.K. punk sound that could almost pass as power pop, if it was just cleaner sounding and the singer had a “nice” voice. “Don’t Hesitate” is okay, but lacks that fire to send these over the edge and warrant further listening. Then “I Created a Monster” is pure cheese, and clichéd as hell with the, “Oh oh baby, I wanna listen to the Ramones with you” thing going on. Wretch... –Matt Average (One Chord Wonder)

Gone: CD
Seven tracks of smarty-pants funky rock in the vein of say, Gang Of Four meets Talking Heads. Nothing really sticks out from anything else other than the song “Fish Sauce,” which annoyed me and captivated me simultaneously. Any band that extols the virtues of fish sauce is ultimately okay in my book. Just don’t spill any on your pants, trust me. –Garrett Barnwell (Saustex, saustex.com)

Self-titled: CD
(Make note, this isn’t The Ponys.) Spazzy DIY rock in the musical-notes-instead-of-rocks cement mixer of The Okmoniks, ADD/C, The Lipstick Pickups, Los Federales, and The Leeches, augmented by altitude sickness (they’re from Flagstaff) and screams into your left ear. At times, it’s endearing. At other times, it’s like getting a tamale and you unwrap the husk to find another husk. It’s annoying, but you can work through that, too, unpeel it again, and it’s nice and warm and soft inside with just a little bit of chicken knuckle you’ll have to spit out into a napkin. I’ve got the feeling they’re on to something, and haven’t quite figured out how their Optimus Prime should be assembled for maximum ass kicking, but am willing to double check how their creative underwear fill up for the next release. –Todd Taylor (DogPony)

Self-Titled: 7"
Dunno if it’s all that desert heat or the fact that they live so close to a big hole in the ground, but Arizona cranks out some mighty interesting bands. Noisy, silly, and weird in all the right ways, these kids are. –Jimmy Alvarado (Knifechase)

Sexual Assault Rifle: LP
First of all, the title of the record is just brilliant. Something I wish I would have thought of first. Secondly, the album artwork, all of it, is particularly striking. A silk-screened cover, very colorful, with a cardinal perched atop a rifle with a grey kitty looking on. The labels on the record are of a giraffe with boobs and a hornet with an erection. Furries are stoked. And it comes with an insert of what might be a crucified Magnum P.I. Musically, the first thing that comes to mind is Pink Razors, which might make sense since they are both from Bloomington. It’s not that it sounds exactly like Pink Razors, because it certainly doesn’t, but it sounds as if they both live in the shared space of a Venn diagram that includes modern DIY punk, ‘80s college rock, and ‘90s indie rock. They live in a world of pop punk but are acutely aware of more challenging sounds and styles, incorporating complex timings and arrangements with bits of pop sensibilities a la Tanner, or a slightly tamed Triclops! There’s a lot of stuff going on here; effects are employed quite nicely with what sounds like perhaps Theremin, moog, or tape looping. But with precious little information provided, I can neither confirm nor deny the existence of said devices. As well, this is one of the few times I receive a record and wish I had a lyric sheet to go with it so I can sing along without having to guess and make up my own lyrics. It is early in the year, but I think so far I have my favorite new record of the year. Sexual Assault Rifle has me a Pony Boy fan. –Jeff Proctor (Let’s Pretend)

The Land of Milk and Pony: CD
German rock trio that have been at it since 2004. The songs feature a rockabilly feel, which may float your boat. There seems to be a strange fascination with horses on this album. I’m not sure if this has something to do with Catherine the Great, so maybe this will remain a mystery. If Dave Alvin fronting The Stray Cats sounds like something you would put on at your backyard BBQ, then grab this while you can. –Sean Koepenick (Saustex)

Self-titled: 7"
This is the second band (Kill Me Tomorrow was the other) in as many months that takes elements of early Cure – the swaying rhythms, more than a couple of guitar lines, and mopey wry-smile vocals – and turn them on their ear for a satisfying, updated effect. The entire affair, instead of being plugged into the gray clouds, feels less theatric (it’s not glam mope) than the Cure. It’s not frenetic but it’s not super polished and the slower parts build a nice atmosphere that’s dense and you get the feeling that a ton of original thought went into these songs, much like The Starvations newest record. –Todd Taylor (Contaminated)

Celebration Castle: CD
Indie pop from a group that has apparently learned well from those old post-punk pop albums from the ‘80s, ’cause that’s where it sounds like they’re taking their cues. Not a rehash here, but there’s just enough Echo, Cure, and Furs in the mix to ring familiar. Surprisingly good stuff and outside of the box enough to sound fresh and inventive. I like it lots. –Jimmy Alvarado (In the Red)

So Sentimental: 7"
The Ponys are one of those bands that seem to tap into the vibe that goes across punk rock and indie hipster scenes, the way Hot Snakes, Le Shok, The Peechees, Black Lips, and others have. They don’t sound the same necessarily, yet all seem to have a pulse that brings everyone in, slipping equally into dirty punk hearts as much as emo soft centers. I swear it’s a drug vibe. Or maybe it’s that moody feeling of being lost, lost, lost that speaks to so many adult-sized teenagers. The Ponys play quick music but it’s not fast, and they play messy with a purpose. Harmonic vocals create solid anthems you can sink into. I haven’t heard their Matador release these days, but bless Alicja’s Contaminated Records for reissuing this older single. –Speedway Randy (Contaminated)

“Wicked City” b/w “Little Friends”: 7”
Simple, thick-guitared punk with a bit of Richard Hell in the vocals; could easily have come out of New York in the late ‘70s. It would have been a little too poppy to have hit the Killed by Death lists, but people would still be listening to it now. Solid. –Cuss Baxter (Big Neck)

Laced with Romance: CD
Man, people love this record. I keep hearing how “fierce” and “rock” they are. I don’t know, I hear a lot of the Cure and think it’s okay. –Megan Pants (In The Red)

Kamehameha: CD
When you’re dubbed as an art school quartet and your name is Ponytail, there’s a good chance you will measure high on the suckability scale. This is the musical equivalent of someone taking a dolphin, stuffing it in a tank two sizes too small for its proportions, and then beating the aquatic mammal to a slow death with a crash cymbal. –Dave Disorder (Creative Capitalism)

The Last Thing I Did As a Teenager: LP
This sounds a lot like Hunx And His Punx. I’m not going to risk looking stupid by telling you if these are the same people or not, because I don’t know. If you think that makes me out of touch, then I’m somehow punker than you because of it. Based on this record, I’m into it. This Pookie And The Poodlez record has snot melody, it’s poorly recorded, and I love that guy’s voice. It’s sarcastic and silly. Plus loads of the songs have that Nobunny attention to classic rock’n’roll with “oohs” and “ahhs” and “babys.” If or not it’s the same people, they’re churning out quality, in my opinion. I’m out of touch with the pedigree of Oakland musicians, but if you like that stuff, you’ll like this. If you don’t, you won’t.  –Billups Allen (POOKIE AND THE POODLEZ)

Pool Party Yeah!: CD
A four-piece band from Iceland being released by a Florida label. This disc has a running time of close to an hour, with the first half being a twelve-song, coherent album that sounds like it was recorded in a legitimate studio. And it’s pretty darn good too, ranging through Ramoneish punk, synth-driven new wave, and power pop. Energetic and amusing party music that appeals to the basest rock and roll instincts, which goes well with the joyfully immature, sexually-loaded lyrics. The second half is twenty more tracks of noticeably lower quality both in terms of the recordings and the strength of the songs themselves, although a number of songs on the later half of the release are live or crude demo versions of the twelve first songs on the disc. The second half is also more experimental, even working in elements of dub and techno, but quite hit or miss. The first twelve songs are well worth listening to all the way through, but you will want to employ the track skip button on the rest of the release. –Jake Shut (Livid)

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