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Record Reviews

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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)

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)

Pool Party Yeah! Anthology: CD
Imagine if the Ramones or the Vindictives grew up in Florida and donned Miami Vice glasses and weird ‘80s mustaches. That’s Pool Party. I don’t get the Iceland references, or how this release is “simultaneously issued and re-issued by Livid”—but it doesn’t matter. This is fun, rockin’, feel-good music. Wow, the keys on “Spy Girl” are friggen amazing (but thanks for not over using ‘em in all the songs, fellas). Really great stuff. Now as far as the tracks “recorded in the future,” and all the live and demo tracks (tracks 13-32), I coulda done without that. The inside joke was lost on me. –Mr. Z (Livid, lividrecords.com)

Born Too Loose: 7”
Ramones-esque, juvenile humor-driven pop punk. Not the cleverest lyrics in the world. All the similar partying vibes from bands like Mean Jeans and New Swears populate the record, but the party feels stiffer in Pool Party’s Hands as if the DJ put on a record that made everybody uncomfortable. Grade: C+  –Bryan Static (It’s Alive)

Split: Cassette
The Enlows play pretty lo-fi pop punk. Songs about girls, drinking, and breaking uuuuup. After a weekend at Awesome Fest listening to so many bands do this, I just can’t listen to it more than once, more than twice, official verdict: bleh. The Poonteens play pretty poppy punk as well, but nice and sloppy with ugly sounding vocals. That makes it better. Also their side ends with a Guns & Roses cover. I only play that side of the tape from now on. By the way, this stuff is recorded live. Some people (myself included) tend to not be that into live recording, so now you know. –Rene Navarro (Poonteens Music)

Girl Crimes: CD
Minimalist punk/trash fodder with a rudimentary delivery and what sound like lyrics striving to be obnoxious and/or funny, none of which should be construed as a bad thing. They are quite adept at doing what they do, and they definitely sound like they’re having fun doing it. –Jimmy Alvarado (Shake!)

Self-titled: CD
Poor Lily is doing a throwback Minutemen meets Fugazi says hello to the Dead Kennedys thing. It’s pretty good, as far as those things go. But my Ramones-addled brain wants a chorus, and a chorus you shall not find (for the most part) on this album! Poor Lily offers angular tunes, shouted vocals, short songs (two minutes or less) and lyrics like, “Why don’t you stick a needle in my head and extract my point of view?” Bonus fact: This three-piece includes the former drummer for Sick Of It All, Murphy’s Law, and H20 and the former drummer for the 1980s New York hardcore band Beyond. Two drummers, one band! (One of them now plays guitar.) If you like the Minutemen, then this is worth checking out. And the whole album is on the band’s website for free. Easy decisions! –Maddy (self-released)

Vuxola: CD
Weird and dynamic enough to appeal to folks interested in genres beside punk. How’s that? Confident, strange, and buoyant songs that are so precise they might as well be laser-guided. Similar in oddity and tone as NoMeansNo and Alice Donut or even more challenging shit like Ruins. Nineteen songs kind of pushes the limits of my endurance, but they’re undoubtedly good at what they’re doing. –Keith Rosson (Poor Lily)

Three Songs: CD
“Ooookay,” I think. “A shrink-wrapped CD single that won’t play in CD player. Great. Computer reads the band as Judas Child, and the songs as “Early Morning Peace,” “Happy Place,” and “This Soul Has Flown.” Huh. This will be stellar, I’m sure.” Then I press Play and my jaw promptly bounces to floor. Poor Lily’s a three-piece, mostly out of Brooklyn, that features dudes—I shit you not—from Beyond, H20, and Lightning Crabs playing what sounds like Some Girls deviously and fuckedupedly covering the Minutemen. Three songs. It’s bizarre, surprising, frenetic, wound tight as a spring, riveting as shit, and really, really good. –Keith Rosson (Poor Lily)

EP#1: 7”
This is fairly standard punk in the vein of Fang (but not quite as toothy) from this San Francisco three-piece. The three tunes, which are about murder and drinking for the most part, aren’t overly original in their sound, but they’re not bad. I liked it, but I wasn’t blown away. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Self-released, reverbnation.com/poorluckies)

Self-titled: CD-R demo
One should stop playing music when they no longer find it fun. Life can throw awful curveballs. Sometime along the line, Davey, Ross, and Bob stopped playing together as Tiltwheel. Davey kept his musical flag fluttering. They’re also all men of honor. So, years and years later, when Ross and Bob wanted to start playing again, Davey, who’s in a guesstimated five bands already, welcomed his friends to start anew. Since there was already a fully functional Tiltwheel humming along, they formed Pop Atak! This demo’s a good etching. A little more fidelity and fullness, a little more snapping together, and we’ll have some polished-up prime cuts. I’m more than patient and confident that a proper release will blow me away. More than anything, I’m just glad they’re all playing and hanging out again. –Todd Taylor (Self-released)

Hot Cum on a Cold Child: CD
From the little sticker on the front: “The Saint Louis six-piece craft an in-your-face approach that reconciles noise with pop once and for all. ThinkBeach Boys meets Stockhausen with shimmery, soaring vocals.” Well, if Stockhausen wrote meandering noise pieces (and I guess some would argue much of his stuff was just that) for an ensemble comprised of barely proficient fourth graders, I can see the connection. The Beach Boys, however, are nowhere in evidence as far as I am able to determine. Based on the shock tactic title and phallic parental advisory sticker, methinks the whole thing is a bit of a piss-take. Hope the Lou Bega and Soundgarden fans they recommend it to on the aforementioned sticker actually pick up a copy, ‘cause that would indeed be funny. –Jimmy Alvarado (Waste, no address)

R.I.P.: CD
A surfy/thrashy/pop band for twenty debaucherous years, PopDefect takes its final bows with a little pathos, a little bathos and a dash of self-depreciating humor on this full-length album. This release contains new recordings of "Drunken Sailor," "Vena's Revenge," and "Rock in My Hand" that aren't too different from the previously available versions, but it's nice to have them all in one place on what might be the band's finest collection of songs ever. The CD's final cut, "Dirge Overkill," is a song lamenting the last beer at a party that has long run its course as the band finds itself "far from the greatest show on earth" and serves as a moving coda to the band's lengthy career. The keg may have run dry but the memories will last a lunch time. –Bob Cantu (Heart Murmur, PO Box 50602, LA, CA 90050)

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