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Razorcake #87

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No Idea Records

Record Reviews

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Kings of Punk (Bloated Edition): CD
When you look at an album cover and see a bovine-like beer belly carved up with X-acto gashes that crudely spell out a band’s name, you can rest assured that, by buying this particular recording, you’re getting a genuine strain of hardcore nihilistic punk that will tear your nostrils open, separate the meat from your skull, and pin the ragged flaps of your face back against your ears. The photograph of Jerry A’s X-acto work in scarification “branding” on the Kings of Punk cover is like the Good Housekeeping seal for punk nihilism; it tells you in no uncertain terms: this is the most “rotten, dirty, damnable, filthy, putrid, filth” your money can buy—satisfaction guaranteed. Now of course, whether or not the malcontents in Poison Idea were really proper “nihilists” is debatable. They were most likely not nihilists in the sense that I don’t think any of them ever spent nights curled up on the couch with some Lorna Doone cookies and a good Max Stirner book. I seriously doubt they read much of anything outside of maybe a beer-stained Bukowski book or two. But if one is to believe the snuff-spittled rantings of the famous Hillbilly Hot Head, self-styled nihilist and all-around professional “Bad Man,” Jim Goad, both Pig Champion and Jerry A were drunken, thieving, drugged-up, hypocritical Man Mountains of amorality. Specifically, Goad claims that a certain Tom Roberts (aka Pig Champion) ratted him out to the fuzz, resulting in Goad landing in jail for an extra zealous bit of performance art wherein he beat up his girlfriend. Particularly bad form, says Jimbo, for the seemingly earnest composers of several brutal anti-cop/anti-snitch ditties like “The Badge” from the Feel the Darkness album. He also makes more broad claims that, while P.I. bassist Myrtle Tickner was merely a “sweet drunk,” Pig and Jerry were both luridly conniving smack addicts who would turn on anyone for a quick fix. Of course, I have no way to gauge the veracity of Goad’s accusations, but it seems at least plausible that his strident protestations are little more than the attention-getting “I’m-Badder-Than-You” bellowings of a person looking for a little more notoriety to heap on his already “dangerous” reputation. Don’t forget, Jim Goad was a reality TV type personality before reality TV even existed. And, seriously, can anyone with a straight face call Jerry A and Pig Champion gutless? But even if Goad is right in portraying them as dangerously obese back-stabbing junkies, they at least weren’t sickly, simpering little heroin-chic nihilists hunched and on the nod in some dark corner somewhere, watching their own grey drool accumulate in their navels; these were rotund, heavy-breathing brutes whose every blackened fat cell was bursting at the seams with utter nihilistic rage like Momma June—a Goadian Hillbilly heroine herself—bursting at the seams from a particularly gluttonous session of pork rind binge eating. And that comes through each and every song on Kings of Punk like a runaway herd of rutting bull elephants trampling Jeep-fulls of ivory poachers underfoot. What more can be said about this album that hasn’t already been said? Eleven sternum-cracking, just-don’t-give-a-fuck, meat-nado classics from the Billy and Benny McCrary (look ‘em up, you have a smart phone) of hardcore punk and a memorable album cover guaranteed to pop into your mind every time you take a sharp knife and cut up a nice plump hotdog. Plus, with this re-mastered re-release from Southern Lord/TKO, you get an additional all-you-can-eat smorgasbord of previously unreleased live recordings, circa 1984-1986. So with this double disc version of Kings of Punk you can listen to the very dark sounds of raging drunk-junkie nihilism until the cows come home. There are even freshly-penned liner notes from Mr. Jerry A, detailing the back story to the stomach-slicing photo shoot and including a proud profession that he has not mellowed with age and is, in fact, more pissed off than ever. I’ve watched enough classic WWF to know a thinly veiled challenge when I hear one. By the time this issue of Razorcake hits the streets, cocky rapper DMX should’ve already pounded celebrity killer George Zimmerman into Alpo at the Celebrity Boxing event. I say that next up, as a way of promoting their on-going series of “extra gravy” classic Poison Idea re-releases, Southern Lord should try to orchestrate a Celebrity Nihilist Death Match between Jim Goad and Jerry A. And let’s put in a stipulation allowing X-acto knives. Whaddya say guys? Do it for Pig.  –Aphid Peewit (Southern Lord)

Out for a Kill: CD
The fourth LP from this Swiss trio with an across-the-ages sound similar to the U.K.’s Four Letter Word, GBH, and Guitar Gangsters. Well-coordinated, bottom-heavy rhythm section, metal guitar, and raspy, shouted choral vocals move at a decent clip. Catchy and sing-along at times; repetitive at others. Early in their fifteen-plus year career, they oddly added a second V in ivy. –Jessica Thiringer (Colibri/Crazy Love, colibri-records.ch, crazyloverecords.de)

Oblivious: EP
So many reasons to like this record... Poison Planet crank out some blazing hardcore punk that has a rough and burly edge. Elements remind me of Negative FX, such as the vocals, and the straight-forward approach to the music. The guitar has a nice sound and the guy can actually play. I like how the bass is right up in the mix as well. More hardcore bands need to do this! There are some cool intros to the songs, and this stuff is as catchy as it is speedy. Then—something I unfortunately don’t come across too often in today’s punk scene—here’s a band that actually has something of worth to say. Not one song on here is about what the “scene” means to them, or about straight-edge. Instead, they bring up animal rights, staying true to your ideals (as they say, “This is about something much greater than breaking Edge, or ceasing to be vegan/vegetarian. This is about selling out your soul like a fucking coward”), religion, and apathy. Well worth your time and money. –Matt Average (ThirdXParty, thirdxparty.blogspot.com)

Undermine: 7”
I was expecting something a bit more raging, given the monochromatic riot scenes on the cover and the not three but four Xs that grace the cover. Unfortunately, that fourth X doesn’t signify how extra hard they are sonically but merely their commitment to the X. While the sound is palatable—rather straightforward old school hardcore—they are lyrically off-putting. I see nothing wrong with being edge or vegan as such, but purporting that social change starts with clean living and eating habits is a bit absurd to me. I’d think that it would start with not being a jack off. Whatever. Still better than some religious bullshit. –Vincent Battilana (Third Party, thirdxparty.blogspot.com)

Bleed for Me: 7” single
Apparently, this was pressed up for their recent European tour. I was hoping for some new material from these guys. Instead, we’re given a couple Dead Kennedys covers. They chose doing these to illustrate how relevant the lyrics are some thirty years later, and while I tend to agree, I think it would have been better to write a song or two of their own that would inspire today’s generation to think and question, much in the same way the DKs did for some of us thirty years ago. Performance-wise, Poison Planet does a decent job. It’s strange hearing these songs a bit heavier, faster, and thrashier. I’d say this is for completists, really. Limited to 250 copies (and on green vinyl). –Matt Average (Third Party, thirdxparty.blogspot)

Boycott Everything: LP
This previously came out on 7” in Europe, and the domestic version was cut onto a one-sided LP. From a sonic standpoint, this band almost seems to have skipped the last twenty-five years of hardcore. The band’s sound is culled from the whole gamut of ‘80s hardcore. The guitar frills on “Liquor Flesh Trade” are from Dead Kennedys, and the breakdown on “Tidal Leveling” is from Black Flag; but a ton of other influences come up, from Project X to Articles Of Faith. This is music by hardcore nerds, for hardcore nerds. The politics are the driving force behind the band, and the expanded format works better aesthetically for the visual aspect of the release. The cover art does look better on a larger format, and the reading materials are handy in the 12” spread. –Ian Wise (Not Normal, notnormaltapes.blogspot.com)

Government Poison: 7"
I have never heard of Government Flu, and that is a problem. This band completely shreds Agnostic Front-style hardcore with that mid-2000s chug vibe but they fucking kill it in a way I haven’t heard in a long time. Fans of the now-defunct Malfunction Records catalog (early Ceremony, Allegiance, Internal Affairs) should go nuts over this. Their side of the record is excellent and the vocals and lyrics are fantastic (especially considering this band is Polish and I believe English is their second language). The Poison Planet side was recorded, I guess, right around their breakup and really show a band pulling something off with a total sense of urgency. Right from the Black Flag rip-off intro the band feels rushed and chaotic, like they only had half an idea of what they were really doing. That being said, I will say one hundred percent without a doubt that this is the best thing Poison Planet has ever released. The lineup on the release (members of Raw Nerve and RazorXFade) probably had more influence than they thought; because the raw sensibilities of those bands translate in a way that Poison Planet didn’t before. –Ian Wise (Refuse, refuserecords.prv.pl)

Sometimes Things Just Disappear: CD
This record has a different kind of icing for everyone, but I can’t help feeling like they forgot the cake.Sometimes Things Just Disappear is gruff, yet brooding, atmospheric, yet aggressive, lyrically pointed, yet blurry, and that’s gonna work for some people. To me, it just feels safe. Drenched in the early twenties spirit of wanting the post and the punk, I don’t think they’ve mastered either. In the end, I’m really left wondering where the hooks are. Maybe they come out more with repeated listens, but it’s not gonna get that far. –Nick Toerner  –Guest Contributor (Red Leader)

Floral Phantasms: CD
I know that often when people don’t like the sound of something they liken that something to the torturing of a cat. But literally, literally people, the first track on this CD seems to be a recording of a cat being tortured. Or at least a cat being annoyed really, really badly. I may be, you know, unhip, but I don’t know why anyone would want to start their CD off that way. Is it like those college courses where the professor is a gigantic asshole for the first month of the course so that all of the weaker students drop out and let the proverbial cream rise to the top? Because it totally alienated me right from the start. The rest of the CD contains seven tracks of uninspired instrumental music. Kind of like the soundtrack to a movie that a pretentious ex-boyfriend of mine would have dragged me to. Yuck. –Jennifer Whiteford (Up)

Self-titled: CD
Some of that ol’ Confederacy of Scum-style Southern punk on a label outta Wyoming. Features ex-members of Hellstomper and the tunes are in the same vein. Cover art looks a whole lot like some of those Mans Ruin releases the COS bands had, particularly the Antiseen reissue. At this point, you know if this is your cuppa or whether you are walking on by. –Mike Frame (zodiackillerrecords.com)

As Above, So Below: CD EP
Boring, modern rock that didn’t even interest me enough to make want to listen to the whole thing twice. –Donofthedead (Doubleplusgood)

As Above, So Below: CDEP
Boring, modern rock that didn’t even interest me enough to make want to listen to the whole thing twice. –Donofthedead (Doubleplusgood)

Amor y Guerra: CD
Some D.C. residents vibe heavy on their Revolution Summer predecessors, right down to the Ian-esque vocals. Though not as sonically diverse as some of those mid-‘80s bands could be, the results here could easily be put in that space between, say, Second Wind and Embrace and no one would cry foul. –Jimmy Alvarado (Youngblood)

Attrition: Split: LP
Both bands are on the political thrash/crust tip, with lyrics about genetic engineering, religion, etc. War//Plague is the more metal influenced of the two, with chugga-chugga riffage, grandiose arrangements, and an apocalyptic bent to the whole proceedings, while Police Bastard are more straightforward, and even offer up Rudimentary Peni and Mob covers. –Jimmy Alvarado (Profane Existence)

Awesomer than the Devil: LP
One of the most interesting things about a piece of vinyl is how it forces you to consider the cover. A picture of a bobble Jesus, next to a bobble luchador, shot with the color palette of a Small Brown Bike record. It definitely gave me an impression right from the start (i.e.: this band is going to have some Fugazi influence). Though it turns out I was correct, these guys deliver more than enough interesting riffs to show that they can stand on their own two feet. While the songs can get a bit long at times (forgive me, I have a short attention span), this disc is pretty solid. B+. –Bryan Static (Latest Flame)

Under Custody: 7”
Police Truck play mid-tempo punk meets surf rock. While the shtick of the band members all being cops is silly, the music is quite good. What sells them for me is the sheer amount of guitar wankery in each song. The basic riffs are only mildly interesting, but the lead guitar parts are truly excellent. If you’re a fan of surf rock-fused punk, this just might be your new favorite thing. –Paul J. Comeau (Chubby Brats Eat Pizza)

Salt Lake City: CD
The lyrics convey their point quite nicely, but the music is kinda faceless metal-tinged hardcore and the vocals are completely unintelligible. –Jimmy Alvarado (Wounded Paw)

No Peace? No Chance: CD
The problem I’ve always had with the crusty, political punk bands is that although I like the lyrics and the idea of what they’re doing, it often comes across as screechy and squelchy. Polidicks manage to avoid that trap for the most part. Hard, fast and loud is the order for the day and they serve it up in a palatable fashion. Add in the clever samples and movie clips and we’ve got us a winner. Wait, is does slide into that screech from time to time, but not enough to ruin the record. Good stuff. –Ty Stranglehold (Wounded Paw)

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)

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