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Record Reviews

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Beasts: 7"
I knew things would end up here when RNR and Annihilation Time opened the hard rock floodgates for the hardcore kids. Those two fantastic bands have gone on to influence many a kid who owned every Deathwish and Bridge 9 record, but had never heard Sabbath or Thin Lizzy. Few, if any, of the bands who have come in the wake have lived up to the rock action of RNR or AT and there have been a lot of half-baked attempts. Add another one to the pile here: “badass” artwork, tough record title, and mediocre tunes on another boring half red/half black slab of vinyl. –Mike Frame (BurnBridges)

“Spirit of 69” b/w “Pull No Punches': 7"
Two-tone and oi sound with elements of The Adicts and The Clash. They only gave me two tracks, so there’s not much else to say. –Jessica Thiringer (Longshot, longshotmusic.com)

To Be Continued...: CD
Every time something new comes my way from these talented street punks from Sacramento, I am amazed by their progression. The songs on this new release are catchy and upbeat. The production really brings out the melody without sacrificing their energy. The bass player is fucking amazing on this one. You have to hear him ripping on "Face in the Mirror." Take the shining elements of the Dropkick Murphys and the Beltones and mix that into a large beer vat of lager. This is the end result that would be produced and shared with a good crowd of misfits. I need to get off my fat ass and try to see them the next time they come through. I’ll shine my boots and hold my beer mug up high. –Donofthedead (GMM)

Get Young: CD
Joe Jackson and ELO knock back a bag of that legendary rockstar coke and head out to see Devo play their latest musical endeavor, “The Video Game Pop Aria.” Put another way, odd, off-kilter pop that sound like someone took some prime hooks and fed them into a very stressed out Atari computer. It’s a fuggin’ shame that “Tora Tora” hasn’t yet been identified as the massive hit it should be. –Jimmy Alvarado (Hardly Art)

Self-titled: 7” EP
Super low-fi and dirty recording. Then again, the cover is made of grocery bag type of paper, so that’s probably the point. Super-stripped down rock with folk-inspired elements (think This Bike Is A Pipebomb or mid-releases Against Me!). Overall, reminiscent of bands like The Measure (SA), but without the magic to really grab me. Not a bad EP by any stretch, and probably great to see in a kitchen, basement, or living room. I’ll keep my eyes open. –Megan Pants (The Party’s Over)

Self-titled: CD
What a difference recording can make. I reviewed their 7” in the last issue and thought it was decent, but felt that there was something missing. I can’t say the same for this full-length. There’s so much more energy and so much more passion. Maybe it was lost in the fuzz on the 7”, but the three songs that are on both releases (especially “Things I Should Have Told You Before” and “Two Step Across Two Harbors”) sound almost like a new song was created between the two recordings. They remind of me a bit of Shakey Bones, where there is a strong tie to roots music, but there’s way too much punch and energy to call it folk. (Plus it wouldn’t do either band justice to make pigeonhole them like that.) At times, reminiscent of Cranford Nix’s gloomy outlook and voice. At other times, they sound like they’d be right at home on a show with any of the Tampa/ A.D.D. bands. This, on repeat, has been my commute soundtrack for two weeks straight. I just can’t take it out of my CD player. Fantastic. –Megan Pants (Ragged But Right / Redemption Value)

Ain’t It Funny: CD
Don’t let the upbeat, jangley, and lovesick-adolescent-boy tone fool you—this sloppy-drunk punk is chock-full of forethought and honest, lighthearted lyrics about heartbreak, self-hate, and drinking to forget. Self-aware suburban punks who don’t take themselves too seriously maintain a sense of humor on ten tracks with titles like “I Know I Said I Love You but I Guess I Don’t,” “If the Drinking Don’t Kill Me Then I’ll Think of Something Else,” and “Things I Should Have Told You before.” Keywords: Crimpshrine, East Bay, Sweet Baby, Lookout!, Gilman Street. –Jessica Thiringer (Redemption Value)

Split: 7”
Pretty Boy and Worthwhile Way add to the fine tradition of coupling a rough, ragged, honest American DIY punk band that looks like it needs a hug, a razor, some alcohol counseling, and some second chances to a charming, way-proficient, earnest, probably very tidy, and talented Japanese DIY punk band. Scatter in seeds of old country and a love ballad apiece (Jesse’s is a song to a loved one; Worthwhile Way’s is a love song to life). It’s a tie for the best line on this one: “The mind is healed with my favorite tune and warm café au lait,” vs. “I got termites in the framework, so do you.” Excellent split. –Todd Taylor (Eager Beaver)

Split : 7”
Everyone’s new darlings on one 7”. Pretty Boy Thorson daringly covers a Dwight Yoakam tune in their sloppy, poppy punk way, and 24 Inch Pythons throw three standard “fury + shout = punk” tracks in the ring. –Jessica Thiringer (No address provided)

Split: 7”
Finally, a way to trick my friends into liking the Mountain Goats! This fine record includes a cover of the Mountain Goats song “Fault Lines” by Minneapolis’ own Pretty Boy Thorson & the Falling Angels, with no apparent credit given to the Mountain Goats, which is all the better for my deceptive plan! Me: “You know that awesome Pretty Boy song?” You: “That song about the couple that wish they were dead? The one that goes, ‘And the fights, and the lies that we both love to tell fail to send our love to its reward down in hell?’” Me: “Yes, that one.” You: “What about it? That song rules.” Me: “You are correct, and you are a Mountain Goats fan.” Success! Plus, two songs by Worthwhile Way, a super poppy band with girl singers from Japan. Sample lyric, “I wish my family to be happy every day.” Punk rock! –Maddy (Eager Beaver)

Split: 7"
Jesse Thorson has a beautiful singing voice. There. I said it. If John Cougar let a mean streak out in his music, was a DIY punk, and had a Civil War monkey farting as his insert’s illustration, he’d sound like Jesse. One original, one Cock Sparrer cover. I like the original better. The Anchor: Make me think of dueling throat polyps and barnacles. They didn’t make the boat they’re sailing on, but it sounds like they’ve been hanging on for a long time, underwater, and aren’t letting go any time soon. Kyle, you’re right. The blue/grey vinyl with the silver label looks snazzy. –Todd Taylor (Muy Autentico)

I Ain’t Gonna Beg: 7”
The world wants me to listen to Thin Lizzy. Listening to Thin Lizzy is my destiny. I am not going to resist anymore. There’s no point, because Thin Lizzy is there everywhere I turn. It’s on the T-shirt of the guy at the record store. It’s playing when I walk into the ice cream shop. My friend has even worked several Thin Lizzy-related jokes into her comedy routine. And now it’s on the B-side of this record, a cover of “Running Back,” channeled through Pretty Boy Thorson And Lil Happiness, forcing me to play it over and over again. Fine! I’m into Thin Lizzy now, okay! And I kind of like the Pretty Boy Thorson gang too. –MP Johnson (A.D.D.)

“You’re Gonna Miss Me” b/w “Way Out”: 7”
There is no insert with this, and there is no label on the vinyl (which is transparent gold). The song titles are etched into each side. That’s the only way to know which song you’re playing. That, or the fact that Jesse sings the one on Side A, and Annie (from The Soviettes) sings the one on Side B. Lots of detective work is necessary here. The cover photo would have you assume that there are five people in this outfit; Jesse, who is an asshole (or at least that’s what a shirt that I have says), Annie, who is cool, Paddy Costello, who is cool, and two other dudes who look familiar. Both songs are about people leaving each other. The band features a full, laid-back sound on these catchy tunes. The music definitely makes up for the lack of information here. –Nighthawk (Rad Girlfriend, radgirlfriendrecords.com)

Split: 7” EP
Pretty Boy Thorson: They’re a sleeper. It took me awhile to get comfortable with the idea that a plugged-in band featured an acoustic guitar. But the earnest delivery, the self-effacement, and whiskey-true lyrics won me over. The band’s not flashy, but tenacious, like a weed growing through the seam between asphalt and the sidewalk, thriving on neglect, growing in a hostile place. I’ll say it again. If rockabilly didn’t off ramp into Fonzie-ville years back and empty out into a cul-de-sac of retro consumerism, these dudes would have been embraced far and wide by now. Cortez The Killer: A little bit of British Top of the Pops from the ‘60s, via cardboard and masking tape. The mastering’s a little rough, sounding like was recorded through massive fuzzy ear muffs (and with a more clean, pop-leaning band, it’s noticeable), but far from dismissible. With some more fidelity, they could be reminiscent of Bent Outta Shape. Nice split. Silk-screened covers. –Todd Taylor (ADD)

Take It Easy: CD
What is so damn attractive about misery? It seems like the only things that end up mattering to me, whether music or books (or, shit, even people some days) are all pretty miserable and self-deprecating. PBT and the F’n As are no exception. I can’t help but group them in with Off With Their Heads, not necessarily in sound (though Ryan OWTH shows up here too), but definitely in feel. The lyrics come off like they’re meant to be listened to in a dark room somewhere with only a bottle of whiskey as your company. But, the way it all comes together musically, sounds more like you should be throwing your arms around your friends in a packed and sweaty basement than anything the lyrics would have you believe. Maybe surrounding myself with all this misery will be the death of me some day, but I can’t think of a much better soundtrack to go to than Pretty Boy Thorson. –Megan Pants (ADD)

Split: EP
Two contrasting bands on here. Pretty Boy Thorson are modern punk crossed with country. Sort of like something you’d hear on a jukebox at a punk bar in OrangeCounty. Sing-along sort of stuff, and I guess it’s drinking music. Cortez The Killer play sixties rock with a definite British influence. A bit on the freakbeat side of things. “Can’t Quit Me” is a cold song, and sounds like a lost gem of that era. –Matt Average (A.D.D.)

Take It Easy: CD
You gotta hand it to any music that can comfort you in your sorrow and invigorate you in your merriment. Take It Easy is the ultimate fall back album for those diagnosed with manic depression. It’s also great for parties, alone time, and road trips. Not many albums can say that. –Daryl Gussin (ADD)

“I Can’t Get High” b/w “Keep on Waiting”: 7”
Why do I keep flashing back to episodes of Simon and Simon? Is this 7” what’d be playing on the jukebox of a biker bar in my eight-year-old mind? Does it sound like a brown and orange Power Wagon slowly solving a mystery? Is this fair to Jesse and the dialed-in MPLS band he’s rodeo’d into this little spinner? “Really, dude, you’re comparing our band to a show that wasn’t as good as Hardcastle and McCormick or Cagney and Lacey? C’mon.” The B-side of my copy of this record is warped, but the A-side plays just fine. That doesn’t happen very often. There’s something heavy-work-pant, pretzels-make-beer fancy about Jesse Thorson-helmed bands that makes the songs both go down real easy and worth listening to repeatedly… on the jukebox… of an eight-year-old kid’s mind… Just put it on an MP3 player or something. –Todd Taylor (ADD, addrecs.com)

21 Songs, Rarities, Live Songs and Unreleased Tracks: CD
I might have squealed like a little girl when I received this to review. I’m not ashamed to admit it, and think any self-respecting PBT & FA fan would have done the same thing. Great covers and excellent live recordings that demand you sing along in your best whisky-soaked, cigarette-stained growl. Pick this up if you already know and love the band. It’s great to have on shuffle. It’s like you win with whatever song is chosen! Extra love for the picture of Jesse Thorston in the booklet wearing an “I’m Still Straight Edge” shirt. –Samantha Beerhouse (ADD)

The Same Shit Everyday: 7”
I’m not altogether sure this thing is actually titled The Same Shit Everyday. It’s what the TV on the cover of the record says. It might just be a self-titled split release, and the TV’s just making a depressing point to go with the drawing of the dude hangin’ himself. I dunno. Pretty Bullshit: They either misspell “pores” in the lyric sheet or they’re bartenders and are being really clever. Sound-wise they sound like a second orthird tier punk band from 1980. Could use more melody / rage / something, but you’ll forgive it because they’re from way back when and were influential and original. Except they aren’t. Probably good live but I don’t see their side getting repeat spins. Warm Needles: Stupid band name. Depressing lyrics that are at least somewhat about drugs. Kinda reminiscent of Tim Version or similarly gruff but melodic bands. Shit, this is pretty solidly catchy. Definitely wouldn’t mind hearing more from Warm Needles. –Ryan Horky (Dig My Grave, digmygraverecords.bandcamp.com)

Elan Vital: CD
Simply put, this album is fucking incredible. Soaring, scorching, female vocals over layers of aggressive, intricate guitars and keyboards. These songs are experimental enough to fascinate, and yet there are also pop hooks so catchy I felt like I’d been hearing them for years. The vocals are truly the high point of the album as they waver between celebration and desperation. Rather than making an album where everything sounds the same, PGMG have created one where each song is distinctive and enthralling. This album avoids being derivative but it isn’t so bizarre as to be alienating either. I recommend listening to it on large headphones while you wander city streets and watch the seasons change. –Jennifer Whiteford (Matador)

Good Health: CD
I like this. It’s got that frenetic, about-to-pop-but-don’t-worry-everything’s-under-control feel of At the Drive-In. It’s complex but not confusing. They don’t forget to always propel their songs forward to keep the ass a-wigglin’ and the heads a-bobbin’. It’s also good because they don’t shy away from the occasional tantrum and use a synthesizer in a way that doesn’t suck scrote. The guitars scream down from far away mountains and tackle each other, like head-butting rams. Solid, exciting, repeated thuds. All the songs topple and spin and shoot around constantly like a perfect play on a really good pinball game (like Monster Mash). The female-fronted vocals add to the texture, watershed the harmonies, and then sprays them back out so the album seems to be dripping all around you like a fine mist when it’s on the stereo, permeating everything it touches. Exciting stuff. For what it’s worth, the bassist used to be in the Murder City Devils. Sounds nothing like ‘em. –Todd Taylor (Lookout)

Self-titled: CD
I thought I was going to hate this when I picked it up, I mean c’mon there’s guys smellin’ flowers on the back! I really like it in doses though. It’s pretty much straightforward Brit pop (even though they’re out of Sacramento.) Heavily reminiscent of Supergrass’ I Should Coco. Definitely worth a listen for fans of Pulp and Blur and such. –Megan Pants (Trap Door)

Self-titled: CD
I thought I was going to hate this when I picked it up, I mean c’mon there’s guys smellin’ flowers on the back! I really like it in doses though. It’s pretty much straightforward Brit pop (even though they’re out of Sacramento.) Heavily reminiscent of Supergrass’ I Should Coco. Definitely worth a listen for fans of Pulp and Blur and such.
–Megan Pants (Trap Door)

Demo: Cassette

Pretty Pretty is a garage punk band with dual male/female vocals. There’s a very fuzzed-out vibe going on with this demo. At first I wanted the sound to be a bit crisper, but it grew on me. The jangly riffs they play are fun, having an almost relaxed and meandering quality to them, like going for a walk on a nice, sunny day. Toss this in your cassette player on the way to work, or while sitting around the house, and you’re sure to have a better day because of it.

–Paul J. Comeau (Let’s Pretend, prettyprettyrock@gmail.com)

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