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Razorcake #79
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No Idea Records

Record Reviews

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Dancing Friendly: CD
Peelander-Z are back on their own Eat Rice Records after a stint on a posh label and their sound and songs are better than ever! There’s even a song from a certain Miss Peelander-Pink this time! If you missed them at last year’s SXSW Festival… or even this year… never fear! They tour the U.S. practically every year! The live show is amazingly funny and amazingly good! J-PUNK LIVES IN NYC! AND THIS CD IS LIVING PROOF! –Mr. Z (Eat Rice; www.peelander-z.com)

P-Bone Steak: CD
Self-described as “The Japanese Noodle Samurai Punk Band,” Peelander-Z is one weird bunch. Three Japanese guys from New York get some costumes together and decide to rock out. Vocals remind me of a cross of Biafra mixed with the guy from F.O.D. who’s name escapes me. The songs have that late ‘70s, early ‘80s punk sound. The lyrics are either in broken English or Japanese. If you want something silly and has that garage feel, this is your new favorite band. –Donofthedead (Swell)

Split: 7”
Fun, fun, fun. Two noisy, chaotic, and spazzy tracks by two Japanese ex-pat bands living in America, soaking in a light-hearted darkness. Peelander-Z: The weird thing about these dudes? No, not that they’re comic book characters or the “from another planet” thing, but a good portion of their songs seem to begin in the middle and end where you’d usually start a song. If the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers had no special powers and Gummi Bear mouths (they could just gum you fiercely but look athletic doing it)... Birthday Suits: sound nothing like the following bands, but would fit perfectly on the bill: Scratch Acid, Shark Pants, The Causey Way, Japanther. When I say arty and noisy in this context, it’s not code for “shitty,” but tension and release, big-ass dynamics, a wall-of-sound that sounds much bigger than two humble dudes. Neat, neat, neat.  –Todd Taylor (Crustacean)

Lets Detonate: CD
I can’t help but conjuring up dudes in $200 jeans at fashionable bars who act like their guitar are an extension of their cock. Bleh, gross, no thanks. –bree (Beercan)

Demo: 7”
This demo (in tape form) has been around for a while, but I’m really glad Nervous Nelly had the good sense to put this out on a 7”. Not a lot of demos deserve a “proper” release, but this is one of the exceptions. Peeple Watching is the new band from Zack of The Credentials and picks up right where his old band left off: scrappy and passionate DIY punk rock for fans of ‘90s Bay Area punk and Boston stuff like Witches With Dicks and Awful Man. I’ve said this in past reviews of his other band, but it seems with every release he’s a part of the songs get better and more memorable, and this release is no exception. Looking forward hearing more from these guys, for sure! –Chris Mason (Nervous Nelly, nervousnelly.tumblr.com)

Demo: Cassette
For those of you, like me, who were bummed out that The Credentials called it quits way too soon, Zack is back with a brand new band and it’s a total rager: pop punk that could have come right out of the early ‘90s Gilman scene. But they’re a bit more mid-tempo and melodic that Zack’s previous band. A couple of these songs have been stuck in my head for days, something that The Credentials, no matter how good they were, never seemed to do. –Chris Mason ((Self-released)

Somethin’ to Tell Ya: LP
The cover album with its crude, ziney drawing of a leather-jacketed punk girl walking in the snow down a dirty city street with a 40 ounce in a bag crooked in her arm, the skyline behind her as she looks at the ground is a familiar image, that of the sentimental suffering that you’ll commonly find in punk, but in underground punk, an image that belongs to what I would call the cultural alchemy of punk, the unexplainable and untenable language that underground punk speaks, but is, nonetheless, very much there, beneath Vans Warped Tours and Henry Rollins’ flexing neck. The songs come from the same place: happy-sounding about bad times, sexual frustration, and loneliness; catchy but with garage dissonance; from the familiar place of damage, both familiar to our own and the collective damage that brought a bunch of misfits together in the first place; perhaps what Patti Smith was talking about when she said, “Those who have suffered understand suffering and thereby extend their hand.” When the lead singer sings “with my brand new pair of shoes and a backpack full of booze, I’m comin’ to tell you I’ve got nothin’ else to lose,” once again, it’s comforting and fun to listen to. But Peeple Watchin’ takes a huge subjective leap. The lead singer has recently, at twenty-seven, come out as a transgendered woman and some of the songs take on a far braver detour. Take, for example, when she sings about feeling she missed her prime, lamenting, “the only thing that’s passing is my youth,” she throws the punks a bone, in a youth movement full of old souls, feeling old is not uncommon and hits pretty hard, but she demands you look at it from her perspective, from the viewpoint of a recently out queer woman, and the bait and switch is staggering. –Craven Rock (nervousnelly.storenvy.com)

Somethin’ Ta Tell Ya: Cassette
Right out of the gate, the bass and the drums are pure energy; the guitars are loud and maybe even a little proud that there are so many really good riffs throughout the album. Better still, it seems like everyone in the band sings on every track, which for me is an undeniable invitation to sing along, as well. Even though this is sonically cheery and bright, lyrically I found it to be pretty bleak. That said, isn’t it more interesting to hear people sing about sad shit with energy and power? I think so. If I were in a pit of despair, this would be the soundtrack to my triumphant escape from it. –Bianca –Guest Contributor (Reality Is A Cult, realityisacult@gmail.com, realityisacult.com)

Mondo Deluxe: CD
Punk’n’roll that’s good enough to make you go "wow," yet I somehow missing that certain something that makes you go "whoosh." Put another way, although these guys are pretty damn good, I can’t really see myself gracing the Orange Death Machine with one of their stickers. –Jimmy Alvarado (Scooch Pooch, 5850 West 3rd #209, Los Angeles, CA 90036)

Rhetoric and Hands: 7” EP
I’m often exasperated at the myopia that plagues L.A. punk history. So many creative people, bands, and musical experiments get lost in the shuffle and the populace is treated to yet another Circle Jerks or Black Flag reissue while mountains of wicked cool stuff collects dust in some dank corner, unknown and criminally unloved. Water Under The Bridge has been kind enough to shine a little light into San Pedro punk’s historical dark corners, (re)issuing crucial recordings by the Reactionaries, Minutemen, Saccharine Trust and the release currently under discussion. An obscure act (my recollection is one track on an SST comp and that’s about it), this, along with the four tracks included with the complementary MP3 download code, comprise the sum of their oeuvre, with what’s on wax apparently being an EP that New Alliance never quite got around to releasing back in 1981. The sound is somewhere between the erudite, flanneled “Thinkin’ Joe” hardcore of the Minutemen and the art-punk minimalism of 100 Flowers, translating into “aggressive but still pretty goddamned weird.” Being old enough to remember and appreciate the musical melting pot L.A. punk once was, it’s great to see/hear some lesser-known talent getting some long-overdue love. –Jimmy Alvarado (Water Under The Bridge, waterunderthebridgerecords.com)

Bless This Mess: LP
Think Fifteen, Crimpshrine, J.Church. Think of people swarming over the band as they play, crawling over frothy waves of shaken beer to grab the mic. But as the guy whose seen the bands they’re influenced by (perhaps knowingly or unknowingly), I hope for the following. 1.) That they would let the songs breathe. It’s a lesson to be learned from the Carrie Nations’ Be Still. Because if someone new to the band isn’t rapt in the content of the lyrics, most of the songs, well, they really blend into one another into a solid chunk. “Roomies” is in the right direction with the long instrumental part before the same-singing-voice-mid-tempo-of-most-of-the-record sound that follows. 2.) Really learn your songs before recording them. I’m, by no means, an audiophile or looking for pro-dudes, but there are several songs that sound unintentionally shaky and falling-out-of-tune (which is fine live, but vinyl’s as close to “forever” as I can conceive). The charm of DIY punk is that—although rough—its intention is crystal clear. (Think cutoff shorts. The edges—no matter how raggedy-assed—don’t matter half as much as the length.) 3.) The good and bad news is that the most instantly memorable song on the record is a Crimpshrine cover. The definite upside is that there’s a ton of room for improvement and there are flashes of much stronger music possible at their fingertips. Shit, man. Sorry I’m not a cheerleader on this one; it’s just that I’ve seen variations of this band hundreds of times over the past twenty years. And they’re the band that’s opening up for the band I’m waiting to see. –Todd Taylor (Anti-Civ, anticivrecords@yahoo.com / Dirt Cult)

United by Death: CD
Cramps-styled surf/death rock. To put it more appropriately, it’s graveyard rock. Halloween music, if you will. Deep, post-punk vocals over reverby guitars and minor chord progressions. Granted, there are people out there who live life every day like it’s Halloween, but for the majority of the population I’d say this disc is only serviceable every once in a while. This isn’t a bad thing. Having a niche that this disc occupies grants it a better re-listen when the time is correct. –Bryan Static (Death, no address)

Discography: 2 X CD
One of Italy’s finest gets the discography treatment. Disc one gives you all their recorded output and the second disc is chock full of live recordings. Right there in time with Raw Power and Cheetah Chrome Motherfuckers, these guys established themselves in the Italian punk scene circa early '80s. Upon hearing international bands during that time, you knew you were hearing something raw and special. The recordings are raw and could be have easily been recorded on a boombox. The drums always have that bongo drum sound. The production always has a muffled effect to it. The same applies to these recordings, but one thing that stands out is the uniqueness of the songs. The energy is genuine and it's music that is distinctive to its time and place. A history lesson for those who seek it. Back in the day, this would been hard to get here in the states. Luckily, someone was smart to repress this to give it life one more time. No need to keep the music isolated to the people who can afford Ebay prices.
–Donofthedead (SOA)

: Split 7”
The Peggy Sues are lesbians playing lascivious, gyrating rock that sounds like a sloppy version of the band from “Prey for Rock ‘n’ Roll.” The Future Lovers play herky-jerky whoah-oh pop-punk songs about staring at girls. You know how depressing it is when you’re sober at a party where a bunch of awkward people have got drunk and started hitting on each other? Like, it’s almost funny, but it’s just too much of a bummer? This record puts that feeling on wax. –CT Terry (Wee Rock)

E.P…. Period the End: CDEP
One can come up with a host of reasons why Hostage Records should be given a full wall of their own in the punk rock hall of fame, not the least of which being that they have introduced some seriously good bands to the punk rock world. The Pegs, featured on Hostage’s Tower 13 comp, is just such a band. Here they dish up seven tunes of beach punk thuggery, catchy as hell, and solid like a thwack to the jaw. If Smogtown, the Numbers, or any of their contemporaries make your rump shake, then these guys will more than do the trick for ye. –Jimmy Alvarado (Pop Scar)

Danger’s Gone: 7”
I think I first heard the Pegs on the Tower 13 compilation. As with most of the stuff on that comp, I liked them a lot. It seems I still do. There is a heavy beach vibe running through this that brings the likes of Smogtown to mind, but at the same time, it lays down a little more rock’n’roll, which makes me think of The Humpers. It’s a combination that works. –Ty Stranglehold (Slab-O-Wax)

Livin’ at the Surf Hotel: 7"EP
Hopped-up NewBeachAlliance-styledOrangeCounty punk that smacks of weed, mainlining speed, lives on the rocks, rehab in on the horizon or in the rearview, and kelpy beach decay. In line with Smogtown, Smut Peddlers, Broken Bottles, and the Stitches. The buzzsaw guitars, gnashing drums, and cement mixer bass, all point to Hostage Records at the beginning of this century. Each time I play this, I can hear someone, somewhere getting a full sleeve on their arms to completely cover up some pretty bad decisions made earlier on in life. Reckless in all the right ways. –Todd Taylor (No Front Teeth, www.nofrontteeth.net)

Livin’ at the Surf Motel: 7” EP
If the Beach Boys had listened to what the voices in their heads and the drugs had been telling them to do, rather than their manager/father and record label they would still have to pray to be as good as The Pegs. Southern California surf punk that oozes attitude problems and reckless behavior while sweeping the floor with tightly wound songs full of razor-sharp hooks and punch-your-face-in guitar playing. This 7” could have fit in nicely on Hostage Records. –Daryl Gussin (No Front Teeth)

Self-titled: 7"
The Pegs play punk rock the way it’s meant to be: trashy, angry, and fast. Two of the members of this band were in the Numbers, and the two other members of the band were in the Letters, and in the time it took me to type that sentence, I played both sides of this seven inch. It’s a great record, but both sides put together have less than four minutes worth of music. I’m not saying don’t buy this. Buy it. Buy everything on Hostage. You can’t go wrong. But after you play this, expect to be like my wife after sex, saying, “What? That’s it? You’re done already?” –Todd Taylor (Hostage)

Nobody’s Listening Anyway: 7”EP
“Bad life decisions” punk. No matter where music tastes take me, I need my monthly dosage of intravenous, fucked-tooth, pants-uncomfortably-tight, no-thinking, probably-bleeding-somewhere—maybe internally, Orange County degenerate punk to cleanse the palate and watch the bad tattoos spread across my skin like happy magic. If you’ve heard the Stitches mixed with the Crowd, you’ve heard the Pegs. If you like Hostage Records, you’ve heard the Pegs. And that’s not a bad thing and this is a good 7”. I mean, for fuck’s sake, when you go to a restaurant, go for the shit you’ll most likely like, right? Not some fucked-up fusion with capers and fennel and indie pop sticking out the side like a flaccid dong about to poke you in the eye. Don’t tell me I’m alone on this. –Todd Taylor (Rapid Pulse / No Front Teeth, nofrontteeth.net)

Self-titled: CDEP
Righteous one-riff stoner metal, like Sleep with no singing and an extra finger for the little guitar strings. Occasionally gets a little too precious and abandons the glorious monotony that really makes the form, but with no guitar solos per se they’re still way ahead of the pack. And “Pelican”? That ain’t no metal bird. Perfect. –Cuss Baxter (Hydra Head)

What We All Come to Need: CD/LP
I have been really fortunate in coming across some remarkable albums this year. Especially in heavy music, it’s been a quality year (Isis, Converge, Slayer, etc.) Pelican’s latest and their first on Southern Lord (Boris, Sunn O))), Earth) didn’t let me down. In fact, I’d say this is easily their best album, even better than the fucking triumphant The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw. The eight tracks herein aren’t as long as some of their previous releases, with everything tracking in between four and eight minutes. Unlike the upbeat, righteous sound of their past work, What We All Come to Need has somewhat of a hesitant, contemplative sound. It’s not always blistering guitar attacks but there aren’t any acoustic interludes, either. Pelican hits it right on, balancing the melancholy with the edgy and pulling it off big time. There’s no standing back from the album; the riffs are too engaging. The textures and atmosphere give off an almost autumnal feel. There are a number of guest spots on the album with the biggest being Allen Epley of The Life And Times providing vocals on the last track, “Final Breath.” It’s a first for Pelican, but it sounds beautiful. This album works great as both background music while reading or when you want to rock out. It definitely covers all the bases. There’s no doubt this will be in my top five for the year. –Kurt Morris (Southern Lord)

Welcome to America: CD
A former Dead Kennedy goes metal. The songs are not as bad as some of that metal shit from the '80s/'90s was, but it's weird knowing who this guy is and attaching the music to the man. –Jimmy Alvarado (http://welcome.to/muck)

Welcome to America: CD
A former Dead Kennedy goes metal. The songs are not as bad as some of that metal shit from the '80s/'90s was, but it's weird knowing who this guy is and attaching the music to the man. –Jimmy Alvarado (http://welcome.to/muck)

No Religion: CD
Hearing this for the first time right before I am actually going to see them live. I really like what I’m hearing. Kind of reminds me of Union 13 with an ode to The Business. They also have a SoCal beach sound that reminds me a little of bands like The Adolescents or The Crowd, but the main structure of the music is Spanish-sung street punk with tons of melody and a good dose of a rockin’ kick. Coming from the Bay Area, that is not the sound I would expect. But what do I know? What I do know is that they went to a decent studio with an engineer who got the most out of them. The production is not full blown clean, but warm and bold. Everything is in the right place and nothing in the mix sounds flat. The vocal interplay is a highlight. The vocals sound genuine and has a slight imperfection in its delivery making it believable. Can’t wait to see how it goes tonight seeing it face to face. There is a split 7” out there with Born/Dead. I have to check it out and see the difference in recordings. –Donofthedead (Tankcrimes)

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