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

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No Idea Records

Record Reviews

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SHAM 69:
Tell Us the Truth / That’s Life / The Adventures of Hersham Boys / The Game: CDs
After the Ramones and the Clash, Sham is easily one of the most influential bands to come out of punk rock. From them one can trace most, if not all, strains of oi and what is now called “street punk.” Not only can those influential seeds can be heard scattered throughout their four original releases, one can also track the band’s progression from rudimentary musicians to more accomplished songsmiths. Their first, Tell Us the Truth, is pure minimalist thud-punk—angry, violent, outraged. A number of their better known songs—“Borstal Breakout,” “Hey Little Rich Boy,” “Ulster,” and “Rip Off” to name a few—can be found here, as well as their most direct working class attacks on a power structure that favors the more affluent, which is interesting to note considering the decidedly reactionary bent of many of the bands that followed in their wake. That’s Life, while essentially following along the same lines as its predecessor, experiments a little with the template, adding occasional keys to the songs and spoken bits between tracks. Hersham Boys, progresses things along even further, and by The Game—paradoxically the band’s worst selling album—the songs are finely honed missiles, providing the band’s unpretentious beginnings a fine craftsman’s sheen without sacrificing a whit of power or anger. Spread out over the four discs are twenty-nine bonus tracks culled from assorted demos, singles, and EPs for a more comprehensive collection of what remains Sham’s finest years. –Jimmy Alvarado (Captain Oi)

SHAM 69:
Punk Singles Collection 1977-80: CD
Cleopatra released this collection of Sham's singles some years back (and they no doubt licensed it from somewhere else). Captain Oi has taken it, purtied it all up, added a few more tracks that were left off of the Cleopatra version, and sent it back out into the world. All the big hits are here, twenty-six in all, from "If the Kids are United" to "Hurry Up Harry," plus some rarities, like "What Have We Got," which was only available as a freebie given out at their shows. If by some fluke of nature you've never heard a single Sham song, this is the perfect place to dive in. –Jimmy Alvarado (Captain Oi)

SHAM 69:
Hollywood Hero: CD
I ain’t gonna get into the semantics of whether this is or isn’t a release by the “real” Sham 69 ‘cause, frankly, I’m more interested in it being good than whether Jimmy Pursey’s singing or not. That said, it definitely sounds like Sham—the good Sham, mind you. Whoever Dave got to take Jimmy’s place does a fairly good impersonation of him, delivering the lyrics (the bulk of which were apparently written by Jimmy before he, um, departed) with just the right mixture of venom, conviction, and harmony. The rest of the band sound top notch, resulting in one of the better Sham releases I’ve heard since their “classic” period. If “I Want Glory” and “I Don’t Believe a Word” are any indication, they might actually do all right without Jimmy, as both tracks are quite solid in their own right. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.sosrecords.us)

The World Is Ours: 7"
This three piece oi / streetpunk band from Tulsa, OK has just released a single on Profane Existence with four hard-hitting songs. The opening song is great with its oi oi oi chant, but all the songs are great to sing along to and have a few pints while doing it. I really love this band and look forward to everything that they release. They are that good! If you are a fan of non-racist skinhead music, you need to get this release. It comes on red, white, blue, black, and, if you are quick enough, a glow in the dark vinyl single that comes with a patch. –Guest Contributor (Profane Existence, profaneexistence.org)

The World Is Ours: 7”
An oi record as the first entry in the Profane Existence singles series? Has the world gone topsy turvy? Worse yet, has the world run out of crust bands? What does PE know about oi? A lot, apparently. This is legitimate, smash-a-can-of-Guinness-on-your-forehead, football-actually-means-soccer oi—angry and awesome. It’s a great way to kick off the series. –MP Johnson (Profane Existence)

Sign The Line: CD
I saw this band once, because a friend of mine insisted that they were a great live act. He was in error. Which one's Jimmy Pursey again? BEST SONG: "Something Happening" BEST SONG TITLE: "1-2-3-4" FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: I think this band played an Allman Bros. song (or something) the time i went to see them. –Rev. Norb (Shake It)

I Can’t Help Myself: 7”
The cover is inundated with scratchy, barely legible writing and the whole layout screams “skronky noise,” so imagine my surprise when what instead comes out of the speakers is über-catchy punk rock with multi-part harmony vocals. Both sides of this are very much worth a listen. –Jimmy Alvarado (Fatal Seizure, no address)

Summertime: 7”EP
I’ve said this before with Tulsa. A bit of me is worried that I’m just way too predisposed to liking what they’re dishing out. It’s like I’ve stopped thinking and worrying and classifying; like band members could come poop on my porch and I’d slap ‘em on the back and say, “Thanks for ‘Caught In Between.’ Great song.” Shang-A-Lang makes music I like instantly. All four songs on Summertime are “perfectly” executed. It’s DIY punk with charm bounding to self-doubt, musical chops that never stray from melody, yet retain a comforting sloppiness, and it’s all taped together in a rough yet clear recording. Much to like. –Todd Taylor (Dirt Cult / Let’s Pretend)

Sad Magic: LP
Shang-A-Lang is one of the few bands that I actively check in on every few months to make sure I haven’t missed any releases. I stumbled upon their songs a bit before their first 7” was released. It was amazing stuff, and with every release their momentum just keeps increasing. I was the first of my friends to have a copy of this record and waited forever for someone else to get a damn copy so we could talk about how good it was. If I had the money, I would buy everyone I know a copy, but I’m poor and I’d be lucky if this convinces someone, somewhere to buy a copy. So, get off your ass and find this, because you will not find any tighter science. –Bryan Static (Fast Crowd)

Sad Magic: LP
What a perfect title; this record’s both that adjective and that noun in equal measure. Shang-a-Lang’s first foray into full-length territory reveals what I’ve guessed all along: the more songs they write, the better they get, the more I like them. It’s knot-in-throat music. I understand that “being real” is a cliché and means as much as “street cred,” but S-A-L aren’t afraid of looking at the ugly in themselves and their situations. (Perhaps I’m reading too much into it, knowing that lead singer Chris has a tough job in the social services, yet he helps turn that anxiety into an all-ages space in Las Cruces while running Dirt Cult Records.) But it’s these doses of self-doubt and self-depreciation funneling themselves into songs that act as mysterious, inspirational catalysts. (Instead of being total life crushers.) My guess is if the world didn’t have so many shit bits flinging up and cracking S-A-L’s windshield, there’d be less of a constant catalyst to create music. It’s because they just can’t stop doing it—it’s their antidote, their inoculation and booster shots—which is such a different place to make music from than making it because you don’t have anything better to do. (And let’s laugh at making music for fame, sex, or money in this review.) For anyone interested in an unadulterated archetype of what DIY punk’s up to in the late ‘00s, drop the needle on Sad Magic. –Todd Taylor (Fast Crowd)

Collection: CD
Bruce Lee weighed 125 pounds. Shang-A-Lang use a four track recorder with one channel busted. Both kick way more ass than some steroid-confused, alpha-male Cobra Kai cheat-to-win bullshit motherfucker. Metallica has all the money in the world and has nothing to say. Shang-a-Lang farms the dirt of New Mexico where the most resilient flowers and the most delicious Hatch chilies grow. They’re hot and spicy with an underlying taste of years of growth in harsh environments. Chris Mason was preached to as a kid about this lady who got fucked by a ghost and everyone in attendance got a halo. Chris now proselytizes that it’s not what you’ve got—money, “fame,” unlimited cheeseburgers— it’s what you bring. Like DIY; like some of the most honest, fun-to-sing-along-to punk. Ever. It falls apart and reassembles right in front of you like in-reverse magic. Part of me wanted to copy and paste all of my previous reviews of the records that were compiled to make this Collection, but that would have taken an entire page and would have been sort of like cheating. And Shang-A-Lang makes me want to be honest. I’ve already started heckling them to play “Summertime” next time I see them live. Please do the same because that song rules, in every season. –Todd Taylor (Facepalm / Silversprocket)

Waiting for the End: 7”EP
Fuck you, funeral. Fuck you, wake. Fuck you, death. Fuck you, swan song. Goodbye Shang-A-Lang. Never liked your charming, shambolic, honest, inclusive music anyway. I never thought you were the musical equivalent to a T-shirt that lasts for years and years and fits better with every wear. Fuck you, Shang-a-Lang. Las Cruces punk rock gets its collective face tear tattooed at the passing of one of its defining bands. I’ve got the feeling that we’ll be lacing on happy shoes soon, as these guys are too insuppressible to give up on playing music… Oh, hello Low Culture. You played Ben Snakepit’s wedding? Rad. Want to go in on a twelver with me? –Todd Taylor (Dirt Cult plus five other labels)

Split: 7"
Even before listening, this recording has ticked off each box on the checklist of cool in my book: 1. Sweet-ass artwork by Mitch Clem (can he please create a dinosaur coloring book?) and 2. Clear vinyl. Obviously, these could be very, very misleading characteristics, but I am happy to say that the contents more than accurately portray the awesomeness that is this split. This 7” is one you get bummed out when you spend your last three dollars at the bar, before noticing the merch table. Maybe I am a little biased for Brickfight, but they blew me away live, and I’ve been collecting any Shang-A-Lang stuff I can get my grubby hands on since I first hear ‘em. Both bands sound great, this would be an excellent primer/gift for a person unfamiliar with the bands. This split has found a very happy home in my collection, and I will be humming these songs all day long. –Samantha Beerhouse (Facepalm, silversprocketlabs.com)

Split: 7"
Shang-A-Lang: Turn that frown into kickass DIY punk jams. As the dust of time settles on the shoulders of Las Cruces, New Mexico’s musical heritage, I do hope that these four troubadours tricking out every last watt, amp, and atom out of their testy 4-track get remembered as being as a flickering flame of hope. I also hope Chris Mason never starts a cult, because that’s something I might consider joining, and I think cults are stupid. Brick Fight: Since I know nothing about musical equipment, I’ve always wondered if there was an amp or effects pedal that you could switch on that’s labeled “sound British.” Perhaps Rancid’s got that patented. Speaking of, sounds like a lot like early Rancid and late ‘90s not-very-pop pop punk with a lot of snot, say, like the Nobodys, with less porn in the monitors. Hey Mitch, congrats on your first release. –Todd Taylor (Facepalm, myspace.com/facepalmrecords)

Split: 7”
Shang-a-Lang: You know what the ultimate prize should be? The ability to keep making music that not only keeps you alive, but encourages to keep your friends living, especially after the “punk death” age many hit in their late twenties. Shang-a-Lang’s on my permanent roster in the kickball game of life. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more resourceful, money-where-mouth-is, magic-on-a-budget DIY punk band that flat-out keeps on getting sexier as time goes on. (Mud baths? Oh, la, la.) Broken Mountain: I’ve heard demos and live recordings of The Saints, prior to the horns, rougher and dirtier than the first couple of untouchable records. Should it be strange that a Japanese band not singing in their native tongue has the same clipped delivery as Australia’s Chris Bailey? No matter, because any band that reminds me of the swagger, chug, and freight train delivery of The Saints’ll get their fair share of rotations on my record player. –Todd Taylor (Dirt Cult / Snuffy Smiles)

Split: 7”EP
Shang-a-Lang: Hang in with me on this. Imagine if the Dead Milkmen weren’t goofy, and instead of the goofiness was a self-deprecating earnestness. (All of this through a DIY, 2008, slightly Crimpshrine’d punk rock lens, mind you.) I mean, shit alive, the Dead Milkmen were catchy as hell, made you sing along to things you wouldn’t necessarily come up with singing by yourself, and it’s cathartic to scream along to. They’re the slightly stained, well-worn T-shirt to the Milkmen’s paisley shirt with a collar. Land of Enchantment, indeed. Jonesin’: From the ashes of Down In The Dumps. Sounds like Dukes Of Hillsborough by way of Gunmoll: burlaped voice, like someone’s throat is a bedroll of knives, dirt, and glass shards. Florida-ation facial grown rock by way of NYC that’s working on, and beginning to succeed, in sounding epic. Not bad at all. –Todd Taylor (Dirt Cult/ Dead Broke)

Split: 7”EP
Shang-a-Lang: Dudes are bummed, but somehow turn songs of bummerdom and “I’m-about-to-crack” into these finger-snapping, duct tape anthems of basement salvation. Don’t know if I want them to get happier since their pain is my gain. Any sort of life-issue resolution may make their songs suck… Anyhow, I may be committing some sort of sin here, but I think if they took a sock or two off the microphones and took the sleeping bag out of the bass drum when they recorded, it’d punch up the recording a bit. The songs shine through, though. Sex Advice: Don’t want to force them in a place they’d find uncomfortable, but I think they’re the missing link between high-quality Queers (Love Songs for the Retarded) and Black Flag (all the way up to the B-side of Damaged). Bubble gum with jagged edges that wants to kill you. Nice split.  –Todd Taylor (Repulsion)

Split : 7”
Turkish Techno’s first appearance on vinyl and, boy, is it a great start. Like a drunken boy’s choir of Riverside, these four dudes belt out two songs of Leatherface/Stiff Little Fingers/Jawbreaker punk rock. A mainstay in today’s DIY Riverside scene, these guys always put on a lively, energetic show. Shang-A-Lang: these Las Crucians know how to put together poppy, self-examining songs of substance. Two more songs that will make your work week a little more tolerable or your hangover a little less excruciating. Highly recommended. –Daryl Gussin (Muy Auténtico, myspace.com/totallyofficial)

: Split 7”
Turkish Techno: In this post Hot Water Music world, it’s difficult to tread water in that band’s wake. But, Turkish Techno pulls it off by casting their net into good, old-fashioned hardcore aggression’s waters. While it sounds like several contemporary bands are deep frying frozen fishsticked of parts of HWM’s catalog in an attempt to recreate previous magic while ultimately sounding greasy and clogged, Turkish Techno adds the acidic lime of bands like early Black Flag to “cook” the raw fish. A ceviche, if you will. A delicious one. Shang-a-Lang: Still choke me up more than just a little when I listen to them or see them live. They play with an earnestness usually reserved to musicians ten or fifteen years younger, the music is the perfect sloppy tightness, and, having personally put all of their songs onto a more versatile digital format, I can support the thesis that even their anti-work songs made a day of pick axing all the more tolerable, bordering on pleasurable. Duct tapedly awesome. –Todd Taylor ((Muy Autentico, myspace.com/totallyofficial)

You Cannot Add Yourself as a Friend: 7" EP
Even though I’d never heard Shang-a-Lang before this 7”, I felt like saying, “Hello, old friend.” They come across as a comfortable quilt of bands I already enjoy muchly. The good news is that they don’t remind me too much of just one band, nor do I suspect they’ve got musical photocopy machines tucked away in their back pockets. Their music musical radar blips in the storm front populated by Scared of Chaka, The Bananas, ADD/C and Dead Things (and it’s a toss up if they’ve ever heard those bands). It’s not as straight ahead as initial listenings would indicate, easy-to-sing-along-to DIY punk, that’s as fun to listen to, I imagine, as it was fun to make. It’s also super easy to smile along to. 300 made. Hand numbered. Good news. –Todd Taylor (Dirt Cult)

Demo: CDEP
Panning for gold is all about the promise of future riches. This demo is muddy, murky, dirty socks, Bill Beltone guitar, and whacked-sponge-sounding drums. However, if your ears are used sorting out the slime and slurry, finely blown out after years of basement and backyard shows, one can recognize the faintest glimmers—future nuggets—in the shape of the songwriting. ShanghaiRiver has that; a nice basic shape. Sonically sounds like Frankie Stubbs with mumps or the dude from Fat Albert that no one could understand—not just the vocals, almost everything—leading the Chop Sakis’ first practice. Yeah, I’d listen to ‘em after the demo takes a shower, gets cleaned up and smells better. –Todd Taylor (myspace.com/shanghairiver)

Binary Code Will Enslave All of Humankind: LP
Right off the bat, I should disclose that this band contains a Razorcake columnist. It really doesn’t matter though, because he seems to me like the kind of guy who would rather appreciate honesty than ass kissing. Wooo! Good thing I can do both now because I love this record! It’s almost scary how so many of the songs on this record are situations that I’m dealing with in my life (particularly the ones pertaining to getting old and still playing in bands and partying). The tunes are sloppy and fun (also attributes I’ve been told describe me). I had a smile on my face the whole time (except on the one about the guy who got trampled at Wal-Mart on Black Friday. That was sad.). Get the record and join the party... At least until you bleed out your butt. Then it’s time to stop. –Ty Stranglehold (ADD)

Upsetter Democracy: LP
Fans of The Stitches, listen up! Did you spend the mid- to late-‘90s as I did, scarfing up every 7” release from Witmer/Lohrman and company like it was gold? And, have you been in Stitches withdrawal ever since they went inactive, at least on vinyl? Then Shanghai Wires may well be the band for you. They may be from England, but they have clearly soaked up the vintage Southern California punk rock vinyl so much that it courses through their veins as much as any of their native country’s fine bands do. If I have any criticisms about this at all, it would be that I wish the mix had a little more bottom end to it. Other than that, I’ve played this many times through and it more than holds its own. –chris (May Cause Dizziness, mcdrecords.com)

Black Waves: LP
Snotty ‘77-style street punk. The opening track sounds unmistakably like Defiance’s “No Future, No Hope.” Song topics range from sinking Kamikaze ships, spitting razor blades, and several references to radio masts. Rock’n’roll guitar bends and single syllable vocal snivels. Surprisingly, I really like the drum sound on this record. If you’re looking for something fun to skate to: this is your album. –Guest Contributor (Pure Punk)

Pretty Mean: 7”
First seven inch from Oakland four-piece containing three ladies and one dude. Three tracks of campy bad girl rockʼnʼroll fun complete with “OOO-WAH-OOOʼs” and nail polish cover art. Typical garage rock, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still enjoyable.  –Alanna Why (No Rules)

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