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Record Reviews

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SNUFF:
Six of One, Half a Dozen of the Other 1986-2002: 2 X CD
For some reason, and I’m not quite sure, but I often forget how great Snuff can be. They’re cheeky Brits with a weird sense of humor (just look at the fuckin’ names of their albums: Demmamussabebonk? Flibbiddydibiddydob?), a longtime love of Vespas and Lambrettas, and the uncanny knack to be utterly silly yet still pull out some seriously great punk rock at the same time. It’s sometimes hard to get the pulse if they’re just that cursory and talented (let’s fuck around and play ping pong for days in the studio and cut six tracks without overdubs at the last minute, or so the story goes), or if there’s a pattern to their functional dysfunction. Snuff comes from the hairy, incestuous school of British punk that commingled and merged with Leatherface (powerful, soulful, gritty) and Wat Tyler (who have songs about Smurf sex). Well, I know this for sure, if you’ve ever liked Snuff or if you’d like an intro to a prolific band, this collection’s like a deep-sea dragnet. Washing machines get pulled up with the fish. You get many gems, some dogs; tastes will vary. The first CD is all previously released stuff that’s reasonably easy to get, but spread out over sixteen years and numerous albums. The second CD’s all more obscure: b-sides, comp tracks, tour-only releases, unreleased tracks, and ends with a trippy dub track that underscores the fact that Duncan (drummer, lead singer: same setup as The Carpenters) smokes a lot of weed. When all’s said and done, Snuff is melodic punk done right. My favorite stuff’s still the songs with the horns and organs from Potatoes and Melons at Wholesale Prices Straight from the Lockup. –Todd Taylor (Fat)


SNUFF:
Disposable Income: CD
Oh boy! Pure pop bliss! This is the follow-up to the Blue Gravy: Phase 9 CDEP that was, in my opinion, above average. They come back with a bang and show their superiority to the world. The songs are as infectious as ever and continue to put my face into contortions, forcing a happy face. The production has been the key for many years. The guitars are thick and add little shards of metal chugging while not being too aggressive. A band with a Hammond organ is all right with me, too! Duncan is still behind the kit, banging away like a spastic monkey while keeping it together to sing the vocals. I like the fact they do experiment and try to add new elements to the music to keep things fresh. They brought in more players this time around to fill the sound to new expanses. It might be blasphemous to say, but I think they are the Beatles of punk rock – music that immediately takes you to another world without leaving the outside area of your speakers with melodies that I would die for to write. If you haven’t taken the giant step and sampled these musical masters, what are you waiting for? While you’re at it, you need to check out Guns n’ Wankers and Dogpiss, which are side projects of Snuff from the past. Why did they leave Fat? –Donofthedead (Union)


SNUFF:
Blue Gravy: CD
Could not wait to toss this baby in my CD player to get to their undeniable brand of pop secretions. I popped out the CD magazine out of the back of my truck and pulled out that shitty CD that I got for review and threw it aside. I think that shitty CD is still floating around underneath a seat. I slipped that baby into the magazine and jumped into the truck to hear the new Snuff! Bam, like a boot to the head, the first track starts playing. My enthusiasm drops to an all-time low. I had the same look when the Jehovah's Witness showed up at my door when I was expecting a friend I hadn't seen in awhile. What the fuck is this? The opening track, "Slipt," is so flat that it barely reaches any level of excitement. It felt forced and the band sounded like they didn't even enjoy recording it. I can't believe this is the opening track! You have to go in with force on the opening track. Now, track 1 is the throwaway that I have been skipping over. Things go back to normal on track 2 - 7 where you get four new songs and two new versions of previously released songs. At the end you get, as filler, two live tracks. I like the studio versions, personally. Live stuff usually doesn't have the presence and the sonic energy that the studio can create. Overall, not their best but enough to tide me over until their next full length. They are still one of the best. No one as of yet has captured their style and magic. –Donofthedead (Fat)


SNUFF:
5-4-3-2-1 Perhaps?: LP
You probably already know Snuff, so we’ll skip the intros. This is first new record from them since 2005’s greatest hits/rarities thing Six of One, Half Dozen of Another. I wasn’t expecting this to ever happen, but I’m rejoicing! Snuff is back! Scream it from the rooftops! The formula is the same as it has been since the mid ‘90s: melodic, fun punk with keyboards and horns and riffs as catchy as a super flu. As always, there are some hardcore thrash outs, some pub-style sluralongs and everything you would ever come to love and expect from Duncan Redmonds and company. Now if only they would tour in this direction… In the meantime, you should have this in your collection. –Ty Stranglehold (Fat, mailbag@fatwreck.com, fatwreck.com)


SNUGGLE:
Zero Real Hearts: LP
I picked this one up knowing that I liked everything that I had heard from ‘em (their Tag… 7” and the Bent Outta Shape split). When I first put it on, I thought it was pretty good. Then I listened to it more, and then some more. And then I came to realize what a gem I had in my possession. Snuggle is undeniably pop punk, but it ain’t humdrum like a lot of the genre has become again. This LP is unwashed, intense, and uninhibited. They sound like their heads are barely above water and it is categorically imperative that hear what they have to say, even if that means that they sink while they’re trying to tell you what’s up. It sounds like four dudes converging with a common need, not one guy using the rest of the band as mere means for advancing his own private agenda. The drums, bass, and guitars are all over the place, going in their directions yet moving perfectly together (often quicker than a mile per minute). The vocals, like the strings and skins, are raw and urgent—they refrain from coming even close to any type of commonplace pop punk vocals. The lyrics are almost only coincidentally sung. It’s like the dude yells in such a way that it just fits because of the exigency in what he’s trying to convey. The whole thing has a very full and emotion-laden sound that has a pureness that seems to come from letting go, playing loud, playing fast, and playing what you need to play. Get it. –Vincent Battilana (1-2-3-4 Go!)


SNUGGLE:
Self-titled: LP
The music from this band is swell, but I feel like I’m not alone when I say their songs are not memorable. The tunes are fun to rock to when they are playing, but when you walk away, can you repeat anything you just heard? There is a lack of “hook,” which is fine, but makes describing them difficult. I still give this LP a thumbs up and will continue to say I like the band. Tunes don’t have to stick like barnacles to be genial, and that’s the truth. –Corinne (1234GO)


SNUGGLE / NO HIGH 5S 2 BULLSHIT:
Split: 7”
Snuggle: like their regional brethren—Drunken Boat—they take the California pop punk sounds and warp them into a cloudy, rainy, flash flood of epic depression, resentment, and piss-in-your-lemonade punk. Two salvaged tracks from a doomed recording session a couple years back. “Sometimes things don’t work out so good.” I guess not. NH52BS: sure, plenty of people rip Tiltwheel off. Plenty. Of. People. But NH52BS do it with style. Incorporating heavier guitar parts that sludge through the groves, more in common with fellow Denvernians Git Some, than Burritofornia. Spot on stuff. I declare this to be the moodiest pop punk split 7” of the year. –Daryl Gussin (1-2-3-4 Go!)


SNUGGLE / NO HIGH FIVES TO BULLSHIT:
Split: 7”
Snuggle play tight and loose pop punk from Seattle with some snarlyness torn between olde heartbreak and vague anti-consumerism. Three dorkus malorki who seem know how to lose girls and party. As for No High Fives: Holy Crimpshrine! Take that as you will (I liked Crimpshrine…). –Andrew Flanagan (1-2-3-4 Go!)


SNUGGLE / WHISKEY SUNDAY:
Split: 7” EP
Snuggle: Mid ‘90s East Bay pop punk has moved north to Seattle. Forlorn sentiments {i.e. “no I can’t fall in love no more”} bouncily played. I imagine a rickety, elaborate gin still of music: Plaid Retina, Isocracy, and Sludegworth heated over the flames of bad luck, stored in a paint barrel of bad timing, and eventually dripping into a glass, as potent as it is raw. They’re definitely getting better. Whiskey Sunday: Are you familiar with Leatherface’s Frankie Stubbs’ raspy voice? Well, if someone hammered a nail through his vocal chords, that’s what the lead singer of Whiskey Sunday sounds like. Sometimes, when the band’s not crankin’ nor anthemic, the whole affair gets a little too bar rock-y (their second song on here). However, when they’re all wadding up and firing off their early Hot Water Music riffs and the songs are latticed up a wee more complexly, like in “Sunday Morning,” I like ‘em quiet a bit more. –Todd Taylor (Vinehell)


SNUGGLE!:
Tag, You're It: 7"
Some rugged, heartfelt melodic punk here a la No Idea Records and Snuffy Smile Records. I like how the exclamation point in the band name makes it sound like a demand. Decent recording and ragged yet melodic songs. All you fans of the Crimpshrine/ Shotwell/ Pinhead Gunpowder persuasion would do well to check this out. -Mike Frame –Guest Contributor (The Party's Over)


SNUGGLE!:
Tag, You’re It: 7"
Man, it’s bands like this that make you realize that the seven inch really probably is the ideal punk format, for now and evermore. This record is so great: throaty and melodic punk in the vein of Splurge, Crimpshrine, and Jon Cougar Concentration Camp. The songs are personal, emotional, pissed, and yet still welcoming. The band name sucks for sure, and it’s hard to decipher any of the screen-printing on the sleeve at all, but then you play the thing and realize that some bands, whether through luck or thoughtfulness or hard work or careful planning, have the ability to put out at least one of those seven inches that’ll be played on your turntable for years to come, and at least a song will wind up on mix tapes you make for a long time coming. Snuggle’s one of those bands, and Tag, You’re It is one of those records. –Keith Rosson (The Party's Over)


SNUKY TATE:
Who Cares?: 7"
Another bootleg, this one featuring a couple of Mutants lending their respective talents to Mr. Tate. The guitar has a really cool, early Saints sound to it, hollow-sounding but really raw and fuzzed out at the same time. It's pretty unmemorable. I never would have guessed that the demand for this record was so great that a bootleg would be necessary. –Josh (bootleg)


SNUKY TATE:
Who Cares?: 7"
Another bootleg, this one featuring a couple of Mutants lending their respective talents to Mr. Tate. The guitar has a really cool, early Saints sound to it, hollow-sounding but really raw and fuzzed out at the same time. It’s pretty unmemorable. I never would have guessed that the demand for this record was so great that a bootleg would be necessary. –Josh (no label)


SO ADULT:
Rookie: Cassette
While I usually despise most things that fall under the moniker “power pop,” I found every song on this four-song cassette quite catchy. So Adult have a very rock’n’roll sound to them that fuses with their pop sensibilities, creating memorable hooks sure to get imbedded in your brain. Great vocals and solid production for a self-released effort make this is a must-have for anyone into the genre. The limited edition cassette comes with a digital download. –Paul J. Comeau (So Adult, myspace.com/soadultnow)


SO COW:
Self-titled: LP
So Cow is a one-man lo-fi indie pop act from Ireland. This record was recorded over the course of three years and is more a collection than an album. The variety of sounds—including Casios and weird noises, along with the tape hiss and varying fidelities on different songs—keep things from getting samey. The songs are smartly written and lyrical, with a bit of an Elvis Costello flair. I’ll definitely play this a few more times. It’s a breath of fresh air for people who have been known to take sweaters and tea over hoodies and coffee, but still think that some of the current twee revival bands are too tight-butt and affected. –CT Terry (Tic Tac Totally)


SO COW:
Meaningless Friendly: LP
I got the mail-order version of this record as soon as I saw that it was available, which differs from this version I got for review by adding a bonus 7”. I got it based on the strength of the first LP on Tic Tac Totally, a collection of some of the one-man band from Ireland’s output. The first time I heard So Cow’s punky, happy-yet-melancholy, jangly rock’n’roll songs, I immediately swooned. Meaningless is more of a continuation than a progression, but it is a slight progression. The songs seem more centered and focused with less variation, which isn’t terribly surprising given that the previous LP was a collection of sorts. Lyrically, So Cow centers on common disappointments that seem unavoidable as one grows older with youthful hopes diminishing and adult fears growing larger. This LP is a damn fine follow up, and I recommend it just as much as the rest of the So Cow catalog. As I said above, I purchased the mail-order edition with the bonus three-song 7”. I wouldn’t mention it, but the A-side, “Ain’t No Fun,” should have been a proper album track. It’s definitely one of my favorite So Cow tracks. Midheaven is handling TTT’s mail-order now, so I’d get over to their site ASAP to grab the LP + 7” (as well as any other So Cow you ain’t got your grubby paws on yet). –Vincent Battilana (Tic Tac Totally)


SO COW:
GMT: 7”
It was love at first listen for me with Brian Kelly’s So Cow. This four-song 7”, GMT, made me realize the extent of Mr. Kelly’s pop genius, or at least my willingness to make hyperbolic declarations in his favor. I’ve been a sucker for So Cow for a few years now, but this release is a bit different than some of the other output. The songs themselves are still jangly, punk-edged up pop, but the recording of these is of a lower fidelity than I have become accustomed to. But, you see, it’s that potential detraction that made me realize my appreciation for So Cow is on the level of that for Boyracer; even when the recording is shit, the intent is brilliant enough to shine through. I hope this guy doesn’t quit anytime soon. –Vincent Battilana (Ride The Snake, ridethesnakerecords.com)


SO COW / SQUAREHEAD:
Out of Season: Split 12”
Two contemporary Irish bands. So Cow: Prejudices. I have them. I like my pop to be ragged or at least crafted by people who don’t sound rich. (It’s called a prejudice because it doesn’t bear scrutiny. Yup. Fuck you, Richie Rich.) Pristine, bourgeois pop is like flipping through an Ikea catalog: plastic veneer on pulp in a world that never needs dusting; a world where “the help will take care of the mess.” My first impulse is to kick and smash right through the particleboard. So Cow are pop as all hell, but they treat their songs like nice pieces of real wood. They carefully cut like craftsman, showing both great finesse and are interested in displaying the unique character of the sourced material. I have a feeling that fans of XTC, Go Metric, and the Clean would find a lot to like in their five songs. Squarehead: We’re dealing with two sides of the same coin with these two bands. Tons of natural sunshine and shimmer. They bring to mind a section of Memphis’s Alicja Trout’s oeuvre to mind: Mouserocket and Alicja Pop, in particular. Appealing, bubbling-up pop that’s got just the right amounts of tang, sour, and non-chemical sweetness to balance it all out. All-around enjoyable. –Todd Taylor (Inflated)


SO FOX:
self-titled: 7"
It was a shitty time when the Selby Tigers called it a day in the Spring of 2002. They were one of the first two bands I interviewed for Razorcake and were equal parts rock’n’roll showmanship, sweat and shake new wave, all wrapped in a world of fireworks. My hesitation to plop this 7”er down was unwarranted. There are definitely remnants of the Selby sound from the weird but kept-in-check guitaring and the pound the sky drums. But the most obvious overlap is Arzu’s voice, still strong and resonant. These four songs are definitely not throwbacks or rip offs. If anything, So Fox is more of a constant straight-ahead push forward than the Selbys. The first, “Teen Beat,” is my favorite. Effects and intricacies are replaced by a more sleeves-rolled-up, non-ass rock’n’rolling. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes…  –Todd Taylor (Nice and Neat)


SO PASTEL:
Tremulous Quavers: LP
So Pastel plays it heavy, somewhere in the middle of Jesus Lizard and Hoover. Twenty years ago, this was called post-hardcore. Maybe it still is. The songs have a complicated feel to them and never really flow. A lot of stop-go parts and time changes—which never allow the songs to take off or burn themselves into your memory. I do like the way the bass sounds, and how much presence it has in the mix. Other than that, everything gets tedious after a while and nothing about this warrants repeated listens. –Matt Average (So Pastel)


SO WRONG:
Self-titled: LP
Some more indie kids trying on the rock’n’roll hat, complete with cheesy ‘80s song cover. Comes off like a slightly more rocking OMD, if that sounds like your cuppa. –Mike Frame (Antifiesta)


SOBRIETY STARTS TOMORROW:
In the Key of Whiskey: CD-R
They’ve aptly written the review for me. In “This Song Is Definitely Not About Vampires,” they have the lyric, “my songs are poor excuses for all the music I adore.” Against Me! is a pretty safe guess for one of the bands they adore. Although SST is a lot faster, there’s a definite resemblance to their statemates there (This is also recorded by Rob McGregor, who has recorded AM!). There’s nothing bad about this in and of itself, but it leaves me wondering what they’ll be like once they develop their own sound that isn’t derivative of those who they admire. I’ll look for it. –Megan Pants (self-released)


SOCCER TEAM:
“Volunteered” Civility & Professionalism: CD
A current Dischord employee teamed up with a former Dischord employee to record some tunes on four- and eight-track machines. The feeling is that of a four-track demo for a band who is still finding itself. It’s slightly amusing but quite often veers off into artsy yawn land. –Mr. Z (Dischord)


SOCIAL CIRCKLE:
Expiration Date: 7” EP
Another entry into the “influenced, but not shackled by the 80s” niche of the current hardcore scene here. The tunes are zippy yet not ridiculously fast, angry yet catchy, and reverent yet timely. Fans of bands like Career Suicide or Direct Control will find this to their tastes. –Jimmy Alvarado (Side Two)


Social Combat:
Mail from Hell: CD
Spanish street punk band that covers Johnny Cash’s “Country Boy” and Rose Tattoo’s “Nice Boys Don’t Play R’n’R”—their hearts are in the right place. By-the-numbers stuff here. No complaints if you dig this genre. –greg (Step-1)


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