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Record Reviews

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STANDING 69’S, THE:
Short Dress: CD-R
This is well-recorded, mid-tempo garage rock that is actually pretty okay. It’s nothing special or anything, but the lack of a discernable Motorhead influence puts this head and shoulders above most of the other “garage rock” that I reviewed this time around and I kind of enjoyed it. –Not Josh –Guest Contributor (Self-released)


STANDING FLAT:
Self-titled: CD
Standing Flat can be correctly categorized as acoustic-tinged highway-travellin’ alternative rock... and there ain’t a damn thing wrong with that, ‘cause this trio of sonically lucid Texans cohesively create pure soul-stirrin’ musical magic that’s intricate, spiritual, and structurally tight... sometimes grungey, somewhat trippy, and forever folksy... robust, ballsy, melancholic, and emotionally straightforward. The vocals are gravelly, powerful, and passionately delivered... the guitars swirl, shimmer, shine, and sparkle with an illustrious otherworldly glow... the soft and lilting orchestral stirrings of the keyboard damn near brought tears to my eyes... the solid well-structured interplay between the bass and drums rhythmically flows together in an impeccable display of tranquil unity. Man, this pristinely produced disc has stimulated and altered my mind to the point of no return... –Roger Moser Jr. (www.standingflat.com)


STANDING FLAT:
Self-titled: CD
Standing Flat can be correctly categorized as acoustic-tinged highway-travellin’ alternative rock... and there ain’t a damn thing wrong with that, ‘cause this trio of sonically lucid Texans cohesively create pure soul-stirrin’ musical magic that’s intricate, spiritual, and structurally tight... sometimes grungey, somewhat trippy, and forever folksy... robust, ballsy, melancholic, and emotionally straightforward. The vocals are gravelly, powerful, and passionately delivered... the guitars swirl, shimmer, shine, and sparkle with an illustrious otherworldly glow... the soft and lilting orchestral stirrings of the keyboard damn near brought tears to my eyes... the solid well-structured interplay between the bass and drums rhythmically flows together in an impeccable display of tranquil unity. Man, this pristinely produced disc has stimulated and altered my mind to the point of no return... –Guest Contributor (www.standingflat.com)


STANDSTILL:
Demo 01: CDEP demo
Guitar and bass parts: Good Riddance, circa Ballads of the Revolution. Drumming: NOFX, circa White Trash, Two Heebs and a Bean, the easier parts. Breakdowns: Hot Water Music, circa Fuel for the Hate Game. Vocals: hey at least he’s not crying into his socks. Proficient, but woefully predictable and done immensely better by hundreds of bands (starting with the three just mentioned). Melodicore’s been effectively strip mined. You gotta dig way deeper to find some audio gold (or even something that doesn’t sound like a bunch of already desiccated musical notes). –Todd Taylor (StandstillMD@hotmail.com)


STANLEY ROSS/LOVE STORY IN BLOOD RED:
Split: 7?
Stanley Ross: It sounds like the singer for that Brit-pop band, Pulp, singing a Cat Stevens song. Like a British Cat Stevens. Was Cat Stevens British? I don't know. This is everything I should hate - I swear it's got that corner of a dimly-lit coffee shop with an acoustic guitar feel to it - but I actually like it. LSIBR: Okay, so we had Brit-pop singing folk, but on this I swear it's like Lou Reed singing Blur. This one is not the sexy. –Megan Pants (Nodak)


STANLEY ROSS/LOVE STORY IN BLOOD RED:
Split: 7"
Stanley Ross: It sounds like the singer for that Brit-pop band, Pulp, singing a Cat Stevens song. Like a British Cat Stevens. Was Cat Stevens British? I don’t know. This is everything I should hate—I swear it’s got that corner of a dimly-lit coffee shop with an acoustic guitar feel to it—but I actually like it. LSIBR: Okay, so we had Brit-pop singing folk, but on this I swear it’s like Lou Reed singing Blur. This one is not the sexy. –Megan Pants (Nodak)


STAPLER, THE:
Metaphysical Haircut: CD
Have I lost my magic touch? I thought I had a pretty good detection system, not for avoiding all crap (I actually, instead seem to have a strange talent for finding that), but for at least avoiding stuff that would do well with all the arty kids. Not so, I’ve discovered this rotation. I picked this up because the cover sort of reminded me of the Pixies, oh, and it was yellow, and sometimes I like yellow. I know some people will give me flak for not ever getting into (and barely have even listened to) Dinosaur Jr. or Sonic Youth, and this reminds me of a fuzzier version of them (but again, I haven’t listened to either, so it’s more that The Stapler sound like what I imagine those bands to sound like, but fuzzier). So, I mean, I’m sure it’s good for what it is, but fuck if you’ll ever catch me listening to it willingly. –Megan Pants (www.colombusdiscountrecords.com)


STAPLES IN CARPET:
Self-titled: CD
They call their music “old school crossover” and, when I listen to Staples In Carpet, I imagine that early ‘90s, power-riff, white-Nike-wearing metalhead with a Black Flag shirt on. –John Mule (Self-released)


STAR AND DAGGER:
In My Blood: 12”
Occasionally, you hear a band that is really ugly and domineering but somehow sounds like they could be poised for commercial success. I’m talking about the Baronesses and Fucked Ups of our time, bands that wrote songs that stuck in your head and had big production because they had an idea and knew how to pull it off, not because they were actively trying to sell more records. I imagine this will be the case with Star And Dagger, and not because they are easily marketable in terms of their “ex members” credentials, but because they just write really good songs. This 12” is three doomy stoner songs with female vocals that have a heavy focus on both the low end and the melody. The music is more reminiscent of early Sabbath/Jerusalem than more recent doom/stoner rock and everything is so methodic and in place it’s hard to nitpick. The guitar tone is perfect, the song structures are engaging, and the vocals fit the music perfectly. I didn’t really know what to expect from this record and I was pleasantly surprised. –Ian Wise (Last Hurrah)


STAR FUCKING HIPSTERS:
Until We’re Dead: CD
Of the myriad possible explanations that come to mind as to how this ended up in my review box, I like to think/hope it was put there by someone who knows full well my disdain for this sorta pop/punk/ska dreck and wanted to mess with my noggin a bit. If that’s the case, okay, heh heh, you got me. Oh, on a totally unrelated subject, please accept my preemptory plea of total ignorance as to how copies of the book Living with Chronic Bedwetting and 50 Cent’s A Gangsta Tribute to Liberace CD got in your review box but if I had to lay blame somewhere, I’d say Dale put them there.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Fat)


STAR FUCKING HIPSTERS:
Never Rest in Peace: CD
This is the second album from the new band featuring Stza of Leftover Crack and Choking Victim fame. I will go on record and say that Stza (or Sturg, or Scotty; I lose track) related bands have the most consistent record of putting stuff out that I like. In comparison to the first SFH album, Until We’re Dead, this record is a little less eclectic. So while there is nothing quite as amazing as the song “Empty Lives” on this new album, there’s also nothing as bad as the failed attempt at epicness that was the song “Death or Fight.” Everything on Never Rest in Peace fires on all cylinders. The male and female vocals between Stza and Nico de Gallo really make the songs click. The couple of songs with Dick Lucas from Citizen Fish and Subhumans really work, too. I love how the band is able to take black metal style guitar lines and vocals and fuse them with pop punk and ska hooks. Okay, the song “Church & Rape” does sound a little awkward at first. Everything else is aces though. I give this my thumbs up as my favorite slice of catchy cynicism and political discontent since last year’s 1-2-3 punch of Supporting Caste, Until We’re Dead, and The Chemistry of Modern Life. Plus the attempt at an epic closer, “Never Rest in Peace,” actually works this time around. –Adrian (Alternative Tentacles)


STAR FUCKING HIPSTERS:
From the Dumpster to the Grave: CD
There are a lot of elements of this band that I really do like (lyrics, especially), but try as I might, I just can’t get past that annoying “ticka-ticka” ska guitar that sounds like Voodoo Glow Skulls. A band I despise. I have to turn it off when I hear it...I really like all of the artwork in the disc, though. –Ty Stranglehold (Fat)


STAR LOSERS:
Sabrás Lo Que Es Perder: CD EP
Smokin’ punk rock ’n’ roll from a bunch of longtime Argentinean scenesters. Included is a wicked cover of "The Witch." –Jimmy Alvarado (Ugly, C.C. 2975, C.P. (1000), Correo Central, Bs.As. Argentina)


STAR PATROL:
Step to This: CD
This band bases themselves on the video game of the same name. That's all I have to say. –Guest Contributor (N/A)


STAR STRANGLED BASTARDS:
Whose War Is It?: CD
Serious hardcore from a band that sounds like they could’ve been the house band at Fenders Ballroom circa 1986. Didn’t expect much, but I’m glad to say that they’re all that and a bowl of rare Final Conflict records –Jimmy Alvarado (Go Kart)


STAR STRANGLED BASTARDS:
Red, White and Dead: CD
Wow, did these guys move to Norway or something??? Don’t remember their last album being this heavy. We’re talking “Negative Approach covers Discharge” kinda heavy here, the result sounding reminiscent of both Out Cold and pretty much the entire Scandinavian region. This is gonna stay in my player for quite a while, partly because it’s so damned good, but mostly ‘cause I’m afraid it’s gonna up and kick my ass if I get too close to it. –Jimmy Alvarado (Rodent Popsicle)


STAR STRANGLED BASTARDS:
Red, White, and Dead!: CD
I love music that, even when you’re sitting in the softish nice confines of your domicile, you are made to feel like you are in the middle of the pit, bashing into other euphoric cavemen and feeling your blood copulate with the obscene amounts of alcohol in your system. Even though it’s all conjured with electric guitars and whatnot, it is a joy that is atavistic and pure. This is surging political hardcore that has some of the same energy and the slight metal edge of Total Chaos at their best. I don’t know how long Star Strangled Bastards have existed as a band, but I’m going to guess that I can thank the stumblefucks in the plutocracy currently reigning over this country (aka: Dubya, Cheney, et al) for the inspiration behind this slab of spleen-venting rage. More and more I’m thinking you can’t go wrong with anything on Rodent Popsicle. –aphid (Rodent Popsicle)


STAR STRANGLED BASTARDS:
Whose War Is It? : CD
Serious hardcore from a band that sounds like they could’ve been the house band at Fenders Ballroom circa 1986. Didn’t expect much, but I’m glad to say that they’re all that and a bowl of rare Final Conflict records. –Jimmy Alvarado (Go Kart)


STARING BACK:
On: CD
Think of a genetically modified hybrid of MxPx and Samiam and you're getting close. The music is more Samiam (partly Billy, partly Clumsy) - ringing, meaty, thick guitar riffs. The vox are more MxPx but aren't even close to half as annoying. Keep in mind that the music is also lightly cross-pollinated with MxPx and Forbidden Beat drumming. I can't help but think that this would absolutely rule if the vocals didn't sound so pure and youthful (i.e. if a bleach-gargling, chain-smoking, whiskey-drinking punk was belting them out, I'd have no reservations about this disc) but, despite all of the potential here (and there's a pretty fair bit - think about Thursday's artistic and intellectually interesting version of commercially successful emo and you're on the right track), it just needs some more balls. These guys claim to like In Flames and I can hear slight bits of that band here? until the singing starts. –Puckett (Lobster)


STARING BACK:
On: CD
Think of a genetically modified hybrid of MxPx and Samiam and you’re getting close. The music is more Samiam (partly Billy, partly Clumsy) – ringing, meaty, thick guitar riffs. The vox are more MxPx but aren’t even close to half as annoying. Keep in mind that the music is also lightly cross-pollinated with MxPx and Forbidden Beat drumming. I can’t help but think that this would absolutely rule if the vocals didn’t sound so pure and youthful (i.e. if a bleach-gargling, chain-smoking, whiskey-drinking punk was belting them out, I’d have no reservations about this disc) but, despite all of the potential here (and there’s a pretty fair bit – think about Thursday’s artistic and intellectually interesting version of commercially successful emo and you’re on the right track), it just needs some more balls. These guys claim to like In Flames and I can hear slight bits of that band here… until the singing starts. –Puckett (Lobster)


STARING PROBLEM:
Self-titled: 7”
Illinois band Staring Problem play the type of post-punk that uses the bass as the lead instrument. Think Unknown Pleasures by Joy Division or early ‘80s Cure, but sped up a bit. Goth is back and it’s weird, because I work at an art school and now nineteen-year-old students dress like the women I was attracted to twenty years ago, when I realized that I wanted nothing to do with the preps. Three songs. Little bits of shoegaze and lo-fi pop for good measure. –CT Terry (blvdrecords.com)


STARK RAVING MAD:
Amerika: CD
Long has it been since I heard these guys—so long, in fact, that I’d completely forgotten what they sound like. You get two albums’ worth of stuff here for your buck, their self-titled debut and the Amerika LP, both of which feature fine thrashy hardcore and vocals that fall somewhere between Jello Biafra and Rodney Anonymous from the Dead Milkmen. Songs are nice ‘n’ short and have the requisite spazz quality, and the only major complaint is that the spaces between the tunes—we’re talking some ten to twelve seconds here—are way too goddamn long. Outside of that, it was good hearing these kids again.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Just For Fun)


STARKWEATHER:
This Sheltering Night: CD
I want to take this opportunity to pledge my undying love to the Deathwish Inc camp. Those cats consistently put out the best hardcore releases of every given year, and it just so happens that this year’s menu includes a fucking new Integrity LP, a new full-length from Bitter End—one of the best new-ish hardcore bands going—and, on top of those and scores of other top-notch titles, a fresh offering from one of the greatest hardcore (sorta) bands to ever grace the planet: Starkweather. The influence of Starkweather’s debut LP Crossbearer is inestimable. Converge, Overcast, Coalesce, etc… hell, nearly all of the hardcore “greats” of the last two decades have expressed debt to Starkweather’s unique brand of progressive metal/hardcore. After a lengthy lack of recorded output (ending with 1995’s Into the Wire) Starkweather returned in 2006 with Croatoan, an absolutely amazing double LP showcasing a new lineup and a complexity and proficiency only hinted at on earlier releases. This Sheltering Night continues in a similar vein, yet expanding on every element: intricacy, melody, production, everything. Rennie Resmini has never sounded so venomous (which, for those familiar, is quite an impressive feat) and the playing on this record is completely astounding. I could go on at (even longer) length about this band and this record, but put simply, if you are a fan of heavy hardcore and/or progressive metal, I implore you to check out this record and everything Starkweather has done before it. Essential. –Dave Williams (Deathwish, deathwishinc.com)


STARLA UBIQIUTIOUS:
Self-titled: CD
This new untitled outing doesn’t find Starla straying that far from her last album, Another Train of Thought, though there are a few noticeable differences. While it’s still one woman and her guitar, and her lyrical canon remains firmly centered between the personal and the political, this new one seems a tad more stark and somber. Might be the musical arrangements—which are an improvement—or the fact that her vocals seem a bit more solemn, more restrained. My only complaints are that a few of the songs, while undoubtedly sincere, come across as a little corny. It may simply be my own cynicism taking hold, but I still have yet to come across many acoustic outfits that can tackle the topics of a.) unrequited crushes and b.) anarchism without resorting to drawn-out clichés. Unfortunately, Starla does a bit of both here. Overall, it’s a pretty small grievance, though —the rest of the songs here are smart, pretty, calming; nice rainy-day music for those of us who don’t flinch at the sound of acoustic guitars. –Keith Rosson (Sharpie Fumes)


STARLA! UBIQUITOUS:
A New Train of Thought: Cassette
“Ubiquitous” is defined, so says my battered copy of Webster’s 9th, as “existing or being everywhere at the same time.” While that sort of multifaceted quality may be true in, I don’t know, this woman’s personal life or her emotional canon or whatever, her sonic output exists firmly within the walls of folk music. I’m sure she’s just thrilled with what will probably be yet another Ani Difranco comparison to her stuff, but that’s a lot of what I’m hearing, I’d say somewhere around the first self-titled record and Not a Pretty Girl. Another reference would be Kaia’s stuff (mostly in the vocals), at least the live material I’ve heard. It’s very laid-back, very calm—I enjoyed the fact that there are a few moments of her and the engineer dude talking and laughing in between songs, giving it a very honest, “get it down in one take” feel. I’d say the one drawback (and this is where the ubiquity does more damage than help) is the song “Obsessive Compulsive Love Song”: it’s a sarcastic take on unhealthy relationships, and its cynicism clumsily flies in the face of the rest of the record’s hopeful, joyful, politics-are-personal tone. All in all though, rest of the album shines pretty nicely. –Keith Rosson (Sharpie Fumes)


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