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Record Reviews

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Self-titled: CD
Apparently, this is a one-time side project featuring Patyczak on vocals and the band Starzy Singers from Warsaw. Late ‘70s punk seems to be the main influence on these tunes. Everything is played with controlled chaos and it seems to work well. I wish I could tell you more about how this connects with me emotionally, but all the liner notes seem to be in their native tongue. I’d really appreciate an English lyric section on their bandcamp page so I could follow along.  –Sean Koepenick (Nikt Nic Nie Wie)

Mominatrix: 7” EP
Straight-ahead, punchy punk with an obnoxious lyrical bent. The outcomes are given that much more heft, courtesy of a Blasting Room mastering. –Jimmy Alvarado (Sexy Baby)

Mominatrix: 7” EP
There are two great punk bands from Laramie, WY? Okay, they share the same bassist. But here Miguel Chen steps up to the mic and delivers. He seems upset. Two of the songs have “shit” in the title. But I’m here to tell him it’s okay. “You’re a Cop” and the title track really thrash with abandon. I’m not going to tell Miguel to give up his day job, but his moonlighting gig is pretty damn sweet too. –Sean Koepenick (Sexy Baby)

Stale Champagne: LP
Four-color gatefold sleeve and dust jacket with clear vinyl. It has the range, rawness, gait, emotionalism, and orchestration of Two Gallants and Avett Brothers, but not quite the lyrics or the power. The instrumentation is sparse and production is just-throw-a-mic-in-the-middle-of-the-living-room, which makes it very difficult to hear at times. There’s a little bit of drone and some oddly timed crescendo and decrescendo. Not a bad effort, but I’d like to hear some matured material that’s a bit more even-keeled. –Jessica Thiringer (Self-released)

No Escape: CD
There’s eight originals and a Discharge cover here, that is musically alright, but their whole “I ain’t gonna change, gonna be punk ‘til I die” stance just rings hollow. It all comes off as pretty meaningless shouting and defiant posturing, which is only amplified by trite lyrics that seem to avoid addressing any specific current events, of which there are many to bitch about. The result is sure to get the parrot punks pumping their fists in the air, but it really ain’t all that far off from the output of such hard-hitting “punk” groups as A New Found Glory and Good Charlotte, is it? Look, kiddies, the days of “calling myself a punk and having a funny haircut is a potent symbol of rebellion in itself” ended long before Avril started sporting studded belts and posh New York boutiques started hawking Black Flag shirts to the clueless bourgeoisie. If you’re gonna co-opt all the accoutrements of the “political” bands of yore, either take a stance for (or against) specific current events or give your instruments to someone who’ll put them to better use.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Rodent Popsicle)

Fistfuls of Sand: 7”
Members of Get Bent and Laura Stevenson And The Cans splitting the difference between new style: non-twang “Americana” and a band like The Anniversary or Koufax. –Mike Frame (Salinas)

Cities We’re Not From: LP
I’m pretty sure this record was already reviewed in Razorcake, or that it was in somebody’s Top 5 or something, which means that it was well-liked. It’s quite possible that sometimes people do Top 5’s of things they don’t like, but if I recall correctly, that was not the case with this State Lottery record. I’m glad about that, because I fear my review will not do the record justice, just because it’s not really my thing. It’s kind of a rock’n’roll-y, folk-y record, and I think it’s well done. It just didn’t turn my crank. I liked the first song on the first side pretty well, and the first song on the second side, and throughout the LP none of the songs dismayed me or anything like that, but one issue I had was with the singer’s voice—at first I didn’t like it at all (too frail sounding), then I thought, “It’s growing on me”, then I decided no, I don’t really care for it…and so on. Overall, it would have been great if it packed more of a punch, because I think they’re a good band and they have a lot of nice lyrics (a favorite being: “We’ve declared endless war armed with the infantile concept of good vs. bad. What is this, kindergarten class?”). I enjoyed when Rachel Parsons lent a hand with the vocals and there were some nice horn and harmonica parts. Additional points for the gorgeous painting on the cover. Fans of Americana style music should give it a listen. –Jennifer Federico (Salinas)

When the Night Comes: LP
When the Night Comes isn’t necessarily a departure for The State Lottery. And I can’t imagine any fans of their previous full-length, Cities We’re Not From, being bummed at how it sounds. It’s not a departure, but there’s a definite shift at work here. Call it a slight “stylistic advancement,” or a “band maturing,” or whatever you want. The point being, it’s entirely effective. While Cities… was rich with a kind of wandering solemnity, When The Night Comes is firmly entrenched in rock and roll and the kind of detail-rich lyricism that dudes like Springsteen and Josh Ritter do so well with. While the band still manages to pen songs that sound like a Detroit winter come to life, this time around it’s filtered through the wire mesh of rock and roll, JD Salinger’s short stories, healthy doses of saxophone and organ, and even a hint here and there of ‘60s pop. I’m surprised they pulled it off, and more surprised that they make it sound so damn effortless. Bobby Colombo’s vocals still fall between Blake Schwarzenbach and Brendan Kelly, but his ability to tell a story has improved massively since the last record. When the Night Comes has its joyous, thundering gems (“Coming Alive” and “East Jordan”) and its heart-stung lamentations (“Little Song” and the album closer, “Spring, 2008, Detroit”). It’s what I wish people thought “indie rock” was when they used that term, and it’s probably one of the best records that came out in 2010. You can get the LP version from Salinas, or a free download of it at ifyoumakeit.com. I’d suggest you do both—the art is beautiful and the lyrics are more than worth reading. This is an awesome band and a terrific LP. –Keith Rosson (Salinas)

Discography: LP
If you saw me walking down the street, you probably wouldn’t think that I listen to this kind of music, but every now and then, you need a little bit of beltsander crust punk to sort of cleanse the palate, and State of Fear did it better than pretty much anyone else. With the exception of the recent rash of Portland-by-way-of-Memphis bands like From Ashes Rise and Tragedy, State of Fear is probably the best American band to ever attempt this type of thing. Lyrically and musically, it’s not subtle in the least, but it’s such vital and earnest stuff that I’d recommend it to anyone who’s musical taste ever veers off into the D-beat end of the punk spectrum. –Josh (Profane Existence)

The Cancer E.P.: CD
Boy, do I feel like a heel bagging on a song whose only lyrics are “Fuck you, cancer.” Maybe if I knew the backstory, it would mean more to me. As it is, it’s just rudimentary punk, played with minimal energy and recorded inside a glass of water. –CT Terry (Girth, girthrecords.com)

Optimistic Despite the Evidence: CD
Not to be confused with another band called Lost State Of Franklin, this duo specialize in low-fi chunky pop punk that reminds me of Dinosaur Jr. in some regards. Songs such as “Ringo’s Eyebrow” and “Neil Young’s Camaro” display a keen sense of humor which I fully welcome. I don’t really know why, but for me this CD evokes feelings of the East Coast in the winter—bare trees, grey skies, stocking caps, and seeing your breath. Good stuff. Bonus points for the Ben Snakepit band portraits.  –Garrett Barnwell (Girth)

Knowledge of Self: 12” EP
Describing their sound as “groovy NY-styled hardcore,” I was eager to put this 12” EP on the turntable. While I do pick up some traces of the influences they cite, the vibe on this EP is more generic radio rock-sounding than hardcore. The riffs were rather forgettable, easily fading to background noise every listen. Coupled with a very polished production, especially in the vocals, which had this echo-y middle-of-the-mix sound that I associate with commercial rock music, and the result was nothing that stuck with me on any level. While I support the band’s “anti-racist, antifascist, religion-free, gay-positive, pro-choice, drug-free, and animal-friendly attitude,” as stated in their description, and presented in their lyrics, musically this did very little for me. –Paul J. Comeau (Take It Back)

Fight Forever: CD
I’m confused. The cover looks punk rock, with a bunch of show flyers with the Business and Blanks 77 listed in the background with a fist immersed in a star. Talk about false advertising. The music sounds like a poppy Warped Tour mess of bands like Strung Out and Bigwig. It even has a song, “Maybe One Day,” crying about a girl, which I have no qualms with, but the music and Blink 182 vocals create an instant response of nausea. The music sounds like it was made by a bunch of bros from San Diego or something. No offense to those from San Diego. I wonder if I could sue for false advertising? –Jenny Moncayo (SOS)

To the Bitter End... A Discography: CD
The nineties were a peculiar time in music, and most certainly in what embodied the punk scene of that era. State Of The Union were/are of that time. It made sense then, but now it’s a bit foreign. Musically, they were akin to math metal, somewhere in the world of bands like Ambush, Damnation A.D., and Neurosis, though not as urgent or heavy. These guys weren’t bad, but, at the same time, there was nothing in their music that made them entirely memorable. On this disc you get their LP, two EPs, and five new songs (meant for an LP in 2000). –Matt Average (Profane Existence)

No Escape: CD
Metal-y thudwumping hardcore from these Jehovah’s Witnesses from the Church of Discharge. They remind me a little bit of one of my favorite bands from days of yore: the Murderers – except without the human snot sprinkler called Bob Murderer. Here’s an example of where it’d be cool to have something akin to that rubber bulb thing with a snout that’s used to suck the snot out of a baby’s head – but one that works in reverse, pumping snot into something. If I were lucky enough to have such a handy gizmo, I think I’d give State Patrol a squirt or two. But that’s really a minor quibble. This is crunchy, spleen-bruising fun, even without the mucus coating.  –aphid (Rodent Popsicle)

Paralysis: 7”
All too often in punkland (or at least the dark and sordid world of punk reviews), words like “gritty” and “raw” are just synonyms for “Man, this recording sounds like shit.” State Run actually makes that grittiness work for them—the dirty recording serves them perfectly. Jagged, bright guitar riffs serve as the launching pad, drums that sound like someone’s pissed off and punching through cardboard keep everything tethered to the ground, and the result is something that’s wholly tense and nerve-wracking. And I mean that as a compliment. It’s like a mixture of Yage or some other long-lost ‘90s Ebullition band and groups like Science Of Yabra’s heavy, weird, wall-like riffs that carry the whole song along. I admire bands that don’t go for the easy plays, the obvious chord progressions or song structures. Bands that delve a little bit deeper and come up with something, like State Run has, that’s serrated and mean and smart, that keeps the listener stuck in this place that’s somewhere between wanting to tap your foot and wanting to just geek out to its anxiousness and this sense of creeping apprehension. So, yeah, Paralysis is gritty and raw as all get out, utilizing the terms “edgy” and “nervous” to the fullest. A fine record. –Keith Rosson (Rat Patrol)

No Illusions: 7”
One of the good things to come out of the whole Killed By Death phenomenon is that a lot of attention has been focused on bands that otherwise would’ve continued to wallow in obscurity and remained unheard of outside of the small group of people who actually bought one of the, say, two hundred copies of a given release by said band. So much about punk and hardcore in the ‘80s (at least in the circles I ran around in) was not as much about whether you had the latest from more popular bands like Hüsker Dü or 7 Seconds (although being familiar with them didn’t hurt) as it was about what amazing obscurity you stumbled upon that week. Through this ritual, bands like the Mentally Ill, Void, Italy’s Raw Power, Germany’s Inferno and damn near any Scandinavian band to commit music to tape garnered more than a couple of fans as far away from their hometown as East Los Angeles could be. Sadly, I would further venture to say that it’s that peculiar punk habit that somewhere went haywire and resulted in dumbfucks unclear on the concept paying ridiculous prices for records they’re only gonna store in a hermetically sealed box in an airless room and never, ever play and, thus, taking such gems out of circulation. Fuck that. Records are supposed to be played often and, more importantly, shared with others who might find them crucial. So this whole bootleg and/or reissue culture of reintroducing long gone bands back into the punk rock conversation is just peachy, I say. Not only has it kick started the musical career of the Queers, which may or may not be a good thing depending on how you feel about them, but it’s also exposed a lot of people (myself included) to bands they never new existed, such as the State, which brings us to the record currently up for discussion. This is a reissue, not a bootleg, of this Michigan band’s first of two releases (the other being a 12” that, according to some sources, is nowhere near the caliber of this, but I digress). The band cranks out seven blasts of quirky thrash that are finished faster than it takes to read the lyrics. Although they don’t really sound like them, comparisons would lead to other now-obscure Midwestern bands, like Die Kreuzen, whose Cows and Beer EP was just as crazed, chaotic, and quirky as what’s here, and the Fix, who were just about as rough around the edges and mean-sounding as these guys. Ultimately, this deserves a spot in hardcore’s hallowed halls just as much as any of the genre’s more celebrated groups. Thanks to Felix Havoc, you can get a copy of this bad boy, which was mastered from the original tapes and features a faithful reproduction of the original cover layout, for 3/100 the price you would pay for a copy of the original. Better snatch it up quick, though, ’cause there’s only a thousand of ’em out there (well, 999 if you count the one that ain’t gonna be leaving my home anytime soon). If you do manage to get one, be sure to play it often and share it with as many friends as you can. –Jimmy Alvarado (Havoc)

The Hyperion Sessions: CD
I had high hopes for these Reno lads when I slipped in the CD and let it spin. These hopes were instantly dashed when the first song, a jazzy Ben Folds-type number, started. The second song had the stench of the Black Crowes and Buckcherry smeared all over it. The next three songs ranged from subdued, heartfelt ballads to bluesy adult contemporary rock. Bands, know the kind of music that gets reviewed in a magazine before submitting your 7”, LP, EP, or CD. No way this should have been sent to Razorcake. –Josh Benke (Enigma Proper, myspace.com/thestatelygentlemenofreno)

Neon Nights Electric Lives: CD
If you grew up in the 1980s, you know that you simply couldn’t get away from music like this—dark, synth and effects-driven gothic pop that echoes for days. Think somewhere along the lines of the guitar tones of A Flock of Seagulls with the general mood of B-Movie or The Cure; think along the darker, unhappier fringes (though not quite as dark or unhappy as Christian Death or Joy Division—Clan Of Xymox or another synth-driven 4AD band with pop edges will do nicely). Toss in a dash or two of shoegaze (like Ride, My Bloody Valentine, Lush, etc.) to round out the songs and provide some musical depth and texture. Add some breathy, crooning vocals (not entirely unlike Flesh For Lulu, only with more of a husky quality). What you should wind up with, as I said when I first heard “It Never Seems to Last”—a song that should (and in any other world would) have been a massive radio hit—is a soundtrack for a John Hughes film that never got made (and think about John Hughes circa Some Kind of Wonderful or Pretty in Pink, the two movies he made that seemed to capture teen angst and class awareness most honestly). I won’t claim that this is brilliant, innovative, or great, but there are times when I don’t expect or need a record to change my life; right now, this well-crafted album is perfectly satisfying and that’s good enough. –Puckett (Tarantulas)

Neon Nights Electric Lives: CD
When I was but a young punk, nothing worked to impress all the young punkettes like showing your “emotional” side. This consisted of throwing on a Cure or Joy Division record. “See, I can be sensitive too… now gimmie some sugar!” The truth is, I really quite enjoy those bands and there are certain times in my life when no other band will do. Yup, I can admit it. This brings us to the Static Age. I was really hoping for some kind of Misfits type thing but no such luck. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that this was released in 1985 or ‘86. Heartfelt tunes with piano and bad synth. It’s not that it’s terrible, just that it’s been done before and so much better. Blandness personified. I can’t see this record getting teenage punks laid. If I want quality emotion in my rock, I’ll listen to Leatherface again. I just can’t say the same for this. –Ty Stranglehold (Tarantulas)

Self-titled: CD
Fairly straightforward punk stuff here, with speeds alternating between mid-tempo and a slow gallop. There’s a definite demo quality and feel to the proceedings, but the tunes sound like they’re sitting on a good foundation and could result in a pretty strong set with some time. –Jimmy Alvarado (no address)

“Trouble” b/w “Waves”: 7”
Two wild, overblown garage rock stompers. “Waves” is the pick to click here, with a more unhinged delivery and an infectious pound-pound-pound on the drums. –Jimmy Alvarado (Windian)

Cycles Follow Signs: CD
The helpful sticker on the cover tells me, the lazy reviewer, that I will like this record if I like Arcade Fire and The Cardigans. I like neither, yet I do like Static. How strange. “Swing and Sway” and “Eighty-Eights” are repeats on this release. If you like the guitar riffage of Velocity Girl, a dash of Siouxsie, and even some Letters To Cleo songwriting, then this record should be on your radar. –Sean Koepenick (Del Verano, info@staticofthegods.com)

Knowledge Machine: CD

This Boston three-piece makes some great, fuzzy, ambient rock with female vocals reminding me somewhat of Stars or Gregor Samsa. While the layout of the album is a wintry feel with pictures of icebergs, the sound also seems fitting for a cold night tucked under the covers. There’s a warm vibe somehow making its way through in the midst of the cool, atmospheric quality of the music that bares a resemblance to many an instrumental act such as Explosions In The Sky or Joy Wants Eternity. Not a bad release, especially for fans of expansive instrumental bands with effective, smooth, female vocals overriding it all.




–Kurt Morris (staticofthegods.com)

One for the Good Guys: 7” EP
Fast hardcore. How fast? So fast that I didn’t even realize that all five songs were on one side of this, until I turned the record over and noticed that a few minutes had gone by, and nothing happened. That’s how fast. –Joe Evans III (Chunksaah)

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