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Record Reviews

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Bandology Vol. 1: CD
If you don’t recognize the name, you don’t skate. Long time pro skateboarder has played in some bands through the years. Featured here are four tracks each by The Faction, Odd Man Out, Shovelhead and Soda. The Faction, probably the most popular band he played with, have been part of the skate rock scene during the early-to-mid ‘80s. Odd Man Out, the next band he played in, were more progressive rock. Shovelhead play grunge that was prevalent during the time period. Soda play a Tilt-ish, female-led pop punk that makes me think that I might actually keep this disc. Also provided are two extra tracks that Mr. Caballero has recorded as projects. I don’t know if people will run out of the house in a manic frenzy to purchase this, but the Soda tracks are pretty damn good and are the highlight for me. –Donofthedead (Sessions)

Terminal Boredom: 7"
For those not in the know, Herr Nix was formerly a member of the Briefs. For those in the know, guess who this sounds like. Sheer brilliance. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.1234GOrecords.com)

When…?: CD
Crass’s former lead singer joins up with a long-lived Irish anarcho punk band to deliver some new tuneage with loud guitars and pointed barbs directed at everything from the greater society to modern punk’s slide from a vehicle for revolution into a fashion phase one “goes through.” Their attacks regarding the latter are, of course, largely on point, but one can’t help but wonder if anybody’s really listening, but one can only hope. Tunes are strong, their outrage sincere and yet not overly preachy.  –Jimmy Alvarado (Overground)

The Gangsta Rabbi: CD
In the liner notes to this flute and guitar-based album, Steve Lieberman explains that this CD is meant to explain a recent stint in a psych hospital for bipolar disorder, which is a noble enough endeavor. With song titles like “Jew in an Institution,” “Committed!” and, intriguingly, “An Hour to Masturbate,” I was expecting something perhaps influenced by late period G.G. Allin. And perhaps that was there, in part, but mostly this sounds like a guy with a flute who’s listened to the Sex Pistols a few times. But never mind that! Instead, I bring you a statement from his website, entitled “F-CK You Wikipedia,” with original punctuation and spelling intact: “Damn it’s not bad enough you deleted my page there cause one of your geniouses thought of me to be not ‘noteworthy’--but you then after 2 ½ months went and frickin’ deleted a mention of me in the Jethro Tull article--Hey jerks--that hurts--WTF--Damn I’m gonna live my life so noteworthy that even your damn elitist ‘editor’s’ will think that--.” Mr. Steve Lieberman, I wish you the best of luck on this noble quest! If this were a cereal, it’d be a curious combination of granola, Cheerios, and bran flakes! –Maddy (Self-released?)

Shake the Missile Base: CD
With his quasi-innocent and simple, direct lyrics that sometimes bound over the “too much information” line, it’s hard not to find easy comparisons to Wild Man Fischer and Wesley Willis. While those two relied on Casio keyboard accompaniment or none whatsoever, Lieberman utilizes flute, steel drum, beat machines, and other instruments—usually doing all the playin’ hisself—to make his songs. Whether one likes his efforts is a matter of personal taste; some will undoubtedly see it as much ballyhooin’ and little talent, others will find a uniquely genius quality in the unpolished delivery of songs like “Skinheads in My Yard Oy Vey,” “Love @ Defcon 5,” and “Rubbin’ One Out for My Baby.” Me, I’m just wonderin’ how Roger and the rest of Pink Floyd feel about his cover of “Wish You Were Here.” –Jimmy Alvarado (stevelieberman@gangstarabbi.com)

If I Should Fall to the Field: CD
Sounds like the guy from Bauhaus trying to be Tom Waits but lacking the playfulness to work it proper. Sparse musical accompaniment certifies the full-on snooziness of one boring piece of wasted plastic. Three pieces of wasted plastic if you count the jewel case. –Cuss Baxter (Neurot)

If I Should Fall to the Field: CD
Don’t think even the most stalwart of tweakers would be able to make it through this album without nodding off. Painfully mellow in all the wrong ways.
–Jimmy Alvarado (Neurot)

Mystery Flavor: Cassette
One of the best parts about reviewing music is that I constantly have to reevaluate my approach to music and my taste overall. For example, I took one look at this tape and figured it was junk. It looks like the self-consciously quirky sort of shit that really gets on my nerves. But it’s my job to look beyond the packaging, and I’m glad I did. This is a joyous musical dumpster dive that yields all sorts of treasures. Trashy disco beats. Warped keyboard parts. Throwaway vocals. Rotten banana peel guitar solos. Layers and layers of wonderful musical refuse from one dude’s stinky bedroom.  –MP Johnson (Muckman, muckmanrecords.bandcamp.com)

Devil’s Game: CD
A man sings melancholy country rock songs, accompanied by his guitar. Not a bad thing… if you’re Steve Earle.  –Jessica Thiringer (Saustex)

Split: CD
STFU: Swell, straight-ahead hardcore along the same lines as Insult during their I Wanna Be a Burn Victim period. Wicked good stuff. Monster Squad: More gallop-tempo hardcore, not as immediately catchy as STFU, but they definitely grow on you by the third track. –Jimmy Alvarado (Rodent Popsicle)

When We Ran: CDEP
This is the recording of a young band, a band that I don’t think has learned to play together correctly yet, but, goddamn, are they close. There is some definite growing room left to cover. They use “woah”s too often and sometimes don’t hit the notes quite right. Stick Around, don’t be discouraged, I strongly believe that you’re next release will be of even greater quality. Your brand of Lifetime-esqe melodic hardcore meets Latterman family vocals will be probably be amazing in the not too distant future. I believe in you! –Bryan Static (Carry No, no address)

Swollen: LP
Swollen is the debut from the band Stickers, from Seattle, who waste no time in presenting an early ‘80s U.K. post-punk vibe on this LP. Vocally, I’m taken back in an Au Pairs meets a howling Jeffrey Lee Pierce kind of way while musically I’m hearing more of a Wire/Gang Of Four influence, heavy on the low end with a plodding whirlwind of bass and guitars with an occasional skronk from a saxophone. On first listen I didn’t really “get it,” but with repeated listens it keeps getting better and better.  –Mark Twistworthy (End Of Time, endoftimerecords.com)

The Strife and Times: 2X CD

The discography of a Jersey punk band that came from the same scene as the Bouncing Souls and Lifetime. The liner notes are phenomenal and the lyrics are really good, but their brand of post-hardcore melodic rock just doesn’t move me much. These are obviously some intelligent, talented guys at work here, but it just ain’t my cup of tea.

–Jimmy Alvarado (Chunksaah)

Nineteen Eighty Seven: 12” EP
I was like “ooh, keen, an album by that bubblegum band from Milwaukee!” Turns out it’s actually a hardcore band from New Jersey, recorded ((“in the spring of our youths”)) in—you guessed it—1987. I dunno. Not to be a heathen unbeliever/cranky jaded one or anything, but 1987 was a pretty shit year for hardcore. In point of fact, so was 1986, and, in large part, 1985. Even 1983 and 1984 were only really interesting if you were living in some tertiary market whose homegrown HC scene took off a few years after the national hotspots. By 1986 ((at the VERY latest)), pretty much all the good was gone from hardcore; people just kept playing some variant of it because they really had no idea what else to do. Or thus are my findings. To support said findings, i point to the fruity and musiciany intros to the songs “Contempt” and “Society’s Pressure.” From about 1984 on out, just about every hardcore band had some songs that had extended musician-y intro parts like these, which i claim stems from an either subconscious or intentionally repressed desire to play fruity musician-y music instead of hardcore. By 1987, people were completely bored with hardcore, but they were playing it anyway—that’s my point here. I’ve always viewed 1987 as the big pop-punk year, myself—there were the Hard-Ons and the first Lemonheads album and White Flag and 7 Seconds “New Wind” and the Descendents and the Oysters and a whole gob of shit i’m sure i’m forgetting—and whatever hardcore was in 1987, with the long songs and the fruity guitary intros and the no sense of humor, was just, like, dross to me. I don’t even know what “dross” is, but that’s what it was. Twenty-three years later, when none of this matters a pinch of shit, i still can’t completely divorce myself from the notion that these guys are just a bunch of kids who were late for the party and therefore don’t quite “get” it, which is fairly unfair, but such is life. In any event, this era of hardcore holds little to no interest for me, although this is well-played and fairly well-recorded ((if you discount the unlistenable triggered snare sound, which was a popular—God knows why—snare drum recording method for a few years starting around 1986)), and seems like the kind of thing that should have grabbed a bigger chunk o’ market share Back In The Day. I conclude by saying that the fact that forty-five-year-olds are still shaking their fists at forty-year-olds and telling them they don’t know shit about hardcore is a beautiful thing indeed. Thanks for the memories. BEST SONG: “Thanks For The Cash.” BEST SONG TITLE: “Contempt” i guess? FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Record is a single-sided 12”, with an etched b-side depicting, somewhat incongruously, one of those ‘50s styled microphones. –Rev. Norb (Gunner)

Move on Zeroes: CD EP
Absolutely brutal hardcore from Japan. I guess the band name refers to the singer, ’cause it sounds like he’s gonna cough up his lung any second, man. –Jimmy Alvarado (HG Fact, 401 Hongo-M, 2-36-2 Yayoi-Cho, Nakano-Ku, Tokyo 164-0013 Japan)

I Did It All for the Cookie: CD
This is my first batch of reviews for Razorcake and I feel like I’m being initiated into the fraternity by being hazed with the dregs of the review pile. If I’m not mistaken, this band used to be called Estrogenocide and have now re-surfaced as Stiff Donut. If I’m wrong, there are two equally incompetent bands on the loose. I’ve slandered these fruitless individuals so many times I’m running out of creative adjectives. Sigh! I guess if El Duce rocked a Casio keyboard, you’d be on the right train track. Ironically, El Duce was run over by a train and, much to my dismay, Stiff Donut has not endured a similar fate. –Dave Disorder (Self-released)

I Did It All for the Cookie: CD
I think these guys are supposed to be playing metal, and it could very well be the shitty stereo I’m listening to his through, but it sounds like bad art rock with staggeringly dumb lyrics. –Jimmy Alvarado (Stiff Donut)

Once You Go Chocolate You Never Go Back and Like Cake on a Plate: CDs
Quasi-snarky song titles totally wasted on uninspired and uninteresting lyrics and music that sounds like it was made on toy keyboards. In the end, it’s another case of all the right tools in the wrong hands. –Jimmy Alvarado (Stiff Donut)

Guitar and Drum: CD
There’s no debating SLF’s legacy. It’s as revered as ever. Just listen to the newest crop of oi and street punk bands. The blueprint they drafted is a trusty one. SLF’s songs, “Alternative Ulster” and “Suspect Device” alone, bands would stab their own mothers to write. It took balls as big and hairy as coconuts to be an uncompromising punk band in the midst of a war: 1977 Belfast. Inflammable Material, their first, is a near-perfect album. They held their own with the Clash and the Sex Pistols. Granted. That heritage is in check, and that’s not in doubt. That’s the good news. The bad news is that with Guitar and Drum – including The Jam’s Bruce Foxton on bass no less – the pendulum has swung from the SLF of old with grit, gasoline, and Jake’s unmistakably cigarette growl to run-of-the-mill shit-poppunk territory. It’s so pro-dude, pro-equipment wank, gloss, and sheen with hot licks and tasty chords that it almost sounds like a “punky” soundtrack to an ‘80s movie starring Molly Ringwald hosting a bunch of crappy bands like Simply Red, INXS, the Outfield, Genesis, and, at times, The Fifth Dimension. (“Be True to Yourself” has more in common with “(The Age of) Aquarius” than any sort of punk rock.) It is varied. I’ll give it that. It gets drunk from sucking a wide variety of stylistic cocks. That said, there’s a couple decent songs on here, remnants of SLF of yore – like “Who Died and Made You Elvis” and “Guitar and Drum.” If this whole affair was under the moniker of Jake Burns and the Big Wheel (since he’s the only original member by a long shot), I wouldn’t be so hackled up. Smalltown’s new CD annihilates the present-tense SLF at their own game. No contest. –Todd Taylor (Kung Fu)

Live and Loud/Salute the Flag: 2 x CD
Though I imagine many would argue the point with me, methinks SLF was one of the best punk bands to come out o’ that initial wave of U.K. punk back in the ‘70s, and are one of my top five favorite bands ever. True, their output got progressively weaker as the years went by, and the stuff they’ve released after reforming hasn’t lived up to the legacy they built the first time ’round, but those first few records were something, indeed, and had all the requisite parts—lyrics that were intelligent and occasionally provocative, white-hot guitars, impassioned vocals, and hooks up the wazoo—for them to give bands like the Clash a run for their money. Yes, I know they had a bit of lyrical assistance from outside their immediate ranks, but for fuck’s sake, at least they were good lyrics. So yeah, no small amount of hero worship coming from these parts. Of the two live albums collected here, Live and Loud has the set list with the most hits, but Salute the Flag has the best delivery of the tunes and the best sound. On the former, that the band had just reformed, shows in the looseness and lack of oomph in the performance, though it’s still nice to hear live versions of classics like “At the Edge” and “Tin Soldiers,” and their piss take of the Beastie Boys’ “No Sleep ’til Brooklyn”—here appropriately rechristened “No Sleep ’til Belfast”—shows their sense of humor survived their dormant years. The latter album, released four years later, features a tighter and more focused band, one that delivers tunes like “Wasted Life” and “Suspect Device” with newfound vigor and a good chunk of the passion that made them classics in the first place, and newer songs like “Each Dollar a Bullet” show glimmers of the promise that they have yet to fully cash in on. In the end, both albums collected here have much going for them and, while I wouldn’t go so far as calling them crucial, would be a nice addition to any fan’s collection. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.cherryred.co.uk)

No Going Back: LP/CD
Stiff Little Fingers has been my constant musical companion for over thirty years and the band’s first album in over a decade has left me devouring the record for days now. It really is an outstanding release and for anyone who has kept in touch with the last five albums released since the band reformed, this one knocks spots off all of them—it’s also better than Now Then, the final album before the band split in 1982. It’s great to hear Jake Burns’ voice and distinctive guitar flourishes on these new songs whilst Ali McMordie still knows how to knock out killer bass lines to maintain a song’s momentum. The lyrical content is a mix of socio-political and personal themes, with Burns showing that he still has the knack for songwriting, resulting in a collection of highly memorable and catchy tunes. The band recorded and produced this record using funds obtained via a PledgeMusic campaign, having been disenchanted with discussions with various labels, and this approach has worked out well for the band. Even as an unabashed fan of the band, I hadn’t expected something as good as this. I’m tempted to give it album of the year status already.  –Rich Cocksedge (Rigid Digits, slf.com)

Lovely and Lousy: CD
An all-female punk band that sounds like they could've come outta the late-'80s/early-'90s L.A. underground, sounding a little like Bulimia Banquet at their most straightforward. Not bad. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.stilettorocks.com)

A Company of Wolves: CD
Very nice power pop, not far afield of the Fastbacks, though without the sweet girlvox. –Cuss Baxter (Pelado)

A Company of Wolves: CD
Very nice power pop, not far afield of the Fastbacks, though without the sweet girlvox. –Cuss Baxter (Pelado)

Liberator: CD
This is the Stiletto Boys third full-length release, but first release in well over a decade. Why the wait? Originally recorded in 2008, the band scrapped the entire album in pursuit of perfection. Finally released in 2013, Liberator is a powerpop masterpiece featuring a spot-on cover of Stiv Bator’s “Not That Way.” But it’s not just fluff; there is some real substance here. Impeccable production, warm fuzzy guitar, and the harmonies... oh the harmonies! This album is the first spring day after a long, shitty winter.  –Jackie Rusted (Zodiac Killer)

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